I don't know what made us settle on arriving in Bloemfontein May 22nd, but it was the plan all along. Trying to aim two weeks before Ellee's due date, we decided the least stressful thing would be to go ahead and come to allow us a little time to settle in before she made her appearance. Even so, we opted to come sixteen days early, and I really have no idea why. It's a good thing, though, because Ellee barely waited until two weeks before her due date.
As we arrived in Bloem from Maseru on Wednesday around lunch time, there was a distinct increase in the pressure I was feeling in my pelvis. Although the journey was only about two hours, I thought it must have been from sitting still in the car. So we proceeded to eat our lunch, and I didn't even mention it to Jonathan. By Wednesday evening I was feeling some "pain", or discomfort rather, and began trying to discern what it was I was experiencing exactly. Although it was the first "pain" I had felt in the pregnancy that even hinted towards labor, I didn't think it would continue because I was still sixteen days out from my due date. Because Kyle came five days after his due date, I was pretty convinced all my babies would make late arrivals. I was prepared to be in for the long haul with Ellee as well. I mentioned the discomfort I was feeling to Jonathan, telling him that although it felt like nothing compared to the labor I experienced with Kyle, it was the same sort of sensation, and I hoped it would either progress or just go away so I could sleep.
I did sleep for about four hours before waking up to bothersome minor contractions that were coming between 7-10 minutes apart. The intensity was still almost nothing compared to what I felt with Kyle; I was pretty determined they would cease before long. After timing those and Skyping my mom and pregnant sister-in-law in the middle of the night, I decided I ought to try to sleep again just in case they did progress as Thursday continued. I dozed on and off between annoying contractions and finally woke up for good that morning, tired and nervous that Ellee was really going to come before Aunt Lacy had a chance to make it here. The contractions continued sporadically throughout the morning, but they were still pathetic on the labor pain scale. We visited the hospital that morning to drop in on friends of ours who were there due to a car accident. I decided to pop into my doctor's office there at the hospital to see what he had to say. He checked and told me I wasn't dilated at all which came as no real surprise to me. I knew the contractions weren't real, intense labor pains by any means, but because I never had any "pre-labor" with Kyle, I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. My doctor sent me down to L&D to be monitored for about half an hour and see what they had to say. The nurse said the contractions weren't very strong at all and said I could go home and would likely be back.
What else would a Daddy and little brother do while Mommy is being monitored but draw Simba?
Mommy knowing the contractions weren't doing anything and wanting to go home and eat lunch.
As soon as we left the hospital at about 2:30 PM, the intensity of the pain began to increase and continued steadily throughout the afternoon. I alerted the guest house owner, Marian, that it didn't appear Lacy was going to make it in time to care for Kyle while I delivered, and so she would have to be on 2-year-old duty whenever we needed to go back to the hospital. By 5:30 PM we were convinced a return trip to the L&D floor was imminent, so I began attempting to get things together between contractions. When Kyle woke up from his nap, I tried to feed him some dinner. I would run out of the room every few minutes to have a contraction before returning to shovel in another bite. I didn't want him to see me in pain, but I also didn't want to leave him with someone he didn't know when just awake from his nap and with an empty stomach. By 6:30 PM, I called Marian back and told her we were going to head for the hospital as soon as I could get everything together. She immediately came to retrieve Kyle and we left for the hospital at about 7 PM.
It was so different this time, trying to do everything on our own and also having a son to worry about. When we got to the hospital and they checked me, I was 2 cm (pathetic, right?), so I hunkered in for a long night. Ouch. We decided to send Jonathan back to relieve Marian until he would put Kyle to sleep. Poor Kyle was pretty uneasy as we left him so quickly and it made me even more tense knowing he had no clue what had just happened. Staying alone in the hospital wasn't exactly my ideal situation, either, but we didn't see that we had much choice. I sent Jonathan off with clear directions to keep his phone close just in case. By the time he got back, I was at 5 cm and much happier with a numbing drug in my back. I'll spare you the rest of the labor and delivery details but let's just suffice it to say I didn't push for the 1.5 hours I had with Kyle.
Ellee Renée was born at 1:29 AM on May 24th, barely two weeks before her due date, weighing 6 lbs, 7 oz and measuring 19 inches long. My doctor didn't make it in time for the delivery because he was at home asleep like any normal person would be at that time of the night; the nurses didn't call him until Ellee had practically birthed herself. Nevertheless, she arrived beautiful and healthy and my relief from being unpregnant was great.
I dare say the months of sickness I experienced until I reached 19 weeks in my pregnancy was the roughest experience I've faced thus far in my life. Really I can't imagine going through that misery again. Even so, the reward is so much greater than the pain I experienced in those months. She is an angel baby and while I didn't think it possible, I love her just as much as I love my Kyle and I love him no less than I did before.
Thus far Ellee seems to have a fairly mild temperament, although at this point she is just sleeping her days away. She is awake some of the time, and unless she's fighting a dirty diaper, she just looks around at the world and makes lots of little baby grunts. Nursing is still going great. She took to it with even more ease than Kyle did. We tried giving her a bottle of milk I had pumped the other day just to see what she would do. She took to that fine as well. She is sleeping curled up next to me at this point so we are only up once or twice a night for feedings since she is so snuggly warm. I don't really want to sleep with her every night, but since it is so cold at night and we don't have heat, I feel like I don't have much choice through the winter. I am a light sleeper so I don't worry as much about her sleeping with me as I would worry she is too cold sleeping alone. I won't be looking forward to to training her to sleep in her crib once it starts to warm back up, but for now, I'll try to enjoy having a little bundle snoozing beside me. I now know how quickly these sleepless early weeks fly by. I'm doing my best to just enjoy the middle of the night feedings and getting shot at during diaper changes.
Being a mom the second time around is a much different experience as well. I feel so much more at ease with her all around, from breast feeding to diaper changing, I just feel more confident that I know what I'm doing. Of course, there are still plenty of things I don't know or have forgotten about Kyle's first weeks, thus I'm really thankful for Skype so I can ask my mom questions even from across the pond. But, for the most part, it has been a really smooth transition between one and two children. Jonathan and I make a pretty good team. We both know, however, we'll be doomed with number three since we won't be able to each just have one to care for. Yes, I did just mention "number three" and I'm only nine days from delivering the second. I may just be crazy.
Kyle has surpassed all my expectations on the little brother front. He immediately took to Ellee and he continues to drown her with hugs and kisses. He says her name so sweetly, "Ellee Nay", and he is convinced that she "likes you." She's probably pretty oblivious to the fact that she has a big brother, but I'd bet if she knew, she would like him. He is a great little helper and eagerly takes her soiled diapers to the trash for me. That's about all he can help with at this point since she only eats, sleeps and poops. But, he does it with such a happy heart; he makes me so proud.
Kyle meeting Ellee in the hospital room
We miss our family and friends greatly and wish everyone could be together to share these special days. We're thankful to now have one extremely helpful family member here, at least, lending us a very welcome hand during these early weeks. Kyle is loving having Aunt Eee here to play with him, and I think it has helped him take Ellee's arrival smoothly since someone else is here to pay him some attention. We also enjoyed a visit this weekend from friends from Tennessee, fellow missionaries who now live in Pretoria. They took these beautiful photos for us and we are so grateful!
My heart is full and my eyes sweat sometimes when I look at my precious little girl and my silly little boy and thank God for the blessings He has given me. I am so undeserving of such a privilege and I don't take it lightly. My treasures, I pray I will be a good mother to you always.