Twelve Days With Beautiful

Twelve days ago, something wonderful happened.

We welcomed a daughter.

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Little Miss Josephine Marie Walsh was (finally) born on Thursday, February 4 at 12:38 in the afternoon. She weighed nine pounds even and measured 21 and a half inches long.

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We followed our tradition of choosing a family name for our girl, just as we did for her brothers. “Josephine” is for my great-grandmother and “Marie” is after my middle name and my mother’s. (And my mother received her middle name in honor of her Aunt Marie, so there’s another level of family connection to that one.) I love how “Josephine Marie” hearkens to the Holy Family. What a good reminder her name will be to our own little (well – less little now) family.

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Josie and I are both doing very well at this point, thank goodness. Like her brothers, this little one proceeded to loose far too much weight in her first several days (nearly 16% of her birth weight), so we’ve had to begin supplementing with formula. (No surprise there.) Within days of beginning it, Josie rebounded beautifully: she gained nine ounces in three days, she stopped fussing so much, her – ahem – digestive system began to function normally again, and she started sleeping through most of the night. Amazing. I’m so grateful.

I’m feeling better too. The last time I had a baby, I was so excited (and, apparently, awake) that I dashed off a quick update for the blog, like, that night or the following day. So I thought I’d be able to do the same this time. I was wrong. Unlike my previous three deliveries, which all went something like this: Pitocin administered around 9am, baby born at 4 or 5pm (full day of work: check) – this one stretched on for what seemed like forever.

First there was the getting turned away from the hospital after a half-day’s worth of waiting and monitoring. Then there was the return to the hospital and the round after round after round after round (literally – four rounds) of a drug that was to prepare me for dilation. Then there was the middle-of-the-night start to my Pitocin. Then there was my customary eight hours of labor before finally, blessedly, pushing for less than five minutes to welcome Josie into the world. (Full day’s work, morning shift, immediately following two back-to-back shifts and one false start: check.)

When it was all over, exhaustion overtook me like it has rarely done before: I was nodding off mid-sentence, mid-thought, mid-answer to curiously awake-looking nurses. Needless to say, writing (even to answer emails or texts) was put on the back-burner. So was moving around. And thinking coherently.

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Thank goodness Brennan was such a champ: He stayed up all night long that first night, changing diapers, soothing our newborn, and managing her spit up. (Poor thing was born so quickly she must have taken a gulp of fluid on her way out.) And he’s continued to work super hard for the nearly two weeks of my recovery since then. I’ve managed the baby and some dishes and my own exhaustion/weakness/wooziness; he’s managed the boys and the cooking and did I mention the boys?

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Today will be his first day back to work and are we! going to! miss! him! Thankfully, as of this past weekend, I think I can say I’m emerging from my fog. I think.

What I can say with certainty is that our little Josie is beautiful. Yesterday I sat staring down at her in near disbelief. I cannot believe we have a daughter. I cannot believe how lovely she is. I cannot believe we have been so blessed as to welcome another perfect little baby into our lives.

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Thank you to all of you who kept us in prayer during my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Thank you to all who have given us help and offered Josie welcome. Thank you.

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Three Years In

Three years ago this month, I was put on bedrest to wait out the last few weeks of my first pregnancy. One day I was at work, surrounded by boxes and stacks of papers that I needed to go through before the baby came, and the next I was making my third “oh, never mind” trip to Labor and Delivery, at which point my doctor said, “Enough. Get thee into bed.” (Or something like that.) At any rate, the experience was something of a shock to my system. I went, overnight, from life as a professional, (officially) working woman to a stay-at-home mother and homemaker.

And it was hard. Not that it was physically or even mentally hard at first – I mean, I was mostly laying low, swollen feet up and massive belly resting uncomfortably. But it was emotionally hard. In part because my exit came sooner than I expected: I felt guilty for leaving my successor with so many loose ends and I didn’t get to have that last day at work to walk through the office and say goodbye to the people and the place and know that that’s what I was doing – saying goodbye. The greater part of it, though, was coming to terms with the fact that my life was changing in a big way. I’d spent nearly a decade as an independent, professional woman. And suddenly I was facing a vastly different way of living my life.

I’m not saying that I had doubts about what I was doing – I didn’t at all. I had always, since I was a little girl, wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I enjoyed my work and I was very grateful to have had the experiences that came along with it, but I had always hoped to be able to choose full-time motherhood over a career someday. And here it was: that opportunity, that blessing! But it was still hard to transition to that new way of living my life. I don’t know about you, but any change is a little difficult for me to accept and a big, life-defining change (wonderful as it might be) is a lot difficult. Transitioning from being single to being engaged? Hard to wrap my mind around. Becoming a wife? Harder. Becoming a mother and spending so much time within the four walls of my house and not seeing lots of other people on a daily basis and being fully dependent on someone else’s paycheck and having a tiny person rely on me every single moment of my day? Way harder.

Two days oldOf course, once the baby arrived, my day-to-day life (not just the idea of my life changing) was challenging in much more tangible ways. Life with a newborn is a special kind of difficult. It’s beautiful and full of wonder, but it’s also demanding and stressful and exhausting. Yes, before you know it, that short but intense period passes and you settle into to your new normal. But with that first baby, at the beginning of my “job” as mother and homemaker, I felt lost.

Which really shouldn’t have been all that surprising. I’d felt lost when I began my (other) two jobs, too. My first (well, my first grown-up, real-deal job) was straight out of college. I was working for the federal government, in a field I didn’t know, with people who spoke what sounded like an alphabet soup of a language. (Let me tell you, those Feds know how to do acronyms.) My second job was working as a lobbyist, in an environment I understood, but advocating on issues that were unfamiliar to me. Both times, I felt like I’d been thrown into a lake and told to swim – on a day so foggy I had no clue which direction I should head in, let alone any concept of what the coastline looked like or even how big the lake was.

But, of course, I figured it out. Soon enough that coastline emerged from the fog and I had a frame of reference. I began to develop an understanding of the issues with which I was tasked, and then I was able to discern the direction I needed to go in. With both jobs, I found that there was something special about the three-year mark: that point at which things fall into place and you suddenly just get it. You understand your environment, you know your role within it, and you have the tools to do the work that needs to be done.

That’s where I am right now, in my third and most important of jobs: mother/homemaker. Now, don’t hate me for saying that I suddenly get motherhood. I’m not claiming that the job is easy or that I have it all figured out. I’m just saying that it’s really nice not to feel lost anymore. There are plenty of things I mess up or I’m lazy about or that just plain ol’ throw me for a loop. But on the whole, I do get it now. My “job” makes sense to me and (on most days) I’m confident that I can do it well.

So, yes, this month I’m three years in, and I love that.