David’s Birth Story

 - by Brittny

Today is David’s 7 month birthday, so I thought maybe it was time I get his birth story posted to the blog.  Guess that’s what happens when you have your 4th child, things are a bit busier than they were when Sam was born 😉  So David’s birth story is going to have to start a little further back though because his pregnancy was much more eventful than our other children’s.  I’ll warn you, as always, this post is REALLY long.  I finished writing it one night and it was 10 pages long, so I put it aside so that I could edit it down the next night and I succeeded in making it only 12 pages (before pictures)!  But I write this all down more for me than for anyone else and I want to remember all 12 pages (or however many pages this happens to be after my next round of editing…)

For starters, we weren’t planning on having David when we did.  Towards the end of 2016 Eric and I had the conversation of whether or not we wanted to have a baby again in the next year.  It was time to lock in our insurance choices for the next year so it was a good time to evaluate those things.  I had vowed after my back problems with Maeli’s pregnancy that I was going to get in shape before getting pregnant again, but it was 3 years later and that hadn’t happened.  Things were kinda busy and hectic and we decided that it wasn’t time yet.  So I scheduled my annual checkup with my midwife so that I could renew my birth control prescription.  However, my checkup was scheduled for a little while after I’d run out of birth control.  I wasn’t too concerned – with our 3 older children it had taken about 3 months after going off birth control to get pregnant so I didn’t think it was really too likely that I’d get pregnant in that short interim – I know, famous last words :P  So I had a couple weeks without my prescription and I decided that I’d wait until the end of that cycle before starting my new batch.  In the back of my head I was also telling the Lord – ok, I’m not really ready to have another baby right now, but if it’s time, here’s your opening.

During that time I started noticing that my back was having some issues again.  I’d started wearing boots that had a little bit of a heel as my daily footwear and I thought it was probably due to those, so I ditched the boots for sneakers and called my mom for some advice on exercises for my back.  A week or so went by and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror one Saturday night and thought – I look chubbier than usual. Not that I have a nicely toned physique most of the time, but I could just tell, I had more squish than was my normal… and I was about a week late.  I decided that I would take a pregnancy test the next morning, just in case.

I took the pregnancy test into the bathroom the next morning feeling like I was being paranoid.  I had one on hand so it wasn’t like I had to go out and buy one but I just wanted to talk myself out of thinking that’s what was going on.  I can’t even tell you how surprised I was when it came back positive.  Obviously, I knew it was a possibility but I *really* didn’t expect it to be positive. I sat there letting it set in for a couple minutes before hopping back into bed with Eric (we had 1pm church so there was time for sleeping in) and tried to gently wake him up.  I tried to wait until he was reasonably awake before springing the news on him, but I don’t think I succeeded as well as I would have liked – my nerves were a little high at that point :P  I asked him, “So… what would you think if we were to have a baby?”  He looked at me quizzically and I continued, “Because…. We’re going to have a baby.”  If he hadn’t been awake yet, he was then!  Eric was even more surprised than I was because even though I’d told him about my less than stellar adherence to birth control protocol, he hadn’t fully realized how much so.  He asked me how I felt about this news and I told him that I wasn’t expecting it but that of course I was happy about it, and when I turned the question on him his feelings mirrored mine.  We’ve been asked if David was an “accident” or a “mistake” – absolutely not.  David was a surprise to be sure, but just as it wouldn’t be an accident or a mistake to win the lottery it was not an accident or a mistake to have David.  We were not planning on him but we were certainly excited about it, and especially now that he’s here we can’t imagine our family without him.  We’re glad that Heavenly Father had a better plan for our family than we did.  He is an unexpected blessing 😊

Of course, just because David is a blessing didn’t make his pregnancy easy – at all.  In fact going through that pregnancy is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I think partially not having intentionally signed up for pregnancy made it a little harder.  After trying to have babies before, a hard pregnancy was still hard but there’s the feeling at least of, “well, I knew this was what was coming.”  I think more so though it’s a lot harder being pregnant for the 4th time at 31 than it was being pregnant the 1st time at 23 – go figure :P  I had a rough first trimester – the back pain obviously wasn’t caused just by my high heeled boots and I immediately had to limit the amount of walking and bending I did so that I could make it through the day.  The “morning” sickness was also pretty bad this time around.  Of course, my morning sickness isn’t terrible compared to a lot of other women’s, so I can’t complain too much – I think I actually threw up maybe once this pregnancy, but I had a very sensitive gag reflex and generally felt miserable, tired, hungry, not wanting to eat, nauseated pretty much all the time for a few months.  Also my blood pressure drops pretty low in pregnancy which isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can feel pretty freaky.

We didn’t wait to announce the pregnancy to everyone.  We told our kids and our parents right away and announced it on Facebook the next day.  Yes, I know people feel like that’s sharing way too much of my personal life with everyone, but to be honest, when I’m pregnant it’s kinda miserable and I need people to understand why I’m kinda miserable.  I need to have the people surrounding me able to say – “Hey, I know you posted that you’re having a miserable time with morning sickness right now and I noticed you put on pants today anyways.  High five!”  I hope that by being open about the things that I struggle with people feel like they can be open with me about their struggles and we can both help each other.  I feel that way about accepting help too.  As much as I want to be able to be independent and strong and do things on my own, I try to accept help from other people because 1) it’s really helpful (obviously) and makes me more able to do the things that really matter and 2) I hope that when they need help they think “Hey, I made soup for Brittny that one time and she wasn’t too proud to accept help, I bet she won’t judge me for needing some help too – I’ll call her!” I strongly believe that we all need each other to celebrate with and mourn with and by being open with others it can bless us both.  That’s not to say that I don’t understand people who choose to be more private or that I judge that choice – I just sometimes feel like people look at me and think I post so much of my life to Facebook because I’m seeking attention or don’t understand wanting to be private.  I do get it, but I’ve just decided for me that I’m happier being open with my circles of friends.  My other reason for wanting to post right away is that I hate trying to decide who is important enough to tell in person or first or whatever.  Our parents get first dibs on the news (if you contributed DNA to the child you probably should get some preferential treatment) but after that I don’t want to have to decide who gets to find out when – or risk that someone who feels like they should have heard the news from me finds out through someone else.  I have too many people that I love too much to feel ok with anyone feeling like they weren’t included in something like this – better to let everyone know at once and avoid that drama.

The best news came at my first appointment when the doctor measured David on the ultrasound and told me that he was measuring about 2 weeks ahead of what I’d calculated!  What’s funny is that meant that when I went in to my doctor’s appointment to renew my birth control prescription… I was already pregnant!  That made me feel a little bit better about not starting the prescription right away.  My thought at the time had been that I’d wait until the end of my cycle just in case I was already pregnant so that I wouldn’t hurt the baby.  In retrospect I think that was inspiration and I’m so glad I listened.  I was extra glad because I had felt like I was bigger and having more symptoms than I should have for how far along I was.  I was nervous that I might be expecting twins!  So not only was I glad to be closer to the finish line than I thought but to have the symptoms make sense and not be twins was a huge relief too!

During my second trimester the nausea at least started to wane and I could eat pretty normally again.  My gag reflex never receded entirely but I was able to eat more normally and my energy came back.  Of course, one of the best parts of the 2nd trimester is getting to find out the baby’s gender.  When we went in for the ultrasound we were thinking the baby was a girl.  Partly that just seemed nice and neat – we had two boys, one girl… we were due for another girl, right?  Also I’d been extra sick when I was pregnant with Maeli and I was extra sick again so it seemed reasonable to think this was a girl as well.  When we went in for the ultrasound the first thing the ultrasound technician got was a view between the legs and she didn’t even have to tell us what the gender was – we could see for ourselves!  I think David was a bit perturbed that we’d been thinking he was a girl and he wanted there to be NO doubt in our minds that he was a BOY!

In June it was Eric’s & my 10 year wedding anniversary and we felt that was worthy of a celebration!  We also realized that with the arrival of a new baby we probably wouldn’t be able to get away with just the two of us for about 3 years between finishing off the pregnancy and having a nursing baby.  That lit a fire under us and we booked a cruise to Ensenada that we were able to just sneak in before the 24 week cut off for cruise travel!  Neither of us had been on a cruise before and it seemed like a fun way to get to do a vacation without too much planning – it was :)  I wasn’t able to do a lot of the activities that you’d normally want to do between my back and general pregnancy restrictions, but we enjoyed just having good food, good entertainment and (best of all) good company for a few days 😊

I also gave us the assignment of naming the baby before we got home.  I like naming the baby as soon as we can after finding out the gender.  I like being able to refer to the baby by its name rather than just “the baby” or “it”.  It helps me bond with my babies before they’re born, and I think it helps the older kids to bond with the baby too.  They can look at my belly and we’ll talk about David, and make plans for David, and then when they come to the hospital to see us – there’s David!  The same David we’ve been talking about all this time!  For me it just makes the baby feel like more of a real person once they have a name.  We had a list of names going onto the ship but David wasn’t at the top.  We knew that we wanted to give the baby a middle name of James after Eric’s dad and we were considering the names Aaron, Adam, Caleb, David, Hyrum, Isaac, Jared, Levi, & Micah.  I liked David but the name sounded too close to Daniel and we’d end up calling the two boys each others’ names all the time (I was right – we do).  Also, we like naming our children after scriptural people to give them someone to look up to – and while David (in the Old Testament) starts out pretty awesome… he doesn’t exactly end the same way.  We tested out each name with the middle name and ruled some out.  We tried them out with our other kids names (i.e. “Sam, Danny, Maeli, _____ get in the van for Cub Scouts!”… If the name didn’t fit in that mix that was going to be a problem 😉 ).  We kept coming back to David and I decided that David and Daniel weren’t really too close – we already had Samuel and Daniel after all and those two names were pretty similar.  I also decided that even though David in the Old Testament doesn’t end up so great, that doesn’t de-value the good things he did at the beginning.  Plus his later failings serve as an important cautionary tale that none of us has ever done so great things that we are beyond where we could fall from grace and we must always remain vigilant that our deeds are good.  It was so nice to have a name for our baby and to be able to call him by it when we got off the boat.

As I got closer to the 3rd trimester I got the doctor’s order for my least favorite part of pregnancy – the gestational diabetes test.  I have a pretty serious phobia of needles and that test is the worst, not only do I have to get poked with a needle, but I have to drink a drink that sets off a timer that “you will be poked with a needle in one hour”.  The psychological game there is pretty brutal.  I got the order and then I took it home to figure out when I could schedule it with Eric so that he could come to drive me home afterwards.  Between not wanting to schedule that appointment and waiting to try and coordinate schedules with Eric and the general craziness of summer… it might have been 10 weeks before I got that appointment scheduled.  In fact, I waited so long that my doctor finally called me and said, “uhm, are you ever coming back?”  They didn’t let me wait to figure out a time that would work with Eric’s schedule at that point and just scheduled my next appointment then and I then just had to tell Eric to work with it :P  The test itself went reasonably well – I came *really* close to passing out but managed to stay on this side of consciousness.  But I was glad to have that part of the pregnancy over with.  I did all of the bloodwork for the whole pregnancy at once just to avoid having multiple pokes and so that was a huge hurdle for me to get past.  I didn’t have any history of gestational diabetes or risk factors, and I knew that I’m pretty healthy overall so I wasn’t stressed about the results, I was just glad to be done with that!

The next week the test results came back, and they weren’t what I’d expected.  All of the general tests were fine – I didn’t have any of the diseases they were testing for, my iron levels looked fine – all that good stuff.  Unfortunately the diabetes numbers were just a little bit north of what the doctor would like to see for a confirmed non-Gestational Diabetes diagnosis.  NOOOOO!!!  She would have liked to have scheduled the 3 hour test (4 blood draws over the course of 3 hours – my worst nightmare) but she knew that I’d never come back and go have my baby in the woods on my own.  So instead she recommended that I get a blood glucose monitor and observe a diabetic diet.  When she told me to get a glucose monitor in my head I laughed at her and said “oh yeah right”.  I knew there was no way that I was going to be able to do my own blood tests.  I barely made it in to have someone else test my blood – how on earth was I going to test my own blood on a regular basis?

To be honest after my doctor called in the order for the glucose monitor I waited a day before I could wrap my head around actually going to pick the thing up (to be even more honest I really considered if I even *would* go pick it up).  I was trying to take it in baby steps.  It then took me another day before I could even pull it out of the bags.  I finally did and tried reading the instructions.  I got about halfway through before I started crying and hyperventilating just trying to wrap my head around it.  Just reading the words about poking, lancets and squeezing blood were too much for me to handle – especially knowing that these were things I was going to be expected to do to myself!  I know that makes me sound like a crazy person and I’m really not an overly dramatic person on the whole.  But no matter how hard I try I can’t seem be reasonable about needles – and I really do try!

My doctor had asked me to get a blood glucose reading 4 times per day – before eating in the morning and 1 hour after each meal.  I tried to convince myself that I could get those readings myself but I could barely be reasonable enough to let Eric do it for me so that didn’t happen.  I feel really blessed though that Eric was awesome with me.  He wouldn’t push me to do the blood tests even though he would encourage me.  So I would let him know when I finished eating something so that he knew that he had to do the blood draw in an hour – I knew if I just tracked it myself I’d chicken out when the hour was up and convince myself I had something more important to do and never tell Eric.  I had better integrity if I told Eric at the beginning rather than waiting until the end.  We’d have to go upstairs, lock the door to our room (the kids weren’t going to be helpful and don’t need to know how unreasonable mom was), turn on a TV show, then I’d run my hands under hot water (to promote good blood flow) while Eric prepped the glucose monitor.  Once my hands were warmed up I’d come out, pretend like I was just watching the show and give Eric my hand.  He learned pretty quick that he only had about one try to get a usable blood sample as I couldn’t get myself to sit back down for a second attempt – either we got it or we didn’t but I couldn’t do it again if it failed the first time.  Once he got the sample I would quickly jump off the bed and go wash my hands off again – mostly so I could indicate to my brain that we were done and get my stress levels back down.  Then I’d sit and watch a few minutes of the show while I got back to normal and then I could return to whatever I was doing beforehand.  My usual remedy for needle-related anxiety is chocolate… but that was obviously off limits with the whole diabetic thing ☹

To be honest I was really worried that having Eric sticking me with needles was going to create some subconscious trust issues for me.  However, the opposite happened.  Because Eric was so kind with me even when I was unreasonable, and he helped me without just letting me off the hook, I really learned to love him even more than I already did (which is saying something because I already loved him quite a lot).  I feel SO blessed to have him by my side throughout everything in this life, I couldn’t ask for a better husband.

As you might have guessed… I didn’t get all of my glucose readings in.  Not by a long shot.  I had some really high readings and lots of reasonable readings, not really enough to be super conclusive but I was proud of myself to have gotten as much done as I did.  However, I was absolutely religious about the diet.  I didn’t cheat on it, although at first I had a hard time just figuring out what things were ok to eat and what things weren’t, but I never once got to the point where I said, “just this once I’m going to eat x”.  I actually noticed that when I ate the things that were higher carb that my heart would get a little racy like I had associated with my low blood pressure, leading me to wonder if the problem was really gestational diabetes rather than low blood pressure.  Anyways, my doctor never was able to definitively diagnose me with gestational diabetes but I managed to get through the final month of pregnancy on that diet.

The diet was tough, I had been trying for awhile to limit the amount of meat that we were eating and was erring on the side of adding more carbs – so I had to change that to go completely the opposite direction.  I mostly just found things that I could eat myself and planned different meals for Eric and the kids.  It wasn’t terrible but I had the hardest time getting enough calories while staying on that diet.  I was hungry a lot but I didn’t want to get my glucose levels too high.  Plus, eating was scary because I knew that one hour after I’d eaten I was supposed to do a glucose check so I had to *really* want to eat to make it worth going through that again.  I actually started losing weight during that last month of pregnancy, which was a little bit scary.  Not that I didn’t have weight to lose, but I wanted to make sure I was eating enough to sustain my baby – I just couldn’t figure out what to eat!  My doctor wasn’t worried and said it was normal, but it was not the most fun way to end the pregnancy.

About 3 weeks into the gestational diabetes I was walking around one morning and felt… uncomfortable.  Ok, so that sounds ridiculous, I’d been uncomfortable for about 33 weeks at that point, but my digestive tract felt wrong.  At first I thought I was just constipated (I was on a weird diet, it seemed like a possibility).  But as the day went on that didn’t quite seem to explain my discomfort.  So I started googling things and came up with that I probably had appendicitis judging from where the pain was.  I was pretty certain of this until I went to the bathroom and noticed that my urine was totally brown.  A little bit more googling helped me diagnose myself as probably having a kidney stone – awesome.  I went into urgent care that evening and the doctor confirmed that most likely that was the case – although they understandably didn’t want to do any abdominal imaging on a woman who was 37 weeks pregnant, and wouldn’t have been able to see much even if they did because of the baby in the way.  I was given an antibiotic in case it was a kidney infection and told to drink lots of water to help things pass.  I was also told to stop taking Tums for my heartburn as all that extra calcium was a possible culprit for creating the stone in the first place.  Another suspect was the high protein diet from the gestational diabetes.  I was starting to feel like I just couldn’t win.  My mom had a kidney stone when she was pregnant with her 4th child, who was also a boy.  I know I look a lot like my mom, but this was a trait I probably should have let her keep to herself :P

After the kidney stone I decided I was DONE with being pregnant.  With my other babies they had liked to stay put and cook past the 40 week mark so even though I was only 1 day short of 38 weeks I knew I was looking at probably 3 more weeks of pregnancy if I let nature take its course.  Between the kidney stone, back problems, blood pressure issues, and (of course) gestational diabetes – I was ready to throw in the towel.  I went in for my next midwife appointment and scheduled an induction for 10/4, i.e. the day I hit 39 weeks and was eligible for an elective induction.  To be honest, more than the kidney stone I was worried that since I had let the gestational diabetes go unchecked for so long (and I had not been eating healthy during that time) David was going to be too big to be born naturally and I would have to have a c-section.  I knew I was losing weight but the baby was still growing.  I wasn’t sure whether I was worried that I was undernourishing him or overnourishing him – but I didn’t feel great about either one.  I’d been debating scheduling an induction on those grounds, but the kidney stone pushed me over the edge.  I had my mom book a flight to be here to take care of my older kids and started counting down the days.

The day before my induction was the day of the annual Utah STEM Fair.  We had gone the year before and it had been a highlight of the year – they had asked for months afterwards when we would get to go again!  So even though it was more walking than I really felt up to, I decided to go for it!  It seemed like a fun “last hurrah” before becoming a family of 6 – one last time to enjoy just being the 5 of us.  It seems silly but just before having each new child it feels like we’re closing a chapter of our lives and while we’re so excited about the new baby we’re adding to our family, there’s a little tinge of sadness to be leaving the previous chapter behind. I always have felt like there’s something a little bit sad about moving on from each stage of life and having a chance to celebrate the family we have just before it changes always seems appropriate.

That day happened to also be a Tuesday which is when we have all of our commitments outside the home, and we’d need to pick my mom up at the airport that night.  Busy day!  I didn’t tell the kids about the fair until we were actually ready to go so they wouldn’t be disappointed if by the time we completed all of our other commitments I wasn’t up to it.  But we made it through preschool, violin, dance class, a haircut and music class and I was still ready to go!  We got there later than we would have preferred but the kids had a blast checking out all of the exhibits and I waddled around looking for anywhere I could sit for a second, all the while thinking – I’m going to have a baby to . mor . row.  It was a really funny experience just being there with all of these people doing a normal thing while feeling like there was something so huge that was about to happen to me and people didn’t really know.

When the fair closed we had to divide and conquer – Eric had some work that needed to be finished before taking the next couple days off, and I needed to pick my mom up at the airport.  We had both scored Olive Garden pasta passes though and wanted to use them to get dinner that night.  After some deliberation we decided that Eric would take Sam and Maeli to one Olive Garden on his way home and I would take Danny & my mom to a different Olive Garden after picking her up from the airport.  Don’t worry, I still didn’t break my diet – not even for Olive Garden!  I found out that they would substitute steamed broccoli for the pasta and had that and salad for a very satisfying last dinner of pregnancy 😊  It was a late dinner but it added to the celebratory nature of the day – and we could do it without even having to pay for my meal, score!

Of course that night would be the night that people had trouble sleeping.  Maeli started having a nasty croupy sounding cough (just as I’m getting ready to bring home a newborn – awesome) and everyone got to bed much later than planned.  I seriously considered cancelling the induction because it didn’t seem like we would be ready for all that would entail… and truth be told I was still apprehensive about needing an IV – and even though consciously I wouldn’t have pushed it back for that, on a subconscious level I’m sure it made the idea of rescheduling seem more sane than it was.  Plus, I’m not generally a big fan of being induced (even though I’ve basically been induced with 3 of my 4 deliveries).  I still have a basic belief that babies are best left to be born when they’re ready and all done being cooked, but we don’t always get the ideal situations and we work with what we have.

In the end I got up the next morning, got dressed and we headed off to the hospital.  Eric tried to convince me that I wasn’t supposed to eat before the induction (because anesthesia stuff)  but since I hadn’t been given that instruction from the hospital I ate a couple of fried eggs and a vitamin water.  But it made me nervous that I was doing the wrong thing anyways.  The nurses later confirmed that I had made the right choice and I absolutely ought to have eaten beforehand since I had a long day of hard work ahead of me!  Phew!

We got to the hospital late (our scheduled arrival time was earlier than our usual waking up time – even without kids developing nasty coughs in the night) but we were able to get checked in quickly.  I told Eric that I felt funny walking into the hospital with a suitcase – like we were heading into a hotel for a fun getaway :P  Hopefully if I ever go for a spa getaway it’s considerably more comfortable than childbirth 😉

Once I was changed into a lovely hospital gown and had answered all of their questions it was time for the IV – dun dun DUN!  Luckily I had a very understanding nurse who listened to me.  See, even though I’m not good at needles I have at least pretty well established how I can get through them – I need to be hydrated, have reasonably high blood sugar level, warm up my arms, have someone keep talking to me about anything not related to the needles, don’t look at the needles, don’t expect ME to keep talking (I need to just focus on breathing deeply and staying conscious), and don’t try to tell me how not a big deal it is (I know it’s not a big deal, but bringing my attention to the needles makes me face it more head on and I’m more likely to pass out).  It’s also good if the nurse tells me when they’re NOT ready to stick me with the needle (i.e. “I’m just looking at your veins, cleaning things up” etc) however they don’t have to tell me when they ARE going to stick me, and it’s definitely a bad idea to tell me to be ready because that elicits my fear response and all my veins shrink right up, if they say something like “ok, little stick” right as they’re sticking it in that’s fine but don’t give me more time to freak out.  The most important thing is “what thou doest, do quickly” and let me try to pretend that this isn’t happening – the less we talk about the better.  I’ve had nurses try to have me do it their way instead of my own way and while I really appreciate their intentions and experience, I know myself and other techniques make it worse rather than better.

Anyways, the nurse I had was awesome at listening to me and did everything just great.  She made sure to tape the lines down tightly so they wouldn’t wiggle, and she made sure to get all of the blood testing they needed through the IV port rather than making me go for another round of sticks.  When I was induced with Danny it took an hour and several pokes to get the IV set up, so you can imagine how relieved I was to have that part go smoothly.  Once we were set up then it was time to wait.  Since we hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before Eric and I both laid down and tried to sleep.   I think Eric got an actual nap in and I at least closed my eyes and pretended to sleep to get some rest.  I kept having to answer questions and my adrenaline was a little high so actual sleep didn’t really happen, but I at least got to relax.  All of my labors had been pretty quick – 8 hours for Sam, 4 for Danny, 3 for Maeli… I wasn’t expecting for things to take very long and was expecting them to be pretty intense, so some rest at the beginning seemed wise.  We were all set up by 9am and I was sort of expecting that we’d have David shortly after lunch.  While I was resting my nurse was talking to another nurse about how they coded different things and mentioned that Pitocin was a “high risk” drug – which I sort of knew but it was still jarring to hear her say that while we were starting me on it :/  It didn’t give me a lot of confidence in what the rest of the day would hold – especially since I’d already had enough complications with this pregnancy.

Eric woke up from his nap and my contractions were regular but not intense.  He hooked his tablet up to the TV and we watched some shows while we waited, and Eric did some work.  A couple hours later the contractions were uncomfortable but still nothing earth shattering.  I could still carry on conversation through them, even if I preferred to do some deep breathing to manage them.  A little after 1pm I sent Eric out to get himself some lunch – it didn’t seem like anything was going to change dramatically in the next little while and it seemed wise to let Eric get some food while he had the chance.  Luckily the hospital is right in the middle of a ton of different restaurants so Eric didn’t have to go far to get some Café Rio.

While Eric was gone I checked some of the notifications on my phone and found that one of my neighbors had sent me an Instagram message.  She was close to her due date too (there were about 5 ladies in our ward that were due within a couple weeks of me) and was in the hospital that day for some issues she was having.  She wasn’t in labor yet but was going to be induced the next day and was sitting in a little room all alone.  She decided to come over to my room with her IV and visited with me for a little while as we were both alone in the hospital.  I wish we’d thought to get a selfie of the two of us – how often is it that you and a friend get to visit each other while you’re *both* in the hospital?  It was definitely a unique experience!  I was grateful to have a familiar friendly face to be with me while I was waiting alone for a little while.  Even though I really was glad to let Eric go get some lunch, it wasn’t fun being in the hospital room alone and I was glad to have someone there who could call for a nurse if something suddenly went wrong.  I wasn’t expecting anything like that, but it was just comforting to have someone else there.

Eric came back from lunch and we continued watching shows, me being uncomfortable, but mostly just waiting for things to ramp up.  Slowly the contractions were getting a little stronger, but still nothing that I couldn’t manage a conversation through, although perhaps with some wincing.  Around 3pm my midwife came in and checked my progress.  She asked if I wanted to try some other positions to which I responded that I didn’t really – I was pretty happy where I was.  She looked at me like I was being obstinate so I clarified that I wasn’t saying I *wouldn’t* change positions but if we were doing it just based on what I wanted… I didn’t feel any burning desire to move from where I was – at 39 weeks pregnant moving around always seems like a huge chore, so all things being equal I’d just assume stay put.  With that cleared up my midwife told me that David was still up pretty high and it would be good to move around and see if we could get him to come down to start making progress.  Well that was a horse of a different color!  Progress sounded good to me so we started moving me around.  I don’t remember what we tried first but we put me on a birthing ball bouncing around for a little while, and put the bed in an upright position and had me hang over the back, and laid me on my side with a large peanut shaped ball between my legs.

Moving around did the trick!  My labor started to pick up and David made his way down into the birth canal.  By 4pm I’d gotten to 4cm dilated and David had dropped enough so we broke my water and things really got intense.  It’s so awkward having contractions after having my water broken because every contraction feels like I’m peeing myself.  Not like any part of labor is all that glamorous or not gross feeling – but that is especially gross feeling.  At that point things really started to hurt.  We kept moving my positions between hanging over the back of the bed, the ball, and on my side.  Within an hour the pain from the contractions was so intense that we finally got to the point where we turned the TV shows off as they were only serving to agitate me rather than distract from the pain.  I needed all my focus to be on just trying to relax between contractions.  I am not loud when I’m laboring which has led in the past to nurses not really thinking things are getting close (the doctor barely made it into the room to catch Danny because they didn’t think I’d gotten that far yet).  Luckily my midwife recognized that even though I was quiet it was because I was in the zone, not that I wasn’t progressing, and since she was done with her appointments for the day she stayed in the room from soon after my water was broken until the end.  I was so grateful for that extra attention and coaching.

We kept changing my positions and checking my progress, which continued to be steady.  Probably around 6:30 I started to feel the urge to push.  My midwife checked me and said I was really close.  On the next contraction I couldn’t not push and my midwife could see that and the nurses gathered around for the grand finale.  I was still on my side (which was the position that I made the best progress in while being the most comfortable) so someone held up my leg while I pushed David out from that position.  It was a weird position for giving birth I’m sure but I wasn’t really ready to move at that point.  It took maybe 5-10 contractions for me to push David out. I’d have a contraction and push as hard as I felt like I could without tearing for probably 30 seconds, and then get about 30 seconds to catch a deep breath before another big contraction would come and I’d push again.  Finally his head came through and on the next push I was able to get his shoulders and the rest of his body out.  He was here!  It is the weirdest feeling in the world to go from having a small human being in you to suddenly pushing them out and feeling so empty.  Not a bad empty, sort of a cathartic empty.  The second weirdest feeling is delivering the placenta.  It doesn’t hurt really but it’s this huge squishy organ that comes out all at once.  It’s very infrequent that you pass entire organs out of your body which is probably why it seems so strange.  It felt SO good to be done with being pregnant and to have my body back to myself again.  I told Eric over and over for the next day, “I did it.  I’m done.  I’m not pregnant anymore.  I’m NOT pregnant anymore!”  It had become such a defining part of who I was for the last 9 months that I had to keep saying it to convince myself it was really true – I’d made it!

David was born at 6:46pm and was 6lbs 12oz and 20.5 inches long.  I’d been worried about him being too big but he was actually the smallest of my babies by 13oz!  I’m still so glad that I went ahead with the induction.  It was SO nice to know that my older kids were settled before heading to the hospital.  It was also awesome to know that we could get a good night’s sleep beforehand and that Eric could plan out his day away from the office in advance.  Also just having a defined finish line was so helpful at the end of that long pregnancy – I’m not sure that I mentally could have taken 2 more weeks.  Besides which, as I mentioned before it was awesome to have my midwife there and able to really coach me through the delivery.  All things considered, I would likely choose to be induced again if we have another baby.

As soon as Eric posted to my mom that David was here our older kids were over the moon and started jumping up and down begging to come see him.  I had already arranged with my mom that I was ok with them coming up as soon as David arrived – once things were reasonably cleaned up in the delivery room they were welcome to come see him.  I had a few stitches but they were taken care of quickly – my midwife says it looked like I’d just torn in the same place I had with my previous births (Sam was 8lbs 11oz with a 90th percentile head, so…. yeah, there was some tearing there that has opened up with each subsequent delivery).  To be honest after giving birth I feel like having visitors come right away.  I just did something monumentally hard – I want to show off!  I might not look amazing, but neither do marathon runners, it’s still good to have people you love with you to share in the achievement and the joy of a new baby.  Besides no one is really looking at me when there’s a cute baby to look at 😉  I know everyone is different but I basically want the people I love to come and give me a high five and tell me I did a good job, and ooh and ahh over the cute baby that I’ve managed to produce.  I’m too amped up on adrenaline to rest for quite awhile anyways so people might as well be there to celebrate with me.

My midwife and nurses kept commenting how impressed they were with the control I had during delivery.  I guess that I did an especially good job of not pushing too hard or too fast and causing myself to tear.  I would bet that that’s primarily because I didn’t have an epidural so I could feel everything stretching and could tell what would cause me to tear.  I remember them saying the same thing about when Maeli was born – maybe it’s just something they tell every mom so that we feel good about ourselves 😉  I don’t really know how I would have done things any other way so I’ll just take it for what it is!

The kids arrived with my mom at the same time as Eric’s parents arrived.  They had arrived home from their mission in Washington D.C. just that day and they were leaving to go visit naother one of their kids that weekend so it was perfect timing!  It was so great just to have everyone there – and to finally get to eat some carbohydrates!  The nurses told me to get my order into room service quickly before they closed for the night and I was excited just to have some real food after a full day of very minimal snacks and a really hard workout!  I don’t even remember what I ordered but I was excited for real food.  They also brought me in some snacks – graham crackers, saltines, yogurt, super exciting hospital snacks 😉

While the kids were oogling David and we talked to our parents about the events of the day the nurses kept coming in every few minutes to check on me.  The first few times the nurse seemed moderately concerned that I was bleeding more than she would have liked.  That was highly disconcerting.  Considering how I feel about blood you can imagine that the idea of having a hemorrhaging problem after birth would really scare the dickens out of me.  However there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it and the nurse wasn’t panicked or anything, so I just relaxed as best as I could and tried to ignore how very nervous that made me.  My mom gave me more wide eyed concerned looks, but I felt like there wasn’t anything that I could do about it so I was trying not to waste my energy on worrying.  I think she was concerned that having the extra people in the room could be a hinderance if something needed to happen, but I figured I wasn’t exerting myself by letting everyone be there, and it made me feel better having them there.  I relaxed as best as I could and assumed that if the doctors needed to do something with me they would shoo my family out and do it.  Luckily after a few rounds of concerned looks things seemed better and the nurse stopped commenting on it so presumably things were fine.

Also during that time a nurse came in to get all of David’s preliminary tests and procedures done.  She took him to the other side of the room from my kids to weigh, measure, poke and prod him.  My mom was unimpressed with how gentle (or not) she was being with David and looked at me like, “hey, why isn’t anyone snuggling that cute baby and making him happy?”  I obviously was in no place to hobble over and help out but I was grateful when my mom went over to hold his hand and try to comfort him a little while that was happening.  They poked him a few times and put the goop in his eyes – but somehow no one managed to actually wash him off.  We actually didn’t get him washed off until he came home and was a few days old :P

When my dinner came all of our visitors cleared out to let us get settled in for the night.  I was a little sad to see them go, but it was getting past the kids’ bedtime and it was time for us to get some rest too.  Of course “rest” in a hospital is relative.  The nurses came in every hour to check my temperature, blood pressure and bleeding until about midnight.  Then they started coming in every 4 hours.  At one point I’d fallen asleep for a little while and then woke up just before I thought they were going to come in again, so rather than going back to sleep I decided I’d just wait for them to come in.  So I waited… and waited… and waited.  It ended up being closer to an hour and a half before they came in again so I probably should have tried harder to go back to sleep, oh well.  I just don’t sleep well in the hospital – the sounds are weird, the bed isn’t mine, people are coming and going, and there’s always a possibility someone might want to stick a needle in me.  It’s not my favorite place to be.

In the morning my nurse came in to remove my IV.  To be honest, I like having the IV removed almost as little as I like having it put in as strange as that sounds.  They needed one more bit of blood work from me – a final glucose level to check that things were back to normal after giving birth.  As I talked to the nurse she thought she could probably get that blood sample when she removed the IV without doing an additional poke – she didn’t want to guarantee it but she said she’d try.  I can’t tell you exactly what happened (I was of course pretending that nothing was happening and just trying to stay conscious), but somehow she made that work and got me out of having an another poke.  She quickly made it onto my list of favorite people 😉  Even better, the level was back to normal and I was freed from having to do glucose tests any more – hallelujah!

Throughout my pregnancy I kept thinking, “I never want to do this ever again.  This is so miserable.  Don’t forget how hard and miserable this is.  Nope, never ever ever ever EVER going to do this again.  This is the last time, absolutely, 100%, never doing this again.  I’m getting too old for this.”  That resolve at least doubled when I was in labor, and doubled again while in the final transition and during the actual birth of David.  That whole day in the hospital I kept thinking, “This is no fun at all, I really really don’t want to have to do this again.  DO NOT forget how hard this is!”  The pregnancy wasn’t just physically hard but it really was mentally exhausting.    After getting through all of that I really couldn’t fathom doing it again.  The day after his birth I was laying in the hospital bed and staring at my precious newborn baby and thought, “Awww, look how cute he is!  This is SO special and wonderful and worth EVERYTHING.  How sad would it be to never get to have a brand new baby like this again?  I could do this again!”  Of course the other part of me was screaming, “WHAT!?!?  Have you not been here for the last 9 months?  Do you not remember what happened YESTERDAY!  It hasn’t even been 24 hours!  You haven’t even left the hospital!  You still have an ice pack stuffed in your underpants!  What do you mean you ‘could do this again’?!?”  Both sides are completely true – having David was so worth everything I went through, we love him to the ends of the earth and back and more.  If you were to send me back to the end of 2016 and give me the choice of going through it all again or not having him I would 100% go through it all again, no question.  But man, contemplating doing it again…. That’s going to take a lot more convincing.  So far our kids have been spaced out like this – Sam to Danny: 2 years, Danny to Maeli: 3 years, Maeli to David: 4 years.  So if you’re wondering if we’re done or not just check the pattern… we can talk in 5 years 😉

The next day contained all the routine post-birth things – the pediatrician came to evaluate David, my midwife came to check on me, billing wanted us to pay our bill up front, we filled out the birth certificate – all the things.  I had asked my midwife beforehand that we be discharged as soon as possible, generally 24 hours after birth, so long as everything looked good.  So as we went through all of our checks we got the oks from the doctors to be discharged at the end of the day.  As we got close to that 24 hour mark I had Eric help me shower and change back into normal clothes and we waited for the nurses to get all of the paperwork approved.  It took about 2 hours longer than we’d expected because they lost some of David’s bloodwork samples or something but finally they cut all the tags off of us and we were free to go home!  As we were leaving the nurses asked me if we didn’t have insurance or something – they were astounded that I would want to go home so quickly.  I guess most moms want to stay as long as possible where they have people to care for them, make the food, take the baby sometimes, all that good stuff.  We have reasonable insurance, but even with that an extra day in the hospital is a pretty pricey affair.  But more importantly, I just would rather be home!  If I didn’t have good care at home my feelings might be different, but I was going home where my mom would be there to help cook meals and tend my children and Eric would be there too.  Plus no one would be coming in to poke and prod me or my baby while we were sleeping, I could have my own bed with my own blankets, I could snuggle with my kids and know that Eric wasn’t stuck sleeping on a couch.  Unlike the nurses I can’t understand why anyone would want to stay in the hospital!  The care is great, but I’m still happier to be back home.  Room service meals is nice, but for the price… I’ll get someone to pick up takeout from a really good restaurant rather than be stuck eating hospital food thanks ;)

My mom was able to stay with us for 2 weeks which was SO wonderful!  My recovery with David was harder than it was with my other kids, not for any particular reason but it was just harder.  I didn’t have any unexpected complications or unmanaged pain, but I wore down faster and had a hard time keeping my energy up or exerting myself much (by exerting myself I mean, walking around a little).  I wasn’t in any more pain than I would have expected, but I was just so easily drained.  My guess is that I really did lose a decent amount of blood during/after the birth and it just took that long for my body to regenerate my blood supply.  Obviously not so much as to need intervention, but more than I had with previous births and enough to cause a difference in recovery.  Luckily by the time my mom left to go back home I was starting to feel normal-ish again and ready to ease back into our routines, and even slowly get back to not just pregnancy normal but pre-pregnancy normal.  It’s been really eye opening to see just how much I let go of during the pregnancy as I’ve been able to pick things back up.  We also decided after this pregnancy that I probably ought to switch from taking a pill for birth control to having an IUD instead (since I clearly wasn’t doing a great job of taking a pill).  Even more surprising than how much better I feel not being pregnant is how much better I feel having changed birth control methods.  I hadn’t realized just how tired my other birth control had made me.  It didn’t help that when Eric and I first got married I had mono which took a long time to recover from, and then I had Sam who was a terrible sleeper, then pregnant with Danny, then another baby and dealing with sleep, then pregnant with Maeli and another baby.  It was difficult to separate exhaustion from mono/being a mom from birth control side effects – it was just my normal!  But now that I’ve switched I feel like I am fully awake for the first time in over 10 years.  I had no idea!  We switched just to give ourselves a more surefire method of birth control, but I might be more excited about getting my energy back than not having to take a pill every day!

David has been a delight to have in our home.  I can’t imagine our family without him and it absolutely blows my mind that we’d actually consciously decided that we were content with our 3 kids and didn’t need any more.  How sad!  It’s so bizarre how perfectly happy we can be not knowing what blessings could be ours if we were to just [fill in the blank].  Anyways, while he’s been a delight David has not been an easy baby.  He struggled with colic for the first few months and pretty much just wanted to be held all the time.  Luckily, Sam had colic too and since he was our first we didn’t know that it was a hard thing we sort of just thought that’s how babies were – until we had Danny and Maeli and realized that it wasn’t always like that :P  But having had the experience with Sam with colic we felt like we knew what to expect.  Honestly just having that expectation already set differently made all the difference.  We knew that we likely wouldn’t be able to put the baby down and we’d just need to take turns holding him, walking with him, bouncing with him etc – and we could work with that.  It wouldn’t last forever and we’d make it through, and just because our baby was upset didn’t mean we were bad parents or doing something wrong, it was just the way it was.  I slept a lot of nights on the recliner with the TV on, Eric and I would try to let each other take naps when we could, and mostly I just let other things go knowing that eventually “this too shall pass” and we’d get back on top of those things then.  Sam is now our best sleeper!  I mean, he’s 9, but still, he figured it out eventually!  David has the most intense stare, he will stare into your eyes for the longest time, and then just smile.  It makes you feel like the most wonderful person in the world – if this baby thinks you’re worthy of this kind of adoration you must be a pretty amazing person!  His siblings are still completely enamored with him, I can’t put him down without one of the kids going and getting up in his space or carrying him off to somewhere else to snuggle with him.  I hope he always recognizes just how lucky he is to have siblings who adore him like his siblings do.  We truly feel so blessed to have him in our home and are grateful every day to have him!

California Thanksgiving

 - by Brittny

Thanksgiving this year found us down in Southern California.  I can’t say it would have been my first choice to make the long trip while 34 weeks pregnant.  In fact, shortly after I found out I was pregnant I informed my mom not to expect us to come down for Thanksgiving… and definitely not for Christmas.  However, about a month before Thanksgiving, my little brother Jayson announced that he was getting sealed that weekend.  I was NOT going to miss that just because I was pregnant!  So we decided we’d suck it up and make the trek.

Since we had recently bought a new van we had enough room to accommodate our family as well as my sister’s family so that they could come as well.  It was also to my benefit at that stage in the pregnancy to have the more space that our van would afford over our Corolla.  My sister arranged to get off work on Monday at 3pm so that we could get on the road before too late.  That morning I was trying to get us all packed up and cleaned up but between a bad back and some pretty regular preterm contractions that I’d been having I was disinclined to push myself too far.  Eric of course had to get work finished before we could leave so he was in the office and wasn’t able to help me get things in order.  So I puttered around the house and got as much done as I could without either aggravating my back or inducing contractions.  Luckily Eric was able to come home early and help get things finished off. We ended up leaving a little later than we’d intended, but (if we’re honest) probably not much later than we expected.

We knew that even with the extra space in the van it would be a tight squeeze in a 7 passenger minivan with 4 adults and 3 kids.  I’d hoped that we could fit all three full sized carseats in the backseat, but we had no such luck.  We ended up putting Danny and Skylar (our 3 year old nephew) on the sides of the backseat in regular carseats and squished poor Sam in the middle of them with his booster seat.  Unfortunately we’d used the anchor system for the bigger carseats but there was only one anchor in the middle of the backseat so the bigger carseats sorta leaned in too.  Luckily Sam was a really good sport about it but I still felt bad for him, he definitely got the bum end of that deal.

The majority of the trip was relatively uneventful.  Each of the boys sat in the back with headphones and a tablet and the adults rotated between listening to different programs together, or separately as couples or on our own with headphones.  That is until we were about 2 hours out from our destination, when our nephew Skylar puked all over himself.  So we pulled off to the side of the road and tried to clean things up as best we could without any supplies at 1am.  Then we drove a little further, negotiated for a Subway plastic sack for him to throw up in and inched our way back to Thousand Oaks.  It was a pretty miserable way to finish off the drive.  I was less tolerant of the situation than I would normally be as my gag reflex during the pregnancy was far below what it is normally.  In the end we did make it back to my parents’ house alright and were glad to be there.

Skylar was sick for the next day but then seemed to get better.  We spent the next couple days lounging around at my parents’ house (a kid’s paradise), going to the beach and making Thanksgiving preparations.  Thursday was (of course) Thanksgiving, and the day was well spent preparing and eating food and counting our blessings.  I don’t think there’s anything in this world that can make me feel as grateful as just being with family.  I feel truly blessed to have the most wonderful family on all sides – older generations, younger generations, through blood and through marriage.  I can’t think of anything in this world I could want more than to get to be around them.

On Friday we were very busy making all of the wedding preparations.  My brother and his wife had eloped and we didn’t get to celebrate their marriage at the time so my parents planned a reception for them following the sealing ceremony on Saturday.  Jayson has always been a bit of a picky eater so coming up with something fun to eat at the reception that still bore his seal of approval was a bit of a trick.  They settled on Chinese food, which was pretty fun.  My mom tried to make most of it herself to save on the cost, so Friday found us cooking up lots of rice and chicken and going to several stores for different ingredients.

Saturday morning came and we got everyone ready to go down to the temple without too much incident, except that Kyle was sick and couldn’t come with us to the temple.  Luckily, he’s not old enough to attend the sealing anyways, but we were all a little bummed that he couldn’t be there.  He’s been fighting with some pretty intense health problems recently  so we all assumed that his pre-existing problems were acting up again and didn’t think much of it.

On the drive to the temple Danny was a bit of a pickle.  We were almost to the temple when we heard him dump out an entire bag of dried apples in the backseat.  Not just a little sandwich baggie, but a big gallon sized bag of apples that Taylor had dehydrated herself.  Luckily we’d already eaten the better part of the apples, but we were still rather upset with Danny for dumping them out.  So we demanded an apology from Danny.  After refusing a few times he said, “Well, I not am sorry.  I not will say sorry.” in a tone that was so matter-of-fact that we had a hard time not busting a gut laughing.  What a punk!  We threatened all kinds of different things, but his response was the same, “I not am sorry.  I not will say sorry.”  That kid is hysterical, and he’s going to be the death of me :P

The sealing itself was just beautiful.  I don’t remember all the things that the sealer told Jayson & Ashley, but I remember the feeling that was there.  There was a certain feeling of elation at finally getting to be there and having this ceremony performed for them.  I think everyone in the room felt like they had been a part of that journey in some sense or another and we all felt like we – not just they – had made it to the finish line.  Of course this wasn’t at all the end, it’s the mark of a beginning, but I think we were all grateful to have been a part of the journey that got them to this point.

After the sealing we went outside to wait for Jayson and Ashley to come out.  Just ahead of them was a couple who had also scheduled their sealing for that day.  However, they’d gotten the wrong license from the state and weren’t able to be married that day!  Their family had all come in from Mexico and around the country for their wedding, only to find out they had the wrong paper work and couldn’t be married that day at all.  Isn’t that about the saddest thing you’ve ever heard of?!  Apparently there are a few different kinds of marriage licenses that the State of California will issue, and one is more of a license to co-habitate, but not to be married (I don’t understand it either), and that was the license that they had gotten.  So they took all their pictures, and were going to go have their reception that night… but they wouldn’t be able to be married until Monday when the county offices opened up again and they could get the right paperwork.  They still all looked so happy and I think they were having a good attitude about the whole thing, but my heart broke for them.  Luckily the temple president said that they would open up the temple especially for this couple on Monday so they could be sealed (temples are closed on Mondays).  I still can’t get over that situation.  Can you imagine showing up for your wedding and being told you couldn’t get married that day because of a clerical error?!!  I would have been devastated.

Anyways, after Jayson and Ashley came out we did some pictures.  The photographers had a hay day following around Sam, Skylar and Danny.  They looked so cute in their little suits walking around like little men.

Picture credit: Erik Hokom Photography

There’s something about Danny’s stance in this next picture that I find just hilarious. It reminds me so much of Eric’s dad, I’m not exactly sure why, but it *really* does.

Just in case you looked at that last picture and thought, “Oh Brittny, you big baby, you weren’t really all that pregnant, quit whining.” Uhm, no really, here I am sideways. I really was THAT pregnant :P

After pictures we had to race back home so that we could get all of the food ready.  My parents had to stop Diddy Riese for the cookies and ice cream for the reception (they opted to make ice cream sandwiches with legit cookies and ice cream rather than having cake) but Eric and I went back to the house to start making LOTS of fried rice.  When my dad got home he immediately went up to his room and laid down dead.  He was starting to feel sick just like Kyle had been that morning.  My mom wasn’t feeling too great either but had to press on to get all the preparations done.  I was sent out to a Chinese restaurant in Newbury Park for some of the food and lost my phone on the way, making me late.  But in the end we all made it to the church with all the food and the reception was lovely.

Towards the end of the reception Cody made a quick exit and made it as far as mostly through the Relief Society room before he lost his cookies.  We sent him home to get changed and go to bed and the reception wound up pretty quickly shortly thereafter.  That night my mom, dad, Kyle, Cody, Ryan, Taylor and Ashley all came down with the stomach bug.  We think it’s the same bug that Skylar had at the beginning of the week.  Not exactly the perfect ending to the perfect day :P

We had planned to leave for Utah the next morning, but with Taylor and Ryan so sick we went back and forth on leaving.  Plus, with the rest of the family so sick, we were sure that our little family wasn’t going to be immune to it for long.  The *last* thing we wanted was to get 3 hours down the road and all fall ill and be too far to turn back but still with the prospect of 7 more hours in a car.  We hemmed and hawed for awhile – at one point we decided we’d stay until Wednesday – and finally we decided to just bite the bullet and go.  We left Taylor and Skylar behind as Taylor was too sick to travel and could come back to Utah with my dad later in the week, but we took Ryan with us as he was on the tail end of the bug and needed to be back in Utah the next day for classes.

The first couple hours of that drive were agony.  We felt certain that we were at any minute going to be sick.  I had an especially scary time of it since there’s a lot of movement near your digestive tract while being pregnant.  Every time Maeli would kick me I would think, “uh oh, this is it, I’m coming down with the plague.”  We made it all the way to Baker when Danny threw up ALL over.  We were able to pull over and clean everything up but it was pretty nasty.  With my weakened stomach from pregnancy, and Ryan’s weakened stomach from the bug we were in bad shape.  We cleaned up as best as we could, bought an air freshener and a pack of dryer sheets and soldiered on.

Surprisingly, we made it all the way back home without anyone else getting sick.  And I think poor Danny might have just been a little bit carsick and was very upset that we deprived him of food for the rest of our journey (but can you blame us?).  We’ve chalked our good fortune up to our family’s daily regimen of Emergen-C, we’ve hardly been sick this winter (knock on wood) while we spent almost the entirety of last winter being sick.  It might just be the placebo effect, but even if it is, we’ll happily take placebo effect over being sick!

So, that was our exciting Thanksgiving adventure.   We were definitely thankful to be a part of the whole experience, and especially thankful to have escaped the stomach bug!

A Caution Against Buying Jeans Online

 - by Brittny

I’m sure a lot of you (like my dad) will start to read this and think, man I really just do not care one bit about Brittny’s jeans.  Trust me, the conclusion is worth reading through the rest of this.  I promise.  Money back guaranteed.  If you get to the end and decide it wasn’t worth the time it took you to read this then I’ll come over and clean your house for a couple minutes (or whatever you might have accomplished in the couple minutes it would have taken you to read this :P )

So a few months back my favorite jeans developed holes in the knees so I decided to break down and buy some new ones.  I decided to try a slightly different fit of jean from the ones that had been my favorites for awhile.  So I tried some jeans on in the store and in the fitting room they looked pretty good, but the store didn’t carry short sizes so I went home and ordered them online.  When they came in the mail I really liked them… for a little while.  Then after wearing them around I found that the pant legs rode up when I wore sneakers, and weren’t doing me any favors around the waistline, they rode up when I sat down, they rode down when I walked… in short, they were awful.  But since I’d only just gotten them I couldn’t bring myself to go out and invest in another pair of jeans already.  So for awhile I just wore them anyways and hated how I looked whenever I put them on.

Finally a couple weeks ago I decided it was just time to suck it up and buy myself a new pair of jeans that I didn’t hate (what a novel concept!).  I decided to go with a different style of jeans entirely, but from the same store.  Again the size/style I wanted were only available online so I placed my online order and waited for them to ship.  A few days after placing that order, this happened –

Yup that’s right! I’m 6 weeks pregnant with our third child, and we’re excited!  Normally I wouldn’t officially announce this early but I’d shared with enough people that word was getting around… so I figured I might as well be the one to make it official :)  Plus – while I totally understand why people want to wait to make sure everything is ok before announcing – the first trimester is miserable and it’s when you’re most in need of help and understanding.  I’d rather have people know that I’m pregnant than just wonder why my kids are running around the neighborhood wild and dirty while I just sit on our porch and drink gatorade (or fall asleep inside on our couch).

Sam is over-the-moon excited.  He saw the pregnancy test lying around and asked me what it was, so I decided to let him in on the secret.  He was bouncing up and down SO excited.  The first thing he said was “I’m going to go tell my friends!”  I told him that we weren’t telling everyone just yet, but he ran downstairs, out to our porch where his friend Claire was standing and yelled “MY MOM’S GROWING A BABY IN HER TUMMY!”  While it wasn’t exactly the secret keeping we were hoping for (another reason I figure I might as well be the one to announce it) we couldn’t have asked for a better response.  Sam’s first reaction was “It’s going to be my sister!”, so hopefully it’s a girl because Sam will not be swayed from this baby being his sister.   It’s so sweet, I’m glad that he’s excited.  Daniel doesn’t really get what’s going on, but I think he would be decidedly *less* pleased if he understood that his days of reigning as the baby of our family are numbered.

Samuel’s Birth Story

 - by Brittny

I wanted to document Samuel’s birth story. As a warning, this post probably contains far too many details for most of you. It’s wicked long (7 pages when I pasted it into Microsoft Word) and extremely detailed but I know there are some people who will be interested and I wanted the details for my own journaling purposes. Just know that if you are easily disgusted, easily offended or quickly bored… this post likely isn’t for you. If you don’t want to read any further I won’t even cry about it :)

Tuesday afternoon (March 3, 2009) I had a doctor’s appointment just to see how things were going. I was almost a week past my due date and had been dilated to 3cm for a couple of weeks so we were definitely anxiously awaiting Samuel’s arrival, but as I posted previously we had no intention to induce labor without medical reason. This was just a routine checkup to make sure everything was ok. My mom came to the appointment with me because Eric was still in class, and it’s really boring sitting in those waiting rooms all by yourself. Before the doctor saw me I went in and had my vitals checked, as I have at every appointment for the last 9 months. Urine sample, blood pressure, weight check. No big deal. However, after checking my blood pressure the nurse commented that it was pretty high – which hadn’t been a problem for me before that point. But she sent me back to the waiting room until the doctor was ready for me.

We waited for an hour or so until it was our turn and when we went in to the office my doctor confirmed what I was afraid of – she was worried that I had some signs of preeclampsia and since I was already 5 days past my due date she wanted to induce labor. It was really good in some ways, my mom had been in town for almost two weeks (she came to move my brother up to Utah) and was going to head back to California that day but had decided to stick around just in case they did decide to induce labor. Plus, I hadn’t made any more progress, the apartment was ready, I’d finished my projects for work… it was just time. However, the idea of being induced went against my goal of having a needle-free childbirth. Luckily, my doctor said we could start by breaking my water and seeing if that would start labor before starting any drugs. I had wanted that before drugs because that was what would always initiate my mom going into full labor. Also, Pitocin makes contractions more intense than they would be otherwise, which was something I wanted to avoid. So, we agreed that my mom and I would go pick up Eric and meet back at the hospital.

It was really funny picking Eric up and being like, “Hi honey, how was class? So, the doctor said it’s time to have the baby, you ready? Ok, let’s head over to the hospital… now.” Unfortunately the night before Eric had gotten hardly any sleep and we knew that we were in for a long night ahead. Of course, we had sorta figured that his lack of sleep was a sign that it was the right day, Murphy’s law would definitely state that the day that the husband had gotten the least amount of sleep is the day for the baby to be born :P . We headed home to pick up a few things (read: my iPod and headphones). While we were there Eric gave me a blessing which definitely helped calm my nerves and really gave me the strength that I needed to get through the rest of that night. The power of the priesthood is so awesome and I am so grateful every day to have a worthy priesthood holder for my husband. Once we had all of the things we needed we headed to the hospital.

It took a little while to get me admitted. We weren’t too bothered though, it wasn’t like we were going anywhere or like I was in any sort of pain since my labor hadn’t actually started yet. One thing I really appreciated at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (the hospital I went to) was that they encouraged me over and over again to ask questions about the treatments I was receiving. I always like to ask questions so that I know what’s going on and can make sure that I’m making the best decisions for my health, but I’m generally a little bit sheepish about it because I don’t want to make anyone upset with me. It was really good to feel like I could ask questions without worrying that the doctors and nurses would feel like I was trying to undermine their authority or question their judgment.

So, we got all checked in and they had me change into my lovely hospital gown. The nurse then had a bunch of questions to go through with me before doing my blood work. Oh goody, the most dreaded part of this entire experience for me – the blood work. Yes, I do realize how dumb it is that the blood work was a bigger deal for me than the labor was, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Luckily I had Eric and my mom there, and both of them understand the extent of my phobia and how best to handle me. So, Eric was able to stay with me while I tried to relax. In the meantime my mom went out and instructed the nurse on how best to work with me. See, one of the weird things with me is that talking me through it just makes things worse. While most nurses think they’re being helpful by walking me through it (“ok, now this isn’t a big deal, we’re just going to clean this off. Alright, now this will be just a little pinch…”) it forces me to focus on what is happening which makes things worse. So it’s much better if I can pretend that it’s not happening and they can just do their thing. With all that support, the self-hypnosis I’ve been working on, Eric’s blessing and the fact that I was laying down – I didn’t pass out! Which of course isn’t to say that I didn’t freak out and come close (the nurse later commented that she could tell that I had a legitimate phobia because she could feel how cold my hands got all of a sudden as I was struggling to maintain myself). I’m very grateful now that my mom convinced me to just allow the nurse to set up an IV while she did the blood draw (all through the same stick). Once it was in it wasn’t as big of a deal as I had thought it would be (seeing IVs in other people has always freaked me out so I didn’t have high expectations). It helped that the nurse had covered the IV with some gauze but I still had to pretend that my left arm didn’t exist for the next couple hours until I got used to the idea of there being a tube stuck in my arm, but overall it was ok.

Once the IV was set my doctor came in and broke my water. Having my water broken surprisingly wasn’t that big of a deal. Just a little pressure and then a lot of gushing. The doctor commented that the amniotic fluid was a little bit green. Uh oh, green amniotic fluid means that there is meconium (the baby’s first stool) in the amniotic fluid which can signal fetal distress. It’s not that uncommon in babies who are overdue (which Samuel was) and isn’t an emergency situation, it just means that the doctors will want to keep a closer eye on how the baby is doing with labor and how he does immediately after birth. It did show that it was a very good thing that we were inducing labor at that point because Samuel was obviously ready to come out!

Once my water was broken the doctors and nurses just left us to do whatever. They could monitor my progress remotely and there’s not a whole lot that needs to be done at that point. This was around 5pm. I didn’t want to move from the bed because I was leaking amniotic fluid and didn’t want to get that everywhere. But otherwise things were pretty good. The first couple of hours I felt lame because the contractions weren’t intense yet, but I was stuck to a bed. It seemed like there was something I ought to be doing to get labor to progress, but of course my body was already doing that without my cognitive efforts. It just seemed weird for all of us to be waiting around for me to do something… and I wasn’t able to control me doing it or not doing it.

Around 7pm my mom and Eric convinced Jayson to go get some pizza for them. On the other hand I was consigned to eating the hospital’s bread and fruit punch. Actually I didn’t mind it that much, it was good bread and as the contractions were starting to intensify slightly I didn’t really want pizza anyways. But I did make sure that I loaded up on as much bread and fruit punch as they would give me since I knew it was the last food I’d be allowed to eat for awhile.

After my family’s delivery room pizza party Jayson left and my mom went back to our apartment to get some things and take a quick nap. I suggested that Eric take a nap in the reclining chair. He protested a little that he could stay awake to support me. While I really appreciated the sentiment, my contractions weren’t that bad yet so there wasn’t much he could do. Plus I knew he needed sleep and I would really need him later that evening, so he gave in and took a little bit of a nap. Of course, it was during his nap that the contractions started to get more intense. Not really bad but it was better when I focused on relaxing myself and breathed through them. I had a lot of fun watching the monitors and trying to predict when the next contraction would come.

Don’t ask me why it was so fun for me to watch that, but I really enjoyed it. I don’t think Eric got much of a nap in because he could hear me start breathing through my contractions and came to sit by me. I felt really bad for Eric because he could tell I was in pain, but couldn’t really do anything about it. Although, just having him there helped more than I think he understands. He would have been happier if I would have just gotten the epidural so that he didn’t have to watch me be in pain. But I really appreciated him supporting me through everything and not trying to push me to do anything I didn’t want to do. He is the best!

Over the next couple of hours the contractions slowly increased in quantity and intensity. Eric had found an internet connection (of course :) ) and we tried to watch some TV shows on Hulu, but the connection wasn’t good enough. So we resorted to listening to music, which was probably better anyways because it gave me something to focus on without needing to focus too deeply. We played the music with Winamp and I focused on their visualizations during the contractions (although some of them made me a little dizzy :P ) My mom came back while we were listening to the music and thought it was funny that my music of choice was Angels and Airwaves, Relient K, John Mayer etc. She and Eric had both figured that I would have wanted something more calming like Jon Schmidt or Enya (frankly, before labor, so did I). However, having the more upbeat music gave me a little more to focus on to take my attention away from the contractions.

I think it was around 9pm that the music stopped holding my attention enough and I had to go deep into relaxation mode. I wasn’t very talkative from this point until Samuel was born, but Eric got to be really good at reading my body language. He would watch the monitors and see when a contraction was coming on and help me to brace myself and relax. Having my mom there was especially helpful because she was able to sorta coach me through the contractions and help Eric figure out how he could best help as well. It was awesome having someone there who both knew me really well and had been through this before.

About this time my nurses switched over as well, and as my first nurse, Amy, was leaving my mom asked her about what pain management options were available, even though I hadn’t asked for anything. She said they had a fast acting drug called Fentanyl that just took the edge off of the contractions but it only lasted for a short amount of time. She did warn me that they wouldn’t give it to me too late in the labor as it could have adverse side effects on the baby. I was really glad that my mom asked because it was a question that I had but hadn’t had the chance to ask. Before going in I’d figured that if I had an IV that I’d just go for the epidural, since I couldn’t avoid needles at that point anyways. However, even though I’d come to terms with my IV I still couldn’t bring myself to consider another needle, especially since my back is pretty sensitive. I was also feeling empowered seeing what my body could do and wasn’t ready to give that up.

Around 9:45 things started really picking up. Whereas I’d had a good break between each of my contractions before to recover, they started coming in sets. I think they were getting to where I’d have about 3 contractions each lasting about 1 minute with about a 10 second break between each one and then about a minute break between the sets. I had stolen a mantra from a girl on the Pregtastic podcast (I listened to every single episode during my pregnancy, it was one of the most helpful things to help me get through all 9 months). She was a long distance runner before her pregnancy and she said her mantra to get through labor was “I can do anything for a minute”. Since I used to run cross country I could relate to that kind of endurance strategy and it was working really well for me until I stopped having the breaks between contractions. About 10pm I asked for a dose of Fentanyl. It was one of the best things I did that whole night. They only gave me a small dose and it didn’t take away everything, but it definitely decreased the intensity of the contractions to a huge degree and gave me about 45 minutes of relaxation which helped me get through the rest of the night.

At this point I think I was at about 8cm. I’d come in at 3.5cm and then progressed pretty steadily once my water was broken. After the first dose of Fentanyl I was getting too close to the end of labor to have another dose. While I wouldn’t have said no to another dose I was way more interested in Samuel’s well being than a little bit of pain so it wasn’t a big deal. Around 11pm the contractions really started getting intense and I started having the urge to push. The nurse checked me and I was at 8cm. She said to call her back in when I was feeling a lot of rectal pressure. I think I called her back in to check me again about every 15 minutes after that. It seemed like I was at 8cm for eternity. That was definitely the most difficult part of the whole labor was that hour that I felt like I wanted to push to get the pressure off, but not being far enough along to actually push. I think the consequences of starting to push too soon are mostly the risk of the baby’s head or the cervix getting swollen from the pressure and actually regressing (the baby isn’t going to be able to come out at that point anyways because the cervix isn’t open enough yet) and just having to push forever and wearing myself out.

Fortunately, my mom and Eric were there helping me through this. I’m not exactly sure when they started doing this but I think it was before 11pm. My mom started rubbing my legs, which for whatever reason felt really really good. Eric put pressure on my hips when a contraction would come. It sounds kinda strange but it helped SO much, I couldn’t have gotten through those contractions without him. I had read that would help somewhere and heard about it on another episode of Pregtastic and it really was amazing how much it helped. I felt really bad for Eric though because he was leaning over the bed and then pushing my hips as hard as he could during each contraction. I wanted to tell him that he could stop and take a break because it was definitely putting a lot of strain on his back, but the difference it made for me was so monumental that I couldn’t let him leave. His back hurt a lot afterwards. My mom would switch off with him from time to time, but she wasn’t able to get as good of pressure as Eric did so I was always glad when they would switch back. I’m really grateful for my mom and all of her help, but I have to say that Eric was my hero, my knight in shining armor, the one thing that I couldn’t have made it through this labor without. He was absolutely incredible and I can’t say enough how thankful I am for all that he went through to support me through this. (as a sidenote, I found out later that when he and my mom would switch spots, Eric would update his Twitter status to note the progress. I love that guy!)

Just before midnight the nurse said I was to 9.5cm. That was such a relief after being stuck at 8cm for so long. The few contractions between there and 10cm were incredibly intense and it was almost unbearable to not be able to push, but it definitely helped to know that I was almost there. It wasn’t too long after that she told me I’d made it to 10cm and it was time to push. HOORAY! It’s hard to explain to someone who has never gone through it before but as hard as pushing is, it feels so much better pushing with those contractions than trying to hold back. Pushing feels productive and it’s helping to get the pressure off. I had so much amazing support there in the delivery room. Obviously my mom and Eric were still there, also my doctor – Dr. Julie Grover – who I have loved as my doctor, and my nurse Elizabeth and her assistant Lelani. They were all so positive and encouraging. Apparently very few women take a natural approach to childbirth at UVRMC so they were very excited about how well I was doing and getting through everything without an epidural. They did a great job of coaching me through when to push and how to push. I feel so blessed to have had such a caring and supportive team of people there with me.

After about an hour of pushing everyone started getting really excited because Samuel started crowning. Someone (I think it was Elizabeth but I can’t be sure at this point) went and got a mirror so that I could see the top of Samuel’s head starting to come out. I want to say that it was really cool, but in all honesty, it was really weird to see that. His head didn’t really look like a head, just matted hair on a gray thing. It was very helpful though because I could see that I really was almost there. It gave me a little bit more encouragement to get through the pushes that got me from there to getting him out. It was interesting to listen to everyone in the delivery room through those pushes. While I was pushing I would close my eyes really tight which meant I couldn’t see what was happening, but I could tell from the comments and pitch of everyone’s voices that Samuel was coming sorta partially out and you could hear their excitement sorta rise and then the almost disappointment when that particular push wasn’t the one that brought him into the world. That helped me even more because I knew how close I must be, and I hated disappointing everyone. Finally one contraction came and I just sorta felt like I absolutely had to get his head out on that contraction. Whether it was something biological or from the excitement in the room I just sorta decided that one was it. I had to work harder for those pushes than the other ones and I had to stick it out and push all the way through that contraction instead of giving up at the last part of the contraction, but then Samuel’s head came out! I’d love to say that I looked in the mirror and thought that he was beautiful and the most amazing thing ever, but in all honesty, he looked all slimy and gross and it didn’t really look like a baby. On the next contraction I had one big push for one shoulder and another big push for his other shoulder and out he came! They had Eric go cut the cord and then took him to clean him off.

It was cute to watch Eric because he was definitely a little bit dazed by what was going on and my mom had to remind him to take his camera to go get pictures, even though Eric is a fairly avid picture taker and we’d gotten that camera specifically for this event… well and all the events that will follow from it. My mom says it was also pretty cool to watch Eric’s face as Samuel was actually pushed out of me and just how excited and fascinated he looked. I’m really sad that I missed that (I was a little preoccupied :P) because I love those looks on Eric’s face. He is definitely the son of a doctor ;)

It was pretty easy sailing for me from there. The doctor sorta pulled gently on the umbilical cord and I pushed a little and the placenta came out (that was probably the weirdest feeling to have that all come out). I’d torn pretty badly so my doctor spent quite a while stitching me up. And yes, even after everything I’d been through I had a hard time not passing out when she was putting the shots in that had the anesthetic. Samuel’s 1 minute Apgar was a 7 and his 5 minute Apgar was a 9 (which are excellent scores in case you aren’t up on delivery lingo, a perfect score is a 10).

While they were cleaning him up they told me that he was 8lbs 11oz. It took a little while for that to process, my thoughts were something like “oh, ok cool. … wait… WHAT?!” I’d been pretty small throughout my whole pregnancy so I definitely wasn’t expecting to have such a big baby! They wanted him in the NICU for a little while because there was the chance that he had breathed in some of the meconium which can cause problems. So they cleaned him up and let me hold him for a minute before taking him to the NICU.

Eric was able to go with him so he left with Samuel and I stayed with my mom (for those of you who don’t know, Eric’s dad was a NICU doctor, so it wasn’t that strange of an environment for Eric to be in). My doctor finished stitching me up and then I was just left there with my mom. It was nice to just be able to rest, although I still felt like I ought to be having another contraction soon, that I was just resting between them. I did start to shiver which is pretty common after delivery. They got some blankets on me which definitely helped and I just rested.

I stayed in the delivery room for an hour after they finished stitching me up. The nurses came in every 15 minutes to push on my stomach to make sure that my uterus was contracting back to where it was supposed to be. The weird part was that every time they would push on my stomach I could feel huge gushes of blood squirt out of me. My mom encouraged me to sleep during that hour but I was pretty amped up after the whole experience… there was no way I was going to actually sleep just yet. But I did rest and I just felt so elated about what I had accomplished and that Samuel was actually born, I can’t quite describe that feeling but it was wonderful. It was kind of like a runner’s high compounded with the love for this new baby and appreciation for all of the help and support and a million other things all rolled into one. It was an awesome feeling and it was nice to just be able to lay there and drink it all in for a little while.

After that hour they helped me get out of bed and get cleaned up. Then they put me in a wheelchair to go visit Samuel in NICU before taking me down to the recovery room.

The nurses thought it was funny seeing Samuel in the NICU because they’re so used to having little premie babies… and in comes Samuel this 8lb 11oz behemoth baby! He was doing really well but they wanted to monitor him for a little bit longer. He has incredible muscle tone for his age and all the nurses kept commenting on it. Eric also told me that while the nurses were putting the EKGs on his chest he would pull them off! Not typical for a newborn baby to have that sort of coordination, but having seen this kid for a week now, I totally believe it. He has really strong hands and he seems to just love doing things with them. After visiting Samuel they took us down to the recovery room, checked my vitals again and it was time to sleep. It was around 4am when we were finally left alone to go to sleep.

One of the most interesting things to me was how rare it apparently is for patients to come in and not get an epidural. My nurses were so impressed that I was “going natural”. I don’t really consider myself to have really had a natural childbirth because I did take the Fentanyl. I’m not ashamed of that in any way, but I don’t feel like I can say I was all natural. I just didn’t take the epidural. But I think it’s sad that it’s so rare for women to actually have a natural laboring experience. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deciding to go with an epidural. However, it was an AWESOME experience to really be able to really feel the capacity of my body and mind in this way. It was really an exhilarating experience. Yes, it was hard, but not so awful as the horror stories I’ve always been told. I just feel like I’ve really accomplished something cool. I wish I could describe what I mean better but it’s really difficult to put into words what that experience was like and the feelings I have about it. I just wish more women could have that experience. It was truly empowering and I feel like I better understand the strength and capacity women have better than ever before. I’ve been asked if I would do it again, and I think I would, as much as I’m sure that upsets Eric. Granted, every labor is different and it’s totally possible that next time presents me with entirely different challenges and I change my mind. Like I said, I’m not hardcore, but it was an awesome experience and I don’t think I’d want to rob myself of that.

So, that’s the story of how Samuel was brought into this world. Sorry it’s so long, but I wanted all of the details for myself so that I could remember them later.

Doot… doot… DUE!

 - by Brittny

Well, my due date has come… and gone… and still no Samuel. We’re not really too concerned yet since he’s only 5 days late so far, but we definitely got a lot of surprised looks from people when we were at church on Sunday and not in the hospital! I’ve been amazed at the number of questions I’ve gotten about whether he’s here yet or not. Don’t anyone worry, as soon as we have news to report it will be up on Facebook, and the blog, and Twitter, and emailed :) Which isn’t to say I’ve been bugged by all of the questions. I feel very loved that there are so many people who care about this special event in our lives. I’ve been getting text messages from my little brother Cody about every 4 hours for the past two weeks asking if the baby is here yet and I still just giggle every time I see it, so don’t anyone out there worry that they’re being bothersome by asking.

Right now we don’t have an “action plan” for Samuel’s immediate eviction from the womb. I’d like to hold off on an induction if at all possible because I believe that the best thing for the baby is to allow nature to take its course. But we will go in to the doctor’s today and see what she has to say. Last week when we went in I was 3.5cm dilated, 80% effaced and Samuel was at 0 station. What was funny was that I’d been having contractions about 5-20 minutes apart consistently from about Sunday night until Tuesday afternoon. While we were at the doctor’s office she stripped my membranes, which generally is supposed to encourage labor… No such luck. Instead the contractions stopped. Samuel has strong willed parents, I guess we couldn’t expect him to be otherwise :P

That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing for the past week, just waiting for Samuel to make his debut. My mom has been up here helping my brother Jayson move up to Utah. It’s been really great having her here, she’s helped with a ton of cooking and cleaning and getting everything ready for us. She’s helped assemble our new dresser and glider, re-arrange our bedroom and replace a bunch of lightbulbs. I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am for all the help she’s given us. Thanks mom! I love you!! Unfortunately she’s going to be leaving today barring the immediate arrival of her first grandson, since there are still 3 kids at home, plus an exchange student and my sister’s fiancé. But we’re so well prepared now that I think we’ll be able to handle having a baby come home with us a lot more easily than we were before. I just wish she could get to reap the rewards and actually get to hold this baby before she leaves. Come on Samuel – SWIM DOWN!!

In conjunction with all of the projects that my mom has helped with, Eric came up with a great solution to a problem we’ve been having. See, our light fixture in our kitchen rattles a ridiculous amount whenever our upstairs neighbors are home. It hasn’t bothered us too much, but it was a little disconcerting since it made it sound like the whole thing was going to fall off the ceiling. We realized however that it was just the metal rings around the bottom that were causing the rattling because they weren’t secured to the glass tops. So, Eric came up with the idea of using rubber bands to reduce the amount of rattling. After a few different attempts he came up with this…

Rubber bands taped to the inside of the metal rings

The best part is, since he put those rubber bands in place last night… we haven’t had a single rattle. You’re the best honey!

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails…

 - by Brittny

Wow, a lot has happened since we last updated. I’d say that I’ll try to keep this short, but that would be a lie so I won’t even try to make such promises. I’ll just warn you right off the bat that this is likely to be a long post :)

I guess I’ll start with the pregnancy update since that’s been the most consuming part of my life recently (surprise!). Everything is still going really well for me. My biggest complaint is heartburn but I can still keep it at bay most of the time with just taking Tums. I’m definitely getting to be more whale-ish so I’m finding it harder to reach things on the floor or get out of bed. But overall, I’m feeling fantastic for having less than 2 weeks left! In fact, one of my favorite activities of late has been looking at the other pregnant women in my ward. I keep looking at the women who look seriously uncomfortable and thinking, man they must be ready to go any day now! Then, I’ll look up their due dates and find out… they’re a month less pregnant than I am. I’m feeling very blessed that this has been the case.

The obligatory baby bump shot. I know a patterny dress isn’t the best choice to really show it, but I felt like I looked cute and didn’t want to change first :P

When I was at the doctor’s on Monday she told us that I was 2cm dilated and 60% effaced. Not too bad! She’d asked if I’d been feeling any contractions, and I’d said no, but apparently I was wrong. You can’t make progress without contractions. On Friday I finally figured out what the contractions feel like… and I’ve been having them for weeks. I’d just thought it was the baby pushing out on part of my stomach that was making it all hard :P . They aren’t the kind that hurt yet, but I really should start timing them since I’ve been having them come a few an hour for a day at a time off and on. They’re just kinda hard to time because since they don’t hurt… I don’t always notice them. I’ve been joking all week that I’d decided that Saturday would be a good day for Samuel to come and that I was going to talk him into it :P My family decided that if that was the case they would all pack into the car and head up since they have a 3 day weekend anyways. My little brother Kyle started praying that I’d go into labor as soon as they made that decision. He told my mom that they should just come because, “I prayed for it, and when have my prayers not been answered. Ok, maybe a couple of times.” We thought it was really cute, but also very true. Kyle has awesome child-like faith and we’ve seen more than one miracle that came from his praying for it. The weekend isn’t over yet so I guess I better be ready!

Also, in preparation for Samuel’s arrival my friends Amber and Crystal threw a baby shower for me last week! We played a few games and had some awesome food and opened presents. We are SO set now for Samuel to come! Amber took some pictures that you can see here if you’re interested. And here’s the invitation (no, it didn’t get smudged, I just figured Amber might not like her home address and phone number to be displayed for the world to see on our blog):

Which leads me to a question, how many people out there have heard that nursery rhyme saying before – “Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of” ? I’d heard it before so I thought it was super cute that Amber used that on the invitation, but most people that we’ve asked had never heard of it before. It’s part of a long poem that goes through what different kinds of people are made of. Most people I guess only know the “Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of” part of the rhyme. Apparently other people thought it was a little weird, which I guess I can understand if you’ve never heard the rhyme before :P But I thought it was cute, and now you all know :) (You can see the Wikipedia entry for the rhyme here.) Thanks so much Amber and Crystal for putting that together, and to everyone who came or couldn’t come but has dropped by since then. We so appreciate all of the things we’ve been given that will make it so much easier to bring our baby home!

One of the really fun things we’ve been able to do in the past few weeks is to go to a lot of cool concerts. Eric is taking Music 200 and one of the requirements for the class is to go to six different genres of concerts. It’s been a really good excuse for us to go on some fun dates! We went first to a combined choir concert at the Provo Tabernacle that featured BYU’s Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Concert Choir and BYU Singers. It was a really cool concert, and they even had the audience do one of the numbers. They handed out sheet music to everyone as we came in and then at the end of the performance they had us basically sight read the music and sing with the choir. Definitely not something you could do with just any audience :P

Last week we went to the Young Ambassadors show, probably more at my request than for Eric’s requirement (for those of you who don’t know I spent 4 years on the YA’s tech crew and it is still one of the most incredible and defining experiences of my life). Their new show is still really weird to me because it is so different from the shows that I worked on. They have cut some of the performers (singers/dancers) in favor of a larger band, and the band is now on stage with the group instead of in a pit or off to the side somewhere. Actually this change I LOVE. The band has always been one of the coolest parts of the group (no offense to any performers that might read our blog) and I think it’s awesome to have them up on the stage and really part of the show. As a result of them expanding the band they no longer have a backup tape that has the instruments we lacked with a 4 piece band. This allows the band to have a lot more control over the musicality of the show rather than being tied to a click track. I can’t express enough what a great change I think this is.

The other major change that I’ve noticed is that the show has a lot less Broadway and a lot more pop-type numbers. The years I was in the group the show was entirely composed of Broadway numbers. Their current show is called “The New Music Makers” and it’s supposed to more tie together the people who have influenced music in different eras. Honestly, I don’t like this change, but I’m sure that it’s a case of what I’m used to more than anything. I just really liked the Broadway numbers and all of the acting that went along with the singing and dancing. I like watching numbers that really tell a story more than just a song. I know every song *is* a story, but it’s just different. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the show, or think that they did a fantastic job, because I really enjoyed the show. I just liked the older style of show better.

Anyways, last night we went to a concert for Synthesis (an elite Jazz band at BYU). They were AWESOME. I’d seen them play at Homecoming Spectacular once and was very impressed, but it was even more fun to see them playing a whole concert. They are an incredibly talented group and it was totally worth the money that we paid to go see their show. The funniest part of the whole night though was their guest artist – Anthony Wilson. Don’t get me wrong, he was very good and extremely talented. What was funny was that Synthesis was playing some of his songs with him, and rather than allowing the conductor of Synthesis to conduct the whole thing Anthony Wilson kept trying to conduct the group, as well as the conductor, while playing the guitar. I’m sure it’s very difficult not to do that when it’s a piece that you wrote and you have a specific idea of how it should sound. It was a classic example though of what John Shurtleff (YA technical director) would call “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”.

Another result of all of these extra dates has been that we’ve found a new restaurant that we LOVE – Zupas. So far we’ve been there 3 times and had different things each time and haven’t been dissapointed once. That’s saying something! We like to get their combo meals where you get to choose a combination of 2 of either a bowl of soup, a panini or a salad (i.e. you can get a panini and soup, or a panini and salad or soup and salad). We fell in love with paninis while on our honeymoon in Paris so we’ve both opted for paninis every time. So far we’ve tried 4 different soups, 2 salads and 6 paninis and they’ve all been excellent. If you live in Utah and you haven’t yet been to Zupas… we highly recommend that you remedy that soon :)

We’ve had a few other fun things that have happened in the past few weeks. We threw a little birthday party for Eric’s best friend Levi a couple weekends ago. Eric and Levi have been friends since Eric was 5 so they go WAY back. However, they haven’t really seen each other in over 4 years as their age difference made it so that Levi was leaving on his mission about the same time Eric got home from his. I’ve really enjoyed watching the two of them just pick up where they left off, having fun playing video games, and going skiing and just having fun together. I’m especially glad that he has a friend to go skiing with him since I’m not exactly a world class skiier (I’d much rather be at home and be warm than in the snow). I’ve also enjoyed that there is now someone around who is really good competition for Eric in his video games, someone’s gotta teach him some humility ;)

We also had Eric’s friend Jason come from Taiwan and visit us for 5 days. Eric taught Jason the gospel while on his mission and Jason was finally able to get baptized within the past year while living in Russia. Jason also came over from Taiwan for our wedding and stayed with my family for a few days at that time. It was really fun to have him here, although I felt bad that we were really busy and couldn’t do too many things with him, but I think the things that we did do while he was here were pretty fun. He was here when we had Levi’s birthday party, which was cool because they don’t really make that big of a deal of birthdays in Taiwan so it was a new experience for him to go to a birthday party (even if the one we had was pretty low key). Eric also took him to Temple Square one of the afternoons and we went and had Family Home Evening with Mom & Dad Hansen in Salt Lake that night. It was especially good that Jason was here for that since Eric was speaking to their FHE group about his experiences in Taiwan that night! They hadn’t planned that at all, it just worked out that way, but it was fun that Eric had someone actually from Taiwan to help with that presentation.

Along with the presentation Eric’s parents had asked him to bring his violin and play something for the group. Can I just say how much I love watching Eric play the violin? He is an excellent violinist, but it’s not necessarily listening to him play that I love as much as watching him play. Eric is a very passionate person and you can see how much he loves playing the violin whenever he gets a chance to play – which hasn’t been often lately. I really hope that as he finishes school in a couple of months he will have more time to spend practicing. He can make beautiful music with that instrument, but more than anything I love seeing how happy it makes him to be able to make that music. (Yaknow, the day he proposed to me was after I’d seen him play violin for the first time… do you think it’s a coincidence that I accepted? ;P) If you’ve never had a chance to see or hear Eric play the violin there are some links to some mp3s and videos on his website.

So overall it’s been a busy but fun few weeks! Sorry we’ve been so lax in getting posts out regularly. Hopefully we’ll do better in the future (no guarantees though :P)

That’s Overweight

 - by Eric

If any of you reading this recognize the title, you probably own a Wii Fit. We heard these words when Brittny stepped on the Wii Fit today. Now, before you round up a mob to lynch me, Brittny actually wants to gain weight and has given me permission to write about this topic! Trust me, I’m not that crazy to discuss a woman’s weight!

Brittny’s Overweight Mii!

It is good that Brittny is well on track for delivering a healthy baby boy! We’re very excited to meet him come February. Brittny has left the “honeymoon” second trimester and entered the I-feel-like-a-whale third trimester. It means more heartburn, lower back pains, and trouble getting out of bed (I try not to laugh…). She’s handling it like a champ, though.

Week in Review

I guess the title is applicable to this post in more ways than one. This past week has been incredibly hectic for the both of us. Finals week was upon me, and it was not fun. Of course, I would think you have to have some sort of mental issue if you actually enjoyed taking finals! I had finals for all of my classes, and unfortunately, many of them were scheduled for the last two days of the week. I won’t bore you with the details, but I am simply glad to have this semester done and over with. It is hard to imagine that I will be done in just one more semester!

It snowed this week!

Brittny has been terribly busy with work as the holiday season and current economic state has many retailers and companies going into overdrive to maximize efficiency and profits. This translates into more requests for work and changes to be completed before the break. And with the snow this week, Brittny didn’t feel comfortable driving into work for most days. It is understandable…she is a California driver!

But what’s amazing about this woman I love is that she just keeps doing more! Handling a pregnancy, working full-time, and she still finds time to make wonderful treats like Strawberry Glaze Bread!

Mmmm! It’s delicious!

She made time to do this and help take care of the apartment chores. We were definitely excited to be able to sleep in this weekend.

Family fun

On Saturday, we had the chance to take care of one of our newest nephews, little CJ Hansen while his mom was visiting Orem for the afternoon. It was so much fun to play with this upbeat 4-month-old. He was always happy and content, even after he woke up from his nap, he just looked around and waited for one of us to come and pick him up.

Look at that cute face!

After that, a good portion of the Hansen clan got together for dinner and a special family tradition. We had my sister Julie and her family, Katrina and family, Mike and family, Kristen (sister-in-law), my parents, and us! We all had to cram into my parents apartment in Salt Lake City (they are serving a mission right now at Church HQ), which was no easy task. After a really yummy dinner, the grandkids gathered around the table to make gingerbread houses! How cool is that!! My mother had a recipe for a frosting that hardened, becoming an edible glue, in essence. The kids used the frosting to build and decorate their houses. The whole night was a fun adventure. For your viewing pleasure, I have uploaded a video of each grandkid’s house.

My new toy!

Christmas came a week early this year for me! And while the title suggests I got a new toy for Christmas, the real impetus for this gift was for the forthcoming baby. Yup, you probably guessed it! We got a new video camera!

ooOOoo! Pretty!

The video and pictures on this blog post are thanks to this brand new, High-Definition video camera! I am loving the deal we got on it, too (less than $500). For those of you who are interested, I have a full review on my website.

Yeah! Two in a Row!

 - by Brittny

Yeah! Look at me actually writing a post two weeks in a row! Mostly this week we’ve been gearing up for the end of the semester and Christmas. Eric had his last day of classes on Thursday so it’s been papers, presentations and projects all week long. It didn’t really lend itself to either of us getting much sleep this week (obviously more so for Eric since he was the one actually doing those projects), but hopefully we’ll be able to make that up as soon as finals are over.

One of the really fun things we did this past week was to buy and sell Wii Fits from We’d been helping Eric’s brother Tim to get one for Christmas so I’d set my phone up to get text message alerts when they were in stock. Since they have been in such high demand and impossible to find Amazon set a limit of three per household. We decided to take advantage of that and help out family and friends who would have had a hard time getting them otherwise. Since right now they’re in such high demand you can pretty much only find them on eBay for around double the retail price and we know how much we’ve been enjoying ours we felt pretty confident that we could find people who wanted them. We were right! We were really excited to be able to sell them (at retail price, not ridiculously marked up) to Eric’s sister Dianne and our good friends the Criddles. It just felt good to be able to help out around Christmas time, albeit in an unconventional way :)

The other really fun thing this week was that we had both of our company parties on Saturday night. It was too bad that they both fell on the same night so we had to choose which one to go to. However, since we went to my Christmas party last year, and Eric’s company party was black tie at the Grand America hotel… it wasn’t a very difficult compromise. We were able to go to the very beginning of Axis41’s party up at the Millcreek Inn. It was fun just to get to introduce Eric to my co-workers so that he could put some faces with the names. Plus they had some great hors d’ouevres and punch that we enjoyed while we were there. We stayed for about 45 minutes before heading back down to Omniture’s party.

The Omniture logo…in style!

One of the great things about Omniture… they definitely know how to throw a party! The place was packed and it was a really fun night. They had paid for their employees to rent tuxes (or given a set amount of money to their female employees to offset the price of their formal wear) so everyone was very dressed up. I told Eric afterwards that I still felt like a little kid who was at a grown-up party, even though I know full well that we’re grown ups now too. The food was pretty good. The appetizers were a little weird, we felt like we were eating garnishes (and I’m sure someone was sitting there and laughing at us… but that’s all that was on the appetizer plate and everyone else ate them too *shrug* ) but the food itself was really good. I got halibut which was really good and had Omega 3s which are important for our baby’s brain development. Eric isn’t as big of a fan of fish as I am so I get excited whenever I get a chance to eat fish. It’s not that Eric won’t eat fish or even that he really dislikes it, but if I’m going to go to the effort of making a meal for him, I’d rather have it be something that he gets more excited about eating. Eric got the steak, which was pretty incredible. It was a super tender cut of meat and very well made. It also came with these potatoes that I’m really sad we didn’t take a picture of. They were sliced super super thin and then layered on top of each other with sweet potatoes in the middle. They were really good, and partly just amazing to see.

They also had some cool games that they had everyone play to compete for 6 iPod Touches (is that how you pluralize touch as a noun?) and donations to different charities. They also had some cool presentations that summarized all of their business for the year. We’re really excited that Eric is part of this company that is growing so fast right now and doing such cool things. They had a dance floor set up in the middle and dancing afterwards, but we left because the bouncing style of dancing isn’t quite as fun when you’re 29 weeks pregnant (probably not very attractive either :P ).

As far as the pregnancy goes, things are going really well. Still fighting heartburn but it’s not unmanageable. The weirdest thing is that I’ve been getting really warm – not so much hot flashes, but generally I’ve found that I’m warmer than other people. It’s super weird for me because I’m usually FREEZING even in the middle of summer… but it’s the middle of December and I’m the one turning down the thermostat! I’m not complaining in the least, it’s probably the best thing about pregnancy! Well, except for the cute baby that we get at the end of it all :).

Now we’re just counting down the days until Eric finishes his finals and we get to go to California for Christmas!! We’re pretty excited because it’s the first time that we’re going home since we’ve been married (like actually going to my family’s house and staying there, we did go to California for Memorial Day weekend but we stayed the whole time at Carpinteria, which is just different from actually going home). Hope everyone else’s holiday preparations are going well!! We’ll probably post to you again from the other side of finals :)

Thanks Volkswagen for a preview of our baby!

 - by Brittny

I saw this on the Criddles blog and this just looked too fun. For whatever reason I think that the Volkswagon Routan commercials are hil-ar-ious. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can see the commercial here:

Don’t worry, we’re having our baby for love, not for German engineering :)

Tentatively our baby’s name will be Samuel Eric Hansen, but it’s still open for other options. We’ll probably post a poll here in a little bit with the names that are still contenders. We’re open to constructive criticism on any of our names. We figure it’s easier to get the weird nicknames out now instead of when he’s in first grade and being picked on by bullies. I think our current names that we’re considering are Samuel (obviously), Keegan, and Jaron.

As far as other things go, it’s been a busy few weeks. We were helping my parents out before the election as they were heavily involved with the Yes on 8 campaign in California. It’s an issue that we feel strongly about and wish we could have done more to support. We’ve been sickened as we’ve watched all of the protesting against our church for their support of this issue (go figure, I’d always thought tolerance meant allowing people to have their beliefs even if they disagree with your own – apparently it means you have to have the same beliefs as the liberals have).

Right after Prop 8 passed – my sister got engaged! We’re really excited for Taylor and her fiancé Ryan! I’m so glad that she’s found someone who loves her and that she loves too. They’re a great couple and we’ll be glad to have Ryan as part of the family.

Eric got through his insane weeks of midterms and is back to his normal level of insanity, which is definitely nice. He should be interviewing for a position in Taiwan with Omniture sometime in the next few weeks so we’re keeping our fingers crossed! It could be a really awesome opportunity for us and we’re definitely excited for it!

As for me, I’m just plugging away at work and getting ready for this baby to come! He’s started moving a lot, and it’s still a really weird feeling to get used to. My tummy is definitely growing and I find I get stuck more easily if I sit or lay down. There’s too much of me! I can’t get up! However, other than that, I’m still feeling really really good. I get heartburn but it’s been pretty mild, and Tums seem to take care of it pretty easily. I’ve decided to just enjoy this part of the pregnancy while I can. Only 15 weeks until my due date!! One of the weird things with the baby coming and us thinking of moving to Taiwan, is I’m not entirely sure what things to buy before the baby comes. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to buy everything here for a fully stocked nursery… just to have to pack it all up and take it to Taiwan. I guess we’ll have to see how that all pans out.

A slightly overdue post

 - by Brittny

Eric’s been on my case all week since I promised that I would write this post and haven’t gotten around to it until now, oops! Sorry for those of you who try to keep up and noticed that we missed a week!

I guess we’ll start with a baby update. I look pregnant! In fact, last week we were out buying Eric some new suits and I had the first person ever just ask me when the baby was due. In fact, she was the first person to ask me if I was pregnant at all. The funny thing was, it caught me a little off guard and at first I was slightly offended that she would ask… and then I remembered, oh wait… I am pregnant… and I’ve been wanting to look pregnant :P And I finally remembered to get Eric to take some baby bump pictures. So now you can see for yourselves just how pregnant I look!

Side view

A more attractive (in my opinion) although less telling front view.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday and everything is going well so far. The ultrasound put the baby right on track for the due date they’d given us so there weren’t any surprises there. Everything looked great with him, which is definitely the most important part. We’ve been throwing around some different names for him and we think we’re pretty settled on Samuel Eric Hansen, although it’s still open to be changed. Apparently my brothers hate the name and have summarily declared that if we name our son Samuel he will be a loser. Good thing their votes don’t count :) We’ve also considered the name Keegan but we’re not sure if that sounds too weird with the last name of Hansen. What do you guys think? We’ll probably put up a poll if we come up with more names that we really like, but so far Samuel is sticking pretty good.

I’ve also found that this baby likes to move A LOT! It really is the weirdest feeling in the world to have a little person moving around inside of me. Eric has been able to feel him too which is always neat. I’ve been feeling REALLY good lately. Everyone says that the second trimester is so much better than the first and that has definitely been the case for me. In fact, sometime this past week I sat down and thought back on the first trimester… even though I don’t think I complained too much (although Eric might beg to differ on that account) I was pretty darn miserable. I guess since it sorta came on slowly and was more of a constant achy, nauseous, exhausted feeling without really getting too acute ever I hadn’t realized how bad it was. Anyways, I’m sooo grateful to be done with that part and into this stage. I know that this part won’t last forever and that the 3rd trimester is supposed to be even worse in some ways. So I’m just going to enjoy and be grateful for this part while it lasts!

So switching gears from baby, this was a pretty rough week for Eric. He had a bunch of midterms and projects that were all due this week – and he got pleuritis. His dad was able to diagnose him over the phone and had him taking a basic anti-inflammatory (a.k.a. MotrinIB), but after a couple of days that still wasn’t working. So Eric went into urgent care and had a doctor there confirm the diagnosis. They took an x-ray of his chest and confirmed the diagnosis but found that the pleurisy was viral and not bacterial – taking antibiotics wasn’t going to do anything to help. They gave him a prescription strength anti-inflammatory which helped tremendously and now he’s doing much better! Thanks for everyone who showed concern and offered their help this week, it was definitely appreciated!

Oh, and as I was telling you earlier, we bought Eric some new suits last weekend! They needed to get some alterations on them this week but he got them on Friday, and he looks hot in them! I wanted to post at least one picture of him in his new pinstripe suit because I think he looks amazing in it and I wanted to share :)

Eric insists that these suits are his Christmas present and tried to convince me it was his birthday present too (that idea was quickly nixed by me since his birthday present is already in the works, and is non-returnable, non-refundable). Speaking of birthday presents, Eric got me mine a couple weeks early too and I’ve been having a blast with it! We got a Wii Fit (see this video for a satirical version of the Wii Fit commercial that we really enjoy)! We’ve been having a ton of fun with it and getting into shape too. It’s just about the level and time commitment I can give to exercising right now too. Thanks honey!! I’m sure you already know how much I love it :)