Well, as promised I am here to let you know that our beautiful third baby, Juliet Joy, joined us on March 11th.
I'm sitting here at the breakfast bar quietly tapping out this post as she naps in her pram after a long walk. It's taken me a couple of weeks to get around to posting due to the usual business that surrounds a new baby, midwives, health visitors, family, friends, neighbours, our house has been a hive of activity and excitement and we couldn't be happier.
James has returned to work today (& starts a brand new job role, which is also very exciting for us), Jack is in nursery as usual so it's just us girls. It's going to take some getting used to being at home with a baby again!
So, details. I went into labour on the Friday evening and everything happened quite quickly. From feeling some cramps at around 4pm I made tea, put our little boy to bed and ran myself a bath. I knew from previous labours that this would be it but things were definitely not yet established so I decided to relax and hope that the night wouldn't be too long. After I got out of the bath at around 8pm, contractions started in earnest so I had James hook me up to the Tens machine kindly lent by my friend Emma and went downstairs to watch TV and pace around the room. By this point my Mum popped home to get her overnight kit to watch Jack when we went to the hospital. I called the labour ward to let them know that I was in labour but not yet ready to come down, I also asked if when I did come, I could use the birthing pool, as I did with Jessica.
By 10pm I was considering running another bath. Contractions were coming thick and fast but I really didn't want to rush to the hospital after only a couple of hours of labour and be told to come home again. My Mum suggested I rang them and asked their advice, on hearing me speak the midwife said "you sound in a lot of pain, how far apart are the contractions?", "oh, they're just like one continuous one really", "right, I think you'd be best coming down now"! Looking back I am glad I didn't get in the bath again, it could have been a home birth!
Once we arrived at the hospital the midwife examined me and confirmed that I was 6cm dilated. Thankfully the Active birth suite was free and the pool was already filling. I climbed into the pool and after a further 30mins of contractions, with a little gas and air (which made me feel drunk and horrible) I knew I needed to push. 10 minutes was all it took to meet our little baby who I caught in the water at 11.01pm.
I sat in the water gazing at this tiny, calm little baby who appeared to be simply snoozing on my chest, no crying, no fuss, just happily sleeping away. I took a quick glance down below and in my post birth haze I saw something between the legs and declared it was a boy. In the following five minutes we made a few jokes about how I wanted a second bathroom in the house so I could use a clean toilet of my own without "boy wee" everywhere. We explained to the midwives that although we didn't find out the gender of the baby at the scans we had felt all along it would be a boy, as we couldn't imagine being lucky enough to have another girl after losing Jessica. However we were happy, a healthy second child was all we asked for. At that point the midwife looked a little quizzical and suggested we check again. Imagine my surprise when I looked properly (and didn't mistake an umbilical cord for something else) and discovered we did in fact have a daughter! There were many tears of happiness, as I'm sure you can imagine.
We returned home the following day and have been in a bubble of pure happiness ever since. Whilst in no way does Juliet replace Jessica, our arms feel full with the joy of family again, I don't think I appreciated quite how redundant I felt only having one baby to care for. Having a girl is the icing on the cake, it allows us to grieve for Jessica as the person she was, rather than grieving for the both her and the loss of a daughter. Now we can look towards the future and know that all our hopes and dreams for a little girl can happen.
Since her birth, many people have been in touch and remarked that her arrival must have been "bittersweet" or "very emotional". Of course it was emotional, giving birth always is! But bittersweet, definitely not. The way we grieve for Jessica is the same whatever day of the year or occasion it is. Juliet's arrival can only be positive and happy, it couldn't possibly be anything else.