Leveling Up: My first week solo with two kids

This is going to be a barely-coherent stream of thought because for the first time in a week both my kids are asleep and I am awake! It’s my first full week as a stay-at-home mom of two (hallelujah for 3 weeks of paternity leave!) and I feel like I just leveled up at a video game I had only begun to master.

The difficulty has increased, I’m constantly juggling, and I can feel the background music speeding up to match the frenetic pace of this new arrangement. (The background music is Laurie Berkner’s “We Are the Dinosaurs,” FYI.) To make sense of my days, I have found myself mapping out on a post-it note approximately how I’m going to spend each hour (mostly so I don’t surrender to my anxiety at 8 a.m. and let The Toddler watch 8 straight hours of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie).

Many of those hours are spent building “flatbed trucks” out of Mega Blocks with one hand while I nurse The Baby. Because he requires holding so much, I actually am finding myself more attentive to The Toddler during these times because it’s not like I can do the dishes or fold laundry while I nurse. I can build a carwash and collaborate on an elaborate plot involving two flatbed trucks driving through over and over again, though.

This assuages my guilt very slightly when I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to get The Baby to nap in his bassinet in my bedroom only to notice it’s very quiet, and when I go out to the kitchen find The Toddler buckled into his chair at the kitchen table in front of a mountain of raisins, which he has managed to procure from the pantry and serve himself like a two-year-old Kevin McAllister who is just trying to make the best of his abandonment. (<—longest run-on-sentence in the history of the world, but there’s no turning back! There’s just no time for editing!!!)

I’ve been really lucky this past couple of weeks to have the support of my local MOMS club–these women have taken turns bringing hot meals every other day for the past week and a half! Many of these meals contain desserts! And they’ve been my sole source of vegetables!

I’m blown away by their generosity and consideration, especially because they all have their own wild broods to deal with. I can’t wait to pay it forward, because it’s been so very helpful (and because I am so very uncomfortable asking for or accepting help, and I’ll feel less like a freeloader if I can feed some future new moms.)

Let’s see… what else can I say about this first week and change? I can’t tell if this baby is more laid back than his older brother was, or if I’m just less prone to anxiety and more accustomed to what I can expect from a baby this time around, but this time definitely feels easier. It’s way harder to handle a two-year-old than a newborn, in my experience so far.

I can’t think of anything else to say by way of updates (other than The Baby is four weeks old today and holy shit that went fast.) Instead, here’s a list of the “birth affirmations” I made up for The Husband to repeat back to me that really helped me get through the hard parts. I knew I wasn’t going to have the time or inclination to decorate my labor space or keep my eyes open to read any pretty decorated signs, so instead I wrote them out on index cards and had him yell them to me over my loud moaning. (I even put helpful tips for what situations/stages of labor they’d work best for on the back.)

Pinterest and the Internet at large are rife with birth affirmations (and I think Hynpobirthing is a big source of these?) But for my particular makeup, some of these were eye-roll inducingly hokey, or put thoughts in my head I didn’t really want to invite.

(You know that thing where if you say, “Don’t think about a polar bear,” all you can imagine is a polar bear? I submit that if you repeat back to yourself, “I am not afraid,” or “My baby will fit,” you might just trigger thoughts like, “Yes I fucking am afraid,” or “Holy shit maybe my baby won’t fit?”)

Anyway, here’s a list of birth affirmations designed for your birth partner/doula/etc. to read back to you. Some are taken straight from Pinterest, some are helpful reminders from books I read, and a couple, honestly, are cheesy mantras from high school cross country. (See if you can guess). My labor was so fast he didn’t get through the whole pile, but I starred the ones I did hear that I found particularly comforting/motivating.

Maybe in 25 years when I have time to myself again I’ll make them into lovely printables free for download.

relax your jaw

  • Each surge brings the baby closer.
  • You are a badass.
  • Surrender.
  • This is a wave. You can ride it out.
  • The pride lasts longer than the pain.
  • You’ve got this.
  • You are prepared. You are strong. You are capable.
  • Women all over the world are birthing with you right now.
  • *You have done this before. You can do this again. I believe in you.
  • Your body knows what it’s doing.
  • Why don’t we wait through this contraction and see how you feel? (Repeat as necessary – in case I start talking epidural).
  • *Melt around the pain.
  • Our baby is doing this work with you. Work together.
  • I’m here. You’re not alone.
  • *Relax your jaw. (This should just be my general life mantra. I may get this tattooed on my wrist.)
  • When you feel like you can’t do it, it means you’re close. You can do it.
  • Don’t rush pushing. Let your body stretch.
  • *You’re not hitting the wall. You’re crashing through it, and our baby is on the other side.
  • Don’t forget: There’s a baby at the end of all this.
  • *Your contractions are strong because you are strong.
  • *Stay low. (If I’m screaming/starting to lose control – remind me to put that energy into laboring and stick to deep/low noises if I need to make noise.)
  • Your contractions can’t be stronger than you because they are you.
  • Don’t fight against this. Let your body open.
  • Breathe in for strength. Breathe out and let go.
  • You can do anything for a minute.

All right, I’m going to take the remaining moments I have of this rare double-naptime (which, might I add, I got only because I took the boys on a meandering hourlong drive that coincidentally took us past our nearest prison) and maybe go brush my teeth for the first time today.

Leveling Up: My first week solo with two kids

Easier or harder? Life as a mom of two

First week with two

Baby 2 is 9 days old and we’re deep in newborn territory. During my entire pregnancy, I found myself comparing Baby 1 and Baby 2, and of course, I continue to do so. I prowled pregnancy forums after Googling things like, “Gestation duration first baby vs. second,” “Linea nigra first pregnancy but not second,” etc.

I also hounded every mom of more than one kid I know to get her take on whether the second time around the block was easier than the first. (I got mixed messages, but usually “harder.”) So far I’ve found that it’s both easier and harder.

So in a quick recap of the last nine months, and the last five days, I thought I’d run down what has been harder, easier, or just wildly different about my first and second children, just in case it’s interesting fodder for another second time mom-to-be someday. (Of course, making no promises that your pregnancies or babies will be even remotely like mine.)

First Trimester


My first trimester this time around was definitely harder. I had more in the way of morning sickness (still no vomiting, fortunately, but loads more nausea) and didn’t have the luxury of as much free time, as I was chasing around a 15-month old at the time.

On the bright(?) side, I didn’t have food aversions like I did the first time around, so I had no problem eating… or packing on some early pounds.

Second Trimester


I felt pretty good during the second trimester, but having a toddler is still way more physically taxing on a pregnant body, even when you feel good. I know I spent a lot more time getting down and up from the floor with my second pregnancy than my first. And was far more worn out because of it.

Third Trimester

(Way, way harder.)

Same issues with toddler chasing and just not having as much free time to relax as I did when I was pregnant with the first baby. Because I wasn’t getting as much exercise, I avoided the hip bursitis I developed the first time around, but I also gained a little more weight, am two years older, and just generally more prone to joint pain. So by about 36 weeks with Baby 2, I felt immensely more pregnant than I did at the end of first baby’s pregnancy.

One night, after my least favorite midwife told me I had better “try spinning babies” because my baby *might* be sunny side up, I got fully stuck lying flat on my back with my feet propped up on the couch, both crying from the pain and laughing at how ridiculous I felt (and probably looked) as the husband gingerly tried to reposition me so I could get up. When my toddler threw stuff on the ground, it felt like a personal attack. Getting him down for a nap was torture.


Shorter, maybe a little easier? (Not less painful, to be clear.)

While the pain was just as unbelievably intense the second time around as the first, knowing just how hard it was going to get (and that there was an upper threshold, and that I could survive it) made labor and delivery a little easier this time around. Having a big tub of warm water to labor in was really nice, too. While my movement wasn’t restricted too much at the hospital I delivered Baby 1 at, I was grateful to have switched to the birthing center.

Also, I made clear that I didn’t want any sort of directed pushing, and letting my body guide the pace felt a lot more productive. I also avoided the tearing, as well as the burst blood vessels in my eyes and face, further indication that pushing this time around was far gentler on me than the first time.

Postpartum recovery (so far)

Easier and harder

I’m still a little achy, and having to take it easier than I’d like, but I feel pretty good overall. The Husband got me a FitBit for Christmas, and I’ve noticed if I exceed about 5,000 steps a day, I get sore and my bleeding picks back up.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep my feet up and relax with a two-year-old demanding our attention, even though The Husband is picking up all my slack these first few weeks. So while I left the hospital feeling better than I did, and other factors are considerably easier this time around, it’s way harder to rest as much as I should.


So much easier (thank heavens)

I had a really rough time with breastfeeding the first time around. I told the lactation consultant at the hospital this time that my first baby’s latch seemed infinitely stronger and more painful than Baby 2’s. She asked me if anyone had recommended chiropractic care/cranial sacral massage (no), that my first baby could have had a tight jaw from childbirth that made his latch so strong.

It was oddly disappointing to hear a potential solution for an issue that ended up causing me so much angst and pain; I wish I’d had that advice the first time around. But that’s neither here nor there now, as Baby 2 is latching perfectly, I have had no pain to speak of, and am optimistic that I’ll dodge most of the breastfeeding complications I remember from last time.



When Baby 1 wouldn’t sleep without being held, The Husband and I struggled enormously with the decision to co-sleep. It was the only way to secure more than a couple broken hours of rest each night, and when I found myself nearly falling down the stairs carrying the baby one morning because I was so tired, we finally decided to go for it, as safely as we could.

Even so, I felt terribly guilty and ashamed. We were obviously prioritizing our own comfort over the baby’s safety. I wasn’t tough enough to do things the “right” way. We lied to our pediatrician. I endlessly fretted to my mom friends. I imagined our decision had doomed us to a years-long sentence of a kid sleeping in our bed, if he survived.

But you know what? It worked out fine for us. I got rest, we maintained an excellent breastfeeding relationship, and before Baby 1 was a year old, he was sleeping in his own crib, in his own room, just fine.

So this time around, after the first night in the hospital when The Husband and I took two-hour shifts holding Baby 2 while the other slept, because he wouldn’t stay asleep in his bassinet, I unceremoniously brought him to our (again, set up as safely as possible) bed. Every night since, I’ve averaged (again, thanks to FitBit data) at least 6.5 hours of sleep each night. It’s way harder to “sleep when the baby sleeps” with a toddler in the house, so this has been vital for my well-being (and thus my ability to care for both kids).

I’m not saying cosleeping is right for everyone. If your baby sleeps fine alone, and/or you function all right on very little sleep, the bassinet is probably the better choice. But bedsharing is working out for our family, and I’m not remotely ashamed of our decision this time around.

Keeping Up with Milestones and Traditions

Harder, of course

With Baby 1, I diligently took week-by-week photos, had already half filled out his baby book, and was glued to his side watching for every first (first smile! first diaper blowout!) I also had knitted a baby blanket that was finished by the time I hit my third trimester. I had birth announcements pre-designed and plenty of time to set up a photo shoot in the week after we came home.

Of course, this time around, I finished the baby blanket the day I went into labor (and frankly, I cut it off a little early so it’s more of a wide baby scarf), the baby book remains untouched, and my monitoring of firsts is far less precise. My house is too messy to take photos for a birth announcement I have considered only in theory.

That’s just how it goes when there are two kids. And while I’m getting in as much snuggle time as I can with Baby 2, I am often simultaneously building with blocks or reading books to The Toddler. My days are fuller, and while I honestly couldn’t conceive of it before Baby 2 arrived, my heart is fuller, too. Things are harder, but I’m happier.

Easier or harder? Life as a mom of two

And Baby Makes Four: A Birth Story

No more whining about about still being pregnant, Internet–Baby 2 has arrived!

I’m going to dive right into the birth story. Here goes:

We spent Tuesday trying to keep busy (and warm), knowing The Husband would have to return to work the next day if baby still hadn’t come.

The Toddler had been understandably descending into cabin fever (it’s been sooooo cold here in Northeast Ohio), so we decided to take him to a nearby indoor playground to burn off some energy. The Husband and I took turns crawling through tubes and chasing behind him as he did his best to outrun us among the approximately 3,000 other manic children whose parents sought refuge with us. (Yes, I hoped that my bumbling around on playground equipment might help move things along.) I also scheduled a last-minute haircut during The Toddler’s nap.

The Husband handled bedtime, and since he had been so diligently handling the care and feeding of our goats and chickens every morning and night through the past several increasingly frigid weeks, I decided to suit up and do the night chores. I hauled warm water out to the barn, refilled the hay feeder, gave each goat a good back scratch and locked up for the night. Then took out our kitchen trash and dragged the cans out to the street for garbage day.

The full moon shone across our snowy yard during all of this, and reminded me that Baby 1 had been born during a full moon.

We went to bed a little after 9:00. I was just drifting off to the sound of The Husband’s light snores a half hour later when I felt a gush of fluid.

No way, I thought to myself as I rushed to the bathroom. My water hadn’t broken until just before I pushed with Baby 1, and I hadn’t felt so much as a tickle of a contraction tonight. But the clear puddle collecting on the bathroom floor confirmed it: It was go time.

The first thing I did as I waited for contractions to begin was rush to the basement and move a load of wet clothes to the dryer so they wouldn’t stew while we were in the hospital. About 15 minutes later, after maybe one light contraction, I stirred The Husband from sleep and let him know I was calling the midwife, but to try to go back to sleep until I was further along.

As I expected, she told me to call back when my contractions were five minutes apart, or in 12 hours, whichever came first.

I called my mom to give her a heads-up that she should be ready to come over the next time I called, then hopped in the shower. By the time I was dressed again (and again… I soaked through a pair of Depends and my sweatpants), contractions were three minutes apart and picking up in intensity. So I roused The Husband and told him to get ready, called my mom back and got back on the phone with the midwife to tell her we were on our way.

We roused The Toddler for one last potty break and gave him a hug in his sleep, and then we were off. It was 11:10 p.m., 0 degrees outside, and I was sitting on an old towel as The Husband drove us to the hospital.

We checked in at the ER and stood waiting in the lobby (with a towel wadded between my legs) for a nurse to retrieve us. I had a few contractions on the walk to the maternity ward, and the nurse said she’d skip over triage and take us right to the Holistic Birthing Center. (Incidentally, we lucked out getting there when we did, as three other laboring moms arrived right around the same time.) Before I was allowed in the labor tub, I had to be monitored on the bed for 20 minutes. Which was rough.

As soon as I was allowed, I stripped down to a nursing bra and hopped in the labor tub, which was about two feet deep and big enough to stretch my legs out. It was just as nice as I’d hoped. Contractions were still painful, but the water made me buoyant and made shifting positions far easier. I ended up mostly kneeling with my head resting on my arms on the side of the tub while The Husband leaned in and talked me through some of the affirmations I printed out for him.

Things picked up really quickly from there. I got in the tub probably around 12:25 and was told I should take breaks every hour so I didn’t get overheated.

Because there were so many women simultaneously giving birth, the nurse and midwife weren’t around much during this time. The nurse came in periodically to monitor the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, but aside from that, The Husband and I were alone.

I got out after about 40 minutes to pee, then got back in, but felt like I had to go again soon after and was having a hard time catching enough of a break to maneuver out of the tub and get to the bathroom before another contraction hit. There were two spans of contractions after my first bathroom break that peaked four times each without a break. I was well into primal mode, moaning loud and low through each contraction. When I finally managed to get back out of the tub to pee again, I knew I wasn’t getting back in (the birthing center doesn’t allow pushing/delivery in the tub.)

The Husband paged the nurse and let her know he thought I was getting close to pushing (based on what he remembered from the first time around.) I tried to get in the shower for a minute, but knew I needed to hunker down in a stable position and felt panicky and out of control standing up any longer. I hung my arms around The Husband’s neck and endured a few upright contractions before hustling over to the bed.

I kneeled on the bed with my head and arms draped over the raised top. Looking back, this was definitely transition. I had been doing a pretty good job of relaxing all my muscles through each contraction up until this point, but no amount of moaning or “melting around the pain” was doing it for me anymore. All my concentration was going into not panicking.

This was also the point The Husband endured a little abuse from me. He kept repeating, “stay low” (one of my mantras to help me remember to not scream). I first mumbled “Don’t tell me what to do” into his shoulder. When he repeated it again, I said, “Shut up shut up shut up!!!”

The midwife came in to check me. She first thought I was at a 9 with a lip and offered to stretch it out over the baby’s head. I flatly refused this and told her I’d wait. Things were happening quick enough and I didn’t see a need to speed it up. She checked a second time, but then on further review decided I was actually closer to a 7 and rushed back out to deliver another baby. The nurse stayed with me and hooked me back up to the fetal monitor. They were a little concerned about the baby’s heart rate (it was pushing into the 170s, apparently a bit high.)

Very soon after, I started to feel an involuntary urge to push. I grunted, “Pushing!” into the husband’s shoulder and the nurse paged the midwife back. I was still on all fours on the bed. I could feel my uterus involuntarily convulsing. I don’t remember this feeling from the first time around, but it was just as I’ve heard other people describe, like “throwing up, but down.” The midwife asked me if I could move to my side for pushing and I whimpered, “I can’t, I can’t move.” She told me the baby’s head was going to tear me if I didn’t shift. With great difficulty, I leaned over to kneel on my right side. I clamped onto The Husband’s shoulders and the nurse held my left leg. I remember seeing my belly writhing and contorting into the strangest shapes as the baby made its way out.

I pushed through maybe four contractions – about 10 minutes. The baby was out quick, and screaming on the first breath. The midwife told us to look down and see for ourselves what we had. I was too contorted to sneak a peek, but The Husband announced it was another boy. As quickly as I could, I maneuvered to my back and pulled him up onto my chest.


Because he’d had such a quick passage through the birth canal, Baby 2 had a lot of mucus stuck in his lungs and was working to cry it out. The pediatric nurse ended up having to take him to the warming table to suction him out. I felt one last urge to push and the placenta came out. The midwife showed it to me (I hadn’t gotten to see it last time and was curious.) I started to shiver involuntarily. The Husband helped me out of my wet nursing bra and into a dry hospital gown while the nurse cleaned me up.

Finally, after some suctioning, Baby 2 calmed down enough to nurse. We spent about an hour at that before he fell asleep. We wrapped him up and put him in the bassinet, and not long after, The Husband and I fell asleep, too.

So that’s the quick and barely edited version of my birth story. Baby 2 was born after five hours of intense labor at 40 weeks, 3 days. He was 8 lbs, 3 oz and 20 inches long. As expected, he had a full head of hair. Right now he’s snoozing next to me while The Toddler continues to descend into Winter Madness. We’re all exhausted, and we’re all happy.

And Baby Makes Four: A Birth Story

Merry Due Date and Happy New Year!

I’m writing this on my phone from the comforting embrace of my Snoogle, so forgive me any typos, formatting issues, etc.

I couldn’t pass up the day without marking it in some way, because in addition to being the last day of this Godforsaken dumpster fire of a year, it’s my due date. I didn’t think I’d still be pregnant today, but maybe Baby 2 caught an inkling of what 2017 was like and decided to pass on having any part of it.

I realized today that in addition to my general impatience, the reason I’ve been so upset about not having the baby when I expected to is because it made it undeniable that I don’t really know what lies ahead of me. I had myself convinced that since this is my second time around, the fear of the unknown wouldn’t be a factor for me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with distinct labor contractions at the same point in my pregnancy, progress seamlessly, get to the hospital right on time, deliver without interventions and have a perfect, healthy baby.

Certainly, that’s what I’m hoping for. But the difference in timing has reminded me I really don’t have the ability to predict the future. I could wake up later tonight with contractions, or I could have a movie-worthy water breakage at Target in a week. I could need to be induced. I could need an emergency C-section. Any number of scenarios could play out. Today, as my due date rolled out before me, I finally was able to make peace with this not knowing. I am as prepared as I can be. I will face what comes with as much courage as I can muster.

Practically speaking, the timing sucks. We lost the built-in week of extra paternity leave The Husband got from winter break (he works at a school); my mom goes back to work after a week off, too. There’s a decent chance my midwife practice is out-of-network for the new insurance my husband’s company switched to starting tomorrow (it didn’t occur to me to check till today, when I can’t call to figure it out, so that will be a fun surprise.) Despite these hiccups, though, we did get to enjoy some really precious quality time together as a family of three, time we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I know I will cherish it long into our hectic future as we adapt to life with the new baby.

I’m not entertaining any aggressive induction efforts, though it’s tempting. No membrane sweeps, no evening primrose oil, no hooking up the breast pump. I took a long walk today, and have been dabbling in spicy foods, two maybe-helpers that don’t seem to have downsides, but barring any complications, I’m going to do my best to let the baby choose his or her own birthday. As uncomfortable and impatient and, yes, a little afraid of the unknown as I am, each day I wake up from a reasonably restful sleep to snuggle my toddler and yell, “Come out, Baby!” at my belly with him is a gift. Even if it doesn’t feel like it all the time.

Happy New Year!! (I will still be going to bed at 8:30, because, well, I’m 40 weeks pregnant and have a two-year-old.)

Merry Due Date and Happy New Year!

Pregnancy Week 39: The Longest Nights

For some reason inexplicable beyond the need for self-preservation, I believed with my whole heart that Baby 2 would be born at exactly the same gestation as Baby 1: 39 weeks, one day. As in, yesterday.

Well, two days ago, I guess, because it’s 1 a.m. and I have late pregnancy rage insomnia and am typing this over a steaming cup of tea while I myself fume.

Pregnancy Week 39

I know, I know. The healthiest babies are born after 39 weeks. It’s good the baby is still baking. Not only is it better for his or her health, but it also gives me more time to prepare: To spend time with The Toddler, to wrap up loose ends with my freelancing work, to mentally test the baby names we think we might have settled on, to update the birth announcement mailing list and work on my as-yet unfinished knitted baby blanket. Or if I’m being honest, more time to hide in the pantry and eat secret candy bars.

And I’m sure going into the future, my kids will appreciate not sharing a birthday (though I hoped if they at least both had Christmas birthdays, they could commiserate together.) It was, despite my disappointment over not being in labor, very nice to be able to spend Christmas Day relaxing and seeing The Toddler open his gifts.

Every night, in a hopeful fit of nesting that feels increasingly naive and futile, I thoroughly clean the kitchen and run through as much laundry as I can find, just in case tonight is The Night. I want to leave some semblance of order behind in case my parents have to swoop in and take over toddler care. And then, every night, by 8 p.m., I fall into an exhausted sleep, convincing myself I had better be as rested as possible in case things get moving.

I went to the midwife appointment this morning that I was sure I wouldn’t have made it to. I was once again so irritated by the hyper-cheerful nurse that I nearly burst into frustrated tears when she asked me how I was feeling. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and sent me on my way, reminding me (read: stressing me out) that my baby “might be” posterior and to try Spinning Babies just in case.

On my way out I scheduled another follow-up appointment for next Thursday, and the nurse told me, “No offense, but we hope we don’t see you next week.”

With deep earnestness, I replied, “I don’t want to see you, either!” She laughed heartily, and I left in a poorly concealed huff. That poor woman. I’m sure she’s lovely when it’s not all her fault I’m still pregnant.

The high was 13 degrees today, so during The Toddler’s nap I went to the rec center and did a quick power-walk to try to ease the baby out. I felt like a parade float caught in a wind storm, swerving around my elderly walking companions. The exercise made my lower back scream and my ankles ache. I got myself stuck on the floor later this evening trying to stretch out my “psoas” muscles as per the Spinning Babies website and had to have The Husband push my knees toward my chest so I could roll over while I grew increasingly hysterical at the the absurdity of it all.

Now that I’m well beyond the artificial sphere of control I manufactured for myself with the dead-certain belief Baby 2 would be out by now, I am feeling resigned. Maybe not quite at peace, but heading in that direction. The baby will decide when it’s time. And in the meantime, I will try to balance my late-pregnancy fury with a sincere attempt at being present in these fleeting moments (even if they don’t feel fleeting.)

Out the window now, the half moon, like a slice of blood orange tonight, has sunken below the trees. This is a desolate hour to be awake.

These long winter nights don’t need any help feeling endless, but waiting for baby certainly makes them seem eternal.

Pregnancy Week 39: The Longest Nights

Pregnancy Week 38: Maybe, Baby? (Spoiler: Nope.)

There’s nothing I like more than putting undue, arbitrary pressure on myself.

During my pregnancy with Baby #1, I set the pointless goal of having a baby before I turned 30. I was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant when my 30th birthday came and went without so much as a twinge of a contraction, and I spent the whole day sulking. Five days later, having been run through ringer of childbirth and sitting stunned and bleeding on the other side, I wondered what my rush had been.

(Yes, of course, I was over the moon to have my baby in my arms, but really, there was no hurry. I literally had/have the rest of my life to be a mother.)

This time around, especially as we serendipitously conceived on the exact same day as the last time, my goal for having the baby was no later than exactly the same as last time: Christmas Day. That means I have three more days.

What’s that, you say? Every pregnancy is different? Every baby arrives at his or her own time?

No one asked you.

Of course, my labors will be identical, down to the timing.

It’s been really difficult not to compare the two pregnancies. Even though I know dilation means zilch in the labor-prediction game, I’ve had a few checks and am, by my accounts, running behind where I was with Baby 1. Even though I feel like a fois gras goose choking down six mega-sized medjool dates every day.

Instead of acknowledging that A: I’m not overdue, B: Every pregnancy truly is different, C: I know what’s on the other side of labor, and it’s not going to be easier than pregnancy, and D: I’m mourning the one-on-one time with The Toddler even as I itch to be in labor, I am finding ways to blame myself for not having had the baby yet, as though I have any control over it whatsoever.

Even as I typed the last phrase of that endless sentence, here’s the internal monologue that piped in: “Of course you have control over it. You’re not getting nearly as much exercise as you did the first time around. Eat some [insert old wives’ tale food here–spicy food, pineapple cores, whatever…]”

I know this is irrational. I know that the timing of a birth is not even remotely a reflection on one’s personal fortitude, punctuality or virtue. I know this.

And yet. On Tuesday morning I woke up at 2 a.m. feeling crampy. I was having lots of not painful, but consistent, contractions, and for the first time decided to start timing them. An hour later, after six or so contractions, I woke up The Husband to inform him we may be heading toward baby time. Things remained steady through the morning, so we went to my scheduled midwife appointment, having to ask my mom to stay home from work to watch The Toddler. Everyone was excited in spite of themselves. I had my doubts, but was looking forward to some indication that labor might be on its way.

The midwife, whom I hadn’t met with before, was dismissive and vague. The nurse had me undress for a cervical check when I described my symptoms, and the midwife came in seemingly baffled that I’d asked to be checked (It wasn’t my idea, lady!) She didn’t even acknowledge the question of whether I was in labor, more than to tell me to come back in a week.

I’m sure it didn’t help that I was exhausted from being up all night, but she made me feel stupid (especially as a second-timer) for thinking I might be in early labor. I felt bad inconveniencing my mom and The Husband, getting everyone’s hopes up, and have been questioning my ability to tell what’s happening with my body ever since. I’ve also had stress dreams every night about the baby being “sunny side up” as the midwife suggested it may be, and if I’m not upright or leaning forward on an exercise ball, I feel like I’m sabotaging my chances of a good labor.

Sorry, this post has devolved into the paranoid ramblings of a very tired, very hormonal and very pregnant woman. I know I should be patient. I know I have no reason to be in any hurry. My toddler reminded me of this when he fell asleep in my arms for his nap today, both hot palms pressed against my cheeks as we sang, “You Are My Sunshine” to each other. It was heavenly, and I know I will be torn in two missing it while I’m holding a new baby, just as loved, whenever he or she decides to arrive.

And yet, there was still that mean thought whispering in the back of my head as I relished this fleeting time: You’re leaning back too far in the chair. The baby is going to be facing the wrong way. Get up and get on the exercise ball. Do. Not. Be. Present. In. The. Moment.


Pregnancy Week 38: Maybe, Baby? (Spoiler: Nope.)

Pregnancy Week 35: Lightening Up (my belly, and my hospital bags)

The first day of my 35th week of pregnancy, I was sitting on The Toddler’s floor bed rubbing his back and trying to get him down for a nap when, suddenly, I felt it: the unmistakable pleasure of being able to take a deep breath. To make certain, I took another one. Yes! The baby had dropped!

I hadn’t even realized just how hard it had been to breathe until it got easy(ish) again. (Well, I sort of did, because The Husband asked me if I was all right every day because most of my exhales sounded like exasperated sighs.) Suddenly it was also the tiniest bit easier to move around, as my center of gravity was lower and my belly even felt a little smaller.

Of course, there is a tradeoff for easier breathing and improved balance when the baby drops. Here’s a few of my Google searches from this week to give you an idea of what that tradeoff might be:

  • 35 weeks can you feel dilation happening
  • cervical pressure 35 weeks
  • late third trimester cramping

Basically, it feels like the baby is getting some work done on the getting-ready-to-come-out front. I’m trying not to convince myself I’ll go into labor any earlier than I did with Baby 1 (39 weeks, 1 day), because I know it will only make me crazy to surpass any arbitrary deadlines I set. Despite this, baby-day is looming close enough that I am finally getting some of the major to-dos checked off my list. One of those is packing my hospital bags. I still have a few odds and ends to add, but if I were to go into labor today, I would not be caught completely empty-handed.

With our first baby, we packed everything imaginable. As most first-timers will tell you, almost none of those items got any use. My temptation this time around is to drastically underpack, both out of sheer laziness and because I’m hoping to not spend much time at the hospital either in labor or recovery afterward.

Again, setting myself up for potential disappointment, but second labors are usually shorter than first, and my first labor was only 12 hours last time, only three of which were at the hospital. Additionally, because we’re working with midwives, there are a lot of extras–like an exercise ball–I won’t have to bring in because they’re well equipped to support intervention-free birth. And finally, I don’t want to stick around any longer than absolutely necessary afterward. I hated our hospital stay last time and just wanted to go home.

However, because we’re dealing with a 40-minute drive to the hospital instead of five minutes, and because I’m not worried about getting pressured into interventions, we’ll be heading to the hospital sooner than we did last time. (Plus, again, it’s possible this labor will be shorter. I’m not interested in having a highway baby.) So I did add some things to the list that I might appreciate earlier on in labor.

Without further ado, here’s my pared-down hospital bag list this time around:

In case the hospital drive gets messy

  • A towel (if I don’t need it on the ride up, it might be nice to have a big towel for the post-birth shower, in case the hospital towels are tiny and scratchy again)
  • A few absorbent underpads to protect the car seats in case my water breaks

Labor essentials

  • Wooden back massager
  • Charged Bluetooth shower speaker (I can suction it straight to the birthing tub and not worry about getting it wet)
  • Headphones
  • Camera with charged batteries and a cleared SD card
  • Mini LED battery-powered Christmas lights (Since childhood, my “happy place” has always been sticking my head under the Christmas tree and staring up at the lights. Considering how much I withdrew into myself during my first labor, I expect this will be a soothing, easy focal point.)

Post-birth essentials

  • Change of clothes for myself and The Husband (just pajamas. I will probably hang out in a hospital gown in the immediate aftermath, and I don’t have a particular desire to get fully dressed for the drive home.)
  • Baby clothes (one set of newborn and one set of 0-3 month clothes in case this baby is bigger than the last one), plus a hat, booties, and a swaddler
  • Mini toiletries (I’m delivering at a different hospital than last time, but the toiletries at the county hospital were, I am assuming, jail grade. I’m not a soap snob, but my first post-birth shower was pretty unpleasant.)
  • Slippers and flip-flops (the latter for the shower)
  • Sleep mask to give me even the remotest shot of catching a nap


  • A few copies of my birth plan
  • Pre-registration paperwork and insurance information, plus a copy of the informed consent paperwork I signed for the Holistic Birthing Center
  • Quick guides (from The Birth Partner and doula/podcaster Adriana Lozada’s “The Birth Partner’s Ultimate Labor Support Toolkit”) for The Husband
  • Birth affirmations on index cards (maybe laminated, if I’m feeling really ambitious). I spent most of my previous labor with my eyes shut, so I’m not planning to post them up anywhere. Instead, the intention is to equip The Husband with things I actually want to hear.

Digital prep

  • I temporarily upgraded to Spotify premium so I could make and download a few playlists to my phone. So far I have a “fun” playlist (for earlier labor, probably), a “serious” playlist for when the going gets a little tougher, and a “zen” playlist in case I just want instrumental music.
  • An app that has a contraction timer. I also plan on changing the settings on my phone when labor hits so it stays unlocked and is easy to access.
  • Important phone numbers programmed into both mine and my husband’s phones (midwives, hospital, etc.)

Things I’m on the fence about

  • The midwife I saw most recently recommended I bring a Boppy pillow. It just takes up a ton of space and I don’t really feel like hauling it around.
  • Same goes with a regular bed pillow. Maybe it would help me feel more “at home” to sleep, but I’m not sure the slightly enhanced comfort is worth the extra baggage.

That’s it for my hospital bag(s), I think. Second+ time moms, what did you add to your hospital bags? What did you ditch from the first time around?

Pregnancy Week 35: Lightening Up (my belly, and my hospital bags)