I think that somewhere along the line I got it into my head that when your second baby arrives, you are somehow no longer a rookie parent. That somehow all of the first-time parenting jitters and neuroses disappear. I'd like to state for the record that this assumption is false. Well, not just false... Completely and utterly crazy far from the truth.

With Jack, I read every pregnancy and parenting book on the planet. Dr. Sears, the Baby Whisperer, Weissbluth, What to Expect (Ugh.), the Girlfriend's Guide. Books about Attachment Parenting, breastfeeding, natural birth, baby-led weaning, vaccines, discipline, playful parenting, sleep.

First of all, how did I have so much time for reading? Seriously.

But secondly, was I so ignorant in the field of child-rearing that I needed this much coaching? Or was I just that unsure of my own skills and instincts?

In hindsight, maybe it was a combination of both, but there were so many times that I should have put more stock into my own intuition. The times that I did trust my Mommy-instincts were always spot on, but for some reason that didn't bolster my confidence when the next issue arose.

This time around, I find myself trusting my instincts more confidently. But, I also find myself questioning why some of the things we did with Jack don't seem to work with Ruby. Sleep is the big one so far. With Jack, we did a few nights of sleep training, and he went from being the world's worst sleeper to being a miracle sleeper. So it stands to reason that a few nights of sleep training with Ruby would solve our current moratorium on sleep, right? Uhh, nope. This girl wants her Mommy. Big time. And I love snuggling up with my baby at night, but I do miss getting some real sleep.

Maybe it's the lack of sleep, or the constant toddler-tantrums, that are finally getting to me. Several times a day I catch myself doubting my abilities as a parent. When Jack hits his sister on the head for the tenth time that morning, and then looks me in the eye and laughs, I question myself. When I think Ruby is finally asleep and then her little eyes pop open the minute I lay her down, I question myself. When I think about how long it's been since John and I had any semblance of romance in our lives, I question myself.

The funny thing is that I look at our son and our daughter, and I don't question them. I know how incredible they are. Jack is such a smart and funny little kid. As much as he challenges me on the daily, he also cracks me up with his sense of humor, and amazes me with his knowledge of letters and numbers. And Ruby is the sweetest little girl ever. She smiles with every molecule in her body. And adorable much?

At the end of the day, I know how lucky I am to be the Mom to these two amazing kiddos. And they don't know how to read parenting books, so chances are, they think my techniques are just fine.

Maybe we should start saving up for their therapy just in case.


the sink

Playing in the water is one of Jack's favorite things to do. He would do this for hours if we let him. We got him a special tower to stand in so that he can do it safely. We learned our lesson the hard way on that one. We had been letting him stand on a kitchen chair. I was standing right next to him (on his left side) and his foot slipped off the chair (on his right side). He fell to the floor and got a pretty nasty head bonk. The new set-up is so much better.

The main problem now is two-fold. First off, this is not the most environmentally-friendly of activities, not to mention the fact that it has the potential to inflate our water bill beyond our means. Unfortunately, for the Boy, this means that it's a special treat rather than a daily occurrence. He's usually okay with this until we come to problem number two...

Problem number two occurs when water time is over. To say that the Boy has a rough time with this would be like saying that I had a rough time with his labor. Under. Statement.

There are tears. There is screaming. There is arching of the back and limp noodling of the body. Kicking and flailing. Falling to the floor in despair. It's truly quite a scene. The only thing I can do is wait it out, and help him pick up the pieces when he finally calms down a bit. 

But for the fifteen minutes we play together in the sink, and we share giggles and grins, I'll help him through his meltdown. I'll dry his tears and wipe his nose, and try to explain that we'll play in the sink again, soon. And hopefully, twenty years from now, we'll both just remember the giggles and grins and the time we spent together playing in the sink.


name game

The name Ruby was never on my list.

Well, to clarify, it was never on my "Barbie list." Or my dolly list. Or my MASH list. Or my "Let's play house" list.

Those lists contained names like Victoria (Vikki), Lauren, Morgan, Heather, and sometimes C.J. (no idea what the initials stood for - just liked 'em). It was easy to pick names as a child. And I loved poring over baby name books. I'd often check out "Beyond Jennifer and Kevin" from the library. I liked it because it had my name in the title, and it also acknowledged how boring it was. So vanilla, so blah. Why couldn't I have been a Samantha or a Cassandra or a Monique?

I was convinced that I would name my daughter Victoria. After all, no other name could compare in terms of elegance, beauty, and dignity. Of course, today the name sounds completely dated and weird to me (no offence if you're a Victoria, or if you have a baby named Victoria -- it's just no longer my style). The names I love now are the new classics, I suppose. All of the "old lady" names that are coming back into vogue -- Harriet, Isla, and Pearl were all on my list this time around.

Naming a second child is tougher than naming the first. The names sort of have to go together but can't be too matchy-matchy. I really love the name Josephine, but another "J" name in our family took us directly in the shadow of the Duggars (they have about 42 kids, all with "J" names). The names have to be of the same "feel," too. It might be strange to have a super trendy name alongside a very traditional name. We considered the fact that we would have a Jack and a Ruby, and wondered if people would immediately think of the guy who shot Lee Harvey Oswald (I guess if you didn't before, you will now, huh?). But we loved both names, and I just introduce my kids as "Ruby and Jack."

Lately, I've been thinking about what a third child would be named -- or, heaven help me, what a third and fourth would be named. This is COMPLETELY hypothetical at this point. Please do not even begin to think that we're expecting, or trying to be expecting. We haven't slept in four months. There is no trying to be expecting. There is only trying to be sleeping.

I love visiting name websites like Nameberry and You Can't Call It It. I'm fascinated by what other people name their kids. You-neek spellings and made-up names make me crazy. I'm all for a little creativity, but Zsophya? Really? I saw a show on TLC a while back about a "Pregnancy Concierge" who assembled a panel of experts, along with subsequent  focus groups, for a set of parents who wanted the perfect name for their pending arrival. In fact, they talked about the name as a "brand" and spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to come up with the perfect moniker. I forget what they picked, only that it was the least favorite of both the experts and the focus groups. Guess that was money well spent.

So far, I haven't come up with anything that I'm totally in love with for our little family. I've heard so many beautiful names lately from Mamas that are expecting, or have recently had babes. We know an Iris and a Hazel, a Vivian and an Opal. I've heard babies-to-be who will be called Ingrid and Solvay. Jack has friends named Eliza and Lucy, Elsie and Lyra. Lovely names all, but spoken for.

So many beautiful names... Maybe we'll have to get a fish.


Ruby's birth story - part three

This was written shortly after Ruby's birth. I'll post it in three parts as it's rather long.

At just after five in the morning, just when I thought I would break down, I felt an enormous pressure in my bottom. I instinctively got onto the bed on my hands and knees. I told my team that I had to push. Someone -- Sara? the nurse? -- told me to breathe through the contractions. Dr. Barrell checked me and said, “You’re nine and a half with a lip.” She also said she could feel the baby turning and making her way down the birth canal. I was given the go-ahead to try a few practice pushes, but I told them that I had to push for real. I arched my back in a cat pose and then bore down with a strength I didn’t know I had. I made a growling noise and pushed our baby further down. I was promptly told to slow down so things could stretch. But I didn’t really have control at that point. My body was acting on its own, and at its mercy. Another growling push, and I felt our baby’s head crown (ring of fire!) and slip out. Another short push and I felt the rest of her slippery body slip out. The doctor placed her on the bed between my knees, and waited for the cord to stop pulsating before offering the scissors to John.

After just a minute or two, the doctors had me flip over onto my back so they could deliver the placenta and stitch up a second-degree tear. Baby Ruby was on my chest the entire time, skin-to-skin. I was amazed by how tiny and peacefully alert she was. She was absolutely perfect.

I felt great after Ruby’s birth, and I was hopeful that we’d get to go home possibly later that day. Because of what happened next, those hopes went out the window.

I had been having pretty intense after-pains, but I had been warned that they would be bad with a second baby, so I was prepared. They were as long or longer than my labor contractions, and just as painful. It sucked, but I didn’t really say anything to the nurses because I thought that it was supposed to be like that. At about noon, my mom helped me get up to use the bathroom. When I pulled down my underwear to use the toilet, a huge clot came out of me. It was about the size of a Nerf football. I thought it was another baby or a placenta. I asked my mom, “Is that supposed to happen?” She kept her cool and called for the nurse. Another clot passed, and another. They got me back into bed and massaged my uterus, each time causing either a gush of blood or another clot to pass.

Before I really knew what was happening, the room began filling with medical staff. Someone gave me a shot of methergine - a drug used to control excessive bleeding - someone else was trying to start an IV. The doctor-on-call (Dr. Johnson) came in to talk to us about what was happening (severe post-partum hemorrhage) and what would happen next (surgery - D&C). The whole thing was very frightening, and I was starting to feel loopy from the blood loss, so a lot of it is a blur to me. I’ve talked to Sara and my mom about it to get their perspectives because I just really remember feeling sleepy. From their accounts, I gather that the situation was life-threatening and very serious. John still isn’t really ready to talk about it -- the whole thing really shook him. I’m just so thankful that we were in the hospital when it happened.

After the surgery and two units of blood, I recovered really quickly. The doctor didn’t find any retained placenta or other obvious reasons for the bleed, but he did say that it shouldn’t affect any future pregnancies (although, after putting John through all that scary stuff, I’m pretty sure he’s already scheduled his vasectomy!). We are home now, and all of us are healthy. Ruby’s cheeks are already starting to plump up -- she’s a champion nurser. Jack alternates between totally loving on his little sister, and completely denying her existence -- just as it should be, I suppose.

I am so thankful for our natural hospital birth, and for the life-saving medical care I received afterward. And I’m so glad we’re on the other side with a sweet little babe in our arms.


Ruby's birth story - part two

This was written shortly after Ruby's birth. I'll post it in three parts as it's rather long.

When we got to L&D, we were brought to our room, and we settled in. We waited for Sara to arrive, and then we waited to see the doctor. The nurse asked us a million questions, and we talked briefly about our birth wishes. Actually, as soon as we mentioned that we had a written birth plan, she said, “Let me guess, you want this, and this, and this...” And she was right on all counts. It was good to know that we were on the same page. She’d done the “natural birth thing” before. When Sara got there, she did a little “redecorating” -- taking down the clock and the pain-scale drawing. I just love her!

Dr. Barrell was the family practice doctor on-call for the night. She did a swab to test for amniotic fluid (positive) and looked at the fluid under a microscope (unequivocal) -- she couldn’t say for sure whether my water had broken, or maybe I had a slow leak, or maybe I just peed. But since I was having contractions again at that point, she let us stay under observation with a plan to check for progress in an hour or two. She was totally on board when I told her that I didn’t want to hear “the numbers” with each check, and she said she would just tell Sara.

Now, before all this action started, I would’ve told you that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and roll into L&D with just enough time to push the baby out into the doctor’s arms and then go home an hour later. Well, when we got to the hospital and I no longer felt like this was a false alarm, I really felt nervous about the possibility of being sent home. I felt safe at the hospital. I was glad that they were letting us stay, even though the protocol is to only admit Mamas in active labor. I was still probably at a 3 or 4.

Early labor was lovely, even at the hospital. John and I took one lap down the hallway to the NICU area and back to our room. I had to stop a couple of times and lean on John or the wall. Hula hips helped me through several contractions. Things were getting a little tougher. When we got back to the room, I labored on the ball for a while, swaying my hips with each contraction. I was still able to talk between contractions, but with each wave, I put my head down and concentrated on breathing. At some point (maybe around 10p.m.?) Sara suggested that John and I both try to get some rest. I was able to snooze off and on between contractions for about an hour. The nurses came in every hour to monitor the baby, but they were so good about it that I didn’t even really notice. In fact, it seems like maybe at some point that monitoring stopped, but it’s more likely that I just stopped noticing.

By about 11:30, things were getting increasingly more intense. I was no longer chatting with Sara and John between contractions, and I was no longer able to sleep. Each wave came on strong with no build up -- just intensity from start to finish. I remember struggling quite a few times to find a position that was comfortable. And if I didn’t find that position before the wave started, I knew it would be a tough one to get through. Being on my hands and knees seemed to work sometimes; other times, I had to hang off the head of the bed which was bent up at a ninety degree angle. Sara tried to get me to labor on the toilet once, and I said, “No way!” For comfort, I alternated between really going into myself for strength and focusing on low “Ohs,” and looking to one of my support team (usually John or Sara) and pleading with them to make it stop! While vocalizing, I repeated the phrase, “go in” in my head. I’m not sure where it came from, but I helped me stay focused on the baby and the reason for all this hard work.

We got into the shower sometime in the early morning hours, and that was a miracle. I don’t think I could have made it through without that water. I have no idea how long I was in there. Long enough to get overheated and feel a bit queasy, but it was lovely while it lasted. While I was in the shower, a guy from the lab came to draw my blood. Someone asked if I wanted to get out and get dressed before he came in. I remember thinking that was the craziest thing anyone had ever asked me... Why would I want to get out of this amazing shower? Like I care if this dude sees my boobs -- I’m in labor! Send him in! Later, Sara would tell me that the lab tech seemed to be in awe of the power of a woman laboring so calmly and intently.  

After the shower and as we got closer and closer to transition, it seemed like every third or fourth contraction was really difficult. There were a few that seemed like they would never end, or that felt like they would rip me in half before they finished. Those were the ones that had made me beg for an epidural. I started to say things like, “Ladies! This isn’t fun anymore!” and “Why isn’t anyone listening to me?” I remember more than once telling them that I couldn’t do it, and each time Sara would remind me what that meant -- transition. In my heart, I knew that Ruby was so close to meeting us. I knew that each contraction was our hard work together in getting her here. But my mind was playing tricks on me. Our son’s labor was forty hours. We’d only been laboring with Ruby for about ten at that point. My mind was doing math and telling me that we had thirty more hours of this. My body was saying, “no way.” I begged the doctor to make it stop. At one point, I even asked for narcotics, which I absolutely knew going into this that I did not want -- I had a half-dose with Jack, and I hated it. Thankfully, John was able to talk some sense into me at that point, and I agreed that I really didn’t want the drugs.

But by that point, I had convinced my support team that I wanted an epidural. I wanted an epidural right now. What I didn’t know was that I would have to get a full bag of fluids - which takes at least an hour - and then they’d have to hunt down an anesthesiologist. It could be two hours before I got any relief. What my team knew that I didn’t know was that Ruby would be here by then. I insisted they start an IV and then I think I demanded an epidural about every third contraction until it was time to push. Sara asked me if I thought I could do it for one more hour. I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t have a choice. At the end of the hour, either Ruby would be here, or the anesthesiologist would be here. {I found out later that this whole part of labor was a bit of a con-game on the part of my support team. They knew how important it was to me to have a natural birth, and they knew how close we were in getting there. They could have sped things up and gotten the epidural within about 45 minutes. I’m so grateful now that they stalled like they did; but at the time, I was quite frustrated!}

The crazy thing about this part of the labor was that the contractions that weren’t full of panic and fear really were lovely. I’m not going to lie -- they were intense, and they were hard work, but it was so rewarding. I don’t know how to describe the feeling of those beautiful contractions -- no words seem quite right. It was amazing. I felt powerful and so full of love -- love came from within and from the people surrounding me.


Ruby's birth story - part one

This was written shortly after Ruby's birth. I'll post it in three parts as it's rather long.

Sitting here, four days after the birth of our daughter, I’m struck by the power of the mind. Just four days ago, I had one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and already the edges are becoming a bit blurry. The details have already become a bit lost in the big picture. But I will never forget the emotions surrounding Ruby’s birth. Here is her story...

Although throughout the pregnancy, I adamantly proclaimed that I thought Ruby would come early, her December 3rd due date came and went with little fanfare. After that day, I resigned myself to the idea that she would be stubborn like her big brother and come out at the very last minute on her own. The rational part of my brain allowed me to consider the induction process as a possibility, but my heart was telling me to just be patient. Any pregnant Mama who goes past their due date will tell you that those last few days or weeks are the toughest. Well-intentioned friends and family stating the obvious on a daily basis -- “Oh, you still haven’t had that baby, yet?”

On Friday, December 9th, we went into the clinic for a biophysical profile. In our OB’s office, it’s pretty standard practice to check on the baby at a week past the EDD, so we weren’t concerned. The test looks for specific behaviors and gives the baby thirty minutes to show us that she’s doing okay. That day, Baby Ruby slept through the test which resulted in a failing grade. The nurse practitioner wasn’t overly concerned  -- fluid levels still looked good, I felt great, and all signs pointed to a healthy baby; except for the failed BPP. Per protocol, we were sent over to the hospital’s Birthplace for a follow-up test and to see the doctor-on-call (not our doctor).

Baby Ruby passed the follow-up non-stress test with flying colors. Again, everything looked great, and I felt fine. All my Mama instincts were telling me that baby was fine... And then the doctor came in to talk with us. She explained that in her opinion, the BPP was telling us that something was wrong, and she was quite certain we should induce labor that day. She kept using the phrase, “sick baby,” which was unsettling and frankly, not fair. It completely ruffled my Mama feathers, and made John nervous.

Now, I understand that hospitals have protocols, and doctors are trained to avoid worst-case scenarios, but nothing about this reaction seemed right to me. I asked to have the BPP repeated in a few hours and assuming that we passed, told the doctor we wouldn’t want to be induced. Baby Ruby passed the second BPP in about 5 minutes with a full 8 out of 8. We went home.

We agreed to come in again the next day to be monitored, and then follow-up with our doctor in the clinic on Monday. We had a third BPP on Monday and everything looked great. Dr. Greenleaf agreed that we were back on track to wait for baby to come on her own. She stripped my membranes and told us that we’d need to come back on Friday if baby wasn’t out, yet, and we’d schedule an induction for Saturday (two weeks post date).

John went back to work, and I went home to hang out with Jack. By about 5:00, I was having some uncomfortable contractions, and although they felt different than any I’d had up to that point, they weren’t regular, and they weren’t very intense. Jack and I sat on the living room floor and played with his cars. Suddenly, I felt a gush of fluid and my pants were wet. I got up and went to the bathroom, certain that either my water had just broken, or I had massively peed myself. Either option was completely plausible at that point. My instinct told me that it was the former, so I called John and asked him to skip the bread store and just come straight home from work. I also called our doula, Sara, who told me that since the baby was so high still, we should probably think about heading into the hospital to be checked in case of cord prolapse. I called my mom and told her, “It’s time!” and she hurried over to stay with Jack.

the last photo of us as a family of three 
We took our time getting ready to leave for the hospital. John and I ate dinner and fed Jack. I also tried really hard to steal a few snuggles and smooches from him, as I knew the next time we saw him, he would no longer be our “baby.” I did my best to soak in our last few moments as a family of three. It hit me then: I knew our little one was on her way!

In the car on the way to the hospital, my contractions basically stopped. I didn’t say anything to John, but I was so scared that the whole thing was a false alarm, and that we’d get to the hospital with no contractions and they’d simply tell us that I’d peed my pants...


and, we're back.


My last post was October of last year. That's six months ago. A lot has changed in six months. Our family has grown. We are now a family of four. And that has meant a lot of changes in the last several months, the biggest of which has been the adjustment to a new little person in our lives.

Meet Ruby Holland Lushbough...

I'm going to go back and post monthly updates about Ruby, and I'll also post her birth story, but for the time being here's a quick intro to our new Girl.

She's super smiley and super snuggly. She loves to be held, or carried, or wrapped and worn. She's pretty darn bald, and we're okay with that. She's long, and she's just starting to get some meat on her bones. She loves watching her big brother. She's such a sweetheart.

Life is starting to settle back into a routine after Ruby's arrival. We've also had our share of illnesses, and we're just starting to come back to health. So, between those two things, life should be returning to {a new} normal in the very near future. For me, I hope this means a few minutes every now and again to edit some photos and write some blog posts. I want to be able to remember so many of the details of our daily lives, and that will only happen if I can record them somewhere. These kiddos are changing so quickly, and I have the world's worst memory. I love having these posts as a reminder of where we've been as a family, and how we're growing.

Also, I totally need to invent some kind of device that will allow me to blog from the shower as I seem to be able to write amazing blog posts in my head while showering only to have them vanish as soon as I turn off the water.