Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One Month

Well, that flew by. I'm guessing it's way too early in this parenthood thing to already be begging for time to slow down, but that's how I feel. I packed away your newborn clothes after 3 weeks - if I didn't love organizing so much, it probably would have done me in. We had no idea what to expect, but this first month has been awesome. There has been a lot of adjusting and learning, but we have loved every minute of being your Mom & Dad.

We are a little tardy with this update, but I wanted to include your official stats. Your one-month check up had to be rescheduled thanks to the snowstorm. You are a tall boy with a big head! You currently weigh 9 lbs, 15 ounces and are 23 inches long. Future basketball player???

You are incredibly alert and expressive when you are awake, which is often! You generally only take short naps during the day with maybe one longer afternoon stint. Who has time to sleep when there are so many fun things to look at? You make the best faces when you are being burped. No two are alike - your Aunt Megan says she doesn't know what you look like because every photo I send of you is so different!

You are also a strong little fellow. Everyone comments on this when they first meet you. You've been holding your head up since day one. You love to show off at the doctor's office. At your pediatrician appointment on your 5th day of life, you rolled from your back to your side. Yesterday, we had you on your tummy, and you lifted your body up on your arms while craning your neck. The doctor was really impressed - she said it's usually around 4 months when babies start lifting up on their arms. We are in serious trouble if you keep this development rate up.

You have a ton of red hair. There is no question you are your father's son, and everyone thinks you look just like him. BUT, when you look at baby pictures of Mom and Dad, you actually look a lot more like Mom as a baby. Hey, I want a little credit too!

You are such a chill, happy baby. We are eagerly waiting for your first smile. You can follow our voices and mimic some of our actions (sticking out your tongue, and the other day, you started moving your arms while Dad was pretending to conduct some classical music), but we can't wait for you to break out a big smile.

You sleep for 6-7 hours at night, which is awesome, but it also means you eat all day - especially in the evenings. You really only cry when you are hungry, but I can't even get mad about it because you get SO excited about eating. Every time you act like you've never eaten before...even if you literally just ate.

We can't get enough of your little hiccups and big yawns. You are also making new, fun sounds every day. We basically think everything you do is cute, and we hope this trend continues. :)

You love: being held like a football and/or being on your tummy, being swaddled, bath time (once we figured out the trick of getting the bathroom nice and steamy beforehand so you stay warm), being in your ergo or k'tan carriers, looking at lights, napping in your rock n' play, riding in the car, your pacifier

You hate: being cold or being hungry

Highlights of the month: first Christmas and New Years, attending your first NFL game, the major snowstorm that hit DC, meeting your Schmeema, Papa Butch, Nana & Grandpa

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snow Day(s)

It's very possible Charlie experienced the biggest snowstorm of his life at the ripe age of 4 weeks. We got about 22 inches in Alexandria between Friday afternoon and late Saturday night. It snowed for hours and brought the DMV to a standstill. The sun is shining today as everyone starts to dig out.

We took Charlie outside for a little bit on Saturday while the snow was still falling. He is not a fan of being cold so it's no surprise that he didn't love the experience. We only made it a step outside our front door before he protested. He didn't like the snowflakes hitting his face.

We were really lucky. Jon had been in Charlotte all week for work. My mom came to help while he was gone. All week, we knew it might be tricky to get him home and her out before the storm hit. I was not looking forward to possibly being snowed in by myself! Jon was scheduled to fly back Friday morning and Mom was flying out Friday afternoon. We learned Thursday evening that the Charlotte airport was going to be completely shutdown on Friday, but by some miracle, Jon was able to get on the last flight out Friday night. He made it home around midnight. DCA closed at 3:00 pm Friday, Mom was able to fly out just in time at 12:00 p.m.

We've been hunkered down watching a lot of netflix and snuggling with Charlie...not that different from my typical day at home. My how life has changed. :)
Sunday, January 24, 2016

Charlie's Nursery

The nursery is one of my favorite decorating projects to date. The world of nursery furniture and decor is all kinds of fun, but I also loved this project because deadlines spur action. It was fun to see everything come together so quickly in just a few short months. Even though Charlie will be sleeping upstairs in our room for a while, I'm glad the nursery is all ready for him once he transitions. Ain't nobody got time to finish a nursery when there is a new baby to care for.

We literally changed everything in the room - from the light fixture to the paint to the window coverings to the furniture and decor. Here is a before photo from when the previous owners lived here. We had virtually left the room untouched for 2 years - it had served as storage for a few random things and the last of our moving boxes.

We didn't start doing any serious planning until midway through my pregnancy once we knew the gender. Make no mistake, if this baby had been a girl, there would have been a lot of pink involved (tastefully, I assure you). But once we knew Charlie was on the way, I wanted his room to look like a little man's room. None of this baby blue for us. I had visions of bold colors and graphic patterns. We decided to paint the walls gray to add a calm backdrop to the otherwise bold room. We went through a LOT of paint samples. Gray is impossible, but we finally found just the right shade.

The crib was next. I knew which crib I wanted right away - the only decision was pink or blue once we knew baby's gender. I ordered it sight unseen, but I couldn't be happier. I loved the navy and natural wood mixed together. It's simple and classic, but the two-tone element added just the right amount of interest. On top of that, it was affordable, easy to assemble, and it converts into a toddler bed and twin headboard.

The rocker is from West Elm in a gray basketweave fabric. I sat in a lot of rockers and over-agonized about this decision. It was, after all, the biggest purchase in the room, and a piece of furniture we hope to keep in our home for a long time. I settled on this one because it had the right balance of comfort and style. The fabric is soft, it's great for nursing, and it's easy to maneuver out of while holding a baby in your arms (a hugely important, but often overlooked aspect of rocking chairs). I really love it!

With so much navy and gray in the room, I wanted a contrasting pop of color in the rug to brighten things up. This bold yellow chevron rug from Land of Nod was the perfect addition. I also love the texture of the raised stripes. I think it will make a fun play mat for the trains, planes and automobiles that are surely in our future. Bonus: it also makes a great backdrop for photos!

One of my favorite parts of the room was the book wall. I saw the idea on pinterest and it couldn't have been easier or more affordable. I ordered clear, plastic card shelves from an industrial supplier that we hung by two screws on each end. It was possibly the easiest project of the nursery. The shelves not only provide great storage for tons of books, but it's a fun way to turn a book collection into a work of art. Storage + design feature = win/win. The clear shelves don't take up any visual space so the books add a pop of color without making the wall look too busy.

We already had the dresser, but I gave it a simple makeover by switching out the standard knobs for more fun navy blue ones. It turned into a changing table with the addition of a simple changing pad (this one, which I LOVE and highly recommend). The white shelf above the dresser is another practical favorite. It keeps everything we need organized and right at our fingertips, but out of baby's reach. I realize now more than ever that easy-access open shelving is the only way to go when you have a squirmy baby who needs to be changed.

The final touches were artwork, the mobile, toy bins and plush elephant head. I also re-framed a painting that was painted by a dear family friend when I was born. It's so special to be able to hang that in my little one's room.

Thus concludes the nursery tour. I'm so happy with how it turned out. We invested in the pieces that we can use for many years as Charlie grows and found more affordable options or re-purposed what we already had for some of the more short-term items.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Baby's First NFL Game

Yep, it's true. We took our almost 3-week old baby to the Packers vs. Redskins game on Sunday. Once we learned the Packers would be playing in DC for their wildcard playoff game, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to the game. Jon procured tickets in the club level so we had an indoor climate controlled concourse for changing, feeding and any other baby-related needs. The plan was to hopefully take Charlie - I couldn't imagine not getting to go the game myself, and at this point in his life, Charlie and I pretty much go everywhere together.

It was either going to be the dumbest or coolest thing we've done as new parents.

We left the house early (we are quickly learning that you can never prepare to leave the house too early with a baby on board). Once we arrived at the stadium, we changed and fed Charlie in the car (btw, a cheesehead doubles as an excellent nursing pillow) before adding his warmer layers and noise-canceling headphones. The kickoff temperature was 60 degrees, but the temp dropped quite a bit throughout the game. He had on two cozy layers, two hats, one scarf and was bundled up against Dad in the Ergo carrier to stay nice and toasty.

Charlie was a total rockstar. He slept through the first half, went inside to eat at halftime, came back out midway through the third quarter and slept until the end of the game. He was a big hit with Packers and Redskins fans alike. We got a few judgmental glances, but most people thought it was awesome. Of course, the best part is that Charlie was good luck. The Packers won, and it was glorious to be there for the victory.

Definitely the coolest thing we've done as new parents.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Charlie's First Two+ Weeks

Don't worry, I'm not going to give you a day by day journal of Charlie's entire life, but so much happens in the first few weeks that I wanted to capture as much as possible. I'm trying to keep up with his baby book and calendar, but I find it's easier for me just to blog the details.


- Your first two days of life were spent in the hospital. It was a mostly uneventful stay. Not remotely relaxing for you, Mom or Dad. Because you were a big baby, they wanted your blood sugar to stay above a certain level. You were breastfeeding really well from the start, but because my milk hadn't come in yet, we were having trouble keeping you above the line they wanted. Luckily, GW has a free donor milk program so we were able to supplement a few syringes of donor milk to increase your blood sugar level. The nurse did mention a few times that our room was the calmest on the floor. I think our mini Christmas tree and Christmas music helped with that, but it's also because you are a calm baby. You didn't even fuss much during all the poking and prodding. You even slept soundly through one blood draw. Victoria Guobaitis and Jill Hamilton came to meet you in the hospital.

- We came home from the hospital on Wednesday, December 23rd. Our daytime nurse wasn't our favorite - everything took forever with her so it was no surprise that getting discharged was a long process. We may or may not have lied about your last dirty diaper to avoid any additional delays in getting to go home. We were finally released around 4:00 p.m. I got tired of waiting for the wheelchair so I just walked right out of that joint. We drove home in a major rain downpour during rush hour. Poor daddy didn't love that drive. Schmeema and Papa Butch greeted us at home with big umbrellas. They were so excited to meet you. You went right into Schmeema's arms and stayed there for quite some time!

- Thursday was Christmas Eve. We started our day at the pediatrician for your first appointment. You were nice and healthy, but they did want us to come back on Saturday for a weight and color check. Dan and Rae-Lynn Zeigler stopped by to meet you. That evening, you went to the Christmas Eve service at church. You were a total champ sleeping through the entire service. We had our traditional meal of charcuterie, fruit, veggies and dip before opening presents. I have a confession: I didn't buy you any Christmas presents. I was afraid I would be tempting fate and that you wouldn't come by Christmas if I planned on you being here. Luckily, your grandparents aren't as superstition and Santa knows where you live so you did have presents.

- Friday was Christmas day. It was a quiet, relaxing day at home. Santa came in the morning with lots of toys for you. You'll have to be a little older before you start enjoying them, though. You watched "It's a Wonderful Life" with Dad. Mom took a nap. We had a fantastic steak dinner in the late afternoon. It was the perfect first Christmas.

- Saturday was our hardest day. We went back to the pediatrician for your weight and color check that morning. (Fun fact: you rolled onto your side while laying on the exam table waiting for the doctor. Too soon, baby, too soon). You had gained back a couple of ounces, but your color was definitely not great. They checked your bilirubin level and it was high so they sent us to the hospital's outpatient lab for further testing. If you tested for a certain level of jaundice, they told us our only options were supplementing with formula or being admitted to the hospital for light therapy. I didn't love either of those options, and I had a good cry on our way to the hospital. I felt like I was failing you already. Your official number was 14.2 - high, but not so high that they immediately wanted to do treatment. They told us to go home and feed, feed, feed. We did just that. The three of us spent the rest of the day in bed cuddling and feeding you.

- On Sunday, the home lactation consultant paid us a visit. She was a huge help! She weighed you before and after a feeding and quickly determined that there weren't any supply issues. I was so relieved to hear that. She also helped us work on your latch, which made breastfeeding much more comfortable. There is definitely a learning curve with breastfeeding, but we are in a great rhythm now. You love to eat.

- On Monday morning, we went back to the pediatrician. I was so nervous, but you passed with flying colors. You weighed 8 lbs 10 oz - so you were gaining weight and the doctor said your color looked so good she didn't even bother re-testing you. To celebrate your good report and 1-week birthday, we went out to lunch at Cheesetique with Schmeema and Papa Butch. Per usual, you slept through lunch and even allowed us to make a quick stop at the local baby boutique.

- Tuesday you went on your first shopping trip to Nordstrom. Mom needed nursing bras, but don't worry, we left with a few new outfits for you too. You did great in your stroller save one fussy spat over a dirty diaper. Schmeema and Mom didn't do so great with the stroller, however. When we got back to the car, we couldn't figure out how to detach the car seat from the frame. It took a solid 5 minutes for us to free you. Oops! That evening, your friends from Dubai, Rob and Karen McCutcheon stopped by to meet you.

- Wednesday we spent hanging out at home. Rae-Lynn came to visit you again and our doula Cara came in the afternoon to check in on us. It was fun to talk with her about your birth. She said we all did such a great job bringing you into the world.

- Thursday (NYE) was photo day! You didn't sleep great the night before and despite feeding you for almost 1 hour before the photographer arrived, you were wide awake and very fussy while he was here. It was very unlike you to be so cranky, but you just wanted to eat and eat some more. Hopefully we were still able to get some good photos! We didn't stay up until midnight - we were all asleep well before then. Unlike the previous night, you slept great on NYE.

- Happy New Year! Friday was sponge bath day. Yes, you were 11 days old before we gave you a bath, but you were so squeaky clean that I didn't feel the need to do it sooner. Also, you hadn't lost your cord yet so it was just a quick sponge bath. You hated it, and I don't blame you. Nobody likes a sponge bath. Hopefully you'll like bath time a little more once your cord falls off and you can be immersed in your baby tub.

- Saturday Schmeema and Papa Butch left early in the morning to drive home. We are so grateful for all of their help. They made numerous grocery store trips, did all the cooking, cleaning and laundry and left us with a freezer full of meals. We couldn't have done it without them. In the afternoon, we went to the craft store to buy ink and paper to make your footprints for your baby book. We also grabbed lunch nearby. This was Dad's first time pushing you in the stroller. Kelton & Rebekah Zacharias stopped by to meet you that evening. Even though she is a Vikings fan, she brought you an Aaron Rodgers jersey, which I thought was very big of her.

- On Sunday, we braved church. Our services are long so we didn't quite know how long you would last. You made it through the first half, but spent the entire sermon out in the bathroom sitting area eating with Mom. You wore your Aaron Rodgers jersey and got to meet a lot of Mom and Dad's friends. Of course, everyone thought you were adorable!

- Monday, Jan. 4 was the first day that Dad went back to work for a substantial amount of time. You were great for Mom - spending most of your day sleeping in the rock n' play. That evening, your cord fell off - you officially have a belly button now! Since your cord fell off, we were able to give you a real bath in your baby tub. You didn't seem to mind it at all - you only fussed when you had to get out!

- This Tuesday you rocked your two-week appointment. You weighed 8 lbs 14 oz (66% percentile - but you needed to eat so they declared you back to your birth weight of 9 lbs even though you were a bit shy on the official scale), 21.5 inches long (86%) and a 14.5 head circumference (77%). We were given the official word to let you sleep as much as you want at night. You did great the first couple of nights - sleeping 6 and 7.5 hours, but we've digressed since then. You have developed the sniffles and a little bit of diaper rash so the last couple of days have been much more fussy and much less restful. Also, Dad has been at work quite a bit, which perfectly coincided with your unhappiness. Thank goodness for a weekend...and an opportunity for Mom to shower and brush her teeth.

A few other random notes:

- You are a pretty good baby. You slept through the night with us waking you up once or twice to eat and then going right back to sleep in your first couple of weeks. You generally only cry when you are hungry or trying to poop. You haven't quite gotten the hang of pooping yet.

- You already have such a strong neck and head. When they put you on my chest after being born, you lifted your head right away. Apparently your dad did the same thing after he was born. We call it your turtle face when you really stick your head out and look around.

- We already have a few nicknames for you. Bud or buddy are thrown around, but Mom really likes to call you Bub.

- At first, you weren't good at burping after eating, but you have improved a lot. We are also using probiotic drops to help ease your stomach. You love to eat and get so excited sometimes that you gulp down a little too much air in the process. You've only spit up one time. Sometimes you pull away while eating and get milk everywhere, and you have a pretty great milk drunk face.

- You are pretty content wherever we put you. You like being worn in your baby wrap, hanging out in your rock n' play or sitting in your baby bjorn bouncer seat. You enjoy being in your car seat and riding in the car.

- You don't particularly love having your diaper changed. Sorry, kid, but we can't avoid that.

- We've tried a pacifier, and you quite liked it. Mom, however, got cold feet about the whole thing. I didn't want you to become addicted so I think we'll be cautious with how often we use it. We often let you suck on one of our pinky fingers to sooth you. Dad is the master soother. Mom only has one trick - feeding you. Dad, however, is more patient and therefore a better soother. You love when he puts you in a football hold.

- You are incredibly alert when you are awake. You have all kinds of expressive faces that Mom and Dad are pretty obsessed with. Of course, we think you are the cutest thing ever. We can't get enough of your "stink" face and old man faces.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Charlie's Birth Story

I've been working on this for two weeks. I won't name names, but I keep getting interrupted by this adorable tiny human. I'll try to keep this as family friendly as possible, but childbirth is, well, kind of graphic. Read or don't read, but you've been warned.

I should probably start a week earlier. Longest. Week. Of. My. Life. Waiting for baby is no joke. I tried to stay distracted - Jon worked from home to help in that effort. We watched movies, went out to eat, took lots of walks, did some shopping and enjoyed our last few days as a family of two, but this mama was getting beyond impatient.

My due date of Sunday, December 13th passed without incident. It's basically the one day you know baby isn't coming. I felt like nothing was happening, but at my 40-week appointment the following day, I was very surprised to learn I was already dilated 3-4 centimeters, 80% effaced and baby was very low (0 station). I thought for sure he would be on his way soon. Over the next couple of days, I had one labor sign after another...except the most important one - actual contractions.

By the time we hit week 41 the next Sunday, I was convinced this baby was never coming (hold onto that thought, it resurfaces later). I went to church that morning angry that I was still with child. It didn't help that my day started at Starbucks with the barista exclaiming "You look ready to pop" or that someone at church said "Don't get me wrong, you look great, but you are huge." Thanks, I think? I told our pastor we needed a little fire and brimstone to coax this baby out. It was an excellent sermon, but alas it didn't induce labor. I went to get my nails done after church, and luckily, I had football to distract me all day. The Packers beat the Raiders. I went to bed that night convinced nothing would happen, and for the first time in about a week, I slept great.

I woke up on Monday, December 21st at 6:14 a.m. with what I would later identify as my first contraction. As a first-timer, I was convinced of two things - 1) first time labors often start with false alarms and 2) they last forever. I thought I was maybe having contractions, but at 8 days past due, I was so uncomfortable, it was hard to tell the difference. I lay in bed casually timing them on my phone by writing down the frequency in my notes app - it was highly sophisticated...who needs contraction apps?! These strange pains were anywhere from 10-13 minutes apart and I was in total denial. I thought it was early labor (it was) and that it would probably go on for several hours (it didn't).

Around 8:00 a.m. Jon woke up and told me he had a dream that I was in labor. Apparently, it was so vivid it caused him to not sleep well that night. I had the great pleasure of telling him it might be a premonition because I thought I was *maybe* having contractions. Jon jumped into action and began timing them with the app on his phone. We ate breakfast (an English muffin with peanut butter for me) and lay in bed watching HGTV. We called our doula at 9:30 a.m. to let her know we were in early labor. I also sent an email to work telling them I wouldn't be on our weekly staff call that morning.

By 10:00 a.m. the contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but they were still completely manageable. We took a break from timing around 11:15 and decided to go downstairs for a change of scenery. Jon started to do a few things around the house to get ready to head to the hospital. At this point, I still thought I was probably hours and hours away from delivery. At 12:06 we started timing again and things definitely picked up, but the pattern fluctuated anywhere from 5 to 2 minutes apart. At 12:15 we called the doula and she advised us to wait until they were consistently 60 seconds long and 3 minutes apart before heading to the hospital. It didn't take long to get there. By 12:40 they were consistently less than 3 minutes apart. Around 12:55 Jon called the midwives. They told him it was time to come in.

In the back of my mind, I was still concerned we were heading to the hospital too soon. Everyone had preached to me about staying home as long as possible, so I was determined to do just that. I knew that going in too soon could potentially slow down labor, and I also knew that I would be more comfortable at home than at the hospital. They weren't pleasant, but I was still dealing with the contractions pretty well. I thought I could make it a little longer, but at 1:15 my water broke. I was sitting on our white couch, but I hopped off just in time. Yes, my water broke on the hardwood floors of our living room. I'll understand if you never want to come visit my house again.

This is when labor got real for me. We frantically rushed out the door to the car. Jon told the doula to meet us at the hospital.

The car ride to the hospital was torture. Water breaking = more painful contractions. I sat in the back seat spending some of the ride on my hands and knees leaning over the car seat. Jon tells me he ran two red lights. Since we were arriving during daytime hours, valet parking was an option. Yes, please. We waited until the end of a contraction before I got out of the car. I walked right past the security guard who didn't dare stop me and into the elevator to head up to the 3rd floor. A lady in the elevator asked if I was ok, to which I responded, "I'm fine, just having a baby." It's funny the things you remember...and the things you don't. But I vividly remember that a guy riding the elevator got out before me once we reached our floor. I remember thinking even in that moment how rude that was. If there was EVER a time to let a lady exit the elevator first, it would be when she is in labor.

I made a bee-line for the chair next to the check-in desk. We had pre-registered, but there was still a little paperwork to be done. I vaguely remember having a contraction and probably making some very awkward noises in a very public space. While we were checking in, our doula Cara arrived, and I was so relieved to see her. It felt like an eternity, but after a couple of minutes, the nurse came to take me back and I immediately hated her. She asked if I was having a baby today and mentioned something about taking me to triage instead of a labor & delivery room. I thought she was joking and/or trying to be sarcastic, but looking back on it, both Jon and I think she was serious. She seemed skeptical that a first-timer like me was in active labor. Maybe I looked too calm, I don't know? Jon and the doula totally stuck up for me and reminded her that they wouldn't have told us to come in to hang out in triage. We were ushered into labor and delivery room #9. Luckily we ditched this check-in nurse right away and were assigned a team of two nurses who were wonderful. I don't remember their names, but they were great. They stayed with me the entire time. Their shift ended just before Charlie was born (don't worry, they were replaced with two equally awesome nurses), but they both came back for a few minutes on their own time because they wanted to be there for the big moment of his birth.

I tried to make myself as comfortable as possible while they checked vitals, put in my saline lock, etc. The midwives on call that day were Hannah and Alice, both of whom I had met before and really liked. I found out later that Hannah delivered 3 babies between the time I checked in and Charlie was born! She was in and out more often, but Alice stayed with me the entire time and was such a huge help. I had met her a couple of weeks earlier when they sent me for monitoring because my pulse was high. That whole ordeal was a waste of time, but now I'm so glad it gave me the opportunity to meet her before the big day.

Once we were settled in, Alice checked to see how much progress I had made. This was around 2:25 p.m. I was dilated 6 centimeters. Take that, skeptical check-in nurse. I was definitely in active labor. The next two hours are a blur as I went through the transition stage of labor. I didn't have to be constantly monitored so I was able to move around and continue working through the contractions however I felt most comfortable. We had brought a miniature lighted Christmas tree with us to the hospital and we also had an extensive Christmas music playlist we played in the background. I didn't notice them too much while I was in labor, but in the later stages between pushes, I did notice and maybe even managed to enjoy the music during my breaks. My biggest pain relief distraction was concentrating on keeping my jaw relaxed and breathing down. Whenever I tensed up the midwife and doula coached me to let go and "breath the baby down." Jon was also a champion birth coach. He jumped right in and encouraged me every step of the way. Between him and the doula, they made sure I was hydrated and kept cool wash cloths on my neck and forehead.

Luckily, we snagged one of three rooms with a birthing tub. I immediately wanted to get in, but it was a little too early and we also had to wait for the tub to be filled. Around 3:40 p.m., I started feeling the urge to bear down (lovely term, isn't it?). By 4:00 p.m., the tub was ready and I was so much happier to be in the water. Warm water is nature's best pain reliever. At 4:35 p.m., Alice checked my progress again and I was 9.5 centimeters. That was music to my ears - this baby was almost here...or so I thought.

A little after 5:00 p.m., I started pushing. Charlie Ford Hardin was born at 7:35 p.m. Math is hard, but I trust that you can deduce that I pushed for 2.5 hours. Remember earlier when I was still pregnant at 41 weeks and I thought this baby was never coming? That's exactly how I felt somewhere in the middle of the pushing stage. I voiced that fear a few times, but the amazing team of people around me kept encouraging me. The doula told me later that every time I voiced a doubt, my next round of pushing was my best yet. Apparently I was using reverse psychology on myself. Around 6:30 p.m. Jon got in the tub with me. He sat behind me and helped support my weight, which made things much more comfortable. He was such a good teammate, and I love that he was so involved in Charlie's birth.

I was making progress, but things were taking time. Near the end, Charlie's heart rate was staying a little high in between my urges to push. They were concerned I was getting a little too warm in the tub and that it was affecting Charlie. They told me after my next few pushes, I would probably need to get out of the tub if his heart rate stayed a little elevated. At this point, I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was waste energy getting out of the tub. That seemed like a mountain too high to climb. Also, the water was my pain relief lifeline, and I did not want to be without it. All I needed was that little threat. On my very next push, I basically went from 0 to 60 and Charlie was born. We like to joke that he already knows how to swim. I was able to reach down and help pull him up to my chest. Since Jon was behind me in the tub, he was able to be right there as Charlie was lifted up to us. It was 7:35 p.m. Charlie weighed 9 lbs and was 20.5 inches long.

Charlie was just perfect...all 9 lbs of him! It couldn't have been a more beautiful moment, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I was too enamored with our son to pay attention, but I learned after the fact that Charlie certainly didn't do me any favors. Besides being a big baby, he was posterior or sunny-side-up when he was born. Most babies are born face down, which is the easiest position to help the baby descend properly, but about 5% of babies arrive face up. On top of that, Charlie also didn't bother to tuck his head at all. To put it bluntly, I couldn't possibly have birthed more of his head than I did. At one point early on, they mentioned he was a bald baby - turns out that was only because they were feeling his forehead. Charlie was, in fact, born with lots of red hair. I was extremely lucky. Posterior babies are usually responsible for intense back labor (I had none), prolonged labors (definitely not me) and are at a greater risk for complications or interventions (I had none). I firmly believe I have my chiropractor to thank for a complication-free posterior labor. The only drawback is that it did take more pushing to get him out, but the midwives also said 2+ hours of pushing is not uncommon for first-time labors. Not to mention the fact that a slow and gradual pushing effort was necessary for Charlie to arrive safe and sound.

I'm so grateful I was with a midwife practice that didn't panic or even bat an eyelash at Charlie's posterior position. They saw I was making progress and allowed me to continue laboring naturally. They didn't view it as a complication, and they were so encouraging and incredibly wise in not overtly telling me that he was posterior. They weren't hiding the fact, but they also didn't raise any red flags about it, and since I was busy trying to have a baby, I just never caught on to that tidbit. I probably would have seriously doubted myself if I had known, but luckily they never doubted me!

That first night in the hospital was so sweet. We got settled into our postpartum room and Jon fetched food for us (grilled cheese for me, burger for him). We were interrupted a few times for vitals checks, etc. but I don't think we would have slept anyway - we were on such a high. It's such an amazingly wonderful and overwhelming experience to become parents in the blink of an eye. Jon snuggled up in the hospital bed with me and we talked about what an amazing day it had been. I just wanted to lay there and feel all the feels for as long as possible. I couldn't love both of my boys more than I do.

Approx. 10 minutes after Charlie's birth. He obviously looks thrilled to be an outside baby. 
One proud papa. Everyone Says he looks like his dad.