Author Archives: Alison Allen

Hannah’s Birth Story

Our sweet girl is here! She arrived on a beautiful, hot, sunny Seattle day – two and a half weeks early at 5:11 p.m. on Sunday July 22nd, 2018 after eight hours of labor. We are so loving our first days as a family of four and I’m excited to share and document the story of her arrival.

Just after I laid down to go to bed on Saturday night I felt a really strong contraction and then my water broke! Earlier that day I had a really upset stomach and had an extremely strong nesting urge and just had an inkling she was coming soon. Alex was out at a bachelor party when my water broke so he hurried home – thankfully I had warned him earlier in the day that I wasn’t feeling well and to puhlease take it easy! Not really wanting to go to the hospital quite yet since I wasn’t having consistent contractions we decided to wait it out at home, get some rest and hopefully be able to see Ben in the morning.

By about 8 that morning my contractions had tapered off and we decided to head to the hospital since nothing was really happening on its own. Of course they admitted me, agreed that nothing was happening on its own {I was only dilated to 1 cm} and told me they were going to start me on a low dose of Pitocin to augment labor.

I was in grave denial at this point that a) this baby was going to be born really soon and b) that I was getting Pitocin. So far in my pregnancy every doctor has told me that Pitocint was off the table because I was doing a trial of labor after cesarean {TOLAC – also known as VBAC}. I had to completely change my mindset, and thankfully my doctor helped explain it in a very understandable way why she was putting me on Pitocin, and wrap my head around the idea that Hannah was on her way out. Nothing was happening naturally, so it was either Pitocin or c-section. I opted for Pitocin. We quickly called our doula, Mercedes, to come meet us at the hospital and she was there by 9:30.

I quickly got “settled” into a birthing suite and hooked up to an extremely low dose of Pitocin at 9:00. The doctor told me that at the most I’d go up to 14 on the Pitocin scale and that a low-risk pregnancy would go up to 30. The Pitocin definitely kicked things off almost immediately and the contractions started becoming more regular.

Just after our doula arrived at 9:30 baby girl’s heart rate plummeted – something we had all too much experience with during my time in the hospital when I was pregnant with Ben. A bunch of nurses rushed in, I got put on oxygen and a minute or two later she recovered. Needless to say, my hopes of a VBAC were quickly waning if she had a decel that quickly into the Pitocin. They backed off for 30 minutes and then hooked me back up at 10.

I was in early labor for a couple hours. I had a fine time coping with the labor pains, didn’t much enjoy throwing up a lot, but was able to get through it ok. Around 11 or 12 the doctor came in to check my cervix and I was 3 centimeters dilated. She said that baby’s head was very, very low but my cervix was not in the right position yet. I had a long ways to go.

Baby ended up having another big heart deceleration and the doctor made me change into a hospital gown. I knew she was preparing for an emergency c-section. Also, the whole labor I wasn’t allowed in the birthing tub because of the heightened risk that I was under.

The next couple hours are hazy and the details get foggy. I did lay down in bed to try to get some rest since I never really went to sleep the night before. Once I woke up the contractions were stronger and stronger. I did a lot of supported swaying on Alex and the birth ball and found distraction in deep breaths and just tried to relax as much as I could.

I think around 2:30 or 3 or so the doctor came in and confirmed I was still only at 3-4 centimeters. After a series of more very intense contractions I announced I was having trouble coping with the idea of being in this much pain for so much longer since I had so much farther to go. I made the decision to get an epidural to help manage the pain. I was feeling really defeated – normally I have such a high pain tolerance and I couldn’t believe I was throwing in the towel after only making it to 4 centimeters, but if it was this agonizing now, I couldn’t imagine hours and hours more.

The anesthesiologist was extremely prompt and came in within about 10 minutes {maybe around 3:45?}, placed the epidural and then the doctor came in to check me again. She was flabbergasted when she realized I had dilated to 10 centimeters – it was almost time to start pushing! At 4:00 the doctor made the call to have me labor down {basically sit and wait and let the baby drop down the birth canal} for 30 minutes and then start pushing.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard the doctor say I was at 10 cm – no wonder I was in so much agony – I made it through active labor and transition in about an hour. I learned in our birthing class that typically the faster your labor progresses the more intense it is. Also, because my water had already broken, I didn’t have any cushion to help take the contractions. I was elated to hear the news and it made me feel much stronger that I had fully dilated on my own, which is something I had hopes of being able to do. Our “birth plan” was to have an outcome of a healthy baby and a healthy mama – the rest was up to the baby and the doctor. I had come into the hospital being open to the idea of an epidural depending on how things went; I didn’t have terribly strong feelings either way, but I did want to get through as much of an unmedicated labor as I could.

My 30 minutes of laboring down turned into 45 when the nurse and the fellow had a miscommunication. Though I had an epidural I still was having enormous pressure and the feeling that I needed to push. I’m not sure when they turned off the epidural, but they definitely did pretty quickly. So, this 45 minutes was absolutely, positively not a complete walk in the park. I will say, I am very glad I got the epidural and it really helped carry me through the finish line.

At about 4:45 the doctor came in and was surprised I hadn’t started pushing. She got everything set up and around 4:50 or 4:55 I started pushing. The baby’s head was extremely low and after three rounds of pushing the doctor was wondering why she wasn’t out yet, come to find out that I had a very full bladder that was blocking the baby’s exit. After that got taken care of, all it took was one more round of pushing and out she came! Our baby girl was born at 5:11 p.m. on Sunday July 22nd.

She went straight to my chest and and was screaming her little lungs out. I knew she was strong and fierce in utero and she proved it right away when she arrived. Her apgar scores were 9, 9 and 9. We were able to delay clamping the umbilical cord and I was able to see the placenta, which was so incredible. She weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces and was 19 inches long.

The “golden hour” with our sweet girl really was golden. I got to hold her for a full hour before the nurse did any measurements or cleaned her up. It was sheer bliss. She opened her little blue eyes just after she calmed down and stared right at me. I loved those first few moments snuggling with her and then the experience of being able to nurse her. She’s pretty much a natural – she got it right away. I think she and I are going to be a pretty good team.

Right when she arrived we knew she was a Hannah Maxine. Alex picked her name – Maxine, her middle name, is after his paternal grandmother. Maxine was sharp as a tack, extremely strong and didn’t take anything from anybody. Hannah is really just a name Alex liked {I like it too :)} and thought it fit well with Ben’s name and pictured our little Hannah with pigtails hanging out of her ski helmet charging down the mountain and thought it was a perfectly fitting name for our girl.

Hannah weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces and was 19 inches at birth.

Hannah’s arrival was smooth and steady and so very emotional for us. We are so, so very grateful to have been able to have a “normal” experience with my pregnancy and Hannah’s birth. We are over-the-moon with our sweet little girl and are so delighted to be a family of four.

 

Our First Week as a Foursome

Baby Hannah is officially a week old! We have been loving our time together this past week. These are the days I wish I could freeze time – or at least have a camera crew follow us around recording this special time for our new family of four.

After Hannah was born our hospital stay was very short-lived. We got discharged about 27 hours after she arrived. Our initial day in the hospital was crazy. Alex got up with the sun, ran home to take Jackson to the park and play ball and be back home before Ben woke up so they could go through Ben’s morning routine together and Alex could explain that his baby sister was born.

Then! Alex brought Ben to the hospital to meet his baby sister. Throughout my whole pregnancy, and especially near the end, what I was most excited for was seeing Ben as a big brother. He has such a sweet, loving and caring personality and I figured he’d nail it. So far, I was right. Ben knew just what to do and it completely melted my heart.

It was really emotional for me leaving Ben when I headed into the hospital because I knew that was the last time I’d see him as an only child. Then when I saw him for the first time in his “World’s Best Big Brother” t-shirt the next morning he looked like a giant. I swear he grew up overnight. He must have been preparing to become a big brother.

Hospitals are no place for super active two-year olds, so Ben’s visit was pretty short. Alex brought him back home to spend the day with Stacey, our au pair, and then came right back to the hospital, just in time for the revolving door of our room to start moving. I swear we had someone in our room every 15 minutes. It was impossible to get a nap in or have a moment to enjoy some cuddles with Hannah.

Later in the day we found out that Hannah’s and my blood types were different – I have a negative blood type and she’s positive – and that they found some of my antibodies in her cord blood. Without going into the nitty gritty of it – this can be a prime setup for jaundice, so we had to stay a couple extra hours to do some blood work and check her bilirubin levels. Poor girl had to get her heel pricked twice because the samples on the first prick clotted. We were getting so nervous that she’d have to stay in the hospital for a few extra days and do photo therapy. Thankfully, per the whole Hannah experience, her levels were totally fine and we got discharged around 9:30 that night. We were waiting on pins and needles for about 5 hours awaiting that news!

Our first night at home with Hannah was so sweet. She was awake a ton – she was cluster feeding a lot in the middle of the night for the first four nights, so we got to have a lot of sweet cuddles and bonding time. I think the cluster feeding helped my milk come in really quickly, too, which is great. Now, nine days in, she mostly eats every 2-3 hours with a good 4-hour stretch overnight.

It was the sweetest thing when we all woke up on Tuesday morning at home together as a family of four. Ben was so excited to see his baby sister at home and wanted nothing but to sit with her and give her hugs and kisses. He was so sweet with her.

Alex is home for two weeks while we adjust to having Hannah and we decided we wanted Ben’s weekdays to be as normal as possible, so Stacey is still on with Ben mostly full-time. We are giving her a break at some point every day to have some one-on-one time with Ben while Hannah is asleep so that he knows he’s still special. I had so much fun playing in our backyard water park one day with him and Alex took him on a super fun outing to REI another day, which he won’t stop talking about!

We spent every morning last week in the doctor’s office checking in on Hannah’s {non-existent} jaundice. The doctors wanted to keep a very close eye on her skin and eye color and her weight. I keep saying I think Hannah looks like a little peach – her skin is such a beautiful pink and she’s got little baby fuzz all over still. No sign of jaundice! Hannah only lost 6% of her body weight, which is great, and by Friday of last week {five days after birth} she was back up to 6 pounds 8 ounces {her birth weight was 6 pounds 11 ounces}. She got the all-clear on Friday and we were discharged into the world! We’ll be back at the doctor at the end of this week for Hannah’s 2-week checkup.

Last week I swear Ben’s growth and maturity skyrocketed. He looks gigantic, feels super heavy and is becoming such a big kid. He started wearing underwear, singing the days of the week and he climbed out of his crib and opened the door to his room. It was a big week for him! Needless to say, a big boy bed is on its way. He’s been nailing it with potty training – a lot of people warned us about regression, but he’s actually made very noticeable progressions in the last week. We are so proud of that little boy!

Hannah is an absolute dream – she is so calm and content. It’s been fun the last few days to see her little eyes be open more and more throughout the day. Her umbilical cord stump came off over the weekend so now we can start tummy time. I think it will be really neat for Ben to be able to interact with her while she’s hanging out on her belly. Hannah is eating and sleeping really well and loves being all cozily swaddled or snuggled up in someone’s arms.

Alex and I have been commenting on an almost daily basis how different the experience with Hannah has been from our experience with Ben. The delivery was completely different {birth story coming soon!} and bringing home a one-day old baby, versus a 26-day old baby was so, so different. We missed out on the initial first few weeks with Ben and are so enjoying the experience with Hannah. The middle-of-the-night cluster feeds, frequent trips to the doctor and all of the cuddles and love have been so meaningful for us and we’re so grateful to have our sweet girl at home with us.

My recovery has been a breeze. Right after Hannah came out I instantly felt like a normal person again. No heartburn {!!!!!!!!!!!} and I just felt not pregnant. Really, it was instant. I was bed-bound for a few hours waiting for the epidural to wear off and be able to feel my legs again, but otherwise, it’s been a walk in the park, especially compared to a c-section. I’ve been choosing my chairs wisely, as it’s been uncomfortable to sit on hard chairs, but thankfully by day four that’s been really manageable. We’ve been getting out for long walks pretty much every day and it’s just the best!

So far our time as a family of four has been filled with joy and an abundance of love for our new dynamic and our new addition. Hannah has provided a calming presence and our hearts are just overflowing when we see how much Ben loves his baby sister already. We are so, so happy.

Baby Hannah is Here!

Our sweet girl, Hannah Maxine, arrived yesterday on July 22nd. She was so ready to be born she arrived two and a half weeks early. She’s absolutely perfect and we’re smitten. We are adjusting to life at home with two kiddos and I think we’re going to love being a family of four!

I’ll post Hannah’s birth story shortly!

New Storage Shed!

Amidst the chaos somehow Alex managed to find time to build a new storage shed for our backyard. We have been dreaming of the day when we could start storing more things outside, both from a get-stuff-out-of-the-house standpoint, but also for ease of use of some outdoor items we use frequently.

This was a multi-weekend/weeknight project that started with building a foundation, next came an unexpected trip to rent a trailer to remove the dirt {our soil is horrible – the dirt Alex dug up was filled with rusty nails and broken glass!} and finally, the partially assembled pieces arrived, so Alex stained them and then constructed the shed.

Now that it’s done we can’t believe it took us so long to figure out that we actually had room for a shed in our backyard. It has freed up so much space in our storage room, as well as on our patio. It feels so much more open by our patio table and gives us a lot more room to move around. Not surprisingly, the shed is already full!

 

A Family of Three

My priority right now is enjoying our last days as a family of three. I have no idea how baby girl will change the dynamic of our little family, but I know she’s bound to shake things up a bit. I’m all about savoring all of the sweet moments with our only child. This last weekend’s focus was all about Ben and having fun together, just the three of us.

Even before this weekend I’ve been really trying to stop and be even more present with Ben. The dishes can wait. Picking up can wait. I’ve found myself sitting down on the floor with him much more often and pushing out bedtime a few extra minutes just to keep having fun together.

The weekend was perfect. It was everything I hoped it would be. No one was sick {hurrah!} and we didn’t really have anywhere we needed to be. We could just relax and be together, and that’s just what we did. Sometimes those are the best days.

It’s not like we did anything out of the ordinary or extra special last weekend. Alex and I were so in-the-moment and so focused on enjoying our time together, knowing this could potentially be our last weekend home just the three of us, and I think that’s what made it extra special.

Ben and I started the weekend with our weekly trip down to our neighborhood Farmers Market on Friday afternoon. It’s often a highlight of my week, or at least something I look forward to all week. The produce is really starting to get good now that we’re into the middle of July! If only I could get Ben to enjoy fruit in its natural form. Oh well.

The rest of the weekend was a nice combo of strolling the neighborhood, playing at the park, going to the zoo and turning our backyard into a water park.

Alex and I have been making it a point to get out for dinner just the two of us pretty much every week for about the last month and we opted to try somewhere different this week and finished off the evening with a stop at Molly Moon’s ice cream shop.

We were able to get a few things accomplished over the weekend too, so that made it feel extra good and productive. More on that in another post.

At the end of the day on Sunday both Alex and I felt like the weekend was so long in the best possible way. We so enjoyed our family time, and if it happens to be the last weekend we’re a family of three, I’m so, so happy with how our time was spent together.

It was perfect.

Nesting

During my pregnancy with Ben I really didn’t get to “nest” much at all – it was more of a mad scramble once we realized things were going to get crazy. Once he was born, but still in the NICU, I managed to find a little extra time to do some meal prep for after he came home, but otherwise, his nursery was finished without me while I was stuck in the hospital.

Honestly, I really didn’t expect to make it to 36 weeks with baby girl, but at the same time, I wanted to wait until 36 weeks to do things like pack my hospital bag, buy the last few things for her, install the car seat and pull out the baby bottles. So – we made it and now I can happily start “nesting” a bit more.

Baby girl will sleep in Alex’s/my room in a pack & play for as long as we can make it work, then she’ll move in with her big brother. We’re trying to figure out when a good time to transition Ben out of his crib might be… I have a feeling that is soon on the horizon! I really have been feeling badly about taking away his independence by confining him to a crib. Stay tuned!

We mostly finished off the “kids” closet and figured out storage solutions in Ben’s/the kids’ room. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out – everything fits somehow and it doesn’t seem overly crowded yet. I’m sure we’ll get there soon after she’s born, though.

You’re not going to find this closet on Pinterest, but it works for us for now. Though I will admit I can hardly squeeze in there right now with my giant belly.

I love, love, love these little mountain hooks I found on Etsy.

I got some over-the-door storage which has been SO helpful – Ben only has a few pairs of shoes and even as itty bitty as they are, they still take up a lot of space, so now they get to hang out on the back of the door.

I also found some big pocket storage for behind the door to keep things like baby wipes, Ben’s art supplies and swim diapers. These have been a HUGE help in the storage department.

Baby girl is more than set on clothes and blankets and by golly she’s got her brother to thank for a whole slew of fun baby toys. I’m waiting to see if any of our last minute bigger items are going to be on sale on Prime Day and, naturally, I found a few tons of great things at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Otherwise, in terms of tangible things, I think we’re about ready!

A few things I would still like to do are:

  • Go through Ben’s toys – I really don’t feel like he has that many toys {we try to be really conscious of this} but they take up so. much. space. And it’s space that we don’t have. I think I’ll start a box to take to The Lodge…
  • Go through Ben’s books. Omg. He has so many books. Reading with Ben is basically the best thing ever, and if I’m going to over-buy on something, I’m okay with that being books. But – I need to pare down the books we have out at any given time and add these to “The Lodge Box.”
  • Wash bottles, get them organized. Hopefully baby girl will only need to take the occasional bottle, but you never know. It’s a super, super bummer I’m unable to freeze my milk, so I’ll be curious to see how everything unfolds in the beginning.
  • Clean out the freezer and get it ready for extra meals.
  • Meal/food prep!!!

My food prep list includes:

I’ll probably sign up for a prepared meal service for a few days a week during the beginning just to take the stress out of cooking. We had some friends who generously gifted us a Maven gift card when Ben was born and I’ll probably mix and match that with Munchery, which I’ve never tried before. I remember loving having Whole Foods’ quiches {SO GOOD!} on hand and making a whole bunch of oatmeal in the early days. It’s nice to have easy-to-grab food since I’m expecting to be ravenous for a while.

Things are coming together for this baby girl! Alex and I are enjoying our last days as a family of three, {trying to} get some extra sleep in and imagining how dramatically our lives are about to change. We are getting so excited to meet this baby girl and see Ben become a big brother.

Building the Lodge: Framing Update

While we were camping over the weekend we made a couple trips over to The Lodge to check out how the framing progress was coming. It turns out they’re almost done with framing and it looks absolutely fantastic! It looks like a house, complete with a roof!

It is so cool to see the building process and watch the house come together, literally from nothing. Now that the shell is there and the rooms inside are all framed out we can really start to picture it. I think once they start building the deck it will really give a full picture of what the finished house will look like.

We have been so pleased with our builder and he is moving so fast we can hardly keep up. Thankfully our designer is taking away a lot of the stress of the decision making process. She has been so helpful for us to narrow down our options which saves an enormous amount of time. The style of the house is a mountain/modern feel, which is so contrary to the style I typically gravitate towards. I absolutely love how we’re pulling in unique materials and colors to incorporate both rustic and modern touches.

So far we’ve been focused mostly on exterior decisions – siding, windows, doors, roof, the fireplace and decking. We’re just starting to move inside now and we’re looking at interior window and trim finishes, kitchen cabinet design and layout, plumbing fixtures, doors and electrical. I expected that process to be completely overwhelming and stressful, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s so fun to see the house come together.

We cannot get over how stunning some of the beams are – like this ridge beam at the roof line. Alex and I will be making another trip out in about a week and a half. I can’t wait to see how much it has changed in that amount of time!

Ben Turns 2 + Maternity Photo Shoot

We have a lot that I wanted to capture on film right now — our sprite young 2-year old and my almost full-term pregnancy, plus, in my opinion {which, for the record, is contrary to that of my husband!} you can never have too many family photos. Our family photographer, Kim, did an outstanding job of freezing time for us so we can look back on some very special moments forever and ever.

I was 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant the day of our photo shoot – exactly one day farther than I ever made it in my pregnancy with Ben, so it was extra sentimental for me to have some mementos from that day.

I get asked all the time about my “heartbeat” necklace – this was a very special gift from Alex in remembrance of the hours upon hours upon hours that we sat in the hospital watching Ben’s heart rate while in utero, then after he was born, watching/listening to the heart rate monitors in the NICU. It’s a very symbolic and special necklace for me and I wear it all the time.

Just like when Ben turned one, the photo shoot took place in our neighborhood. Initially I thought it might be redundant, but it really is the perfect spot to document our lives right now. We absolutely love our neighborhood – seriously, more and more every day – and it captures our life oh so accurately.

Our First Family Camping Trip

I’m not sure if we were crazy or just really optimistic when we booked our camping trip six months ago. In any case, we gave it a shot!

We’ve been to Lake Wenatchee State Park several times and camped here once before. It’s a very family-friendly campground and we chose it in part because of the flushable toilets, running water, showers, proximity to a beach and playground and a few other fun amenities. So, it’s car camping at its finest…

Not long after we got our tent set up the sky opened up and it started to rain. We were not the slightest bit prepared for rain, since there was zero chance of it in the forecast. We quickly huddled under the little overhang of the tent to stay dry and get attacked by mosquitoes! Thankfully the rain didn’t last long and we were able to get a fire and some s’mores going.

Mid-storm my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, arrived! Ben hasn’t seen Uncle John or Becky in nearly a year but seemed to remember them right away and made several requests for Uncle John to pick him up. He really enjoyed spending time with Uncle John and Becky. They were great sports to have spent 24 hours with a toddler.

It turns out it can be rather difficult to get a 2-year old to settle down and go to sleep when there are kids running around, car alarms going off, it’s extremely light out, adults are partying and talking loudly and really when you’re in a new setting. So! Ben fell asleep at about 10:00 p.m., despite our best efforts to get him to cuddle up with us in front of the fire and fall asleep. Once he fell asleep, though, he passed out until 7:15 in the morning, so that was great!

Despite Ben sleeping well {once he fell asleep} neither Alex or I got much sleep. I forgot how uncomfortable air mattresses can be, and it turns out it wasn’t just the preggo who was miserable – Alex had similar complaints. Given the lack of sleep we decided we’d head home a night early. Needless to say, the coffee tasted extra, extra good on Saturday morning.

Side note: how cool are these coffee mugs?! They were a favor at a beautiful wedding we attended last fall.

Milk + camp chair + campfire + super cool Patagonia fleece = happy Ben!

Ben seemed to love all of the time we spent outside on our camping trip. He is such a little explorer and entertainer. We had fun playing in the tent, walking down to the water and playing at the playground. I think we have ourselves a beach baby!

By mid-afternoon on Saturday our campsite was packed up and Ben was snoozing in my lap by the fire {at least we had one success with getting him to fall asleep!}. We decided to run into “town” and grab some coffee from Plain Hardware then go and have a little picnic at our house before going into Leavenworth to show John and Becky around.

Ben was mostly over the idea of sitting still by the time we got out of the car when we arrived in Leavenworth. We managed to have a little time to sit at Cured, our favorite sausage haus, to enjoy a pretzel, bratwurst and beer before we appeased the toddler and went swimming!

Swimming with Ben, in particular at this perfect-for-tots pool, was one of the highlights of my weekend. The pool had a zero-depth entry and a huge section that was 2 feet deep or less. It had a little toddler water slide that was made just for Ben. Ben was wading around in the pool, paddling his arms and jumping up and down – I think he was watching other people swim and trying to figure out how to do it himself! It was so fun to watch.

Before we made the drive home we stopped at the Heidlberger Drive In for some great cheeseburgers and fries. Alex and I love a good diner and this one didn’t disappoint.

All in all, we had a wonderful time on our camping trip. We’re not going to be in a hurry to sleep in a tent again for a few years, I don’t think, but it was such a fun experience to provide for Ben. We are very, very glad we came home after one night, for a number of reasons, but most importantly, Ben ended up coming down with a nasty case of croup on Saturday night/Sunday and we spent the afternoon in urgent care. Poor kiddo was miserable! Hopefully we’re done with the summer illnesses after this one.