The grass really is greener in Iowa as Charlotte will tell you.
We celebrated Grace's second week back at the farm with Oma. The car packed to the brim we turned what is normally a 5 hour trip into closer to 8. But once we were there we did little else besides relax. Charlotte spent the entire time running outside from "mother gothel and the lion". And when she wasn't outside she was asking if she could go outside and run in the grass. City grass has nothing on the farm.
We made trips into town to visit with Grandma and Julie. We made time for a giant movie on the side of the barn. We went treasure hunting. We relaxed and introduced Grace to farm life.
I once heard child birth referred to as "The everyday miracle". What a perfect description.
This time around 40 weeks flew. I don't know if it was due to chasing a two year old around or maybe just being more familiar with pregnancy and what to expect but I blinked and it was over. I've been very fortunate with my pregnancies. No morning sickness, none of the "bad stuff". I enjoy being pregnant. So when 40 weeks came and went I wasn't upset to still be pregnant. In fact I was thrilled to still be feeling those kicks and movements, hiccups, etc.
My doctor and I were on the same page: let baby come when he or she is ready. Until then we'll monitor and keep a close eye on things. But when my due date came and went, and still no baby my doctor suggested we schedule an induction. In the mean time I would do NST appointments every few days to monitor baby's heart rate, fluid, etc.
With an induction scheduled for the 16th (41 weeks 2 days) my attitude changed overnight: Troy and I made it our mission to bring on labor before then. I could go into all the reasons that I wanted to avoid an induction but it comes down to believing that my body knows best BUT with an understanding that induction has its place and if we had to go that route then so be it...we'd cross that bridge.
I'd been having contractions off and on for the past few days but they weren't getting any worse or any closer. We walked, and walked. And walked. 50 miles in the span of a week once it was all counted up. Along with the spicy foods, and every other old wives tale out there. ALL of them. I even did acupuncture. Interesting experience. Needless to say, something worked.
Saturday, September 14th we went for a walk to a neighborhood diner (best chocolate shakes!). Afterwards we decided to stop at the park to let Charlotte burn off some energy. In between contractions (which were finally picking up) I chased Charlotte down slides and around teeter totters.
A bit surreal when I look back on it now, exactly how ordinary the evening was even at this point: less than three hours later we would be holding a beautiful baby girl.
We walked home. Slowly and with a tight grasp on Troys hand during contractions and quickly in between. I held my phone in the other hand with a finger hovering over the "lap" function on my timer. Oma followed close behind. Once home Troy packed our bags in the car and found time for a quick shower. I put together lacing beads with Charlotte and cherished those last few moments alone with her. It's hard to explain what I was feeling. I was overcome with a need to cling to those minutes with her. To help her understand that while things would change; things would also stay the same.
We drove to the hospital, checked in, and waited to be admitted. I remember looking at the clock while in the waiting room: 8:54. Shortly after they took us back to a triage room. At this point I was dilated to a 6 and still standing up to handle contractions.
The next hour and a half went by quickly.I know that I was taken to the labor and delivery suite. I know that my nurses name was Gabby. I know that a med student came in at the worst time possible to ask me 3 pages of random questions. I know that there was no doctor in the room. I knew that my contractions were already coming every minute.
I had asked for an epidural, but by the time they came to the room I was fully dilated and my water had broke. He offered to administer the epidural even at the late stage but also told me it would take up to 30 minutes to take effect. I remember looking at Troy at this moment. Sheer panic had taken over. Women prep for natural childbirth for months. I had only a moment. Troy's words when he saw my face: "You can do this". I wish I could say that I put on a brave face in that moment but really it was Troy. His confidence in me was so reassuring that I didn't give it a second thought. We sent the anesthesiologist away.
I pushed for 13 minutes. The doctor later asked me how long I thought I pushed and I had said 45 minutes. 13 minutes. Baby sister has a perfectly round head.
Things didn't go as planned. But in the end they went perfectly.
We're just days away from meeting you now. The waiting is the hard part. Waiting to hold you, to look into your eyes, to meet this incredible person who will once again transform our lives. All three of us.
The first thing you need to know about this family you are a part of is that you are loved. So deeply, incredibly, unconditionally. It's a love I can guarantee and as you'll learn throughout life there are very few things that can stand that test. It's a surreal feeling loving someone you've never met. That's a parent's love. Your sister taught us that. She also taught us that there are no limits to the size of our hearts.
The second thing you need to know is that we make mistakes in this family, but we also learn from mistakes. We are not perfect, none of us are; and in the same way we will never expect perfection from you. Our imperfections are what make us human.
Throughout your life there will be many voices pulling you, pushing you, steering you. My only piece of advice is to follow that one deep inside...this one is your heart. Do not lose sight of it. At times it may be an overwhelming voice; easy to hear, easy to follow. Other times it will be barely a whisper. You'll have to block out all the other noise in your life to hear it. And when you are struggling to hear it know that you can always rely on us. Always.
I remember writing Charlotte's letter before she was born. I remember being so afraid of bringing a child into a world that at times seems so void of compassion. Today it's easier to understand that while the world will always have problems, and there will always be people or circumstances to fear, it's all the more reason to be part of the solution; both our generation and yours. Hope is an incredible thing.
Your father and I are different people than we were three years ago. We've evolved as people and as parents. I'm proud of who we are and the family we have created.
We thought maybe baby was holding out for an ironic entrance...sending me into labor on Labor Day. But the day came and went rather uneventfully.
That's not to say we didn't make the most of it. We went to the zoo, had a pizza date on the way home then ended things with an impromptu movie night on a rare Monday.
We're still doing our best to squeeze in a bit of relaxation these last few days but the waiting is getting harder with each day that comes and goes. We're beyond excited to meet the newest person to steal our hearts.