Evie and Rett’s Birth Story

These two little cuties are more than four months old! wow! Like everyone says, time flies! Especially when you are sleep deprived and just trying to push forward each day… Computer time has been nearly impossible, but I have worked to write down my birth experience as accurately as possible … Enjoy!


After a blood pressure scare on Thursday, July 13th, I woke up at 2:30 am on Sunday morning (July 16th, four weeks before their due date and my twin brothers’ birthday!) to pee and my water broke when I sat up! Travis and I were at NYU Langone Medical Center by 5 am. I was only 4 cm dilated when we arrived, but the contractions were coming fast and steady. I opted for an epidural at the strong suggestion of everyone (due to the risky nature of a twin delivery) and it made the entire birth process pretty easy. Crazy, I know! The time passed extremely quickly — I only found time to listen to a few songs from the Moana soundtrack! — and we were in the operating room to deliver by 10 am. Rett was born at 10:32 am, was crying immediately, and was put on my chest while I continued to birth Evie. She was born 15 minutes later at 10:47. There WAS pain during the birth, but I was a lot less scared than during my birth of Kenneth. I just tried to go with the flow and stay calm. It all happened so fast and I was thrilled once they were both born! The joy was diminished a bit when Evie had to be taken to the NICU for breathing support, but she strengthened quickly and they were both home by Wednesday night.


The lead up…

The end of my pregnancy got very difficult. By 36 weeks, I was extremely swollen and unable to really move around. Even turning over in bed was getting impossible and I was getting up to pee every hour at night. At my 36 week doctor’s appointment on Thursday, July 13th, I had high blood pressure (140/100!) and was checked into the hospital for the evening to be monitored. Thankfully my BP went down quickly, but I went home instructed to monitor it all weekend. My mom was with me for the whole thing and we couldn’t quite decide if I was going to deliver any minute or if I was destined to go full term like she had with her twins. BUT, it seemed like my body was reaching its limit of how much it could take. In my own head, I was determined to make it to 36 weeks (that Saturday) since it is a general benchmark of health for twins… Perhaps my mind is stronger than I realize!

Labor at home…

On Sunday morning, July 16th, at 2:30 am I woke up for one of my many trips to the bathroom, but when I sat up I felt my water break. I was fairly certain about what had happened, but I still felt a little apprehensive about waking Travis or calling the doctor. But more water continued to gush out randomly, so I decided to call the doctor and jump in the shower. The hospital call service said that the doctor would call me back and I wasn’t having very noticeable contractions at first, so I was unsure of how long I had to dilly dally. Contractions did start, but they were really hard to track… I decided to wake Travis up around 3:30. We gathered a few things for our hospital bag, then went downstairs and had a little breakfast. My mom came down because she heard the commotion. Thank goodness she was in town to stay with Ken! That was one of my biggest worries leading up to the birth, how we would take care of Ken. I’m so thankful I could leave him with my mom!

My doctor hadn’t called back and my contractions were getting painful and way more regular (maybe 3 minutes apart), and my mom was getting worried about us making it to the hospital in time, so I called the hospital back. The nurse (?) who answered told me to come in as quickly as we safely could! Travis and I were in the car by 4:30 and were at the hospital (NYU Langone in Manhattan) just before 5 am. I was feeling excited that today was the day! And thankful that we had bought a car.

Labor at the hospital…

I accepted a wheel chair ride up to the Labor and Delivery floor. My attitude was more “let yourself be taken care of” than “prove how strong you are” this time around. The nurses didn’t even make me go to triage since I was their “twin delivery” so I felt special as I got set up in my own labor room. I went to the bathroom, got settled in my hospital gown, and then nurses started coming in to take my vitals and give me my IV. I felt pretty happy and calm, but also excited that it was going to be the twins’ birthday. My contractions were starting to get more painful and I had to sort of stop and concentrate to get through them, but I was doing fine.

The anesthesia medical student (so young and cute!) came in to talk to me about getting an epidural. I think I could have talked them out of it and demanded to do the birth pain-med-free… but my doctors had talked to me so much about how they wanted me to have the epidural to make it easier to transition to surgery if necessary, that I figured I should go with it. Plus, no pain! I felt like it was my opportunity to try an epidural birth, since I’d already done one without. It took a bit of time before the anesthesia doctor came in to help the resident do the procedure. I had been nervous about insertion pain and side effects with an epidural, but all I really felt was some unpleasant pressure down my spine when they put it in. It really wasn’t a big deal. Even staying still during my now very painful contractions was not as bad as I had anticipated.

Overall, the epidural was a fabulous experience. It took a very short time for it to kick in and it really reduced any pain I was feeling. I could still feel the contractions, but there was very little pain. There was some discomfort and I could tell when I was having a particularly strong contraction, but it really made the laboring go extremely smoothly. The nurses remarked at how steady and strong my contractions were and double checked that I was NOT on any pitocin. I guess my body was just ready to get it done! I was in the labor room for about five hours, but it felt like no time at all! I had wanted to listen to the Moana soundtrack (don’t judge!) but only fit in a few songs. We also Facetimed with Ken and my mom, Travis got dressed in scrubs, and then a little before 10am it was time to head to the operating room for delivery.

The birth!

The nurses and doctors all thought I was totally ready to start pushing, but I had to take their word for it. With the epidural, I was experiencing contractions, but nothing urgent. I didn’t really feel a need to push, so I was worried I wouldn’t do a “good job” getting the babies out. But I stayed calm and just went with what everyone was telling me.

This quote was my mantra for this birth: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘you cannot withstand the storm,’ and the warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.'”

The operating room was intense. Lots of lights and equipment. They had a neonatal station and a full team of nurses set up for each of the twins, plus the labor team, my doctor, a resident, and an attending doctor to observe. (The team was ALL WOMEN, which I thought was pretty awesome.) There was also a huge photo mural of the city skyline and Brooklyn Bridge on one wall, which was kind of fun and also a little disorienting. This might be weird, but the worst part of the whole birth might have been the stirrups that they put my legs in. They were massive (sort of like the boots you wear when you break an ankle) and I did not like being strapped in so securely. It sort of felt like being a prisoner in a very vulnerable torture position, but maybe I am being dramatic. Another peek into Rachel’s brain: The huge overhead lights have cylindrical handles that protrude vertically for the doctors to grab to reposition the lights… well, at one point they put a condom type thing on the handle and I *knew* it wasn’t going to be put inside me, but I also just had to ask to make sure. Ha. It was just there to keep the light clean. It is just hard for me to relinquish all control over my body to a team of strangers, but I tried hard to be a good patient.

I believe they turned off the epidural once I was in the delivery room, so I did experience some pain during the birth, but it wasn’t too bad. I basically just pushed when the doctors and nurses told me to. They wanted me to hold my breath for the pushes and count to ten, and I think Travis was helping to support my back, but it is all a bit hard to remember. At the beginning I said something like, “I hope I remember how to do this,” and my doctor said “we are going to be here a while!” She is young and I really think that this was her first ever vaginal twin birth, but some of her remarks were less than encouraging. And she was wrong. Rett was pushed out at 10:32, after just about 20 minutes of pushing! I was actually surprised! Travis said, “Oh wow!” I think we were all surprised it happened so fast. My doctor cut the umbilical cord quickly, which surprised me, but they were being quick and efficient since it was a twin brith. (Side note: I had been curious about whether I would deliver each placenta directly after delivering each baby, or whether they would both come out at the end. We got told both things by different doctors before the birth and I still don’t know exactly what happened.)

They took Rett and cleaned him up a bit and then they put him on my chest while I was still working on pushing out Evie. I really loved seeing him — so little and alert! — and he was a good distraction from the increasing pain. (The nurses helped hold him on my chest, don’t worry.) During this time there was a bit of confusion about Evie. My doctor said she was at a “minus seven” position, which is pretty high up in there, I guess. Maybe my doctor was exaggerating? But she also repeated that we were probably going to be there for a while. And then she made the decision to break Evie’s water… and did it without consulting me or, apparently, the attending physician. They actually argued a bit about it and the attending said that she shouldn’t have done it. I wasn’t totally paying attention, but I remember thinking that their conversation probably should not have been in front of the patient. Thankfully, Evie was born within fifteen minutes at 10:47 am. Unfortunately, they said she swallowed (and maybe inhaled?) a lot of blood and amniotic fluid. She was really messy when she came out. But they cleaned her off (and probably did some suctioning?) and I got to hold her quickly. I was so thrilled that the twins were both here!! Best feeling ever.

The resident physician had been paying close attention to my perineum during the birth (too much info?) and helped support it so that I didn’t have any tearing or trauma. Amazing! That was one of the things I was most dreading about another vaginal birth — recovering from any trauma and stitches after the fact — but since the babies were pretty small it was not an issue. I was really thankful for that. The nurses did have to massage my uterus to deliver the placenta(s?), which was uncomfortable, but really, the time immediately after the births is just a happy blur.

I got to hold both babies, nurse them a bit, take some photos, and just basically be a happy, goofy mama for a few minutes before I was wheeled into a recovery room. I was so amazed that everything had gone so quickly and seemingly perfectly. I know it is the hormones, but the time after birth is just so blissful and magical. I wish I could live in those moments for just a while longer…

Unfortunately, in the recovery room I sort of nonchalantly noticed that Evie’s legs looked a little blue. The nurses quickly came to look at her and took her to examine her. She was working hard to breath (retracting?) and they were concerned. A neo-natal doctor was brought in and she decided that Evie should go to the NICU for breathing support. I was still in my post-birth happy brain bubble and I truly believed that Evie was strong and would be fine, so I felt defiant about her going to the NICU. I was even more concerned when the doctor said that they would have to put her on antibiotics and then that would mean that she would have to stay in the NICU for the full course which would be at least 48 hours. My brain already started calculating about how it would delay her going home and what were we going to do if one baby was home and one was at the hospital?? But, again, I tried to be a good patient and a good mom. I texted my pediatrician brother and he reassured me that it was all protocol. I knew that this is why we birthed our babies at a hospital, so that there were experts there to provide care if anything went wrong, but it is still hard to relinquish all control.

So they took her away.

I was still sort of confused and out of it, plus holding Rett and thinking about him, but I did know that I was very upset about them taking her. Even if it was for the best. She had nursed a little bit right after birth, but all of the lactation consultant stuff about babies never learning to breast feed if they are separated from their mother ran through my head. I already had anxiety about being a good mother to a girl, and I felt like us being separated at the beginning made things even harder. Of course, I was probably being irrational, and I tried to keep my feelings in check, but I don’t think it is ever easy to have your baby taken to intensive care. I think I was pretty calm under the circumstances. Maybe too calm?

Hospital stay…

Prior to the birth I had told myself to really enjoy my hospital stay and let the nurses take care of me. My time at the hospital with Ken had felt so magical and I had hoped for that experience again. Sadly, it was different since Evie was away from me in the NICU, but I still tried to go with my original plan and try to rest and relax. We declined the $500/night private room option, but I did get the bed by the window. Overall, my hospital stay was lovely and the nurses were all excellent… it was just very difficult to split time between two babies with Evie being away from us.

I had a bad attitude about Evie being in the NICU. Travis had talked to the doctors there and even though I got to pump milk for her and go see her, I felt really out of the loop. I also felt like she was actually fine, and that being separated from me and her twin brother was more detrimental to her health than the initial breathing issues (which I had a feeling were caused by her water being broken too early during her delivery). Not to mention the cPap unit and IVs she was attached to.

Dividing my time between Rett on the Mother & Baby unit and Evie in the NICU was hard. I was never in the NICU at the same time as the doctors, even though I tried to be, which was frustrating because the nurses weren’t allowed to give us all the details. I felt like we got conflicting info about when she might be strong enough to go home. And even though I did get to breastfeed her once while she was there, they didn’t count it as an official feeding since they couldn’t measure it. I pumped some milk for her, but they also wanted to give her formula. I was fine with that (even though the lactation consultants weren’t) as long as it helped her get home faster, but they couldn’t even tell me whether or not they actually gave her any. It was all confusing and overwhelming. I cried hard at the hospital on Tuesday night when I went to see her at 9:30 to feed her, but they said I couldn’t until 10 because that was her schedule. I was so tired and sleep deprived and I just couldn’t believe that I couldn’t be in charge of when she ate. Especially since it was only a half hour difference! I really started to get upset. If it was up to me, I think I would have refused care and demanded that we take her home at that point, but thankfully Travis was there to be the rational one.

I know that the NICU provides amazing care and I am so thankful that Evie’s issues were extremely small compared to many of the babies in the unit. I am just not very good at not being in control. Plus, it was MY BABY! I just felt like I knew she was strong enough and that she should be with her family. But, in the end, it was just three short days…

Going home…

Rett and I spent Sunday and Monday night in the hospital. Travis, Ken, and my mom came to visit both days and brought me donuts and cute teddy bears for the babies. Rett passed all his tests and we got discharged on Tuesday. We actually drove from the hospital to pick up Aunt Chelsea at the airport. She had planned her trip to help me with the end of my pregnancy, but got to come see the babies instead!

We had some dinner with everyone that night, but then headed back to the hospital to be with Evie. I was not in good shape. I was so tired and stressed. And this was the night that the NICU nurse told me I couldn’t breastfeed Evie and I just lost it. I cried and cried and we decided we would just go home and leave Evie in the care of the nurses. I felt like everything was totally out of my control, especially since they couldn’t really tell us when she might get to go home.

BUT when we called the NICU on Wednesday morning, they told us she had been moved back to the Mother & Baby unit! She just had to pass a few more tests (hearing and car seat) and then we could take her home. We took Rett back to the hospital with us (since I had to feed him) and basically took the day getting Evie discharged. One thing that I am glad we did at the hospital was have the Bella Baby photographers do a photoshoot. They are the only professional photos I have of my kids. We were tired, but thrilled, when we got to leave with both babies.

Life with twins…

Oof. Life with twins is hard. We had lots of family in town to help for the first two months, which made a huge difference in how much time we were able to spend with Kenneth one-on-one. Travis has been able to take a good amount of time off work, which is vital. Three car seats DO fit in the back seat of a Subaru Outback. And I am just tying to soldier on and go with the flow. But I haven’t had a full night of sleep since early in my pregnancy. I am breastfeeding exclusively and I can’t even tell you if it is a good idea. I am just stubborn and I did it for Ken, so I feel like I need to do it for the twins, too.

Evie and Rett are very fun and pretty easy babies, but I am tired. I need to get them on a more consistent nap and feeding schedule. After the holidays we are going to start sleep training and introducing some solid food, so that should help. I am trying not to wish these early days away, but even when I try to enjoy them I have a feeling my tired brain isn’t going to remember them anyway. I am glad that I am taking a lot of photos!

Other than the extreme fatigue, we have been in pretty good spirits. But I have been emotional about two things:

1) I don’t want Kenneth’s life to be “ruined” by having to split attention with the twins. I am sad to say that my relationship with him has suffered a bit and he is now closer to his dad. But I also know that he will love having siblings in the long run and it will be fun to have a big family.

2) Carrying and birthing these sweet twins is probably the coolest thing I will ever do in my life. I do NOT wish to be pregnant again, but I do get emotional when I think that this epic, cool event is over and done. And my body is wrecked. But I just need to refocus… raising these three kids will be the coolest thing I’ll ever do! We send our love into the future with them. It is a magical type of time travel.


View our full Twins’ Birth Story photo gallery here.

Read about my entire pregnancy experience here.

Read Kenneth’s Birth Story here.


Kenneth has a super big announcement….

He is going to be a BIG BROTHER! ……times TWO!

I am pregnant with twins!! It just might be the biggest surprise of our life. And we just found out at the ultrasound yesterday that we are having a boy and a girl! The babies are due in early August.

We are really happy and excited… and overwhelmed. This weekend we are moving to a bigger house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It has all been a whirlwind, but Kenneth is taking it in stride. We know he is going to be a wonderful big brother.

Kenneth at TWO YEARS!

On January 8th, Kenneth turned TWO!! Two years with my sweet, funny, active baby boy. It is hard to imagine how we got here so quickly! It has all been a whirlwind of playgrounds, pizza, and Buzz Lightyear!

Fun facts about Kenneth at two:

  • At his 2-year doctor’s appointment, Ken weighed 30 lbs and 9 oz. He was 37.25 inches tall! Very tall. He was a real champ and took his shots and finger prick without any tears. He actually likes going to the doctor and is really cooperative. Such a good boy!
  • He is learning all sorts of new words every day! His pronunciation is getting better and he uses quite a few multiple word phrases.
  • He can recognize and say all the letters of the alphabet, most colors, numbers 1-5, and most animals and animal sounds. The letters F and H are hard for him to say, but he is getting better and better.
  • He loves it when we sing him lullabies before bed. He prefers them to books, but we try to do both. He requests the songs by name: like “Rock Baby,” “Row Boat,” and “E-I-E-I-O.”
  • He is loving school. He goes twice a week for three hours at a time. He has a best friend named Jack in his class.
  • His favorite foods are cheesy pasta, chocolate milk, juice, bacon, hot dogs, and lollipops. So healthy! But he will eat a lot of fruit, eggs, yogurt, some cooked beans and veggies, chicken, and cereal. He has been talking a lot about “tacos” lately, but I don’t think he’s ever actually eaten an assembled taco… hmmm.
  • He loves to JUMP on, off, and over everything!! I think he is pretty good at it. Ha.

Instead of having a party for his second birthday, we decided to take Kenneth to DisneyWorld. We just couldn’t resist spoiling our only sweet baby! We all had a really great time. Travis and I loved spending all day, every day with him. He loved the rides, the characters, and all the new toys he brought home. He especially loved meeting Buzz Lightyear and riding the Buzz Lightyear ride. Forcing a toddler to nap each day in the middle of the Disney excitement was the hardest part, and we all got a sore throat/cold by the last day, but overall, it was a magical trip.

It is so fun to have a little son. It is a privilege to get to watch him grow up and learn new things everyday. My wish for him is that he continues to have a happy, healthy, safe, challenging, rewarding life full of love. I will do everything in my power to make that possible… including buying waaaay too many Buzz Lightyear toys.

Kenneth’s birth story

It has been three weeks since Kenneth arrived on January 8th. I have been thinking a lot about his birth and have wanted to write it all down before I forget all of the details. I know that I am already revising the experience in my mind and underestimating the pain and intensity of the day…. but hopefully, I can get as close to the reality as possible. I will try to be somewhat discreet about the medical stuff, but proceed with caution if you don’t want to read the details of labor and birth!



My labor and Kenneth’s birth was fast, intense, mind-blowing, painful, overwhelming and amazing. It was my dream birth situation, but it was not what I was expecting and it caught me off guard. Ken was born nine days before his due date at NYU Langone hospital in Manhattan. I was in “real” labor for just six hours and we barely made it to the hospital in time! The labor and vaginal delivery were totally natural and medication-free. They were also scary and all-consuming. Travis was the perfect husband, dad, and birth companion, and Ken and I both made it through the experience totally healthy and happy. January 8th was a very good day!


The Day Before:

On January 7th, I had what turned out to be my final prenatal doctor appointment. The doctor checked my cervix and said I was about one centimeter dilated, but not efaced very far. She didn’t think it meant much and told me that if I hadn’t gone into labor by the next week’s appointment, she would strip my membranes then. She also discussed what would happen if I went past my due date.

So… I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about BabyJ arriving early. I was a little bummed to think that I still had a long time to wait, so despite the very cold weather, Travis took me out on a date to Stone Park Cafe to cheer me up. We shared a really delicious meal (not too big or rich, which turned out to be a very good thing) and had a great night together.



After going to bed around midnight, I woke up with some minor cramping at about 3:00 am. Being woken up by contractions is a definite sign of labor, but I really didn’t think much of it. The cramps didn’t hurt much and they were really sporadic. I had maybe four or five of them between 3 and 4 am, and then I sort of fell asleep on the couch until Travis woke up at 7. I told him I was having some light contractions, but that they had pretty much dissipated and that it was probably just Braxton Hicks or practice labor. I think we ate breakfast. I told him to go to work.

I thought that even if it was early labor, I had hours and hours until the real deal. In our Prepared Childbirth class our instructor really reinforced the fact that first baby labor can last a REALLY long time, on average 18-22 hours. We spent a LOT of time in class discussing all of the things a woman can do while in early labor — get her nails done, make cookies, go out to eat, watch movies, etc. I figured that I was NOT even in early labor yet, since there wasn’t much pain, and once I was, I would still have tons of time.

I did some computer work, took Crusher for a walk, vacuumed, texted with some friends, and started thinking about what I wanted to get done before going to the hospital IF I really was in labor. My list included going to get a pedicure, cleaning the bathroom, baking cookies, and showering. I actually texted Travis and asked if he thought I should try to make an appointment to get my hair highlighted, too. ha! But I was feeling a little worn out and decided to nap before tackling my list…

This will be too much info for most, but another sign of labor that I sort of ignored? I had three bowel movements during the course of the morning, which is three times what is normal for me. Clearing your system out can be a sign of early labor, which I knew, but didn’t think much about at the time.

At about 12:30 I woke up from my nap to a really painful contraction. I tried to get up during it, but couldn’t walk until it passed. I think it was actually when my water broke. There was some liquid, but not much, so I wasn’t sure. I also might have lost my mucus plug then. All of a sudden, I got worried. It was real pain. I actually thought, “this whole labor thing isn’t going to be easy.” I started texting Travis even though he was in a meeting…


The contractions started at about three minutes apart before 1 pm, but quickly sped up. I tried using my app, but I couldn’t really time them. I was still thinking that once Travis got home maybe he could time them while I watched a movie (I was thinking Aliens)… but the contractions just kept coming faster and were getting more intense. I got through a shower, but had to stop to lean against the wall for each contraction. The pain was intense. It is hard to be objective about it, but it was definitely white-knuckle, stop-what-you-are-doing, focus-on-getting-through-it pain. Sitting on the toilet or being on all fours on the bed helped.

Our hospital bag was already packed, but I managed to round up a few extra things in between contractions (including snacks — thank goodness!). Then, I called my mom at 2:30 pm. She says I didn’t sound like I was in pain, but I was. I thought I sounded terrible. I was on all fours in bed with wet hair and I finally admitted to her (and myself) that I thought the baby was coming that day. She said that if I thought he was coming, he was!

Travis got home shortly after that at about 2:45. I think my water sort of broke again then. More liquid came out, anyway. At some point I called my doctor’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her my water had broken and that the contractions were a minute a part. She clarified that they weren’t actually AN HOUR a part and when I said no, she told us to come in to the hospital asap.

Getting to the Hospital:

Travis stayed calm, took Crusher out, and rounded up all of our things while I worked on drying my hair. (It was very cold that day and I didn’t want to go out with wet hair.) We called an Uber car at around 3:20 and I quickly made it down the stairs from our apartment in between contractions.

The car ride was one of the most difficult things I have ever withstood. It was a bumpy ride and the contractions seemed to be coming less than 30 seconds apart. There weren’t really any breaks, just waves of pain. I think I might have held Travis’ hand, but I also remember worrying about hurting him. I was grasping the car door with white knuckles and just trying my best not to make too much noise. The driver was really nervous and asked us whether we needed an ambulance instead. I was definitely getting worried and was in focused survival mode, but I still didn’t really know how deep into labor I was. I certainly didn’t want to show up to the hospital in an ambulance and then be told that I was barely even dilated!! Despite the intensity of the contractions, I was still afraid that I might show up and they would tell me I had hours and hours of labor left…

A natural, medication and intervention-free delivery was my goal, but during the car ride I decided to ask for an epidural if my labor was not very far progressed. I felt weak for mentally giving up on my plan, but I couldn’t have handled hours more of those extreme contractions.

It turns out that I should have been a little more worried about not making it to the hospital in time…



We made it to the hospital at around 4 pm. I thought I could make it up to the Mother and Baby unit on foot, but as soon as I walked into the hospital, I doubled over a trash can to get through a contraction. A woman in the lobby scolded Travis and told him to get me a wheel chair. I was so focused on getting through the pain that I didn’t totally know what was happening, but somehow I got in the wheel chair and they got me into an elevator and up to the check in desk. Travis checked me in — i think — and they took me to triage.

I had been dreading triage because it is in a more public area and you have to stay there while they monitor the baby and your contractions for 20 minutes. I was thinking of this when we arrived, but really, I wasn’t thinking of much but getting through the pain. I don’t even know if my vision was working. I don’t know how my clothes were removed. I do sort of remember the nurses putting the monitors on me, and me saying that I couldn’t lay on my back for 20 minutes. I asked if I could be on all fours instead. The resident doctor (I think) did an internal exam and… OMG guys… I was fully dilated!!

In retrospect, I think I was in transition while we were arriving at the hospital. My body was doing what I described as “convulsing” but I think it was actually pushing. They quickly transported me to a delivery room.


The doctor excitedly said, “You are going to have a baby today!” There was no time for an epidural, and I am glad that I didn’t have to make a decision about getting one. I think the nurses and doctors thought I would have the baby within a few minutes, and maybe I would have, but once I transferred to the delivery room at 4:25 things seemed to slow down. (How did I get in the new bed? I don’t know.)

I was scared. Much more scared than I thought I would be. I needed a mental break. I hadn’t anticipated the labor progressing so quickly and I felt like I had to catch my breath. I had more time in between each contraction during the pushing stage, like 2-3 minutes, to rest. Maybe my own anxiety slowed things down. I know that it decreased the efficiency of my pushing. I had thought I was going to be really good at pushing — empowered and strong — but I felt weak and scared. I felt bad for wanting a way out. If I had been given a way out, I would have taken it, which is humbling. I even thought about asking for a c-section, but I don’t think I said it out loud. Travis tried to remind me that I would be meeting our baby soon, but even that didn’t feel like sufficient motivation. I didn’t really care. I just wanted the pain to stop. But I kept going.

The nurses and Doctor Erin Conroy (who I loved — she was wearing a NYRR race t-shirt under her scrubs) coached me through pushing during each contraction. The last book I had read was Hypnobirthing, which describes labor as “breathing your baby out” and advises against coached, forced pushing. So I was confused about whether I needed to follow the pushing instructions. I felt a little annoyed at the doctors and nurses for telling me what to do. I wanted to do things my way… but thank goodness I listened to them instead. I pushed for two and half hours, which isn’t a short time period, but it would have been way longer if I had been left up to my own devices. I think I would have just held the baby in indefinitely. I really hadn’t anticipated being so scared of the actual birth.

I was half sitting up in the hospital bed and pushed while pulling on a bar over the bed, on handles by the side of the bed, and even while pulling on a sheet held by the doctor. Eventually a nurse and Travis started holding my legs while I pushed and they set up a mirror for me to watch my progress. I was fine with having the mirror, but it definitely was not an attractive sight!

The two+ hours passed quickly with what seemed like little progress. The doctor was a little concerned about Ken being in distress during contractions and they encouraged me to keep working hard. I think I asked the doctor how long it would take. They wanted me to hold my breath while pushing and do two or three per contraction. Many of my pushes were ineffective. They only seemed to work when I could push in conjunction with my body’s natural pushing action. The doctor suggested Pitocin to get things moving faster, which I didn’t want. I was a little frustrated but tried to muster up my courage and determination to just GET THE BABY OUT!

Ken is here:

Finally, at 6:41 pm, Ken’s head was crowning and he was born quickly after that! They had moved the mirror, but I looked down and could mostly see him being born. Following his head, he had his little hand up under his chin. “He’s waving at you!” the doctor said and she helped pull him the rest of the way out. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t tell you the exact details. They quickly put him up on my chest. I was very happy and relieved and in love with our new little baby.


I got to hold Ken for a bit. I did not cry, which is a little strange. I was just so happy and overwhelmed. Ken cried a bit, but not loudly. Travis cut the cord at some point. Time passed quickly. The nurses rubbed Ken clean — he had a lot of vernix on his body. The nurses called him “cheesy” — yum. He also had a lot of mucus in his nose, mouth, and lungs, so a nurse had to take him for a bit to suction it out, but she did it right by my bed. He also got foot printed and “tagged” with all his hospital bands.


Unfortunately, I did have a second degree perineum tear, but I couldn’t tell you when it happened. It didn’t hurt as far as I could tell. Maybe my anxiety (and all those Kegels I had been doing) prevented me from relaxing my pelvic floor during the birth, but who knows. While Ken was cleaned up, I had to get a few stitches. That was NOT fun. I wanted a break from all the discomfort, but I was also really happy and excited, so I got through it. Another pre-birth fear that I really didn’t need to worry about? Pooping during labor. I do not think I did, but I really couldn’t tell you, and no one in the room would have cared at all either way. I was so focused on getting through the pain and getting out the baby, that I was not worried about much of anything else. I also didn’t care that I had an IV in my hand or the fetal monitor around my waist — two things that I had anticipated not wanting. Everything happened so quickly and I was very happy with the help that the hospital staff gave me during labor and the birth.

After Ken was suctioned and cleaned, he was put on my bare chest. I am so glad Travis took photos because the time went so quickly. I just enjoyed holding him. Travis and I ate some of the snacks we had brought, and Ken nursed a bit while we waited for his eye ointment and Vitamin K shot. I think this is also when they gave me the Pitocin drip, but I am not sure. I had been suspicious of the hospital for requiring Pitocin after every delivery, but in the end, I did not care at all and I had no side effects from it. If anything, I was just insanely happy, excited, and at peace.


Hospital Stay:

Staying at the hospital was not something I was looking forward to, but despite my anxiety, I was very happy with my stay and care at NYU Langone hospital. The nurses were all fantastic. I saw two lactation consultants, two pediatricians, and took a breast feeding class and baby care class all within my 40 hours at the hospital. The nurses helped me breastfeed and taught me how to use a breast pump.

I ended up with a private room, but only because the other bed in the room was broken. Despite the privacy, we decided Travis should go home to sleep at night and to take care of Crusher. The hospital food actually wasn’t bad, but Travis also brought me Doughnut Plant donuts the day after the delivery. Our friends, Joel and Amanda, came to visit on Friday evening.

It must have been the hormones, but I just felt thrilled and at peace in the hospital. I felt like I had accomplished something big and I was just so pleased that Kenneth had arrived.


Bringing Ken home:

On Saturday morning we got discharged really quickly. We were out of our room by about 10 am. They require that you sit whenever you carry your baby in the hospital, so I got to take another wheel chair ride down to the hospital exit. You can tell by my goofy smile, I was just deliriously happy and excited.


Travis had borrowed Joel’s car and had already installed our car seat. He went to go get the car while I waited in the lobby. (Side note: as far as we can tell, you do NOT officially need a car seat to leave the hospital in NYC. No one checked us or asked us how we were getting home. Of course, you SHOULD use a car seat.)


There wasn’t much traffic on our way home. Travis says he wasn’t very nervous while driving. I sat in back with Ken and told him all about his home borough of Brooklyn.

Crusher was very excited to meet his new brother when we got home. He went a little crazy and both wanted to get close to Ken, but also was a little nervous. He has since warmed up to him, but he doesn’t like his crying.

The four of us have spent the last three weeks getting used to the very literal blood, sweat, and tears of caring for a brand new baby. We are having fun together and slowly finding our rhythm. My recovery has gone well, but between that and breast feeding, there has been a lot of pain and discomfort. But things are getting better. I had felt so proud and pleased to have gotten through the pregnancy and birth, but bringing home a newborn is a fresh new challenge that may be the hardest yet.


Childbirth vs Marathoning:

I was very interested to learn how the experience of labor and birth compared to running a marathon. Prepping for childbirth was not my main motivation for running marathons, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my reasons.

I AM very glad to have had nine marathons under my belt before giving birth because it gave me a lot of self confidence and knowledge that I could endure pain and hard physical work. BUT, childbirth was MUCH more difficult than running a marathon.

I was lucky in that my labor was super-short, but even so, it was six hours of intense pain. Some marathons are six hours long, but you aren’t in pain that full time. Labor pain is like the last hour of the marathon, but for a much longer period of time.

Other differences: In a marathon you can adjust your pace or even stop if needed. You don’t have much control over labor. And you don’t know how long it is going to be. During my marathons, I’ve definitely thought, “I’m never doing one of these again.” But I’ve never thought about quitting. Labor was much scarier. I am sad to say that I think I would have quit if I had been given the opportunity. It is definitely hard to remember and compare pain, but I do know that I was thinking I would much rather be running a marathon than trying to push out a baby. But of course, a sweet, little baby is a much better prize than a medal!

Don’t worry. I don’t actually sleep with the baby like this. We were just lounging.


You can see LOTS more photos of Kenneth in his Flickr album.

I love Lago di Como

Lago di Como

We booked our three-night stay in Varenna on Lake Como as a planned vacation from our vacation… and it worked out exactly as planned. We had a wonderful, relaxing time!


We had originally planned to go to Cinque Terre instead of Lake Como, but it turned out to be an Italian holiday weekend and all of the hotels there were already booked. Usually, Lake Como wouldn’t have great weather this time of year (which means hotels were available) but we lucked out and had two perfect days of sun and amazing views.

Varenna, Italy

Varenna was definitely one of my favorite stops of the whole trip. It was quiet, with no tourist crowds, which had gotten very exhausting in the bigger cities. We stayed at a wonderful, small hotel in a room with our own terrace with stunning views of the lake and mountains. Plus, we had my favorite meals of the trip there at Restaurant La Vista.

La Vista octopus salad

14107056093_eed9cff719_bIf you are ever in Lake Como, you must go to La Vista! The food was amazing (the octopus salad was my favorite) and the staff were so very nice and welcoming. It was fancy, but totally comfortable. It is also located basically IN the water of Lake Como and has spectacular views. We ate inside on our first night and then went back on our third night in Varenna and sat on their terrace. It was so beautiful and fun! They bring out blankets for you when it gets cold after the sun goes down so that you can stay and take your time enjoying dessert. So cute! Travis and I joke that La Vista is now my most favorite restaurant in the world… but it isn’t really a joke. I think it is the truth! We had such wonderful, romantic, three-hour dinners there — it was perfect.

Lake Como sunset

Hitting up so many amazing, but crowded tourist sites all over Italy was tiring, and we knew we wanted to relax in Varenna, but we couldn’t pass up hiking in the Alps and checking out the local castle, Castello di Vezio. It was a very small castle compared to many we visited, but you could tell that it was cared for well. There was a falconry at the castle and they let the birds out for us to see. I fell in love with a cute, white owl. There was also a reptile exhibit, a sculpture garden, and strange chalk ghosts that are made each year and then slowly deteriorate. Odd, but definitely a really unique and special place. We had fun exploring the grounds.

Castello di Vezio

We continued hiking to find a nearby waterfall. It was very impressive. So loud and fast! The water was very cold since it was coming down from the Alps. It acted as a type of air conditioner and cooled the surrounding area. I drank some of the water out of a spout that was set up — it was refreshing! Then, we hiked back to town and bought lunch at the local farmer’s market. For dinner we had simple pizza and gelato. Then we turned in early and enjoyed our hotel room balcony.

Varenna, Lake Como

On our second full day we took the water ferry to Bellagio across the lake. It is a bigger town. It was more crowded, with more shops and restaurants. I liked Varenna better, so after some gelato and a rest at a water side cafe, we headed back “home.” We decided spur of the moment to go back to La Vista for dinner… and I am so glad we did! Such a great night!

ferry to Bellagio

Our entire stay in Varenna was relaxing and magical. I had been cranky while we were traveling there, but the beautiful views turned my mood around as soon as we got off the train. I had a wonderful time. I doubt it will actually happen, but we are already talking about returning someday…

Castello di Vezio

Funny Side Note: We relied heavily on Rick Steves’ guidebooks and therefore ended up surrounded by other tourists who did the same. We joked that whenever we heard someone speaking English, they were talking about Rick Steves… well, in Varenna we actually ran into one of his tour groups!! He wasn’t leading it, but it was definitely his program. We overheard a few couples talking about it at dinner… they had all been on multiple Rick Steves tours! Biggest revelation: Rick Steves’ son doesn’t wear a money belt!! The tour participants really though that was wild. haha!


We are still working on uploading and organizing our insane amount of photos. I plan to curate a much more manageable “highlight reel,” but for now you can view them all in my Europe 2014 Flickr Album. Travis and I took more than 2,000 photos EACH. Gah!

Read Travis’ posts about Varenna HERE and HERE.

love + light + peace


Merry Christmas!!

Travis and I are in Brooklyn this year. We are missing our families, but we are very thankful that we get to spend so much fun time together. …and with Crusher, of course!

We’ve tried our best to have a NYC Christmas this year. We went to a Broadway play, saw the Rockefeller Christmas tree, bought our own real tree for our apartment, went shopping and to see Santa at Bloomingdales, and went to a joy and peace-filled Christmas Eve service last night. It has been a good, quiet season.


We hope you have a wonderful holiday and beautiful end to 2013. Crusher hopes he doesn’t have to wear anymore Christmas jammies!


NYC anniversary date

Ten years of marriage is a big deal, and even though we are usually pretty lame when it comes to celebrations, Travis and I thought we should do something special this year. Originally, we thought about taking a big trip somewhere fancy –like Europe! — but with so much local travel already planned for this summer, planning another trip felt like more of a hassle than a celebration… So, we settled for a fancy New York City anniversary date instead.

We had an extravagant dinner at Craft and then went to see Kinky Boots on Broadway.

Craft was a somewhat random restaurant choice, but it felt more relaxed than other fancy Manhattan places. The waiters were really nice and we didn’t have to wear formal attire. We ordered too much food: both a crispy bacon and a lamb ravioli starter, short ribs and scallops, spinach and morrel mushrooms, and for dessert, donuts and chocolate panna cotta. It was all delicious, but a little rich for me. I’m not used to so much butter! I didn’t leave stuffed, but definitely satisfied.

Kinky Boots was lots of fun! The music was catchy, the drag queens were spectacular, and the finale alone was totally worth the ticket price. I had a great time. (And so did Travis.)

Apparently, I only go to see Tony Award-winning musicals on Broadway because the only other show I’ve seen is The Book of Mormon. Kinky Boots was entirely enjoyable, but I think I liked Mormon more. It just seemed a bit more original and bizarre and brilliant… but obviously, I am not the most savvy theater critic.

We had a wonderful anniversary night on the town… but wild celebrations are still not quite our thing. I am just as happy to celebrate our marriage relaxing at home on the couch.

10 year anniversary

Ten years ago today, Travis and I were having a glorious, crazy, fun day jam-packed with photos and family and friends and cake. We were married on July 3rd, 2003. We were both 22. We had just graduated from college and we’d just bought a new car.

I have actually had people (friends!) tell me that our brains do not fully mature until after the age of 25, therefore choosing a mate before then is foolish… but choosing Travis was the surest and smartest decision I have ever made.

Ten years of marriage feels good. Nothing in life is perfect (don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise) but right now, our relationship feels pretty darn close to it. I could tell you that it is all true love and soul mate magic. Or, I could tell you that it is daily, practical work and compromise. But the reality is that it is both. Love + commitment + kindness + work. It also doesn’t hurt that Travis is patient and steady and strong even when I am crazy.

I love you, Travis. Let’s keep it going for 50 more years!


You can see more photos from our wedding here and here.

32 sounds like a good number

Before I can start in on documenting our fun, wild, exhausting trip to San Francisco over the weekend, I must first wish my truly wonderful husband a slightly late “Happy Birthday!”

Travis turned 32 on Monday. We were in a plane for most of that day and we didn’t even pack good food. I was tired and brain dead, but Travis was his usual steady self. He is a better person than I. He never complains. He is strong and loyal. He is a hard worker. He is quiet, but funny when he wants to be. He likes cookies and chocolate milk and Oregon Ducks football. Despite my best attempts to disuade him, he is a Yankees fan. He used to dislike dogs, but now he thinks Crusher is the best thing in the world. Next to me. He loves the life we are living.

This is cheesy, but it is a fact: I could not have designed a more perfect husband/best friend/favorite person.