I took these photos the day Mabel turned 11 months old and had full intentions of posting them later that evening. Then life happened, and here we are 9 days before my sweet girl’s first birthday, and I’m still playing catch-up. Isn’t that the story of our lives though? She’s changed even from these pictures! But I love them. She has so much spunk and personality these days! Growing so much more into the little girl and woman she’s going to be. Man oh man, I can’t believe I get to be her mama.
Mabel Jeanne Davies
Born: 3:10pm, 24 March, 2016
Weight: 7 lb, 7 oz
Length: 20 1/2 inches
Head Diameter: 13 inches
She is precious and perfect, and I still cant believe she is ours to keep.
As I look back to this day, I am still in awe. I am writing this down to remember the wonder, the pain, and the inexplicable joy that erupted inside when I first held our baby girl.
I was due on the 14th of March, and for some reason fully expected everything to happen on schedule. Things seemed to be moving right along, the baby had dropped, we had moved into our house and had completed all the major renovations, and my parents had arrived in town on the 10th. I was ready, we were ready, and yet there seemed to be no moving forward from our little miss. Our due date came and went with nothing to show for it, except some spicy food leftovers and frustration on my part. For not being a type A person, I was on a schedule and wanted her out! Partially because I was sick of having sciatica back pain constantly, partly because I was ready to meet her!
I felt like I was doing everything to speed the process along; I was eating spicy food, pineapple, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, walking as much as I could, bouncing on my exercise ball, doing my pelvic rocks three times a day, eating eggplant parmesan that claimed to bring people into labour (I ate it three days in a row-no such luck), acupuncture, and constantly looking up more ways to naturally induce labour. On the 18th, my midwife checked me and said I was 3 cm dilated already, my cervix was soft, and my body was basically ready to go into labour. That was so encouraging to hear! That weekend I also started having small contractions on and off, which made me realize that it could happen any day now! My hopes were high. Almost every evening I would have with a few contractions, but they never stuck around long enough to become regular. I would wake in the morning and realize that i hadn’t gone into labour, so i would just hope again for the next night. At 9 days overdue, I went into the hospital to have an ultrasound and a non-stress test to be sure that Mabel was doing ok. She was doing stellar, so there was no need to rush, but my midwife and I had to chat through induction possibilities, natural and medical. This made me anxious and stressed, because the last thing I wanted was to be induced and be made to labour on my back in a bed for who knows how long. I came home from the appointment discouraged, but i am lucky enough to be married to the most encouraging man who reminded me that no matter what, we have a healthy baby girl, and she can come out all sorts of ways, but in the end it will be beautiful and she will be here with us.
Wednesday evening Matt and I decided to go out on a date, because we weren’t sure if we would get another evening just the two of us. We went to the Shady Tree Pub for wings, which Matt decidedly covered partially in Tabasco sauce to help baby along.
On Thursday morning at 3:00am, I was awoken by a contraction. Being unsure if this bout would stick around, I waited it out, then went back to bed. 10 minutes later, another contraction, one minute long. 10 minutes after that, I started timing them, seeing how often and long each of them were. They ranged from 10-11 minutes apart, each lasting a minute. After a couple hours of timing contractions and mentally preparing myself that this was actually the real thing, I got out of bed and wandering into the kitchen. I figured if I was going to have a baby that day, I better have some breakfast while I still had an appetite. As I ate my toast, I thought about the possibilities that the day could hold. I could labour like this for a few days. I could have a fast labour and she could be here within a couple hours-who knows? I quietly went back into the bedroom, unintentionally waking Matt. I told him that my contractions had started, but we had time to sleep some more before we would get up and get everything ready. So he went back to sleep, and I continued to rest my body and time my contractions. At 7:00am, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen, where my mom was just getting up to make her coffee. I told her that my contractions had started, and that I was pretty sure this was the real thing. My mom, being the amazing woman that she is, was very excited for me and immediately said “Ok, what can I do to help? Where is your list of things that need to be done?” At that point, we all went to work getting ready for the day. My dad started covering a few windows that didn’t have curtains yet. My mom started freezing rags, started boiling water, making an electrolyte drink for me to sip. Matt ran to the store to get a few last minute items, then returned home to set up the birthing pool. I continued to wander around and try to make myself useful, all the while stopped to have a contraction every 7-10 minutes. Lindsey (my sister-in-law, birth photographer, & one of my closest friends), arrived around 10:30am, and started snapping a few pictures. I continued to have contractions and experiment with different positions that I could labour in, bouncing on my exercise ball, leaning over the couch, on my hands and knees, whatever felt good at the time. Lindsey managed to get a few pictures of us when we were all talking and laughing, a clear sign that I was still in early labour! My mom started rubbing my lower back with some homemade massage oil my sister had gifted me, and between contractions I was able to rest and breathe in the clary sage and lavender to calm myself.
As things progressed, the contractions started to graduate in intensity, and I had to focus all my attention and energies into getting through each minute. I could feel that things were starting to pick up as the time between contractions became shorter and shorter, averaging on every 4-5 minutes. I dropped to my knees on the floor with every contraction, this somehow becoming my favourite “go-to” labour position. I remember sitting on my knees, bending over my exercise ball, as silent tears dropping as I counted and breathed through the contraction. They continued to get closer and closer, on average about three minutes apart. We were told by our midwife that when I have contractions that are three minutes apart, lasting a minute long, and this pattern has continued for two hours, then I could call her to come to our home. After an hour of intense contractions, I decided to get into the shower to help ease the pain. I didn’t want to call the midwife too soon, so I figured a shower would be a good test to see if the contractions would stall out or if they would keep progressing. Once in the bathroom, things hit full throttle! Matt turned on the water in the shower, but I didn’t have enough breaks during contractions to even take a step over the edge to get into the shower. Some contractions were thirty seconds apart, some three minutes, some two minutes, but they were all lasting long enough to run into the next one with barely a break in-between. By the time I got into the shower, there was only a few minutes of hot water left before it was cold and I needed to get out. At this point it had only been an hour and a half, but we felt like we needed to call our midwife and let her know that things were progressing quite quickly! Matt told my parents it was time that they left and headed to my in-laws to wait things out, and the midwife said she would be there within a half hour. I dried off and emerged from the bathroom and headed to my favourite labouring spot, a quilt on the floor covered in towels, beside the couch and beside the birthing pool. It took me several minutes to get there, stopping every few steps and clutching Matt because of the pain and contractions. Once there, bent over the edge of the couch, I began to feel the contractions like never before. I tried my best to breathe through each contraction deeply, dropping my jaw and moaning. There were times the pain became so intense, I remember thinking, shouting, and crying that I couldn’t do it anymore. But as I said the words, I remembered that my birthing coach had said that if I felt like I wanted to give up, that was a sign that I was in transition stage. I would be ready to push soon, and everything was almost over. With those thoughts in mind, I was able to focus back in, bearing down with every bit of what I had. Matt was there through every moment, encouraging me that I could do it, all the while he was squeezing the acupressure point on my big toe to help relieve the pain. Lindsey was squeezing my hands, talking me through my breathing.
When our midwife got there, she checked my cervix and let me know that I was already at 9cm dilated! At that point she had to call the RN from the hospital to come and assist her. Contractions still coming strong, we decided it was time to get into the birthing pool and start the pushing stage. Soon we were going to be meeting our little girl! I stood up ready to get into the tub, then another, incredibly strong contraction hit. I reached and clung to Matt as I cried and breathed through it. After it was over, I knew I only had a few short moments before the next one would sweep over me. I climbed into the tub and dropped to my knees along the side. Matt knelt outside the tub and faced me, and as the next contraction came, he grabbed my head and squeezed, placing acupressure on my forehead.
During these contractions I pushed some, listening to my midwife as she coached me through when to push and when to rest. At that time, unbeknownst to me, the RN had arrived, and in between contractions she was pushing my water bottle up to my face, reminding me to drink and to rest my head on the edge of the pool when I could. I had lost all track of time, focusing in on breathing and pushing. After a bit of pushing, my midwife asked if I wanted to change positions and sit with my back against the pool so I could catch her, because she would surely be here within a few pushes. I could catch our baby as she came into the world! I hadn’t even thought about it before that moment, but I decided why not? My main reason to change position was that I thought anything could be better than the pain I was experiencing, right? I sat back and Matt sat behind me outside the pool, his arms underneath mine, supporting me. I pushed several times, still listening to my midwife coaching me. Before I knew it, I was pushing her head out! We realized while she was crowning that our baby was still in the amniotic sac, or “en caul.” Being born in the sac is rare, and is said to bring luck. With the next contraction, I pushed her head out! In that moment, so much became real. I knew there was a life inside of me, I knew that when she came out she would be this beautiful, tiny person, but I wasn’t aware of just how in awe and in love I would be from the very start. I sat and rested a moment with her head in my hands, in awe that this amazing little person was coming out of me! I pushed once more, and the rest of her body followed, still in the precious, small sac. I held her under the water for just a few moments, and the sac broke as I brought her up to my chest. I held her close, in disbelief and amazement that she was ours.
The nurses quickly gathered a receiving blanket to wrap around her tiny body to keep her warm. After a few moments on my chest, she gave us her first cry, her first of many small noises in this new world. I couldn’t help but cry and laugh when I heard her, and I held her even closer, doing nothing but wanting to keep her safe and comfort her. We spent the next few moment in the pool gazing at this new life, smiling and laughing in amazement that she was finally here.
I handed baby to Matt to hold while I delivered the placenta, which was stored and kept connected to our baby so she could take full advantage of all the blood and nutrients that the placenta could still give her via her umbilical cord. I climbed out of the birthing pool, and laid on a quilt and towels beside Matt while they checked my uterus for any extra placenta or membrane left inside. Matt had some bonding time with her skin to skin, then once the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, he cut it. He then set her on my chest to soothe and calm me while they continued to check my uterus.
After they made sure there was nothing left, I was able to get up. I put my robe on, laid on the couch, and Matt handed our baby to me for her first breastfeeding experience. She latched on well, anxious to eat (she loves food, just like her mama!), and we laid there resting together in this blissful state.
The rest of the the afternoon was a wonderful blur of filling out paperwork, laughing, introducing baby to family, and snuggling. We fell asleep in the living room that night, Matt on the couch and Mabel lying on my chest in the recliner. I was beyond exhausted, but overwhelmed by the amount of love I felt for this little human. I woke up a few times in the night, just to check on her and make sure she was real; looking at her sweet features made my heart explode in a new kind of love.
As I remember that day, I feel like it was a fairy tale kind of birth, surreal and hard to find the right words. I’ll never forget these moments.
Mabel Jeanne, thanks for making me a mama. I love you dearly.
These days all look different and the same. There are bursts of productivity, with frequent stops to bounce Mabel, nurse her, or change her. There are times when I abandon all responsibility and we play together, singing, reading, dancing, or going for a walk. There are moments of frustration, with her or on her behalf. There is a feeling of failure at some point in the day. There is a frustration with myself for not being more. There is a wave of joy and thankfulness that hits suddenly and sweetly. All of these things have different reasons and look a bit different everyday, but I have these moments through the day.
Today for lunch I shirked some responsibility (hello dirty dishes pile, unswept floor, and countlessly refluffed laundry!), and during lunch I dragged a blanket out to the lawn to enjoy the 10 minutes of sunshine.
(Yes, 10 minutes of sunshine. It’s July, cloudy, in the 60s, and I’m not sure what’s going on with the weather! I keep telling Matt we should move back to Maui . . . 🙂 )
During those few minutes of sun, I attempted to snap a few shots of Mabel, which turned out to be more difficult that I thought! Not laying on her back so she wouldn’t get sun in her eyes, but she can’t really sit up on her own yet. But I figured I would share anyway, because I really don’t want to forget just how wonderful these days are!
This one you can see how her hair has that old man thing going on, with the tuft on top and the side. I love it!
And this one is from her sleeping in a few days ago. I just can’t deal with how great she is.
I should know better by now. I should know that if I get excited and worked up about something, I can kinda make it a teensy bit bigger in my brain than it actually is (when I say teensy, I mean I get ridiculous). And the crazy thing is, I build all kinds of expectations around things that should be everyday occurrences. When my brain is finished processing them and getting stoked for them, it’s a semi-epic scene from a movie, the kind where everyone lives happily ever after.
So this “scene” opens on last night. I climbed in bed and scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed for a couple minutes (Please don’t insert your judgements here about me reading the phone before bed-I only do it a couple minutes while I’m waiting for the hubs to brush his teeth. Calm down!), and I see an alert that a new bakery I had been looking forward to opening is opening their doors tomorrow morning. WOOHOO! I had been looking forward to this for a while, so I immediately planned on gathering a couple ladies with babies and heading down there for a sweet-treat brunch date. I went to sleep with visions of croissants, sourdough, and local coffee dancing in my head.
This morning I woke, gathered myself and Miss Mabel together, and headed down the road. Upon arrival I realized the place wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be . . . because there was no seating. I hadn’t realized that this was a drop in, grab goodies and go type of place, and I was ill-equipped. No stroller. No baby carrier. I couldn’t get a hold of my friend I was meeting to alert her, so I ordered a fresh pecan cinnamon bun and a decaf coffee to go. Let me tell you, when one thing goes wrong, it’s easy for your brain to go haywire and notice every little thing that isn’t what you expected. Like when the sweet woman puts more icing that you prefer on your bun. Like when it’s not as sunny as you thought, and the wind is whipping your hair every which way and treating to blow your treat off the car as you try to strap your baby in. I ignore these thoughts and return to the car, heading to my next errand early. Ok, so maybe I wasn’t going to have a picturesque brunch, but that’s ok.
I get to my next stop, the library, to make copies of a print I was putting in my house, and it’s closed for another 15 minutes. I chat with a couple ladies, biding my time, until the doors open. I sit, log in, and start downloading the prints I was getting. At this point Mabel started to let me know that she wasn’t a fan of being quiet or still in the library, so I stand in front of the computer and bounce her while it downloads. Six minutes later, the download doesn’t work and needs to be restarted. Restart, wait, and it still won’t open. I give up and head home, already feeling bad that I’d kept Mabel out when she should’ve been napping. Mabel falls asleep in the car (whichever happens and is awesome!), clutching her giraffe. I get home, she wakes up, I gently transfer her to the carrier, and she falls back asleep in a few minutes (with some help from some bouncing). In the quiet, I sneak my cinnamon bun onto a plate (with some boiled eggs because hello protein!), get my now lukewarm coffee, and sigh.
I had expected a different morning. I had expected sitting, chatting, and laughing with a friend as we tucked into delicious pastry. I had imagined getting errands done efficiently, rather than waiting around then not actually getting anything accomplished. But all this makes me wonder, should we never hope for anything and therefore never be disappointed? I don’t think so. I would rather hope in something and be disappointed than never hope for anything at all. Granted, I could probably tone it down a bit in the building up expectations department, but I think the problem comes when we put ALL our hope into these big expectations that we have built up. It’s not that we can’t hope for something grand, but being sure not to become a wreck when that falls through or doesn’t go the way we planned. Especially with a baby, things very rarely go as you think they will, and I am learning this everyday. A big dinner that you prepare ends up being a night of a cranky baby and lots of rocking and taking shifts eating. Getting out of the house to spontaneously hang out with friends means getting out late because there is a blowout all over yourself and babe. And sometimes it’s a brunch that doesn’t happen.
It’s all ok. Better than ok.
And here’s a couple from yesterday. We did an awesome two hour hike with some other mamas in town, and had a blast! Love exploring this amazing town.
Our lil’ miss turned three months old a few days ago! I can’t believe how much our hearts have exploded since she has arrived. And how precious are these pictures?!
We love you, Mabel Jeanne. And as a wise friend once said, “May the joy in your life be as large as the bows on your head.”
The elevator speech- everyone has one. We are prepared at any given moment to spout off the brief highlights and lowlights of our life lately, being sure to wind very little emotion into our words so people won’t feel like they need to become invested. It’s usually said with a smile, an upbeat attitude, and within 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you are lucky, you may get someone to listening for a few minutes, but that usually only happens if you have experienced a life changing event, or if they aren’t rushing to an appointment. I don’t mind this, and I am guilty of unconsciously expecting others to also abide by this. However, I need to create space for people to talk, to speak the truths that are really on their hearts.
I know I would love to know that there is that space, though, because sometimes I feel as though my heart will burst with all my feels.
When people ask “How’s motherhood?” they expect a short synopsis on how I’m not getting very much sleep, I’m drowning in laundry, and I can’t believe how tired I am, capping it all with a quick “It’s all worth it though.” And though these bits may be true on occasion, they are no where near a reflection of motherhood. I don’t dive into the joy I feel when I wake in the middle of the night to feed her, because while I may be tired, I get giddy at the fact that she wants to eat and be so close to me. I don’t tell you about the times when randomly throughout the day, I come close to tears because I am frustrated without a logical reason, and the tears are welling because of a snap that won’t stay or because I forgot what I was doing (again). I won’t tell you about how I can be tired, but when I look at Mabel’s sweet face, she gives me energy to get through the next moments. I won’t tell you that sometimes I cry out to God for Him to reveal Himself to her early in life, that He would capture her from early on, because I cannot bear to think of her having to go through something without the love and hope she will find in only Him.
Sometimes these moments, along with many more, hit me so sudden and strong, that I am almost embarrassed to share that level of intense depth and vulnerability with someone. But I need to. As a mom and a friend, I need to spill my guts and model vulnerability even though it may not have been what they were looking for. Because in those moments, maybe I can inspire someone else to become vulnerable and raw as well. Maybe then we won’t feel like all we have to share with one another is an upbeat synopsis, but we can share our truest heart, struggles, and truth.