-Eda J. Le Shan
Nine months ago when I peed on that stick and produced a positive result, my world instantly changed. It was all in theory at that point, not a reality quite yet. The idea of another baby inhabiting our home, our lives, our hearts. It was my easiest pregnancy, one that I cherished up until my due date. Even when this baby girl passed the due date and decided she wasn't ready to greet the world, I'd still caress my bulging tummy with gratitude. Gratitude for one last pregnancy, one last baby, one last new family member, one last miracle.
When I was five days overdue, I met with my doctor and we discussed an induction for the next morning. The baby was sitting high up in my belly, as if confirming that she would determine her own entry into this world. And that she did. That night my water broke. It came out in a gush that didn't stop for hours. But she still wasn't quite ready to check out of the warm mommy hotel. So we walked. And walked. And walked. Dave was relieved of his walking duties as soon as my sisters arrived. Then we walked some more, only breaking for a brief nap before resuming our night time stroll of the hospital corridors.
While I was up and walking, the contractions would increase in intensity, but the minute I stopped, so did the contractions and any sign of labor. Finally at 6:00 am, an hour before my initial scheduled induction, they started the pitocin. Still hours dripped by with little activity while they slowly increased the pitocin amount. Without warning the pitocin-induced contractions bulldozed me until I was sobbing for an epidural. Only my little sister was brave enough to oversee the big needle being injected into me. Gradually the drugs dulled the pain but didn't completely numb me as they did with my past labors. I felt every intense contraction as I labored from five centimeters dilation to ten centimeters in an hour's time. I complained to the nurses about the severe pressure in my bottom and the desire to push, but it seemed unlikely I'd labor that quickly. Sure enough, it was time. In a rush, the doctor appeared and the preparations to meet this baby were completed.
With Spencer, my first born, I pushed for hours, a c-section looming with every failed push. He was ultimately delivered via a vacuum, entering the world with a cone head. Ashton came with much less fanfare. He was out after 30 minutes of pushing. Since this third baby was stubbornly calling the shots the whole laboring process, I figured the delivery would follow suit in a slow, laborious fashion. Instead she greeted the world after ten minutes of pushing. When the doctor announced she was a girl, I suddenly remembered my paranoia about delivering a boy. I asked for verification that she was indeed a girl. Twice. Yes, she is definitely a girl. A chubby cheeked girl with a full head of dark black hair.
Jillian Faye Mahlke was born October 8, 2015 at 11:44 am, weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long. Our biggest baby. Her weight was quite the topic of conversation in my hospital room as the nurses cleaned her and conducted the Apgar testing, bets on the amount flying around. My little sister had the closest guess. Many overshot the mark, thinking she was a nine pounder. It's the cheeks. They're deceptive.
After 24 hours, almost to the minute, we were allowed to take our new baby home. Her big brothers ate her up, almost literally, kissing her incessantly. They continue to dote on her, fighting over who gets to hold her first. Ashton likes to help with the diaper changes. He pulls up a stool, grabs a wipe and sets to work. Both boys like to lay next to her on the floor, shoving toys in her face, and cooing at her. Although they have accepted their new sister with open arms, their adjustment period has been showing in their behavior. Fighting, sassing, hitting, whining. Soon enough we'll all adjust to this new normal, and it'll be as if Jillian has always been a part of our family. Our new family of five.
Earlier in the summer we prepared for our new family member by redecorating and rearranging bedrooms. Jillian moved into Spencer's old room, the white walls painted mint and a subtle invasion of pink splashed throughout. Many of the items in her room hold sentimental value from my childhood and homemade art from me and the boys. For months after, I'd walk through the room, anticipating the child to soon inhabit it.
The little baby shoes hanging above the coat rack were David's baby shoes. They hung in Ashton's room during his infancy, and now they have been handed down to Jillian. The hat was a gift from a dear friend, one that her own babies wore. The rest was thrifted, painted and repurposed.
Before the big ultrasound when the technician uttered the infamous words, "It's a girl!" we had not a single item of clothing for a daughter. Since then I have hit up a bunch of thrift stores and garage sales, but a great majority of the clothes have come from friends. They have generously gifted me their daughters' hand-me-downs, some of them even parting with their own sentimental pieces for my own daughter to wear.
Some of these pieces came straight off the walls of my childhood bedroom. The yellow wooden hearts were crafted by my mother and adorned my wall for years, necklaces dangling off the yellow hooks. Once upon a time the heart trio bore my name; now it bears my daughter's. The square pieces with the little girl pictures are another item from my girlhood. The headbands were handmade from a friend. The rest was thrifted, painted and repurposed.
I made the letters that spell out JILLIAN with old zippers glued on wooden letters. The praying children plaques once hung in my childhood bedroom. I constructed the quilt draped over the crib months ago in anticipation of a little baby girl. The crib itself shows much love by a teething Baby Ashton.
The cardboard LOVE sign was a project crafted by me and a two-year-old Spencer for a Christmas photo gift one year. Once the project was completed, I hung the letters above the changing table in Ashton's room. When it was time to paint Ashton's room this summer, I couldn't bear with parting with the letters, so I moved them to Jillian's room instead.
The first of many monthly growth pictures with this ginormous bear. I love how each month this bear gradually shrinks in size as my baby grows and grows. Here she is two days old.
This artwork was done by me and the boys. Spencer constructed the heart on the left all on his own because he knows they symbolize love. Ashton wasn't as into his project and simply smudged some paint on with a brush. I made the J in the center. This is probably my favorite part of Jillian's new room.