Feathered Aspen



On Thursday at 8:13 pm, Joshua and I receive the following texts from Kyle:

“Labor now”


“Come fast.”

“Delivery at Ellie’s house.”

“Can’t make it”

As we read the texts, Joshua says, “is he joking?! What does that mean?” Pulling on my jeans, I shake my head, “you don’t joke about that sort of thing.”  I look for my shoes, but before I find them, we hear Kyle honking the van and he’s pulling up alongside the curb in front of our house.  He jumps out, and we run.  Stacy is leaning over the middle row of seats with her head in her hands, groaning.

We’re in a flurry.  Joshua runs to stow our two older children with my dad who just happens to be in town.  Our youngest is ten weeks old, and she’s sleeping in our bed just 30 feet away in the front bedroom.  Kyle and I try to figure out what to do.  Stacy tells us she’s having the baby now, and I ask her if we need to take off her pants.  She shakes her head, groans, and has another contraction.

I decide we need to get her into the back of the van where there’s more room.  Kyle will drive to Mountain Midwifery, and she’ll very likely have the baby on the way there, but I’ll be in the back with her, and I can help.  We help Stacy out of the van, and she collapses on the grass, hit with another contraction.  We start emptying out the back of the van, but Stacy tells us she’s having the baby now, here.  She can feel the baby’s head.

I tell Kyle to call the midwife, and we pull off Stacy’s pants.  She’s on her hands and knees and over the line, the midwife asks if her perineum is bulging.  I tell Kyle it’s not.  There’s swelling and discharge, but no bulging.  We start moving towards the back of the van again, but in the next contraction, I see the bulge.

The midwife tells us to get towels, blankets.  Joshua runs inside and grabs whatever he can find.  I kneel behind Stacy, and she’s pushing.  Kyle is relaying it all to the midwife, and between what I can hear from the phone and what Kyle repeats, we follow her directions.  Stacy is whimpering, and we’re all trying to reassure her that it’s ok and she’s doing great and everything’s ok.  I think we’re trying to reassure ourselves as well.

In moments, the head is crowning.  The midwife asks if there’s someone there to catch the baby, and Kyle tells me to do it.  I put my hand on the baby’s head.  The bag of waters is yellowish and still intact, but in the next push, it bursts, slipping over the baby’s head as Stacy pushes it out.  The face is slightly purple, the eyes tightly squeezed shut, but I see movement.  Her nose twitches and her mouth quirks.  Now, time is suspended.  The baby’s head is out, and in those long seconds, I’m aware of Stacy’s cries, the grass beneath my bare feet, the light of the iPhone, and Joshua and Kyle fumbling with Stacy’s shirt and bra, following the midwife’s orders to get her ready to go skin to skin with the baby.

A hand emerges, and a second later, Stacy pushes out baby Lucia.  She’s slippery and moving, and I catch her.  I look at her neck to make sure that the umbilical cord isn’t wrapped, and it’s not.  The midwife tells me to pass her through Stacy’s legs to her chest.  Stacy holds her and leans back on her heels.  She hasn’t cried.

The midwife tells us to rub her back, and Stacy and I slide our hands up and down her white blue back, waiting for cries.  I try rubbing her feet.  At some point, I look up, and a wide eyed stranger is looking at us.  “What’s happening?!” she asks.

The midwife tells us to look for muscle tone.  We see her open and close her mouth a couple of times, and she gives a couple of small grunts, but those minutes before she cries are long, and I am afraid.  The midwife tells us to call 911, and Joshua does.

Finally, she lets out a good cry, and we heave a collective sigh of relief.

Sandy, Stacy’s mom, shows up as we’re wrapping Stacy and Lucia in blankets, trying to ward off the chill.  I tell her to grab the duvet from our bed where our youngest is still sleeping peacefully.  It’s not quite 8:30 pm, and the day has been warm.  Somewhere in the fray, pictures are taken, video.  I look up again and see the same wide eyed stranger and now a concerned couple, kneeling nearby and asking if we need help.  Joshua is telling the dispatcher that a baby has been born, that we are in the front yard of our home in Edgewater, that the mother’s name is Stacy, that she is 31.

The police arrive first and flash bright lights into our eyes, and Stacy pulls the blanket over Lucia’s face to shield her from the light.

From the ambulance spill EMTs, and nice man with a smile in his voice introduces himself.  “My name is Eric.  What’s your name ma’am?”  Stacy responds in a calm, level voice.  She only has eyes for Lucia.

They pull a stretcher out from the ambulance, and Stacy gets onto it with the baby still at her chest.  The story is coming out in fits and starts.  What time was the baby born?  We’re not sure.  Maybe ten minutes ago?  We tell them there was meconium and lots of it.  We tell them it took her a while to cry, but after a bit, she did.  Stacy, Lucia, and Kyle are loaded into the ambulance, headed to Lutheran hospital, and I tell them that I’ll follow.

After the ambulance pulls away, the police stay for a few minutes longer.  One of them asks, “but why was she naked?”  I laugh and say, “did you want her to have the baby with her pants on?”  They shake their heads, but still seem a bit perplexed.

Inside the house, I grab my shoes and wash the meconium off my hands and forearms at the sink.  Strangely, my shirt and jeans are clean.  Joshua gathers a small diaper bag together, and I go to get the car seat, stopping to check in with my dad and the girls on my way out.

“I just caught a baby,” I say, still completely in shock.


“With my bare hands,” I say, laughing a little bit.  “In the front yard.  No.  Not even in the front yard.  We didn’t make it through the front gate.  Stacy had her baby on the boulevard.  Oscar was watching.”

The girls are all blue eyes and frightened faces, and I try to reassure them.  “Stacy’s ok.  She had her baby.  Baby Lucia.  She’s beautiful, she’s perfect, and everyone’s ok.  Baby Lucia’s ok.”

After a few minutes, I load Luna into the truck and I drive to the hospital.  At the door to labor and delivery, I press the intercom.  “Who is it?” they ask.  I respond, “Um.  I caught my friend’s baby?  Her name is Stacy?”  Without another word, they beep me in.

I’m let into the room where people are laughing and the OB on duty is taking off her gloves.  “She did it all,” she says, shrugging.  “Even her placenta.  I went to help deliver it, and then she just pushed it out.  I didn’t even get my gloves dirty.”

We spend the next hour retelling the story.  The nurses are confused.  “But why did you go to her house?” they ask.  “Is she a midwife? A doula?”  Stacy shakes her head.  “No, but she’s watched every season of Call the Midwife, and she listens to every episode of The Birth Hour.  Plus, she’s the only one who read up on precipitous labor.”

It doesn’t feel real, and yet the fear, the relief, the cries and the blood and the bright lights are very, very real.  We’re laughing and shaking our heads, and we can’t believe it.  Stacy takes a shower, and when she does, she walks over normally, as though she hasn’t just birthed a baby, but she has.

Kyle cradles Lucia against his chest and tells me how scared he was when she didn’t cry at first and how he never wants to feel that way again.

On the scale, Lucia weighs 7 pounds 7 ounces, and on her birth records, the nurse writes my name over Delivering Physician and Joshua and Kyle’s names over Delivering Nurse.

It’s almost 10:30 pm, so I say goodbye.  Luna has slept peacefully in her wrap the whole time, but I want to get her home and I want to leave Kyle and Stacy and the newest little member of their family to themselves.  Before I go, I thank Stacy for granting me one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

When I get back to the house, Luna goes straight to sleep, and Joshua shows me the video, time stamped at 8:22 pm.  It’s lacking setting and scene, but the birth is there, in full surreal glory.  We hug, and I say, “I think we should plant a garden there.  A birth garden.  We can put a little sign up that says, ‘Life started here.’”

He nods his head.  “Definitely,” he says.

Stacy and Lucia are lying in the stretcher, and we’re answering questions fielded from the police and EMTs.

Kyle and I cover Stacy and Lucia in blankets as the EMTs get ready to load them into the ambulance.

Stacy and Lucia in the hospital bed after the ambulance ride.

Kyle goes skin to skin with Lucia while Stacy takes a shower at the hospital.


Although Kyle, Stacy, and then Lucia were only on the boulevard in front of our house for less than 20 minutes on the night of March 16th, there’s much more to this story.  Most of it is not really mine to tell, but because Stacy is my best friend and we spend quite a lot of time together, I can piece together much of the backstory, and with Stacy’s blessing (and the hope that she’ll write her own account!), I’ll write the rest of the story here.

I’ve had the honor of attending both Stacy’s first and second labors.  Although the first was induced, and the induction took over two days, once her water finally broke and she began active labor, the whole thing only lasted four hours.  The second labor was two hours start to finish, and when she got pregnant a third time, there was some real concern that this labor would be even shorter.

Over the course of her pregnancy, we talked a lot about different scenarios.  Initially, she enrolled with Westside Women’s care at Lutheran Hospital, thinking that the location was better than Mountain Midwifery (a 10 minute drive as opposed to a 20 minute drive), but the tour of Labor and Delivery was off putting for someone who wanted as few interventions as possible, and so Stacy transferred to Mountain Midwifery before her third trimester.

The plan was that her parents would be in Denver from 37 weeks on.  Kyle would start working from home at 39 weeks, and she would never go anywhere alone or without a plan for being quickly picked up and whisked to the hospital.  Close to her due date, we all made sure our phones were charged and the ringer was on.  Stacy asked me to attend her labor, and we tried to figure out how it might work.  What would we do if both of the husbands were at work?  What would she do if she was on a walk around the lake?  I privately thought it very likely that I might not be able to make it to the birth, between her history of short labors and my three children, especially my youngest, but when I told Stacy, she said, “bring Luna!  I secretly want to be able to tell Lucia that she was there anyway!”

As the due date approached, Stacy bought a shower curtain and packed a hospital bag, stowing both of them in the back of her van.  We talked about what she would do if she had her baby on the freeway, and she said that the midwife told them that if it was less than 10 minutes away, they should just keep going to Mountain Midwifery.

The due date came and went, and the night before her 41 week appointment, Stacy and Kyle made the trip to Mountain Midwifery, thinking Stacy’s water had broken.  After a few hours with no contractions or other signs of labor, they returned home.

At the 41 week appointment, the midwife checked and told Stacy that she was 5 cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, but the baby was sunny side up.  (When she told me via text, I joked that she had a birth canal like a laundry chute…  Maybe not so funny?).  She bought a bottle of Cotton Root and made an appointment with an acupuncturist for later in the day and then stayed on that side of town, walking laps around Whole Foods and having a late lunch of tacos with her mom.

After the acupuncture appointment, Stacy went back to the midwife, but unfortunately, she was still at 5 cm and she wasn’t having contractions, so the midwife sent her home.  That was at 6:30 pm.

At 7:55 pm, Stacy texted me.

“I don’t know what to do.  Aubrey sent me home but I’m here and it hurtzz”

“:):) can you describe the pain?” I texted back.

“3 min apart, 10 sec long. Can’t parent”

“I shouldn’t think so” I texted “Who’s making you parent?!?!” then “Oh man.  I’m so sorry dear.  I guess you need to use all those laboring strategies that you haven’t really needed before.  Want me to come over and help you make a lady cave?” I wrote, thinking that maybe this meant that the “wild card” third labor for Stacy might mean a longer one, rather than a rapid one like we had been thinking.

“I think I want to go in” Stacy texted back “I can’t do worse than this in the car”

I responded “I totally get that.  You should call and talk through it with Aubrey”

“Will do” she texted.  Time stamped 7:59 pm.

Tonight, I was asking Stacy more about her timeline.  She said that after she texted me, she walked to the bathroom just fine.  She called her parents.  Once they were on their way, she relaxed, and all of a sudden, the pain got much, much worse.  She could barely bend over to pull her pants on.  Kyle came out from putting the kids down to sleep, and they headed for the van.  She says she looked up at the blooming plum tree in her front yard, deep in the pain cave, and thought, “it’d be nice to have my baby looking at this plum tree.”  But then she saw her neighbors and decided she’d rather try and make it to the van.  Once she got there, Kyle said, “it’s ok honey.  We’ll be there in 21 minutes.” But Stacy shook her head.  “No.  I’m having the baby now.”

Kyle tells me that he remembers from the birthing class at Mountain Midwifery that a woman is never lying if she says she’s having a baby right now, so he asked Stacy what she wanted him to do.  “Drive to Ellie’s house.”

And that, my friends, is how my best friend ended up having a baby on the boulevard in front of our house.  Wild, amiright?  For someone who is completing pre-requisite courses to attend nursing school so that I might one day become a midwife, Thursday night felt like a sign.  I mean, who gets to catch a baby years before they even enter nursing school or become a midwife?  Maybe firefighters, but not stay at home moms of three with no credentials to speak of, save having watched every season of Call the Midwife and listened to every episode of The Birth Hour.

You’ll be happy to hear that the Pietaris are doing well.  Stacy has the core of an iron woman and does not walk like someone who has been hollowed out (that was me after I gave birth).  Lucia is nursing and cute as a freaking button with long arms and toes that prefer to rest upon her shins.  Kyle has already gone on a couple of double jogger runs and announced to the Strava-sphere that his awesome wife had a #grassbirth on his friends’ front lawn.  Grandma and Grandpa are helping out with the older two kiddos, and we’ve toasted with champagne and ate a bunch of cheesecake, per tradition.  The local newspaper published a short article about the unconventional birth, and we keep shaking our heads, still unable to believe it really happened.  Life is good, and already we’ve had two meals with the six kids all together.  The village has grown, and now all we have to do is raise them (that’s all) and plant a birth garden and tell this story – again and again – until we’re old and gray.  And you know what?  I don’t think it will ever get old.


My first update with all three girls…

It’s been two months since Luna was born, and it’s been tricky to find the time to log onto this space and post an update, but all three girls are sleeping right now, so I’ll try!


At eight weeks old, Luna is a smiley, sleepy, easy going baby.  These days, she goes down for bed between 745 and 9 pm and then sleeps next to me, nursing two or three times during the night, until the two big sisters get us up each morning (right around 615).  She wakes up for about an hour and grins at Lily and Lu while they marvel over her.  We eat breakfast and get dressed, and then I nurse her just before she falls asleep.  At this point, she’s so used to being held and I enjoy wearing her so much that she only naps for a long stretch if she’s being worn in the carrier or if I’m laying next to her.  It’s not the most flexible habit, but it’s pretty similar to what I did with the other two girls, and I just love all the newborn snuggles.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’re in the car a little after 8 am to bring Lily to school.  We drop her off in her classroom around 830, and then we go grocery shopping if it’s Tuesday or head back home if it’s Thursday.  Sometimes we visit with Ellison and Bierstadt, otherwise we’ll take the opportunity to do some vacuuming and mopping around the house.  On these days, we do lunch around 1230 and try to get down for nap by 1.  We’re back in the car just before 3 to pick up Lily from school.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we move a little bit more slowly in the morning, but we usually get out of the house between 9 and 10.  Recently, there have been a lot of doctors visits, but typically, we’ll head to a play date, the Children’s Museum, the Art Museum, a story time at the library, or a playground.  These morning outings are my salvation.  If we hang out at home for too long, the older girls start to bicker and I find myself continually cleaning up little disasters (the most apt metaphor here is shoveling in the middle of a blizzard).  Once we’re out of the house, the girls get to engage with something new and I can interact with them rather than simply clean up after them.  Oh, and feed them.  I’m stealing this line, but sometimes I feel like my main job as mom is feeding my children 36 times a day.  That, and picking up their messes and wiping their butts and issuing band aids.  Add in refereeing sibling and other social interactions (which I try to keep to a minimum without crossing the line of allowing them to maim each other or irritate another parent), and you have a pretty clear picture of how I spend my day.

But back to Luna.  She naps throughout most of the morning, and then I try to get her out of the carrier around noon.  We nurse, and then I set her down to do lunches and some tidying before nap.  After an hour or two of wakefulness, she’s ready to nurse and nap again, right around nap time for the big girls.  This is one of the trickier times of day, trying to get all three girls settled down, but I’m happy to say that we’ve met complete failure only once, after which I learned to try to keep Luna awake for an hour or two before nap.

After nap is by far the most emotionally fraught time of day.  The big girls are hungry, cranky, and want plenty of snuggles when they wake up, and it’s difficult to supply all those things, all at once, to all the girls.  So there’s lots of sobbing from about 330 -4 until Joshua gets home between 430 and 5.

Luna wakes up to the sound of her sisters screaming or sobbing and then stays awake for most of the evening, taking a couple of cat naps here and there.  Until a week or two ago, this is when she’d also be incredibly fussy, crying and writhing unless we were holding her and bouncing her, and often crying and writhing even if we were holding her and bouncing her.  Thankfully though, I’ve noticed that she’s more content in the evening these days.  (With perhaps the exception of when I go for a run, where I’m pretty sure she gives Joshua a run for his money.)

Joshua went back to work a little less than three weeks ago, but before that, we had a lovely, long paternity leave.  For six weeks, we were able to adjust to life as five, and it was such a blessing to have that time.  Not only did those six weeks give the two older girls the gift of an easier transition, but those were also the more challenging weeks of Luna’s life thus far.  She was quite restless in the evenings, sometimes crying until 11 or 12 pm at night before she’d finally fall asleep.  Having two parents at home meant that these fussy times were so much more manageable.

Thankfully, Luna seems to have grown out of her fussy evenings, and my main challenge now is helping Lu cope with this huge shift in her life.  It’s hard for both of us.  Physically, Lu is very uncomfortable.  She’s been sick a lot since Luna was born, and she’s often nursing little injuries from playing.  It seems pretty clear that Lu is both uncomfortable and seeking comfort, in both figurative and literal ways.  I recently stumbled upon Janet Lansbury, and after listening to a few episodes of her podcast, Unruffled, and perusing her website for various trouble spots in my day, I’m feeling a bit more fortified in my response to these behaviors.  That being said, a hurricane of whining and crying can really wear a person down (me), and we still have our challenging days.


As has become the norm, I’m now returning to this post two weeks later.  At the moment, all of the girls are napping, but you never know how long that will last!  Luna is fabulous, grinning and cooing and gurgling even more, and each day, I try to get a few uninterrupted minutes of flirting in.  Oh man.  She is so sweet.  I just love her to pieces, and like I wrote a couple of weeks ago, she’s just an easy, smiley, cuddly baby these days.  I’m loving it!  At her two month appointment, she was doing really well – she’s already up to 12 pounds (a pound and a half heavier than her sisters at this age!), and the pediatrician was impressed with her muscle tone and strength.  I don’t really think it comes as a surprise that she’s bigger and stronger, because two squirrelly big sisters will do that to a person 😉


Oh my little Lu.  At 2 years and 8 months, her hair is outgrowing the pixie I cut at the end of July (after Lily chopped off her bang hairs at the root), and draping over her ears and eyes at odd angles.  After a long night’s sleep or even just a nap, the crown of her head is a tangled little nest, and with her depressed immune system (I truly think a response to losing her role as baby of the family), she’s had a drippy nose for weeks.  But that face!  She just gets me every time.  Disheveled and oh so sweet.  I could trim up the hair, but I figure any growing out pixie has an awkward phase, so we’ll just muscle through.  And when you’re as sweet and adorable (shh! I’m not telling them how adorable!) as she is, who cares?

One of the things that I love about Lu is how easy she is with other people and in groups.  She just has this comfort, and she loves to be in the thick of it, playing and running around with the other kids.  She lacks the self-consciousness that I’ve always had.  On play dates, she loves hanging with the big kids, and to Lily’s credit, her older sister is so good about including her.

Lu has been showing more interest in drawing and painting lately, and a couple of times I’ve gotten her set up with a craft and she’s been so caught up in the creative process that she’ll sit for over a half hour, just working.  My favorite craft recently was a little embroidery sampler.  She did so well and she was so proud of her work!

On the playground, Lu is becoming an adventurous climber, but those darn slides scare her to bits (she’s been chucked on the chin too many times in the landing).  I love watching her run; she does this cute stride with her little arms straight out at her sides and her head thrown back.  Haha!  She’s also the sweetest little hand holder.  She loves holding my hand while she walks and often invites me to run with her while holding her hand.  I just ordered a Tula toddler carrier so I can carry her a little more easily on my back (with Luna on the front).  She doesn’t want to be carried all the time, but even just a couple of blocks reassures her and helps her feel loved and remembered (even if she’s not the baby any more), so I’m more than happy to be a pack horse! (Haha, and most of you know I love an excuse for a good workout anyway, so I’m not much of a martyr ;))

Poor Lu, she’s had the flu (or stomach bug or whatever it is that makes one vomit a lot) three times in the past two months, and for a while there, she was so skinny all of her undies just fell around her knees (BTW why does Target not carry undies in sizes smaller than 4T?!).  Luckily, she’s doing a bit better now, but our bittiest little lady is looking even more bitty these days.  At a weigh in recently, she was just under 24 pounds.  But that reminds me that I haven’t taken her height in ages…  So I have no idea.


Oh my!  This girl is getting SO BIG.  I cannot believe that I am the parent of a child this grown up.  Seriously.  Sometimes I look at her and I see this super mature face and nature coming through.  She loves to have conversations just between the two of us, and when we do, she has a very serious, earnest look, explaining her thoughts and realizations.  To be honest, most of the time she just seems so old to me that when she does things that I consider “younger” behavior, it throws me off.  When she doesn’t listen or pushes the physical boundaries too far with Lu or Luna, I get really frustrated, and I have to remind myself that she’s not even five yet.  It’s funny to have this little girl who is on one hand an incredible helper and a mature conversationalist but on the other hand really isn’t that old yet and therefore exhibits some really normal (and sometimes irritating) 4 going on 5 year old behaviors.

These days, Lily is loving school, dance, yoga, and play dates.  She’s gotten to practice biking a lot in the past week because the weather has been so glorious (80 degrees today and above 70 for the last four days), and she’s doing really well getting started and pedaling for the length of a block (hills and stopping are still a challenge).  She loves drawing and it doing some pretty recognizable shapes and images these days.  She LOVES holding her littlest sister (actually, she loves holding all the kiddos, Lu, Ellison, and Bierstadt included), and she likes being in charge of Oscar on our walks.

Swimming is still a favorite, and I’m just kicking myself that I haven’t gotten her into swim lessons.  I mean!  The girl would practically be swimming laps by now if she had gotten the least bit of instruction.  I think she’ll adore our trip to Costa Rica for that very reason (because we’ve promised her that she’ll be able to swim almost every single day.  Bliss!).

At school, Lily is getting ready to transition to kindergarten (ish…  Waldorf doesn’t really do kindergarten in the same way that traditional schools do.) next year, attending every day Monday through Friday from 830 to 1230.  (I forgot to mention that Lu with also be going to ECE at the same school next year, but right now, we’re not sure how many days a week.)  We’re still sensitive and sometimes have short outbursts, but you guys.  Lily has grown up so much in the last year.  For a while, we struggled with whining, and before that, god knows there were tantrums, but right now, we’re in a really good spot.  I’m so curious what 5 and this next stage will bring.

Well, I’m going to leave the updates at that for now.  I’m sure I’m missing a billion things, but it’s better than nothing!  My dad and Mandy are in town for almost a whole week (spoiling me with help!), and then Joshua has spring break and we’re going to take a long weekend in Moab with the Pietaris…  And then on May 18, we leave for Costa Rica!  So in terms of solo parenting three kiddos, we’re really looking at a very short time.  Next school year will be so different with Lily in school every day and Lu in school anywhere from two to five (I hope not five) days a week.  Plus, by the time Joshua goes back to work, Luna will already be 7 months old.  So really, I’m just looking at a month and a half here of solo parenting three young ones during the day, and really it’s not that bad.  There are moments when they’re all crying and I think I might just combust from being pulled in so many directions, but those moments are not as frequent as I might have predicted.  And I keep reminding myself how lucky I am.  I get to spend this time with my kiddos.  I get to be there for these young years, snuggle them, carry them, feed them, and listen to them.  I get to see them grow.  It’s pretty fantastic.



More newborn photos and some old ones I never posted 💛

Grandma met Luna for the first time at 9 days old… Lily has a hard time relinquishing holding privileges 😉

Some daisies for photos. Look at this sweetie 💛

9 days old.

Adore this one.

That’s a lot of boob fer y’all, but this is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Sweet snuggles.

January 1st… I just can’t get over how weird/amazing the human body is. I mean, how did all of her fit in there?! How was my belly that big just 10 days ago?! Crazy.

Besties at 30 weeks and 40 weeks… I hope these two babes are good friends:)

And then these are all the family photos Brittaney took at the beginning of October! I didn’t share all of them then bc I had yet to send out our holiday photo, but now those are all out, here they are! The Black Hills were so gorgeous, and we were lucky to have some good photographers in our midst 😉 If you didn’t get one, just message us! It’s hard to keep track of all those addresses…


Luna’s Arrival

img_9731 img_9817 img_9760 img_9738 img_9816 img_9765 img_9818 img_9769 img_9759 img_9748 img_9740 img_9820 img_9775 img_9778 img_9811 img_9822 img_9815Full disclosure:  I wrote the following post in Word and it’s not only 9 pages long, but also completely unedited.  I’m going to post it anyway, because #threekids.

Our third baby girl was due on January 2nd, but I told everyone that it was the 1st, just because I liked the idea of a new baby on the new year.  At my 39 week midwife appointment, the woman at the front desk corrected me after I told her that my due date was January 2nd.  “It says here it’s the 3rd.”  Ha.  Not that two days makes much of a difference, but by the end, those days seem to move in slow motion.

Our friends took bets on the date of her arrival, kindly offering up dates at the end of December, in hopes of a 2016 tax break and a break from the ever larger discomforts of late pregnancy.  Only Joshua guessed January 4th, sticking with the precedent her sisters had set before her, arriving after their 40 week due dates, but not waiting around too long.  Lily arrived at 40 weeks and 2 days, and Lu arrived at 40 weeks and 3 days.  Going into that last week, I felt sure that I could be patient through the 41st week, but that I might lose my zen if I had to wait longer than that.

On December 30th, I had a strange sensation emanating from my lower back.  It was a tingling numbness that radiated through my hips and down my thighs.  I’ve never experienced anything like it, but it reminded me of labor stories that I’ve heard (including Ina May Gaskin’s), where the mother describes labor as “trippy” or psychedelic.  I almost felt like I was drunk, and friends, I was hoping that this was it, because yes, please.  I’d rather describe contractions as trippy than painful.  Alas, they subsided, and I made it to my 40 week appointment.

At the appointment, the midwife offered to check me and sweep my membranes, and I thought, sure!  Why not?  I’m ready to have this baby.  She told me I was 1 to 2 cm dilated and 50 percent effaced, and though she warned me that the sweep would hurt, it wasn’t bad at all.  I was pretty pleased walking out of the office, because I’ve never been dilated before labor, and if nothing else, 1 to 2 cm meant that I was already 10 to 20 percent of the way there.

That evening, I began to have what felt like early labor contractions.  6 to 10 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds or more, these contractions didn’t hurt but were pretty strong.  They began at 4 pm and continued as I made dinner and a cake that I quickly began to think of as a birthday cake.  I told Joshua to finish packing his hospital bag, and we all had these ridiculous smiles on our faces.  And then around 8 pm, they stopped.

I was pretty disappointed.  I’ve never had false labor before, and with the girls, I knew with clarity each time that labor had begun.  The next morning, we all made our way to the art museum, and the contractions started up again.  This time, I felt accompanying pressure and even crampiness and so again, I told Joshua that I thought this might be it.

After another four hours, they stopped, and I started to realize that false labor can drive a person crazy.  Each time, I started shifting plans in my head, anticipating meeting our new baby girl, and getting ready to undertake labor and delivery.  I told Joshua that I no longer felt like I could trust contractions that felt like early labor, and that felt defeating too.  With Lily and Lu, I was able to trust them and we had time to prepare and sink into the labor process.  I told Joshua that I suspected this might mean a much shorter labor, and these feelings had some truth to them.

By Thursday evening, I was full on ignoring contractions.  Sure, they were more frequent, but I wasn’t timing them.  Sure, they felt crampy, but I wouldn’t have said they hurt or they felt any different from the ones I had experienced the day before, so I mentioned them casually to Joshua and then followed up with “I’m not in labor, though.”

That night, I woke up a couple of times with those same crampy contractions, but again felt nothing stronger or more telling than what I had been experiencing for the last three days.  On Friday morning, I began crying.  Though a snow storm had given Joshua one more day off on Thursday, today he had to go back to work, and after three days of false labor, all pretenses of being patient for a full 41 weeks was out the window.  I sent a self-pitying text to my friend Stacy, and then I resolved to make the best of our day.

Gathering our things for a trip to the pool, I felt a few contractions, but again, nothing out of the ordinary.  The girls were super excited to swim, and I piled them into the truck and drove to the rec center.  It was on the drive there that I began to wonder if I had made a good choice.  It occurred to me that I had had three or four contraction in the last 30 minutes where I had wanted to just stop and breathe, and here I was, having another one in the car.

I texted Joshua when we got to the rec center, just to let him know, but I ultimately decided that I’d continue on as planned because the girls were so excited to visit the day care at the rec center (which they love) and then swim.  Plus, I have long labors, right?  Plus, missing my workout on the 3rd had ticked me off almost as much as false labor, so I wanted to get my work out in.

So I dropped off the girls, changed into my suit, snapped a picture of pool to put on my Instastory, along with a self-pitying caption about still being pregnant, and jumped in the water.  I looked at the time, because I typically swim for 40 minutes.  It was 10:20.

I swam the full 40 minutes like I usually do, complete with flip turns and no pauses, and during that time, I really felt no contractions.  At 11, I got out of the lap pool and went to sit in the hot tub for a few minutes before I went to pick up the girls.

By 11:30, the girls and I were back in the pool.  Lily is totally blissed out when she’s in the water, so Lu and I followed her around the “deep end” while Lily happily propelled herself on a couple of noodles.  After lifting Lu onto the side of the pool and catching her for the dozenth time, I had to pause.  Lu splashed the water, saying “up on ledge!  I want to jump!”  I said give me a minute, and I breathed through a contraction.  Six or seven minutes later, I had to do it again.

By the time the lifeguards whistled for 10 minutes of adult swim at noon, I was mentally coming around to the idea of labor.  The contractions were the kind where I had to stop and breathe, and they were coming with some regularity.  Even so, when the girls protested that they hadn’t been able to swim for very long, I promised them that they could get back in the water for “just a little bit” after the 10 minutes were over.

When we got back in, I realized I had made a mistake.  I started thinking about what it would take to get the girls out of the water, into the locker room, showered, changed, and driven home, and I began to feel scared.  The contractions were just intense enough that I really didn’t want to be parenting through them, and yet, here I was at a rec center in a pool with two children under the age of five.

So after about five minutes, I looked at Lily, and I said, “sweetie, I know we didn’t get to swim for very long, but we have to go now.  I think you’re going to meet your littlest sister today.”

Lily’s eyes widened.  “Are you in labor?” she asked.  I nodded my head and as the next contraction came on, I breathed out through my lips and closed my eyes.  “Are you having contractions?” she asked.  I nodded again.

Lily was amazing.  She explained everything to Lu as we got out of the pool and wrapped ourselves in our towels.  “Momma’s having contractions!  She’s gonna have a baby!”  An older lady came over to tell me all about her family full of sisters, and when I began breathing funny, she just kept talking.  After a minute, I realized she had asked me a question, and I had no idea what it was.  And I really just wanted to be gone, so I told her I was very sorry but I hadn’t been listening because I was in labor and I needed to go.  As we were walking away, she shuffled behind us, “how can I help?”

In the locker room, I grabbed our stuff and then went to the private shower.  Once inside, I called Joshua.  Just shy of a panic, I told him that he needed to meet me at home.  I can’t recall the full conversation, but I do remember telling him that I was overwhelmed because I still needed to get everyone showered and changed.

But shower we did.  I paused for two contractions, breathing through my lips audibly and bending over and swaying.  Lily chatted loudly with Lu about momma’s contractions and labor, alerting god knows how many octogenarians in the locker room to my current state.

Finally done showering, we moved back to the locker where somehow I managed to clothe both my children and stuff them into their winter gear, pausing for contractions and breathing loudly and nearly dropping to me knees.  One woman stopped with her bra halfway on, looking at me.  “You’re in labor, aren’t you?” she said.  I nodded.  “Can I help?” she asked, but by this time, we were ready to go, so I told her no.  I just really needed to get the girls to the car as fast as possible.

Thankfully, we got to the truck.  Lu walked the whole way with her little hand in mine, and Lily was great.  I piled them in, buckled in Lu, and then hopped in myself, relieved to have made it to the truck.  Another contraction hit, and sitting through it was too much, so I got back out and leaned over the seat, swaying.  I looked at my phone and saw that it was 12:35 pm.  I called Joshua and began driving.

Thankfully, Joshua was already home, and though he offered to meet me at Crown Hill, I told him no.  I just wanted to get home and hand off parenting duties to anyone other than me.

I had a couple of contractions on the way home, and I breathed loudly, telling the girls in between that everything was ok and this is what mommies do when they have babies.  To their credit, the girls seemed totally calm and cool with my weird behavior.

When we turned onto our street, I was so relieved to see Joshua standing on the snowy curb with the carseat and hospital bags in hand.  As I pulled up, he asked me if I wanted to talk to the midwife, whom he had on the phone, but I absolutely did not want to speak to anyone because I was having another contraction.  “Um, she’s nonverbal,” he reported.

When the contraction passed, I said as politely but as efficiently as possible, “if you want me to talk to her, it has to be now.”  He handed over the phone and the midwife said asked me something.  I don’t remember what, but my reponse was, “I don’t know if I’m that far along or if I’m just not handling them very well because I’m in public and have two children with me.”  She responded by telling me to come in, and although part of me thought I should maybe go in the house and try to get my zen on, the other part of me thought it might be nicer to do that at the birth center.  So when Joshua told me we just head over to Stacy’s to drop off the girls and then go straight to the birth center, I agreed.

In the passenger seat, I turned so that I was facing the back of the truck.  Joshua quickly dropped off the girls, and they waved goodbye as I breathed through another contraction.  Once we were driving again, the feeling of relief was so strong that I didn’t even care that I was laboring in the truck.  With my other two labors, I had dreaded laboring en route so much that it had been my number one concern in changing my care to Mountain Midwifery.  Typically, the drive is about 25 minutes from door to door, which feels like a lot to me, but with traffic, it could be more.  But after laboring in a public pool, in the locker room, in front of my children and a bunch of old ladies, and then in the truck as I was driving, laboring in the passenger seat with nothing to worry about but myself was pure relief.

On the way to the birth center, I collapsed between contractions, lying on my side and nearly sleeping.  During contractions, I’d get on all fours, holding onto the top of the seat and breathing noisily through my lips.  I was handling them much better, but I was also thinking through the rest of my labor, including how I planned to refuse to let them check me upon admittance so they couldn’t turn me away if I was just 4 cm.  And how if I had to labor for more than a couple more hours that I could always use nitrous oxide to get me through.

When we arrived, Joshua helped me out of the car, and I leaned into him for another contraction.  We walked into the center, and as soon as I saw the nurse, I started sobbing.  Another wash of relief came over me because we had arrived.  I finally felt like I could relax after the chaos of the first two hours of labor.

The nurse and midwife assessed my strong response to arriving and also the next contraction and exclaimed that I was indeed in active labor.  Draped over the end of the bed in the beautiful “caravan room,” I sunk in and let them undress me.  The midwife told me that she was going to check me, but they sounded so positive that I was in active labor, that I never resisted.  She let me go through the next contraction and then checked me.  “7 cm,” she announced, and again I began crying because I was just so, so relieved.  I told them I was afraid I was only at 4 cm, but hearing 7 cm told me that I was nearly to transition and it wouldn’t be long.  With Lu, I was also at 7 cm upon admittance, and it had been just over an hour later that I delivered.

There was some laughing about the fact I had swum over a mile and been laboring in a public pool just a couple of hours ago, with the nurse and midwife exclaiming that I must have been at 4 cm while flip turning in the pool.

I crouched in child’s pose on the bed for a few contractions, resting in between.  Joshua started diffusing oils and put on our birth mix music.  I remember Modest Mouse coming on first and quickly saying, “no Modest Mouse.”  Haha.  I felt so sensitive to outside stimulus.  I like having Joshua rub my back between contractions, but during I wanted nothing touching me and no talking.  Even between contractions, I really wanted no conversation, and I remember giving commands like, “no touching,” and “no talking.”  I wanted to be nice, but I was also just really feeling an economy of language, so I was pretty blunt.

After a few contractions on the bed, I moved to the toilet and labored there for a few contractions.  From there, I moved into the oversize tub.  Sinking in was bliss, and I labored there, eventually finding the handles along the wall to hold onto for dear life as the strongest contractions came over me.  At some point, Joshua joined me in the water, reminding me to keep my jaw loose.  I did try to keep my face relaxed, but I remember resigning myself to clenching my arms and hands as hard as I could with each contraction, because I just couldn’t force that part of me to relax.  That was transition.  A couple of times, I said that I couldn’t do this, but really, what I was saying was I’m pretty sure this is transition, and I’d love it if someone could confirm if this was transition and that I’d be pushing and meeting my baby very soon.

Not surprisingly, there were no mind readers in the room, but thankfully, the nurse and the midwife came in just as I began to push.  “Am I pushing?” I asked, meaning can you please tell me it’s time to push?!  To which the midwife responded, “sure! If you want to!”  Which wasn’t entirely what I was looking for, but I began pushing anyway.  I overheard the midwife saying that the baby had moved way down, and as she checked me, she exclaimed, “oh! She’s wriggling!”  Which was definitely different.  I could feel her moving down and twisting the whole time, something I don’t recall with Lu.

I pushed for 10 minutes.  And though I had been silent up until now, there’s just something about pushing that releases the animal.  I thought I had remembered just being thankful to push and knowing I was near the end with Lu, but this time, pushing felt scary.  I was convinced my tailbone was going to break.  Finally, the midwife told me her head was out and she needed one more push.  I gave it everything, and in a blur, they lifted me from my position on all fours to on my back, handing me our baby girl along the way.  The shock of adrenaline and shaking were so much that all I really felt was this panic, but gradually, I was able to zero in on my wriggling, screaming, pink little girl.

Allowing me to calm down for a few minutes, the nurse and the midwife eventually helped me stand up and carry the baby to the bed, where they had me lay down and deliver the placenta.  Again, I remember feeling anxious to push out anything else, but the nurse said, “this one doesn’t have any bones,” and it wasn’t something I could really stop from happening anyway.

The placenta was delivered quickly, and then I was able to lay back on the bed with our sweet baby girl in my arms.  She cried for nearly 30 minutes, but she was pink and perfect, with an Apgar of 9 and a sweet, chubby face.  The cries just confirmed what we could see: a very healthy little girl.

As we lay there, we admired our little girl who was still nameless.  Though we had a short list of names, we hadn’t felt ready to commit until we met her.  While we debated, the nurse came in intermittently to push on my uterus (a terrible feeling) and check my bleeding, which wasn’t bad but was heavier than she liked.  The midwife also checked me for tearing and luckily, I was fine!  Hooray!  I’ll tell you that one third degree tear is enough for me, thank you very much.

After a shot of Pitocin to slow the bleeding, the nurse drew a bath and I got up to use the bathroom.  They weighed and measured our little girl and she clocked in at 7 pounds and 8.5 ounces, 20 and ½ inches.  Joshua held the baby and tried out names.  “Are you a Ramona?  Winnie?  Freyja Luna?” Funnily enough, we forgot to consider our other top contender, Lorraine, but eventually, Joshua said, “yup, I’m pretty sure she’s Freyja Luna,” and I agreed. The name had been our front runner for the last three or four weeks.  We had come to Luna first, loving the imagery and also liking how the “moon hunt” is a game that we had started playing during this pregnancy with the girls, looking up at the sky each night and seeing who could find the moon first.  And even though Luna isn’t a flower like Lily and Lupine, we felt it fit because of the “L” and the strongly associated visual.  We had played around with other combinations, like Ursa Luna, but one day Joshua was telling me about his lesson on the origins of the English language.  At one point, he mentioned how the days of the week come from Norse gods and “Wednesday is Odin’s day, Thursday is Thor’s day, and Friday is Freyja’s day.”  I interjected that I had forgotten about the name Freyja but that it was a name that had come across both of our “possible names” list, and it sounded great when paired with Luna.  Joshua enthusiastically agreed, and we immediately pulled up Freyja on the internet, refreshing our memories on the myths and imagery associated with the goddess.  We told the girls that Freyja is a goddess in a cloak of feathers (which is cool because I have a tattoo of feathers down my back) pulled in a chariot (a word they’re familiar with because of our stroller which is called the chariot) by two cats (um.  Yes.  Both girls adore cats just like their mama…  Lily even had a cat-themed birthday when she turned two.).

As we settled on Freyja Luna just a couple of hours after her birth, it didn’t even dawn on us that there was another layer of synchronicity, even though we did look up the poem again about the days of the week and the traits associated with those babies (something we’ve done with each baby).  Not only is Friday’s child “loving and giving,” but all the more fitting that Freyja was born on her “day” of the week, Friday.

So I know that’s a lot of name talk for a labor story, but if you know me, you know I’m a bit name-obsessed and many of you have already asked about the meaning behind her name.  I know just as many people were expecting a first name that “matched” our first two girl’s names, and though that was on our radar, (and for me, names like Lorraine/Loie and Winnifred Winona/Winnie really fit the bill without being too predictable) we decided it was more important to follow our hearts and give her a name that fit her and spoke to us.

Anyway, back to the birth center and the birth story.  I soaked in the bath for a bit and then got out.  Freyja Luna (who I’ll now call just Luna on the blog for her privacy) and I started nursing, and right away, we were impressed by her vigor and enthusiasm.  The nurse came in, and out of curiosity, I asked her to share times from her log.  We arrived at the birth center at 1:40, I began pushing at 2:42, and Luna was born at 2:53.  Which meant that working our way from the start, labor went like this:

7:30 I’m crying about not having had a baby yet and Joshua leaves for work.

9:30 I notice that I’m having “crampy contractions” but nothing too different from what I was experiencing in false labors on Wednesday and Thursday evening.

10:00 I text Joshua when I arrive at the rec center to let him know I’ve had a few contractions.  Idrop off the girls at the daycare.

10:20 I jump in the water and swim 40 laps.

11:00 I sit in the hot tub for five minutes or so and then go and get the girls.

11:30 The girls and I get in the water, and I start to notice that I’m having some stronger, more regular contractions.

12:00 The whistle is blown for “adult swim” and I decide that this is probably labor.

12:10 I make the questionable decision to get back in the water, but then pretty quickly tell the girls it’s go time.

12:15 I call Joshua from the locker room.  We shower and change.

12:35 We get to the truck in the parking lot and I call Joshua again.

12:50 We meet up with Joshua at home and I check in with the midwife.

1:00 We drop off the girls

1:40 We arrive at the birth center.

2:42 I start pushing.

2:53 Miss Luna arrives.

7:00 We leave the birth center for home.

Isn’t that nuts?  It felt crazy to go into labor in the daylight, deliver in daylight, and return home before bedtime the very same day.  It was a bit of a shock, but overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better labor.  Though Lu’s labor went well, I joked that this time around I not only knew what to expect, but I also knew how much it hurts…  In anticipating Lu’s labor, I knew more of what to expect, but because of the epidural at hour 30 with Lily’s labor, I didn’t really know how much it would hurt.  I don’t say that to scare anyone, and it’s been interesting to compare my very long labors with one that qualifies as “rapid labor.”  A few people have asked me if this labor was easier or less painful…  It’s an interesting question.  I think that ultimately, labor and delivery is labor and delivery and in that sense, they’re very much the same.  In that way, Lu and Luna’s labor are so similar.  I spent about an hour in the hospital with both of them, transition was probably about the same duration, and so was pushing.  With minor differences, the sensations were pretty similar too.  The lead up to that, though, is very different.  With Lu, I knew what was coming.  I was able to slowly sink into labor, do yoga, do my oils, and choose when I was ready to go into the hospital.  Those hours of labor were tiring and work, but I also felt very in control and very safe the entire time (I even went to Jazz in the Park during early labor!).  With Luna, the false labors took away that confidence and my ability to sink into labor and arrange everything just so.  It was stressful entering active labor in a public space and being in charge of two young children at the same time.  That being said, it was a blessing to fast forward through a process that I had some fear over, and it was also amazing to me that I was able to cope even when all I had was my breath and the commitment to rest and relax between contractions.

It’s funny.  Knowing that this is my last pregnancy and labor, I said shortly after delivering Luna, “as powerful and life changing and surreal and special (and all the superlative adjectives to describe labor and delivery) these experiences are, I’m also really, really thankful in this moment that I never have to do it again.”  Haha!  It’s true.  I’m so thankful for these three births, these three wonderful, wonderful little souls that I had the honor and privilege of bringing into the world, and at the same time, I’m so at peace that this is my final first-person experience of birth.  Or at least that’s how I felt moments after Luna arrived.  As I’m writing now, I’m feeling a bit more romantic/sentimental about the whole process, ha!  I am at peace with our family of five and three daughters, but there’s something gripping about the experience of birth… Hence my one day goal of becoming a midwife?  Yes, hence 😉

And there you have it.  My third labor story, my third daughter, complete with ruminations and tangents and all the gory details.  As with Lu’s story, I think I’ll add a summary of things that helped me and I also might go a bit into my experience with postpartum thus far, but this is the story of how Luna came into the world.  It kind of drove me crazy when people constantly reminded me that “third labors are the wild card,” but in our own way, we fulfilled this old wives tale too.  It was a humbling experience to let go of control, but it was also empowering to find that even when things didn’t go according to plan, that we were still able to cope and that in the end, we were blessed with a lovely, healthy little girl.

Things that helped before and during labor:

I felt torn that I wasn’t able to do more prenatal yoga and I didn’t read as much as I had intended to in preparation, but the same things that helped me with Lu’s labor helped me again in Luna’s.

  • Laboring on all fours or in child’s pose.
  • Concentrating on my breath during contractions.
  • Trying to keep my face relaxed during contractions.
  • Relaxing as completely as possible between contractions.
  • Using essential oils and music to help relax.
  • Using water to relax during transition.
  • “Horse lips” during pushing to prevent tearing.
  • Watching birth videos in preparation (I just searched for “gentle birth” on youtube).
  • I’ve listened to almost every episode of The Birth Hour. I’m sure there were a ton of tips in there that I picked up, but mostly, I just love listening to birth stories.
  • I did “let the monkey out” and use meditation techniques this time, but it’s amazing to me how I didn’t really have to think about it. With Lu’s birth, these were such novel coping strategies and they actually carried over into other parts of my life in powerful ways.  This time around, they felt natural.

My experience with postpartum this third time around is both familiar and just as visceral.  I do think that it came as a shock the first time and even second, and it’s a part of the birth experience that’s not talked about much.  It’s reassuring on this third time to recognize patterns that are normal, and as a result, there’s less fear associated with it.  Some things that I’ve come to expect and recognize with postpartum:

  • Postpartum uterine cramping is no joke. I’ve read they get worse with each subsequent pregnancy, and though I can’t verify that with certainty, I can definitely say that this time around was pretty intense.  I’d even compare them with contractions you feel at 4-5 cm.  I’ve definitely wanted to use ibuprofen for the first 24-48 hours after delivery to take the edge off.
  • After Lily’s birth, I had a pretty horrific postpartum, complete with tearing, stitches, swelling, and infection. I could barely walk, and learning how to nurse and becoming a parent for the first time was just…  The hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I definitely had some postpartum depression, recovering physically from such a long, hard labor was just part of it.  The other part was the end of one chapter and the beginning of another:  I was saying goodbye to parts of my life that would never be the same now that I had a child and also forming a new identity in motherhood.  The jury is still out with adding a third baby to the mix, but I always say that going from “none to one” was the hardest transition.
  • Physically speaking, I’ve found that having unmedicated labors has made all the difference in postpartum. I’ve had no tearing with either delivery, and I’ve been able to walk and move around comfortably immediately after delivering this way.
  • The tears come in when the milk comes in. All three times, I’ve gotten pretty weepy about 48 hours postpartum.  I feel a little embarrassed to admit the full extent of my mood swing, partly because I don’t think this is something that we feel comfortable talking about in our culture period, but I’d even classify this “weepiness” as a full blown I-feel-like-the-whole-world-has-changed-I-feel-out-of-control-and-I’m-not-sure-it’s-going-to-be-ok feeling.  Small problems feel like big ones, and though I hate to admit it, these have also included not-so-nice exchanges with my wonderful spouse.
  • Learning to nurse the first time is hard, but you have to keep learning. Each baby has different preferences and quirks, and though nursing subsequent babies is easier, there’s always that moment where you’re not 100 percent certain how to handle a new problem, and it can be humbling and intimidating.
  • The first couple of weeks postpartum are pretty sedentary, and that’s always hard for me, but I’m also trying to see it as the temporary blessing it is and a chance to snuggle and bond with this little squish nearly 24/7. This time does not last forever, and there will be a day when I will think of long, lazy hours snuggling a newborn with longing.

And that’s where I am right now.  Feeling all the feelings.  The largess and wonder of new life, and the fear and growing pains that accompany it.  Getting all the precious new snuggles and the back ache that is the inevitable result of sitting in a bed for 48 hours.  Crying and also staring with so much wonder and love at these wide blue eyes, this fuzzy head of hair (!), and her shoulder, her little fisted hand as she nurses.  Soaking up the joy and enthusiasm with which the older sisters have greeted the newest member of the family, while also trying to curb the more aggressive gestures of love and excitement.  Life is good and it is full.  Amen.

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Merry Christmas 

Sweet sisters. Lily told Lu a story the whole way back to the car.

Wearing Joshua’s grandma’s apron.

Lily took this picture of us at Union Station.

Ellison and Lu in matching Christmas outfits.

K making filling for tamales.

The kids had a blast playing together.

Tamale assembly.

Snuggles with Thibodeaux.

Grandma made a photo book of old pictures from her childhood. Such a good idea 🙂

Love this photo of these two.

Grandma’s gift to the girls is already a hit 🙂

Helping Dan open the wind chimes we made.

Helping grandma open presents. Lu on her tippy toes 🙂