Tuesday, September 12, 2017

1 Week Post Partum

Grayson has been here a week; a week already!  It's been blissful and stressful but wonderful. I wanted to jot down a few memories from this week...

NICU
The night of Grayson's birth, when the nurse checked his vitals, his blood sugar level was low. They sent a sample to the lab to verify the reading and it came back even lower than initially measured (a 12; which we were told is critically low. The ideal within the first four hours of life is above 40). Because of this, it was determined that he should go to the NICU for an IV to give him some sugar water to try to raise the levels.

Ben went with into the NICU and I stayed in our room to recover and rest. The poor guy; the nurses tried for over an hour to get an IV in and nothing seemed to work. Ultimately they decided that his head was the best spot. They tried one location and hit an artery :( Finally, they find a place on the side of his side that was successful.

It was suggested that in addition to the IV, I try to nurse him and pump to bring in my milk as well as give him donor milk or formula. We requested that donor milk be given and we started a trifecta of feeding: nursing, pumping and donor milk bottles.  My first pumping session was so bizarre and foreign. I was in our room by myself while Ben was in NICU with Gray. I didn't get much (I think 5ml?) but within 24 hours I was able to pump 20-48ml in a session, which was enough to eliminate donor's milk! I nursed and then Ben feed him a bottle of pumped milk. In the 24 hours, Grayson's blood sugar levels sky rocketed and we were able to remove the IV.

He was monitored for the next 12 hours and approximately 36 hours after going to NICU, he was released back to our recovery room. I had gone back to the room to shower (my first delivering, amen!) and when I got out of the shower I called out to see who was in the room. Ben responded, "no one that cares if you're naked". I put on my robe and walked out to see Ben and Gray snuggled today. It was a heart stopping moment.

Room Service
That first night with Grayson in our room (Thursday, 9/7), we ordered room service for dinner. They quoted us an hour wait so I decided to pump after ordering. Within 20 minutes of our order being placed, there was a knock on the door. Sure enough, it was room service.  I was mid-pump and didn't want to stop, so Ben apparently did the most logical thing he could think of and threw a blanket over me and my head to tell room service to come in.

I was sitting under the blanket, feeling both awkward and hysterical. Neither of us could keep a straight face as room service came and asked where to set the food. I'm sure the guy got a kick out of my sitting there like a ghost. He asked if there was anything else we needed and from under the blanket, between laughter, I said, no thank you so much.  I literally peed my pants!

Poop
While in the NICU the second night (Wednesday, 9/6) I had finished nursing and Ben was holding Grayson, feeding him a bottle. All of a sudden we heard a big squirt and Ben said, uhhh he basically just pooped in my hand!  Because he'd been in the NICU for about a day, we hadn't changed any diapers yet and didn't know where they were. I called the nurse and when she came in, Ben changed his first ever human diaper.

Homecoming - Oscar
We left the hospital on Friday, 9/8, Grayson's due date. Things were surprisingly easy at home. At this point my milk production had been so good that we eliminated pumping sessions and went to regular nursing sessions.

We decided to leave Oscar at the kennel the first night so that we could see how things went and they went! Gray poops/pees, eats and sleeps. Saturday Ben picked up Oscar with a blanket in hand. O smelled it briefly in the car but didn't pay much attention. In the house, he really didn't notice Grayson much until he started crying. Then Osc became very curious.  Now, three days later, Oscar will sometimes cry along with Grayson (which is awful) but most of the time he just wants to sit was is going on. We're so grateful Oscar is tolerating this change. We didn't think it would go as well as it is.

Pee
We have worked to establish an overnight routine. When Grayson cries, I'll wake Ben for a diaper change, he'll change him and bring him to me to nurse. Our third night home (Sunday, 9/10), Ben was doing a change and started yelling and laughing from the bathroom. I asked if he needed help and he said, yea come in here. We experienced our first pee fountain. Ben had opened the diaper to change and as he did, Grayson started peeing the perfect arch, getting pee all over the bathroom floor :)

Recovery
My recovery is going well. I was worried about stairs and energy levels. The first several days I didn't leave the house and my walks were limited to the main floor of the house. Monday (6 days pp), we took our first family walk up the street to get coffee.  I've not needed narcotics for pain, but have been sticking with 800mg of ibuprofen. Although, instead of the maximum allowed 4 doses a day, I'm taking 2-3 depending how the timing works out.

Today, at one week pp, I decided to put on the belly binder band my OB gave me a script for. What a difference! I was worried to put it on too soon, but it is offering a lot of support. The compression is great for all of the deep belly laughs Ben and I are sharing as we navigate our way into parenthood.

Overall
Grayson is latching and eating well. It's better than I expected. It's not painful and he eats relatively quick, 20-30 minute sessions every 2-3 hours for the most part. This has allowed us to get solid chunks of sleep, so much so that I haven't hit a point of exhaustion.

I also have to say how wonderful it is having Ben. He's the best support I could ask for. Diaper changes, laundry, grocery shopping, meals, meds and water; he's got it all covered for us. He's the perfect partner!




















Saturday, September 9, 2017

Our Birth Story

The entire journey of creating a child and bringing them into this world has so many variations, unknowns, and personal decisions and moments.  Our journey makes us who we are and is a part of us. While our story is intimately our own, I received so much support and advice, especially during the last eight weeks of pregnancy, that I'd like to share in hopes to inspire others to know when to fight for what you want and when to give in to the grace of God and the universe.

I'm a first time mom and this was my first pregnancy. Before I ever got a positive test or even thought we were ready to bring a child into this world, for whatever reason, I'd always wanted an unmedicated birth . So, once pregnant, this plan stayed in place and we hired a doula duo (Denver Birth Services) to help us achieve it. We also took a Mindful Birthing class, I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and listening to hypnobabies and hypnobirthing tracks (we didn't take a course, I just sought out tracks on my own after talking with others).

(If you're unfamiliar with a doula, to us it's like a birthing couch. They're not a medical professional, but extra support, especially for pain coping techniques, for the labor and delivery process. We decided it was worth paying someone for their birth experience in hopes to get the experience we wanted. We also agreed that this would take a lot of pressure off of Ben since neither of us knew what to expect).

Around 32 weeks my OB said that baby was measuring about a week ahead. This is pretty common, but for whatever reason she ordered a sonogram to verify measurements. I'm thankful she did; this was when we found out our babe was frank breech position (head up, button down, sitting with their legs up in a pike position). Over the next seven weeks tried everything we could to turn the baby; spinning babies (forward inversion, side lie, breech tilts), pool hand stands, Webster chiropractic, acupuncture and moxibustion.

This time period was an emotional and mental roller coaster for me (details about the techniques and my thoughts in my 36 week update). Up to this point, my pregnancy up had been relatively easy with no major complications. I was so distraught at the thought of having to deliver via c-section.

I sought out advice and experience from others. After discussing options with our doulas and seeking out recommendations from local mom,  I was lucky to learn that Denver area has not one, but two OBs that will deliver breech babies vaginally (yep, butt down!)  We had not originally considered this, but we researched and learned that the risks, compared to C-section, were relatively low, as long as delivered with an experienced doctor. The problem is that there are not many OBs trained or experienced with this type of birth, which is why the majority of breech babies in the US are born via cesarean

At 36.5 weeks, I made the decision to switch to Dr Michael Hall, who is known across the country as one of the greatest, most experienced doctors in delivering breech babies. Meeting him made me feel confident and comfortable with this decision and that I could deliver my baby with an unmedicated birth. That became our plan: an unmedicated vaginal breech birth. 

However, we had one last turning method to try; an external cephalic version (ECV). This is a manual procedure done by the OB to try to turn the baby in the womb from the outside. It's booked as a cesarean and done in hospital labor and delivery. This is because there's a 1-2% risk that the procedure will put the baby in distress and an emergency cesarean would be required. Because of this risk, the procedure is typically done at week 37, when baby is full term. The success rate is about 58% overall; but lower for first time pregnancies due to the uterus not having previously stretched.

So on August 18th, we checked into the hospital. Baby and I were hooked up on monitors prior to the procedure. The procedure itself is incredibly short (10 minutes max to limit stress to babe). Dr. Hall walked in and I was given turbuteline via an IV port. This allowed my uterus to loosen up. I'd been warned the drug would make me feel jittery. True to the disclosure, as soon as it was injected, I immediately felt it and said "whoa, this is weird"!

I've come across a lot of women with breech babes that elected not to do an ECV for fear of stress on the baby or pain from the procedure. For me, I was willing to do anything to try to improve the odds of a vaginal birth. I went into the procedure with the mindset that this would be good mental practice for labor, so I popped on my headphones and music and focused on my breathing. There was discomfort but more due to the oddity of what we were trying to achieve; it wasn't painful for me. Ben said it was pretty incredible, as the doctor worked, he would see the outline of our baby. However, after three minutes of trying, it was obvious to Dr Hall that this baby wasn't turning and that was that. If I were to encounter this situation again, I would do the procedure again.

On Wednesday, August 30th, I went into my 39 week appointment. I was a centimeter dilated and 70% effaced. At this point, I hadn't had any signs of labor, contractions, etc. However, I learned that Dr Hall was going on vacation. Ugh! After all this time and work to prepare for this, he'd be gone for a week, falling over my due date (9/8), from Tuesday, 9/5, to Tuesday, 9/12. If I were to go into labor during this time, he recommended I call my old OB and I'd birth the baby via c-section. I left my appointment and he said with a wink, this weekend is a good weekend to have a baby.

I started saying my prayers and hoping that something would happen! The following day, I lost my mucus plug; this was encouraging but I still had no other signs. Labor Day weekend (39 weeks), we decided rather than wait around for something to happen at home, we'd keep busy. Friday night we went with my company to the CU vs CSU Football Showdown. Saturday I spent much of the day baking (including these labor inducing lemon cupcakes), and we went to a friends for a BBQ. Sunday we attended a family BBQ and still no signs of labor (even after those darn cupcakes:). 

Our Birth Story
On Monday, Labor Day, we were relaxing at home. At 5:45p, I used the restroom and while I was walking back to the couch, I felt a small gush.  I went back into the bathroom and felt a pop followed by another small gush.  I went to Ben and said, either I just peed myself twice or my water broke (I knew that only 20% of women have their water break naturally). We both laughed at each other and said, well maybe this it.  I went upstairs to change my underwear and had a huge gush! I called to Ben, yep, it's broken!! Bring me some Depends!! (Ha! but thank goodness I had this on hand for post-partum!)

Knowing baby was breech still, we called Dr Hall and he said to come get checked. We notified our doulas and didn't know what to expect. It was a gray area knowing that Dr Hall was going on vacation the next day. How long was he on call for until then? Would he pass me back to me old OB for a cesarean? Would he want to induce labor? There were so many unknowns but nothing we could really do except wait.

We checked into the hospital by 8pm. First time rookie mistake, nothing was really happening contraction-wise, but they didn't want us to leave so we were admitted and staying until we had a baby!  Around 10:30p Dr. Hall came in and my immediate question was: when are you leaving? He smiled and responded to me, not until I deliver your baby. I was SO relieved! Because I wasn't having contractions, we didn't do an exam, but he suggested walking and moving to try to get things going. Because my water broke on it's own and baby was breech, he wanted us to have this baby within 24 hours.

Overnight we tried to sleep. Ben was able to get some decent sleep. I had about three contractions per hour overnight, nothing consistent but enough to constantly wake me. Around 5:30am they were getting stronger but there was no pattern. Ben drew me a bath (we were able to get one of two labor rooms with a large tub; thank goodness!) and we decided he should go home to pick up Oscar and get him to daycare for boarding. The contractions' consistency started to pick up at this time (of course!) but the pain was manageable and comfortable in the tub.  After Ben got back, our doula arrived and I bounced on the ball, both to try to induce consistency and get through the pain I was having.

Around 9:15am, Dr Hall came in. It'd been 14 hours since my water broke and the clock was now ticking.  I was at 2cm. Hall said we needed to do a low dose of pitocin to try to pick up the contractions if I wanted to try vaginal breech birth (VBB). I knew this would be a possibility and even though I hadn't wanted to be augmented, I knew accepting pitocin likened my chance for my VBB. I received a small dose (I need to confirm with my doula but the labor nurse said 1 millionth of a dose) at 9:30am. 

This picked up the intensity of contractions and we moved into a normal labor pattern. Around 10am the contractions were coming quick and painful enough that I moved into a warm bath again. With Ben and my doula by my side, I worked through contractions for roughly an hour. To me, I had no sense of time, just a focus to get through one contraction at a time and rest in between. I kept telling myself, that's one contraction down and one contraction closer to meeting this baby.

(Due to receiving pitocin, it was required that the baby's heart rate and my contractions be monitored. The only downfall with the tub was that the monitors kept shifting and the nurse was constantly coming in to adjust them between contractions. I wanted to note this because at the time is was such a nuisance but was so important).

Eventually, I started to feel an urge to push (or poop; as I told my doula: "I either need to push or poop right now!"  The nurse and Dr Hall were called. In between contractions, we scrambled to get me out of the tub and over to the bed. In about two and a half hours time, I had dilated from 2cm to 10cm and it was time to push! 

Dr Hall had told me upfront that he allowed one hour to push breech babes, otherwise anything longer is typically too much stress on the baby. Although I had the urge to push, pushing was SO hard! Each contraction I tried to dig down and push for three breathes. Again, I had no sense of time, just trying to get through each contraction. The baby's heart rate started to drop so I was given oxygen. I continued to push through contractions and eventually Dr Hall said, okay, last try to push; we have to get this baby out. I tried with all my might, but baby didn't budge. It was time to switch plans to a cesarean.

At this point, the medical staff was worried that baby's blood pressure was dropping so quickly that I'd have to be put under general anesthesia to get baby out as soon as possible. I was given terbutaline to stop my contractions. I had one contraction after this and then they stopped. Thankfully with this, the baby's heart rate began to rise. Because of this, I was given spinal anesthesia  in the OR and awake for the birth. I remember getting the spinal, but due to adrenaline (and perhaps having already gone through the labor pains), it didn't hurt at all. My legs immediately started to loose feeling and I was laid back for the procedure.

I had no idea where Ben was until the anesthesiologist said something like, stand here sir, and I looked to see Ben by my side in scrubs. We notified everyone that he would be the one to announce the gender and we'd also like to know when the baby was being birthed so that he could take pictures.

It seemed like an instant later and the anesthesiologist said, okay, get ready. I could heard Ben crying and the drape was lowered for me to see. I don't remember seeing much, but the moment I will forever remember is the anesthesiologist saying to Ben: can you tell the gender? and Ben's response, with the biggest smile on his face, as he said "it's a boy!"

He taken to the station for a once over and I remember them counting out, 10 fingers and 10 toes. As soon as I knew it, he was placed on my chest and looking into my eyes. He was so incredibly alert. This little beautiful creature that we had made and waited nine long months to meet; absolute perfection and I was overcome with love. Our little sweet baby was finally here.

Our son, Grayson James, was born at 12:24pm on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, weighing 6lb, 8oz and measuring 19" in length.
We learned that his umbilical cord was short and had been wrapped around his leg. With this, I truly believe that he came into this world as intended.

In the end it was the best outcome for a cesarean birth that I could have asked for; my water broke, I experienced unmedicated labor, and I had the chance to push for delivery. While I've cried many happy tears since then (including while writing this post), but I haven't cried or felt any remorse about needing a cesarean. I'm at peace with it. With all of the research and emotions leading up to his delivery, I feel knowledgeable, empowered, and grateful to have had the birth we did. His birth was so beautiful and unique to us. It is, and will be, one of my greatest life accomplishments.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Neutral Nursery

This nursery has been a long time in the making and the room has certainly come a long way! At 37 weeks and 3 days along, I can happily say it's done...for now. Once baby is here there are some gender specific items I'll add, but right now this is it and it makes me so happy to walk by or sit in this room.

I've always picture a gray and white nursery for us. When I bought the canvas below, two and a half years ago, I pictured it to one day tie into a "woodland" nursery. Isn't funny some ideas come and go and some stick?
Formerly as a guest room
And now for the big reveal; the place we'll change many dirty diapers, read many books, have sleepless nights, sing lullabies, rock the night away, and fall so deeply in love with our babe; our nursery.
We started our nursery furniture hunt back in March. I knew I wanted a white crib, white dresser, and gray chair for neutrality and to keep the room soft but bright.  We ended up ordering all three from Pottery Barn Kids (in store). Ultimately, there were many headaches with our order.

One of the biggest issues was our chair. I had a total of three chairs delivered, all with some kind of damage. I was shocked with this kind of quality control (or lack there of) from a name brand company and the price point of the chair.  In the end, PBK offered a fair refund for the unfortunate events. Ultimately, we got a chair we love, it glides and reclines (something I wasn't set on, but leave it to Ben to pick out something pricier; at least it wasn't me!) and will be getting a lot of use out of. 
Chair: PBK 'Wingback Glider and Reclinerin Washed Grainsack Gray
Arrow curtain rod: Target (purchased in pewter, spray painted gold)
Curtains: IKEA 'Vivan' in gray
For our dresser/changing table, we ordered the Kendall Dresser and Topper from PBK. While I'd initially considered getting a dresser from IKEA, we agreed it made sense to invest in a quality dresser and knew that ordering our crib and dresser from the same place would ensure the white finish was the same on both.

Before ordering the dresser I asked if the knobs were removable/replaceable and was told they were. Guess what? They weren't.  I know it's a stupid reason to return a dresser; but it would have been even more stupid to keep a dresser that: 1. Was expensive; 2. Made me cringe with I looked at it. In addition, the dimensions of the dresser were on the smaller and shorter side. In the end, I ended up returning the dresser and going with my original pick from IKEA; which I'm smitten with!
Dresser: IKEA 'Hemnes 3 Drawer Chest' in white stain
Knobs: Hobby Lobby
Changing Pad: Keekaroo
Changing Pad Cover: Koala from Babies R Us
Animal Prints: Minted (gifted from my sister)
Picture Frames: IKEA 'Sondrum'
Fiddle Leaf  Fig Tree: Hobby Lobby
Gold Planter: Ikea
Diaper Pail: Dekor
More embarrassing than returning a dresser because of knobs, is my rug hunt. You would not believe how hard it is to find a true gray hue rug (I'd say harder than our 8+ gray paint samples). So many rugs say they're rug, but in person they're a combination of brown/cream fibers or black/white, etc. I'm surprised I'm not banned from Target online shopping. I ordered a total of 11 rugs before finding the right one. Thankfully I was smart and ordered the smallest size possible to check color (and thank you Target for allowing in-store returns for online orders.) 

Funnily enough, in the end we ended up ordering the gray version of a rug I'd purchased in blue for my Vail apartment. I originally found it on RugsUSA but was worried after my other rug coloring experience I wouldn't like it and would have to pay for return shipping; then I found the rug at Home Depot (who also always in store returns for online order) and it was the one!
Rug: NuLOOM Maginifique in Light Grey (purchased from Home Depot, also available at Rugs USA)
Crib: Pottery Barn Kids 'Emery Convertible Crib' in Simply White
Crib Sheet: Pottery Barn Kids 'Sateen Broken Arrow' in grey
Dock-A-Tot Deluxe in Dream Weaver
Bulldog Stuffed Animal: Ikea

It's been so fun (and admittedly, stressful. There were a few moments I thought I was going insane or going to put myself into pre-term labor) pulling this room together. It's gone through waves of inspiration and lulls; keeping an open mind but an open eye for items to add to the space. Most recently (as in this week), I decided we need to add a shelf near the crib for our video monitor but I wanted to keep the wall along the crib open to add gender specific items later on. This little shelf ended up being the perfect match and really completed the wall for me.
Canvas: Hobby Lobby
Shelf: Target
Adventure sign: Hobby Lobby (sold as dark bronze, spray painted silver)
Mini-terrarium: Anthropologie (old)
Moon sign: Hobby Lobby
Monitor: Summer Infant

Confession: I HATED the lamp cord plugged into the outlet below the table, so I ran the cord under the rug and across the room to another outlet so it wasn't visible at the wall. #OCD; Also, it took three lamp purchases to find a lamp that was sturdy enough that Ben and I didn't knock over it over while sitting in the chair. Whoops!
Lamp: Safavieh (purchased from Home Depot, also available on Amazon)
Blanket: West Elm (old)
Table: Target
Picture Frame; TJ Maxx
Faux Succulents: TJ Maxx
Stuff Animal/Tree Stump: Gift from MIL/SIL

I will say, while Pottery Barn Kid's quality has been an issue, their customer service and credit card rewards are worthwhile.  We got a Pottery Barn credit card when we bought our house and dining set.  The card gives you back 10% in store rewards for every $250 you spend. Because of this, we were able to get a few items (crib conversion kit, sheet, etc) for "free" with our rewards money.

There you have it! Our nursery. I'm sure it will change and evolve as we discover annoyances, nuances, and items we're missing, but for now, it's everything I'd hoped for. We're as ready as we're going to be for your arrival little one!
If you're interested in seeing the nursery before, knowing more about the wood plank ceiling (a huge thank you to my husband and father in law for their DIY skills), or paint color; read here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

36 Week Update

For anyone who's been following along this pregnancy via Instagram, I could not have asked for a better pregnancy up until this point.  I've felt great, kept up my activity level, am generally still comfortable, and able to get a decent night's sleep.

36 Week Stats

  • Gender: Going strong and not finding out
  • Baby's Weight: 5lb 12oz (anticipating a 7-8lb baby; which is good because I was 8lb 15oz and Mr HaHa was 10lb)
  • My Weight: Since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism during pregnancy (under active thyroid), my weight gain/loss has fluctuated throughout pregnancy, but I'm currently at 37lbs gained, which my OB said is excellent
  • Cravings: Sadly I've had no strange food cravings! I'll have days where a certain meal sounds good, but I was that way before pregnancy too.
  • Readiness: Hospital bag is mostly packed, nursery is mostly done (I'm still debating on decor for one wall or waiting to see what gender we have; and I realized this week that the crib sheets I've been waiting for on backorder were oval shaped....we have a rectangular shaped crib... #pregnancybrain)
  • Emotionally: My hormones are a mess.

Baby is breech and has been sitting breech since our 32 week appointment.  Typically by 32 weeks babies figure out orientation and only 7% are still breech. By 37 weeks weeks (full-term), only 3-4% of babies remain breech.
Since I've been planning and preparing myself for an unmedicated natural birth, this discovery been an emotional roller coaster. Instead of focusing on laboring and pain management techniques, I've switched to seeking out methods to turn baby. It turns out, there's a lot.

Spinning Babies is an website loaded with information, an overwhelming amount. From here I've mainly been focused on stretches such as Forward Inversion and Breech Tilt. As funny as it sounds, I've also got to the pool a few times to do handstands in the water. They said this inversion can help give baby momentum to turn (plus, in third trimester and 90-degree days, feeling weightless in the pool is amazing). Chiropractic care, specifically doctors trained in Webster method also has a good success rate for helping babies to turn. The background there is that by aligning your body, you give baby optimal space to make the turn. Most recently, the last techniques I've added is acupuncture and moxibustion.  Acupuncture to direct energy flow through your body to encourage flipping. Moxibustion is an ancient Chinese heat therapy that is basically incense sticks burned at your toes to promote the flow of energy through your body.
It's a strange place to be in; trying all of the above and maintaining optimism while also thinking of the possibility of both a cesarean or natural birth is not easy. Some people would probably describe me as a stubborn person, but I like to think of it as dedicated and determined. This situation is already a humbling reminder that we can't control what happens in our life, but I also think that how we react to situations develops so much of who we are.  
And that is where I'm already struggling. Years ago, I trained for Chicago Marathon.  I rocked my training.  I was beyond nervous for race day, but I was ready; my body and my mind were both ready.  For whatever reason, it didn't play out as I hoped. It was hot, I got sick and I was pulled from the course by medical care.  I was heartbroken. I had trained for months. Just like this pregnancy, for months all I thought about was the experience of the actual race and pictured myself crossing that finish line, yet my body didn't agree. I was depressed. It took at least a week for me to be able not to cry when someone asked how it went. It took two weeks of crying myself to sleep and thinking about what I could have done differently for a different outcome; the outcome I'd wanted and prepared for. 

For years after, I was scared. Scared that I'd never be able to achieve my goal of running a marathon and that if I tried again, I'd fail.  Last year I did run and finish a marathon and it was amazing; mostly overcoming my inner demons that had trailed me for years and caused me to doubt myself.
This is why I'm struggling so much with baby being breech. I don't criticize others who have had cesarean births. It's just that I'm scared that if that's how baby needs to be born, that I'm going to struggle my own goals. It's selfish. I'm scared I'll regret not experiencing a natural birth, the one I've wanted so badly. That's why I'm willing to do all of these non-traditional methods above to hope they promote baby turn. I'm going to do everything possible to try for a natural birth outcome.  If it doesn't work, then I'm going to need to come to peace with that.
At this point, we'll schedule an external cephalic version (ECV) for next week. This is a manual procedure done by the OB to try to turn the baby by pushing on my stomach/uterus externally. It takes place in the hospital and is scheduled as a cesarean, just in case something goes wrong and an emergency delivery is needed although the odds of something happening is about 1%.

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, my biggest goal is that my body is allowed to go into labor naturally. I have to have faith that baby will be birthed however it's meant to be and necessary and in the end all that will matter is having that little love placed on my chest.
(Photos by Calley Watters Photography. Taken August 5th at 35 weeks and 2 days)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Icelandic Babymoon - Part 1

We got back from our Iceland and while everything is fresh in my mind, unlike Italy, I'm going to share it with you.

We talked about doing a birthday/babymoon trip and debated back and forth on how much time to take off and what our budget was. It came down to either a trip to southern California (with time split between San Francisco and redwood forest) or Iceland.

My friend Breanne introduced my to travel hacking (this is a great post by her about credit cards; she and her husband quite their jobs and traveled the world for seven months!). Even though we went to Hawaii last year on credit card points, we had enough points racked up to get our flights and three nights hotel for Iceland for free!

It was a quick trip, Sunday to Saturday, five and a half days and five nights, but the perfect amount of time to feel like we got a good experience of Iceland (and so nice to have a day off before going back to work tomorrow). Here's what we did!

Day 1 - Reykjavik
We landed around 6:30am on Monday, May 1 after a seven hour direct flight from Denver via Iceland Air (side note: Iceland Air does not serve a complimentary meal, so plan ahead). After reading many reviews, it's recommended to go to Blue Lagoon (the tourist hot spot for blue thermal fed waters) landing in Iceland or leaving Iceland; since it's near the airport (the airport is about 45 minutes or so from Reykjavik). I followed a coworkers advice and prebooked us a reservation at 8:00am.

Leaving the airport, we picked up our rental car (booked with Auto Car Rental via Guide to Iceland. Note: most rental places have both gas and diesel cars. I opted for diesel as it's typically more fuel efficient and cheaper) and were on our way.

I had put my swimsuit and a change of clothes in my carry on bag, but I forgot about flip-flips and ended up having those in my suitcase so we bought flip-flops (at $14 a pair), which really were not needed. If you go, I'd recommend to remember to bring your own or forego using them.
Being there at 8:00am (opening hour), turned out to be a brilliant idea; there was barely anyone there! Once in the lagoon, for the first forty minutes, it felt like we barely saw anyone and had the place to ourselves. (Note, make sure you put the provided conditioner in your hair when you pre-shower. The waters are supposed to be great for your skin, but will dry out your hair).
 
21 week, 4 day bump
After being at the lagoon for two or three hours, we decided to head into Reykjavik. We arrived starving and went directly to a brewery (surprise, surprise), Bryggjan Brugghus, for lunch. Mr. HaHa said the beer wasn't really memorable ($18 for 3 tasters), but the fish and chips were good (although heavily fried).  From there we ventured "downtown" to the main square and grabbed lattes at Stofan Cafe (I had bookmarked this spot but after checking out other cafes, I would say this was our least favorite latte; although the location and coziness are perfect).
Next up we checked into our hotel, Reykjavik Residence Hotel.  I'd put a lot of time into researching hotels and in the end I decided on Residence for the reviews as one of the top hotels in the city.  Although it didn't include parking or daily breakfast, our room was surprisingly spacious (a one bedroom apartment), extremely clean and fashionable, and a superb location.  Parking ending up not being as big of an issue as I feared.  The hotel has three parking spots, which are first come, first serve.  The Monday we arrived, May 1st, turned out to be Labor Day, so parking around the city was free.  We also learned from the hotel that paid parking was free 6pm-9am.  As a last resort, there is a parking garage across the street. We were given one voucher for free 24-hour parking. The hotel also has an associated restaurant, Port 9, which we were given a voucher for one free meal, which was delicious!

For the first time in our foreign travels, we took a nap on our first day there. Usually we try to power through jet lag, but we're usually also drinking, which helps :)  We took a two hour nap and then debated on dinner.  Iceland is relatively affordable to fly to and for accommodations; but food and drink is expensive!  Our fish and chips at lunch were $25 a plate. We weren't quite ready to spring into more fish for dinner and ended up at an Italian restaurant, Italia Veitingahus, for dinner. Both of our meals were delicious, contrary to reviews our service was quick and good, and the $30 spent on each entree seemed well worth it.
As we walked around after dinner, we began to realize how small the city is and how walkable it is.  We walked to Kex Hostel, which is known for it's trendy bar. It looks out over the bay and offered gorgeous views of the setting sun. Given the time of year, the sun doesn't start setting until 9:30p or so; it really throws off your internal clock, but it much appreciated for site seeing.  We also found the beer list to be long and more affordable; most beers were $10-$12USD.
 
Day 2
We went to Sandholt bakery and had breakfast consisting of pastries and lattes ($27 USD) then with clear skies (it was extremely foggy our first day) we continued up the street to visit Hallgrimskirkja, a church with a tower that offers views of the city and bay.

 
There was no wait so we paid our $9 admission and hopped on the elevator ride going up eight stories. It was extremely windy, but beautiful! The colors used for buildings in other countries always cease to amaze me and Reykjavik is no exception. We lucked out that the fog had cleared from the bay and we were able to get a glimpse of the water and mountains beyond.
One of the must-do's on our list was a whale tour and puffin tour. We prebooked tour tickets with Special Tours. I chose them based on reviews and the fact that if whales are not sighted during a tour, you're given a free ticket to come back and try again.  Unfortunately, the weather Tuesday morning was incredibly windy and foggy that we received an email that the tours for the day were cancelled; we had the option of postponing or receiving a full refund.

From the church, we walked down to the bay, stopping in Harpa, the concert hall and conference center to take in the views, explore some shopping, use wifi and public restrooms, before walking to the harbor to request our tour refund. Because of the wind and the rain, it was pretty cold so we stopped in Cafe Haiti to relax over a cup of coffee and warm up before walking to Svarta Kaffid for lunch.

This spot was one of our favorite traditional Icelandic meals. They offer two daily soup options, meat and vegetation, served up in a bread bowl for 1850Kr.  Perhaps it was the cold or the rain, but the meal and ambiance hit the spot!
Having most of the afternoon to kill, we decided to do some shopping. I bought an Icelandic wool sweater from Nordic Store as well as an art print for the nursery before we stopped into Eldur and Is for a crepe (fyi; google maps operating hours are not accurate, we sadly found out our first night that they are not open until 11pm).
We explored more of downtown, walking to park/lake downtown and City Hall, before stopping in Skuli Craft Bar; you guessed it, a craft beer bar.  The bartender, Viking, was extremely friendly and we had a great conversation.  As mentioned previously, food and drink are expensive in Iceland since the majority of it is imported. We noticed several bottles of beer from some of our Colorado favorites, like Crooked Stave sours. They were selling the bottles for 5000kr ($50USD) and higher! Viking explained to us that by the time they pay 18% import tax and 24% liquor tax; what is a $20 bottle in the US, quickly becomes a $50 there to make some profit. We were surprised (and happy) to learn that they offer a daily happy hour with three rotating beers; which takes the price down to $5-7USD from $12-14.
We had dinner reservations at Ostabudin, so we left Skuli and made a quick stop at another craft beer bar, Micro Bar before heading to dinner. Micro Bar was in a basement with a cool vibe, but certainly a different personality bartender. One nice feature is that they offered half pours of beer.

With food being so expensive, we tried to strategically select our meals and their pricing. Having had a more traditional lunch, we opted for cheese plates for dinner. You guys! These could likely be the best cheese plates we've ever had. We shared two: small cheese plate (three Icelandic cheeses; bleu, Gouda and a soft brie-like) and prima donna plate (salami, serrano ham and an aged cheddar); they were fantastic! And better yet, "affordable" at 5400Kr ($54 USD). Highly, highly recommend!
After dinner we went back to Sandholt bakery to grab some pastries to have for our Golden Circle drive the next day. Sandholt also had affordable craft beer on tap; 4 taps for 8000Kr ($8 USD); including one of our favs, Brewdog's Punk IPA (sold at other bars there for $14+).  Last stop of the night was to check out Mikeller and Friends, an outpost of the Denmark brewery. Another cozy spot and nice bartender to chat with; but watch out for the prices. Most beers were $18 USD a pint!
Next up; Day 3 - Golden Circle (with some added stops worth making!)

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