there's someone new here!

Knock knock! Who's there? It's me again with someone new sitting right beside me. On June 2nd -- the day before her due date, our daughter arrived. I still can't believe she's here... and it's been nearly four weeks! The 4D ultrasound at 30 weeks had me convinced we were having another boy because the babe looked exactly like James. It also meant that she was "baby girl" for the first twelve hours of her life because I was convinced we only needed boy names. We finally chose the name Rose Breton, which honors two of our grandmothers. Rose was the name of my maternal grandmother, who passed away 20 years ago this month but fought valiantly against Parkinson's for 30+ years. We hope her fighting spirit and kind soul will live on in Rosie. Breton is the maiden name of Chris' paternal grandmother who always made me feel at home. She loved her family fiercely and we hope her contagious smile shines on through her great-granddaughter. (I always love hearing how people chose names for their children, so thank you for indulging me in that story line!)

They always say each child is unique -- and this couldn't be more true with James and Rose. The day or so leading up to Rose's birth was light years different than the experience we had with her brother. (You can read his birth story here.) When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought I would deliver on June 1st based on my calculations. At my last OB appointment the week before, I'd made very little progress, so I was pretty certain I would go beyond my due date. On Tuesday, May 31st, we had a very normal day: I dropped James at daycare, went to work, and then ran a few errands before picking James up at daycare. We played a bit in the yard before starting our normal nighttime routine. I got a call from one of my best friends and we spent a good hour of that evening catching up. During the call, I started feeling like I *might* be having a few contractions, but I couldn't gauge their regularity. After we got off the phone, Chris and I headed upstairs to get ready for bed. I noticed a few things were happening when I changed into my pajamas, which kicked me into high gear to finalize my hospital bag and clean up around the house. We buzzed about for about 90 minutes before finally deciding to try and catch a few winks amidst the excitement. It felt like Christmas Eve!!

I woke up bright and early (and ready to take on the day!) at 5:15, so I hopped in the shower (where I had a good cry thinking of the excitement that was to come) and got ready before our normal alarm clock, James, woke up. Getting him ready for daycare that morning was especially tough, knowing it would never be the same for him (or for us). Chris and I drove him together to daycare, kissed him goodbye, and started the 30-minute drive to the hospital... for the first time that day. Things were buzzing at the hospital when we arrived, but I got ushered back to be checked to see if I'd be getting a room. I really thought I had made significant progress... but I was incredibly disappointed to discover I was still only one centimeter and not effaced whatsoever. They told us to come back after my contractions got closer and a bit more intense, even though they were pretty consistent at 5-6 minutes apart. (Truth be told, I was just petrified to progress too much at home and be too far from the hospital.) I felt totally deflated, but I tried to remind myself that this happened all the time. When James was born, my water broke -- so it was much easier to know that I needed to go to the hospital. Rose was a bit more coy with her signals ;)

Since we both had already called out of work, we decided to make the most of it and drive south to Newport. I decided I wanted Mexican for lunch (secretly thinking the spiciness could help!), so we had a memorable lunch on the patio at Diego's. After lunch, we did as we were told and went for a looooooong (and hot) walk on the Cliff Walk... which was a gorgeous distraction from the regular contractions I was having every 4-5 minutes. Around 3:00pm or so, I decided I wanted a shower and we made the call to head home. My mother-in-law had already arrived at our house to help watch James during our hospital stay. I squeezed in a nap, though I still can't believe I managed to sleep. James made it home from daycare and we enjoyed one more quiet nighttime routine with him. I teared up big time as we finished reading books before putting him down for the night. I hadn't fully processed the whole idea he wasn't going to be our only little one until reality smacked me in the face!

We made it back to the hospital around 8:45pm, when I had FINALLY progressed enough to be admitted. I was nearly fully effaced and over three centimeters, so those hours on the Cliff Walk (and the Mexican food!) did the trick. I got a room in Labor & Delivery rather quickly and decided to get my epidural shortly after I arrived. The epidural process the first time around was much less pleasant than this time. With this birth, I was focused and ready for the relief. I'm pretty positive the epidural went in around 11:30pm or so, after which they told me to try and take a nap. I managed to sleep from 12:30 until 4, when I woke up to a different nurse than the one who had been with us most of the night. Had our original nurse been there to greet me, I would have probably told her that I felt like I needed to use the bathroom... but I drifted back to sleep and I waited to tell her that until she came back around 5. She checked me and asked me to do one practice push but stopped me abruptly because she didn't want me to give birth then and there!

After more than two hours of pushing with James, I was prepared to push for another lifetime... but the Big Man Upstairs made it easy on me this time. The nurse gave us a couple of minutes to pull ourselves together before the delivery team came to join us. With two powerful pushes, a beautiful and bright cry filled the room. I saw her arrive (which was mind-blowing) and I saw she was a she before Chris even had the chance to say it out loud. We looked at each other in serious disbelief and I think I squealed "a girl!" before she was placed on my chest. We were both beaming from ear to ear.

My comfort and confidence with Rose was present from the start. The second child truly wins in that respect. The first-time-mom nerves (especially with breastfeeding) were nowhere to be seen: Rose latched soon after birth -- and hasn't really stopped eating since. Seeing Chris hold our daughter for the first time? I will never be able to get that sweet image out of my mind. While James had been extra sleepy after birth, Rose was so alert. Looking into those big eyes, I felt like I'd known her my whole life -- and yet that we have so much to discover together.

Seeing our family together for the first time? Mind-blowing. It truly brought home how grateful I was to be experiencing life through these eyes, alongside my best friend. My heart can barely contain itself at the thought of what memories we'll make together. As an only child myself, it makes me so happy to know James and Rose have each other for life. Though our journey to having children had a rocky start, we're living a life I only dreamed of a few years ago.

As an aside, I know not everyone has the chance to experience such a positive and peaceful birth. I count my lucky stars (and send grateful prayers) for this experience. I feel so thankful for the wonderful care I received from the minute I arrived at the hospital until the minute we left. In the ensuing weeks, we have been showered with love, prayers, and gifts, for which I'll never be able to properly express my appreciation. There are so many other things to share, but I will leave it there for today. Thank you for reading and for celebrating Rose's arrival with us! xoxo {av} 

P.S. Looking for more timely updates? Add me on Snapchat or Instagram! My username is @ali_vinciguerra in both places!

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