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Dear Eisley

    Eisley Avalon (One Month)

    Growing // Eisley is our largest baby yet (and that’s saying something!). To my shock, she was born at 9 pounds, 4 ounces. She dipped below 9 pounds at a few days old, and she was back up to her birth weight in less than a week. I’m guessing she is around 12 pounds now, but she won’t go in for a well-check until 10 weeks. She was 21 inches at birth (although Micah says it was a sloppy measurement), and she was 22 3/4 inches at two weeks of age. Basically, she’s a darling giant.
    Eating // Eisley could star in one of those YouTube videos that shows a newborn baby instinctively climbing to the breast to eat. She basically did that in her first ten minutes of life. Ever since then she’s been a champion eater, just like her sisters. However, she eats faster than Zianne and pukes less than Talitha, so it’s a win/win all around.
    Wearing // Eisley has been in 0-3 month items since birth. I just pulled all of our 3-6 month clothing out of storage, because I realized she will probably need to start wearing it before we move in a few weeks. I got tons of size 1 diapers at my baby shower, and I frantically tried to use them up before Eisley got too big. I moved her into size 2 about a week ago. I try to err in switching diaper sizes too soon, because blowouts are caused by too-small diapers.
    Doing // That ol’ sleep/eat/wake cycle… eating every 2-3 hours, napping anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours. The trick to ensuring a long afternoon nap is giving Eisley a quick bath right before it’s time to sleep. After her bath, I put her in just a diaper, swaddle her, and she usually sleeps deeply for a couple hours, which is great because I’ve needed time to wrap up some stuff for the school year. On the days Z and T are home, I usually put Eisley in the Solly Wrap and walk to the park with all the girls. I should also mention that Eisley has gone to at least 15 house showings in her first month of life. We have been trying to buy a house, but have also been looking at rentals as a back-up, so she has seen a lot of real estate in her short-time on earth.

    Loving // Milk, baths, being swaddled, being held, having her butt patted, hearing the word “hi” in a high pitched voice (good thing I’m a master at this)

    Tolerating// Talitha in her face for approximately 12 hours every day…

    Loathing // Red stop lights and stop signs

    Nicknames // Eisley girl, Baby Sissy, Eyes-ee (Talitha’s pronounciation)

    Mishaps // Pink eye invaded our house when Eisley was two weeks old! Zianne got it, then me, then Talitha. Eisley had a clogged tear duct at the time, so I had been massaging her eyes with my fingers multiple times a day upon doctor’s orders. As you can imagine, I was pretty horrified when I discovered I had been touching my newborn’s eyes repeatedly with sick pink eye germs. I really don’t know if Eisley got it or not. For a few days, both her eyes were goopy. Now it’s just back to the one eye with the clogged tear duct which is finally getting much better. Upon the advice of a pediatric nurse and many friends, I shot breast milk into her eye at least once a day to try to keep her eyeballs healthy. Side note: pink eye is the WORST.

    Milestones // Met Ga, Pa, Bestemor, Auntie KK, Gee and Wanda, survived the most stressful newborn photo shoot ever (because it was sabotaged by the awful behavior of her older sisters), slept five hours at night (once), attended a conference in San Diego with mom and dad and got to stay in a hotel

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    Dear Eisley (one month)

    Dear Eisley,

    I forgot what it’s like to have new baby placed on your chest – all warm and slippery and utterly new. Blood circulates down to your hands and your tiny feet, and your skin slowly changes from white to pink. Your chest is pressed to mine as your lungs fill with air for the very first time.

    I forgot how hard it is to name a baby… to speak a legacy over a child’s life with the words you put on the birth certificate.

    I forgot all the funny sounds newborns make. The squeaks, the grunts, the desperate whimpers for milk.

    I forgot how the diapers and the tiny clothes seem too big at first. And then three weeks and three pounds later, they suddenly seem too small. These newborn days rush by faster than my memory can keep up.

    I forgot what 3am feels like. I forgot how tired I would be – that I would struggle to keep my eyes open and fall asleep with you in my arms. I am adamantly against co-sleeping, except when I’m too exhausted to care.

    I forgot how cute it is to see a little baby curled up on my husband’s chest. He has introduced you to the NBA playoffs and the ESPN commentators as you doze. You are oblivious to all the sports acronyms but perfectly content to spend the evening in daddy’s arms.

    I forgot how entirely needy babies are – completely vulnerable in every way. I forgot you would show me my own need for a Savior with your floppy head and wet diapers and endless appetite.

    I forgot what it’s like to have a baby fall asleep in my arms, giving little half smiles and deep breaths of abandon. It’s a great privilege to be trusted so completely.

    I forgot what it’s like to love a human being so fully even though you’ve only known her for a few days. I forgot what it’s like to revel in your novelty while also imagining who you will someday become.

    I forgot.

    But I write it down now so I can always remember.

    Love,
    Mama

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    Eisley Avalon: A Birth Story (Part II)

    Micah and I breezed through our four-minute, 4am commute the hospital and arrived to find triage calm and empty. They checked my fluids, inserted my IV (with one blown vein… gross!), and got me into my delivery room quickly.

    I was still contracting every 2-3 minutes and not in unbearable pain yet, but they told me the anesthesiologist was available whenever I wanted an epidural. I decided not to wait until I was miserable this time around. I was dilated to a 4 and thought maybe I could get an epidural and take a nap before delivery. I got my epidural around 6:30am, and then my doctor came in to check on me about an hour later. The nurse informed her that my water was not fully broken on one side, so my doctor broke the rest of my water. She then told my nurse she would be at the gym and to call her cell phone when it was time to deliver.

    At that point, both Micah and I tried to sleep. Micah was successful. I was not. Just as I was dozing off, I started to itch. I forgot that itching is a side effect of an epidural. I could sleep through it with Zianne, because I had such a long, exhausting labor. I didn’t have time to sleep with Talitha because by the time I got an epidural I was so far along and getting close to transition. This time around, I felt drowsy, but since I went into labor after three solid hours of sleep (ha!), I wasn’t exhausted enough to sleep through the itchy feeling.

    I finally surrendered the idea of sleep and started texting some friends and family with updates. I also agreed to a little Pitocin to speed up my now lagging contractions. Right then my friend Angie walked in. She recently became a doula and offered to attend our birth for free, as a gift to us and to gain experience in her practice. I had texted her right after I got my epidural, and she arrived on her own accord at the perfect time. Micah woke up from his nap, walked downstairs to find some breakfast, and Angie chatted with me to fill the time. The nurse came in to check me and said I was almost complete, at an 8 or a 9. She mentioned that my cervix hadn’t fully opened on the right side, so Angie suggested using the peanut ball. Although I had heard about this device in my labor classes long ago, I had never actually seen one. It is huge… and very effective.

    They slipped the giant apparatus between my knees and within four minutes I was commanding them to take it out. The baby was ready, and I could feel it. The nurse confirmed I had made it to a ten and decided we probably shouldn’t do practice pushes since this was my third baby and I was clearly ready to deliver. She turned off my Pitocin and ran off to call my doctor who said she would arrive in 15 minutes.

    My doctor’s 15 minutes ended up being 30 minutes. I waited and waited, so thankful to have an epidural. I could feel so much pressure during every contraction, and now I know why women without drugs have an overwhelming urge to push out their baby when the time has come. If not for the epidural, my nurse would have been delivering Eisley for sure.

    Finally, Dr. Lee ran into the room, counted out her supplies, propped my feet into stirrups, and it was time to go. I pushed through two contractions and noticed this growing pain, almost like a burning sensation. It didn’t feel like tearing, but it hurt pretty badly and felt nothing like my last two deliveries. By the third contraction, I started to feel upset. Something was burning me and no one could explain it. My doctor and the nurses were encouraging me casually to push, and I thought I probably had 10 or 20 minutes to go with this searing pain. On the fourth contraction, I started to cry until I heard the baby nurse suddenly change her inflection. “Push HARD!” Something about her tone convinced me to push a little harder and all of a sudden my doctor said, “The head is out!”

    “Praise the Lord,” I said under my breath, relieved that whatever pain I was experiencing was about to end. “Praise the Lord,” Angie whispered, more tenderly than me in that moment.

    Micah explained later that the widest part of Eisley’s head was coming out when I was writhing in pain. Why didn’t he or anyone else tell me that? I have no idea. The way my doctor and the nurse were talking in such subdued tones, I thought I had minutes upon minutes of pushing left. Thank God for the baby’s nurse whose little cheer at the end motivated me.

    With one more tiny push, our baby was out. I glanced down at her just as Micah told me it was a girl. Three girls! It seemed surprising and not surprising and perfect all at the same time.

    The rest of delivery was pretty seamless. A few tiny stitches, a babe who nursed for 40 minutes on her very first attempt. All the nurses and my doctor kept saying the same thing… “That’s a big baby!” “That’s a very big baby.” However, at our hospital they don’t weigh the baby until 60 minutes after birth to protect the golden hour of skin-to-skin contact. By the time, the nurse finally came in to weigh Eisley and do her other tests, everyone else had left. My doctor was gone, Angie was gone, even my nurse was off doing something else.  They put Eisley on the scale and I strained my eyes to see the digits across the room. “How big is she?” I asked. The nurse replied, “9 pounds, 4 ounces.”

    I was in disbelief. Big babies run in my family and Micah’s family, and I expected a baby in the mid to high 8 pound range, but never in my life did I think I’d have a baby over 9 pounds. Especially not a girl. Especially not before my due date. Now that she’s arrived, I’m pretty sure Eisley’s due date was off. We had no idea when we conceived, so our due date was based on an ultrasound where she measured 9 weeks and 2 days. Since she came out over nine pounds with slightly dry skin and fingernails so long they were breaking off, I am pretty sure she was actually closer to 41 weeks when she was born.

    Although I’m calling her Eisley in this post, I should note that she still didn’t have a name at this point. Micah held her after she was weighed and we whispered ideas about baby names as nurses moved in and out of our room. Since we didn’t have any family at the hospital with us, we didn’t feel as much pressure to decide on her name before anyone met her (like we did with Talitha). We went ahead and texted our families to say it was a girl and we weren’t sure of the name yet. When we made it to our recovery room, I wrote down all our possible girl names (three different first names with a variety of middle name options) and read the list out loud as Micah held our baby girl. We started leaning toward Eisley right away, but were uncertain of her middle name. Typically,  Micah likes our children to have “normal” middle names to make up for their “weird” first names, but this time around he surprised me.

    “I think I like Eisley Avalon the best,” he said.

    And with that, our precious third daughter had a name.

    The rest of our time in the hospital was relatively easy. Kayla brought the girls to meet their sister that afternoon, and we came home the very next day. It was Good Friday. We spent Easter weekend with a sleepy newborn, celebrating our new life in Christ and new life in our family as well.

    Postscript:

    *Eisley has a “stork bite” on her forehead and nose, which can be seen clearly in the above picture. When she first came out, the nurses weren’t sure if it was bruise from delivery or a birth mark of some sort. It was hard to tell since her skin and lungs and blood flow were all still adjusting to life outside the womb. The next day the pediatrician confirmed it’s a stork bite (medical name: nevus simplex), and said it should fade away in the next 12-18 months. In many cultures, stork bites are called “angel kisses” or “raspberries” and they are considered good luck.

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