Europe 2017

Finally getting around to posting about our trip to Europe this past October. I had a wedding in Tuscany, Italy, so we knew we wanted to make a big trip out of it, while we were there. 

We flew into the Geneva airport and rented a car. Our flight ended up being delayed a whole day, so it took away a day from our trip. So we had to play caught up a little bit. Our first stop was Annecy, France. It was only about an hour from the Geneva airport. We were super jet lagged, but we did spend a few hours here walking around and eating, before driving to where our airbnb was for that night. 

Chamonix, France was where our airbnb was for the night. It was a suite in a sweet French ladies house. We spent the night here, and ate my favorite meal of the whole trip the next morning. It was a little breakfast cafe in town.

Chamonix is a big ski town surrounded by mountains on every side. Loved it here so much!

We started our drive to Interlaken, Switzerland where we would stay for a few days. This whole drive was unbelievable. Winding roads between and through the mountains. 

We stopped at Chatèau De Chillon Castle in Montrèux, which dates back to before 1005. We also stopped in Gruyères. This was my favorite evening. The little town of Gruyères is straight out of a fairy-tale. It was set on a hill with a castle highlighting the town, which you can see for miles. Almost every building had flower boxes, and the streets were cobblestone. 

We ended the night eating Gruyères cheese pie and swiss soup, then finished the drive to Interlaken, where we would stay for three nights in the cutest swiss house that looks like it is right out of the film "Heidi". 

We took the train from Interlaken into Lauterbrunnen where you take a cable car to the next train to get to Mürren. The train took you through the country side and then through the Swiss Alps. Most beautiful sites we've ever seen. We took another train up to Allmendhubel. This area was perfect for kids. They had a huge playground area, and nice walking paths, which offered so many gorgeous views. The town was literally set right below the mountains.  

This above is the airbnb we rented in Interlaken.

The next day we drove around Brienz Lake and Diemtigtal Nature Park. This day offered so many amazing views of the countryside of Switzerland. Something I've wanted to see for so many years. In the park, you could hear the cowbells for miles and miles. It was dreamy!

The following day, we got up super early to drive to Bern where we took a train to Milan, Italy. We picked up our rental car here and drove to Cinque Terre where we stayed for a couple nights.

Getting on and off this train that was going to take us to Milan was quite the sight. We had to get Ben's stroller and carseat, two suitcases, two backpacks, and one toddler on this train, not to mention being 32 weeks pregnant. BUT we did it! 

Cinque Terre is a National park consisting of 5 different villages on the coast. All the villages are just a few minute train ride from each other. We stayed in the second village, Vernazza. We stopped in each village, but Vernazza was our favorite.

I think Ben's favorite part of the whole trip was throwing rocks into the water (you'll see below). He was so upset when we had to leave.  

Next up, Tuscany, Italy. This is where the wedding was going to take place. We stayed at the wedding Villa with the wedding party. Tuscany is exactly as I pictured it. Rolling hills of vineyards, green everything, villas everywhere. We stayed here two nights. The day after the wedding (click to view wedding) we drove down to Rome, where we stayed for one night before flying back home. We had been to Rome before, but it was fun seeing the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica, and Castle of Angeles again, but with Ben this time.  

It was a dream trip. So thankful for the opportunites to travel as a family. 

William's Birth Story

Since this was my second pregnancy, I had a little experience with what I liked and didn't like about the first time around. Not that you can really plan anything concerning birthing a child, but I knew that I definitely wanted to changed a few things. Starting with using a midwife, instead of an OB. I was induced with Ben at 41 weeks (at zero dilation), and didn't like the pressure that was put on me by my OB to proceed with the induction. The induction ended up being a 3 day process, and when it was time to have him I was already mentally and physically worn out. I wanted the option to wait till 42 weeks before being induced. 

The midwife we chose was actually one of my nurses with Ben. She had been finishing up her training as a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) while working as a labor and delivery nurse. We both absolutely loved her as our nurse so when I saw she was now a midwife I *knew* she was who we had to have. I felt like this was definitely a God thing. 

Due to my prior experience, I asked my midwife, Andrea, if she would start checking me at 38 weeks and do a membrane sweep with hopes that things would go differently this time. I was 1 cm dilated and 50% thinned. This was huge in my mind! 39 weeks rolls around and I asked for her to check me again, and do the sweep again. I was now 2 cm, still 50% thinned. 40 weeks comes around no progresses from the previous week (super sad at this point). At my 41 week appointment I was 3 cm and %75 effaced, she did another sweep. They also did an intense ultrasound at this appointment to make sure the fluids were good and baby was happy. Everything looked perfect, and baby was measuring almost 9 lbs. The plan from here was for me to come in that Sunday for a NST (none stress test). Induction was the next step if I didn't have him before that coming Wednesday, which would've been 2 weeks past my due date. I knew my due date was accurate, so waiting longer then 2 weeks had significant risks. 

Saturday came along and still no baby. Mom texted me asking me asking how I was doing, and I told her nothing exciting was happening. I was really starting to lose hope at this point. I was 10 days past my due date, and I wasn't feeling any sign of him showing up. Reed had something that morning, so Ben and I slept in and had a slow morning. We went to the Library and got him a load of books for when baby brother came. That afternoon, I used the birthing ball for about an hour while I watched a movie. Reed brought home some Slim Jim's and I had a couple bites of the super hot flavor, saying maybe this will send me into labor (completely joking!!). It was one of the warmer days in December, so we took a hike at the state park down the street from us. We hiked a couple miles, and took Ben over to the bank and let him throw rocks into the creek, which he loves doing, and then headed back home.

I was having strong BH (Braxton Hicks) contractions off and on the whole hike, but I had these types of BH (or what were real contractions this time) on a few separate occasions, but they always fizzled out. Later that evening, we had birthday party at Reed's parents house for his little brother. The contractions continued into the evening while we were at the party (off and on). They definitely got stronger and more uncomfortable the later it got, but I was convinced it was the same thing I had been having and nothing was going to come of it. 

Contractions picked up a little bit on the car ride home, but the car always made them worse. I texted mom and told her I was having really strong BH again like I had the other night. She told me to try and rest and see if they go away. We got home and turned on a movie. I started feeling more pressure and pain in my back, so half way through the movie I started timing them. They were coming every 5 minutes. This is when I had my first thought that this could actually be real. I didn't say anything to Reed till about this time. These were real. I texted mom again to let her know they were getting stronger and coming every 5 minutes, and that this might be happening. I let Andrea know the situation too. We finished the movie and the contractions were still consistent. I texted my sister, Mary, and my mother-in-law to fill them in. The pain was at like a 3 or 4, but they were 5 minutes apart, so I didn't know if I should stay home or go get checked out. I had never experienced going into labor on my own, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Andrea said I could come in and get checked out. So my sister, Bekah came over to stay with Ben. 

We got into labor and delivery at 1:30 am. They checked me at about 2:00 am, and I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. By now, the contractions had slowed down. She told us we could go home for a bit and wait for them to pick up, or we could walk the halls for an hour and see where that puts us. I thought if I went home I wouldn't know when to come back in and the drive was 30 minutes. So we decided to walk the halls. Contractions picked up as we walked. They were still very manageable, but getting stronger. The timing was all over the place. They would go from being 2-3 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart, and go back and forth. 

Once they checked me again it was around 3:00 am. I was 4 1/2 cm. Progress, but not much, so I knew it might be a long night/morning. We got into a room, and Reed took a nap while I had things under control and they were still manageable on my own. I did try to sleep a little bit, but the contractions felt worse if I laid down. They checked me again at 6:00 am, and I was at 5 1/2 cm. Mom and Mary were on their way. Reed's parents arrived shortly after them. It was now around 7:30-8:00 am. We were walking the halls again and using the birthing ball. Contracts at this point were hard to talk through and about 5 minutes apart (5 minutes must be the magic number for this birth). 

Things were really picking up and contractions were so HARD. Pain level was at about a 7. The contractions were coming every 5-7 minutes lasting 1-2 minutes. So I was having huge breaks, but they were VERY intense. It was like the longer the break the harder the contraction. 

The nurse checked me around 9:00 am and said I was about 7 cm dilated now. PRAISE THE LORD! But the contractions were still pretty far apart. I knew they had to get closer for this baby to come.

At around 11:00 am, my midwife came in and checked me and I was still at about 7 cm, but she said she could stretch me to a 14 if she wanted (jokingly). I was very thin and stretchy, we just needed the contractions to get closer together. She asked me about breaking my water. I had been terrified of this the whole labor, because I knew once they broke my water it was going to hurt *a lot* more and the contractions would come *a lot* closer together, and I didn't have any idea of how long it would take before he was born. So far I felt in control and like I could manage and do this. BUT my Midwife, Reed and my support team all assured me they would help me through it and that I could do it. So we went forward with breaking my water. The first couple contractions were still around 5 minutes apart and didn't feel much more intense. But then they started getting closer together and felt much more intense. This is what I was afraid of...

Andrea stayed with us during this time and had me doing different positions to help the baby get into the perfect spot. Contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes lasting around a minute. She kept reminding me that this is what my body was suppose to do. Relax. Let your body do it's work. The pain almost took my breathe away. It was like a crushing sensation. Like my hips were stretching and tearing apart. It was all back labor. Pain was definitely a 9-10 at this point. This is what I'm assuming was transition. SO. MUCH. PAIN. The timing from here on out was a blur. Reed pushing hard on my back was the only thing that seemed to offer any relief. One of the positions Andrea had me doing  was laying on the bed with my top leg over the other leg hanging off the bed. This part was so so painful. I was begging to be done with that position, but I know this helped move things along.

At one of my appointments, Andrea told me about a new gas they now offer during labor. You just breathe it in for a couple seconds and it brings some relief for a minute or so. Groaning through a contraction, I asked her about using it. I was getting desperate! She told me that it makes some people freak out/lose control and that in my situation I was in good control. Even though I didn't feel like I was in good control. But she said she would get it for me if I really felt I needed it. I agreed to not using it.

Reed said he was SO proud of me for saying no to the gas. He knew how much I wanted to do this free of any kind of medication or intervention.  

It was around 1:00 pm by now. I felt like I had to use the bathroom, but not a huge urge. She told me that was a sign that I needed to push. I was pretty convinced I just had to poo, but she was right. I started in the squatting position, and tried pushing off and on. I was feeling the urge to push, but it wasn't super strong yet. So we took it slow. Squatting position was wearing my legs out, so I moved to my back (still on the floor) and held onto my legs through the pushing. Looking back I should've just moved to the bed at this point, but in the moment all I wanted was this baby out. I did love that my midwife just let me do whatever felt good and comfortable (even if that was delivering a baby on the floor, which wasn't comfortable for anyone else).

Pushing was intense. I screamed through several of the pushes, which I never imaged I would do. But it was uncontrollable, and despite what people say, I felt like it really helped me. It was like releasing all the pain out of my body. My mother-in-law and Mary helped with rubbing my back, since I was leaning against Reed for support. Mom said I cried out for God to help me, but I don't really remember doing this...

They started to be able to see the babies head. She told me to reach down and feel. His head was right there. This was such an encourager! He was almost here! I just had to finish pushing him out. It took two or three more pushes and his head came out, and then another push for the rest of his body. This moment was insane! The release! The feeling of a whole person leaving your body. They put the baby on me and it was instant relief and tears. I couldn't believe I had just done that...and our precious baby was in my arms. He was born at 1:59 pm, about 13 hours since we had got to the hospital and 16-17 hours since I thought I might be in labor (much better than 3 days! I'll take it!).

Our little William David was here and we were so in love. The first hour with Will was just perfect. He nursed great and was as healthy as could be.

 But once the afterbirth pains started I wasn't handling things very well. I'd rate them a solid 7. They were horrible! They gave me Tylenol + Ibuprofen and I didn't feel like the medicine was helping at all. I felt so terrible. The nurse came in and said they wanted to take me to the bathroom and monitor me. My ears started ringing and I got super light-headed. Next thing I knew I woke up with Reed holding me up and Mom over me holding my shoulders back and a bathroom full of nurses trying to wake me up with smelling salt. They got me back into bed, but couldn't keep my blood pressure up. They had me drinking liquids and eating and nothing was helping. We tried again later to do another bathroom run, and as soon as I sat up I started to feel my ears ring again and went pale. My bleeding wasn't bad, so they weren't sure what was causing it. The whole rest of the afternoon and partly into the evening I felt miserable. Between the afterbirth pains raging and being so light-headed I barely remember them weighing the baby or even Reed holding him for the first time. Thankfully, Mary took photos for me (below)! I ended up moving to a wheel chair that evening and sitting up for a bit. My blood pressure continued to be low, so I couldn't get up without someone helping me. They put me on Pitocin for the afterbirth pains and this caused them to go away quicker. My blood pressure continued to be weird until the next day. Still not sure what the issue was, but it went away by the next morning. 

The following day I was feeling much better. Bekah brought Ben over to meet Will. I really wanted Ben to come as soon as Will was born, but with me passing out and feeling horrible we decided to wait. I wanted them meet when I was feeling well and could enjoy it.

Having them meet was so so precious! Ben instantly fell in love with him. Melts my heart everytime I see the images of them meeting.