Thursday, January 6, 2022

one month

dear jellybean,

time is such a tricky thing. it seems impossible that it has already been a full month since you arrived, and equally impossible that you have grown and changed so much in only a month. compared to your newborn self, you are staying awake for much longer stretches and now usually prefer to nap in your own bassinet (although you often take at least one nap in the bouncer, or while being held!). you usually go 4 hours between feeds at night, although on a few lucky occasions you've given me a 5 hour and once even a 6 hour stretch! then sometimes you have "noisy nights" where you'll grunt and squeak in your sleep just enough to keep me awake. you generally don't fuss otherwise, so i'll take it! 

you have a very Teutonic temperament: generally calm and unperturbed, with a facial expression that is perpetually unimpressed. we often joke that you are silently judging us all.  in the past week, you've started to smile at us, but it's so fleeting that i've only managed to capture one blurry photo as proof. we love your serious little self! 

constant skepticism

a wee little smile!

this month has been filled to the brim with celebration and time with family and friends. you have met all four grandparents, as well as your Aunt Rebecca, Auntie Kelli and Uncle Colin. Grammie Kim outdid herself, making your stocking in time for Christmas. Christmas itself was relaxed and peaceful. you came to mass for the first time on Christmas Eve, at St. Elizabeth Anne Seton church (how fitting), and then on Christmas Day, Nana, Pappy and Aunt Rebecca drove out to spend the day with us. 

playing the piano with your godfather

on January 1, Father Aron baptized you in a beautiful ceremony at St. Anthony Chapel. we celebrated afterwards with friends at our house, and you got to visit with your baby friends, Laurelin (the daughter of your godparents, Vin and Susan), Sophia (the daughter of Cece's godparents, John and Jen), and Lucia (the daughter of our friends, Karissa and Thomas).  

with your beautiful godmother!

at your one month checkup today, you weighed 8 lbs 11 oz (30th percentile), up 1 lb 9 oz from your birth weight! and you measured 21 inches long (52nd percentile). you are long and lean, just like your sisters! 

you and i still spend most of our time relaxing at home, but you've been out and about to some of your sisters' events, including their Christmas concert at school, choir rehearsals and gymnastics practices. i know that in a blink of an eye, you're going to be doing all kinds of fun things yourself, so i'm taking every opportunity to snuggle you! 

we love you, little jellybean! thank you for being you! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

hello, jellybean!

this year, on the feast of St. Nicholas, we received the best gift of all! our sweet Elizabeth Rose was born at 11:45 PM on December 6, just fifteen minutes shy of her due date, weighing 7 lb 2 oz and measuring 19 1/2 inches long. after Cecilia's whirlwind birth on the sidewalk, we were all excited and a bit anxious to find out exactly how Elizabeth would decide to enter the world. in fact, i had discussed scheduling an elective induction for 39-40 weeks with my OB just to have a little more control over the situation. and my amazing family scheduled themselves to take turns coming to stay with us so there would always be an extra set of hands to help with the older girls, with Kira arriving first, a week before my due date. 

historically i've always gone past my due date (10 days over with Greta and 3 with Cecilia), but they say the third baby is the wild card. the day before Kira arrived, i had my routine 39 week appointment. my OB said he didn't think labor was going to start any time soon, and wrote the order to schedule an induction for Wednesday, December 8th (the day after my due date, and incidentally, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception)! having the induction on the books and then picking Kira up at the airport, i breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that if the baby was born that week, Kira would be here, and if the baby arrived between December 3rd and the 12th, Mom would be here. 

however, the next day i got the call from the hospital schedulers saying that the December 8th induction date had to be pushed back to December 12th because of availability. in the grand scheme of things, another four days didn't make that big of a difference, but still, i was annoyed both at the prospect of possibly waiting until 5 days past my due date to meet this little one, and also at the fact that that meant Mom would either miss her birth or need to reschedule her travel. so i hoped and prayed that baby girl would decide to come on her own before then -- just not quite as quickly as her older sister! 

that week passed without any clear sign of labor. Greta and Cecilia were thrilled to have Auntie Kira see their school and watch their gymnastics classes, while i introduced Kira to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. on Friday morning, Kira asked repeatedly if anything was happening ... and nothing seemed to be. so she reluctantly got back on a plane to New York, and an hour later, Mom arrived from Seattle. on Saturday morning, Greta got to cheer for the first time with her school's Spirit Squad, and we got our Christmas tree on the way back. on Sunday, Nick had to drive out to Maryland just for the day for mass and vespers at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary where he works. we were all relieved, perhaps none more so than Nick, when he arrived back home that evening and baby girl wasn't showing any signs of arriving soon! 

on Monday, December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, i made an easy dinner of bacon cheeseburgers for Nick's feast day. while cooking, i had several contractions that were uncomfortable but tapered off after about half an hour. Nick asked me if i'd like to put ornaments on the tree that night, and i said yes but was thinking, "...unless something changes!". as soon as we sat down to dinner, the contractions stopped entirely and i figured it was just "practice" labor. in fact, my wonderful doula Amy texted me to ask if anything was going on because she was headed in to assist at another client's birth, and i told her no. 

we lingered over dinner, and after we had finished eating around 7:10 PM, i felt an unmistakable gush of fluid, and then another. immediately after my water broke with Cecilia, i had started into back-to-back contractions, but this time there was nothing. i explained to Mom and Nick what was happening, and they looked at each other with a wild surmise (like the fellows on the peak in Darien) and sprang into action. suffice it to say, they had both been slightly traumatized by Cecilia's fast arrival. however, since i still hadn't had any more contractions, i was in no hurry. Nick packed his bag while i leisurely got the girls' backpacks ready for school the next morning, moved my essentials from my big purse to a smaller purse, added my toothbrush to my toiletries bag and had Nick load my pre-packed hospital bag into the car. and of course, i texted Amy back: "you won't believe this... but my water just broke!" i still hadn't had any contractions, and was afraid that if i arrived at the hospital and wasn't dilated, they might send me home or else stick me in a triage room for hours. 

the poor older girls were quite upset at the thought that i would be spending a few nights away from them in the hospital, and Cecilia asked to have a picture of me to keep with her and look at if she felt lonely. she seemed satisfied with our Christmas card picture from last year and put it on her nightstand, sweet girl! Mom had the brilliant idea to have them do a video call to the rest of the extended family to let them explain what was happening. with lots of hugs and kisses, we finally said goodbye to the girls and were on our way out the door when i suddenly remembered we hadn't documented the bump recently! that would never do. Nick somewhat nervously obliged me in taking a picture in front of the Christmas tree, at 39 weeks and 6 days.

we arrived at the hospital around 9 PM, and contractions had started to pick up a little. i was still able to walk and talk through them, but as soon as they took me back to triage they began coming regularly. there was something so mesmerizing about watching the peaks and valleys on the tocometry monitor ... that is, until the contractions got more intense and i had to close my eyes and focus on my breathing. Nick was just getting me set up with my headphones and Hypnobabies tracks when Amy arrived -- her other client had delivered just minutes before she got there. i was so glad to see her! 

around 10 PM, i was 3 cm dilated and they told us we'd be moving into a room upstairs, but that it was a busy night and if anything started to change while we were in triage, we should let them know. AKA, they did not want me to deliver in triage (and neither did i!). my sense of time is a bit fuzzy from this point on, but it was probably only about half an hour later that they had a room ready and took us up. later, i told the L&D nurse i was surprised that they got me a room so fast, and she laughed and said, "you're a multip [a woman who has given birth before] with a history of fast labor! you got VIP status!"

as soon as we got settled in the room, i asked for a birthing ball, but then, just like with my labor with Cecilia, all i wanted was to be upright. i settled into a position leaning over the nurse's desk with my head resting on a pillow, swaying through the contractions that were now coming every 3 minutes. Nick's arms got a workout as i needed him to put counterpressure on my low back, and Amy's encouraging words and Hypnobabies cues helped me focus and relax. as the baby moved down, Amy could hear the change in my vocalization and asked if i wanted the nurse to check me. i didn't know what to say because on the one hand, i could feel that things were changing, but i also feared them saying that i was only dilated to a 6 or something. i was starting to doubt how much longer i could do this (looking back, this is a clear sign of transition). it was 11:30 PM and Amy said, "you know, you could still have this baby tonight!" i wasn't so sure. then i started to shiver (another sign of transition), had another unmistakable contraction with more pressure, and they called the nurse in. i was still standing up and just had to push with every fiber of my being. i could feel the baby's head crowning as they helped me over to the bed and i crawled up onto all fours and delivered her head. 

at this point the OB came in, leisurely putting on his gloves and gown, while the nurses and Nick were right behind me ready to catch the baby if need be. as luck would have it, the OB on call that night was the only one in the practice i hadn't met yet, and thus he had not been regaled with the story of Cece's sidewalk birth. he asked me to lay on my back, and it was a total moment of deja vu as i just couldn't imagine how i was going to flip over onto my back with the baby's head already out. Nick and Amy both were so encouraging, and somehow they managed to talk me through bending one elbow down, then turning onto my side and finally onto my back. i remember thinking that the clean soft bed was quite an improvement from the cold sidewalk. with the next contraction, our baby girl was born at 11:45 PM! praise God. she was covered in vernix and looked so small to me, but after an hour of skin-to-skin bonding time and her first nursing session, the newborn nurse took all her measurements and she weighed only three ounces less than the older girls had (both weighed 7 lbs 5 oz). 

my mascara is smeared, not from tears of joy, but from burying my head 
in the pillow at the nurse's desk during the last stage of labor!

best dad ever

...and best doula ever!

due to Covid, visitors were limited to the same two support people throughout the hospitalization, and children were not allowed to visit at all, so after Mom dropped the girls off at school the next morning, she came by to meet sweet baby girl. we didn't decide on her name until the next afternoon: we had been debating names for the entire pregnancy. finally, we named her Elizabeth Rose. St. Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, is one of the patron saints of pregnancy, particularly of women who conceive later in life; and Rose is my sister Kira's middle name, as well as an homage to St. Rose of Viterbo, a small town north of Rome. 


that afternoon, Nick picked up the girls from school and we did a video call so they could "meet" their new baby sister. they were so excited and relieved that all was well! and when we were discharged from the hospital the next day, they were finally able to snuggle her. little Elizabeth, you are an answer to so many prayers! we love you more than words can say. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Cece says (vol. 8)

 somehow i feel like i'll be writing these posts for the next ten years -- i'm obviously biased, as her mother, but Cecilia is just such a hilarious little person and i love these insights into how her brain works! 

the girls have been playing with a cane and crutches we have down in the basement. one day, Cecilia carefully examined the cane (which has a large foam grip on the handle), and announced: "a cane is like a unicycle without pedals!" (she's not wrong!)

displaying the anklet she made (one of the amazing doctors in my practice
gave the girls this jewelry kit!)

"Mom! i can say the Plegible Legiance!"

"Mommy, i'm the grown up and you're the kid, so you have to listen to what i say. and what i say is that we have to get ice cream."

the girls working together to build a blanket fort, following specific
instructions from their Auntie Krista (to help with one of her college assignments!)

smelling a candle that had been in a box in the basement: "this smells like grape cobwebs!"

while helping me fold laundry, she laid out Nick's socks flat in a row. "Mommy, these look like black bacon strips!" 

catching flies
(don't mind the destroyed lampshade in the background - the girls "painted" it with 
green concealer and it's permanently stained, but i haven't managed to replace it yet...)

Monday, March 15, 2021

words of the week

 i just love words. big ones, small ones, long ones, short ones; words that sound like what they mean and ones that sound exactly opposite (like pulchritude). i especially love words that succinctly describe a complex concept. for years, i've jotted down words that struck my fancy, and thanks to the magic of Canva's free design software, i bring you the first batch of words to enrich your day! 

Caravaggio's brush deftly portrays the glaucous grapes and shiny apples.

With an avuncular grin, he produced a quarter from behind her ear. 

Their bibulous laughter floated down from the rooftop bar.

The fricative sound of the sprinkler, gentle song of the windchimes, and occasional
whine of a mosquito lulled her into a summer afternoon trance.

That otiose tradition tradition dates back to the fifteenth century.

The panegyric strained the limits of the audience's attention. 

The stern faces of the caryatids gazed out over the piazza.

linking up with Rosie here