New Year’s isn’t the only time for goals and dreams, right?
I loved this recent post by Seth Godin. He asserts that making your goals and dreams public makes them more likely to happen. It also makes it more likely for you to be disappointed, but isn’t the risk worth it?! I think so.
Traveling to Paris with a toddler is no joke. High chairs are scarce, using a stroller can be a nightmare, and restaurants don’t even open for dinner before 7PM. But… it’s Paris. And as Audrey Hepburn said, Paris is always a good idea. Read More…
Oh boy oh boy. This is the story of how Lars Olof Jorgensen was born. And the decisions that went into it.
We always knew he would exist… or at least we hoped. From the time started talking about marriage, Kirk and I knew we wanted at least 2 kids. So when Ingrid was 18 months old, we started trying for another. It took us so long the first time around, we figured this one would take a while, too. Much to our surprise, I was pregnant within a couple of months!
Hooray! So that’s what it feels like?! Let me tell you, it was night and day. The difference between trying month after month, year after year… taking temperatures, charting your period, counting the days, peeing on sticks… the stress, the anxiety, the weight, and the work of it all. I have to say that when I was going through all of that with Ingrid, I was a bit envious of my friends who would say they got pregnant without even trying. But at the same time, I was happy for them. It gave me hope that maybe it could happen like that one day for me, too. And then, crazily enough, it did. And it was AMAZING. Everyone who is trying to have a baby should be able to have that experience at least once. It’s such a gift. I wish I could wrap it up and share it with all the wonderful mother and fathers out there just waiting for their babies to come…
With Ingrid, I decided to have an unmedicated birth with the help of a midwife at a hospital. My midwife was the best (warm, super knowledgeable and skilled). The hospital was fantastic (new, not crowded, great food). The birth went well. 12 hours, no major complications. I was deemed “a good birther”. I felt such a sense of accomplishment. But let’s not sugar coat things. Birth was very hard and painful. I’m not one of those women who says, “I love the birth process!”. So I was wondering about the possibility of an epidural for the next time around…
Then I was hit with the bill. Roughly $10,000, thank you very much. Remember, no medication, no major complications. And did I mention that yes, we have insurance? “Good” insurance actually, with a sizable premium sucked from our bank account every month. But since we work for ourselves, we aren’t on a group plan. And in the state of Utah, the maternity deductible on every single independent insurance plan, no matter what your monthly premium, is in the neighborhood of $7,500 and up. And then add in the deductible for the baby, too… So when I heard from a friend that a local birth clinic charges about $2000 — pre and post natal care included — I decided to look into it. I talked at length with a few women who had gone there. They had only good things to say. I talked to my midwife, who highly recommended it as well. I took the tour, asked the tough questions, and decided to go for it.
Now that it’s over, was it a good choice for me?
Upsides: 1) The midwives took wonderful care of me throughout my pregnancy, during the birth, and after. 2) The clinic itself was in a beautifully restored 19th century home, with large nice bedrooms, and bathrooms with special spa tubs. 3) Pre-natal visits were low-key. They always started right on time — I was in and out in 20 minutes. I weighed myself in the bathroom and gave them the figure. The only time they did an exam “down there” was when I was actually in labor. (And then, only once!) 4) I saved $8,000.
Downsides: 1) I didn’t get to work with the amazing midwife I had gone to for Ingrid. The team of midwives at the birth clinic were great, too. But since they work as a team, I never knew which one I’d be seeing for my appointments, or who would deliver the baby. 2) No epidural. (Although I wasn’t totally set on having one anyways.) 3) I had to leave the same day I gave birth, which meant driving to the pediatrician’s office on the way home, and for checkups every day for the first few days.
For me, it was definitely worth it! I’d make the same choice all over again. Keep in mind that I’d given birth naturally before, so I knew I could do it, and I had a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. And Kirk? He was completely supportive and would have been no matter what I decided. He wouldn’t dream of pressuring me one way or the other. He knows better, ha ha.
Ingrid woke up around 9PM on April 21, 2013 asking for water, a diaper change, anything to stall going back to bed. Just as Kirk escorted her back to her room, the first contraction hit. We watched TV for the next couple of hours. I made Kirk push pause during contractions so I wouldn’t miss anything, ha! After about two hours, there were more pauses going on than watching, it seemed. We called the midwives. They said to come in. The TV would have to wait.
Kirk scrambled to get our bag, hand Ingrid’s monitor off to my parents (who live upstairs), and pull the car up. My contractions were coming fast and hard already. I wondered how on earth I would survive the hour long ride to the birth clinic. Would I end up giving birth in the car? Kirk was worried, too. I almost told him to just stop off at the local hospital. We both prayed that it would work out, and Kirk was inspired to put a couple of tennis balls in between my lower back and the seat, which really helped. Miraculously, the contractions really slowed down in the car. What had seemed impossible became very manageable.
When we pulled up to the birth clinic, the midwives greeted us outside and helped me walk, while Kirk carried our bags. The birthing rooms are on the second floor, and there isn’t an elevator. That’s something I’d worried about throughout my whole pregnancy, but it wasn’t bad. I waited until a contraction ended at the bottom of the stairs, walked right up, and then had a contraction as soon as I got to the top. Then, it was into the tub, where I labored for the next couple of hours.
When I started to feel the urge to push, I got out of the water. But it was a false start. Something wasn’t quite in line yet, so for the next hour or so, I laid on the bed, waiting for the urge to come back, all the while having strong contractions. And it came back, alright! I ended up on the birthing stool to push, and after just a few minutes, he came out. Such a relief.
They placed his little warm body on my chest, and he rested there for the next few hours while they cleaned and stitched me up. I snuggled him, started feeding him, and felt so tired, but so happy.
People say that birth is easier the second time around, and it certainly was for me. My first labor was 12 hours, my second lasted only 7. The first time around, I was so overtaken that I couldn’t speak, not even in between contractions. I could only manage one word commands to Kirk. Second time, I could actually speak in full sentences! (Only in between contractions.) The pushing went faster, and I tore less. I felt more confident and at ease in general, since I knew what to expect.
During labor, the midwives followed my lead for the most part. They told me to do what felt right, what my body was telling me to do. For his part, Kirk was constantly at my side, applying pressure to my lower back, making sure I was staying hydrated, telling me I was doing a great job. I was incredibly lucky to have such a supportive team. And even luckier to be blessed with a beautiful baby boy — my little Lars.
I feel like a whiner by saying it, but this third trimester of pregnancy hit me hard. If you’ve had a baby, or are expecting right now, maybe you know the feeling? But let’s do the chant together — “It’s All Worth It!” Of course it is, and I know that I’m lucky to be pregnant at all. But at the end of the day, when my joints ache so much that every movement feels like I’m being pierced by daggers, it can be easy to forget.
I’ve made a list of the things that are getting me through… but I would honestly love your input as well!
1) Naps – I don’t have time to take one every day, but when I do, it makes all the difference. The piercing daggers I mentioned tend to stay away.
2) Yoga – Again, time is a factor, and I don’t have enough to go take a class. But I do DVD’s at home, and take moments here and there to stretch, breathe, and do some poses. I can feel that it gets my circulation going, alleviates some of the discomfort, and helps me feel refreshed.
3) The Chiropractor – Right now, I’m going every other week, and it makes all the difference. Joints become so loose during pregnancy, and the body is changing so much, that it’s easy for things to get out of place. As achey as I feel, I know it would be a lot worse if I weren’t getting adjusted. It’s also preparing my body for childbirth — ensuring that everything is aligned and ready for the baby to come out more smoothly. Worked with my first! (If you haven’t been before and are thinking of making an appointment, make sure that the practitioner is qualified to work on expecting mothers and has an adjustable table.)
4) Green Smoothies – I’m craving fruit — especially juicy fruits like grapefruits and pomegranates. So I throw them into the blender along with a bunch of greens, and I’m know I’m getting lots of vitamins and enzymes for the little one. It just feels healthy.
4) Massages – Sometimes I ask Kirk to give me a back rub and loosen up all the knots. He’s a sweetie and it really helps… but I’m daydreaming about getting a professional prenatal massage as well.
5) Sweatpants – And t-shirts, and Uggs, and leggings, and all those easy, comfy kinds of clothes. I’m normally not the kind of person who dresses like this day to day, but I’ve given myself permission and am LOVING it.
5) Taking it Easy – I admit it. This is the hardest thing to do. With a business to run, design deadlines to meet, a toddler to take care of, church responsibilities, home renovations & projects to finish up, etc… I just want to go-go-go all the time and get it done. But I’ve been trying to make myself slow down. Especially since I fell off a ladder last week. (Don’t worry, it was scary, but the baby and I are fine.) Having a healthy full-term baby is more important than checking every item off of my to-do list, obviously. But for someone with a type A personality, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.
What has helped you or your loved ones? Please share! Thanks – Eva
InToddler Travel, I share what I’ve learned through my own experiences in the U.S and Europe with my daughter, as well as tips from friends and other trusted sources. – Eva
This is not a comprehensive packing list for traveling with a toddler. Instead, this is an edited list of items that Kirk and I take on trips with Ingrid to make life easier. Not the most obvious things like plenty of diapers, socks, and snacks. This is the stuff that — if you are a new, slightly scatterbrained parent like myself — might not be as obvious to bring.
Tent Bed – These are MUCH smaller and lighter weight than a pack and play. Plus, Ingrid thinks it’s a fun little fort and she can’t climb out of it. (FYI: There was a big recall of these last fall. Please research to find out if they’re right for you. Not for babies under the age of 1.)
White Noise Machine or App – Not only for the kid! You never know how noisy the hotel / apartment you’re staying in will be… this really came in handy for us.
New Toy (or two) – Get something you know they will LOVE and will keep them occupied while riding in the stroller, waiting for you to get ready in the morning, etc… Make sure that it’s small and lightweight. We gave Ingrid a Pippi Longstocking doll on the first day of the trip, and a little set of Hello Kitty figures towards the end. Lifesavers.
Kid Travel Neck Pillow – If your toddler loves sleeping with a pillow as much as ours does, this little guy might do the trick. Ingrid loved that it looked like a horse, and we loved how small and packable it was. She happily slept with it every night and often requested to take it with her in the stroller during the day.
Wrap Strap – There aren’t high chairs everywhere, so if you have a really wiggly little one (like we do) you can keep them securely in their seat with this convenient velcro strap. I actually keep this in our diaper bag at all times, and it’s surprising how often we end up using it.
Disposable Bibs – We use cloth bibs at home, but my sister gave me the idea of using disposables when traveling. We just throw a few into our bag each day, and off we go. It’s nice to be able to just use one and then toss it. Eating with a toddler while roaming around a big city can be challenging, so these help make it a little easier.
Laundry Kit – For a longer trip, you’ll probably need to do laundry if you’re trying to travel light. Laundromats can be hard to find, hotel laundry fees are crazy expensive, and washing machines in foreign countries are difficult to figure out (at least for me, ha ha). We brought this twisty clothesline and individual packets of laundry soap.
Dishwashing Kit – If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll want this to keep your water bottles (we used this collapsable kind for traveling) and toddler cups clean. A sponge cut in half, a small bottle of dishsoap — and if your kid uses the kind of sippy cup with a straw — a tiny brush should do the trick. (Thanks for the idea, Meredith!)
Rain Gear – I don’t know about you, but this is something that I often forget to pack. And if you’ll be traveling in a place that is at all prone to rain, you’ll be very sorry if you don’t bring it. Our last trip was to Northern Europe in the fall, so rain gear was a must. For us, this meant a small travel umbrella for me, a hoodie for Kirk, a rain cover for the stroller, and a water repellent coat for Ingrid. We also ended up getting her a pair of rain pants and rain boots while we were there.
Of course, every child and situation is different, and what worked for us may not work for you. But I hope this may be of some help if you are planning a trip with a little one. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments section. Thanks! – Eva
Tips on Traveling With a Toddler is a new series on the blog. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned through my own experiences in the U.S and Europe with my daughter, as well as tips from friends and other trusted sources. – Eva
Everything becomes a bit more complicated when you decide to travel with a kid. And a toddler just might be the most challenging age of all. But this didn’t deter Kirk and I from traveling to Arizona, Oklahoma, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris with our (then) one year old daughter in 2012. Here are a few things we learned about choosing where to stay:
1) Location, location, location.
Although it may be tempting to stay on the outskirts of town to save some money, don’t do it. Not with a toddler in tow. You want to keep all travel time to a minimum. Think of it this way: You’re already spending your hard-earned time and money to go on a trip, so don’t waste it in transit. This is even more important if you plan on taking your child back to your room each day for a nap, which will obviously double your travel time (and down time). When you stay in a great location, you can just walk out your door and start exploring right away.
On our recent trip to Europe, we stayed in the Sodermalm area of Stockholm, which is full of lovely cafés, shops, and parks. In Paris, we stayed on the Rue de la Paix, which is just a few minute’s walk from the carousel and playgrounds of the Tuilerie gardens, the opera house, Galleries Lafayettes, and more. Two very different kinds of neighborhoods (young, hip vs. posh, historic), but both with plenty to do and experience. By contrast, we stayed a little further from the action in Helsinki. The tram stop was just a block from our hotel, and the ride only took about 10 minutes to get to the center of town, but it still made us feel a lot more disconnected.
2) Apartments are ideal for families.
First of all, you get more space for less money. So while the little one is sleeping in the bedroom, you can move about freely in the rest of the apartment instead of typing up emails on the bathroom counter or huddled under the sheets with a flashlight and a book. You also have a kitchen, which can save you money on meals and the hassle of dining out with a toddler. We’d often find a fun café for lunch every day, and eat breakfast and dinner at the apartment. (This also gave me an excuse to explore local grocery stores and markets, which is one of my favorite parts of traveling.)
We’ve rented apartments through AirBNB twice in the last year, and both have been great experiences. (I stick with places with multiple positive reviews.) I’ve also heard that HomeAway.com and VRBO.com are good resources.
3) Hotels can still be a great option…
Especially if you get to stay for free. We had enough credit card points (through Sycamore Street Press) to stay for free in Helsinki and Paris, otherwise we probably would have booked apartments in those cities as well. But I would consider a hotel again — whether or not we have points to use — for the following reasons: 1) Maid service: So nice to come back to a clean room with fresh towels and sheets. 2) Breakfast buffets: So many more options than if we made something ourselves. 3) The front desk: I’m not someone who has the concierge arrange my entire stay for me, but it’s nice to know that someone is always there to answer questions or just hail you a cab.
Basically, although you have less room in a hotel, usually have to pay more, and will probably have to do some tip-toeing around, you’ll feel more pampered than when you stay at an apartment. Which is nice, since you are on vacation.
Of course, every child and situation is different, and what worked for us may not work for you. But I hope this may be of some help if you are planning a trip with a little one. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments section. Thanks! – Eva
Tips on Traveling With a Toddler is a new series on the blog. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned through my own experiences in the U.S and Europe with my daughter, Ingrid, as well as tips from friends and other trusted sources. – Eva
How do you travel with a toddler? And more specifically, how do you travel to Europe with a toddler?
That’s what I started wondering about a year ago. Ingrid was a year old at the time, and I had just figured out that we had enough credit card points through Sycamore Street Press to take a trip abroad. Some suggested we wait until she was older. But I only wanted to use enough points for two plane tickets, not three. (And once a child turns two, they must have their own seat on the plane.) I also knew that we wanted to have a second child soon, which would complicate things further. I didn’t want to put off traveling abroad any longer. Europe 2012, or bust! So I came back to the question — how do you travel to Europe with a toddler?
Some of the best sources of information were my friend Meredith Prévot, who goes to France every year to visit family with her daughter, Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, who spent a year living in France and traveling around Europe with her two young boys, and the Babyccino Kids blog. I took their advice and prepared the best I could for our two and a half week trip to Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris. As you can imagine, it ended up being a pretty intense two and a half week crash course on traveling with a toddler. And although I learned a lot, I’m obviously not an expert — far from it! So please keep that in mind when reading this. Every child and situation is different (of course), and what worked for us may not work for you. But I hope to be of some help.
In the first post of the series, I’d like to address the most difficult part of traveling with a toddler: flying.
1) Use Your Gut To Plan Your Trip
I’ve quizzed a lot of parents who travel with their kids, and they say that each kid takes to the plane differently. Usually, though, the child’s reaction is pretty predictable. For instance, Ingrid only sleeps if she’s in her crib, unable to see or hear distraction. On our recent trip, we went from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Stockholm, Sweden, with stopovers in Paris and Frankfurt. We traveled through Ingrid’s afternoon nap, the entire night, and her afternoon nap on the second day. Normally, she would have had 16 hours of sleep during that time. But she only slept for 3 hours at the end, when she was completely overcome with exhaustion. On the other hand, I’ve seen children who will fall asleep in their car seat, on the couch, in their parents’ arms, etc… so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when these toddlers conk out for almost the entire flight. Surprises do happen, but chances are, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what will happen on the flight, even if you’ve never flown with your child before. If you’re honest with yourself, you may decide that knowing your kid, it’s not worth taking an overnight flight. Or conversely, that it may not be as bad as you’ve been led to believe. Either way, do what’s best for you and your family, and then plan accordingly.
2) Consider Timing
If possible, time your flight at the best time possible for your toddler’s schedule. If you know they will sleep, then an overnight flight or a short flight during nap time is perfect. If they won’t sleep on the plane, missing a nap is probably better than a whole night’s sleep. If you’ll be traveling as far as we did on our recent trip, however, it doesn’t really matter. It’ll be awful any way you look at it. Another thing to consider is flying in the off season. My friend Meredith took a trip to Europe in February, and there were so many open seats on the plane that they all got to stretch out. This is never a sure thing, of course. We thought flying to/from Europe in October might be the same, but our flights were completely packed.
3) Do The Paperwork
If your child is less than two years old, you don’t have to buy them a regular ticket. (Although if you can afford it, it would make your life that much easier.) They can sit on your lap for the flight, which the airlines call traveling with “an infant in arms”. However, Meredith reminded me (luckily) that you still have to let the airline know that you’re bringing a little one, and they will make you pay taxes and issue your child a paper ticket. She also informed me that if you request it enough in advance, the airline can lend you a bassinet for the flight. This will work for babies and very small toddlers, but as an almost 2 year old in the 95th percentile on the growth charts, our daughter was out of luck. One last thing — don’t forget the passports for everyone, toddler included!
4) Take Precautions When Gate Checking
Parents traveling with babies and young children are allowed to gate check car seats and strollers for free. If you will have a layover, be aware that your gate checked item might not make it onto the next flight. This happened to us, of course. When we got to our first stopover in Paris, we waited and waited at the gate for our stroller to show up, but it never did. The airline assured us that they would take care of it, but when we arrived in Stockholm, our stroller wasn’t there either. We were told by the agent at the desk that this was a common occurrence with strollers or car seats that are put into protective bags. The luggage handlers mistake it for a normal piece of luggage, and put it in the wrong place. We filed a report, and luckily they found the stroller and delivered it to our apartment the following day. But we learned our lesson. From now on we will either check it on with the rest of our baggage (instead of at the gate), or if we do really want to take it to the gate, we’ll wrap it in clear trash bags instead of a black bag, so that there’s no mistaking it for something else. This is really only something to worry about on flights with more than one leg, though. Direct flights shouldn’t be a problem.
5) Bring Lots of Supplies
Make a list of the bare necessities — plenty of diapers and wipes, kid-friendly snacks, a bottle or sippy cup, a change of clothes (or two), etc… and make sure you check it twice. You’ll also need lots to entertain and distract them: new and exciting books, toys, games, and movies. If you are counting on showing them movies on some sort of device (which I highly recommend), don’t forget to bring an extra battery or “juice pack”. I love the idea of wrapping inexpensive little toys and candies up in tissue paper to bring out and unwrap at opportune moments (read: to avoid meltdowns). Lollipops work wonders during take-offs and landings to keep kids’ ears clear and their minds occupied.
On a side note: Technically, you are allowed to bring liquids like formula and those fruit/veggie purées in squeeze bottles. Most of the time, the TSA agents won’t bat an eye. But once in a while, they might decide to single you out, do a chemical test on your baby food, and give you AND YOUR BABY a pat down as your baby cries hysterically. (Yes, it’s happened to us, which is why I will never try to bring those things on the plane again.)
6) Get Your Rest When You Can
Even if your toddler sleeps and travels like a dream, chances are you’ll feel like a zombie upon arrival. Make sure your whole family gets plenty of rest before you leave. This means scheduling your time so that you can pack in advance and get to bed at a decent hour the night before. I used to be the queen of late night packing, but not anymore. It’s not worth it. In addition, if you’re crossing many time zones, try not to plan anything (or very little) for the day or two after you arrive. It’ll be worth it if you and your toddler are able to rest and get over your jet lag that much sooner.
If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments section. Thanks! – Eva
I was getting pretty far along at this point, so Danielle suggested I get into a warm bath. I laid on my side in the tub with a wet towel over me. It felt nice and relaxing. I was so exhausted at this point that I actually fell asleep a couple of times in the one minute break between contractions! But the contraction themselves were getting more intense. Up to this point, I had only breathed deeply and spoken one-word commands to Kirk, like “push!”, “right!”, “down!”, etc… But with each of the last few contractions in the tub, a low groan came out of my mouth. Finally, I couldn’t lay in the tub anymore. I needed to get up.
Mr. Crispy was Kirk’s high school punk band. His sister Kari made this onesie for Ingrid.
Throughout my labor, Robyn and Danielle would come in to check on me periodically. They were always available just outside the door, but they let us have our privacy. I appreciated this. Labor took so much of my concentration and focus that I didn’t want any distractions. The fewer people the better. I know some women want a whole support group in the room with them as they go through labor. I only wanted Kirk. No one else. But I didn’t want Kirk to leave me for a minute. Even when he stepped outside the door for a few seconds to tell Danielle that I was ready to push seemed like an eternity. I remember thinking that he must be hungry, but I couldn’t bare the thought of him leaving to go get food. Luckily for me, he didn’t.
Now I was entering the pushing phase of labor, and I was glad for Robyn and Danielle to be there, too, with their expertise. They told me to start pushing on the toilet. My bag of waters was still intact at this point, so Danielle used something that looked like a crochet hook to break it. (Very convenient for that to happen while I was sitting on the toilet, don’t you think?) Just a few minutes later, they told me I needed to walk back into the room and sit on the birthing stool. At that point, it seemed like a monumental task to have to walk from the toilet into the room, around the bed, and over to the stool. But Robyn and Danielle each took an arm and guided me there.
Let me just say that at this point, my hospital gown was long gone. If you know me, then you know that I am a shy person when it comes to nudity. I’m the one who changes clothes in the bathroom stall instead of next to my locker at the gym. So, for me to be 9 months pregnant, stark naked, and crouching on a stool in front of my nurse and midwife — well, it’s just funny. But at that point, I didn’t care at all. It was the least of my worries. I just wanted to get my baby out!
As you can see in this pic, Ingrid had “Queen Elizabeth hair”, so last week, I buzzed it.
I wanted her out so badly that I pushed and pushed and pushed. I kept pushing even when the urge subsided. Kirk later told me that he could feel every muscle in my body harden and strain. I pushed so hard that I began tearing fairly quickly. Robyn and Danielle had been putting warm compresses on me and doing all that they could to keep this from happening, but they couldn’t stop me from pushing so hard. They moved me into the bed and had me lay on my back to try and keep the tearing from going too far. As Ingrid began crowning, Danielle had me reach down and feel the top of Ingrid’s head. It was almost unbelievable to think that after 9 months, she was finally so close to coming out. Then Danielle asked me to slow down so that she could help stretch out my skin. I tried for about 2 seconds, but couldn’t bare it. I had to push. She was worried that I would tear all the way, so she asked me if she could do a small episiotomy. As soon as she made the snip, I pushed again, and Ingrid came spiraling out into Kirk’s hands.
Kirk laid Ingrid on my chest, and I distinctly remember the feel of her tiny, wet behind cupped in my right hand. It felt so surreal. “There’s a baby on me!” I said in a daze. Kirk leaned over us and kissed us both, tears streaming down his face. That state of euphoria that people talk about so often in the moments following birth? To be honest, I don’t think I really felt it. Yes, I was relived that labor was over, and yes, I was happy to have my little girl in my arms. But I had lost a lot of blood, I was still in pain, and I think I was in shock. I did see it in Kirk’s face, though. I’ll never forget how full of love and joy he looked at that moment.
Throughout my 12 hour labor, I had never complained or said anything negative. But now that I had the prize in my arms, I no longer felt that intense focus and determination. I winced as they stitched me up, and complained about the pain in my back (which was caused by the placenta that was still inside me). Once the placenta came out, I felt real relief. Kirk cut the cord, they cleaned Ingrid up a bit, then put her back on my chest and covered us in warm blankets. She latched on soon after, and I nursed her for the first time.
For the next several hours, Kirk and I held our little Ingrid and tried to take it all in. We were completely captivated by her. We felt no need to read, watch TV, or do anything for entertainment other than stare at our beautiful baby. If I had been in shock at first, that feeling had worn off and been replaced by a tired, but deep happiness. I knew that I would do anything for Ingrid, and that Kirk felt the same way.
We finally got to hold our baby in our arms, and it was the best feeling in the world.
Ingrid May Jorgensen.
Born November 16, 2010
8 lbs 9 oz, 20 in
(Find the rest of Ingrid’s Birth Story here: Part 1 ///// Part 2 ///// Part 4)
Ingrid may be my first baby, but I’d been in labor before. It’s intense. It requires all of my concentration, and it tires me out. Contrary to what I heard in my hypnobirthing class, it hurts. But it’s not scary, I’ve learned that I can get through it, and it’s so worth it.
When I woke up at 2:30AM on November 16th 2010, I knew right away that I was in labor. For a second, I had the noble thought of letting Kirk sleep for awhile longer as I dealt with these early contractions. Only for a second, though. I woke Kirk up and had him massage my lower back as the next contraction came. Then I tried a warm bath for a while, but this seemed to slow contractions down. Although enticing, I knew that it would all be over faster if I just got on with things. So I got out of the bath and started walking in circles around our kitchen island. Each time a contraction came, I would drape my arms around Kirk’s neck, and again he would massage my lower back until the contraction stopped.
Danielle (my midwife) had given us her cell phone number and told us to call when labor began. She sounded so groggy on the phone that we felt kinda bad. But it was so reassuring to be able to communicate directly with her that Kirk called her every couple of hours with an update and request for instructions. Finally, at around 8 in the morning, when my contractions were consistently 2-3 minutes apart, she gave us the green light to go to the hospital. I managed to shower and dress and grab a bagel for the road. We live downstairs from my parents, and as I was getting into the car, my dad happened to look out the window. He snapped a quick photo on his phone as I was looking up at him. He showed it to me later, and I look exhausted. Content, but exhausted.
It’s a 30 minute car ride to the hospital from our house. Every time a contraction came, I came so close to demanding that Kirk stop the car. He told me later that he really wanted to stop the car, too. But neither of us said a word.
When we arrived at the hospital, we just walked right in and up to the labor and delivery unit (albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace). Robyn, our delivery nurse, introduced herself, and showed us into our room. She handed me a hospital gown and then left the room to let me get changed. I was grateful for the privacy. When she returned, she hooked me up to some equipment to run a few short tests, checked to see how far dilated I was, and that was it. She suggested I take a walk and that she’d just need to monitor Ingrid’s heart rate every so often.
I tried walking back and forth across the room, but that didn’t last long. At this point, I was having extra long contractions — 2-3 minutes each — and walking was too much effort. Danielle had arrived by now, and she had me sit on a labor ball (aka an exercise ball) and rotate my hips whenever a contraction started. This ended up being my favorite way to get through the labor pains. I’d sit there on the ball with my arms and head leaning on the hospital bed. Kirk would sit behind me and massage or push against my lower back until it was over. (He later told me he could feel my bones moving.) I’d breathe deeply, and think about something pleasant. Sometimes I’d pray intensely and think about baby Ingrid and how this was all worth it. Other times, I’d picture myself on the warm, sandy stretch of beach that I lived near as a child. Anything to get my mind off of things and try to get my body to relax. At one point, I said to Kirk, “I feel tempted…”, but didn’t finish the sentence. We both knew that I was talking about getting an epidural. But I had decided many months ago that I wanted to do this naturally, so I didn’t bring it up again.
After laboring on the ball for quite a while, I was still having double contractions. Danielle said it was because Ingrid was coming down to the side, and my body was trying to move her into the middle. To help it along, she suggested I lay down on my stomach with one knee up, one arm in front, and one arm in back. Then she told me to stay in that position for the duration of 5 contractions. My 9 months pregnant belly was so huge, I didn’t know how I would manage it. And I’ll be honest — it was pretty awful. I was extremely uncomfortable even when not in a contraction… and during a contraction I just felt so helpless and like there was nothing I could do to ease the intensity. But it worked! The second that 5th contraction stopped, I got right up and back onto the labor ball. Now I was having normal 1 minute contractions. And let me tell you, the difference between one and two minutes can be huge.
I felt sick day and night during the first trimester. I think it was my body’s way of making me eat in a super healthy way for the growing baby inside me. Anything sugary, oily, fatty, creamy, cheesy or meaty made me feel worse. I lived off of grains, fresh fruit, and broth based soups. I needed at least 10 hours of sleep at night to feel halfway decent. At work, I would have to take breaks from the computer and just lay down on the floor. I’d slog through my work, wishing I could just lay on the couch day after day after day…
During the second trimester, I felt pretty fantastic. The timing was perfect — it fell during the summer when we did all our traveling for our show circuit. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego… We made it home for my 20 week ultrasound, and found out that we would be having Ingrid (and not Lars). I began showing — but a lot of people just thought I was fat. (Isn’t that an awkward phase?) During this time, I started feeling Ingrid kick… and a lot! I loved her little movements inside me. Each week they grew stronger and stronger.
By the time I hit my third trimester, there was no question of my looking pregnant. I have a short torso, so my belly just stuck straight out. On top of that, I began retaining water. I couldn’t wear socks without my feet swelling up like water balloons. My wedding rings no longer fit, and neither did a lot of my maternity clothes. I began having frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions. Nights were horrible. My weird body pillow didn’t help much anymore. I had to sleep on the couch, pillows wedged everywhere. I’d spend 10 minutes getting into a perfect position, then have to get up 30 minutes later to go to the bathroom or turn over because my hip hurt. During this time, we were hard at work renovating our new live/work space and getting ready to move our studio. My lumbering body was too big and awkward to allow me to help out much. Instead, I was the fat overseer barking orders to Kirk and our poor family members and friends. (They all deserve medals.)
40 weeks came and went. My stretch marks were spreading larger by the day. My feet were growing puffier by the hour. Ingrid had to come out. I went in to get visit my midwife (Danielle Demeter) and get some tests run when I was 8 days overdue. We had an ultrasound to check things out. The technician estimated that Ingrid would weigh 8 lbs 9 oz. I commented that if she was that big, she must be running out of room in there. The tech replied that actually, my body had done a great job making room and fluid for her to move around in (in other words, my belly was gigantic). No wonder Ingrid was in no hurry.
Danielle decided to sweep my membranes to see if that would help move things along. That night, Kirk and I watched a silly movie to get our minds off of things (Days of Thunder) and drifted off to sleep. I woke up 2 hours later, and I was in labor.
Many people have asked how my labor and delivery went. Was it long? Did I take any medications? Were there any complications? Was I able to breastfeed right away? But before I get into all of that, I’d like to talk about this business of becoming pregnant. Although I now love reading peoples’ birth stories on blogs, I feel like there aren’t enough mentions about the obstacles that are often in the way of having a baby.
Ingrid didn’t come easily to me and Kirk. While we were struggling to get pregnant, it felt like a small blow to my heart each time I found out that someone I knew was expecting. Of course I was always happy for them, but it was also a reminder of our own sad situation. It seemed to me like everyone else in the world could get pregnant at the drop of a hat. It didn’t seem fair that there were little teenagers running around getting knocked up all over the place, and here we were, a responsible couple in a loving relationship, trying month after month with no luck.
While Kirk and I were going through this, it was so hard for me to talk about it with anyone — even with my family and closest friends. It felt too private — and that somehow by keeping it to myself I had more control over it. I really only felt comfortable talking about it with other women who had gone through similar things. It gave me strength and hope to know that I wasn’t the only one sitting on the toilet month after month waiting for the pink lines to appear. And that’s why I decided to share this part of our family’s story with you. To reach out to those who have gone through similar struggles, and to help raise some awareness among those who haven’t.
When Kirk and I started trying about 3 1/2 years ago (June 2007), we were 27 years old, and had been married for a few years. I thought getting pregnant would be easy. My mom had never had any trouble, so why should I? For the first 6 months or so, we just went off the pill and thought it would just “happen”. No such luck.
So then my mom recommended that I get the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I put it off for a couple of months because it was my mom who recommended it to me (maybe you know how that goes). But it ended up being full of really good information. We started getting really technical in our efforts (tracking periods, temperature, etc…). That was in the spring of 2008. We passed the year mark that summer, and people said I should go to the doctor. But I didn’t…maybe because I was afraid of what I might find out.
In any case, we kept trying and ended up getting pregnant around Thanksgiving 2008. But I started bleeding heavily on New Year’s Day as we were traveling from Utah back to Ohio. We had a layover in Las Vegas, and as I sat in the airport and watched all the people passing by, I just thought: “None of them know that I’m in the middle of losing my baby”. That night, I began having labor pains. They came and went for a few hours. When they finally subsided, I knew that our baby was gone. I happened to have scheduled my yearly exam for the following day. When I went in, I told the OB what had happened and she did an interior ultrasound. She said that I had indeed suffered a miscarriage, but that everything looked fine and healthy. The miscarriage was probably just a fluke. I held it together as I spoke with her, but when I checked out with the receptionist a few minutes later, I broke down. She came around the counter and hugged me until I got control of myself.
Kirk and I were heartbroken but also encouraged to know that it was possible for us to get pregnant. We waited a couple of months and decided to start trying again. But we came up against another obstacle. Kirk was graduating from Ohio State, and we were moving back to Utah. We had to switch insurance companies. And they told us that in order for a pregnancy to be covered, we would have to wait. Even though we weren’t physically trying, it felt like we were. The waiting wasn’t any easier. But several months later, the insurance kicked in, and we began again.
Another year had gone by. I still didn’t go to the doctor. Not even for a yearly exam. I should have…. but once again I was afraid of what I might find out and didn’t want to be labeled as “infertile”. Especially since we are self-employed. I was afraid our insurance would be taken away and then our future family would be worse off. I hated feeling so vulnerable to insurance company policies. So I started reading up on adoption. I felt drawn to it. (I still do, actually. Maybe one day we’ll add another member to our family in that way.) We kept trying.
Finally, in February of last year, the second pink line appeared on the pregnancy test. It was over 2 and a half years from the time we originally started trying. I think it might have helped that I was less stressed out after Kirk joined me with SSP and we moved back to Utah. It probably also helped that Kirk and I were exercising more and eating better. Who knows?
But even though I was already pregnant — and overjoyed — it still didn’t feel real. It felt like we were still “trying”. Because I had had a miscarriage at around 7 weeks the first time, I was scared it would happen again. I didn’t even realize how frightened I was until my first appointment (at 7 wks) with my midwife. She did an ultrasound and showed me Ingrid’s heartbeat. She told me that if you can see the heart beating at less than 8 weeks, you have a less than 1% chance of losing the baby. Once again, all my pent up emotions came rushing out and I burst into tears…. this time with relief.
I know that everyone who struggles to have a baby has a different experience. I know that mine and Kirk’s issues weren’t nearly as intense as many others’. We were lucky that we didn’t have to go on any medications, and that we ended up with a healthy little girl. But I also know that sometimes it just helps to hear someone’s story who didn’t get pregnant on the first shot.
After seeing a clip from Little Women on KSL / Studio 5 yesterday, I was reminded of how much I love that movie and book. And this quote always seemed like such an unexpectedly wise thing for spoiled little Amy March to say.