Four Years Ten Months Minus One Day

The age difference between Grady and Poppy is four years, ten months, minus one day.  

I knew, after Grady was born, that I wanted to have at least one more child but I didn't have a plan. Shawn and I weren't aiming for two under two. We didn't have a specific timeframe in mind. We were just trying to survive Grady's newborn days. 

And then life happened. I was diagnosed with cancer when Grady was one. I had a partial molar pregnancy (tl;dr: not a viable pregnancy) when he was three. And now here we are. Poppy was born when Grady was four years, ten months, less a day old. 

I was worried that the age gap would be problematic. Grady has been an only child (an indulged only child) for so long and he was the only grandchild (an indulged grandchild) on Shawn's side of the family. I was concerned that he would resent Poppy. That he would hate sharing the spotlight. 

I was wrong.  

The age gap we ended up with has been wonderful. Grady is so verbal, and understands so much, that we were able to address his questions and worries as they came up during the pregnancy. He asked a lot of questions, we answered them the best we could, and we didn't experience any anxiety or much emotional turmoil from him. We were able to explain to him why I had to stay in the hospital longer than we expected (we kept the explanation short and age appropriate but didn't sugarcoat it) and he was able to understand that things weren't going exactly to plan but that he was safe and secure.  

Grady's in kindergarten now, which means he's gone for six hours every day. The separation is tough (I genuinely miss him when he's at school) but I love that it's giving me the opportunity to have chunks of one-on-one time with Poppy. It's not the same as when Grady was born (you can never replicate the seemingly unlimited time you have to give to a firstborn) but it's a taste. 

The separation is good for Grady and Poppy too. It gives him a chance to miss her. Newborns are so needy and Poppy was not what you'd call a "low maintenance" newborn. We're just now moving into a delightful happy baby stage but for a long time it felt like it was Angry Baby Maintenance 24/7. School gives Grady the opportunity to be with kids his own age and get away from the all-baby-all-the-time scene. 

Poppy was having a hard time settling last night. She was fussy and mad and when I started to change her diaper, she exploded in furious cries. Grady ran into the room and climbed up beside her on the bed. He held her hand and stroked her forehead and told her to "think about us walking on a rainbow."  

If given a choice, I don't think I would have picked an age gap of four years, ten months minus one day. But now that I've got it? I wouldn't change it for the world.  

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Extra Love

Sometimes (I say generously, as really it's more like "multiple times daily,") Poppy cries for no reason. She's fed, she's burped. She has a clean diaper. She's well-rested and has been cuddled for a satisfactory-even-to-the-neediest-cuddler number of hours. She just needs to cry. The breast doesn't calm her. Nor does her paci or the jiggle or the pat or the sway or the jiggle-pat-sway. Lullabies infuriate her. The rocking chair is her nemesis. She's offended by stories and baths and baby massage. Most of the time I can pop her in the wrap and carry on with my day and she eventually calms down or I go deaf. But sometimes I need to put her down somewhere safe and walk away and count to ten very slowly and take deep breaths and remind myself that it's nothing personal. Tonight was one of those nights. Grady asked me why I was crying and I told him Poppy was crying and I didn't know what she needed. He looked at me like I was dense. "She needs extra love," he told me matter-of-factly.

I have so much to learn. 

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Fashionably Late

It was decided that I would be induced on May 24th, at either 41 or 42 weeks (conflicting due dates caused some confusion at the end as the days "overdue" crept by). I tried everything to go into labour naturally. Wolfgang and I walked kilometre after kilometre in the hot sun until he was panting and annoyed and I was just barely contracting. I ate Indian food so spicy it caused me actual physical pain. I consumed a ridiculous number of pineapples. The list goes on.

Shawn and I woke up early on May 24th. Still pregnant. We got ready, woke Grady up to say goodbye, stopped at our favourite coffee shop, and headed to the hospital. We made it to the last turn before I lost it and started to cry (which turned into uncontrollable sobbing and then uncomfortable hiccups while Shawn tried to comfort me and navigate the horrible hospital parking lot at the same time).

The morning was relatively mundane. I was admitted to the hospital and we checked into the induction clinic. I was the only patient there for the first few hours. The hospital was doing fire alarm testing so it was impossible to relax but Shawn and I tried to unwind and rest for what was to follow. After lunch we were told we could leave and come back in a few hours. We decided to head home to see Grady and do some more walking to try to get labour going. Within an hour of being at home, my contractions had really picked up and were lasting 30 - 60 seconds with 30 - 60 seconds of rest in between. We decided to head back to the hospital because even though the contractions weren't a 10 on the pain scale, they were coming so frequently that we worried we'd end up giving birth on the side of the highway.

We got to the labour and delivery floor and a nurse checked my progress. I was 3cm dilated and my contractions were still coming fast and furious. I would stay that way for 24 hours.

For 24 hours I swayed, walked, danced, and moaned my way through contractions that never lasted longer than a minute but came one after the other, with barely a break in between. A shot of morphine had given me about two hours of rest but apart from that, I'd been awake and labouring and I was exhausted.

By now we were halfway through May 25th. I was still 3cm dilated. Lady Baby's heart rate had been jumping and dipping enough to be worrisome so I was no longer able to move around like I wanted; I was lying down with various monitors strapped to me. The on-call OB suggested she break my water to try to get things moving before we try more invasive interventions and I agreed. The OB broke my water and all of a sudden I was in LABOUR labour. The contractions that I'd been able to breathe and talk through amped up times a million (rough estimate) and I could barely see through them. My "I don't really neeeeed an epidural" attitude went out the window within seconds of the OB breaking my water. I didn't have an epidural with Grady but I know enough about them to think they're a bit creepy (you guys, the needle goes into your spine) but by the time the anesthesiologist arrived I was all "DUDE, use that little hammer and put that little needle in my spine and bring all the drugs to me." So he did.

Listen, I'm not going to get into a debate over which is better, labour with or without an epidural, but I will say this: after the drugs kicked in, I had to ask my nurse if I was having a contraction when half an hour before I'd been hyperventilating my way through every excrutiating second.

The epidural turned out to be exactly what my body needed. In four hours I went from 3cm dilated to 10cm and ready to push. Pushing with the epidural was a bit of a challenge. I found it difficult to know when I was having a contraction so my nurse had to give me the signal to start pushing and by then I was already partway through the contraction. Eventually we got into a bit of a groove and at 5:22pm on May 25th Penelope Bloom was born. Everyone was happy and healthy so she was placed on my chest for some skin-to-skin and we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing before the OB clamped and Shawn cut it.

We had a blissful hour together before things got exciting but that's another post for another time. 

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