Baby, Layouts

Lily’s Birth Story

The theme for Ali’s February product release is, unsurprisingly, all about luuurve! I used the opportunity to finally get Lily’s birth story down on paper for her baby album. I’m glad I had jotted down some notes a couple days after the big event, otherwise the story would have read something like “I coughed and then this amazing baby came out”.

I loved the gradient LOVE YOU journaling card, so I used this Photoshop trick to turn the background transparent, then just erased the part that went over my shoulder. Ta-da!


I spent the day before Thanksgiving in bed with what was either bronchitis or pneumonia – whatever it was, I felt sicker than I have in years and years. I had just coughed so hard that I sprained an intercostal muscle and had to get help just to go to the bathroom, so I hoped that my body would know to not go into labor just then. But nope. Another coughing fit (while watching Shameless on my laptop in bed – sorry I don’t have a more romantic story for you, kid) broke my water and I knew there was no turning back now – I was going to have a Thanksgiving baby. I called the midwives and just tried to get some sleep.

I woke up at 2am with contractions, and stayed awake the rest of the night. They were spaced pretty far apart until they suddenly, out of nowhere, started coming every 2-3 minutes. I freaked out, picturing a baby-born-in-car scenario, and woke JK up so we could rush off to the hospital at 5am. Bessefar stayed home to wait for Nora to wake up (I’m so glad she didn’t see me in that state).

I vividly remember thinking that I would give birth within an hour and that I could make it that long, but the second I laid down in the hospital bed, the adrenaline wore off and my contractions became very spaced out and erratic. On top of that, I had to get intravenous fluids and nutrition since I hadn’t been able to eat or drink much the last couple of days. There was a contagious disease warning sign outside our room and almost everyone who came in wore a mask, which didn’t help the whole I-feel-like-death thing.

I knew my contractions would come faster if I were standing, but I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed…and eventually realized I didn’t have the energy to get through the contractions much longer at all. I talked it over with Kim, my midwife, and decided to go for the epidural.

It felt bizarre being so numb during labor, but this time it was definitely better than the alternative. I was even able to rest for a couple of hours while JK watched a Manchester United match. I really didn’t like that I wasn’t getting any natural cues from my body anymore and I was worried about having to do coached pushing this time, but it was fine – I let Kim know that I was starting to feel some pressure, pushed for about 15 minutes, and then little Lily was born.

I immediately gave Lily a big hug, but she wasn’t crying and she was this awful grey/blue color that really scared me. The nurse started rubbing her until she finally cried, but she was a gurgling mess (not unlike her mamma) and suddenly a bunch of people were there to help suction a ton of fluid out of her. They considered whisking her off to the nursery for extra observation, but once we did some skin to skin and nursing, she perked up.

All throughout the pregnancy, I was worried about how I could possibly love another little baby as much as I love Nora, but the second I hugged Lily, all those concerns were gone. I know it was Thanksgiving, not Christmas, but my heart grew three sizes that day.

Albums, Baby, Scrapbooking

Lily’s Baby Album

I wasn’t actively scrapbooking when Nora was born, so I never kept a good in-the-moment baby book for her (oh, and there was that whole overwhelmed and exhausted brand new parents thing), and when I did start scrapbooking again, I started a full-size 8.5×11 album for her. It’s an album full of mish-mashed pages and random stories, which is kind of nice, but if I want to be able to keep up with a good album for Lily, I’m going to need more structure.

So 6×8 it is. I’ve fallen in love with this size after finishing December Daily and Week in the Life projects – it’s such a neat little album if you want to actually finish a project, while 8.5×11 albums tend to go on indefinitely for me. There’s also not that much room in most of them, so I’m forced to keep things simple and structured, which is just what I need right now. So far I’m thinking: opening page (birth announcement), a spread about the pregnancy, a spread about midwife visits/how excited Nora was to become a big sister (I have some cute photos of her at my checkups), the birth story, and then I’ll jump into monthly updates.

Lily's album

(I just realized that I sent out like five of those birth announcements and then forgot all about them. Egads! Where are they even??)

I’ll stick with a really easy setup for the monthly updates – one main photo, four smaller favorite photos from the month, and a 3×8 page protector with written highlights from the month. I’m so bummed I didn’t do something like that in real time for Nora, because her first year is just a blur at this point!

For Lily’s two-month update, I used the digital version of Ali’s Numbers Story Kit, including the beautiful patterned paper from one of the journaling cards. It was finished in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, if you don’t count the 743 hours I spent looking at photos of Lily to decide on five favorites.

Side note: I really wish I had photoshopped out that gigantic, fugly WARNING label in the car seat in the main photo. Oh well.

Two Months

If there’s room in the album, I think I’ll add a couple of extra themed spreads like bath time, food explorations (when that time comes), and whatever other special things that may pop up. She’s growing up way too fast already!

Challenge, Hiking, Hiking with baby

Tiger Mountain Torture

Last week, I started getting that antsy feeling – a combo of needing to kick myself into gear now that we’ve fallen into a pretty pleasant routine as a family of four, and of definitely needing to escape the world of increasingly awful news stories coming at us every day. The solution, as always: trails!

First order of business, getting the girls both dressed up in the matching thermals they got from grandma and grandpa for Christmas. Massive cuteness.

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

Since I apparently wanted to go for maximum self-torture, I chose my old friend/nemesis, the Cable Line on Tiger Mountain. It works pretty well for our family since JK and the girls can dawdle around at the foot of the mountain while I climb to the top, so I think this will be my go-to gym this winter. On those extra special toddler days, I’m sure he’ll be working harder than I am, but luckily for me he knows how important this alone time on trail is for me (and subsequently for the whole family).

Cable Line 01

I guess calling the Cable Line a trail is pretty generous; it was as crappy and steep and muddy and eroded as ever, but man did I get a good workout. I reached the top in one of the biggest endorphin highs I have ever experienced to find that (a) it was snowing! and (b) I had made it up in 57 minutes, which is only 11 minutes slower than my PR. Not too shabby considering the past six months plus the fact that this was my first real postpartum hike with any significant elevation gain.

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

I kept the endorphin rush going on the way down the West Tiger 3 trail, listening to an excellent playlist and meeting several women adorned in pussy hats.

Cable Line 01

Back down at the bottom I found a happy JK, a Lily who was just waking up from her nap and was ready to eat (perfectly timed with my arrival so we didn’t have to use a bottle*), and a pooped Nora who wanted to ride “on the mamma pillow” the rest of the way back to the trailhead.

(And then I waddled around all happy but outrageously sore for the next two days.)

Cable Line 01 Cable Line 01

*Nora wouldn’t take a bottle so this is new, exciting territory for us. For those with experience in on-trail bottle-feeding, do you just serve it really cold or do you heat it somehow? I can’t really come up with a practical way to do so expect for carrying it close to your body.

Baby, Challenge, Health, These days

These Days | New Year/New Baby Edition

We’ve been absolutely spoiled by having grandparents around through the holidays, but they left yesterday and now we’re on our own until September or so – eek! It’ll be nice to settle into our real life as a family of four, but we’re definitely feeling the absence of extra hands today since I am sick as a dog, again. I need to get my insomnia under control so I’ll have an immune system up and running before Nora starts daycare in a couple of months and inevitably brings home every virus under the sun.

These Days These Days

Anyway, both girls are miraculously napping at the same time right now – Nora only takes a nap once every fortnight or so, but we promised her a cup of hot cocoa if she slept, and by gawd it’s working #worldsokayestparents – so I’m going to attempt to blog. I expect I’ll finish this post in, oh, five days or so. Either that or it’ll be super hurried, random, and not proofread. But at least it’s something.

Christmas was a little different this year, given the aforementioned insomnia and the fact that I constantly feel as if I’m teetering on the brink of full-blown depression. Nora was totally into it though, so I’m already looking forward to next December when I can fully enjoy her infectious wonderment. Something that added to the magic this year was that we received several millimeters of snow, which is a Pacific Northwest miracle.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

So, self-care: When I go through depressive periods, it usually centers around feelings of guilt about not being good enough, and those particular feelings are plentiful when one adds another baby to the family. Add many months of sleep deprivation to the mix, and it’s no wonder I’m up and down, up and down. But! This time around, I know that the sleepless baby period does in fact end, eventually. (However, my own pretty serious sleepless period has been going on since July, which does not seem like a phase – that terrifies me.) And Lils is six weeks(!) old now, so I assume I’ll be cleared to start running again next week at my checkup, which will add some much-needed endorphins to my body. Had I known we would be able to get pregnant so quickly this time, I would never have timed the birth and postpartum period to coincide with (a) the darkest, coldest, wettest, time of year and (b) cold and flu season…but I’m so, so glad we have Lily, and I know I’ll get through this like I always do.

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These Days These Days

I’ve also started cooking healthier meals again, which should make me feel better. And I’m trying, somewhat successfully, to stop mainlining chocolate.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Another good (excellent, marvelous, wonderful) thing is that Lils is a pretty damn chillaxed baby, at least compared to, ehm, our previous experience. She even does that whole “falling asleep drowsy but awake” thing sometimes, which I seriously thought was just a myth perpetuated by supposed sleep experts and smug parents. Huzzah! I really do wish I could combine the confidence that comes with baby number two with the freedom that comes with only having one kid – that would be a dream. Oh, and she started smiling on New Year’s Eve, which is pretty much the best thing ever. I can’t get enough.

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These Days One Month
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Nora is taking her big sister duties seriously, as you can see, and is increasingly interested in Lily now that she’s getting more interactive. I’m so glad she seems to have handled this transition so well.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

As for Wellie, he’s hanging in there even though the house is ruled by little women…he’s apparently already looking forward to Lily starting solids. Nora trained him well.

These Days These Days

Ehrmagerd, I managed to finish this just in time for Nora to wake up and demand her cocoa. Duty calls. Please send sleepy vibes my way and watch this space for more fragmented, not-at-all proofread, only-interesting-to-me-and-my-future-self blog posts in the future.

Hikes of the Year, Hiking

Favorite Hikes | 2016

2016 will go down as one of the most hated years in history between the situation in Syria, the terror attacks, the celebrity deaths, and Voldemort being elected president, but for us personally, we had a huge highlight at the end of the year – Lily’s birth! There was also intense morning sickness, depression, illness…but let’s focus on the positive. Our first year of hiking with a toddler!

February Hiking!

This was the year of the lowland trails! Most of my trail time was spent in the Redmond Watershed, St. Edward State Park, or on Tiger Mountain. I was training for races, training for fun, and eventually using the trails as my therapist. And Nora found her trail legs on Cougar Mountain for her very first out-of-carrier hikes!

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama Turtlehead Overlook

Sometime around Christmas last year I realized that the Orcas Island 25K was coming up veeery quickly and I of course hadn’t even started training for it yet. I started running every time I had the opportunity, on the Powerline Trail, in the Watershed, and huffing and puffing up the Cable Line to get some uphill training. At the end of January, I ran (“ran”) the race, survived, and had an amazing time in the freezing snow and rain. Want moar!

The day after the race, we decided to make the most of our island getaway by going on a bonus hike to Turtlehead Overlook. It was so gorgeous and lush and green, and the perfect place to shake out my post-race legs.

Snowshoeing with grandma and grandpa TNAB West Tiger 3-2-1

In April, grandma and grandpa came to visit and Nora dragged them along to Mount Rainier for our annual Paradise snowshoe! Nora discovered the joy of glissading, and I cherished being in one of my happy places on a gorgeous day with my family and a teeny tiny embryo (which was not yet wreaking any sort of havoc).

The presence of the aforementioned grandparents also allowed us to join our first TNAB hike since I was pregnant with Nora. This time I was pregnant with Lily, and had to huff and puff up the good ol’ Cable Line without doing any actual huffing and puffing. It felt so good to go on a sunset hike again and reconnect with old friends.

Franklin Falls Ebey's Landing

A day or so after TNAB, morning sickness hit. And then it got worse and worse and worse and worse and I spent most of the spring with my head in a bucket. I did manage to get out on some very easy hikes once the worst was over – short and sweet trails like Franklin Falls and the old family favorite Ebey’s Landing.

Red Top Lookout Hood Canal Birthday Getaway

We also made it over to the other side of the crest a couple of times so we could hunt morels (not that I could eat them yet, since I had a mushroom aversion in this pregnancy too – but huzzah, that means we have dried morels we can eat now!), and on one of the trips we hiked the super short trail to Red Top Lookout. Nora hiked most of the way herself (except near the top, because gaah, dropoffs)!

My birthday weekend coincided with a heatwave, so we skipped our usual Teanaway camping trip and instead took a last minute trip to a rented house on the beach in Seabeck. Okay, so this wasn’t a hike, but we spent the entire long weekend outside and it rivals St. John as my favorite vacation of all time, so it deserves a spot here. I never go around to blogging about it, but I journaled about it on this scrapbook page.

Mirror Lake Margaret Lake

The summer months were difficult for me. I struggled with depression, which I’ve later found out is fairly common after going through a long period of bad morning sickness. We spent a lot of time on local trails and on chanterelle hunts, but the only “real” summer hikes we went on were to Mirror Lake and Margaret Lake – thankfully, they were really good ones.

Naches Peak Loop Skyline Loop

Aaah, this was the best weekend of the year. Another last minute long weekend trip, this time to Packwood, near Mount Rainier. We hiked the Naches Peak Loop, which was the perfect length for Nora and is generally just one of the best bang for your bucks hikes in the state, and the Skyline Loop, which was a bit too long for my very pregnant self – but the fall colors and marmots made up for it. I think these long weekend cabin trips will be the best way for us to vacation in the upcoming years.

Skål! Lily's first hike

Later in the fall, one of my trail therapy sessions led to a night of contractions that worried me enough to lay off the trails for a while, and the only little hike I dared to go on (until I hit 38 weeks and started getting antsy) was the flat-as-a-pancake one-mile walk around Gold Creek Pond. We made an afternoon of it by having a picnic by the pond, and we just had a really lovely, low-key time together in the mountains.

On December 15 we took Lily on her first hike! It was cold as balls, so we left Nora at home with grandpa and just went for a 3.5 mile loop in the Watershed, where I spent hours and hours and hours running and hiking while I was pregnant. Given my history and how this year has been (and the fact that we’re in the darkest, wettest time of the year), I’m on high PPD alert, so I’m trying to get out for a good walk every day. Our hikes among the big trees in the Watershed make me feel so good (and these days I can carry the ten essentials in my giant undereye bags, which comes in very handy). I’m not sure what 2017 is going to look like, hiking-wise, but it’s good to know that our trusty Watershed is such a close and accessible way to introduce our littlest lady to nature.