Welcome Home, Ember Luna | Garden Betty

It’s hard to believe the newest addition to our family is now one month old. Our adorable Ember Luna made her entrance into the world on September 15, 2019, on a warm and beautiful summer night, just as the Harvest Moon was starting to wane.

(Fun fact: The Harvest Moon is the name for the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it’s associated with the time farmers would bring in their harvest. I love how Ember’s birth coincided with this agricultural — and very Garden Betty-esque — event, just as big sister Gemma’s birth landed on March 20, the first day of spring.)

Childbirth this time around felt easier, even though I was more nervous about it — I think it’s because I had no expectations the first time, and nothing to compare to.

After remembering the long and painful labor I had with Gemma (almost 16 hours!), I was anxious about another drawn-out delivery. But Ember arrived just 8 hours after contractions started with only 10 minutes of pushing.

For most of my labor, I was happily hanging out in my hospital room with Will, watching TV and laughing over Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s antics on Wedding Crashers. (I’m convinced after that experience that laughter is one of the best painkillers… along with an epidural, of course.)

The caring nurses and my amazing doctor made the whole experience so easy and fun (which is saying a lot when you’re hooked up to an IV).

A memory I still smile about was when I was settling into my room that afternoon after checking in to the hospital. My doctor had been called in just a few minutes before, and it was strange seeing her dressed in a T-shirt and jeans when for the past nine months, I’d only seen her in scrubs.

She cheerfully checked me for dilation, took off her gloves, then announced, “Okay, nothing’s going to happen for a few hours. I’m headed out to get groceries!” And off she went like it was just another day.

All was calm and quiet while we waited for my labor to progress. Will and I ordered room service, texted our loved ones, and talked lighting and electrical plans for our new home build. (I’d been working on them up until the very moment we left for the hospital.)

It was a little surreal… We knew our lives were going to change forever by that evening, but the significance of it all didn’t really take hold until I was in the final stage of labor, mere minutes from meeting our new child.

Our dear friend, whose family hosted our baby shower and whose son is Gemma’s bestie, is also a talented photographer and she came to our room the last couple of hours to photograph the birth. I’d never thought to have mine documented when she offered to be there, but I’m so glad and grateful that we took her up on it.

It was incredibly special to have her there, sharing the experience with us and capturing these images of the first precious moments of Ember’s life. Knowing that our family is now complete made it all the more meaningful.

Though her name hints otherwise, little Ember has been the most peaceful and mellow baby ever. I know I said the same thing about Gemma as a newborn, but I feel like Ember’s even more easygoing, if that’s actually possible.

The first few nights were a little rough as I dove back into the depths of sleep deprivation and round-the-clock nursing, but this baby has proven herself to be such a good sleeper and eater. (She actually gained an ounce before she left the hospital, which shocked and delighted the nurses.)

We’ve been very fortunate to be taken care of (and well fed!) by family and friends the past month, and my recovery has been swift and smooth so far. I’m trying to take the six-week postpartum period seriously, and stay off my feet, rest, and rejuvenate.

As all parents know, these endorphin-filled early days with our babies pass much too quickly, and I want to soak it all in as much as I can.

When my mom and dad were in town after the birth to help us around the house, we tried to continue with Gemma’s routine so she wouldn’t feel like the baby was disruptive to our lives.

Will took her to her weekly swim class and for a couple hours, it was just my parents and me at home with a deeply slumbering newborn.

All was still and silent in the house as we retreated into our own activities. An hour into the toddler-free afternoon, my parents piped up, “It’s so quiet in here. It’s so lonely without kids around. You’re very lucky to have these girls.”

It made me realize they loved the daily chaos in our home. They loved the piles of toys scattered about, the songs and screams and giggles that echoed through the halls, and the parts of parenthood that wore us down each night.

To my parents, these are the days. The good times. The things they miss about having kids at home. We’re living it, and when I crawl into bed after one too many battles with a toddler, I remind myself that one day I’ll miss it as well.

I’m so thankful that I can relish being a new mom all over again. I have a greater appreciation for the mundane things and the strength and patience for any challenges that come our way, knowing that they, too, shall pass.

Our new normal has been fully entrenched in newborn bliss, and we’re slowly getting the hang of what life will be like with two little ones.

Ember is growing stronger, chubbier, more curious, more alert, and more vocal by the day, her eyes wide and bright as she takes in the world around her. She loves to hold her head up, wiggle those little arms and legs, and cuddle for hours on end.

Gemma is absolutely in love with her baby sister, and we joke that she’s outdoing us with kisses every day! (She does. Easily a five to one ratio.)

I can already see these two becoming the best of friends and it melts me to see how Gemma’s so loving, accepting, and enthusiastic about our new family member. She has a wonderfully nurturing side (that’s been apparent since she herself was a baby), and we cannot ask for a better big sister.

Before Ember was born, I didn’t think it was possible to love another child with the same intensity that we felt for our first one. But somehow, in a way that only parenthood can make sense of, both of them have opened up the deepest parts of our hearts that we didn’t know existed and filled them with so much joy, passion, purpose, and vulnerability.

Our greatest hope for our sweet girls is that they grow up surrounded with love and laughter, inspired by their journeys and adventures, and possessed with the courage and strength to chase after their dreams.

Welcome to this world, Ember Luna. Thank you for making our lives more beautiful.

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