two months with baby dexitwo months with baby dexitwo months with baby dexitwo months with baby dexitwo months with baby dexi two months with baby dexi two months with baby dexitwo months with baby dexi

Dear Dexi,

It makes me want to physically cry when I say it out loud that you are two months old. It feels like it actually hurts my heart. Just a couple of days ago, we were sat together, having a cuddle… You were asleep and I was as some would say, stuck beneath you. It was one of those times that I knew I wouldn’t be able to move or even breath too deeply because it would wake you. You’ve been a light sleeper since the day that you were born. The smallest sound will instantly wake you. Most days I try… try and place you gently in your sleepyhead or your moses basket to nap for an hour a couple of times a day, like your brother and sister used to. Heck… I’ve tried laying you in the centre of our bed, on the couch, on cushions on the floor and nothing will work. Nothing will settle you enough. As soon as you are not in my arms, you know. Sometimes it feels like even if you’re sleeping on my chest or in my loving arms, if I’m even thinking of moving you… your eyes will ping open, as if you had never fallen asleep… just to prevent me from moving. So anyway, on this day, I gave in. I just let you sleep on my chest, cozy, content and fast asleep. Your tiny body was heavy and your arms relaxed, weighty over my chest and draped at my sides. I was happy in that moment. I could smell your hair, I stroked your cheeks with one thumb and held one of your hands in mine. I watched your body rise and fall with each breath and noticed how much you had grown since I sat in that exact spot with you on the day that you were born. You had changed so much. Your face was much less squidgy and your arms and legs, not so scrawny. They had a healthy layer of fat covering them now which pleased me. In that moment, I looked around our living room… At the little trail of chaos that comes with taking care of a new baby. There was a bouncy chair, a sleepyhead pod, blankets, nappies, wipes, your change bag with the contents bulging out from when I had tried to find something, baby vests, baby grows, dummies (that you wouldn’t entertain because you only liked the green one with the hedgehog on it) and it just made me smile. It’s crazy how much mess one baby who relies on you for everything can make. But, my smile fell off of my face quite quickly if i’m honest. The reality of you growing up faster and faster every day darkened my thoughts. I looked around again and the thought of our living room not looking like this one day, full with your things from being new to the world, made me sad. The thought that one day our home would be neat and tidy, it upset me. And then I realised that I need to hold on to these baby days for dear life because they go by so fast and when they are gone, I will miss them… I will miss this… I will miss you like this, just as I do your big brother and sister.

Every day I wake up and look at you laying next to me in the bed and I still can not believe that you are mine, how lucky I am… how truly wonderful you are. I consciously try and notice everything about you. Every growth, every small change, every development. I have to know everything about you.

I don’t want to forget that at six weeks, you found your hands. You held your fists in front of your face, a look of such pride sat in your eyes because you had managed to get them up and keep them there. You stared so hard at them, overwhelmed by what was supposed to happen next and I could see your eyes cross and lose focus. I watched you concentrate so hard, for about a week until you figured out that you could do more with them. You think it is all kinds of wonderful when you wave your fists around like you are about to go twelve rounds in a boxing ring. You think it’s even better when you manage to knock a hanging toy, while laying on your play matt. Your eyes follow its movement and you love the noise it makes when that happens. Your favourite little toy is Crazy Croc right now. You stare at him for a long time. You are going to love punching him in the face over the next couple of months… in the most loving way of course.

I’ve watched your smile become a slight squeal which became your first small giggle this month. You have been able to better express just how happy you are. You think it is funny when you lay on the play mat and watch yourself in the mirror above you. I remember watching you giggle for the first time when you were laying there that day. You were so fascinated by your reflection… Not that I think for one second that you understood that was what it was… but you liked your happy little face looking back at you. We’ve named it ‘Mirror Friend’. Forty minutes you stayed there, smiling and squealing for the most part. From the first day when you were born, you were a baby who didn’t like to stay in one place for too long, easily growing bored… but not on the ‘laugh day’… that was special.

You have fallen in love with so many things this month… Other things apart from your family.

At only two months old, you have already been on two camping trips and the outdoors life is so obviously in your blood. You are happiest when outside and somewhat feral. Since then, you have changed the way that you feel about a comfortable rest in your Sleepyhead, opting for a nap on a camp chair in the garden instead. The breeze on your skin soothes you and the sun dancing over your face makes you instantly at ease.

You are fascinated and in awe of other children, especially your big brother and sister. You throw smiles at other children easily, eager to join in with them soon.

You have made friends with many fixtures in our home. The lights (Light Friend), a dream-catcher (Feather Friend), Curtains (Stripe Friend) and still, your old pal… the black and silver cushion (named ‘Friend’).

I don’t ever want to forget that, even as you’ve made so many ‘friends’… You don’t like anyone or anything more than you like me right now. I am your most favourite person in the whole, wide world still. I make jokes about it being because I have the milk and you are a hungry, growing boy… but actually it isn’t just that. I was reading something a couple of days ago and the truth of it, is that you still think that we are one person, a single entity, the same being. You don’t yet understand baby boy, that you are your own human. And for right now, that is the best thing that I could have ever read. It makes me feel excited about our bond and the difference that every song I sing to you makes. It makes me feel like I am cementing our relationship as mother and son that little more, every time I massage your hands and feet, speak to you for hours, with our faces almost touching so that you can see me clearly, tickle your feet gently, rub your back and stroke your tummy. I do all of these little things because I know that you love them. You kick, smile and squeal and I love it so much because I just want you to be happy. I want you to be so happy because I love you so much. You are worth every pair of tired arms from when I’ve danced the baby bop to get you to sleep, every puffy eye from another sleepless night, every back ache from where you have fallen asleep on my chest and I have stayed in the same awkward position for hours, just so you have enough rest. I wouldn’t have things any other way.

Some days, I still feel overwhelmed by my love for you. It is so fierce.

You make it ever so easy to love you too, sweetheart. Everybody loves Dexi. You have these big, smiling eyes that tell everyone exactly who you are and what  you are feeling. As you grow, they will be a blessing and a curse because you won’t be able to hide behind them. Your eyes will tell a thousand stories. Just like mine. Your eyes smile before your mouth does and they widen piercingly when you are worried about me leaving the room or when you hear a noise that startles you.

It’s funny to me, that for a baby with so much joy in his face, how much you make people work for a smile. You don’t throw them away easily. But when you do give them up, you have the most beautiful, gummy grin in the world and then there is no stopping you. It is so wonderful and so infectious.

You are wonderful… happy, playful and sweet.

And, I don’t know what I did to deserve you. My third blessing.

I love you, unconditionally

From, Mama x

P.S. Dexi, my darling… I made another little video for you to watch when you are older. I hope you like it as much as I do. Two months old looked beautiful on you and within your second month you changed so much each day… x

 

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one month with baby Dexi one month with baby Dexi one month with baby Dexi

Dear Dexi,

There is so much that I want to say to you, about your first month with me, with your family who love and adore everything about you. I’m so happy to have ‘officially’ met you. I waited for what felt like a lifetime to have you in my arms, to be able to stroke your beautiful face and to kiss you. You will never know what this month has meant to me. You have been everything to all of us. We have fallen over each other, to keep you from crying, to make sure that you are never sad… We have done everything in our power to make you happy, content… and to hopefully make you feel as loved as you truly are.

We have fallen in love with you. Head over heels in love. You have been kissed constantly. Noah wants to hold you all of the time and just the other day, I caught Ellenah telling you that when I’m out of the room, she will be your mother. Daddy coos over you, he’s very proud. And then there is me. I am your actual mother. I gave birth to you in our bathroom and from the moment that you were flung into my arms and I looked into your eyes, I knew that I would do anything to protect you… I knew that I would die for you. Even writing it.. I can feel a surge of emotion rush through me, a feeling too strong for words to describe… It’s an energy, a decision, a promise… and that tells me how much I mean it. I really mean it Dex.

You have grown so much this month. Your face has already changed. It is growing into your features. Your big, blue eyes especially. I could lose myself for days looking into those. They are just like Ellenah’s. And your nose and lips… So much like Noah. At the same time, I see everything Dexter James… a perfect, little human… With a face that takes my breath away. A face full of purity, innocence, goodness and hope. A face that despite the similarities of your siblings, I have never seen before. You are one of a kind. Unique. Different. Special. Please remember this as you grow up. Be proud for exactly those reasons.

I have spent many hours over this month just looking at you. I’ve held you in my arms and out in front of me so that I could get a proper look. I’ve felt you get that little bit heavier, that little longer… I’ve felt the shape of you change. At one month old, it has become harder holding you out in front of me without lifting up your legs to make you fit. The mottled skin that comes with being a newborn baby has disappeared and in its place, it is fair, flawless and ever so soft. In those first days, your limbs were long and gangly and now, there is a little layer of fat that covers you. You look healthy and thriving. You are content and well fed. You love that I feed you myself and so do I. It is our special time throughout each day when we just stop and exist together. It is still, peaceful and kind of wonderful. I find it so beautiful. I hope that I never forget the way that you look up at me while you rest there to feed. You look into my eyes so intensely, like you never want me to go anywhere. In the first days, while you were still small enough to balance on a cushion while latched on… You would hold onto my thumb and little finger with both of your hands. Over the course of this month, you stopped needing to do that as you grew in confidence and the world seemed much less scary.

I’m still holding on to a few things from your first days. Like the way that when you are tired, you ball your hands into fists and pull them up to your chest, both tucked under your chin. And, when you are sleeping, you lay with your arms stretched out above your head. This makes me happy because a lady who was cooing over you in your pram told me that this means you are content and happy… and that is what I desperately want for you in this world.

You are already so loving Dexi. You always want to be cuddled, held, talked and sang to. You don’t like to fall asleep alone and you will not sleep unless I am right there by your side. As you lay beside me in the night, I have woken up to you, just watching me sleep. You haven’t made a sound, you have just watched. Knowing that I am there is all you need. Those are the nights that we lay awake together… Still high from finally being in the world together. And it’s not just you baby boy. I can’t sleep unless you are by my side either. I miss you on the occasions that I have turned over, facing away from you… and after dreaming of sleeping on my stomach again throughout my pregnancy, I still haven’t managed it. Even that feels too far away from you, for right now. Throughout the day, you don’t nap for more than five minutes, you hate the car seat and you’re not that keen on your pram. The sling is a game changer though. If I wear you, you would sleep, tucked up close to my heart, probably all day and you love it when I sing a song called ‘ When I’m with you’ over and over again.

You love being outside. You love watching the wind blow through the trees, the fresh air on your skin… All of the sounds. You loved our camping holiday. You were relaxed, sleepy and calm. The tent life suited you, so did being snuggled in a blanket with me around the camp fire and so did Daddy wearing you around the lake while he fished with your big brother and your big cousin. You didn’t even notice that I wasn’t there… because you were safe, protected and exactly where you wanted to be.

You snore, you kick your legs in excitement, you squeeze sounds from your mouth  and you can officially smile now because you are happy. Ahh, your smile… now that IS special. You don’t give them up too easily and you save them for those who you recognise and love. When you let your smile shine though, it brightens up my life. It is the perfect, beautiful, gummy smile. You don’t only smile with your mouth though, Darling boy, you smile with your eyes too… and that is what I love most about it. You smile with your whole face, with everything you have, from the pit of your stomach.

I almost can’t believe that I’m talking about your smiles though… the things we’ve been up to, what you are like…who you are. How are you already one month old? How have we already got here?

I have truly loved everything about this time with you so far. Even the things that I’m not supposed to like as a new mama. The sleepless nights, feeling exhausted, the poo-explosions, the figuring everything out, like what each cry means… I love it all. I have thrown myself into this new normal, as a mama of three children and you have become a part of our team so perfectly. You fit like a glove, like the missing puzzle piece. We had been waiting for you and you were so worth the wait.

I made a little video for you Dexi, a keepsake of some of the precious moments that I have captured from your first month in this big, wide world. I haven’t been able to watch it back yet without tears building up behind my eyes. It makes me too emotional. I feel such overwhelming love, I feel like it is going to knock me off of my feet. Noah and Ellenah like to watch it too, they get the same tears behind their eyes as I do. We’re a sensitive bunch. They are so proud of you, their baby brother. They are in awe of every single thing that you do and they have loved watching you live all of these moments in real life, with me. I’m looking forward to capturing much and many more. The quirky things that you do, your milestones and all of the cuteness that comes with the territory of being Dexter, the coolest baby around.

I am so glad that you are here with us sweet boy. I’m so happy that you are safe and sound and that you are you. You are absolutely perfect to me, in every way. Thank you for making my heart grow even bigger, for reminding me that hearts are wonderful and that they can always make room. This month has been everything that I hoped it would be and more. I am excited to love you unconditionally, to raise you, to guide you and to be on your side…always.

I love you, so very much,

From, Mama x

 

 

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The First Days With Baby Dexter The First Days With Baby DexterThe First Days With Baby Dexter The First Days With Baby Dexter The First Days With Baby Dexter

The First Days With Baby Dexter The First Days With Baby Dexter The First Days With Baby DexterThe First Days With Baby Dexter

The first days with Baby Dexter went by in a heartbeat. Why is it that your best moments go by so fast? I found myself throwing myself into every single second to try and absorb this precious time with every part of me. I stopped looking at my phone, I stopped knowing the time and I stopped thinking about anything other than him and my little family.

I let myself relax under the heavy cuddles of his relaxed body against my chest as he slept there. I fed him on demand and held onto both of his hands while he did. I stroked them as he gripped my thumbs for comfort. It was the sweetest thing and I hoped that it would be one of the lovely things about our breastfeeding journey that would stay, so I wouldn’t have the chance to forget it in time. I stroked his hair when he looked sleepy. His fine, dark hair with a reddish tint, and a thick tuft of it at the back of his perfect, little head.

I watched his eyes roll around when he had wind and I loved to watch his smile break across his beautiful face too. I know that it was because he needed burping… but it was like a sneak preview of his smile to come. Not that I was wishing the days away. I was perfectly happy resting in these moments. Breathing in that new baby smell. One that I would happily keep in a bottle. The best smell in the whole world.

I spent hours studying his face. Touching his pure, soft skin. I closed my eyes and traced over his eyebrows with my finger. Traced over his squidgy lips that drooped down at one side when he was asleep or relaxed. Brushed against the fair covering of baby hair covering his cheeks, knowing that one day I would look and it would be gone without me having noticed. I wanted to know him like this, with all of my senses. I wanted to keep all of the ‘Dexi being just like this’ moments, banked in my memory. I want to remember and know everything about him. I need to know exactly who he is right from the beginning. I need to so that in the moments that he loses himself as he grows… I can remind him just how special, how wonderful he is in the way that only his mother can.

Looking at him exist was the best way that I could have spent my time. I pondered over the colour of his dark blue eyes and wondered if they would stay that way or even lighten like his Papa and his big sister. I ran my nose up and down his, pausing for a while at the bottom by his cupids bow, just above his lips to feel his milky breath hit my face. I gave him eskimo kisses and kissed him on the tip of his nose, when I had a spare few seconds. I said ‘bless you’ excitedly, when he sneezed… which was often and due to his new environment but oh so sweet. I massaged his eyelids incredibly gently when he looked tired and I loved the way that one of his eyes always appeared to be spying on me from a squint, while the other was wide open, a little like Popeye. The way that his head bobbed at my chest for food made me smile too… and then it made me panic that he was too hungry because I had read something somewhere about knowing the signs, so that your baby doesn’t cry with hunger. I DID NOT want my baby to cry… or to be too hungry.

He did cry though… sometimes! In fact, he had staying power… a set of lungs on him, some would say! It was a sound that broke my heart in a second. So I desperately tried to learn which cry meant what. I tried to learn fast. The thought of him being unhappy, even for the smallest moment, hurt me. I had promised him the happiest life… and I don’t break promises! I figured out fast that he liked his feet to be held and massaged to settle him well. He liked to be cradled tightly and close to my chest… doing this as I walked, bobbing him as I went was an all time win.

The crying was something else entirely when compared to ‘The Fear’ though.

The fear that comes with giving birth to a newborn baby, a life, a human, your flesh and blood, who you would do anything for… It’s overwhelming and fierce. You just want to raise them well, have a healthy, happy baby and be a good mother. And I don’t think it matters if you have one baby, three babies or twelve… The first few days after bringing them in to the world, is really scary.

I quickly realised that co-sleeping would suit us for right now. My need to check Dexter while he napped and slept was almost ridiculous but I had to know that he was okay, wasn’t laying in sick, hadn’t kicked his covers off, wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too cold and was breathing well. I had to check that he didn’t need me. Sleep came last. Having him close by made me more relaxed and content, which was better for us all. It was our way of having it all. Peace of mind, a little rest, perfect cuddles and a wonderful bonding experience.

Back to the fear…

Once the cord came off on day five, we bathed him for the first time. Honestly, getting the temperature right was hard work. We used the thermometer, googled the temperature, googled it again, felt the water with our elbows, googled it again, wondered if the thermometer was broken, swore because it was definitely broken, decided it wasn’t broken, added cold, added hot, googled the perfect temperature yet again and then decided it was okay to put our newborn baby in the bath, which he hated… but that is for another time!

In the heat of the summer, I worried about Dexter being too hot, too cold. I put clothes on him, took them off again… put them on and took them off… again! We had never had a baby who was naturally hot like Dexi. He is going to be a dream to snuggle with in the winter months, a perfect heater. But in the Summer… It was scary. It made him upset because he just wanted a cuddle but didn’t want to be held. In the end, I surrendered to stripping him off, laying him down and holding his hands or holding his feet to let him know that I was close by.

Close by? Ha! When wasn’t I? I missed him when I left the room to pee…

The day that he projectile vomited all over me two times was awful. He screamed for half an hour and I was pacing the room with my sweaty little beauty in my arms. I had the phone on my bed, ready to call an ambulance and Matt was looking up his symptoms online. P.S. Any new mama’s reading this… NEVER do that! I was convinced within three minutes that our baby was really poorly and it made me very upset. Thankfully my maternal instincts kicked in and I realised that I knew what was wrong and how to make him better. It was from that moment that I started to find my stride with being a new mama for the third time, after a five and a half year gap.

Like I said, the first few days were scary. For me they were scarier than being a first time mum and a second. Maybe it was because I was out of practice. I had definitely forgotten a lot. Maybe it was because I was so in love, it was overwhelming. Overwhelming because I had fallen in love with Noah and Ellenah all over again, as well as being newly in love with their baby brother. It wasn’t that I had fallen out of love with them…at all! The birth of Dexi just made me remember all of the little things about them in their newborn days. It made me remember them when they were Noah and Ellenah ‘just like this’. It encouraged me to dig out their baby pictures, comparing them all, cooing over how beautiful they both were (and still are). And then, it made me appreciate just how far we have come. All of the ordinary days which they made special. All that we had been through. All of their milestones. All of the smiles, laughter and chaos that I have loved with every part of me. And the memories…oh, the memories that we have. The funniest times. The most beautiful madness. And being in the here and now with them, experiencing this wonderful time with them on my team. Watching them love their baby brother unconditionally, watching them care for and protect him, watching them rise up and step into their new roles with such pride…it made me see them through different eyes, almost like I was seeing them for the first time again. And I suppose I was in a way…a new ‘just like this’. Maybe I was more scared because this was the happiest time in my whole life and I knew how lucky and blessed I was to feel that way. I am a mama to three beautiful children, a wife to the love of my life and my family was whole, complete and perfect. When you are terrified that you might somehow lose, change or break something… You know it is something worth gripping on to with both hands. Worth cherishing, loving hard, with everything you have and appreciating, every single day.

The first days with baby Dexter were everything that I hoped they would be. They were quiet, calming, relentless, chaotic, noisy, emotional… and we had some defining moments as mama and son. I easily fell for him. I lost myself in him completely and became even more excited to raise him, watch him thrive… be a part of his life and world as he grows  up. The first few days allowed me to daydream for me and simply dream for him. Dream that he has a happy life. Dream that he knows what love is. Dream that he is always free to explore and to let adventure take hold. Dream that he will be all that he can be. Mostly I dreamed that he would have the courage and conviction to have dreams of his own, to protect them, to chase them… and to have them come true.

After all… Him, his brother and sister are the perfect proof, that it can and does happen x

 

 

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Meeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby Brother Meeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby BrotherMeeting Baby Brother

Meeting Baby Brother

The moment that Noah and Ellenah met their baby brother for the first time, on the morning that he was born, was one of the best moments of my life. It was easily better than christmas morning, better than any birthday, better than most other days that has lead us to here actually.

Dexter was born at 1.55am, that morning. He was born in the very small bathroom of our family home. The home that has seen five of Noah’s eight years and all of Ellenah’s, other than just six months. It is a safe place. It is where the children have seen magic unfold, from the christmas’, the tooth fairy and even better,  to the games that they play where their imaginations have no limits.

It is the home that has watched Matt and I grow, up together and a little bit older I’m privileged to say. It is where we have fallen in love with each other, over and over again. It is where we talk about our future as a family… and together, when the children grow up and have lives of their own. It is where we laugh, where we are allowed to cry and it is where we are happy. Our home is where we dream together , about so many things. It is where we dreamt of this family. Our family. One with five of us. It is the home where that dream came true.

I was exhausted but awake when I heard the first creaking of a door opening that morning. I had been awake all night. I squinted my eyes in the darkness, to watch Dexter breathing. He was awake for the most part of it too. He was watching the shadows and flickers of light that made up the silhouette of his mama. He knew me already. I made him feel safe. He hardly made a sound the whole time.

My eyes were heavy by the time I heard the door that morning, so far from feeling ready to go to sleep though. I was on cloud nine. Walking on air. Singing ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams to myself in my head and humming it out loud, when ultimately I forgot myself. I had been waiting for this moment for nine, long months. It was my happy thought that kept me going since just before 10pm the night before when I had my first contraction. Our new beginning would mean that I had made it to the end. I let myself imagine what our lives would become. How it would change in the best ways. I could see how happy we were and are going to be. The smiles of my children meeting each other, meant so much to me.

I heard little, dainty footsteps. I knew that it was Ellenah walking towards our bedroom. Ellenah who we tucked in to bed last night at the same time as Noah, after telling them both that by morning, they should have a baby brother waiting for them in our bedroom. I knew that behind that door was a nervous little girl. One who was hoping with all of her heart that she would be opening the door to the boy, who was making her a big sister.

The door opened, very slowly. I saw her bright blonde hair first of all and then our eyes met. Her big blue eyes, full of hope, found me across the room. She tiptoed towards me, as quietly as she could. She stopped short of my reach… and I so desperately wanted to cuddle her. She stopped and turned towards the beautiful moses basket that had been waiting there, empty for two months. She gasped when she found it empty. Her face fell and she looked so sad. In her shaky, quiet as a mouse voice, she spoke. ‘No baby?’ was all she could manage in her disbelief.

She was right. He wasn’t in there. I couldn’t be apart from him. Even for a few hours while the country was fast asleep. We had been together for nine months. It was alien to have him anywhere else but nestled in my arms.

‘He’s here sweetheart!’ I whispered, as I pointed towards him, in-between Papa and me. She stepped forwards and looked over me hesitantly, to the middle of the bed where he was actually sleeping for the first time.

Words could never tell you, how beautiful Ellenah looked in that moment, so vulnerable and happy. Words could never do justice, to describe how every emotion that she felt washed over her face. Her large eyes grew bigger as tears sat behind them and the smile that she wore, I had never seen it before and I’m sure that I will never see it again. That one was for Dex. It was beaming but shaky. Her hand reached towards her chest and she gasped inwards, again. Almost as if she was breathless. Like she had been hit in the heart with overwhelming love. She looked at me and back at Dexter…and back at me, then Dexter again. She didn’t know what to do, what to say… how to explain how this made her feel. So I reached for her. My little girl. And, I held her so tightly as she dry sobbed with such joy. Her body vibrated against me with excitement and she asked if she could kiss him. I nodded and watched her lean over so gently to kiss him on the head. It was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen her experience and I will carry it within my heart until forever.

It didn’t take Noah long to bound in to the room after that. Noah being much less subtle in his ways. Noah who boldly pushed the door open and asked me if his little brother had arrived. Again, that look of hope was very much present… but the sheer excitement was apparent and definitely not something that he could filter or condense. Noah was true to his personality. Charismatic, bold, excitable and full of heart. He walked in with swag before anyone could answer him and clambered clumsily around the bed until he was at my side. He kind of landed there with both feet, flat to the ground and standing tall.

And then he saw him…

Noah’s eyes fixed on to his baby brother and rather than the emotion dancing across his face like it did with Ellenah… each and every feeling came out of his eyes, in tears. As they plopped down his cheeks, all big and fat…he looked surprised. And very much like his little sister, it was as if Dexter had taken his breath away.

Noah squinted his eyes and rubbed at them both with his finger and thumb. Pinching them together, he was desperate to stop crying. I asked him what was wrong.

‘I’m just so happy Mum… And I’m so proud of you!’ He told me, as his voice shook.

Hearing those words from my sweet little boy… the one who made me a mama first, broke me. The tears stung my eyes and it was almost as if I could feel my heart grow inside me, when I didn’t believe it could possibly make any more room. It had already made space for our third and final baby. Enough of it to love him unconditionally, until the end of time. I wondered how my heart could grow any more.

But it did… I think it does every day.

When my beautiful children say beautiful things. When I watch them get lost in each other. When they choose love. When they choose happiness. When they are kind, thoughtful… warm.

My heart grows because of them in so many ways.

While my heart was having a growth spurt on this day. While I watched Noah and Ellenah fall head over heels in love with their new brother, smothering him with kisses and looking upon him in amazement. It felt like everything was in slow motion. Like time had stopped. Like nothing else on this earth mattered.

Unfortunately, the clock waits for no-one. And with less than an hour until the children were due to walk through the school gates for a day of learning, we had to test out our new normal… try it on for size. Well, as much as I could from my bed.

Watching the children say goodbye to each other that morning was so hard because I just wanted us all to be together, in our new baby bubble. Seeing how they said ‘hello’ to each other though, seeing how Noah and Ellenah welcomed Baby Dexter into our world… The world, was priceless. A moment that I will never forget. A moment that I wouldn’t change. A moment that I could never wish was different. A moment that was EVERYTHING to me… Full of my favourite people in the whole world.

It was absolute perfection… x

 

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The days that I gave birth to all three of my children, gave me the three best stories that I will ever tell. My three favourite stories of all time and all three, so different from each other… Just like my babies. In the throws of labour, the adrenaline, the pain, the intensity, the excitement and the fear, I think every mother wonders how any woman can forget a single second of it. You swear that you will never forget how much it hurts your body, how it takes everything that you have got, to get through it. You don’t understand how other people tell you that you will soon forget it once you have your baby in your arms. You think that they must be mad.

I’ve forgotten already!

Not everything of course but the reality of having Dexter in my life now has made every second of birthing him somewhat irrelevant. Since he was born, I have fallen in love again and have been completely swept away… and it feels like my memory of the pain and self-doubt was too.

I was exactly 41 weeks pregnant on the day that I gave birth to my baby boy, my baby number three. It had been a long, hard, nine month slog. I had a hard time of things. I suffered most days of it and as much as I tried not to complain… most days involved some kind of tears, me thinking unkind things about myself or sitting on the bathroom floor, back against the door, deep breaths, lips quivering, head in hands and trying to pluck the strength from deep down to get me through the days, weeks and months to follow. The hard parts of giving birth will fade more and more over time. The hard parts of being pregnant, I will remember forever. In the end, the only thing that was keeping me going and smiling through it, was love. Raw, unconditional, overwhelming love, for the little life that I was growing in my body. My baby boy who I knew that I would do anything for. Who I would give my life for.

Anyway… rewind a day. It was Monday, 3rd July 2017 and I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I was also beyond fed up. Being overdue by even one day was bad enough, I don’t know how some women cope with anything up to 2 weeks over. It wasn’t my lightest time in terms of my emotions. However, I had refused intervention by the way of a membrane sweep to start my labour off…purely due to my ideals of a natural pregnancy, labour and delivery and because I am ever so stubborn. I had no control over so many things during my pregnancy, the hyperemesis Gravidarum and Pelvic Girdle pain being the main culprits, I was desperate to have the birth the way that I wanted. I have had two children before Dexter and both were natural births without a shred of pain relief… I wanted to do it again and so I refused any interference and carried on.

After having some particularly aggressive but unconvincing braxton hicks the night before, in to the early hours… by the time I had woken up that day, they had stopped. Out of nowhere, I had a new lease of life, a real energy burst. So, I took the opportunity to arrange a hike in our local woods with my brother to see if I could naturally give this labour a little shove in the right direction. As I say, I was feeling fed up and ready to meet my baby by this point so was getting a little desperate. I had a close family friend on stand-by, just in-case anything happened while out walking and I needed to be shoved into a car quickly.

We walked for ages and not slowly either. There were plenty of hills and I worked up a sweat. Eventually, I went home to freshen up before I went on the school run. I’m not going to lie… I was very disappointed that nothing was happening. By the time I walked to collect Noah and Ellenah from school, my pace had slowed down and my head was hanging low too. It didn’t help my mood when I met them both from their class and they looked sad that I was still pregnant. We were all ready to meet our final puzzle piece to our family.

As we walked home, my pace started to slow even more and not by choice. It felt like something had taken over me, was protecting me… or when I look back, was preparing my body for what it was soon to endure. Ellenah needed the toilet so needed me to hurry but I couldn’t pick up speed. I had to truly concentrate to put one foot in front of the other and my pelvis felt like it had turned to a really painful jelly…almost like from my pelvis down, I wasn’t attached together properly. It was peculiar. I had never felt so happy to put the key in the door as we reached home and once inside, I basically fell onto the sofa and that was where I wanted to stay.

At around 5pm, I felt my waters break and so did a smile, across my entire face. It was finally time…

With this, I ran upstairs to clean myself up as best as I could and then I called Matt to get him to come home. I explained what was happening to the children and took a shower… At this point, I was in absolutely no pain. Matt arrived home shortly and because I was booked in for a home birth, we made the decision to call the hospital to have a midwife sent out to examine me. Between the time we made the phone call and the first midwife arriving, the reality of my home birth was sinking in. Of course, I was a bag of nerves mixed in with pure excitement, but for the first time in my whole pregnancy, I felt such a stillness and a true sense of calm and I was taking myself to a different place in my head… so that I could get through the next stages. I busied myself before she arrived, preparing my living room for my birth. I made sure that I had enough towels, shower curtains, buckets…everything down to the right music and right lighting. We gave the children dinner and they waited with me in anticipation for the midwife to come.

Hers was a fleeting visit. She checked my vitals and respected my decision not to be examined. She was confident, due to the sheer volume of fluid that I was losing and had already lost, that my waters had broken and so advised me to eat and try to get some rest in preparation for the big event. As I was still in no pain, she went on her merry way and off shift, after giving me the information that I would need for when things started to happen.

So, once we had said our goodbye’s and her, some ‘good luck’s’, we said goodnight to Noah and Ellenah, who went to sleep quickly, tucked up in their bunk beds. I ate and put my feet up for a while…and waited. I kept the lights dimply lit and continued to get myself in the right headspace to handle labour head on. I spent some time saying goodbye to my bump, my pregnant belly. I stroked it and tried to get in tune with my body so that I could let it do what it is naturally meant to. I wish that I could tell you how I do that because three babies on, it has helped me every single time. I have never read up on hypnobirthing…The most that I did in preparation like that was listen to relaxing music on spotify. If I’m honest, all that ever made me do is think about what needs to go on my shopping list and what is going on in the months ahead that I need to remember. I’m not sure that is how you are meant to use it…

Anyway, just before 10pm, five hours after my waters had broken, my hand protectively and forcefully gripped onto my lower abdomen as I felt my first intense contraction. Again, that smile broke across my face. I just remember thinking that I was one step closer…and that it hurt so much! It lasted around fifty seconds and it made me hold my breath and my eyes water. I knew that with the next one, I had to handle it better… I had to breathe and push the pain away. And so, I waited for the next one to arrive…

I wasn’t waiting long, just less than 3 minutes actually and the contraction lasted over a minute. A pattern in my contractions appeared immediately. Every 2 and half to 3 minutes for between 57 seconds to 1 minute and 27 seconds. Each and every pain feeling much harder than the last. We called the midwife after my eleventh contraction and she told us that she was on her way.

While we waited for her to arrive, with my arms and head resting on my birthing ball, I rocked and continued to physically push the pain away with my hands. I was desperately trying to stay active, to keep my pelvis moving. I was desperate to have my baby in our home. Desperate for Noah and Ellenah to wake up in the morning, to come in to our bedroom and to find him fast asleep. So, between every contraction, I continued to move…knowing in the back of my mind that I had been previously advised to consider a cesarian section due to SPD and then after seeking a second opinion from a midwife with alternative views, I had chosen to trust her and my body and stay as far away from any hospital as I could. Now was the time that I had to know my body more that ever, give it everything that I could and to not let the fear penetrate my focus.

The midwife soon knocked at the door and came through to our dimly lit living room with the sound of Billy Joel’s music playing gently. It was very quiet. She spoke calmly, softly and confidently about how this was going to go. She let me lead the way with my vision and birth plan. She reminded me that she had gas and air in the car if I was to need it. I remember shaking my head as I threw off another contraction with gritted teeth.

It really was very quiet. Kind of beautiful.

I was hot. It was exhausting. Matt kept bringing me water which I refused often. I was so focussed and even taking a sip of water felt like it was interrupting my flow. I didn’t want to stop. I remember that it was hard and I was fighting my way to the end. Constantly reminding myself that this was my last hurdle, just breathe, push away the pain, keep moving…Keep on keeping on!!

Matt was with me every step of the way. He rubbed my back, encouraged me when I was struggling to keep going and let me squeeze his hands as hard as I could. He helped me to move around, knowing that my broken body wasn’t allowing me to do it for myself. He held me up, kissed me and told me that I was doing well. I remember looking into his eyes and thinking to myself that I had to tell him how much I loved him in that moment… Once I had the energy, when this was over… I would! It felt like it was just him and me in the room. Him, me and the promise of our new life as a family of five.

As things became more intense and it was harder and harder to push away the pain, the second midwife arrived.

I remember saying to Matt that I didn’t think that I was doing very well, after I had been pushing down for some time. I remember telling the three of them that something was wrong. The sensation when I pushed… It was different, like it wasn’t doing anything at all, like baby boy was stuck. It wasn’t that I wasn’t pushing. I was pushing for my life. Pushing so hard that I felt like I could burst. I started to get very frustrated with everyone and myself. I felt like I wasn’t communicating well enough and I felt like I wasn’t being heard in the right way at all. So, I asked Matt to help me upstairs to the toilet. I wasn’t sure if I actually needed to go more than I needed a little bit of time by myself. I’ll be honest, I quite liked sitting there. It was comfortable and supportive to my tired body. Something about it just made sense.

Eventually, I went back downstairs to try again at the pushing and so that I could have baby listened to and all of my vitals checked for the hundredth time…Just to make sure that we were both happy still. We were but I didn’t stay downstairs for long. I could feel that I was close to the end as I manouvered heavily and clumsily between positions. Instinct took over eventually and the next thing I know, I was half crawling up the stairs, half pulling myself up by my arms. I think I knew deep down that at that point, I wasn’t coming back downstairs without my baby.

Once I was in the bathroom, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I was examined for the first time.

I was definitely right to be pushing…but to the midwife’s surprise, due to how much fluid I had visibly lost and was continuing to lose, a second, bulging amniotic sac was completely blocking him from progressing any further.

I knew it. I knew in my heart that something wasn’t working right.

Medically there a few reasons why a second amniotic sac was present with only one baby. It is likely that for me, the cause is due to my hind waters developing a leak at 37 weeks but closing up again. But… nobody really knows!

Anyway… everything suddenly made sense to me and the midwives. With the next contraction, the midwife gave the sac a shove to the side to try and help baby boy out. And with that, my waters… the last ones, burst… and flooded the floor of my tiny bathroom.

From that moment, everything felt so intense. My body took over completely and I had no time to think. The contractions were amped up and my body was shaking. Matt was physically holding me up. He held onto me as I screamed through the ultimate pain of birthing my baby boy’s head. He held on to me as I panted and waited for his body to follow. He held on to me, lifting my fragile body, keeping me on my feet in the moments that our son came into the world and was handed to me. Our beautiful boy, with the big, alert eyes… heavy on my chest as his wrinkly hands with long, skinny fingers gripped on to the neck line of my night dress. My beautiful boy who I had fallen in love with in an instant.

I don’t remember how I was lowered down on to the toilet seat, how my feet were deep in blood and fluid or even too much of Matt cutting the cord like the proud Papa that he is. I only remember it because it was so tight and had to be done quickly. I delivered my placenta in to the toilet and it was trying to pull my baby in there with it. I vividly remember holding our new life tightly, sobbing and smiling… telling him that he would be so loved and that he is going to have the happiest life. I remember our eyes locking and staring at each other for what felt like an eternity. I know that I could have stayed there, in that moment forever.

Dexter James was born on Tuesday the 4th of July 2017 at 1.55am. He was born on USA’s Independence Day. He was and is still, so beautiful. So perfect. A dream come true. Everything that I imagined he would be. Just as I thought he would look. The missing puzzle piece of The Sweetest Life family. Our final team member. The youngest in our gang. He is pure, innocent, wonderful and we are all so in love with him.

I can’t believe that this is my life now and I am a mama to three beautiful humans. I feel so lucky that I get to love them every day and to bring them up. To raise them to have kind, open hearts, adventure in their veins and to love our beautiful world and the people in it.

On Dexter’s Birth Day, a new life started for us. A new chapter, a new journey… new adventures. I am so excited for everything to come, for all of the wonderful times ahead of us… as a family of five.

With Love,

Ria x

 

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