Happy

Time to pray

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We have a lot going on right now in our family and have a lot of decisions to make (It seems like we always do – is that ever gonna stop?). It’s one of those times in adult life when I have the sudden urge to call my parents and ask them to tell me what to do.

Just the other day I was sitting down for a quickly prepared lunch with our little girl and despite her reaching eagerly for the bread I tried to get her to settle down and fold her hands so I could say a prayer to bless the food. I kept it short and skipped through the words to try to finish before her patience would run out and the silence would end. And it made me wonder why I was doing it and if it really was worth it. Would she understand? Even if I thought prayer was important couldn’t I just wait and teach her when she was big enough to understand why?

I pondered that for a few days. The most obvious reason I guessed was that toddlers pick up on everything and learn from example. In just the last couple of weeks, mine has picked up on new words, brushing her hair out and for some reason she always knows when to wave goodbye even before we do or ask her to. All because she pays attention to everything we do! So obviously, if I want for prayer to be a part of her life, now is probably a good time to show her how to.

But I arrived at another conclusion as well – a maybe less obvious one. And it has to do with the reason that I pray myself. I’m sure there may be plenty of reasonable reasons why one should not pray. But one of my main reasons for kneeling down is the feeling that immediately fills the room when I do. Peace. ‘Peace’ is such a short and easily overlooked word. Let’s just take a minute and really think about what it means – especially in an everyday setting with things to do in every direction. A pleasant warm feeling that pushes out worry and stress. That one feeling that we all go our entire lives searching to keep with us.
And in that atmosphere I can shut the world out for a moment and focus on myself. What I’m grateful for and what I really need help with.

I love the person I become when I pray. I become humble and submissive. It becomes easier for me to forget my faults and my pride. And more than anything the things I think I need but maybe really don’t. It makes me feel kinder and full of love. It makes me want to keep praying. To pray for help so I can keep being that person when I open my eyes, stand up and get back to my day. To have that feeling of peace stay with me.

And to share that feeling with my family. My daughter.

That’s why.

If I can teach her anything in life it will be where to turn for peace.


 

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It does not change God – it changes me. – CS Lewis

Best minute of the week

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Today has included seeing friends, family, a road trip, good food and now Marcus offered to take the snooze shift – so I get some quality time with my blawg.

Sunday is my favorite day of the week, since usually it includes all of the above. We get up early, get dressed all nice and pretty. We go to church and hear uplifting messages. We spend a lot of time with our family and have good food. And there’s nothing else that needs to be done.
But my very favorite minute of the entire day sums it all up. It’s so magical it seems the sun is shining indoors and glitter is falling from the sky. It’s that walk through the doors of the church, down the hall and to your seats in the chapel. There’s something about arriving feeling clean, your hair is done and you’re wearing heels. At least that’s a big deal for a my kind of stay at home mom – face is all relaxed like ‘I’ve worn a bun all week!’. We’re not early birds, so by the time we get there the building is full of soft preluding organ music, playing songs we know all too well. We’re met by smiling people. Everyone, even those we don’t know turn and say hi. It’s like a different world. S usually waves at everyone with a scrunched up little smile (if you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen that wrinkled nose a few times by now or?), which buys a few extra grins and ‘hellos’ and glitter. In the chapel we’re met by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings.. (I envy Marcus for having grown up surrounded by his extended family like this). Everyone is hugged and how do you do’ed. It’s kind of a unicorn-pooping-skittles scene. And it’s awesome.

And that’s it. A few minutes later I’m shepherding my daughter away from the plants in the hallway and waving at our reflections over the baptismal font. And the rest of the day is a glitter rain dance.

Happy Sunday!

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The scrunch.

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Thanks for the pictures Maggis! Her blog here ->

The grateful list

I was just telling Marcus the other day, “I used to dream of the day we’d have a dishwasher. Now we have one and I just complain that it smells funny.”

We’ve moved around a lot and throughout the course of our marriage we’ve experienced a few different humble living situations. We’ve scraped, we’ve bought and sold. And I feel I’ve really come to learn the truth of the principle that gratitude equals happiness.

But like I said, I think the hardest times to be grateful have actually been during the times when we’ve had a little more. Marcus got a solid job, and it got hard not to complain about working conditions and salaries. We got our own nice apartment with a dishwasher and washing machine, and it got hard not to complain about it not being ship shape all the time. We had a baby, and it got hard not to complain about lack of sleep and lack of time.

I saw this in my Facebook feed the other day and I’m so grateful to the woman who shared it. When I was done reading through it I’d completely forgotten about my complaints and I felt how it actively allowed me the space for a little more happiness.

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See original post here!

10 ways to be happy

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Because it’s FRIDAY and I’m feeling a little extra happy about an exciting upcoming weekend!

 

1. Turn chores into parties

At our house there have been an immense number of cleaning parties, laundry parties, cooking parties, packing parties, unpacking parties, diaper-changing parties, bill-paying parties and homework parties. Marcus is right, I am weird. But really! If there’s good music, snacks and a happy spirit, it’s a party, right? And if it’s a party, you can’t help but be happy!

2. Focus on being grateful

Personally, I say a prayer. Even if you don’t believe in God, just for a second, imagine that He does exist and that you have the opportunity to talk to Him for a few minutes. Put it all out there. Give thanks for everything that makes your life good. If you’re doing it right it’ll probably take more than just a few minutes.

3. Get up earlier

I need to get better at this one myself. My mom taught me the beauty of early mornings. You feel happier for getting a head start and there’s just something inspiring about getting up before the day has really begun. My mom always says it feels like you have the world to yourself for a little bit. What better time to set the foundation for a happy day?

4. Smile! Force it if necessary

Seriously! One of the very most effective things I do when I feel frustrated and need to get it together quickly, is turn around, close my eyes and just smile. At nothing. Keep going! Until you slowly feel your anger releasing. Take a deep breath and think of something funny.
Like… remember the time- hahahahaha!

5. Create something

I honestly never feel happier than when I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I think being creative is so much more than just being artsy or musical. I really think it’s simply acting on inspiration. Or even prompting or allowing for inspiration. Reading a book, developing a skill, developing a relationship, writing in your journal, writing a letter, cooking a good meal, even looking out the window and just listening to yourself for a bit.

6. Cry it out

Marcus still doesn’t really believe me on this. But crying really helps?! Seriously, most times when I’m done I can’t even remember why I was angry in the first place. It works best if you don’t cry alone though!

7. Go for a walk

Some alone time in a different scenery really helps you empty your mind and think of something else. I don’t know if this is the case for everyone, but for me I feel like my mind and my thoughts get louder when I’m alone. It’s easier for me to reason with myself and to find solutions to my problems.

8. Be genuine

Nothing makes me feel more insecure than when I’m trying to be something that I’m not. Be happy about who you are and try to make your personality shine through your best features.

9. Think happy thoughts

Any happy little thought?**
Yes! If you’re somewhat like me, you’d be shocked how many negative thoughts you have throughout a day if you pay attention. Do yourself a favor and quickly think about something else when a negative impression sneaks its way inside your head. Allow yourself to see your day through happier and more colorful eyes – it will even make other people like you more!

10. Do something for someone else

This one may be obvious, but boy does it help! And I know what you’re thinking. Some days there just isn’t a sick widow next door who needs a fresh batch of cookies to brighten her day. But that’s okay. Just go over to Facebook and write to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. It’s much less frightening to open up and give compliments to someone in writing. Especially when you imagine their surprised faces when they read the unexpected message. Or try to be the best spouse, parent, sibling, (in-law?), friend to someone that you’ll see that day. It’s never too hard to serve and there are always opportunities.

 

Have a great weekend!

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I didn’t get this happy by being a realist

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Throughout my life I’ve had friends and other people come up to me and tell me how they admired or envied certain aspects of my life, things that might not be as common these days. They would ask me how these were possible and upon hearing my answer they would sigh or laugh and give me an excuse as to why that could never work for them.

“It’s really cool that you have that good of a relationship with your parents even though you’re a teenager. I could never have that – my parents don’t understand me or let me do what I want”

“It’s so great that you don’t drink alcohol. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t. But I could never stop drinking – I would lose all my friends, because I can’t have fun without being drunk.”

“I wish I had faith in God like you do – that must be such a comfort in your life. But I could never be a believer – (that’s just weird).”

“It’s so wonderful that you are married, it’s just like a fairytale! I could never have that though – I don’t think I could ever find someone that I would want to be with my entire life!”

I’m really not trying to boast, I’m simply trying to convey the message that life is only as good as where you set the bar. It makes me sad to see people limiting their happiness because they are so busy being realists and being like everyone else.

A week ago we celebrated our second anniversary. My marriage (and the fruits thereof) are without a doubt my highest accomplishments in life. And if I’d had a PhD in something frighteningly academic or sold a billion dollar business, those would still be my highest accomplishments in life. In my experience, being part of a family is something that can bring you joy that you cannot find anywhere else.

And I’m not saying that you’re a failure if you haven’t found that certain someone yet. Because I know so many wonderful people that are trying their best in their search. Nor are you a failure if you don’t have strong family ties or if you’re unable to have children.

I am saying that the failure lies in deciding that that sort of happiness is out of your reach. Because it’s too hard, too different or even too good for you. How silly of a thought is that? That something is too good for you. The only person who decides how high you set the bar for your happiness and accomplishments is you. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest. Heck, stop living life like it’s too short! Expect it to go on and on and that you have the power to be happy for every little second of it.

Dream a little!

I’m lying here in bed between my sleeping husband and baby and my heart is singing of gratitude that I didn’t decide to only harvest my happiness from things that I could control or predict or that were socially acceptable. Because I know that I definitely would not have been where I am today.

Those were my early Monday morning thoughts.

And that was 2014…

Another year has already gone. Marcus and I were just talking the other day about how crazy it is that we’ve already been together for 2,5 years! On the other hand I can’t believe my own family has only been in existence for that little time.

Goodness, this year has been eventful! Only 6 days into it I decided to confront my late period by taking a pregnancy test. Shortly after taking the first one I took another. After staring at the mirror for a few minutes and taking a few deep breaths I went to our bedroom and told Marcus that he was going to be a father. Within the week the two toughest months of the year began. During that period I can count on two hands the amount of times that I left out little apartment in Hawaii.

Soon after Marcus was offered a summer internship with Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City and we were forced to decide to leave Hawaii to go to Utah and then to spend five weeks apart in order for me to return to Denmark before I got too pregnant. It was sad to leave beautiful Hawaii and our new friends there, but that was not nearly as hard as saying goodbye to Marcus one morning in June and making the journey home without him.

I had a fun summer at home with my family. It was fantastic to have a few calm yet lonely weeks to prepare our new home in Denmark and for our little baby to come into the world. Finally it was time to go up to Stockholm to meet Marcus and have a couple of weeks with our Swedish family. Picking up Marcus at the airport felt like getting married all over again – if the pink’ness seems to be fading just try spending five weeks in different continents – … – actually, don’t.

We returned to Denmark, moved into our apartment, and just a few weeks later I woke up one very early morning knowing that that was the day I would find out what labor felt like. It didn’t feel that nice. But all the pain was worth how great it felt once it was over. Honestly, I was way too shaken to understand what a miracle we had witnessed. That came gradually over the next few weeks. Her first smiles in her sleep, the first time we all were able to sleep at the same time, the first time she really looked at us, the first time it didn’t hurt to feed her, the first time she talked to us, the first time she slept all night…

And that is the high that we are ending this year on. That we can lean back after a year of hard work and enjoy the miracle of our happy family. Hope next year will end the same way.

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Couldn’t believe it so I had to take another.

 

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One of my very first meals out of the house after two months of morning sickness

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Loved the few weeks I could “randomly” run into my little sister in Salt Lake City. Can’t believe she’s coming home so soon!

 

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Back together after five long weeks apart – as pinkly in love as ever.

 

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The most intense day of my life, and I got to bring home this beauty.

 

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Baby, what are you looking at?

Baby and I had a few hours to ourselves tonight. Since she was happy I thought why not put on Pride and Prejudice and have our first mother-daughter movie night. It was glorious for the first half hour but then she fell asleep and so I’m seizing this rare opportunity of being alone on a quiet evening to write a blog post.

It’s incredible how enchanting the feeling is to sit here calmly, the only sounds being the ticking of the clock on the wall and my baby’s soft snores in my lap. That’s where she fell asleep during her third dinner with drop of milk stopped in its tracks on her bulging cheek. She has grown about 10cm in the last two months since she was born. I can’t believe how much she’s changed already.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that she is just a newborn child with only two months of experience. I’ve never had an actual conversation with her and still I feel like I know her personality and to some extent even her thoughts. But when she gazes up at me with those big eyes I can’t help but sense that there’s some deeper wisdom in them, a depth that extends far beyond the time that she has been part of my life. Sometimes I even feel a little intimidated, like she is the one teaching me and overseeing my every move and not the other way around. As if she is here to teach me of things that are yet unknown to me.

I remember when she was only a few days old and we were so desperately excited that we would try for several minutes at a time to even catch her eye. But she never seemed to find us interesting enough. As if there was something else in the room that was far more worth her attention. And it made me wonder. Cause I found it hard to imagine that she could be focusing so intently on something meaningless when I, her mother, was so near. What thoughts could be passing through that inexperienced mind?

Even now when she is lying deep asleep in my lap I watch her little face closely. I see different moods flash across her face. Furrowed eyebrows with pursed lips, to the biggest most beautiful smile, to a heartbreaking trembling lower lip. What pictures is she dreaming? What memories are inspiring her subconsciousness? Is she thinking about the last time her dad pulled a funny expression or do they belong to a time previous even to the first time she first saw his face?

I have learned so much since she joined our family. Not because I’m acquiring skills relating to changing diapers and breastfeeding, but I feel that I somehow am filled with a deeper knowledge of life. Almost as if I understand myself better and even the meaning of my existence – maybe because I better understand my own priorities and goals in life. To have a happy family. There is really nothing I want more. And she teaches me that that is possible.

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First three weeks of life and motherhood

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Like I said, the last three weeks have been quite memorable and extremely educational. Definitely for us but probably – definitely – also for Baby. I can’t believe she’s three weeks already! At the same time I can’t believe we finally made it this far…

People often ask me if parenting is as hard as I thought it would be. It’s definitely as hard but I’m surprised how little it bothers you to get up for the fourth time in the middle of the night, change an explosion of a diaper or just not having your hands free … ever. Because it’s your baby and you love her. And also I guess because it’s natural and instinctive, I realize.

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The hardest part for me has for sure been breastfeeding. Those cozy cuddly bonding moments in a big armchair, mother and child gazing into each other’s eyes… Yeah, they haven’t happened yet. I knew breastfeeding was going to be hard in the beginning but I didn’t know it was gonna be so bad it felt like labor wasn’t quite over. All baby and I could do was keep trying and trust people who said that it would get easier with time. And fortunately, it has and we’re almost to the point where it was totally worth the pain.

The recovery in general was also a bit more than I expected. A lot of bleeding and a lot of feeling really weak and a big flappy blob for a belly. Though this all felt like a huge pain in the butt the first week, now it’s pretty much in the same box as pregnancy and labor: sucked, but it’s a long time ago now.

That’s honestly how I feel about everything I went through now. I’m no where near the point of wanting to get pregnant all over again, but I am however already naive enough to think that ‘it wasn’t really THAT bad’. Silly me… but I enjoy the fantasy. I’ll worry about that next time the stick comes back positive.

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Just like when she was in the womb, Baby is still developing pretty darn fast. When she was new she was just a beautiful little cute ball of swollen fatness that could hardly squint through her heavy eyelids. She didn’t say too much and didn’t bother to interact much. But since then she has grown more alert every day. Now, we enjoy several hours every day with her lying awake, looking around and making the cutest ever cooing sounds.

The absolute best thing for both me and Marcus, I think, has been learning that she truly feels comforted by us and that most of the time when she’s upset it’s because she wants to be close to us. I had a nice experience Sunday before last. We had taken Baby to church for the first time and had spent the rest of the day at my parents’. That evening when we got in the car to go home Baby screamed like she had never done before all the way home. When we were finally parked outside our building I unbuckled and pulled Baby out of her car seat and put her on my shoulder. She immediately fell silent. For the next hour I kept her there, just enjoying the confirmation that she actually knows me and that I can calm her because I am her mom.

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I love her so much and though we’ve never had a conversation and though she hardly even ever looks at me properly, I feel like I know her – and in some ways like I always have.

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The birth story – part 2

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THE STORY CONTINUES…

Mom dropped off Marcus and I in front of the hospital and went to go find parking. She caught up with us even before we reached the elevator because I had to stop for every 10 steps to endure another minute of fiery agony. We got upstairs and soon I was back on the table, and the midwife told me with a smile that I was fully dilated and ready to push whenever my water broke.

Now… thinking back I dread the thought of what would’ve happened if we had stayed home like they told us to – my mom’s face would surely have been the first thing my baby saw and some midwife would’ve had her front teeth knocked out later that day – but at the time I just remember incredible relief. It was almost over!

After the good experience from the tub I managed to ask to give birth in water and we were escorted to a delivery room with a huge deep tub. The room was so hot. I spent the time waiting for the tub to fill at the window under which the radiator was on full steam. Ponytail please! Not soon enough I was climbing into the tub, which was filled with surprisingly warm water. Again, amazing relief washed over my body when I sunk under the surface. I remember heaving a huge “aaaaaah” and the midwife laughing. I found a comfortable position hanging over the edge of the tub and managed to ask if I was allowed to push. I was told I could give a small push at the top of each contraction if I wanted. We just needed the water to break before really getting to work. … which happened on my very first push just after with a surprisingly loud ‘pop’. I looked up at the midwife eagerly, but my immediate happiness was quickly swept away when the midwife asked me to get out of the tub. She thought the amniotic fluid looked a bit green, in which case she needed me on the table. I stared at her in disbelief. We were ready, I was comfortable and we were good to go! Was she kidding?

When I didn’t move, she urged me again and instructed Marcus and Mom to help me out. I waited out another contraction, gathered my strength and slowly got out of the tub. My goodness, that bed was tall and I have no idea where I summoned the abs to heave my legs up.

Five minutes later I was just about comfortable and okay dealing with the contractions on dry land. Then she told me I could get back in the tub. Gosh.

It was absolutely worth it though. The water was as amazing as ever.

By now I was pushing as hard as I could. And more than just once per contraction. In the craziness of all the pain I figured maybe I could impress everyone by pushing her out faster than anyone expected. I’d been told that the pushing part can be as fast as 20 minutes and I was deeply disappointed that I didn’t feel like we were getting anywhere.

Then if you’ll believe it, the midwife asked me to get back out of the tub. Only this time she didn’t ask. She ordered. And she made it clear that I had no time at all to hesitate. Apparently the baby’s heart rate had dropped to half. She was in distress.

How on Earth I got out of the tub and made it over onto the bed, I have no idea. The moment I was out of the water I could feel her, her head between my legs. I trust I don’t need to emphasize how freaky that feels.

But then the midwife told me the most amazing thing. “Just one more good push and you have your baby”. I was a little too under to notice her own stress but Marcus told be afterwards how the mood changed. The baby needed to come out immediately. The midwife called a nurse and asked Marcus and Mom to hold up my legs and me to push harder than I thought I could. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t really tell any longer when I was having a contraction, so I just chose a random moment and told the midwife it was time. And I pushed. And pushed. And then the contraction was over. And still no baby. I guessed what the midwife must have been thinking and decided to just keep pushing. The most amazing push. And as if my body had been severely gassy for 9 months, it deflated in an instant and the baby fell into the midwife’s hands.

Immediate relief washed over me. The tight belly relaxed and all traces of the contractions I’d been enduring for 11 hours immediately disappeared.

Mom and Marcus however experienced a few stressful seconds. Baby was all limp as if dead. The midwife shook her and blew in her face. After just a few seconds she coughed and gave an uneasy cry.

It wasn’t for another few hours that I realized I’d done it all natural. I’m not gonna lie. I felt pretty darn cool.

Then she was on my chest in a blanket and hat. And everyone was smiling and taking pictures.

It was over. There she was. Little Baby Girl. 3:40pm and 52cm and 3680g. Beautiful and healthy. Now we were parents for real, I thought. Yes, I thought! I felt conscious again. So conscious and tired that I couldn’t think of crying. So I just watched Mom and Marcus doing it.

It was really that simple. We were a family. Just like that.

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The birth story – part 1

It happened. The story I’ve been waiting to tell for so long can finally be told! And it’s a good one, so put up your feet.

A week ago exactly I had the hardest and most amazing day of my life so far. It all started at about 4.30 in the morning. I woke up and noticed I was having contractions. This wasn’t a biggie since I’d been having contractions just about every day for months, but the new thing was that I realized my contractions were what had woken me up. That hadn’t happened before. I pulled up our iPad and opened our contraction monitor app and started timing them. After an hour it was clear that there was about 6 minutes between them. I sent my mom a quick text “it’s time.” and woke up Marcus. Next, I called the hospital and was told to wait it out another few hours and even try to go back to sleep. I asked when I should call them up again and she just told me “When you need to”. Wondering when that would be, I jumped in the shower, knowing there was no way in heck I’d be able to fall back asleep. Marcus showered too and we had breakfast and watched a LOT (it felt like) of Modern Family on Netflix.

Being mainly focused on my contractions the next couple of hours went by really fast. The contractions were getting a lot tougher but still seemed to be 6 minutes apart. Really? As it was getting a little too painful to lie down I got up and started pacing. Immediately I noticed a difference in my contractions. The gaps between became clearer and the app now showed just 2-3 minutes apart. I finally called mom and asked her to come … now. Then I called the hospital and said we were coming… now.

Mom showed up around 10am with the biggest smile on her face. Neither she nor Marcus made any obvious attempt to be sympathetically serious but instead danced around me joking and taking pictures. I found it pretty darn annoying at the time but I’ll admit it’s a little fun to have the pictures now.

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Half an hour and a hard car ride later we were let into a room to have me checked up by a midwife. I’ll leave out the details and instead disclose how sickeningly inappropriate I found it that there were large posters of crowning babies on all the walls.

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Anywho, soon we were leaving the room again having been informed that I was about 2-3 cm dilated and that they would like for me to go back home and come back later. Say what?? I made it clear to my mom that I was by no means walking up the stairs to our 5th floor apartment again. I had no interest whatsoever in getting back in the car either, so for half an hour I insisted we just wait it out in the lobby of the hospital. Being slightly under the influence of strong pain in my pelvis I suddenly changed my mind and we decided to go to my parents’ house instead.

Yikes, that car ride was not fun. Over the next two hours I endured the contractions standing, sitting, lying down, lying on my mom’s yoga ball… At around noon mom called the hospital back and was again informed to wait a little longer. Frustrated, we decided to try something else and mom went to fill the jacuzzi tub.

I hear that all women react differently to stuff like this, but seriously, I’d recommend waiting out your contractions in a tub to anyone! It was absolutely amazing! As soon as I was in the water I felt like there were actual gaps between my contractions again and I could even sit up and talk to mom and Marcus – completely out of the question before. Another upside of the tub was that it seemed to speed up the process remarkably. I hadn’t been in there for long before the contractions just became unbearable. I couldn’t sit still or be somewhat politely quiet. But due to our last many hospital calls I expected it was going to get much much worse, since they obviously didn’t think I was very far along. So I sat tight – literally – and tried not to complain much … until all of a sudden I felt like I needed to push.

Since I’d never been pregnant or in labor before I wasn’t 100 % sure that this was what it felt like when you needed to push, so I left the door open to it probably just being me overthinking it. Nevertheless, I told mom who jumped up and called the hospital again. A few minutes later she returned with a look of frustration worthy only of the contractions I was experiencing. She said that once again the hospital had asked us to stay home. I had another powerful contraction, by now I was clenching by butt to make sure I wasn’t pushing. When it was over I looked my mom in the eye and told her that we needed to go right now.

As soon as I got out of the tub and the anesthesia of the water was gone I really felt it. My body was trying to push out the baby right here on the bathroom floor. The thought actually occurred to me that maybe I could ask my mom to just deliver the baby here.

Quick as a flash, we were back in the car with me in the front seat on my knees hugging the back of the seat. I remember that car ride as if in slow motion. Every contraction totally removed me from this world and the urge to bear down was stronger than any temptation I’ve ever felt in my life.

Mom dropped off Marcus and I in front of the hospital and went to go find parking. She caught up with us even before we reached the elevator because I had to stop for every 10 steps to endure another minute of fiery agony. We got upstairs and soon I was back on the table…

TO BE CONTINUED

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