Documenting Declan (1 Month)

Weight: 10 pounds, 8 ounces
Length: 21.5 inches

The days keep passing and then weeks and somehow a month. Declan is growing right before my very eyes. He doesn't seem to be the most photogenic little child but that probably has a lot to do with my (extreme lack of) photography skills. We are thrilled this little boy has joined our family. The dynamic may be changing but it is already apparent that Edison and Alex adore their little brother. Declan is my happy place during the day. He is so calm and will give me unlimited snuggles. I love this child of mine.

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Good little boy born right on his due date.

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Get used to it! 

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First bath at home. He loves bath time.

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I made these as Thank You gifts so that I wouldn't have to write notes to people. Because I am lazy.

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This was Alyssa's first time meeting Declan. He loved her, just like his brothers.

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This boy is not naked enough.

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We didn't plan for them to match. It just happened.

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Tiny little babe.

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Alex: Can I climb up and look at Baby Declan and how tiny he is? I'll look at him with a magnifying glass.

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Emily: Is Declan sleeping?
Alex: Yeah. It was such a big day.

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Thanks for the adorable blanket, Aunt Alexis. He only peed on it once!

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Tummy time is hard!
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Gangster baby.

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Milk coma. I love a happy baby.

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First time "playing" with a toy. Meaning I put it in his hand, he flailed around, then dropped it on his face.

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Watching movies with the boys.

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Always sideways!

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"I've heard Cornell is the party school of the Ivy League. Woot!"

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"Mommy snuggles me like this and then feeds me. So do it."

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Kisses on the mouth. He needs more of those.

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Declan very rarely cries. Maybe once a day. I think it is adorable.

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He loves holding our fingers.

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His nails grow incredibly fast. If I don't cut them every few days, he gets his face.

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It was still chilly when he was born so he had to have lots of blankets in order to go on walks.

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He doesn't like to have his arms swaddled when he sleeps because he wants them above his head.

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"What is this hand and why does it keep hitting me?"

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Maybe getting a little sleepy. Yep, a little. Bam! Party time! The predictability of a baby.

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Snuggling and holding a finger. His perfect day.

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Already suspicious of the camera. Oh, little one, you've got a lot to learn about Mommy.

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He can sleep through it all. Even when they "accidentally" sit on top of him in the swing.

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This might be my favorite baby outfit. Those shoes kill me with cuteness.

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He strikes a pose.

 How to be a good parent:

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Put your child in things he is clearly too small for.

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Carry him around in your pocket if your hands get too full.

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Allow older brothers to poke and cuddle him at any time.

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Lie nearly on top of him. And bring your friends.

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Varying levels of attention need to be paid depending on who is holding the child. However, the child will keep a very wary eye out for any shenanigans.

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Have doggy piles. The child will join in one day.

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Pin him until he taps out.

Here are a few more things Declan does for which I do not have a matching picture:
...lost his umbilical cord stump entirely at 17 days old. I had accidentally torn it off a little bit while dressing him one day but some of it stayed for about a week longer until it was ready to fall off on its own.
...had such squishy skin was he was born. I love kissing his squishy forehead.
...started out with the typical gray newborn eyes but they began to turn blue around two weeks old. I am excited to see what color they end up.
...has a grumpy face but is actually very happy! Every time I finish nursing him, he gives me a look like he's extremely annoyed. What's a mom got to do to be appreciated around here?!
...was born with a birth mark above his right eye. This can be seen in the pictures, but I wanted to mention it here anyway.
...has very little baby acne.
...has no eyelashes.
...got a pacifier for the first time when he was three days old. I wasn't super happy about it but it happened. Sometimes when we put it in his mouth, he gags or makes a really disgusted face that we would even think to put it in his mouth. Other times, he likes it just fine.
...has mastered the art of looking bored out of his mind while being burped.
...has the hairiest little body. Especially his ears and his bum.
...is a heavy sleeper. If he is sleeping but wants to wake up, he raises his eyebrows like his eyelids are just too heavy so he has to raise his eyebrows to pull his eyes open.
...stretches so much and it makes me happy because baby stretches are my favorite.
...has really good-smelling breath. This is probably strange, but I like to breathe him.
...never spits up. Probably less than 20 times in his whole life and that is more like drool than spit up. It isn't ever more than a tablespoon.
...gets the hiccups quite a bit but they go away after a minute or two!
...still sleeps in our room. Alex and Edison never slept in our room for longer than a few days and that was because my mom was staying in their rooms! But Declan doesn't bother us and we don't bother him.
...is very vocal while nursing. He will grunt and moan. He gets into it.
...nurses every 2-4 hours during the day. He sleeps between those times. He is very alert in the evening, about 7-10pm. We turn off most of the lights around 10:30pm so he will know it is getting close to bedtime. We only swaddle him at night. During the night, he sleeps for 4-5 hours, eats, then sleeps for three hours, eats, then back to sleep for two more hours. We used to think he had night/day mixed up but then we realized he just thinks it is always night.
...has an chin quiver. For no reason. It isn't when he's sad or tired. It looks totally involuntary and is totally adorable.


Declan: Defined

After I snuggled Declan for a few minutes, my doctor asked me what we were naming him. I said his name and she looked confused and asked me to spell it. I thought that was weird because Declan is a common name! My mom kept bugging me to call my siblings and tell them I had a baby. I wasn't really in a hurry to do that and didn't think it was something that needed to be done within the first hour after birthing him. Eventually I got around to calling everyone and (with the exception of my sister, Michelle, who has a nephew named Declan) they were all confused by the name. I had to spell it, tell them how to pronounce it, and then spell it again. Sam and I were baffled. Although we don't personally know anyone named Declan, we were both very familiar with the name. We thought we were giving him a normal, easy name and yet everyone was confused!

When we were initially looking for a name, I went through a long list and narrowed it down to around 20 names and then over the next few days we narrowed it down to less than ten. We had an Excel file where I was matching first names to middle names. There were a few weeks where I thought for sure the baby's name would be Elliott. Eventually, Elliott just seemed wrong. Other names that didn't make the cut: Blake, Warren, Sawyer, Pierce, Rhett, and Reid. I went back to the list and started thinking more about the name Declan.

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Declan is an Irish name. It was the 143rd most popular name in the United States last year. It has a few meanings but my favorites are "full of goodness" and "man of prayer." The more I thought about the name, the more it grew on me. It seems to fit perfectly with our family. As I heard Alex and Edison talk about Baby Declan, I was even more assured that it was the name we should give him. During my labor and after he was born, I was talking to him and calling him by name. I think it definitely fits him.

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We gave him the middle name of Neil. It was my last name for 19 years and is now my middle name. Sam had to convince me to share it. Declan Neil seems like such a good match that I wrote only that on his birth certificate application. I was proofreading it the next day and realized I had left off his last name completely. I am glad I checked the form one last time before mailing it in! Sam probably would not have appreciated me dropping his last name.

Despite whatever confusion this child will encounter due to us giving him a "weird" name, we are glad he joined our family. Hopefully he won't hate us and no one will call him "Duck-lynn." Now I just need to get better at calling the right child his own name. It seems like everyone is getting called "Edison" these days.



The last 24 days have resulted in a big transformation in my life. I went from being a mother of two to a mother of three. Although Declan is competing to be the Easiest Child in the History of Ever, Alex and Edison decided it would be a good time to become children from hell. I am learning who I am and trying to become the mom I want to be. There have been tears; mostly from me and a few from Alex and Edison. None from Declan. Seriously, this kid gets a gold medal.

I don't have high expectations of Mother's Day. My kids are still young and to expect them to clean the whole house would be setting myself up for disappointment. But Sam spoiled me even though I am not his mother. I didn't get out of bed until 11am. The boys had drawn me adorable pictures and Alex was able to write, "I love you, Mom." Sam had to tell him which letters to write. While changing Declan's diaper at church, he peed all over me. That was the first time he's gotten me and it just seemed fitting for him to do it on Mother's Day.

Sam gave me a Priesthood blessing before we put the boys in bed. I like this Mother's Day tradition we have going. It is nice to hear that although I am failing in every possible way, Heavenly Father still loves me. I expected this transition to three kids to be easier. The first two and a half weeks were easy. But then I started feeling very alone with Sam out of town and the things I needed to do, even just the bare minimum, was too much. I couldn't show three kids that I loved them at the same time. I feel like it is some cruel joke that I have to do this without being able to fit into any of my clothes. Although my body is not in any pain from the delivery, I am tired. A doctor somewhere is laughing about telling moms to sleep when the baby sleeps. Recovery is only for first-time moms.

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My mom was able to come to Williston for three weeks. A full 21 days. It was amazing to have her here but I don't think I really appreciated it until Sam had to leave town. Having an extra pair of hands was so helpful. Putting shoes on two little boys while holding another child is not easy! I got so much more sleep than I would have without her and I am so grateful she was willing to put her Mesa life on hold so that she could help with Declan's delivery and my transition.

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My mom might be on a mission next time I have a kid. Or maybe we won't be living in the United States. I am so grateful she was able to come out. I loved our late night talks and even though I didn't love the early mornings, she helped make them a little better. She put up with a half-inflated air mattress, a crazy hormonal daughter, and a lot of sitting around doing nothing. She is an amazing mother and grandmother.

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I am excited to spend time with Sam's parents when they come out next month. Sam has an incredible mom and dad and I am glad they reared a son who is awesome.

Happy Mother's Day, Madre and Marian!


Declan's Birth Story

People asked me constantly when I thought the baby would be born. They would ask when my other kids were born to use it as a measuring point. However, that isn't very helpful because Alex was five days early and Edison was three days late. It seems that my body just doesn't change at all until it is time for labor to start. I was on a constant lookout for the signs that labor was starting that I had during the first two: diarrhea, back pain, tight stomach. But none of that happened. There were a few nights when the labor dreams were so vivid that I would wake up and be devastated that I wasn't actually in labor because it had seemed so real.

On Wednesday, April 17th, Sam woke me up to say goodbye before he left to work and he also informed my that my sister-in-law's water had broken during the night. She wasn't due until the 24th. I had suspected since she told me she was pregnant that her baby would be born first though. I spent the day thinking about her as she tried to get her labor started and my brother Matthew rushed home from his roadtrip to be there for the delivery.

I had been running up and down our stairs, trying accupressure, jumping jacks, bouncing on the exercise ball, doing squats, everything I could think of to jumpstart labor and nothing would change.

On the morning of my due date, my niece Makenna was born. I went to my doctor appointment at 10am and learned I was 3cm dilated. I asked the doctor to strip my membranes. I was confused because it hardly felt like she did anything and I was discouraged about it starting my labor. They had me set up an appointment for Monday (April 22nd) to have an ultrasound to check fluid levels and also have a nonstress test. The induction was scheduled for the following Thursday (April 25th) at 5am. I cried as I left the doctor's office. I was trying to be more grateful. My body is really good at carrying babies. There are so many people who would do anything to be able to carry a baby at all, and especially to be able to carry the baby to the end. My body was doing such a great job of protecting the baby. But I still just wanted to be done with the pregnancy. I felt like I was already overdue.

Around 4pm, after the boys woke up from their naps, we went on a walk. I had occasional cramping but it didn't feel like anything was really happening. I was so angry about my body not responding.

We got home from the walk around 4:45pm. I was texting my cousin Denae who had just been through this a few weeks before. She said it took 12 hours after her membranes were stripped for labor to start and that I should just remain calm and give it a chance to work.

Sam got home from work at 5:15. I was sitting on the couch watching the boys play. Around 5:30, I started getting a really bad lower stomach ache. My back didn't hurt at all and that was a tell-tale sign of my last two labors so I didn't think it was the real thing. But I was trying to pull my pants off of my stomach and it did not relieve the pressure. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom but even after multiple trips, I didn't feel better.

I realized around 6pm that I might really be in labor. My ward was having a Relief Society activity that night at 6:30 and my mom and I had planned to attend. I put the last few things into my bag to take to the hospital because I figured I would be headed there after the activity. I had a whole list of things to do when labor started. I was planning to take a shower, start a load of laundry, clean the house, etc. None of that was happening. I barely put on shoes and I didn't want my coat anywhere near me even though it was barely above freezing.

At 6:11pm, I timed my first contraction. It lasted for 1 minute, 40 seconds. The contractions were about three minutes apart. I was laboring on the exercise ball because that had helped so much while I was in labor with Edison but it was doing nothing to relieve the pressure. I had a paper with pictures of different labor positions and I was trying all of them but it was almost laughable how little they did to help. I was getting rest between the contractions at first and I was trying to figure out what to do with the boys. My friend Alyssa was planning to watch the boys but I didn't want to make it so she couldn't go to the RS activity. I still wasn't sure if I was really in labor because I didn't have any back pain. I guess Declan was in a slightly different position than Alex and Edison had been in.

At 6:25pm, I told my mom that she should just eat dinner at home because I did not think I would be able to make it to the activity. The contractions were a minute long and two minutes apart. The pain never completely dissipated and I was getting annoyed that no one else seemed to be feeling the rush that I was feeling. I was ready to go to the hospital! Now! The boys were still eating dinner and it was nearing bedtime so I muttered to Sam between contractions that my mom should stay home and feed them and put them to bed and then come to the hospital after the RS activity, when someone could come over. I told Carissa that I wouldn't make it to the activity because I thought I was in labor and I asked if she could come over after the activity was done.

I finally dragged myself up between contractions, even though it didn't really feel much better. I thought I was going to die as we walked downstairs. Sam opened the door to the car for me and I stood there and asked him for a Priesthood blessing. He placed his hands on my head and gave me a blessing of comfort before we drove to the hospital.

We left to the hospital at 7:03pm. We got there in about five minutes and I had three contractions on the drive. While driving, Alyssa texted me out of the blue and said, "So I am guessing no baby yet?" I told her that we were headed to the hospital. She said she had forgotten about the RS activity (miracle!) and her husband was home from work (another miracle!) so she could come over right then and my mom wouldn't have to wait for Carissa. I asked her to head over and also to give my mom directions to the hospital. Alyssa got to our house at 7:40pm.

We walked through the doors of the hospital at 7:15pm and they asked for my name. I had already preregistered so they were able to pull up my name quickly on the computer. I thought they might send me home because I had only been having contractions for an hour but they didn't even ask about contractions. They asked which number of child this was and I answered, "Three." They looked at my face and I heard someone say, "She's serious." I was rushed back. I went into the bathroom in my room and sat on the toilet. Sam helped pull off my pants. It felt better to be sitting on the toilet. I felt like the nurses were going so slowly. They asked if I had a plan for pain and I said, "Well, I didn't before!" I was having a hard time relaxing through each contraction. I would hold Sam's hand and have him put his face right next to my face. This was very strange because normally I don't like to be smothered. I even asked him to blow on my face a few times because I felt so hot. I just wanted to feel like someone was there with me because no one else was trying to help me. I had given him a list of phrases of affirmation but he couldn't remember what they said and got one mixed up and told me to breathe in tension. This experience with Sam brought us so much closer together. I can't really describe the bond I feel to him. It has been amazing though. I am glad he was there to support me in my time of need.

A nurse checked my cervix and then stood up and said she needed to get another nurse. The next nurse came in and checked. I was 9cm dilated. Declan's head was at a 0 station but the bag of waters was bulging to a +1 or +2. I could feel that. I was trying to get it to break with each contraction but it was so stubborn. I asked if they had called the doctor and they said she was on her way. I asked how far away she lived and the nurse said she didn't know. I go to a practice that has three doctors. I have a primary doctor but there was no guarantee that she would be the one delivering my baby. I learned a week earlier that she was not on call any days before or after my due date, but was on call on my due date. I was so excited to have my own doctor deliver my baby since Alex and Edison were both delivered by whoever was on call.

Sam texted my mom at 7:47pm and told her that I was 9cm, fully effaced, and she should probably get to the hospital soon. Alyssa had made it to our house already and my mom walked into my hospital room just a few minutes later. The doctor wasn't there yet. I asked my mom to help me relax my feet while Sam held my hand. My feet would start dancing during each contraction and I couldn't seem to relax them. She massaged them during a few contractions and that helped me stay limp.

The doctor finally walked in. The nurse mentioned that I was looking for any pain relief I could get but the doctor said it was way too late for an epidural or intrathecal. We had talked about a pudendal block since my first appointment and I had researched it. She said I was still at a nine and would probably stay there until my water broke. She could break my water and do a pudendal block. I knew I was close to the end so I just wanted my water to break so I could have a contraction of rest as my cervix shrunk down around the open space where the amniotic fluid had been. I asked her to break my water. I didn't mean that I wanted the pudendal block as well. I only wanted her to break my water and then let me see how it was going for a few contractions. But I wasn't able to speak well enough to explain that. She left the room to change into scrubs. The nurses started an IV which hurt so badly because it was pinching. I had them fix that later. The lab drew some blood. All while I was in transition. So annoying. When the doctor came back, she broke my water and one contraction later, I felt like I needed to push. She was prepping to do the pudendal block but I just wanted to push. She told me I could push if I felt like I needed to. I wasn't doing serious pushing. I was only pushing for a few seconds at a time to relieve the pressure. Pushing actually felt good. At one point I said, "I think I am pooping." The doctor and my mom said that I wasn't. Whew.

After doing a few pushes on my own whenever I felt like it, the doctor gave me directions for the next contraction. She wanted me to do a cleansing breath and then push for ten seconds, breath in, push for ten seconds, breath in, and push for ten seconds. Meanwhile, she was trying to give me the pudendal block. I felt the contraction coming and I wanted to push so badly. I forced myself to breath out and then in. I pushed, breathed, pushed, breathed. Sam gave a really high-pitched and excited sound that Declan was almost here. I pushed about halfway through the next count of ten and could feel Declan's head and the slimy baby shoulders and feet wriggle out.

Declan was born at 8:15pm. They placed him on my chest. I couldn't believe it. It went so fast. It felt like a dream that I had really birthed a baby so quickly. My eyes had been closed so maybe it was a trick. It had started as a stomach ache less than three hours earlier! But Declan was adorable so I knew he had to be mine. Because only a mother could love a slimy baby covered in vernix as immediately as I did. Also, he was born on his due date. My baby knew how I like my schedule.

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They asked Sam if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord. He said that he did and I asked if they could wait until it stopped pulsing. I looked at it and noticed that it was already done. Oh, that was fast. They clamped it and Sam cut the cord. They took Declan to clean him up, which was fine with me. I mentioned that we hadn't taken a single picture yet and my mom got my camera out.

My only regret is that we don't have any pictures of the labor or of Declan on my chest right after birth. My eyes were closed for so much of the time trying to block out the people. I wish I could see how it looked.

I wasn't done yet though. I delivered the placenta shortly after Declan was born. I asked the doctor if I had torn and she said it was just a second degree tear this time. I was so grateful that I wouldn't have to recover from another third degree tear. She numbed me and then started stitching. It took a long time. I am not sure how long but it was more than thirty minutes. I was shaking from having my legs up for so long and being cold and exhausted. After she was done, she gave me a hug and then left.

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Declan weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces. Smaller than Edison! I was shocked because I was positive he was going to be more than nine pounds.

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I got Declan back and started nursing him. He latched immediately and nursed for almost an hour. Breastfeeding is a lot easier the third time because I am confident in my ability, but it is still painful. It is getting better now, almost three weeks later.

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After I was a total baby hog, I finally let Grandma hold her grandson.

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Then he went back to Daddy again.

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The nurse was pushing on my fundus to get it to shrink down and she mentioned that nursing and the pitocin would help. I was like, "What?!" She had hung a bag of pitocin and it was going in through my IV. I didn't want any pitocin and I was so annoyed that she hadn't even asked. She said it was just standard procedure and hadn't thought to ask. She apologized and unhooked it but I was still pretty perturbed. 

The nurses were still coming into our room after 10pm trying to get me officially admitted to the hospital. Everything was so fast that they had barely put the wrist band on me when he was born. One nurse called it the picture of a perfect delivery. A few nurses were talking about how they should have videotaped it as an example of someone who was totally in control. I hadn't really felt in control. I had felt out of my mind. I mean that in two ways: I was feeling a little crazy, but it also felt like it wasn't really me experiencing it.

I am undecided if this labor counts as natural. I was given the pudendal block about thirty seconds before Declan was born, but it didn't have time to take effect. But how badly I wanted pain relief makes me feel like I didn't do it naturally. It shouldn't count if I was practically crying for someone to save me.

The birth center of the hospital is new and really nice. I delivered Declan and then slept that night in the same room. The room also a really cool fireplace, shower, and whirlpool tub. The room was large and they were able to bathe Declan in the room. I was trying to take pictures of Declan's first bath but I started feeling light-headed and had to sit down. It was also around 11:30pm and I was exhausted.

My mom headed home around 11pm so that Carissa wouldn't have to sleep over. Sam stayed at the hospital with me. I was feeling very tired and we fell asleep for about five hours until they came in to draw my blood the next morning. Declan never left the room. In the morning, my doctor came in to check on me and said she was fine with discharging me but the pediatrician would have to approve of Declan's discharge.

My mom came to the hospital with Alex and Edison just after 8am. Alex commented multiple times on how he couldn't believe how tiny Baby Declan is. He has repeated this to me at home over the last few weeks. Edison likes to point out (jab) Declan's eyes.

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We only had one visitor while in the hospital. We are so glad that Carissa was willing to stay at our house so late the night before with the sleeping boys and then come see the baby in the morning!

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Sam slept through the night in the hospital but he had to change diapers in the morning. With the nurses, Sam, and my mom around, I didn't have to change a diaper for three days!

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I had a lot of apprehension about birthing a baby in North Dakota. I took a picture of what our beautiful industrial town looked like the morning after Declan's birth. Although I feel bad the poor kid was born in North Dakota, this was by far the best hospital and doctor experience I have had out of the three kids.

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The pediatrician came in at 11:30am to see Declan. After his hearing test, she said we could be discharged as soon as he pooped. That happened a few hours later and by 2:15pm, we were headed home. That was after Sam made a quick trip home to get the carseat which I didn't think we would need yet so it wasn't in the car. Only eighteen hours after his birth, and 19 hours total in the hospital! They didn't make me ride out in a wheelchair because they said that I had better be able to walk if they were discharging me. This makes so much sense and I am glad I didn't have to feel like an invalid as Sam pushed me out again. Declan's discharge weight was 7 pounds, 14 ounces. He weighed the same at his appointment when he was six days old. My milk came in about 60 hours after his birth.

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I weighed myself when I got home and I had lost 12 pounds. By the next morning, I had lost three pounds more. I took this picture minutes before we left the hospital. I remember thinking I looked amazing. Brrrrn.

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We spent the afternoon cuddling our adorable baby and welcoming him into our home.

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Alex and Edison were thrilled that Baby Declan finally brought them the toys they had been waiting for.

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I can do this.

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"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." -Doctrine and Covenants 64:33

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