life with three

After the third kid, it’s just logistics. We’re coming up on the last quarter of this Baby Year and I’ve been thinking about things we’ve changed since Chiara was born.

  • Instacart. When I saw our housemate get her Aldi groceries delivered to the house, I was like whaaaat?? I can get overwhelmed by meal planning and grocery shopping at the best of times, but working around a baby’s nap schedule + bad weather made me just give up. Chris shopped for a while (and he spends way less money than I do because he sticks strictly to the list) but he only had time to do it on the weekend and I just wanted him home with us. So, I convinced him that it’s worth it for the one year membership and we’re trying it out. I’m determined to love it (and I do), but then annoying things happen like 1) the shopper only delivers half the order 2) the order doesn’t get delivered or 3) they buy the wrong thing BUUUT I hate grocery shopping enough to look past it. And it gets worked out in an hour or so and I get a refund or redelivery or whatever. So, good customer service. It took a while for me to get in a groove with it (and not forget to order basic things) but now I’m meal planning and ordering on Saturday mornings and it’s been good. When it works well, I’m like, what an age we live in. Technology. 
  • Monthly dates. This wasn’t super intentional at first but with family visiting and swapping with friends, we fell into about 1x/month getting out for drinks post-bedtime. That time together has become much more precious because I now understand how easy it is to only really talk about the day to day schedule stuff.
  • Nightly clean up. We’ve just gotten more disciplined about the bare minimum of cleaning/tidiness so that it doesn’t feel awful coming downstairs the next morning. It really makes such a difference to start the (v early morning) with the kitchen wiped down/swept up.
  • Saturday morning “mama time.” This is for my sanity. Sometimes it’s a run and meal planning, or thrifting, or adoration. Sometimes it’s a three hour nap because I’m succumbing to the cold the girls have. Blerg.
  • Making space for each other’s hobbies.
  • Sleep training. We did this with the other two but I think I got serious about it sooner with Chiara, and we moved her out of our room at 5.5 months (Zelie was in for almost a year because we were in a 2 bedroom apt).
  • No guilt about switching off being with the girls to catch up on sleep on the weekends.
  • No guilt about streaming a TV show for the girls to watch post-nap time/quiet time.
  • Quiet time is sacred. Evangeline does an hour and some days it overlaps with Chiara and Zelie’s naps, some days they don’t all line up for very long, but it’s still necessary for everyone. And now Zelie does a 30 minute quiet time in the morning … I take any sort of quiet, alone time I can get.
  • Laundry. It took me this long to get into some sort of system. The big girls have a hamper and Chiara has one, and they get washed together about every 4 days. And immediately sorted! This is so simple but has really freed up the backlog of folding and getting back to their rooms.
  • Housemate coming in clutch. I’m thinking back to all those nights in the first 5 months that Chris wasn’t home for bedtime and Clare was there to hold Chiara while I got Zelie down, and then I could hold her while I did Evange. My spiritual director said, “Sometimes all you need is a pair of hands for 7 minutes.”  So true. Thanks, Clare!

And this isn’t logistics, but I’ve also been thinking about the sweetness of sister bonds, and how we’ve seen the big girls grow so much in this last year, too. My sister and I are 19 months apart, just like Evangeline and Zelie, so I don’t remember her birth. It’s been beautiful to see Evangeline’s special bond with Chiara. She is quick to try to make her happy – she made up a song to sing to her when she cries in the car – and things I find annoying, like repeating loud one syllable noises over and over again, crack Chiara up. Who knew.

I know in a couple years I’ll think it was silly of me to feel like I had a big kid in the house when my oldest was 4 and a half, but I have been surprised lately at all the things Evangeline can do, and wants to do. As I’m nursing Chiara, she will proudly come and tell me that she dried herself off from the bath, brushed her teeth and hair, flossed, put on her pull-up, put lotions on her legs, and put her PJ’s on. Then she’ll say, “Does that help the family?” because she’s also now on the lookout for ways to earn coins to put in her piggy bank. (Also discovered that she’s super motivated by charts.) And she and Zelie play together SO WELL these days. My favorite is when they act out the scenes from Frozen when Anna and Elsa are little. Do the magic, do the magic! THIS IS AMAZING! It’s just a fun new world with almost two preschool-age kids in the house.

january round up

 

  • Running! Chris and I are training for the Holy Half on April 4. Chris schedules everything he does and we switch off with the girls and it has been so fun for me to be serious about running again! My goal is 3 runs/week and I’m up to 6 miles and it feels good to be out in the cold and getting stronger. I’m super hungry all the time, and more tired, but endorphins!
  • Decluttering and cleaning. Over Christmas I made a list of places in the house I wanted to reorganize, and I hit the ground running when we got back home. Basement, pantry, girls’ clothes bins, both hall closets – woot! Linen closet is next on the list. It feels like something I can control as we await news about Chris’s PhD applications and is weirdly energizing. I asked my friend Annie for help with organizing/house stuff and she gave me a tip that keeping cleaning supplies in each bathroom makes it easier to just do a little bit of cleaning whenever you have a moment. And she also pointed out that our downstairs bathroom is used by all visitors, but has no storage space and therefore is hard to keep clean. So I got this, and Chris mounted it and here’s to keeping this bathroom a bit cleaner for the sake of hospitality!
  • Feedback. That interaction reminded me how hard it is to get feedback, lol. Chris read a book for a class last semester called Thanks for the Feedback and he told me about a part that has been helpful. The idea is that when you receive critical feedback, you can be emotionally triggered in one of three areas – truth, relationship, and identity. This observation from Annie touched on my identity as someone who tries to be hospitable and to create a beautiful space to welcome people into. Because I never once thought about the fact that it’s my guests who use that bathroom the most! Eek. It also made me reflect on how often I used to receive critical feedback in my previous job and how the work of sorting through the emotions and responding well was probably the source of a lot of my stress. Phew! (Love you, Annie.)
  • Books. I finished The Overstory and Commonwealth over Christmas and read This Must Be The Place at the recommendation of my MIL. All very good. The Overstory made me sad about deforestation and the dire situation of the planet, but in a very compelling, well-written way. I recommend. Then I read Circe and loved it. Felt like my third grade Greek mythology-loving self again. Just finished The Dutch House and now reading A Gentleman in Moscow while I await other holds to come in. (Waking up to nurse 2-3 times a night is infinitely more bearable when I have a good book to read.)
  • Big girl Zelie. On impulse, I decided it was time to graduate Zelie from the pack n play and set her up with a “big girl bed,” aka the crib mattress on the ground in her closet. But it turned out to be a great move (go me) because 1) she’s sleeping with a comforter now and 2) she (mostly) stays in bed until the alarm clock turns green! She does wake up at 5:45 still, but she lies in bed singing and talking until 6:15 and it doesn’t alwaaaays wake up Evange. Progress! In my search for a toddler size duvet for her I discovered Kidizen and found a great deal on an IKEA bedding set – score. I also started having her do a 30 minute morning quiet time when we get back from dropping E off at preschool. So far, it’s going pretty well! IMG-2130
  • Prayer. I gave a reflection at our parish’s mom’s group this month and really enjoyed the process of praying and thinking about what to share. It was sort of about Mary as Theotokos – because I was asked to do it right after that solemnity – but more so about finding freedom from things that hold us back from seeing ourselves as God sees us, and being a God-bearer, like Mary. As I was thinking about this, my friend Adrianna shared an article with me and I really loved this quote from it. “The longer I walk under [Jesus’s] gaze, the more even all the wounds I have, my littleness, my sorrows, the things I do not understand about myself, the fears, the pettiness, and the sins, become dear to me. I know that they are my only opportunity to intercept the Lord passing by, because they leave me disarmed, needy and small. I am amazed how I no longer want to censor anything about myself; on the contrary, I stubbornly want to look at everything, down to the bottom. My humanity is only dear to me because it is embraced by the Lord who comes.”
  • Lions. We’ve watched The Lion King a few times now, and Zelie will tell anyone that it’s the best and her favorite. It’s also meant a lot of roaring at each other and endless questions, mostly about Scar. Evange and I also just finished The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe and immediately started rereading it. I’ve been getting a lot of questions like, “Why does Scar want to be king?” and “Why isn’t the Witch the true Queen of Narnia?” that have made me reflect on the parallels between these stories. Good times. IMG-2150
  • Outside time. We had a great two hours at a county park last week and it reminded me that we never go outside anymore, and we should. I feel like we live in the backyard all summer, and then I hibernate all winter. But the girls played together so well and were loving it! And I love watching them explore. So, going to try to start a weekly park play date with a friend and maybe even track our outside hours to stay motivated! Here’s to a mild February!

november quick takes

a little round up of what’s been going on around here lately!

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1. Veteran’s Day Snow Storm! Which just really makes it hard for me to believe we haven’t gotten to Thanksgiving yet. I want Christmas decorations up asap. Evangeline has a strong association between playing in the snow (or seeing snow outside) and drinking hot chocolate. She has made some calculated dashes outside to “play in the snow,” only to come back in three minutes later crying because snow is in her boots and then demands hot chocolate. Eye roll. 

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2. Thankful Turkey! But I am loving this art kick she is on. She loves drawing pictures each day on a “thankful feather.” Highlights include, “I am thankful for myself and the wind.” And we get to host Thanksgiving for the first time! I made an unsuccessful Target run (silly me, thinking there would be anything fall-related left in the stores in November) but had fun doing a pre-styling prep of the table. My mom and sister will cook and it’s going to be so fun!

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some “fall beauty” with snow outside

3. Sleeping arrangements! In preparation for having family visit, and also because Chiara started waking up more and I wanted to kick her out of our room, the big girls are back to sharing and C is in the guest room for now. Bedtime is staggered but going really well. But we are trying to potty night-train Evangeline and girlfriend pees so much at night!! I limit her water, and Chris is in charge of waking her up to pee, but this has meant that we both are getting v interrupted sleep (because he has to wake her up about 3 times!). Hoping we discover a pattern and/or she learns to hold it longer soon. Which also brings me to …

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4. Precious Little Sleep! I’m back in the baby world where a lot of my mental space is taken up by sleep schedules. A few weeks ago, my friend Annie observed Chiara falling asleep nursing and then waking up when I put her down, and asked if I’d like to borrow her sleep book. To which I said, YES PLEASE!! (I would have been annoyed by this if it came from just about anyone but her, lol). I was caught off-guard by Chiara not being a newborn anymore – hah! The old nap techniques were no longer working and I was not down with her being awake until 9:30pm anymore. And this book has been THE BEST. Funny, practical, balanced, and so helpful. I am all about it. I had a lull in my work with my editing job and tackled breaking her sleep association with nursing at bedtime (she was textbook with it, so good), got her out of my bed, and in good naps. It gave me a sense of control over something and therefore, so happy. All the praise hands!

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5. For my birthday at the end of the summer, I got these jeans, and I’ve worn them every single day through fall. They are the most expensive jeans I’ve ever had, but they have also ruined every other pair for me. So comfortable! They never sag! I never wash them! (except to get poop/yogurt/paint off).

6. Make up! Another birthday present – in the self-care, restorative arena, I had been thinking for a while that I would like to learn more about make up. To look my best to be my best and all that. And also, I would like to know a little more about it and be able to help my girls with it some day waaaaay down the road. Like the millennial I am, I finally decided on this collection via someone I follow on Instagram, because she was able to tell me which color foundation to pick. So, now when I want to be fancy, I can be!

7. Marco Polo! My new favorite thing. (It’s an app where you send video messages to friends.) It is a weird way to communicate (I concede, Maya!), but it works for me right now. It’s how I stay in touch with good friends long-distance because, in reality, I’m not going to send long texts or emails and we’re never going to find a time to talk on the phone or FaceTime. I can listen to a Polo while I fold laundry or whatever, and I can send one back whenever I have a minute. Or twenty. I’ve loved feeling closer to friends and having some really good, deep conversations through it.

And, that’s about it! Happy weekend! 🙂

the good list

Quick takes on what’s working well around here lately and the little moments I’m holding onto each day that are just good.

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1. Tidy time. I borrowed this idea from my friend while Chris was in London. After dinner, Evange (and Zelie, somewhat) tidies up all the toys around the house and then she gets to watch a 20 minute show. She is SO MOTIVATED. She will ask me, before we’ve even had dinner, “Is it tidy time??” If Zelie helps, or it’s early enough, she gets to watch, and if I’m doing bedtime solo I will put her to bed while Evange finishes the episode. And I love coming downstairs to a clean playroom in the morning. Win win. (I know I just wrote a post about living more Montessori at home and yet I do daily screen time. I contain multitudes.) 

2. Ice cream cones. This feels like a life hack that I know will not last forever but am savoring now. I have a hard time with endless afternoons if we don’t have something scheduled to go and do, but this has been great to help us transition from naps to playing outside. We make a smoothie together, put it in a waffle cone (left over from Evange’s 3rd birthday party) and they have to eat it outside. And then we’re out there for an hour or more, usually.

3. Warm afternoons. Once we’re outside, Evange and Zelie have started playing “Mama” together. Zelie runs around yelling, “Mama!” and I yell, “What?” and she says, “Not you! I’m talking to Evange!” Perfect. I sit with Chiara and drink tea and read while they play and even if nap times didn’t align, I’m still so grateful that it’s warm and sunny and we are all outside. Even when they end up naked and covered in smoothie. (Because winter is coming…)

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4. Mornings with the littles. We’ve found a weekly rhythm with a balance of playdates and time at home. Zelie plays fairly independently and it’s been fun to show her the Montessori activities on the shelves, and then just watch her get absorbed in lining up all her little Play Mobil peeps in different configurations. She also gets to go to her “preschool time,” which is an hour of coloring, songs, snacks, and playtime with three other 2 year old girls on our street. So cute. I’m so grateful for that.

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our Thursday mornings. this time was playing in the lobby of Evange’s school while Bernadette’s mom helped in the Atrium

5. Tomatoes, basil, and zinnias. The only parts of our jungle garden that are still going strong, but it’s perfect. I ask Evange to pick more tomatoes whenever we’re outside, and to pick me a new bouquet every few days. Soaking up all the color because, again, I’m already dreading winter.

6. Our Bosch. Our dishwasher stopped working in January after the Polar Vortex and even though multiple dishwasher repairmen have told me that was just a coincidence, I’m not wholly convinced. My dad gave me money for a new one after his recent visit, there was a Labor Day sale still going strong, and I did the thing. I had forgotten how amazing it is to have a dishwasher. All the praise hands. Thanks, Dad!

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7. Elementary. Another gift from my dad’s visit – Chris and I once again have access to our favorite TV show from when we were dating that we never finished. Nostalgia. 

how montessori is helping me be a better parent

When I was asked if I’d like to help with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program for the primary students at Evangeline’s school this year, I jumped at the chance. Childcare is always tricky but the other mom who is helping also has a two year old daughter, so each week we switch off entertaining the little ones, and the other gets to be in the Atrium (the room where CGS happens). I had my first turn in the Atrium yesterday and it was the highlight of my day. These are some of my observations from the time and how it’s interacting with the thoughts I’ve been having about parenting.

I re-read this book on the temperaments this week, looking for help dealing with Evangeline’s tantrums and some behavior issues (like, she locked the back door the other day to try to lock me out of the house, and I found a container of oats behind/under the couch that she had been secretly snacking on back there – what?) and was relieved and amused, because yes, she is definitely my conquering choleric child. And as easy going phlegmatics, Chris and I are often bewildered by her outbursts of passionate screaming. The girl is just so loud sometimes. She reacts quickly and intensely, and yes, we will have to continue to help her learn to control her emotions, but she’s also confident and loves to be helpful and independent, and fingers crossed, those qualities will serve her well through adolescence and beyond. Having the temperaments as a loose framework helps me to see when I am being worn down (or bullied lol) by her insistence (lately it’s been letting her watch an episode of a show, or two, after quiet time, because I need a longer break) – and putting my foot down to break habits I don’t want us in. It also helps me have more empathy and patience when she reacts so loudly. (She doesn’t do this at school, btw. She saves it all for us at home #blessed).

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Earlier this week, I went to a volunteer training at the school, and it was an unexpected, lovely reinforcement of how I want to be as a parent. A scientist, a saint. What are my buttons? Ask others for help. So good to think about. The principal of the school commented, “We don’t ask the child, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ We ask, ‘How will the universe be different because you are in it?'”  #CosmicEducation

I’m coming into all this Montessori stuff a total newbie. I didn’t know anything about it  when Evangeline started at a Catholic Montessori school that runs from preschool to junior high. I have slowly been picking up the philosophy, the lingo, and the planes of child development here and there, from different books and articles, in a haphazard way. And mostly from my homeschooling mom friends, who are incorporating aspects of it into their homes.

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So I’ve been on a kick with it this week, reading The Montessori Toddler and having fun arranging activities for the girls to discover and play with in our play room. Hiding toys to bring them out in rotation has left bare, minimal shelves which are easier to tidy at the end of the day. My MIL sent me this article a while ago and I’m finally putting some of these ideas into practice, and something about it is really fun for me. Thinking about what toys actually get used, or are part of a complete set, and eliminating whatever is random and excessive and not age-appropriate, is freeing. And thinking about what activities the girls would enjoy, and what items we have around the house or yard that would work, is using some creativity that is life-giving to me.

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in her fancy dress to move her frogs around the room all day 🙂

Anyway, bringing all that into the Atrium with me this week, I noticed some things.

  • The order, detail, and thoughtfulness of the materials in the room creates a peace and a beauty that feeds something in my soul.
  • Seeing other adults interact with 3-6 year children in a calm, respectful way helps my own struggle with patience when it’s just me at home, outnumbered by my three.
  • Children are still children in this beautiful space. They get silly and distracted by each other, they sometimes need redirection. But mostly, they are reverent, focused, and eager. And it is delightful to just stand back and watch.

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Chiara’s birth story

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Baby girl is here! I’m typing this – in way too much detail because it’s still fresh in my mind (sorry not sorry!) – with her sleeping on my chest. The best.

Chiara’s birth was … so cool. Looking back at it – and telling the story to friends – I’ve realized it had this intuitive vibe from the start. And so much grace! And I think it starts on Saturday morning.

Saturday May 25
I had plans to go to confession, so just before 10am I got to campus and it was a gorgeous, sunny morning. As I’m walking up to the Basilica, a lady looks at me and says, “Wow, you look like you’re due any day now.” I think I said, “Yeah, just about,” and then thought, “That’s a bold thing to say to a stranger,” and also, “It’d be funny if I went into labor tonight, after she said that.” After confession, I had the idea to text friends to ask for prayer requests that I could offer up when labor did start, thinking I might as well do that now when I had some time. It was nice to get their responses and feel close to them throughout the day.

At home, I got a good nap, and then we all went to the baptism of our friends’ three week old baby. At the party afterward, as we were saying goodbye, my friend said, “See you at mass tomorrow!” And I had this split-second thought flit through my mind – “No, you won’t,” – before saying, “Oh, yes! See you tomorrow!”

We got home and immediately, before we changed out of our nice clothes or even went inside, I told Chris, “Let’s switch the car seats around right now.” It was so hot, but I couldn’t rest until the crumbs were shaken out, Evange’s new car seat was put in, her old one turned around for Zelie, and baby’s put in Chris’s car. Chris did it all, but he asked, “Why do you want this done right now?” And I said, “Well, you know, just in case I go into labor tonight.” He said, “You think you’ll go into labor tonight??” and I said, “I don’t know, maybe!!” Because it was starting to feel that the more last minute preparations we did, the closer she was to being born. And I wanted to be prepared!

Around 6:30, I noticed that the pressure I often felt was now feeling more like a cramp, and keeping an eye on the clock, I saw that it was happening about every 15 minutes. I didn’t say anything, but asked Chris to set up the co-sleeper and changing table in our room. Those were my last big nesting things to get done. I pulled out the newborn size diapers and clothes, and quietly started packing my hospital bag. I told Chris, “I think this is happening.” And based on how labor went with Zelie, I thought for sure I’d be having this baby by early the next morning. Only then did I realize – I have no plan in place for the girls if we need to go to the hospital tonight. I had been so sure that Chiara wouldn’t come until my mom arrived on May 29 that I hadn’t found anyone to be back up in case she came early. So I quickly texted two friends and got that sorted out.

After the girls were down, I watched Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals with Chris – which was actually a great game and a perfect distraction – and went to bed (too late) around midnight.

Sunday May 26

I woke up at 5:30am surprised that I was still at home, still having about the same mild contractions. My friend Annie was still on standby to take the girls if we needed to go, but by 8:30am they seemed to be slowing down, and I was really tired. It seemed like labor with Evangeline, except this time we had two kids. Chris asked if I wanted to try to get things moving, by taking a shower and walking around and I agreed, but when I went upstairs I ended up taking a bath and then napping for two hours, lol.

So it was turning out to be a slow Sunday at home. By noon I was feeling somewhat silly for having texted my friends to be on the alert, and a bit discouraged, and just confused – would contractions stop completely? I’d thought I’d already have a baby by now. After Evange’s quiet time, we had some good time together while Chris and Zelie napped, and every 20 minutes or so I’d pause and bend over and breathe through a contraction. (She wasn’t too bothered by this once I explained that it was called a contraction and that it was because the baby was going to come out soon. Zelie was more freaked out.) I started thinking that maybe we’d all go to a 5pm mass together and a friend’s Memorial Day BBQ after that.

By 4:30 though, the contractions picked back up and were coming every 10 minutes. We nixed the plan for mass and opted for frozen pizza, and Chris took the girls out to play in the backyard. Annie brought some groceries over for us around 5pm and offered to take the girls to her house for dinner. They were super excited about this so they all left and Chris and I sat in the backyard and ate together. Now contractions were getting more painful, 1 minute long, and 4-5 minutes apart. I found a ritual that was working well to get me through – I hummed a Taize song, Chris sang it, and he put counter pressure on my belly by pulling on a (mermaid princess) towel wrapped around my waist. The song gave me something to think about and kept me breathing, it was such a nice day, it felt good to be outside, and I felt calm and relaxed. I started to realize, though, that when Annie brought the girls back, I wasn’t going to be able to labor away by myself for an hour while Chris put them to bed. So I texted Annie and asked her if she could stay with me while Chris did bedtime.

My surprise doula 

From 6:30 to 7:30, Annie stepped in to help, and I quickly lost any feelings of self-consciousness and got back into my groove of humming my Taize song and letting her pull on the towel. And I discovered that Annie was exactly the person I needed to help me. She asked if I’d like to be massaged, and started massaging my arms and legs between contractions, and hips and back during them, and it was AMAZING. She was the doula I didn’t know I needed. In my bedroom, with sunshine pouring through the open window, we chatted away until I would groan, signaling the next contraction was starting, and we’d get in position, and then carry on talking when it was over. I was still so relaxed, and I realized, “This is my Ina May moment!” LOL.

By the time Chris came and found us, we were walking around the backyard – me leaning/hanging on Annie’s shoulders during contractions – and he asked if I was ready to go to the hospital. I was starting to think we should go soon-ish, but wasn’t feeling rushed, even though they were coming every 3 minutes or so. I was like, “I don’t know, what do you think?” And Chris was like YUP.

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What I did know was that I wanted Annie to come with us. At that point, I didn’t think I could have this baby without her so I called an audible – sorry, Chris. (He was fine with it). So she called another friend to come stay with the girls, and Kate was here by 8pm. Chris got our bags in the car, and only then did I realize, “Oh shoot, can I even get in the car??” L-O-L.

Finally going to the hospital 

I had two contractions in the car on the 10 minute drive to the hospital that were TERRIBLE because I was sitting down. Then one in the parking lot, two in the ER lobby, and then we were up in triage. I was humming away, and the humming was starting to turn into moaning/yelling but I did not care anymore. And, lo and behold, I was at 8cm!! Chris and I couldn’t believe it. I think we’d been so chill because we thought maybe I was at 5 or 6cm. But this was HAPPENING.

In the delivery room, I leaned on the couch by the window for a while because it was still sunny and there was a pretty view from the fourth floor, but that soon became uncomfortable and I didn’t care about the view anymore. The midwife raised the bed and I stood and leaned on it, with Chris behind me with the towel, and Annie massaging my hips and legs, and neck and head, once she arrived. (The midwife couldn’t believe she wasn’t a doula, btw.) They put an IV in my arm – I think in case I needed fluids? – and said I could keep an epidural open as an option, if I wanted. I said, sure. I had a moment of slight panic thinking, “I’m at 8cm – wow – but how much longer is there? Can I make it to the end without the epidural?” But mostly I felt confident and not afraid and just good. I stopped thinking about the epidural and just focused on doing my ritual and really, not thinking. (I think I ended up ripping the IV out accidentally and not even noticing.)

Then, during a really big contraction, my water broke, which had never happened to me before. It felt to me like a huge gush and splash all over the floor – I thought it had soaked Chris’s jeans and shoes (it had not). After that my midwife suggested I try getting on hands and knees on the bed, which sounded good to me because my legs felt like they were about to give out. She had asked me a couple times if I felt like pushing, and I had said, “I don’t know,” but once I got on the bed a contraction came pretty quickly and I think I yelled, “I want to push!” and I pushed a few times through that one. I thought she would move Chris out of the way immediately, but he stayed behind me until right before the next contraction, and on that one, I pushed baby out. CRAZY TOWN.

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Chiara Julie was born at 9:40pm on Sunday May 26. Chiara is for some inspiring Italian women – Blessed Chiara Badano, Chiara Corbella Petrillo, and Saint Clare of Assisi – and Julie for my mother-in-law. She was 7 pounds 11 ounces (same as me and her aunt Megan) and I never heard how long she was. She looks exactly like Evangeline as a baby, and maybe Chris too. She’s gonna lose all that hair on the top of her head and be a lil monk baby, and I’m wondering if she’ll be our first blue eyed girl.

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She was my unexpected natural birth. Slow and fast. Peaceful and intense. Surprising and amazing. What a gift, so much grace.

 

 

the grace to live grace

I recently read a biography of Chiara Corbella Petrillo’s life, A Witness to Joy, (shout out to Adrianna for telling me about her and Grace for the book!) and a phrase that she and her husband said has stayed with me in these long, slow summer days we’re living right now.

As they faced two terminal pregnancies and then Chiara’s battle with cancer, the Petrillos prayed for the grace to live grace.

For me, that’s meant being present to what is before me and choosing to be grateful. Ignoring the laundry that always needs to be folded, the crumbs all over the kitchen floor, and focusing instead on the little moments that surprise me with their sweetness – if I am paying attention.

Evange picking bouquets of flowers from the backyard.

This baby growing more alert, her big blue eyes. Naps with her.

The couple of dates Chris and I have snuck out to when family has been here or a friend offers to watch the girls.

Berry picking with friends and other summer outings with the girls, where, even if Zelie pees her pants, we’re all happy to be outside in the sunshine.

Time together in our backyard (Evange took this pic 😂) and the garden growing. So many tomatoes! And Chris playing catch with the girls.

Friends visiting us! (the girls are getting a lot of screen time too but I’m trying to not feel guilty about that).

Beach time!

Friends bringing us meals. Just feeling so cared for. there’s really nothing like a fresh baby. ❤️