Ali turned 5 on July 20. She’s my buddy, by my side most of the day, but we also butt heads a lot. (Blame the hormones…) She’s passionate and strong, creative, athletic and outgoing. She’s full of life and loves deeply. Ali is an amazing big sister to her little brother Zay and baby sister JoJo. I am so thankful to have her help through this season of two little ones. I’m blessed to be her mom.
On her actual birthday (one week after Josephine was born) we celebrated with 5 Points Pizza for dinner at home and yogurt parfaits for dessert made by grandma. My parents joined us for dinner and gifts. She was most excited about a new toy violin and I loved seeing her reaction.
We kept Ali’s birthday party pretty simple this year because of Josephine’s birth. With just a few friends and a lot help, we pulled off a mermaid pool party. She had a great day!
I think this age is going to be my favorite one yet!
August 13, 2016. 1 Month: Josephine is generally a very sweet, easy going baby. She spent most of her first three weeks asleep and has recently started keeping her eyes open for longer stretches. More than once she slept for 7 hour stretches during the night at 2 weeks old, but I can’t say that’s her normal. She usually is up once during the night for 1-1.5 hour and then it takes me another half hour or so to fall back asleep depending on what I get into while I’m feeding her (online shopping, Pinterest, doing market research for our real estate development project…) So she gets a couple 3-4 hr blocks of sleep at night and I get less than that. I’m calling this season of life #chuggingcoffee. I’m back to 2 cups a day, morning and afternoon, but this time around I’ve learned to drink it fast before it gets cold or I get wrapped up in doing something else and forget about it. Back to JoJo… She is adored by her big siblings and gets showered, rubbed and smothered with their affections throughout the day. Zay loves to rub her head and say “baby!” I can’t blame him. She’s got the softest peach fuzz. He sometimes gives her kisses, too. He brings her Wubbanub and blanket to her, and gets concerned if she’s crying. Ali loves to hold her, lie next to her, give her kisses and match outfits with her. She’s helped with baths and diaper changes. She calls her her little coconut, little noodle or little Joey. Our little Joey has started grabbing things, usually my or Ali’s hair, or my or Jason’s shirts while we’re attempting to put her down. She prefers to be held, and upright, which makes it hard to get anything else done that requires arms. I may start wearing her around the house in the Ergo. She’s a delightful addition to our family and we’re so glad she’s here.
On Tuesday July 12, I headed to my OB’s office for my 39 week check up. My body showed no signs of progress from the previous week; still just 1 cm dilated and 40% effaced. I was thankful for a healthy baby and me and everything going well. Jason was scheduled to go out of town for a few days, leaving Wednesday night. He wouldn’t be more than a few hours away so we figured it would be fine for him to go. After all, I was in labor for 24 hours with Isaiah.
After my appointment I went to my parents house for lunch and to meet back up with Ali and Zay since my mom had been babysitting during my appointment. My friend Lisa who visiting from California joined us for an early afternoon swim. While in the pool I noticed I was having quite a few contractions. I had been having contractions around every 20-30 minutes since the beginning of June so it wasn’t too alarming but they did seem more frequent. After the kids’ afternoon naps, my mom, Ali and I went to the hospital for a tour of the labor and delivery area. I had just been there a year before, of course, but my mom had not so I wanted her to see where to go when she would come with Ali and Zay to meet JoJo. My mom drove and I timed my contractions. They were hovering around 10 minutes apart. All throughout the hour-long tour I continued timing contractions. Afterward we met Jason, Zay and our friend Matt for dinner at Calypso as I continued recording my contractions. I thoroughly enjoyed my black bean nachos, aware that it might be my last meal for a while.
As soon as we got home I finished packing Ali and Zay’s overnight bags and then we put them to bed as usual, still not confident that the contractions wouldn’t slow down and taper off when I went to bed like they had many other days prior. I took a shower and then meandered around the house packing the last things in my hospital bag. I started using an app to time my contractions. I bounced around on my exercise ball, doing my PT exercises, while I looked through the beautiful new baby book that had arrived in the mail that day from my sister. At 11:00 I decided we better let my parents know that we’d be going to the hospital at some point that night. My dad came over and got comfortable on our couch for the night. We left for the hospital around midnight, shortly after my app said this:
We arrived somewhere around 12:15 am and were back in triage around 1:00 am for me to be evaluated. I was 3 cm dilated at that point. I let the nurse know that I was planning on getting an epidural…soon. She left to call my doctor. Half an hour passed and my contractions were getting more intense. I needed to use the bathroom so Jason went out to the hall to find a nurse. My doctor had asked the nurse to check me again in an hour. For some reason she hadn’t come back to tell us that. When she checked me again at 2:00 am I was 4 cm. My contractions were getting painful. I was mentally prepared for an epidural and I was not enjoying the contractions at all. I focused on a cross on the wall above the doorway with a little metal Jesus with His arms raised up to Heaven, whispering for Jesus to help me and give me strength as I breathed through the contractions.
By the time we got back to the labor and delivery room it was close to 3:00 am. Jason went to get the rest of our bags from the van while the nurse connected my IV and got some things set up. The anesthesia team came around 3:45 and by 4:00 I finally had some relief! I thoroughly enjoyed watching my contractions on the monitor without having the intense pain with each one. They were 1-2 minutes apart, compared to my labor with Isaiah where they were never less than 5 minutes apart. When the nurse checked me again at 4:45, I was 8 cm dilated. She left to call my doctor who was on call but still at home. Less than 10 minutes later I heard a “Pop! Pop!” over Josephine’s heart rate monitor and felt a warm gush of water. I paged the nurse to let her know my water had broken. She came back quickly and check me again. “You’re complete!” she said. Complete? What?! 10 cm already. I couldn’t believe how much faster it was going this time. And my doctor was still at home…
“Try not to push,” the nurse told me when I confirmed that I was feeling a lot of pressure. “Let me know if you feel even more pressure and feel like you need to push.” As the nurse rushed to get the delivery equipment set up I started wondering if Josephine was going to slide right out onto the hospital bed. It felt like her feet were pushing against my ribs as her head was getting ready to emerge. My doctor came rushing in at 5:30 am. As she was putting on her gloves she told me to scoot down to the end of the bed. I told her I wasn’t scooting until her hands were ready to catch the baby! After a couple of test pushes, with the first contraction and one push her head came out. A second push and she was out! Josephine came out crying. (Isaiah never cried when he was born but I cried as soon as I held him.) I laughed! I could not believe how quickly and easily labor had gone this time. The cord had been around her neck twice and the doctor needed to clamp it off and cut it in order to get her loose. Jason still had an opportunity to cut the cord as well. The nurse put Josephine right on my chest as she wiped her off. Immediately Jo was trying to nurse. She was so ready to come out and get this party started. I let the nurse take her aside for a few minutes to finish cleaning her up and get her height and weight while my doctor finished stitching me up.
We ended up missing an entire night of sleep, just like with Isaiah’s birth, but thankfully the labor was so much faster. By late morning we were in our postpartum room ready to receive our first visitors: Grandma, Ali and Zay.
Jason’s parents, Nana and Papa, came next
My sister and her kids had planned a trip to visit during the week of my due date and ended up flying in from Philadelphia late the day Jo was born. It was so special to have her here! Aunt Jessica and cousin Iris came to visit on Thursday.
Uncle Dan (Jason’s brother), Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza came to visit too.
We also had a handful of friends come by to meet her at the hospital. I love hospital visitors! Early Friday morning July 15 (on Josephine’s due date) we headed home.
Josephine Louise was born July 13, 2016 at 5:46 am, weighing 6 lb. 9 oz. and measuring 18.5″ long
Yesterday she turned 3 weeks old which seemed like a fine time to update my blog. However, I fell asleep halfway through putting this post together. That happens when you have a newborn. I’ll keep my words short for now (so I don’t put myself to sleep…) and share mostly photos. I will write out her whole birth story soon.
In short, she’s a wonderful baby and a sweet addition to our family. We’ve been calling her Jo, JoJo, Joey… trying out lots of nicknames. I also call her Peachie Pie because she has the softest peach fuzz on her warm little head. JoJo is one of those (rare?) babies that sleeps 20 hours a day, making life as easy as it could be with a newborn and two other small children. She’s doing great with breastfeeding and all around a pleasant, easy-going baby. Her big siblings love her. Ali wants to hold her many times a day, wants to match her outfit or at least pick out her clothes, and generally be near her all the time. Isaiah pats and rubs her soft head, brings her blankets and toys, and responds with a concerned “Baby!” anytime he hears her fussing. (He also sometimes calls her DoDo… hehe) Jason and I are smitten, tired, happy and most definitely outnumbered. Full hands, full hearts.
Heading home from the hospital
Josephine with her big brother, Daddy and Grandpa
First morning at home, Ali and Zay couldn’t wait to come see her
We’re a family of five! (3 day old JoJo here)
First bath at home with big sister eager to help
I’m just a couple days away from my due date (July 15) and so far Baby JoJo is still hanging on. My last day of work was Wednesday and I’ve felt so much more patient and relaxed since my leave started. I think that feeling of trying to tie up loose ends everyday “just in case” and also that disappointment of “I guess I’ve got to go to work tomorrow after all…” was causing more stress than I realized. I’m using this potential week or two before she’s born to visit with friends who came in from out of town (check out #sistermomsonthefarm on Instagram if you’re curious!), hanging out with my sister and her kids who are coming to visit this week, and spending as much time as I can hanging out and playing with Ali and Zay: swimming, going to the park, walking at the mall (it’s too hot to walk outside!), swimming some more… And also making sure the nest is ready for our new little chickie to be welcomed home.
It seemed like my last update was some grumbling about things going wrong… particularly breaking my toe which led to waddling/limping and then some crazy back pain. I’m happy to report that my toe is 95% better. It’s still a little tender, especially if bumped, but I can walk pretty normally. I did 4-5 weeks of physical therapy for my back pain and I’m feeling significantly better than I was a few weeks ago. I’ve got a lot of stretches and exercises to work on, now and after the baby is born. Overall things are going really well. I’m very ready for labor to start and to meet our littlest lady face-to-face, but I’m also feeling patient most of the time. Isaiah was 5 days past his due date so I’m preparing myself for that possibility. Five days past Jo’s due date would fall on Ali’s 5th birthday, July 20. She goes back and forth between wishing for that and wanting to keep her birthday her own. She’s been hoping and praying for a baby sister for a long time so either way Josephine’s arrival will be a gift to Ali, as well as to the rest of us.
Here’s how Jason nests: He’s working his butt off with two careers (realtor and touring musician), and he then does gigantic landscaping projects (like building a retaining wall) as a way to decompress after a stressful day. Not to mention he’s also picking up a lot of my slack inside the house with cleaning and helping with the kids and groceries and things like that. He’s a rockstar! I am so thankful for him and all he does.
Father’s Day 2016:
This little guy takes after his daddy in a lot of ways! He’s currently a big fan of vacuuming and a sweet friend sent him a special one of his own in the mail.
Ali is so excited about her baby sister! She hugs and kisses my belly several times a day and tells me how much she loves Josephine already.
Practicing with a baby doll…
Lots of hanging around together.
Popcorn movie nights (when Mommy is too tired to do anything else!)
Jason and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on June 14 by going to Josephine the restaurant for dinner. It was really lovely!
Timehop made this easy for me. I’ll just repost what I said last year. 🙂
Before digital photography was common, before Facebook and iPhones existed, these two kids said “I do.” I met the love of my life when I was 14. A lot of people thought we were too young to get married (at 18 and 20) but our love only got deeper as we grew up together. For 13 years I’ve had the privilege of being Mrs. Jason Ahlbrandt. I thank God everyday for my best friend.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an examplefor the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”