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Poppy’s Birth Story

I’m sitting here breastfeeding my newly born, 10-days-old Poppy, watching Daniel.Tiger with my girls. Skittle, who celebrated her second birthday on Saturday, is recovering from twelve hours of almost constant vomiting (the flu? food poisoning? not really sure but it’s been awful watching her like this), as is my mom.  Not exactly how I imagined spending my postpartum period. And yet somehow, despite having to meet the needs of three children and my mother (Honey is back at work now), I am finding time to sit down and type out the story of Poppy’s birth.

It was beautiful, you guys. Magical. I almost feel like I have nothing more to say than that because it was really such a “textbook” labor and delivery. So “normal.” And yet, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. So happy. Profound. Transformative. It demands to be recorded, if for no one else other than myself and Poppy. And so I will, I will record every bit of it, every ordinary detail (please forgive how long this post is!), because I want to remember this forever…

My mom arrived on September 30th, just as planned. I had been praying that she would arrive before Poppy did and it was a relief to see her at the airport, to know she was here and Poppy was safely still inside of me and my girls would have someone I trust implicitly to watch them while I was in the hospital. Though there were some things I wanted to accomplish over the coming weekend (pedicures with my mom, one last date night with Honey, a trip to the pumpkin patch with the girls), I finally felt like, “Okay, precious boy, you can come now…”

The next day (Oct 1) was my mom’s birthday, but we went about the day pretty normally…taking Cupcake to and from preschool, house-cleaning, naptimes, and then cake in the evening to celebrate. The only things that were note-worthy were 1) I strangely, and suddenly, started doubting our decision to have a third child. I felt really afraid, my faith in my ability to handle the chaos gone. I wanted to cry at times because I was just so unexpectedly scared that I couldn’t do it, that I would fail as soon as I tried. That I would fail not one, but all three of my children. And 2) I was having a crazy amount of Braxton Hicks on that day. They were constant….a painless tightening of my belly over and over and over again, almost without any breaks in between. I mentioned it to my mom, my doula-friend Leigh, and Honey and they all said a variation of “Maybe this is it!” But my only response was no, no, no — partly because I really did have a few more insignificant things I wanted to accomplish, partly because I had my heart weirdly set on a 10/5/15 birthday for Poppy, but mostly because I think I had come to believe that my body was incapable of going into labor on its own. That I was forever doomed to induction after induction in order to bring my babies forth into this world. I just couldn’t even allow myself to hope for anything different, to think that maybe things could go another way for me. That would be dangerous because I knew there was just too great of a chance for disappointment.

It was around 10 p.m. that night, though, that I started to wonder… Over the previous hour or two, my painless “Braxton Hicks” had begun to sting, like an achy, crampy, pinchy sort of pain that came and went every few minutes. I could feel it strongest in my back, which seemed significant since I had suffered excruciating back labor with both of my girls.  As I was preparing to hit the hay, I decided to text my doula (dear friend Leigh) and our birth photographer. I assured them that I didn’t really think it was the real thing, but wanted them to be prepared “just in case.” As I crawled into bed that night, I was not in any notable pain, but I was uncomfortable. The contractions (I finally allowed myself to think of them in that way) were coming every 5-7 minutes. It was 11:30 p.m.

I slept restlessly, awaking every now and then to see if the contractions continued. They did, about every five minutes. They didn’t feel good, but the discomfort wasn’t enough that I couldn’t sleep. And so I dozed until 1 a.m., when I realized the contractions were getting stronger. I got up to pee and went back to bed, hoping to get a little more sleep. But I couldn’t rest. I was still in denial, still unwilling to admit that I was in labor and this baby was coming, but I felt a strong need to get prepared in the very unlikely chance that I was and he was. So I had a shower, I shaved my legs, and I woke my mom to ask if she could paint my toenails blue. Throughout these things, the contractions progressed until the point where my mom had to stop painting my nails with each one because I felt I really needed to focus in order to manage the pain. It was after this that she convinced me it was probably time to wake up Honey and contact Leigh and our birth photographer (Kay). It was 3:00 a.m.

Through texting, Leigh and I decided that she would come to our house until it was time to go to the hospital and Kay would meet us at the hospital when it was time. When I woke Honey, he got out of bed slowly, and I directed him to have a shower and a bite to eat and we’d leave when contractions were a bit closer together than five minutes. At which point, my mom said to me, “Sweetie, I think they’re coming a lot closer than five minutes apart.” That gave me pause, because they did seem to be coming fast. I hadn’t timed them in a while, but saying they were five minutes apart seemed safe. It allowed me to still live somewhat in denial…to qualify every statement I made with, “if I’m really in labor.” Anything less would mean this was real. This was happening. But despite my insisting that they weren’t that close together, Honey grabbed his smartphone and started timing. The contractions were two minutes apart.

From this point on, things happened fast. I texted Leigh to tell her to meet us at the hospital rather than our house. I texted Kay to say we would be leaving soon. I finished packing my hospital bag in a frantic rush (“I need my journal! Where’s my concealer? Can someone grab the laptop for me?!?! And my yoga pants!”). My mom made me a slice of buttered toast and fed it to me while I worked. Honey skipped his shower and just changed his clothes instead, then loaded the car. And I insisted on putting on some earrings and my makeup in between each contraction before I would walk out the door. And all the while, my contractions got stronger and Honey and my mom rubbed my lower back through each one.

As I put on my sandals and Honey and I prepared to leave, I said to him, “I’m scared.”

“What are you scared of?” he asked.

“I’m scared the baby won’t be okay. And that I can’t do this.” This would become a regular refrain for me throughout the rest of my labor.

“The baby’s fine,” he said. “And you can do this. You’ve done it before. You can do this.” His confidence in me was palpable. And then away we went into the night, leaving behind my sleeping daughters and wonderful mother. It was around 4 a.m.

The drive to the hospital was unpleasant. Sitting down was awful, the contractions didn’t lighten up at all, and Honey took a wrong turn on the way. Every bump in the road hurt. My friend Leigh told me that during her own labor, she made her husband stop the car for each contraction so that she could get through it. I was the exact opposite. I white-knuckled it and just wanted my husband to step on the gas and get there as f—ing fast as possible. I kept asking, “Are we there yet?”

When we arrived at the hospital, Leigh met us in the parking garage and helped me inside. We checked in at the ER and they called the Birth Center for us. My nurse came down to greet us and walked us up to the third floor. I contracted several times along the way, leaning against the wall or whoever was nearby and groaning my way through it. We trapped one nurse in the elevator because I was having a contraction when the doors opened and blocking her way to get out. There was no moving me and she didn’t even try. At the birth center, I was taken to triage, hooked up to the fetal monitor, and checked for dilation. I was 5cm and immediately whisked off to my labor and delivery room, which was coincidentally and beautifully the same room I delivered Skittle in just two years before.

Inside my room, I was again hooked up to the fetal monitor and asked too many admittance questions about vaccines I’ve had recently and cord blood banking and a million other things I felt incapable of fully answering. Honey, who had decided it was his duty to ensure that my birth plan was followed as closely as possible, gave a copy to the nurse. She was completely receptive to and supportive of it, which was a relief to us all. For each contraction, I stood by my bed and leaned on the bedside table, groaning in low tones and squeezing Honey’s hand. Leigh rubbed my lower back (sometimes with her hands and at other times with a wooden massage tool or a tennis ball) and squeezed my hips (which felt sooooo good) and told me how well I was doing. Sometimes, I would again say how scared I was and sometimes I would repeat over and over “I can do this.” At one point, I had Dan text Kay to see if she would be arriving soon and, moments later, she was in our room, snapping away with her Canon.

It was maybe 5 a.m. or so when I started asking to get into the bathtub. The relief of sitting in warm water called to me. But Poppy’s heartbeat was not responding to the contractions in the way they wanted, so I wasn’t allowed off of the fetal monitor yet. They suspected Poppy was being a little “quiet” because it was the middle of the night and, with the exception of the half a piece of toast my mom had fed me, I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner. Even though I was not at all hungry, they encouraged me to have some apple juice in an effort to raise my blood sugar and wake the baby up. I did and, soon, baby’s heartbeat began to rise with each contraction.

Finally, I was allowed to get in the tub, at first with the portable, waterproof fetal monitor and then eventually without it, and I felt better instantly. The contractions, especially in my back, became more manageable. I could breathe again. I could relax again. It was such a sigh of relief. At least for a while. And then…it wasn’t. The strength of the contractions returned. The water felt too hot and I started sweating. For each contraction, Leigh poured cold water over my belly, Honey rubbed my back, and I kept my eyes closed and moaned and groaned my way through. There were times when I felt myself losing control and my moans would turn to squeals, but Leigh’s calm voice always brought me back and grounded me. She reminded me to relax, to keep my voice low, to let the tension out of my facial muscles. She encouraged me when I was “in the zone” to stay there as much as possible. She reminded me that I could do this. I could do it again.

It felt like I spent a long time in the tub, but in reality, it couldn’t have been more than thirty minutes. Eventually, the nurse gave me the option of using the doppler to listen to Poppy’s heartbeat or getting out of the water to be hooked up to the monitor. I was fearful of leaving the comfort of the water, but I was feeling overheated and needed a break, so I chose to get out. As soon as I did, another contraction hit and I leaned against the wall and grunted and squealed and said, “I feel a lot of pressure.”

I crawled into bed after that, half-naked (with only my bikini top on), and let the nurse connect the fetal monitor and then check me for dilation. I was 9cm. Time and the activity in the room sped up then. They started setting up the tools for delivery. Baby nurses came into the room, ready to greet and check my baby boy. The doctor arrived and, with my permission, I let him break my bulging bags of water. “There’s meconium,” I heard him say and my heart dropped. I’d never heard a single good thing about there being meconium in the amniotic fluid and I felt scared. Panicky. “Is he okay?” I asked and everyone assured me he was and no one seemed overly concerned. It calmed me and, as the doctor stood up, he said, “You’re basically 10cm. If you feel the urge to push, do it.”

And with the next contraction, I did. They let me choose what position to push in and I chose to lay on my side as I had done with Skittle. I started screaming with the new kind of pain and pressure I was feeling as I pushed; I couldn’t help myself. I was embarrassed to scream, but it also felt good. Strangely, the doctor had left the room, so the nurse called for emergency back-up and then there was a flood of people who swarmed in, the doctor included. It’s surreal to me, because I had my eyes closed for the whole thing and I really had no concept of where anyone was, who was touching me, who was talking to me, if Leigh and Honey were nearby or far away. I just gave one hard, loooooong push and, as I felt the baby crowning, I took some deep breaths and naturally slowed the pushing. “Good, controlled pushes,” a nurse (I think?) said. And then someone told me to me to push harder.

“I am!” I screamed.

“You can do it harder!” someone said.

And I did and, suddenly, several hands flipped me to my back, told me to give a cough and another push, and then Poppy was here. He was here. And he was warm and soft and gooey and crying. An “I’m here and I’m okay” kind of crying. And I touched his cheek and said, “My sweet boy. My sweet, sweet boy.” And then I was crying too. Sobbing really.

And here is the most wonderful thing: I loved him instantly. There was no doubt that he was mine, and meant to be mine, and this was the beginning of our love story. Because I loved him instantly, and deeply, and fiercely. And I don’t know what will become of our bond in the months and years ahead, but right then and right now it seemed and seems laughable that I ever questioned my ability to love him enough. Because it’s obvious to me now that my husband was right all along: I give my love away in so many forms to so many people every day. How could I not love this little human that I created and carried? My love for him is big. Bigger than my heart can contain, which is probably why tears burst from my eyes multiple times a day when I look at him. He is perfection and the perfect addition to our expanding family.

And one more thing… It may be too early to know all the ways in which this birth experience has altered my perceptions of this world and myself, all the ways it has changed me and the life ahead of me, but what I do know is this: My body is not broken. I am still in awe of the fact that I went into labor on my own. That, with the exception of the meconium incident, this birth went exactly according to plan. That I did not scream for an epidural as I went through transition. I am strong. I am capable. And though I am as infertile as I was three, or six, or ten years ago, my body did not let me down this time. It knows how to birth, and feed, a baby. It is — I am — not a complete failure. And neither is my heart. I am capable of loving the most unexpected, foreign, strange little creature. And I am capable of being loved by him too. I see it in his eyes.

This birth…it transformed me into the mother of a boy. Which is exactly the same and completely different than being the mother of a girl, I’m finding. And while it did not push me to my physical limits quite like Skittle’s birth did, it did push my heart to its love limits. It showed me what love really is. What being a mother really is. It’s not based on gender, or on years of trying to conceive, or any of that stuff that has been all I’ve known up until this point. It is based on a connection that is created at birth (or for those adoptive parents out there, some other pivotal moment in a child’s life), something primal that can’t be explained, or qualified, or quantified. I don’t have to go looking for it. I don’t have to force it to happen. It’s just there. Period.

I love him. And he loves me in the only way that his little newborn heart can. And now…I get to spend the rest of my life hoping that I am worthy of that love, and proving it to myself and, best of all, to him.

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Holding my hubby’s hand while contracting just after arriving in our hospital room

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I remember saying a prayer while in labor, something of the “God give me strength” variety. This may have been that moment.

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My support team…Honey and my doula-friend Leigh.

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Counterpressure hip squeezes = amaze-balls!

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So much pain relief was found in that tub!

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Holding Leigh’s hand while Honey rubs my back…I had so much loving support on that day!

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About to push a baby out of my va-jay-jay!

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He’s here!

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Poppy is here and, after some snuggles, gets weighed…8lbs 6.4oz.

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Who can resist baby feet and teeny tiny toes?

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Skin-to-skin with Mommy…such a sweet and peaceful time.

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Already totally in love…

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Loved by Daddy

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Being held by Leigh and looking straight into her eyes as she spoke to him…

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In Grammy’s arms…

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The girls each gave a gift to Poppy and then Poppy “gave” them each a gift…Skittle really loved her new doll! (And, as you can see in her arms, she also really loved the lullaby lamb that she brought for her baby brother!)

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Being swaddled before making his way into his sisters’ arms. Feel free to laugh at our swaddling job. We may be “experienced” parents, but our swaddling skills clearly suck!

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Birth Day

This will be short, but I wanted my beloved blogging family to know that Poppy has arrived! Finley*Kai (F*i*n*n) was born yesterday at 6:13am with no induction or much hoopla at all and with exactly the birth experience I had hoped for. He weighed 8lbs 6oz and is 18.75 inches long. He is entirely perfect and I am utterly in love. I weep every time I look at him. I can’t believe he’s here!

Birth story to follow. Thanks to all of you for your loving support over the last nine months!

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Lady-in-Waiting

Today is my due date. I am 40 weeks.

And still waiting.

No surprise really there. I’ve never gone into labor early on my own. Or rather, I’ve never gone into labor on my own. Period.

I’m hoping things will be different this time. When I saw my doctor today, he said, “We’ll induce at 41 weeks” and very sheepishly and sweetly, I asked, “Would you maybe let me go until 42 weeks instead?” He laughed and said to make an appointment for next week and we’ll discuss it then. “I have a feeling we won’t even need to have this discussion,” he said. Whatever that means. But I hope he has good instincts and his “feeling” is right.

I can’t tell if Poppy is getting ready or not. I’m only dilated 1cm and Poppy hasn’t dropped and sometimes I fear that he’s still flipping around in there, even though he’s been head-down at my last three appointments. And he is constantly head-butting my cervix, which causes a lot of discomfort and momentarily feels as if he’s already tunneling his way into my vajayjay. I seem to be having a lot of Braxton Hicks too and spent two hours the other day with the weirdest vaginal cramping that had me wondering if it was pre-labor. And I think, over the last day or two, I’ve started losing my mucous plug in pieces. So I’m hopeful my body is doing something. But it could just be wishful thinking. I’m really good at that.

The other day, I read a stillbirth story. I’ve been on edge ever since. Many a night has been spent awake doing kick counts every hour. I burst into tears the other day when Poppy didn’t move for a while. I’m starting to feel panicked all the time. It’s not necessarily unusual for me in pregnancy, especially towards the end, it’s just…I had been doing so well. But it seems that the trauma of infertility and loss never goes away. There is a part of me that always feels as though I am a blink or breath away from losing this baby. I don’t always feel ready for him to come and yet…I am. I’m ready for the reassurance of his first cry and the soft warmth of him on my chest. I’m ready for the realness of him, knowing he’s safe and healthy and here, and for the freedom from obsessing over the endless sad possibilities and unlikely outcomes. Now that I type it here, I feel more ready than ever.

Well, except my mom isn’t here yet. She arrives tomorrow. She’ll be staying until early November to help out and I’m looking forward to having the next five weeks be laundry-, dishes-, and housework-free, so that I can be solely focused on this baby and helping all of us transition to being a family of five. Moms are the best. Though I know from experience that there will be plenty of spats, disagreements, and annoyances. What can you expect when you spend an entire five weeks with someone without a break? I dread the conflict that is on its way, but remain excited for the rest of it.

Today, I’m finding that I’m extraordinarily tired and irritable. I have patience for nothing, which is not exactly how I wanted to feel when we reached this momentous occasion. I did quietly celebrate with a doughnut this morning, but that seems small in comparison to how huge it is to finally reach this day. Within two weeks (I assume?), there will be a new baby in our lives. That’s BIG! I wish I wasn’t spending the moment moping around the house, snapping at my children, barely able to keep my eyes open, and without any energy to even put together a simple dinner.

But through it all, through the grumpies and the sleepies and the leave-me-alone-please-ies, I remain grateful. The funk I am in will pass and, at the end of it, there is a baby. There are three babies, really, from ages four to zero who are mine. Mine. How incredible to think that six years ago, I was weeping because I didn’t know if I would ever have one. And soon, there will be a third. It’s miraculous.

I’m lucky. I’m thankful. That will always be so.

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Dear Poppy…

To my darling Poppy boy,

As I write this, you are transforming my belly into a wild landscape of peaks and valleys, shifting hills and mountaintops and rolling waves, earthquakes that take my breath away. You are alive. You are thriving. You are okay. And right now, you belong to me.

I don’t know much about you yet. Or about us. But at least I know that.

We are not long from meeting you. It could happen any day now. Today. Tomorrow. Or some day soon down the road. There are a lot of familiar birthdays approaching — days owned by cousins, dear friends, your grandmother, even your sister. I hope that you’ll have your own day, but whichever one you choose is the right one, I know. And I do hope you get to choose, sweet boy, and aren’t forced to evacuate as your sisters before you. But either way, I suspect that you’ll have October blood. It’s a feeling that’s been growing inside of me since the day I learned about you. But you could surprise me. You already have every step along the way.

Do you know that you’re a miracle, my darling? With all my fertility issues, really with my true lack of fertility, it is a wonder that with one simple attempt you were here. I didn’t know it could be so easy. I didn’t know that it could be so easy for me. It’s as though we merely wished you into existence. And so I know you were meant to be. Meant to be here and meant to be ours. Indeed, I believe that long before God even breathed life into me, your own life was written into the stars. It’s only relatively recently that we learned about you, but you have been ours from the beginning of time, I’d say.

It’s no secret that I have struggled with thoughts about your gender, about my ability to mother a boy. Boys are a fine mix of tenderness and strength, fire and earth, active energy and quiet stillness. How do I harbor that? How do I nurture one part without crushing the other? Motherhood is an art. Poppy, I loved you before I knew what you were and I love you even more now, and I want the best for you. I just fear that I am not good enough to give you all you deserve. And yet, just the other day when I told this to your daddy, he said that I am full of love for all creatures, all people, children that aren’t even my own. He has little doubt that my bond with you will come instantly. I am so glad that his faith in me is strong when I am not.

There is so much that is unknown right now. The future holds so many secrets that will only be uncovered and revealed over the space of many weeks, months, and years that lay ahead. What kind of baby will you be? How will you change our family dynamic? How will your sisters adjust? Will parenting a boy be different than parenting a girl? Will parenting you, who came to us so quickly, be different than parenting a baby who arrives after many months of heartbreak and tears? Will we ever sleep again? And on and on, the questions go…when they’ll stop nobody knows.

Your daddy is unsure how we will have the time, money, and energy for three children. He worries that each of you will be deprived of all the attention and affection you should have. He has expressed, not recently but in the past, that we may be damaging our children by having too many. But what he has yet to realize and understand is that you are a gift. A gift to us because we get to love you and watch you grow, but a gift to your sisters as well. As they are to you. One more person to love and be loved…what can be wrong with that? Our time and patience may often be stretched thin, but there is so much love in our home. Nothing else really matters.

And so despite the fears and questions and doubt, we wait for you. With excitement. Anticipation. Hope. And great, grandiose love. We are (mostly) ready for you, whenever you are ready to meet us. Take your time, but know that whenever you arrive, our arms and hearts will welcome you. Your sisters are asking for you. Your daddy talks about you with great wonder. And I long to hold you. See you soon, Baby. Very, very soon.

With lots of love and gentle kisses,

your mommmy

Update: 37 Weeks and Not Yet Ready

I’m 37 weeks now, which sounds and seems INSANE, and it’s time for another update. There’s so much happening around here! Let’s make this easy. Bullet-point easy:

  • I’m feeling really, really good so far. I think I look HUGE, but I feel fantastic. So far, no hemorrhoid flare-ups. The nausea is FINALLY gone. I’m tired, but not overly so. Still sleeping pretty well at night. No swelling. Sometimes achy, but it comes and goes. I’m good! And it’s amazing. Earlier in this pregnancy, I was miserable. Now? Not so much. And fingers are crossed that this continues right up until delivery day…
  • I had another prenatal appointment today. My blood pressure has been mostly really great (around 105/65). Until today. Today, it was 130/70. That’s not that high and my doctor seemed un-phased by it, but it’s got me feeling pretty down. I remember my last pregnancy and the high BP numbers and the multiple NSTs and twice weekly appointments and growth ultrasounds and tears and stress and worry… We’re in the home stretch of this pregnancy now, much later than I was when my BP first went in the crapper while pregnant with Skittle, so I’m feeling fairly confident that this won’t get out of control. But still. I really just want everything to go smoothly. Just this once. Guess we’ll just wait and see what next week brings.
  • I’m starting to worry that, after this baby comes and especially after my mom goes home (she’ll be with us for five weeks, starting on Sept 30), I’m going to feel very isolated and alone on a day-to-day basis. I don’t have a lot of local friends, and even less since my mother’s group kind of fell apart and Lillian ended our friendship. And it will be cold/flu season, which means even less opportunities to see the friends we do have because it seems someone is always sick. So I’ll be at home all day with three kids and no adult conversation and possibly trapped there for weeks on end because of all the germs…that sounds like a desperately lonely place to be in. And I’m not sure what to do about it. 😦
  • I’m not quite ready for this boy to arrive yet! Hospital bags are packed and I’m making progress on the nursery, but it’s not DONE. And I really want it done before he gets here! And I want to make some truffles to put in the freezer, finish some party decorations for Cupcake’s 5th birthday (in November) so that I don’t have to complete them after Poppy’s arrival, stock up on a few more baby boy clothes, prep the diaper bag, crochet several more baby hats (I’m going a little crazy with that!), and fit in a few more nights out with friends. I’m planning for him to arrive a week or two after my due date, which of course means he’ll be coming early, right?! Really hoping that’s not so!
  • Because this pregnancy has seemed to drag, I’ve been expecting to feel very ready for it to be over. For this baby to be here. So far, that’s not the case. Instead, I’m feeling a little sad that this time is coming to an end. I’m excited to meet our son, but sad that this magical, mystical, mysterious, precious experience is nearly over. We plan to try for one more baby after this one, but my child-bearing years are drawing to a close. I don’t have many (or maybe any?) times that lay ahead where I will get to relive this. That’s a relief, on one hand, and very, very bittersweet on the other.
  • I’m also feeling that I’m still struggling a bit with the thought of having a boy. Remember this post? I thought most of those feelings had passed. And maybe they had, but now they are returning as we get closer and closer to delivery day. Does this make me an awful person and an awful mother? I fear it does. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to feel this way. It’s very hard to admit that I do, even on this blog. Or especially on this blog. I’m now clinging to the hope that, should we be so lucky to have a fourth child, it will be a girl. But if it’s not? I fear I’ll want to try for a 5th. Or a 6th. Or a 7th. Until I get just one more baby girl. Which is ridiculous, I know. And I hate feeling like that. Feeling like we HAVE to have another baby in order for me to be happy and our family to be complete. Even more, I hate feeling like any baby — this one or the next or the next — is not enough. Because he is! This baby is enough. More than enough. A miracle. A gift. A dream come true in a multitude of ways. I owe him better than my heart is giving right now, and I hate that. I hate me…and yet this is honest. Maybe more honest than I’ve ever been. This probably deserves its own post rather than a simple bullet point, but I just feel like I have to say this right now or maybe I never will. I love this baby — and that’s a plain and simple truth too — but I’m scared I don’t or won’t love him enough. I’m scared that this mixed bag of feelings will make the bonding more difficult, that I won’t bond as quickly, as deeply, or as fiercely. I’m scared that my ingrained, cultural, stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a man will keep me from giving this sweet child all my affection and the freedom to feel his emotions as he should. And I’m scared that this is just the perfect storm for some form of postpartum depression to find its way into my life after Poppy arrives, especially if he ends up being a difficult baby or I begin to feel as isolated and lonely as I fear I will. Please don’t think I’m a horrible person. Or maybe you should, because that’s what I deserve. But my great hope is that a natural birth and some prolonged skin-to-skin contact will make me more bonded to this baby boy than I ever imagined possible….that I will feel my undying love for him instantly in the very depths of my soul and all of these fears will be washed away with the tears I will surely cry. I pray for that every day.
  • On a much happier note, we spent our recent holiday weekend on a beach getaway on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. It was positively lovely. We spent time exploring the beach every day. I crocheted on the deck of our rental house while the girls napped. We drove into the mountains, took a little hike and met some wild deer. We also fed some domesticated deer, and smelled some yak breath, and got slobbered on by bison, and more. (That was all at a game farm — don’t think we have wild bison and yak roaming around here!) We relaxed, and ate too much, and laughed, and played, and snuggled, just the four of us. It felt like the grand finale to being a family of four…a sweet, happy ending. A perfect ending. I couldn’t have asked for much more.

So that’s it for me! For now. But I’ll be back with more updates soon (I’m sure?) and a letter to Poppy (I hope). Hoping the start of September is being good to all of you! And tell me, who is excited for fall? And who’s sad for summer to end?!?! It’s surely a mix of both here, though I do love me some pumpkin spice lattes, warm sweaters, candy corn, and changing leaves…

And now I’ll leave you with a few photos from our little weekend getaway:

So many deer in the mountains!

So many deer in the mountains!

Cupcake and Honey, stopping to enjoy the view on our mountain hike

Cupcake and Honey, stopping to enjoy the view on our mountain hike

Gorgeous view from the mountaintop!

Gorgeous view from the mountaintop!

Oooo, those eyelashes! I'm slightly obsessed with photographing them.

Oooo, those eyelashes! I’m slightly obsessed with photographing them.

Lady in Red...

Lady in Red…

Hello, Mr. Yak.

Hello, Mr. Yak.

The view from our back deck...see the lighthouse in the distance?

The view from our back deck…see the lighthouse in the distance?

Crocheting with a view

Crocheting with a view

One of Cupcake's favorite parts of the trip...finding and burying treasure on the beach.

One of Cupcake’s favorite parts of the trip…finding and burying treasure on the beach.

My sweet little family, our puppy Junebug included.

My sweet little family, our puppy Junebug included.

Cupcake adored her walk with Junebug on the beach.

Cupcake adored her walk with Junebug on the beach.

morning sunrise

morning sunrise

The view from our front porch...see the hot air balloon?

The view from our front porch…see the hot air balloon?

a crane, at low tide

a crane, at low tide

Honey...calf-deep at

Honey…calf-deep at “low tide”

One of many hand-in-hand walks Skittle and Honey took on the beach

One of many hand-in-hand walks Skittle and Honey took on the beach

Capturing the Moment

I always feel a little silly having maternity photos taken, especially with it being my third child who is on the way. But I never regret having them taken. We get family photos taken a LOT and it sometimes seems a bit frivolous, but we all have our priorities, don’t we? And though there are things we may have to go without, I’m always so glad we invest in professional photography. Our photos are something I cherish the most. They’re hanging all over our house and the ones that aren’t, I return to often to look at in photo albums and on the archival CDs. I just love them.

The photographer we chose this time is one we’ve never used (because she’s very very VERY expensive), but I’ve long dreamed of her taking my photo because she’s AMAZING. And I daresay, our maternity photos from last month are my favorites yet (though it’s a tough race between these and the family photos we had taken in Hawaii in February!). Which is saying something, considering that I feel as if I’ve chosen some pretty amazing photographers over the years. I wish I could show ALL the photos in all their glory on this blog. There are so many others that I can’t show here — ones with a beautiful sunset and Cupcake hugging my belly and my girls and I in flower crowns and my family walking on the beach… But alas, for the sake of staying somewhat anonymous, I’ve had to do some careful cropping and editing. I hope I’m able to still showcase how magical these photos truly are. (If we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve already seen the best of the best, so this post will probably be a bit ho-hum. 😉 )

But without further ado, here is a little looky-loo at me and my belly at 31 weeks…

With Skittle. I love it when they're this little and can sit comfortably on big bellies!

With Skittle. I love it when they’re this little and can sit comfortably on big bellies!

This is Cupcake's little hand. She's

This is Cupcake’s little hand. She’s “playing” with “Charlie,” the temporary nickname she’s given to Baby Poppy.

Robinson_Mat-71A Robinson_Mat-91 Robinson_Mat-146 Robinson_Mat-153B Robinson_Mat-166 Robinson_Mat-198A Robinson_Mat-204 Robinson_Mat-206A

Sticky and Stuck

I’m feeling stuck. I can’t decide what to write here, or if I should write nothing or everything. Should I give pregnancy updates? Talk about my day-to-day with Cupcake and Skittle? Get philosophical on what it means to be a mother, or infertile? Get sentimental and remember the baby I lost, but haven’t forgotten? I sometimes think I should participate in Microblog Mondays, but I usually don’t even think of it until Monday night and then it just seems like too much work.

I think part of the problem is that I want to write something meaningful — something that matters — and I’m not sure this is the right place for that, or if what matters to me matters to anyone else. And honestly, I don’t even know what matters to me right now. I have two kids and another on the way, and I’m just tired and rushed and a bit overwhelmed, and writing anything coherent seems like a daunting task. And it’s really hot here in the Pacific NW, where A/C is not really the norm inside homes (including ours), so I’m not just stuck, I’m sticky. With sweat. And unmotivated to do much of anything because of it.

See, I have a lot of excuses for my lack of content, but none of them really mean anything, do they? So just please bear with me as I try to figure this out. I’m not sure if I’ll be writing more or less in the coming weeks, but I promise you I will continue writing as I feel inspired to do so. And many thanks to all of you who have stuck around. Whether you lurk in the shadows or comment on every post, I feel your love and appreciate your support.

While I’m here, let me give a brief(-ish) pregnancy update in an easy-peasy bullet point format:

  • I just began my third trimester (depending on who you ask). I’m 27 weeks as of yesterday.
  • I’m still struggling with “morning sickness.” It’s better than it was in the first trimester, but I suffer through periods of nausea several times a week still. I vomited just tonight, right after dinner, per my usual once-a-week meet and greet with the porcelain throne. It kind of blows my mind since it was never like this in my last pregnancies. I hardly had any sickness with Skittle and, though I often felt very nauseous with Cupcake, it was gone by 13 weeks. And yet here I am, at 27 weeks, with vivid memories of what the inside of our toilet looks like. Crazy.
  • Besides the nausea AND my severe seasonal allergies, I’m feeling pretty good. Tired, but not terribly so. The headaches that I was having for a good few weeks are gone now. I don’t have the same shortness of breath or leaky bladder that I did in my last pregnancy, and no blood pressure spikes or hemorrhoid flare-ups yet (though I am fully expecting both of those to come knocking at my door down the road).
  • Emotionally, I’m feeling pretty strong and serene. I have my moments certainly, and I can feel my anxiety creep from my stomach to my chest to my throat when this baby has been too quiet for too long, but I’m managing to keep it mostly under control. Hourly kick counts help. And by “hourly,” I mean every hour that I’m awake of every day, I keep a tally sheet of how many times Poppy kicks, and I have been for the last seven weeks. I know it’s a bit insane — proof that I’m by no means “normal” when it comes to pregnancy — but it really does help to keep the crazies under wraps.
  • We’ve chosen a name! Just tonight. We had it narrowed to two and I told Honey to make the final decision because I just couldn’t. I love them both too much. The name we’ve chosen is a bit unusual and, though used exclusively for boys in the U.K. (where it originates), it’s become trendy to use it for girls here in the U.S. That worries me some, as well as the fact that his initials sort of allude to a swear word, but all in all, I adore the name we’ll be giving this little boy and am excited to reveal it to our friends and family (and on this blog!) after his birth.
  • I’m whittling away at my pregnancy “to do” list. So far, I have asked my friend Leigh to be my doula again, hired a birth photographer (sooooo excited for this one!), hired a maternity and newborn photographer, started stocking our deep freeze with freezer meals, and done lots and lots of shopping for our little man. But I still have more shopping to do, plus preparing the nursery, making more freezer meals, and moving Skittle into Cupcake’s room (which I am beyond terrified for).

And an update on the rest of my life:

  • I’ve been feeling a bit isolated and lonely these days. With Cupcake out of preschool for the summer and me having so much I want to accomplish at home, I’m finding that we don’t get out of the house as much as we should. We’ve had a few playdates and I’ve gone out with Leigh several times, but most of my days are primarily spent with a 1- and 4-year-old. They make me laugh, but it’s not the same as having the company of an adult. It’s times like this when I really miss Lillian and the rest of my mom’s group (which has essentially fallen apart over the last two years). So I’m painfully aware that my social life is in the crapper right now. But I’m thankful for my one good local friend, Leigh, and the support and comedy that she adds to my life. We spent all of this past Saturday making homemade strawberry jam and we have other fun things planned for this summer, too.
  • Though Honey is gone most of the day, working hard on a project at work that is finally nearing its end (thank GOD!), he comes home and somehow finds it in himself to have a good chunk of quality time with his girls and to help me around the house. Right now, I’m typing this post up and he’s sweeping the kitchen floor (after having already done the dishes and going to fill my car up with gas), that’s how amazing he is. I hope to write a blog post on him soon, but suffice it to say, I am so, so, so lucky this man is mine.
  • Cupcake is four-and-a-half now and still has one year of preschool ahead of her before entering “big kid school.” She’s about to have her very first haircut and I’m nervous but ready for the change. This girl continues to challenge me with her strong-willed ways, but we are now past the worst of the toddler power battles and every day with her is becoming more and more fun. She’s thrilled to bits to have a baby brother on the way.
  • Skittle is 20 months and every day with her is a joy. Her two-year molars are considering their entrance and so there’s a lot of drool in our house and a few difficult nights here and there, but overall, this girl just amazes me with her fearless, determined, playful, and loving spirit. I don’t want this stage to end! But more on that later. I hope to write a post on each of my girls sometime over the summer.

So that’s where we’re at in a nutshell. Up next for us:

  • Getting the results to my one-hour glucose test. I’m really, really nervous for this since I failed last time (but then passed the the 3-hour test). I just want to be able to eat all.the.ice.cream, you know? It’s hot here!
  • A road trip to Idaho to visit family. Not sure how it will go being trapped in a car for four or five hours, but I’ve done it before in pregnancy. I can do it again!
  • Massages and attending a painting party with my friend Leigh. I’ll also be taking boudoir photos for her later this summer since the last time we made an attempt, she came down with strep throat.
  • My maternity photos at the end of this month. I’m paying an obscene amount of money for this photographer, but having her take my maternity photos has been my dream for a while. She’s a-mazing!
  • My 32nd birthday in just a few more weeks.
  • A visit to my sister in August. She’s going through a divorce and is really in need of the extra support these days.
  • A final litttle hurrah as a family of four over Labor Day weekend, when we go stay at a rented house on Puget Sound. Sounds relaxing…I really hope it is!

There’s a lot on the horizon for us and, as summer turns to fall, the crowning glory will be this baby’s birth. It’s crazy, and incredible, to imagine.