At 1:30 AM on November 20th, I stood in a puddle, not quite sure if I’d peed myself or my water broke. The nurse on Overlake Hospital’s Labor & Delivery line had me lean forward and cough. The puddle grew bigger. It was go-time.
Per some fabulous advice from a fellow new momma (thanks Teryn!), we showered before heading to the hospital. It was our final shower as a party of two and I remember thinking to myself — labor’s not so bad.
I hadn’t had my first contraction…yet.
It took about an hour to dry my hair and pack the car. We planned to stop quickly at Garett’s office. But by the time we left, my first contraction hit my uterus like a bull’s flank strap tightening down at the bell.
The tightening continued, ramping up the pressure and timing — racking in at 2.5 minutes apart before we’d even gotten off the freeway and completed our 25-minute commute. I was already 4 centimeters dilated.
My birth plan included “being tough” and only getting an epidural if the doctor recommended one. My birth plan was crap.
Within minutes of laying on the hard delivery bed and emptying my stomach into green plastic bags, I was begging for an epidural.
From there, it felt like a blur. The epidural man’s wizardry melted pain into hunger. The sun rose. I remember being sad we didn’t have a southern facing room. I drank some apple juice. I lost the ability to move my own legs.
And suddenly I was being asked to push. And told to stop. And asked to push harder. And then at 8:20 AM, a nurse placed Penellope on my belly, her skin red and purple and covered in blood.
And we were crying. And Garrett held me. And I held Penellope. And my heart grew bigger as my world grew smaller — as it shrunk into the warmth of her tiny little nose and Garrett’s big strong hands.
Penellope has a full head of hair and the sweetest little dimple chin. Her first name is entirely hers. Chosen for its mix of spunk and elegance.
But her middle name — Marie — is a testament to her lineage. We originally chose it to pay homage to her grandmothers — Mary and Merry.
But Penellope’s rich roots don’t stop there and I can’t help but feel God must have been whispering in our ears when we chose Marie. Because as we’ve come to find out — it’s a name that’s been passed down through a matriarchy of strong and intelligent women.
One of Garrett’s Great Great Grandmothers was named Marie. And another was named Mary. And most exciting for Garrett and me is that Gran — strong, smart, and driven Gran — is Linda Marie(!!!!) Roberson Palmer Judd!
On my side, my dad’s mom was named Marjorie Marie. And my mom’s mom — the spunky, fun, and athletic Gavey — was named Mary Elizabeth.
So you see, Penellope Marie comes from good stock. From women who are both strong and kind. Women who have broken the glass ceiling, defied the status quo, and embodied elegance and class.
My darling daughter, may you stand upon the shoulders of such giants and feel their strength, love, and support wherever this life may lead you.
So far you’ve been eating like a champ, surpassing your birth weight by 4 ounces in just 9 days! You’ve picked out your first Christmas tree, cuddled with daddy, and slept through everything from cheering football fans and vacuum cleaners to barking brothers (aka 100-pound terrorists) and new visitors.
We’ve taken our first #ZeusWalks — a 15-minute stroll around the yard. And you’ve managed to stay awake for 6 pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Sure, I’m fairly certain my boobs might explode. There are stitches in places we don’t need to discuss. And, I’ve developed a deep affection for perineal cold packs. But I wouldn’t trade one sleep-deprived moment for all the world.
Thank you to all those who have sent texts and messages, visited, FaceTimed, prayed, and left comments. Your love and support means the world.
We might be biased, but we don’t think Penellope could have asked for a better ‘big brother.’ While Zeus has expectedly been a bit jealous, he’s developing his cuddle and face washing skills like a pro.
As a fun way to capture and share their budding friendship, we’ve created a Instagram account — @penellope_and_zeus. As of right now, it will be a collection of tales, moments, and the occasional “bedtime” stories of a little girl and her big brother — the 111-pound Rottweiler named Zeus.
Photos by Jessie B. Photography