Micah David's Birth Story

I thought baby boy would be born at 39 weeks and 1 day like his brothers, on October 30th, right before midnight. Wouldn’t that be perfect – all three boys having similar birth stories?

The last of the belly photos, on October 30.

The last of the belly photos, on October 30.

“Do you know how small the chances of that happening are?” my husband said.

Still, I planned everything around that date – my hair appointment, getting my nails done, my workout goals. I didn’t even buy Halloween candy to pass out because I was sure we wouldn’t be home. At my moms’ group the morning of the 30th, I told them – “there’s still time. My contractions could start this afternoon, and he would still be born before midnight.”

Denial – it’s a powerful drug.

The 30th came and went. I was disappointed – weepy, short-tempered, unable to deal – the denial hangover hitting me hard.

On the 31st, I wake up early as usual, but this time by contractions that come steadily. I start timing them on my phone at 5:25 and shake my husband awake – “I think we’re going to have a baby today.” “That’s exciting,” he says, before rolling over.

At 8:10, bloody show. I debate whether my blowout will last through labor and decide that no, it won’t, so I wash my hair. I eat breakfast at the bathroom sink – bacon from our latest Butcher Box delivery, Eggo waffles, a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg, iced coffee.

The morning is a blur of thoughts and tasks. Tasks: Find Judah’s costume. Pack the lavender oil and diffuser. Make sure Noah has his water bottle for school. Reply to DMs on Instagram. Thoughts: Do I have time to update our budget on Mint? Should I call Erica (my doula and friend)? Should I buy Halloween candy? I don’t update our budget. I don’t buy candy, and I don’t call Erica, convinced she would have been stuck in LA traffic while baby was being born.

I planned on chicken noodle soup with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc – “my labor wine”, I told my husband, as we stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way home from our last date night. Instead, I eat – also at the bathroom sink – half of a leftover burrito from Cuca’s, another example of expectations clashing with reality.

At 11:30 a.m., I call Labor and Delivery. “This is my 3rd baby, I tell them. “I’ll let the hospital know you’re coming,” the nurse says.

She did not let the hospital know.

When I give them my name via the wall telephone in the waiting room, the check-in nurse asks me, “What are you here for?” I wonder if she’s joking. “Uh, labor...”

A few minutes later, the check-in nurse calls a name, and Dave ushers me in. “Oh, I called Yesenia,” she says. I shuffle back out, cursing under my breath, hissing at my husband, “Help me out here.”

We’re called in again, and Dave hands the same nurse my insurance card. She looks up: “This is an infant card.” He scrambles to find my card, while I’m doubled over in the middle of a contraction.

“You’re not even helpful,” I say to him. “I should have called Erica.”

I’m annoyed and frustrated, and also annoyed that I’m annoyed, not wanting to stall labor with my negative emotions.

The triage nurse, Dawn, hooks me up the monitor asks me what my pain level is. It’s only a 4 or 5, which I know doesn’t bode well for admittance. She leave the room, and the contractions start to slow. We watch Hocus Pocus while we wait.

After 20 minutes, she checks me. “You’re at a 4. We can’t admit you until you’re at 6.” Disappointment all over again. “You can walk around, or you can go home and come back in two hours,” she says. “This happens a lot – as soon as women get in here, their contractions slow down.” At 1:50 p.m., we leave triage, and I’m back in the hallway, waddling at a snail’s pace, weighed down even more by the feeling of failure.

In college, I lived across from frat row. From my window, I could see the girls leaving the frat houses the morning after a party, still wearing their mini dresses, holding their heels, disheveled and hungover.

“This is the walk of shame,” I tell my husband. “The pregnant version.”

The contractions intensify as soon as I start walking. Of course. I have three contractions back to back, just walking to the elevator. A man stops his conversation on his cell phone to ask me if I need a wheelchair.

Outside in the cafeteria courtyard, I try a walking meditation, trying to recall everything that I read about but not actually practiced.  The contractions are intense and so painful that the only way I get through is by standing perfectly still and moaning. I make it through a few more contractions before I tell Dave that we need to go back up – and that I need that wheelchair.

“What happened to my pain tolerance?” I ask him.

All the rooms are taken, they tell us, so Dave pushes me up and down the hallway in the wheelchair. The reverberations of the wheels against the shiny floor are unexpectedly soothing. The contractions hit hard, one after another, and my moaning comes out more like a growl.

It is 2:45 when we’re called back in. My L & D nurse tells me that one of the birthing suites just opened up, so I can go directly there. “That’s the best news I’ve heard all day,” I tell her. Dawn checks me again. “You’re 6 cm now,” she says. “We can admit you.”

“I think maybe I want an epidural this time,” I say. “You want an epidural?” she repeats. I backtrack. “I’m not sure…” “You can decide after the next contraction,” she tells me.

I climb into the bed to get hooked to the monitor and the penicillin drip. A man comes in to draw my blood. More contractions that just about knock me out. “I think... I do want that epidural,” I say. “Sure, the nurse says. “But have to wait for your blood test to come back.” I know then that this will be another unmedicated birth.

I can’t leave the bed, so in between contractions, I switch positions, getting on my knees to face the window. Switching positions in this stage of labor is supposed to keep it progressing, I remember reading. I also remember reading that I should focus on what doesn’t hurt, but then I just notice that I can feel the penicillin burning through the IV in my hand.

Dave is encouraging and supporting, and I mentally take back everything I said about him not being helpful. He reminds me to relax, and in the few seconds between contractions, I do. I can see the on-ramp to the 405, and it offers a little bit of relief to know that people are still going about their day, picking up their kids from school or running to the grocery store. That even amidst the pain, cars keep moving; the world keeps turning.

I’m shaking and sweating now, and my teeth are chattering. I know this transition period from past labors. It feels awful, but I know that it’s a good sign – that I’m progressing. I change positions again, still on my knees, but with my arms draped around the back of the hospital bed. I’m in the hospital gown, which means that my backside is totally exposed, and I feel momentarily embarrassed that the first thing that the nurses will see when they walk in is my ass.

When I think that the contractions can’t get more painful, they do. I’m breathing down and trying to keep my moans lower than the decibel of a scream. From that position, I can feel baby moving into the lower part of my hips. It’s the strangest feeling, a tiny human literally traveling down your body. The midwife pops in for a minute, “Is he coming soon?” she asks me. She checks me, and I’m nine and a half cm. “Just keep doing what you’re doing,” she says. Someone asks for a delivery table, and when she leaves the room, the other nurses talk about which one of them will catch the baby if she doesn’t come back in in time.

The muscle memory kicks in – I push when I feel the intensity of the contraction coming on, and then I rest when it subsides. The midwife returns and asks, “Do you want to deliver in that position, hon?” I don’t have time to tell her that I physically cannot get out of this position. Then comes the whoosh of wetness as my bag of waters finally breaks. I grip the back of the bed and push and feel that best kind of relief when baby boy’s entire body slides out. I think the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m so glad that’s over.” It was the worst of all three labors, but gratefully, the smoothest delivery, and I’m still “intact.”

And then I somehow get my leg over the umbilical cord and into a seated position, and they place baby boy in my arms, and that moment is worth everything. “You did it, mama,” Dave says. “There he is.”

Still in the birthing suite, an hour after he was born.

Still in the birthing suite, an hour after he was born.

Micah David, born at 3:42 p.m. on October 31, weighing 8 lbs, 4 oz, and 21.5 inches long. Another tiny dream come true.

“It’s a good thing you didn’t go home,” the nurse says. “You would have had an off-ramp baby.”

“That delivery brought me back to my birthing center days,” says the midwife. Then, “Would you like to see your placenta?” I do, and she gives me a mini lesson on it. I try so hard to remember everything like it’s the last time, because it probably is.

Just SO happy.

Just SO happy.

In the moments and hours afterward, everything is perfect. Micah is perfect – tiny and round and dreamily soft. “I am so, so happy,” I say, over and over again. “I can’t believe he’s finally here.” As I hold him, we watch the sun set out the window. It’s magical – swirls of cotton candy pinks and blues whipped with creamsicle orange – the exact backdrop I would have painted for this moment.

On the way to my postpartum room, we see Dawn. “I heard you screaming down the hallway,” she says. “I was so proud.” She gives me a hug before I’m wheeled down the hallway to press the button hidden in the painting that plays the lullaby, letting everyone know that another baby has been born.

Our boy.

Our boy.

On November 1, we head home to a new month with our new baby. Four years ago, we were heading to the hospital around the same time, and now we are going home, beginning and ending our birth stories by moonlight. “This is the last of the happy hospital stays,” I tell my husband. “It feels like the end of an era.”

Motherhood has taught me that the heart can expand – there is always room for more love – and that the present too quickly becomes the past. It is the end of an era for us, the arrival of our precious newborn boy and also the last of our births. Beginnings and endings all tied with the same ribbon, these perfect, ephemeral gifts.

Fall: Reset

It feels like it was just July – my favorite month this year – and now it’s October, the start of a season of holidays and celebrations and a little bit of sadness because it won’t look the same as last year. It’s a season of beginnings – baby boy’s birth and becoming a mom of three – and endings, too – the close of 2018 and saying goodbye to 31 for both me and my husband.

Probably one of our last photos as a family of four.

Probably one of our last photos as a family of four.

I listened to a podcast recently that talked about the things that people do to retain a sense of calm and structure when the rest of the their lives are chaotic with travel schedules or significant life changes. For some people, it’s not missing a workout, even if they end up jogging in place in their hotel room. For others, it’s eating the same thing for breakfast every day – one less decision to be made. The craziness doesn’t last forever, but the practices stay constant.

Another thought I’ve been mulling over: “Our souls have seasons,” Adam McHugh wrote. “I want to let the seasons, and their inherent gifts, rhythms, and offerings, teach me how to live and to be more human.”

Yes, and yes.

In these #last90days, I’m embracing both the discipline of sticking to ways of living that remind me who I am at my core and the practice of paying attention to the unique rhythms and experiences of this season. I am not the same person that I was three months ago, and also, I am more me than I have ever been.

I believe in letting the seasons refine us – through what we shed, and what we adopt; in the ways we grow together or apart; in the beginnings and the endings; in each choice: bitterness or grace, anger or love, disappointment or hope, what changes or what stays the same. I believe that the way things end matter as much as how they begin.

The direction I’m headed:


I have a huge list of books on my reading list (no surprise), with a memoir trend happening:

I blame it on reading Kelly Corrigan’s book, Tell Me More, especially these quotes:

“Maybe you can still be a decent-ish person, a person with a personal mission statement, a person who aspires to be someone habitually good and highly effective, and fuck up.”


“[on I love you].

The first time the words pass between two people: electrifying.

Ten thousand times later: cause for marvel.

The last time: the dream you revisit over and over and over again.”


If this boy is anything like my first two, October might be my very last month of being pregnant. I’m more than halfway through my goal of finishing my 60-day spinning streak. I screen workouts based on their playlist, so I put together my own playlist for Peloton. I’m working on a Fall playlist, but I’ve only added three songs: Best Shot (on repeat – the perfect song to slow dance to on the rooftop of the Ole Hanson Beach Club at sunset), Reckless Love (the promise I hold onto), and Damage (because it is so hauntingly sappy, and sometimes, a girl just needs some of that in her life).

After baby comes, my “workout” plans involve walking: for five minutes a day to start, then increasing by a minute each day until the end of the year.  Two weeks after baby’s birth day, if all goes well, my plan is to begin this 8-week Core-Floor Restore program. Can you tell that I’m terrified of “abdominal separation” and “pelvic floor prolapse”? I’ve generally been a secure person in all parts of my life, but pregnancy can throw you for a loop.


More than anything, I want to be a better mom and wife this season (and really, every season). I’m prepping for labor and postpartum with daily mindfulness and meditation practices, an evening gratitude list, and working through the MomStrong study with one of my girlfriends. This is the first time I haven’t been at the same stage of pregnancy with close friends or sisters – it’s strange and a little lonely – kind of like life in general, depending on the season you’re in. My goal is to spend as much quality time with my boys as possible, especially once I’m on maternity leave. There are so many fun things we haven’t done yet or lately, like storytime at the local library, Pretend City, and Little Lido Kid’s Club.

I’ve gotten back into podcasts, also along the mom/wife theme:

I may physically be waddling my way through this next month. Or rolling, maybe? (Front heavy).  Even through the discomfort and likely sleep deprivation, I want to be present to the miracles, tangible and otherwise, that this season has to offer and to end 2018 well.

Summer: Rituals.

In this season, I’m finding that the rituals that we have as a family are the ones that carry me through the hard days of exhaustion, emotions, and crazy pregnancy hormones.


Even when I don’t sleep at night, I know that in the morning, there will be coffee and scrambled eggs and #fabfour smoothies and little boy snuggles.

After a hard week, we still have Friday night. Whether we stay in for tacos, or go out for Costco pizza, we start off the weekend together.

“We’ll always have Saturday” is my grown-up-mom-of-three-boys(!) version of “we’ll always have Paris.” Less romantic, for sure, but the nostalgia is still there. Even when we have no plans, we still have each other.

We stroll the farmers’ market, then hit the playground, then the library. Sometimes we go to church on Saturday night, so that on Sunday morning, we can sleep in – as much as you can sleep in with a toddler and a preschooler – before hitting our circuit of Starbucks, donut shop, breakfast burritos and sometimes Bagels & Brew.

We have rituals with words, too. I love you. I’m sorry. Do you want to snuggle? Can I kiss it better? Thank you, Jesus.

In the strongest relationships, the mind, the heart,  and the body come together to form a rope of three strands. Do you have my attention? Am I showing you that I love you? Am I physically present?

I hope that our little ones remember the trips and weekend getaways. I hope they remember what it feels like to roast marshmellows by moonlight at the lake and to jump into a pool surrounded by pine trees. But I hope they also remember the quotidien. I know I will.

What I'm Reading: April & May.

I went just a little bit crazy buying books these last two months.



The Magic of Motherhood. You can bet that I pre-ordered this as soon as I heard it was on Amazon. I'm such a huge fan of Coffee & CrumbsOnly Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love is another mom-fave for me. My mom actually took it off my nightstand and has been reading it herself. It's only $2.99 on Kindle right now, so scoop this one up.

Not Naughty: 10 Ways Kids Appear to Be Acting Bad But Aren't. This was a really eye-opening one for me, especially numbers 2-4 and 9-10. I'm learning to offer Noah (and myself) grace when it comes to being overtired and overstimulated. Most of the time, we know what's best for our own kids, but I'm a big believer in learning how to be a better parent. Dave and I went to a parenting workshop at our church before Noah was even walking, and the speaker said something to the effect of, "If we want better kids, we have to be better parents." That stuck with me.

The Happy Sleeper. Sleep training, it's real. 

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. I want Dave to read this one. So hard to disconnect these days, and I want to make sure we are setting the best possible example for the little ones before they grow up to be iPhone addicts.


How to Draw Modern Florals. So, so excited to carve out time to work my way through this book. I can't make it to an in-person art class these days, so this is perfect for at-home art times with my little ones.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. I'm just now learning about this, and wondering why I hadn't read it sooner. It's therapy in a book. One of my biggest life challenges is learning how to adequately communicate my needs and my boundaries and helping my kiddos do the same, and this book has been so helpful in guiding me. Breathing Room: Letting Go So You Can Fully Live is another therapy-esque book I'm reading slowly.

The Silent Child. This was $1.99 on Amazon, and had a ton of great reviews. I haven't started reading it yet, but it's next on my list, as soon as I remember to charge my Kindle.

Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms. I'm a personal finance junkie. I'll read almost anything related to women and money.


Surf Shack: Laid-Back Living By the Water. I bought this as a coffee table book for friends who just moved into their new home, and then bought another copy to keep for myself because captures the California aesthetic so well.

Living with Pattern: Color, Texture, and Print at Home. This book is beautiful, and so inspiring for me. Home decorating is a slow, slow road when you're on a budget, but I'm looking forward to layering textures and print.


Next to You: A Book of Adorableness. I bought this book to read to Judah, but Noah loves it, too. His first words to Judah in the morning: "Hi sweetheart! You are cute, cute, cute and cute." It's the best.

I've added so. many. books. to my summer reading list, so stay tuned. Happy almost June!

a slow fall.

Fall Flower Crown

It’s been a slow fall.

And by slow I mean that the months have gone as quickly as our stash of disposable diapers, but we’re living day by day, hour by hour, not really thinking too far ahead. It’s a way of being that makes for really long days, but there’s also a beautiful present-ness wrapped into it. It’s advent now, almost winter and almost Christmas, and I’m learning each day that the best kind of waiting happens when I’m living minute to minute.

Noah was born at the beginning of September. His arrival marked a new season for us, literally and figuratively. The first two weeks as a new family were exhausted, bleary-eyed bliss. I actually made a to-do list the day after we came home from the hospital, on my

Make Today Lovely

 letterpress pad with a pink ultra-fine point Sharpie, like I did every week before he was born. I never really had a maternity leave, so I was trying to make up for stolen time (these adorable little time thieves, cue the Target commercial).

Of course, that list got thrown out.

Two, almost three, months in, and we spend our days mostly in bed, mostly singing along to Vance Joy (


 is so my jam right now). The work button is still on pause, and I am still in yoga pants.

We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and now here we are in December. I hope December is just as slow, because we’ll never again have


 December. Firsts for everything, and lasts too. I quote Emily Dickinson so often because she is dead on: That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

This fall I’m living in


 time — the paradox of long days in short months in what I can only imagine to be the quickest years.

It’s a magical kind of monotony where every day is the same — nursing, diaper changes, naps and playtime on repeat — but it isn’t.

It’s why I have a camera roll full of pictures capturing Noah’s growth, click by click, frame by frame. I swear he looks bigger in each consecutive photo.

I choose to believe that there is, definitively, a season for everything. This season happens to be a lot quieter, a little bit more lonely on some days, and so, so special. These are the days. The baby-wearing, diaper-changing, squishy cheek-kissing days of fall.

Slow, and sweet.