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!)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nursery in the Making

We have spent a lot of time over the past two weekends working on former guest room turned nursery and I'm happy to say we both agree the hard work paid off. I think I've heard Ben say every day since we started painting, "man, this looks awesome".
Nursery before; aka blue gu
Our house was built in 1908, so nothing is flat, nothing is level and walls certainly aren't smooth. The picture above was strategically taken to hide those imperfections.  If you were to look up, this is the ceiling. 
Hideous, right? It's worse in person!  When we first bought the house in Feb 2014, we paid someone to come out replace drywall ceiling of the main living/dining room. We also got quotes to correct the two guest bed ceilings (the above is certainly the worst of the two) but decided not to spend money at the time.

As soon as we found out we were pregnant, I told Ben, we have GOT to fix that ceiling. So we again got drywall quotes and unfortunately they hadn't magically lowered over the past three years ($1,200 to fix ONE room's ceiling; what?!). I have to confess, I was desperate enough to say let's suck it up and pay but Ben called me crazy.

Enter Plan B. Spring 2015 we had the exterior of the house painted and new gutters installed. When we were in Chicago, it seemed like every porch ceiling was wood. We loved the look but hadn't seen much of in it Denver. My father-in-law is much more handy than we are, so Ben and I stained and sealed tongue and groove pine then during once of their visits, my father-in-law and I installed the wood for the porch ceiling.
So we came up with the idea of trying to install a similar ceiling in the nursery. Thankfully my father-in-law said it was doable and we lined up the project to take place when they came to visit this February for our nephew's birthday. When we initially started talking about the project, I think MIL and FIL thought we were off our rocker, but by the time they got here, they knew about the pregnancy so it made more sense as to why we wanted it done.

I was still living in Vail at the time, so I can't say the guys were happy to see me when I walked in Friday afternoon (per my MIL's progress texts during the week, there was a lot of cursing).  Between Ben and my FIL, I think there was a lot of frustration, but the result is absolutely perfect (not to mention, a fraction of the price). To install, they first located the floor joists for the level above and then put up fur strips. This allowed the tongue and groove to have something to secure to. I cannot thank them enough for their hard work! 
Next step, paint. I'd always envisioned a primarily gray and white nursery, which goes along perfectly with our decision to wait to find out the gender. However, finding a true gray proved to be quite the challenge.  We put up seven samples, all from Sherwin Williams: (shown in order of) Repose Gray, Agreeably Gray, Worldly Gray, Light French Gray, Knitting Needles, Olympus White, and Lazy Gray.
We were told by SW that Light French Gray was the only "true", black/white mix gray (the first color on the left in the picture of four). Strangely enough, it appeared beige to us. We thought we had our decision made after putting samples up on the blue wall. However, there was a ton of prep work needed to sand out old cracks and fill divots (we're talking days and hours), so it made sense to work on wall prep and prime. After priming, we'd put samples back up to make the final decision. I'm glad we did!
I put the first coat of samples up Friday night. Saturday morning Ben came in while I was working on sample coat two and he said I already know which I like...thankfully it was the same color I wanted! We mutually agreed upon Olympus White. (Originally we liked lazy gray, but then it seemed to dark once the primer was up). So Saturday and Sunday were spent painting!
Furniture was ordered today (ahh! it's getting more and more real) and white crown molding will go up in the next month.  Meanwhile, I might just sit on the floor and take in what's already become my new favorite room in the house :)

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