Postpartum Brain

I'm kind of missing the days when I unloaded my thoughts or opinions on to my blog. Though, I'd be so embarrassed to go back and read those posts...which is why I never do. And you shouldn't either.

My brain is so full right now. I'm sure most women can relate to this. When do our brains ever stop?!

I've noticed that in the Fall I tend to be more contemplative and reflective about life. I also tend to be this way in postpartum, so my brain is on overdrive right now. Speaking of postpartum, how long is that phase? Like how long can one claim postpartum rights for everything that's screwed up about them?

A few months after I have a baby lots of things tend to surface. It's happened every time and tends to last until I stop breastfeeding. It's not a fun time but it allows me, or rather forces me, to work through some things that I might otherwise be able to push aside.

I can tell there are people in my life who think I should stop breastfeeding. But I just can't bring myself to do that - at least not yet. Though I have found myself pulling back my goal from nursing for one year to nursing for nine months.

This isn't something I'm unwilling to be open about. If I were talking to you in person and you wanted details, I'm an open book. But being an open book on the internet is a whole other thing...I think it has the potential to lead to insecurity and hurt with how people do or do not respond. I think for the most part people are great and empathetic, but you're always going to have someone who just doesn't get it.

Anyway, a few pictures that bring up some warm, happy feelings about this season...

Glimpses of the three brothers. Soren is too small to engage in most of their activity, but I love to see them all together and enjoying one another.

Somehow Soren is closing in on six months, which makes me feel sad at the speed of things, but happy to have such a thriving little guy. More on him in a six month post coming soon (hopefully).

Our local park is gorgeous most of the year, but was especially charming Saturday morning. You know the lighting is great when pictures from my old iPhone don't need a filter. This morning reaffirmed to me that I need to be out in nature more. It's so good for my soul.

Summer, Soren, School

Pictures from July and the first half of August...

As I was moving pictures to this post I realized there is a LOT of Soren. :) But I love to document the lightning speed growth of a baby. Seriously, I cannot believe how fast he's growing up. As I write this post he is almost four months. These pictures are from around three months though.

Soren sleeps just like Ira did. Although he's a much better sleeper than Ira was, at least so far. Soren started sleeping long stretches around two months and by three months was even sleeping all night sometimes. He's regressed a bit lately, but typically eats between 2-4 AM and then is back down until anywhere between 6:30-8.

Mid-deck build... The company building our deck had a time slot open earlier than they thought, so our deck was done by mid-July instead of mid-August, which was really fun.

Many Saturday mornings you'll find us at the farmer's market. The boys get popsicles, the parents usually get brunch, and sadly we're always too late for the good donuts. One Saturday Devin and the older boys biked (Henrik rode and Ira in the bike trailer). It was so fun to have a kid old enough to bike all the way downtown. A little scary having him cross streets but he did so well! I'm excited for next summer when Soren will be big enough for the bike trailer and we can all go together.

Devin is still loving his grill. He's smoked some incredible ribs a few times this summer along with many other good meats.

Henrik and I went school supply shopping together. It was so fun to be alone with him and talk to him about my elementary school experiences.

The boy's love and interest for Soren really hasn't wavered. They really do enjoy him and have never been jealous or annoyed he's here. So thankful.

Zoo trips. :)

For the last day before school started, Henrik asked to swim at Blair's pool (Devin's uncle) and have dinner on the deck. So that's what we did. Dinner being naan pizzas and root beer floats.

Not quite ready to be involved in pool time.

Henrik started school on a Friday but Kindergarten was just a half day. The next day on Saturday morning we made a last-minute decision to run up to the lake cottage. It ended up being such a fun day with beautiful weather. The boys really enjoyed jet skiiing, tubing and playing in the water. Soren enjoyed lounging with mom in the shade and mostly refusing to nap. This kid is making it clear he likes to sleep in his crib at home, which is funny because I made zero effort for that to happen.

Ira's favorite new picture face. Sigh. I took this one day when I was feeling pretty sad that he was eating lunch alone at the island. He and Henrik are always sitting there together. It's definitely an adjustment having Henrik gone and there have been times I've wondered if we should have had him do one more year of preschool, but I know that would be silly when he's very capable of being in Kindergarten. He's had a few tough mornings of feeling nervous and I know the days are big and it's asking a lot of him. Overall I've been so shocked with how well he is doing. I also have to keep going back to how sure I was of this decision. His teacher and really all of the adults that he's with during the day are really wonderful, Jesus-loving people and that brings me a lot of comfort. Already the feedback I've had from his teacher is so reassuring of how he's being nurtured there.

Sweet Soren LOVES baths. He smiles and practically laughs as soon as I lay him in the water. This kid is just too much fun. He smiles and laughs so easily. I love his personality so much already. This week a couple times I've gone into get him for a nap and he has rolled over from his stomach to his back. When I go in he's just laying there on his back smiling and so proud. I've yet to see him roll over because he keeps doing it in secret.

We still have some late summer fun coming up and are definitely using our weekends as best we can now that our weeks have to be more structured. But I also like the structure. I don't mind that after dinner we have to stay on track for bedtime, packing lunch, etc. I also know I'll really look forward to breaks and long weekends!

Soren, Summer Vacation, and The End of an Era

Soren is a couple weeks past two months by now. He is such a sweet baby. He's rarely fussy and rarely cries. When he does get upset it seems to be randomly in the car or evenings and usually I attribute it to being over tired. He smiles so easily and loves to "talk". At his two month well-check he was 13 lbs, 5 oz, which put him around 85th percentile for weight. Even with all his spitting up, he's gaining weight like a champ. He's well into 3-6 month clothes which is new for my babies. The other boys always wore whatever size clothes of the age they were. 

Around two months old he started sleeping longer stretches and dropped a night feeding which was a welcome surprise. I try not to have any expectations for sleep so it caught me off guard when suddenly 5-6 (sometimes up to 8) hour stretches became the norm at night. Although I don't think two weeks can be considered "the norm". So we'll see... We love Soren Devin so much and are really enjoying having him around, even if he makes our (my) summer a lot less flexible.


We spent the week of the 4th up at the lakehouse with mom, dad, and Betsy's family. Such a good week. Unusually hot weather, lots of fishing, beach time, ice cream...the usual.

Now we're home and enjoying our last month of freedom before Henrik starts school. It's hitting me hard that we're about to have a kid in school full-time. I really cannot believe how quickly 5.5 years have gone with Henrik and that we'll be sending him off to Kindergarten, ending the era of having all our young kids at home. So weird. 

Deciding where Henrik would go to school was not an easy decision. We considered all the options...public, private, and homeschool. Homeschooling and private ended up being the final two that we deliberated about for months (public isn't a great option for us because of our current school district). It was really good for me to pray through and consider the option of homeschooling because it revealed a lot about who I am, what I value, and what type of needs Henrik has. Ultimately I was able to confidently say homeschooling was not right for Henrik and definitely not right for me and my interests. It was freeing to be able to put that to rest even though we liked some of things that option offered our family. So Henrik will start his school years at the private Christian school where he did preschool. I am super confident in this being a great place for him for this year even if the adjustment to 5 full days a week is hard.

But for now, looking forward to a few more weeks of summer!

Life with all the boys

This pictures absolutely takes my breath away. Look at all these beautiful boys (and man)!

Overall I'd say the transition to having three kids has gone pretty well. Having over a three year gap between babies this time around was very nice and I'm glad that's how things worked out. In a lot of ways, it's been easier having 3 than I thought it would be, but there are for sure days that are long and overwhelming. I'm perpetually behind on my to-do list, but I expected that. Devin and I, who both enjoy a tidy home, have agreed this is a season where things are going to feel less put together and that's ok. 

For the most part Soren has been a great baby. Weeks 2-4 he was fussy in the evenings and from time to time seems to have some digestive issues that make him uncomfortable. But he's easily consoled and overall a content baby. He's up to nurse 2-3 times during the night. With my first baby I would have been losing my mind and wondering why he wasn't sleeping longer or "through the night" but I have no expectation for that anymore. I think it's healthy for babies to nurse during the night for several months and it's good for my milk supply. Of course I'm always happy when he'll do a longer stretch, but this newborn season goes so quickly and I'm enjoying the time with him, even during the night.

I think I keep enjoying each baby more and more! Around 5 weeks we started getting some smiles and by now (6.5 weeks) he's smiling and cooing consistently and melting all of our hearts. He's such a dear. 

Henrik has maintained his interest and love for Soren and is always happy to see him and interact. Ira is super sweet to Soren as well. Maybe I'm missing something, but the older boys haven't seemed too impacted my Soren's addition to our family. A couple times I've wondered if their behavior is tied to the change in our family, but mostly I think they've weathered it all very well.

It's been a little sad to feel more restricted on our summer activities. It's pretty easy to take Soren places, but I do feel limited going out with all three of them and knowing Soren will want to eat and that may be inconvenient with where we are. So we have been home more than any of us would prefer and the last couple weeks there have been some long days where everyone is a little restless. But things are going to pick up and be pretty busy the next few weeks so I should enjoy the down time. 

Vanessa Stoller Photography did an amazing job on our newborn/family session. Here are a few of my favorites...

Soren's Birth

It was an absolutely beautiful spring day on Thursday, April 26. The boys were playing outside most of the day and I got a bit of a sunburn outside watching them. Devin had decided to buy a new grill on his lunch break and ended up taking the afternoon off of work to enjoy the weather and set up and 'season' his new ceramic egg. My sister Molly stopped by as she often does after school and we sat outside chatting. I was no doubt lamenting about how I couldn't believe I was still pregnant. This conversation had been going on for the past two weeks as I was having tons of contractions - or false labor - and so many other signs of impending labor.

I had been 90% effaced and dilated 3cm for a couple weeks now with the line from my midwife of "you could have him tonight or who knows, even make it to your due date". Not helpful when each day felt like a week. Let's just say I did not enjoy the last month of pregnancy, at all.

As Molly was leaving, around 3PM or so, I mentioned I was having a few steady contractions but rolled my eyes about how I'm sure it was nothing. Since Devin was home, Ira and I decided to go for a walk. Ira was really into stroller rides that week so I pushed him around our neighborhood for about a half hour. During our walk the contractions definitely picked up and were actually pretty painful to walk through.

We had invited Devin's parents to come over for burgers on the new grill and I started to wonder if it would be good they were coming in case we needed them to take the boys home overnight. I was so hesitant to call it real labor, because I knew it could stop at any moment, but I also knew these contractions were feeling different than anything I had been having the past couple weeks. And I was only a couple days from my due date, so surely he was coming soon?!

By about 5:30 I declared to Devin I was pretty confident active labor had kicked in and I didn't think he'd be grilling after all. Devin's parents came and picked up the boys around 6:30. The Penguins playoff game was on so we (mostly Devin) watched that while I sat on the exercise ball timing contractions. Devin and I took a walk around 7:30 and at this point contractions were roughly 5 minutes apart and definitely not comfortable.

I called the on-call midwife a little before 9PM to let her know what was happening. She suggested it definitely seemed like the real thing but also didn't sound like we needed to rush to get into the hospital. However, she recommended it was better to be there a bit early than a bit late so I should head in whenever and call her when we left the house (I know my file said "history of rapid birth" from Ira, so this was probably what she had in mind as far as not waiting too long.)

At this point in the evening, I had been up since about 6AM, had a long day with the boys, no nap, and was feeling kind of exhausted. I tried to lay down and rest before what I figured would be a long night of laboring, but the contractions were too painful to sleep through. I drank a smoothie and walked some laps around our house. I was timing contractions and they were really irregular and then backing off. I was frustrated and not sure if we should just go to the hospital or if things were a long way off. However, even though the contractions weren't very close together, they hurt! So we ended up leaving for the hospital around 10:20PM.

By the time we got settled into our room at Dupont, my contractions were only coming about every 10 minutes and I was annoyed and wondering if I wouldn't even be very far along. Maryann, the midwife, checked me and I was about 6cm and she said she thought my water could break any second. I was happy to hear where I was. She suggested breaking my water after we got checked in with registration, etc. I wanted to, because I knew it would speed things up, but also knew it would ramp up the intensity and wasn't looking forward to that.

The delivery nurse came into to monitor me/baby for awhile and do the general intake. Thankfully because of the practice I go to, the nurses know they don't have to follow certain protocol, like IVs because my DR/midwife are flexible and very pro-natural birth so don't follow the L&D status quo. But I could tell the nurse was quizzing me on my past births to assess if she really thought I wouldn't end up getting an epidural and need an IV. She broke my water around 11:40PM. At that point I decided to go across the hall to use a tub. Devin said he thought the nurse's suggestion to just use the shower in the room implied she didn't really want me to get in the tub. In hindsight I think both she and Maryann thought it would all go pretty quickly.

The contractions in the tub were pretty brutal, despite still not being super close together until right at the end. I was kind of emotional and told Devin I knew what had to happen to get this baby out and I just did not want to do it. He prayed with me and though I was generally peaceful there was a heavy cloud hanging over me, I think from the mix of pain and exhaustion.

Probably after 20 min in the tub the nurse came to quick monitor baby and asked if she should check me but I declined, assuming we still had awhile. But just a few minute after she left I had two strong contractions close together and the final one made me cry/yell and I knew transition was happening. I told Devin to pull the cord and get the nurse ASAP. She was in there instantly, followed by the midwife (like I said, I'm pretty sure they were expecting it to be quick). They all walked me back across the hall. I was a bit hysterical from the pain and somehow it still wasn't clicking with me that he was coming out and I was almost done.

When we got back in the room I got on the bed and with a quick check Maryann confirmed I was 9.5 cm and I could start pushing. Maryann is a total boss lady and at this point told me firmly to calm down because I was almost done. As soon as I had a contraction I started to push. Devin had gone to grab me water and our midwife yelled at the nurse "where is dad? get him in here or he's gonna miss this birth!" Devin's disclaimer is that he was just doing what I told him to (get water) and was hurrying because he had picked up on the fact that it was happening fast.

Pushing was terrible, like it was with Ira. Definitely not a relief from the pain. I was having a hard time taking any instruction as I was kind of in my own world. Once again Maryann got firm with me and told me to stop screaming and to listen to what she was telling me to do, which was holding my legs back and lifting my head to push. It was at this point I finally realized I was, in fact, almost done and got serious about pushing him out. I started hearing encouraging things from Maryann, Devin, and the nurses, like about his dark hair and how his head was almost out. That gave me the motivation to get his head out on the next contraction. Then after a small push for his body, there he was at 12:30AM on April 27th.

He was pretty blue and had some gunk in his throat that he was having a hard time clearing. But once he did he had a nice, full cry. As soon as I saw him I thought of Ira. At this point I was still really uncomfortable and having a hard time focusing on my baby. I felt better once the placenta was delivered. And did have some stitching, which is the worst. It took me about an hour or so to feel the joy of having my baby in my arms and the relief that he was finally here. I think I made some sort of half-joking comment to Dev about how I was never doing that again so he was free to go get that vasectomy. :)

Once again I'm in awe of this process that our bodies go through of growing a human, giving birth, and then feeding that human. Seriously, women have some amazing bodies. I'm thankful and do not take for granted that I've been able to have three uncomplicated, natural births!