Iver’s Birthday

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried writing this, I’ve tried to shorten it, I’ve reread paragraphs, wondered what part I forgot, wondered if it was too much. Having a baby is such a unique experience that I get carried away in the details and the thoughts. Without writing a memoir this post will still be long and it may have what some would consider graphic detail but it is story that I want to hold in my memory forever

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On Monday, March 28th I went to bed earlier because I was tired after a long day with my family including a doctors visit earlier (the first one this pregnancy that Chad came with me) and instead of falling asleep I watched the entire new season of Girls. At one point, slightly after midnight, I noticed I was having mild, non painful contractions but because they did not hurt at all I brushed them off. I tried timing but I was terrible at it, I could tell when they started but forgot to stop the timer when the contraction waned. They weren’t close together and started getting further apart so I turned the tv off and tried to sleep. I had 3 more contractions in the next half hour, not a big deal but they made me wonder “is this it?” Around 1:30 Chad came to bed and Harper woke up begging to cuddle, I took it all as a sign to get up and get into the bath. I knew a bath would relax me enough to sleep or would help hint if I was actually starting labor.

Once in the bath, they came quicker and much more uncomfortable, not uncomfortable in a way that made me squirm but like a hug that was just a tad too tight so that I couldn’t breath comfortably. I had no convincing signs of labor yet: my water had not broken, no mucus loss or sickness of any sort. Without any proof of labor I was constantly second guessing what was happening and while doubting the reality I was in I decided to go with the “better safe than sorry” mantra and woke Chad and my mom up at 2:30.

Chad and I packed quietly and headed to the hospital. He drove at least 5 mph under the speed limit despite the lack of traffic, or really any vehicle on the road. My mind tried to justify why you would drive slowly when your wife was uncomfortable but couldn’t come up with much. I mentioned that while they might just send me home when we get there it was perfectly fine to drive a little faster. He kindly, almost timidly admitted that with the time he was worried about drunk drivers as well as getting pulled over by cops patrolling for drunks- I informed him it was  monday night. By now my contractions were every 3-5 minutes and I had to focus to breath through them, luckily the drive, while slow-paced, was still relatively short with hardly any bumps or red lights.

We parked outside the hospital, I waited for my contraction to pass and walked in. We checked in at the ED triage where I gave them my information while squatting on the ground silent and breathing through another contraction. It took forever but eventually the nurses came from labor and delivery and took me back to triage, an intimating room that was thankfully empty of other laboring women.

In the labor triage room they had me change, took my weight and vitals and eventually checked my cervix, moment of truth: I was at 5cm. I heard the two nurses discussing my situation saying that a doctor would probably not send me home being at 5 (I had been checked at my appointment earlier that morning and was only 2.5) even though active labor is now considered to be at 6cm and they were confident that I would be staying. I texted my friend Kim (at exactly 3:27am) who was coming to take birth photos that we would be staying, it was the real deal.

We walked down the hall to a delivery room and they put me on the monitors as per their regulations. The lab guy came in and the nurses put him in his place about drawing from me (I had complained that they tried to draw while I was in the worst part of labor). I had to be on the monitors a little over the required 20 minutes because baby wasn’t giving them the readings they wanted (he was resting) but as soon as they were off I hightailed it to the shower knowing the relief that was brought by standing and the endless hot water.

I have no recollection of what Chad was doing at this point, I remember him checking up on me, seeing if I needed anything, making sure I was safe- but there was so little to actually DO besides breath and wait and mop up the water on the floor. I was waiting for the next contraction, waiting for the break between them, waiting to have a baby.

I stood in the shower and let the water hit my low back, positioning my hips so that the hot water rolled down my belly. I would wiggle, I’d tense but when swaying back and forth, my body bent forward I felt the rhythm, the pace that we both needed, our white space to work in.

As soon as each wave would start I attempted to try the various techniques I’d learned:

Hypnosis: “turning off my switch” and allowing my body to completely relax and my mind to empty. Didn’t work. My muscles were completely relaxed and it only made me feel pain in my abdomen that much stronger.

Visualization: as a contraction started I’d imagine either what my body was doing in the sensations. Also didn’t work. It brought all my attention to the area of pain again. I could visualize what it was doing but my brain became focused on the pain and how it was working. Basically I noticed how bad it fucking hurt.

What did work? Focusing on the water hitting me and breathing. Controlling my breath gave me an outlet for the pain and took away *some* of the awareness of my pain and let me get more into my head. When I focused on my breath I became very inward, quiet and intense for those moments so that when it started to pass I could be normal, I could enjoy my break and interact with Chad and my nurses. I learned the count to the peak of discomfort, it came fast and left slowly so I tried to match my breath to it, breathing in quickly and exhaling slowly.

Between each contraction I would think “that wasn’t too bad”and I’d immediately dread the next one as it came. Then it became unbearable, I wanted a break and concluded that I deserved one. I called to Chad and told him he needed to call the nurse because I wanted an epidural. I was confidant in this decision, I know the bliss of an epidural as I know the beauty of medication free birth but started to bargain anyway “if I’m not at 7cm I want an epidural, if I’m further I’ll be okay” then after another contraction “I mean, 8cm not 7.” Chad gave me a funny look, he might have said something along the lines of sticking to that 7cm, luckily the nurse that was training for L&D showed up. She told me they would want to check me first. I agreed, knowing they would and started to grab a couple of towels for the mad dash to the bed.

I made it to the bed just as a contraction started, which really means I was perched on the bed like a terrified 3-legged cat. Three-legged because my left leg didn’t make it up and was stuck on the ground as I arched my back up and took my forehead down to the bed. Chad asked what I wanted and I told him to push against the back of my pelvis. I was pushing against Chads hands as hard as he pushed into my low back, maybe harder because I actually had the thought that I shouldn’t push so hard against him or he might stop (he wouldn’t, labor makes you think weird things). The nurse watched me breathing through the contraction and offered some sort affirmations in how great I was doing and a something about how calm I was and I informed her that I wasn’t moving so she would need to check me from behind if she wanted to check at all, this is what I call labor bluntness, not always the most polite.  She walked out of my vision as I waited for the moment of truth, 6cm, 7cm….

“You’re complete.” The other nurse started prepping and they mentioned getting the on-call OB soon. I informed them that soon wasn’t enough because my last baby was pretty fast at this point and sure enough, the next contraction showed some proof that he was well on his way out and my water broke though it was hardly a trickle. Seconds later the OB walked in and started opening up a huge plastic sheet on the floor in front of me. Oddly concerned with the mess that labor can cause I asked her if I could just stand over that plastic. She kindly suggested that I stay on the bed, even standing (as I half was), because it’s a softer surface if a baby were to fall out. Made me smile that I was so concerned about making a mess I forgot concern over dropping my baby on a hard floor. I let the contractions do the work of pushing for me but didn’t feel the relief I knew possible at this point, I was attempting to let my body go through the process it was designed for and wanted to slow down the process in order to let my contractions do most of the pushing work as well as to prevent any tearing. Relaxed as I was about letting my body work at this point I hated the position I was in, feeling no relief, but did not know what to do or how to fix it.  The OB suggested I lay on my side, that sounded good like a great idea but I needed to be told what to do. I didn’t know how to move and needed to be told which side to lay on. I demanded to be directed and followed the direction given, going from lost to safe in a single movement I laid on my right side.

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Once on my side pushing commenced with one strong push, I consider this my first actual push because before there was no active muscle engagement, I simply relaxed my body in order for it to open and direct the baby. The OB mildly informed me that baby was not reacting well to the contractions (they where holding monitors on my belly in order to get a heartbeat reading) she insisted that I needed to get the baby out fast, as quickly as possible. Calmly I waited for the next contraction, when it started I pushed, and pushed and pushed. I felt the head come out, I took a breath and relaxed for a moment but held onto the push, it felt like I was done, my work was finished but someone reminded me I still had shoulders (and the rest of the baby) to get out so I kept pushing without waiting for the next contraction, this is the first time I made a noise, half moan half ahh, grabbing everything in me to birth this boy. The shoulders, I still shudder, there was some sort of horrifying pop that happens when you hastily have to push the thickest part of a baby out. Every time I tried to sleep the following 48 hours I relived this terrifying pop. I don’t think it was audible to anyone but I definitely felt it. Only 2 minutes of pushing and 1 hour from being admitted Iver was here, born at 4:28am on March 29, 2016.

I saw my purple slimy baby, the doctor made sure I saw his face as the nurses grabbed blankets for us. He rested and squirmed and cried out on my belly. I lifted him up slightly over and over just to look at his face. He was so warm against me, dry but sticky and incredibly soft. He smelled metallic, not like blood but like new, clean earth. His dark hair was matted against his head, wet, not long, but a nice covering and longer at the top of his crown his perfect little mouth, cleft chin and dark grey eyes looking for me. My mind immediately chose the name Iver, though for the next day I would question it and attempt to mentally chose Leif. His hands where (and are) huge but the fingernails not too long. He kicked a little and each time he yelled out I would wonder if I should attempt to feed him only to pick him up and stare at his little face.

032916_0042_BWI tried to pull him up past my belly in order to try to feed him but the doctor told me not too, his umbilical cord was too short and he was as far as he could go. She also told me that he had the chord around his neck hence the quick delivery. So I watched his eyes, his hands pawing, felt him, smelled him.

While they cleaned me up and packed me up we sat and oohed over Iver. He latched well, nursed quickly then fell asleep. He peed across my stomach and I requested new blankets. Kim showed up, disappointed that she missed it but still willing to be a support. Chad took a nap. The nurse came to check on my bleeding every 15 minutes, I informed her that I felt like I was gushing blood, it wasn’t stopping. Sure enough, I had filled the bed with blood. She called in the head nurse who quickly started me up on pitocen to help my uterus contract back down, it worked perfectly. 032916_0016

032916_0021032916_0029032916_0017Eventually the nursery came in and took his stats, amazed at his size, what a long baby, why big hands, so alert, sweet little face. They diapered him and gave him back to me then they swiftly kicked me out of the room and escorted me upstairs (it was a very busy time in our hospitals labor and delivery). As we walked through the hall and past the nurses station I hear whispering, specifically one person say “was that her? the one?” I tried so hard to listen but I figured it was maybe slight thankfulness, easy in easy out-patient, and the fact that I was so quiet for a natural birth (one of my goals with this birth was to be more internal and I absolutely succeeded with that). I guess I won’t know why they pointed or whispered but it didn’t matter, because I had a sweet baby boy in the bassinet as I hunched down the hallway.

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[photos by: Heritage Photography]

Aside

The Rock Maze

Went on a little hike today to the rock maze. It’s a super short walk from the car but provided tons of entertainment as the kids explored the “caves” forcing both Chad and I to squeeze through the tiniest crevices. Please excuse Willem’s mid 90’s “coming out of the grunge” style. Part of the boys terrible twos is wanting to pick out his own clothes so denim shorts, tye dye and cowboy boots it was.

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Snack break was pathetic. As a mother to boys I know that snacks make the world go around and can prevent any meltdown. I should have been prepared with a pack full of food however I grabbed what we had, crackers and craisins. Apparently any food is good food because Harper was thrilled by it and kept thanking me for bringing a snack

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Of course we stopped on the way home to fulfill the promise of throwing rocks in the water.

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Oh What a World We Live In: Summer Goals

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How gorgeous is this canyon? If we didn’t have small kiddos we would have hiked to the bottom.

For Chad’s birthday I bought him the northern plains map for his GPS because he had been talking about geocaching a lot lately. So on a whim this afternoon we went to find a few. Unfortunately the one we really wanted to find was on the bottom of this beautiful canyon and we could not figure out how to get down there. We still had a nice time getting out but now we have the goal of getting down to the water, finding the geocache and most importantly playing in those beautiful water pools!

We found other geocaches, hiked small mountains (while Willem slept in the car), took our Subaru on it’s first off road adventures and most importantly we all were out together.

Why I’m Bad at Making Friends

A few years ago I took a pretty in depth personality quiz. I remember it was long and I remember hearing “if you get this answer (the answer I did get) then you probably don’t have a lot of friends.” For some that might seem harsh but in my mind I thought: Yes! I haven’t had many friends, I can’t help that, it’s just how God made me! I was fairly relieved to have an excuse as to why I didn’t seem to have a gaggle of girls to go to constantly, even my bridal party was a one person party, my sister. To further explain the “you have no friends” answer it was answered that I tend to be overly honest, blunt, loud, and I have a general social disability when it comes to taking the first steps in a friendship. Add in the fact that I wear my emotions on my face (and my emotions are usually disapproval for some reason) and you do not have someone with many close friends.

This girl is definitely a soul mate of mine. We are destined to be together even my husband has commented that we can never move because she and I can not be separated.

This girl is definitely a soul mate of mine. We are destined to be together even my husband has commented that we can never move because she and I can not be separated.

So growing up I constantly had a good girl friend but it was usually only one. Don’t worry, I still had friends, most of them boys, some girls but I usually kept them at arms length because I didn’t need a large amount of friends it felt like too much responsibility when I just wanted to play, I just one or two really good ones to rely on and in return I was a good and reliable friend to them. Even from a young age I hated drama and kept it to a minimum.

I remember when we moved across town the summer after 4th grade. I attached myself to the other new girl when we started 5th grade at our new school. When October came around I asked her point blank if she would go trick or treating with me, really I had no one else to go with because she and I were the only two that lived in our new development, but she liked soccer and also had dark hair and freckles like I did. After that we stuck together and played every day except Sundays and Wednesdays. Right before 7th grade I moved to Arizona, and Megan came to visit during spring break, she confessed that she did not like me  before I asked her to go trick or treating (I was loud and confident or as I like to say now, I was a boss), she had no one else to go with so she said yes. This confession actually did not hurt me, it did surprise me a little but it more just reaffirmed how I had always felt about myself.

High school friends. These 2 are some of my oldest friends. What's great is even though we met at 14 they have grown into awesome women that I still adore. This picture was from my wedding 5 years ago! Haven't seen them in almost that long but I know we pick right up where we left off. I have to add that they are some of the most fun girls I've ever met.

High school friends. These 2 are some of my oldest friends. What’s great is even though we met at 14 they have grown into awesome women that I still adore. This picture was from my wedding 5 years ago! Haven’t seen them in almost that long but I know we pick right up where we left off. I have to add that they are some of the most fun girls I’ve ever met.

This is how my life has played out. I wear my emotions on my face too often. I’m timid about approaching other females, and in return they see me as intimidating (my college roommates would tell me this later after remembering our first encounter where I said little to them because I was shy, yet they saw it as aloofness).

Now that we live in a place I consider our forever home I’ve revisited what it is to make friends again especially with kids in tow. Many moms feel anxiety when it comes to making friends. Part of this is just the everyday stress that having kids creates making it hard to make plans or even phone calls but another part is the fact that we have created or been warned about mommy wars. We want to be friends with those that support us so if we feel like we are being judged for whatever parenting choice we make shy away from others who are not in the same situation making of a whole new level of insecurity. This isn’t good, plain and simple, on both ends we need to be more open, willing to put ourselves out there and more accepting of those that do not make the same choices we do. I look for friends who are understanding, support me, keep me honest and are honest with me (and preferably love wine, food, don’t mind messes, are flexible and laugh a lot). I accept them how they are and hopefully they do the same for me. I look forward to making new friends, I feel like I can pick them out pretty easily but it’s hard for me to make the right steps towards companionship without being super awkward.

This beautiful new mom is another long time friend that doesn't live close but that doesn't matter. I love that we started friends as single ladies and that motherhood has made us even closer. We know each others life stories pretty intimately, she's my go to person when it comes to matters in Christ.

This beautiful new mom is another long time friend that doesn’t live close but that doesn’t matter. I love that we started friends as single ladies and that motherhood has made us even closer. We know each others life stories pretty intimately, she’s my go to person when it comes to matters in Christ. 

So what is my friendship situation like currently? I’m in love with my long-term friends that are spread all around the states and here in S. Dakota. I’d say I have two very close friends that I can lean on anytime and a few more that I’m hoping grown into great friendships. I feel supported and loved, I am not alone, it’s encouraging and wonderful, a nice way to live.

If you are a mom or are moving to a new area or both here is what I suggest to make friends: Find local activities, MOPS groups, Hike it Baby groups, find a local church that you like, get a part time job, volunteer, go to library story times, sign up for an adult education class, or join a yoga studio. Find something that you like to do, be brave and put yourself out there and the universe will bring you someone to you, be patient and open, sometimes the really good ones take a while to appear.

New Park

IMG_1909IMG_1895IMG_1901IMG_1906IMG_1897Harper pestered me for a while to take him to the new park. Living in South Dakota it isn’t always easy to find the right day to go thanks to our variable weather. We had some free time on our last nice day of the winter (it was in the 60’s) so I grabbed a chai and took the plunge. It was talked up in our local media as having modern amenities and I didn’t really see it as first but I left the park impressed.

The park is split into different sections, each section has a theme. The longer we were there the more I noticed little perks the park had, like coffee cup holders on bigger attractions. Everything seemed to spin or twist, all structures allowed for climbing (which is a second favorite of Harpers, jumping is first) and as I noticed these I was drawn to play on them myself. The park was clean, well planned, it even had boring, public durable stair climbers for the adults to use as they watched the kids. The park even had a strange large table with lights which was obviously some sort of adult or bigger kid attraction. Without reading the directions Harper and I found it was basically a very large modern whack-a-mole, it was fun and I could help but think how much fun this park would be for us adults after happy hour.

There are a few downsides: parking. We parked at the civic center, there is also some parking in the downtown area. I chose the civic center because it was free without risk of parking tickets and we didn’t have to cross Omaha St. Omaha is a very busy street that runs along side the park. It’s close to the play area but far enough away that you don’t have to worry about your kids running into traffic as long as you are watching them. If you have a hard time walking a distance then you shouldn’t go to this park. The walk there is further than walking from the back of a WalMart parking lot and you will likely be moving a lot within the play area. You may be able to park closer at the restaurant across the street but I am not sure if the restaurant allows that or not.

All around it is a fun park if you have some energy, unless you have very introverted children that don’t like to run you will probably be fallowing them back and forth through the different parks. This isn’t totally a bad thing though, if you are young at heart you will have no problem being entertained and playing on the equipment yourself.

Our Own Backyard

A little less than a mile from our house is a great, quiet little park/playground. Now lucky for us, the playground backs up to a wilderness park which leads to the Outdoor Campus. The Outdoor Campus is a beautiful but non peta friendly building maintained by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks where kids can learn about the outdoor habitats and animals as they play. Everything in the building is hands on (though the snake is still in the cage) and there are classes that children of all ages can sign up for, while we were there on a Sunday afternoon there was a children’s archery class (suction cup arrows) going on in one of the rooms. Outside there is a fish stocked pond, a swamp area filled with cat tails, a 3 story “tree house” look out tower, a mud kitchen for kids to play in and a large nest to take a break in.

We went on the walk to explore and we were surprised not only with the beauty that laid back there but also, as a parent of young kids, we loved all the activities there were for them. It’s great to go somewhere that truly welcomes kids, because then we parents could really relax. Willem didn’t even have shoes on because I didn’t think he’d be out of the sling at all.

Harper had a blast in the mud kitchen. He learned the lesson of fake eating after he real put rocks in his mouth. Oh the imagination in that child is wild.

So glad my sister could come with us. Besides wing a huge help and playing with the boys non stop, we actually had a family photo thanks to her. This only happens when we pay someone usually.

Yellow leaves, red leaves, warm temperatures, fun walks, exploring the world and all this just down the street from us. We probably belong here.

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First Day of Spring

Last night was a complete mess. Harper fought me till the end about falling to sleep. He thought he deserved a treat just for getting into bed but refused to stay there. After a good 2 hour fight he ended up falling asleep curled up on the couch.

Shortly after I went to bed myself he ended up waking up and climbing in with me. Fine. Then. He wet my bed. So everyone was up at 2 in the morning crying while I changed the sheets. I was quick and was able to get them calmed down but no one really slept after that. Willem’s little head cold didn’t help us at all. Or the fact that I had a kid on each side of me.

Fast forward to the morning and I somehow manage to pull off getting the kids up and in the truck to take Harper to school. Willem is still screaming so I make him a dr appointment but they can’t get us in while Harper is in preschool so I have to take both kids with me. This is okay, only okay. It could have gone much much worse but instead I did a little arguing with Harper about staying in the room and had to do a sprint down a long hallway as we were leaving but that’s the worst of it.

When 2 o’clock rolled around I was anxious to get out on my own since sleep wasn’t going to be happening. I had an appointment to get my windshield fixed and after that was going to do a little shopping. Mainly grocery shopping and swing by the courthouse to get some stuff for our car.

Didn’t happen.

They told me that the car will be ready at 5. So I walked off.

Thankfully the first day of spring in Rapid City was amazing. It wasn’t hot or cold just pleasant. Sun was out, there were clouds and birds singing, add some more grass and flowers and I’d be in heaven.

Anyway, I ended up walking about 5 miles. Stopped at the ol’bike shop to chat, the health food store for some corks, to the courthouse, got some sage flavored ice cream (amazing), browsed a boutique and went to my favorite art gallery in the area: art alley- an actual alley. A nice long, lonely walk was better than a nap.

Here are the highlights

Rapid City has statues of presidents on all the corners downtown. Here is George W and a dog. I couldn't tell if he was giving a thumbs up or looking for a ride but he sure does look happy.

Rapid City has statues of presidents on all the corners downtown. Here is George W and a dog. I couldn’t tell if he was giving a thumbs up or looking for a ride but he sure does look happy.

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This is one of my favorite pieces I've ever seen here. Honorable and intriguing.

This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever seen here. Honorable and intriguing.

Why would anyone put up this billboard? It's so oddball but very true. I can tell you I have a few things fermenting in my house, wine and Kombucha. True but strange sign.

Why would anyone put up this billboard? It’s so oddball but very true. I can tell you I have a few things fermenting in my house, wine and Kombucha. True but strange sign.