David and I always wanted to have more than one child, and we were lucky enough to have that become a reality. When I was pregnant with Reese, I didn’t give much thought to the inevitability of having two children until the last few weeks.
I started to get emotional about the thought of ‘replacing’ Finn, or having to split my time with my children. I worried I wouldn’t feel the same way about Reese that I did with Finn. I worried I wouldn’t be a good mother to a little girl, because all I knew was being a boy mom. I worried that Finn would be jealous, or confused, or left out.
When Reese was born, a sense of calm swept over me. I remember telling David how at peace I felt. It was completely different than when I had Finn. I knew what I was doing this time, and I knew what to expect.
The reality is, going from zero to one baby is FAR harder than going from one to two.
The First Few Weeks
I decided to keep Finn home with me in the month after Reese’s birth. There were several reasons for this. 1.) Between the holidays and having family visit, I’d be keeping Finn home from daycare more than having him go, so it didn’t make sense financially. 2.) The reality was, I hadn’t spent more than a week at a time with Finn since my maternity leave with him, and that didn’t sit well with me. And 3.) I just like spending time with him. He’s a cool kid.
I had a week at home with Reese before Finn joined us, which was perfect. However, my hormones started to kick in and I wept for my time with Finn. Weepiness is a symptom of just having a baby and it hit me hard! It was perfect that he was going to stay with me, because I don’t think my tear ducts could’ve handled anymore separation.
Reese was a pretty chill newborn, and because of this, I was able to dote on her and Finn in those first few weeks.
How Finn Has Adjusted
I had nothing to worry about with Finn. He is the absolute best big brother. He helps me change Reese’s diaper, gives her his toys when she cries, kisses her on the head repeatedly, and calls her “My Reese”.
Finn doesn’t like to be too far away either. When I nurse Reese, we read books or do puzzles, or just cuddle and watch TV.
I also made sure to do one thing each day just for him. Sometimes we would get out of the house and go to the library or the park. Other days I set up an obstacle course in the basement so he could run wild. Having Reese made me want to be more intentional with my time with Finn, and it has been super special.
Other Tips For Older Siblings
My main goal with Finn is to help him feel included and like he is doing a good job helping with Reese. I try not to scold him if he gets a little rough with his love, but instead remind him to be gentle. We remind him to give her kisses on the top of her head or on her feet (especially now that he is back in daycare with all those germs).
Reese has been a pretty chill baby, but in those moments when she needs me and Finn needs me, I try to help Finn first, just because I know he will remember it. Not to say I neglect Reese in those moments, but I will grab Finn a glass of water or milk before I sit down to feed Reese just so he doesn’t feel left out.
Lastly, whenever Finn wants to ‘hold’ Reese, I let him. I want to foster the relationship the two of them have, and Finn feels so important when he holds her, so why would I say no?!
All in all, the last two months have been so much easier than I thought they would be. I truly can’t believe how different I feel this time around.
I can’t even begin to tell you how different labor was with Finn than with Reese. I think the main difference was that I knew what to expect with Reese. Sure, I took childbirth classes and did lots of reading the first time around, but living and experiencing childbirth firsthand is something that is impossible to put into words. The pain, the anxiety, the emotions, the exhaustion – all of it is indescribable.
And here I am trying to help other expecting mamas what to expect. There is a lot that happens, and a lot that people just don’t talk about. As I look back on both my deliveries, there was so much I found to be surprising or confusing. So based on my experience, here are all the things they don’t tell you about childbirth.
The delivery room is very calm.
Unlike the movies, my experience in the delivery room was extremely calm. In fact, my labor with Finn took so long to progress that David and I fell asleep. The nurses do come in to check on you every so often, but there was nothing frantic about any of it – and Reese was born in under 3 hours! Both of my labor and delivery nurses were so calm and understanding. The lights were dim and we even watched TV (with Finn. There was no time with Reese!).
There are a lot of people involved.
While I labored, my nurse was the only person I really saw. The doctor poked his/her head in a few times, but really for the initial few hours, it was just my nurse. As soon as I began pushing, it seemed like the entire staff needed to be involved! Not really, but quite a few folks did show up. My nurse was there, and the doctor obviously, but then a pediatric nurse came in for the baby, and eventually a pediatrician as well. There was also a support nurse for me, and a lactation consultant came in as well. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that many people, but I was caught off guard at how many necessary people were in the room – and how little I cared!
You may need antibiotics.
Around my 36 week checkup, my OB checked me to see if I tested positive for Strep B. If a mom does test positive, and I did for both of mine, then you will need to be hooked up to antibiotics in the delivery room. Apparently Strep B is threat to baby’s health and if he/she comes into contact with it, it could be very dangerous. So I was hooked up to antibiotics that were ultimately passed onto the baby to avoid any harm. It was given through an IV, and although pretty annoying, it was obviously worth having.
Contractions are not like “intense menstrual cramps”.
I did a lot of googling trying to find out what contractions felt like. I kept reading other mom’s say they felt like “very intense menstrual cramps”. I disagree completely. The best way I can explain a contraction is a really painful poop. Remember the Friends episode when Rachel goes into labor and says it feels like pushing St. Bernard out of your ass? Yep, that’s pretty much it! You are using the same muscles to push baby out as you do to go number two, so it makes sense. There is some pinching and squeezing that happens as well. All in all, it’s not pleasant and the only relief I felt was when David would rub my lower back and I would moan like a cow. Childbirth sure is beautiful!
You’re going to poop.
That being said, you’re going to poop. You are using the same muscles after all, so you shouldn’t expect anything different! Unless your husband is like mine and leans over mid-push to tell you that you just pooped, you aren’t going to know that you did! My doctor was very discreet and never said a word. I didn’t care, regardless. At that point I would’ve done just about anything to get the baby out!
Contractions continue after the baby is born.
Once baby is born and laid on your chest, you aren’t out of the woods. You then have to push the placenta out, which is nothing compared to birthing a baby. In fact, I didn’t even pay attention to it since I was preoccupied with a fresh baby on my chest. However, each time baby latches onto your breast, contractions continue. This is nature’s way of getting your uterus back to it’s normal size – quite amazing actually! But also, very painful. And the rumor about it getting worse with each baby is true. These nursing contractions were 10x worse with Reese than with Finn. Fortunately they didn’t last longer than a few days.
Depends are a really good idea.
It may be obvious, but with Finn I was very unprepared for the amount of bleeding that happened in the week’s postpartum. This felt like Mother Nature’s sick joke to me – not only was I sore and sleepless, but I was on an endless period for weeks and weeks?! For Reese, I was more prepared for this and wasn’t as offended by it. I bought Depends – the best idea ever – and got through it without complaint.
Whoever tells you breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt is a liar. Sure, now that we are six weeks out, breastfeeding is a breeze. But those first few weeks were painful. I spoke with a lactation consultant about this and she was wonderful, explaining that it takes lots of practice! Of course it does. Baby’s mouth is small, and your nipples are extremely sensitive parts on your body. My advice? Keep breastfeeding! There were days in the first and second week where I literally screamed out in pain whenever she latched on, however I’m so happy I kept pushing through. We are a good pair! Stock up with lanolin and nursing pads. Pro tip – soak your nursing pads in coconut oil. It’s anti-fungal and incredibly soothing! Plus it won’t hurt the baby.
I love recapping each year in these blog posts. Being able to look back and reflect on the year is so much fun, and a reminder of how quickly time goes by. To be honest, 2018 wasn’t my year. A lot of great things happened – buying a house, welcoming Reese – but overall it was a tough one. I am writing another blog post that goes into depth as to why, but in general my head just wasn’t right. Pregnancy did a number on my emotions and work absolutely drained me. I found myself wishing away too many days to count and if anything good came of it, it made me realize exactly how I do not want to live my life. It took having Reese to force myself to slow down, enjoy the little things and to realize I need to take better care of myself.
Regardless, 2018 will always be the year we bought a house, the year Finn turned 2, and the year Reese was born. Here are some other highlights:
We kicked off 2018 by finally signing a contract on what would be our home! We found a spec home – one that a builder was in the process of building – just outside of town. The listing we found only had a picture of the framed out house, but we met with the builder and did a walk through and knew that this was going to be our house.
In February, David and I celebrated my 30th birthday with a trip to the Bahamas. It was the longest trip away from Finn for the both of us, but it was so wonderful to relax in the sunshine with one another. We spent a lot of time doing nothing, and some time fishing as well. Looking back on that trip now I realize the timing couldn’t have been more perfect – 2018 was about to get a lot crazier!
March was a big month for us! We found out we were expecting Baby G #2 and shared the news with our families right away. We also had to move out of our apartment by the end of March because our initial closing date was the middle of the month. Like all construction, things were delayed, so we moved into my in-laws for a few weeks.
In April, we closed on our house! We spent the first weekend after we moved in with my entire family celebrating my Grandpa’s birthday. My parents came into town and helped us settle in. My morning sickness was kicking in pretty badly at this point so it was nice to have the extra hands.
In May we celebrated Mother’s Day, announced our pregnancy, and Finn turned two! I wasn’t feeling great throughout the early days of my pregnancy, so May was a bit of a wash, but we celebrated with a party at our house and Finn was surrounded by lots of love.
My workload was ridiculous this summer and in June things really ramped up. We settled into our house and spent lots of time enjoying the summer weather.
In July, David and I celebrated three years of marriage. We decided to schedule our anatomy scan on our anniversary. We went out to dinner and found out that evening that we were expecting a baby girl! The following week we traveled to the Adirondacks for a relaxing week with my family. I haven’t had such a relaxing vacation in a long, long time. It was so fun to be with family, and I loved watching Finn play in the water and ride on the Adirondack train.
August was a hot one in Virginia, so we spent a lot of time cooling off in the pool. David celebrated his 31st birthday, and my belly grew even bigger. I started photography classes in August as well, and I loved every second of it!
September was wet! I think more than half of September saw rain! Ridiculous. Finn and I drove up to visit my parents for a weekend. Finn still talks about riding Papi’s blue tractor and going to the zoo with Moo Moo.
By October, I was freaking out about the pending arrival of Baby G. We finally got her nursery in order after the doctor told us we would likely not make it to her due date. (Lies). Finn dressed like a train conductor for Halloween and loved “trick or treating” for the first time. We also took maternity photos this month.
I spent much of November wrapping up projects at work and waiting for Baby G to make an appearance. I thought Baby would show up much earlier than she did, so for most of the month I was full of anxiety and was completed exhausted. My parents made it down to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. The morning after, we welcomed sweet baby Reese Catherine to our family.
December was full of baby snuggles and toddler giggles. I kept Finn home from daycare in December. Though many people thought I was crazy, it was the best decision I could have made. I loved spending that time with him and it made me realize how much I love being a mom. My mom and sister came to visit for a long weekend, and it was so good for the soul. We decorated for Christmas and Finn met Santa Claus on the Christmas Train. Watching Sweet Finn open presents Christmas morning was the absolute best.
Birth stories are my favorite. It’s amazing to hear everyone’s experience and how different each one can be! I’ve now given birth twice, and I have had totally different experiences with each one. Giving birth is the most empowering, terrifying, and humbling thing I’ve ever done, and ever will do, and I can’t help but share these stories with you!
36 Week Appointment
Reese’s story starts about a month ago at my 36 week appointment. It was then that they first checked my cervix and I had already dilated to 3cm! My doctor told me that I should be on standby – that not only would this baby not make it to her due date, but when things started, it would happen fast. She ended up being half right…
When November came I breathed a sigh of relief. We weren’t quite ready for Baby to arrive, so the more time that went by, the more I felt settled and prepared. I started getting contractions around Halloween. Nothing painful, but contractions nonetheless. I have no recollection of any contractions prior to being induced with Finn, so this was so different. Reese dropped in my belly shortly there after, and I started waddling and waiting for things to heat up.
As days went by and my cervix didn’t dilate more, I started to grow impatient. The type of impatient only a woman approaching her due date can understand. The anxiety of waking up and knowing that you may or may not have a baby today was getting to me. I wasn’t sleeping, I was a pain in the ass to everyone around me, and for some reason this country and it’s ridiculous maternity leave standards still requires you to go to work – so there was that.
My due date was originally November 19 – the Monday before Thanksgiving. This was based on my menstrual cycle – 40 weeks from the first day of my last period. Somewhere along the line, the doctors changed my due date without letting me know. Based on Reese’s size at her 20 week scan, they added a few days and my due date became November 23. I was defiant when I was told this and continued to act as if my due date was the 19th. Not that it really mattered, but I felt strongly about it 🙂 .
When the 19th came along and baby girl was still was sitting pretty in my belly, I grew resentful toward my doctor who had originally told me she’d come early. I had an appointment that day and the doctor told me Reese was locked and loaded and that she’d be here before Thanksgiving. She generously stripped my membranes to help get things started and I went back to work that day feeling hopeful that that night I’d be in labor.
Wednesday Before Thanksgiving
Still no baby – and no sign of baby either. I kept telling myself that feeling normal didn’t necessarily mean anything. I was already 3cm dilated and if anything changed it would mean Reese would be here quickly. I woke up early on Wednesday and got some work done. Finn’s school was closed so we spent the day together. My parents were driving in from New York for Thanksgiving and I started to feel okay with spending the weekend with them and enjoying the holiday.
David and I hosted Thanksgiving, with a huge help from my parents. Since we thought we’d have a newborn baby, we figured having Thanksgiving at our house would be practical. We spent the day watching the parade and cooking for my parents and David’s family. Other than the typical pregnancy exhaustion, I felt fine. The entire day was a good distraction from being overdue.
Friday, November 23rd
1:10am – I woke up with a contraction. I thought I needed to use the bathroom, so I did. I went back to bed and a few minutes later, another contraction came. I managed to lay in bed through that one, but figured I’d start timing things. I had a third contraction about 5 minutes later and had to get up to walk through it. I stood up and my water broke everywhere. I woke up David and he called the hospital to give them the heads up we were coming. My contractions were consistent and painful. David quickly showered and went downstairs to tell my parents that we were heading to the hospital.
2:00am – We arrived at the hospital and my contractions were now about two minutes apart. I could barely walk. The hospital was empty and when we reached the Labor and Delivery floor, we realized we hadn’t pre-registered. Registration took a grueling 10 minutes, and my contractions were so painful David did all the talking for me. The entire time I was losing more water and I just wanted to get to a room. After the paperwork was done, the nurse had me stand on a scale and asked me for my height – I’ll never understand why.
2:15am – We finally got to the delivery room – room 9 this time – and met our delivery nurse, Nicole. I undressed and she checked my cervix – I was already at 8cm. I asked for an epidural, I think out of pure fear, and she told me should would call the anesthesiologist in. She gave me a birthing ball to bounce on, and through every contraction David rubbed my back. It was almost as soon as I sat on the ball that I said the magic words, “I feel like I have to poop.” When I said that, Nicole stopped what she was doing and asked me what I had said. I’ve read enough about giving birth to know that feeling signals transitional labor, and soon I would have to push.
2:45am – Still no anesthesiologist. I was miserable. Everything was irritating me and I even told David to stop talking because he was so annoying. I was in pain and it was starting to become unbearable. The doctor popped in, quickly gave David a squeeze, chatted with Nicole briefly and said she’d be back shortly. I was starting to believe the epidural wasn’t going to happen.
3:00am – Finally the anesthesiologist made her appearance. She said her shpeal, made me sign away my life, and started prepping my back. As soon as I got off the birthing ball and onto the bed, I needed to push. I told Nicole and she asked me if I wanted her to check me or if I wanted the epidural. I needed some relief, so I chose the latter. The anesthesiologist took her sweet time, and through every contraction I was “moo-ing” as David puts it, because there was no relief.
3:15am – Finally, the epidural was done. I slowly sunk back comfortably in the bed and the doctor checked my cervix again. She told me I was 10cm and baby was at +2. I couldn’t feel anything at that point so she told me that whenever we were were ready, I could push and we could have a baby.
3:43am – After just 4 minutes of pushing, Reese Catherine Gregory was born. It was the most beautiful thing in the world. Just like with Finn, I labored all the way through to the pushing without drugs. I’m so glad I got the epidural when I did because I was able to thoroughly enjoy the last few minutes and the actual birth. The doctor laid Reese on my chest and a sense of calm appeared. David started crying. He cut the umbilical cord, something I don’t remember with Finn.
Reese weighed 8lbs 12oz at birth. She was 21 1/4 inches long. She made her debut quickly – from first contraction to her arrival, it was just 2.5 hours.
After some bonding, and letting the drugs wear off, we headed to the postpartum room. I remember acknowledging the calm feeling again. With Finn, I was terrified. Being a new mom was so overwhelming. With Reese, it felt natural. It’s as if she’s opened my heart even bigger and allowed me to love even greater. I didn’t cry when I met her, but felt an instant connection.
I did cry when Finn came to meet his sister. My parents said he was saying “I meet my Reese” the entire way to the hospital. He had continued to call her My Reese, something I hope he never stops doing.
You seemed to have stuck around forever, and yet, I can’t believe how fast you have flown by. This is the second time we’ve met, and so much has changed this time around. You have changed my body forever, to a point where I don’t even recognize myself – swollen ankles and hands, puffy face, my hips are wider than they’ve ever been. After you go, my body will still be changing, attempting to get back to how I was before, while still trying to nourish a baby. The physical changes are what everyone sees, but it’s the rest of it that only you and I can feel.
I appreciate you, pregnancy. You have given me two beautiful gifts, and I’m still amazed at the miracle you produce. From essentially nothing, you create a human life. That’s incredible. I have been feeling every kick, every punch, every little movement with awe. I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s truly an experience.
You’ve caused a lot of pain, too. My joints hurt. My back is always throbbing. My pelvis, welp, it’s taking on most of the load. I can barely walk without getting winded and I can’t pick up my two-year-old without letting out endless grunts. I know as soon as you’re over, other pain and discomforts will take over, which is nothing to look forward to. I almost prefer your pain to what comes next…
The hidden side of pregnancy, the hormones, those really got to me this time around. You made me irritable and snappy. You made me worried and anxious. You brought out the ugly sides of me.
But in the end, more than everything you’ve given me and caused me, you’ve taught me so much. You’ve taught me that life is a miracle. You’ve taught me that my body is stronger than I had
ever imagined. You taught me empathy for other mothers. You taught me unconditional love. You taught me patience. You have taught me to be in tune with my body. You have taught me grace.
Thank you for letting me experience you again. I cannot wait to sleep on my stomach and wear normal clothes again. I cannot wait to meet our baby and make our family complete. However, just like last time, I know I will miss you. I know I will see other woman sporting your notorious bump and feel nostalgic. So I’m trying to embrace these last few days and weeks and welcome all the discomfort and appreciate all the changes.