Receiving Lady London

It's been five weeks since Lady London made her way into the world, as slowly and patiently as you please. It's been five weeks since my last bout of acid reflux (literally, as I had to take Tums during labor) and five weeks since I wobbled around on swollen feet. Those last few months of pregnancy were near torture, filled with tears and frustration. Even so, I miss it...

I think that makes me insane.

Who would miss swollen limbs and a pelvis that feels as if it is splitting in two?

Or miss those sleepless nights when stomach acid volcanoes out of you, startling you awake with choking and sputtering?

The night sweats that felt like ice cold buckets of water were thrown over you?

The difficulty...*ahem* the bathroom (that's as far as I'm going to go with that one)?

The pee that escapes at the tiniest laugh, sneeze, and cough?

I mean, who would possibly miss the itchy stretched skin that may or may not rip right down the middle if you happen to gasp after you sneeze because the as-before-mentioned pee shot out?

Or even worse, you bend over and your belly skin rips like a pair of too-tight blue jeans (sound effects included)?!

But I do.

I miss it.

I miss my round belly and the feeling of her little body moving around in there.

I miss the furnace her little self turned my big self into.

I miss...and this is for real people...the table my pregnant body transformed my belly into. NOW WHAT WILL I REST MY CUP OF COFFEE ON?!?!

But all good things (and even good things that are sometimes viewed as bad things) must come to an end.

On February 11th, I got up at 4:20 am to take Teddy to the bathroom. When I lifted him from the top bunk, there was a sudden gush. My eyes grew wide and I thought, "This is it! My water broke, thank The Lord!!!" But the water stopped...

I wait the whole day for the "pop". I waited for the contractions to kick in. The contractions were there, but they were sporadic and not overly painful. We did our school lessons even though I felt so tired, and once they were finished, I took a nap. Roger came home early from work and we took a drive, dropping off our van to be worked on. We went out to eat at our local Mexican place where we ran into so many familiar people asking when I was going to pop. I wanted to cry. I just dodged the question, half tempted to shout in their face that I was never going to pop and asking me when I was going to pop was only going to keep my stubborn baby in there all the more!

But I didn't.

I did not shout at them.

I just sobbed hysterically inside my imagination.  Big, huge, body shaking, ugly cries.

The next morning, at 5:30, I woke up again from a little gush. This time, it was pink. Hmmm...

Yeah, this needed to be reported to the doctor.

I let Roger go on to work and never mentioned it to him. Instead, I showered, did my makeup, got dressed, double checked the kids' bags and my hospital bags and waited for the doctor's office to open so I could call. When I did call, I got a lecture about how I should have called the morning before. Pffft. They sent me straight to the hospital where they determined that my water had ruptured the day before and now I needed to get on pitocin right away (and antibiotics) and have my baby, pronto. Little did they know, London had not and would not do anything quickly.

Teddy tells me, "Aren't you glad your tummy isn't that big anymore?!"  :(

I cried a little. Mostly out of sheer exhaustion. I'd been having contractions for weeks and nothing. But now they were telling me I was TRULY going to have a baby. I was half tempted to have them draw up a contract and sign it in blood, promising not to send me home until a baby was in my arms. MY baby.
Our selfie after I carefully applied Marilyn Monroe red lips.

The strangest thing about childbirth is how inhibited a woman becomes. It no longer matters how many people come and go from the room when everything below the chin is exposed. But at one point during a particular tender cervical exam, I noticed that there were about FIVE men standing around my bed, all with their arms crossed (defensive and self-protection stance!!!) and staring at my...well...myself. They were all students, I guess...but the idea that there were so many took me off guard. When my doctor was finished feeling and prodding around, I giggled a little. "Sorry," I said to them all. "There's just way too many dudes and way too many hands feeling up in here." They looked shocked that I had mentioned it. One or two of them might have blushed. But they all quickly walked out of my room, mortified.

But hey! I was the only mother on the floor rocking contractions with her hair curled, her mascara not running and her red lipstick in place--which, by the way, is hard to apply perfectly when one has terrible adrenaline shakes. My anesthesiologist said he wanted a post-labor photo of me to see if I still looked as good after. "It's war paint," I explained, very seriously.

Not only was I the only woman laboring in red lipstick and curls, but I was probably the only one doing it to the background sounds of Mel Gibson leading the Scotsmen into battle as Braveheart played on the TV. The nurses would come in and frown at the sounds of blood spilling and flesh tearing open from the thrust of a longsword.

Childbirth is like battle, right??? Kinda? No? Just me?

"Aye, don't push and you may die (or at least feel like it). Run, and you'll live... at least a while (No, run and you will leak amniotic fluid all over the hospital floors!). And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies (your nurses) that they may take our lives (they better NOT), but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM (to push when we're ready)"

**Interpretation was all mine**

Things are just about to get serious after this picture

Later in the evening, I think the doctors might have been considering a c-section because London was simply stuck up in my bone structure. This labor was taking much longer than they anticipated. However, a young doctor was nice enough to give me three little practice pushes to see if I could move her down on my own.

Oh, puh-leeze!

Practice pushes?!

Stand back, good doctor. I'm a pro a this. Get your catcher mit because here she comes!

I rock at pushing out babies!!

After my "practice pushes" they decided I needed to cross my legs, hold my breath and wait for the other doctors to get in the room. They also had about a dozen (maybe not really) women from the NICU come down because London had pooped a little (she's a true Cooper) and wouldn't be allowed to take her first breath before being properly suctioned.

I'm not sure there are words to describe the moment they tell you your child is born. Mostly, I think disbelief sums it up. I sobbed, "Oh my God!" But not in a don't-ever-take-God's-name-in-vain kind of way. It was more just a huge rush of emotion so big and overwhelming that all you can do is cry to your Creator. And then I just cried and cried some more. I think I might have cried more upon seeing London than I did with the other two. She was just such a shock. I wasn't planning on her. I never pictured her presence in the grand scope of my family picture. But yet, in that moment, I suddenly couldn't NOT picture her in our lives.

And there she was. Scowling at us all.

Yes, my dear Lady London came our scowling with her brow all furrowed up.

Can you blame her?

Inside mommy, is was safe and warm. Now she had a bunch of ladies shoving things in her mouth and sucking out the possibility of poop in her mouth. I mean, come on! Inside mommy, she was a dignified lady who NEVER pooped. But now, this entire process of entering the world had managed to crush her dignity.

I wanted to snuggle her up close and tell her that it was okay, mommy understood. After all, I'd had all kinds of hands up in my girly parts all day long. I knew what it was like to lose one's dignity. But as it was, we were separated by suction, shots, eye drops...oh!...and the two men that were stitching up mommy. "Take this part here," I heard one doctor say, "and stitch it there. That will make it look kind of normal." Gee, thanks! Normal! Normal is good. At least I get that...

By the time I was finally able to hold London the adrenaline shakes had worn off. She immediately began to nurse and I was suddenly very tired. Everything, besides having to sit on a diaper filled with ice, was perfect.

She made the softest, most delicate sounds...

There's nothing easy about getting a baby. There's morning sickness right off the bat. I mean, isn't that they absolute worst way to welcome good news? "You're having a baby?! Congrats!! Now you get to puke your brains out for three+ months!"

Kinda dumb.

Once the wooziness passes, you get heartburn and back pain. Some ladies develop hemorrhoids from constipation. You skin stretches and itches like crazy. Your ribs feel like they're going to shatter into splinters. You get hairy...your face breaks can no longer control if you will or will not pass gas...

Yeah. That's embarrassing.

But thanks to those prenatals, you have long hair and nails. So, that's something.

Yet, you finally have the baby and all of that yucky junk is forgotten.

Except, it's replaced with ice-packed diapers for mommy to sit on; nurses massaging your belly to force your uterus to contract down;  husbands helping you inch your way slowly to the toilet; a lengthy toilet routine that involved squirt bottle, witch hazel pads, itching/burning prevention spray, and some sort of foam that I STILL do not know what it was for...

But I have her.

I have my beautiful surprise.

And every little bit of it was worth it.

It was an adventure. From that first moment that peace finally washed over me days after the pregnancy test came back positive...

From that moment when I ripped open the shower curtain and puked into the toiled, hot water spraying everywhere...

Even that time that I peed at Steak-n-Shake while out to dinner with church friends, my pastor included (they didn't notice, though...until now...if they're reading this).

It was all worth it.

Receiving Lady London has been an adventure, a wonderful and scary surprise, a blessing beyond measure...and a moment I will treasure forever.

But thank you Jesus for getting her out of me! I didn't think it was ever going to happen.



Mommy Jeans, Meet Gia

This was the day.

This was the day I was both looking forward to and yet terrified of.

Today was the day that I went jean shopping postpartum.

Go ahead. Cry a little for me. Just a little. That's all I'm asking. One tiny little tear of sympathy. You don't even have to let the tear slide down your cheek--just allow it to gather up along the rim.

There was no avoiding it. I had worn transition maternity jeans until they thankfully became too big on me. Then, stupidly, I pulled out my jeans from pre-pregnancy. There's always a bit of hope that they will fit again. I mean, after my first baby I was able to wiggle into my old clothes. After my second baby, it might have taken a while, but I tugged on those old pants and barely (yes, barely) got them to meet in the middle. But not this time. Not after baby number three.

Those stupid jeans. Oh, those STUPID, ridiculous jeans! They wouldn't go up my thighs!

So as soon as we finished our school assignments, I bravely strapped the kids into the van and headed to the store. It wasn't brave to go to the store with two big loves and one six week old baby. It was brave to do this on my own AND shop for jeans. I knew it was going to take determination and insane grit to survive...

I bit down on my bottom lip, took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and tucked the baby into the Ka-tan wrap and marched on, Lucy and Teddy trailing behind me. I won't elaborate on how Lucy and Teddy looked like orphan children due to their amazing sense of style. Really. It's amazing...and creative....and a bit Dickens-esque.

"You guys be good. No hiding in clothing racks. No crawling on the floor. No playing hide and seek or tag. Do you hear me? We're going to go in, get what we need, and get out. Deal?"

They nodded, but I can't say Teddy didn't still hide in one or two racks. The stinker.

We made a bee-line straight for the women's department. I zoned in on blue jeans and quickly snatched up a few various sizes, since I just have no idea. There was no point in being picky, so I herded the kids into the handicap dressing room and told them to sit on the bench. "Here's my phone. Watch Netflix."

I kicked off my shoes and started to wiggle out of my pants, all the while the baby is still bundled up in the Ka-Tan wrapped around my torso. She jostles when I lose my balance (JUST A LITTLE!). I get the pants down past my thighs and then do a little jiggly (hmmm...that was supposed to say "jiggy" but I guess both apply) dance to get them to drop to my ankles. I caught Lucy glancing over at me, eyes-wide and cheeks pink. She tries not to laugh at me. I know she's amused to see me wiggling around in my panties. Or maybe she's a little bit embarrassed...but hey! day she will understand and sympathize.

I get the first pair of jeans on. I LOVE them! They look great on my calves and thighs. They have a bit of rock-n-roll wear to them--you know, the kind with little tears here and there that make you look like a rebel. They even looked AMAZING on my butt.

They did not, however, come close to meeting in the middle. Those suckers did not have a prayer of ever zipping up on my frame.

I wiggle out of them and panic when they barely move down my thighs. I wonder what I will do if I can't get out of them...or if I fall, London strapped to me, the sound of Veggietales playing from my dressing five year-old son giggling as he watches me...

And that's when London, the baby, started screaming wildly at me.

It's the worst cry ever! She even had tears in her eyes! But the amazing rock-n-roll skinny jeans (SKINNY jeans! What WAS I thinking?!?!) are stuck just above my knees!!

I glanced at Lucy and seriously considered asking her to come pull--no, PEEL--the jeans off of me. But I shrugged off that thought and try to figure out what to do about the screaming baby, first.

Oh, yeah! I have boobs!

The wrap covers my entire torso and is designed to nurse discreetly, not that I've tried to do that publicly before.  But if I don't do something soon, the store security is going to crash into my changing room and find my two older children watching TV on my phone, me trapped hopelessly in jeans from hell, and my tiny baby screaming...with TEARS in her eyes! OH! The TEARS!!!

So I reached into the wrap and try to pull my...*ahem*milk dispenser up and out of my shirt. I giggled a little because this is just now very, very weird. London's mouth is wide open as she screams and I popped the milk dispenser right into her mouth. She kept screaming. Lucy and Teddy are now both staring at me, Veggietales forgotten. Being caught staring, they look away, but they're both biting back huge smiles.

Finally, London quieted down. She didn't even eat. She was just content to have the milk dispenser shoved into her mouth while I continued to gently hop from one foot to the other to get out of the blasted jeans!

Stupid amazing rock-n-roll wear and tear.

Stupid way they hugged my thighs.

Stupid way they looked fabulous on my rear end...

The next pair of jeans sported a tag that reads: Tummy Slimming/Stretch Fit

These jeans were high rise...but somehow looked great on my butt too, even if they weren't for a super awesome rebel chick. But all that "tummy slimming" really meant that it pushed all the excess Gia up and over the top of the jeans, creating a tiny muffin top right under my...*ahem* milk dispensers.

But I'm taking them (actually, buying them). They zip. They button. They don't look completely hideous.

"Come on, kids." I grabbed the jeans and hurriedly pulled back on my own--this was much easier now than it was before. Thankfully, I remember to tuck the milk dispenser back down under my sweater as we file out of the handicap changing room (and oh how we needed it!!) and quickly paid for my mommy jeans.

Now here I am at home. The baby is sleeping peacefully in her bouncy seat beside me and the other two loves are in their bed. Hopefully they have already forgotten the mental image of mommy hopping around in her underwear with baby sister strapped to her chest...

And I am thinking that it just might not be so bad that I have my first real pair of mommy jeans. Who cares if I have a tiny muffin top peeking out from my mommy jeans? I have three amazingly cute kids that don't drive me completely nuts. They are good, smart, and loving. I mean, I have this six week old baby snoring gently a few inches away...and she's soft and warm and precious. My heart is so full and content that I even entertain the idea of one more little baby to add to our home. What more damage can another round of stretching and growing do to this body, right?!?!

I am happy.

I like this new Gia.

Better yet? My mommy jeans look great on this new and improved mommy butt of mine.

Just sayin'.