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Top 10 things we did on spring break:

1. Went to the park with friends:

2. Built a cardboard box barn (and stocked it with animal friends).

3. Went to Pioneers Park and fell in love with buffaloes.

 

 

 

4. Went to St. Paul NE to visit my Grandma, Aunt, Uncle, and Mom.

5. Played in the sandbox.

6. Played in the park {again}.

7. Went to the Omaha zoo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Enjoyed having Daddy home after two weekends on the road!

9. Played in Mommy’s classroom.

10.   Had entirely too much fun!

The most wonderful moment of the week? Seeing little baby for the first time.

We had our 8 week appointment with the midwife at 7w6d. We’re going back to the same birth center we used when we had Norah, and it was so nice to walk into a familiar place. we even got to meet with our labor nurse from Norah, which was wonderful!

They have two new midwives on staff, who we will see as we move along. I really liked the midwife we met with for our first appointment, Lindsay, and we also got to meet briefly with the other one, Rachel, as well. I’m excited to continue to get to know them!

The best surprise: seeing baby. We aren’t planning on doing the 20 week ultrasound scan this time, so it was a surprise to hear that we could see baby so early to check on its dating. Everything looked wonderful, and we’re looking forward to hearing it’s heartbeat at our 12 week appointment in April.

Grow baby grow 😉

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

Saturday, November 17th:

Today was kind of a lazy day around here: A cold that I’ve been working on for days has finally hit full force, and I’ve spent most of the day on the futon watching Friends; Peder, of course, is knee-deep into studying for an exam, and has been out to 3 coffee shops today alone, I think, studying with 3 different people.

Needless to say, today I’m grateful for the time I get to spend with my husband, even on the crazy days!

Even if the rigors of grad school mean that our “quality time” together is spent

me sleeping next to him studying

doing laundry/cleaning

eating quick, random meals

evicting moths (?!) out of our apartment {and away from crazy cats}

and texting grocery lists back and forth

I’m still so grateful that we’re able to come together throughout the day and just be. I’ll take that, any day.

Happy parents-to-be

Friday, November 16th:

100 days.

I’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks and 1 day, and there are 100 days left until we become parents.

Yikes!

A long time ago, I remember thinking that when we got to 100 days left it would be a huge milestone. I mean, 100 days!! It feels like such a long time  from now, but at the same time it feels so soon.

In 100 days, we’ll be holding our sweet little baby for the first time.

In 100 days, our lives will change forever as we go from “just the two of us” to “our family of three.”

In 100 days, we’ll learn if we have a son or daughter, a sweet little _______ or _____ (not sharing any names! Although I *did* use the correct number of underscores to correspond with the letters in the names) (that’s for you, Emily!).

In 100 days, our love will grow even deeper as it turns from something that lives only inside of us into a tiny, perfect little human living outside in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to anything more.

Thursday, November 15th:

Today, I’m grateful for the little guy or girl kicking away in my tummy.

Not even 8 weeks ago all I could feel were tiny little nudges. I used to spend hours with Peder’s hand glued to my stomach, trying endlessly to make him feel what I was feeling:

“Didn’t you feel that?? It was huge! How can you not feel that from the outside?!”

Poor guy probably felt like a failure, AND he got a crick in his neck trying to hold his hand still!

Now, however, baby is moving SO much that we can even SEE it from the outside! Every time Peder puts his hand on my stomach, baby kicks for him. It’s such a great feeling.

For a while, baby’s favorite spot to kick was right below my right ribs. Lately, though, I’m feeling simultaneous movements on both sides of my stomach–from feet and elbows moving together! It’s like a little rock concert drumming away in my tummy.

As much as I cannot wait to meet our little baby and have him here with us, I honestly think that I’ll miss being pregnant. Despite the overwhelming uncomfortableness of a big belly (and it’s only going to get worse), I wouldn’t trade these little kicks for anything.

I swear I was standing straight in this picture–but baby was all on the right side!

Tuesday, November 13th:

Every Tuesday, we have friends over for our weekly “Tuesday Night Dinners.”

After crazy workdays our various jobs, four of us grad students assemble at our house to eat good food and chat for a bit before we all head home to hit the books some more.

Today, I’m grateful for Tuesday Night Dinner!

This ritual started when a friend of mine moved to town for grad school. She was homesick and didn’t know anyone, so after we had dinner together on night we decided to make it a weekly thing. One of Peder’s colleagues happened to be joining us for dinner that night, and has been there ever since!

Honestly, they make Tuesday my favorite night of the week

{besides nights on the weekend. Because who doesn’t love the weekend??}

I look forward to seeing these two girls all week long, ever since we said goodnight the previous Tuesday. They make the long days at work bearable!

I hope that we’re able to continue Tuesday Night Dinner next semester once the baby’s here–even if it does mean that we’ll be having Tuesday Casserole-from-the-Freezer Night for a while!

Sunday, November 11th:

Today, I’m grateful for all of the research we’ve done into the kind of parents we want to be.

The day I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did was go buy another pregnancy test. The second thing I did was go to the library.

Ever since then, we’ve had a shelf full of books with everything from What to Expect When You’re Expecting and 1000 Baby Names to Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and back issues of Mothering magazine within arms reach.

We’ve always had a vague idea of the parenting style we’re most attracted to, but once we found out that we were actually going to need to find a parenting style–and soon–we dove headfirst into the task.

We’ve had so much fun reading about attachment parenting, babywearing, labor and delivery, unassisted births, breastfeeding, and a whole host of other topics that I’ll bore you about in detail another day. And I knew that I’d need this knowledge in February, but I never imagined that I’d need it…today!

While we were out studying at a coffee shop downtown this afternoon, I got a call on my cell phone from an “unknown” number. Just because, I picked it up. Turns out it was a lactation consultant from a local hospital, one that I visited about a month and a half ago after I was in a car accident (another story, for another day!). She said she was doing a survey of moms…but I’m pretty sure she just wanted to follow up with me and check to make sure I was aware of the benefits of breastfeeding.

Turns out, I definitely am! Thanks to all of the reading we’ve done, the people we’ve talked to, and the videos we’ve watched, I ROCKED all of her questions. I knew everything, from the benefits of skin to skin contact immediately after birth, to the importance of not supplementing with formula, to the hormones that both the baby and I release after birth and how to maximize milk production during that time. It felt awesome to know so much, and now I am totally prepared to breastfeed right this minute if I had to! I’m actually kind of bummed that I can’t!

It was definitely a moment of, “I can totally do this.” I have mostly felt unsure and anxious (although a happy-anxious) about what it’s going to be like to have a baby and be a mom, but after spouting off everything that I’ve researched today all while talking to an expert in the field–I am more confident than ever that I can tackle anything that this baby throws at me!

Saturday, November 10th:

Today, I’m grateful for Saturdays.

{Super original, I know, but hear me out!}

Today was a Saturday exception. We have company over (virtual “Hello” to my BIL and his girlfriend!), and it’s been nice to spend some time with them and catch up. Having guests over to our apartment (be it on the weekend or a weekday) always throws our routine off a bit, but we still love having family over.

We ate some good food, such as homemade pizza and chicken enchiladas. I’ve made this last dish numerous times before, so many that I’ve stopped following the recipe, but in anticipation of new folks eating my food I decided to return to the recipe for some ingredient and measurement reminders. Turns out that I’ve been missing a lot of key stuff! My bad, Peder–sorry to make you eat substandard enchiladas for so long!

We also watched some fun TV together–My BIL’s girlfriend is into Dr. Who, so she introduced us to Season 5 Episode 1. Man, did I not know what I have been missing! Peder and I foolishly started on Season 1 when we attempted to watch Dr. Who last summer, and if you’ve ever seen the show, you know that it gets infinitely better as it goes on. We just didn’t hold on long enough! I’m looking forward to watching some more of Season 5 when finals are over…until then, who are we kidding? We don’t have time for TV.

But, despite having some fun company over, I’m also grateful for Saturday normalcy. We sent my BIL and his girlfriend off on their own during the afternoon and had Peder’s colleague Caitlyn over for some good study time. Caitlyn is a regular at our private, in-home coffeehouse, and it felt good to do some of our “regular” Saturday stuff. I got lots done on my lesson plans for the upcoming week, and I believe the mathletes were able to do a bunch, too. I’m grateful that we were able to still do our work even though company was in town! That doesn’t happen very often!

Norah-roo

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Our family

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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)