Emily’s Seventh Month

Emily is seven months old!

Grandma

She started sleeping in her crib this month, and, overall, she and I are both sleeping much better with her across the hall instead of right next to me. She still sometimes wakes up at 2am, but…well, look. I’m not going to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. Suffice to say that most nights she doesn’t wake up at 2 am. It’s really nice.

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Emily is completely in awe of her brother. The other night he was dancing around the living room, and she laughed and laughed the whole time. And just look at this picture. The way she’s reaching out to take his hand and looking up at him with such admiration. Have you ever seen anything sweeter? No. No you have not.

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She crawls! Not fully on her hands and knees yet; it’s more of a belly drag, but she gets around. She’s using her new-found mobility to help herself to whatever toys she wants to get her hands on, which usually happen to be the toys she sees Alexander playing with. Alexander’s not a huge fan of this development. We’re talking a lot about sharing these days.

See also: Planking

Other skills include: Planking

She’s also using her mobility to be extra dramatic (and, okay, also a little hilarious) (but still heartbreaking) in the evenings when absolutely nothing is okay unless Mommy’s holding her. As soon as I try to cook dinner, here comes Emily, dragging herself across the floor to me, wailing pitifully the whole time. She’d make an excellent extra in a zombie movie.

Costume Pals

In less dramatic news, check out this picture from Alexander’s birthday party. While all the other cousins were running around like crazy, my 6-year-old niece, Audrey, sat down to read books to Emily. It was such a sweet moment, and you could tell Emily totally loved it. One of many reasons I’m so happy our kids get to grow up around a bunch of their cousins.

Cousins

I don’t really have a paragraph to introduce this next photo. But look at my sweet girl! She’s so pretty! And her post-bath curls are the very best!

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The day she turned seven months old also happened to be…wait for it…

Halloween

Halloween!

She borrowed her brother's mask for a few minutes.

She borrowed her brother’s mask for a few minutes.

You know we couldn’t let a baby’s first Halloween go by without putting the baby in a pumpkin, right?

She was not amused.

She was not amused.

We even let Alexander join in the pumpkin-sitting fun.

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Both kids were quite a bit happier on the outside of the pumpkins.

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Is that not the most adorable kids-with-pumpkins photo you’ve ever seen? Can you even believe how lucky I am to have these kids?

I don’t have height and weight stats because this was the first month of her life Emily didn’t have to go to the doctor. On months when she didn’t have well checks, we had to take her in for her eczema, but not this month! It turns out Dairy-Free is the way to be. Since I’ve gone off dairy, her eczema has improved drastically. I still miss cheese a lot, but since adjusting my diet is so obviously helping her, I only spend about 70% of my waking hours counting down the months until I can eat cheese again (rather then the 95% I spent previously).

Seven Months!

Seven Months!

Look at this kid. She’s the best little girl. The very best.

Emily’s Fourth Month

Emily had a busy month! Let’s get right to the photo highlights, shall we?

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She had her first 4th of July. She spent the morning lounging poolside, waiting for someone to bring her an umbrella drink.

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She found her feet! She likes playing with lots of different toys, but her feet are a big favorite since they’re always nearby.

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She got baptized! We had her baptism on July 20th so that my best friend, Amy, who Emily’s godmother, could be here for the ceremony. It was a nice ceremony, and it was wonderful getting to spend the morning with Amy and her family.

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Amy’s kids are very close in age to Alexander and Emily — her daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, and her son is 7 weeks younger than Emily. They live in Boston, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do get together.

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Emily and Walker holding hands — already best buddies!

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She rolled over! She’d been rolling back-to-front for a few weeks, but then she’d get mad because she was stuck on her belly. Then one day she finally figured out how to roll front-to-back, and everything was great again. She’s rolling a full month earlier than Alexander did, and she couldn’t be more pleased with herself. I expect her to be crawling any week now. (I’m only half joking about that.)

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Alexander’s the sweetest big brother in the world. He takes such good care of Emily, and always makes sure she has a toy to play with, whether she wants it or not. He loves to smother her in hugs and kisses, and he still likes to hold her and exclaim, “I think she likes me!” just like he’s been doing since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She’s incredibly lucky to have him for a big brother.

Here’s an 8-second video of Emily and her signature full-body smile. That’s her default smile; it’s like she gets so overcome with joy that she can’t help but react with her whole body. And it happens almost every time she smiles. She’s basically the world’s happiest baby.

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At the end of this month, Tim went back to work, so Emily started going to daycare full time. It’s going very well, as expected. Linda, our daycare provider, loves Emily to pieces (who wouldn’t?), and Alexander really likes having Emily at daycare with him.

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Speaking of daycare/working parents, I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and it’s going really well. I love the work, I have a great group of coworkers, and, most of all, I love coming home and being greeted by two kids with ear-to-ear grins. I’m also relived that pumping at work is going much better for me this time than it did the last time around. With Alexander, I could never pump enough to keep up with his appetite, and I just really hated the whole experience. With Emily, for a number of reasons, everything is 100 times better. I’m keeping up with her appetite just fine, and I really don’t mind pumping at work. I look forward to my short breaks throughout the day to unwind for a few minutes, catch up with Twitter and Facebook, and give my brain a break from all things work-related. My initial goal was to make it to 6 months nursing and pumping; that was my goal with Alexander, and I did it, but it was a struggle. Everything’s going so much better this time, though, that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Of course, things change, and I know there’s no guarantees that I’ll be able to keep up with it. But for now, I plan to keep nursing/pumping for as long as I can. I’d love to make it a full year, but who knows if it’ll work out that way. Regardless, I feel happy with my success thus far, and I count every day that it keeps going well as a win.

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At her 4-month checkup, Emily weighed in at 13.5 pounds and 24.5 inches long. She’s growing like a champ!

Nine

Then…

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and now:

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It’s been a wonderful nine years.

And Then There Was Emily

We made it to Friday. Past Friday, even. But if my parents had stuck to the original plan to wait until Tuesday to come, they would have been too late.

We made it to Sunday. That morning, at church, I noticed the braxton-hicks contractions I’d been having for several weeks felt a little different than usual. Rather than an all-over tightening sensation in my belly, it was more of a downward-pressure sensation stretching across my belly and around into my lower back. And there were more of them. Rather than several contractions spaced out over an entire day, I was noticing a few each hour. I had very few contraction-free hours throughout the day.

Still, the contractions were very irregular and incredibly mild, so I didn’t mention them to anyone; just made a mental note to pay attention and see if they turned into anything resembling actual labor. Sunday progressed much like any other Sunday. Church, lunch with Tim’s sister and our niece, toddler naptime, etc. I had Tim take a picture of me to commemorate the latest milestone: At 38 weeks, 1 day pregnant, I was officially more pregnant than I’d been when Alexander was born.

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As it turns out, my body doesn’t care to stay pregnant much longer than 38 weeks.

While we were cooking dinner that night, Tim pumped up our yoga ball. He’d been joking all weekend about making me bounce on the ball to get labor going, and he finally decided to get the ball inflated in case I felt like taking him up on his offer. Meanwhile, the contractions were getting stronger and closer together, but they were still pretty irregular. I casually mentioned to Tim that the yoga ball might not be necessary and filled him in on the current state of things. He was instantly on edge, downloading a contraction timer app to his phone (even though I told him I already had one on my phone) and asking me for updates every few minutes.

I put Alexander to bed, then dutifully sat on the yoga ball, contraction timing app in hand, while we all relaxed in the living room. I started timing contractions around 8:00, letting Tim glance at the timer every few minutes, and when my parents went to bed at 9:30, Tim told them, “Just so you know, you might be taking over toddler duty at some point tonight.” The contractions had continued to get stronger and had been consistently 10-12 minutes apart for over an hour. It might have been nothing, but at this point we were pretty sure Something was happening, and we didn’t want my parents to be caught completely off guard when we threw Alexander’s monitor in their room and dashed off to the hospital in the middle of the night.

The next few hours dragged on. We watched the finale of The Walking Dead, called my doctor’s on-call nurse to find out when we should think about making our way to the hospital (60-second contractions, 5 minutes apart for an hour), then went upstairs and waited impatiently for labor to get going. I took a bath. I paced. I bounced on the yoga ball some more. (Despite Tim’s conviction that the yoga ball would help get labor started, the contractions actually slowed down every time I sat on it.) The contractions worked their way up to 4-6 minutes apart, then dropped back to 8-9 minutes, then slowly worked their way back to 6 minutes. I remember thinking, “Is this what a slow labor is like? This is a little boring.”

Things were slow going, but the contractions were definitely getting a lot stronger. And I was exhausted, having been up since 7:00 Sunday morning when Alexander woke up. More than anything, I wanted to get to the hospital and get my epidural in place so I could take a nap.

At 1:30 Monday morning, we decided enough was enough. The contractions weren’t quite as close together as the nurse told us they should be, but they hurt like crazy. We let my parents know we were leaving, gathered up our things, and went to the hospital.

When the triage nurse told us I was only dilated to a 4, we both were pretty nervous that we’d have to walk the halls for an hour or two before we could be admitted. Luckily, the nurse checked with my doctor, who gave the green light to have us admitted. We were in.

We made our way to the labor/delivery room and met Elyse, the wonderful nurse who would see us through the rest of the night. “My shift ends at 7,” she told us, “so let’s see if we can have this baby before then, okay?”

Elyse called the anesthesiologist, and when he arrived Tim took the opportunity to run out to the car and get our bags. (Tim, as you may recall, doesn’t do so well around needles.) The anesthesiologist took forever getting my epidural in place. I kept having increasingly unbearable contractions and thinking “This is the last contraction I’ll have to feel,” but then I had another contraction and thought, “this is the last one.” This continued for several more contractions, which I really didn’t appreciate. I have no idea what took him so long, but when he finished, I was so relieved to be blissfully unaware of the contractions. Finally.

We spent the next few hours resting. Tim got a little bit of sleep, but I was too excited to sleep, knowing that I’d get to meet my daughter in a few hours, so I just rested as much as I could. At some point, my doctor came in and broke my water, and the nurse advised me to rest and let my body labor down on its own as much as possible.

Shortly before 6:00, the nurse came in to check my progress, and determined it was probably time to start pushing. “Let’s do a practice push and see how you do, then I’ll go get the doctor,” she said. About half-way through my first practice push, my nurse said, with quite a bit of urgency in her voice, “Stop pushing! Whatever you do, don’t push any more!” I could feel that the baby was crowning, and the nurse rushed to get the doctor in the room before she had to catch the baby herself.

The doctor showed up, I pushed 3 times, and then Emily was on my chest, tiny and adorable and perfect. I held her and wept tears of joy with Tim, and we both marveled at our beautiful little girl.

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Emily Judith was born at 6:02 AM on March 31, 2014. 6 pounds, 8 ounces, 20 inches long. We’ve talked about naming a daughter Emily since before we were married, so deciding on her name was easy. Her middle name, Judith, is my mom’s first name, which also was an easy decision. My mom is one of my best friends, and there’s no one I’d rather honor with my daughter’s middle name.

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She hardly cried at all when she was born, and she’s continued to be a super mellow baby in the whole week she’s been with us. She figured out nursing almost immediately, and has been eating like a champ ever since. She has a ton of hair and the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. She’s such a little sweetheart.

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It was such a different labor from last time. Even though at first I thought I preferred the quickness of Alexander’s birth, in the end I was thankful for the more laid-back pace this time around. It was nice to get a few hours’ rest before she was born, and the whole process felt a lot easier overall.

The rest of our time in the hospital was uneventful. I broke the no-cosleeping rule Monday night and let Emily sleep on my chest, startling awake every 5 minutes to make sure a nurse wasn’t coming in to yell at me. I’d gotten maybe an hour of sleep in the past 36 hours, co-sleeping was the only way Emily was going to let me get any more sleep, and I was desperate. I got a good 2 hours of sleep (in 5-minute increments) that way, and I felt so refreshed afterward.

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My parents brought Alexander to the hospital when Emily was a few hours old, and as soon as he came in the room and saw her he exclaimed, “My baby sister!” He’s a very proud big brother, always wanting to hold Emily and give her kisses and help change her diaper. Every time he holds her on his lap, he grins and says, “I think her likes me.” The first day she was home, he took one look at her feet and announced “Her has tiny feet! But I have big feet.” And sometimes he just giggles and says, “Emily, what’re you doing?” in a tone of voice that implies she’s just the silliest thing he’s ever seen.

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He’s given her a guided tour of the playroom, showing off all his favorite toys: “Look, Baby Sister! I have a digger! And it digs in the dirt, then puts dirt in the dump truck. Look, Baby Sister! I have a dinosaur! And it says rooooaaarrr!” He was completely unconcerned with the fact that Emily slept through the entire tour.

Alexander was pretty confused the first time he saw Emily nursing. He got a very concerned look on his face and asked me, “Why is she eating you?” Tim and I explained that Emily drinks special milk from Mommy, and then we had to quickly clarify that he drinks Big Boy Milk when he was on the verge of asking to try some of Emily’s milk. That satisfied him, though, and he hasn’t asked about it again.

Emily will be a week old tomorrow, and life’s pretty great. She’s letting us sleep for 2-3 hours at a time, she’s super laid back and hardly ever fusses, and she continues to eat like a pro. Alexander’s adjusting pretty well, though he definitely has his moments when you can tell this isn’t the easiest transition for him. Overall, though, he’s completely smitten with his Baby Sister, and watching him with her makes me overcome with joy.

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We’re a family of four now, and we couldn’t be happier.

Almost There…Maybe? Probably.

I’m 37 1/2 weeks pregnant today. Alexander was born at 38 weeks. Even though I know all pregnancies are different and there’s no guarantee Baby Sister will be a little early like her brother was, I still feel very much like a ticking time bomb. People ask me when I’m due, and it seems I’m incapable of just saying April 12 and leaving it at that. Instead, if you ask me when I’m due, you’ll get “April 12, but my first was born 2 weeks early, so…” My doctor suspects I’ll go into labor early again this time, but of course there’s no way to know for sure. As for how I’m feeling…I have no idea. My opinion on the matter changes by the hour. One moment I’ll be really nervous that I won’t make it until Friday (2 more days!) when my parents will be here to help out with Alexander. (We have about 3 backup plans in place in case I go into labor before my parents are here–4, I guess, if you count just saying “to hell with it” and bringing A. to the hospital with us–but it will be so much easier for him to just stay home with Grandma and Grandpa once they’re here.) And the next moment, I’m convinced that I’m going to be pregnant for 3 more weeks and this is never going to end and I’ll just be lounging around the house like a beached whale well into April. Adding another layer of excitement/mystery to the equation is the knowledge that my labor with A. was a mere 5.5 hours, which might mean that this one will be even faster, so who knows what we’ll have time to do in regards to arranging care for Alexander in our mad dash to get to the hospital on time. Or, it might mean nothing, and I’ll be in labor for 12 hours. Can you tell that it’s driving me just a little bit crazy not being able to know what to plan for? Everyone just keep your fingers crossed that I make it to Friday and the whole “What to do with Alexander” question is no longer an issue.

So, hey! My parents are arriving on Friday! My mom is planning to settle in and stay here until the baby is born so she can take care of Alexander while we’re in the hospital and help us out during those foggy, sleepless early newborn days. They had originally planned to come April 1, but because of my aforementioned nervousness/craziness about whether I may or may not go into labor this week, they graciously changed their travel plans and cut their visit with my aunt in Phoenix short by a few days so they could be here sooner. My parents are basically the best, you guys.

Do you want to see The Belly? Here it is:

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It’s…rather large. Most of my maternity shirts no longer cover it (the one pictured just barely stayed in place long enough for me to snap the picture before promptly riding back up and exposing my gut), so I spend most of my days in Tim’s T-shirts. Even Tim’s shirts, however, are getting to be too small to contain this massive, cumbersome growth. On the rare day that I wear one of my own shirts, like today, I spend all day tugging it down in front and fielding wise cracks from Tim about my super sexy beer belly. (Did I mention Tim’s home on Spring Break this week and next? That’s another milestone I was counting down to, and it’s so nice to have him here and not have to worry about trying to call the school and get in touch with him during the day if I need to reach him urgently because, you know, I’m minutes away from having a baby on the living room rug, please send my husband home right now, okay?) (Of course, now that he’s on break, I’ve switched to being nervous that I’ll somehow still be pregnant when he goes back to work in a week and a half, and I’ll have to go back to stressing about calling him at school. But, if that happens, at least my mom will be here, which makes it substantially less stressful.) ANYWAY, it’s a good thing I work from home and don’t have to leave the house very often, is what I’m trying to say.

Meanwhile, I’ve burned through all my nesting energy and marked pretty much everything off of my pre-baby to-do list in the past month. We got truckloads of hand-me-down clothes from all three of our nieces, and I’ve sorted, washed, and put away all the NB to 6-month sized stuff. I stashed everything else in the basement to deal with later; between Tim’s sister and my brother, we have enough clothes to keep this little girl adorably well dressed for at least the first 2 years of her life. I love it. We bought an adorable going-home outfit with little pink giraffes on it, which is all packed up in our hospital bag, which has taken up permanent residence in my car, ready to go with us to the hospital at a moment’s notice. The infant car seat is installed, pacifiers are washed, and the changing table is stocked with impossibly tiny newborn diapers. My best friend, Amy, whose daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, sent me her daughter’s gorgeous purple crib sheets, and they’re in the crib, just waiting for an adorable baby girl to snooze on them.

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Amy is going to be this baby’s godmother, which makes me happy for so many reasons. We’ve been best friends since preschool, so I’ve always known I wanted her to be godmother to at least one of my kids. Tim’s life-long best friend, John, is Alexander’s godfather, and it feels so perfect that Tim’s and my two best friends are godparents to our children. I know Amy is thrilled about it, too, but when the box arrived with her crib sheets, I was still completely surprised and touched to pull out the most beautiful baptism dress for my little girl. I grabbed the white material, expecting it to be the crib skirt, and audibly gasped when I realized what I was actually holding. Then I proceeded to leave Amy a blubbering voice mail telling her how amazing she is for doing that for us, and how much I loved her, and I how couldn’t stop crying because the dress is just so beautiful and perfect. Everyone should have a friend like Amy in their lives. She’s wonderful.

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People keep asking how Alexander’s doing, whether he’s getting excited to be a big brother. I think he’s doing pretty great and getting excited. He seems to understand, as well as any two-and-a-half year-old can be expected to, what it means when we talk about how Baby Sister is coming soon. He likes to race into her room and announce “This is Baby Sister’s room! It used to be my room, but now it’s Baby Sister’s.” In the car, he’ll point to the infant seat and say “That used to be my seat, but now it’s Baby Sister’s seat.” He knows that Baby Sister is in Mommy’s tummy and someday she’ll be born, but I’m sure the reality of having her come home to live with us will still be a pretty big adjustment for him. That said, he’s such a sweet, kind little guy, and I really think he’s going to be a great big brother. He’s very empathetic and likes to take care of people/the dogs/his stuffed animals, so I think he’ll do well taking care of Baby Sister, too.

And, if I can just brag about my little guy for a minute, he’s just the best. He’s talking up a storm, spouting off complex sentences all the time, asking thoughtful questions, always wanting to learn. He can count to 10 without blinking an eye (though sometimes we have to remind him not to skip the number 4), and he loves singing his ABCs and other songs. He’s really into learning his letters right now, thanks in large part to his recent obsession with Super Why (thanks, PBS!), and the number of letters he can identify on sight grows every day. As of this morning, he can correctly identify S (like a little snake!), T, R, K, C, O, I, Y, and F. He’s really good at pointing out “the O with a tail!” but forgets that it’s called a Q. If you ask him to identify a letter he doesn’t know, his first guess is almost always A. Unless, of course, you’re pointing to an A, in which case he’ll guess another letter. He’s a smart, adorable little stinker, and I tell him every day that he’s my best little guy. The other night he told me “You’re my best little guy, too, Mommy!” which, you guessed it, completely melted my heart.

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So, there’s where we’re at, 37.5 weeks into this pregnancy. Hopefully I’ll be updating again soon (but not before Friday!) with pictures of the newest member of our family. Tim and I are so excited to meet her, and we can’t wait to see what a wonderful big brother Alexander’s going to be.

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