sadie's birth.

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Sadie was born right before midnight on July 8, 2016. She weighed 6 lb 5.7 oz, and 19.5 inches long. She was born at Alta Bates Hospital, in Berkeley- the same hospital that Eliza was born in. Sadie's birth was much different, though. You can tell by that first photo, for one. I'm laying in my hospital bed, with my hair done, and an excitedly giddy smile on my face. That is how I checked into the hospital that day, freshly showered and ready to go. On the day I gave birth to Eliza, I showed up at the hospital for the SECOND time after being turned away the day before because I wasn't dilated enough... this was after being in hard labor for TWO days, with one more to go. I hadn't showered or eaten in days, I was crying in pain, and could hardly put two words together. Eliza's birth was a whirlwind of pain and mental exhaustion. I find it interesting that I didn't write many details in her "birth story." It was so fresh, and sometimes still is. 

I wanted a natural birth with Eliza because I felt like it was the right thing for me- I wanted to be in complete control of the situation. And, while this option is just as beautiful as any other, and works so well for many women, I found it did not work for me. I felt exactly the opposite- I felt completely out of control. I felt like my body had a "mind of it's own" and none of the techniques I had practiced for months were helping me to reign in the pain. By the end I was begging for an epidural and it was too late. I pushed Eliza out, and all I could ask for was something to eat. (I threw up everything for two days.) The nurses laid her in my arms, as Sam spoon-fed me yogurt. It was a truly beautiful thing, but it took me awhile before I could recover enough to process the event in my mind. But, after all that, I ended up with this beautiful child in my arms and I was bursting with love.

I don't know why I felt the need to recount Eliza's birth, except that I think it helped me to process this second birth. Leading up to this day, I was purposely ignoring it. I was happily preparing for a new baby, but I was ignoring the fact that I would have to do this again- the child birth thing. Being pregnant a second time, people often ask you how your first birth went. I got to the point where I would just laugh and say, "Ha! I don't really want to think about that!" But, I started to feel Sadie getting into place so early. She was ready. And, the week before her due date I had a feeling that she would be coming. I started deep cleaning my house, scared that I would have to bring the baby home to a filthy house. I went about our day to day, deep down knowing that it could be that day.

The day before she was born, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the floors, scrubbing my tub, and organizing the baby things. I only got through half of my floors that day. I met up with my friends for ice cream, and joked that I felt like something was happening- because I sort of maybe felt some minor contractions? In the middle of the night, my water broke. It was so different than what I had imagined, especially since Eliza's waters broke like Niagara Falls about 30 minutes before she was born. With Sadie, it was a slow leak that lasted for hours. I woke Sam up, giddy and excited, and he tried to convince me to go back to sleep to get rest.

For the next few hours, I had minor and inconsistent contractions that came and went, while my waters continued to leak. I called my doctor and they told us to come on in. I took a shower, got dressed, ate lunch, had a friend come over to watch Eliza, and we strolled into that hospital with smiles on our faces. We chatted with a grandpa sitting in the waiting room, before they escorted us to the delivery room. I mean, really? Do people actually have babies like this?

We decided to induce labor with Petocin, because of the risk of infection. Within a couple of hours I was in full hard labor, and ready for that epidural that I had been pondering for months. When those hard contractions started tearing through my body, I was shaking and crying and I was scared again. It felt like PTSD. I knew I couldn't do this again without help, nor did I want to. That epidural was exactly what I needed. I had a very good anesthesiologist who knew what he was doing. I couldn't feel the pain of the contractions, but I could definitely feel the pressure of the baby. In this way, I was able to relax and rest, softly chatting with Sam as the nurses came in and out of the room. It was so peaceful.

The contractions were supposedly moving along, I was almost dilated completely, but the baby just wasn't in position yet. I knew she was ready, though. She was so ready I could feel it through the numbness, and I was screaming for the nurses. When the nurses came, they checked me and concluded that it wasn't time yet, but humored me by allowing me a few practice pushes. After two pushes, the nurse realized the baby was already crowning and the room was a frenzy of preparation. They were calling for the doctor, who was across the street at the ob office. When she walked in, I saw her take one look at me and then she ran across the room, barely getting her gloves on before Sadie made her arrival.

It was honestly so strange. She looked exactly like Eliza. Her fresh newborn face, and that dark hair. It was like a weird and wonderful deja vu. They laid her in my arms and I just couldn't believe it. I made another one. I created this little thing. She was just inside of my body.

I love the feeling of their tiny, naked body against your skin- so unbelievably fragile and small. I love the way they breathe, a rhythm of little short, rapid breaths and long silent pauses. So comforting and so equally frightening.

I love the hospital. I have never had any hospital stays, beyond giving birth, so maybe that makes them more special to me. But, I love that "baby bubble" that you live in during those couple of days after giving birth. It's just Sam and I, and this tiny newborn baby. They sleep on your chest, while you softly talk about everything that is about to change. The nurses and doctors come in and out, offering help and pain relief. When I am nervous or hurting, I can press a little button and someone will always come. I love that first blissful shower, washing away the labor. I even love the food- it doesn't taste great, but it's such a comfort to have someone take care of you and bring you nourishment around the clock. Also, the lady that brings the food at Alta Bates has been there for years. I remember her last time, because she always calls you, "mommy," with her sweet Jamaican accent.

When Eliza came to visit, I was so happy I thought I would explode. She climbed up on the bed, touching and kissing Sadie, chattering in her high-pitched voice. "Oh! She is so cute!" "I think she loves me!" She was ecstatic to drink the milk box from my hospital lunch, and play with the buttons on my hospital bed. She told me all about her sleepovers with our friends, and the friend's birthday party she attended that morning. I am so grateful for good friends.

Sam was amazing. He was a seasoned birth partner. (We have a few funny stories from Eliza's birth in which he did all the wrong things, including setting up a tray of food in front of me to eat his dinner after I hand't been able to eat a thing in two days- like some sort of sick dinner theater. Ha!) This time, he knew exactly when to come to my side, and when to give me space. He held my hand tight when those initial contractions radiated through me. And, he told me I could do it. And, I did. When I look over from my bed and see that man with a tiny newborn babe on his chest, I just can't believe it's possible to love him more. I hold that baby in my arms and think- this little human was made by us. This little human is a piece of us.

We named her Sadie Lee. Lee, after the middle names of both of our mothers. She is a special baby, and I know she has so many great and beautiful things ahead of her. She has a big sister who is over the moon in love with her, and two parents who stop at least a million times a day to say, "She is so beautiful," and "I love her so much." Like, we just can't believe it.

sadie lee.

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Meet Miss Sadie Lee Gray.

She is a second child. Her "newborn pictures" were taken three weeks late, and this "announcement" post is now seven weeks late. But, we love this sweet girl more than we possibly could have imagined.

Sadie is sweet. That's the word that keeps coming to us every day. Every day when she allows us to lay her in the rocker and quietly looks around the room, while contentedly sucking on her pacifier. And, every night when she goes to bed at 10pm and wakes up at 7am, mercifully only feeding once during the night. Every moment when she looks up at you with those big, grey-brown eyes and her tiny, m-shaped mouth and chubby cheeks. When Sadie is upset, she starts to grunt and squirm. After a few minutes of this level of unhappiness, she moves into a louder grunt/cry in tiny spurts. And, then if you really take your sweet time she will eventually graduate into a full cry. I mean, do babies really do this!? (Eliza was known for going 0-10 in two second flat.) Also, because of this gradual cry, she is fairly easy to read. I can cover my bases and solve the problem before it escalates into madness. I know a lot of this has to do with being an experienced second-time mom, but I really do feel like she communicates her needs so clearly.

Sadie is soft. Her dark, wispy hair smells like apricot jam. Her demands are few, and when she does get particularly upset, she has this little, exhausted after-cry that breaks your heart. She melts into you when she cuddles. (Even as a newborn, Eliza would fight the cuddles unless she was dead asleep.) On days that we are out and about, Sadie will actually hang out in the carseat, patiently waiting to be taken out. But, if I leave her in there too much in one day she gets starved for human contact. Some days I forget how long she has been in there, and by the end of the day she will work herself up into a frenzy of sad, newborn cries and one single, hot tear. (It's so sad when they start making tears!)

Sadie is squishy. She is my "chubby" baby. Small for the average baby, but chubby for a Gray. Her little face is filling out, and she has the faintest of baby rolls in those little legs.

Sadie is pink. She is so pink and fair for a child of mine! But, also, she looks so good dressed in a pretty, blush pink. It's the color I kept seeing when I was pregnant. Whereas, Eliza always seemed all bright and gold in my mind, Sadie always looked like a lovely shade of pink. So, I intentionally bought a few outfits in light pinks in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and it's all I want her to dress in. And, her sweet personality matches that perfect shade of pink. Sweet Sadie. Sadie Baby.

Sadie is Sadie. We talked about names for years. We had an ongoing baby name list since having Eliza. Two years ago, I had a little girl named "Sadie" in one of my dance classes. She was a really sweet girl. I remember liking the name but not thinking that Sam would be into it. But, I added it to the list anyway. Towards the end of the pregnancy we both agreed that the name kept rising to the top of the list, for good reason. Sadie is so a "Sadie." She is Sweet Sadie. It took me months to feel comfortable with my decision to name Eliza "Eliza," but Sadie felt right even before she was born.

Having another newborn has been difficult. Just because Sadie has been an "easier" baby, doesn't mean it hasn't been hard. Newborn cries can stir up the air in a room so fast it makes you want to scream. Newborn screams escalate any situation into a meltdown for all. Our laundry baskets are overflowing with tiny, newborn clothes that smell of sour-milk. Our exit from the house with a newborn is so involved it makes us want to hole up inside for the rest of the day. But, a newborn inside all day makes me lose my mind. Our day to day is brought to a halt if the newborn's needs are not being met. And, for so many other reasons that I plan on working out into words later, newborns are just. plan. difficult.

But, newborns... they are everything. They are perfect.

I've been compiling a mental list of things that I forgot. Sweet, simple things that I forgot about having a newborn:

1) The newborn smell- Like when you have them bundled up in the baby carrier, pressed against your chest as they slumber peacefully. You tip your face just right above that wispy hair and you feel like you can practically inhale that baby in one deep, breath- just drink in that sweet, baby smell. Sam and I have decided that Sadie smells like apricot jam.

2) The fist fuzz- Newborns keep their fists clenched for the first weeks of their life. Inside those tiny fists is a treasure trove of sticky fuzz. So, if you are able to get them to let go of their surprisingly tight grip, you can spend your lazy afternoons prying up each finger and pulling out those little fuzzies. It feels so good, for some reason.

3) Those tiny fingernails- They are so tiny! How is it even possible?!

4) The stages of sleep- Like, when they start to drift off and their eyelids just flutter and droop, and they keep fighting and fighting it- suddenly seemingly sound asleep, and just as suddenly wide-eyed and searching. When they do finally drift into slumber, you just sit and watch. You know you should "sleep when the baby sleeps" but, oh! those tiny newborn noises. The snuffles and grunts, and the sweet little squeaks. And oh! those tiny newborn wiggles. The way they shift and squish, a little sleepy swaddled dance. You can't take your eyes off them. And then, slowly they drift deeper into slumber and then you're stuck, staring longingly at those half moon eyes, with the tiny eyelashes that barely peek out, and those squishy mouth and cheeks. They are so still and quiet, and you hover just waiting for them to catch their little newborn breath again. And your hands are itching to grab them and wake them up again so you can cuddle and kiss them, but your mind and your body are saying.... go to sleep, crazy woman.

5) The s t r e t c h- The moment when they wake up from a nap, you release them from their swaddle, and they s t r e t c h for a good give minutes- straight arms, fists clenched overhead in a touchdown stance, triple chin squished back into their neck, little legs stretching out and and bouncing back into their round bellies as they arch, arch, arch their little back, and then slowly dissolve into a little sigh of happiness. I have plans to take a video of this someday. It needs to be recorded.

6) The look- When you know that they see you, that they are seeing you. That after all their sweet wandering and studying stares all day- at the movement of the branches outside the window, the sunlight dancing on the floor, the spindle bars on the headboard, or the straight edge of the frame above the changing table- they are suddenly and very intently looking straight into your eyes. And, the day when a smile sprouts on their lips and you just know that this time, it wasn't gas. This time it was totally a smile. And it was totally meant for you.

Sadie has brought so much happiness into this home. We are so glad she is ours.

We love you, Sadie baby.

I will be putting down more thoughts on Sadie's birth, the sister love, and our lives as a family of four. But, writing is slow these days, and I'm working towards being ok with that. So, I just tell myself, "Be patient with yourself, mama!" Maybe tomorrow.