Thursday, March 7, 2019

Piper's Name & Life Update


Shortly after having Henrik, I shared the meaning behind his name and how we came up with it so I thought I would do the same for Piper, in case any of you are curious :)

When I was in high school, a leader in our church came to stay with us for a conference. His name was Paul Pieper and he ended up becoming a good family friend. While he stayed with us, he gave my sister and me some very valuable advice regarding how to choose a husband. His advice ultimately altered the entire course of my life and helped me to know that Chris was the one. So when Chris and I got married several years later in Utah, my dad reached out to Elder Pieper to see if he would be available to marry us and he very graciously agreed to despite his busy schedule. That day he gave us even more great advice about marriage. Elder Pieper had a profound impact on both of us and we are so grateful for him.

I had always loved the name Piper (one of my best friend's little sisters is named Piper as well) so years ago, my mom suggested if we ever have a girl to name her Piper after Paul Pieper. I loved the idea and meaning behind it. Thankfully Chris did too so we decided that would be her name. It serves as a constant reminder of the advice he gave us and that God loves us. I truly believe that Heavenly Father brought Elder Pieper into our family's life to help and guide me as well as my family members. 

For a long time, I thought we would give our first daughter my middle name, Lynn, which comes from my paternal grandma's name, Carolyn. But when we found out Piper was due on Christmas, I thought it would be fun to give her a middle name that related to Christmas somehow. We toyed with a few options but ultimately settled on Noel. You may be wondering why we didn't choose the feminine spelling, Noelle. The reason for that is my full name is 15 letters long, Chris's full name is 20 letters long, and Henrik's full name is 20 letters as well. I like things to end in 5 or 0 (because I am OCD) so when picking out Piper's name, Piper Noel Stoker was 15 letters whereas Piper Noelle Stoker was 17. And I just couldn't allow that. I fully acknowledge it's weird but there it is haha. We have to continue the pattern! 

Things are overall going well. Having two kids is certainly challenging, I have had more than a few breakdowns haha. But I wouldn't change it for the world. Henrik is such a wonderful big brother and is quickly learning how to be nice to Piper and be helpful. He loves to stroke her and say "hiiiiii" and bring me burp cloths when she spits up (which is quite often). It's sweet to see him becoming very protective of her. He also likes to tell people how she cries. "Baby, ahhhh!!! Ageeen". Which, loosely translated, means "Baby cried again". 

Getting kids in and out of the car is by far the hardest thing. We don't go many places other than my mom's house because I just can't handle the two of them on my own outside of a house haha. Someday we will get there!

Our usual routine is Henrik wakes up around 8/8:15, he watches Elmo's World in his crib for about 30 minutes while I feed Piper and get ready. Then Piper goes in her Mamaroo to sleep a little longer while I get Henrik dressed and fed. Then we play either at our house or we go over to my mom's house. At home, Henrik is an expert at helping me fold laundry and do dinner prep. We play/do household chores until noon ish then I feed him lunch and get him down for his nap. While Henrik naps, I try to get Piper to sleep so I can sleep. It usually works, ish. I don't sleep for very long and often just as I am falling asleep, Piper wakes up. But it's better than nothing!

Henrik then wakes up around 3:30 and we play, Facetime family, and finish getting dinner together. We try to eat between 5:30 and 6 once Chris is home then I make sure Piper is fed and happy before going to the gym. Once I'm back, we play some more as a family, give baths as needed, then work on getting both kids ready for bed. Chris handles Henrik's bedtime routine while I take care of Piper. We read scriptures and say a prayer as a family then put Henrik in his crib by 9. Piper is usually awake while I shower so Chris hangs out with her then I feed her again and she is generally officially down for the night around 10 or 11. Chris and I watch a show together (Jeopardy, The Bachelor, or Suits) then off to bed. 

Piper has been a rockstar sleeper at night and will sleep between 8 and 11 hours straight. It probably won't last so I am enjoying it while I can haha. Piper is a sweet little girl who lives to smile and be with us. After dinner, she becomes a bit more high maintenance and loves to be held but usually Chris is home by then so we can take turns holding her. We often eat dinner in shifts, but it works. 

The hardest part about this phase right now is Chris's travel schedule for work. He's been out of town a lot and has two more long trips coming up. Thankfully, I have my parents and several good friends who are always willing to help out. Bedtime is by far the most difficult part to do by myself because Piper is so unpredictable. One time I tried doing it on my own and all three of us ended up crying at the same time haha. I'm hoping I'll get better at handling the two kids without Chris as time goes on and they get older, but mentally it is hard to be without my best friend/co-parent. I'm extremely grateful I have help available when he is away or else I'm quite sure I would lose my mind. 

As I mentioned earlier, I have a fair share of mental/emotional breakdowns haha but things are getting better overall. My hormones are stabilizing and I'm figuring out coping mechanisms to help me when I feel overwhelmed. Two kids is certainly difficult, but oh-so rewarding. I lay in bed at night scrolling through photos of them and thinking about how much I love them. It's a beautiful feeling. 

Here are some photos from her birth (by Victoria Rayburn Photography) and newborn session (by Pearl Photo & Design) because I am obsessed with all of them and I never want to forget these moments. 



































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.

"Yes?"

"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! 

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