Sunday, November 16, 2014

Europe Trip: May 3 to May 9 Part 2

I was very excited to see some things in London like Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, and St. Paul's cathedral. It was fun to see those things, but honestly, they looked just like I'd expect them to look. Like every picture of them you've ever seen: In movies, on TV, on Google. I'm still glad we went to see them. But the time spent navigating around London with Dave and Joshua was just as much fun. I took pictures of a ton of buildings and scenery, but who likes to look through other peoples' pictures of buildings in Europe? That's what Google Images is for.
First off, it doesn't rain often in Utah. When it does rain, we tend to just stay indoors. It rains in London, and did on one of our days walking around. Joshua had a blast playing with the umbrella. Here are a few shots of our rainy day:
 By the Tower and Tower Bridge
 Walking to/across the Tower Bridge
 Wait, what? that's just a building. That's St. Paul's cathedral.
 No, look again. See the teeny red dot? That's Joshua! St. Paul's Cathedral is HUGE!
 OK, OK, here's a building shot, but we actually traipsed up the hundreds of stairs in a tiny, claustrophobic spiral staircase up to the balcony place. (Even though it said pregnant women shouldn't do it.)
We saw the "Saints and Apostles look down as she sells her wares." They were smiling.
See!? Huge.
Unfortunately there were no birds to be fed. That happened later in St. James's Park.

Remember how we packed a bunch of food for our roadtrip to LA and then for our flight over because we thought we wouldn't be getting any Airline food? Well, some of that was PB sandwiches. They were pretty gross by the time we got to London. So we fed some birds in St. James's Park. Those ducks, etc. (so many cool birds!) were not shy. These mallards came right up to Joshua and would snatch the sandwich pieces right out of his fingers. I think they even got his fingers once or twice.

 Then the pigeons came and swarmed us. Such gross birds.
 We sat to rest our feet for a bit while Joshua fed some more birds. These mallards sure were persistent. They knew what was up. "Gimme that food!"
In this park I kept thinking of old videos we'd watch of when my parents went to London when we were little. There were a bunch of swans at a park (not sure if it was this one), and they'd all waddled into the water, and as they'd get in, they'd wiggle their tails a bunch of times. Was it St. James's Park?
Feeding the birds was fun for Joshua. We tried to do a lot of things that were fun for him, that would be enjoyable for us as well.
We all had a lot of fun in Kensington Gardens.
 Joshua noticed that we would do this a lot to maps, so he started showing us where the map went, too.
 We stopped by to see the Peter Pan statue.
 I tried to capture the angle that they get in the end of Hook, but it wasn't quite the right time of day. I'm really glad that we did go see this statue as Robin Williams passed away later this year.
 Just open space to run was all Joshua really needs. We ended up getting a little bit lost in this one. It's SO BIG! How do people live without giant landmarks like mountains.
 We went to the Diana Memorial playground, and had to wait for about half an hour to get in. They just monitor how many people are in there at once so it's not completely swamped. We thought it was pretty cool, but then we knew it was awesome once we turned the corner and saw this beauty:
 A giant pirate ship!
 Joshua had so much fun climbing around on it...
 and in it...
 and watching other kids do things he couldn't quite do yet.
He waited for his turn at the steering, then I'm pretty sure he ran us into a few other boats, maybe some cars.
Here's a random one: Someone had left their dog outside of the park, tied to the fence. That dog was bound and determined to get free. He was gnawing and gnawing at that leather strap on the leash.
Wow, there is still so much to write about. This might be a 3 or 4 part series. I'll end it with another picture from John & Christin's house in the evening. After a long day of exploring London, we let Joshua veg-out and watch a movie (Planes? Frozen?) on the tablet.

Europe Trip: May 3 to May 9 Part 1

Frankly I don't remember what day we did what, in what order, and how long it took us and what we ate, and it's not really that important. This is the time we spent in England. We stayed with our friends John and Christin Whitton and their two little ones in their little apartment in Chigwell. They were there for a year for John's school. It was so much fun to see them, and I think we stayed up late talking every night even though we were all exhausted. Then Joshua would stay up even later, struggling with jet lag, and crawl all over us while we tried to sleep on an air mattress in their living room. Christin was starting a new "diet" which avoided animal products like milk, eggs, and cheese, as a protest to the animals' living conditions. Unfortunately that's just about all we eat, so we stocked up her fridge with all sorts of delicious dairy and eggs. She did make this delicious granola that John said tasted, "like old people." I thought it was fine.
Most of the days we were there, we'd take the Tube into London and see the sights. We got Oyster cards, but didn't end up getting a week pass because one or two of the days we were there we didn't end up going into the city, so it wasn't really worth the extra cost. We went to church with them on Sunday and man, I was sooo jet lagged and tired. I ended up sitting in the foyer for sacrament meeting because it was hot, and I just could not sit in there anymore. Remember now, I was about 7 months pregnant. One nice lady asked if I was OK and I had to explain that I was jet lagged, and pregnant, and tired, but fine.
Christin and her two kiddos were able to come with us to a few things, but her youngest was sick that week, so he was cranky, and Christin was tired, so they didn't end up coming to many things. Mostly because London is not very stroller friendly. There are many tube stations with only stairs. No elevators or escalators. Joshua enjoyed playing with N, but she was in a stage where sharing is not an option, so for several months after coming back, when we'd mention N, he'd say how she'd say, "No! Mine!" We have since seen them again and their friendship has grown past that.
 Here they are playing at a park near their house.
 Dave and Joshua washing dishes together in the cute little kitchen.
 Playing at the toy museum.
 Building (and knocking down) towers at the toy museum.
 Building more towers.
 Pretty sure this tower lasted all of 10 seconds.
 N playing with the magnetic hair for faces at the toy museum.
 Joshua was more interested in the magnets than the hair. To be honest, the hair didn't move around very well.
Later they headed home for nap time while Joshua made us some lunch at the toy kitchen at the toy museum.
Quick side note: Transportation was very pricey in London. We spent probably about $20/day just to use the public transportation. It would have been more if we had used any buses. The weekly pass was not considerably cheaper. One nice benefit about London is that most of the museums are free. If we lived there, we'd probably go to this museum at least once/month. Since transportation was so expensive, we tried to go to one area, and explore the whole area on foot, rather than hopping on and off the Tube to see everything. This meant that there was a LOT of walking. They do say that walking is a good way to get rid of jet lag. Oh our feet ached by the end of the day. Even Dave's and Joshua's. After a day or two, Joshua got carried a lot. Like I said, London isn't stroller-friendly, but maybe some sort of back-pack carrier would have been a good idea.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Sightseeing

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Europe Trip: April 30 to May 2

Road Trip and Flight

On April 30 we were packed up, Monkey was at Christian's house, and we had things in order with our business and home to go on our trip. So we left about mid-day and drove down to Vegas to stay at "Hotel Fleming" with Danielle and Austin. We were able to have a nice visit with them, get a good night's sleep, and head out the next day for California. In California, we stopped at Allen and Alisa's house for lunch and a quick visit, and then Uncle Kent and Aunt Emiko drove us to LAX in our car so they could park it at Allen and Alisa's house while we were gone. Unfortunately Allen, Richard, and Cynthia were all busy and we couldn't see them on our very brief visit. We booked our trip directly from LAX to Copenhagen because it was significantly cheaper than trying to book from SLC. It was also significantly cheaper to drive down to LAX than it would have been to fly. Bonus: we got to see some friends and family on the way.
Just outside of Vegas there are these solar power plants. They have a ton of mirrors reflecting the sun to this tower full of water, which makes the water boil...and create energy. That's about all I know about them (and that might not be 100% correct either). You can google them if you're interested. They are pretty cool.

Let's back up a bit. We got an amazing deal on tickets, so round trip for all 3 of us was only $2000. We opted out of the meals on the plane to save like $50 each, and just packed a carry-on full of food. So we got to the airport, boarded our plane, and took off on our 11 hour flight to Copenhagen. A few hours in, they started handing out food to everyone, including us. So we got crappy airline food PLUS our suitcase full of snacks. I don't think we even opened our suitcase the whole flight. So we were left with a ton of snacks to use throughout our travels. Joshua slept for about half the flight, so we were also able to sleep a bit, which was nice. 
We landed on May 2, then took another short flight from Copenhagen to London. Turns out there was no public transit from that airport, so we took a bus in to Stratford. Also, no one knew where the Chigwell station was, which was comforting. We finally figured out buying Oyster cards, and hopping on the subway to get to Christin and John's house. Being at Stratford station at night was interesting. It's not the greatest neighborhood and some guy got all in my face, but there were security people right there that got on his case about it. 
When we were almost there, I suddenly remembered that it was May 2. "Happy Anniversary" I said to Dave as we struggled to stay awake. It was pretty funny that our actual anniversary was spent traveling and not even knowing what day it was because of jet lag.
We had no way of contacting Christin & John, just their address (SIDE NOTE: If you fly into England, you must know the address and phone number of where you are staying to even get past customs. Thank goodness I had remembered to ask for that before we left.). So we got to their station, and asked the station master where to go from there, and he said that John had been coming by every once in a while to check and see if we had gotten lost. Turns out their house was right across the street from the station, so that was a relief. I don't remember much else from that night except crashing on the air mattress.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Maggie's Birth Story

I'm not sure I ever got around to writing Joshua's birth story out. I think I just wrote down notes and never got to writing it all out. His story is relevant to this story, so here's a brief summary:
I had braxton hicks contractions pretty regularly for several days, but they didn't hurt. Monday, December 27th, Dave and I were shopping at Smith's (the same one where we met) and they started hurting enough that I had to stop and squat down for each one. So we went to the hospital. They checked me in, asked me all sorts of questions I was too in pain to answer. I requested an epidural first thing. It kicked in and was like a warm blanket of tingliness and happiness. They checked my progress and couldn't feel his head, so they got the ultrasound in and found his head way up in my ribs. Since it was 2 days after Christmas, my doctor was out of town and the team of doctors that turn babies was out of town, so the doctor on call said, "Well, you're going to have a C-section." He gave me a couple hours to see if Joshua would turn again, but he didn't. So Joshua was born that evening at 6:15ish via C-section. I caught a cold that day, and was miserable for many many weeks. (You try coughing with a 6" incision on your abdomen.) I also had some digestion problems (no other way to put it: I was VERY constipated) which made me miserable as well. All-in-all it was horrible. I'm realizing now that I probably had some postpartum depression--and it was the middle of winter.
Now I'll do a quick summary of Maggie's birth for those of you who want to know what happened, but don't want the gory details:
I was taking a nap Sunday, July 13th afternoon (5:30pm) and I felt what I thought might be my water breaking, so I waddled to the bathroom and discovered lots of blood. So we packed up and dropped Joshua off at Dave's parents' house and headed to the hospital (6:00pm). They hooked me up to the IV and the epidural in case I had to be whisked off for a C-section. I hadn't felt any pain with contractions yet to this point, so epidural in, I was pain-free the whole time. I sat in bed for about 3 hours, but I didn't progress from the 4cm I was at when I got to the hospital. So the doctor came and broke my water. I sat there for another 2 hours. They checked me again and I was at a 9. The doctor came and I pushed for 25 minutes and Maggie was born at 11:36pm at 7 lbs, 3 oz and 19 1/2" long. I stayed in the hospital another 48 hours and went home and recovery is going great! Maggie is great at eating and sleeping and pooping.
Ok you birth-story junkies, here are the details (seriously, if you don't want TMI, don't keep reading):
I was 39 weeks to the day. During my nap (5:30pm) I felt a squish, so I waddled to the bathroom, and two large blood clots came out, and everything was soaked with blood. I had Dave run and get me some new panties and my stash of maxi pads. I was having a few contractions, but that wasn't anything new. For the past month I'd been having braxton hicks contractions all the time. Sometimes they even were regularly 3 min apart and 1 minute long for about an hour. It was usually about dinner time though, and would go away when I ate. I called in to the doctor to see what they advised I do. The doctor on-call said, "Yeah, you should probably go in to labor and delivery and they'll check you out to see what's going on." So we finished packing the hospital bag and Joshua's over-night bag (I even remembered to spray my blood-soaked clothes with spray-n-wash before we left), put a garbage bag and towel over the passenger seat in the car just in case, and headed to Dave's parents' house to drop Joshua off. I still didn't have any pain. I'd have a contraction here-and-there, but no pain.
We got to the hospital and joked about things as we headed up to Labor and Delivery. We signed some papers, got to our room, put the funky gown on, I even went to the bathroom, and there still wasn't anyone in the room. So we stuck our heads out and asked when we'd be seen, because I was still bleeding. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't dying and baby was ok. (Just minor things really.) They came in a few minutes later and hooked me up to the heart and contraction monitors. Baby's heart-rate was steady and I was having contractions every 3 to 5 minutes. They still weren't hurting. They checked me and I was dilated to a 4. The nurse hooked up my IV with just fluids. They got the anesthesiologist in to hook me up to my epidural. I actually felt him putting it in this time--with Joshua I was too busy being in pain to notice the epidural happening.
So I was tingly numb and just hanging out in the bed listening to the "wooshwooshwooshwoosh" of baby's heartbeat for a while. My blood pressure kept dropping (epidural = blood vessels dilating = blood pressure dropping), so they pumped me full of fluids so I would stop getting nauseated. The fluids only helped a little bit, so the anesthesiologist gave me something to constrict my blood vessels some.
They checked my progress at 9:00ish-pm and I was still only at a 4. The nurse called the doctor and had her come to break my water. Then the doctor said if I still didn't progress after a couple hours, I might have to do another C-section anyway. Boo. Hiss.
We chilled out in the hospital room for another couple hours, resting, watching HGTV (It was lame house-hunters though). The nurse checked me at about 11pm and I was at a 9! Yay! She let my doctor know and started getting everything ready. I wasn't completely numb, just tingly numb so I could still feel when contractions happened and I started feeling the "pressure" they talk about. They originally said that since it's my first time pushing, I could push for an hour, hour and a half, or two hours before baby came. Then they changed their minds because baby had descended so much. Turns out they were right. I pushed for 25 minutes and baby came out!
They plopped her on my belly, she pinked up nicely right away (except her adorable purple hands and feet). She was already rooting around like crazy, but they had to do their little tests, etc. before they let me feed her. After they brought her back we snuggled and I fed her and she latched perfectly the first time.
I had only a 2nd degree tear from her chin or nose or something, so the doctor stitched that up. Then she spent a while getting the placenta out. It didn't want to come out on its own. Since I was bleeding the whole time, they thought the placenta was detaching early, but it didn't appear to be the case when they actually got it out, so they said it was just "labor bleeding" whatever that means. The doctor also said she's pretty sure I have a full-blown bicornuate uterus on the outside, too. Since I had the septum removed last year, I don't think I'll have many problems because of it. Anyway, she got all the placenta out, stitched me up, and sent us on our way.
I'm pretty sure that I was in a wheelchair for the transfer down to Mother and Baby, but it's a bit fuzzy. Maybe I was still in the bed. I do know that when they took her to the nursery to be bathed, I was in a wheelchair, upright, feeling fine. I must have still been a bit numb at that point. The point is that I felt up to going to the nursery, too.
Now on to the recovery:
I was given a nice mesh undies/glove full of ice/witch hazel pads/giant pad diaper to help the swelling go down. They had me try and pee at some point. Now I know I wasn't at all numb for this bit. Standing up felt like my bowels weighed about 20 lbs and were trying to fall out. I tried to pee, but I couldn't. I didn't even feel like I needed to pee. They checked my belly and my bladder was very distended and pushing my uterus up quite a bit on the right side. They said they'd have me try again in half an hour and if I still couldn't go they'd put a catheter in. I knew I wouldn't be able to go then either, so I opted for the catheter RIGHT NOW instead. When you have an epidural, they put a catheter in because you can't get up to pee. I doubt you can even control the muscles, so you'd probably pee yourself without it, too. Let me tell you: I was so grateful that I have been numb for every other catheter I've ever had. My poor down-there bits were all swollen and hurty and they were poking around with a catheter, stretching stuff out, trying to find my pee hole and it was NOT FUN. Anyway, they finally got it in (I have a feeling the nurse hadn't done many catheters before...she wasn't terribly confident about it.) and my bladder released 1400 CCs of urine into the bag right away. By the end of the first hour, I had filled a 2000 CC bag with urine. Let me give you some perspective: Normally when you pee a full bladder's worth of pee, it's about 400 CCs. Four hundred CCs. I peed 2000 CCs. Two THOUSAND CCs. Now that was a relief. (pun intended)
I opted to have the catheter stay in until the next morning because I wanted to have the swelling go down and be able to pee on my own and not have to go through getting another catheter if I couldn't. Owch. So I just had them help me change my "diaper" every time the ice melted. Every time I stood up, I got that 20 lb bowels feeling, so I started freaking out that maybe I needed to poop but couldn't, too and had a pretty major break-down about having to deal with that. They calmed me down and re-assured me that it was going to be OK.
The next morning I had the catheter removed. About an hour later I was able to pee on my own. It's amazing how much such a simple thing can be taken for granted. I still don't really get the urge to pee, so I have to remind myself to go pee every couple hours. I sure hope that goes away...or comes back, or whatever. A few hours after that, I pooped! Yay! So much better already than recovery with Joshua already.
Also, this time I stuck to only taking Ibuprofen and nothing stronger. No Percocet for sure. I had the option to take a different one if needed, but I never needed it.
Day 2 in the hospital was mostly spent sleeping. I got discharged in the evening and got to go home!
Saturday, July 19th I got a major pain in my right side and I thought I was dying! It went away once I took my ibuprofen again. It happened again on Sunday. I figured if it happened again on Monday, I'd call the doctor. It did. They had me come in Tuesday, but told me if I developed a fever or vomiting overnight to go directly to the ER. I went in and it wasn't hurting at all, or so I thought. The doctor pushed on my tummy though and immense pain commenced. She said it was like I had appendicitis, but no other symptoms of appendicitis. So I peed in a cup and went home. Turns out it was a bladder infection. Got some antibiotics, and now I'm almost as good as new.
Note: At this point with Joshua, I was begging my mom to stay another week because I just could not handle doing it on my own yet. I was still in major pain, exhausted to no end, and coughing up a lung.
Summary: VBAC is MUCH better than C-Section. I think I could have another baby at some point in the future if it goes like that again. Not anytime in the near future, but sometime. Especially if it's another baby like Maggie who eats, sleeps, and poops so well.