Life with 4

I'll be honest...I was pretty freaked out at the prospect of being at home with 4 kids. Fortunately, Hallie is an angel baby. I was hoping and praying that she would be mellow (especially since Matthew is particularly challenging most of the time), and Heavenly Father heard my prayer!

From the very beginning, Hallie picked right up on breastfeeding and has been a super champion ever since. We went to our pediatrician for a weight check (she had lost a tiny bit more weight than the discharging pediatrician liked to see), and she gained 11 oz. in 4 days--she was back up at her birth weight after less than a week! I'm not really surprised, though, because it seems like I'm making enough milk for three babies.

*Breastfeeding TMI alert*

It's been a little more than a week since my milk came in, and I'm just NOW starting to get over the engorgement. I tried to pump to relieve a little bit of the pressure but it never really worked very well. What worked instead was just hand expressing one side while Hallie was nursing on the other side. Pretty much every time I've done that I've gotten at least two (and usually more) ounces without much effort. In the past it always took pumping for 10-15 minutes to get a similar output. I'm building up quite a freezer stash without a lot of work, which is nice. I'm hoping the little miss will get nice and chunky with all this liquid gold.

Evidence that my milk is doing work...her first spectacular blow out.
Hey, she's got to keep up with her brothers, right?
It's a good thing Miss Hallie is adorable, because she is pretty disgusting. We're still adjusting to changing girl diapers (wipe DOWN, not up!), and I've had quite a few unfortunate mishaps. Everybody knows you have to change a boy's diaper fast, because as soon as the cool air hits his nether regions you get an unwanted shower. What no one tells you is that a girl has the same problem--it just goes in a different direction. I also have extremely bad luck or terrible timing, because there have been a handful of times where she, ahem, does her business while undiapered (like during her first sponge bath...way to defeat the purpose, baby girl!). I guess I'll get faster with practice and then I won't have so many issues...right?
Hallie is a pretty good sleeper, for a newborn. I don't stress about my babies sleeping through the night at a young age, because newborns need to eat frequently (not only to gain weight at a healthy pace but also to help develop a healthy breastfeeding relationship). She will typically go to "bed" around 9 p.m. and sleep until 1 a.m. Then, some nights she'll get up every 2.5-3 hours and other nights, like last night, she'll sleep until 6 a.m. She's a great snuggler though, so I have to be careful--if I bring her to bed to feed her we'll both fall asleep and she'll sleep through the night. Nice for my fatigue; not so nice for my engorgement problem.
Overall, Hallie is a really mellow baby. She loves to be held, but she'll chill out in the swing too. She loves to be swaddled, but she always wiggles her left hand out so she can have it up by her face. She'll take a pacifier reluctantly, and she'll make a really funny face if you try to stick one in her mouth when she doesn't want it. Interestingly enough, her temperament reminds me a lot of Lucas, which is promising. Lucas was my easiest baby so far, so I could definitely get behind Hallie behaving similarly.
I think Cole is over the moon about having a daughter. He loves the boys, don't get me wrong. They all have a grand time rough-housing and wrestling. But there's just something special about a daddy having a daughter, and I'm so glad he finally gets to experience that.

Snuggling with his babies. Matthew looks like a GIANT next to Hallie!
 The novelty of having a sister hasn't worn off for the boys yet. They still ask to hold her all the time, and Matthew in particular is especially sweet with her. We're still working on being soft, though, because he can be a little rough when he's trying to kiss her head. :)

Loving on their baby sister
I think Matthew is especially tickled that he gets to sit next to Hallie in the car. I opened the door to get her out of the car one day and found him holding her hand, quite proud of himself.

I'm honestly so relieved that he loves her so much. I was a little bit worried about him because they're so close in age and he can be really demanding, but so far he's adjusted quite well (knock on wood). We've even only had a couple of "Osama bin Matthew" moments in the first week, which is far less than I expected, especially since I spend a lot of time out of commission nursing the baby.

We're still not quite back into our regular schedule, but we're doing pretty well. I am still adamant that the boys all lay down and have nap time/quiet time at the same time every day (during which they all typically fall asleep), which frees up a couple of hours for me to take a rest with the baby. My house is a little on the disastrous side, but eventually I'll get to the point where I can do some straightening during nap time instead of resting.

Overall, life is really good.


Hallie's Birth Story

We were scheduled for an induction at 6:30 am on Tuesday, November 5. I was pretty excited, because the last two times we've been put on the waiting list, so there was always a chance of being bumped. This time, we had a scheduled time and everything so I figured it was a solid lock.
Well, nothing is a solid lock. I realized around 8:30 pm on Monday night that I hadn't gotten a call from anyone at the hospital confirming the induction and giving me instructions, which worried me a bit. I made a quick phone call and was told by the charge nurse that they were crazy busy that evening and all inductions the next day were on hold until further notice. I think she heard the discouragement in my voice because she reassured me that they would get me in; she just wasn't sure what time it would be. She told me to call when I woke up the next morning for further information.
So, we went to bed that night without knowing exactly how things would go the next morning. I slept pretty well and woke up around 5:30 when Matthew climbed into bed with us. Cole was already awake and was pestering me to call the hospital. I finally called just after 6 am, gave the charge nurse my name, and was told to call again at 7. Cole guessed (and I agreed) that she told me that because her shift was almost over and she wanted to pawn me off on the next shift, because when I called at 7 the nurse told me to come in right away before I ever gave her my name. We threw ourselves together and arrived at the hospital at 7:40.
We got all registered and checked in, and Cole took one last photo of me and my pregnant belly.

I wanted to take an "after" picture in the same dress,
but I never got around to it before we got home.
 I got changed and settled on the bed, and my doctor arrived. They started pitocin and he broke my water all at the same time, so the official start of my labor was 8:44 am.

My labor and delivery nurse was the best I've ever had. She was friendly and laid back and funny, but she didn't hover or intrude. She checked on me every 45 minutes to an hour so she could change the pitocin dose. It took a little while to get my contractions into a regular pattern, so the early part of my labor dragged on a lot more than I would have liked. Originally, my doctor said (assuming a 6:30 start time) we'd probably have a baby by lunchtime; since we started two hours later than that I figured we'd be all done by early afternoon. But, we passed 2:00, 2:30, and 3:00 before I even had to concentrate on my contractions, so I knew it wouldn't be anytime soon.

*small side note* My doctor was mentoring a medical student at the time, and he asked if it was ok if the student was present for the delivery. He reassured me that the student wouldn't actually DO anything himself; he was there mostly to observe and learn. The student did stop by once during my early labor and was INCREDIBLY awkward. My mom and Cole are still laughing about how uncomfortable it was to talk to him.

Somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 my doctor sent his student over to "get ready for the delivery." My doctor has been practicing for 25+ years (although he doesn't look it!) and has already delivered two of my three kids, so he has a pretty good sense for when things are about to happen. I'm pretty sure he meant for the student to hang out around labor and delivery so he was close when the time for delivery came, but the student was so gung ho that he got all gowned and gloved up. Since he had all of his sterile gear on he couldn't leave the room again, which meant I acquired an extra unwanted labor attendant. I know he was just anxious and excited, but he ended up being really distracting. When my contractions start to be painful I typically close my eyes and breathe quietly through them. Cole and my mom have been through labors with me so they know that, so they stop talking and are quiet. The student just kept on talking, even though he HAD to be able to see I was trying to focus. Cole tried to deflect some of his conversation, but he didn't seem to get the message. All I really wanted to do was tell him to shut up, but even when I'm in labor I'm too polite.

As I approached transition I had the weirdest inability to sit still. I was sitting upright in the bed (like I usually do during my labors) and dangled my legs off the sides, and I couldn't stop bouncing my legs and wiggling my hips. I've never really experienced that before. The movement would get a little more intense with the contractions, but it persisted between them as well. Super strange.

Around 4:15-4:30 I started hitting transition and really vocalizing through contractions. I remember being angry at the pain. It surprised me, because I've never been angry before. I thought about it, and I wasn't angry at Cole, or God, or any one person in particular (although, I think I might be having a conversation with Heavenly Father when I get to the other side about why labor has to hurt so much), just at the pain. It actually helped me stave off the inevitable hopeless feeling that comes with transition for a while, though. The nurse checked my dilation just after 4:30 and I was only at a "stretchy 7" and about 90% effaced. This was really discouraging, especially since I had a contraction while I was on my back and it HURT more than any of the others. That discouragement brought on the hopeless "I can't do this" feelings and I even briefly considered asking for an epidural. The rational part of my brain reminded me that even though it didn't seem like it, I probably only had half an hour AT MOST left, and the drugs wouldn't even kick in by then. All I could think about was when my stinking doctor would get there, because I knew as soon as he was there everything would get better.

*second small side note* Somewhere during the last half an hour of my labor a nurse came in and told me they had several CNA students on the floor and asked if I would be ok with them observing my delivery (apparently I was the only one delivering without an epidural that day and they were interested). The nurse told me that my doctor had delivered a baby of one of the students, so I assumed they were college-aged. When they came in the room (there were about 6) I realized they were HIGH SCHOOL students--they were taking CNA courses at the tech center. So, with the students, my doctor, the med student, my nurse, the baby's nurse, Cole, and my mom, there was quite a crowd in the delivery room!

My doctor strolled in probably 10 minutes later. He is probably one of the most calm, relaxed people I've ever met. In three deliveries I've never seen him be anything but laid back and chill. Fortunately, his calm is infectious, and my mom told me later that she could visibly see me relax when he came in the room. He checked my dilation and told me I was at a 9, but if I wanted to start pushing my cervix would stretch around the baby's head. As soon as he said that I realized that pushing was EXACTLY what I wanted to do and I bore down with everything I had. It took approximately 3 solid pushes to get my baby earthside, and all I felt was relief that it was over.

They placed her on my belly, and I have to admit, I checked to make sure she was a girl before I ever looked at her face. Once I had that confirmation, I got to admire her beautiful little face and full head of dark hair. She was COVERED in vernix, which was a big contrast to the boys--they all came out relatively clean. My doctor helped his med student deliver the placenta and I got to snuggle my baby girl skin to skin.

lots of dark hair!
After 20-30 minutes they took her to get weighed and measured: 7 lb., 15.3 oz., 19.5 in. long. She is my smallest baby, but only by a few ounces (Matthew was 8 lb. 3 oz., Lucas was 8 lb. 4 oz.). The weird thing is everything about her seems SO tiny! I guess she's just petite and delicate. :)

chubby little face...our first impression was that she looked like Lucas

Making a classic "Lucas" face
They moved us to our recovery room and we got all settled in. We called my sister and let her know she could bring the boys up to meet their new sister. Apparently, Kyle was extremely anxious. Around 2:30 he exclaimed "Ugh! What's taking so long?" :) They were all instantly in love with their baby sister and took turns snuggling and kissing her. Kyle and Lucas were happy to see me, but Matthew was a little gun-shy (I was prepared for this, though, because Lucas was the same way when Matthew was born).

wide awake after her first night earthside
wearing a bow from Uncle James and Aunt Liz--it was HUGE on her tiny head!

Finally--a bow the perfect size for her little head,
courtesy of one of Cole's co-workers.

All dressed to go home in the outfit Lucas (with help from Grandma) picked out
All bundled up in the carseat
My recovery this time around has been amazing. By the next day I seriously didn't even feel like I had given birth the day before. It's a good thing I had both Cole and my mom reminding me to take it slow the first few days, because I felt so good that I think I would have tried to do too much and worn myself out. Even now it doesn't feel like she was born only a week and a half ago. I'm so grateful for a physical body that can adapt and change to carry and deliver a child and bounce back so quickly and easily.


What (We) Made Monday: Hallie Jo Christensen

November 5, 2013
4:57 PM
7 lb. 15.3 oz
19.5 in
Our tiny peanut of a princess is here! So far, the consensus is that she most resembles Lucas, but I see a lot of Kyle in her as well. She definitely looks like she fits in with our family, though!
I'm still working on her birth story, so I'll get that posted as soon as it's finished. I'm already starting to forget some of the details, so I really want to get it down asap. I also need to make sure that Cole has an opportunity to get his edits in--I think his perspective adds a special element that my side alone can't provide.
We are absolutely in love. The boys have all been so great with her! I think the biggest surprise is Matthew. I expected him to be ambivalent at best and extremely jealous at worst, but he has been so sweet with Hallie. He loves to hold her whenever he gets a chance, and he looks at her so tenderly. 

4 kids!

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