the birth of amelia

her due date came and went as due dates often do. and, really, we weren't shocked as hadley surpassed hers as well, so we were expecting this little one to arrive late. the clock continued ticking, my pulse quickened and my anxiety increased as it began to seem more and more possible that these sisters could very well share a birthday.

it was a sunday, hadley's second birthday. a sweet, slow-drip of a morning spent opening a few presents, followed by a trip to the zoo. after her late nap, we ate pizza for dinner and went out for ice cream! all of that walking tired me out and i pleaded with david for a massage.

shortly after we shut our eyes for the night i exhaled with relief: our girls would not be sharing a birthday after all. in all honesty i was not too keen on the potential jealousy it could cause, since they already will be sharing so much throughout their life--toys, clothes, bedrooms--i wanted each of them to have their own special day. i prayed that they would.

thirty minutes later, the contractions began. it was just before midnight and the pain wasn't much worse than period cramps, so i decided to keep it to myself and go to sleep. i really did not want to get our hopes up as second babies seem to often tease with labor.

i woke suddenly at five am, monday morning. the contractions were still there. i waddled over to where my phone was charging and opened the contraction timer i had downloaded two weeks prior.

eight minutes apart.

david's alarm for work went off and i told him what was happening. maybe you should work from home just in case. i had a midwife appointment at 10:30 anyway to check how far along i was and to do a membrane sweep.

he called his boss to let him know he would either be in around noon or not at all as today just might be the day. after almost two hours of the contractions being six to eight minutes apart i took a screenshot of the timer and texted my midwife.

awesome, she replied, i'll wear my scrubs today. stay hydrated and eat when you can!

we called my mom and let her know what was happening, as well as our friends that we were planning on dropping hadley off with.

and--of course--in true fickle fashion, as soon as we made all our phone calls and really settled in to the mindset that we were having a baby today, my contractions drifted further apart. fifteen minutes. twenty minutes. twelve. thirty. fifteen again.

i texted neva (my midwife) and told her what was happening. she said to just come in for my appointment at 10:30 to see how i was progressing. oh, and bring your labor bags, just in case.

at my previous appointment the thursday just four days prior, i had only been three centimeters dilated. i wasn't expecting much had changed but i was hoping for a little progression at the very least.

we grabbed our bags, woke hadley and drove over to our friends to drop her off.

we may or may not be back to pick her up, i laughed nervously.

as we drove to the birthing inn, i prayed and breathed slowly trying not to get my hopes up.

david and i arrived five minutes before the half hour mark. quickly i used the restroom and pulled myself together knowing that she could very well just send us home.

we walked into her office, david plopped himself on the couch and i hoisted my bulging body up into the exam chair.

as neva began to poke around down there she had a pleasantly surprised look come across her face.

you are a really good 7 centimeters dilated. you're having a baby today!

i was shocked. the contractions hadn't been consistent for hours and they were hardly painful by any means.

she suggested we go on a nice long two hour walk and come back to talk about next steps.

david and i made our way down to point defiance park, pineapple chunks and laborade in hand. we walked circles around the pond, listening to the birds, watching the ducks bob in and out of the water in search of their food.

sometimes in silence, grinning at one another, no need for words; other times laughing at how ridiculous i looked hobbling one foot up on the curb, the other on the pavement as i worked to open up my pelvis; and then there were those moments--less often since my contractions had become so infrequent--where i would bury my head into his chest, only for thirty to fifty seconds at a time, inhaling deep breaths of the the fresh air, working through the painful yet manageable tightenings of my uterus. as soon as those moments were over i joked, this really is a walk in the park!

that's just what it was. in fact, i felt that it wasn't fair how easy it had been so far. by the time we got back and neva checked me once again, i was easily an eight, she said. i was speechless.

it was 1:30 in the afternoon when we decided to go ahead and break my water.


it was the strangest feeling. not quite like peeing, but the same sense of relief that peeing brings.

as soon as the majority of the fluid had come out, i made my way over to the birthing tub. soaking for what felt like forever, but really was only an hour, i asked my midwife's assistant, soo, is anything going to happen? i was still having contractions but they were about the same pain level, only a little bit closer in frequency.

maybe you are just one of the lucky ones who have easy labors, she smiled.

as soon as the words left her mouth, the contractions took it up a notch--or rather ten notches... transition.

this was encouraging. i began focusing all of my energy into breathing and finding a position that was as comfortable as could be in the tub, without getting too hot, or too cold. david sat there, knowing me well that i didn't want to be touched (ha!), soaking a rag in ice water and gently laying it either across my forehead or the back of my neck, whichever i preferred in the moment.

after about an hour of hard labor i was getting so fed up things weren't progressing as fast as i had wanted them to, so i stood up. i began rotating my hips in circles, as you would a hoola hoop. and then, i peed in the tub.

sorry you guys, i laughed to the women in the room. there were three of them; four people total including david. after having one baby, i learned there really is no such thing as discretion with childbirth.

it seemed as if that was exactly what my body needed, though...to pee. to get that pressure out of the way, because as soon as i did, i felt her drop down. ohhhhhhkayyyy, i shouted, i need to push now.

so i pushed. standing up. in the middle of the tub.

after about five minutes of that, my legs shook uncontrollably. i felt that they were going to give out at any moment, so i dropped to my knees and continued pushing, leaning over the edge of the tub. there it was...that stinging, burning ring of fire that everyone had told me about--which i hadn't felt during my first labor with hadley.  this was the moment i felt like i was unable to go on. it was the moment i thought i might die, or, that my downstairs was going to end up being one...huge...hole..

there's a line in jurassic park, i'm sure you've heard it. you know, the hang on to your butts! one? this is what pushing a baby out feels like. like your bum bum--as we call it in our house--and everything else down there is going to fall off.

but i'm happy to report, that doesn't happen. the human body works it's beautiful miracle and makes a way for these babies to come out. and she did.

after about four hard pushes she made her way earthside.

at a healthy 8 pounds 1 oz., amelia mercy landrus was born into the water at 4:08 pm on may 1, 2017.

i exhaled, turned around and leaned back against the tub. i reached down and grabbed her holding her tight. it was so surreal. so beautiful. this wonderful girl we had been waiting for, the one worth all of the pain, all of the early-pregnancy difficulties, she was here.

the birth of hadley

flipping through the pages of a parenting magazine, i sat waiting for my non-stress test. i was one week and a day overdue, with very little patience and a whole lot of anxiety. the day after my due date, my o.b. had said she would be surprised if i went past the weekend. and yet there i was, sitting, past the weekend on a wednesday, still very much pregnant.

what she hadn't told me was that it was very possible and more common than not to be walking around for weeks on end dilated a few centimeters or so. 

they called my name and i walked down the hall to the room where i was hooked up to machines which monitored the baby for over an hour. 

i wasn't worried whether the baby was ok. i would lie awake in the early mornings with david staring at my belly turning and rolling and seeing her little kicks and flutters. after all we had been through i was just plain ready to be done being pregnant. 

when the hour was up i met with my o.b. and she looked at me and very business-like with no attachment asked, so when do you want to have this baby?

with a blank look on my face and a little bit of frustration in my tone, i told her since she had gotten my hopes up and made me think i would have had her by now, umm....yesterday. 

so it was decided. right then and there she scheduled my induction for the very next day. i drove home--we were living with my parents at the time--and when i arrived the phone was ringing as i stepped through the front door.

we had a spot open up for an induction this evening if you want to come in tonight, the voice on the phone said. i agreed, hung up and called my mom and david.

in a way it was kind of nice, to know when i was going to go in. i went with my mom to get my nails done, we had a nice dinner, double checked our bags had everything we needed for the hospital and off we drove.

david and i arrived around 8, and i handed them my birth plan, for even though i was having a hospital birth i was insistent that it would be as natural as possible. the fact that i was being induced was already enough compromise and i really wasn't willing or hoping for anymore.

we had recently watched the business of being born so i told my o.b., absolutely no pitocin please!  we opted for cytotec, instead, a small pill used to soften the cervix and induce contractions to begin labor (since then i have learned of many side affects and other harmful ways these pills can affect you and baby which is why i chose to go the drug-free route during amelia's labor and delivery).

at 9 p.m. april 29, i was given my first dose of half a pill. david curled up on the couch next to the bed and we went to sleep. i was woken by the nurses around midnight to check my progress. next to nothing. around 2 a.m. i was given a second dose--the other half. and to let those of you who have never received this pill know, they have to poke, prod and shove in order for it to stick to the cervix. soooo comfortable and pleasant (read: sarcasm).

it was 4 in the morning when the contractions began. the nurses could see how giddy i was and told me to keep resting if i could because what was to come would take a great amount of energy. of course, being me, i didn't listen and out of excitement woke david to tell him...also so he could keep me company.

for the next 6 hours it was pretty standard. i labored in various postitions--the ball, the tub, the side of the bed, dancing with david. i was in a lot more pain than my labor with amelia (partly because, first baby, but also in part due to the induction making contractions happen when they wouldn't be naturally) so i didn't stay laboring in one position very long.

around 10:30 they checked my progression. i was dilated to an eight. the pain became excruciating. my breaths were out of control and i began to panic. i need to push! i would shout. no you can't! do not push melissa, the nurses said. so i tensed up, it took everything in me not to push--to work against my body instead of with it. an hour and a half went by of wailing and crying and pleading with them to be allowed to push. they checked me again. still an eight. no progress.

melissa, you need to relax. your body will not progress if you aren't relaxing. i screamed at them, how am i supposed to relax when i'm tensing up trying not to push? they were telling me two completely contradicting statements.

at this point i was on the edge of the bed pressing my face hard against david's chest during contractions. there were no breaks. at least that's what it felt like. in reality there were about thirty seconds between contractions. and for each of those breaks i passed out, completely. i was utterly drained, exhausted.

i can't do this, i told david, help me.

the o.b. who was on duty was not my own--of course. she came in to tell me i had a couple of options, she called them.

either you relax and keep progressing, or you get an epidural, or...she stopped, her voice trailing. but we all knew what she was going to say. i could tell everyone was thinking it. cesarean. 

i looked at david, my mom, the three nurses and the doctor in the room. a lump welled up in my throat.

i choked out, give me the epidural.

the anesthesiologist came and swiftly stuck the largest needle i had ever seen into my spine. within seconds an overwhelming sense of relief and relaxation flooded down over my lower body.

ten minutes later, the doctor checked me once again. i was fully dilated.

the tension in the room lifted, the air was lighter and happier and i began to push. although i couldn't lift my legs on my own--let alone feel them--i was able to feel the pressure of the contractions in my uterus and still felt that i could work with my body.

for an hour and a half i pushed, leisurely while we casually chatted with the doctor.

i see the head! she said all of a sudden, give me one more biiggg push!

and there she was. the gift we hadn't asked for but the grace we had been given. hadley grace landrus, born at 2:24 p.m. april 30, 2015, 7 pounds 4 and a half ounces. worth all the shame, all of heartache, she was more beautiful than we could have ever imagined and our hearts overflowed with joy.


what's in my diaper bag?

now that i'm a mama of two, what i'm carrying with me on the daily is a little different--and a little heavier. i had become so used to carrying a small bag with just a couple of diapers and snacks for hadley, because toddlers don't need much, and honestly i forgot just how much newer babies need, especially on long days out. you can never be too prepared.

first, the bag. i came to realize that shoulder bags just would notttt cut it especially now having to carry items for two babes, and opted for a backpack. something cute yet simple enough that david wouldn't feel too embarrassed to carry. enter, the fawn design bag. it's roomy, easy to clean, can be carried both backpack and messenger style and is just all around aesthetically pleasing to me. i have the color bloom (a soft creamy-white-pink kinda color) and i truly love it.

next--let's be honest--i have your standard hair-ties, bobby pins and receipts that i have to dig through before i reach the good stuff...because really this could also be called the "black hole," but i'll spare you pictures of those for now ;)

so what's a diaper bag without diapers? our favorites are kirkland brand (from costco) and seventh generation--wipes as well. the changing pad that we love so so much is by gathre. it's stain-resistant, super compact and so easy to clean. best of all the bonded leather makes it sleek and stylish and when have you ever said that about a changing mat?!

we always have to have some kind of swaddle blanket. we love this white one from max + moose. we also really love our merino wool swaddle by chasing windmills kids. my wardrobe these days consists of baggy t-shirts loose enough to nurse in without a cover but i always, always carry a covered goods nursing cover with me just in case. best part about this? it's multi-use. when i'm not nursing it's on amelia's carseat protecting her from bright sun, wind and light rain.

i never leave the house without some type of baby carrier (i'll be doing a post on baby-wearing later and all the benefits because i love it so much!). in my bag currently is the solly baby wrap, but i also have a happy baby wrap, as well two ring slings. this is my life saver for grocery trips with two kiddos.

amelia has yet to use it a ton but i always have a pacifier with a clip at all times. like i said, right now it's mostly just in case because she prefers the boob, but i'm sure she will come to love it just like her older sister did. for baby girl i also carry a drool bib and some rattles/teethers. the bib is to keep her clothes from getting dirty either from that sweet baby slobber or spit up (which is more frequent at this point) and to be honest it's also just so cute. we prefer wooden teethers and rattles. the ones pictured here are from finn + emma via anthropologie as well as schoolhouse naturals.

besides all of the above, i always carry snacks, a change of clothes for amelia, sunglasses for hadley (thank you target dollar section!!!), hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

what are your must haves in your diaper bag? have anything you cannot leave the house without?? comment below and let me know!! also, be sure to follow me on instagram because i've got a little giveaway going on tomorrow!

**full disclosure: occassionally i receive product for promotional/review purposes but all statements and opinions above are my own personal opinions. you may click links in this post to be directed to the companies/websites and learn more about the products featured in this blog**