Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Things

Late night bright eyes

Early morning coffee

A return to an old love.

Watching my husband and boys play with wood together.

Kids skiing in the yard all morning long.

Baby toes.

Funny baby poses.
Homemade baby love, wrapped in wool.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The "Why" of our Home-birth

I love birth stories.  They're so full of the stuff of life.  They make me cry and laugh and I think that delivering a child into this world is so world-changing, that sharing is sometimes a way to process it.

I've spoken before about how I never know what will be controversial to write, and what will not.  I know going into this one that how we give birth is a hot topic.  Since I chose to have a planned home-birth this time around, and it's not a common choice, Knut and I are fairly certain that most of our friends and family will see that we have fallen off the edge into the world of hippie-dom.  I thought that at some point, I would share a bit about our decision.

Since I am too much in vacation mode to post anything new these days, I thought I'd go ahead and post this pre-written one from before Ingrid was born.  If you'd like to read the story of her birth at home, you can find it here.

I will disclaim that this is written based off of my mommy-brain memory of the research done.  I'm not sitting writing this with all the scientific data in front of me, so you may find mistakes, and I encourage you to do your own research.  I'll try my best not to exaggerate, or leave out important things, but do not use this post as some sort of scientific article on the subject.  This is more the "chat over coffee" version of this information.

In the past few years, as I have gathered with women, mostly in crafty circumstances, I have more than once heard someone's homebirth be brought up.  As I know it's something most unusual in our culture, it's something people will talk about.  I've heard people say about women I know: "but she's an educated woman!  How could she even consider?"  or "They must think the best healthcare in the world isn't good enough for them."  So knowing there may be gossip, and everyone may have a thought on why we decided to go this way this time around.  So if you are actually curious on hearing from us on why we chose a on.

Well, get yourself a snack or something first because it will get long.

Here's what our decision/home-birth is NOT:

1. It is not some sort of anti-hospital statement, or fear of hospitals.  I like doctors.  I like nurses.  I think they save lives.  I have many as friends, and I thank God that we have them.  I think it's pretty common knowledge that we live in a law-suit happy country, though.  This area of most U.S. hospitals is the most sued.  When you think about it, if something goes wrong with someone who is 90 years old, people just say "It was just their time."  If something goes wrong with a newborn, or mother, people are eager to point fingers.  Injuries at birth often lead to the necessity of long term care, and law suits are often the avenue to pay for that long term care.  We cannot fathom it could be someone's time at that stage, and I understand that.

In the 8 years that Knut and I have been parents (with me being in the hospital during all previous 4 births, Elias' NICU stay, and his 2 other lung/RSV related stays, as well as scattered ER trips here and there for various kids), we've come to this conclusion: hospitals are wonderful to be at when you're sick or hurt, and annoying and frustrating to be at when you're well.  It's not that we don't like hospitals, it's that we don't like being there when we're healthy.

I know with many hospitals, but certainly in this part of hospitals, there are very strict procedures on how everything needs to be done.  What bothered Knut and I, after going through 4 hospital births previously, is that many of these procedures are put into place by the hospitals' malpractice insurance, and are based off of what is less likely to get them sued, and not based off of good science.  There's a lot of "routine" procedures, and opting out of any of them is work.  It's human nature.  It's good business.  If we're against anything, it's stupid insurance policies that tie the hands of the OBs...not the OBs themselves.

In this area of the different hospitals I've given birth in, choices are limited.  Showing up is basically giving up any power of decision.  At least that's how it felt.  It was like being put on an assembly line, and being processed through.  That was far more true with the big city hospital we went to with our first 2 kids, as we both felt the smallish country hospital of our last 2 kids was less restrictive.  There were still lots of silly rules, but there wasn't the time pressure as much with the second hospital.  For a very long time, this lack of choices felt very normal to us.

2.  It is not a reckless choice.  I know that as Americans, we love to feel like our hospitals are the best.  We are aware that people come from all over the world to be treated for things that cannot be treated elsewhere.  We have some of the smartest doctors in the world in our country, and I would wholeheartedly agree with that.  However, when looking specifically in the department of maternity care, the United States sits #47 among the developed countries.  That means 46 other countries in the world lose less mommies and babies than we do.  We also have the second highest c-section all those c-sections aren't saving a lot of babies and mommies.  Actually that "complication" is causing many deaths.

One has to ask "why?"  Why is maternity death rate, and infant mortality rate one of the highest among developed countries?  I looked into this research a bit more because I figured that the W.H.O. (World Health Organization) that put this statistic out must be overlooking something, like we attempt to save more pre-term babies than other countries, or something like that.  However, that's not what I found.  What I found is the data got worse.  According to an article I read by Ina May Gaskin, while the other countries reported all their stats on the issue of maternal and infant mortality, the United States doesn't have a universal way to collect that data, as only 37 states require this information on death certificates.  That means we were #47 on the list with only 37 states reporting.  That's not even all of our deaths reported, against the full data in other countries.  Only Brazil was below us in the "developed countries" category, and that's probably because 90% of their births are done by c-section.  I've heard it said that the only way to deliver a baby naturally in Brazil is to get stuck in traffic.

So the curious brain of mine wanted to know what countries who were very high on the list of excellent maternal care like the Netherlands, Japan, and Great Britain were doing.  What made their maternal/infant death rates so low?  It turns out that all the countries on the top of this list had very high rates of home-births attended by qualified midwives.  As in 30-60% of the births as compared to the 1% in the United States.  Also, midwives attend way more hospital births in those countries.

You see, in those countries, healthy women with low-risk pregnancies are encouraged to give birth at home with midwives, and un-healthy or high risk women are encouraged to go to hospitals.  Sick women or complicated pregnancies with several red flags go to hospitals.  Healthy women get midwives and little intervention.  Midwives are there as a safety net for pregnancies that are completely normal, and are qualified to handle all but 2 things: medicinal pain relief and c-sections.  Pretty much everything else they're trained to handle.  Many people are questioning all of the "routine" procedures done on healthy women that actually make things unintentionally worse.

Now, there are several studies done on home-birth vs. hospital births and outcomes.  I found when looking at the research it's important you check to see how they define "home birth".  If the study included ALL home-births vs. ALL hospital births (in other words, it included home-births that were unintentionally at home, without a midwife, or in the car on the way to the hospital, etc, etc.) than hospital births were safer.  If the study compared qualified home-births (low-risk pregnancy attended by midwife) vs. low risk women in hospital births, there was no question it is safer to give birth at home.  I should point out, that the edge in either version on the study was a thousandth of a percent difference, or something like that.

Basically the conclusion I got from international sources is that pregnancies objectively qualifying as "low risk" had better outcomes with a midwife, and pregnancies objectively qualifying as "high risk" had better outcomes with a doctor.  There is no across-the-board right place or attendant for birth.

So while I know there are many stories that can be told of: "My baby could have died if I had not been in a hospital" I do not wish to argue with that.  Hospital births are necessary, and we should be grateful we have that option when things go wrong.  I do not wish to say that ALL woman should give birth at home, because that's just not good science.  I most certainly do not wish to say that my home is the best home to give birth in, because I don't want you all coming over here to have your babies.  ;)

I think what is important is that as women, we educate ourselves about our body, and take control of decisions being made about our body.  We should ask good questions from smart people, and make decisions, and not leave the decision making to someone else.  After all, when all is said and done, we're the ones who have to live with the body that remains, and live with the decisions that were made.

I love this quote from G.K. Chesterton (a friend and contemporary of C.S. Lewis): "Without education, we are in horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously."

3. It's not some sort of feminist masochism:  I didn't choose this because I wanted the rush, or because I just love pain so much.  I don't feel I'm superwoman, or have something to prove.  Maybe there's a bit of my control-freakness coming out, but I hope that involving Knut in this decision would even balance me out a bit.

Also, it's not because I want to fully live the "Prairie Life" out here on the farm.  Actually, I think that those living in a city would have quite a few more midwives to choose from than I did.

When I was pregnant with our first child, my birth plan read like this:
"Drug me in the parking lot, please."

I had a lot of fear, and a lot of unknowns.  Everything ever presented to me about birth was mostly done by Hollywood, and we know how accurate they are in presenting facts.  For them it's about entertainment.  The birthing class we took at the hospital back in the city told us more about how to be a good patient than how to have a healthy birth.

I shouldn't have relied on an entertainment source for my information.  Most moms are like me and do more research on which phone or car to buy than how and with whom should I give birth.  In my mind, what I did for my first birth was the equivalent to walking into just one dealership, and buying whatever the salesman told me I needed.

My first epidural went as everyone promised.  It worked great.  With my second birth, it came too late and I had to deal with the natural pain, without any mental preparation for it.  That was horrific.  It deserves to be written again: horrific.  I was not at all mentally prepared or equipped to deal with that sort of pain.  With my third birth, I tried to mentally prepare for the normal pain, and manged much better, but out of fear it getting worse, opted for another epidural, which I got to enjoy for no more than 10 minutes because labor was going so fast.  I regretted getting it because I get such terrible headaches that last for days from epidurals, and it wasn't worth it for 10 minutes of pain relief.

With my 4th birth I wanted to avoid the epidural.  The 2 previous births it was not worth it, and I still had to deal with the side effects like not being able to move awhile after birth and the severe headaches.  So I mentally prepared for the pain, and practiced many pain management techniques, and things went so, so well!  We almost chose a home-birth last time.  Knut was all for it.  I was the one who backed out thinking, "We're just not home-birth people."  I knew if it was the status quo, I'd pick it without a second thought, but I wasn't sure I felt strong enough to go against the grain and face any judgment or defend my choice against people who thought we were being very, very stupid.  I just didn't want to turn this amazing experience of birth into a debate. 

Ironically, our families did not fight us, as we anticipated them doing.  In fact, we heard lots of positive feedback from many people.  Not too surprisingly, most people who supported our decision the most were people who have spent significant amounts of time outside the U.S.  I found that interesting.  Perhaps they were just more comfortable with ideas outside our normal culture.  I don't know.

I remember, though, as I was laboring at home before we went to the hospital, that Knut and I were both joking "Is it too late to see if a midwife can deliver this one?"  We didn't want to go to the hospital.  Hospitals are GREAT and giving you drugs for pain.  However, if you know that drugs are not for you, they don't allow many common pain managing techniques.

For one example, every hospital I've given birth in has required you give birth on your back, with your legs in the air.  Well, actually all of them said we'd have the choice of how to position me for birth, but when it came down to it, they moved me against my will however they liked.  Maybe they didn't know it was against my will because they never read my birth plan, and I was in too much pain to talk, and when Knut advocated for me, they treated him like a controlling husband and told him to step back.

Now, there's a few reasons they like you on your back.  First, most women are drugged and numb and this is the only position they can physically do.  When I say most, think 90% of women need to be on their backs because of the epidural.  Second, the doctor can get a good view of things going on while he's sitting comfortably.  They deliver sometimes several babies a day, and they don't want to be crawling around on the floor getting a good view.  Back deliveries are the status quo.

However, this is the MOST difficult position to give birth in for most women. You can't argue with the science on that.  First off, it physically makes your pelvic opening smaller. Babies are most likely to get stuck in this position.  Interventions like vacuum and forceps are more likely in this position.  You're more likely to tear in this position.  Gravity is not on your side.

Since most women in the U.S. are drugged and can't be in any other position, that is the position that is chosen for you, regardless of what you would like to do. It's protocol.  It can cause several complications that the hospital than "saves" the woman from, and we all say "Good thing she was at the hospital!"  This is just one example.

Now, I know that some hospitals our there are bringing in midwives who are the experts in "alternative" birthing methods to the typical medicated birth that doctors are experts in.  Some allow water births, birthing chairs, squatting and birthing any way you want.  I have not had that experience, and currently don't have that option.  I think it's a good trend, though!

So here I am, knowing I typically give birth too quickly for drugs.  So I'm looking to reduce the pain in other ways.  I'm trying to avoid pain and still be safe like every other mother in the world.  So I go through all the relaxation techniques.  I learn about using water, birthing balls and hot and cold compresses.  I decide to go to an expert on natural pain relief instead of going to a hospital where they are experts in medicated pain relief.  I pick a midwife who has been delivering babies for about 30 years, and transfers about 10% of births to a hospital, and always before the emergency.  She said that there are 2 main reasons that she orders a hospital transfer during labor: mom has been laboring for many hours and just wants to go (which she said is more common among first time moms), the second reason is questionable fetal heart tones.  If the baby's heart rate is not behaving normally, and cannot be improved with basic position changes, she'll order a transfer to get it checked out more thoroughly.

Now, my midwife does not have hospital privileges, so if I were transferred, I would be under a doctor's care, and back in hospital protocol.  However, she offers to stick around to be the doula and advocate at the hospital birth at that point.  Of all her births, 3% of them have ended up in c-sections at the hospital.  She's not anti-c-section, but her rate is much lower than that of a hospital where surgeons are put in charge of birth.

Also, a common question is in regard to being cared for after birth.  I mean, who wants to clean up their own birth and go fix themselves some food?  My midwife and her assistants run all of that.  They do home visits weeks leading up to the birth to see where you keep stuff, how you like things done.  My job is to drink in and cuddle my baby.  My midwife's job is to make sure we're doing well.  Her assistants' jobs are to be an extra set of hands in an emergency, and clean everything up, throw a load of laundry in the washer, do some dishes and bring up some food.  Her assistants are both trained "doulas" (which is another post I'll probably never write.  Just go google what it is.) with extra training in emergency situations so that they can be midwife assistants as well.  They'll run errands, prepare food, help out with older kids (though we chose not to have our kids at the birth) and pretty much be willing to be a help in any way they can.  Just like at a hospital, my job is to rest...except I get to rest in my own bed and no one flashes the lights on at 7am during a nurse shift change and announces cheerfully "time to take your temperature!"  I cannot even begin to tell you how much MORE rest I got at home compared to a hospital.  Part of that was just some amazing support here at home.

4. It's not lacking in modern science.  In fact, we found our midwife to be more current not only in studies done in the United States, but studies done around the world.  She doesn't stop with papers put out by the American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics, she could tell you what OBs in Australia, Japan, and England do.  Our midwife is not like a Little House on the Prairie neighbor lady next door midwife.  It's not like the stories of past of "O, my great-grandma was a midwife for someone once."  She brings oxygen, pitocin, sutures, and many other medicinal things, as well as several natural ones.  She brings 1-2 trained assistants to the birth to be an extra set of hands.  She discusses with me and orders up labs during the pregnancy to see if any red flags are coming up.  She educates me during our hour long prenatal appointments on how we can avoid various complications with preventative measures.

When looking into midwives, you hear the term "evidenced-based care" vs. "routine care" of hospitals quite a lot.  I've found that most midwives are very reluctant to use any intervention that hasn't been thoroughly proven as beneficial.  Hospitals are more willing to allow procedures (mostly that the mother wants and asks for) with some risk because they have the back up of a c-section if that risk becomes a reality.  And history has showed them that you can't get sued if you gave them a c-section.  A c-section in the courts means you did everything in your power to save the mother/baby.  Hospitals are rarely sued for unnecessary c-sections.

After this pregnancy, if someone were to ask me where I learned the most about managing a healthy pregnancy, I'd say I learned 10% of what I know from my 1st 4 pregnancies, and 90% in this last pregnancy.  I just got so much information and guidance that was fitted to my body, and my unique needs.

I bet I heard Knut say 7 different times throughout the pregnancy: "You're handling this pregnancy so much better than I've ever seen you handle pregnancy before!"  This was my first pregnancy where I had no anemia, no GBS, my heartburn was cut down to about 1/4 of what it was in other pregnancies, and no signs at all of preterm labor.  To me, that was the difference of midwife-lead care.  My midwife had so many solutions I had never even thought of.  She would listen to every complaint of mine, and come up with some herb, some diet change, some exercise, some stretch, and problems started diminishing.

Even though we're not in a hospital, she works with the NACPM model of care:

"The Midwives Model of Care™ is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events and includes:
  • monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle;
  • providing the mother with individualized education, counseling and prenatal care,
  • continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery and postpartum support;
  • minimizing technological interventions; and
  • identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.
The application of this model has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma and cesarean section."

I also like this quote from her: "I believe in trusting the birth process, woman-led birth practices, supporting the mother-baby unit, and using technology judiciously."

What I also love about her is how much she left Knut and I in control of our family.  It was such a new approach for us!  For instance, before the birth, she went over all of the newborn procedures for us to research first.  Let's just pull one example out, and that was the vitamin K shot.  At the hospital, they just do it.  In fact, with several newborn procedures in some hospitals, if parents question what is being done to their child, social services are called.  It's a new trend in maternity care I've been hearing a lot about.

Our midwife gave us research supporting the vitamin K shot, research supporting oral dosages of vitamin K, and research supporting not giving the shot at all, as different schools of medicine have different opinions on this procedure.  Only after we had read the research was she willing to give her opinion on it when we asked.  She believes it's our decision, and she brings both injections and oral options to the birth. There was so much respect offered and exchanged in this relationship.  She gave the ownership and responsibility of the birth to us, and it wasn't just showing up and being put through a system.  For us, it was an amazing experience throughout the whole pregnancy.

There is no personal responsibility in the hospital.  Law suits and insurance companies have told them so, so you can't really blame them.  Our legal system has told them that they hold all the responsibilities therefore they hold all the decisions.  I still remember my mom telling me the story of when she had first child and asked her doctor what she should expect for labor.  He just smiled and said, "You just let me worry about that.  You just have to show up."  That is not okay, and no woman should be reassured by that.  I know she wasn't.  That idea is still around, though among women.  It's the idea that doctors know how we should give birth, and we should just be quiet and do what we are told. I'm not trying to advocate one way of giving birth or another, but I am advocating that we as women do our own research, follow our guts, and do what we think is best for us and our children.

Legally they have to ask you permission to do a procedure to your child, but you're not exactly allowed to refuse care either, at least that was our impression.  We were told at 2 different births that if we refused care that the doctor wanted to do, and sign a waiver, our insurance company could refuse to pay for the whole birth.  Whether or not that is true, we never found out.

(For those wondering, we have chosen the oral vitamin K, an option not available in most US hospitals.  I assume the reasoning is parents are really bad at coming back for multiple treatments as this option requires.  It requires a few strong doses over the course of a few weeks, instead of one massive dose given as an injection, but our midwife was willing to come to us to give the dose so it wasn't any greater inconvenience to us.)

If someone wants to look into birth more or find out how midwives differ from obstetricians, I highly recommend the documentary "Business of Being Born" although, like all documentaries, you'll have to sift a bit through the facts.  You can find in on Netflix and pretty much everywhere else.  I thought it was inspiring, and removed a lot of fear about birth, not instilled it.  So if you're pregnant, this isn't a "scary" movie.  It's a "I can do this!" sort of movie.  It was so empowering and eye opening.

It also talks a bit about how midwives and OBs work together in other countries, much to the benefit of women and babies, but in our country they're in an economic battle between OBs and midwives and they rarely work together as the "same birth for all" approach gets pushed through the courts.  (As well as the fact that births attended by midwives earn hospitals roughly 1/3 the income of OB attended births as midwives charge less and use less interventions, and women usually recover faster, and many hospitals are not so eager to lose that income.)

The only reason I set you a bit on guard for the movie is that some of the scientists make some claims in the last 1/4 of the movie that are based off of evolutionary suspicions, and draw conclusions about drugs during birth's effect on how much a mother loves her child.  I did not like those thoughts, and personally thought they were untrue for me personally as a mother who has given birth with drugs and without drugs, and thought it was insulting to those adoptive mothers out there too.  Sure, bonding sometimes takes longer with more drugs or longer recoveries, and I assume through adoptive procedures as well, but bonding does happen, and it's powerful.  We are not chimps.  That was my only beef with the movie and it was really lightly stated near the end.  I have a beef with most documentaries on some small point.

I also thought a good read on the subject was Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife which are the memoirs of a labor and delivery nurse who ended up becoming a midwife that worked both in and out of hospitals.  It has an entertaining and educational look into both worlds, and her personal battle with insurance companies.  My only warnings with this book is that she highlights several births that were memorable, but not necessarily "normal."  They're certainly entertaining, though!  Also, her client list is extremely varied from the extreme communal hippies to business-like lawyers to conservative Muslim women.  So know that going into reading it.  I found it fascinating.

Again, I want to point out: I just had a baby, so keep that in mind when commenting.  I didn't post this in order to start a debate or a conversation.  I'm not going to spend a bunch of time monitoring the comment section, and if I do find a big debate going on in there with this hot topic, I may decide to just shut the comments down for this post.  The biggest fear I had about a home birth was not any danger factor, but having to defend myself against the judgment of others.  I'm not sure what that says about me, but there you have it.  I don't care if you give birth in a hospital or birthing center or at home.  I have simply witnessed gossip about this topic with other women, and want to get some information out there.

My only wish is that mothers are given good information and good choices, and then they can decide what is best for them.  I know our choice is not the norm in our area, and I post this for the purpose of heading up any speculation or worry those who care about me may have.  We loved our home birth, and although we have not made any big, definite decision about whether or not we'll have any more children, I can tell you we'd only go back to the hospital kicking and screaming.  The transition to having one more child in this house has been so smooth and restful in so many ways.

And now, I will slowly and shyly step down from the soap box.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Scenes from Christmas

Just before Christmas came, we brought Ingrid over to her great-grandparent's house so that they could meet her in peace before the crowds.  I got a few pictures at this house, but I forgot my camera when we went to visit another one of her great-grandmothers.  Pictures like this make me overflow with thanks that God has let such precious people into my life.

This is the great-grandparent's Christmas tree.  It always has the signature Norwegian flags strung around.  We hadn't heard it before, but Knut asked his grandpa where the tradition of putting flags on the tree came from.  He said in WWII, when Germany was occupying Norway, it was illegal to fly the flag.  The Norwegian people were very proud of their flag, so they would put strings of them on their Christmas tree, because the Nazis never seemed to mind them being there, or rarely actually went into homes to inspect for flags.  His family in Norway always put flags on their tree as a sign of rebellion against the German occupation.  We found that interesting.

Here is Great-grandpa (known by the kids as "Oldefar") whispering his Norwegian blessing on Ingrid, as he has done for all of the children.  I don't know what he says, but it's sweet just the same.  He's about completely blind now, and it twinged my heart to hear him say "I wish so much I could see her face."  Ingrid stayed content in his arms for quite some time.

This is at Knut's parents' house for the big Christmas celebration of 50+ relatives.  Silje got to play her piano piece "The First Noel" to the crowd, after she had played it earlier in the night at church.

This is my present from Knut.  I got this sweet Kelly Moore camera bag/purse.  I'm so excited about it! It's way cooler in person than on the website.  It's perfect.

Here's our fireplace, with stockings hung with care.  We've been literally living in this living room the last few weeks.  It's so festive in here with the fireplace, and the tree.  Our wi-fi doesn't reach this room in the house, and there's no television in this room, and very, very few toys.  Every member of our family loves to be in here because it's just so peaceful and a great place to talk, be quiet, sing songs, read books, or just stare into the Christmas lights or fire.  I love this room.

Here's our tree all decorated.  The kids each got a new ornament this year, and I'm happy to report that so far, Solveig has not destroyed any.

Here's the boys devouring their new Legos this Christmas morning.  I have to say, I was really anxious about Christmas coming with all the new toys that were going to be entering our house.  Yesterday, when the kids got all their gifts from relatives, I was delighted to see them get so many lovingly homemade gifts, and such thoughtful crafts and activities for them to do.  I've had a hard time figuring out how to convey to family that cheap plastic toys just don't last in our house and are wasted in a matter of days.  I would much rather them have something small that wouldn't break than a large toy that would break.  I just don't want to seem demanding, but I do want them to know what actually gets put to use here.  I was so excited to see what they all got.  I'm so blessed with such thoughtful people in our lives.

The table was all set for Christmas brunch with our fine china, and I let the kids drink their juice from goblets, and we enjoyed egg-bake and clementines and caramel rolls.  The caramel rolls didn't turn out so good, but since they were smothered with caramel, no one complained.  We drank warm wassail from the tea cups.  Solveig especially loved drinking from the china tea cup, and thought she was at the fanciest tea party ever.

 Just before naps on Christmas Day, as we were just sitting around watching the kids play with their new things, Knut asked me if I was ever going to cut Solveig's hair.  It's been constantly messy lately, and she has this terribly mullet.  She pulls almost everything out of her hair and just looks crazy.  Silje always kept things in her hair, and loved getting it brushed and done.  He never wanted me to cut Silje's hair, but I've been bringing up to him that I think Solveig would really look better with a neat little short cut.  He agreed, but didn't seem enthusiastic about it.  So I just let it go.  Anyway, turns out he liked the idea, and wondered why I never followed through.  So before we could change our minds, I brought out the hair cutting scissors, and on Christmas Day, chopped the back of Solveig's hair.  I wet it down, so I'll try to get some nice "after" pictures later.  She loved getting her hair cut.  She was wiggly, and I've never cut hair on a little girl this young. Silje didn't get a hair cut until around kindergarten, and Knut has always cut the boys' hair with the electric clippers.
Hopefully I did okay!  I really know pretty much nothing about cutting hair, so hopefully it will look okay, although I'll probably "fix" it as needed over the next few days.  She liked it.  She kept saying, "Pretty!  Pretty!"  She absolutely did not want to take the cape off around her neck.  She liked that on a lot.  By the way, there are no "after" pictures, as I said.  This is just Knut snapping pictures as I was working on it.  I'm sure this isn't the last of her pictures on this blog, though, so you'll see the after soon enough.  ;)

Not everything got done this year.  My Christmas letter is still sitting in the office, but it did get written and printed off.  I didn't get to making a gingerbread house for us to decorate today.  I wanted to just eat the candy, but Silje convinced me to hold off and just make a gingerbread house later this week.  I'm thinking I'm going to sneak into the bag of M&Ms at least just a little.

Knut's mittens didn't get done, and he barely had anything to open Christmas morning, and I felt really bad about that.  There's more to that saga, but the good news is they're ALMOST done.  I did have a book for him to open which he's been wanting.  It's a biography of George Washington, and he was very happy to get that.  There was more to his present, but as it involved his ski training, I let him have it a few weeks ago so that he could get full use of it this winter.

Christmas cookies didn't get made, and the one batch I did do of Knut's favorite (mocha truffles) went terribly wrong, and I'm not sure they're even edible.  Knut made fudge and his other favorites (Ritz crackers sandwiched with peanut butter and dunked in almond bark) so we have some cookies in the house.

Still, this may have been my favorite Christmas ever.  I just loved being home this morning with my kids.  I love seeing them play with all the wonderful things they got with such excitement.  I loved seeing them delighted over the fancy brunch, and I've enjoyed all the snuggles and pajama living that has consumed all of us.

Jesus, thank you for coming to save us.  Thank you for my family.  Thank you for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yarn Along

Understandably, knitting and reading have slowed up quite a bit this week.  The birth of little Ingrid here at home last Friday have allowed us some lovely time alone as a family, though and we have enjoyed it.  Knut's dad picked us a Christmas tree for us, which K and I put up last night after the big kids' Christmas concert.  We plan to decorate it tonight.

The concert was Ingrid and my first venture out, and it went really well.  We kept it short and sweet.  I was grateful that it was rescheduled from last Saturday due to weather.  I wouldn't have been able to see them sing without that freezing rain!

As you see, I keep plugging away at Knut's Christmas mitten.  I'm pretty much done with the knit-in lining for it, and all that's left is the thumbs...and the left mitten.  I've had another non-knitting present I've been working on in the evenings that I can't write about on the blog for obvious Christmas-y reasons.  I finished that as well, so the rest of the evenings until Christmas can be me just sitting on the couch and knitting as Knut snuggles Ingrid and we'll finish up watching Season 2 of Downton Abby before Season 3 comes out in January.

No reading these days, besides readers with David.  He's bringing me books all the time now, and I've gotten him started on Magic Tree House series.  Silje was emotionally spent after a weekend at Grandmas, and needed some regrouping.  She loves being at Grandma's so much, but I don't think she gets much alone time over there and I think we let her spend 1 day there too long and she got homesick.  Plus there have just been some adjustments with the new baby.  I have a stash of books that I buy on impulse that I hide until she seems to need a pick-me-up, so I pulled out A Wrinkle in Time from my secret stash which was one of my all time favorite books from childhood.  I was thinking she wouldn't be old enough to read it yet, but I asked her to give it a try.

She perked up right away at the sight of a new book, and she hasn't really put the book down since besides to sigh and say "This is the best book ever!"

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along, and enjoying her posts on Advent.  I love the reminders to prepare our hearts for the real meaning of it all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Birth Story

Well it all happened so fast, that I'm not sure how long this post will be!  I'm getting this done while it's fresh in my mind, and I only have one child in my care, and I share that with Knut.  I feel like I have time on my hands today.  So restful.

As I wrote, the midwife spent the whole afternoon at our house the day before.  She checked me before she left, and I was still barely dilated.  I was tired that evening, though, so I went to bed much earlier than I normally do.

Around 4am, a hard contraction woke me up.  I noted the time, and went back to sleep.  The next one came about 20 minutes later, and I was having trouble breathing through it.  I often count during a contraction, to see how long, and to give my brain something to do, or focus on while it's going on.  Both of these were over a minute, and both of them gave me the thought, "Now THAT'S the real thing."

I knew right away this was "real labor" so I was trying to focus on resting in between them, as they were still about 20 minutes apart.  Well, the next one came 15 minutes later, and I decided to hop in the tub to see if I could slow them back down so I could go back to sleep.  While sitting there for 30 minutes, I had only one really hard contraction, and I thought I was too tired to sit and wait that long for the next one.  So I just went back to bed.

My breathing during these contractions started waking up Knut who was sleeping a bit on edge.  When he got up that morning, he asked me about it, and I told him I was getting some really strong ones.  He went to feed the kids breakfast.

When the contractions moved to every 10 minutes, I got up to see if a change in position or movement would have an impact on them.  I went downstairs, and was planning on just vegging and timing them. However, the next contraction I got when I sat down on the couch was so intense, that I went over to Knut who was talking on the phone and said "I'm calling B now.  I'm telling her to get over here.  That last one was crazy."

So Knut got into high gear in getting the kids ready to go to his parents.  I was sending some of them upstairs as he made some phone calls, and while Knut finished gathering all their things, I hopped in the shower since I was feeling a bit gross.

The shower felt great, but the contractions were insanely intense.  I just remember thinking "was it really this hard the other times?"  It was like I was having transition level contractions, every 10 minutes, first thing in the morning.  I wasn't sure what to make of it.

B said she was coming right over.  Knut's dad was picking up the kids as I got out of the shower and started looking for a place to be comfortable, which wasn't really possible.  I tried sitting on the exercise ball I had gotten, since using that in previous births was so helpful.  I started rocking on it, and got another intense contraction, and decided I hated the ball.

I had felt better in the shower, so I thought water might be the key.  I went upstairs and got in the tub.  I told Knut I would need his help through the contractions and to get up as soon as he could.  He was busy getting some corn in our corn stove, to make sure the heat was good as the midwife came over.  When he got upstairs, he mentioned that he had just 2 phone calls to make.  I told him they could wait.  He could tell I meant business, and helped me through the next 2 contractions, even though there were still 5-8 minutes between them.

I told him I was starting to feel pressure, which was confusing to me since the contractions were still so far apart, and had only started a few hours earlier.  He quickly got to a window to see if the midwife was driving in.  She wasn't, and we both commented that she should be there any second.  I told Knut that these contractions were crazy, and there's no way I could do them all day.  This baby better be here by noon or before, because I just wasn't handling it.  Each one made me feel out of control, and I couldn't do it all day.  I just couldn't.  They were still over 5 minutes apart, and I was thinking how far I probably had to go, and was already feeling defeated.  I should have known that these were "baby is almost here" thoughts.

She got there, and peeked her head in the bathroom to say a quick "hi" and then started setting up some of her sterile supplies.  A minute later, I got another contraction that really freaked me out because the bag of waters buldged out of me and I new that meant the baby's head was coming next.  I felt down and felt the buldging bag and the words that went through my mind at that point aren't really fit for this blog.

So I did what any rational person would do and started screaming "The baby's coming!  The baby's coming!"  B was by my side in an instant, and since her assistants weren't there yet, she was telling Knut what to do.

I wasn't planning on giving birth in the tub, but that's where I was, and I wasn't about to move.  Our tub isn't deep, and I started to stand so that someone else could catch the baby.  I had always wanted to lean forward in all of my past deliveries, and was always told to lay back which always hurt.  Well, I leaned forward putting my weight on B who was kneeling or squatting or something.  I don't remember.  She told Knut to help her catch the baby since she would be slippery.  The next contraction, Ingrid's head came out, in the caul, which had never happened to me before.  One more contraction and more of her came out, and the bag of waters tore.

I was not doing well at this point.  I was totally freaked out and it was all happening so fast, and I was very noisy.  B told me calmly that one more contraction, and she would be all out.  She was right.  One more small contraction, and Knut and B were handing me my daughter.  I sat down slowly in the tub, and just held her and stroked her as she started to breathe.  The cord wasn't cut, we gently rubbed her back a bit, and without screaming, she just started breathing and looking around a bit at her new world. It was so amazing.  Everything got quiet.

I kept holding her as the afterbirth was delivered just a few minutes later.  At that point, the midwife gave the cord a "long cut" so we could transport baby and me over to the bedroom.  I waited holding my baby as the bed got set up with pads and pillows, and then Knut got to hold the baby as B helped clean me up and get me over to the bedroom.

After B did some vitals checks on Ingrid, I tried nursing Ingrid at that point, and she latched on perfectly right away.  Nursing your 5th is so much easier than your 1st!  That's when the cramping started, so I asked for someone to get me some Advil.

Around that time, one of B's assistants arrived, and they went to work cleaning up the bathroom.  Knut and Ingrid and I snuggled on the bed and we inspected her long fingers and cute toes.  When everything was cleaned up, B and her assistant came in and asked if they could do the newborn check up now that we were all settled.  So she got weighed, and her cord got cut much shorter so that it wouldn't snag so easily.  I guess I had never watched my other newborns get their check, or I wasn't sure what all was being inspected, but B explained everything she was doing in great detail, and why she was checking each part of her.  It was really interesting.

After that it was my check up, and we were all glad to see that I had very, very minimal bleeding (which was a worry after my last birth) and no tearing at all.  Everything was looking good, so then she got to work getting me some food, and a cup of hot tea.  It was really good herbal tea that melted pretty much every muscle in my body to putty.
(Left: B weighing Ingrid in her little blanket scale)

After the checks, the assistant went home, and B stuck around for a little while longer and talked over some need to know care things.  She basically said she was on call for us for the next week, day or night.  Just call her and she'd be right over.  We made plans for her to check on me the next day.  Then she went home.

The rest of the day was so...quiet.  We made phone calls, and took some pictures.  Knut made  a special supper I had in the freezer for after the baby was born.  It was some sort of Greek steak and spinach meat roll that I got at the butcher's to celebrate the baby's birth.  So he threw that in the oven with some potatoes, and heated up some green beans.  You should of seen how excited he was to be having this yummy supper with just us in our bedroom.  He brought up supper to the bed on china plates with linen napkins, and served milk in wine glasses.  It was high class, I tell you!  Knut and I each got a nap, and all the snuggles with Ingrid she could take...which was a lot.

Knut's parents brought the kids over to meet their new little sister in the evening, and then went back to spend the night at Grandma's, which they were really excited about.  Solveig promptly went over to Ingrid, and said "Baby!  Hold!  Hold!"  So she climbed in my lap, and I helped her "hold" the baby.  It was a mistake, though, because then her 2 year old self put her hand up and shouted "No!  My Baby!" every time anyone else went near Ingrid.  Solveig has claimed her as her own, and didn't like any of her other siblings hold her.  Poor Silje had to wait until we could pry Ingrid out of Solveig's hands, which took awhile.

The boys found the exercise ball we had blown up for the labor, and thought bouncing it up and down the hallway was way more fun than their new sister.

Finally getting her turn: my oldest and my youngest together.  Unfortunately Ingrid started to fuss at this point, so she didn't get to hold her long.  I think Silje still wants to get a chance to hold her longer, and we assured her that she'll have plenty of time to do that!

When talking tp family on the phone, people seem curious as to how we liked the birth at home.  Well, if you're talking to Knut, he'll tell you how amazing it was.  He was thrilled with it being at home, and was so calm and excited about his role in the birth.  However, most people don't trust the dad's opinion.  After all, he didn't give birth.

As for me, I would agree that giving birth at home was a really good choice for us.  We did a lot of research, we knew what we wanted and what we didn't want.  I have a whole post of the "why" behind our home birth written out, (the long version) and you can find that here.

I hesitate, though, in saying the birth was wonderful because it was so intense.  It wasn't some quiet bliss of an occasion, but then again, neither were my hospital births.  Birth in general isn't some pleasant easy thing for me.  I liked this more, though because I had more things to keep my mind occupied at home instead of just sitting there, waiting for another wave to come.  Due to my fast labors, I haven't had the option of an epidural or other pain relief for the last couple births.  In my opinion, hospitals specialize in medicated births, and midwives specialize in unmedicated births.  Since we knew our only option was unmedicated, we decided to go this route.

However, the recovery was so peaceful.   The care and respect we were shown in our own home, and the privacy and peace of it all was so so good.  I just love sitting in my own bed, snuggling with my husband and baby.  I like eating our own food, and just going with the flow.  I liked having our kids "visit" the new baby in a place where I wasn't worried about them pressing buttons they shouldn't or running screaming up and down the hallway.  Well, they did run up and down the hallway while they visited here, but it was in their house, and I knew they weren't bothering anyone.

I loved working with the midwife model of care.  We literally spent hours with our midwife, discussing options and getting some amazing preventative education.  I can't believe that with this 6th pregnancy (counting my miscarriage), I learned about 90% of my current knowledge on managing a healthy pregnancy.  Her information was invaluable.  Our wishes were respected to a "T" as she knew them by heart, and had helped us make a lot of educated decisions on the way.  She was so well equipped for so many different scenarios should they arise, but fortunately, none of them did and we had pretty much no medical intervention.  We had a back up plan for a hospital transfer should we have needed one, but we didn't.  While doctors are able to do a great many things for women's care, most midwives specialize in just birth, and they're darn good at it!

There were never any need for needles, and all our prenatal work of preventing any bleeding problems this time seemed to pay off.  Minimal bleeding, no tearing, no cutting, no stitching.  Although she didn't stay for many hours after the birth, she did leave us with detailed instructions as to my post-pardum care, and I must say, more "strict" than any hospital I've been to, but in a lovely, resting way.  She suggests more rest, more checking, and certain foods and teas and herbs.  I feel so cared for.  The whole thing was so natural and beautiful, while still intense and painful.  All the stuff of life in a day like that.  All in all, it was amazing.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Ingrid Noelle
7 lbs, 6 oz, 19 inches long
Born at 9:23 am, 12-14-12

Mama and baby are feeling so good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Round 1

I'll interrupt my normal homeschooling post to chat a bit about yesterday.  I thought we'd meet our new little girl yesterday, but it wasn't to be.

I had another bad night.  Well, a worse night than the other bad night.  I woke up at 2am with "uterine irritability" which I've had lots in other pregnancies.  I haven't had big problem with dehydration this time around, which as been good.  Well, until last night.  We were watching Downton Abby before bed, and Knut had the Wheat Thins out, and I just started eating them without thinking that whenever I have lots of salty things in the 3rd trimester, I tend to pay for it a few hours later.  I did.

I was up from 2-5am that night, which was miserable.  I wasn't having contractions.  Those feel like waves of an intense workout.  Uterine irritability is a constant pain that feels like your uterus is being ripped out.  Since I've had it before, I recognized it right away, and cursed myself for eating all that salt.  I called my midwife, and she helped me over the phone get everything to settle down.  I was having a hard time getting the water to stay down, but after some bites of oatmeal and sips of pregnancy tea, the water stayed put, and I was able to go back to sleep without any pain.

Knut was able to call in at work, and let me sleep in pretty late yesterday morning.  I called B, the midwife, when I eventually woke up to let her know everything was good.  A few hours later, though, I was getting contractions pretty hard.  They were varying from every 10 minutes to every 3.  They were all over a minute long.  They were hard.

So I called her to see if it was too early to call as I was on the fence on whether or not it was real labor, and she thought she'd come out to our place, just to be on the safe side.  I don't think I've explicitly said before on the blog that we're planning a homebirth.  I think that's mostly for another post.  It will likely be a long, drawn out boring/rambling post that you readers must be very used to by now.  Or I'll just ignore giving any explanation as to why we chose this route since its no one's business anyway, and just let you know when we have a baby.  (I'm getting snarky near the end of this pregnancy, aren't I?)

Anyway, she came out on the early side of my laboring, just because I have a history of fast births, and we just wanted her on standby.

I wasn't going to call anyone else yet, and she didn't call out her assistants until we were sure that I wasn't going to stall.  Knut dropped the kids off at his aunt's house, and so all afternoon, it was just Knut, B, and me at home.  It was really quiet.

B checked on the baby's heart rate.  She did some vitals on me, and checked me out.  Then she told me to just go about my business and let her know if I needed anything.  She said she had all the time in the world, and if it wasn't time, it made no difference to her.  So she read her magazine, and helped me a bit with the laundry I was working on.  Really, there wasn't much for me to do, but it felt really good to move and sway, and the contractions were coming steady, but not overwhelming.

Knut hung out with us for awhile, but also took out the trash and tended to the chickens for me.  He also cleaned the whole kitchen from top to bottom, which was nice.

It was a very quiet day.  For awhile, things were really picking up, and I told Knut and B that it was starting to get really intense, and I thought I may soak in the tub for a bit to ease the intensity.  B was getting ready to call her assistants to come since I was obviously getting some seriously intense ones.  I changed my mind, though, when I got to the top of the stairs, and opted to wrap Christmas presents instead.  Laboring at home is funny like that.

Then things started to slow down to every 10 minutes.  Then every 15 minutes.  Then they sped up to every 4 minutes, but only lasting about 45 seconds or so.  That lasted for an hour.  I was getting frustrated.  Knut and B were very encouraging.  B kept checking baby's heartbeat every hour, and making sure I was staying hydrated.

By supper time, I realized for sure that things were stopping.  It wasn't going to be baby day.  I asked B if she would like to check me one more time, and then stay for supper.  She agreed to both.  I had not dilated any more all day.  Confirmation that nothing happened.  Then we had lasagna.  Then Knut went to pick up the kids who were now at his parent's house.  While Knut got the kids, B insisted on doing the dishes so I could just sit and rest, and reflect on the day, and not let the emotions of disappointment overwhelm me.

As she left, she told me that I still shouldn't hesitate to call her day or night.  She's never had a baby not come.  Plus, she had fun hanging out, and wouldn't mind doing it a few more times with no baby at the end, though for my sake, she hoped it would be soon.

That's the end of this story.  I feel like I got the day off yesterday as my house got clean around me, and my kids were well cared for elsewhere.  It was an exhausting day, still.  Emotionally, physically...etc.  It's just not time yet.

Well, we know our baby won't stay in there forever.  I still have a week and a half to my due date.  I will say, it's much easier to send the midwife home, then to be sent home from the hospital.

At least my house is clean...and most of the Christmas present wrapping got done.  Everything but the gifts that haven't arrived/been purchased yet.  Also, the baby has currently completed turning around and is no longer posterior.  (That means she was set to come out facing the wrong direction a few weeks ago, and is now facing the right direction, which will mean an easier birth.)  Now if she'll just stay that way.

I'll just try to hold onto that for awhile and try not to dwell on the number of people I inconvenienced yesterday.  I think that the most challenging part of these last few days/weeks is the mental aspect of accepting help, asking for help, and being so helpless to any of it.  We'll make it, though.  We always do.


Solveig is now 2.  I've mentioned that, now a few times.  Sorry.  We had her birthday party on Monday night, but her real birthday was actually Tuesday.  Tuesday night, we had a roast with potatoes and carrots for supper.  We had leftover chocolate cake for dessert.

Solveig screamed through it all.

You see, we made a grave error.  We put sour cream on her potatoes, and you see, she didn't want the potatoes.  She likes potatoes.  In fact, we haven't found a food yet that she doesn't like.  It's just she was planning on just eating the sour cream by the spoonful, and when Knut saw her intention, he simply mixed the sour cream in with her food a bit.  Whoa, that made her mad.

She said she wanted milk, but after we poured it, she demanded water instead.  Too bad, milk was already poured.  That made her even more mad.  As we sat around the table eating, she had her mind set to scream at everyone and everything.

Happy Birthday, Solveig.  Welcome to 2.

Since she was safely strapped in her booster chair, and it was very evident that nothing was going to stop the screaming, Knut simply picked up her chair, and moved her into the dining room to eat by herself.  The screaming was softer a room away.  The older kids were obviously bothered by it.

The other 3 kids looked wide eyed at us, and David said: "What's the matter with her?"

"She's 2" we told her.

Silje and David looked at each other, confused.

"She's a toddler now", we explained to them.  "Toddlers get frustrated sometimes when they can't have what they want.  She'll get it, though.  She'll learn.  You guys all did.  She just needs a minute to settle down, and we'll bring her back in."

Silje and David insisted they had never acted so irrational.  They never screamed like that for silly things like wanting to eat a container of sour cream.

Then the stories came out.

"David, do you remember when we were camping out at the lake, and you woke up in the tent and screamed for 3 hours straight while Daddy held you so you wouldn't hurt anyone as you were kicking and screaming and waking up everyone in tents around us?"

"I did that?  Why?"

"Because we told you that you had to put clothes on, or was it shoes?  You really wanted to be naked."

"3 hours I held you!"  Knut chimed in.  "From 6am to 9am, I got punched and kicked and a really big headache.  You were so mad."

Giggles erupted all across the table.  That morning that lived in infamy in Knut and my memory was something we were finally laughing about.  Now, I'm not sure most parents have a child as strong-willed as our David, but for those who do, let me encourage you.  You will get to the point of giggling together.

"And Silje, do you remember the time that you were so tired for a nap that you couldn't keep your eyes open, but you cried anyway for over 2 hours that you didn't want to sleep until you finally fell over?  I couldn't get you to sleep for anything, and you were so tired you just cried and cried, but you were determined not to sleep."

More giggles.  No, they didn't remember.

(We refrained from saying: "And Elias, do you remember that last month, you...")

"And now Solveig just wants to eat sour cream from the container, and not have her supper.  That's not okay, so she's going to be upset right now."

A few minutes later, Solveig was brought back to the table, and decided to at least have a few carrots before her chocolate cake.  Then she got to open up her package from Grammy and Papa that came in the mail that day.  She loved her new coloring book most especially and spent most of the rest of the evening doing some serious drawing.

"Toddlers are weird" David said.

Yes.  But we love them.  Toddlers grow up, too.  That's knowledge that makes this 4th time around a bit easier.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yarn Along

Well, third time must be the charm with Knut's Christmas mitten.  Well, just over 3 times, but not quite 4.  I cast on the Northman Mittens as he requested, and used sized US 7 needles with worsted.  Even though I told him they would expand with blocking, he thought with the added lining it was still much too snug on him.  So with the outer layer of the right hand being about 90% done, I ripped back to the braided cuff (which I was NOT willing to do again) and did it again with US 9 needles since I didn't have any US 8 double pointed needles for some reason.  I'm not sure if I ever had some, or if I just lost them.

Well, after getting about 80% done with that, (and it didn't look quite as nice with bigger gaps caused by the bigger needles) it looked way too big, but I had him try it on anyway.  He did confirm that it was too big, and it was ripped back to the braid once again.

So after my midwife appointment, I dropped in at the yarn store close to her office, and not the normal local one I went to so that I could get some US 8 double pointed needles.  They made me feel quite the celebrity there, which shocked me a bit.  I had been interviewed for a local story in the paper about my pattern publication in Knitscene, but that was a few weeks earlier, and apparently it was just printed that morning.  I don't get that paper, so I had no idea.

Anyway, this store didn't sell any metal plated double pointed needles, which I'm used to.  They had some beautiful polished wood ones though.  I've heard that wood can be a bit slower, but the needles are so lovely that I've always wanted a small set so I just decided to go with it.

They are slower to knit with, which isn't that great this time of year when knitting projects have a deadline of December 25th.  I suppose they'd be great for silk or bamboo, but for this tweedy wool, it drags a bit more than I'm used to.  Also, the color of the wood is very close to one of the colors in the mitten I'm using, and that's a bit tricky in certain lights.

At any rate, the size was approved by Knut for this 3rd mitten.  I got near the top, and had to do my first big "off road knitting" for this project as Knut had a list of modifications he wanted me to do.  First, he didn't want it so pointy at the top.  In order to get rid of the point, I had to extend the whole body a bit longer, while trying to make it look like it would naturally do that with the existing color work chart, and then decrease more bluntly.  I was just experimenting with that here, and after some trial and error think I've figured out how to do it without messing with it too much.

So he liked the new modified shape of the top, but I've decided I'm going to rip back about an inch and make it look a bit better.  Now that I know the shape is good, I'm going to tweak the color work a bit so that the decreasing stitches look a bit more uniform in color than they do now, and I think I've figured out a way to make the cast off stitches on top match up with the side stripe a little better.  Then it will be onto the lining...or thumb...or left hand, depending on my mood.  Those should all be easy now that the sizing and shape issues have been resolved.

The only last major modification to resolve is how and where exactly I should add a ribbed cuff extending from the lining that he wants.  The pattern doesn't have a ribbed cuff, and he wants it to be mostly hidden underneath this outer layer, and extend a bit past this braided edge.  I haven't quite decided on what sort of method would be best to do that.

You see why I'm a bit hesitant to make him a whole Norwegian sweater as he's been asking me to do for the last few years.  If he has this many particularities for mittens, imagine what I'd have to do for a whole sweater!

It is turning out beautifully, though, and I have to be proud of that.  He is so excited to see them coming together.  I can tell already that he really likes them.

He has been telling me that it's looser in some parts, and tighter in other parts, and I keep trying to explain to him that he picked out a pattern that is not tapered or fitted, and you don't just increase and decrease color work on a whim.  I'm doing this because I love him, but he better be careful.  ;) He still has 1 woodworking project to finish this winter (the cabinet doors for my home school supply bookshelf) and I may make some demands that will get me some of the same "you just don't understand what you're asking" eye rolls that I have been giving him.

I admit I haven't done much reading this week.  I've read a bit of Kristin Lavransdatter, but as I'm getting into the 3rd book, it's rather slow going.  It has been a bit slow at the beginning of each book, and so my mind has wandered a bit to some magazines showing some fun Christmas decorating ideas.  Much lighter reading, I think!

Linking up with every other Wednesday.  ;)  She's also doing some big giveaways this week to support a family in need this season.  It's worth checking out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sweet Solveig Joy

Happy Birthday Solveig Joy!  Can you believe our little one is turning 2 today?  I love this picture of her sweet little head.  I loved holding her sweet, round, fuzzy head.  She stole the heart of everyone in this house from the moment she entered it.

As I look back on this blog from when she was born 2 years ago.  So many things mirror this year.  I made a bunch of Northman mittens that year, and I'm making another pair this year.  Ha!  That's funny that I mark the time by the knitting projects I was working on.  Another way I'm odd unique.

She was our baby after the miscarriage.  I think every part of her life, from the pregnancy to the birth, to sleepless nights, and endless days of carrying her has been something we've been acutely thankful for.

Waiting for Solveig to come was hard.  I remember that.  Since every pregnancy of mine was getting shorter and shorter, we had no clue that she would wait to come at 39 weeks.  It was before her due date, and she was still early!  How impatient are we?  We just didn't expect her then.  That's all.  We've finally learned the 5th time around to remove all expectations.  

I remember her birth.  It was my first planned natural birth, although not the first birth I did naturally.    It went so well, besides the problems that happened afterward.  Pain-wise I think it was my easiest.  With her being born 18 minutes after we got to the hospital, Knut and I still tell stories about it.  It's like the fish story that keeps getting more exciting with each telling.  We've learned through all the telling, that perhaps I should communicate better in labor.  We've also learned that he needs to take my words very literally, though they sound calm.  Even though my method of dealing with the pain is to not admit it to myself, I should probably admit it to my husband somehow so he's in the loop.  He was completely unaware pretty much that whole day.

It also reminds me that we are soon approaching the 2 year anniversary of Knut's grandpa's death. He died only days after she was born.  I still feel bad that it was my fault he never got to see her.  Knut wanted to bring her to the hospital where he was, and I was so tired that I asked to wait until the next day before we ventured out.  Unfortunately, his grandpa passed that night, and we missed our chance.  It still seems odd whenever we have the grandparents over for birthday parties, that I set out one less coffee cup.  We celebrated Solveig's birthday last night with grandparents and great-grandparents.  I did set out a cup for him, and felt silly once I realized my mistake again.  He was always so sweet to me, and made me smile so easily.

Looking back at her 1st birthday, I can't believe it's been a whole year since that awful bout of the stomach flu that hit us all at once that will live forever in our memory.  Knut and I still refer to that day as the worst day of our married life.  Neither he nor I had been so sick in our adulthood, and there were kids sick all around us as well.  Poor Solveig had her 1st birthday soon afterward when we were still recovering.  Don't you just love the memories going back through this journal of a blog?

As I look back at all the things that surrounded her birth and birthday, I'm so thankful for her and the person she is.  Her name means "sunshine of the house" at least, that's our interpretation of it.  She lives up to that every single day.  Whether our family is dealing with death or sickness, whether we're busy or bored, she's there to bring joy.  Whether we are in good times or in bad, this little girl always has "JOY" written all over her face and just brings sunshine everywhere she goes.

She's such an incredible blessing.  I know she will be a great big sister.  She's so smart, and understands way more than I ever give her credit for.  She's continually surprising me with how much she knows and understands.  When I start setting plates on the table, she pushes a chair over to the silverware drawer, and puts silverware (the correct pieces in the correct spots) around in everyone's spot.  She says so many new words everyday.  She says "yes" more than any other toddler I've met.  She loves pretty things, from pretty clothes to pretty things in her hair.  She loves dollies like no child I've ever seen, and works for hours preparing tea parties in her play kitchen.  

Thank you, Jesus, for Solveig.  I cannot imagine this house without her smiles and am so thankful for the joy that she continually shines.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Blessed

I'm blessed to still be pregnant.  Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have this baby in my arms.  I welcome her whenever she decides to come!  I think I was anxious to get each baby out until I had a preemie the 3rd time around, at which point I switched gears and have been so thankful for every day that this baby stays in the womb.

However, I'm blessed that everything is still going well.  I had another appointment with the midwife last week, and everything is looking great.  I had a night last week where I didn't get much sleep.  Hard contractions started waking me up every 10-20 minutes, you know, making sleep difficult.  I finally just got up and started doing all the things I had meant to get done before the baby came, just in case she was coming.  I did a couple loads of laundry and watched some shows on hulu.  By 6am, I thought the contractions had slowed to the point to allow for some sleep, so I headed back to bed.

I was blessed that Knut, my knight in shining armor, had the day off (Saturday), and let me sleep until I woke up at 9am.  However, by mid afternoon, I had a raging headache.  I took 2 Tylenol and took a nap.  I was worried that would insure no sleep that evening, but I actually got the best night of sleep I've had in weeks that night.  I was so blessed by that!

That day after the bad night, I called the midwife to let her know what was up.  It was so neat to just have her cell phone and vent to her all my frustrations on how my body always seems gears up for birth this way, and how exhausting and confusing it is.  The memory of my last birth (where I had contractions every 10 minutes for 2 weeks) was my worry, as I remember how exhausting that was.  She was so kind, and reminded me to call her anytime, even if it's just to cry.  I'm so blessed by her.

Anyone have any guesses to when this little one will arrive?  I should set up a pool for guesses or something.  My bet is for this Wednesday for 2 reasons...neither of which is very scientific.  First, the date is 12-12-12, which I think would be a pretty cool birthday.  Second, I am at 38 weeks this week.  I have had babies at 36, 37, 39, and 40 weeks (not that order).  I'm missing a 38 weeker.

I guess we'll see.

I'm blessed that Knut has really been stepping up taking care of me.  I know he could easily say that "You're full term, so let's get this show on the road" and have me on my feet all the time.  But, no.  He sees that being on my feet hurts after not too long.  He absolutely hates seeing me uncomfortable, so he's been telling me to go and sit quite often.  Our discussed goal at this point isn't to encourage the baby to come, or discourage the baby from coming, but just keep me as comfortable as possible.  He's really been stepping it up, and with the newly fallen snow, I know he's anxious to get out skiing, but he hasn't really brought it up yet.

...never mind.  He just brought it up as I was typing this on Sunday.  :)  He wonders if I'm comfortable with him leaving a few hours to go out skiing.  Totally called it.

I'm blessed with how good Elias has been lately.  He's slowly transitioning from the toddler stage to the preschool stage.  As a parent, I really struggle with the toddler age, and I absolutely adore the preschool stage.  He's been talking so much more, and starting to help out with the big kid chores more.  He's really thriving in the big brother role for Solveig, and it melts my heart to see them "talk" to each other all the time.  She'll often lean on him as they're looking at a book, and he'll have his arm around her and sometimes strokes her hair.  Seriously, it's the cutest thing ever.
(Sorry for the poor picture quality in these 2 pictures.  Also, Solveig insisted on wearing a winter hat for this picture.  Don't ask me why, but she's very opinionated on this sort of thing.)

Anyway, as Solveig is entering the stage of toddlerhood where she can now say what she wants but doesn't quite understand that she can't have everything she wants, it's nice to have Elias move out of that stage.  It's also helpful that they're at the best-friends with each other stage, like Silje and David used to be...and I hope will return to someday.

It's not all smooth sailing.  Our church nursery is for ages 6 mos-3 years old.  Now that he's 4, we have been keeping him in church, which he does very well with most of the time.  We had to tell him this last week when he asked to go to the nursery that he was now "too big" to be in there.  Promptly after the service ended, he lead me back by hand to pick up Solveig in there, and he walked right in, put his hand over his head to show me that it his head did not, in fact, touch the ceiling.  He said, "See Mom?  I'm not too big!  I still fit!"

He cracks me up.

I've also been blessed with some amazing gifts, and it's not even Christmas yet!  Friends have let me know that they're thinking of me in these last days of pregnancy, from a meal from one person, some crocheted baby things from another friend, and some amazing sewn things from another friend.  I feel overwhelmed with love.  Homemade stuff rocks.  So do surprises, and most of all: friendship.

I know it was a pretty random post.  It's just a small collection of what's been making me smile.  How has God blessed you lately?  What has been making you smile?