Around here.

 ^^Hugo Henry has been diligent about strengthening those neck muscles.^^
 ^^I've been reading this book. upside to breastfeeding: lots and lots of reading time.^^
 ^^the laundry never ends. also, we just got this beautiful baby quilt from my Grammy.^^
 ^^this guy has been such an attentive big brother, and we're so proud of him.^^
^^and we've made more at-home meals over the last two weeks than we have during any other point in our marriage. this is maternity leave.^^


Memorial Day Weekend.

For Memorial Day Weekend, we headed out to my parents' house to enjoy some of the beautiful weather and introduce Hugo to a few family members who hadn't met him yet. We read books on the back porch, grilled burgers and pizzas and made a point of adhering to early bedtimes. Gosh, having a baby makes you so, so cool. Have you heard?
And we're so grateful for the men and women who have served our country, making sacrifices in the name of freedom. Thank you, thank you.


First beach walk.

We've been taking it easy over the last week as I recuperate and we learn how to deal with extreme sleep deprivation (though I got five hours last night! a small victory). Still, it's tough to be cooped up inside all day. Yesterday afternoon, we drove to the beach with our baby and bulldog for a short walk before dinner.

He didn't have much to say about it, but I'm sure Hugo will love growing up near the water as much as we did. There's so much to look forward to.


Hugo Henry: A Birth Story.

At my 38 week appointment (the 8th), we learned that baby's head had officially dropped. I had suspected as much, since I could no longer cross my legs or hold my bladder for more than thirty minutes at a time. Still, I was told that the baby could be locked and loaded for weeks without seeing any action. I was prepared to wait, albeit impatiently.

Then, over Mother's Day weekend, the back pain came on strong. I chalked it up to some unfortunate fetal positioning, but told Blake I wasn't sure I could handle any more drives into the city or out to our parents' houses. On Monday, things got worse, and I ended up taking work calls on my knees in the living room, muting the phone when I needed to take a deep breath. Blake came home that evening to find me sitting on the floor, using the couch as a desk and sighing deeply through back spasms. 

I made a call to my doctor around midday on Tuesday, after both my mother and my manager at work flagged that severe back pain was often a sign of early labor. A friendly nurse encouraged us to come into the office, so we headed over within the hour to get checked out. "Oh, you're at 3 centimeters," the doctor said. "You're in early labor." The sweetest words. We drove to the hospital. 

At the hospital, I was monitored for contractions (still inconsistent and about 10 minutes apart), told to walk around the halls for a while, and monitored again. When it looked like I hadn't made any progress over the course of a couple of hours, we were sent home to time contractions. And eat Chipotle in the bathtub. Hours went by, and the contractions were still irregular, varying in intensity and 10-15 minutes apart. Madness, thy name is prodromal labor. 

This went on for 36 hours. I walked, ate pineapple, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and had a good cry. 

On Thursday, I woke up around midnight with fierce back pain and contractions that seemed to double over on each other. I got back in the tub and tried timing how the pain was progressing, but between the back spasms and contractions, it was hard to tell what was what. I woke Blake and told him something was different this time, but we still felt that we should wait to call the doctor. Two hours in without any consistency, I tried to get some rest on the sofa. That's when my water broke.  

We called the doctor and the maternity unit, and since we live just around the corner from the hospital, we were still told to wait until contractions were 3-5 minutes apart before coming in. Within thirty minutes, it was clear that the baby was coming fast, so we stopped timing, threw our things together and got in the car. Every bump on that short drive is seared into my memory for all of eternity. 

From this point (3:30am) forward, everything happened in a blur. I was admitted by a sleepy nurse who took her time inputting my vitals in the computer while I started to writhe in pain and yell through every strong contraction. Transition is real, and it is not messing around. At 8-9 centimeters dilated and fully effaced, the only thing on my mind was that bright beacon of pain relief - the epidural. I wanted it ASAP, and it arrived via an equally sleepy anesthesiologist, who got my sloppy signature on a form no woman ever takes the time to read. A spinal tap preceded the epidural, since we weren't yet sure if baby would come before the epidural kicked in. I was catheterized (the worst, since the epidural had somehow missed my bladder) and the nurses watched the baby's heart rate come up and down in preparation for pushing. 

Around 7am, the staff turned over, and we were introduced to two incredible nurses who ended up being the ultimate labor cheerleaders. My obstetrician said she'd be performing an emergency C-section down the hall, but she'd likely be back to deliver the baby. If labor progressed more quickly than anticipated (it did), a hospital midwife would step in. And, of course, I had Blake, who was everything I'd imagined him being in this situation. He was the most supportive coach and partner, and we were bringing this baby into the world together. 

The pushing was quick - it was just 20 to 30 minutes before one of my nurse-cheerleaders said we had one more push to go. Just like that, I had a squirming, beautiful little life thrown on my belly. 7 pounds, 5 ounces of perfection, with long fingers and a tiny button nose. 

We named him after a great concept and a great man. "Hugo" for Victor Hugo, who championed the power of justice and mercy in his writing, and "Henry" for my father (Edward Henry), who embodies strength of character, love of family and entrepreneurial spirit. 

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." 
- Elizabeth Stone 


Baby is here!

We welcomed Hugo Henry Walker on May 14th at 8:18am.
7 lbs. 5 oz. and 21.5 inches long.
We adore this tiny person.


Dear baby boy.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. It was our first - yours and mine - which should have given the day some gravity, some significance. But it was just another day. One marked by celebration over breakfast in bed and sunshine, but still another day waiting on the miracle of you. 

I've heard a lot of well-intentioned advice over the last few months. So many scripts for what motherhood should be and what it's been to many wise, lovely women. I've lost sleep over future boundaries between career and mothering, taking care of myself and taking care of you, shaping new dreams and considering how those dreams may be shaped by you. I'm discovering that your childhood won't be defined by how much I've worried over these things. What you need is a mother who loves you fiercely, and beyond reason. 

Pumpkin-baby (that's the size they say you are now, silly enough), I hope you take ownership of the fact that love is so much bigger than fear. More often than not, I hope I model that for you. Fear is a destructive emotion - one that will put limits on your life if you let it. Love is just the opposite. Love is what gave us you. 

I don't know what we'll make of it yet, but I love you fiercely, boy who made me a mama. 


Dear husband.

I found myself looking through old photos of the two of us last night - experiences like pieces to a puzzle that I've carefully assembled with you (the only puzzle I've ever enjoyed). How on earth was this taken ten years ago? Much of me is still that fifteen-year-old, up to my ears in books, big plans and a crazy love for the senior guy who kissed me unexpectedly one cool autumn evening, and hasn't stopped kissing me since. 


May, you beautiful month, you.

Our first May weekend was one of... 
 ^^long walks under blooms.^^
^^stops for smoothies and frozen yogurt around town.^^
 ^^baby clothing sales. tiny overalls, you guys.^^
 ^^time spent with family over homemade pizza.^^
 ^^a (very late) drive into the city for church, which turned into a walk along the Hudson.^^
 ^^bump was there.^^
 ^^brunch at Joseph Leonard, which is now among our top favorite brunch spots. the hash browns. ridiculous.^^
^^and more drooling over the West Village in the spring.^^


37 weeks.

^^tiredface and awkward sitting positions. this is nine months.^^

Here's what's happening:
*baby is full term! ready when you are, kid.
*I am running into all of the things - kitchen counters, the backs of restaurant chairs, walls, doors, etc.
*the hospital bag is packed, the tiny clothes have been washed and the apartment has been scrubbed from top to bottom (many times). nesting, full force.
*Gus is a big fan of my belly's increased surface area. in the evenings, he's taken to sleeping on the bump, which usually prompts lots of jabs and kicks from baby. best friends in the making.
*I worked from home every day but Tuesday this week, and Blake has been great about making sure I get out of the apartment in the evenings so that I don't go stir-crazy. he's going to be the very best dad, for so many reasons. have I said that before? I am so, so excited to see him take on this role.
*one night last week, we were walking around the city after dinner and a stranger (who might have been a little off his rocker?) pointed to the bump and said, "there's a baby boy in there!" people know these things. the bump must give off a very boyish vibe.
*and, without having any concrete expectations, I'm getting pretty excited about being the mama of a baby boy. we're going to have such wonderful adventures, little one.