Xander’s Birth Story

Throughout my pregnancy, my midwife kept telling me the third baby was the curveball; I’m pretty sure she reminded me of this at every single appointment. With this information, on top of the note that it had been my easiest pregnancy (after two already relatively easy pregnancies- I’ve been so lucky!), I made the assumption that this baby was going to come early and fast. I had been crazy busy and active at home- certainly all my trips up and down the stairs would make the baby drop nice and low very early. The other two kids were 1-4 days overdue too, so curveball equals early, right?

Wrong.

I had mentally prepared for the possibility of going a little overdue. It has been my tendency, after all. But as each day passed, I lost a little more control over my hormones. They were strong, and I wasn’t prepared for it.

I went to a 41 week appointment to be sure that everything still looked good so I could hopefully wait as long as possible for baby to come on his/her own. We passed the non stress test (NST), I was a little over 2cm dilated, had a membrane sweep, and was approved to have the if needed induction date set to Saturday, December 1st. I had to follow up with an ultrasound the next day and a second NST on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Nov 27 at 4:00pm on the dot I had a notable contraction. I texted David this fact and didn’t think too much of it since I had SO MUCH prodromal labor and plenty of stray, painful contractions. I continued to get the contractions 15-20 minutes apart for the next few hours. At 6:45pm I had my ultrasound. Fluid levels were great and baby looked great; but baby was measuring FOUR weeks behind. The ultrasound tech wanted to call the midwife on call to confirm I was okay to leave. The midwife asked to talk to me and said she wanted to discuss the size issue with the OB and other midwife on call, but might have me come in sooner to be induced. I let her know that I had been having contractions and was hopefully going into labor on my own but would wait for her call.

I was allowed to leave the clinic at this point and stopped at Target on my way home (8pm or so) to pick up milk and other essentials. At this point I noticed the contractions pick up in intensity a notch, and I note that they’re now about 10-15 minutes apart. Just before checking out I have a contraction that makes me stop and lean on the cart. Just a small scene made 😉

When I got home, I bounced on my yoga ball and watched Friends. Ironically, I happened to be at the point where Rachel is 8 days overdue. This is extra entertaining for me.

Around 10:30 I decide to try and get some sleep between contractions. When I laid down the intensity went up again. On a scale from 1-10, the pain is at about 7.

Will, who usually sleeps GREAT, fusses and cries on the monitor beside me. (He had a cold). Not making it easy for me to rest between contractions. Finally, David gets up and gets him some Tylenol. He’s finally quiet but my labor continues to progress, so I’m not getting any sleep. At 11:50pm, my contractions move to my back and thighs- 3/3 labors that turned into back labor. Oh joy. I go downstairs and cope through contractions on the yoga ball.

By 1am I decide to give it the old prodromal/real labor test: I hop into the bathtub for a warm bath.

The contractions keep coming, though slower, and I decide this is the real deal. Pain level when I get out is at an 8.

1:45am I call the midwife on call. I get a nurse, who says the midwife will call me back. Luckily she calls back quickly, and in the middle of a contraction. She’s convinced I’m ready to come in and tells me they’ll be ready for me. I hang up and call my parents in law to come watch the kids, and go wake up David. I asked him if he wants to go meet our baby today. He says “ughhhhhh” Lol.

3am we leave for the hospital.

3:30am we get to skip triage since I’m supposed to be induced later today anyway, so if this happens to fizzle out they’ll just keep me checked in and get things going again. We got settled into our room and I’m checked out by the midwife- only 3-4cm dilated and cervix slightly posterior. I’m discouraged by this information since my pain level/contraction strength has been equal to what I was at 6-7cm with the other two.

•photo: all checked in but already looking sleepy•

I was group b strep positive, so I’m hooked up to antibiotics via IV. It wasn’t the best IV I’ve ever had and was pretty uncomfortable throughout the rest of my labor.

Started getting the shakes as intensity level reaches more of a solid 8. Found out I’m actually having contractions 3-6 min apart, just more mild in between the big ones. Because of these things, the nurse thinks things might progress quicker. She sets up the delivery tools just in case.

At 6am I’m checked again and am 4-5cm dilated. Progressing, but not super fast. At this point I realize this is not going to be a fast and furious labor by any definition. I’m also a little more scared at this point to do it without medication since it’s been painful for so long already. I firmly believe that my fear inhibited the pace of my labor and is what made labor so slow.

I ordered breakfast and labored on the birthing ball. I had eggs and English muffin- I’ve had good luck in the past by eating bland protein and carbs.

My friend Vanessa arrived (sort of a faux doula!), and after I finished my breakfast we walked halls for a bit. There was construction at the hospital so we got a kick out of me awkwardly trying to hide my face and moaning from the construction workers when I had to pause for a contraction. (And actually the construction was super distracting during the entire labor). Eventually we made our way back to the ball.

*another funny side note- we had the TV on in my hospital room and there was a Friends marathon on. It HAPPENED to be the same season/episodes I had been on the night before, with Rachel overdue/giving birth. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?! lol. —also, we watched Friends at the hospital during early labor when I had Ellavie. That time, it happened to be Phoebe in labor. So weird!

11:30am I’m checked again. 5-6cm. Feels slow but steady. Contractions are an 8-9 intensity, but not on top of each other so I’m getting solid recovery breaks.

From roughly 12-1pm I sat in the bath. This really took the edge off of back labor; it removed burning from hips and legs. I didn’t think I was going to like the bath, but I did not want to get out. Was eventually forced to because I had drank so much water to keep cool in the tub that my bladder couldn’t take it anymore. Toward the end of my bath, contractions were getting very strong feeling again and I knew a shift was happening.

I moved to the bed and got some Tylenol for a mild headache. I think it was fatigue and lack of caffeine related. I was a little hungry but dealing with indigestion, so I snacked on some toast. (Also snacked on cheddar peanut butter crackers, gummy bears, and Gatorade through out day to keep my energy up).

1:30-45ish I got up to pee and stayed on toilet through a few contractions. Nurse checked to see how I was doing and I said I didn’t feel like moving and was happy there. Midwife came in and had me sit facing backward on toilet. She grabbed a stool to sit by me. Two nurses sat on edge of tub. Vanessa and David joined us in the large bathroom too.

This was my favorite part of the day. We all hung out and joked between my contractions. We came up with Kohler toilet ads, joked about having a water birth in the river behind the hospital, and about the adrenaline rush of giving birth. I talk about how it’s such a privilege because you only get to experience this specific rush so many times. It’s not like skydiving or something where pretty much anyone can do it, and you can do it as many times as you want. It’s a limited experience. It was a lighthearted and fun time. I felt so grateful to have such a fun and supportive team behind me.

•photo: sitting on toilet. Happy between contractions!•

I was starting to get pretty sleepy… I had some peppermint oil on a cotton ball and smelling it gave me surprisingly large boosts of energy and calm.

At 2:30.. maybe 45? I comment that it feels like my butt is dilating lol. Moved to ball again and leaned on bed. I held David’s hands tightly through contractions. After a few I commented the fatigue was hitting me hard. I had been up all night, after all. I would close my eyes during contractions and was having a hard time opening them back up after because I was so sleepy. The midwife suggested I lay on my side and try to sleep a few minutes between contractions. My midwife and nurses step out while I rest.

I’m NOT having an easy time coping with contractions on my side.. I can hear the change in my tone when I moan through the pain, but am still able to doze for a few minutes in-between.

Right at 3:00, after maybe 4-5 contraction/sleep intervals, I suddenly feel a lot of pressure. It doesn’t feel like pushing pressure, though. More like building gas about to sneak out against my will.. I feel a “pop” and for a second wonder if I pooped, but then immediately felt tons of warm liquid gushing out of me. I yell “omg my water just broke!!” And we immediately page the nurses.

At this point I’m very emotional. Panicked, even. I knew I was in transition, I was tired, and I was terrified I wasn’t ready for what was next. I forget everything I’ve read, watched, and experienced in past births. I start shaking uncontrollably.

When the nurses come I say I feel like I need to pee really bad. They want midwife to check me before allowing me to get up.

The midwife arrives seconds later and she checks me on my side.. she says I’m complete and ready to push and asks for a practice push. I struggle in pain from the check and contractions and trying to hold my bladder. She asks if the check hurts, or if I’m having a contraction. I scream I don’t know and that it just hurts.

She says she thinks I could do it but trying is torturing me and they help me to the bathroom to pee. We come back to the bed at 3:12pm and they ask me how I’d like to push. (**thank goodness for Vanessa taking pictures with time stamps so I know exactly what time/how long everything was!)

I decide to start by getting on the bed on hands and knees with my arms and head leaning on the back of the bed and bear down. I’m screaming louder than I knew I could into a pillow. Ironically I overhear someone comment that I’m following prompts from the midwife and nurses to change my tone and focus my energy so well, and that when she screamed in HER labor, people could hear her across the hall. And I’m thinking “are you kidding?! People can probably hear me in WI!”

•photo: first pushing attempt•

After two or three pushes in this position, it’s clear it’s not super efficient for me, though I could it feel it bringing him down.

My midwife asks if I’d like to try on my back since my body already knows how to do it that way from my epidural births. It might be more instinctual for me. I say yes but that I’m terrified to move. The nurses reassure me they will help me.

I get on to my back and they roll a mirror over for me to watch my progress (I had one with Will and found it super helpful). Within a push or two we can see the top of the head (I wasn’t really watching yet because I’m closing my eyes through pushing so hard). My midwife instructs me to look at the mirror, to hold my breath, try not make noise and bear down. She says to pretend I’m skydiving and to ride the adrenaline.

I see hemorrhoids and for some reason (unlike in the past) it makes me scared that I’m just doing more damage and I hold back a bit for a push. All I can do is scream in pain.

I try again and see the head crowning. His head is almost out. The midwife holds my cervix open around the top of his head and we wait for the next contraction to start as I gather my energy.

•photo: David’s face as head is crowning. Personal favorite•

The contraction starts and I’m able to push his head out. One more smaller push immediately after and his body slides out easily. 3:29pm he is finally born after 23 hours of labor, and 17 minutes of pushing. David gets to announce “its a boy” as Alexander is placed on my chest. We’re both so surprised as most people started to lean toward girl in the past weeks.

•photo: sweet relief!•

I’m instantly relieved but still shaking quite a bit from all of the adrenaline.

The placenta came out easily with hardly a push and David cut the cord. He almost cuts on the wrong side of the clamp and the midwife says no not there! And he says “ what do I know I’m a realtor!” -everyone laughs.

Alexander and I had a few min of skin to skin but he wasn’t very pink so they took him over to the heat lamp to look him over while I was checked over. I find out I have zero tearing!!

Alexander is fine so they return him to me for skin to skin.

My midwife asked how I feel and I answer that I feel like the next one will be an epidural. Haha!

Within 24 hours though, my memory of the pain already starts to fade and I decide that next time I would go in open minded to either way.. I loved my epidurals, but feel confident I could do it again unmedicated, and more prepared mentally for transition and pushing.

I’m so incredibly proud of my body and humbled by God’s grace and plan through this birth. I feel so grateful that I was able to experience it for all of its raw beauty without enduring an induction, and that in the end, I have a handsome, easy going and joyful son; the most perfect addition to our family.

*one final note: I was able to deliver exactly one minute before shift change- so my nurses were able to be present for the birth after all those hours of labor. They were amazing so I was super happy about that 🙂

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I’ve been writing this post for over a year.

After lots of consideration and even more prayer, I’ve made the sad decision to walk away from The Modern Homemaker and leave it on a shelf.

I cannot speak to whether or not it will be forever. I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that for the past year+ I’ve found myself scraping for content, inspiration, and motivation to write. Every so often I did find myself inspired and would get excited about it again; only for it to fizzle out again shortly after. This was never something I wanted to force. It is not my “side hustle” or my “business”, but a hobby and outlet.

Raising my children is a full time job, and while many women successfully rock at holding down full time jobs and being kick-butt moms at the same time, that was never for me. I’m easily distracted, easily consumed. Writing and promoting, quite frankly, takes a lot of time. And despite some exciting successes this past year, it’s just not something I find enriching for my life during this season.

Did you know that in iPhone settings you can look at your battery usage and see how much time you’ve spent on screen in each of your apps in the last 24 hours AND the last 7 days? I’m not here to make comparisons or make anyone feel bad, so I won’t reveal my amounts. What I can tell you is that seeing those numbers stirred a fire in my heart. I didn’t see a drop in the bucket- I saw hours that I could have spent pouring into my children, my husband, and myself.  I saw projects I have yet to finish, books I want to read, and time that I cannot get back.

There have been times I decided to stick with it based solely on the encouragements and messages from some of you, my readers. I’m so thankful for your support and humbled that you care about what I have to say. So, thank you. You’ve been wonderful.

I will leave my blog open. If one of those fires starts burning and I feel the need to put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard), I just might surprise you with a post. But I won’t advertise it so feel free to sign up to receive email notifications if you like. Plus, many of my posts have been written for my own sake (what was that one recipe again?) so for that reason as well, the site will not go offline.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support over the past SIX years! It’s been fun. ❤️

Unique Minimalist Watches For Spring (+ 5 Ways To Show Appreciation)

Spring is in the air; the snow is melting, people are emerging from behind their puffy parkas, and a sense of newness fills our hearts and minds as the days get longer and flowers begin to bloom. As the fog of winter lifts, I find myself feeling excited for new and exciting things to come and grateful for the people in my life. Particularly, I feel grateful for my husband. For the past year and a half, this man of mine has worked an especially hard role at his job. He has been working a 9:00pm-9:00am shift, barely sleeping, and then he turns around and still rocks at being an awesome father to our children, and *BONUS*, lets me sleep in on his days off. Jackpot? I sure think so. It only stands to reason, then, that all of that hard work and sacrifice cannot go unnoticed. Here are 5 ways I’m showing him I appreciate him this spring:

  1. Tell Him: It’s simple, really. Words mean a lot. I tell my husband frequently, and especially when he’s extra tired, that I appreciate all that he does to provide for our family so that I can stay home with the children. “Thank you” goes a long way. Tell the people you love that you appreciate them. You won’t regret it.
  2. Carry The Weight For Him: Another way I show my appreciation is by doing some of the things he normally does. I don’t know about you, but in our household we split a lot of the household work. It’s not exactly set in stone, but we have naturally settled into a routine of who does what; his “duties” typically include prepping coffee for the next morning and taking out the trash. Sometimes I do these things; not because I have to; not just because I can; but because I know that it lightens his load.
  3. Care For Him: Taking care of two crazy kids can eat up a lot of my time and energy, especially during the frigid Minnesota winter when it’s a lot of work to get out of the house. Even so, I try to make sure all of his needs are met. Has he had an opportunity to go for a run (something that is important to him)? Does he have a lunch made for work? Is he getting to sleep on time? Assuring these things happen for him means a lot to him, and shows how much I appreciate him.
  4. Get Away With Him: This one tends to go both ways; he makes sure I get a break from the weight of motherhood, and I make sure he gets a break in general. But on the flip side of that, it’s important that we take a break together, too. Who says only men get to plan dates? I often show my appreciate by calling the baby sitter and arranging an evening where we’re able to just be with each other and relax.
  5. Show Him: This one is my favorite. We both love to give each other gifts; I suppose you could say it’s one of our love languages. I had the opportunity to work with Jord Watches to gift him with a classy and unique timepiece for this spring. My husband appreciates attention to detail, and I know how much he loves a great watch. His style is very classic and minimalist, so the Jord Hyde Watch watch was the perfect gift to show him my appreciation. It came in a gorgeous solid wood box with a drawer to store the extra links and cleaning cloths. It also came with finishing oil to keep it looking pristine; it is wood, after all. My husband is thrilled to add such a unique and classic minimalist watch to his wardrobe; it’s exactly the right touch to round out his minimalist spring look.

Want to know what makes giving this gift to my husband even better? Getting to show my appreciation to YOU, too! I’ve teamed up with JORD Watches for a $100 credit giveaway! This giveaway runs until April 8th, so don’t waste any time. If you aren’t the incredibly lucky winner, fret not. At the end of the giveaway, everyone who enters will receive a coupon code for 10% off a watch of their choice. Lucky you 😉

Jord carries both men’s and women’s watches that will be the perfect addition to your spring wardrobe or a thoughtful gift for someone you love.

CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway to win $100 toward your next great minimalist wood watch.
CLICK HERE to browse men’s styles
CLICK HERE to browse women’s styles

JORD Minimalist Wood WatchJORD Minimalist Wood WatchJORD Hyde WatchJORD Hyde WatchJORD Hyde WatchJORD Hyde WatchJORD Hyde WatchJORD Hyde Watch

Luxury Wooden Watch

Budget Friendly Getaway

Disclaimer: I am not paid or endorsed by any of the websites I mention in this post. However, if you use any of the links below to sign up for AND book with them, we do get a credit on our accounts for the next time we travel (and on some of them, so do you! Win-win). All opinions are genuine and my own.

After five whole years of marriage, two kids, and no vacations aside from those with another purpose (weddings, marathons), it was high time David and I took some time solely to relax and recharge.

I insisted we take a full seven days to truly reap the benefits. I also insisted we go some place warm, because: Minnesota, duh. He insisted we don’t break the bank. Fair enough; and challenge accepted.

For no particular rhyme or reason, I threw out $1500 as an amount I thought was fair for a budget friendly seven day vacation. This would include flights, lodging, car if needed depending on location, and all of our meals. He was skeptical but on board.

Together, we began searching for vacations. We looked at deal sites, resorts, cruises, hotels- you name it; and in multiple locations.

At first we thought a cruise would be the most cost effective- but we had trouble finding affordable flights that lined up nicely with cruise dates and times.

In the end- we came pretty close to our goal! Our grand total came to:

$1850

We went over our hoped for budget for three reasons (and if you’re planning a budget conscious vacation, hopefully these will help you prepare!):

  1. Parking. We didn’t prepare at all for the fact that going to a touristy beach city would mean a lack of free parking. We started out paying $3/hr for parking. Ouch! After about three days we were able to find a lot that charged $7 for the entire day. Regardless, this ended up being a bigger chunk of cash than we had planned for; knowing about it beforehand could have allowed us to make adjustments in other areas of the trip. Total cost: $68.
  2. Food. We wayyyy under budgeted in this area. Our hope was to buy groceries and eat two meals a day from the apartment and one meal out. After being attacked by seagulls multiple times when packing a lunch for the beach, and just by flying by the seat of our pants, we ended up eating (and occasionally drinking) out much more than anticipated.
  3. Entertainment/Experiences: I included the cost of these in my total for the vacation, but they are definitely not necessary. It all comes down to what you want out of your vacation! We chose to get a couple’s massage, I wanted a spa facial, and we went a dolphin excursion. We used Groupon to save on these, but if you’re not about those things, you could easily save over $100.

In general, we’re thrilled that we were able to get away for a FULL seven nights, not feeling like we were constricted at all by our budget, and yet not feeling like we were blowing through our cash and setting ourselves up for stress when we got home.

Here’s how we kept costs low:

  1. Be flexible. We didn’t care much about the specifics of where we ended up. I just wanted a beach and warm weather. Our dates were pretty flexible as well. Sometimes changing which days you travel just by a day or two can save you HUNDREDS of dollars, so keep that in mind. The length of the trip can also make a difference; some places will offer a discount if you stay for an entire week.
  2. Search. Search. Search. We checked lots of airlines and deal sites; on repeat. Google. Search. Search again. We ended up booking through Expedia on Sun Country airlines. Total cost (for two people, not each) including taxes and fees: $320. (Yes. Total.)
  3. Be open to trying out a different way of doing things! It used to be: “go on vacation, book hotel. book flight and car.” These days, there are SO many options that can really save you a lot of money. We’ve used AirBnB a handful of times now and have plenty of good things to say about our experiences. Reviews on the listings have helped us immensely in choosing where to stay, and we have the comfort and convenience of an entire apartment or home to ourselves! Now- disclaimer- sometimes there is a little sacrifice involved. We ended up staying in a neighborhood that wasn’t very exciting, and about 15-20 minutes from the beach we most frequently ended up at; HOWEVER- it was completely 100% worth it for the price that we paid. It was exactly what we needed! Total cost for 7 nights: $485 (includes rental of $49/night -5% for renting an entire week, plus taxes, service fee, and cleaning fee, subject to rental). Interested in trying out AirBnB? Use THIS LINK for $40 off your first trip!
  4. Try out some apps. We decided to “splurge” on a car. A basic rental at the airport was going to cost us around $280 for the week (not including insurance). Instead, we booked through Turo, which is basically like AirBnB, but for cars. People rent out their cars (and yes, everything is legit and you can get temporary insurance for a small fee- just like a regular rental), except you have way more options! We went with a BMW convertible, because: Florida. Unfortunately we were notified that when we first arrived our car would be getting a repair; so in the meantime we also got to try out the owner’s much nicer Audi A6. Total cost for 7 days (including insurance): $305. (plus around $55 in fuel). We will absolutely use Turo again in the future. *Click THIS LINK to get $25 credit on your first trip!
  5. You don’t always have to eat at a restaurant, and if you do it doesn’t always have to be expensive. We bought groceries and hit up a Total Wine to stock the apartment with the basics. When we did go out, we took advantage of happy hours, hole-in-the-wall beach food and tried out a lot of local places. This often resulted in lower prices and great food! Also, don’t forget to check out Groupon for deals on local eats. Total cost: $499.
  6. No shame in deals. Speaking of Groupon… deal sites are a great way to save on experiences. We pre-bought and booked a couples massage for $71 as well as spa facial for me for $26. *don’t forget to tip! Once we arrived and checked what areas we might want to hang out in, we decided to book an “excursion”. We went with a dolphin boat tour that we got for $22 for the two of us (normally $25/person!). *hint: Groupon has extra coupon codes almost daily. So on top of the Groupon price, don’t forget to enter those codes at checkout for even deeper discounts!

There you have it. A full week of vacation that doesn’t break the bank. What are your favorite ways to save?

Wild + One

All the sweet details of our wild little guy’s first birthday party.

Looking for some inspiration for a girly first birthday party? I’ve totally been reminiscing on E’s first birthday. Check it out!

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