Thursday, December 27, 2018

Piper's Birth Story

To be perfectly honest, it's a little hard for me to write about how our sweet Piper came into the world. Her actual delivery was great and I am so grateful for that, but the days leading up to it were some of the most challenging of my life and I'm still dealing with the aftermath of it and how it has affected my anxiety. Just trying to keep it real haha lest you think childbirth is all rainbows and butterflies. 

You may recall in my last blog post I mentioned Henrik having his first stomach bug on Monday. It was pretty mild and only lasted about 12 hours. By Tuesday night, none of us had gotten it so we were counting our lucky stars. This will become relevant later :)

I had been contracting for most of Tuesday, but not anything painful or consistent enough to warrant going to the hospital. It was definitely more than usual though. We had a normal night at home, Chris and I put Henrik to bed together, I sobbed (ugh hormones), then finished packing our hospital bags. 

What we hadn't told anyone other than some family members was that I was scheduled for an induction Wednesday morning. It had been scheduled for a variety of reasons and we felt good about having one at least on the calendar. We knew that my induction date/time could get bumped if the hospital was super busy, the baby could come on her own before the induction, the induction could possibly not work, etc. There was enough uncertainty surrounding it that we opted to just keep it to ourselves. 

Wednesday morning came very quickly. I got up at 4 am to finish getting everything ready and then I was supposed to call the hospital at 5 and make sure they could still accommodate me at 6. When I woke up, I had an upset stomach, which I attributed to nerves. I carried on getting ready then at 5 am, the nurse told me the hospital got very busy overnight and I'd need to go in at a later time. She said she would try to call me between 9 and 10 am to give me an update. 

I was so disappointed. And tired. But I couldn't go back to sleep. I told Chris what was going on and that was when he informed me that his stomach was upset as well. Pretty soon it became clear that we both had the stomach flu. Chris went back to bed and I laid on the couch watching Netflix. Food didn't sound good so I just drank water. 

I fielded a few more calls from the nurses at my doctor's office and we ultimately decided I would go in Thursday morning for my induction. Again, I was super disappointed but also very sick. Chris was in even worse shape and couldn't even stand. It did not seem like ideal circumstances to have a baby under. 

My parents offered to come over and still take Henrik for the day so Chris and I could try and recover, and that was a lifesaver. Shortly after they left, I had a mix of stomach cramps from the sickness as well as contractions. I timed them all morning long and they were definitely getting closer together. The nurse told me if they got to be five minutes apart for an hour, to come in and they'd make room for me.

Around 10 am, I threw up for the first time in 15+ years. Which is legitimately my biggest phobia and the root of my anxiety issues. Chris, who was laid up in bedroom, heard what happened and came rushing out to help. He gave me a towel and then suddenly he couldn't stand anymore and had to crawl back to bed on his hands and knees. He felt horrible that he couldn't help more, but I told him I'd be ok (even though I was crying and shaking). 

I called my mom and she heroically rushed over to take care of me. Just having her there while I laid on the couch was the biggest comfort. After getting sick, my contractions picked up. They were painful enough that I couldn't sleep. We timed them and sure enough, I had gone an hour with contractions five minutes apart (sometimes less). 

My mom helped me gather my last minute items, I told Chris to stay in bed and pray that he would recover in time for the delivery, and off my mom and I went to the hospital. 

The next few hours were spent in triage on a supremely uncomfortable bed (that SURELY was not designed for pregnant women) watching my contractions on the monitor, getting hooked up to an IV, and being given a nice cocktail of meds for my stomach issues. After a little while, I encouraged my mom to go home and eat, get something to do at the hospital, etc. since it became obvious that I really might need her to be the one next to me if I delivered.

She left, but didn't come back. She had caught the stomach flu. At this point, I really started to panic. Chris was still super sick as well, we needed my dad to now take care of Henrik, and that left me alone, possibly without anyone with me as I delivered the baby. 

The nurses kept checking me to see if my close contractions were causing me to dilate and fortunately/unfortunately, they weren't. This meant that the contractions were likely caused by severe dehydration. We decided we would get me through a few bags of IV fluids and see if that helped the contractions to slow down or stop. My doctor even mentioned that I could spend the night at home and come back tomorrow for the induction, assuming I felt up to it.

I initially told her that that would probably be fine, but deep down I didn't want to go home. My anxiety was through the roof, my stomach was still very much upset, and mentally I had left the house determined to not come home until there was a baby to bring with me. I knew the IV fluids would be the best thing for me overnight and they had medications there I could take that we didn't have at home. 

Later, I discussed it with the nurse and she agreed it would probably be best to keep me overnight so I had help and access to the fluids/meds. She called my OB to make sure that was ok and she said yes. I was relieved, but still very worried about my family and how exactly this was all going to play out. There were a million unknowns and so many things that were simply out of our control. 

They moved me into a new room that had an infinitely more comfortable bed, which I was super grateful for. I was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep or rest at all since the contractions hadn't subsided but finally around 10 pm, they tapered off and I was able to sort of sleep. 

My stomach struggled throughout the night, but the nurses took good care of me. I was super lonely, but also grateful that everyone else who was sick was able to be home recovering and not at the hospital with me. 

Thursday arrived and the nurses said that while it was very busy, many women were being discharged so there was a good chance they'd be able to start my induction before my set 4 pm time. Chris said he woke up feeling much better (thank goodness) so he was able to take care of Henrik since my dad had to go back to work (and my mom was still very sick). They came and visited, which was a welcome distraction. 

After they left, I finally tried eating some food for the first time in 36+ hours. Thankfully it went down fine and stayed that way. The nurses didn't want me to start my induction without having had some food so I was glad we successfully completed that task.

Chris got Henrik down for his nap at my mom's house and then joined me at the hospital for good. I was so grateful to finally have him there and fully recovered as well. My prayers were answered!

We kept hearing that they'd have a labor and delivery room for me "soon" from the nurses, but my 4 pm induction time came and went and things started to not look as hopeful. 

We ate some dinner and decided we might as well settle in for the night. Finally around 8 pm my nurse came in and we asked if we'd have to wait until tomorrow for an induction and she said that sadly it was looking like that. 

After she left, Chris read me a Christmas message from our church's website. We both laughed when we got to the part about Mary being great with child and them having no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph, sounded strangely similar. 

At 10 pm just before we were going to turn in for the night, a different nurse walked in. 

"Annie?" She said.


"Hi I'm Janice and I'm here to get your induction started!"

Never have more beautiful words ever been spoken. We couldn't believe how lucky we were that a room had become available, just when we had given up. 

We quickly gathered our things and headed to our new room. Within a matter of minutes, they had started the pitocin and my doctor came into check me. I was already at 3 cm so we think I was already in early labor throughout the day, they just hadn't bothered to check me since my contractions weren't as frequent or strong. Everything looked promising for a smooth induction!

I told them I wanted an epidural as soon as the anesthesiologist was available and luckily he had just finished a c-section so I only had to wait 10-15 minutes. Once the epidural was started around 11:30, Chris and I both tried to get some rest.

They checked me around 12:45 and I was between 4 and 5 cm. The epidural worked for the most part but like last time, my right leg never got very numb and I could still feel some of my contractions to a lesser degree. The epidural also made me shake a lot and very itchy. Still better than no epidural though! 

The nurse came in again around 3:45 and said I was between 5 and 6 cm, so I was making progress just somewhat slowly, which didn't shock me. My friend and birth photographer Victoria told me to call her when I got to 6 cm so I thought I'd wait until they checked me again since at the rate I was going, it was still going to be a few hours before I hit the magic 10 cm. 

The nurse then decided she'd have me use a peanut ball to help get the baby into a lower position since she was still pretty high up. I was expecting the peanut ball to be pretty small, but nope it was enormous and very cumbersome. Luckily I was so exhausted that after she put it between my legs, I was able to keep sleeping. She said she'd leave it there for about 20-30 minutes then come check me again. 

Some time before she came back, I felt the baby shimmy down further into my pelvis. This seemed like a good thing? But I was very out of it. The nurse checked me again and said that the baby's head was RIGHT THERE and that I was at 10 cm. I was so tired I wasn't sure I heard her right so I asked if that meant it was time to push and she said yes! I was shocked. And a bit panicky. I did not expect to progress that quickly. 

Chris of course was still dead asleep so after the nurse left to get my OB, I yelled at him that it was "go time". Luckily it didn't take him too long to realize what was going on and come to. 

I called Victoria at 5:02 and quickly explained that I had progressed much quicker than we thought and I was so very sorry and to hurry and get here haha. 

Next thing I knew, they were setting up the delivery table and having me get in pushing position. At 5:06 I started pushing. All the nurses gathered round exclaimed "oh my goodness look at that hair!!" Which I was very confused by hahah during some of my ultrasounds they had said she had hair, but that was what they said about Henrik too but it was so blonde and short he might as well have been bald. So I had fully anticipated that this baby would be the same. I asked the nurses if she really did have hair and they said "oh yes! It's dark and there's a ton of it! You two could star in a Pantene commercial! We could braid her hair!" 

After three contractions and three pushes each, Piper Noel Stoker had arrived at 5:16 am. Screaming. And perfect. Victoria walked in literally three seconds after they laid her on my chest and she dutifully began snapping away. Chris laughed and cried and I did the same. We couldn't believe she was here! And with dark hair! 

The rest is a bit of a blur as they took her measurements and fixed me up. Victoria came back later that morning to take photos of our now family of four and we spent the rest of the day napping whenever we could. 

Piper is the most perfect little girl in the world, according to us. We are beyond grateful she is here, healthy, and safe. It wasn't easy getting her here, but I'm thankful for this challenging experience. It has helped me learn and grow in ways I couldn't otherwise. My anxiety hasn't been great since coming home from the hospital, plus there's the whole added postpartum hormones component which further complicates things, but I'm confident I'll be able to work through everything and be fine. 

There were so many answered prayers and miracles that occurred with Piper's birth and I could not be more grateful. Of course it went nothing like I had planned/imagined (does any birth go to plan?), but I wouldn't change it. She's here and we couldn't be happier. 

Once I have the photos from her birth, I'll be sharing those plus the story behind her name so stay tuned for that! Until then, I'll just be here enjoying all the baby snuggles. 

And now here are some photos from the last week! Sorry quality is iffy, these are mostly from my phone. 

Cutest little hospital visitor. 

Induction started!

She arrived!

Best dad.

Itty bitty.

Ready to go home!

Little fireman.

Family of four on Christmas morning!

She had a few Christmas looks.

Lined up all his babies. 

Fluffy hair and a smile.

So fluffy.

Currently: Sitting in bed with Piper asleep on my chest. Does it get any better than that?

Feeling: Hungry, I fell asleep before I could eat lunch so that's next on my list. 
Wish: That my siblings and their spouses were still here. They came for Christmas and left yesterday :( We had a great time all being together. 
Days Until Christmas: 363! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

39 Week Bumpdate! Featuring Henrik

I literally bought this dress over a decade ago. Can you believe that?? Anyway so it's long gone haha sorry. Also all my outfit posts recently have featured mostly black clothes...What can I say, it's so easy! I promise I do wear other colors haha sometimes. 

Here we are! My (potentially) last bumpdate before baby arrives. It's been a little crazy lately, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Well, at least most of the time haha.

We've been trying to spend as much time as we can relishing in our last few days as a family of three while still trying to be productive. The new closet room/office is about 95% set-up, Henrik's room is 100% cleaned and reorganized, and the nursery is like 50% there haha. We have a place for me to nurse and change diapers and those are the essentials! Last night I worked on organizing her clothes by size and hanging up/folding what we'll need for the first few months. I'm sure I'll end up re-organizing her room numerous more times but for now, it's functional. Chris was a hero and installed car seats and did some rearranging of those so now we have a way to get the baby home from the hospital. I suppose that's important?

This past Saturday, we took Henrik to the Jingle Rails exhibit at a museum in Indy (lots of cool holiday model trains) and he LOVED that. My parents came along and Henrik spent most of the time being held by Baba (Grandpa) or searching for him. The trains were also a big hit don't worry haha. When he saw that we were approaching the train exhibit, he went from walking to running. It was fun to see him enjoy the exhibit as much as we thought he would. Afterwards, we went and got tamales, which were delicious. It was a perfect last big outing as a family of three and I'm so glad my parents came.

On Sunday after church (just a few hours after we took these photos), my blood pressure was really quite high and wasn't going down. I called the doctor on-call and she had me come in to check the protein in my urine and be monitored for a while. Chris stayed home with Henrik since he was napping so my mom drove me to the hospital and kept me company while I was monitored. My blood pressure readings there were a bit high, but not as bad as they had been and I had no protein in my urine. After they watched me and baby for close to two hours, I was allowed to go home. But since my blood pressure is now becoming more of an issue than it was, I really could have the baby anytime.

Since then, I've had lots of contractions. Some painful, some just uncomfortable. My blood pressure remains high, but not high enough to warrant going back to the hospital. I keep hoping she will decide to just come on her own rather than being induced, but who knows. She is quite low in my pelvis so my hips are really sore. I went to the chiropractor yesterday to get adjusted and that helped significantly. Now I should be all aligned for the delivery, which is a relief.

Yesterday, Henrik had a mild stomach bug for the first time. It caught me off-guard and caused quite a bit of anxiety since I worried about the rest of us getting it, particularly the baby if she comes this week. Thankfully, my mom was around to help and Henrik acted like himself despite being sick. He has fully recovered now and so far, we have all stayed healthy. Which has been such a blessing! This time of year is so anxiety-ridden for me with illnesses going around and having young kids, especially a newborn. But I'm hopeful we'll be able to keep everyone healthy. Fingers crossed!

Henrik seems totally ready to take on his role as big brother, even though he has no real concept of what that entails. We had three friends all have baby girls about a month an a half ago and he gets sooooo excited when he sees them and yells "baby!" (one of his best words). He loves to read the books we have about babies/older siblings and takes excellent care of his baby doll. He carries the doll around, tucks him in for nap time, changes his diaper, feeds him, reads to him, etc. It's adorable. I really hope it at least somewhat translates to baby sister haha. He loves to hug my belly and occasionally bite it, so that's good too. I'm really looking forward to seeing them together, even though it's bittersweet giving up being able to give Henrik our full attention and care. I know it'll be worth it, but it's still hard sometimes.

The other night, Henrik only wanted me to hold him before bed (a rarity, he usually prefers Chris) so I took full advantage of the snuggles. I couldn't help but cry as I thought about all the hours I spent in his room, holding and rocking him to sleep. He's quickly outgrowing that phase so it's really precious to me when he still wants that closeness. He truly is the sweetest.

In a few days, both my siblings and their spouses will be here and we CANNOT WAIT! It's been a while since we've all been together so we have many fun things planned. I have a feeling it will be the best Christmas yet!

Hopefully my next baby update will be her birth story! But we shall see. 

Sitting: Next to Henrik while he is "fishing" in a laundry basket with his fishing pole.
About: To start making dinner.
Feeling: Some cramping/contractions. If only they'd get stronger!
Days Until Christmas/Baby: 6!!

Comfy Sweater + Comfy Shoes

Shop the Look

Dress: Poppy & Dot (sold out, similar here and here) // Sweater: H&M (similar here and here) // Shoes: Adidas (get them here

In case you haven't noticed, I'm all about comfort in terms of what I wear during pregnancy (and let's be honest, even when I'm not pregnant too). I bought this dress even though it's not maternity but it has worked really well these last few months, especially since I can adjust the tie to accommodate my growing belly. I paired it with this extra cozy sweater while we were in NYC visiting my sister and since NYC, I obviously had to wear good walking shoes. Today, my Adidas probably wouldn't be so comfortable since my feet/ankles have swollen so much, but oh well. This is still one of my favorite maternity outfits from this pregnancy! And it can even be worn as-is post-pregnancy too. Double win.

Currently, my maternity outfits (minus church-wear and date night outfits) consist of black leggings and some kind of comfortable top and sweater. It's a uniform that has served me well since it has gotten colder out! I am looking forward to getting to wear some of my favorite non-maternity clothes in a few weeks. They seem lonely.

Just: Got Henrik up from his nap. He was reluctant to get out of his crib. He definitely takes after me in that department.
Hoping: Chris comes home from work soon! We miss him.
Planning: A lazy dinner of chicken tenders, waffle fries, and green beans because #health.
Days Until Christmas/Baby: 6!

38 Week Bumpdate!

Shop the Look

Jumpsuit: Asos (get it here) // Necklace: J. Crew (similar here) // Shoes: Old Navy (get them here)

This maternity jumpsuit is one of the BEST purchases I made this pregnancy. I was able to start wearing it back in July and it has transitioned very nicely through the seasons. It's also ridiculously comfortable and not too tight, which is essential for my maternity-wear. A classic, comfy black jumpsuit like this will serve you well if you are pregnant! They are so easy to dress up or down and can be styled a million different ways. 

Time sure flies when you have a toddler and a zillion other things to do before the baby comes! Not to mention Christmas prep as well haha. Needless to say, it's been a busy month for us but we are immensely excited for our daughter's arrival.

Things here baby-wise have been fairly quiet this week. Not as many contractions, which is a bit disappointing. But I am 75% effaced, which is much more than I was with Henrik so I suppose that's good progress! Having plenty of the usual aches and pains, had a good non-stress test that showed that baby is doing well. My heartburn has also reappeared, but it hasn't been too horrible. As much as I love my pregnant belly and am enjoying these final days/weeks with it, I'm excited to get back to "normal", or whatever my new normal will be.

Henrik continues to be a fun distraction from all the stress of baby and house prep. He always knows how to make us slow down a bit and laugh. We are incredibly excited for Christmas with him this year since he at least sort of understands what's going on. "Sort of understands" is a generous phrase, I'll admit haha. He loves to find Santa a.k.a. Ho Ho Ho and wear his Santa hat. He loves the Christmas tree, decorations, and all the boxes that have been arriving at our house. I'm really looking forward to seeing his reaction to what's INSIDE all the boxes haha. This may be the last year we allow this many gifts, our tiny home is really running out of space and it'll be even tighter after Christmas/baby.

Stay tuned for more!

About: To go wake Henrik up from his nap.
Then: Springing back into action with projects! At least, as much as Henrik will allow.
Glad: That the sun is out today :)
Days Until Christmas/Baby: 6!!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

37 Week Bumpdate!

How it feels to be pregnant sometimes.

Shop the Look

Dress: Target (similar herehere, and here) // Necklace: Kendra Scott (get it here) // Sweater: Target (similar here) // Shoes: Target (similar here)

Going from 36 weeks to 37 seems like a big deal in my mind for some reason? It's like at 36 weeks, you think you have a solid month before baby. But then week 37 starts and you're like wait, three weeks is not a lot of time? Plus the baby could come early??? Then panic mode really sinks in. At least it did for me haha. We really burst into action after Thanksgiving in terms of prepping for baby. We got (almost) everything into the new closet room, cleaned out a BUNCH of items (many of which will be sold in the spring during a closet sale! Stay tuned), and began organizing all the baby girl items I've been stockpiling over the last few months. It has been a ton of work and at times very overwhelming, but we are slowly making progress and I feel a lot better about everything. At this point, the baby could come and it wouldn't be a complete disaster ;)

Symptom-wise, I had a lot of contractions during this week. Some even showed up during my NST, which hadn't really happened before. My doctor checked me and I was only at 1 or 2 cm, which was a bit disappointing considering how frequent and painful the contractions had been. The one piece of encouraging news though was that I suddenly went from measuring 36 weeks at my last appointment (right on schedule) to 34 weeks, which means the baby has dropped considerably. I wasn't shocked to hear this news considering it feels like she might just fall out of me at any moment. Hopefully this means less pushing when the big day comes!

My hips/back/pelvis are quite sore, but going to the chiropractor has helped with that. My balance is definitely getting worse haha. The baby's movements/kicks are at times very painful, which I don't recall having with Henrik? Sometimes I yelp or jump in pain. It's not very pleasant. I'm pretty swollen all over, particularly my ankles. I can't wear my usual rings anymore, which is a bit sad. My blood pressure has been a bit on the high side, but not too high so that's good! Hopefully the preeclampsia stays away this time. 

We are so unbelievably thankful to all our family and friends who have stepped in to help us. It is really challenging to get house projects done with a very curious toddler so having people come to help watch Henrik has been invaluable. So many of our friends have offered to help and have shown their love and support in other ways that mean so much to us. It truly does take a village even to get through a pregnancy and we are immensely grateful for the people in our lives who have helped! 

Just a few more days/weeks to go...

About: To go shower.
Hoping: To watch The Great British Bake Show soon, it's seriously THE BEST.
Craving: Some ice cold water.
Days Until Christmas/Baby: 14!!!!!!!!!
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