Category Archives: Life

Grammy & Papa’s Visit

Alex’s parents {also known now as Grammy and Papa} were out here visiting for just shy of two weeks recently. It was so fun having them around – Ben adores them. Stan hadn’t met Hannah yet – safe to say, I think he’s smitten with his first granddaughter.

Their trip coincided with some travel plans our au pair made, so Grammy and Papa were on babysitting duty for a few days during their trip. They enjoyed taking Ben up to the park and playing outside in our yard quite a bit.

Alex and Stan took a day trip out to The Lodge one day early in their stay. They needed to confirm some electrical placements. It sounds like it was a very memorable, special day visiting our mountain house.

We also planned a long weekend out in Leavenworth and stayed right nextdoor to our mountain house in a rental we stay at frequently {wish they’d give us a frequent visitor discount!}. It was a really special time for Ben and Hannah to be with their paternal grandparents. There were lots of Hannah cuddles and goofy, high-energy moments with Ben.

Donna and Stan stayed in an Airbnb house a block from our house in Seattle. It was a very comical experience for them – Donna kept saying someone should write a sitcom about Airbnb experiences gone wrong. The landlord of this house was off her rocker. We had some good laughs and now I know where not to have people stay when they come visit!

While we were staying in Seattle we went out to eat a few times, had a picnic at Madison Park and had some ice cream at Molly Moon’s in our neighborhood. It’s amazing how the times have changed from our before-kids trips to wine country and Bottlehouse with them, now working around nap times and bed times and eating dinner at kid-friendly restaurants at 6 p.m.

We have another round of family visiting coming up shortly! Stay tuned…

Weekend in Leavenworth

Alex’s parents were here for an extended visit to spend time with Ben and Hannah. We were excited to plan a weekend trip to Leavenworth and stay nextdoor to The Lodge so we could marvel at the landscape and the progress on our new vacation house. The weather was really nice and the company was even better.

It was a relaxing long weekend with few activities planned and lots of quality family time spent.

One of the big highlights for me was our trip to the apple orchard. I was so excited to take Ben to his first orchard. He loved picking apples!

Ben picked the apples right off of the tree and even climbed up the ladder to get some high up in the trees.

We ended up with 10 pounds of apples! Now if only I could get Ben to eat them…. I think we’ll make some applesauce this weekend {he’ll eat that!}. I’ve been enjoying the apples all week – they are delicious! I hope we can make an annual trip to an orchard with our kiddos.

After our trip to the orchard we went into Leavenworth to have lunch and walk around. Naturally we ate at Cured, our favorite sausage restaurant.

It’s hard to come into town and not get a sausage! I’m excited to be able to spend longer stretches of time in Leavenworth so we can start exploring more restaurants instead of coming back to the same one over and over again.

We’re starting to really find our favorite spots in town. I found my new favorite coffee shop, we found a free parking lot and we are exploring the different ice cream shops, too! Next time we’re out there we have a new one to try.

Much of our trip was spent at the rental house. Ben loved playing with his grandparents. They got to play with his new toy cars and his pretend house. He ran around, played baseball with Grammy {he’s really getting good at throwing a ball!}, rode his bike and read some books.

Sleep was a very major challenge for all of us while we were away. The first night Ben went right to bed in his little tot cot. He woke up around 11 and wanted to come in bed with Alex and me, which we usually allow when we’re traveling. Somehow he got a very big burst of energy and stayed awake, literally running up and down the room, bouncing on the bed and being extremely rambunctious, until 2:30 when he finally fell asleep.

The next night Hannah was cold and woke up seeeeveral times throughout the night.

Finally, the third night, Alex and I got to sleep, but Jackson had an upset stomach in the middle of the night and kept his grandparents awake for half the night {sorry!!}.

Ben was not interested in napping while we were at the rental house. The first day he fought it for a solid 2 hours before Alex loaded him in the car with his mom and drove to the grocery store 25 minutes away. He circled town while Donna was shopping and in the end Ben got about a 90 minute nap! We strategically planned our apple orchard trip the next day to allow him to snooze in the car on the way there, then I made the drive home extra long to add some nap time for Ben.

It’s so fun to stay nextdoor to our vacation house. I’ll do a separate post about it, but here’s an updated photo!

We ended our trip with a quick and chilly picnic on the shores of Lake Wenatchee. It was SO windy so we ate quickly then let Ben run around on the beach and do a quick stop at the playground before we piled into the car and headed home.

It gets harder and harder to leave our little piece of mountain paradise every time we go out there. We’re starting to feel so connected to the community and we can’t wait to spend even more time there.

Ben Quarterly Update: Summer

Ben is 2 1/4 years old! Now that Ben is two I’ll keep up a regular update every quarter, which happens to basically coincide with the end of a season. He is still changing all the time and it is so, so fun to have a two year old. In the last quarter month Ben has had some huge changes – he became a big brother {!!}, moved into a big kid bed, and stopped wearing diapers {this was back in June}.

Ben’s 27-month stats:

  • Weight: !? 28 or 29 pounds maybe?! I tried to weigh him but our scale apparently doesn’t work.
  • Height: Just shy/around 34 inches
  • Number of teeth: 12 {his canines are FINALLY cutting the gums!!!}
  • Clothing size: 2T for tops, mostly 18-24m on the bottom – I’ve even started buying 3T in some tops
  • Shoe size: outgrowing 6 toddler, fits into some size 7 toddler
  • Favorite foods: hummus, nectarines {!!!!!!!!!}, rice cakes, sausage/any pork, rice, eggs, green beans, tuna, hard boiled eggs, pasta w/ sausage + tomato sauce, cheese
  • Favorite activities: playing hide and seek, swimming, climbing, coloring, singing the “wheels on the bus,” dancing, going to music class and “doing running”

At some point recently Ben really turned into a kid. I’m not sure when it happened but he’s a full-blown toddler and really is just a little kid. It’s so fun. Alex and I lament on how quickly he’s grown up and how much we love watching him learn and figure things out and build associations or make connections. It is really the most incredible, joyful experience to raise a child.

The absolute biggest milestone that happened this summer was Ben becoming a big brother. Ben has a very sweet, compassionate personality and I knew he would be a natural when it came to being a big brother. It melts my heart when I get a glimpse of him standing in front of her crib on his tippy toes peering in, checking on his baby sister, or when he comes up to me when I’m holding Hannah and he kisses her on the head or pats her arm. He is so curious and so in love with her.

We never asked him or encouraged him to hold Hannah on his own – we wanted to wait for him to make the request. Well, it finally happened recently and I have never ever seen more pride beaming from someone’s face as I did from big brother Ben when he held Hannah for the first time. It was undoubtedly the sweetest, most special moment of parenthood thus far.

Just after Hannah was born Ben climbed out of his crib for the first time. It was hilarious. Alex and I heard a big thump, some pitter patter, the door to his room open, more pitter patter down the hallway, followed by Ben saying “how did you do that?” over and over again. It was as though he was predicting what we would say when we realized he had not only gotten out of his crib, but he had opened the door too.

Knowing that further climbing out of the crib was imminent, we purchased the conversion kit to turn Ben’s crib into a toddler bed. The transition to a tot bed has been significantly easier than I expected. He’s a kiddo who loves sleep and being cozy with his blanket and stuffed animals, so when we tuck him in at night or nap he just stays in the same spot and falls into dreamland. He’s actually been pretty good about staying in his room until the light turns green – sometimes he needs some reminders, though.

Potty training has been a major theme for the whole summer. Boy am I glad we started when we did! It is quite a process, even though we did the cold turkey approach. Overall, Ben is really doing really well. He transitioned right out of diapers and has been loving wearing underwear. We’ve had periods of setbacks and really exciting success with potty training. I would absolutely not consider him “potty trained” at this point – we still have to remind him basically 100% of the time to go use the potty, but he rarely has accidents. In the last couple days we’ve changed our strategy to encourage him to let us know when he’s got to go – I worry that when he starts school in a couple weeks he won’t tell the teacher and they won’t take enough potty breaks. So, we’ve got a ways to go, and we still need to do overnight potty training, but I’m happy with where we are two months in.

The toddler emotions are definitely running high these days. Ben’s normal demeanor is super easy-going, sweet, fun and excited, and we’re very fortunate to have normal Ben most of the time. That said, he’s still a toddler, so sometimes his sweet attitude quiiiickly changes to full-on whine fest at the suggestion of using the potty, stopping what he’s doing or really it could be anything else. Of course, all of this is to be expected and completely normal – some moments I just can’t help but laugh.

We’ve come to the major toddler milestone that is hitting. Ben learned how to take deep breaths in his music class and that has been such an effective strategy for coping with toddlerhood and regulating his ever-changing emotions. Emotional intelligence is extremely important to Alex and me so we work with him on naming his emotions and talking about how he wants to feel while, of course, acknowledging that it’s okay to feel however he’s feeling.

Ben has been even more affectionate in the last month or so than he had in the past. He was far from a cuddly baby, but somewhere along the line that changed. Now it’s common for him to come and bowl us over with a giant squeeze. He gives the best hugs!

Another one of my favorite parts of toddlerhood for Ben has been his increase in independence. He’s able to play by himself and be very focused on a task or playing with something specific – we’ve done play dough for about 45 minutes before, which is so fantastic! The other day we had friends over and he did such a nice job of entertaining himself while also being involved with us – he figured out the right balance of playing on his own to coming to check in. He’s learning how to dress and undress himself, brush his own teeth, wash himself in the bath or shower and he can put on his own {slip on} shoes. He loves going in his closet and putting on his rain boots and coat all on his own! I feel like since Hannah was born he has grown up so much.

We’ve noticed that Ben is extremely athletic. He has terrific balance and a real knack for climbing. I’m not sure when it happened but at some point this summer he turned into a little monkey. His climbing ability is impressive and terrifying! There is a gymnastics gym not far from us that has “open gym” for tots during the school year so that is most certainly in his future. Once he’s old enough for gymnastics classes I’ll be first in line to sign up!

Ben absolutely loves music and dancing. It is so fun to see his genuine interests start to form. He loves to sing songs, go to his music class once a week, listen to music and dance. Sometimes if a song with a good beat comes on in the background he’ll stop whatever he’s doing and start dancing. It is so funny! He and Alex have been watching videos on the iPad of people playing different instruments. I have a feeling piano lessons/some other kind of music lessons are in our not-so-distant future.

This summer in particular Alex and Ben have become two peas in a pod. They’ve always had a terrific connection but it’s ever so apparent as of late. It is so heartwarming to see their bond and how much like Alex Ben is becoming. I think a lot of Ben’s outgoing, entertainer personality comes from Alex’s side of the family. I love watching the two of them be goofy together or how excited Ben is when dada comes home from work at the end of the day.

Ben has had such a fun summer – his tan lines prove he’s spent practically every waking moment outside! Here are some more photos from the summer:

Getting Back in Shape!

Oofta – it’s been a while since I’ve really, really exercised. Throughout my pregnancy I maintained my once per week Pilates lesson, but that was about the extent of my exercise. And even that was very limited and mainly spent stretching. Until close to the very end of my pregnancy I couldn’t really even walk more than a few blocks due to back pain. So! Now that I’m 5 weeks out from having a baby I felt ready to get back into exercising again.

I signed up for a 5k at the end of September and a 10k at the end of October to help motivate me and give me something to work toward/train for. I’ve got a ways to go before I’ll be ready for either. Hannah and I have been going for really wonderful long walks every day. And! I went for my first run last night, which was so, so nice! I surprised myself by running for just under 16 minutes without stopping {my “short loop” around our neighborhood}. Jackson made for an excellent cheerleader.

In addition, I signed up for Stroller Strides, an exercise class for mamas where you can bring your stroller-bound littles. There’s classes every morning of the week and so far Hannah and I have been twice. It’s a really tough workout, especially being only 5 weeks out from being pregnant, so it’ll help kick start me getting back in shape quickly!

So far I’m really enjoying Stroller Strides, both for the workout, but also for the community aspect. I’ve met lots of other mamas with babies really close to Hannah’s age and most of them have older toddlers, too. Maybe Ben will join us one day too!?

I have a ways to go before I’ll be able to say I’m back in shape but it is so so nice to be on my way there. I love the variety I’m getting with running + Stroller Strides + Pilates! I really missed exercising!

Mama Moments

I’ve been “moming” 100% of the time lately. That’s what happens when you’ve got a newborn, I guess! I have had some extremely sweet and special mama moments over these last couple months, and in particular, the last few weeks, that I really want to remember them.

{Most recently, Ben and I had our first “date” since Hannah was born. It was perfect. We went to Madison Park and got a coffee/steamed milk and a pastry then walked across the street to play at the park. Super normal day but oh so special for both of us.}

{My first afternoon with both kids by myself! The first hour {while Ben was contained in the stroller} was totally calm, the rest was total chaos! It was wonderful, though, and I loved it.}

{The best, best, best mama moment EVER was right here. My two littles holding hands. Heart melted.}

{My mama bear hat + baby girl out at our mountain house!}

{No explanation needed!}

{This I call “moming with migraine” – Alex set up a zero gravity chair outside so I could feed/hold Hannah, relax, get some fresh air and see Ben after being gone for the whole day. Migraine was gone in about 30 minutes after parking it here with my two littles.}

{This sweet baby girl and I have had a wonderful first month together. Many of our outings have been in search of coffee!}

{This boy has so much of my heart.}

{I can’t not include a picture from when Hannah was born. She and I have been having the best snuggles. I can’t get over how sweet and perfect my baby girl is!}

{Being a mama to these two littles is basically the best thing ever. I am so grateful for this season of my life!}

Building the Lodge: Design Inspiration

We have been dreaming about what our mountain house will look like for what feels like an eternity. Before we found our piece of property we had been scouring the real estate listings in the area and only growing more disappointed when we didn’t find anything. Eventually we decided to build our house so we could create our dream vacation home from scratch. It’s been a long process so far – it’s been over a year since we bought our lot – and we’ve still got several more months to go {fingers crossed we can be in by Christmas!}. I thought I’d share a bit about the inspiration behind the design of our house.

{here’s the shell of our house!}

The overall “look” we’ve been going for is sort of our definition of mountain modern. We want the house to have a lot of modern elements and finishes with rustic touches throughout. We don’t want it to feel too “cabiny” but we also don’t want it to feel like a house, so hopefully when we’re all done it’ll feel just right – like a mountain modern lodge.

The exterior finish ideas came from some houses we found on Houzz – our siding is a dark gray with some blue hues, accented with orangy/brown trim, a lighter gray roof, brown deck and black windows. The trim around the windows will be the same color as the siding so that the windows will pop and be more of the focal point, rather than the trim. The deck railing will have black metal posts/railing, then the center will be made of cables to avoid obstructing our view. Here’s a house with similar exterior colors that inspired us:

{similar siding color to this house, very similar stain color.}

Moving inside, we wanted to create big, open gathering spaces for friends and family to hang out while they come visit us. It was important to us to capture the view of the river bluff as much as possible, so we designed a wall of windows with a double sliding glass door right in the middle. The slider will lead out to the deck.

{we’ll have a big floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace with wood ceilings in the great room.}

The house has five bedrooms, including a bunk room so the kids can pile in and get cozy. The bedrooms are modest/small in size so that the bulk of the space in the house can be in the living areas.

{we’ll have two sets of bunk beds in the bunk room and maybe some fun bean bags or kids chairs – I’m super excited about the bunk room!}

I’m so, so excited to see what the great room/kitchen/dining room will look like when they’re complete. It is a very tall, open space with a lot of beautiful natural light coming in. There’s a lot of possibilities here, as well as a lot of challenges working with so much height.

Here are some photos we’ve used for inspiration with the kitchen:

{we love the open shelves with white subway tile + dark grout on the walls.}

{this is a very similar layout to our kitchen – complete with the subway tile + open shelves. we also love the waterfall edge of the counter top on the island and the wood on the front of the island.}

{Alex is obsessed with these dark green cabinets. We think they’ll look great against the white subway tile back splash and a beautiful gray quartz counter. I also love the floors in this house.}

And our master bathroom will be based off of this design, with similar finishes in the other two bathrooms:

{we fell in love with this bathroom design – we have selected a fun patterned floor tile for the master bathroom and a complimentary tile for the main floor bathroom and plan to pull in some similar design elements. we’ll use a light gray penny tile in the shower floor with white subway tile in the master, then a fun white tile in the main floor bathroom above the tub. the basement bathroom will have a beautiful “crushed stone” looking floor tile and white subway tile above the tub. all three bathrooms will have a beautiful dark gray quartz counter. the vanities will be knotty cherry, a wood local to the Pacific Northwest, and a light stain.}

We haven’t chosen floors yet; however, we love, love, love this wide plank, lighter wood floor:

{Alex is also obsessed with the leather chair featured in this photo – I think it’s safe to expect it to end up in our living room?}

Storage is a big deal to me. We’ve got a lot of outdoor gear and I have a feeling our gear collection is only going to grow and keep growing as our kids get bigger. We’re using some fun design elements to create a custom “boot bench” on one side of the front entry, then there will be a big open closet on the other side. We also have two large storage rooms down in the basement.

The basement will be the kid zone and sort of the hangout area. We’re planning on having some cozy seating, a big TV and a wet bar, along with a kids corner. Maybe after the kids get older we’ll put in some kind of a game table {Foosball? pool table? shuffleboard?}.

We have a lot of decisions to make still, including furniture and decor selection and landscaping {!!!}, and I think we have some fun ideas and inspiration to draw from to pull everything together. We can hardly wait to see the finished product!

Building the Lodge: The Guts

We’ve hit an exciting milestone – most of the “guts” of our mountain house are complete! We have plumbing, HVAC and electrical! It’s really cool walking through the house seeing what hides behind the walls.

Two days before baby Hannah was born Alex and I made a day trip out to the house to do an electrical walk through with the electrician and pick the spot where all of the outlets and switches go – it was a very long day but a really cool process getting to make so many big decisions about the electrical.

The house is basically all framed – they’re finishing up the fireplace framing now and that’s pretty much it. We are really starting to be able to picture the finished home.

Alex and his mom were out at the Lodge during her recent trip out here and were surprised to see that the floor of the deck had already been installed. They loved sitting out on the deck, enjoying a beer, and imagining the future of relaxing and lounging out there. The deck begins off of the great room, looks out over the river bluff and the valley, then wraps almost halfway around the house. There will be two stairways – one off the front/big sliding doors, and the other off of the kitchen door/outdoor eating area, which will lead down to the hot tub.

We chose a medium/dark brown Trex decking for the floor, then there will be a cable railing with black metal framing/supports. It gets SO HOT out there in the summer that we opted to have a covered portion of the deck to give us some reprieve from the heat in the summer, or from the rain/snow in the winter. We’ll install a ceiling fan and some heaters, too.

Alex and I made an unexpected trip out to the house last weekend to approve the electrical locations and meet with our cabinet maker to design the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. It was so fun to see the deck – we brought some camp chairs and had lunch out there and we got to bring Hannah to the house for the first time.

All of the exterior finishes have been selected and many of the interior finishes have been chosen. We’re working with our designer to make the final decisions and start to really pull everything together. It’s been really fun to see the finishing touches and imagine what everything will look like when it’s complete. We still have a lot of decisions to make but it feels like we’re making tremendous progress!

Ben + Hannah: Week Three

We’re at the beginning of our third week as parents of two! We are all really adjusting to our new normal – Alex is back at work now and Ben seems to be recognizing all of the changes going on around him. I’m used to the cute little chipmunk noises that wake me up in the middle of the night with a polite request for some milk please. All in all, we’re really settling in to this new life of ours.

Everyone keeps asking how Ben is doing, so I’ll start there. Ben really couldn’t be any sweeter with Hannah – he asks to see her in the morning when he wakes up and wants to be sure to say goodnight to her before bed or nap. It is precious. He gives her hugs and kisses and loves checking in on his baby sister.

In the last few days we’ve had to up the ante on toddler discipline. I’m guessing it’s part due to toddlerhood, part due to all of the changes that have taken place recently. I have a few friends who have kids the exact same age as Ben who have mentioned that there has been a recent increase in whining and the need for more discipline and they don’t have new babies at home. Seems like Ben is just really starting to push the boundaries more and more, which is just a part of being a two-year old!

Last week Ben had another big change – we converted his crib into a toddler bed! He is so excited about the change. He loves getting into his bed and getting cozy with his stuffed animals. So far bedtimes and nap times have been totally normal – he gets into his bed and falls asleep right away. Wake ups have been a little different if he wakes up before his light turns green {signaling it’s ok to be awake}. We told him he can get out of his bed and play quietly with his toys while he waits for the light to turn green.

Smarty pants knows how to turn the light green, soooooo on Sunday morning after I had him go back in his room to wait for the light to turn green, he went back in his room and changed it to green. Naturally. He’s actually been sleeping in a little bit later so we haven’t had too many days yet where he’s woken up before the green light comes on. Stay tuned…

Ben is turning into such a big kid. His agility for a young two-year old is extremely impressive. It is so cool {and terrifying!!} to watch him climb ladders and ropes at the park. He’s been loving riding his bicycle and he’s really getting the hang of it. We have a balance bike for him in lieu of training wheels – he pushes the two-wheeled bicycle with his feet and ultimately it will help teach him how to balance on the two wheels. This is supposed to make the transition to a “two-wheeler” a bit easier. And maybe happen earlier? Not sure on that one…

We’ve been getting out a ton over the last two weeks. It was so fun having Alex home for our first two weeks and now we’re easing into having him be back at work.

{Highly anticipated trip to Bottlehouse for a glass of rose on the patio!!!}

{Alex took Jackson and Ben with him on a run over the weekend – I can’t wait to get back into running, especially after hearing how much Ben loved it!}

{Thursday evenings mean concerts in the park! We brought our own little picnic and enjoyed Ben’s first concert. He was the star of the evening and absolutely loved dancing to the live music. Ben LOVES music!}

{Baby’s first trip to a brewery! We brought Hannah out for a pseudo rehearsal dinner/social hour to celebrate our friends’ wedding.}

{Alex represented the two of us at the actual wedding and I stayed home with the kids – he had a blast catching up with our friends, literally from around the world.}

{Alex pulled the bike trailer out of storage and he and Ben biked down to the beach. This was undoubtedly a highlight of Alex’s 2 weeks off.}

{Ben loved the bike ride too!}

{Beach time!}

{Ben and I had a low-key morning together and baked a fruit crisp! It was so fun getting him involved in baking. Sometimes I forget just how capable he is and how able he is at doing things. We’ve been trying to incorporate him more and more into our daily tasks and giving him responsibilities. He loves being a helper and being involved.}

{Hannah and I have gotten out on some really nice long walks together. It is so wonderful to be able to get back into light exercise.}

So far, our experience with Hannah has been completely incomparable to our first two weeks with Ben. We didn’t have Ben home until he was four weeks old, so that’s a stark contrast. We never experienced the brand new baby things like those initial middle-of-the-night feeds, breastfeeding at all, dealing with the stinky umbilical cord stump, all of the doctors appointments in the first few weeks and just the general experience of having a super newborn baby.

It has been so fun to go through the brand new baby phase with Hannah. She is such a dream. She is eating so well and that has been such a joy for me to experience. She bounced back up and surpassed her birth weight in about 10 days – last Thursday she was 9 ounces over her birth weight already!

Hannah loves being cozy and wrapped up in a snuggly swaddle, though she’s quick to pop her arms out; she seems to enjoy going for walks and loves being in the wrap carrier, which I’ve had her in quite a bit so far. We’ve only given her a few baths so far and she seems to really enjoy them. She’s not a big fan of getting her diaper changed or being in the car when it stops moving.

I know we’re only just over 2 weeks into Hannah’s life, so it’s a little early to tell, but so far she seems suuuuuper chill. She is becoming more and more alert and spending more time awake during the day, which has been so fun. I love seeing her little dark blue eyes open more and more each day. Her appearance has really changed since she was born too – she still has all of her dark hair and the same deep blue eyes and pink skin tone, but I think her face shape is changing and I don’t see as much resemblance to Ben as I did when she first arrived. I’m not really sure who she looks like at this point!

 

Life is definitely different now that Hannah is here. We’re so happy that she arrived when she did and we’re loving our new family dynamic.

 

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.