It’s been just about five days now and I stare down at this sweet bundle of joy and inhale that perfect newborn-ness, and I still can’t believe that we’re already here. Taylor was just about a week over due, Liv a full 11 days. I was expecting something between those two numbers for baby #3 and was caught completely off guard when she arrived right on time.
It’s amazing how much I was able to procrastinate even with the impending birth of our third child. I’m considering myself extra lucky that I had an almost complete hospital bag (thanks to the night before my due date and an itch to find my favorite slippers and add them to a bag) to take with us. I only found one slipper but I did pack my favorite robe, a handful of nursing tanks and my toothbrush :).
In my triage room monitoring baby’s heart beat before heading upstairs to L&D
January 14th started as a fairly normal day. I had a routine OB visit and my doctor offered to strip my membranes to see if we could encourage labor. Knowing that this strategy hadn’t worked for Liv and had sort of assisted in Taylor, I went ahead with the quick process and went on my merry way.
Throughout the last month of this pregnancy I’ve had some pretty intense Braxton Hicks contractions, so I didn’t think much of it when around dinner time my stomach alternated between tight as a drum and its usual squishy self. When the tightness became uncomfortable I took note, when all signs pointed to something real I called over my mom and dad to watch the girls ‘just in case’ and asked Kevin to hurry home (his coworkers had taken him out for a surprise beer). It was close to 8, I still didn’t believe that I was in labor and remember prefacing my conversations with ‘I’m sure this will pass, but…’
My mom suggested that I start timing the contractions anyway to be sure, at this point it was all one long blur of a tightening but eventually I began to notice a rhythm. I finally downloaded the first iPhone app that came up while searching ‘contractions’ and discovered that intensity was increasing.
By 8:30 I was in a decent amount of pain and my water broke on the way to the hospital (it’s not as dramatic as the movies make it out to be, just a teaspoon or so for me but enough to make me know it). I remember telling Kevin to ‘drive like he meant it’ and then racing into the lobby leaving him far behind when we arrived. I was checked into triage but kept insisting to the nurse that this was going to be fast and that they best line up the anesthesiologist as soon as possible. I’m sure they’ve heard that one a million times though :).
In triage, they hooked me up to a fetal monitor to register contractions (now growing ever stronger and ever closer together) and to monitor the heart rate of the little one. It seemed like ages but eventually they moved me up to a labor and delivery room.
The contractions were long and difficult to handle. They involved me holding my breath, gritting my teeth or yelling. Our anesthesiologist arrived around 10:30pm – he had just stepped out of a c section and had an almost record-breaking 6 deliveries in the past hour! I was so happy to see him walk through that door. You might recall that I had a natural birth with Liv and an epidural with Taylor. My birth with Liv felt empowering (this is what a woman’s body goes through!) but my birth with Taylor was so much more comfortable that I didn’t even consider my options with this one.
Once the epidural set in I was even able to rest my eyes for a twenty minute nap. The excitement of it being THE day kept me awake and ready for most of those two hours. Being able to move past the pain meant that I was in high spirits, joking with the nurses and enjoying that peaceful midnight hour while I waited. Around 12:30 I knew it was time for this baby to come out. I rang the nurse who notified the OB. Just as they prepped me for delivery, I gave three strong pushes and out slid a beautiful baby with bright pink skin and tufts of dark brown hair. Since we had waited to find out the gender, it was exciting to hear Kev call out what the newest member of our family was… our little girl was perfection.
It must have been an oven in that cocoon because Marlowe was as pink as can be!
For being on time she was a large little one. Weighing in at 8.4 lbs and just about 20″ made her the shortest but heaviest of the three on their birth day. Having a preschooler and a toddler at home though, she was the smallest thing that I had seen in ages.
It took us a while to settle on a name for her. Kevin was sure of Marley right off of the bat, I had gone into the labor and delivery room sure of a boy’s name but still with a list for a baby girl. Marlo and Marley were at the top of that list. After a night of rest we decided on Marlowe (my original spelling of ‘Marlo’ felt to me like a modern or shortened version of ‘MaryLou’, Kevin’s grandma. We kept the meaning but added the ‘we’ at the last minute) with the middle name of Marie (in honor of Kevin’s mom whose middle name is also Marie). Marley for short because it’s just so adorable. I love that she will have a more formal name to use when and if she likes as well as a sweet nick name to go by for everything else. (And I’m totally okay with Bob references. She’s not named after him but if her theme song becomes ‘Three Little Birds‘ or ‘One Love‘ that’s okay by me).
The girls met their new baby sister that afternoon and they were enthralled with her. Hugs, kisses, squeezes and a desperate plea from Taylor to carry her down the hospital hall to the snack room followed :).
I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted. I love this picture because this is my new little family of girls photographed for the first time! Liv and Taylor occupied by a movie in our room, Marley and I fast asleep recovering from the prior night’s adventure.
I stayed at the hospital for a day and a half and headed home on Friday night. I was sad to go – so much quiet alone time with my new daughter – but also happy to be back with our family of five.
Bringing babies into this world is such an incredible experience – the power of the human body is awe-inspiring (both the pain and the happiness) and the grace needed to get us to the finish line sometimes doesn’t feel real. But then it all is and while we feel hit by a truck and physically like our bodies have just ran a marathon – we are mostly amazed at what has just happened. Welcome, Marley!
More photos shared on instagram, you can find me at @morganspenla (it’s the one social media site I can keep up with these days :)). Thanks for taking a moment to read our story and thank you for your kind words this past week! They really, really mean a lot. xo