You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2013.

Oh, how I’ve wanted to write this post.

I dreamed of the story behind her birth, of the hours that Peder & I would spend laboring {literally} for her arrival. Would it be in the middle of the night? Would I feel guilty about calling the midwife out of the darkness? Or would it be during the birth center’s business hours, where I would be so conscious of the busy clinic outside?

As with so many of my expectations about labor, none of those things mattered at all.

Because labor was much, much more difficult than I ever could have imagined, and pretty much everything but the sensation of the pain went out the window about 24 hours in.

But then we had her, and all of the pain in the world went away.

IMG_0118

Labor had been mildly progressing for weeks; contractions were there–some painful, some not–but never consistent, and never prolonged. Until Friday night, February 22nd, when they were there–for sure–and they didn’t leave. After one last Chinese takeout meal, Peder and I went to bed where we both dozed on and off between contractions. I was excited yet also a little apprehensive when they still continued into Saturday morning.

Looking back, those contractions were nothing. But at the time, they felt painful enough to cancel plans to go out and study with a friend, enough to miss a movie we had wanted to go see {to pass the time}, and enough to bail on a game night with friends. At the time, they felt strong enough that I couldn’t ignore them without some visible repercussions, and we decided that experience was best left to the comfort and convenience of our own home. We did do lots of baths, bouncing on the birth ball, grocery shopping/indoor walking, and a brief walk downtown to get a smoothie {all day long, I felt nauseous and on the verge of throwing up. A smoothie sounded so good, and was one of my last foods before birth!}. After a ravioli dinner {trying to push those carbs}, we tried to get some rest.

That’s when things got interesting.

We’ve known for a while that the baby was posterior {face up}, but we thought she turned as of Wednesday. Apparently this was not accurate, as the uterine contractions quickly turned into incredibly painful back labor. I cannot express how intense this pain is–it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt. It’s absolutely untouchable; nothing makes it go away, nothing relieves the pain, nothing. But Peder, my saint, did everything he could to try and help. From 6pm until the wee hours of Sunday morning, he pushed on my back, fetched frozen vegetables to help ease the pain, tried the double hip squeeze that’s supposed to help with back labor {ha}. Later, he told me that he completely destroyed his wrists and hands and forearms just trying to help–but I never knew it at the time. He was amazing, he was so supportive.

To help me get through contractions, he tried to get me to count in Fibonacci; he’d say, “What’s 1+1?” And during my contraction, I’d answer, “2.” “What’s 1+2?” “3.” “What’s 2+3?” “5.” When that stopped working, we’d count in alternating odds and evens.

One last before-shot!

One last before-shot!

And then the pain got too intense to even utter one number. That’s when Peder called the midwife.

By this time, it was about midnight. When Peder made the call, we were amazed to find Heather, our midwife, answering the phone! Turns out there was another woman there in labor, so everyone was already ready to go. The midwife said it sounded like we were definitely on our way to having a baby, but there was still a ways to go. Which wasn’t terribly disappointing to hear; we knew that we were close, but not quite there. She said to call back when they were too painful to talk through.

After a few more hours and many, many more contractions, I hit that point.

Peder called at 3am, and she said to wait 30-45 more minutes and then start the hour drive to the birth center. He left me on the bed and ran around the house assembling the last-minute things we needed, and then told me it was time to go.

Something I never thought I’d say in return: “No.”

By that point, I was in so much pain. Contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes, and I was afraid to move. I couldn’t get out of bed without triggering another contraction, but laying down made them worse. It was the closest I’ve ever come to being stuck between a rock and hard place. I told Peder that I wanted to just stay at home, I couldn’t imagine being confined to a car seat for an hour; how many contractions would I have in that time? How was I going to make them stop? I didn’t want to even go there. But he made me get up, helped me find socks and shoes and pants or whatever else I was missing at the time, and we headed for the door.

Halfway down the stairs, I asked if he has his sunglasses. Yes, he does. Does he have our wallets? Yes, he does. What about the baby’s bag? Um, no. As I had one last contraction as quietly as I could by the front door {and the wall we share with our sleeping neighbor}, he grabbed the bag and we headed out the door by 4am.

Thankfully, laying down in the bumpy car seemed to make it all better. Halfway there, I was now contemplating giving birth in the car. Clearly, my mental state was already way gone. I was able to sleep between contractions, though, and they slowed down to give me time to rest between. And then we were there, in what seemed like no time at all to me.

We walked in and were shown to the exam room, where our midwife Amanda checked me to see how far I was dilated. Turns out, we did an amazing job laboring at home and I was at a 7-8. We were able to stay, thank goodness. I think I cried a little at that point, knowing we could stay and have the baby and it was definitely, for sure, going to be soon. But even though we were allowed to stay at the birth center, there were already two other women in both of the birth rooms–literally, no room at the inn. But luckily one was on her way out, so we labored in the library for a bit while we waited. Soon, though, we were able to head into the Gaskin Birth Suite.

After this, time gets fuzzy to me. I don’t really remember time passing, only that labor had become so, so painful in the meantime. I had a very thorough understanding of everything that was going to happen, and I knew that at some point I was supposed to think I couldn’t do it–but none of that could have prepared me for how so, so, painful those contractions were. Because the baby was posterior, she pushed right on my spine during every contraction. And since there was no where for my spine to go, it just hurt. A lot. By that point, I’d have one incredibly painful contraction, about a minute’s rest {in which the back pain did not subside}, and then have another slightly less painful contraction before a few minutes rest.

It was, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I screamed. I grunted. I panted. I made sounds I told myself I would never make. I am a quiet person, but it was that bad.

Next door, I heard the other woman screaming, too. It seemed worse than what I was doing, which didn’t make me feel better. Instead of thinking I was handling it better, I knew that she was just farther along than me. It was going to get worse.

And then, I heard her have her baby. I heard his first cries along with them. It was a bit disappointing.

At this point, I decided to get into the tub and try pushing. I quickly learned that was even more painful and not something I wanted to do ever again. Heather offered to check me {which, I’ve been told, they do not do unless I request}, and when she said I was only at an 8 1/2–my resolve shattered on the spot. I think this was around 8 or 9 am.

By now, my head was not a good place to be in. I thought I couldn’t do it. I was fairly sure that I didn’t want to. I, the non-invasive, the I-don’t-want-to-be-an-inconvenience, wanted to transfer to a hospital and get something for the pain. Looking back, I don’t think I necessarily wanted an epidural or narcotics and I definitely didn’t *want* a c-section, but I just wanted something to help. I wanted something to be able to touch the back pain for even a minute and give me some relief.

I remember turning to Peder and saying that I didn’t want to do it anymore, and that I was so, so sorry.

He turned to me and put his hands around my face. He told me that I was already doing it. All I had to do was get through this one more, just hold on for a little bit. He made me tell him that I could do it.

I didn’t believe him, but I kept going.

Our amazing midwife, Amanda, came in and told me I needed to rest. She said to lay down on my side with my top leg propped up for 10 contractions and then to switch sides, and then to labor on the toilet for a while to give my hips a little more room for her to spin. I was so tired–it was about 11am, almost 40 hours into labor, hour 28 without sleep, and hour 18 with incredible pain. But by the time I followed her directions and labored for a while on the toilet, I found it was much more bearable to push. After about 20 minutes, the nurse Linda came in to check our heart rates and–despite never doing checks–found to everyone’s astonishment that she was crowning.

Amanda quickly helped me jump in the tub, and after a couple pushes I realized I could see the top of her head. It was full of long, wavy hair that swayed in the water, but I could still feel a lot of head that still needed to come. I told them that I know it’s supposed to come out, but I don’t think it will, and they patiently reminded me that it will fit. Just go slowly. It will be ok.

By now, Peder was looking at me with the sweetest smile and tears in his eyes. He could see our baby, she was almost here. And after a few more pushes, her little head just popped out. Then she turned and her shoulders slid right through without me doing much at all–and she was born.

My hands were already feeling her head, so I grabbed her chest and pulled her up. Peder’s and Amanda’s hands followed soon after, and she was on my chest.

It was over. It was done, and she was here.

IMG_0117

After that moment, nothing else mattered, and it hasn’t mattered since. The realities of the pain are starting to fade as I think about that last moment of true painlessness–once her head was born, it was all fine again. I’m starting to realize that yes, labor hurt like hell, but it was all for a purpose. It was for her. And I’d already do anything for her.

Norah Josephine was born on February 24th, 2013 at 12:39pm. 6lbs 8oz, 20 inches long. Perfect.

And now as I look down and watch her sleep, or when I wake up and see her snuggled next to me, or when I see her gaze into her dad’s eyes, I can’t imagine life without her. She fits us, so incredibly well. She’s ours.

image_1361970919347149

And Goodbye.

Yesterday was our due date, February 21st, 2013. It’s officially come and gone. I feel like I’ve been waiting for that day all year, wondering if we’d even make it to the day before we had a baby. We could have had a baby by now! And as we anxiously waited and counted the days {literally} until February 21st, I thought I’d be so excited to finally reach this day, THE day.

But I wasn’t.

I’ve been so surprised by how sad I’ve been at the end of my pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong–I can hardly wait until the baby is here, and I’ve died of happiness on numerous occasions just thinking about what our family will be like when s/he is finally here–but at the same time, I can barely stand the thought of what it will be like when he’s not inside me anymore.

When I can’t feel his little wiggles and know, instantly, that he’s ok.

When I have to share the kicks, hiccups, hand movements, and heel nudges with everyone else.

When I can’t take him with me everywhere I go {I’m already dreading going back to work full-time in August, much less the increased course load I’ll have starting in April}.

All of these amazing things I’ve grown so accustomed to feeling 24/7 will someday have to stop, and the thought makes me so sad–almost as much as the happy feelings I get when I think about holding him in my arms for the first time. Almost.

But the most irrational tears start when I think of that moment when I have to hand him to someone else–even for a moment–for the first time. Even if that person is Peder, and even if it’s just for a moment, I just can’t imagine not holding him, and having to part with him for the first time. Every time I think about it, it sends me to tears. Then send in the thoughts of random relatives over at our house, all wanting to hold him and love him for all the right reasons, but ultimately holding him when I cannot–and I completely break down.

It’d be funny, except that it’s a real fear.

So I spent the majority of yesterday in such a weird funk, because instead of celebrating this day–the baby’s day–that we’ve been waiting for for so long, all I could think about was how our time together was coming to an end. True, we are entering a new chapter of amazingness, but it will be different from everything I’ve known these last 10 months. And for a girl who thrives on expectations, the unknown can be terrifying.

bliss photography-7009

Photo Feb 17, 7 30 31 PM

Same shirt, different belly! Can’t wait to meet the little one hiding inside.

My husband is the pizza master. He’s ridiculously handy in the kitchen no matter what he attempts, but his pizza crust dough is perfection!

Highly recommended serving suggestion: Krab pizza, with alfredo sauce, tomatoes, cream cheese, and fake krab meat!! SO GOOD.

Highly recommended serving suggestion: Krab pizza, with alfredo sauce, tomatoes, cream cheese, and fake krab meat!! SO GOOD.

The perfect pizza crust dough

Temp: 375*

Prep time: 20-30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 c warm water

3/4 TBS yeast

3/4 TBS sugar or honey

1 + 1/3 TBS olive oil

2 1/2+ cups white flour (enough to make the dough come together)

1/2 tsp salt

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375*.

Pour the water into a large bowl, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Add the sugar or honey, and let stand for 5(ish) minutes until the yeast starts to froth.

Add in the oil, flour, and salt, and mix to combine.

In the bowl or on the counter, knead the dough, adding a little flour at a time until it isn’t doesn’t stick anymore.

Let rise until doubled in size {we usually try to let it rest for 20-30 minutes, but sometimes we just can’t wait that long!}.

Spread the dough onto a pan in a pizza shape. We use a pizza stone–can’t sing it’s praises enough! At this point, you can do one of two things:

1) Put the dough in the oven for 10 minutes, poking it with a fork for aeration. Then, pull it out, add sauce and toppings, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes (or until golden brown on the edges and bottom). We do it this way!

OR!

2) Add sauce and toppings right on top of the raw dough, and bake the whole pizza together for about 20 minutes. We haven’t done it this way in a long time, so I can’t speak very accurately to the baking time.

Then, enjoy! 🙂

IMG_0021

We’ve cleaned the house {twice}.

We’ve taken out the recycling.

We’ve organized the baby’s room.

We’ve washed everything that the baby will touch.

{except the crib bedding, which will have to be washed again as the cats think it is theirs.}

I told her she can have aaaaaany bed in the house {including mine}--just not this one.

what?

Everything in this room is mine, right?

Everything in this room is mine, right?

We’ve been walking.

We’ve had spicy food {mmmm Salsa Chicken & Chicken Chili}.

We’ve stocked up on labor-inducing herbs and looked into chiropractors {incase this kid still isn’t moving in a couple weeks}.

To do:

Install car seat

{it’s still safely inside the box–you can guess what the cats would do to it if we left it out!}

Pack bags

***

I’d say we’re ready 🙂

I’ve been trying to prep some freezer meals for us to use after the baby is born, so that I don’t have to worry about cooking for a while. I have enough for 11 dinners plus a breakfast, which I’m pretty proud of!

I’ve listed or linked the recipes below, plus instructions on how to freeze them. I haven’t unfrozen anything yet (baby’s still cooking, and consequently so am I), but I’ll let you know what freezes particularly well once we try them.

Recipes listed below:

Mexican Lasagna

Spaghetti Bake

Tuna noodle casserole

Marinated chicken breasts

Ravioli

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Pot Roast Packs

Chicken Enchiladas

Cream cheese coffee cake

***

Mexican Lasagna

I use this delicious recipe for Mexican Lasagna. It makes enough for a 9×13 pan, so I turned it into two 8×8 casseroles–one to eat for dinner that night, and then one to freeze. I make the recipe a written all the way up until the assembly. Before layering the lasagna, I lined the casserole dish with saran wrap. Then I laid the layers of sauce, noodles, meat, and cheese in the pan on top of the saran. After allowing the dish to freeze completely in the freezer, I popped the food out of the casserole pan, wrapped in more saran wrap and a couple layers of aluminum foil, and returned the dish to the freezer. This way, I didn’t lose a casserole dish for weeks on end! Once we’re ready to eat it, I’ll just bring the dish out of the freezer, pop it into the same casserole (sans foil and saran wrap), and allow it to unfreeze before baking it as normal.

***

Spaghetti Bake

My baked spaghetti recipe is pretty simple:

Spaghetti or angel hair noodles (1/2 a box? I’m terrible at noodle portions. Enough to fill a casserole)

1 lb. ground beef (optional–I didn’t include this)

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used a homemade version I made and canned last summer)

Ricotta cheese (I used about a cup)

1 tomato

Colby Jack cheese (for topping)

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and return to the pot. Pour the spaghetti sauce over and stir to combine. Remember to use a little more sauce then you normally would, as you’ll be freezing and thawing the dish so it should be a little more moist than usual.

**The assembly of the dish changes a bit with the freezing instructions, which I’ve listed below. However, I wanted to mention that I layer the noodle/sauce  mixture with gobs of ricotta cheese and slices of tomato. So, after reading the freezer directions below, add a layer of noodles, a few dollops of ricotta and slices of tomato, and then repeat. **

Before spooning the spaghetti into an 8×8 pan, I lined the casserole dish with saran wrap. Then put the noodles, sauce, and cheese into the pan on top of the saran. After allowing the dish to freeze completely in the freezer, I popped the food out of the casserole pan, wrapped in more saran wrap and a couple layers of aluminum foil, and returned the dish to the freezer. This way, I didn’t lose a casserole dish for weeks on end! Once we’re ready to eat it, I’ll just bring the dish out of the freezer, pop it into the same casserole (sans foil and saran wrap), and allow it to unfreeze before baking it as normal.

***

Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 package Egg Noodles

2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I make my own)

2 cans chunk light tuna in water, drained

1 can peas

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in both cans of cream of mushroom soup, both cans of tuna, and the peas. Stir to combine.

Before spooning the mixture into an 8×8 pan, I lined the casserole dish with saran wrap. Then I put the whole pot (noodles, cream sauce, tuna, and peas) into the pan. After allowing the dish to freeze completely in the freezer, I popped the food out of the casserole pan, wrapped in more saran wrap and a couple layers of aluminum foil, and returned the dish to the freezer. This way, I didn’t lose a casserole dish for weeks on end! Once we’re ready to eat it, I’ll just bring the dish out of the freezer, pop it into the same casserole (sans foil and saran wrap), and allow it to unfreeze before baking it as normal.

***

Marinated Chicken Breasts

(4 breasts total, enough for two meals)

These were super simple–I  bought pre-marinated chicken breasts from the meat counter at our grocery store, and then stuck them in the freezer when we got home. Bing bang boom. I plan on taking them out of the freezer the morning we want to eat them, and then making a couple sides to go along with it. We always have vegetables and rice around, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to steam some broccoli, carrots, or corn and cook up some rice.

***

Ravioli 

Also super simple–the bags of frozen ravioli and tortellini were on sale at the grocery store, so I bought one to add to our freezer stock. The instructions are on the bag, and they even say to boil the ravioli frozen so I don’t even need to pull anything out. Heat up some sauce and serve with a veggie on the side.

***

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

(I made two pans, so double the recipe if you want to do the same)

I make lasagna rolls, as I think they’re easier to portion and serve.

1 box lasagna noodles (You’ll want to end up with about 9-12 rolls, depending on how big your pan is. 1 noodle=1 roll)

frozen spinach, thawed and drained–optional

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 container ricotta cheese

Mozzarella cheese, for topping

Boil the noodles according to package directions. You’ll want to leave them a little more firm, as you’ll be baking them again. Drain and rinse, to make them a little cooler to handle

Lay each noodle on a cutting board (this can be done in batches). Spread ricotta cheese and spinach onto each noodle. Roll the noodle end to end, like sushi. Repeat until you’ve used all of the noodles.

Spread a little sauce onto the bottom of the casserole (lined with saran wrap for freezing–read below) beforehand to help keep the noodles from sticking. Then, place each roll in the pan. Cover with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Before assembling the lasagna rolls laying them in an 8×8 pan, I lined the casserole dish with saran wrap. Then I laid the rolls in the pan and covered with spaghetti sauce. After allowing the dish to freeze completely in the freezer, I popped the food out of the casserole pan, wrapped in more saran wrap and a couple layers of aluminum foil, and returned the dish to the freezer. This way, I didn’t lose a casserole dish for weeks on end! Once we’re ready to eat it, I’ll just bring the dish out of the freezer, pop it into the same casserole (sans foil and saran wrap), and allow it to unfreeze before baking it as normal.

***

Chicken Enchiladas

I make The Pioneer Woman’s white chicken enchiladas, and they’re divine. I made the recipe as she lists it and then before stuffing the enchiladas and laying them in an 8×8 pan, I lined the casserole dish with saran wrap. Then I laid the enchiladas in the pan and covered with the cream sauce. After allowing the dish to freeze completely in the freezer, I popped the food out of the casserole pan, wrapped in more saran wrap and a couple layers of aluminum foil, and returned the dish to the freezer. This way, I didn’t lose a casserole dish for weeks on end! Once we’re ready to eat it, I’ll just bring the dish out of the freezer, pop it into the same casserole (sans foil and saran wrap), and allow it to unfreeze before baking it as normal.

***

Pot Roast Packs (x2)

In addition to freezing the roasts, I precut two packs of root veggies. I chopped up 2 potatoes, a pound of carrots, and 1 large onion and then divided them between two freezer safe bags. I also threw in a McCormick’s pot roast seasoning packet, and Bam–meal ready. Just throw everything into the crockpot and done!

***

Cream cheese coffee cake

I used this recipe for cream cheese coffee cake, and it made enough for two 8×8 pans. It was huge! So we ate one and I froze the other. I made the recipe as is, and then baked two coffee cakes instead of the one described in the recipe. Once the spare cake had cooled, I popped it out of the casserole (grease the pan WELL!), wrapped it in saran wrap and foil, and stuck it in the freezer. I plan to pull it out of the freezer right as we’re headed out of the door for the birth center, and when we come home we’ll have breakfast! 🙂

***

Let me know what you try and what works well for you! 

Dear Peder,

For being excited and awed and nervous and anxious and so wonderfully reassuring from day 1,

for running out to Target for a belly band the minute I realized my pants no longer buttoned together,

for the countless times you’ve complied with my “Give me your hand! You’ve GOT to feel this!” requests,

for rubbing belly butter onto my ever-expanding stomach {even when I complain at you that it feels so cold!},

for massaging my back and my shoulders and my stomach and my tired feet every night without complaint,

for listening to all of my rants, even when they’re petty and trivial,

for trusting all of my decisions, even when they’re different than yours,

for letting me cry over stupid, material, hormonal things,

for kissing my stomach,

for writing every wonderful pregnancy moment down in your journal,

for being more amazing these past nine months than words can say,

Thank you.

I love you, love. Always always.

415738609321175945_q4K6LH6i_c

Now that we’re 37 weeks pregnant (full term, baby!), it’s about time we put the finishing touches on the nursery!

The finished masterpiece--we're so happy with it!

The finished masterpiece–we’re so happy with it!

We are in LOVE with the nursery–I can’t believe how fabulously it turned out. The painting and decorating is all us, but we couldn’t’ve done it without serious generosity from my family! My mom and dad saved all of my twin sister and my nursery furniture, which my mom graciously handed down to us! The crib, rocker, and changing table match amazingly well with the china cabinet-turned-armoire that we already had.

Close up of the crib. Props to Auntie Em and her fabulous library card banner that reads "Once Upon a Time." She made it for our book-themed baby shower--another post to come as soon as I have pics!

Close up of the crib. Props to Auntie Em and her fabulous library card banner that reads “Once Upon a Time.” She made it for our book-themed baby shower–another post to come as soon as I have pics!

My mom also gave us/the baby the crib bedding and curtains for Christmas. I just love the deer theme, and the green/cream/brown color scheme! My heart will always live somewhere out on a sandy prairie hill, no matter where we eventually plant our roots, so the whole nursery look just makes me so happy.

Some close ups of the paintings we did in the room--blue herons (one for each of us)

Some close ups of the paintings we did in the room–blue herons (one for each of us)

In October we painted most of the nursery, but some of the animals only recently made an appearance. I think they just complete the whole look!

A faun hiding behind the door

A fawn hiding behind the door

Peder and his gorgeous clouds, right after we painted them in October

Peder and his gorgeous clouds, right after we painted them in October

A bunny, painted when I could still comfortably kneel on the floor {read: October}.

A bunny, painted when I could still comfortably kneel on the floor {read: October}.

Now all we need is a baby to put in here–trust me, I’m working on it! It shouldn’t be long now. Between you and me, I think it will be sometime soon 🙂

Norah-roo

 photo c25ce961-3f9a-42aa-8e01-8eb001118ca8_zps1f0f9f9b.jpg

Our family

 photo d5ce8ae0-cac7-471e-9f30-3c27712b4b31_zps57e1fa2e.jpg

Norah’s words & signs

Words:
Mama (7 months)
Dada (12 months)
Kitty (11 months)
Bear
Bath
Book (12 months)
Bird (12 months)
Baby
More (13 months)
All done
Cheese (12 months)
Fish (12 months)
Norah (14 months)

Signs:
Kitty (10 months)
More (10 months)
All Done (10 months)
Bird (12 months)
Dada (11 months)
Mama (13 months)
Train (14 months)
Please (14 months)
Carrot (13 months)
Banana (13 months)
Fish (12 months)
Horse (14 months)
Goat (14 months)
Thank you (10 months)
Milk/Noms (12 months)
I love you (15 months)