I Figured Out the Itch

The other day when I was visiting my mom, I finally hit the nail on the head regarding why I want to move: it's not just the fact that we've run out of work space, this house feels like my and Chris' house, NOT our family's house. What does that mean?

Well, Chris and I moved into this house 6 1/2 years ago. At the time we didn't know if we'd ever have kids, we intended on only being in the house maybe 5-8 years (we knew it was a project, it wasn't the forever house) and it just felt like an adventure. I certainly felt like this place was my home when we moved in. Something made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that this was the first place Chris and I picked together. When we were together in Davis when we first met I practically lived at his place, then I moved to TX and he came many months later and moved to the place I had picked, then we went on our road trip, had some other adventures and I settled in Oakland and he again came to a place I had picked while he was working other jobs. This was the first place we looked for and found together. It feels like OUR home.

Then we had Zoe. And my office became her room. It feels like her room, but I also very much remember it as my office. And now that we have Merrit she doesn't even have a room. That's not to say she couldn't - Chris and I could merge our offices and one of them could be hers. But Zoe's room is off of my office (one room leads to the other) and Chris' office has 3 doors off of it (the hallway, big room and laundry room). Neither are ideal. Sure, they could totally work, but something about having them work feels like a complete after though.

We've now been looking for the next house for just about a year. It's been a while. At first it was because we were running out of room, but now I really feel it inside of me that I want a house that is OURS. I don't want the house that we made work for our girls - I want to move into a place that is just as newly and freshly theirs as it is ours. And by new and fresh let's remember I mean a new and fresh adventure, not some new build devoid of any personality. I want to create a housing adventure with them. I want to make THEIR rooms. I want to think about how I want a kitchen to work with them hanging out with us in it. I want to remodel a bathroom for our girls to take baths and get ready for school in. When we took this house on I never thought about any of those things. Eventually selling to a family was certainly in the back of my mind, but this house feels like an afterthought for MY family.

Then of course there is the need of work space. It would be wonderful to give up living space (we have 1600 sq ft now and that's plenty for us) in order to get work space. We hoard materials for people and we need space to build things for people (for instance, right now we're working on building a dog ramp for someone)

Life is about moving and shifting, but I do feel bad for Chris that there is a constant move and shift for him in terms of trying to work on and complete projects for people. We really need storage and work space.

It's weird, lately there has been slim pickings for us in our price range and project range (as in, we're specifically looking for pieces of shit). So we haven't had much to look at. But there was this one about a month ago

found here

Yup, just the plywood sheathing on the outside and down to the studs on the inside. Chris and I were so excited about the house at first. But, after having looked at it again with my dad and then running a realistic budget of what it would take to complete it (we were looking at about $200k including permits, and that's not taking into account a hefty miscellaneous or "oh shit" fund). The lot was a decent size though, so we liked that (about double what we're currently one). But the garage was a question mark. It was up a steep hill and Chris' truck wouldn't be able to fit in the driveway and every morning and night he loads and unloads materials to/from his truck and the garage. That means every morning and night he'd have to drive up the hill to transfer stuff around, then drive back down to the other side of the property when he was done to park. Not a huge deal, but when you're talking about a forever house, you really want things to work, not try to MAKE them work. Also, the supplemental storage for client materials was below the garage, however there wasn't easy access from the garage to that room. You would have to go out the garage, down the hill, into the front door, through the rest of the house and into the utility room. Again, not a huge deal for most people, but Chris needs access to that secondary storage pretty often when he's in his work space.

With a $200k reno budget asking price just didn't make sense. And, well, this market is bananas so we didn't even bother to make an offer. I thought it would go $100k over asking, and it just closed a couple weeks ago at $60k over. Still out of our range though. It's amazing being SURPRISED in this market that something ONLY went $60k over asking. FML.

That was a house I could imagine us in however. I thought about making it our home, where the girls would play, how we'd help them on homework, where our office would be set up...it definitely made the urge stronger. It's not like I'm not already on every house listing service every day, but now I SCOUR it. That itchy itch itch has taken over. And add into the fold that my brother and sister-in-law bought their family house last month and Chris' aunt did as well, and well, I'm definitely house jealous.

So will you all send us some good house hunting and finding juju?


Let it Go, Let it Goooo!

I have never seen Frozen, I know - GASP! - but I cannot imagine a phrase ringing more true for what should be my current mantra of life.

Zoe has always been a bit of a handful, and when you factor in a colic-y baby, well, we're a tired house right now. Nothing that we've tried seems to really be helping a ton (though the gas medicine seems to help the most) with poor Merritt's gas. We've also just been prescribed medicine because the doctor thinks she might have acid reflux. As a result she's pretty fussy whenever she's awake and night time can be a challenge. Zoe is an energetic kid who really loves playing with others and I find myself really torn between the needs of a toddler and the needs of an infant. Not to mention the needs of myself and my partner.

I think when I thought about what having two kids would mean, I knew that it would make me tired, but I don't think I really understood how thin my emotional and physical resources would be stretched. I don't want anyone to have a pity party for me because I know BILLIONS of people have and have had two kids. And that's just TWO kids, not 3 or 4 or 5 or more. I think I'm just trying to explain my new experience being a mom of 2 in hopes that maybe someone feels the same way in this moment and that maybe they feel better. Or maybe someone who has felt the same way in the past can make us all feel better ;)

I have always been someone who has been hard on myself. My family has been pretty successful in their business and work endeavors which has afforded me and my brother a life that allows us to take chances. I am very thankful for that. It gives a sense of security that I know gives me confidence to do things I would otherwise maybe be afraid to try. However, with that success definitely comes a sense of feeling like there is added pressure of something to live up to, of always needing to work your absolute hardest and never feeling like you give up. I'm not saying that other people don't feel that who come from all different backgrounds, I'm merely sharing that it's something that I feel with my background. There is always a rung on the ladder that I need to climb.

I think that kind of pressure is - on one hand - very good because it makes you work hard and always strive to be better, but in these moments, the times when we feel a bit weak and tired and like we're treading water, it can be a really hard trait to fight against.

With a toddler and a newborn I definitely feel like I get nothing done. Now, that doesn't mean I actually don't get anything done - I feed the baby, transport the kids, clean the house, put away the endless loads of laundry, put away the dishes, sometimes cook, get back to a couple emails here and there, do research and other work when I get a spare 5-15 minutes, etc. But my "normal" routine has been thrown for a loop and I'm not checking the things off of my list that I used to. And that makes me feel bad. It's HARD adjusting to a slower pace of life for me. Accepting that my to do list can be short and maybe in fact non-existent and know that THAT'S OKAY.

I've had many talks with many members of my family over the last couple of weeks. They check in, visit, bring us food (yay!), see how the baby is doing, see how Zoe is doing and see how Chris and I are doing. It's wonderful to know that I have a fabulous support system in my family to know that they will always be here for me and Chris and the girls. That hard work ethic has translated into a deep sense of support and compassion that nearly everyone in my family shares in one way or another. It is a wonderful thing to get to call up your brother or mom or dad or Chris and just cry. Sometimes it's okay to just CRY.

It's tough being a mom. It definitely feels like I am the epicenter of my family's happiness. That's not the truth and everyone is responsible for making themselves happy, but I definitely now know the pain my mom feels when she can't make me happy. I HATE when Merrit cries uncontrollably, when Zoe acts out and when Chris gets frustrated. It is HARD not to take responsibility for that. And NO ONE has put it on you but yourself. No one at all. In fact, every single person in my family tells me that's not my responsibility at all, but you can't help but want to be able to make everything run smoothly, happily, efficiently and with as few tears and as many hugs as possible. Luckily Zoe loves to give hugs.

The truth of the matter is that I need to let go of things.

I need to let go of Merritt's crying and realize that I am trying my hardest to make her happy and if that still means she's crying, as long as I know there is nothing wrong with her - I am doing my job.

I need to let go of Zoe's sporadic temper tantrums. In all honesty this kid acts out very infrequently from what I hear from friends, family, etc. after we've brought in another kid into the fold. She loves Merritt with all her heart and just wants to play with her all the time. It's only natural that from time to time she gets frustrated and doesn't quite understand the change that is taking place around her. And for the most part she is still her absolute cheery self.

I need to let go of making sure that Chris is happy at every single moment of the day. I feel great responsibility for that as well. But I know Chris isn't responsible for making me happy all the time - that's my own deal. So that's his as well. I can be a supportive partner in love, life and business. That's my job. But we each have bad days where the girls may drive us a little bonkers or there's a particularly frustrating client or job. And that's just how life goes.

I need to let go of a never ending to do list and accept the fact that for the time being, my days will be less "productive" than they used to be. That doesn't mean I'm not getting anything done. It means I'm getting a whole lot done, it's just very different from what it used to be. And that's totally okay.

However, what I need to hold on to is remembering the things that make me happy, and remembering to DO those things. Whether than means working on an art project, going for a walk, sitting outside by myself for 10 minutes, just talking with Chris, enjoying the hugs Zoe loves to give me while I hold her in the shower or the times when she just looks at you and says, "I happy," or laughing at the hysterical faces Merritt makes as she's waking up or how tight she holds my finger when she's upset or trying to fall asleep - those are the things I should never let go of. Those are the things I should ALWAYS remember.

So, moms everywhere: what do you need to let go of and how can we all help each other to make sure we don't hold ourselves to a crazy unfair standard of "perfection" that can never be reached? This is of course all easier said, errrr typed, than done, but let's support each other. Let's all accept that we are NOT perfect, and that is perfectly okay. The sooner I accept that there will always be at least some food on the floor and at least one load of laundry that needs to be put away, I know the sooner I will be a happier me. What about you?


Merritt: 1 month

Well, it's already that time again. Our little lady #2 is one month old. She hit the mark yesterday

And here's a fun little comparison of the two of them

Let me start off this post by saying I love Merritt with all my heart and she is - for the most part - a really awesome baby. But, I would be lying if I didn't say the last month has been ROUGH. It has been pretty hard adjusting to having another rugrat in the house. And the hardest adjustment is the lack of sleep with keeping after an energetic toddler. I forgot how exhausting those first months are with NO SLEEP.

We started out the month with what we thought was a good sleeper, and we were OVERJOYED. Sure, she woke up every 2-3 hours to eat, but there was limited fuss, so we counted ourselves lucky. But by about the end of the first week she started to get fussy at night and now a month in we have had some pretty epic nights. It's luckily not as bad as with Zoe (where there was frequently screaming crying till about 4am), but it's still not great. There have been many nights from about 7:30 - 11:30 (including 3 of the last 4) where she has just belted out screaming nearly the entire time. We can calm her down for a minute here, 10 minutes there, but it's just about near constant fussing. It's hard to take. The good news is that once she does finally get to sleep, she CONKS out. She is a DEEP DEEP DEEP sleeper. Which is fabulous. And usually on those nights she can make one stretch of nearly 4 hours. That is wonderful. But the screaming is a little maddening. And exhausting.

During weeks 3-4 we also hit a really rough patch of her being fussy just about every waking hour during the day. It seems like she was either eating, sleeping or crying. It makes me feel really awful for her, but also feel bad for Chris and I because we are STRUGGLING to make her happy and keep our sanity. Zoe was on the really, really low end of the spectrum in terms of the amount of sleep she got each day, and I think Merritt is the opposite. That girl can sleep A LOT during the day, and I think in all honesty, her fussiest nights were because she didn't sleep as much as she wanted during the day. We're seeing where it's going and trying to track when she's getting tired during the day, how long she likes to sleep each time, if that has a relation to her temperament at night, etc. It took us longer than we would have liked to get Zoe's sleep under control (8 months before she went through the night and was on a good, set schedule), so we're trying to be really pro-active this time around. Happy baby = happy parents.

But back to that deep sleeper: that kid can SLEEP when she gets down to it. Zoe will run around the house screaming, yelling, slamming doors: nada. Merritt just sleeps through it all. Zoe will climb up on the bed, poke, prod, hug, talk to her her: nada. It's quite amazing. And actually, when Merritt is being fussy or borderline fussy, in all honesty, Chris and I are convinced Zoe is better able to calm her down than we are. It's actually quite amazing. We've noticed that Zoe is a very compassionate and caring kid (if she EVER hears a kid crying at the park she goes over and tries to give them a hug and says, "feel better" to them). And that has carried over into being a big sister. She tells the baby to feel better, gives her hugs, tries to give her her pacifier - it's very, very sweet to see. Merritt I think just might sense that energy and she tends to calm down when Zoe is around. It's a wonderful bond to already see forming

Zoe has adjusted fairly well to being a big sister. She doesn't act out too much, she is more likely to get sad when it's time to go to day care because she feels like she's missing out. She'll want more attention from me - which I understand, but she doesn't throw ridiculous temper tantrums or try to be mean to the baby. Our hardest problem with her and the baby is that she wants to hold her and love on her all the time and we have to remind her that baby needs to sleep, or to be gentle because we can't literally smother her with hugs and kisses - though I'm sure Zoe would love to :) She has already taken to saying "That's MY baby!" :) One of my favorite times is during our bedtime routine when we read Zoe books and the last book of the night we let Merritt lay down next to her and Zoe just snuggles her, holds her, hugs her the whole time. It makes my heart melt. It's always a bit hard to take the baby away because Zoe insists that the baby is hers and that she "hold baby more?" It's a very lucky problem to have.

So what's Merritt like? Well, for the most part (besides the freak outs at night) she's a pretty calm baby. She spits up a lot and has really bad gas, so we're working on that. We give her medicine for the gas and work on keeping her upright after feedings. That really seems to be helping a lot.

Chris calls her "our gentle soul" because there is this really tender and sweet energy about her. Zoe was just - BOOM! on the go! - from the second she came out. So far Merritt seems a bit gentler. We'll see how much of that personality stays with her

She makes lots and LOTS of faces as she's waking up and is a noisy little thing - lots of coos and grunts. I don't remember Zoe being so noisy when she was little. It's cute and Chris and I always laugh at her faces. In the Bay Area there's a well known late rapper named Mac Dre who made common a term called, "Thizz face"

Mac Dre and Steph Curry with the Thizz Face #Thizzin'
from here

from here
Merritt makes a mean thizz face and I keep meaning to get a picture of it. Every time she makes it as she's waking up it makes me laugh.

It's crazy to see how different she looks already just in this first month. I remember that about Zoe too. Both times I took a lot of photos in this first month to document how much things changed. It's just crazy. It'll be interesting to see if as she gets older I can still see her toddler face in her baby face. When I look back at photos of Zoe as a teeny infant I can see her face now in that little bitty face. We shall see if Merritt is the same.

Merritt definitely has kept her olive skin (like me!) and no hair has really fallen out. Zoe was born with a fuzzy head, but lost most of her hair. Merritt definitely had some serious hair on her head when she came out and hasn't really lost any of it. It's funny that Zoe definitely has Chris' coloring and Merritt definitely has mine, but that they both still look alike. When I see photos of Zoe as a baby Merritt looks a lot like her. And most of our family has made the same observation as well

Towards the end of the month she's gotten pretty good at holding her head up on her own, she loves laying on the changing table staring at the mobile getting her diaper changed, she also loves staring at the paintings I made in our bedroom and we've gotten her first purposeful smiles in the last couple of days. I love seeing those for the first time. Those little eyes twinkle and a beautiful gummy smile. There's almost nothing better.

I can't wait to see how much she grows, changes and stays the same. I think my favorite thing about writing down my monthly memories of them the first two years is to see how much things really stick with your child, and how much things are just fleeting occurrences. There is just SO MUCH development in those first couple of years and I love trying to help myself remember it by writing things down. Zoe was a people lover and a mover and shaker (literally, ALWAYS needing to be moved around) from day 1, and that has definitely stuck. What are going to be the personality traits that we see forming in Merritt and take note of that stick with her? Each kid is just so amazingly their own person, it's so fun to see.

Happy 1 month birthday my little velociraptor ;) May you continue to be healthy, happy and the perfect addition to our family. Just scream a little bit less at night. Thanks. LOVE YOU!


I Went a Little Crazy

I was hoping to write a post today about the Before & After of my dad and Wendy's exterior paint job at their house, but we had quite the epic night with little Merritt last night which resulted in my forgetting to bring the camera during drop off this morning. And I didn't think cell phone photos would make appropriate after pictures. As a result, I will instead share of my crazy buying spree. Because it was a little crazy.

I have some weird nesting thing going on right now. I'm not sure what it is. It might be really wanting to make our home now that we've completed our family. It might be longing for the day when we find the next house to work on. It might just be shear boredom from sitting on the couch many hours a day because Merritt does not sleep well on her own. Whatever it is, I bought a lot of shit to go on the walls of our house. The only kicker is we have virtually no wall space left. This is why I'm crazy.

It all started on Facebook. Isn't that terrible? I saw this print

found here

I hate how Facebook knows what I'm thinking. Obviously I saw this and thought: I NEED TO HAVE THIS RIGHT NOW. So I clicked the link and dunked it in my cart.

And then, because I was sitting on the couch with a sleeping baby in my arms and whatever home renovation show I was watching wasn't entertaining enough I started to click click click around some more. I've bought stuff from Pop Chart Labs before (this is not sponsored at all, I just actually like them) and so I figured, "HEY! Let's look at what other art they have! We don't have any wall space for it, but WHO CARES!" So 30 minutes later I had these 3 other prints in my cart
found here
found here
found here
Yes, I told you. It was a little ridiculous. Especially because each of these prints is 18 x 24, or 24 x 18. Not too small. 

But I decided that wasn't enough. How could I love Seinfeld so much and NOT have a Seinfeld print? Welp, insert another couch sitting session with TV that's not entertaining enough and a smart phone...I stumbled upon a pretty awesome artist on Etsy and purchased another 4 prints. Jesus. One of them I can't show you because I got it as a surprise for Chris, and I'm not sure whether he'll read this before it arrives. But here are the other 3 (the Seinfeld one was a custom print - he does these Seinfeld quotes from episodes, and I obviously had to get my and Chris' favorite quote. OBVIOUSLY)
CUSTOM Seinfeld Print
found here

Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm Minimalist Print 1/3
found here

The Wire "Clay Davis" Print
found here
I would also like to share that while all of these prints reflect quite poor language, I am not a horrible person. I just happen to like offensive humor. And have been a bit of a grump lately (lack of sleep anyone...)

I have a couple ideas where some of these prints are going to go. There is REALLY limited wall space, so some will get hung, some things might get shifted, and some might just have to wait to find a home a little later. I do know there is one piece of artwork that is coming down in the house. This one in the bathroom

obviously we need to clear off the top of this cabinet...
It was one of the first things we hung up in the house and I thought this old print would be funny in the bathroom, but it turns out I've never liked it. I've always wanted to take it down. It just has no reflection of us at all, and I realized every single other piece of art up in the house is a reflection of our travels, the entertainment we're into, great memories we have, etc. This piece means nothing. Which explains my distaste for it. Obviously The Wire print will be replacing this one, because, well, if you've seen The Wire, "Sheeeeeeeeiiiiitttttt" :)

And although we haven't hung it yet, I do know where the tape measure is going

isn't this lighting fantastic? Thank you cell phone camera
Hooray! This seemed like the perfect spot for it. Chris even already routered out the back so it will lay flush against the wall. I still haven't settled on how we'll mark the height, but thanks to your FABULOUS suggestions I'm liking either a larger wood burn or a silver sharpie. At the moment I'm leaning towards the silver sharpie because I think that'll have great contrast, and well, it'll be easy (no need to get the wood burner out each time, although that would look pretty damn fantastic too).

We also hung up this classy little hook guy

please note that my keys are missing
I know, it's not that glamorous or anything. In all honesty I don't like it aesthetically too much, but it is functional as hell. One day I'd like to make one and customize it with as many hooks as we need, a slightly larger bin area, etc., but this will do for now. I've misplaced various sets of keys about 14 times in the last month - as my mom says, "Parenthood manifests itself in never being able to find your keys." And my car key is slightly expensive to replace (one of those keyless entry keys) and we have a lot of client keys, so I really need to get my shit together.

Well, there you have it. My crazy shopping spree. I also had us spend about $200 in frames at Ikea last night (NEVER go to Ikea on a Sunday night), because all that artwork needs to be framed too damnit. I realize in the grand scheme of things a bit over $200 for 18 frames is a great deal (I needed frames for some art projects for people) but it's still quite comical considering not all of this will even get hung up. Right now at least. One day. Sigh. Don't tell Chris that...

Alright, off to eagerly await the new artwork arrival ;)


I Got Nothin'

Well, that's not true - I have 14 posts I would like to write, but I've got no time to do it. Sigh. It's been quite an adventure getting adjusted to our family of 4, and I'd like to fill you in on it, but it'll involve actually thinking about what I'm writing, and well, last night I got about 3 hours of sleep. So that time is not now. My parents also put up the address plate on their house which means I need to take all the exterior after shots and write that post too...

But, for right now I'll just give you some baby pictures so at least there's SOMETHING up on this page

Can you tell how much Zoe loves that baby? :) Happy almost Friday!


Merritt's Birth Story

Merritt is 3 weeks old today, so I thought I'd share her birth story. Luckily, it's a lot less eventful than Zoe's.

As you all know, we scheduled our c-section this time around. After all that went down medically with Zoe and for my peace of mind of anything like that not happening again, it seemed like it was the best decision. We really wanted to have the c-section on her due date and wait as long as possible, and our doctor put in that date for request, however his medical assistant took too long to complete the paperwork and so by the time they did that date was no longer available and the date was pushed up by 2 days. I wasn't pleased when that happened. It feels very strange "picking" your child's due date and we were pretty particular about wanting it on that day, so when the plans got changed because someone essentially forgot to enter in paperwork, I was a little annoyed. But what are you going to do?

That wasn't the end of the confusion though. I won't go into details because it's pretty confusing and not that entertaining of a story, but we had quite the eventful last 5 days or so with the hospital leading up to the c-section. The doctor who was going to perform the operation had a family emergency, we were going to switch doctors, her office didn't even know the c-section was scheduled, they missed an appointment with me...it involved many hormonal tears from me and some great support by a friend of mine while we were at the park with our kiddos.

BUT, by Saturday the 20th everything was all set, we knew when we were supposed to be at the hospital on the 22nd, we thought we knew who was going to perform the surgery, we had grandparents taking care of Zoe girl - plans were ready.

I had been having contractions pretty consistently for the 2 weeks leading up to the c-section. Much like with Zoe. I found this highly annoying - I had the pain and frustration of contractions, but no pay off. So when 5:30AM on the 22nd rolled around, I was ready. I had hit my point of being uncomfortable - I just wanted the baby out.

ready to leave for the hospital!
Our operation was scheduled for 7:30AM that day, so my doctor and a surgeon I had talked with BOTH told us to arrive an hour before, but to call around 5:30 to make sure they hadn't had any emergencies making our operation get pushed back. The nurse told me I was actually supposed to already be at the hospital and the doctor gave me the wrong info. Way to start off on the wrong foot. I told her my dad and step mom were on their way and we would leave as soon as they got here. Oy. I felt bad, but there was nothing I could do because I was following what my doctor had told me.

Once my parents got to the house Chris and I headed out to the hospital. We got there about 6, and I was expecting with our delay and the inevitability of things always taking way longer we'd be in surgery around 8:30 instead of 7:30. However, they were understaffed and alllllll the prep work took way, way, way, longer than we though. At 9 we were still getting prepped. I was a little annoyed because this time I had so much more time to THINK about what was about to happen (hello my insides are getting sliced open people) and so I was getting more and more anxiety. There wasn't anything we could do about it though, so we just tried to stay positive

The good news is I LOVED our anesthesiologist. I had spoken with him several months before on the phone regarding Zoe's birth and what happened and my doctor said he was the best there was, so I was VERY happy he would be there for our birth. He was really a calming voice and was super informational and supportive because he knew our birth history with Zoe and was well aware of my nervousness.

I had really bad luck with the IV going in the first time (it took 4 tries, the head anesthesiologist on duty and a swollen hand that almost rejected the needle after it finally went in - they almost had to do it in my foot). It was a painful experience - literally, it hurt really fucking bad - so Chris was adamant the anesthesiologist do it the first time, just so that didn't happen again. He knew I was freaked out about it (I don't really like needles), so he elected to do it in my forearm this time and got it on the first try - hooray! There was also some confusion about WHO was going to perform the surgery. At first it was going to be one doctor, but because things were taking so long she might have to be pushed, but if we were ready sooner it would be her and a second doctor that would tap each other out on it (Kaiser policy about clinic hours or something). It was a little confusing - and annoying - and in the end we were actually happy that things took so long that the first doctor couldn't do it (me and Chris just didn't jive with her when she came in to meet us) and so the second doctor on duty that day would be performing it.

After what seemed like forever, I was finally wheeled to the operation room. It was about 9:30. Once I got there it was a very different feeling. Chris wasn't with me - and wouldn't be for about the next 40 minutes - but it was SUCH a calmer atmosphere than last time, and with about 1/3 as many people. Last time it was chaos and this time there was chatting and laughter. It made me at ease, but I still didn't like that Chris wasn't in there with me. All the prep in the operating room took about 30-35 minutes. I finally was numbed, fully prepped, vagina hanging out on the table and ready to go. I was getting increasingly more uncomfortable because Chris wasn't in the room with me however. The anesthesiologist knew that and he was doing his best to be a good partner. He was chit chatting with me, holding my hand and assuring me that Chris would be there soon. And just as they were starting the operation, the door opened and there he was, hooray! I cried a little when he came in, relieved that he was there with me and that this time was so much less scary. And I wanted to meet our daughter.

Getting the baby out this time took a bit longer. I had an existing scar that healed thick so they had a fair amount of scar tissue to work around. It felt like forever as I lay there, the sheet in front of me hearing what the doctors were talking about and feeling the sensation of them pulling and tugging where they were operating from. I lay there holding Chris' hand, talking about how eager I was to meet her and doing my best to stay calm. We were both quieter than normal and thoughtful - our baby girl would arrive soon. The anesthesiologist was still aware of my nervousness so he talked to us about the operation and how they were going to install speakers in the operating rooms soon so that families could listen to music of their choice during their procedures. He was awesome. He also took all the pictures we have in the operating room of me, Chris and Merritt, so he's even more awesome.

Then, at around 10:10 the doctor told Chris to stand up and that our baby was arriving. The first time I think they had Zoe mostly out by the time they told Chris to stand up, and this time they told him a bit earlier, so he really got to see her come out. All the doctors chit chatted as they pulled her out about what a big baby she was - we do make big babies :) I thought that was funny, I don't know quite why. And I say PULL because Chris said they did actually have to work with some force to get her out, she was really hanging in there. Something about our girls really makes them want to stay hanging out in my belly I tell you.

But pull they did, and then I heard that cry. At 10:11 she was born. And that cry is just the most beautiful noise there is. With Zoe it was such immense relief that she was out and healthy and this time it was filled with so much satisfied joy: our family was complete, our two girls were here.

We wanted skin to skin as soon as we could and were unable to with Zoe because they needed to hold onto her a bit longer to make sure everything was okay, so I was so happy to get to hold Merritt on my chest so soon after she was born and feel her body. She weighed 8 lbs 6 oz, exactly my guess. It felt surreal to have her on my chest - waiting for almost 40 weeks to meet her, having so much anxiety about her birth, and yet here she was, healthy and safely arrived. I felt so much absolute joy

They took her away after a couple minutes and put her on the warming table, cleaned her up and let Chris cut the umbilical cord. I was so happy he got to do that because, again, with Zoe he was unable to because they needed to leave it longer in case they needed to put an IV in her once she was born in case there were any lingering complications. The fact that this birth felt so much smoother was just a joy. I was so, so, so happy. A wash of relief and happiness came over me and I felt so amazingly calm.

Chris came back over with Merritt wrapped up in her burrito while they finished the operation: I elected to have a tubal ligation while I was having a c-section. I have a moral belief in not birthing more than 2 children because we're so overpopulated (don't make more than you are), AND Chris and I just don't want more than 2 kids, it's plenty for us. We elected that because the tubal ligation would add about 10 minutes to the surgery and I was already all opened up, that was the best decision for us. So while Chris held that sweet baby girl next to me so I could see and smell her they sewed up my lady parts and my stomach :) Great visual, right? :)

After everything was sewed up and we were about ready to be wheeled out the surgeon came over to tell us how the operation went. She let us know that she was actually very happy that we elected to have our c-section instead of try for a natural birth because my uterine muscle was so thin that it likely would have torn in labor and I would have had to have another emergency c-section. That made me feel even more confidence in the decision we made. No one wants a torn uterine muscle.

We were wheeled to the recovery area where the first time around was where our families got to meet Zoe, but by now Kaiser has changed their policy and family is not allowed in the initial recovery room right out of surgery, they need to wait till you are all checked out and sent to your rooms. Again, this was something our doctor didn't tell us, so we were a little sad that our family was all waiting in the waiting room and they would need to sit there for another 2 hours before they would get to meet her. Both of us were a little disappointed because we were so happy we wanted to share our joy with our family, but hey, you gotta follow orders.

In the recovery area I got all checked out, Merritt got all checked out and we attempted our first feeding. She latched on like a champ and actually fed for an hour. The nurse was pretty amazed and I had to make her stop so that they could do all their check ups on her. It was pretty funny. I love my food, so I was happy to have another food loving girl like me and Zoe :)

After we checked out fully healthy several times we got wheeled to our room and our family was able to come meet her

That was a happy, happy time. Zoe was at home taking her nap, so she came about an hour or two later, and we were SO EXCITED to have her meet her baby sister

She immediately loved her. It was actually really, really sweet to see. She wanted to sit on the bed with me,  hold her, make her talk and have her play with her. That is a bond and love I really hope stays with her. It was very sweet to see

We spent 2 days at the hospital and we hated it. I HATE hospitals and I hate staying in them. We wanted to get to go home as soon as we could. I felt amazingly great and Merritt was checking out awesomely. We were informed that we could go home after 2 days and we were so happy. But on the second day no one had put in our discharge info and I raised a little hell to one of the doctors about it. The surgeon, nurses, OB, anesthesiologist - everyone had said I was recovering really, really well and they were so surprised by it, so I didn't understand why we weren't entered into the discharge sheet. I felt bad getting mad at a doctor about it when they came in - especially because he was a pediatrician and had nothing to do with me, but I knew if I didn't really express my point of view to a doctor, we weren't going to get to go. I wasn't trying to escape the hospital or get out sooner than they wanted us - but EVERY SINGLE doctor and nurse that came in talked about how GREAT both Merritt and I were doing and that it was amazing how quickly I was recovering and how awesomely healthy she was and how "oh yeah, you can go home after day 2 no problem," - so naturally, I wanted to go home after day 2.

It took a little bit of us being on top of them about it, but sure enough at about 2pm that Wednesday I got Merritt ready to go home while Chris brought the car around

And then we got wheeled out and sent home, hooray!!!

It felt so good to have our baby girl home. I can't explain the relief and happiness I felt. The pregnancy and birth had gone well, I was healing great, our girl was healthy and Zoe was so happy to have her baby sister here. It really, really felt like our family was complete. And that felt awesome

So far Merritt has been a fairly relaxed baby. She cries a bit more during the day than Zoe, but cries far less at night. She LOVES to eat, LOVES to sleep (during the day) and looks a lot like her big sister (only olive skin and dark hair like me). She spits up far more than Zoe did (once or twice a day) and gets pretty bad gas after she eats - poor thing. We're learning what makes her happy, what positions she likes to be in, how she likes to sleep, what her schedule might be like. It's all an adventure.

The hardest thing about her and Zoe is just that Zoe wants to play with her, hold her and have her talk all the time. It's adorable, but also a bit challenging when Merritt is sleeping and Zoe really wants to hold her. It's a cute problem to have :)

There you have it: the birth of our second girl, Merritt Davis Miller - much less stressful, much more calm. And happy to be our family of 4