Our baby boy is here and we couldn't be more in love. In this post I share his birth story, his name, how our family is adjusting to having 6 kids, and more!
Since Zach was born I have felt like I'm living in the most wonderful dream. When I pause and realize this is our real life I am overwhelmed and overcome with immense gratitude. We couldn't be more in love with our sweet baby Zach. In this post I share his birth story, his name, how our family is adjusting to having 6 kids, and more!
If you followed along with my pregnancy then you know I felt amazing this time around. It made me nervous that labor might never start because I just felt so great. At my 39 week checkup I had very little progress (dilated 1 cm and 70% effaced) - which doesn't really mean anything but I was hoping for a little more at that point. My OB swept my membranes (which dilated me to 2 cm) and some progress started happening (loss of mucus plug, more irregular contractions, etc.) but it didn't put me into immediate labor. I know that babies come when they are ready and not a moment before, so I just saw each day after that as another gift to spend with my family before the newborn haze set in.
In the following days I checked more off my to-do list: on Tuesday I got my hair done, on Wednesday my mom arrived, on Thursday we went to our first co-op after a long holiday break and had the house cleaned. By Friday I felt like there was nothing left to do but for our baby boy to make his appearance.
I had been contracting all week but nothing regular or consistent. On Friday I called a friend and we went for a long walk in the sunshine. Then later that day Ritch and I did the one thing that has actually proven to induce labor (LOL). My contractions were notably more painful Friday, but I still wasn't convinced I was in labor, yet.
Onset of labor
By the end of the night I was laying in bed with Keilah snuggling her to sleep, and my contractions were increasing in intensity but I still felt like they didn't have a pattern or rhythm yet. I got downstairs and Ritch and I relaxed and watched an episode of friends. I told him my contractions were a little intense but that I'd probably wake up in the morning still pregnant. I got up and started getting ready for bed and as I was washing my face I told Ritch not to go too far because I think I might be beginning labor.
Then the most tell-tale sign of labor set in - my body started shaking uncontrollably. I laid in bed and told Ritch I was shaking so he started getting things ready to go. About 30 seconds after I told him about the shaking, my water broke and it was go time. When I had Keilah the same thing happened and she was born within 3 hours, so we called my mom, got in the car and started driving to the hospital. All of this - from face washing to being in the car was about 10 minutes!
In the car the contractions started about 5 minutes apart. By the time we got to the hospital (20 minutes later) they were coming in at 2 minutes or less. We checked into labor and delivery and I told them, "My water is fully ruptured and my contractions are less than 2 minutes apart. I will likely have this baby in 1-2 hours." They asked if I felt like pushing and I said not yet. They brought me to a room and I was dilated to a 5 - which was music to my ears because I knew he was going to be here very soon.
Labor was perfect. We had two of the kindest most wonderful nurses who treated us so well. I had extreme anxiety about having to wear a mask during labor, and they never once made me feel guilty for choosing not to wear one (Ritch wore one when they were in the room to show that we respected them but that I just needed to breathe)! They didn't even bat an eye when we told them we would be abstaining from many of the typical post-birth protocols (vaxs, eye ointment, etc.)
As they checked me in and asked us all the questions the contractions intensified. By the time they left us alone to finish laboring the contractions were 1.5 minutes or less apart and growing in intensity just they way they should. Since this isn't my first rodeo, I was just waiting for that first "pushy" contraction. The last 3 before I got there Ritch kept asking me if we should call the doctor in - because it's not his first rodeo either and he knows exactly what I look and act like right before it's time to push. I told him no, it wasn't time yet.
Zach is born!
Finally a contraction came along with the urge to push. I told Ritch it was time to call the doctor in, and he did. They came in and checked me and they said I was a 9. One more hard contraction (again - with the very strong urge to push) then they checked me one more time and I was a 10 and fully ready to go!
It's amazing how, once your body has fully dilated, you get a break in contractions. I had told Ritch during the last few really hard ones that I could really use a break LOL, and as it always happens once the doctors get in and you are in position you could have up to 3 minutes go by between pushing contractions. At one point a contraction started and they told me to push. I started pushing and said no, this isn't it and stopped. About a minute later the contraction came and I pushed him out all at once right there! Usually it takes at least 2 pushing contractions to get the baby out (for me) but this time he came out so fast and furious I couldn't believe it! The doctor even said that he would've hit the wall if she wasn't there to catch him, hahaha! 😉 So there we were, 1.5 hours after arriving at the hospital, holding our baby boy in our arms.
He was 7 lbs 7 oz 20.75" long, which is so much smaller than my last two babies who were 8 lb 1 oz and 8 lbs 4 oz. He cried right away which is always the best sound ever. I held him while Ritch cut the cord, then the nurses took him while I delivered the placenta and then the doctor stitched up a very small tear.
Once they were done with me I nursed Zach and Ritch and I thanked God for this beautiful, healthy baby boy and a smooth delivery. The nurse came in and I was able to use the restroom before being transferred out of labor and delivery up to the maternity floor. When we got to the room they settled us in and by 3 am we had the chance to rest. Ritch and Zach fell asleep until 7 - which was so great for them. Since I was totally hyped up from birth and adrenaline was still coursing through my veins, I laid there in the dark crying tears of joy. Every single fear and anxiety I had about birth was gone and every prayer cast in opposition to those fears had been answered. I was completely overwhelmed by every single way God had taken care of me and baby Zach for the last 10 months that sleep was out of the question.
After delivery I felt so great - per the theme of this entire pregnancy - that I hardly felt like I had a baby. The only thing that was remotely painful were the post-delivery contractions, which get worse the more kids you have. My digestive system kicked right back into gear (thank you prune juice), I wanted to get up and walk around because it felt better than just sitting in the hospital bed. Since Ritch got a decent 4-hour stretch of sleep at night he took over during the day when I did finally crash and needed to take a nap here and there. At night we took turns snuggling him between feedings so the other could sleep. We face-timed with the kids a couple times so they could "virtually meet" their brother.
I've had all the typical postpartum symptoms spurred on by the drastic shift in hormones - night sweats (so much sweat), mood swings, crying for no reason, headaches, etc. But all of it is totally manageable since I expect all these things. I only took ibuprofen for a couple days post delivery as-needed but I've needed it far less than after previous births.
We told the hospital staff we wanted to leave ASAP Sunday morning (Zach was born just after Midnight on Saturday). We were anxious to get home to our other kids so they could meet him. We know that the biggest obstacle to leaving is waiting on the doctors to round (pediatrician mostly). So we told them we wanted to leave by 9:30 and we'd be willing to decline the doctors visits to make that happen.
Side note: parents YOU have the power in the hospital. They cannot keep you there against your will or force medical procedures on you or your baby that you do not want. Well in an absolutely unheard of scenario both the pediatrician and the OB rounded on us before 9 am on a Sunday. That has literally never happened in our last 5 hospital stays! So even though we were willing to leave without those checks (because I felt great and Zach was as healthy as a baby possibly could be), we didn't have to which was wonderful.
Our kids meet & adjust to Zach
We have a neighbor who shoots birth/meeting videos - Tell The Birds - and so we commissioned her to come over and capture the moment the kids met Zach and I am so so grateful that we did. She captured it all so beautifully I cry just looking at the photos and the video made both Ritch and I melt into a puddle of emotions!
As we expected, we were greeted with all 5 kids running towards us as we walked through the door. They cooed and awed and were so excited it was the sweetest thing ever. We had already decided the order the kids would hold the baby long before he was born - it would be Mara, Keilah, Naomi, Gabe, and then Bethany.
Mara was so sweet with him. We chose to let her go first because she has never been first and she actually understood what was going on (as opposed to Keilah). She had a relatively short turn and was satisfied.
Ever since then it has been about the same, she wants to hold him every day but is OK with a short turn and is ready to play.
K had a mixed reaction to Zach. She started excited, then got incredibly emotional - crying and wanting to be near me. Since he has been home she has said, "I baby. I mommy's baby." more than once. And I reassure her that she is, indeed, still my baby girl and make sure to snuggle her to sleep for nap and nighttime so she doesn't feel replaced. She has adjusted very well and she loves holding him and says, "Hold baby Zach!" all the time.
Naomi is our little physical touch girl. She cannot keep her hands off the baby, even when we remind her lol! She just wants to hold him and kiss him and rub his head and face all the time. She loves her little brother but is still a too young herself to just be left alone holding him.
G is smitten with his little brother. He asks to hold him constantly and is so sweet. He is still a little young (and a boy) for me to feel really confident to leave him alone holding the baby, so we just make sure to stay close by and help him when he needs.
As expected, B is a rockstar. She holds Zach the most because she is responsible and knows exactly how to handle a newborn. He often falls asleep on her and she loves it.
Now that he's been home for a bit we are all settling into our newborn routine. I struggle with passing him around so much, because my postpartum hormones give me the insatiable desire to snuggle him all day long. But I know it's important for the kids to get a chance to hold him as well, so I let them as much as possible. Ritch has been home which allows me to rest when I need to, and my mom is here to help make the days fun. We started homeschool again Wednesday the week he was born because the kids needed some structure and it was definitely the right choice.
We decorated the nursery but Zach hasn't slept in it yet. We actually have him in a bassinet in our closet and I kind of LOVE it. This is the first time we've had a baby when the nursery is on a different floor than the master bedroom, and I just wanted to avoid going up and down the stairs too much during the first few weeks postpartum. So we have the Uppababy system with the bassinet just clicked into the stroller base and he sleeps in it in our closet (which is huge and like it's own room). I love how cozy it feels to have everything we need in our room and to have him so close.
I am not exaggerating when I say that this baby has been a dream at every turn. He literally burps with fury if you just lightly tap on his back (which, if you've had a gassy baby you know this is a gift. Keilah was the most difficult little burper and it was not easy). This helps him be a great sleeper because there are no painful gas bubbles trapped in his system. There have even been a couple nights he has only woken up once - giving me two four-hour stretches of sleep - which is unheard of at this age. We've had a rougher night or two but really nothing to complain about!
For any parent serious about sleep training your baby and giving yourself and your baby the gift of GOOD SLEEP - I highly recommend the Babywise method. I have used it with all 6 of my kids and it is a game-changer. However I do have to give two disclaimers. 1) Your baby is not a robot and will not follow a schedule perfectly. 2) I do not believe you can spoil your baby with snuggles. I snuggle my babies to sleep every day for years and they all sleep great. I only let them cry it out when they are much, much older (not a newborn) and only if I have to for my own sanity as the exception - not the rule.
He is also nursing like a champ. I do have to work to keep him awake for a full feeding but that is totally normal for a while with newborns. I am the normal amount of sore and it's getting better every day. The painful nursing contractions lasted intensely for about 5-6 days, and have subsided substantially. I found this organic nipple butter that has been so great (and so much better than the lanolin cream I was used to using).
We had many boy names we loved, but we landed on Zachariah - and will call him Zach (just like Gabe is Gabriel). All of our kids have biblical Hebrew names, so we knew we wanted to choose the same for this little guy. I have always loved the name Zach, and in Hebrew Zachariah means "The Lord Remembers."
I honestly was torn between Zach and another name, but something happened on our trip to California in July that made me confident Zach was the right choice. I hadn't been to the beach in 9 years, and we had a trip planned for May that had to get postponed until later. The first morning we were there I woke up early, ran down to the beach, took off my shoes and walked in the sand and the waves. Where we stayed had a private beach, so there weren't any shops or businesses along the shore except for one - and it was called Zack's.
I cried when I saw it and took a photo to show Ritch when I got back. I felt like it was the Lord telling me - your Son's name is Zachariah!
We chose Benjamin as his middle name because that is Ritch's middle name. We named our first son Gabe after Ritch (Gabriel Ritchard), so we wanted our second son to have that too. In Hebrew Benjamin means, "son of my right hand" which I also love.
How I'm feeling (physically)
I feel amazing - like I could go run 5 miles and not even think about it (I won't don't worry haha). I take a good 3-4 weeks off of any exercising to ensure I heal well and even then I start with very short light walks.
But really, I barely feel like I had a baby. I have the typical postpartum symptoms - night sweats (so much sweat), sore boobs, etc. But I can't even feel my stitches, my digestive system is working decently well, and I stopped taking ibuprofen for the painful contractions just three days after getting home (when usually I take it a little longer).
Even though he is sleeping well I still lay down and nap every afternoon for an hour or two - which is a huge help so I'm not stressed or totally exhausted if he does have a more wakeful night.
How I'm Feeling (Emotionally)
"Come on momma, now look what's been done. You can only see the stars after a setting sun." -Steve Miller Band
Zach has been in our arms for just over a week, but I feel like I’ve loved him my entire life. We are living in the hazy newborn bliss, not wanting to miss a second because I know how fast these days pass us by. Feeling nostalgic yet at peace. Navigating the dichotomy of wanting to stop time and watch how it unfolds. Forever grateful for this beautiful life God has gifted to us, praying we steward it well.
I have so much peace knowing this is our last baby - which is a total gift from God. I love having babies so much (hence why we have 6) but I feel a sense of excitement knowing we are entering a new season of life. I think it’s pretty awesome that I had my first child on January, 12 2011 - and my last on January 9th 2021 - an almost perfect 10 year window of growing our family.
I was listening to music and this line stood out to me - ""Come on momma, now look what's been done. You can only see the stars after a setting sun." -Steve Miller Band The idea that sometimes you have to let the sun set on one season to fully appreciate the next has brought me joy and comfort.
I'm sure there's more I'm missing, but I'll let this be it for now. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section! I'll leave you with a few more photos!
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a portion of the sale. Thank you for supporting JoyFoodSunshine!