The first half of this pregnancy, I was in such shock that I didn't think much about how our lives would look once our new addition got here.
But in the last two months, the itch started. That unbelievable feeling that soon, very soon, you're going to meet this little person who will change your life forever. The little person who, against all odds, will steal and never give back a huge portion of your heart, like only one of your children can.
Well, here I sit, at 34 weeks pregnant, and I can tell you, I desperately want to meet this baby girl.
I am ready. Emotionally.
Maybe not quite physically or strategically.
But emotionally, yes, I'm ready.
Though I still don't know what our lives will look like. It's ethereal and foggy, when I try and envision waking up with two little girls needing me.
Because, man, one is already a full-time - heck, an over-time - job.
But my heart has mostly overridden the logistics of "How the heck am I going to do this?", and I want my second born here soon.
So we are preparing. Not as much as we did for Ella. And differently, too.
But we are in the final countdown, and we are getting ready to have this baby.
I am shocked at how laid-back I am this go-round; it's startling. Hindsight really is a great teacher, it seems.
Not that I was a massive failure at parenting infant Ella. But I was far from perfect. And there are things I think about that make me go, "Oh, man, if I'd only known..."
So what am I doing different this time around? What will I try that I didn't try with Ella? What will I not do with this baby? What am I leaving up to chance? And what still surprises me after all this time?
I've gotten those questions a lot lately.
So, today, let's talk about the difference between "if I'd only known" and "this time around."
Let's talk about what I'll do different.
1. When it comes to birth, I'm even more OK on my own
My birth plan is pretty much identical, honestly. Midwife-attended. Out-of-hospital at a free-standing birth center. No pain medication. Use of the Jacuzzi tub to relieve pressure and intensity. Little to no interventions during labor and after the birth of the baby (no bathing, no eye ointment, no Vitamin K shot.)
I was comfortable with that when it came to Ella's birth.
But I'm downright assured in it now.
And so, this time, I will likely be on my own during labor even more.
Now, I have to drive two hours to get to the aforementioned free-standing birth center.we are delivering at with this little one. I will likely do that, God willing, in early labor, where I'm not terribly uncomfortable and can still talk through contractions.
But I won't necessarily head right to the birth center.
I don't need a midwife to watch me pace and squat and breathe and vocalize through contractions. I went to the birth center far too early last time (I was about 5 centimeters when I got there.)
And yes, I was hurting. But I wasn't dying. I was functioning just fine. And I know I would have had her quicker if I'd let myself walk and be freely a little more.
So the midwives and I have already planned that, when I'm in labor, I will drive up to Savannah and find several comfortable places - the midwives' butterfly garden, a park nearby, the mall - to labor until things get to the point where I need the birthing tub, some privacy, or a check-up.
I am incredibly grateful to my first labor, which was relatively normal in length, but was surprisingly intense in contractions, because it instilled this confidence in me. I had long, intense contractions - close together - from the moment I could feel them. They never built gradually like they typically do; they just hit quick and stayed that way for eight hours. The contractions I felt seconds before she was born were just as bad as the ones I felt eight hours prior. I also had back labor and a broken bag of water - both of which increase labor ouchies.
So I've done the pain thing. And it doesn't freak me out. (In fact, if my labor is more "normal" this go-round, I'm actually a bit afraid I won't know I'm in labor till it's too late. As my midwife said at my last appointment, after pointing out that I was already contracting frequently, much to my own surprise, "You do denial well, don't you?")
So, yes, this time, I want to be alone a little bit longer with just me and my baby. Walking and swaying and feeling those waves of knowing she's coming and coming soon.
This go-round, labor will be just me, myself, and I for a little bit longer.
2. Might as well upgrade my hippie card now, because I'm eating my placenta
When I was a week post-partum with Ella, I went in for an appointment with my midwife, and I was in a dark place. I don't truly know if I ever got full-blown post-partum depression, but I know I got close.
And I definitely had bad, bad baby blues.
It colored my first two months of Ella's life, in fact. And I will not ever go back there again.
Logistically, I can't. My husband is deploying again shortly after I have this baby. I will have two little ones relying solely on me.
But also because, even as a mom, I deserve better, too. I didn't realize it then, but I am woman enough to stand up for myself this time.
So, back to that one-week post-partum appointment.
My midwife, serious as a heart attack, looked at me and said, "You should encapsulate your placenta. It will help. I promise, it will help level off your hormones and help you feel more like yourself."
But I didn't do it. Financially, at the time, we were so strapped that I couldn't justify the couple hundred dollars it would cost to prepare and encapsulate the placenta for me. So I told myself to pull it together and be tough.
Which totally didn't work, as anyone with a chemical imbalance will tell you, and I will be forever grateful that I lived to see the other side of that tunnel without further scars.
But not this time. This time, I'll encapsulate that darn thing if it kills me. And take it until I'm blue in the face.
I've seen the research; I know lots of women personally who have done this.
And it works.
Plus, it's worth a shot even if it's not a guarantee. Better than doing nothing like I did last time.
So we're starting with a powerful, yet natural, fix. As gross as it may seem, it won't phase me in the slightest.
It's worth it, if it keeps me from falling into the place I plummeted to last time.
3. Believe it or not, we don't have a single pacifier or bottle in this house
Ella wouldn't take any false nipples. She didn't like pacifiers much, and other than one lone bottle at 8 weeks old, she loathed all pumped breast-milk, no matter how we tried to administer it.
Now, I had a lot of friends express shock and awe at this. Heck, some were horror-stricken.
People would say, in front of me or to me, "I think you have to make sure your child will take a bottle. It's stupid not to."
Well, here we are. Ella is 18 months old. And she's never taken a bottle. And she's pretty much weaned. So, yeah. I'd say the proof is in the pudding.
But as soon as people found out I was pregnant again, the questions started:
"You'll make sure this one takes a bottle, right?"
"You'll be able to leave this one with a bottle, right?"
"You're not going to have another nurser like Ella, right?"
Well, to put it bluntly, No. No. And, probably, yes.
My basic belief in the laws of supply and demand when it comes to nursing mean I won't give my baby a pacifier or a bottle until at least six weeks of age.
And I was able to maintain a fantastic supply and never had to even consider supplementing Ella, so, for me, it worked.
But this time, I will likely not introduce a paci or a bottle even after those six weeks.
I'm not a huge paci fan, personally. Not because I think they are evil. But because I am too lazy to even think about weaning a baby off of one of those suckers, too. Extending breast-feeding and praying to God I don't end up as the poster-mom for child-nursing on the cover of TIME magazine is hard enough. I don't want to stress about my 4 year old taking her paci everywhere with her. (Nothing wrong with that. I just don't think I'm Mom enough to wean a kid off of one, honestly.)
And as for the bottle, I like nursing my babies. I am not the type to prop a baby up with a bottle and walk away. I'm just not.
So if I'm going to sit down and hold her anyway, I might as well nurse her, too.
The fact is, I don't leave my children often, if ever. We don't have a sitter here. I rarely go out without my kids. I nurse in public when I am out. And I'm a stay/work-at-home mom.
The first date my husband I had since Ella's birth? It was two weeks ago. And we're OK with that.
I will have a stash of milk built up (more on that later). I'm not blind to the fact that emergencies happen, and I may need to leave my girl with something. And if they do, she will take a bottle of my pumped milk. Human instinct won't let her starve. (In addition, I have a few friends who would nurse my daughter for me if they needed to. And while this isn't for everyone, I would be thrilled with this option if I, literally, couldn't get to her to nurse her myself.)
So, no, this time, I'm not going to really try a bottle. Or put a lot of thought behind it. She may take one; she may not.
And that's OK.
I know I exclusively nursed my first into toddler-hood. Doing it again? Well, it just doesn't seem that daunting to me.
Plus, it's such a short, short blip in the grand scheme of their lives. I can handle it. I already have.
4. When you see me, I will likely have a baby strapped to me
I "wore" Ella a lot. A lot a lot.
But this time? That baby will likely never hit the ground.
I"m not going to stress about it; it's going to be a survival technique, honestly. I've got Ella, who does Mommy & Me classes and Story Time and play dates and lots of time inside and outside destroying, er, playing with everything under the sun. And she's little and needs her mama there.
But babies need their mamas there, too. A lot. Like, almost all the time.
So I have spent a small fortune in wraps and carriers and slings, and, by God, if that baby makes a peep, up she goes into one of the aforementioned contraptions.
It's just easier (let alone developmentally healthy for infants, but I've belabored that research on here when Ella was an infant. We're sticking with practical this time around, and point blank, it's easier to hold your baby to minimize her crying, but still have two hands free to work with. And to minimize your crying. Anyway...)
I used to get stressed when Ella had a day where she lived in the wrap. Like I was doing something wrong. Why can't I put this child down at all? I thought.
I will not worry about that this time.
Ella walked normally and talked and did everything else early. She's extremely independent and remarkably self-assured for 18 months old. You can't spoil babies by holding them close too much. Ella is living proof of that.
So this baby can live in her sling, as long as she's happy, as far as I'm concerned.
Now, we do have blankets and a little bouncy seat to put No. 2 here in, too.
But I have no swing and have no real intention of getting one, barring a state of newborn emergency where she shuns me, the bouncer and everything, and I run out to Wal-mart at midnight and find the first swing I can afford and plug that sucker in post-haste.
But I'm not counting on that. (Ella didn't like the swing at all, and frankly, I'm just used to parenting without it.)
So, for now, Mom is my name; baby-wearing is my game.
Now that I've written a novel...
Let's stop there for today. Part Two will be up on Friday.
I hate that I have to say this every time, but I do: Please remember that this is how I parent my children. I don't think everyone should do this; I don't care what anyone else does, furthermore. This is is what works best for my family. This is not an attack on parents who do things differently at all. That being said, I expect respect for me and for other mothers who post here - no matter their parenting choices - so please, no judgment in the comments section. Questions, by all means, are totally welcome, though. Thanks in advance.