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Grandma and Grandpa Osborn come to visit

When Lily was 3 weeks old we received some special visitors:

Grandma and Grandpa Osborn!

Lily is their very first grandchild so this first meeting was really special. Grandpa stayed for a week and then had to get back to the U.S. for work and Grandma stayed for the next 4 weeks to help out with the baby. It was a huge help to have them there since Chris’ paternity leave was over and it was so special to have them spend time with Lily. We didn’t do very much as Lily and I were still in the eat-sleep-eat-sleep groove, but we enjoyed having them there to share this new experience with us.
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A little girl in a great big world
 When Lily was 9 days old our dear friend Desiree came over to our house to do a newborn photoshoot (she also took our baby bump photos. Can you tell we LOVE her work?) Lily was finally over her jaundice and was already growing SO fast so we leapt at the opportunity to capture this sweet, sweet time in all our lives. I will never ever, as long as I live, get enough of these photos of our little Lily bug! We are so incredibly smitten :)

We sure adore you Lily!

 

 

 

Category: Norway, Spawn  Tags: , ,  One Comment
Welcome Home Lily!

Before we knew it, it was time to bring Lily home. It was surreal putting her in real clothes (not the little hospital gowns they gave us for her during our stay) and taking her outside for the very first time. It was also bittersweet to leave the hospital. While we were looking forward to getting back to our own house and our own life, the hospital had grown to be such a special place and it was a little scary going back into the real world to raise a baby. I mean, they just let you walk out of there with a tiny human to care for like it’s no big deal! That’s nuts!

This was the very same outfit I went home in as a newborn.
I totally dropped the ball when it came to packing warm clothes for Lily to come home in. She was smaller than we expected so none of the winter things we brought for her were even close to fitting so we ended up bundling her up in little blankets and Chris’ hat and scarf. We were off to a great start with this whole parenting thing…
Welcome home little one!
First night at home.
The first few days at home were a strange adjustment and whirlwind of emotions. Lily was still quite jaundiced so she slept A LOT. She would basically wake up, eat (if we were lucky), and go right back to sleep. Our first day back we were able to clean our whole house and make ourselves dinner. I think Chris said it best when he said, “I expected there would be a lot more parenting to do as a parent.” Things quickly picked up, but that first day or two was still so strange.

 
 
As I said before, because of her jaundice Lily slept all the time which meant that she often wasn’t eating as much as she needed to. We frequently had to put ice on her feet and cheeks to keep her awake long enough for a full nursing session. As a result, my milk was delayed in coming in, which meant even when she was awake to eat she wasn’t getting much. Since breastmilk is the best way to cure jaundice it was an unfortunate and seemingly never-ending cycle.
 
We had to take her back to the doctor every morning for almost a week to get her blood tested. We did everything we could to try to bring her jaundice levels down so she could stop getting her little hands and feet pricked so many times. I had to pump after every breastfeeding session and then we gave the few precious mililiters I produced to Lily in a tiny cup since she was more likely to stay awake drinking out of the cup than at the breast. We even had to give her a little bit of formula at the beginning just to get things moving in her system to get her bilirubin levels down, but I was determined to make breastfeeding work. I scrimped and saved every little drop I could and finally after a few days my milk came in. The breastmilk combined with sleeping in the sun and priesthood blessings thankfully managed to decrease her bilirubin levels and about a week after we came home from the hospital she was finally a normal healthy newborn.
The pose which won her the monicker “Bug”

 

And what a newborn she was! Chris and I both realized neither of us have really truly been around newborns much (at least not when we are actively paying close attention). They are pretty awesome. Yeah, they don’t sleep when you want them to, they make noises so confusing you want to pull your hair out, and they make you question everything you know and everything you’ve read, but they are SO STINKIN’ CUTE! I couldn’t get enough of her! Every little thing she did was the equivalent of winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Plus her cute little movements and cute little fingers and cute little froggy legs and cute little smiles! And oh my goodness, the new baby smell. I had always heard people say how good newborn babies smell, but I was completely unprepared for it. That smell would pretty much knock me flat whenever I got a whiff of it (at one point Chris looks over at me and I’m bawling my eyes out and when he gets really concerned the only explanation I could provide was, “She just smells soooo good!”) It was the best thing ever to just snuggle with her as much as possible (except, you know, when I desperately needed breaks because even though they don’t appear to DO anything, babies are exhausting!).
The photo below is a pretty accurate summary of those first few weeks for me:



 

 

Probably the BEST thing about giving birth in Norway was the 2 full weeks of paid paternity leave Chris was entitled to. I don’t know what I would have done without him there with me during those 2 weeks! Having him home really helped all three of us transition into this new life we have together. This is a pretty accurate summary of those first few weeks for Chris:

Feeding Lily out of her cup was primarily Chris’ job since she wouldn’t be tempted by mommy. He also became a baby-wearing champ to give me much needed breaks!

 

Her little faces!

Her funny sleeping positions.
Tummy time.
Desi and YJ came to visit and we were brought dinners by many loving friends from church!
During our hospital stay and the first week at home, Skittles had been staying at the home of some dear friends of ours. We finally brought her home to meet Lily. I can’t say she’s been very pleased with the new addition to our household. We’ve got some territorial/pecking order issues to work on, but we’re making progress.
Play time with tired daddy.
First time at church.
Seriously, every little thing a baby does is cute. It’s absurd!
The most surprising and amazing part of those early weeks to me is how naturally I fell into the roll of mother. I have no idea what I’m doing as far as actually raising a child, but one day I wasn’t a mother, and the next day I just WAS. I’m not normally the type to go gaga over babies, but something awakened inside me the moment Lily was born. I can’t say I was one of those moms who instantly fell head-over-heels in love with their baby on sight, but I definitely felt a crazy bond and instinct take over. Everything about her just feels RIGHT. I already mentioned her smell, but it’s more than that. The sound of her breathing, her little cries, even her temperature of her skin. It all feels so natural and so familiar. I feel like I suddenly understand every mother, human and animal, on the planet. Before she was born I was not a mother and didn’t know how to be a mother, but now that she’s here I am a mother and she is MY baby. Even though I have no idea what I’m doing on the surface, deep inside everything just feels right. Mother nature is ridiculously cool :)

 

Lily in the hospital

After Lily was born, they left us alone in the birth room for two hours so we could spend some time together as a new family. We called our families, practiced breastfeeding, marvelled over and over about what had just happened and basically spent the whole time staring at our new baby daughter. I finally understand all the hullaballoo over newborn babies. There is NOTHING more beautiful than your own precious little baby just hours old. Then it was time to shower before heading off to our hospital hotel room for the night.

The cool thing about giving birth in Stavanger is that there is a hotel connected to the hospital. It’s technically a normal hotel that anyone can stay at, but they have one whole floor dedicated specifically as a post-partum ward. Everyone who gave birth gets their own little hotel room for 3 days! (Mother and baby free of charge, father at a reduced rate) During those three days, the babies have doctor appointments, the midwives check on you and the baby to make sure everything is ok and to help with things like the first bath and any questions or concerns you might have, they help make sure you are healing correctly after labor and lactation consultants come in to help you and the baby get off to a good start with breastfeeding. All completely free of charge except for what we paid for Chris to be there too. The social health care system in Norway isn’t always stellar, but it was sure excellent when it came to giving birth! Those three days were a very special time for us as a family.

The breastfeeding help was particularly indispensible. Due to a family history of breastfeeding problems, I was really concerned I wasn’t going to be able to produce enough milk for Lily. During the three days at the hospital the midwives helped immensely in making sure Lily was latching well and we were nursing correctly. I will be forever grateful for that blessing!

During her first bath the day after she was born, the midwife helping us thought Lily looked a little jaundiced. They did a blood test and sure enough we had a yellow little baby on our hands. Her bilirubin levels weren’t quite high enough to warrant putting her under the bili-lights so we tried to breastfeed her as much as possible and let her sleep in the few hours of sunlight we got in January in Norway. They had to poke her again twice a day during the rest of our stay at the hospital to make sure her levels weren’t rising too high. Poor little girl!
Sweet, sleepy jaundiced baby.
Her poor little hand that they had to keep sticking for blood.

It was so nice to be able to relax in the hospital and enjoy our time as new parents before real life truly set in. We didn’t have to worry about food, diapers, cleaning or anything and just got to rest and focus on Lily. Some good friends of ours stopped by to visit, we video chatted with family and friends back home, and the rest of the time we slept while we could and recovered after an insane weekend.

 

Category: Family, Norway, Spawn  Tags: , ,  One Comment
Lily is born!

I know I left off on a bit of a cliff-hanger in my previous post, but I’ve been a bit hung-up on how to continue with the story of Lily’s birth. I have had a much more difficult time getting the story written down than I expected as it’s wrapped up in so many thoughts, feelings and emotions and it feels inadequate and one-dimensional to reduce it all to mere words. Everything I write falls flat to me when I compare it to the memories in my head that are filled with so much “muchness”. Having now gone though such a beautiful and terrifying and marvelous and raw experience of becoming a mother, I finally understand the enigma that has plagued writers throughout history: the raging, but always out of reach, desire to capture the complexities of human experience with words.

I started writing down my memories a few months ago and, in an attempt to capture the entire experience, ended up with a brain dump that included every little detail of the day (including all the well…”natural” bits), Upon revision it seemed way too much for a blog post and many of the memories are too precious and treasured for me to just throw out into the world. So that draft is going in my journal and I edited a version to include just the highlights for the blog :) (If you want the full story in all its glory then send me an email and I’ll happily send you the original draft.)

We last left off with Chris and I finally falling asleep at 4am.

Fast forward to 6am. I wake up with a start to PAINFUL contractions. I mean, OW! I toss and turn to try to get comfortable again to catch a few more zzzs (because 2 hours of sleep was not cutting it) but it quickly gets too painful to stay horizontal. I guess we didn’t need to worry about getting induced after all. Hello labor! It was a little surreal that after all our studying and all our preparations and all the time I spent imagining what it would be like to give birth, I was actually experiencing it!

Chris wakes up around 8am and finds me on the couch in quite a bit of pain. The contractions are getting closer and closer together and I’m trying to time them with an app on my phone, but it’s getting harder to focus. I turn the task of timing the contractions over to him and give him a list of people to call and text (my Slikkepotten partner, the Primary president, etc) to give a heads up about the situation since I’m struggling to form coherent thoughts and I thought I would have more time in the morning to tie up loose ends before the showdown.

Chris is a saint and spends his morning timing my contractions, reminding me of the breathing techniques we learned in our birth class, and rubbing my lower back while I spend the morning hunched over a chair backwards in the only position that feels remotely comfortable. My contractions are pretty close together, but are really irregular so Chris calls the hospital to check in and give them a status update. They say it sounds like pre-labor and to call them again when the contractions are regularly 5 minutes apart and 1 minute in length.

We continue as before, with me using every ounce of focus I have to breathe through each contraction. Breathing helps surprisingly well in my stomach, but the contractions are also in my back and the breathing does nothing to alleviate that pain. It kills! The last thing I want to do is move so I stay hunched over that chair. I’m starving and parched, but I only manage to eat one saltine cracker and drink a few sips of water. Something so simple is remarkably difficult! Thank goodness we were inspired to make that chicken the night before!

Within an hour the contractions are between 30-90 seconds long and 2-5 minutes apart. Chris calls the hospital again, but they say it still sounds like it’s pre-labor contractions because they are really irregular (some are 30 seconds long with 2 minutes in between and some are 90 seconds long with 5 minutes in between and every other combination imaginable) and to call again when they are more consistent. We didn’t think anything of it because my mom had had “piggyback contractions” with all 3 of her labors. I had grown up hearing stories about how she had contractions back to back, one right on top of the other, but when she got to the hospital she was only dilated to 2cm. I figure I had inherited her genes so we have no reason to doubt the hospital that we are still only in pre-labor. We are in for a long haul it seemed.

About an hour later, however, things are progressing from bad to worse. My back is killing me and it’s clear the contractions are getting closer and closer together. The waves are still really irregular, but some of them are coming one right after the other with no breaks in between (Yep! My mother’s piggyback contractions!). Holy cow back contractions are the worst! Chris checks in with the hospital again and they say it still doesn’t sound like full labor because the contractions are so irregular and to take a warm shower to try to regulate things. I do what they say, but the warm water makes the pain worse and the contractions are continuing right on top of each other so I decide that if this is truly pre-labor and I still have hours of full-on labor to go, I won’t be able to handle it and need to get an epidural ASAP. I’m completely exhausted and all I want is just a little break in between the waves of contractions in which to collect myself and gear up for the next one. We decide to go to the hospital to request demand an epidural so we say a desperate prayer together to ask for breaks in between the contractions long enough for me to get dressed and make it to the car. Miraculously, those prayers are answered and I’m blessed with breaks about 30 seconds long in between contractions to do what I need to do to get out the door.

As we walk in the door of the birth ward we are greeted by a smiling midwife who calmly says hello (in a bit of a patronizing manner in our opinion. “Oh those first time parents…”) and walks us to an exam room. I’m stopping every ten steps or so to brace myself for another contraction, but I finally get to the room and the midwife helps me up onto the table. I remember asking for an epidural and then the midwife checking my cervix. I’m expecting her to say something around 2-4 cm, but instead she says “Oh! You are at 8cm! We need to get you into a birth room now!”

The next few minutes are a total blur to me and I only really know what happened from Chris filling me in on the details later. The midwife helps me up as I feebly ask, “Is there still a chance for me to get an epidural?” “Well, maybe,” she replies very unconvincingly as she ushers me into the hallway. The contractions are right on top of eachother again and it’s all I can do to put one step in front of the other as someone (I think it’s Chris) guides me down the hall. It’s just flashes of memories. Midwives rushing around, me finally making it up onto the bed. By the time they check me again (less than 10 minutes later) I’m already at 10cm! I barely have time to absorb what’s happening and it’s already time to push!

We try a few different positions to help move the baby along. Chris is constantly reminding me to breathe and to push with my core and not my face. Pushing out that baby is seriously the hardest physical thing I’ve ever had to do and it feels like I am pushing forever, but it really has only been a half hour or so. Finally I hear the midwife say she’s crowning. Aaah! We are finally going to meet our baby! It suddenly makes it more real than it had already become. I push with everything I’ve got twice more and then WHOOSH! I feel the baby slide out and onto the bed in a huge rush of fluid with the weirdest sensation I’ve ever felt. Immediately I feel my body relax and I open my eyes to see our little Lily squirming on the bed as the midwives quickly wipe her down. All I can think or say is, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.” It feels like time as stopped as I watch them, even though it was really only seconds before they were putting her up onto my chest.


She doesn’t look anything like I pictured, even after seeing a 3D ultrasound, but she is beautiful. I notice she is crying and Chris leans in and we both shhhhh her and snuggle her in close. I suddenly feel on top of the world. I’m covered in blood and fluid and am shaking like crazy from shock but I feel like the biggest superhero that ever lived! Chris and I just laugh and stare at our little girl as the midwives bustle about cleaning up. The midwife eventually notifies us that the cord has stopped pulsing and was ready to be cut. They clamp it off and Chris gets the honor of snipping the cord.

Lily Aurora Hill was born at 2:35 in the afternoon, weighing 2910g (6lbs 7oz) and measuring 48cm (19in) long. All told, I was in labor for about 12 hours from the time I felt my first painful contraction and 16 hours from when my water broke and almost all of it was spent laboring at home. I gave birth just over an hour after we arrived at the hospital. If we had waited any longer we would have delivered at home! I got to deliver without any medication like we had hoped and it was a much faster and smoother experience than I had expected. I’m so glad I was able to deliver her naturally in the end! The entire birth could not have been a better experience! And we just absolutely adore our sweet little girl!
Getting weighed and measured and not liking it one bit.
Daddy time.
The birth ward has this cool wall hanging in which blue and pink pins are stuck each day to represent the babies born throughout the year. We got to place a little pink pin for Lily.

Welcome to the world little Lily! We are sure glad to have you here!

 

Category: Family, Norway, Spawn  Tags: , ,  2 Comments