4 1/2 months

Sweet Charlotte, you have so much personality all of a sudden! We traveled to Atlanta this week to see my family and (don’t tell Daddy) you changed so much. I have such a social baby! You smile and screech and thrash your body when you’re excited to see someone, you babble and have whole conversations. You spit (not just drool, spit!) all of the time. You learned it on the plane ride to Atlanta and now you can’t stop. It’s so entertaining to you! My funny girl, I can’t believe I already see a sense of humor in you. You spit directly at us to see our reactions. How are you so smart?

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You LOVE taking selfies. You love looking at faces, especially your own

You still sleep through the night, with one feeding early in the morning to break it up. Before Atlanta you were going to bed around 9, waking up around 6 to nurse, and falling back asleep till around 9. I am writing this on the plane back, I have no idea what your sleeping patterns will be after the traveling. You kept to your schedule, kind of. You went to bed around midnight and woke up around 9 but instead of going back to sleep you stayed up for a couple hours before a morning nap. It was hard for you to fall back asleep, too much excitement! The sun was up and your Aunt Katie was in our room so you were ready to socialize and play.

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It was so nice having someone to hang out with you in the morning while I slept a little longer

You LOVE floor time. You roll roll roll back and forth and get so excited with all the movement. You reach for your toys on the floor with you and then put then right in your mouth. You even lick the floor. It’s so fun to watch, I can’t believe how big you are. You get frustrated if you’re held for too long, miss independent. You love your exercise.

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EVERYTHING goes in your mouth. If you grab someone’s finger, you bring it to your mouth. Anything, seriously. I had you at the dinner table and you kept leaning over and licking it. Weirdo. You started teething a week or two ago, so now you don’t just lick and suck, you chew on everything with your funny gums. You also rub your gums with your fist and some of your toys. I feel bad for you, it seems really frustrating. Sometimes you get so mad at the toy you’re chewing (gumming?) on. You still put your fingers or your thumb in your mouth a lot, but not quite as much as you used to. Since you started teething you chew on your thumb, not just suck it. Too funny. This usually comes with a good amount of drool.

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You are sensitive. If something hurts just a little you let us know how much you didn’t like it. If you don’t like a noise, you cry. We took you to your first Braves game (!) and you cried after every home run because you didn’t like all the yelling. If you miss mama, you let us know. You just started teething and you’re so whiney about it, so who knows what you’ll do when they really come in. I like that you’re sensitive, it just means you have a big heart.

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Speaking of being sensitive, you decided you hate the car seat. I don’t really know when the change happened but if you’re in it for more than 10 minutes (especially if there is no one sitting next to you) you’re probably going to lose it. I can’t count how many times you’ve cried so hard we had to pull over or pull you out of the seat because it sounds like you can’t breathe. You REALLY get yourself worked up. I really really hate it. I hate that you don’t understand why mama won’t pick you up and soothe you. We never let you cry normally, so you don’t understand why we let you get so upset. I hope it gets better as you get older. Thankfully you were better than normal while we were in Atlanta, so hopefully that’s a good sign of the future.

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You still love the sling, but you definitely fight it after a while if you aren’t tired. If you are tired you fall asleep as long as I’m walking or bounce you around for a bit. You have your legs out of it now (tummy to tummy hold) and it’s pretty adorable. We get a lot of stares (especially in Atlanta and on planes where they aren’t as popular) because you just look so sweet. We also use the bjorn, especially if we will be walking a good distance (like to the farmers market) or if Daddy wants to wear you. Unfortunately you still don’t quite fit in the Ergobaby. Your head is slightly covered and you HATE that. You cry every time I put you in it. But I can tell we’re close. I can’t wait, I’ve been dying to use that thing! The sling is still so great for cuddly sleepy time though.

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You bring so much joy to my life, little one.

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4 months (basically)

I know I’ll probably start every post this way, but I can’t believe you are four months old, goofball. I call you that a lot these days because you are so silly and crazy all of a sudden.

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You have changed a lot this month (who am I kidding, you change a lot every month) and it has been so crazy to watch. Your noises keep getting louder and crazier, grunting, growling, and shrieking like a maniac. But it’s hilarious. I wonder what the neighbors think? You talk a lot with your mouth closed too. You love sucking on your bottom lip so there is a lot of “mmm mmm” while you’re sucking. Your babbling is still mostly vowel sounds, with some “baa” and “guh” thrown in, and it’s the cutest thing.

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Thankfully you’ve never been a big crier, and that’s still the case. You fuss, or lightly cry, when you’re tired right before a nap or bedtime. Sometimes when you’re really hungry too. And you get upset if you’re in the car seat for too long. You’ll hit a wall and BAM! the world is collapsing around you. Thankfully driving around Portland this rarely happens. But if it does it isn’t pretty. We spent a lot of time in the car during our trip in Indiana and I had to pull you out of the carseat while the car was still moving because you were SO upset. You were choking you were crying so hard. It made me cry too, I hate seeing you so upset. Hopefully it’s just a phase that doesn’t last long! But yeah our upstairs neighbor always says he never hears you cry which is so good. Especially since the babies that live around us seem like they’re ALWAYS crying. I hate it.

14 weeks

Oh my goodness, Charlotte you have grown up so much already. You are goofy, sensitive, loving, and loud. You love hearing your own voice so you babble and shriek all day. Happy shrieks, mad shrieks, I love them all. You scrunch up your face when you smile big, and when you smile small it’s always a one sided smirk. Sometimes when I’m holding you and someone gets up close to talk to you, you’ll smile and then bury your face in my chest. What is that? So silly. You giggle too! Not too often, but sometimes I can get you to giggle at something silly I’m doing. It is so amazing, I smile and laugh with you and could do it all day. You love your mama so much, it makes me feel so special. You love staring at me, even from across the room. When someone else is holding you and you get upset you almost always calm down when you’re back in mama’s arms. Sometimes when you’re about to cry you stick out your bottom lip. It’s usually when someone else is holding you or looking at you and it makes you feel scared. It’s the most pitiful thing in the world.

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You don’t take naps on me any more, you nap in the pack n play. I think the mattress isn’t soft enough for you because you like sleeping in our bed better, and you don’t take very long naps. Usually around 45 minutes, but sometimes longer. I would say one nap a day will be closer to an hour and a half. I know you like those longer naps so I hope you get more consistent with it soon. You aren’t really on a nursing schedule, I still feed you on demand. Usually 6 times a day. Sometimes you get distracted and pop off and on, and sometimes you’re sleepy and hungry so you gulp it down fast and then keep sucking as you fall asleep. Nursing is so much easier now, I’m so happy we’ve figured it out. It was pretty painful for a while, and awkward and uncomfortable in public. Now I nurse you in public no problem. But if you’re wide awake you get distracted by all the noises easily. You either sleep through the night (around 12 hours!) or wake up once in the middle of those 12 hours. The last couple of nights you fell asleep around 7:45 and stayed down! That’s the earliest you’ve ever fallen asleep for the night. The first time you woke up at 1 to nurse. And the second time you woke up at 6 to nurse and then fell back asleep till 9. A lot of times you wake up early in the morning and then I put you in our bed so you’ll sleep a few more hours. I’m so glad you’re such a great night sleeper. I love my sleep.

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I have worked three shifts now, and I think each time it has gotten easier for you and daddy. He loves taking care of you alone, but it is definitely an adjustment for you not having mama around. Thankfully you take the bottle no problem. And now you let him soothe you. I think you know I’m not around and that makes it easier. If I’m here and you start fussing with daddy you won’t calm down until I take you. Nothing is as good as mama’s arms. We haven’t taken you to the doctor in a while so I have no idea how much you weigh. You are definitely gaining well, though. Your legs and arms have gotten chunkier (yay!) and those 3 month clothes are starting to fit pretty snuggly. And you just outgrew your size 1 diapers!

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You are strong and smart for your age. You have very good head control, you love sitting up with assistance (a lot of times if we lean you back on our legs you try so hard to sit up on your own), you can support your weight on your legs with help, you push yourself up with your arms during tummy time (finally!) and if you’re doing tummy time on the boppy you use your legs to push yourself over it, and then roll over on to your back. You roll over from tummy to back no problem but you haven’t tried back to tummy yet. Sometimes after you wake up from a nap we’ll find you flipped over on the other side of the crib. You sure do love to squirm and scoot yourself around. You also follow and find my voice or a rattle toy no problem. My smart little baby. And you are a social baby, you love studying new faces and listening to new voices. Also, you are grasping. You pull on your clothes a lot, swipe at my face, pull on my shirt while nursing, and can almost get ahold of a rattle. You definitely try.

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I can’t leave out the bubbles. You blow spit bubbles all the time, and you’re definitely drooling a lot now. But I think it’s adorable, of course.

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You are the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen, and I love watching you grow up, even though you’re doing it way too fast!

 

6 weeks

You just grew up this week! All of the sudden you are staring straight at me, and it makes you so happy. Almost every time you stare into my eyes I can make you smile. Oh those smiles. So rewarding. All I want is for you to be happy, so after working all day every day to see those smiles, I’m so glad they’re here.

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You are so strong. You have always had a strong neck but your head control is crazy now. I pick you up and you face me like a little person. It’s crazy how much you’ve changed in a month and a half. Your little arms and legs are so strong too. When you’re upset you push me with your legs and scratch at my chest. Poor little baby, I hate when you’re upset.

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You take a soothie now. But not as quick as you used to. A few weeks ago I noticed you liked it so I gave it to you a couple times when you were really upset. After a doula told me it is good and natural for you to want it (two weeks ago) I’ve been trying to give it to you anytime I can’t calm you down. So of course now that I want you to use it, you aren’t as in to it. You spit it out and make faces. But sometimes you fall asleep with it. Picky girl.

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3 weeks

It’s funny I tried to write about my pregnancy every week and Charlotte is 3 weeks old today and I haven’t written anything but the birth story. Actually, that’s not very funny. What’s wrong with me?

She is the sweetest, prettiest, softest, most precious little baby girl in the world. These early weeks are so simple, but already I’m starting to see her personality and we’re getting to know each other.

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There are only a few things a baby needs in the beginning. Food being the most obvious. So that has been a huge part of our lives. I got blessed with a baby who is a great eater. She had her first feeding right after she was born that lasted about 30 minutes. Katherine got her on that time, and my first time trying alone wasn’t very successful. She cried, I got frustrated, and we went back to sleep. I tried again next time she woke up and we made it work. Once my milk came in (day 3 I believe) she started eating every 2-3 hours. After a few days that changed to 3-4 hours. Now I nurse 6 times a day. My baby is 3 weeks old and she only nurses 6 times a day! The past few nights she has slept for about 7 hours straight. Are you kidding me? How did I get this lucky? I still don’t sleep well because it stresses me out that she isn’t waking up. I wake up anticipating her waking up, but she never does. She’ll make a couple noises, I wake up, and then she stops. This isn’t normal. Most newborns nurse on average every 2 hours for at least the first month. BUT, it’s okay that Charlotte isn’t average. She is gaining weight, she poops and pees several times a day, and she looks wasted after every feeding. These are all indications that she is getting plenty of milk. I guess she is more about quality than quantity. She is usually on for about 30 minutes, and she must get a ton of milk. I definitely produce enough. Too much if you ask me. I leak all over the place. My milk comes down several times while she naps. It’s annoying. It’s like my body knows about the 2 hour average and prepares for that. Hopefully everything will line up soon and the only time I’ll see milk is while she’s eating. Until then I have soaked cloth diapers all over the apartment

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edit: 8/30/14

There was a lot going on while I typed this up on my phone real quick, but I went ahead and published it because I think it will serve to remind me what life with a newborn was like! Breastfeeding, breastfeeding, breastfeeding. What I didn’t take the time to write about was how painful it became. My nipples cracked and were open wounds until probably week 8. But then it was week 10 and everything was so easy all of a sudden! I just wish I had known how fast that time was really going by, because while I was living it it seemed like the pain would never end and I would never get to sit back and actually enjoy feeding my baby. After reading mommy forums searching for an answer to the pain I realized many women were going through, or went through, the same exact thing. And the most common advice? Wait it out. It gets better. Yes some women tried to preach the “get a good latch” and “call in a lactation consultant” but most knew that these things wouldn’t help, only time would heal. So now that I’ve lived it (and I did have a postpartum doula come by and tell me my latch was fine after I had tried everything to change Charlotte’s technique, and I do think if you’re having a hard time you should have a lactation consultant come by to at least try and help) all I have to say to new moms trying to battle with the pain and exhaustion of nursing a newborn, IT GETS BETTER! The next few weeks will fly by and then you will be able to sit back and watch your baby nurse and just soak up the feeling of nourishing your child. Hang in there!

Charlotte’s Birth Story

I’m sitting on the couch next to a swaddled bundle of pure beauty and I feel like the luckiest woman alive. Getting here was quite the experience, and worth every minute, and I need to try to document it. Even though it will take days and lots of help from Tom and Kendra.

Let me start by saying there is no way to imagine what labor and birth is like until you’ve experienced it. All the reading I did, the videos I watched, nothing could have prepared me for this. I want to go back and watch some videos because I don’t remember any of the women yelling like I did, before pushing even started.

This post is going to be hard to write. To be honest it’s mostly a hazy blur of pain and exhaustion.

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Yes, birth is beautiful. Everything I had to go through to get this baby was so incredible. But part of it sucked. About 24 hours of it actually. I’m not going to tell you the contractions were “curious sensations that required all of my attention.” Contractions started easy enough. I was surprised by the feeling, they started like a strong period cramp, just sharper and stronger. Those started at 3:00 am Monday morning, and  I spent most of Monday with those contractions around 15 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. There were a few strong ones that were closer together, especially during/after the short walk Tom and I took that afternoon, but most of the day was a breeze. The pattern didn’t really significantly change until 7:00 pm. Contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and probably averaged 45 seconds. That’s when I told Kendra to leave her house, and told Katherine I thought things were getting serious. Little did I know I had 24 more hours of “serious” ahead of me. At this point I can barely remember what that part of labor felt like. I know it was painful, because I wouldn’t have called Katherine if I didn’t really think we were getting close. But I know it was nothing compared to what it would be like 12 hours later. 5-6 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute long is usually when women go to the hospital. I thought it meant I only had a few hours of labor left. So Katherine sent Kat and Jessica, her assistants who were also at my prenatal appointments, to come check my progress. I was less than thrilled when Kat told me I was 2cm. I was hoping for 4-5, and I could have handled being told 3 because that would have at least been a change (I had been 2 cm for weeks). But no, even after having contractions all day, I hadn’t dilated at all. My cervix had changed though, work had been done. It was stretchy and thin, so the contractions had definitely been doing something. But being 2 cm dilated, especially as a first time mom, usually means you still have a lot of labor ahead of you. So obviously I sent the girls home to sleep, and told Kendra I hoped she didn’t mind having a sleepover.

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The girls left and I labored in the living room and watched shows and talked with Tom and Kendra. We used my contraction timer app to time them the whole night, Katherine wanted me to call her when they were 1 minute long and 4-5 minutes apart for at least an hour. For hours they stayed 45 seconds – 1 minute long about 5-6 minutes apart. They hurt, but like I said, at this point I can’t even remember what that part was like. I started getting really tired around 12:00 am so Kendra went to the nursery to use our guest bed, and Tom and I got in bed. I slept for the 5 minutes between contractions, and woke up during every contraction. Not your normal nap, but it was nice. Looking back, I wish I had done it longer while I could. Ladies, if it’s the middle of the night and you’re tired enough to doze off in between contractions, DO IT. For as long as possible. Laboring in bed is good, you can get in the most restful position possible and it makes it easier to let your body relax while your uterus works. Anyways, resting is important while you can. That’s probably when my uterus was able to do the most work that night. I started feeling restless at 1:30am and went to the living room where I moved back and forth from the couch and the floor where I was on all fours with the yoga mat and ball. Kendra saw that I was back up and joined me while Tom continued to sleep. I’m glad he got a good nap, and I wish Kendra had slept longer even though I obviously appreciated the company. Tom got up and things started to get a little harder. Instead of just deep breaths I started moaning some. They were getting stronger. This was about 2:30-3. At 4:30 we went ahead and called Katherine because they had been 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart since about 3. They were hard to talk through, and we all really thought they seemed to be changing. So the girls came back to check me again, and I was a 6-7!

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My body had done some serious work through the night. We all felt optimistic about a baby coming soon. Katherine showed up maybe another hour later, and I remember being on the couch and just ignoring every one during the contractions. Tom sat next to me almost the entire time so I could hold/squeeze his hand. The small, physical show of support got me through the day. I forgot to mention through the night and some of the morning we watched The Office, 30 Rock, and Bob’s Burgers. Early on it made me laugh and I was glad to hear the girls and Tom enjoying themselves too. I don’t remember when the TV turned off, and the John Legend radio came on. So most of the morning was just waiting for the contractions to do their job and finish dilating me. Unfortunately every time they checked me I was still at a 7. I don’t remember how many times I was checked, or what time during the day. I remember them checking Charlotte’s heartbeat pretty often. Which was kind of annoying because they wanted to hear it during a contraction and I was usually squirming around so I had to try to hold still for them. But they were always really nice about it and would wait a few minutes if I felt like that current contraction was too strong.

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(I had to look back at the texts between Kendra and my mom to remember the details of this.) When I was checked at first that morning they said Charlotte was completely on the right, and my cervix was still tilted as well, so they asked me to change sides on the couch. Ha! If only it was that simple. This was a problem the entire day. Every time they checked me they said the same thing, that everything was tilted to the right and we needed to work on getting everything in line. So throughout the morning (while I was having such strong contractions that I was moaning and writhing in pain for a minute straight) I was asked to labor different ways to open my hips up. On my side in bed with my knee up on pillows, on all fours with one leg up to one side, and I walked up and down the stairs in our building. At some point during the morning I started leaking amniotic fluid, so my membranes had ruptured. But there was never a gush or anything. I was absolutely fine with this, because that meant contractions were slightly easier for me, and baby was still nice and comfortable in her warm bath.

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At some point during the day (texts say around 1:30) I was checked and looked like a 9.5. Honestly, I don’t even remember being told that. Kendra told me about it later, and also told me that after they did the Rebozo technique, I was back to a 7. I have no idea how that works, and I’m glad they didn’t tell me that happened. I was so focused on contractions I don’t remember them updating me, I just remember getting checked wasn’t fun. And up until the end my body wasn’t trying to push so I knew I wasn’t complete yet anyways. You would think me being 9.5 is when things finally started to happen, but it was actually after a little intervention from my wonderful midwife. I was almost completely dilated, but my cervix wasn’t lined up properly so I wouldn’t be able to push her down until that happened. The hip opening stuff I had been working on hadn’t done the job. I took a hot shower to try to relax and get some relief on my lower back, and then I got in to bed and we got to work.

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Sometime between 4:00-5:00 pm Katherine put me on my side in bed and rocked my body during contractions, and THEN we tried the Rebozo technique. I laid flat on my back and they put a sheet long ways underneath my lower back. Katherine held both sides of the sheet, standing directly above me. Once a contraction started she rocked me back and forth, yanking hard on the left side. The first time she did this it was intense but not much worse than a normal contraction. The second time the contraction was worse, and she rocked harder. It was horrible. But at the same time it was amazing because my incredible midwife was standing above me with this look in her eyes like she was so excited to be trying this new technique and I could tell just how much she loves her job. They checked me right after and said it definitely worked. I can’t remember if I had already been feeling the urge to push a little, but after this I definitely did. I moved to the toilet because I wanted contractions to start moving her down more, and that’s what happened.

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While trying not to push on the toilet, a strong contraction busted my water open. Seriously, BUSTED. It shot water all over the bathroom floor and door. I was sitting on the toilet! Kendra was in there with me and we were both shocked. We heard it too. It was like a water balloon. After that the toilet was uncomfortable because the urge to push was so strong, so I moved back to the bed to try to relax. Katherine checked me and said I still had a “lip” I think she called it, of cervix left, so I shouldn’t push yet. That little bit of cervix stuck around for at least another hour during which I had to deal with crazy painful contractions and try my hardest not to let my body push. I was trying so hard to focus on my cervix pulling back during the contractions, but I felt like I was failing miserably. Katherine said I did a great job, but while it was happening I didn’t believe a word she said. Now I realize that I really did hold back, and my cervix was able to complete before I started pushing the baby past it, which would have caused swelling. Katherine tried to hold the cervix with her finger while I had a contractions, to help it pull back, but it didn’t work so I kept contracting and trying to control my body. Her midwife friend came to assist, and tried to do the same thing and said that it worked. Katherine told me that’s because she came after I had already done the work. Again, I believe her now but didn’t really at the time.

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So that meant it was time to really push! I was so happy I was finally allowed to really work at getting her out. I had a few pushes to get her down through the canal, and then every one came in and got set up to help me push her out. I was on the bed, Tom by my side, every one else at the business end. Including Kendra! Katherine and her friend Jen took turns helping me through contractions and supporting my bottom, while Kat and Kendra held both my legs back for me to help push. I never thought I would be on my back with people holding my legs, but it’s what felt right. I got SO hot and the cold washcloth on my head was a sweet relief but at the same time I wanted a bucket of water poured over me, and the stupid shirt I was wearing to come off. But I couldn’t move, all I could do was push when it was time. I started off yelling (maybe screaming is a better word), and Jen told me that while I could do whatever felt right, yelling releases energy out and I should try focusing that energy down into my pushes instead of out of my mouth. The next contraction I tried it and every one noticed a difference. Kendra and Tom both were amazed every time I pushed, I can only imagine what it looked like down there. It hurt so bad, the pushing, and in between. Pushing hurt because of the stretching, and once the contraction was over I could feel her against my bones, and I had to really focus on relaxing my body so that every thing would stretch and open. Plus I wouldn’t have been able to push if I didn’t let my body rest in between. But my impulse was to tense up against the pain. I was surprised at how much that part hurt, actually. I’ve read that pushing is a relief, and it was because I knew I was close and I could feel the progress with every contraction, but it’s a very painful relief. Crowning was a whole different thing. The “ring of fire” does exist. It felt like my skin was ripping apart. But once her head came out, I had two more pushes and she was in my arms. No waiting between head and body. All I heard was, “there is the shoulder, you can push again if you want” and then I pushed and felt the most amazing thing. Charlotte leaving my body. She slipped right out. After all the work on the head, it was crazy feeling her body just slide out after it.

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The girls put her in a blanket and immediately handed her to me. I got to stare into my baby’s eyes as they changed out the blanket a couple times, and suctioned her nose and mouth a little bit. She had a full head of hair, big wide eyes, and is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Tom stared at her in awe. She cried a little bit and then calmed down and just looked around with her bright eyes. I held her as I pushed out the placenta. It took a few pushes before I got it out, but it didn’t really hurt. It was just hard to push because I wasn’t feeling any contractions. I immediately asked if I had torn and they said they hadn’t checked yet. I think I asked because everything was sore but I couldn’t really feel it well enough to tell. At some point during all this excitement, Tom cut the cord. You’ll have to ask him what that was like. They also took her and gave her an Apgar score of two “10”s! My perfect little baby.

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I handed her over to Tom so he could meet her, which was such a special moment for all of us. He took off his shirt so they could have a little skin to skin bonding time. That first hour flew by. I tried to take everything in. This amazing baby had been living and growing inside me, and after the hardest work of my life I was holding her in my arms. She was healthy, she was beautiful, and she looked like me! Now I see Tom in her too, but all I could think when I first saw her was how much she looks like a Kurkjian. Katherine helped her latch in that first hour, and she had her first colostrum feeding. She stayed on for almost 30 minutes! She has been a champ at breast feeding from the beginning, which I am extremely thankful for. My first feeding unsupervised wasn’t quite as successful, but we figured it out with a little practice. Charlotte slept in the bed with us and we managed to get a great night of sleep, I think she only woke up twice. Waking up and seeing that face in the bed next to me was so incredible. I had been waiting my whole life for that moment.

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November '13-August '14 279

 

Before I end this I want to talk about my birth team. Tom was my number one support the whole day, by my side with his hand to squeeze. He quietly reminded me to try to relax my body when I would tense up, and he rubbed my legs and back. Having him sitting next to me almost the entire time was a huge help. Knowing that he was there with me got me through each contraction. It reminded me of what I had to look forward to in a few hours, meeting our daughter and starting this new chapter in our lives together. Kendra was also there with words of encouragement the entire day. Not only was she positive, funny, and just there as my friend, but she texted my mom updates the entire day and was there to help with anything we needed. As I mentioned, she even held one of my legs back for me when I pushed. Having her there meant so much to me. Oh, and she took all of these pictures! After reading so many birth stories I really wanted pictures of my labor and delivery, and those precious moments right after. Even though some are blurry (I would be shaking with excitement too if I were her!) having those pictures is a big deal to me. Besides Tom obviously, there is no one else that I would have felt that comfortable sharing this experience with. Then there was Katherine. She is the BEST midwife. All I had known of her so far was our prenatal appointments. I loved her already because most of my questions were answered by telling me it was my choice and they were there to support me. She shared things about her life with me and we all got to know each other. But she was different during the birth. She was like midwife/nurturing mother. She rubbed my back, made noises of sympathy when she could tell it was a really rough contraction, and told me over and over again that I was doing a great job. She also helped move my cervix and baby into the right position. I’ve talked to a few people about my labor and we agree that if I had been in a hospital with an OB instead, I probably would have ended up with a C-section. Katherine did on the spot research to figure out how to make my unique situation work. I will be forever grateful for that. But if you say that to her, she’ll just say that I’m the one who did all the work and I’m the amazing one. Which is another thing I love about her. And then Kat and Jessica. First thing I have to say about Kat is the massages. There were a couple times that she massaged my back during contractions, and it was SO helpful. Part of me wanted to ask her to keep it up the entire day. I’m sure she gets a lot of practice, so she knew exactly where to apply pressure to get me through the contraction a little more relaxed. She also stayed so energetic, upbeat, and encouraging the entire time. Jessica also was there telling me how well I was doing, and was gentle and non-invasive during the many heartbeat checks. So yeah, my birth team definitely played a part in getting Charlotte here safely with both of us unmedicated. I couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you all!

Writing this feels crazy. Charlotte is 18 days old now, and as a routine has started to form and we’re getting used to having a baby run our lives this birth feels so far away.

Birthing this baby was the hardest work I’ve ever done, and the most rewarding. I would do it again and again. One of the main reasons I was able to get through that day was because before I even got pregnant I had decided on a natural birth at home. Research had been done, my mind was made up. During the pregnancy I never thought twice about my decision, I just prepared myself for the home birth. I read a few books, a million birth stories, and watched several home birth videos. This is the advice I would give a woman thinking about home birth. Don’t just think about it, make the decision and live it. Trust your midwife completely. Be realistic, there is always a chance something will happen and your midwife will recommend a hospital birth. But don’t go into the birth worrying about those situations. The majority of births can be done at home with the assistance of a midwife. My situation was a great example of this. Several factors would have led to recommendations for medication or surgery if I had been in a hospital. But my midwife and I trusted my body to do the work God created it to do. I had to experience some serious pain to achieve my goal, but the health and happiness of my baby and I were worth  it. And now that long day is behind me and I have the sweetest little baby to cuddle with.

I’m not sure how to end such a big post. I have always looked forward to being a mom, having my own sweet baby to hold. The fact that I’ve reached that point in my life still doesn’t feel real. I’m trying to soak up every beautiful minute. Even the ones filled with a crying newborn, and extremely sore nipples. So don’t ask me yet what it’s like, being a mom. It’s such a big thing, I haven’t figured out how to put it into words yet.

25

I turned 25 years old today. I’ve had so many moments over the past year where I’ve thought about my life and how old I am, and how much I have to look forward to. This is an interesting age. Part of me feels so grown up, because so much has changed in 5 years, let alone the 25 I’ve been alive. The first 25 years are all about growing up so I think it makes sense that once you hit your mid/late 20’s you start feeling old. Life just feels different, new, exciting. And at the same time it feels like I’m leaving a whole life behind me. I know it sounds silly, but leaving childhood behind has given me moments of “oh my gosh I’m going to die soon.” And then I remember I’m having a baby who I still get to see turn 25 and start her own family, and I realize that my life is just starting. Like I said, it’s an interesting age. And interesting perspective. In between rambling about this interesting time, I’m going to throw in some pictures of my favorite moments from my 24th year.

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(On my birthday last year. In between sushi and a movie.)

My 24th year was probably my best one so far. After being in Portland for a year I really started to feel like I was home. Work was fun, we were going out with friends, and we didn’t really feel like strangers in this city anymore. I was going to pottery on a fairly regular basis for a while, which was the best experience. I can’t wait to go back.

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(Started to feel like regulars at our favorite bar patio. Prost!)

My relationship with Tom had also really hit it’s stride. We were having so much fun together, just the two of us. Before we moved here our relationship involved a lot of going out with friends and social gatherings. Which is great! But I’ve really loved all the hiking, eating out, shopping, drinking, and every day things just Tom, Roxy, and I. He is my best friend and it has been so great sharing these new experiences with him.

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(Hiking with the Ben, Kendra, and the girls in the Gorge! So beautiful out there.)

Living in the NW has seriously been so incredible. I miss my family and friends back in Atlanta, but at this point I just wish they could all come out here. You guys have no idea what you’re missing! Thankfully soon after we moved here, my good friend Kendra and her family did as well. This past year I’ve visited them in the Gorge as much as possible, having Kendra an hour away is such a blessing. Plus, check out the scenery! ^ I’ve been able to watch their girls grow, and whenever I feel like I need to spend time with a friend who really knows me I can hop in the car. Plus Tom and I love our dinners with them, such great company.

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(My tomato and pepper starts! So much fun.)

Our apartment has really taken on some character too. We did some gardening which took up a lot of time over the spring/summer. We are both new to gardening so it was fun learning how to get started. Hopefully some day soon we’ll have our own space to grow. The management company of our complex wasn’t too happy with all of our giant pots…

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(Oh Portland beer, I love you so. And miss you like crazy even though you made me fat.)

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(We took a second trip to SF to see the Braves!)

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(Our first tattoos together. I’m sure this won’t be the last time.)

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(My best friend.)

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(Before she had teeth, haha)

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(Last Thursday on Alberta. Such a Portland scene.)

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(So ready for summer.)

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(Our summer vacation included the most epic camping/hiking trip, aaand conceiving our first child :))

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(My lovely work friends)

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(Lake camping)

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(Pretty big moment.)

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(Another big one.)

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(I don’t know how to use wordpress and have no idea why the pictures just got smaller. But here are my babes at the beach.)

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(My parents came to visit! So much fun.)

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(Love him.)

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(Tom’s birthday and the gender reveal with our best friends.)

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(My man cutting down our Christmas tree.)

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(The REALLY big moment.)

Finding out I was pregnant definitely made my 24th year a memorable one. If you want an idea of what was going through my head, check out the pregnancy page. It’s the most mind blowing thing I’ve ever been through. And she isn’t even here yet! I’m sure giving birth will be an even bigger moment.

Tom proposing was such a sweet moment. Most girls dream of that day, as did I, but nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming happiness I felt seeing him on one knee. But just like finding out I was pregnant won’t compare to giving birth, Tom proposing was nothing compared to what I felt when we said our vows. The time between his proposal and our wedding is a blur of wedding planning and baby/pregnancy books. Planning the wedding was stressful at times, but it all paid off. It was a perfect day. Thankfully during that planning time we changed our lifestyle a bit. We stopped eating out as much, I obviously stopped drinking, and our lives slowed down in general. Which has been lovely. We read on the couch together, play cards, watch movies. He pushes my buttons constantly for entertainment purposes, haha. But really, we’ve enjoyed this change of pace. After the wedding things really slowed down and we’ve been focusing on enjoying every moment we have together just the two of us. We can’t wait to meet our baby girl, but we know we’ll miss the quiet times alone.

And that’s how I’m starting off my 25th year. Living simply, taking walks holding my husband’s hand, laughing together, planning for our future as parents.