Dear Holly: What Our Family Did before We Left for the Hospital

Newborn.

Dear Holly,

When we woke up Sunday morning, Mommy and I both knew you were going to be born; based on Mommy’s contractions. So I made sure to document the order of events along with the way.

Since had I been making a weekly “baby bump” Instagram (@nickshellwrites) of Mommy each week, I decided to make a bonus shot: 40 and a half weeks.

Dear Holly: What Our Family Did before We Left for the Hospital

Then I helped your brother Jack burn off some anxious energy by walking around our neighborhood with him while we wore his “monster teeth” that he won as a prize at Chuck E. Cheese a few months back. The idea was to scare cars passing by.

Later that afternoon Mommy insisted that she put out new mulch in the backyard. So I unloaded the 3 huge bags of mulch from my car, which your brother Jack and I had picked up at Lowe’s the day before.

Obviously, I offered to help, but Mommy wanted to make herself physically useful during her final hours of pregnancy; so she insisted that just she and Jack did the landscaping job. So I let it happen.

Mommy had also sent me to Whole Foods to pick up some vegan hot dogs to prepare with the vegan chili she had in the pantry. So we had a hearty lunch, which soon after increased her contractions.

It wasn’t too long before she was doing yoga-like positions in the floor, in accordance with her contractions. Jack quickly joined her, wanting to genuinely support her. That was my cue to text Nonna and Papa to make sure they were on their way, since they would be taking care of you while I was with Mommy in the labor and delivery room.

I remember how anxious I was getting, pacing the living room floor; meanwhile Mommy was calmly dealing with her contractions on the couch.

Once Nonna and Papa arrived at our house, I left with Mommy and Grandma within 15 minutes, at 4:20 PM. We arrived at the Vanderbilt at 5:00. And just 3 hours and 8 minutes later, you were born.

I’ll tell you all about that in my next letter. I have so much more to say and so many more pictures to show you!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: What Our Family Did before We Left for the Hospital

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Will You Be Born on the Pink Moon and Earth Day, April 22nd?

40 weeks (due date).

nick_drake_pink_moon

Dear Holly,

Okay, you decided not to be born on my 35th birthday. That’s cool.

We can have our own separate birthdays after all- at least we can share the same week and the same half of April.

So how about this? You can be born tomorrow instead:

It’s Earth Day… and, it’s the Pink Moon (which is the “smallest” full moon of the year).

Until today, I simply knew the phrase “pink moon” as referencing musician Nick Drake’s album and song; both of which are classic.

But today, your Nonna texted me and educated me on the subject:

“The April full moon is nicknamed the ‘pink moon’ even though it will not have a pinkish tint. Symbolizing the start of spring and pink colored flowers. It will peak at 1:25 AM on the 22nd. Interesting to me. Your full moon was 1:59 AM and cramping and contractions started at 10 PM (a few hours before). You were a full moon baby.”

I realize there are people out there who will quickly deny any connection between more babies being born on the full moon, as the gravitational pull of the moon affects pregnant mothers like it affects the tide each day.

However, I believe it.

And I believe that there’s a good chance you will be born on this upcoming Pink Moon tomorrow, which also happens to be Earth Day.

Seriously, how appropriate would it be for the baby girl of a vegan daddy and a vegetarian mommy to be born on Earth Day.

It almost feels like your destiny, doesn’t it?

You being born tomorrow helps me make better sense of you not being born on my birthday yesterday.

So, we’ll go to bed tonight as normal, but I am fully expecting that as the pink moon peaks around 1:25 AM, Mommy will go into labor and you will be born on Friday, April 22nd: both Earth Day and the Pink Moon.

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

40 weeks (due date).

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

Dear Holly,

The day is still young, but I’m writing this letter to you now, the morning of your due date. You may or may not be born today. Meanwhile, you have many family members and our friends anxiously awaiting your arrival.

With Grandma in town, and Mommy beginning maternity leave this week, I couldn’t help but notice Mommy is so “nesting” right now.

I helped Mommy move the furniture around in the living room, for a new design that will better cater to your arrival; plus still provide plenty of play room for Jack. We decided we actually like our new layout better than how we had it before.

When I got home from work yesterday, Mommy showed me the really cool retro clock (and accompanying sign) she bought to fill the wall space since we changed the furniture. It really fits the space well. Plus, she bought a blanket to decorate the back of the couch.

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

She also bought some perfect décor for outside in our yard, to further invite birds; since they have been hanging out without us even trying.

So we might as well make it official that we want birds, and bunnies, there in our yard.

Dear Holly: I Want Mommy to Go into Labor Tomorrow Night

Not to mention, this weekend Mommy and I cleaned out our cars and officially installed your car seats, right next to Jack’s; while I played Bob Marley’s greatest hits on my old cracked iPod from 2007. Meanwhile, your brother Jack played in the garage with his toys. It’s weird because we rarely hang out as a family in front of our house.

I realize there’s no way to fully prepare for a new baby, but I feel we’ve done the most we can on our end.

For months now we have been preparing our home for you, which is your home as well.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

5 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Dear Jack,

This past weekend was likely your final weekend as an only child. I recognize the significance of that and so I wanted to make sure we got out and made it exciting.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

On Saturday, our family met up with your friends Madison and Avery (and their families) at the park. You have known them both since you were around 1 year old.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

We didn’t realize it, but there were some vendors there including K-Love radio station. They had a man in a bucket in a crane truck who threw a foam ball to all the kids below. You loved it!

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

That afternoon, we dropped Mommy off at the house to do some further “nesting,” while we went back to explore some more of McCutcheon Creek, where we left off from the week before.

In order to cross the water, we had to “build a bridge.” I found an old piece on sheet metal nearby, so I tossed it across the water and it landed on a rock; giving just enough length for you to get to the shore.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Whereas the theme of our McCutcheon Creek expedition the week before was mud, this time it was trees. We were trekking through an area of the creek where the trees served as a canopy over us. Some of the branches were so low that we had to cross over and under them.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

At one point I abruptly announced to you, “Stop! Do you hear that?” We immediately heard a swarm of bees, but didn’t see them. I wanted to make sure we weren’t standing on some kind of underground bee colony.

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Fortunately, we weren’t. However, we were standing right underneath them: The tree we were standing next to was rotted out, with the bees having their home at the top of the tree!

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

We turned around and escaped without any bee stings. It’s always an adventure when you and I go exploring the creek!

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

And once Papa gets here when your sister is born, I have a feeling we will go explore more of McCutcheon Creek with him too. Even more fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Last Weekend as an Only Child?

Dear Holly: I Want Mommy to Go into Labor Tomorrow Night

39 ½ weeks.

Dear Holly: I Want Mommy to Go into Labor Tomorrow Night

Dear Holly,

Here we are, 3 days before your due date on the 21st, and just 2 days before my birthday on the 20th. So you can imagine what I want to happen:

I want you to be born on my 35th birthday.

For that to easily happen, Mommy needs to go into labor with you late Tuesday night (the 19th) and then you can be born on Wednesday (the 20th). Even if Mommy has a long labor with you like she did with your brother Jack (20 hours), you would likely still be born within the 24 hour time frame of April 20th.

The stars are aligning for this to take place. Today begins Mommy’s 4 month maternity leave; plus, Grandma (Mommy’s Mommy) flew in from California late last night.

Therefore, Mommy has so many reasons now to finally be able to relax…and have a baby!

And that brings up another reason it be nice for you to be born on the 20th; Grandma specially had her flight moved up by 36 hours to help ensure she got here before you did.

Even if you’re not born on my 35th birthday, our birthdays will still be close so I’m happy about that either way.

That’s the way it was with Nonna; my own Mommy was born on April 11th, just 9 days before my birthday.

So ultimately, even if you’re not born on my birthday… you, me, and Nonna will all have April birthdays!

The strangest thing happened today on the home when I stopped to get gas. The lady across the pump from me asked me to help her unscrew the lid on her portable gas container. I then complimented her on her Honda Fit; which I want to be my next car.

As we were talking, I mentioned that “my wife is about to have our 2nd child in a few days.”

She immediately responded with a confident smile, “Your wife is having a girl?”

With amazement, I said, “Yes… but how did you know that? Did I already tell you?”

She told me she just could tell; even though she was just looking at me. I hadn’t show her a picture of Mommy or anything. I guess it’s even further fascinating that she followed up with, “And your first born is a boy.”

While I started to imagine she might be an angel walking among us, she told me she is a school bus driver named Darlene. She said she’ll be looking for me on my way to work each morning now, since her route is the same as mine. Her bus number is 69, so I’ll be on the lookout.

We are so happy and so ready for your arrival! While the whole labor process is obviously on the chaotic side, it’s something that Mommy and I are officially looking forward to now.

I am ready for our family to grow, by about 7 pounds… hopefully on Wednesday.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Mommy is Feeling Miserable Right about Now

38 weeks.

Dear Holly,

Dear Holly: Mommy is Feeling Miserable Right about Now

With your due date being just 2 weeks from today, I get asked by other people on a daily basis how Mommy is feeling.

I always answer honestly and directly:

“She is feeling miserable; as I suspect most women do when they are 8 and a half months pregnant. She can only sleep for a few hours at a time, she’s getting contractions, and she either feels too hungry or too full.”

As much as I hate to see Mommy in discomfort, I have assurance in knowing these are all good signs that you are healthy and growing inside her tummy.

I’ve asked her if she would prefer you be born a few weeks early, but she reminded me that’s not ideal because Grandma (her Mommy) doesn’t fly in from California until the 16th, which is 5 days before your due date in 2 weeks

So if you were to be born early, it would be nice if at least Grandma is here to help. Granted, Nonna and Papa are on call and can be here within about 3 hours too.

I feel that mentally, both Mommy and I are ready for your arrival. I personally am not nervous or anxious about it.

This isn’t our first time to have a baby, so we’re better prepared this time around.

I’m at my worst when I don’t know what I’m doing. But when I am trained on it, no matter how challenging the situation, I can live in confidence knowing I have authority on the subject.

With your arrival, I will not feel like a bumbling idiot trying to figure out what to do. I feel I will be able to appreciate the whole experience that much more.

Obviously, you’re a girl, so there will be new material for me to learn. But as for the basics, I doubt I’ll be in major culture shock.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007

37 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007

Dear Holly,

It truly was back in 2007 that Mommy and I first perceived the concept of you in our minds, when we bought you your first pair of socks.

Mommy and I were dating at the time, but it was just a couple of weeks before I proposed. We drove from Tennessee to Pennsylvania, where one of Mommy’s sister’s family lives.

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007

While on that trip, Mommy saw a pair of girly baby socks and wanted to buy them “for when we have a little girl one day.” I encouraged her to buy the socks, assuming there was a good chance there really would be a little girl in our future at some point.

Granted, many years would pass from that day in December 2007 until the Spring of 2016, when you will be born. And during several of those years, Mommy and I thought we might just have one child.

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007

But in the end, fate worked itself out. We followed Dave Ramsey, got out of debt, saved up a down payment on a new house, bought a new house, and suddenly… we were both thinking the same thing:

It’s time to have another baby!

And now you’re almost here. These socks are now waiting for you in your drawer.

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007

This past weekend Mommy and I visited your bedroom while your brother Jack was taking a nap in his bedroom. I guess we wanted to imagine how that former guest room will never be the same.

Instead of a guest room, it will be a little girl named Holly’s room. It’s funny how full your room already is, and you’re not even here yet.

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007

That means that a lot of people are anticipating your arrival, not just me and Mommy and your brother Jack.

I took some pictures of Mommy with our new camera. I love that “coming soon” sticker that she stuck on her tummy.

That’s you inside!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: The Socks We Bought You Back in December 2007