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Family of 4!

(The two photos above are adorable, but they were highly bribed with Oreo cookies. Lily was still iffy about her baby brother…)

Our cute little boy, 8 days old

 

Photos by DesireePhotography!

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Khoren Comes Home

After the traditional three days in the hospital, Khoren and I came home!

 

TWO kids in the backseat. WHAT?? That was a surreal moment…

Welcome home baby Khoren!

Enjoying his thumb and rocking some pink.

 

After a test in the hospital we were thrilled that Khoren didn’t have jaundice like Lily did. Turns out we celebrated too soon and his bilirubin levels jumped after we got him home. Little dude had to soak up as much sun as we could get in Norway in February. Luckily, his levels went down much quicker than Lily’s. 


I feel like this photo sums up my motherhood experience those first few days. Toys everywhere, a newborn on my lap and a toddler clambering all over me whenever she could. It was definitely not the calm, peaceful days full of nursing and Netflix that I remember from when Lily first came home!

Meeting Big Sister

After Chris helped me and Khoren get all set up in our hospital room (and after he gave me a much-needed nap/rest), he left to pick Lily up and bring her to meet her new baby brother.

We were really nervous about this first meeting. Up to this point, if I held another baby for even the briefest amount of time, Lily would melt down into a full scream session. We’d been reading her books about babies and being a big sister and she had a doll to baby herself but none of it seemed to be sinking in. We had stuffed animals ready to go as gifts (/peace offerings) between the two of them (a bunny from Khoren to Lily and a cow lovey that Lily picked out for Khoren herself). On the way to the hospital, Chris repeated what was going to happen over and over to her (“Baby brother is here! We are going to the hospital to meet him. His name is Khoren. Mommy will be holding Khoren. It’s ok that mommy holds Khoren. You love Khoren. It’s happy that mommy is holding Khoren! Khoren is very little. Khoren wants to meet big sister Lily! It’s ok that mommy is holding Khoren.” etc) Thankfully, it seemed to work!

While I wouldn’t say that Lily was excited by the new situation, she was at least cautiously intrigued by her new baby brother and there were no meltdowns over mommy holding him! She was curious about him and liked seeing his little fingers and nose. She seemed pretty pleased that she got to give him the cow she had picked out just for him, even if she was a little hesitant to actually let it go.

First photo as a family of four!

That first night in the hospital was the first night I’ve ever slept away from Lily. It was a bit tough to see her go knowing that my first little baby was so grown up already. That, plus the post-birth hormones and everything that goes with it, made me cry a bit. Our whole family dynamic had just changed and as I hugged Lily I already missed the special time we had together just the three of us these past 2 years. But the change is definitely for the better, because look at this cute little dude who will surely fit into our family like the perfect puzzle piece he is:

And, since the first meeting went MUCH better than expected, I’m excited to see Lily and Khoren’s sibling relationship grow over the years to come. I think Lily will blossom into a loving big sister before we know it.

 

She insisted on helping push Khoren’s bassinet everywhere we went, so I think that’s at least the start of good things to come :)

Khoren is born!

CRAZY LONG POST ALERT!

I don’t know why, but I have a hard time writing down my birth stories. I’ve brought a journal with me to the hospital to do it fresh twice now, but I just can’t do it right away. With Lily it took a few weeks/months before I was ready to put the experience into words and so far it’s been the same with Khoren. I think it’s just an intense emotional experience and I really want to truly capture it with words, not just write it down, and the post-birth-lack-of-sleep fog makes it hard enough to speak coherent sentences let alone write down something eloquent and creative. But here I am, finally needing to write it down before it gets any later and I start forgetting the details.

Lily and Khoren’s due dates were a day apart (Lily on Feb 6 and Khoren on Feb 5), so we were very concerned as Lily’s birthday got closer that they were going to possibly share a birthday. It finally reached a point on the day of her birthday where even if I went into labor right then it was reasonable to believe that the baby wouldn’t come until after 12:01 am the next morning and we breathed a sigh of relief. NOW we were ready for the baby and I fully expected him to arrive any day!

Except he didn’t come the next day. Or the next. Or the next.  I never had this feeling with Lily. The waiting and anticipation. I was needing her to stay in there a few more weeks because of work at the bakery! As worried as I was about the transition from one to two kids, I was starting to feel VERY ready for this pregnancy to be over. I was getting painless, but uncomfortable, Braxton Hicks contractions more and more frequently so I was constantly on edge waiting for the start of labor. With Lily my water broke first before any contractions hit so I didn’t know what to expect this time around. And planning for something so unpredictable as labor was stressing me out big time when it came to how to handle Lily. We had her overnight bag packed and friends on call for every scenario and timing we could think of.

On Sunday, 5 days later, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You’re STILL here?!” from our fellow church members. On Monday Chris was supposed to start very boring 2-week training program at work that we never expected he would actually attend (he would get out of it if he went on paternity leave) that would mean he would be pulling extended hours and we went to bed dreading the upcoming week.

But lo and behold, I was awakened at 3:15am by contractions 15 minutes apart! I had been worried I wouldn’t know how to distinguish real labor from preparatory contractions, but that worry was in vain because it was pretty clear right at the beginning. I couldn’t sleep through them so I gave up trying at about 3:45 and got up to make sure everything was ready to go. I could still walk though them, so kept myself busy. I packed the last bits and bobs needed for my hospital bag, made sure Lily had everything ready to go, made myself a sandwich to stock up on energy for later when I could no longer eat, texted my parents, touched up my hair and makeup (because why not?) and did the dishes from dinner and cleaned the kitchen (because our landlord was the one on call to watch Lily for us if we went to the hospital before she woke up). I was really hoping we would be able to keep Lily asleep as long as possible and hold off going to the hospital long enough so that our friend Stephanie could take her straight away, rather than have her wake up to the surprise of mom and dad already gone to the hospital. I really wanted her to be aware of what was going on and to explain it to her before we left. Mom and Dad called and I talked to them for a little while until I needed to focus more steadily.

Overall contractions were a lot more regular this time around. Still not textbook regular, but definitely more so than they were with Lily. I called the hospital to let them know I was in labor when contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart. They asked “What would you like to do? How can we help you?” It was such a contrast from labor with Lily when they told me to just stay home that I didn’t really know what to say. “Um… Can I come in for a check to see where I’m at?” And they said, “Come on in!” With Lily I spent most of my labor at home, but with this one I wanted to get to the hospital early so that I could relax and zone out and focus on the labor without having to worry about whether or not we should go to the hospital at any given moment and risk traveling during transition, which happened with Lily and I wasn’t keen on repeating it!

So I woke up Chris around 6:30 and told him he wouldn’t be making his training because it was go time! Luckily we had passed the point where we needed to keep Lily asleep so while Chris showered I woke her up and got her dressed in between contractions. “Baby brother is coming today, Lily!” “Baby brother is coming??”  “Yep! Mommy hurts right now, but Mommy is ok. We have to get you all dressed so that you can go with Sam’s mommy this morning.” In the short time it took for all this to happen, the contractions increased in strength significantly and got closer together to 2 minutes apart. On the way out the door I had a few strong contractions where I had to actually stop what I was doing and crouch down. After one, I opened my eyes to see Lily’s face right in my face nose-to-nose. She grabbed my hands and said “Lily help Mommy!” and tried to lift my hands up to pull me to standing. My heart just about melted!

I could no longer talk or move through contractions once we got to the car. We had to wait a little while for our friend to get through morning traffic to pick up Lily. I stayed in the car and listened to my hypnobirthing tracks while Lily and Chris walked around. Everything with Lily’s labor was so unknown, but with this one I felt very in control and calm. Nothing was rushed, I was prepared mentally and physically, and I felt very in touch with what was happening in my body. It was a pretty stark contrast and I thank the hypnobirthing training I worked so hard on this time around. All the preparation definitely paid off!

We drove to the hospital as the sky was starting to lighten around 8:00. Contractions were about 1-2 minutes apart, which seems close but with Lily we learned that I had piggy-back contractions one right after the other so we weren’t worried. They did get much worse and much more frequent though if I moved and by the time we arrived I could barely walk without stopping every 30 seconds so Chris pushed me up to the 7th floor in a wheelchair.  The midwives gave me my initial exam and I was at 4cm, which was a little disappointing because based on the pain I thought I was at least at a 5 or a 6. They got me all set up in my room and I was able to relax as I had wanted to. Everything was so much more chill than it was with Lily’s labor! I felt so much more present and aware of what was going on. Our friend Dezi arrived shortly after to document the birth with her amazing photography skills.

 

 

I had initially planned on trying to do what the hypnobirthing book suggested and just curl up on the bed and try to go into the super deep relaxation state I had been working to achieve in my practicing, but the midwife encouraged me to move and change positions every 30 minutes. I hated shifting as every time I moved the contractions surged and got crazy painful, but once I was in the new positions it did feel better.  I found I really liked sitting on the birthing ball. I could lean on the bed for support and Chris could really push on my back.  Just as I had with Lily, I felt the contractions primarily in my back. I could breathe out the pain on my belly, but nothing helped the contractions in my back except Chris drilling his thumbs and knuckles into a specific place on my lower back. The poor guy’s hands were shot after this!

 

Chris was definitely my rock throughout this labor. He was calm and collected and knew exactly what to do and say to help remind me of the techniques I had practiced and to help me regain focus and calm when I started to lose it. Even the midwives commented on how impressed they were by him! At one point our main midwife assigned to us was just sitting in the chair in our room and asked, “Do you even need me here? I could leave you be and just come back and check on you occasionally maybe?” As she was leaving I asked when the next internal check would be and she said they check the heartbeat every 30 minutes and do an internal check every 4 hours. I thought to myself, “4 hours?? There is no way I want to be here another 4 hours from now!”

 

 

As painful as they were, I was really proud of myself for staying so calm during the contractions. I used the visualizations I had practiced and I was amazed I could actually feel them help! It was really cool to be that in touch with my own body! When I was focused and relaxed enough I could literally feel the pain lessening (except in my back).  I had my “birth affirmations” track on loop the whole time and they helped a lot. Whenever I could feel myself slipping I could tune into the affirmations in the background and they helped me recenter. One of the things that amazed me this time compared to Lily’s birth was how present and aware I was throughout the whole process. With Lily I remember most things in small bursts and snatches. Where with this labor I was aware of everything happening around me and what people were saying, but I could relax through it and only respond when necessary. It was pretty cool!

 

 

About an hour after arriving at the hospital things started to really pick up. I could tell I had entered the transition phase (7cm) without even getting a check. The piggy-back contractions came on in full-force, although thankfully every 4 or 5 contractions in a row I was able to get a little bit of a break to regroup. That didn’t happen at all with Lily! The midwife had me move back onto the bed though, which was a very painful shift. That’s when I felt like I started slipping and it was getting harder and harder to maintain calm. I didn’t like it when they checked the heartbeat or when I had to shift in any way. I tried to move in between contractions, but whenever I moved it would start them again immediately. The midwife did another internal check and said I was about a 9.5. I was starting to wear down so she did some sort of stretching or something on my cervix to get it to open up the last little bit.

She asked me if I felt the need to push yet. I wasn’t really sure, as with Lily they just told me to push, I didn’t necessarily feel the urge I’d heard about. But I did start to feel pressure that I remembered very vividly from Lily’s birth so I said I thought so and they started getting me into position for delivery. Soon, I could feel my contractions change (another sensation I remembered from Lily’s birth) and I knew it was pushing time. By that point I was tired and DONE and just wanted that baby out. I lost the calm relaxed feeling I had a bit and had to work REALLY hard mentally to stay in the zone. This time I definitely felt the urge to push once it got going. Possibly TMI for a blog, but up until this point my water still hadn’t broken, but after a push or two it broke and came GUSHING out all at once, all over Chris’ pants!  Whoops!

 

 

Pushing is where my memory blurs a little bit because it was so intense and I lost the focus, but I do remember pushing as hard as I could to get that baby out! I’ve decided that the sensation of the baby moving down the birth canal is definitely my least favorite part of the whole birth experience. It felt like pushing took forever, although the midwife later told me it barely lasted 5 minutes.

It took 2 or 3 pushes to get him all the way out, but at 10:57 Khoren Christopher Hill was born!

 

The midwives put him right up onto my chest as he screamed his little heart out. He apparently did NOT like being birthed.

 

 

This part is seriously the best feeling ever. The naked little newborn on my bare chest all wrapped up together in blankets. Nevermind all the fluids gushing out of me. It’s pure bliss! We got to soak up those first few moments of looking him over to finally see what he looked like. Chris in particular was immediately obsessed with his little son! He came out almost clean and smelled so good! I remember noticing his little fingers in particular, and how full they were already. Chris got to cut the cord after it stopped pulsing and we eventually got him to calm down. We sure love our little Khoren!

This picture looks WAY sadder than it was! I was bawling, but in a good way! 

Mr. Grumpy 

The traditional celebratory apple juice! I love this part!


Overall, my labor was about 8 hours from start to finish, with active labor about 3 hours. Not too shabby! Khoren weighed 3450g (7 lbs 9oz) and was 52cm long (almost 21 inches) and is named after his great-grandfather on Chris’ side. I’m so proud we were able to bring Khoren into this world in the most peaceful way we could!

(And a public THANK YOU to Desiree for capturing these special moments for us! These photos are such a treasure!)