“Is he OK? He’s kind of blue. He’s not crying.”

Those were the first things I said when my baby was born. Worry much??

My midwife’s response (or maybe it was Mark. Or maybe my imagination.) was something like: “He’s fine. And he’s a girl.”

I always said I had no intuition about what gender the baby would be, yet I always referred to it using male pronouns. But Eleanor Dolores is here, and I’m thrilled to have another little girl. Grace adores her and says things like “I knew you would be a girl, just for me. I wanted you to be and you are.” Connor vacillates between being confused (“where’s your belly, Mom? Get it back.”) and amused (“That was a funny noise baby. Do it again.”) and helpful (“Here’s your nuk, Baby Ellie.”)

Eleanor at three days old

Ellie (or Ella, as Grace is currently calling her) was born at 6:14 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, after just five hours of labor, only two of it in the hospital. It was as perfect a birth experience as birthing can be, and I’m happy to say I was able to do it with no painkillers. She was 7 lbs, 11 oz and 21.5 inches. If you want all the details on labor/delivery — men, you probably can’t handle this 😉 — click the more button.

I had been having minor contractions for weeks and just a few after Thanksgiving that made me stop what I was doing. By my 40-week appointment on Dec. 8, I was 3 cm and 50% effaced and 0 station. But I’d been at nearly that for nearly three weeks so I wasn’t really getting my hopes up. Though it was nice to know I wouldn’t be going to the hospital at 0 cm as I had for the other two.

I scheduled an ultrasound and nonstress test for the 9th so they could check how things were going and see if I could hold off another two weeks (or until the baby came naturally) or if we needed to induce sooner. Grace was induced after this particular ultrasound showed low fluid levels. Connor also had these tests and was fine so we just waited. He was scheduled to be induced at 12 days late but was born at 10 days late.

Just like her brother, who shares her birthday, the threat of a little action got Eleanor moving. I left my appointment, went to the chiropractor, got some Dairy Queen for dinner (a blizzard in a blizzard. ha!) and picked up the kids for Faith Formation class. During class and later that night, while watching TV with Mark, I got the feeling that things were happening and she would come soon. But it was nothing I could describe, no physical sensations or contractions, just a feeling.

When we headed to bed, I started packing the last minute things in our suitcase — computer, toiletries, etc. — and Mark looked at me quizzically and asked if I was in labor. But he went along with my intuition. We were asleep for maybe an hour when I woke up with contractions, around 1. I think I called the clinic 24-hour number just before 3. We signed into the maternity ward at 4:15.

Mark left the room to call my parents, and Connor immediately took over holding my hand, standing very still with a serious look on his face. He later pointed to the bed and said “This is where the baby got bornded. Where Daddy helded your hand when your tummy had an owie. Then I hold your hand too. And then the baby came out.”

The contractions were soon coming so close together that I was barely able to sign my admission forms. The nurses took turns watching the kids in the waiting area because I needed Mark before my parents were able to get there to watch the kids. After about an hour, the nurse (who was absolutely fabulous) said “This is the hardest part. You’re almost done.” I completely thought she was lying just to keep my spirits up. I mean, after two 12-hour labors, being told after an hour that I’m almost done was just ridiculous. But she wasn’t lying and soon I needed to get back in the bed to push. (I spent most of the labor standing, leaning on the bed, with Mark massaging my lower back, which always aches horribly in labor.)

My midwife barely made it to the hospital in time for the pushing because she assumed, logically, that she wouldn’t be need at least until her normal shift started. But she did make it and was as great during that last bit as she had been throughout my pregnancy. It was only a few pushes until Ellie came out, but thanks to her normal-sized head, that quick exit was not as devastating as Connor’s had been. (I can’t find record anywhere of how big Connor’s head was but I swear it was huge. Even now, it’s bigger than Grace’s.)

We spent the full two days (really more because she was born so early) in the hospital. Some of the time was just Mark, El and me. Some was just El and me. It was very restful, except for the two dozen different people in and out of my room all hours of the day/night. I’m so glad my parents were able to watch the big kids most of the time because after about an hour in that little room, they were bouncing off the walls and making us nuts. We did have a little birthday party for Connor, with all his grandparents, presents and cake, the day after his birthday. We tried on the 9th, but he slept the whole time he was there.

Ellie has been nursing and sleeping well since coming home, although today she has been spitting up a lot and been quite fussy. I’m going to ask her pediatrician about this at tomorrow’s appointment because I’m a little worried she may have reflux or be lactose intolerant (as is Connor), which would suck because I would have to give up dairy until she’s weaned. yikes. I’ll keep you posted on that.