Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sometimes Bad Things Happen...

...when you do business with people and you get to go to Oregon and then you don't mind so much. Sorta.
I love Portland. I love the Oregon coast. The whole state is magical really.
Delicious food, beautiful scenery and uber-friendly people. What's not to love?
Caught a soccer game while there. RSL vs Portland Timbers. That Timber's Army is something else! The best fans in the MLS, hands down. They're amazing.

First time traveling with baby J. He's a champ!

Delicious dining

RSL vs Portland Timbers 3-3

Oregon coast - Arch Cape
That's our vacation rental

Best seafood on the coast - oysters the size of your palm
and clam chowder to die for

Birth Is No Walk In The Park

We're the lucky parents of a brand new precious little humanoid. We adore him and he has our hearts wrapped around his tiny little finger.

The initial shock of becoming a mother has worn off and I'm practically a veteran now when it comes to birth and motherhood...

Nope, I'm joking.

I can safely say won't ever get used to it and I feel I won't ever quite fill those large shoes adequately.

As labor was creeping up on me for the second time I anxiously awaited the first signs with both dread and excitement. As with our first, we didn't find out before hand what the gender was.

I'll admit was a little afraid this time.
I anticipated the hard work that is labor and the potentially difficult transition from one to two little monkeys under my care.
I was afraid I was going to go past my due date and have a big baby.
I stressed about my little girl who was being unusually defiant and tantrum prone.
I was sick of being pregnant and wanted my body back.
I stressed a lot. About anything and everything.
Naturally the stress kept my baby even more firmly in my insides...
The more I wanted him to come out the longer the days of waiting became.

Finally, after 11 days past due date and a couple of false starts, I decided to try a natural induction.
My doula  and friend Vanessa brought me a concoction my midwife calls the Labor Bomb.
Ginger ale, apricot nectar, almond butter and some castor oil.

Let's just say, it had the desired effect. Within a couple of hours I was having steady contractions.

I was excited to say the least!

Kimball got his camera gear together and found a way to mount the GoPro underwater.
My dear mother had come from Sweden to be with me after the baby was born but was doomed to await his arrival alongside of me. I sent her and L away to stay with my in-laws. It was 10 PM, July 17.

Some women like having their mother with them when they labor and give birth but seeing my mother would have taken all the strength out of me and rendered me a little girl again. She would have suffered seeing me in pain and felt miserable for me.

Cathy, Sara and Vanessa showed up around midnight and labor was underway.
We set up the pool and I got in. As anticipated I was experiencing back pain, like with my first.

After a few hours of sitting in the pool I started to feel weak and extremely sleepy. I kept falling asleep/blacking out between contractions and waking up feeling disoriented and weak. I couldn't concentrate and I was losing control. I told the ladies I needed things to progress faster because I was already so so tired. I would put my forehead against the side of the pool and just fall fast asleep.

They broke my water.

Things became very intense from then on. Although I experienced complete relief between contractions in a way I hadn't with my first, without the water to cushion me, the back labor was 100 times worse.
I didn't cry or scream. I yelled.
I said I couldn't do it. I said I was dying. I said the baby wasn't coming out.
I begged for it to end. I said it was too hard.
I talked to him telling him to hurry up and come out.
Everyone worked hard at reassuring me and helping me keep calm.

It was difficult.
I moved from the pool to the toilet, to a birthing stool and finally to my bed trying to find relief from the back pain.

As soon as I got on the bed everything became clear.
I was ready, the baby was ready and I knew the time had come.
I regained focus, was completely aware of every contraction and where the baby was.

Kimball had been working hard providing counter pressure for my back and was now providing counter pressure on the baby's head. 5 AM, July 18. Slowly, the baby was coming out.

With two contractions his head came out, his little face was purple with all the blood gone to his head from being squeezed so hard. The poor little thing had been working just as hard to be born. At one point Cathy pushed back and unwrapped the umbilical cord. What seemed like three, maybe four contractions later Kimball caught him and seconds later a tiny boy with skinny arms bear paws was in my arms.

Just like that.

My dear friend Vanessa, Kimball, Cathy hiding
behind me and brand spankin' new baby J.
photo cred: Sara Vranes

I got back in the water to await the after-birth and warm the new man in my life.
It's interesting how little you remember about the labor you just went through as soon as you're on the other side so to speak. Every care just melts away at the touch of that little life you're now holding in your arms.

As soon as I was clean and settled back in bed, nursing properly and finally getting to rest, Kimball fell asleep. It looked awkward and uncomfortable the way he was laying but that's how tired he was. I've never felt more tender toward him than I did in that moment having felt him by my side the whole time, working as hard as he could to make me comfortable and to give me support.
He's truly wonderful and I adore him.

I was exhausted but high on endorphins and adrenaline so I stayed awake till noon.

I can't adequately express my gratitude at being so richly blessed that I can enjoy birth in my own home on my own terms. That I'm healthy and have healthy happy babies is such a priceless gift that humbles me as I know this isn't the case for all mothers out there.

As hard as birthing was this time around, the reward outweighs every moment of pain ever felt in the process of the miracle we call life.

We named him after a Swedish great grandfather and after the biblical story of Jacob that wrestled with an angel and upon victory was given a new name.

He is small now but he is mighty and he did conquer.

Welcome home Johannes Israel.

June Travels

If/when I move, I'll move to central coast California. I'm IN LOVE.
Orchards as far as the eye can see, San Luis Obispo, whales and beautiful beaches.
Ah yes, I can see it now! My very own citrus fruits and peach orchards, vineyard and horse ranch...
Some day.

Oh la la! La France!

A long, LONG overdue post about our trip to France, August 2012. Unfortunately the camera memory card has been misplaced and all I have are iPhone/instagram snapshots. 

Originally I had planned a 4 day weekend trip to Paris but what started out as a short getaway turned into a week long adventure with several destinations that left me only one day of Parisian bliss

I blame Kimball.

Upon our arrival in Nice we had a bit of a rough start that included an accident, hitting a guy and his girlfriend on a moped with our rental car and getting to the hotel in the middle of the night. The following morning we sat down to our first french breakfast. Cheese, bread, juices, hot chocolate, jams, tea, yogurt, fruit. 
A much needed feast that lifted our spirits and got us in the mood for adventure.

Best breakfast of my life

Next stop, the beach. Beautiful smooth pebble beach. My favorite kind! No sand in your stuff. Or your undies.   

French Riviera
The city of Nice is a well visited tourist destination with all that it entails so naturally we headed out of there as soon as possible!
The next day we traveled inland to a little quaint picturesque town called Gringan
a couple of hours northwest of Nice.

We visited the old restored castle and enjoyed exploring the village and the winding streets and hidden nooks and crannies. Incredibly charming and beautiful. If this doesn't make you love France, nothing will!

Grignan castle

We visited the old restored castle and enjoyed exploring the village and the winding streets and hidden nooks and crannies. Incredibly charming and beautiful. If this doesn't make you love France, nothing will!

Winding street of Grignan
Old gnarly trees
The Inn we stayed at in Grignan

We toured around wine country for a couple of days and made it to Avignon.

Wall around Avignon

It's a historic, vibrant old city full of activity and beautiful buildings surrounded by a tall stone wall. Our hotel was right in the centre of the city on the edge of the court of the Palais des Papes. The Popes Palace. 

Palais des Papes

Incredible building. 

It boggles the mind how crude tools and simple equipment built such a gargantuan building. Absolutely stunning as is everything in Avignon. 
We strolled around all evening and stopped to have my portrait drawn by a street artist while eating gelato. Hippies, tourists, locals, vagabonds, bums - all creating a vibrant almost circus like atmosphere in the heart of the city. 

On the ferris wheel in Avignon

He's pretty cute

We drove back to Nice, paid a visit to the local police station that hadn't seen fresh paint (or fresh anything) since the 80's to make our statement. My crummy french got us through and things got sorted. 
We headed out of the city and crossed the border to Italy and made it to a hotel in a little beach town a couple of hours past the border. The place was quiet, full of restaurants and shops.

Photographing the photographer in Italy


Kimball bought a speedo in a small men's clothing shop run by a tiny old italian lady who didn't speak a lick of english. Hilarity ensued. 
We had Italian pizza that I as a European appreciated but my American family were not as easily convinced. A teen beauty pageant was being held in the town and I gotta say, Italians are SO cheesy!

The music and the clothes were terrible! It was like stepping back in time to the 90's, a decade that wasn't kind to anyone. 
The water turns green on the Italian side of the Mediterranean rather than the aqua of the French coastline. Warm and clear water! We played with some Moroccan immigrant kids whose families came over by boat to try to find work. Many of these people sleep on the beach during most of the day.

The beaches are covered with sunbeds and shade for rent. There was really only a small spot to enter the water and access the beach for free on basically the entire beach.
We headed back to Nice for one last night before heading to Paris.

The Eiffel Tower

I love Paris. 
It's true. 
And most people that have been there or lived there will say the same. It's an incredible city. Beautiful, rich in history and art!

Champs Elysees

Impressive handiwork

We walked from our Best Western situated on a side street a stones throw away from Champs Elysees all the way to the Eiffel tower.
It was crowded as always so we boarded the Seine river bus that stops at all the main points of interest and enjoyed the ride and were content with the distant views of Notre Dame. We wandered around the city while eating candy, across bridges, through gardens, past the Louvre and made it to the mini carnival. 

Hot man on a boat.

It was sheer pleasure! Feet hurt so bad at the end of the day but nobody cares.
The next morning I flew back to Sweden by myself to spend some more time with my family and pick up Lois. My 4 day Parisian getaway turned into only one short but splendid day.

I can't wait to go back!

Emily's favorite car