Real is so important to me, so before I start this precious post, let me please just tell you briefly about my yesterday.
It was what I described to my mom as the worst day since Smith was born.
(which was kind of dramatic because I KNOW there are so many ways days could be worse)
(and no, best friends of mine- I’m not quite talking about the day a week ago when I text you none of my shoes fit my now size ELEVEN foot)
But seriously– we were sick, I hadn’t left the house in a couple days, and the sky was falling in.
Everyone cried, including me.
It was what Alexander might call a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
But then there is this awesome thing about parenting and motherhood and life in general really, where you get to go to bed (maybe still in tears lol) and wake up to a NEW DAY.
And holy moly, did I wake up to SUCH A BETTER DAY.
As in a “I NEED TO BLOG ABOUT THIS KIND OF WONDERFUL” kind of day.
But before I jumped into walking you through my today, it was imperative I disclosed the annoying and frustrated of my yesterday.
With that behind us, let’s look at TODAY!
Smith and I were up a bit before June woke us, so just the two of us enjoyed some snuggles and feeding among great conversation.
(And I won’t go into exact details in fear The Sleep Gods might decide to change it all on us, but that full diaper might be a slight indicator of the HOURS this kid sleeps for us. WE ARE SO UNWORTHY and I don’t even know how we get these kind of newborns but OH MY PRAISE JESUS FOR THEM.)
When June yells out, “MOMMMMMY!” and I go and get her, I always bring her into our room for some snuggles with the three of us.
It looks a little precious something like this:
I love them more than I can express. Both individually, together, and then watching them love each other — it’s a whole sappy lovefest kind of thing we’ve got going on.
And don’t even get me started on weekends when my Shippmate is in that bed with us. It’s complete out of control on those mornings.
After everyone’s had enough lovefest and/or we get hungry, we move into breakfast together.
Not photographed, but still a grand time in which June is always ready to talk ninety to nothing and I love listening to every word she has to say.
Smith has less words currently but is always very eager to eat with us.
We had some tea parties, played with June’s new animals from Aunt Janet, read books, had pretend phone conversations, and just did our normal things around the house before I decided after a couple of sickly days of not going anywhere, I needed out of the house.
After getting us all dressed, we made a plan to go by the bank to cash June’s monthly check from my parents for her savings account which June gets so excited about because she is so advanced that she already thinks about things like saving for college.
And by that I actually mean she knows THE BANK MEANS SHE GETS A SUCKER.
Which is like the equivalent of money in the bank to a 1 but really 2 year old June Harbor.
After the bank, I asked June what she wanted for lunch, and she said Arby’s but I was thinking Sonic, so I suggested what we call a VAN PICNIC!
Which is about as classy as it sounds.
I am not kidding, June thought this was THE most fun thing ever lol.
As in, 15 minutes in to our “picnic,” she says to me, “Mommy! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! Thank coo for this MINI VAN PICNIC TOGETHER!”
We took some pictures to document just how fun a MINI VAN PICNIC can be.
Smith was either eating or sleeping very close to his food source the whole time:
I started to end the picnic after about 30 min (and our food was gone) but my favorite June Harbor said, “No, Mommy! Please can we do this longer!!! This is so much fun!”
And really— who am I to stop this kind of good time?
So we kept the party alive for another good 30 minutes back there.
I’m telling you people, MINI VANS ARE WHERE IT’S AT.
When we did finally end the picnic, and I was loading everyone back in seats, June started imitating Smith sleeping which looked like this:
I mean, I sat in the back of our mini-van for an HOUR with her and we had the best time. She’s literally such a joy and delight to be around and we laugh so much that Smith sometimes has to hold on during feedings. She’s my absolute favorite.
Because I was feeling ambitious, I decided to try Wal-Mart out with these sweet babes of mine.
It was in the Wal-Mart parking lot I realized I had not planned on doing anything but a bank and quick food run (thinking we were going home to eat lunch) so June had no shoes on.
Which might be stressful, but I decided to use it to my advantage and say it meant she had to stay in the cart. (which doesn’t always normally happen)
She accepted the challenge, and in we went!
For what was literally THE best, smoothest, peaceful, amazing Wal-Mart kind of experience.
As we strolled aisle to aisle in smiling (and Smith sleeping) peace, it was then I knew that God had seen my angry and frustrated tears of yesterday and feared I might be giving up one of my two kids and thus gave me the gift of a beautiful kind of TODAY!
This was me trying to get June to smile for her inaugural cart ride with Smith:
Which resulted in this:
I remember this happened after I had June, too, where the time between summer and fall is a bit of blur because it’s when I’m having a new baby, so I almost didn’t realize how quickly all things fall and Halloween are, and it just made me so happy to see those pumpkins, ghosts, and spooky books!
So in the spirit of our new day, I told June we could pick out one for her library at home.
I’m a complete pushover when it comes to books AND Halloween, so this was a complete combo of my weaknesses.
We left Wal-Mart and came home with still a happy and content Smith Man, and my mom’s dear friend Bert had stopped by with gifts for the new baby and big sister.
I love the part of having a new member of the fam that brings people to our home that we normally don’t get to visit with here!
We had a wonderful visit with Bert, and June was MOST excited about her new colors, shirt, and especially her drum major baton since Bert had heard June was a fan of marching bands! So sweet.
After Bert left, it was already nap time, and so June sat down with her dog and her favorite Daniel Tiger before bedtime.
I know I’m on an awesome day high right now, but I just can’t express how much I love and appreciate that little girl. Everyday is an adventure with her, and even the way she watches her show before nap kills me!
(and yes, we have NUMEROUS amazing chairs she could sit in– including her own that she loves but sometimes she prefers the floor lol)
She went down for nap like a dream, as she always does. And as much as I adore every awake moment with that beautiful doll, I full on know that I’m ABLE to enjoy those moments even more happily when I know I always have a 2 hour break in my day during nap. I’m so beyond thankful for our routine and her sweet sleeping abilities.
And in true AMAZING AND BEST DAY form, I see the mailman come and after looking for our newborn pics everyday this week with much excitement and anticipation, Smith and I went to the mailbox to find they had arrived!!!!!!!!!!!
I can’t even tell you how happy that made me!
Smith went down for a nap, and so with my new fall candles burning, two beautiful babes sleeping, and some TSwift “Never Grow Up” playing, I sat there and just cried the happiest tears looking at our AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL pictures that Janean Gray (click HERE for a link to her site) gifted to us! I cannot say enough about how talented and amazing she is and how BEYOND grateful I was when she gave us the priceless gift of this newborn session!
Because Smith wasn’t about to not be a very contributing factor to my BEST DAY EVER, he decided while June was still sleeping to go ahead and serenade his favorite mama.
No but seriously– is he or is he not totally playing that guitar for me and looking into my eyes like I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MOMMY!?
Before dinner, I went to get a tea, and June wanted to ride with me.
On our drive to McDonald’s, I drove by this sign that said FREE with three different items sitting next to the curb. I actually turned around thinking my SIL might want the wooden highchair for a photo prop, but when I turned around I saw it wasn’t something she wanted and the other two items were things June might want!
I said to June, “Do you want that bike?”
Naturally she said, “YES!!!!”
Where the house was located was kind of tricky, so I had to pull in across the street and I suddenly realized the car next to me was doing the exact same thing. But ahead of me lol!!!
I jump out of the van and sprint across the street (behind this guy lol) and he grabs the shopping cart and leaves the bike!!!!
So I run back to the van so excited and I literally find a SOBBING June!!!!
Actual big, big tears of her just wailing, “MOMMY! THAT MAN STOLE MY BIKE!!!!!!!”
She had sat there rearfacing but positioned in a way that she could see the guy getting out but not what he brought back, and she thought he had taken “her” bike!
She was so worked up and then instantly got SO excited when she realized I got it. She goes, “YOU got the bike, Mommy!!!! I love it so much!! WAY TO GO MY MOMMY!!!!”
The pics of her with the bike are not great because we didn’t play with it until after dinner, but I had to include this story in our BEST DAY EVER post, because the whole event was so dramatically and preciously June. And I loved it.
Yes, that is my very favorite flavor of coconut yogurt from Orange Leaf. IT IS SO GOOD.
I actually rarely crave ice cream, but I have an annoying cold and had been wanting it all day, so Ryan put June to bed and held Smith while I made a quick trip for this sweet treat.
And that, my friends, was our Thursday.
A van picnic, a trip to Wal-Mart, some fall candles and newborn pics, and a free curbside bike might not sound that special, but the silliest and random adventures of a normal Thursday with my two babes feels pretty exceptionally special to me right now.
So special that I stayed up late trying to get this sweet day blogged about and literally fell asleep AT MY LAP TOP. And when you wake up and see you’re in the middle of a blog, you have to kind of wonder about the quality of writing you’ve done thus far, so I went to bed and tonight– at 11:58pm– just now finished the last few paragraphs before it was already the NEXT Thursday! Yes, it took me exactly a week to get a blog about last Thursday written.
I’m definitely still figuring out this whole two kid gig, and slowly but surely we’re finding our groove.
It may take me a week to blog about a day, but with these beautiful babies as the reasons for my delay— well, I’m oddly okay with it.
Most of all, I’m just so crazy grateful these people are mine.
June + Smith Story #1:
So last night June was having a tea party and serving me some pie that she decided to toss to me instead of putting down gently. It hit Smith in the head (barely) (he slept right through it while nursing) and so I had to get on to her a little bit and ask her to apologize.
I explained if she tossed something near him again, she would have to go to time out and she needed to apologize. She said sorry in the kind of annoyed way she can when she knows she did something wrong.
She goes about playing with something else in the other room and a good five minutes later comes back to me and Smith, and looks at him SO genuinely and sweetly and says-
“Smiff- I’m so sorry I hit you with my pie. You feel better? Let me kiss it.”
Ryan and I both were just blown away by her empathy and love and concern for her baby brother!
June + Smith Story #2:
Tonight we all read Daniel Tiger’s The Baby is Here! book that Smith gave June at the hospital. It was just so dang sweet sitting on the couch together for some Friday Night Family Story Time.
But even sweeter was after we’re done and June is going to bed, she goes to give Smith a hug and kiss goodnight– all on her own— and then says to him, “Good night Smiffy Smiffy Smiff Smiff. I had fun with you today, my brother.”
Ryan and I are looking at each other just completely melting over the amazing sweetness and adoration of sibling love happening right before our eyes.
The joy and complete giddy of watching June fall in love with her baby brother combined with the bond it gives me to feel so proud of her with my Shippmate as we exchange looks of amazement and awe together… ON TOP OF the fact I spent my entire day snuggled up with my Smith Baby just smelling him and kissing him and soaking up every minute of loving him…
I am so beyond thankful I get to call these beautiful people MY FAM-UH-LEE!
I couldn’t let today pass without a quick note to you.
Today is your birthday, and Baby June– we didn’t even tell you.
Your baby brother is newly home– just 5 days new– and I knew with his August 13th due date so close to your birthday, I wouldn’t be able to do your party and celebration on time this year. With him arriving 6 days late, it really put things close together, so I wanted to wait to even tell you it’s your birthday until I could really do everything for you like I want.
You’ve been talking about your party for weeks, and you are truly SO excited for your birthday that I want it to be so special for you. I want both your party and the day to be all about you and I just knew I couldn’t make that happen today.
Smith had a doctor’s appointment and I was going to be gone from you for a good portion of the day, and I just decided it was the best for everyone to delay both your actual “day” with the same weekend we’re having your party.
I was wildly confident this was the best idea for everyone and then also doubted it about three times today, too.
Which if that isn’t motherhood in a nutshell, I just don’t know what is.
But what I had to write to you tonight, June, is that I could not love you more, and I only didn’t tell you because I want your day (observed lol) to be all the special that you are to me.
While I took Smith to his appointment with Grammy, you had such a sweet afternoon with Pa. In fact, he got here early this morning to help me, and while I was sleeping with Smith on the couch, I heard him go get you when you woke up this morning and you exclaimed– with much excitement– “PAAA!?!?!!”
Which made me think your actual birthday (that you didn’t know about lol) was really starting pretty perfect.
Before Grammy, Smith, and I left, you were so excitedly setting up a tea party at your table and you kept saying, “I’m having a tea party for my birthday party, Mommy!”
And you ARE having a tea party for your birthday party soon but hearing you say that with so much excitement today had me in tears that were some sort of mixture of joy, guilt, and mostly proud for how crazy smart and verbal you are setting up your party with the biggest and sweetest vocabulary all the while!
Smith and I had a really sweet time with Grammy at his appointment, and when we got home, you were so excited to see us all. We had dinner together, and then Daddy and I wanted to take just you to Orange Leaf for ice cream.
(Part of our own secret celebration for your birthday!)
You loved this idea, put on an “Adi Morgan dress,” and we were out the door.
Even though we had thought it would be so special to you for it just to be us with you, I loved so much when you were a little stressed Smiff wasn’t coming but rather staying with Grammy.
Tonight happened to be a special at Orange Leaf that had all of Warrensburg there— including lots of sorority girls in tu-tus (“like my party, Mommy!!”) which you just loved.
Upon seeing the huge line in front of us, and after a pretty busy day for me with Smith’s appointment and some errands, and well- the fact I’m still just 5 days postpartum after having my own linebacker of an 11 pound baby… I suddenly felt a little not so great. I hadn’t taken any pain meds in awhile, and it was about 8:30 and everything just started hurting.
Your daddy could tell I was in pain and encouraged me to go sit down, but I wanted to be there and enjoying the “birthday you didn’t know about” (lol) with you and your daddy, so I didn’t. We talked and I savored every moment of just enjoying you.
After quite awhile and some pain getting a little more uncomfortable for me, we get to the part where we’re almost going to get our ice cream, and your daddy was being so sweet and great to me and leans over to start to tell me how pretty I look.
Which let me stop right there and say that I don’t know whether it’s the new mom joy or excitement or the glow of it being your birthday, but I actually had felt so pretty all day. Which is not always the fact when 5 days postpartum, but even when I got out of the shower earlier, I looked at my naked belly that is drastically different than it was just last week and said, “MAN- I AM SKINNY!”
I was, of course, kidding, because oh girl– after babies, bodies take awhile to go back to where they used to be, but I just honestly felt so good.
All of that to get us back to where your daddy– and my Shippmate– was whispering in my ear how good he thought I looked when this lady behind us kind of interrupts his moment to say, “I just have to say– you are the prettiest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen.”
And oh June.
My body that felt so tired and sore and done but was determined to stand in that line and have a birthday celebration of a special ice cream date you didn’t even know about…. oh that very postpartum body just wanted to run away and hide in the bathroom to cry.
Instead, I smiled and thanked her, and truly- she had NO ill intentions and was so sweet and sincere and I had ZERO desire to correct her or make her feel bad at all!
I didn’t want to look at your daddy, because despite having a whole lot of content and confidence in my 5 day postpartum body, there was a part of me that felt so vulnerable and embarrassed that the love of my life just heard her say that!
But he was looking at me and oh June, in his eyes, I saw such a love— and maybe some confusion on what in the world to do lol– as I knew he was dying that he didn’t want that to have just hurt me.
What’s especially funny is I had just talked to a friend that had this happen about a month ago when she was at work and I had told your daddy later that I was surprised it never happened to me with you, but that I was never out without you.
So here I am, out without my newborn that would be proof of why I have this pooch of a belly, and not because I don’t want to be with him or snuggling him on the couch, but solely because I wanted my firstborn girl and the baby who stole my heart 2 years ago today to feel the most special.
With all of the those feelings and emotions and the embarrassment that someone thinks I’m still pregnant on top of being sore in places you don’t even want to know about, I just couldn’t hold in the tears.
And oh June, I can’t wait to love you through those first few postpartum days like my mama so beautifully loved me 2 years ago and now again with Smith’s arrival, but girl- when you start to cry and feel emotional in this state of hormones and madness, THERE IS NO STOPPING THE TEARS.
So now I’m just a crying mess.
You look up at me with the most sincere and beautiful eyes and say, “Mama- what’s wrong? I love you, Mommy.”
And June Harbor Shippy, you won’t be able to understand this until you’ve fallen in love with your own baby girl one day, but you loving me and caring about me so deeply?
It is the most intoxicating kind of wonderful that made me have zero regrets about this birthday celebration at Orange Leaf we were having together.
The crazy of my hormones and emotions also made me so happy that we were not REALLY celebrating your birthday today lol.
But I knew I would have to write you this letter (instead of going to sleep like your Grammy and Daddy want me to lol) to just tell you that I love you and I CANNOT wait to REALLY celebrate your birthday you’ve been talking about for weeks.
And I’m sorry we skipped your birthday today, June, but I PROMISE it was only because I want to make your celebration and the observed day the most special that I know you will absolutely adore.
And I very much thought of you all day and even sent your daddy this text at the exact time of your birth–
We love you so much, and one day when you’re 5 days postpartum you will know just the extent of a mama’s love that I would want to go stand in a forever long line for ice cream I don’t love to just make sure you know just how very, very special and loved you are, my Baby June.
I could not love you more. And I’m not calling you two yet, because for two more weeks I get to hear you completely shock people when they ask how old you are, and you tell them “Oh, I’m one! But I will be two at my birthday tea party coming up!” and then rattle off another paragraph of such amazing talking that people can’t believe is coming out of someone so small and so one lol.
You are my favorite little girl in all of the world.
PS: Before going to bed, you got to kiss your Grammy, Smiffy, Daddy, AND Mommy goodnight, which also felt like such a sweet ending to the birthday you didn’t know was happening.
So there we were– very much in the pushing stage with pain and tears all around, but with the leading emotion being such a strong feeling of anticipation and excitement.
The room that had just hours ago felt like it literally might close in all around me had such a new life and energy that felt so very beautifully similar to the long stretch of a finish line in a half marathon.
Because I’m such a fan of numbers being special, I very vividly remember watching the clock to be conscious of what would forever be June’s birth time.
I saw 2:13pm approaching and really loved that idea– and tried with all I could to make it happen, but it didn’t.
I then remember thinking since we missed that we could go for my other favorite number in 2:35pm and then realizing no amount of number love could make me want to stay in the kind of killer pain I was in, so all of the sudden I knew ANY number between 2:13 and AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE would surely take on a special all of its own.
And with much encouragement from my Shippmate, JoHonna, and Dr. Lintecum, at 2:21pm, June Harbor Shippy entered our world.
Still in that sac with an elbow trying to break free and rip it open, as she was READY to meet us and make her grand entrance into our lives!
Dr. Lintecum had noted early on in the pushing stage that there was meconium present which meant they wouldn’t be able to put her on my chest immediately or delay cord clamping like we had planned, but rather take her immediately to just get all of that out of her face so she would not have meconium aspiration.
He had assured me this was no problem and she would be okay, so I didn’t feel worried, but do remember being so glad Ryan was over there with her and the nurses and asking him several times (in probably a period of a minute and a half)– “Is she okay?! Can they please give her to me now?”
I am pretty sure I said that, too!
She was perfect.
The giddy in my heart was out of control.
Not only was I experiencing this moment I had anticipated for 9 months– and in some ways my whole life– but I also was on some sort of euphoric cloud nine after just having completing the holy of all biggest and most challenging things my body and mind have ever been through.
I felt this wildly passionate and out of control bond with my Shippmate.
I would later describe our birth and labor experience as the most incredible team building experience in all of the world. It was the mother of all mothers of rope courses and trust falls and tree tops— we had been in the face of so much and not just survived but completely rocked the experience with this precious and perfect and beautiful baby girl as our prize at the end of the race.
Despite quite a few obstacles in the way of this, I literally wanted to just make out with my Shippmate right then and there in that labor and delivery room!
JoHonna helped me while I wanted Ryan to go tell our families!
He went out to the waiting room to do the classic dad announcement (that I love that my mom knew I would want photographed and tried to capture for me!) and realized June had beat his family to the hospital. He called them and told them the news.
My mom said Ryan was clearly so smitten and excited about both of his girls!
(Please don’t miss the emotion and pure love all over my Bobby’s face! Not to mention how much I even melt at the blurry of this picture because my mom is not a photographer, but so wanting to have this moment for me– which means so much to me!)
I was so excited for my parents to come back to meet their very first granddaughter and although I had just seen them at our shrimp and movie night about 13 hours prior, it felt like a lifetime ago. I was dying for them to meet June and know all that had happened since we were last laughing at George Banks just hours ago.
I will never forget all of the emotion on their faces when they walked in to see us. So much joy, so much love, and so much pride– it was some kind of wonderful. And oh goodness, were there ever tears. I can really only imagine all of the feelings of seeing their firstborn girl with her very own firstborn girl.
The only thing left to happen in that Labor and Delivery Room #2331 before we would head to Mother/Baby was for the arrival of the cheeseburger I had ordered right after delivery! I was so unbelievably hungry and that cheeseburger, strawberry Jell-O, and Diet Coke were sweet perfection. I never really eat Jell-O but they gave it to me right after June was born (before the burger would arrive) and in the past two years, I’ve found myself buying the exact same kind and flavor just to taste the glory and beautiful of that day.
A day that will be the most special to my heart always.
She weighed 8 pounds and 12 ounces of pure perfection.
My mom immediately noted that she had such a deep and strong cry. Since I hadn’t heard many babies cry, I didn’t recognize this intitally but my mom did from the very beginning and for those of you that still know my sweet June, you know her voice is still deep and strong!
She was 21 and a half inches long with so many features of her Daddy but undeniably her Mama’s very flat, long, and skinny feet!
Everything about her was mesmerizing.
Except– the truth is… after knowing her and adoring her and loving her for almost 2 years now, I kind of can believe it.
I believe that she absolutely would come on the day SHE was ready. With such confidence and enthusiasm in knowing it would somehow still work out perfectly.
I believe that of course she would make an entrance into this world in such a grand and spectacular way that it absolutely makes sense she was born in the most special of sacs that only happens to 1 in 80,000 other babies.
June Harbor, I loved you the minute I saw you. You came into this world in such a special and grand way and have only made our lives more special and more grand with each day you’ve been a part of this “fam-uh-lee.”
August 24th of 2013 was without a doubt the best day of my entire life.
The experience of writing this birth story has been so much fun, so much joy, and so much emotion that my sentimental heart has adored more than I can even express. I’ve absolutely felt ALL OF THE FEELINGS.
You’re my very favorite, June Harbor Shippy, and here at the 8th chapter (8 chapters for the month of August being the 8th month) is where our birth story ends.
But as you know, my Baby June– it’s really only where the story of our lives begins.
Suddenly everything about the room changed and with that change came a new energy and life to everything.
Lights got brighter, nurses started wheeling stuff in, and for some reason, I finally got a break in my contractions! Oh, when they were happening they still hurt like nothing ever has hurt before, but every little bit, I would get a 30 second break!!!!!
And in walked Dr. Linetecum with this proud grin and said he couldn’t believe how fast I labored and how well I did with no meds, and I only wanted to die at the use of the word “fast” because nothing had felt fast about that experience while living it!
I knew exactly what this meant, as did Ryan, because we had read a birth story about a baby born “en caul.” Meaning that the baby is born still in the sac, and it’s incredibly rare– happening in only 1 in 80,000 births!
Despite the pain and everything happening, this was obviously so exciting and cool and made our birth feel extra special.
Not to mention that our doctor was so very giddy with this development! A nurse asked if he was going to break my water and he quickly said, “No! We’re going to see how this plays out!” with much excitement.
During the time from hearing I was complete to getting ready to push, Ryan sent my mom a quick text that said, “She’s pushing” and my mom would save and cherish that complete surprise of a text so much!
So my whole family was gathered in the waiting room and had received word about an hour prior I was a one again and it might be awhile, so they had all dispersed to go grab lunch in the cafeteria. My mom nearly lost it when she saw that text from Ryan, and quickly– with much excitement and surprise– gathered everyone to get back up there to the waiting room! Ryan’s family had not yet arrived to the hospital, but they were on their way and would arrive shortly after the birth.
I also was telling Ryan to get Bailey, because I wanted her to take some pictures, and she was just about to go to the bathroom and Ryan told her to hurry, so she went through my whole pushing and thereafter without that bathroom break!
As for my morale upon entering this final stage of labor, I was seriously so relieved. When Dr. Lintecum had arrived, confirmed we were a go for pushing, I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Okay- so the longest I could possibly still be in pain and doing this is 2 hours, right?”
I was all about my charts (that had clearly proven no kind of accurate with my labor and body!) and I knew pushing lasted between 20 min and 2 hours.
My doctor grinned and said, “Yes- we won’t be doing this longer than 2 hours.”
And with that knowledge— that light at the end of the dark, dark, painful tunnel- I KNEW I could do it.
Honestly if someone could have told me upon admitting to the hospital at 10 that morning that by 3 I would be holding my baby girl, that knowledge alone would have vastly helped with the pain, because the mental game was huge for me. Feeling the worst pain of my life and thinking it might last for 20 more hours was so very, very frightening to me.
But here, at this point of pushing, the fact that I now knew I had 2 more hours, I felt like I could endure anything for that long.
Ryan and JoHonna were on either sides of me, Bailey was doing the picture thing, Dr. Lintecum leading the show, and several nurses around him.
I would later learn it wasn’t normal to have as many people in the room for a delivery as we did, but several nurses had never seen a baby born en caul and wanted to come see, which at that point, I’m all– THE MORE THE MERRIER!
Ryan swears that the pushing part had to be the worst and the most painful, and I totally believe that he is accurate in that, but it did NOT seem like it to me from the mental standpoint of knowing the end was so very, very near.
One of my favorite memories from June’s birth was during the hour and seven minute pushing time. I looked over at my Shippmate who is so many things to me– hilarious, loving, patient, intelligent, but rarely emotional. We had even had a conversation leaving Bradley class weeks prior when he prepared me that he didn’t see himself crying at the birth and I had said I did not AT ALL expect him to and wouldn’t be disappointed in the least if he left the scene tearless. And I meant that.
But then I look up at him and see his face so full of emotion and love… and tears! He was looking at me and crying, and I said, “Ryan? What’s wrong?! Is something wrong you think?”
And he can’t even answer me. I’ll never forget that look on his face.
I kind of look to JoHonna because I’m still in so much pain and a little confused, and she says, “Erica- he’s crying because he’s so happy and he loves you so much!”
I quickly look over at Ryan for confirmation and he gives me the tiniest smile among those tears and nods at everything JoHonna just said.
I cannot describe the love and closeness and intimate August 24th brought for me and my Shippmate.
Days prior I had worried that bringing a baby into this world would ruin the perfect lives we shared together with our two cats. I honestly didn’t think I could love Ryan more.
But that day– that started so much earlier than my Saturdays usually start– it was the single most romantic day of my life. I’d been on 3 different honeymoons, several beaches, Times Square, kissed in the middle of a busy street in NYC, skinnydipped in the Gulf of Mexico, shared three years worth of special dates and adventures, and none of it could compare to the love I felt that day.
Ryan was my rock. He held me. He let me lean on him in every way possible. He took care of me. He encouraged me. He believed in me. At times during my labor, I saw pain so palpable and real in his eyes– pain that communicated just how hard it was for him to see ME in so much pain. While conversation was limited with the extreme pain, much was left to be communicated between our eyes. I saw every emotion in his blue eyes– I saw fear when things were not going well, I saw pain for and with me, I saw a sense of pride as he watched me survive, and I saw a love that felt bigger and more real and more intimate than anything I’d ever experienced.
To be completely honest, my Shippmate stole the show from June that day.
I know everyone says you won’t believe the intense love you feel the minute they put that baby on your chest– and I would feel a love in that moment, too– but I cannot articulate how my love for Ryan was the biggest and boldest and most intense it has ever felt.
We continued to labor in the bathroom, and it was in the bathroom that I very, very clearly and vividly remember thinking– and maybe asking aloud (although also very unlike me, I spoke or said VERY little while laboring) if I was doing something wrong? I felt so sure that I had to be something wrong, because there was no way it was supposed to hurt this bad. And this is really horrible, but in that terrifying pain, I also remember picturing certain people that I knew had natural births and thinking, “I cannot believe she did this! Surely I am either doing something wrong or something IS wrong with me because this cannot be how everyone feels!!!?!” It’s actually very, very much like my personality to want to know exactly how to do something, so it humors me that even in labor, I was trying to get better instruction or clarification in case I was doing it “wrong.”
And while I spoke very, very little during labor due to the fact that the pain literally took my breath away and made it difficult to speak, I do remember being in that bathroom and saying, “I want a…”
With the obvious conclusion to that sentence being EPIDURAL SWEET EPIDURAL, but I never let myself say it out loud.
I also remember thinking that if Ryan or JoHonna offered it up like, “Hey do you want to just end this whole charade and get some 2013 kind of MODERN DRUGS TO HELP YOU?” I would have said YES YES YES YES THANK YOU FOR FINALLY ASKING YES.
In a heartbeat.
So I’m really glad they didn’t.
But about another hour of labor after hearing I was a one (for the fourth time that day) JoHonna did strongly suggest we have the nurse come back to check me.
And because Ryan had seen me be so disappointed by that number (THE SAME ONE! THAT PEOPLE WALK AROUND FOR DAYS DILATED TO!) he spoke up and said he didn’t know if that was a good idea.
Since I had felt like my body was dying and done for the last hour especially, I completely ignored the thoughtful of my Shippmate and started moving slowly to the bed to go along with this getting checked idea.
NOT because I expected good news, because I didn’t. You don’t hear “You’re a one” four times while in labor and expect anything good to come of the 5th time, but I just knew my body was DONE. I knew I couldn’t do this anymore and by my calculations from that chart I had memorized, I likely had 20 more hours of this pain and my body felt so very, very, very done.
So I climbed into that bed with the knowledge that no matter what the nurse said, as soon as she gave me my number (likely a one and half) I would have to go rogue from The Bradley Method and ensue a new method called DRUGS SWEET DRUGS.
Ryan was holding my hand when the nurse came in and I saw in his eyes such concern for what we were about to hear.
Which honestly I can only imagine being him, because he knows I want a natural birth and wants to help me achieve that but also he didn’t care if I did get an epidural or not, so he’s really just feeling all of this for me, and I’m sure he was so overwhelmed.
But there we were. Almost three long and very painful hours after our awful Triage Room #2 experience. JoHonna was on my left, Ryan holding my hand on my right– the three of us having gone to battle together, and our nicer nurse that just a little over an hour prior had told me I was still a one down in the checking position.
Her face looked shocked, but I have to think it paled in comparison to my own.
I looked directly into her almond shaped eyes (I’ll never forget what she looked like in this exchange) and I said, “No. Are you being serious with me?”
And I wasn’t joking. I thought SURELY she was making that up. (Because I’m sure that is something labor and delivery nurses joke about!)
She looked so happy for me, and JoHonna and Ryan were both all smiles, and I just COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.
That feeling of knowing my body was done?! THAT WAS TRANSITION!
I WAS DONE! I DID have nothing left to give!
Two years almost to the Saturday later, I have the goofiest grin on my face remembering the bliss… the joy… the surprise… the AMAZING of hearing that nurse say, “Erica– you’re complete.”
JoHonna and Ryan were continually putting cool washcloths on my neck and back which in the realm of EVERYTHING HURTS did feel better than them not being there.
I remember just staring at my feet– my pretty pink polished toes that were still in the Nike sandals I put on early that morning– and thinking how unbelievable the pain felt.
Not only that, but I was so confused by how many people had assured me there would be breaks in the contractions. The pain would be so much and hard, but then there would be a break in the pain before it started up again. So many of my friends had even talked of laughing or talking normal during those “breaks” that I was NOT getting.
Basically once we got to the hospital at about 10:30am, the contractions never stopped. They just got worse. So what I thought was HORRIBLE AND TERRIFYING PAIN was actually the reprieve to MORE INTENSE AND MORE HORRIBLE AND TERRIFYING PAIN.
I remember asking Ryan and JoHonna why I wasn’t getting those breaks in the pain, and Ryan reading that contraction monitor and saying it looked like instead of the pain stopping and re-starting, it was just getting worse from where it was– without the break.
Ryan and JoHonna both were continually saying such encouraging things to me and just believing in me and being so, so, so great.
I will never for as long as I live forget the way Ryan loved me through that labor. The way his eyes were so focused and intent on me and making sure he was doing anything in his power to help me— it was unbelievable. Because JoHonna is kind of a smaller person with the tiniest little hands and skinniest shoulders, I truly did not think I could lean into her the way I was Ryan without breaking her, so Ryan NEVER left my side. I remember looking at him and whispering, “Do not leave me- I only want you.” I am sure he was in pain, too, as I was putting all of my weight and pain and contractions into him. He held me up so confidently and securely and never wavered in his complete commitment to get me through this. I have never in my life felt closer to anyone.
The pain had multiplied in every way and I struggled to even get up in the bed, but absolutely knew I was now that 6 or so that I thought I had came in at.
She checks me and says, “You’re still a one. Maybe a one and half.”
Words can’t describe how discouraging that ONE felt.
I kept picturing this little chart that you see on labor apps and in labor books where it breaks down labor like this:
Early labor: dilated from a 1-3cm— can last anywhere between 8-12 hours
Active labor: dilated from a 3-7cm– can last anywhere from 3-5 hours
Transition: dilated from a 7-10cm– can last anywhere from 30 min-2 hours
I had studied that chart like a hawk while watching my contractions that morning in bed, and so according to my calculations, I truly could be in labor like this for 15 more hours.
It was so defeating and so stressful and seriously so unbelievable to me that I was STILL a one.
But I had no choice but to keep on keeping on, so we moved to the bathroom where I would labor for what felt like forever, but was probably more like an hour or so.
All during that time, I was standing there just staring at my feet and hearing Ryan and JoHonna talk and encourage me but kind of like you hear the TV on in the other room… I was in such pain, such a zone of just trying to survive that I couldn’t even tell you what they were saying, but I was just zoned in on my toes and Nike sandals and trying to get through one more minute at a time. One more minute of a contraction that hurt worse than anything ever…. until it hurt worse.
I do remember JoHonna and Ryan both suggesting several times I get in the shower, because I had told them the cool wash cloths gave me some relief, so they both thought I would like the feeling of the shower and looking back in my clear minded state, I think I WOULD have found some relief in the water, but for some reason, I was very insistent on wanting NOTHING TO CHANGE.
I wanted to stand in the same position, gripping Ryan so hard with my head in his chest, staring at my feet and just keep on trying to survive.
The best I can explain it is that I thought if anything changed– I got in the shower, we moved around, etc– I feared the pain would get worse.
The crazy thing is that the pain was already getting worse with me just standing there, but I can’t exactly explain my logic when in that serious of pain.
I had fully planned on, requested, and WANTED both my mom and dad to come back while I was laboring and encourage me and just be there for parts of it.
So my mom texts Ryan and asks if it’s a good time to come back and I have such little, little memory of this conversation but he says when he asked me I said no! That no one could come back there!
Which is literally so very, very unlike me!
My mom was in the waiting room so excited to see me with my dad, Bobby and Dee, Atticus, Bailey, and Roman, and she says that she just text Ryan to make sure but was all ready to come back with some flowers she had for me to have in the room and couldn’t believe it when Ryan text back I didn’t want anyone coming back!
Which just cracks me up so much! Looking back, I wish she and my dad could have come back, despite my refusal, because I would love for there to be more witness to how I was literally dying in that room! Hahahaha.
Ryan would send my mom several texts that were filled with emotion and sincerity asking for them to be praying because I was in a lot of pain, which I love that he did and I can only imagine how my parents felt waiting in that room unable to really know what was going on.
At this point, we moved from that horrible, horrible Triage Room #2 to our Labor and Delivery Room.
The un-friendly nurse showed us into the room and then informed us her shift just ended and she’d have to leave us with someone else.
Things were already looking up in this new room.
Ryan went to get our bags and park the car somewhere more permanent now that we were staying, and because I still wasn’t sure about this stranger of a doula we had, I remember locking eyes with him and saying, “Please hurry.”
In the time that he was gone, JoHonna asked our new and much friendlier nurse some additional questions about what they had learned in triage. I am so glad she asked this, because she learned that the station was a +1 which meant that June was engaged and further down.
JoHonna assured me that this was great news and meant labor could move quickly and even though I remember our nurse nodding in agreement to that, I figured they were both lying to me to just feed me some sort of good news since I was the girl dying with contractions at a whopping one.
(Which looking back, I’m not positive why from my horrible experience in Triage Room #2 I would think ANYONE was trying to sugarcoat ANYTHING for me!)
Ryan comes in with all of our stuff and said, “Bobby is here!”
Which at the time I couldn’t focus on the sweet and precious of that, but my mom had told my grandpa that she wanted him to get to be there for me since my Nanny (who was watching this whole scene from heaven) wouldn’t be there, so even though Mom told him NOT to come to the hospital yet, he didn’t want to miss a thing and came immediately. Literally pulling up when Ryan was going to park the car! Ryan was so shocked to see him that he thought maybe he was coming to the hospital for some other reason and my grandpa still loves telling of how Ryan goes, “Bob? What are you doing here?!?!”
I had pictured us getting to the labor and delivery room and setting up things neatly and putting out a picture frame I brought while starting the amazing playlist of music Ryan had made me for laboring, and it was NOTHING like that.
I immediately was in so much pain that there was no unpacking, no changing into the birthing skirt my Grandma Wanda had made for me, and no music started– from the minute we entered that room it was complete SURVIVAL MODE.
I had spent 9 months fearing how I would survive life with a newborn and no sleep (which is especially humorous since June would sleep through the night THE NIGHT she was born and every night thereafter) and I had spent ZERO time fearing anything about labor.
I just knew too many other people that had done it and I knew I would be able to, too. I especially knew so many people that did it without meds, and I just knew surely I could, too.
I absolutely should have feared the labor process a little more. If for nothing else, out of RESPECT for the dang process!!!
We had thankfully been given wireless monitors, so I wasn’t restricted to the bed, but was able to move around.
I remember standing in one spot next to the bed for a long time– gripping Ryan with so much intensity that I ripped his shirt.
All my fears about my stranger of a doula not being able to get us through this were so quickly vanquished as JoHonna was incredible. She told Ryan things to do, she told me things to do, and she just assisted in every way. I am so grateful for everything she did for us.
I clearly remember her continually telling me, “Erica– relax your shoulders– you’re tensing up, and I want you to bring your shoulders down and relax them.”
And every time she said that I would notice that my shoulders sure enough were nearly touching the ceiling I had them so tense, and there was some calm in bringing them down and trying to relax.
Early on, I suggested we put on a Friends DVD that we brought, because I had learned in our Bradley class how it could help to take your focus off of the pain and have a distraction. As an avid Friends lover, I always especially find it a cheerful and upbeat show that makes me smile, so Ryan went to work at getting it to play on the TV.
The minute the first scene came on– even before the opening song– I knew it was an episode I couldn’t handle. It was one with a ton of flashbacks to Joey’s career that has never been one of my favorites, and it immediately annoyed me so much I insisted we turn it off!
I hadn’t thought about picking a specific episode, but in retrospect, no amount of Mon and Rach chattering would have been calming and not annoying to me in that moment, and silence was all I wanted.
We got to the hospital a little after 10am and let me just say that you picture your entrance into the hospital–when you’re in LABOR– looking a little more exciting and welcoming than it is.
I don’t know if it’s all my years at camp, but I guess I was just picturing someone doing a little “YOU’RE HAVING A BABY TODAY” chant or cheer upon my entrance instead of handing me a bunch of paperwork and looking less than enthused about my big moment.
After walking in sans the high fives and welcome cheers, we were taken to Triage Room #2.
We were immediately told only Ryan could be in this room with me and my doula had to stay outside.
Which felt stressful.
Then I was told to lay down which was the LAST thing I wanted to do, and as I hoisted my laboring huge self up on the small bed, the very un-friendly nurse says to me, “You’re having an epidural, right?”
LITERALLY FIRST WORDS OUT OF HER MOUTH.
With all confidence gone from my graduation as valedictorian of my Bradley class, I so feebly and nervously looked at Ryan and said, “Well, no…. ummm- we have a birth plan?”
The nurse gave me a patronizing look that basically told me she worked here, sees labors all of the time, and I was an excellent candidate for one who would get an epidural.
Which did wonders for my confidence in that moment!
Ryan was being so loving and sweet, but honest to goodness, I remember looking at his face in that moment and seeing more fear and panic and just wanting to cry.
The nurse hooks me up to a monitor that is all so uncomfortable and then prepares to check me.
So, in my mind– per the INTENSE pain I’m already in, the fact when I sat on that Gold’s Gym ball and swore I FELT her, and that JoHonna had thought we should move this party to the hospital, I’m thinking I’m going to hear that I’m a 6-ish.
That just felt like a good, nice place to start.
You can only imagine my panic and terror when the very un-friendly nurse says frankly, “You’re a one.”
I still cannot believe that!
I was a ONE. The same number I had been almost a week ago at my last OB appointment.
Ryan and my first reaction and response is that we’ll be leaving then. We didn’t want to get pressured into inducing and any other sort of things that might come up if I wasn’t really in labor yet, so we had said if I wasn’t at least a 3 or 4, we’d go back to Atticus and Bailey’s to labor until things picked up.
Our gruff nurse said, “Oh- you can’t leave now. You already signed paperwork. And you’re past your due date. The doctor will come and get you started on pitocin and we’ll induce labor.”
My heart is racing just remembering all of this that happened in that terror of a Triage Room #2.
If you can only know (and I hope someone who is reading does know natural birth lingo and Bradly class talk) how the fact I have now heard: PITOCIN, INDUCTION, AND EPIDURAL in my first 10 minutes at the hospital was basically what I had learned in preparation for this big day was WORST CASE SCENARIO.
Those three words being the first three things thrown at me felt like the LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS of St. Luke’s Oz with no wizard anywhere in sight.
It’s so hard to explain how uncharacteristically timid I felt in that Triage Room.
Since I was born, I’ve been a leader. I have never had a problem addressing something or taking charge of a situation or encouraging an entire row of strangers at the movie theater to get up and scoot down so my Shippmate and I can sit together. I’m assertive in so many situations, and yet– in this event of the hugest importance, I felt so unsure of EVERYTHING.
I’m sure the pain had something to do with it, but also just everything not going right and the fact we were in this tiny room in a huge hospital that I suddenly felt less and less sure of… it was just too much.
Before I could run out of there and try to wake up from this nightmare, Dr. Lintecum comes in. He’s not my normal doctor, but the owner of the practice I go to, and I had met him once before. He’s an older man with a friendly face, but even his entrance had me stressed.
He walks in and sees my big belly and his first words to me are, “Has anyone talked you about the possibility that you’re carrying a baby too big for your body to deliver?”
I said, “No! No one has said that to me ever! People only have told me I can do this and Ina May preaches birth without fear….”
He is now feeling my belly and says, “That’s a nine pound baby you’ve got.”
He then checks me to confirm I’m still a good ol’ ONE!
Ryan and I talk to him about how we want to have a natural birth which shocked him to his inner core and I swear he was dying to ask WHAT IN THE WORLD FOR and he said he would let me labor on my own for a bit before talking to me about an induction.
He didn’t like the idea of me leaving because I was clearly having intense contractions and in labor.
I was just immensely glad to be leaving Triage Room #2.
The Shippmate and I got back in the car, bid farewell to what would forever now be my favorite QT and made it to Atticus and Bailey’s house. I had thought JoHonna would have a birth ball, but she didn’t, so I had text Atticus and Bailey asking if they had one or could find one for me. I would later find out that Bailey called their gym to see if they could borrow an exercise ball and Atticus went to retrieve it! I love them so much and still smile when I think about them finding me that ball that I was laboring on and later someone was working out on.
I also remember that as we walked up their sidewalk, Atticus was taking some pictures of me. Not because he cares about pictures (because he does not at all) but because he knew that I was stressed this was the day the photographer and everyone were not available. Despite my increasing pain, I remember feeling so thankful for him and Bailey.
Bailey also so graciously took a few pictures of me (per my request) while laboring at their house, and these would end up being the only pictures I have during labor, as I wouldn’t have her come back to the labor and delivery room until I was pushing later that day.
And not every woman can say she labored with the legend MJ standing by, so there’s always that advantage to stopping by your brother’s house to labor for awhile.
I also remember thinking Atticus and Bailey’s thermostat had to be set at like 110 degrees, because I was SO hot. Ryan told me it was a little hot in there and went to make it cooler without even asking them.
JoHonna wasn’t there yet, which felt extra stressful to me, and I went out to Atticus and Bailey’s porch to just have myself a complete meltdown.
I told Ryan to stay inside, because I just wanted to cry to myself but Ashleigh ended up calling to check on me and I completely lost it to her…
This was the wrong day, the pain was already so bad, the stranger of a doula wasn’t there and maybe wasn’t even going to show up ever– I just felt very, very done with it all.
While I was freaking out like this, I had to keep stopping mid-sentence to deal with contractions which were really starting to annoy me.
Ashleigh was so good at taking charge (over the phone) and calming me down.
As calm as a woman in labor can feel.
I remember her saying very calmly, “Erica- I can hear you starting to panic– you need to take a deep breath.”
And I remember crying and saying, “Yes! I AM panicking!”
Even though she was miles away, I remember feeling so incredibly grateful to have her talking me through this panic while also feeling so very nervous how I was going to handle hours and hours of this ahead of me without her.
JoHonna showed up and initially I still felt so nervous about this idea that someone I didn’t even know was going to get me through this, but she suggested some things for me to do and per me not being able to sit without feeling something down there, she also thought maybe we should head the hospital.
While I loved the idea of laboring at Atticus and Bailey’s as long as possible, I also felt unsettled not knowing WHEN I would leave to get to the hospital and I thought I would feel better when I knew I was where I was actually staying.
So we loaded up and headed to the hospital.
I was relieved to be in the car with just Ryan and told him this was NOT going as planned and I was so mad that it was today when I had to be with some girl I didn’t know and it was just all a mess.
Right as I’m telling him how not well everything is going, we run into this:
It’s a 2 minute drive from Atticus and Bailey’s to St. Luke’s and in that 2 min drive, OF COURSE the road would be closed today.
I cried some more and managed a small laugh.