You are three weeks old!  You are still so brand new, but somehow it feels like you have been a part of our family for a long time.  This past Saturday, after Kate had napped and Zachary had boycotted his nap, and well your life right now is one long or short semi-continuous nap so we don't plan around that, we got out the double stroller for the bigger kids and the carrier for you and walked to get some frozen yogurt.
Both your dad and I noticed that people in the shop were really checking us out, and at first we thought it was a little strange because a family of five in the beehive state is hardly rare, and then I said that maybe they thought we were Brad and Angelina or some other famous good looking couple, and then your Dad said that they probably were just debating whether or not to give us advice on birth control.

After yogurt your Dad took Zachary and Kate to the dollar theatre to watch some movie about Legos?? and I realized this was a prime time to get a pedicure.  Because when the rest of you isn't exactly on pointe it feels good to have something looking good.  The no nonsense woman who worked on my feet saw you in your pink and white stripped layette and pink floral blanket and asked

Your baby a girl??

and in that proud new mom voice with a hint of a smile I said


and she said

look like boy.

So now your father and I have been saying look like boy in our best Vietnamese accent (which I must say is the only good accent that we can do) pretty much non-stop.  It is awesome (and hopefully doesn't count as cultural appropriation), and at this point I do not see it ever getting old.
But really Sophie, you are a beautiful baby, and after seeing plenty of babies I'm still not sure what a boy or girl baby is supposed to look like, although everyone does say that you look so much like your  brother Zach, but everyone also said that Zachary was too pretty to be a boy.....so whatever, I don't get it.  You are you and completely perfect.

When you were just a week old we went to a local photographer friend (hmarie.photos.tumblr.com) to get some proper baby and family photos.  This is something that I didn't do when Zachary and Kate were babies, but with you I felt was needed.  When you are not attached to me (which is most of the hours in the day and night) I am taking care of another child, or doing something indulgent like showering.  Heidi did such a great job of getting some good shots of us all, and her house was equipped with plenty of toys and an outside playground which made it even more of a great expereince.

This is your brother Zach and he is so into you.  He calls you new baby and lets me know right away when you start to cry.  The first time that he heard your little newborn scream he came running in with big tears and said the new BABY is crying!!! quick mommy, come help her!!!  He has such a big heart and although at random times he will let us all know what we can't do with you, which are alarmingly violent (we CAN'T hammer the new baby!), he has been nothing but sweet and loving to you.

This is your big sister Baby Kate.  I was a bit nervous to have you two so close together and wondered what Kate's reaction would be---would she feel like her babyhood was being robbed?  But so far it has been business as usual for Kate, which means she just wants play and party party.  When she sees you its always a muhahhh with an awkwardly placed kiss, and then off to be busy busy busy.

And this is you, Sophie.  You are the sweetest baby.  You have two dimples, blue eyes, and more hair at this point than any of your siblings did.  Dad says you are a man hater because you cry on him and are instantly soothed when I take you; I tell him he just has to remember all the tricks and try harder.  Babies can smell apathy.  Either way you are a generally mellow baby and this has been my smoothest transition with a newborn yet.  I've had lots of help (I heart grandparents!), and your dad took a whole two weeks off of work.  And while sleep deprivation is never easy, and I'm working on my tone for those utterly exhausted moments (although we have agreed that what happens in a sleep deprived state doesn't count), in general I have felt pretty good and have enjoyed you and spending time with family.  Thanks for joining us!


the third birth

This birth story starts with a miscalculated due date and ends with a head cold.

When we found out we were pregnant with baby number three it was a big surprise.  When we calculated my due date based on my last cycle, which also happened to be my first cycle I had gotten since having and nursing Baby Kate, I thought it was a little sign from heaven/the baby/cosmos/whatever that everything was going to work out just as it should.

Our due date was April 8th, Clint's birthday and the day we were married.  At that rate I was already well into my first trimester and feeling great!!  This pregnancy was going to be the pregnancy that I always wanted: no depressing debilitating morning sickness, lots of yoga, dance, walking and pilates, healthy fresh eating, rubbing my belly all day with a contented smile, lunching with my friends who may also be with child....you know, like how the celebrities do it.

When I went to see my midwife Rebecca for the first time she did an ultrasound and said

That is not an eight week baby.  You are pregnant, no doubt, but just barely.

Got it.  Cue morning sickness and all the other challenges that can come with growing another human.  Also cue a new due date: April 25th.

There I finally said it.  The date I avoided my whole pregnancy.  When asked so when are you due? I would give some ambiguous answer that involved April almost as a high conceptual theory that one could never be sure of.  Partly because I really hate due dates, and partly because I was in denial about that being my due date.  I was more accepting of the middle of April, it just seemed to make more sense, seemed more fair.

Fast forward to the middle of April.  I got subs for my technique and choreography class that I teach at the community college and started to get ready for baby.  Between my sluggish/indifferent immune system that really only cares for baby, and two young kids that bring in a lot of germs, I was constantly sick this pregnancy, but was relieved that I had just gotten over a cold and wasn't going to be sick for the rigor of labor and delivery.  When people asked when are you going to pop!!? I'd say any day now!

Ten or so days passed and instead of popping! I got cornered by a man at the grocery store who bent down and put his face level with my belly and insisted that I was having twins.  Whatever.  Too tired to even care.

Then the cold that would accompany this birth arrived, and I started to question if I even wanted to go into labor, and if I would have the energy to do an unmedicated birth.  And I also started to feel that I really might be the first woman to be pregnant for the rest of her life.  One night during my regular bout of waking and peeing and insomnia I googled longest time a woman has been pregnant.  I got some bizarre story of an woman in India and that medicine and due dates weren't refined in the early 1900s.  Nothing to indicate that I might be pregnant the rest of my life.  It was a little reassuring.

As I approached, sort of accepted, and then passed my given due date I started to feel that maybe I would be interested in Rebecca stirring things up.  Which basically means drinking kohash, an herb that stimulates uterine contractions and having my membranes stripped.  If baby is ready to come this can kick-start labor, if baby isn't ready then you are signing up for an unpleasant day of cramping.  I still felt pretty awful from the cold, but I also felt extremely ready to be done with this pregnancy.  I wasn't sleeping at night, having a hard time caring for my three and one year old, and was growing weary of the contractions and cramping that I recognized as my body gearing up for labor.

I went to Rebecca's office on Saturday morning, she did an exam to see if the stirring would likely be effective and said

You are three centimeters dilated and 70% effaced.  She is really low and lined up perfectly.  If we do this, you will probably have a baby by dinnertime.  And it feels like she is about eight pounds.

Done.  We took the plunge and did it.  In the parking lot I turned to Clint and said

Would you mind taking the kids to Costco and picking up some food?

Sure, what do you need?

Hmmmm.........I just need you to take the kids and be gone at Costco for awhile.

During the Costco run I cleaned house in prep for our dinnertime arrival.  It was a good, emotion filled time, and I stared to think of the things that I would focus on during labor.  My first birth, Zachary, really shocked me.  I of course did not know what to expect, and the sheer force, intensity, and pain of it was something that I was not anticipaing (understatement).  During active labor I began to doubt myself and fear that I would not be able to do it.  It was then that I felt my Grandma Em in the room, and she stayed with me the entire time, a strong, comforting matriarch of a presence.  She had and raised ten children, and I am in awe of what she was able to accomplish as a mother.  She passed away when I was 22, before childbirth and parenting were relevant in my life, and I so wish that I could talk to her now, ask her a million questions about her experiences, and get advice.  With Kate's labor I actively sought out her presence and once again felt her there, a hand on my shoulder and an energy of power and encouragement.  Thinking of being with her at my third birth was something that I latched on throughout my pregnancy as a positive aspect of labor, versus getting bogged down by how hard it all is. (although I did do some of that as well.)  While I cleaned, and cried and listened to the Lorde station on Pandora, I began to sense my Grandma there with me, thinning the distance between birth and death, old and new.

Shortly after Clint and the kids came back I started to have some contractions that felt much different than the contractions I had been having for the past two weeks.  We called Megan, our awseome babysitter, and Amanda, our awesome neighbor, and between the two of them they whisked our kids away---thank goodness.  Having kids around while contracting did not work for me.  Once the kids were gone Clint and I put a movie on, ate some snacks, and just enjoyed each other's company.  At one point I said:

You seem really happy---like almost giddy.  Are you just so relieved that it is me about to go through labor and not you?? And that you will never have to experience this??

No, I'm just glad the kids aren't here.  This is a nice break.

And it really was.  The lights were dimmed, it was raining outside, Clint had gotten me roses from Costco, we lit a candle....all great little details that were setting the mood for a relaxing birth and would serve absolutely no purpose once I was in active labor.  I don't think seeing the polar bear from the Hogle zoo smoking a cigar at my kitchen table would have gotten me to look twice during active labor.  But regardless, these were nice details at the time, and added to the relaxation of a Saturday afternoon without kids.  I guess sometimes it takes having a baby to get some adult time???

Then the somewhat consistent, but very bearable contractions  just stopped.  And I thought

Oh, hell no!  This baby needs to come today!  The kids are taken care of, the candle is lit, come on already!!!

I texted Rebecca who offered to come over and do a second stirring.  I agreed, she came, stirred, told me I had dialated to a four, and then went to Trader Joe's and told me to call if anything progressed.

We put on another movie, The Fifth Estate (about Wiki Leaks), which is not a great movie to watch on the brink of birth.  The only thing I can tell you about it is that Sherlock Homles guy looks awful with blonde hair.  Within half an hour (it was probably about 4pm now) labor started again and I could tell this time it was going to stick.  Contractions became all-consuming, about a minute in length, and pretty close together so Clint texted Rebecca to let her know.  She thought I had awhile yet to go, we said that I didn't, she agreed to come.

By the time she got to our house it was about 4:30, and she could see/hear that I was really in labor and similar to my other births I was on the fast track to have a baby.  She gave me the ok to get in the tub (something that can slow down labor if not far enough along).  Although contractions will be contractions, being in warm water always seems to make it all more bearable, and I was thankful for the small relief.

Transition was hard (understatement).  I thought that I couldn't do it, I felt alone, I wished I was in a hospital hooked up to pain meds, and I just wanted it to all be over.  But  really this pregnancy was harder than any part of labor, and so when Rebecca said

Look for pressure.  You are looking for pressure.

I thought

Forget looking.  I am going to find it.

And I'm pretty sure I did find that pressure because by 6:00pm I was holding my little girl!!  It was a fast and get er done sort of birth.  Each birth I have cut my time in half---it's like I am back in highschool looking for ways to shave off my mile time.  If only birthing were an Olympic sport...

After Kate's birth I had so much energy and endorphins, I felt ready to take on the world. (Or at least make a grilled cheese sandwich and walk across the street to pick up Zachary.)  After this birth I felt pretty drained.  I'm sure it was the cold, the full day spent with kids and labor and stopping labor, and just this pregnancy rearing its last exhausting head.  In fact right after I didn't even think that I had the energy to hold my new baby, but Rebecca in her wisdom gave her to me anyways, and for the next hour we cuddled and nursed and looked at each other.  Vitals were checked, no stitches needed for me (always a plus), and the baby passed all those tests that seem like a screening for the Kirov.  Eventually I had the energy to shower and while I was putting on my face cream the thought

I LOVE home birth!!!!

went through my head.

Wait, What?!!!...Seriously??!  Can't I be tramitized for a little bit longer?  Is the human capacity for intense and painful experiences that great??  I swear I hated it all two hours ago and now I'm totally like loving it?!

I have found pregnancy and birth to be complicated up and down relationships, but how I feel about this new baby is very straight forward.  I am head over heels in love.  She is absolutely perfect.  I am the luckiest girl out there.

My Mom's middle name is Jean, and so in honor of my grandmother, who over 60 years ago birthed my mother, and I imagine held her for the first time with complete awe and wonder and love, and then  named her in a way that felt special and treasured...and of course in honor of my own mother who birthed me over 30 years ago and raised me with complete love and sacrifice, we name our daughter:

Sophie Jean Womack
April 26th 2014
8 pounds 6 ounces
21 inches long

Photos by hmairephotos.tumblr.com