Friday, March 23, 2018

Stella's Birth Story

I love reading birth stories and I want to remember the day we met Stella so here is how it all happened!  I feel like I should preface this post with: I remember people saying after you have a baby your modesty goes out the window.  It could be because the birthing experience is less than modest or it could be that I've had an audience for almost every shower and trip to the bathroom since Linnea's birth ;).  But at least she is cute!  So this second birth story might be a little less filtered than the first one plus I tend to be an over-sharer so read at your own risk (especially the men in my life).

Thursday, February 1st, 2018
I had Braxton Hicks contractions throughout my entire pregnancy pretty regularly.  During week 39 I more pain with the Braxton Hicks every night.  On Thursday, February 1st I had more pain with my Braxton Hicks contractions during the day which was different than the previous days.  I had a midwife appointment that day to listen to the heartbeat and do a checkup.  I told her I was having more pain with my contractions and they were coming every 5-7 minutes.  She offered to check to see if I was dilated and to strip my membranes if I wanted to do that.  They never offered to check me with Linnea and I was curious if I was dilated so I definitely wanted to get checked.

I was dilated to a 2-3 and my cervix was 1.5-2 cm long.  She stripped my membranes which was an interesting experience and I went on my way! I continued to have contractions throughout the day that were pretty regular (every 3-5 minutes) with some pain.
Last picture as a family of 3!
That night Jake was supposed to go to dinner with some coworkers but I was having more pain with my contractions so I asked him to stay home.  I was having contractions every 3 minutes lasting about a minute.  They weren't super painful but they were very regular which I never had with Linnea.  I called the hospital and they told me I could come in to get checked.  Tim, Jake's coworker, packed a bag and came over to stay with Linnea and we headed to Danderyd Hospital which is where I was registered and where we had Linnea.
We arrived at the hospital around 930 that night and they hooked me up to the monitors.  After about 20 minutes they checked me and I was pretty much exactly where I was at my appointment earlier in the day.  The midwives agreed that I was having contractions but they were more harmful than helpful because they were using my energy but they weren't productive.  They said I could stay another 2 hours and get checked again or I could go home.  We opted to go home and get some rest.

We got home around 11:30. I was disappointed.  I felt bad we inconvenienced Tim and Mona and that we were sent home.  Tim decided to stay at our apartment since it was so late and just go to work the next morning.  I took some pain meds and we all went to bed.

Friday, February 2nd, 2018
Around 3 am I woke up to a more painful contraction.  I started timing them whenever they woke me up.  They were coming every 10 minutes and were definitely more painful but I could still mostly sleep through/in between them.  We woke up around 6:30 to get Linnea ready for school and my contractions were getting more painful.

Cuddling with Linnea while she drinks milk and I breathe through a contraction.

Jake and Tim took Linnea to school in case we needed Tim to pick Linnea up after school.  I went to take a shower and ended up throwing up which at one day before turning 40 weeks pregnant is less than ideal.  It was not fun but definitely fitting considering how this pregnancy has been.  I realized after throwing up I took two pain pills with codeine and I hadn't eaten anything.  Not the best idea.  Tim went to work and Jake came back home.  I showered and washed my hair because I knew it might be a long day but hopefully not longer than a day ;). At this point, my contractions were pretty painful.

I decided to call the hospital again even though the contractions were every 6-7 minutes (I was supposed to call when I had 2-3 in 10 minutes) they were lasting about 1:30 and were definitely painful.  When I called I was the first in line.  Someone answered within a couple of minutes and asked if they could put me on hold.  I said sure.  Several minutes went by and I was still on hold.  Several more minutes went by and I thought they had forgotten about me.  So we called the hospital on Jake's phone and were 2nd in line.  We decided to hang up my phone and wait for his line to be answered.

After being on hold for almost 45 minutes someone answered and asked if I could hold for a minute.  I said no because I had already been waiting for 45 minutes.  She said she would be back in just a minute and placed me on hold.  She did come back and I told her that I was having contractions every 6-7 minutes lasting 1:30 and they were very painful.  She asked if I wanted to come in and I said yes.  She then said they were completely full and so was BB Stockholm (which is the private clinic located in the same hospital as Danderyd).  She would have to check to see which hospitals had a place for me.

When you are pregnant in Stockholm you register for which hospital you'd like to give birth at but then once you are in labor you call to make sure they have a place for you.  If they don't they call around to see who has a spot and then they send you there.  We went to our first choice, Danderyd, with Linnea and had a great experience so we registered there again.  She came back and said there was a place at Karolinska which was actually closer to our apartment, about a 10-minute taxi ride, but it was more hospital like and not what I had in my plans.

Last belly pic while standing in the snow and about to have a contraction. I look thrilled.

I asked if we should wait to see if I continued to progress because I was worried about being sent home again, but she said this was the last bed in Stockholm.  If I didn't take it and I called back she'd have to send us an hour or two outside of Stockholm.  No thank you!  We got our bags and called a taxi.  I cried on the short 10-minute taxi ride to the hospital.  I was scared because it was just different than what I was expecting.  Turns out I still don't handle change well.  I had one contraction in the taxi right when we got to the hospital and thankfully the taxi driver rolled the window down for me.  He was so considerate!
We checked in at the front desk at 10:35 and they took us back right away.  I cried as we walked down the hall and when we talked to our midwife.  I explained I was fine it was just that I wasn't expecting to be at Karolinska.  They hooked me up to the monitors for about 30 minutes. They checked me and I was 4 cm dilated and my cervix was 0.5 cm long which means those painful contractions were actually making progress.  Hallelujah!  And we were officially staying to have a baby.  Holy crap!
I knew I wanted a walking epidural and I told the midwives that as soon as I could get one I'd be ready for it.  I had a walking epidural with Linnea.  It basically just numbs your midsection so you can't feel contractions but you can still walk around, pee and feel when you push.  They asked if I wanted to try the laughing gas which is pretty popular here.  I "tried" it with Linnea and hated it.  And by tried it I mean I did it once or twice.  Jake suggested I try it again this time but with only oxygen so I could try the mask without the gas.  So I tried that and hated it so that was the end of that.  It just feels so claustrophobic when it is covering your face.

I used a heating pack on my stomach and back and tried breathing through contractions.  The midwives did a great job trying to get me to have heavy shoulders and midsection to help me to relax.  Thankfully I wasn't having back labor like I did with Linnea.  That was SO painful!

The midwives would come in every15-30 minutes to listen to the baby's heartbeat and to make sure everything was going well.

At 12:30 I asked if I could have an epidural yet ;).  She said she wanted me to be at least 5-6 cm dilated before getting it so I asked if she would check me.  She wasn't all that convinced I had made that much progress but after a few more painful contractions she agreed to check me and I was 5-6 cm!!! Jake and I were shocked.  I was actually making progress . . . in a timely manner, on my own!  Woohoo!  And with that, I asked for the walking epidural!
I did think it was interesting how many times they checked me but then I realized my water hadn't broken like it did with Linnea so they were less concerned with me getting an infection.

At 13:00 they gave me antibiotics because I tested positive for Group B Strep which I also had with Linnea.  The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me about the walking epidural.  He had me sit up and cross my legs to put it in.  (I was laying on my side for my walking epidural with Linnea which was much more comfortable.)  I was nervous about having a contraction while he was putting it in.  He said he would just stop during the contraction.  I felt like he took FOREVER to put it in.  I had a few contractions while he was working.  One, in particular, I couldn't move at all because the needle was in my back.  That freaked me out.  Jake stood in front of me and let me grab his arms.  At one point I threw my right arm back towards my back which was a sterile environment and the doctor wasn't happy about that.  He got it in and I really didn't feel much at all when he put it in.

At 13:30 they gave me the test dose to see how I would react and they took my blood pressure.  Everything was fine so they gave me the rest of the dose but for some reason, it wasn't connected right so the medicine shot everywhere.  I still got 7 of the 10 ml.  Shortly after that, the pain started going away.  Walking epidurals are the way to go in my opinion.  It is so different laboring with one than without one.  I can actually have a conversation and rest while in labor.

We walked the halls and at one point I even fell asleep. I do not know why the US doesn't do walking epidurals.  It gives the laboring moms so much more freedom.  We can be pain-free but still mobile.  I was able to walk the halls, sit on the exercise ball, be on all fours, use a standing table, whatever I needed to do to help labor progress but without the pain.

We called our parents around 14:00 our time which was 7:00 their time to let them know we would hopefully be having a baby that day!
There was a shift change around 14:30 and we met our new midwives.  One of them didn't speak any English but the main one, Louise, did and she seemed fantastic.  Lousie encouraged me to nap/rest on all fours if possible to help labor progress but also allow me to rest. I did and it was great.
I ate some food at 15:45.  Yes, they allow and even encourage you to eat during labor.  They will stop you if for some reason they believe you'll end up needing a c-section (which happened about halfway through my labor with Linnea).
At 16:50 Louise checked me again and I was at 8 cm.  She decided to break my water.  After she broke my water I was at a 10.  She thought the water sack wasn't allowing me to dilate fully and once it was broken I was fully dilated.  Jake and I just laughed at how quickly things were progressing with this labor.
I walked the halls more waiting for the pressure to come which meant my body was ready to push.  Louise said I would know when it was time.  I only had 2 doses of the epidural so far so I thought I'd be able to feel the pushing which wasn't the case with Linnea.  I was in labor for so long with Linnea and had so many refills of the epidural that I started losing feeling in my upper legs and I couldn't pee so when it came time to push I couldn't feel anything.
Even though I couldn't feel the contractions my body was still working really hard.  I would often find myself shaking.  I wasn't cold but I was shaking.  The midwife suggested Jake sit behind me and I lean back on him.  I did and shortly after that, I stopped shaking.  I'm so thankful she took a few pictures of us like this.  Jake did a great job encouraging me during the labor and delivery.
I started feeling the urge to push around 18:30.  The midwife said she would recommend pushing on all fours or on my side.  We started on my side and then did all fours for a while and then I stood for a while but I didn't like that as much.  I went back to all fours and eventually delivered her laying on my left side.  I started being able to feel the contractions again which meant my epidural was wearing off.  That freaked me out.  I asked for another dose which they weren't super excited about but they eventually gave me a half of a dose.   I felt like I had to push Pizza Roll down before I could push her out.  The same thing happened with Linnea.

TMI Warning: Please skip the next 3 paragraphs if you are a male in my life ;).
Pushing was different than with Linnea.  I could actually feel it and it freaked me out.  TMI ahead feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph (cough, cough especially the men): I was so worried about the 'ring of fire' that I kept hearing about.  However, it actually wasn't that bad.  I mean, I was terrified I was going to tear and I did NOT want to feel that. However, her head just wouldn't come out.  So I ended up having another episiotomy.  She numbed me before she cut me (at least I think so because I didn't feel it) and then right after that Pizza Roll's head popped out.

Seriously, TMI ahead: The interesting thing to me was when I was pushing they put a warm towel on my perineum to help with the pressure and to hopefully help prevent tearing and hemorrhoids (and all the mamas said Amen).  It was actually really comforting even if it didn't prevent the episiotomy.  I'm just thankful I didn't tear.  I feel like that would feel worse.

I did get hot while pushing.  I'm guessing the nerves, the effort, the light, the warm towels, just all of it together. I kept complaining about being hot.  I think they all thought I had bigger fish to fry but I couldn't get over being hot.  Jake held a cool towel on my forehead and upper back.  It helped but eventually, I took off my gown. I mean at that point the parts I'd rather people not see were out there for everyone in the room to see and my gown was only really covering my midback.  Of all my body parts to have covered my midback is not one I was overly concerned about being shown.

Our midwife Louise was amazing.  She was encouraging and supportive.  She told me not to be scared of the pain when pushing.  I cannot say enough great things about her.  Even though I wasn't expecting to deliver at Karolinska I'm so thankful for the great care we received.  It was a wonderful experience which is funny to say because in the moment it was painful and I was ready to be done being in labor but looking back it really was a great experience.
Pizza Roll's head came out and because I was laying on my side I could see it.  That was freaky and kind of awesome.  One more push and the rest of her came out and she was on my belly and then my chest.  She had a pretty gurgly cry and she didn't cry long.  I asked if Pizza Roll was a boy or a girl and they told us to look.  Jake looked and said "It's a girl" and we both laughed.  What the heck?  How was Pizza Roll a girl?  We were both in disbelief.  The pregnancy was so different so I was 100% convinced it was a boy.  Jake looked several times to make sure he didn't miss anything and it was a girl every time ;).

Stella was born at 19:33 which meant I went to the hospital and had a baby on THE SAME DAY!  I still cannot get over how 'quick' this labor was compared to Linnea.  I'm going to say it was about 12 hours or so.  That is 25 hours shorter than Linnea. A full day shorter. Thank the Lord!

Stella nursed shortly after she was born.  It amazes me how babies just know how to do that.
Our amazing midwife Louise!
After Stella was born we did skin to skin for two hours.  That is the rule in Stockholm.  They don't take the baby to clean it, weigh it or anything else for the first two hours.  After two hours they come back in and take her measurements.  We did see the placenta this time.  It was crazy looking!  Our bodies are amazing, that's all I can say.  I lost significantly less blood this time around.  I lost 300 ml (10 oz) with Stella and 1500 ml (50 oz) with Linnea.  Just one of the many reasons I felt WAY better after Stella's delivery.

We called our parents during the skin to skin time to tell them we had a baby girl but didn't know how much she weighed.  The midwives brought us the traditional "after you have a baby meal" which includes sandwiches and some juice.  Stella pooped on Jake when he held her which is fitting because Linnea popped on me shortly after she was born.  Stella weighed 3.361 kg (almost 8 pounds) and was 51 cm long (20 inches),
We were transferred upstairs to the postpartum room around 10 pm to get settled in for the night.  We went to bed around 12:30 or 1 that night.  They came in to check Stella in the middle of the night and we called and texted a few more friends to tell them the news.

The hospital also doesn't bathe babies.  The coating on their skin is really good for them so they just leave it on there expecting you to wash them.  We did eventually clean off her head and give her a little sponge bath.  Stockholm also doesn't have a nursery so once the baby is born it is with you all the time.

 Hospitals should have you breathe in new baby smell instead of gas.  I think that would definitely help you handle the labor pains!

Look at her hair!

 The little squirrel in the corner of Stella's bed Jake bought her at the hospital gift shop.  On the day Linnea was born he bought her a mouse so he was just keeping up the tradition.  I obviously love that it is a squirrel!

We had Linnea come up on Saturday after naptime.  Jake picked her up and brought her up to the hospital.  It was so cute watching her meet Stella.

This video is long and I even cut out a few parts (A few highlights - 00:32, 00:56, 1:31, 2:17, 2:27, 2:44)
 Checking out her legs and toes!
 I love that little finger.

Linnea holding Stella for the 1st time and plus what Linnea thought we should name Pizza Roll.
 Our family of 4!

Holding Stella's Hand
My mom bought her a new baby that we gave her in the hospital since she was so convinced she had a baby in her belly. I thought it would be good for her to come home with a baby just like me.  She was excited about her baby and we used it to convince her to go back to Tim and Mona's so she could show them her new baby.  She didn't want to stay at Tim and Mona's the second night because she just wanted to be with us.  It was hard for Jake to leave her but we knew she was well cared for.

Stella did well on Saturday night.  She woke up and nursed every 3 hours or so.  We had an appointment with the pediatrician before we could leave.  We realized that through the whole labor and delivery I was only seen by midwives and so was Stella.  They don't involve doctors unless it is necessary.

Before Linnea was born I remember being sad that we wouldn't have visitors while we were in the hospital. I always liked seeing babies when they are brand new so I thought I'd want someone to visit us.  I was wrong about that.  I told my friend Chelsea that I would like her to visit us in the hospital and then I had a long labor and delivery and I didn't want any visitors with Linnea.  This time around I also didn't want visitors.  Yes, I felt better but I just pushed a watermelon out and well that means things aren't quite right and having visitors just doesn't sound like fun.  The hospital actually doesn't allow visitors except for siblings and in the winter they even say no to siblings when RSV season starts . . . I wonder why.

Stella did great both nights waking up or us waking her up every 3 hours or so to eat.  Jake and I both slept holding her at different points the first night.  Newborns just have lots of junk to get out of their lungs and bellies and it is scary when they spit it up or gag on it.
I was thankful we were in adjustable hospital beds.  It was nice to be able to put the bed up to feed her and then lay it down.  I could also raise the whole bed up so I could see into her bassinet easier.

They said we could go home on Sunday or Monday and we pushed for Sunday.  I felt way better than with Linnea and we were ready to be home as a family for four.

There is hardly a checkout procedure.  There is no wheelchair ride out.  You literally just walk out of the hospital with your baby.  Seems so crazy!

Those cheeks!

We took a taxi home on Sunday around 12 and after lunch and a nap, Jake went to pick Linnea up around 3.  Linnea was excited to be home with Mama and Stella.
Elevator selfie!
When we got home we walked in to find out apartment decorated with a banner, balloons, and streamers plus food in the fridge.  I cried.  It was so thoughtful.  Mona decorated the apartment that morning.  We definitely felt loved.

We had 4 great days at home before Linnea got sick and you can read all about that and Stella's second hospital stay in her one-month blog post.

The recovery so was much faster and easier the second time around.  I'm assuming that is the case for most people because your body has done this before plus you know what to expect which helps.  But the first week or so postpartum I felt like someone hit play on my life again.  Like I was in slow-mo or on pause during my pregnancy and now I was finally able to live life at a more normal speed.  Jake kept commenting on how nice it was to see me functioning again.  Ha!

Any guesses on how much it costs to have a baby in Sweden?  I paid 200 kr ($24.41) and Jake paid 500 kr ($61.02) for the entire labor and delivery including the epidural plus all of my meals were included.  It costs 100 kr per night for me and 250 kr per night for Jake.  So a grand total of $85.43.  And Stella's week-long hospital stay was completely free to my knowledge.  We didn't pay anything when we checked in or out and we haven't gotten a bill at all.  Sweden knows how to do social healthcare.  I realize there are several reasons that it works here (it has been around forever, the Swedish mindset is different than the US, etc) but I can't help but think one of the reasons it works is because the 'other side' isn't trying to prove that it doesn't work by getting in the way of letting it work.  Stepping off of my soapbox . . .

I am so thankful for another great birthing experience in Stockholm.  I hope you enjoyed reading all about it!  Here is Linnea's birth story and a post about having a baby in Stockholm.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stella is One Month Old!

Dear Sweet Stella,

I cannot believe you are one month old.  In some ways this month has zoomed by and in other ways (sickness and the hospital stay) it has crept along.

Your Name
We named you Stella Jolee Janzen and some might say it took us a while to name you . . . and they wouldn't be entirely incorrect.  You see, we thought you were a boy.  I was pretty much 100% sure you were because your pregnancy was SO different than your sister's.  I was miserably sick and throwing up daily for weeks and then I had round ligament pain and I carried you all out front instead of on my sides.  There were just so many differences.  As soon as I put you on my chest and asked what you were and they told your dad to look and he said "girl" we were in disbelief.  We checked 5-10 more times because we just couldn't believe it.
1 Week Old
3 Weeks old (The day you came home from the hospital the second time.)
We were pretty sure we would name you Stella if you were a girl but here is the kicker, our spreadsheet (yes, we had a spreadsheet for name ideas) was completely blank in the girl middle name column.  We didn't write a single thing down.  We had two first name choices: Ella and Stella.  Linnea was actually going to be named Ella until week 37 of my pregnancy when our niece Avery said we should name her Ella because then she would know five Ellas and that was the end of that, at least for your Dad.  We didn't want a super popular name and we didn't realize how popular Ella was until then.  We still liked it this time around and then we thought about Stella and liked it even more.  It was spunky yet easy to spell and we liked the pronunciation of it in both English and Swedish (things I never considered as a child that I'd have to think about while naming my kids).

When we were figuring out if we liked the name Stella your dad was holding you and he said, "If you think we should call you Stella raise your hand." Your hand shot up and you waved it around.  I wouldn't have believed it either except I saw it and your dad and I started laughing so hard.  It was pretty much a done deal after that.

As for your middle name, we wanted it to be meaningful instead of just a 'pretty' middle name that didn't have a meaning.  We really wanted to honor our dads (since Linnea honored our moms) but couldn't figure out how to do that without giving you a boys middle name (which we almost did) and then I came up with Jolee for (Larry) Jo(nes)  + (Kenneth) Lee.  We love it!

I am planning on writing your birth story down because I love reading them and I want to remember the day we met you but until then here is what you've been up to this month.

You weighed 3.97 kg (8 lbs 12 oz) at your one month doctor's appointment which is in the 35th percentile.  It took you about 3 weeks to pass your birth weight (3.61 or 8 lbs) because you lost weight when you were sick.  You were 55 cm (21.5 inches) long which is in the 75th percentile and your head was 37.1 cm (14.6 inches) which is in the 68th percentile.  Normally babies gain 20-30 grams per day and you gained 50-60 grams the first two weight checks after the hospital stay!
You usually eat every 2-3 hours during the day.  The first two weeks you would sometimes cluster feed in the evenings.  At night during your first two weeks you would go 3-4.5 hours between feeds but after you got sick I was supposed to wake you up after 3 hours.  After about 2 weeks of that, I started letting you go 3.5-4.5 hours between feeds at night.  Obviously, if you woke up hungry before that I would feed you but if you didn't wake up then I'd pick you up and feed you.

You will dream feed!  Linnea never did this.  You can be completely asleep and I can pick you up nurse you and lay you back down and you don't open your eyes at all.  With Linnea, if I didn't see her eyeballs she wouldn't nurse.
This is what is usually happening while I'm nursing.

I'm ready to get you on a more regular eating schedule so we can hopefully get on a more regular nap schedule ;).

You are a great sleeper at night!  Woo hoo!  You sleep in the bedside crib we bought which is AMAZING.  The height is adjustable, one side comes down and it has wheels so we wheel you all around the apartment.  You usually give me 3-4.5 hour stretches at night and you'll even do two 4 hour stretches back to back occasionally!
I usually feed you between 10-11 and then put you down for the night and then feed you again between 1:30-3 and then again between 5-6:30 depending on when the first feed was.  You barely wake up for your first middle of the night feeding so you usually go back to sleep easily but the second feed between 5-6:30 you usually take a little longer to fall back to sleep.  You don't cry but I usually put your pacifier back in a few times if you actually take it.  The paci is hit or miss in your bed.  You LOVE it in your stroller.

You aren't great at napping unless your definition of a nap is in your mama's arms and then you are a champ at it!  If I try to get you to nap in your bed or the bouncy seat it will only last 10-45 minutes but if I wear you in the carrier or hold you it could last 1-2 hours.  I am holding you for significantly more naps that I did with your sister but now I actually understand how quickly the newborn stage goes so I'm trying to soak it up.

Instagram vs Real Life pictures :)

We have you nap in the living room for a couple of reasons.  The main one is it is easy.  We wheel your bed out in the mornings and instead of wheeling it back and forth during the day you just sleep in the living room.

The other reason is we want you to get used to sleeping through noise, lights, etc.  We didn't want you to rely on being in a completely dark room with no noise in order to nap because that isn't very easy to recreate outside of our house.  So you nap in the living room with lights on, Linnea singing, hopping or yelling STELLA, with music on, while I make whipped cream, vacuum or whatever else is going on.  At night you sleep in our room next to my side of the bed.  The first week I swaddled you with your arms in but when you started coughing I thought having your arms free might be easier so now you sleep swaddled but with your arms out.  You love sleeping with your arms above your head.

You smile in your sleep and often roll your eyes or sleep with your eyes partially open which is creepy looking.  Hopefully, you grow out of the partial eye open sleeping soon!
You started wearing size 50 (which is newborn size - 50 cm) clothes and now you are in size 56 or 3 months in US clothes.

It has been really fun putting you in the same outfits that Linnea wore as a baby.  You also have a few new outfits of course that friends gave us or that I bought for your coming home outfit.  My go-to outfit for you is a side snap onesie from H&M and footed pants also from H&M.

You tolerate tummy time some days more than others.
You like to lay on your mat and look at books and toys but you prefer to look to the right.  We've tried lots of creative ways (rolling up a towel to block you, only putting books on your left, your sister yelling calling your name, etc) to get you to turn your head to the left and I think they are finally working.
Our Days
We barely have a rhythm at this point but I feel like we might be working on one soon.  The first four days we were home it was glorious.  Your sister went to school from 8:30-4 and your dad and I were able to enjoy lazy newborn days where one of us could work while the other snuggled with you.  And then your sister got sick and that was the end of that.
Here is a rough idea of our days:
6:30-8:30 am- You wake up and eat and I get up for the day.  If it is before 8 then we see your sister and your dad before they go to preschool and work.  If we are still sleeping they come in and say goodbye before they leave.
Good morning!

Baby legs and feet are so cute!
8:30-10:30 - Attempt to shower, eat breakfast, cross things off my to-do list.
Sometime in the morning you nap.  It could be 15 minutes or a few hours long.  This is part of the problem because I can't really plan our days very well with that.  We also sometimes run errands in the morning but if we do you sleep the entire time in the stroller which is great and awful.  If you sleep all morning in the stroller then when you are home in the afternoon and I'm ready to sleep you are WIDE awake.
12:00-1:00 - Lunch for me.

1:00-3:45 - I attempt to nap at some point and I usually cave and hold you while you and I both sleep because Mama's got to sleep.  I struggle with the daily nap.  I like napping but I cannot take short naps so if I do nap it is 1.5-2 hours and then I don't get anything else accomplished.  I don't like feeling like I have to nap to get through the day.  That is definitely a hard reality of the newborn stage.
4:00-5:00 - Your dad has been picking Linnea up from school because I'm just not ready to take you to a germ-filled preschool after already spending a week in the hospital.  Eventually, the plan is for your dad to take Linnea to school and we will pick her up.  Right now she has been going to and from school on her sled.  Looks like I'll be pulling a sled and pushing a stroller back from school.  That should be interesting.

5:00-7:00 - Dinner prep and dinner.  You love to eat with us and by that I mean as soon as I sit down you are starving.  It doesn't matter when I fed you before to make sure I could eat dinner without having to nurse you . . . you still think you need to eat right when we are eating.  You usually hang out in the bouncy seat during dinner.
Valentine's Day Dinner!
7:00-7:30 - Linnea goes to bed.

7:30-10:30 - You are awake for part of this time but then you usually fall asleep pretty hard.  We either snuggle with you while watching West Wing or we let you sleep in your bed while we get a few things done.
10:00-11:00 - I feed you one last time and you usually sleep through it.  Then we all go to bed and wonder what the night will look like :).

1:30-2:30 - My alarm goes off about 3-4 hours after the last feed and I try to get you as you are stirring but before you are too upset so I can feed you.  You usually sleep through this feed.  Most of the time you only nurse on one side.

5:30-6:30 - You wake up to eat a second time but this time you usually let me know you are hungry.  I change your diaper and feed you and hope you go back to sleep for a little while longer.

Activities and Outings - Warning, very detailed hospital notes below.  Feel free to skip to the next section if you'd like :).
At four days old we went back to Karolinska for a weight check, hearing test and to give blood for the PKU test.  It is so nice that we had both you and your sister in Stockholm so we know what to expect (for the most part) this time around.
When you were 6 days old your midwife through our BVC (barn vårdcentral = baby care center = midwife/doctor's office) came to our apartment for your first well baby check.  They typically come to your apartment for the first visit so you don't have to get out so soon after being born.  She asked us some health history questions and weighed you.  You were gaining weight like a champ.  We also talked to her about how to keep you healthy since you have an older sister who goes to preschool.  She asked if the older sister sleeps well at night and we beamed with pride as we answered yes.  (Later that night is when Linnea woke up coughing and then threw up.  She would then be up a couple of times each night for the next several days . . . )

The main theme for this month was sickness.  SO MUCH SICKNESS.  Before you were born your dad and I were both sick.  Your dad had a dry cough and I had sinus pressure and congestion.  Thankfully mine cleared up right before you arrived.

Day 6 of your little life your sister coughed and coughed and coughed enough to gag herself and throw up which was a first.  She stayed home the next day from school which is when you were a week old and your dad and I tried so very hard to keep you two apart.  Your dad did EVERYTHING for Linnea and I did EVERYTHING for you.  I didn't touch Linnea, your dad didn't touch you and your dad and I didn't touch for several days.  We desperately wanted to spare you from getting sick.  Linnea got a fever the next day (so we started checking your temp regularly) and was prescribed some cough medicine.  She stayed home Monday and Tuesday from school and then went on Wednesday.
When you were 10 days old I realized the white coating on your tongue wasn't milk but thrush.  I started treating it with carbonated water which is what the midwives recommended.
On day 11, you started coughing.  My heart sank.  We tried so hard to keep you healthy and it wasn't looking good.  I also thought you were having fewer wet diapers but I wasn't sure if I was reading too much into things.

On day 12, you had green snot and watery eyes.

On day 13, you coughed hard during the night, had a stuffed up nose and you slept the entire day.  We had newborn pictures which was convenient for all the sleeping but you literally slept the whole day.  I thought you were just tired from fighting off the cold.  Looking back you were exhausted from trying to breathe.  It breaks my heart that I didn't realize how hard you were working to breathe.  I took you to a doctor that afternoon to have your thrush looked at and he listened to you breathe and gave you 2 breathing treatments.  He prescribed medication for your thrush and told us to come back on Monday or Tuesday if your cough wasn't better.

On day 14, we had a 2-week weight check at the BVC (barn vårdcentral = baby care center = midwife/doctor's office).  Your midwife noticed how hard you were working to breathe and heard your cough.  She was concerned about it and then she weighed you and you had lost about 150 grams since the last weight check.  Big. Red. Flag.  Then I realized we didn't weigh you the day before at the doctor and I wish we would have.  We would have known a day earlier that you were struggling.  UGH.  Your midwife brought in her colleague to watch you breathe and to listen to you.  They decided you should go to the barnakuten (Pediatric ER).  Her colleague left and I cried.  We tried so hard to keep you healthy and we failed. #momguilt Plus it was so hard on your dad to not hold you for several days so he wouldn't possibly share your sister's germs with you and you got sick anyway.

I called your dad and he met us at the ER.  I pushed the "under 3 months" button in the waiting room and was next in line. I cried when I told them your personal number because you were only two weeks old.  The nurse asked if I was okay.  How do you answer that?  Yeah, I'm fine, my 2 week old isn't eating and is struggling to breathe and I'm in a waiting room full of sick kids and add in my postpartum hormones and it is a party!

They already were expecting us at the ER but because there were so many sick kids we still had to wait about 45 minutes before we were called back.  Once they called us back they watched you breathe and checked several reflexes.  I tried feeding you and you wouldn't wake up to eat.  You hadn't been wanting to eat the last 2 days, hence the weight drop.
With your feeding tube.
Getting a breathing treatment

They said they were going to monitor you for a while and put in a feeding tube if you wouldn't eat.  I tried breastfeeding you again but you just wouldn't wake up for it.  My niece was born at 31 weeks and 5 days.  She was in the NICU for 27 days.  I've seen little tiny babies with feeding tubes.  The feeding tube didn't freak me out but my postpartum hormones said otherwise.  They told Jake to hold your head because you might put up a fight putting it in.  I wanted you to fight it because that meant you didn't like it but I also didn't want you to fight it because I didn't want to see you uncomfortable.  They got it in and we gave you170 ml (5.7 oz) of my breastmilk very slowly over the next 4 hours and then we'd see if you would perk up and nurse on your own.
Next we had to figure out who would be picking up Linnea and if they could watch her overnight because it didn't look like we were going home anytime soon.  Thankfully Tim and Mona (who watched Linnea when we had you just two weeks to the day earlier) could watch her.  Jake called our parents to fill them in because I just couldn't. I was emotionally done with the day and it was only 4:30.
We fed you through the tube, Jake got us some food and I attempted to nap and woke up to you spitting up all over Jake.  At 8:30 pm when we finished giving you 170 ml and you still hadn't perked up.  They took your blood and took some snot from your nose to test it for RSV (they call it the RS Virus).  They told us it didn't really matter if it was a cold or RS the treatment would be the same . . . to wait it out.  You would need to regain your strength by getting food through the feeding tube until you could eat on your own and until your breathing got easier.  We were also told we might be transferred to a different hospital because there weren't any open beds where we were.  Not something I wanted to hear.  We were a 10-minute taxi ride away from Linnea and friends and moving somewhere else sounded even scarier.

Jake went home around 10 pm to get our things so we could stay the night and he got back around 12:30 am.  At 12:30 am the doctors came in and said we would be admitted and they weren't sending us anywhere else because everywhere else was full . . . so we'd either stay in the ER room overnight or they'd hopefully be able to find a spot in the hospital.  Thankfully they found a spot for us on the infectious disease floor and we moved there at 1:30 am.
We met the 2 midwives, fed you a full meal of 65 ml over the course of 20 minutes instead of slowly over several hours and then we went to bed.  Technically only one parent is allowed to stay the night.  Well . . . this 14-day postpartum mom wasn't about to go down without a fight over that.  I was exhausted and couldn't imagine being there by myself.  Thankfully they let Jake stay.  He slept in the chair and we all slept from 3-6:30.  Thankfully the nurses gave you your feeding at 5 am and let us sleep.  We weren't expecting that but it was amazing.

The next day, Saturday, we met with the doctors and found out you tested positive for the RS virus which just meant it was a waiting game.  We had to wait until you were strong enough to nurse for all of your feedings and until your breathing was better.  The good news was that we continued to hear that this wasn't a life or death situation.  You would get better, babies always do, but it takes time, lots of time.  And we would leave when you were ready.  Days 4 and 5 of RSV are the hardest and you were admitted on day 4.
The plan was for me to go home around 12 to shower, nap and then come back up to the hospital.  Well about 5 minutes before I left we got a message from Mona (who was watching Linnea) and asked if Linnea usually throws up after eating meals . . . no, she doesn't. UGH!  She threw up at breakfast and lunch.  Hearing that knocked the wind out of me.

We were already inconveniencing them enough and now she was throwing up.  We had to decide if we would ask our friends, with two small kids, to continue to watch Linnea or send Jake home to take care of her knowing that would mean he would not come back to the hospital at all to see you or help me.  It would be too big of a risk for him to come back.  What if he caught the stomach bug from Linnea and didn't know it and then shared it with one of us?  We decided it was best for Jake to leave and take care of Linnea and I would obviously stay with you.  I am SO thankful that when he left I didn't know exactly how many days I'd be in the hospital.  I don't think I cried when Jake left but don't worry . . . I made up for it over the next 6 days in the hospital.
Little Yoda at home trying to feel better.

That afternoon they hooked you up to the optiflo machine which gives you warm moist oxygen to help you not have to work so hard to breathe on your own.  You had been having breathing treatments (inhalation) every 3 hours where you would breathe in salt water mist for 2 minutes. I expected the optiflo machine to do something similar but maybe for longer periods of time.  Once they put it on you I asked how long it would be on and they said for a few days.  I cried.  I was not expecting "days" I was expecting "minutes".  So now you were hooked up to a machine with a 3-foot cord and I was alone.  Every time I sat down I needed something that was always out of reach.  The cord was heavy and pulled on your face if I didn't secure it before I moved.  It just made a hard situation feel even harder.
Hooked up to the optiflo machine and I'm feeding you through your feeding tube.

My friend Alyssa called me to encourage me after I told her about the optiflo machine.  She is a pediatric nurse so she was able to talk to me as a nurse and a mom about all the things and just encourage me.  I'm not a big crier but these last few days had been a doozy.  I cried through our entire phone call.  Thankfully she offered to come up and visit me that night.  Turns out being in a hospital is lonely ;).  She brought me dinner and a few supplies but most of all she brought me encouragement and distraction.  Plus she met you for the first time!
I had wonderful night nurses that first night alone who did all three tube feedings at 12, 3, 6 so I could just sleep other than waking up to pump.  Breakfast was provided but lunch and dinner weren't which wasn't a big deal except I was by myself and I couldn't quite figure out how to go buy food and make sure you weren't alone.  Thankfully the nurses were really understanding (at first) and one of them would stay with you so I could go buy food.  Angela visited us on Sunday and brought me dinner and lots of fruit, chocolate, and other snacks!
Monday was hard because I had new nurses who didn't understand our situation. Jake was at home with your sister who had the stomach flu and therefore he couldn't come up to relieve me so I could shower or get food.  I struggled to re-explain our situation for all 3 shift changes each day.  I was always so thankful when a familiar nurse walked through the door.
I had a couple of male nurses.  One of them spoke a little bit of English but was pretty clueless in speaking postpartum mom ;).  I had lots of emotions and he just didn't understand them.  But after a breakdown on my part, he told me he would sit with me all day if I needed him to and then he brought me ice cream.  He also met Jake in the lobby to get more clothes for you and me.  I didn't want to go down because Linnea was with your dad and I was afraid she'd see me and want a hug or to stay with me and neither of those would work.

The male nurse on the next shift didn't speak any English.  After he left the room I lost it.  I called Jake crying because I just couldn't handle being at the hospital, alone, and not being able to speak to the nurse.  I talked to the other nurse on duty and explained our situation and she was so sweet.  She said she'd try to come in whenever I hit the call button.  I was so very thankful for the nurses who understood.  Jake also kindly told me that I can call him crying but the first thing that comes out of my mouth needs to be "Stella is okay".  Oops, good point!
They had to add more and more tape to your optiflo because you kept trying to pull it out.
The rest of the hospital stay involved me trying to hold it together and you making slow and steady progress.  You gradually had more awake/alert times and I tried nursing you as much as you could handle.  It was hard because I knew that we had to nurse to leave the hospital but nursing wore you out and sometimes nursing would agitate the phlegm in your throat and then you would cough and spit up a bunch of mucus and milk.  It was great to get the mucus out but not the milk.
When you started nursing more I was supposed to weigh you and then nurse you and then weigh you again to know exactly how much you ate.  It was so neat to see exactly how many ml you got at each nursing session.  The goal was 65 ml every 3 hours.

My spirits were lifted whenever I video chatted with Jake and Linnea (which was often), read messaged from friends or had visitors (thanks, Alyssa, Angela, Chelsea and the rest of our friends who offered to visit).  Visitors were key to my sanity.  It was just so lonely being stuck in a hospital room by myself and then when I was holding you I had a 3-foot cord attached to the optiflo machine.  I ended up changing your diapers on my bed which only resulted in finding one dirty diaper in the sheets . . . oops, at least it was contained in the diaper.

While Chelsea was at the hospital I took a very short (5 min) walk outside!

I definitely learned a few things about how to love people well in the hospital.  The biggest thing was wanting company and needing things from home or food and not wanting to bother others.  I hated asking for visitors/help.  I just felt silly but sitting alone in a hospital room all day by yourself is lonely and discouraging.   So if you have a friend who is in the hospital tell them you are coming to either visit or to just drop off food or anything else they might need so there isn't any pressure if they are exhausted.  Don't wait for them to tell you they need something. They may not have any more decision-making abilities left so ask if they want/need anything specific and if they don't then just bring them some food (fruit, chocolate, snacks, etc).   

And if you happen to live thousands of miles away or can't visit them then message or call them.  Knowing I was thought about, prayed for and checked in on meant the world but also don't expect long phone calls or updates.  The first few days I didn't talk to people on the phone. I let Jake do that.  I was emotionally spent and I just couldn't update via a phone call.  Once things calmed down and I was a little less emotional I could give phone updates or video chat with family and friends.
They slowly weaned you off of the optiflo support.  Your oxygen percentage decreased from 35% to 30% to 25% to 21% (which is room air) and then they turned it up to 100% oxygen at 2 liters (so not much pressure).  They ended up taking you off of the oxygen in the evening which I didn't think they would do because they said you were more tired in the evenings.  Shortly after that you coughed and spit up mucus and your feeding tube so then they removed that and you were wireless . . . for 5 whole minutes!  After another control/vitals check your saturation level wasn't very good so they put you back on oxygen.  I was so frustrated.  They put you on a different machine that had a longer cable but it didn't have a quick release so I couldn't take it off to weigh you.
Wireless for 5 minutes.  Look at your poor face from all the tape.

Finally, wireless for real this time!
We ended up going home on Friday, February 23rd exactly a week after arriving at the hospital and when you were 3 weeks old.  When Jake walked into the room I cried.  It has been SO long since we'd seen each other and I was just so thankful to parent WITH him again.

Coming home . . . again!

I did figure out a few hospital hacks like how to make a sweet coffee by melting two mini Reese's peanut butter cups in a shot of espresso and then adding enough milk to make sure it isn't too strong.  I also figured out that when I went to go buy food at the cafe on the main floor that if I walked out of the main doors and down to the cafe (which was in the same building but had an outside entrance) then I could be outside for about 20-30 seconds each way!!!  Also, when the nurses came in to take controls/vitals I could hop in the shower and that would kill two birds with one stone!!
I was able to leave the room to buy food!  It is the little things that made the biggest difference in my day while in the hospital!
Some frozen milk we brought home from the hospital . . . At first, they were worried you weren't getting enough milk because my milk supply was low and then I started pumped and that was the end of that concern:).  #liquidgold

Your sister was so excited you were home!
After we got home I really wanted to continue weighing you to make sure you were gaining weight.  We might have put you in this bowl to weigh you but we only did it once because it was pretty awkward.

Firsts and New Skills
You had your first cold and first hospital visit.  I sure hope we don't have any more hospital visits for a LONG time!

Really everything is a first or a new skill this month, right?

Your dad and I went on our first outing with you to a coffee shop when you were 6 days old.  I was paranoid about all of the coughing that was happening around us but it was still nice to get out and walk even if it was cold and I had no idea how to dress you.

We went on our first family walk . . . in two strollers.  We took the double stroller and the single stroller because I didn't want Linnea to cough on you and get you sick . . .

This bear suit is adorable and keeps you nice and warm!
You fall asleep almost immediately once I start pushing the stroller which is great until I need to run errands in the morning and I want to nap in the afternoon and you already napped all morning ;).

We had your newborn pictures taken by the same person who took Linnea's pictures.  It was super fun even though you were so sleepy because you were sick.

Your umbilical cord fell off while we were in the hospital so your first bath was WAY late.  You did have a sponge bath before your pictures which you didn't seem to mind.

Your first real bath after the hospital.
Monkey see monkey do . . .

First bath at home!
Our first family walk using the double stroller (or triple stroller depending on what you count).

Big Sister Moments
Your big sister Linnea adores you.  She would love to hold you and kiss you if we would just let her. #dangyousickness  She often tells you "Hey, I'm your big, big sister. Yeah!" It is the sweetest.  She will sing to you if you are fussy.  She usually picks Blinka Lilla Stjärna Där (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in Swedish).  She also tells you "It's okay baby" when you are fussy.  She tries to get you to turn your head to the left so she'll stand on that side and yell your name.

Linnea didn't seem to be very jealous of you.  I think that is because your dad and Linnea got really close during my pregnancy.  So she was used to daddy taking care of her and putting her to bed when I was so sick.  The only hint of jealousy was when she would say "That is my mama" and point to me while I was holding you.  But then she started to say "That is my mama and that is your/Stella's mama."
I am so excited to see your relationship grow.  I don't have a sister but I've looked up to several sister relationships over the years and I just hope to help foster a loving relationship between the two of you.
Linnea has two babies - soft baby and hard baby (apparently we've passed our lack of ability to name babies onto our children . . .).   She sleeps with soft baby every night.  But when you were 4 days old she wanted you to sleep with her so she brought her to your crib and laid her down next to you.  It was so cute!

At first Linnea called you Estella.  We have some close friends who have a little girl named Estelle and they call her Stelly.  We knew Stella's name was similiar but we didn't think it would be too confusing.  Linnea still calls you Estella but she's getting better at calling you Stella.
Linnea Update
Since I am already struggling to get the one-month blog post up in a timely manner the likelihood of posting about your big sister as well isn't very likely but I thought I could include a few pictures and funny things she has done/said on your posts since I'm already here.

The night before you were admitted to the hospital for RSV your sister was jumping on the couch and fell off.  She had a big goose egg and got even bigger before she went to bed.  I definitely didn't think you'd be the one at the hospital the next day after looking at her head.
This is the picture your dad texted me of Linnea's head when we were at the doctor getting a breathing treatment.

Please notice the red scratch on the bottom of Linnea's chin.  She came home with that the night before newborn pictures but thankfully she waited to add the goose egg until after pictures were over.

Linnea saw her daddy resting on the floor so she decided to join him even to the extent of matching her breathing to his.

Linnea says "When I get super, super big then I'm gonna _____________ (have a sharp knife, drink pop, stay home by myself, etc)!"

Linnea has figured out how to stall big time at bedtime.  Some of her favorites things to try include: "Daddy, I want something else (to drink) after I wake up."
"Daddy, what does Frank start with?"
Linnea had a scratch on her wrist: "I need a band-aid for my wrist just in case it bleeds."

Linnea was playing in the shower and tried to pick up my razor.  Jake said she couldn't pick it up because she wasn't old enough.  She said she is a big, big sister now so she can pick it up.  Jake then explained what an adult is.  A few days later we were on our way to newborn pictures and Linnea said, "I'm an adult."

I want to remember all the newborn snuggles.  We have had a LOT.  I remember with Linnea we held her a lot too but we also wanted to make sure she could fall asleep on her own without nursing to sleep or being rocked to sleep.  Well, with you we've I've definitely let you fall asleep in my arms WAY more than we did with your sister.  But now that we've done the newborn stage once I fully understand what they mean when they say it goes by fast.  I have no idea how your sister is 2.5.  We literally just brought her home from the hospital.

I want to remember how much your big sister adores you.  She lights up when she tells you that she is "Your big sister" and when she tries to calm you down by talking to you.  It is the sweetest thing.

We are so thankful you are here and part of our family.  We love you Stella Jolee!

Your Mama
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