Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Homebirth Story

      I thought I'd start this post by first explaining why we chose a homebirth, then explaining why I would want to tell you all about it, but honestly that would be a monstrous post, because the birth story itself is gigantic. Perhaps another day, but for now I will say that it was a well-researched decision, and a natural one considering that hospitals give me terrible anxiety. I'm writing the story down for me and for Beatrice, and just for anyone that enjoys sharing in this part of motherhood. (in other words, it's not to impress you. I wasn't that impressive. I yelled a lot and stuff.) Quick recap: Bella (4) was an traumatic, unnecessary C-section. Sophie (2) was a medicated vaginal delivery that was not traumatic but the hospital stay was hellish, and Beatrice (5 days) was born at our home in Germany.

     Here's the story I thought I'd be telling: "I had easy contractions all morning, Eleni came over and we had tea with the midwife while the kids played in the yard, I got in the tub and serenely breathed my baby down and she was born peacefully in to my hands." Buuuut that wasn't how it went ;)

     By the time I became pregnant with Beatrice I already knew of a great local homebirth midwife who had assisted in the births of a few friends. I had a low risk pregnancy and knew that German midwives are extremely qualified. I had all the usual prenatal care, bloodwork, ultrasounds etc. Her name is Alexa and I knew from the moment I met her she was right for us. She's uh, eccentric. She's also extremely experienced, knowledgeable, kind, gentle, and intuitive. She is very hands-off. I was in charge of my pregnancy and birth every step of the way.  She knew my history inside and out. Every bit of my care was tailored personally to me and she came to my home for appointments. My husband and children were at ease in her presence. She even had a calming effect on our crazy hyper dog. Basically she was perfect.
     My due date came and went, just as it had in my previous pregnancies. For weeks prior I'd have regular semi-uncomfortable contractions that would fizzle out. Every week I'd go through my nesting ritual where I would tidy up the house, tidy up the family, plan "one last" family day, plan "one last" date night, eat a bunch of super foods, go for a walk, etc. I was sure she'd come several times, but by April 2 I was just at peace with the fact that I'd be pregnant forever. A friend served us spicy Mexican food that night and informed me that she had a history of inducing labor. We went home and for the first time in months I slept hard, for 8 solid hours. I was awakened at 7:20am by a phone call from Daniel saying he was coming home between PT and work and wanted to know if I wanted breakfast from the coffee shop.  Since by now I was SO over high protein breakfasts and healthy crap, I said heck yes. Between the words "muffin" and "macchiato" I had a seriously intense (but not painful) contraction that I couldn't talk through. I knew this was it. After we hung up, I hopped (read: hoisted) my giant belly out of bed, stood there through another contraction, (wow do these seem close together??) and got dressed for the day. I started tidying up the house until Daniel arrived.  We ate breakfast together while Bell and Sophie slept and I told him today was definitely the day. I noticed the absence of nauseating nervousness that had accompanied the start of my other labors. It was the hospital I had feared. While my contractions were close together, they were totally manageable. I would just stop and relax and breathe through them. Knowing this could take hours, I reluctantly told  Daniel he could go into work to tie up a few things, but to make it quick. After he left I woke the girls with news that we would finally meet our baby today. I dressed them and fed them breakfast  then they played in the yard with the dog while I fidgeted with the birth supplies and continued to walk, breathe, and relax during contractions. I called Alexa at 10:30 to give her a heads up and she said she'd come over around noon. Daniel came home at 11 which was good because I was starting to get uncomfortable and wanted to be alone. He played with the girls and did house work downstairs while I labored upstairs. Anytime he came up to check on me I'd have a more painful contraction, so when Alexa arrived at 12 and they were both with me I was getting uncomfortable. As soon as she came I got in the bath filled with hot water which immediately lessened the frequency and intensity of the contractions. Alexa stayed only ten minutes before asking if she should go. I told her to go run errands or eat lunch so I could labor alone in the tub. Daniel was awesome. He quickly and quietly set up a little table next to the tub and brought water, my phone, a rosary, and a bucket to puke in. He lit candles and turned off the lights and adjusted the heater before hurrying back downstairs to be with the kids. I actually sort of enjoyed this part of labor. My husband and kids were comfortable and happy.  I was working through things on my own with breathing, relaxation, and prayer. I felt safe and peaceful. But eventually the warm water lost its magic touch and no longer seemed to be helping. After being in the tub for an hour, at 1pm, my water broke. I got a little nervous here. This was when I decided I didn't want to be alone anymore. Daniel called Alexa and then left to meet her at the gate (we live on an Army base) As Daniel was getting in the car to meet her I heard him talking so I went to the window and saw him standing there with two of our friends/neighbors, Eleni and Katie, taking their kids to the park near our house. Though the original plan had been for my kids and Eleni to all be with me during labor, it was obvious by now that I wanted a quiet, empty house, so I was so very relieved when Katie and Eleni took the girls with them. They were close enough that I could hear the kids laughter through the bathroom window from the tub. I was comforted knowing the girls were having fun with their friends and nobody was terribly inconvenienced as it was the middle of the day, so I could focus on the task at hand. Alexa arrived it was around 1:30pm and I was having a hard time finding a good position to deal with the contractions. Each one made me feel so warm that I became nauseated during them, even with Daniel holding a cool rag on my face. (he is a gem, people)  I had to get out if the tub. This was not going to be a water birth! At this point we moved into the guestroom because our bed was too high for me to get in and out of easily. Daniel got to work making the room ready by stripping the sheets to put down the plastic mattress cover and some old sheets. He brought all my stuff from my table by the tub and lit all the candles again. Alexa set up the birth stool and got all her supplies ready. The contractions were coming hard and fast and for several of them I just sat on the edge of the bed with my hands on my knees moaning/humming. Then for a few I had to be holding Daniel's hands while Alexa pushed on my lower back (or vice versa) Then I had to stand and sway my hips for several. Still while crushing the hands of whichever unfortunate person had my hands at the time. I never knew what my body would force me to do next. It completely took over the decision making of trying to find the best position to bring baby down. I whimpered that I was tired and that there was no position that wasn't completely sucky. Despair is a classic sign you've reached transition (7-10 cm dilation, the transition between laboring and time to push) but it never crossed my mind that I could be that far in, as I had only been hurting for one hour. Alexa suggested getting back in the tub and I agreed, hanging on to the slim chance it would provide the same relief as it had that morning. Once she filled the tub I got in and laid my head on the bath pillow and my whole body relaxed. It felt amazing. Until the next contraction. Oh my goodness. This is the part where I started cussing between prayers. I'm pretty sure I yelled that I could not do any more contractions lying down and I had to get out right now. Alexa asked permission to check me for dilation, which I had not wanted done at any point during my pregnancy or labor thus far, but I knew that if Alexa was asking it was because she had a good reason. In my head I was saying "please don't say less than four" so when she announced I was 8cm I was thrilled, because when Sophie was born, dilation from 8 to 10 was very quick then I immediately started pushing. Pushing had provided complete relief from contractions. (the epidural with Sophie didn't really numb everything) So basically I was really excited that pushing was not far! A few more contractions! I could do that! I got out of the tub and went back to the guest room. I think it was somewhere around 2:15 pm. Instead of a couple of contractions to complete dilation, I had several excruciating ones over the next hour. I clawed Daniel's arm bloody. I tried to rip the sheets. I took a bite out of the solid wood birth stool I'd been trying to break as I knelt over it. I broke Daniel's stainless steel rosary. I was standing.  Then sitting.  Kneeling. One leg on the bed. Hugging the birth stool. Sitting on the birth stool. When I did that, my body started to push involuntarily with each contraction. I had no control over it. But that's good, right? Pushing relieves the pain from contractions, right? Well, not this time. The pushing hurt worse, but I couldn't stop. (fun fact: I have scar tissue adhesions from my c-section and I'm pretty sure I tore every one of them free during this pushing.) Every muscle in my body wanted her out, but she wasn't coming down at all. . I pushed like that for a while til I started to feel faint. Alexa asked Daniel to spoon feed me some raw honey and water. She checked me again and told me I was complete except for a small bit of cervix. This "lip" was holding baby back but my body was pushing anyway, so Alexa asked how I felt about her manually stretching the last of it out of the way, or we could give baby more time. She was content not to rush baby but told me later that she did have some concern that my cervix could tear, which would cause a lot of bleeding. I agreed to the stretching, because I was worn out and reeling from the intensity, but I knew I'd have to endure a contraction lying down (on my side on the floor) and that the stretching would be excruciating. It was, and after it was over Alexa told me she thought I was being too quiet, too gentle, too polite. She wanted me to yell and roar and see if that helped the baby come down, now that dilation was complete. It didn't seem natural to me at first, I had been so focused on being relaxed and loose and trying to make low sounds, but I was desperate. With the next three contractions or so I made the most ridiculously loud noises that I can't believe I am capable of making. And it was working! I could feel her moving down. After a few of these Alexa wondered aloud if it would be possible for me to rest a moment on the bed. I had no interest in the idea because I knew there was no rest til it was done, but I crawled up onto the bed anyway and propped myself up on my side leaning on Daniel. Lying that way was not fun but before I could protest Alexa could see baby coming. I pushed, this time voluntarily, and she was coming. I pushed again, roaring like before to help her come down. That stings! (understatement alert!) Her head was out! I'm done! Right? No, she wasn't coming.  After that contraction Alexa told me very calmly and seriously that I needed to get on my hands and knees. I've read enough birth stories to know what that means: shoulder dystocia.  Baby's shoulder was stuck behind my pubic bone. By the time the head is out, there's alot of pressure on the umbilical cord so its necessary to act quickly. Just in case it was only a suggestion, I said "I can't" and I meant it. How could I move during this insane contraction with a baby head between my legs? She said "you have to" and that was enough. The next several events seemed to happen in one fluid motion: While pushing, I flipped onto my hands and knees, Alexa put her hand in next to baby's head (if you think that sounds unpleasant, you'd be correct.) and as she unhooked her shoulder from the bone, we heard (and I felt) a pop...then the rest of the baby was born, pink and crying at 3:30pm. Alexa passed her to me between my legs and I clutched her to my chest and flipped to my back as I looked at Daniel and said "It's broken.." I cried and hugged her and Alexa tells me I kept saying "she hurts" but I don't remember that. Alexa immediately said "I do think her collarbone is broken." Which is somewhat common for shoulder dystocia. My heart was crushed. We decided we would check her after I had comforted her, which took nothing but a towel  from the dryer and some breastmilk. She calmed immediately and I sent Daniel to get the girls (right after he answered the door to a curious neighbor wondering what all the noise was about.  Oops.) They ran in to meet their sister with sweet happy faces. They watched the delivery of the placenta and Alexa showed it to them and explained it all, much to their fascination and my amusement.  Eleni came in to take a few pictures for us and meet Beatrice. She brought us a huge pot of amazing beef stew and rice which was the perfect post-childbirth meal. Alexa checked over Beatrice and couldn't find a break in her collarbones but we all agreed she should see a doctor the next day to be sure. Alexa mentioned that if it was broken, they likely would not do anything for her, because newborn bones are very soft and heal very quickly, and supposedly a break in soft bone is not as painful as it would be for an adult. Her muscle tone was good, she was a healthy 8lb 8oz, 20in long. Alexa swiftly cleaned everything up and changed the sheets. She had a glass of pink champagne with us to celebrate Beatrice, then left after a few hours, promising to return in the morning. Now it was just the family. We ate our stew and cuddled on the couch before settling into our beds. I was so happy to be comfortable in my own home with my family around me, grateful to have made it through childbirth seemingly unscathed (somehow I didn't tear) and completely madly in love with my perfect new baby. But I didn't have that "birth high" I had after Sophie or the euphoria everyone talks about after a home birth. Mostly because I still felt unsure about the collarbone. I also felt a little defeated, but I'm not sure why. I think I was just really tired from the extreme emotional highs and lows along with meeting my match physically. I just didn't expect it to break me like that, I guess. I have always thought of childbirth kind of like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Something you punch in the face and conquer and come out triumphant. But it wasn't like that at all for me this time. It was a crushing, humbling thing this time. And that's ok. We have a little pieta figurine, a statue of Mary holding the body of crucified Jesus. It's the very picture of maternal suffering. During pregnancy I said that I would look at it during labor and my suffering would seem like nothing. In a way I was right, it certainly removed my pride from the equation, though none of the physical discomfort. This sounds a lot like whining but let me clarify that other than the collarbone thing (we'll get back to that in minute) I consider this an amazing birth experience. Every bit of pain was worth the benefits of being home and not in the hospital.I'm definitely not complaining. I'm simply trying to walk you through what it was like for me to emotionally process the whole thing. The euphoria is coming to me now. Having a birth that wasn't in a stressful fearful environment was just something that was personally important to me, and I got that. I am happy. But there is a little cloud of sadness over it still, and that is that while Beatrice's collarbones are fine, she did break her arm on my pelvis on the way out. The next day she got an x-ray and an orthopedic specialist checked her for nerve damage (she can move her elbow, wrists, and fingers, so all seems to be well.) He confirmed what Alexa had told us..they didn't really do anything for her. He told us that for 2 weeks we needed to trap her broken arm against her body inside a snug onesie. At that point they will x-ray her again and basically tell us we can stop doing that, or to keep doing it for another week. I thought she would cry all the time, but she is truly the sweetest, happiest little baby. She is so alert and content. She sleeps like an angel at night and eats like a piggy all day. We feel very blessed that it was just a broken arm, because sometimes shoulder dystocia has a much grimmer outcome, especially if there is failure to act as quickly as Alexa did. Anything from nerve damage, to brain damage, to death of mother and baby.

**Edit**
At 13 days old Beatrice had her follow up xray which revealed that she was as good as new. She had already been using the arm pain-free for a few days at that point but it was nice to hear an orthopedic specialist tell me to go home and pretend it never happened. ***

So will I do it all again? Yes. Shoulder Dystocia is kind of a freak thing. It's unlikely to happen to me again. It didn't happen to me with Sophie. And it would have happened this time even in the hospital, and the outcome of it would have likely been either the same or worse, depending on the timeliness and method used. If the hospital had used vacuum extraction or similar she could have had serious nerve damage. With that in mind, absolutely. This is what is best for our family for future low risk pregnancies. Feeling safe and having my children nearby, having privacy and real nourishing food and my own bed afterwards was really great.
ANYway. That's how it all went down. We are so incredibly blessed and proud to introduce Miss Beatrice Qualk to the world. <3



The Qualks


Invisible microphone




Big cheeks at her x-ray appointment



Daddy cuts the cord! Sophie is confused.

First time in Daddy's arms

Discussing the collarbone :(

Proud sister
Prost!

First pic with mama

Just a few minutes old

Birthday card to Beatrice from Bella

Bella drew, from left, Eleni taking pictures, Alexa weighing baby, Bella, Sophie, Daddy, Mommy, and pictured below are Alexa's bags and stethoscope.

My sunshine

Who you callin' chunky?

Sophie's a big girl now



A thoughtful gift from Erin and Phil




only 8lb 8oz ;)

being weighed by Alexa

Alexa checks her collarbones











 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Like and Share!

There's an article making the rounds on Facebook with surprising resilience. Actually, most of the things that go around Facebook surprise me with their staying power. But this particular article is about how Pope Francis said a bunch of very un-Catholic nonsense. (Subsequently a bunch of un-Catholic people got so very excited about it, because they are clinging to this delusion fed to them by the media that the Pope is going to stop being Catholic.) Ahem. Anyway, the article in question is from a SATIRE website. It's like The Onion but not cool or funny or edgy. It's called diversitychronicle. I won't post a link to the drivel here but a handful of my nice, intelligent friends have reposted the article. Anyway it's sort of hard to tell that diversitychronicle is satire because they present everything as fact. So no hard feelings, I know these people aren't stupid or anything. It just really got me thinking about how often I see hoaxes posted on Facebook as fact. So I thought I'd share my helpful list that has saved me from posting inaccuracies many times (though I've made my share of mistakes too) because let's be honest, the Pope Francis article is just the tip of the iceberg. So here we go. My list of questions to ask myself before I click "SHARE" on Facebook.

1. Is it extremely convenient to your worldview? Perhaps you are into natural remedies (as I am) and you found definitive proof that dandelions cause immortality and cure hemorrhoids and Tourette's. Probably shouldn't post (although dandelions DO have health benefits. *cough*)

2. Is it way too conveniently harmful to the view of someone you don't like? Possibly a link offering photographic evidence that the president wears makeup to cover up his devil-horn-ectomy scars...Probably too good to be true. But even if it's not blatantly silly or ridiculous...probably too good to be true.

3. In other words, is it just plain too good to be true?

4.  Is it going to cause a huge emotional reaction? Is it sugary sweet, or tugs on your heartstrings? Tempting to post, but do research. This is the one that I see most often.  I saw a post on Pinterest with a photo of a baby who had supposedly been aborted at 24 weeks gestation, with harsh words for the mother. I happened to have followed that baby's story and knew that the baby was not aborted, but very much wanted, and tragically did not survive. I hope his mother never saw the ignorant post that treated her son's body as an object to further an agenda. Even though it's an agenda I happen to agree with (the not killing unborn babies agenda), there is no excuse for that sort of ignorance. It hurts people. Real people. In real life. Our actions matter, even online.

5. Does something major depend on your reposting it? Will a doctor provide free care to a young cancer patient if only she gets so many likes? Will Jesus be personally offended if you don't repost? DO. NOT. REPOST. Seriously every time you like and/or share one of those pages, a shark eats a kitten. Fact.

6. Is it from the dailycurrant? Just....don't.

7. Is it from the Onion? Feel free to repost/share, but armed with the knowledge that it is satire, and with a sense of responsibility toward your friends who are quick to believe. ;)

8. Is poorly written? If so, I don't care if it's factual. Don't encourage it! Kill it with fire. (the article, not the author.)

9. Are there sources? Check em

10. Check the comments. Are the intelligent-sounding people offering proof to the contrary? Are the people who agree with the article saying stuff like "dis is y u r stupid!"?? Consider the opinions of the other commenters. It's ok to allow others to help you form an informed opinion.

11. Here's the one that would be most helpful for something that seems extremely believable (as some thought the Pope Francis article was, for reasons beyond my comprehension)
Have many days, weeks, months, or even years passed since the article was written, yet it only came out on some obscure website? Major news like a THIRD VATICAN COUNCIL and not one mention of it on mainstream media?? (granted, there are many things mainstream media will not report, but this would be huge world news and they would. ) There would also be rioting in the streets. Just saying. Also, a glance at the date is helpful because maybe the content of the article no longer matters, even if it was true at one time. If it's a fundraiser, it may not be going on anymore. A lost child may have been found already.

I get that it's a long list. Who has time for that nonsense?  Not me. And that's why, unless I just really care a whole lot about the subject being discussed, I just keep scrollin' instead of researching, liking, and reposting. Cause I have cat memes to share.
Well that's it folks. I meant all of this in the most humble, non-patronizing way. Honest. Because I have fallen victim to the same thing! Or maybe I am being a little tiny bit snarky because I'm a million  months pregnant and super moody. Either way I love you :D Peace.

PS please check out my "Favorite Blogs" on the sidebar and read the amazing homebirth story of my godson baby Jack over at LettersFromBlayne. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy after reading my hormonal rant.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Deployments, Homecomings, and Other Stuff


  Last time I felt like blogging (a year ago this month!), Daniel had been in Afghanistan for a week or so. I was going to blog throughout his deployment, but.... I didn't.


The day he left
How was our first deployment? Thanks for asking ;) Well, you know, it was terrible. Sure, it could have been much worse. It could have been a 15 or 18 month deployment, instead of 9. He could have been in Iraq rather than Afghanistan. It could have been his 5th time to go. But as far as the experiences I have to draw on personally, it really sucked. I mean, while it was going on it, it almost seemed bearable because I had these projects I was doing, I had the kids to focus on, we traveled to the States, my Mother-in-Law visited for a while. I was sad,  and I was tired, but I was distracted. The fact that the sun rarely came out all winter didn't help. But through it all I was really proud of myself and especially the girls for how well we were holding up. We got out as often as possible, Skyped with Daniel every day, saw friends, finished projects, and you know, lived life as best we could while missing our love.

 And then he came home and I sort of fell apart. It was like I just collapsed with the relief of being able to take my eyes off the kids for one moment, to not have to wonder if Daniel was going to be blown up or have to do something that would haunt him, and to just sleep. I just wanted to sleep so much when he got back, and everything made me cry. It was like I took everything I read about how a soldier might behave upon returning, and decided to act on them myself. I was crazy happy of course...giddy even. I couldn't take my eyes off him...couldn't believe how lucky I am to have my family whole again. But then there was the crazy-pants emotion and exhaustion mixed in there. As for Daniel, it was like he never left. I might say he is a little more, uh, annoyingly organized, but that's not exactly a change, since he's always been like that.

So let's talk about the Homecoming, because that's really the whole reason I'm rambling here right now. Ah, the Homecoming. Such a sweet, wonderful, emotional time. Also a remarkably stressful time. An Army wife has all these questions racing through her mind. How will the kids act? How will he act? Will he be different, sad, tired? Will he hate the changes I made to the house? (um...he might, depending on what you did with his big screen)
And then there's the uncertainty of it all. Do you know how on that show Army Wives the soldier gets off a bus, locks eyes with his love, and she runs into his arms, and they head home hand in hand? Yeah it's not really like that. I mean, I don't know, maybe it is sometimes. But that is not quite how it went down for us. For one thing, some of you may not know, the spouses don't get to know exactly what day their soldier is returning until like..2 days ahead of time. And then you don't know what time they'll be back until literally hours before. This is all for security purposes, so it makes sense.We had a pretty good idea of course. I knew which day was likely, and that it would probably be mid-morning. Still, I had this "irrational" fear of not getting a phone call the night before and missing the whole thing. I say "irrational" sarcastically because they did forget to call me. I have a sense for these things. Anyway fortunately around 8am I had the good sense to message my friend Meghan something like "uh, when are they going to call?" and she informed me that they had already made their calls. (and yes, my name and number were on the list!) So she was able to give me the deets and the girls and I were there, with our glittery "Welcome Home" sign, in our pretty dresses. Then we waited. I was really nervous! I was really emotional! I was really impatient! Finally they announced the bus had arrived (we were not allowed to meet them at the airport for a reason I can not remember) but we were inside a building, sitting in bleachers. We waited for them to get into formation and march in. We waited while they all filed in. We waited during the prayer, the National Anthem, and a speech by some high ranking officer, which was mercifully short and sweet. Then he said "when I count to three, go and find your soldier."

Waiting for Daddy

Whoa. First of all, I couldn't find Daniel in the crowd of 150 some-odd soldiers from my spot on the bleachers (they all wear matching outfits, you know).. Second, I was going to rush in with a group of like..200 family members? It was like a scene from an ancient battlefield. Charge! Then a clash of two huge groups of people. Seriously it was chaos. I'm not really complaining, I'm not sure I could have arranged a more efficient set-up, I'm just saying it wasn't exactly what I expected. Bella ran out in front of me, following our friend Stacey who had been fortunate enough to spot her boyfriend early on. Bella ran right past Daniel..so in trying not to lose our child, my first words to my soul mate after nearly a year's separation was something like "oh, hey" before I caught up with Bella. But after that it was all perfection and hugs and kisses. I have never been so happy. Bella never hesitated and jumped right into his arms. Sophie..well. Sophie decided to play hard to get for a while, but she warmed up within a few hours, after he bribed her with a balloon.
Back where he belongs

 We weren't able to take him straight home because they had to turn in their weapons and all that, but we were home around dinnertime. He had to work every day for a week to get "reintegrated" and then he had some time off to hang out with us and it was heavenly having him home so much. We kind of hate it that he is back on a normal work schedule now but we're coping ;)

Whew! That was REALLY long!  Oh, and of course it all seems very obvious now, but in case you haven't heard,  I quickly learned that the reason I was napping all day and crying all the time at first was because I became pregnant as soon as Daniel returned. Sophie is obviously thrilled about becoming a middle child/big sister in late March.









Saturday, October 20, 2012

Change of Season

Fall has arrived! The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and there's that Fall feeling. You know, that distinct feeling of...Fall. It has to do with the crisp air and the smell of damp leaves and a faint memory of the excitement of a new school year and football games and anticipation of the Holidays.

I've never been a big fan of the cold, but I love Fall just as much as the next person. Who doesn't love the wardrobe essentials and the excuse to consume obscene amounts of hot cocoa and hearty soups? But even so, this year, I wanted summer to last just a little longer. It was a fantastic summer. It was our first summer here in lovely Germany. My parents and brother came to visit and traveled around Europe with us. We celebrated both girls' birthdays (as well as Daniels). We just had a great time in general, while I pretended deployment was not upon us. Alas, fall did come and I'll have to do my best to focus on the exciting changes coming up, like visiting the States for the holidays and having Daniel's mother come stay with us for a while.

I'm getting a lot of "how are you guys holding up?" type questions so I'll address that here. Well, you know...it sucks. But we're doing ok. We've got a pretty full schedule for the next several months, and many goals to accomplish before he gets back (decorate the house, lose a million pounds, train the dog, learn to read (Bella) etc) We miss him, but we have Skype, which is probably the greatest invention of all time, so that definitely helps. We're really looking forward to spending the Holidays in Home Sweet Oklahoma.

Oh, and another upcoming change...the direction of this blog. This blog is here for me to collect my thoughts and memories, and share. But mostly it's just been a travel blog so far. I won't be travelling much in the next year, so I might start blogging more about typical mommy blogger stuff, for my own amusement. And with that, I'll leave you with a few pics from our awesome summer.

Birthday tiramisu in the park

Sophie watching fireworks with Grandad 7/4/12

Being cute at the zoo

Isabella and her horse, Texas

She's bad to the bone. Obviously.

Ready for rainy season!

Not my best work, but Sophie liked it just fine :)

Kaiser is an airhead. I mean...Airedale.

We'll see you soon daddy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rome



We flew from London to Rome for the last leg of our trip and went straight to the hotel to check in.
Daniel did a great job picking hotels in good locations, but this was my favorite hotel. It was just so pretty. European hotels are so different from American ones. It's the little things, you know? Real, antique keys instead of cards, winding staircases in old beautiful buildings... The location was perfect, because we could see the Castile de San Angelo from our balcony and and St. Peter's Square was very near as well. We did have to pay extra to have air conditioning in our room, and let me tell you...it was worth every penny. Rome is hot. We ate at a nearby restaurant (more on that later) then mom, dad, and Nathan went back to their room to sleep. Daniel and I decided we couldn't wait until morning to see St. Peter's Square so we walked in the dark with the girls. I am so glad we did. We were able to see the square lit up at night and almost empty. It was so peaceful and lovely. They closed it for the night about five minutes after we got there.

View of Castile de San Angelo from our balcony
St. Peter's Square at night
Swiss Guard outside St. Peter's

 

The next morning we had a sad choice to make. We wanted to go to mass at St. Peter's Basilica, but Mass ends at the same time that the Sistine Chapel closes! So we'd have to do one or the other. We went to mass, and my parents and Nathan went to the Sistine Chapel. I'm bummed that we missed it, but it was really cool to attend mass at St. Peter's and get a close up view of the inside. Plus some sweet old nuns got to pinch the kids' cheeks, so that was fun. As soon as mass was over we looked around for a minute then went straight into the square, where we were able to see Pope Benedict giving a speech to the HUGE crowd from his window.I think he spoke in 4 or 5 languages, including a little English.



inside the basilica after mass

That's the Pope!



St. Peter's



Castile de San Angelo


random street
some government building?

Daniel took me back to the hotel so that I could meet up with my family, and he went to hit some sites on his own, since he had a much bigger to-do list than the rest of us, and a lot more energy left than anyone else. This worked out well for everyone except that I hate that we don't have any pictures of us all together in Rome. 

Colosseum: The first place we went was the colosseum. I had a wicked headache while we were there and spent most of the time sitting in the dirt with my eyes closed and my head resting on a rock. I found that it was not a very cheerful place. Anyway, if you go to Rome...go to the Colosseum. Duh. It's very cool. 
   

Constantine's Arch
   



At this point, we were a little tired of the miserable heat. It's hot in Oklahoma, and humid too. So hot and humid that I thought no other heat would faze me.  I don't know what it is, but the sun in Italy is brutal. Nathan had a travel book that recommended we search out the world's best gelato at a little place near the Trevi Fountain. We thought this sounded like the perfect place to cool off, so we set out for the Trevi Fountain. The fountain definitely lives up to the hype. It is really beautiful. The water comes out little spigots that are safe to drink from so we filled our bottles there. (most Roman fountains are this way) We found the tiny little gelato place, then decided to head home. We had pizza on the way back to the hotel, then immediately afterward we accidentally stumbled upon the Pantheon. It was late in the day so we weren't able to go in (it's a Catholic church now), but I'm glad we got to see it. We all hit the sack early in preparation for our early departure back to Germany the next morning.

with the girls, Trevi Fountain
Pantheon






   
 


















Roman Food: Our first night, we ate at the first place we came to after checking into our hotel. The concierge assured us that we could not go wrong eating on that street, so we just picked one. 
We were a little out of place there. Travel-worn, casually dressed, exhausted, and with babies in tow. I think that's why they put us in the back room all alone. It's a good thing they did because we got a little silly. (perhaps it was all the free prosecco or the fishbowl sized glasses of red wine.) Dad ordered an appetizer of Italian cheeses with bread and fruit for the table. Yum, yum, yum. Mom ordered spaghetti with bacon, but by bacon they meant prosciutto. Mom did not really appreciate the aroma of the aged meat, so the rest of the family ended up eating her food. I had a veal meatball stuffed with spinach and cheese with veggies and some fantastic sauce. For dessert I had something very like tiramisu, except instead of powdered cocoa on top, it was covered in a hot chocolate sauce. Mom had fruit and chocolate fondue. YUM!
That was one of the best meals I've ever had, but unfortunately it was really the only good meal we had in Rome. Everything else was the equivalent of frozen pizza and canned Chef Boyardee pasta. Not exaggerating. You really get what you pay for in Rome I guess.
Oh, except for the gelato. We liked the gelato.The famous gelato place we went near the Trevi fountain is called San Crispino. There were magazine clippings all over the walls of rave reviews in food magazines. Apparently the character in Eat, Pray, Love stops by there on her trip to Rome. Anyway, it was really delicious gelato. Particlarly the peach and strawberry.
So that's all, folks. It was a great trip.