Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gunnar's Birth Story!!

My dear friend and college roomie Siba had a beautiful baby boy last night! Welcome Sheldon Douglas! In honor of his birth, this whole week long I'm going to take a trip down memory lane and recap Gunnar's Birth and the struggles of postpartum ...it's BIRTH WEEK! (It's Like Shark Week...but on blogspot and about birth and babies...)

WARNING: Graphic descriptions about birth...if you're an expectant mother or one who doesn't want to be freaked out by labor stories...do not read this one. This is also exceptionally long...sorry it's the nature of the story.

 Sunday November 14th, 2010 I was 4 days past-due and I spent the whole day busy busy (church, grocery shopping, cleaning, hosting a football party, etc), as usual, to keep myself from the constant wondering and frustration of not having a baby yet. I had even walked almost 2 miles to Borders just to try and get some contractions going. John and I spent a while at Borders and at some point I lost him...and ended up walking up and down this gigantic staircase probably 10 times over looking for John. When I finally found him...I burst into tears, pregnancy hormones are a bitch...they make you think irrational thoughts like "my husband just left me stranded in a bookstore and he didn't even bring his phone...what if I go into labor right now all alone!"
By the time we got home from Borders it was almost 9pm. I was pretty tired but definitely needed to unwind and relax before trying to go to bed (sleep was nearly impossible at this point...no comfortable positions existed anymore)...so we decided to put in a movie. We chose "Leap Year" and I swear by the second the opening credits had finished...my contractions started and started STRONG AND FURIOUS.
I knew this was the real deal right away because they were unlike the Braxton Hicks I'd felt in previous weeks and were consistently coming about every 7 minutes. I told John right away that this was it...I KNEW it...so I started my pre-hospital plan of making cookies for the nurses and doctors. I must say baking cookies amidst contractions is quite a challenge (even for me who bakes all the time). By the time the movie was over  I was already getting tired and worried about getting to the hospital in time and insisted that we call the doctor (John thought we should wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour to call...but I insisted).
So we called the Doctor and the doctor on-call basically told me this could go on for quite a few more hours...and possibly days (not encouraging to a woman who was doubled over in pain trying to remain calm through the whole phone call). He said we could come in as soon as the contractions were consistent and 5 min apart. So I took a shower, blew out my hair, John frantically ran around filling up the bag with things he needed (I had asked him to look in the bag for weeks and he never did...) And we would pause about every 6 minutes to get me through a contraction (I'd get so frustrated when John didn't make it to help me through because the first 30 secs are killer). John was keeping track of timing and wasn't letting me know how quickly they were occurring but all of a sudden he was like we have to go... NOW!! Apparently my contractions had gone from 6 min apart to every 3-4 min all of a sudden.
John thought it was necessary to document the moment of getting in the car to go to the hospital...I was just getting through a contraction...lovely moment.

Bringing my water...labor makes you so thirsty!

I had about 4 contractions in the car ride there (thank GOD it was 1:30 in the morning and there was no traffic so we were able to get there a lot faster than usual). We parked the car in the garage and walked to the hospital and between the car and the hospital I had 4 contractions. 
I checked into Triage, the nurse was doubtful when she checked me considering I'd only been in labor for a few hours, but we breathed a sigh of relief when she said "WOW! Good Girl, you're already 5 1/2 cm dialated 80% effaced! You're not going home tonight honey, you're here to stay!" Which was AMAZING news. Especially considering at my last appointment my cervix was only 1 cm dialated and 0% effaced.
So they wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery, my first nurse was super sweet and so supportive of my "all natural" wishes. She was so complimentary of me and said she'd never seen anyone deal with the pain so well. So we walked the halls, used the birthing ball and other various techniques for the next 6 hours but in that time I'd made little to no progress. My bag of water still hadn't broken and my contractions were now a minute or less apart with little to no break in between to rest or catch my breath.
I was BEYOND tired. I was completely exhausted and it was then that I realized that I needed some relief, I needed to relax or I wouldn't have the energy to push (and I knew that I needed to be strong during pushing because my doctor was 50% certain that my pelvic bone was too small to fit the baby through.)
getting ready for the epidural...

*Side Note*** I tremored ALL through labor. This is a vocal technique I learned in graduate school to release my breath...I wasn't intentionally causing the tremors the way I would in a warm-up...they were just happening and so I released into them instead of getting more tense.  I truly believe it helped me get as far as I did before the epidural, it relaxed my muscles and really helped relieve some of the anxiety. I didn't intentionally do this, but my body began to shiver and so I just allowed them to be full on tremors, voiced and everything. I totally recommend it!

The epidural was not as painful as I thought it would be. The hardest part was that I was having contractions every minute and it was nearly impossible to sit still through the pain of the contractions while they put it in, but I didn't feel the needle or catheter go in at all. And once they were in and working my whole world changed. I was finally able to have conversations with my nurse and I even got in a few small naps. A friend of ours who worked at the hospital stopped in and we had a great visit with him...and meanwhile I wasn't having to "work" anymore...it truly was amazing.

Around 9:20am my doctor finally came in to check me and I was still only 7cm dilated so she told my nurse to page her when I was "Complete" and she'd come back to help me start pushing. Well it wasn't 10 minutes later that I felt a strong urge to push, my nurse checked me and sure enough I was "Complete" I'd gone from 7cm-10 in less than 10 minutes! So they broke my water (found maconium in the water, so put out the call for pediatricians to come for delivery). My nurse paged my doctor (but she was out for lunch or something, didn't expect it to happen so fast). So my doctor told my nurse that we could "practice push" until she got there. Well there's no practicing...it's really just pushing without the doctor around.

So we PUSHED...and PUSHED...until my cousin Jessica got there. Jessica came to be my acting "doula" for birth...I cried the minute she came in...something about having another woman there, someone who has been through it and knows what I'm going through...and someone I trust and love, a family member...it was awesome.  She came straight to my side and brought instant comfort and encouragement with her soothing voice and helped me push and push some more until my doctor got there...and then I pushed until my parents got into the room (I cried again when they got there...how amazing that they made it in time before the birth, they drove through the night from Minnesota to Chicago, amazing!)...and continued to Push and Push for 2 and a half hours...with no progress. I'd tried every position in the book. Side, Squatting, All fours, back, everything and I was getting tired and started to feel a lot more than just pressure but also some pain. It was around this time that my doctor made her concerns known. I had 30 minutes to deliver this baby or we'd be looking at a c-section. It was definitely looking like the baby wasn't going to fit through my pelvis.

So We charged ahead and I continued to push as best I could when ALL of a Sudden-- out of no where---the WORST PAIN OF MY LIFE---There's no way to describe it other than it felt like my skin was being turned inside out and people were pulling, tearing and ripping at my muscles and skin in all different directions without any stop...constant throbbing excruciating pain. I lost all focus, people became blurry (they were trying to talk to me but I wasn't soaking in anything that they were saying other than a few words here and there.  I was moaning and screaming "Help me! I need Help! Someone PLEASE! Please help" My doctor was perplexed...I shouldn't be feeling any pain with an epidural in...something was horribly wrong. It took them 30 minutes (30 minutes of constant contractions with a baby trapped in my birth canal) to assess the problem and realize that my epidural had fallen out!! And to make matters worse they had put me on a triple dose of Pitocin to keep my contractions normal after receiving the epidural...and Pitocin supposedly makes contractions incredibly fierce.

So it was decided that I needed a new Epidural STAT and my family was whisked out of the room and I had to sit up for another 45 minutes in writhing pain while they gave me another epidural. By the time it went into affect all I could say was "THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!" 1000 times for relieving the worst pain ever!

When my family came back in we were all convinced that I had gotten this second epidural so that we could have a c-section.

But to every one's surprise my doctor said "Kirstin would you like to try to push again? Who knows how long the epidural wasn't active and you were doing so well at the beginning of pushing that who knows how well you could have done if this hadn't happened. It doesn't hurt to see." I was so amazed to find that she was talking me out of a c-section and honoring my wishes to have a vaginal delivery. So I agreed and we began pushing again. This time the epidural was set so high that I couldn't even feel the pressure of the contractions so they kept an eye on the monitors and told me when to push.

This was amazing! I was so thrilled to be without that horrible pain, with my family and not in a surgery room that I had a smile on my face and was chipper while I pushed for the next hour and a half. (yes totally 4.5 hours of pushing).

By the time I crowned, Gunnar's head popped half way out to every one's surprise, including my doctor who hadn't changed to her scrubs or called the pediatricians yet, so she actually had to tell me to stop pushing....which was quite difficult to do. And with the next push he was completely out. Born at 2:42 pm on November 15, 2010...weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces, 21 inches long.

But the scary part was not over...As soon as she announced, "It's a Boy! Oh Kirstin he's so cute..." the whole room went silent...and all I could do was look around the room and look at people's faces to realize something wasn't right. I watched them take a stark white/purple baby to the incubator as 2-3 pediatricians rushed around him. I was stuck in bed to deliver the placenta and to be sewn up... I sat there waiting for my baby to cry...watching my mother praying and my doctor sweat as she tried to keep herself calm. The only person who spoke to me was my wonderful nurse who came over to tell me that it was good that he hadn't cried yet, because that meant that he didn't inhaled maconium which meant he wasn't at risk for pneumonia.

Apparently his umbilical cord was over 7 feet long and wrapped around every limb and every crevice of his body, including his neck...But finally after 5 minutes, just seconds after they had called a "code 3" (emergency resuscitation) Gunnar finally made his first cry. He went from an APGAR score of 1 to a 9 with one cry. And he was perfect! Nothing wrong with him since. But it was a scary scary 5 minutes.

Believe it or not, we actually hadn't settled on a name just yet. We didn't know whether we were having a girl or a boy and so we narrowed it down to 6 full names. 3 for each gender. We wanted to wait to see the baby and see if a particular name suited him best. When they finally brought him over to me for the first time and I saw his brilliant blonde hair I just knew we had to go with Gunnar Miles. Gunnar is a  Scandinavian family name from my mom's side of the family.  Miles was a middle name we just loved and it reminds me of John because he's a runner.

It was such an incredible journey and I am so proud to have made it through. A rite of passage and my little badge of honor is Gunnar. I can't describe the feeling of being handed your baby for the first time after nearly 10 months of waiting...it's something to cherish. This truly is something I was born to do...and as cliche as it sounds...my life has a new meaning.

Just hours after he was born John's parents made it all the way from Minnesota too!

Dr. Hakimian...thanks for honoring my wishes!!

We had this amazing postpartum room, a corner room with views of Lake Michigan and the city.

They usually give this room to women who have multiples. Lucky me!

Monday, May 30, 2011

For Crying Out Loud!

Holy Smokes I was a tired puppy this morning. Gunnar was up every 2 hours last night SCREAMING his head off. The only legitimate reason I found was the pee-thru that I discovered at 3am...but the subsequent wakings at 9pm, 11pm, 1am, 5am, 6am, 7:30am just seemed to be screams to question where mommy was.  By 6 am I was ready to rip my hair out....I don't think the kid had slept a wink since 3am...and neither had I. Finally I decided to legitimately do a "cry it out" session at 9am.  G wasn't sleeping and wouldn't let me leave the room without breaking into screaming complaints. I'd had it. It was time to see if he could figure out how to put himself to sleep. HA! Cry it out FAIL. He continued to SCREAM his head off for an hour...the only thing either of us got out of it was one set of puffy eyes and 2 wounded souls. Finally after an hour...mommy couldn't take it any more and I gave in and nursed him for comfort....of course...instantly he fell asleep for 2 hours.

But later today I think I might have cracked the case to all this waking...I discovered a front tooth coming through. So I'm hoping that this was what was causing all the waking...

But regardless I do think I am going to do some NAP training (thanks Lisa M!) with G. I realized today that maybe it would be helpful to be more consistent with nap times and to implement nap routines (the way we do with bed time) so that he feels more comfortable with the situation and maybe it will help him understand it's time to sleep.

And now for your viewing pleasure...this weekend's photos...including: Rockstar Gunnar!!!
Yeah...I make Pleather look sweet!

Singing the blues...

He's a natural!

This was the beautiful sunset out our window last night!

Happy Memorial Day!!

Skyping with Grandma and Grandpa!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nap S.O.S

I need a new technique for getting G to take naps.
The only way I can get him down (during the day) is to do one of the following:

*Breastfeed him until he falls asleep (this won't work if I'm not around, will it?) and then very quietly and strategically place him in the crib without waking him (50% of the time he will wake up when I try to set him down)

*Take him for a car ride (and lately it seems the nap will only last as long as the car ride because taking him out of the car seems to wake him most of the time these days).

*Take him for a walk in the stroller (this rarely works...)

I don't understand why I can put him down in his crib at night wide awake and he'll go right to sleep, but during the day...this never works.  Well I guess it does work in the early mornings...but it's the late morning and afternoon naps that I'm struggling with. I need tips...I need guidance...anyone???

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Baby Boy Day

Today we got together with 3 other families from John's work for a "picnic" which ended up being indoors due to the rain. Gunnar has never been around so many babies...and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. As usual...he thought the whole situation was hilarious. Bennett and Frankie were 4 and 5 months older than Gunnar and their parents were constantly concerned they were going to hurt Gunnar...crawling all over him, throwing objects in his general direction. I wasn't scared in the least...Gunnar needed to be inducted into this kind of play at some point. He's used to playing by himself...so this was a good learning experience for him.
It was amazing to see these older boys and realize that's where G will be in just a few months time. The youngest baby there was Kai who just turned 4 months and it was also amazing to see how much has happened in just 2 months. Kai slept peacefully on his mommy's shoulder and it made me nostalgic for the days when Gunnar used to sleep on my shoulder that way. Now there's no way he'd sleep in an environment like that...he's too aware of his surroundings now. And sleeping on my shoulder is virtually non-existent unless I'm trying to get him back to sleep in the middle of the night.
I'm actually beginning to wonder if my baby has moved out of the snuggly phase. I was hoping he'd stay that way forever...but now I'm realizing he hasn't been snuggly for quite sometime now...and that makes me sad.  I wish I could teach him to want to snuggle...but that's just selfish on my part, I guess.

Oh well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Teenage Years I never had...

Currently I have more pimples on my face than I had in my entire teenage life.
That's not saying much, if you knew me at all in high school you'll know that I had perfectly clear skin and I think I might have had 2 maybe 3 pimples ever! But now I think my skin is trying to make up for lost time. Post pregnancy hormones...you suck. I don't know what to do with pimples so I just put toothpaste on them at night and hope they get smaller by morning.

I also currently have a lovely array of hickeys all over my body...another teenage phenomenon that I never got to experience.  No...they are not from my husband...they were a gift from my baby who likes to use mommy's shoulders and arms as a pacifier.  There is nothing more attractive than purpley splotches of burst blood vessels adorning your skin.  These would have been cool 15 years ago...now I just look like a battered wife.

Yes. That's my husband...in a tree.
In other news: Gunnar and I were very happy to have daddy home all day today and for the next 3 days! Happy Memorial Weekend to everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Solid Foods...

So we are on day 6 of solid foods with Gunnar. And it is going really well. He seems to be really into it and it's been really fun watching him grasp this new concept. We started with avocado for one day, and then due to our avocado going bad we moved on to bananas for 4 days. Bananas were a huge hit and super easy because we didn't have to do any "cooking".

Today Gunnar had his first carrots! FYI: We are planning on making most of our own baby food but there are certain baby foods that you should NOT PREPARE at home. Carrots are one of the foods you should buy pre-made. Our pediatrician gave us a list of foods that are considered unsafe to prepare at home for baby.  The vegetables on the list we were given include: Beets, Turnips, Carrots, Collard Greens and Spinach. In some parts of the country these vegetables contain large amounts of nitrates, a chemical that can cause an unusual type of anemia (low blood count) in young infants. Baby food companies are aware of this problem and screen the produce they buy for nitrates, they also avoid buying these vegetables in parts of the country where nitrates have been detected. Since we can't test for this chemical at home it's considered safer to use commercially prepared forms of these foods especially while your child is an infant. (Click Here for more information)

So we gave Gunnar Earth's Best Organic Carrots today.  They were a HUGE hit...as you can see!

I am looking forward to making some more fresh baby foods. Do any of you moms have baby food books that were particularly helpful for you? I'm looking to do some "research" on how to make the best applesauce and preparing other foods.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A glimpse of working life...

So today I had my callback for "Mommies! A musical Blog"
John came home early to watch G around 1pm and I had to leave almost immediately. Strangely I was more nervous about leaving Gunnar than going to this callback. I don't know why. John is a perfectly capable father...I guess I just realized no one has had G for longer than 2 hours alone other than me. I was nervous that he wouldn't get his naps and might get super cranky. But John was assuring and great and told me everything would be fine and said "Just Go and Rock your audition".

I can't say how well I did. I am my worst critic so if I think about it too hard I might convince myself that I completely blew it. But I had fun and enjoyed hanging out with a bunch of fun ladies for the afternoon. Everyone was super talented and I was honored to be among them.

But as soon as that callback was over I was so excited to get home and see my boys.  While I was gone Gunnar went on a walk with daddy, took a 30 minute nap and ate some bananas! He and daddy were playing on the floor when I got home...it had only been 4 hours but I missed him so much! We played peekaboo and giggle games until it was bath/bed time. I guess that's what it would feel like everyday if I were working or if I (fingers crossed) get this gig.  I held him a little longer before I put him down to sleep tonight...and I guess that's just what you do when you have a little less time with your kid...you savor the time you do have.

Having fun with daddy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nosefrida Winners...

Wow that was a lot of names to fill out onto little papers! Thanks to everyone for entering! I just drew the 3 winners!!

Congratulations to:


I will be contacting you all shortly to get your home addresses! The Snotsucker is coming your way!!!

Stay tuned...more giveaways will be coming in the future! So fun!

Holy Last Minute Audition...You Rocked!!

And Gunnar helped!

So I'll admit I knew about the possibility of this audition for much longer than the last "Last Minute Audition". But as of Sunday night I didn't think I was going to get to audition for this show because I couldn't find a sitter for Gunnar at 2:15 on a Tuesday afternoon. So I put it out of my mind...said "Oh Well" and sent my regrets to the producers via email.... and I thought...that was that.
Yesterday at 4pm I get a surprising email response "Bring the Baby see you at 2:15 tomorrow." Eeeeeek! I didn't have time to think about how strange that would be because I was in the middle of preparing for the bookclub I was hosting that evening...but I should have known they would be understanding...after all I was auditioning for "Mommies: A Musical Blog".  No.  I'm not kidding!!

But.. I didn't even get around to preparing for this audition until 11pm last night. Ha! Luckily I had a great monologue ready... all I needed to do was find a song. So I spent the morning playing with G and performing my pieces for him in various situations and thankfully he took a nice nap an hour before we had to leave...

I had no idea how this was going to work...(bringing in G to the audition) but I was so grateful that they gave me a break and let me do it. Gunnar was a hit from the minute we got there...they gave me my audition number... 22 (My lucky number...how did they know?) and took my photo WITH G...why not? Several of the producers joked when they saw me come in "Oh that's good...bringing your lifelike prop!" And I loved how the moderator joked with other auditioners coming in: "And where's your baby? Didn't you know it was a requirement to bring a baby to the audition?" The director even came out and asked if she could hold him before my audition! So sweet! When I finally went in for my audition I brought Gunnar into the theater in his carseat and he sat with the panel like he was one of the directors. It was so cute! It went so well...that they asked me to come back for a callback tomorrow!! (G can't come tomorrow but luckily daddy can take a half day!)  I was thrilled!

Regardless of how tomorrow goes...I'm so grateful for the opportunity to audition...even with G! And I'm so proud to have my first callback in Chicago...(not bad after only 3 auditions so far!).  Cross your fingers for me...how funny would it be to be blogging about a show about blogging mothers? Hahahaha! Love it!!

Gunnar had to wear this bib for the audition! Thanks cousin Kristin!!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Hooray! Today was our first meeting of book club!
I was hosting so Gunnar and I spent the day preparing by taking a trip to Whole Foods...Gunnar sat in the cart for the first time and had a blast!

(Side Story: So on the way back from Whole Foods I notice a homeless woman walking up the median with a sign "Homeless, Hungry, Please Help" I saw her sort of at the last minute but I always keep granola bars and peanut butter crackers in the car because I see so many homeless people and I want to help but I don't like to give money in case it might be supporting an alcohol or drug addiction.  But I hurry to grab my last granola bar and role down my window to offer it to her just as the light turns green.  As I offer it I say "I'm sorry it isn't much" and I truly am sorry...I usually give 3-4 to every homeless person I see ...but this time I only have one.  She takes it and sneers at me and keeps walking. I feel bad...I should have had more. Then I look in the rear view mirror and I see her toss the granola bar into the garbage across the street...this totally ruined my day. I don't know why.  But here I am trying to be nice and I know I was the only person to offer her anything at this stoplight...and she just throws my offer away. I guess what really bothered me is knowing I could have given it to the sweet homeless man who I see on Lincoln every week...every time I give to him he says "Chocolatey Chip My favorite...God Bless you and your baby! Thank you! God Bless!" Ugh...Ruined my day. I guess she wanted money.)

ANyways...I digress...the book we read was "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. It was a great book and we had a fabulous discussion.  We're hoping to take a Book club fieldtrip to see the movie when it comes out in August! Our next book will be "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain...can't wait to start reading!

Our Club of 8 turned into a small group of 5 tonight but it was a good size for discussion.

I decided to do a "Tea"

Mini fruit pizza cookies, scones with clotted cream and preserves, Cucumber sandwiches (minus the bread), Strawberries and Cream and Champagne!!

Oh and of course TEA!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

G's First Meal!!

It's official...Gunnar is eating solids.
It's true. We weren't completely prepared...But here's how we did it:

Yes... our highchair is on backorder and probably won't be here for a few more weeks. For those of you who are curious we ordered this Chicco swivel hook on highchair to save some valuable floor space. We liked it because it turns so baby can face you while you're feeding them and it still has a cleanable tray for self feeding. But like I said...we don't have it yet...so I can't give an honest review until we've used it.

We did have a backup that Miss Emily Gunesch suggested we get many moons ago. My Little Seat wraps on any chair and it turns it into a mini high chair! It works for now. The only problem was our dining chairs were too tall so we had to put it on our computer chair. 
So we strapped Gunnar in this bad boy...with our favorite fully sleeved bib from IKEA.
I took out the 2 ounces of breast milk I pumped a few nights ago when I thought Gunnar had woken up but didn't  and poured 1 oz of it in the small container of our magic bullet.  Then I added 1/6 of a piece of avocado and blended away. Mmmmm Breastmilk flavored guacamole! And here's the fun part....I put some on a spoon and offered it to G! He was really excited about the spoon. I think he was more excited about the Gerber BPA Free Soft bite spoon than he was about the new experience he was having in his mouth. He ate about 1/8 of what I prepared and spent most of the time chewing on the spoon. And we made an excellent MESS!!! Breastmilk Guacamole in the Hat even!!

We were planning on trying some more avocado tonight but...as I suspected the other half of the 1 avocado John bought at the store looked brown and icky by today. Hmmm so we moved on to BANANAS tonight!! Same recipe minus the avocado. HUGE HIT! He ate maybe 1/2 of what I prepared him this time...and we learned the technique of holding his arms down to get him to focus on the eating. SUCCESS!!! More bananas tomorrow night! Fun Fun!

Mmmm Avocado!

I don't know why he's wearing a winter hat...it was cold yesterday...40's.

I like my spoon!

TODAY WAS GORGEOUS!!!! We went on a trip to Visit Ian & Emily and Bristow!!

Gunnar can now ride Bristow like a horse!

BRISTOW!!! So handsome!

Gunnar's first swing ride!

Happy Boy at the Park!

Off to visit Aunt Kerry for Lunch! What a GREAT DAY!!!!