The Birth of Della Francie

Today is Thursday, March 21st and I am sitting on my couch with sore boobs and a baby sleeping on my chest, and life could not be any more perfect than it is in this moment. I wanted to get this down while it is still fresh and raw, but I need you all to understand that nothing I could possibly type will ever do this story the justice that it deserves. The women, and the man, who were in the room when this miracle arrived are the only other witnesses who held the space with me, and who helped usher Della into the world and into our hearts. I am forever grateful for their love and support, and without them, I could not have done this amazing thing that is childbirth.

Alright, let’s back it up a few weeks. Last time I wrote, I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and I had made a little bit of progress on my own. I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced and absolutely ecstatic that my body seemed to be heading down the right road this time (versus a preeclampsia induction at 36 weeks like last time). At my almost-38-week appointment, I was 2cm dilated and 75% effaced and got to have an “aggressive cervical check” because my practice doesn’t technically do membrane sweeps until 39 weeks. I had also already lost my mucous plug at this point and was having several Braxton-Hicks contractions a day. So, we arrived at my last scheduled appointment on Friday, March 15th at 2pm while I was 38 weeks 5 days. I got to see one of my favorite midwives at the practice (the last three appointments I had were with my three favorite ladies – and then one of them delivered my baby!!) and she stripped my membranes for me and announced that I was about 4cm. Woohoo!!!! Here we go!!! Things are going to start happening!! Obviously, this was what I was telling myself – there is no guarantee that this procedure starts labor, but I was feeling pretty positive and had felt a lot of pelvic pressure for the 3 days leading up to my appointment, so rest assured I was feeling very… hopeful. I had also gotten all of my ducks in a row at school, and was ready for maternity leave, so it kind of felt like the stars were aligning and my mind was at ease/peace. Lights… camera… action:

Nick and I decided to take Harvey to Pizza Inn (one of our new family favorites) for dinner. We always have pizza on Friday nights, and UNC vs. Dook 2019 (round 3) was going to happen later that night, and we were in an all-around excited mood because we knew one way or the other we were about to meet our baby, or settle in for a nice weekend enjoying some two-on-one time with Harv. Right after sitting down to eat at 7pm, I felt my first contraction. It was light, but definitely NOT a Braxton-Hicks, and I felt a flutter of excitement. I didn’t want to get Nick worked up, and I also wanted to try and maintain a level of calm so as to not run them away with an adrenaline rush. So, we finished our dinner and got home around 7:30, and by that time, I had had about 5 or 6 more in a 30-minute time span. I figured I should go ahead and tell Nick about this, right as he was taking a picture of the pink evening sky and saying that Della was going to be born this weekend. We started to get Harvey ready for bed, and as soon as I realized that the contractions were definitely coming consistently, we tucked him in, texted Lolli and Pop and called my mom so she could start driving up here.

At about 8:20 I went ahead and called the midwife, who called me back pretty quickly, and I let Nick talk to her because I was having a contraction at the moment the phone rang. It was Amy!!! One of my favorites!! This was wonderful news!! I had loved my prenatal appointments with her, and felt like we had a great rapport, and she told us that she was there until 7am, at which time Stacie (one of my other favorites, yay!!) would come on. She said that she definitely felt like I was in labor, and that when it got to the point where the contractions were getting too painful to talk through, we should come on over. She said since we were 5 minutes from the hospital, to give her a call when we were on our way. It became pretty clear at this point, that we were not going to sleep that night.

By 9pm, Nick’s parents arrived at our house and we turned on the basketball pre-game stuff. My contractions were 3 minutes apart by this point, and some of them were more painful than others. At 9:45, upon Lolli’s good suggestion, we went ahead and left for the hospital, which ended up being a GREAT decision, because I got the last available L&D room at Duke Regional that night. Pop stayed behind to spend the night with Harvey, and the three of us arrived in my room at 10:15pm, where we turned on the game and had Amy check my cervix – 4cm. I asked if she could break my water to “really get the party started” and she said she was happy to do that – right after she finished assisting with a c-section. She said she would probably be back around midnight and that we should settle in for the evening while she was gone. We called my mom to let her know which room we were in, and Lolli started pulling out her bag of tricks for labor (suckers, life savers, and massage tools). The nurse got my IV port in, and I started pacing around the room, trying to keep my hips open while I worked through the contractions, which were still about 3 minutes apart.

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This was taken shortly after we arrived… as you can tell, we are still smiling, ha! 

My mom got there before the game ended, which was a bummer since we lost… but I actually didn’t care a whole lot because I was about to have a baby… and Amy came in about 12:30am to break my water. We all got to chat for a bit and I introduced her to my mom, and she said that she was going to do her best to be in the room laboring with me as much as she could, but that there was a full house that evening, and 2 more women had checked in to the triage rooms that they have for “overflow” – which made me super grateful for the big L&D room I had. Once she broke my water, I remembered that feeling from the first time – the strange water trickling down your legs, which is pretty continuous throughout the rest of the process, and after this, things really started to pick up quickly.

For 2 solid hours, I was having strong, intense, contractions. They were 2 minutes apart, and really starting to hurt. I was doing a few different things to try and manage the pain, like walking, leaning over things, sitting on the toilet, sitting on a ball, etc. Mimi and Lolli were very patient while I was in pain. I can’t imagine what this process must have been like through somebody else’s eyes and ears… but I picture it as a bit unpleasant. They were so great at talking me through it, and helping me come back to reality after each contraction. However, Nick was the real hero of this portion of the labor. He squeezed my hips, let me lean into him whenever I needed it, and was a trooper when I really started to growl/howl in his ear. I would not have been able to do ANY of this without him, but it was this part that really sticks out in my memory. Babe, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I had made my mind up a long time ago that I was going to do my damnedest to have a natural labor and delivery. This decision had been made before Harvey was born, and reflected in my choice to go to a birth center with that pregnancy. However, that went out the window with my induction, and here we were, so far, so good… I was getting the second chance I had hoped for, after a healthy pregnancy and good start to labor. It was at 2:30am that I started to lose some wind in my sails. Amy had come in, and said the noises I was making were starting to sound like I was “bearing down” and I really couldn’t communicate with words anymore at this point, and I think I said something like, “I DON”T FUCKING KNOW!!” (whilst on my hands and knees on the bed). During the contractions, I couldn’t do anything but focus on getting through the wave. However, when they ended, things were ok and I remember specifically thinking that was different from the last time I was in labor (the Pitocin was making me have non-stop, long and continuous contractions). Once that particular rush was over, Amy suggested that she check my cervix because she didn’t want me to push too soon. When she did so, my heart sank a bit, because I was 7cm. But… this is when my competitive/determined personality kicked in, and I told myself that I was going to start getting through the rest of this “five minutes at a time”, which is exactly what I do at the end of long distance races. The next hour is a blur.

This part is going to be short, because it felt like time stopped and was elongated all at once, and it was the most surreal hour of my life. My nurse suggested that I use the peanut ball to put between my knees and lay on the bed for a bit. She said that I could try a few contractions on one side, and then a few on the other side, and that this trick was one that usually worked to get women to 10cm. I’m not going to lie, I pretty much spent the next 45 minutes screaming because the contractions were actually “coupling” which meant that I was having one big contraction, followed immediately by a smaller one… leaving me no real break in between. I was getting close to giving up. In fact, I did at one point. I told the nurse I thought I needed the epidural, and she said she would check me to see if I had made progress. Around 3:15am my L&D nurse checked my progress, and announced that she didn’t think I was much past 7-8cm. Damnit… not done with transition yet… I was crushed. I said I needed the epidural, and she went to call the anesthesiologist. The last hour had been spent with me howling, my moms taking turns holding my hands and rubbing my back, and Nick coaching me in my ear while I used him for physical support as well as emotional.

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The nurse and my midwife came back into the room and said that relief was on the way. I, at one point, began to go from a deep groan into an all-out hysterical scream, and this memory is one that I am going to remember for the rest of my life. My L&D nurse got really close to my face, and took my hand in her hands and squeezed it and said very calmly, “Sarah, you’ve made it this far and you’ve worked too hard to lose control now… you’ve got this, come back to this.”

And then… all of the sudden… BAM!!! I felt the baby move down. I don’t know how to describe this feeling, other than exactly that… I could literally feel her body move down through my body, and it actually felt like the relief I needed. Nick said that was approximately 3:25am… and I yelled it out to the room, “I JUST FELT HER MOVE DOWN!” Amy then said, do you think you need to push? And I said “YES!!” So, she gently checked me because I was on my back at this point, and she said, “Sarah, she is right there, I can feel her head.” The room lit up… literally. I was so freaking elated. Amy then quickly got a gown on, while I pushed for the first time. I felt her head coming and I said to the room, “can you see her?!” and everybody said “yes!!” So, I pushed again and this time it started to burn a bit, and I could really feel her head coming out. I waited here for a minute while I panted a bit, and dang if that didn’t burn… but then with the next contraction, I pushed for a third and final time, and she was out at 3:36am!! HOLY SHIT what a feeling of release and accomplishment. I had done it… and I was in disbelief!! She was laid on my chest (after they unwrapped her chord from her neck) and she was absolutely perfect. The first thing I thought about her was that she had so much hair. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember feeling/thinking this when they laid Harvey on me, and I swear in that moment (just like the cliché Grinch story) my heart grew two sizes. What. A. Miracle.

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Those first few minutes of Della on my chest were magical. I felt so alive and so present. I actually felt the oxytocin coursing through my body. The pain completely ended. I kept saying over and over, “I can’t believe I just did that… that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” It was true!! I remember being thirsty and feeling like the cotton mouth was intense, but Mimi kept the water and the straw close by – phew! Amy told me a few minutes later that my placenta was ready to deliver, and I pushed that out easily. We were actually doing it. All of the postpartum things I had wanted with Harvey… immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, all of it. There was no rush. I felt like I was the one in charge of this whole process, and that my midwife and nurse were just listening and waiting for me to tell them what I wanted and needed. I truly cannot say enough good things about this hospital and this practice. They are absolute rock stars.

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For the next 3 hours we were all on cloud 9, getting Della cleaned up a bit, weighing her, snuggling her, staring at her. She was so alert and sweet. She latched on within 2 minutes of being born, and continued to nurse throughout those first few hours. I was in complete awe. This next part, although it is an important part of her birth story, I want to write about another time because it happened after Harvey was born as well, and I want to have a conversation with Amy at my 6 week appointment about it – but I did have a postpartum hemorrhage. Long story short, it was 30 minutes of some quick maneuvering by the nurses, midwife, and doctor… and I am perfectly fine on the other side, but it was a bit nerve-wracking right before we moved to my postpartum room at 7am. More on that later!

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Mimi got in the car and drove 2.5 hours to the hospital after working all day to be there for us! 
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Lolli was wearing a shirt that belonged to Grammy, who would have been so happy with the news of Della’s birth, the loss to Dook wouldn’t have mattered! ❤ 

Now, it has been five days of pure bliss. Harvey is very sweet and interested in his little sister, and she has been an extremely easy baby. She is eating like a champ, pooping, sleeping, and cooing. I feel like we won the lottery. How did I get so lucky? Just a short 31 hours after Della was born, we were discharged and on our way home. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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I am choosing to share these photos with you all because although they are pretty intense and graphic, they are so important to me. I grew a baby in my body for 9 months, and then I birthed her in what were the most incredible 8.5 hours of my life. I hope you all can appreciate this story and our journey. We have been so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from our village, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for our little family of four.

Love and peace,

Sarah xo

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And Just Like That… My Baby is One

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In 8 short days, Harvey will turn 1. It has been a whirlwind of a year. Wow, that’s an understatement! I distinctly remember a soccer mom telling me this time last spring that I would blink my eyes and Harvey would be graduating from high school. I knew she was right, and I smiled and nodded when she said these words… but, holy crap!!! We are 1/18 of the way there and I swear to the Goddess I don’t know how the time has flown. There are so many sweet, sweet memories that I feel I cannot soak up enough, and I don’t know why I’ve been so focused on this recently… but Harvey doesn’t smell like a baby anymore, but rather, a little boy, and I can’t keep myself from reminiscing and crying over that lost scent!!! However, I wanted to commemorate his first year with my top five favorite things/memories from the past 12 months. Here goes nothing…

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  1. Co-Sleeping. We technically did what they call “bed-sharing” for the first five months of Harvey’s life… and a little beyond (we still sneak a few mornings here and there). This means he slept in the bed with us! Yes, right in between us. We never planned to do this, it just sort of happened that way, and as a result, the memories we have of sleeping in the bed together will stick with me for a lifetime. Once we realized that we liked co-sleeping, we obviously researched it extensively, and found out that while it is a “heated” topic and one that is heavily debated, it can be done safely and effectively (meaning, Nick and I haven’t had one sleep-deprived night). Yes, I am serious. We are lucky, Harvey is a good sleeper and that part helps, it also helps that he loved/loves the boob… and that’s basically what co-sleeping is (or breast-sleeping as we came to call it). Sometimes I am so happy that he now sleeps through the night in his own crib, and sometimes I miss waking up next to him and his toothless grin. Every now and then, when he wakes up on Saturday/Sunday mornings, I will go get him and bring him into bed with us, so that he can nurse and fall back to sleep. I lay there watching him snore next to me and count my many blessings.
  2. Breastfeeding. So, I just have to say that I will be forever grateful that we made this happen. I tried not to get my hopes up before he was born, because I know this is really, really… really hard for some mamas. But, I knew it was something I wanted to try, and would be fortunate enough to have some time to devote to it because I didn’t have to go back to work until he was five months old. If it weren’t for the incredible lactation consultants at the Birth Center, as well as the amazing LC’s who work at UNC, we wouldn’t have made it through those first few weeks. Breastfeeding takes practice, and although we picked it up really quickly, it can be difficult to keep it up. When I went back to work, maintaining my milk supply was a struggle. I cried over it… more than once. I also know that we had it better than most, and I’m thankful for that. Being able to breastfeed him made our bond that much stronger. It also made life extremely convenient for our family, who likes to be on the move. We have traveled extensively with Harvey (flying to Philly, Seattle, Arkansas… driving to Ohio, Virginia, Georgia) and it would have been more difficult to do if I couldn’t just plop my boob in his mouth when he was hungry. The fact that Nick was so supportive and helpful with both eating and sleeping stuff was crucial. Now that Harvey hardly ever nurses anymore, and is actually drinking whole milk, I truly hope that I will be able to breastfeed (and breast-sleep) with my next baby because I’ve loved every single minute!
  3. Family dinners at the table. This is something we will keep doing, because Nick and I feel very strongly about having dinner as a family every single night. We both grew up in houses that allowed us to do this whenever possible (extra-curricular activities can occasionally get in the way) and we knew we wanted the same for our kids. Watching Harvey learn how to eat is the best homemade entertainment I can think of. I mean… he’s obsessed with food. His eyes light up when he knows he’s about to eat something, and the BLW (baby-led weaning) process is one that I HIGHLY recommend to parents. BLW teaches them how to pick things up, what different textures feel like, how to process new tastes and smells at their own pace… and the most important part, how to eat at the table with the rest of the family. I have carved a special place in my brain for all of the “first” foods we gave him, and how he looked and acted when he ate them. Some of the dinner table conversations we have had as a family of 3 during his first year are ones that will stick with me for a lifetime.
  4. The first “real” kiss. When Harvey was around seven/eight months our bedtime routine was becoming more and more sweet each night. And then, one night out of the blue, he leaned in and kissed me when I squeezed him and said “I love you.” I swear, I could have died happy right then and there. It made my heart MELT, and now when he kisses me, I try to make it last longer and longer, haha!
  5. Harvey pooping on the floor when he was almost eleven months old. This one is a more recent memory, and one that made me laugh so hard I peed a little bit in my pants! First of all, our mornings in general are so funny to me. I wake up around 5:15 AM and hop right in the shower. When I get out, Harvey is usually still sleeping, so I start to dry my hair and drink coffee. When I’m done with this he’s typically awake, so I get him from his room, bring him in bed and nurse him. When he’s done eating, I get him dressed for the day. Nick **tries** to read the paper during all of this and the older he’s gotten, the harder this part has become. He is wiggly. He likes to squirm around, so most mornings, I just let him roam around our room naked while I finish getting ready for school. A little more than a month ago, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom while Harv was trying to open some cabinets and drawers, and I heard him making his “poop sounds.” So, I look over, and sure enough, he was holding on to the drawer handle, straining, and a big ole’ poop was on the ground. I immediately cracked up and called Nick over to see, and as he tried to get his phone out to take a picture of the hilarity, Harvey stepped in it!!!!

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I also wanted to give y’all an update on me. Having a baby is not all roses and rainbows, and although it is the single most amazing thing I will ever accomplish, my mind and body have paid some tolls. As a woman who recovers daily from an eating disorder, the body image stuff is tough. I will never look the same. Yes, I’ve lost the weight, but women who’ve been here know it is not all about that. It has been one year since Harvey was born, and I still have dozens of stretch-mark scars. They are silver now, not purple, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear a bikini again. Not a real big deal, but definitely something we don’t always talk about, you know? The other part is that my body feels different, too. It’s not a “bad” different… just a “new” kind of different. Also… nursing a baby for 12 months can do a number on your ta-tas… woo wee! These are all things I just wanted to throw out there, for the other mamas who think it is just them… I am here to tell you it is not! You will develop your own new sense of “normal” and you might have to work at “falling in love” with that new body, that new person, that new life.

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What’s new in the world of being a working mom you might ask? Well…let me start by saying this: If I were given the choice to do it differently, I wouldn’t. Yes, even if I had a million dollars and the ability to stay home, without money worries, I wouldn’t. I was a teacher before I was a mother, and that does not mean that being a mother has to come “second.” Some really good advice I got from my Aunt Molly was that we can “be both” and that’s okay! I love teaching, and I love coaching, and I love Harvey and I love my family. Now, with all of that being said, each day is different and can bring its own struggles and hurdles. There are DEFINITELY days when I go to bed feeling like I let somebody down. Sometimes, it’s my husband, sometimes its my child, sometimes its my students or my players. Some days, I feel like I did a good job at everything, and some days I feel like I did a mediocre job with everything. Those days are the hardest. However, I continue to live my life with a huge sense of fulfillment and joy, and the fact that Harvey comes with me to soccer games, and we can spend time together that way, is super fun, and my soccer girls love him dearly. Professional update: I will be halfway done with my National Board Certification at the end of the school year! Woo hoo!

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There are a few people I would like to give a quick shout out to, because during Harvey’s first year, he has gotten sick at daycare a few times. His daycare is also closed occasionally, and they are not always teacher workdays for me. If it weren’t for my amazing husband (and his incredible job), I would be in the negative for sick days. Yes, I’ve been able to take a few, but Nick has really been the one who leaves work and gets Harvey when he needs to come home early. In addition to our amazing village of friends, grandparents, soccer player babysitters, etc., Nick’s parents (Lolli and Pop) have been our go-to this soccer season. Pop is now retired, and when Harvey’s daycare is unavailable, he spends the day with nug. I truly don’t know how people do it when they don’t have family help. If it weren’t for Pop and the time he gets to spend with Harv, we wouldn’t be able to swing it most days. Watching the two of them interact is priceless.

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Anywho, back to this little boy of mine! Harvey has developed his own little personality. He has 4 teeth (that we brush at bedtime), is around 30 inches long, and weighs 23 lbs.  He is a really funny baby! He waves and says “bye” along with signing “more” and “all done.” He can say “up”, “dada”, “mama”, “more”, “stop”, “ball”, and “dog.” He is also, officially, walking a few steps here and there!!! He now has a baby cousin, too! My brother and his girlfriend welcomed Knox Ripley Cade on the 8th, and we’ve been down to visit them a few times! Our good friend, Martha Gibson, took some photos of Harvey last weekend to commemorate his birthday… and if y’all are looking for a portrait photographer, her work is amazing!! ❤

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I will write a separate post about Harvey’s 1st Birthday Party soon because I want to include mostly pictures of that awesome day! We can’t wait to celebrate with our family and friends!

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The Fourth Trimester

Wow. I can’t believe it! Harvey is 12 weeks old, as of yesterday, and our 4th trimester is over! What a doozy. I wish I had the time and energy to write about every single moment… but time and energy are sparse these days (I’ll tell you why at the end of this post).

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Some of the highlights:

Harvey is a smiley dude. I knew that when my nugget started smiling (and occasionally laughing) it would bring me joy… but nobody told me it would MELT MY HEART over and over again. I can’t get enough of it! I’ve found myself doing all kinds of ridiculous things to see that toothless grin of his. Every time it happens, I feel as if I am enjoying a special moment in time that forever bonds us together.

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Harvey loves his jumperoo. I decided to put it together a few weeks ago, when I realized that his head control was really good, and he has had so much fun figuring that thing out. The other reason I put it together is because he loves pushing down with his legs (as if he is ready to stand up) and I thought it would be a great way to practice that. I did find… however… that his favorite time to poop is while he’s in the jungle jumperoo… so Nick and I have spent a little time cleaning not 1, not 2… but 3 “blowouts” up from that thing. Also, I realize, that it might not be the jumperoo that he likes, as much as the pooping part… haha!

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Harvey loves to travel. We went to Philadelphia a few weeks ago to visit some friends, and Harvey flew like a champ. He literally didn’t make a peep the entire time, and it really gave us some confidence before we embark on a much longer flight to Seattle later this summer. We also head to the beach with my family on Saturday and I cannot WAIT to put his little feet in the ocean for the first time! Hopefully, he will like it better than he liked his feet in the Eno River.

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Some of the lowlights:

Alright, I am going to simplify this story as much as possible… but I want you to understand that when it happened, I was f***ing devastated. I have been pumping once a day, since Harvey was born, to help keep a good supply of milk, and to start storing some away for when I have to go back to work in August. Well… a few days ago, our freezer (which is brand new) decided to die (we will NEVER buy Samsung products EVER again) and I therefor lost over 100oz of frozen breastmilk in the process. Holy s***. I had no idea that I would feel the pain and anger and frustration and sorrow that I felt if that were to ever happen to me. Pumping is not easy. It’s annoying, time consuming, and flat-out lame… but you do it for you baby, especially if you’re a working mom. When I lost all of that hard work, I sobbed as I had to pour it down the drain. What a waste. I also read lots of stories from women who had similar experiences… sometimes losing things like 500oz or 1,000oz when their power went out, etc. In reading those stories, and doing more research on my own, I found out that the actual chemical, hormonal, and emotional bond I have with my breastmilk is a legitimate cause for such suffering when a loss like that occurs. Mamas, my advice to you: spread your supply out if you can. Store some at work, some at home, some at daycare, and some at your in-laws’ house. Don’t let something like this happen to you! Lesson learned… the hard way.

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Harvey is going through a phase (we hope). This phase is called, “I am only happy when somebody is holding me.” Unless there is a very small part of the day where he is exceptionally happy… like the jumperoo time… he pretty much screams the second somebody puts him down. Wooweeeee… my back is starting to hurt!!!! Luckily, I have the Ergobaby carrier, and he enjoys going around in that… but somedays, bedtime can’t come soon enough! Thank goodness he (usually) sleeps through the night. I also want to add here that when I say sleeps through the night, I mean something very different from what most people mean. I am going to write a separate post about it someday, but for now I’ll say this: the three of us co-sleep. And by co-sleep, I mean bed-share. Harvey sleeps between the two of us every night, and it has been the most effective way that we’ve found to combat sleep-deprivation, nighttime feeding stress, and overall evening chaos. I never thought I would commit to it… but again, I will write about it more some other time! 🙂

In other news:

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Monday! Woohoo! Nick has been, and is still, my very best friend. I love him more today than I did the first time I told him so, over 8 years ago. They say that the first year is the hardest… and the two of us were like, “yeah right, we should go to Italy and have a baby and get this whole family thing started!” ……. HAHAHA!!!!! As if our year had not been crazy enough… Nick and I decided to buy a new house! YES! We are officially crazy (the whole energy and time thing). I can’t wait to write a big post about it in the future, but for now, I’ll say this: it is our dream home. We can’t wait to raise our babies in it… and it has more than one bathroom.

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Overall:

Life continues to be an adventure… one that I’m grateful to experience. We have amazing friends, an incredible family, and more support in this life than we could’ve ever hoped for. I keep counting my lucky stars because I know that it could all change in an instant. I’ve never felt that more than I do in these most recent days, after national tragedy strikes. I get to go to sleep tonight, with my loving husband, and my sweet baby, and that is more than most people can say.

Love to you all. ❤

A Month with Harvey

I can’t believe that Harvey has been here for a month… especially since I was still supposed to be pregnant right now (well, I would be overdue at this point, but that’s what everybody tells you to expect with your first). With each new day that goes by, my heart feels like it is going to burst with all of the love I have for my son. What a beautiful life we live, y’all!!

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Harvey went to the pediatrician on Monday for his 4-week-old check-up, and he had gained over 2 pounds!! He had also grown over 1 inch and his head circumference was in the normal range! So is everything else – he is just in the lower half of “normal” because he was a preemie and they say it could take 6 months or more for him to “catch up” to the growth percentiles. However, everything else about him is “normal” to us, haha! He has definitely found his cry – which is funny to even write, but honestly, it took him 2 full weeks to even start crying when he needed something. His main form of communication is grunting. He grunts so much that he’s given himself an outie bellybutton in the form of an umbilical hernia (not that big of a deal, they generally correct themselves before age 5).

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He has been eating like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo – which is why I call him Hungry, Hungry Harvey! But seriously, imagine the children’s game, with the Hippos opening and closing their mouths ferociously, and that’s him… about every 2 and a half hours throughout the day. It’s so cute. The only reason I feel like I can say this, and make a joke, is because breastfeeding has gone extremely well for me. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones, because I have heard so many stories and have some friends who’ve had difficulty with it, and feel extremely grateful for every single feeding when I feel nothing but bonding and sweetness and love for him as we look at each other while he munches. I am looking into milk donation, because I have so much of it (I have two breast pumps if anybody needs one), and have been very happy to breastfeed in public. Harvey and I are going to a Nation-Wide Nurse-In at the State Capitol building on Friday, his actual one-month-birthday, to help bring attention to the unnecessary stigmas behind breastfeeding in public areas. ESPECIALLY because I will be breastfeeding him during the freaking summer time, and the thought of trying to put a blanket over myself every single time he needs to eat, is 100% ridiculous. I mean, we don’t eat with blankets over our heads do we? This picture is me feeding him at a brewery last weekend – and the Moby on my shoulder was to shield the sun from his eyes, not to hide my boob from the crowd.

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Other things Harvey likes: smiling (whether he does it on purpose or not), being carried in the Moby wrap, stroller walks, riding in the car, and…BATH TIME! He is obsessed with the water. It completely calms him into stretching his little body fully out and pretending to float (with the help of an adult, of course). It is one of my favorite activities with him.

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I love being a mom. It is, by far, the best occupation I’ve ever encountered. Nick and I have incorporated Harvey into our daily lives with ease – which we both felt very strongly about doing before he was born. I knew that the only way to get used to bringing him places was to just get out and do it! Showing him off has been so much fun! So far, he has been to Raleigh, Chapel Hill, downtown Durham, and Hillsborough. Taking him to soccer games has been super fun too! We also have trips planned for the rest of the summer that include Philadelphia, Hilton Head, Camp Mikell, Ohio, and Seattle! Some people think we are crazy for flying with a baby, but honestly, he is so good, and travels so well, that I think we will be happy we got out and visited people before I go back to work.

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One of the parts of being a new mom that not a lot of people talk about, is having a new body. It has taken some time, and some effort, to embrace the new way I look. My stomach will never look the same, and that’s ok. Mederma is helping a bit, but it will obviously never bring me back to pre-Harvey days. This week, I made the decision to join Weight Watchers, to help lose the baby-weight and to help stay on a healthy lifestyle track that will be much better for me in the long run. Breastfeeding requires extra calories, and a lot of moms want to cut calories to lose the weight. It is also in my nature to do the same thing, but, before Harvey was born, my therapist and I discussed some ways to prevent me from slipping back in to old habits, and WW, so far, has been a good plan. I’m not going to lie, it has been hard from time to time, thinking about the fact that its summer and we are going to go to the beach and pool and whatnot, and I have to go to the store and buy a new bathing suit that I think looks “ok” for now… but overall, the benefits of being a mom have outweighed the few “costs”. I am adding a picture here, for my own purposes. This is my body, one month postpartum. All of the mamas out there whose bellies look like road maps, bless you. We know it was worth it 🙂

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