Author

Katie

Benjamin: Month 5

Ben-

Today you are 5 months old! The four months prior to this one crawled by at a very reasonable pace, but this month absolutely flew. It felt like you went from barely 4 months to 5 months in the blink of an eye. Suddenly we’re so close to half a year old and soon you’ll be a grown up. I am sad that you are already so big.

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You continue to be just completely delightful during the day and especially around other people. You are almost unbelievably social and personable. People comment all the time about your disposition. At daycare, every teacher tells me how you’re their favorite. At your brothers’ schools, all the teachers and parents fuss over you because you are so sweet. Your brothers are perhaps the most taken with you. Elijah has figured out how to make you laugh by reciting a silly line from Wild Kratts and it is THE BEST. William loves to hold your hand whenever you will let him and will remind me all day long that you are SO cute (as if I could forget). William refers to you as his baby and it pretty much renders me a melted puddle of my former self it’s so sweet.

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This month was your first Chanukah and Christmas and New Years. You won’t remember any of it, of course, but you got big doses of fun with different branches of your family. We traveled two weekends in a row, visiting all of your grandparents and great grandparents, all your aunts and uncles and a majority of your cousins. You had a great time, though we were all happy to be home by the end of it.

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It’s a good thing that you’re so cute because you are also the absolute very worst sleeper on the earth. There have been nights where you have been up more than 4 times between 9pm and 7am. There was a night where you cried for 3 straight hours leading into bedtime. This won’t mean much to you now, but someday when you’re a new parent I’m going to tell you about the worst phrase any person has ever spoken to me, which I heard from your pediatrician, who, after discussing your evening screaming sessions diagnosed you this month with something called “late onset colic.” Thankfully you have come, somewhat, out of it now. You scream less and I’m more able to comfort you than I used to be, but son, it was not great.

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Your likes this month include: blankets, nursing, sucking your thumb, pacifiers, chewing on toys, rolling onto your tummy, your brothers, mom/dad/grandparents (especially your Nana, who you just had the best time with over Chanukah), the cat if you can grab a giant handful of his fur, the swing and when anyone talks to you.

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Your dislikes this month include: sleeping, being tired, especially if I then try to get you to go to sleep, evenings in general sometimes, when your thumb/pacifier/blanket falls out of your mouth, when you roll onto your tummy because you can’t roll back yet.

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You learned to roll this month and it hit me hard that it was the last time I’ll get to mark that event. I also went through your clothes to move you from 3 month to 6 month stuff and my heart broke a little bit. I won’t ever get to have another baby in those 3 month sized clothes and oof, it’s harder than I thought. I am 100% fulfilled and content with our family, with you as our end cap, but you’re also growing so fast and no matter how I try to grasp every last molecule of this time and hold onto it, it slips through my fingers again and again. I’m not ready for you to be able to sit up like a grown person. I’m not ready for you to be mobile (for several reasons). I’m not ready for you to eat food. I’m just not ready for you to not be a tiny baby. Because you are my last tiny baby. And I can feel time pushing us forward no matter what I do.

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When I look at our family now, I know we are done. We are this perfect group of 5 people who belong to one another. Even on our worst days, there is so much love in this house that it’s almost unbelievable. The love your brothers have for you is reflected in how much you adore them. I could not imagine being happier than I am to have you because you are the perfect end to our family’s story.

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Sometimes at 2 in the morning when I am deeply frustrated with you for not sleeping, I’ll just hold you and study your face. It helps me to relax and remember how small you are (and how not intentional your terrible sleeping is because I’m not my most patient at 2am). I feel like I know every inch of your face. Your round cheeks and your sweet tiny chin. Your unfairly long eyelashes and your sweet little nose. I can find bits of Elijah (your chin) and bits of William (those puffy eyes that I love so much) and bits of your dad (the apple cheeks) and bits of me (my nose!). You are the greatest blend of all of us that I could ever imagine, as though your little face brings the other 4 of us together.

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I love you beyond what words can possibly hope to convey and I hope you know that we all feel this same way. We are so glad to have you, Benjamin. Happy 5 months, my sweet baby boy. I love you deeply and cannot wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference 4 Months Make!

Ben, while adorable and smiley and generally a delight, was having none of our morning picture antics. We tried again at bedtime with similarly grouchy results, so we will just have to admire his sweet cheeks while not smiling this month!

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4 months and 1 day!
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Benjamin: Month 4

Ben-

Today you are 4 months old! It’s hard to believe it was only four months ago that you joined our brood. Sometimes the days (and let’s be honest, the nights) feel like they are literal years long, but these four months have moved so swiftly that I feel like every time I blink you’re older.

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The biggest development this month is that you found your voice. You “talk” literally all day long. At me, at your toys, at the mirror. Anything. It’s pretty great. You’ll be nursing, unlatch and just start chatting. It’s hilarious. Your sweet little baby voice is among my favorite sounds on this earth and it reminds me so much of your brothers at this age.

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You have been in daycare for a month and have yet to get an actual fever or substantial illness, which is quite an accomplishment in this family. You had a mild stuffy nose, which caused you a lot of distress for the relatively meager amount of snot you had, but you smiled through it and seem to be on the other side without any long term effects. That said, you are suddenly going through some soul suckingly terrible screaming fits that we can’t sort out and it’s equally frustrating and heartbreaking. Hopefully a reflux med adjustment will put an end to all the screaming before we all lose our hearing or our minds.

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Absent this month is rolling. You just…you are not into it. And probably being the third child who spends a lot of time in the car/car seat isn’t helping, but you do not appear to be even vaguely close to rolling in any direction, to/from any position. You don’t mind tummy or floor time and will hang out on your playmat for a good long while pretty happily, but you have zero desire to move. You want to sit up badly, but rolling just isn’t your thing.

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Your likes this month include: mom, dad, your brothers, muslin swaddle blankets that you can chew/another yourself on, your thumb/fingers, o balls, mom’s bed, when dad sings to you, things you can grab and preferably put in your mouth.

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Your dislikes this month include: gas, sometimes nursing, car rides, sleep, sleep in your own bed especially, when your dad sneezes, big light displays (zoo lights! not for Ben!)

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I wasn’t sure how your brothers would react to you entering our family, but they have exceeded my wildest hopes and dreams. Elijah is quiet and nurturing, which generally matches his personality as a whole. He loves nothing more than to be the person who soothes you and he gets very upset if we try to intervene before he can. In the car he will retrieve or replace your pacifier, he will hold your hand or talk to you to make you happy and you give him huge smiles.

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William just ADORES you. He has zero understanding of how to be gentle or that he could actually hurt you, he just knows he needs to squeeze or hug or hold you because you are SO CUTE. He will remind me of this about a hundred times a day. He also touches or steals all of your toys and he’s way too loud but he loves you and you are just enamoured by him. I think William might get the most smiles of all of us.

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This hasn’t been an easy month. Your dad was gone for several days, you have been miserably sad for days on end without an obvious cause or solution, but despite this you wake up in the morning grinning, you squeak and coo with delight and you generally bring our family a tremendous amount of joy.

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This next month will be interesting for you with your first Chanukah starting tonight, Christmas, traveling to all the grandparents and a series of other changes on the horizon. I hope your sweet spirit continues to shine through and that we get another month filled with your sweet smiles.

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Ben, you are deeply loved and none of us can wait to see what this next month brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference Three Months Make!

So, I did not post this on time, but I did take the picture on time, I swear. The return to work has only hastened my already impressive memory loss.

Also, in case you wondered, he really is this delightful all the time.

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Benjamin: Month 3

Ben-

Today you are 3 months old! This has been a really great month. Your personality has begun to shine through the newborn clouds and I feel like we know you now. We know what you really do and don’t like and I can make you smile in a millisecond. And you have THE BEST smile. Don’t tell your brothers, but you have the best baby smile of the bunch.

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It was a month of firsts for you. You went to your first wedding, you had your first Halloween (you were a skeleton!), first trip to Disneyland, you were left with someone else for a few hours for the first time (so your mom and dad could see Hamilton!) and you had your first day of daycare. It was really an impressive month. And you smiled through most of it.

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When you werent smiling it was usually because your belly was hurting. We learned last month that you have a cow’s milk protein intolerance, but we added probable peanut allergy, allergic colitis and reflux to the list this month. We got you started on some medication and it has greatly improved things after a couple of rough weeks. Hopefully this will be it, we will keep you comfortable and you’ll outgrow all this stuff in the next few months.

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This month you and your brothers have become good buddies. They love to make you smile anytime they can. William loves to hold your hands and Elijah has become the pacifier master in the car, much to everyone’s delight. They especially love to do tummy time with you and you enjoy the distraction too. I cannot tell you how much my heart swells watching the three of you together.

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Your likes this month include: mom, dad and brothers, pacifiers sometimes, any blanket or cloth you can get your hands on and especially if you can pull it up to your face to try to smother yourself, any person who smiles at you, when your dad sings Les Miserables to you, baths.

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Your dislikes this month include: the car, pacifiers some of the time, bottles (though you’re not super dramatic about it, more like, it’s cool, I’ll starve until my mom comes back), when you are stuck in the car and really want to eat but your brothers have to go somewhere and kindergarten/work start times that require you to get up before you are inclined to do so.

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Going back to work was as heartbreaking as I knew it would be. I no longer get to devote all my time to bond with you, which has been such a privilege. I’m extremely fortunate to get to work part time, though my days off are packed with kids and activities, so it’s not quite the same as our quiet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays these past twelve weeks. I know we will have some sick days coming soon, which will stink for you, but I won’t turn down the quiet and snuggles we will get.

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The daycare teachers have all commented on how lovely your disposition is. You are as pleasant for them as for us and they enjoy having you a lot. Other classroom teachers have stopped me in the hallway to tell me how cute and/or sweet you are, which is pretty great. I know you’re being well cared for and that is the most important thing.

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These three months have not gone as quickly as I imagined they would, but you are growing so much more quickly than I am prepared for. You’re my last baby and I know that no matter how slowly time passes, it will be too fast. That too soon you’ll be walking and talking and no longer a baby, my last baby. It breaks my heart but I also know how much fun you’ll be as you grow and that helps me let go.

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Above all else, you are deeply loved. And while time can slow its pace down any time now, I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference Two Months Make

While Ben is a very happy guy, he isn’t quite capable of following our voices from 5 feet away to see that we’re smiling and reciprocate. This month’s picture was the first one I took as Ben was watching his dad walk away, hence the little smile and head turn.

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Benjamin: Month 2

Ben-

Today you are two months old! It never fails to amaze me how different a baby is at 2 months than at 1 month. You still don’t do much except grow, but you have a personality and clear likes and dislikes and much improved ways of demonstrating the former.

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I’m talking about your smile, if that wasn’t obvious. It’s magnificent. Your whole sweet face lights up and usually it comes with the sweetest little coo ever. Lately your dad is the most frequent recipient of the smile and sometimes all he has to do is talk to you from across the room for you to light up. I cannot tell you how great your smile is. I really can’t. It’s just the absolute best.

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You have no idea how loved you are and by how many people. Your brothers, especially William is just overcome with his love for you literally every day. Elijah loves you deeply as well, but he’s busier and less free with this expressions of it. You got to meet your extended family (on my side) earlier this month and it’s safe to say that the circle of people who loves you is wider than you can imagine.

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You continue to be an eater, gaining about a pound a week right now. You’re sleeping more and for longer periods at a time, but you still prefer to eat about every 2 hours when you’re awake. You pretty much only cry when you’re hungry or overtired and the solution to both is usually nursing. And I’m not complaining because I get all the snuggles. And because your thighs are magnificent.

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To me, you now seem so big. No longer that tiny fragile newborn that you were, but a sturdy baby with questionable head control. Putting away all the newborn clothes made me cry because this was their final use and I’m not ready for my last baby to be grown. I suspect this will be a common emotion I have as you grow. I’ll do my best to not let it hold you back, but I make no promises.

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Your likes this month include mom, dad, William, Elijah, nursing, being held for naps, nursing, the mirror on your playmat, pacifiers but ONLY in the car seat, and when anyone sings to you, but especially when your dad sings Les Miserables to you.

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Your dislikes this month include riding in the car, especially if the car dares to stop moving momentarily, baths when you’re overtired, not being allowed to eat the moment you want to, when your mother attempts to set you down instead of holding you when you’re sleepy.

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There are days where I kind of wish you could be put down more, but then I look at you and remember how small this window of time is. This window where you want to be held, where I am your home base, your safe place. And I know that there will be time for cleaning and for cooking and for the other errands that need to be run. But there won’t always be a baby who wants to be snuggled, who sleeps best on my chest or in my arms. Who wants to nurse themselves into sleep right where they are.

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I came across a poem a few weeks ago called Babies Don’t Keep by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton that perfectly captured this feeling. The final stanza reads,

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

These are the words I’m living by right now. The house is messy. Our meals aren’t perfectly complete or always the healthiest. But you are only going to be small for this moment and a few after and I’d rather be holding you, just like I held your brothers, than doing anything else. The rest can wait, because you, your babyhood, cannot.

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Each day I’m grateful for you, that you are here, that you are ours. I am wistful about how quickly you’re growing, but it doesn’t diminish, at all, the deep and endless love I have for you. I hope you know now and forever how deeply loved you are.

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Happy 2 months, baby boy. We love you so much and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference a Month Makes

The only thing tougher than taking pictures of a 1 month old who wants noooothing to do with said picture and who has no head control, is taking pictures of that 1 month old with a 3 and a 5 year old “helper.” This is entirely as good as it gets.

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Benjamin: Month 1

Ben-

Today you are 1 month old! I’ll probably say this many times in the future, but this has been both a long and a very short month. I can’t believe my last baby isn’t a newborn anymore, but your birth also feels like a light year ago. Time is very strange that way.

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We are still getting to know you and every time I think we’ve got you figured out, you change things up. It certainly keeps life exciting.

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You still have your gorgeous soft baby hair, which strangers comment on all the time. But you are no longer a teeny tiny guy like you were at birth, now you have cheeks and chunk to spare. A mom of a kid in Elijah’s class stopped me today to comment on how much you’ve grown in just two and a half weeks. She’s not wrong.

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The cheeks are abundant because you are a nursing addict. I’m typing this with one hand on my phone because you will only stop crying tonight when you’re eating, which is a pretty common occurrence. Thankfully you have a great latch and we’ve had a lot of help because nursing all day does not lend itself to multitasking very well.

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You have the sweetest eyes in the world and I swear you see more than every textbook says you can. Even before you should have been able to see basically anything, you would look at us with such focus, like lock eyes with us. It was like you might start a conversation at any moment. There’s something about you that I just can’t put my finger on. You even looked me in the eyes and smiled right at me last week, even though you shouldn’t be socially smiling for another few weeks.

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Your likes this month include: nursing, being held, nursing, overhead lighting and/or fans, being held, nursing.

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Your dislikes include: car rides, baths, pacifiers (unless you’re super tired), being swaddled, being put down.

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For a lot of this month, it’s just been you and me. First because we were both recovering from your birth. Then because your brothers went back to school and your dad went back to work. You’re just my tiny buddy- you go everywhere with me and I love nothing more in this world than snuggling with you. It might seem like I wish you’d nurse less, but the truth is I’m more than happy to feed and hold you every moment I can. During the day especially.

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The time is going so fast already and I know in a few short months, these snuggles will be replaced with proper naps and reasonable bedtimes and while I won’t miss the intensity of the sleep deprivation, I’ll miss having my snuggle buddy.

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I’m so excited to get to know you and to learn who you are. We’ve waited a long time for you and we’re so glad that you completed our family. We love you in a way that defies words, in a way that someday you will know when you have your own baby and you realize how inadequate words are for describing this kind of love.

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Happy 1 month, my sweet baby. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what next month will bring.

Love,
Mom

Benjamin

While I think I wrote about the birth of Elijah and William much earlier than I’m getting around to writing about Benjamin’s birth, it isn’t because he’s the third child. Well, actually it is, but not in the way you’d think. This post is delayed because I am savoring every second with my family. I am holding my newborn as much as I want, without apology. I’m not in a rush to write because we are just busy living (also why this blog has been inactive for so long- life! It’s great!). And while I have wanted to write this down (for posterity and the ten of you who are interested), it was just less important than taking time with my family of five.

So Benjamin.

When we were trying to pick a name in the hours after he was born, I googled to find out what Benjamin meant and one website had it listed as “son of my pain” and yep. That could be the title of my birth story. A birth story that is dramatic only because I am dramatic. It was basically the most uneventful labor and delivery of all time.

My official due date was 8/18 and I had expected that he would be born right around that day. At my OB appointment on 8/8, I was 2.5cm dilated and 50% effaced. This didn’t seem terribly impressive since I was way more dilated with both Eli and Will for over a week before their births. While I was entirely physically miserable and embarrassingly over the top hormonal, I had mentally prepared that I’d see my OB on the 16th, she’d strip my membranes and labor would follow in a day or two. That’s…not what happened.

Friday (8/11) was a normal day. I went to a nice lunch with my husband (who worked from home that day), got the kids from preschool (their last day before a two week break) and took them and my niece out for ice cream in the afternoon. The evening proceeded as normal and I went to bed at 10ish.

I woke up from a weird work related dream at 12:45 and felt crampy. This wasn’t unusual and I didn’t think I was in labor, but I couldn’t go back to sleep (also not unusual), so I laid in bed and watched Friends for a while. At around 2, my husband came to bed (he’d slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day due to a horrendous migraine, so he was up late catching up on work). I still wasn’t in labor, but I suggested that he not go to bed just yet. I took a shower and at 2:30 we sat down to watch a TV show on the couch. At about 2:45, I realized that I had had 4 contractions since the show started and while they weren’t all that painful, I felt a lot of pressure and maybe this wasn’t nothing after all?

Since my labor with Will wasn’t terribly long and the hospital is 40 minutes away, we called my sister at 3am and headed out. The contractions continued but just didn’t really get terrible. I walked from the car to the hospital through multiple contractions, talking and generally feeling like this was going to be an embarrassing false alarm. I got admitted around 4:15am and was 4.5cm and 70% effaced with contractions every 2-3 minutes. The contractions were uncomfortable, but they were shorter than what I remembered with Eli and Will and I was managing them well. I really thought they were going to observe me and discharge me.

I labored pretty easily for the next two hours, though I made my request for an epidural known from the start because I am just not a person who has ever desired an unmedicated labor. It took a while to get through the admission process, then get the blood work done, then get the IV going. When this was all done at 6:30, the nurse told me the anesthesiologist was in a c-section but that he would come when they were done. She checked me again and I was about 5.5cm dilated and fully effaced. Two minutes later in the middle of a contraction I had a horrible pain (it felt literally like the baby had stabbed me) and ten seconds later, my water broke. It was only at this point that I realized that oh, this really was labor.

The nurse checked me again to confirm it was my water and I was 6cm dilated and baby was at zero station. She warned me of what I already knew- that my easy labor was about to get significantly less pleasant. Even with an epidural I felt how much worse contractions were once my water was broken with my big kids and I was not thrilled.

25 indescribably painful minutes later, my body started trying to push through contractions. I told my nurse that I knew it sounded crazy, but I had a ton of pressure (on top of holy shit pain) and physically could not stop pushing. She checked me again and I was already fully dilated, which explained why the previous 25 minutes had been so awful. At this point my husband asked the nurse if I was getting an epidural and she confirmed that wouldn’t be happening. I had suspected from when my water broke that I wouldn’t be getting it, but hearing it out loud was the worst (my husband later said that he knew it would be hard to hear but that he thought it would help me get in the right head space to finish the labor. He was absolutely right. I still cried.)

For the next 20 minutes, each contraction was me fighting against my body. I had never felt the urge to push with Eli or Will (yay epidurals!), so this was totally foreign. The pain was horrendous, but trying not to let my body push (the baby was still too high for delivery) was 100x worse.

My nurse was an absolute godsend- she stayed by my bedside for the entire time and held up her finger through each contraction and had me pretend it was a candle. I blew out that freaking candle like it was my job. I felt so ridiculous blowing on a stranger’s finger but it worked and that’s all that mattered. I don’t want to make it sound like my husband wasn’t also helpful because he was, but he and I were both so out of our element that the nurse was totally in charge. Despite this being my third labor, I really felt like I had never done this before.

At 7:15 my nurse had to swap out because her shift was over. During the world’s fastest shift change report (because her high maintenance patient (read: me) needed her desperately), I started to feel an unbelievable amount of pressure. The new nurse checked me and said I was definitely complete, but he was still at +1 station, so it wouldn’t be long but I wasn’t quite ready to push yet. She stepped out to grab a doctor since we were getting close. A med student came in and got gowned and gloved and just as the resident stepped into the room, a contraction started and suddenly the baby’s head was out. Everyone all at once screamed for me not to push, as though I did it on purpose (at which point I screamed back, super rationally, “I THINK HE JUST RIPPED ME IN HAAAAAAALF.”) and they all started scrambling to get gloves and get the baby.

Moments later, without any intentional pushing on my part, he was out. I have never, in the entirety of my life, experienced anything that painful. I’ve also never experienced relief like when he was completely out.

Benjamin Andrew was born at 7:20am on Saturday August 12th. He weighed in at 6 pounds and 12 ounces, and was 19 inches long, making him the smallest of our bunch. I never wanted an unmedicated labor (and was woefully unprepared for it), but the reward was worth it.

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We were discharged on Sunday and of course, after months of my children being perfectly healthy, William spiked a 101 degree fever that morning. We decided that I’d stay in the master bedroom with Ben until Will was healthy, but it was damn near impossible to fully seclude ourselves. Elijah wanted so badly to see the baby, but he’d been around William all morning and he’s 5, so his understanding of germ management is zero. My mom and husband wanted to help me but they were helping William and it just started to feel like it would be impossible to keep the germs out. Without a doubt, a lot (all?) of this anxiety was postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation and in hindsight, I’m sure we would’ve been fine at home. But in that moment I felt an overwhelming need to protect Ben and I was sure I couldn’t do that in my house.

So Ben and I headed to my sister’s house, and stayed in her guest room. Will’s fever broke the next day and my saint of a mother worked feverishly to disinfect the house. We came home the next night and have happily been here since. I won’t say that I regret going to my sister’s house because it’s what I felt I needed to do in that moment, but it’s not something I plan to do again.

The boys absolutely adore their baby brother and it’s so abundantly clear that our family is complete. It feels like Ben was our missing piece and now we are whole. He is the sweetest baby and we are all loving every second with him. Each day I wake up and feel like the luckiest person on earth to have this house full of boys. I never knew you could feel so much love for so many people at once and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life savoring this feeling.

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