I’m sure I’ve mentioned before my interests in Montessori methods. Although I’m not following them perfectly, I do appreciate the simple beauty of many of the Montessori materials, and this mobile is no exception.
This mobile is the first in a series recommended for infants. The black and white designs are meant to capture the newborn’s interest and attention. (If you want to read more, this and this provide more info on the mobiles/rationale for their use. Here are more pictures of sweet babies and their mobiles!)
We’ve set up an area for Elli to “work” alongside her big sister. For now, E will be able to lay on a blanket on the floor and look in the mirror or gaze at the mobile. (We tried a mat, but the dogs kept trying to claim it for their own, so now we’ll just lay a baby blanket down for E.)
I didn’t want to make a hole in the ceiling (that’s how most mobiles are attached) because our ceiling is textured and not easy for me to repair when the kids are grown. Instead, I picked up a plant hook from Hobby Lobby, spray painted it white, and had J hang it alongside the window (where I can hide any damage from the holes behind curtains when the kids are grown). I followed these directions to make the mobile – the most difficult part of the project was balancing the weight. The materials needed to make the mobile are simple: dowels, fishing line, black & white paper & craft paint, a glass ball (I used an ornament), electrical tape, and glue (to hold the fishing line in place). I only needed to buy a dowel… total cost for the project: $0.29 – SCORE!
Elli spends more and more time awake with each passing day, and seems to be very interested in her own reflection as well as black and white figures. We have a series of black and white figures lining the edge of the pack ‘n play that we use as a changing table, and she’s been content staring at them for up to 20 min at a time. (Lilly also loved these pictures as an infant!). I’m hopeful that she’ll eventually love this mobile as much!
Last week, Lilly, Elli, and I hit the road while Jason stayed home and worked. Many people have expressed surprise that I’d consider taking both girls on the 4-hour trip to Milwaukee… to them I shrug my shoulders and say, no big whoop.
Seriously, the kids were GREAT in the car. I couldn’t have asked for better travel companions. Elli slept the first two hours, then we stopped to feed her, then she slept the next two hours. Lilly was awake for the entire road trip. She colored for a little bit, but mostly stared out the window or talked to me about what color trucks she saw, which songs she wanted to hear on the radio, who we were going to see at Nanee’s house, and the airplanes in the blue sky above.
While car behavior was AWESOME, our rest stop was not so awesome. Knowing that it would take El at least 30 min to eat, I encouraged Lilly to play on the McDonald’s playland structure at the rest stop. She was hesitant at first, but seemed to enjoy once she got into it. Note that I actually had to climb into the disgusting structure — an opening about 2 ft high — to help her climb into it… while holding El. I should have known then that this was a TERRIBLE idea. But I hoped the playground would be enough activity to wear Lilly out and help her relax for the rest of the trip, so I trudged on. 45 min later, she was in the upper level of playland and there was no getting her out. She wanted El and I to climb the completely enclosed slide to get her – she was a bit freaked out by the idea of sliding down by herself. Another mom was kind enough to encourage her 4-year old to show Lilly how she could either climb down or slide down, and when that didn’t work, I was SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL that this other mom CLIMBED INTO THE PLAY STRUCTURE to slide down with my kid. (Note to self: pay this one forward.)
So please, everyone, learn from my experience: completely enclosed playgrounds with two foot entries are NOT good ideas for hesitant toddlers, and especially when you are holding a newborn and unable to rescue the toddler.
By the time we got Lilly out of there, I had to feed El again before we hit the road.
But! We made it and were so happy to see Nanee, Grandpa, Uncle Trevor, and Comet. El met her great aunt & second cousins that evening. And I celebrated putting Lil to bed at a reasonable hour! Usually she’s just too excited to go to sleep early at Nanee’s house, and she just gets funny crazy when she’s overtired, so we tend to not be super-strict about bedtimes when we’re on the road. Unfortunately, Lil woke up at 10:30 that evening and proved impossible to put back to sleep. She was too excited that I had Elli with me; Elli wanted to nurse; I’d feed Elli and Lilly would continue to goof around; I’d tell Lilly to lay down or leave the room (to go cuddle with Nanee & Grandpa); she’d cry and run back to the bed, waking Elli who had just fallen asleep in my arms; Elli would want to nurse to sleep, Lather, Rinse, Repeat. UNTIL 3 AM. At 3, I decided we were all getting back in the car, and we cruised my old stomping grounds for a half hour, until both kids were asleep in the back. Just as I was turning onto my parents’ street, Elli started crying again, waking Lilly. GRRRRRRR. So we tried again to all sleep in the room, but it was a huge FAIL. Around 4, I passed her off to Nanee, despite protests (that stopped a few minutes later). And then she slept with Nanee and Grandpa for the rest of the week.
The rest of the week was pretty much smooth sailing, though! We headed to my grandparents’ lake home so they could meet their second great-granddaughter. My grandma always seems to get some of the first smiles and coos out of babies, and Elli was no exception!
We went to the zoo with friends (the Milwaukee zoo is seriously the best zoo I’ve been to). Super-fun because I get to log some friend time and see my BFFs sweet little ones, and Lilly gets to see animals and other kids. While we were there, Lilly fed the aggressive goats proudly (they freak me out… I won’t feed them). And we lapped the zoo a second time because she kept requesting that she wanted to “see more animals” (and because E was comfortably sleeping in the Moby wrap).
Elli met other friends of mine who live in the area, while I enjoyed their conversation skills (so nice to talk to other adults and especially ones that I have such a history with!). She met my cousin & aunt and two of my mom’s friends.
Grandpa took Lilly June ice skating — at her request. She’d been asking about going ice skating for months (and often in the middle of the night… those 3 am requests are super-important!). I think she was pretty thrilled about it, but quit after only a short time on the ice, so Grandpa found a Lilly-sized hockey stick and they ran around playing
street rink lobby hockey instead.
We played at the playground, went shopping (gotta clothe this post-partum body), ate dinner in restaurants, and toured my sister’s new house! So excited for Auntie Ashley and her new hubby in their new house! Best of all, I got spoiled by Nanee and Grandpa, who fed Lilly breakfast while I slept in and watched the girls so I could take a shower without worrying that someone is spitting up or getting their eyes poked out or coloring the walls or otherwise destroying the house.
Both girls must have had an awesome, but exhausting visit because THEY BOTH SLEPT THE ENTIRE FOUR HOURS HOME. Can I say that again? THEY BOTH SLEPT THE ENTIRE FOUR HOURS HOME. So, Nanee and Grandpa, methinks we’ll be back in a few weeks for more sleeping-in and leisurely showers.
Many many moons ago, I decided Lilly would need a beach/swimming robe for the summer. I saw this post and decided to go for it (the post links to a pattern for the robe, but I used an oversized rain jacket as the pattern sizing for the robe and then sewed the sleeves & body as shown in the post. I ran out of fabric before getting to make a tie, so my robe has a large button & elastic loop at the top to keep it together). I used a beach towel from JoAnn Fabrics and it took just a short time (with an awesome helper) to sew.
Lilly sat on the floor and pinned the fabric into the carpet for about an hour and a half, during which time I got most of the robe cut & sewn. After a while, she was putting all of the blue-headed pins in one dot, the red-headed pins in another, etc. We’ve done a few more pinning activities since — pinning into paper seems especially fun.
So that was June. And she refused to actually put the robe on until our most recent beach adventure in September. Toddlers!! Apparently two-year olds are entitled to opinions. Like when she tells me she wants to wear a dress – not pants/shorts.
Or like last week, when we were driving to my parents house and some 80s song came on the radio – Elton John, I think it was – and I hear from the back seat, “I not like this one. Lilly June want Yeah Yeah song.” (Yes, she’s requesting the Yeah Yeah Yeah song by the Flaming Lips. Because she doesn’t yet know that real children’s music can be played in our car.)
Or like yesterday, when I asked her not to stand on the couch and she just looked at me. “Lilly June, are you listening to mama?” I asked. “No. I am not.” She replied. Thanks for your honesty, kiddo, but you still can’t stand on the couch.
In any case, the robe turned out cute & warm, and as you can see, a little big. Perfect for next summer… if she decides she likes it. (Let’s hope she likes it.)
My first week parenting two kiddos full time? Nailed it!
Seriously, though. There were many moments this week that made me feel like supermom — the girls and I baked a two-layer chocolate cake from scratch and then covered it in frosting also made from scratch (I’ve never done that before!), Lilly spent a bunch of time concentrating on a new activity that I set out for her, Elli gained weight and started nursing/acting like a real newborn (and not just a sleepy premie). Lilly continues to be head-over-heels crazy about her baby sister, and so patient when I’m sitting and nursing Elli.
And then, of course, there are those moments where it’s like what is going on here. Elli is still waking every 2-3 hours to feed, and because I’m bottle feeding and then pumping at night, I’m up for an hour to an hour and half each time. So I think I’m getting about 4-6 hours of sleep, broken into roughly two hour segments. And until I caught up on sleep over the weekend, my vision was getting a little blurry.
It seems a little like everything goes so smoothly and then *BAM* everyone needs food at once, or I’m busy with Elli and Lilly has an accident (potty training, I love/hate you!), or something similar. And then, just as soon as chaos began, it subsides and everything is great again. So it seems like the hardest part of this is trying to get enough sleep to keep it cool when the chaos strikes. So far, (mostly) so good.
We made it on two outings last week — to the playground & lunch with daddy, and to the library. Leaving the house sometimes boosts all of our moods, and it’s nice to have somewhere different for Lilly to explore while I sit and hold/nurse Elli. Lilly plays really nicely by herself – both at home and when we’re out, so that makes things a bit easier for mama. (I like to joke that we’ve been strategically ignoring her for the past 9 months in preparation for getting less attention when her sibling arrives, but truthfully, she is quite independent and used to playing on her own at this point.) Elli is just starting to wake up, and only really fusses for food, so that also makes my job pretty easy. It’s also nice that I am better at picking up on hunger signals than I was with Lilly, so I can feed Elli before she even has to cry. Also, the Moby wrap is proving itself to be a necessity – I can hang out/play/interact with Lilly while still getting sweet Elli cuddles, and Elli sleeps much better when secured in the Moby than when I’m just holding her.
We also made it to the zoo over the weekend. Elli mostly slept, Lilly enjoyed the bears, chimpanzees, and had her first ever goat encounter (we were so surprised when she actually began brushing the goats — she’d stand in front of them and say, “I brush you, goat” before actually brushing them).
The days move faster with two little ones needs to tend to, but it doesn’t seem as dramatic of a change as when we had Lilly. I think at this point, I’m used to being on call constantly, used to keeping track of feeding times and sleep, and used to not having much time to myself. I remember freaking out after Lilly was born because I was always needed – I’d feed, and then have very little time before she’d need me to feed again. I don’t feel like that this time, probably because my days had shifted to focus on the kiddos before Elli was even with us! I also am aware of how fast this first year will fly… again, I remember feeling like Lilly’s night waking WOULD NEVER END and even shedding a few tears because MAMA JUST NEEDS SLEEP SOMETIME, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I am more exhausted this time, but I know that soon enough the sleepless nights will end, and the cuddles will become fewer and farther between. So it’s fine for now, and I’ll even admit to loving some of the quiet moments I’m sharing with a very-awake Elli at all hours of the morning. But I’d still take a solid 12-hour stretch of sleep if offered one. Of course.
We have been so blessed with a parade of visitors in the weeks since Elli was born. Visitors who have cleaned my bathroom, folded my laundry, played with Lilly June, brought me food, vacuumed my house, kept me hydrated, entertained me, allowed me to nap, and, of course, cuddled sweet Elli.
I’m struck with the realization that aside from a few hours last week, I haven’t actually been alone with Lilly since early July. How strange is that?! To not parent ones child unsupervised in two months… so weird. But our visitors have been excellent with her, and she has been so happy to have other people around to play with!
Nanee meets Elli
Nanee was Elli’s first visitor. She stayed at the house while I was in the hospital both before & after the c-section, and was here to help for two days after I came home. It was much needed help, too — coming home after nearly a month away was so difficult. The house was a DISASTER because of the kitchen remodel, I missed my “nesting” period and was overwhelmed by everything that I had wanted to do upon walking through the door. Pair that with my (completely unrealistic) expectations that I’d walk through the door and everything would be back to “normal” + a healthy dose of postpartum hormones, and there were an extreme amount of tears that first day. I wanted nothing more than to run around the yard with Lilly… or, at the very least, get my stuff put away where I wanted it to be. And, given that I was recovering from abdominal surgery, neither of those things were an option. Instead, my mom helped set up all the things I’d need near my bed while Jason took care of Lilly, worked in the kitchen, and made dinner.
Thoroughly inspecting her tiny sister
Jason had off the week after Elli’s birth, so we got to have a week-long family-fest — just the 4 of us. I would have liked to spend the week mostly in bed, resting, but we were scheduled to have drywall work done nearly every morning that week and since drywall work = dust, we left the house for several hours each morning. Our afternoons were a bit lazier, napping and resting. Or, in Jason’s case, entertaining Lilly, feeding our family, and trying to work on things in the kitchen.
Auntie Ashley meets Elli
Nanee came back to take care of us the following week, and over the weekend, Auntie Ashley also visited to snuggle her new niece and play with Lilly. In week 3, Nanee came back, bringing Grandpa, Uncle Trevor, and Great Grandma for a visit to meet (and snuggle!) baby Elli.
Playing rock show: Lilly on the keyboard, Uncle Trev on the
bug zapper guitar, Nanee on percussion, and Grandpa… is the band’s number one fan
Great Grandma got lots of snuggles in, which means I got some things done around the house! Also: showered and ate!
Uncle Trev and Elli
Grandpa and Nanee discussing important things with baby Elli
Nanee and the girls
Lilly is smitten with Uncle Trev. As in, woke up from a nap crying and wouldn’t calm down until Uncle Trevor just held her for a while. Uncle Trevor was really confused that this was all she wanted, but he played along anyways.
Uncle Trev and Grandpa took our old sink & countertop and made an outdoor mud sink for Lilly — it even hooks up to our hose!! She loves the sink and plays with it every. single. day. Probably one of the best DIY projects ever, and super-cheap if you count the free labor and ignore the cost of all the new stuff that we bought to replace the old sink in the kitchen.
And rounding out our month of visitors, Grammy made an extra-special appearance all the way from New Jersey! Lilly hasn’t seen Grammy since Christmas, and we were all surprised that she warmed right up to Grammy. They’ve been playing ever since. Of course, I’m trying to hand off baby Elli for Grammy cuddles, too, but I’ve dubbed this week “breastfeeding bootcamp” for Elli, who still lacks the strength to properly breastfeed. So I’ve been happy to have an extra set of hands on board to play with Lilly while I concentrate solely on feeding Elli. And I’m even happier that Elli seems to be getting the hang of things (though I’m still having to pump and offer her a bottle several times each day). And, since I’m finally feeling like a normal human being again, we’ve had some really great outings to brunch, the park, the beach, etc, this week!
The girls on the beach!
Elli, sleeping. Note the sand on her cheek, compliments of big sister’s kisses.
We pretty much had the beach to ourselves!
Lilly June and daddy went swimming in the cold cold water, while mama and grammy watched from the comfort of our beach towels.
Grammy feeding baby Elli, who is *finally* at 4 weeks old back above her birth weight. Our tiny babe was a large-and-in-charge 5 lbs 12 oz at last week’s appointment with the lactation consultants.
We are so thankful to our visitors for helping us to adjust to life as a family of four, and for doting on our little girls… It’s certainly made this new transition easier for all of us! But I think we’re also looking forward to seeing what life has in store now that it’s only us! I’ll be glad to fall into a new daily rhythm, and to re-establish myself as mama-in-charge and not just mama-to-visit-in-the-hospital-or-while-she’s-resting.
This is the best the four of us managed to do photo-wise… Not all looking at the camera, but it works. Methinks obtaining the *perfect* Christmas card photos are going to be difficult/disastrous. Yet another thing I may have to lower my standards on… :) (Other things I’ve lowered standards on: the cleanliness of the house, my own personal cleanliness, timeliness, amount of tv watched by and junk food fed to my toddler…)
And what a wonderful, hectic, exhausting, challenging set of weeks it has been!
Elli, what I want to tell you as you read this and subsequent posts and realize that there are fewer pictures and words about you than there were with your sister is that we are crazy about you. You are our tiny miracle, and the fewer photos and words really indicate that our lives are all much more full than they were two years ago when we brought home your sister. Instead of typing as frequently, I am spending the quiet moments after your sister falls asleep just holding you and loving on you. I have barely put you down in three weeks — sharing you with daddy or other visitors when I need to, but otherwise we are together every moment. So please, don’t take the lack of words/pictures as an indication of how we feel about you, but as a simple sign that our lives are more full than we could have ever imagined and that we’re enjoying living our life in real time as opposed to reminiscing about it on this little blog.
We brought Elli home three days after her birth. She looks impossibly tiny in the car seat… and we had forgotten how terrifying driving with a tiny newborn could be until we all got in the car to go home. Elli has had a few quiet gagging episodes, and I am so very terrified that she’s just going to stop breathing in the few moments that I am not giving her all of my attention. One of these gagging episodes occurred on the way home — we had to make a quick stop, pull her out of her seat, and clear her airway. Terrifying.
We’ve given Elli only a few baths since she’s been home. Her tiny 5-lb frame seems so fragile, slippery, and prone to heat loss that we’re hesitant to overdo it. She isn’t a huge fan of the bath initially, screaming as we put her in the water, but then she seems to calm herself and just sort of stare at everything around her with a slightly bewildered look. She’s also mastered brow furrowing already, so we occasionally get that look as well!
None of the hats in our stash fit her, so I cut a sleeve off of a few shirts and made my own by tying a knot in one end. The newborn clothes also seem laughably big on her, but it’s only a matter of time before she outgrows them. Sigh. This is the downside of being an experienced parent: I know just how quickly these babes grow, how fleeting this sweet cuddle time with my newborn is.
We thought Elli was doing well with feeding, and in the first week she seemed to feed enough times during the day/night, and to fill her belly and then fall asleep. She seemed to have her days and nights switched, waking much more often overnight than during the day. I wasn’t overwhelmingly surprised by this given that she was SO active at night in the womb. Late in the week, I became a bit concerned, though, as she wasn’t dirtying as many diapers as she was earlier in the week. We went in for a one-week weight check and were surprised that she was down to 4 lbs 9 oz – almost a pound of weight lost since birth. The doctor recommended pumping and bottle feeding her so that we could monitor her intake more exactly, so I began the task of pumping, and my mom, who was back to help us that week, began the nearly impossible task of waking Elli from her afternoon nap to feed. (And I know it was nearly impossible because waking her during the days to eat was REALLY tricky that first week!) As I pumped, I discovered that my supply was nearly nonexistent, and so I spent several days pumping like crazy and taking strange lactation supplements.
Elli ate better overnight, but still seemed difficult to wake the next morning, and wasn’t eating even half of the amount that the doctor told us to feed her. We called the pediatrician’s office, and then headed over to the hospital for observation. Luckily, our strong little Elli pulled through and continued to eat more as the day went on, meeting the feeding goals that the hospitalists and our doctors made for her. This mama was so thankful that her tiny baby avoided a feeding tube! We were discharged after a 24 hour observation and asked to follow up in the peds office later in the week.
I’ve had so much mama guilt about this feeding situation — how could I not notice that my baby was losing so much weight?! It felt terrible to not be able to feed my baby, and to have to work so hard to produce only half of what she needed to eat. We’ve since learned that even if premature babies are born with the suck reflex, they still may not have the strength and coordination to nurse properly since sucking skills develop in week 35 and are practiced until birth. We’ve also learned that these early babies like to just fall asleep as a coping mechanism… so when I thought that she filled up and fell asleep the way a full-term baby might have, she may have actually just been overwhelmed with trying to nurse and she likely didn’t get enough to eat. This makes me feel terrible. My poor baby may have been hungry for days and I didn’t even know! I really wish we would have been told all of this during our initial hospital stay, but we weren’t given much information about how preterm babies behave differently than full term babies.
Since our overnight in the hospital, we’ve been following a three step feeding regimen: try to breastfeed for 30 min, pump for 20, bottle feed (usually takes ~30). Repeat every 2-3 hours. So basically mama has somewhere between 40 min and an hour 40 to sleep, eat, shower, play, etc between feedings. It’s not been the easiest schedule to follow (especially in the wee hours of the morning), but I’ve been so lucky to have Jason home or family visiting to help. I don’t think I would have been able to follow this schedule without the help, so thanks to everyone who has been around for helping me to feed my baby the best way I know how. It’s hard now, but I keep reminding myself that this is only a short-term solution, and that things will get easier in just a few short weeks.
And, we’re seeing Elli’s weight slowly return to her birthweight, so that is absolutely worth all of the time and energy spent pumping and bottle feeding in the past weeks. As she gets bigger, she’s also waking more and looking around. She’s into windows, black picture frames hanging on our walls, and the ceiling fan in our bedroom. She seems like a pretty mellow kiddo so far, crying infrequently and flashing happy little faces frequently (let’s pretend that it’s actual happiness – not gas, okay?).
Undoubtedly the best parts of our weeks with Elli have been the times we’ve been together as a family of four. Lilly is SO smitten with her baby sister, and I can’t wait to see Elli return the sentiment. Lilly is so gentle with El, and sweetly talks to her in a high pitched voice. ”You have hat, baby Elli!” ”You have stripes!” ”You are tine (tiny) baby Elli!” “You have tine (tiny) fingers!” “You have blue eyes!” (That last phrase is usually accompanied by a poke to the eyes… sorry, Elli.) Lil is so proud to be a big sister, and when Elli cries, she’ll say, “want your big sister?” I’ve been so impressed with the lack of jealousy and the ease of their relationship right now. I’m sure things will become more complicated as they grow and continue to develop different personalities, likes/dislikes, and strengths/weaknesses, but for now I can only hope that they’ll build a strong foundation to fall back on when their relationship is tested.
The night before Elli was born, J, Lilly, and I enjoyed our last dinner as a family of three (I had the same pesto pasta that I ate the night before Lilly’s birth), had our last photo taken as a family of three, and shared our last family hug as a family of three before Nana took Lilly home to get some sleep. I finished Elli’s quilt top, and then Jason and I talked and cuddled and watched tv and tried to relax (easier said than done for yours truly). Just before midnight, I ate a sandwich and some cookies (thanks to my sweet Aunt for thinking of us and sending cookies!) — my last meal before meeting our baby.
My sleep wasn’t very good that night — nerves, probably, or perhaps more pregnancy insomnia or just plain excitement. I managed to get a few hours in before doctors and nurses started appearing to take my vitals and discuss procedures with me. Jason ran out to get breakfast (that he was kind enough to eat before returning to my room) and I hopped in the shower. We packed up most of the things in the hospital room that I had inhabited for nearly 3 weeks (I got a new hospital room once Elli was born) and Jason made several trips to the car (insert cheesy we should have rented a u-haul joke here). Then we sat for two hours in nervous anticipation, making final predictions on baby’s sex and weight and texting friends and relatives.
At 11, a nurse came in to start an i.v. By 11:15, our OB had wheeled in an ultrasound machine for one last glimpse of baby + placenta. Placenta was still blocking baby’s exit but low enough that it wouldn’t need to be cut through during surgery, baby was positioned breech, but at a slight angle, and would be low enough to allow for the most common type of incision through the uterus (which would also allow me the possibility of a VBAC, should we decide to have more kids… jury is still out on that one). So, the ultrasound showed the best possible news (no cut through placenta meant less risk of excessive blood loss for yours truly, baby’s position allowed for relatively easy removal).
At 11:30, we were visited by two labor and delivery nurses and an anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist asked a few questions and then left. The nurses gave Jason disposable scrubs, got me gowned up, had me drink an awful lemon-tasting acid reducer, and then walked both of us down to the OR. (This was the furthest I’d walked in almost 3 weeks!) They kept the mood light, and helped ease my nerves, and I was incredibly grateful for that. By the time we’d reached the OR, my nervousness had primarily turned to excitement. Just a few more minutes and I’d get to meet the tiny babe inhabiting my abdomen for the past 8 months!
I smooched Jason (temporary) goodbye, and was walked to the operating table. The nurses got me set up, and the nurse anesthetist numbed my back and then gave me a spinal. I didn’t feel either of the injections, but did feel immediate numbing of my left side. The nurses laid me down quickly, inserted a catheter, and then everyone began prepping my abdomen for surgery and setting up a sterile field. My OB and the nurses in the room (at this point there were a good 12 people hanging out in there) talked and joked with me, keeping things light and relaxed until it was time to poke my belly to make sure that it was numb.
I felt all of the pokes. My belly was decidedly NOT numb.
The anesthetist didn’t seem to believe me, and continued to poke me for quite a few minutes to make sure my sensitivity to pain wasn’t changing. And then he dropped the head of the bed below the rest of my body in an attempt to get the spinal to spread upwards. None of it worked, though.
So they sat me back up and gave me a second spinal. It was incredibly awkward, given that my numb legs were strapped to a table . I think 4 people had to hold me up in the right position. And another person had to step into the hall to tell Jason why this prep was taking so long!
The second spinal worked, and after the sterile field was re-established, Jason was at my side, taking funny pictures of me, rubbing my head and shoulders, and saying funny things to keep me relaxed. Before I knew it, I heard the OB say, “I can’t find the other foot” and then two seconds later, the nurse anesthetist told Jason to stand up, and our sweet baby was born. (I had asked for the drape to be dropped so I could see, too, but the nurse anesthetist refused and I didn’t push it because, truly, I wasn’t sure how much of that I wanted to see!) They asked Jason to announce the baby’s sex, and it took a minute because there were so many hands in the way, but then he looked at me and said, “It’s a girl!”
They showed her to me quickly, and then Jason and two nurses from the NICU stood over her at the warmer taking her APGAR scores. She must have scored well (they didn’t announce the numbers) because after a few moments, they wrapped her up and Jason brought her over to me. She was so tiny, weighing in at 5 lbs 8.9 oz, with a length of 19.75″. They laid her on my chest, and I held her (with the help of a nurse), looked at her, and talked to her. It took a while to really grasp that this amazing little miracle had come out of my belly — that we were hers, and that she was ours. In those few moments on my chest, she seemed both completely familiar and totally new. I was so overjoyed to have a new daughter! We agreed that she could most certainly be our little Eleanor, and she stretched out one of her hands and rested it on my chin.
I held her there awkwardly for as long as I could, but I began to feel slightly dizzy and winded (perhaps due to the double spinal?). Jason and a nurse took baby Elli to the recovery room while the OB, et al finished sewing me up, and the nurse anesthetist gave me oxygen. I felt a bit of pulling and tugging during the procedure, but not much – I found that the most annoying part was simply having to lay still on my back for so long — I wanted to move! I wanted to join my husband and new baby, to hold her and cuddle her and bond with her.
I did ask the OB to see the placenta once the surgery was over, and she held it up so that I could give it the stink eye. (Although, I was pleased that it did it’s job despite it’s location). The OB showed me that not only was the placenta in the wrong location, blocking baby’s exit, but the umbilical cord was abnormally attached to the end of the placenta that was covering the cervix, which may have been another problem for a vaginal delivery even if the placenta had moved out of the way. What a miracle our little Elli is, and how lucky are we to have her despite these complications! It still blows my mind that in another time or place, we would have lost the sweet babe sleeping on my chest as I type (and heck, I might not even be here to type).
After the procedure was done, I was wheeled back to the recovery room, where Jason and a recovery nurse were monitoring Elli. There was some concern that her blood glucose was extremely low, so J and Elli left me once again to head to the NICU for observation. I have to admit that I was a little jealous of all of the cuddle time daddy was getting with little Elli… Looks like we have two daddy’s girls with all of the bonding daddy and Elli got to do in those first few moments after birth! Luckily, my mom was waiting to be called back into the recovery room so that I wouldn’t have to sit there alone, and she helped me call and text my siblings, dad, and grandparents.
In recovery, I experienced the most pain of the entire procedure — the nurses pushed down – HARD – on my uterus to make sure that it was contracting (and they did that repeatedly!). Meanwhile, the spinal was wearing off and they hadn’t given me a morphine pump yet. Ow ow ow ow ow. I would seriously take the pain of unmedicated childbirth over that any day. Ow ow ow ow ow.
Jason and Elli were able to join me back in recovery a bit later. Jason was so proud to tell me how strong our tiny Eleanor was — the NICU nurse had quickly given Elli an ounce of formula, she guzzled it down like a champ, and her glucose levels shot up to way above normal. So she was never really admitted to the NICU and she was able to be near my bedside for the rest of our hospital stay! There was much rejoicing about that — what a strong baby to be 4 weeks early and successfully breathing AND eating! Best. possible. outcome!
My legs were still numb when they wheeled us up to our mama-baby room. It took about 6 hours for me to regain complete feeling in them (thank you, double spinal). So I hung out in bed and cuddled and nursed sweet baby Elli, happy that the c-section was over and that recovery and our life as a family of four was beginning.
My mom left to pick up Lilly from daycare, feed her dinner, and bring her to the hospital to meet her baby sister. Lilly was shy at first, as she usually is with new things, but quickly warmed up and asked to hold her baby sister. There was much cuddling and celebrating our sweet and strong little Elli! We are all so very smitten with her, and amazed at her strength despite her tiny size. She is the perfect addition to our little family, and now that she’s here, I just couldn’t imagine us without her. She truly is worth every minute stuck in a hospital room, the months of worry about a c-section followed by the surgery & recovery. Love you so much, my tiny tiny miracle baby! After all that we have already been through I am just rejoicing that you are here, that you are healthy! I can’t wait to see who you are and what you become!