My first precious pregnancy

I´ve never been a motherly-type of a woman.

You know those girls, who always enjoyed playing with their dolls. They adored dressing, feeding, and taking care of them and knew from an early age, that being a mom is one of the things they love to be the most in this life.

Well... I was never one of them.

I was a chubby, boy-like kid and my mom had to put a ribbon on my head for people not to ask: "What´s your son´s name?" I loved playing outside and getting dirty, climbing the trees, and trying to keep up with my two older cousins. My hair didn´t start growing until the 1st grade. I hated dresses and skirts and couldn´t care less about dolls or taking care of them.

Growing up when people asked me who I wanted to be, "a mom" was nothing that ever popped in my head.

Getting into my college years and early professional life, I was also never the type of woman who was endeared by holding someone else´s baby or babysitting, playing with them. As terrible of a human being as it sounds for myself even- I was never just a fan of small kids.

I had always envisioned having a family though, but it seemed still somehow so far off. I just had other things on my mind.

Thus far, as you can tell, I seemed to myself not too much of mom-material and sometimes felt pretty bad for it. Everything changed when Nick and I got serious and I could really start seeing the vision.

"He will definitely be the father of my children," I remember thinking. When you know, then you know...

Fast forward a few years- having a daughter now has been BY FAR the most fulfilling and amazing experience of my life. Carrying her for 40 weeks was truly a great honor and now I have dived into motherhood and love it more than anything. Seems that the mom-gene was still somewhere inside me:D (up until that point I questioned if it was)

Anyone can relate?

Okay. Now to the pregnancy time itself...

New Years Eve. We had got a positive test result in the same morning. Since Nick was doing 75Hard challenge and wasn´t drinking alcohol I could hide behind that and tell our friends I was doing it with him;)

1st trimester:

I wrote about this period and getting pregnant in a previous blog post ("Bumpy road to pregnancy"), so I won´t focus now too much on this part. I'll just say, that Camilla was my second pregnancy and a very, very expected and hoped for child.

As I look at my pregnancy diary and think back, I have very few pictures and even notes from the first trimester. Mentally the first trimester was definitely the hardest for me. Since the last time I was pregnant, my heart was totally broken, I guess I tried to protect it this time without having any evidence or memories if it would happen again. Silly thought maybe now, but then it made sense to me.

I was just scared....

I hoped SO much that everything will go well. I was also very paranoid. I associated every "weird" feeling with "something has definitely happened to the baby." To get confirmation and peace of mind, I had an ultrasound at 6+6; 8+2; 10+1, and 12+4 weeks. So at the end of the first trimester, I had already had 4 of them whereas some women have three in their entire pregnancy. Every time I left the hospital with a deep, grateful sigh. "The baby is still in there."

Physically I was blessed with a very easy 1st trimester. I never threw up or had intense nausea. I was definitely more tired (especially in the middle of the day) and had some headaches, but not to the extent that I had to stay in bed or take naps. I just went to bed a little earlier than usual and really protected my sleep-schedule.

I remember even googling if it is okay to feel that okay in your first trimester:D

I know that women who have had harder 1st trimesters reading this might think- "I wish I had it that easy." I, on the other hand, was secretly hoping for more nausea to "feel like being pregnant, " because that´s what I had encountered around me and thought it should be. Funny how our brains work sometimes.

So physically a very doable first trimester, mentally very, very rough one.

At that time I had just confirmed to be one of the faces of the Nike Training Club campaign. The first person other than Nick who I shared our pregnancy with was not my mom or best friend, but NTC-s organizer:D Greetings to you, Kelly:)

I was used to doing high-intensity strength and endurance workouts, but now those seemed too much. I read a lot about the correlations between working out and miscarriages and although there isn´t a strong proven link, it still mentally didn´t make sense to me to do burpee-marathons and jumping jacks. Especially when I already was a little scary-cat in my head.

When I got pregnant I had just done two Nike Training Club 50 workout challenges, was in a good form, and absolutely sure that my belly will show right away:)

I started doing the calmer yoga- classes in order to show up and at least do something. I told the other trainers, who were used to seeing me in their trainings that I had a knee- injury and I had to give it some recovery-time:D Just a little white lie. Oooops:)

My greatest cravings were tomato and pickle juice, salty pastries, and porridge. I ate carrot-buns every day and Nick looked at me like a weirdo when I was gulping down pickle juice from the jar leaving the pickles themselves to him:D I also crushed a whole bunch of cookies. I didn´t really have any foods which smell made me cringe or nauseous.

12-week ultrasound (last ultrasound together with Nick)- Everything with the baby is good. The Baby´s gender is not confirmed yet. Dang, it!

13 week belly

2nd trimester:

Around week 16 one of my friends who knew about the pregnancy asked me to send a picture of the belly-bump. I understood then, that I had been so afraid, that I literally hadn´t taken a picture of my belly in the last 3 months (other than the one above).

2nd April (week 18, the belly has popped!:))- finally allowing myself to believe what´s happening and starting to capture and enjoy the journey

It actually got real to me when we shared the news on social media between 18-19 weeks. When so many people sent their congratulations then I finally celebrated myself too- "Wow, we are actually having a baby.":D

Week 19-20- It was the week of Easter and I was visiting my mom. I shared with her that I hadn´t felt the baby kick yet and that was a bit concerning to me. I had the placenta in the front wall and I knew that could delay the kicks, but the worry (read: another huge mental crash) crept in again. One of my acquaintances is a midwife and she happened to have a doppler at home to hear the baby´s heartbeat. That evening I got the doppler and between the weeks 19-23 (when the kicks were still rare and soft) listened to the heartbeat every time I needed peace in my heart. The most beautiful and precious sound in the world.

This picture has nothing to do with my pregnancy, but scrolling back to see what photos I had, around week 20 I ran into this and got a good laugh:D Mine and Nick´s faces swapped:D Wanted to see how the "combination of our genes" could look like:D

Week 20-21 - As you read before already in the first trimester I had multiple ultrasounds. The half-way point wasn´t any different. I headed to this fetus anatomy ultrasound excited to learn about the sex of the baby and get confirmation that everything is going the way it should. Came out the baby was in a position, that her body was not fully visible in the ultrasound. The doctor could check some of the important body-parts, but not all of them thoroughly. I got a new time a week later.

That appointed morning, excited, I headed to the same hospital room. AGAIN the baby had taken a position where the end of her spine wasn´t fully visible. We agreed for me to come the next day.

I knew all along that patience is one of the most important lessons this little one will come to teach me, but .... already??

The next day in the morning the situation was still the same and now it already seemed funny to me. In the evening the baby had finally turned so that all the vital points were possible to be analyzed and everything was good. Yet another deep sigh.

I don´t know how throughout this pregnancy I was such a worrier. I am generally pretty calm and positive, but now Nick had to remind me very frequently to not get in my head and stop taking everything so damn seriously. "Liisa.... relaaaaaaax, she´s okay" he´d say all the time.

Although I tried to remind myself constantly, that the number 1 priority is that the baby is healthy, deep in my heart I was really, really hoping our first baby will be a girl. When we had talked about kids and family with Nick, we somehow always referred to our first-born as a "she". Now we got confirmation that our previous visualization was a reality. We were having a daughter! We could not have been happier.

The winning "Team Pink." IT`S A GIRL!

Pregnancy habits

In the second trimester, I formed some pregnancy habits, that I kept until pretty much the last day before birth. One of my strongest beliefs is controlling the things that are in our control and putting our focus and self-worth into those. I really believe that after the worrisome first part of the pregnancy, these core habits helped me to maintain a good routine, and now looking back also snap back later. Here are a few of those:

  • Moving and getting some physical exercise. I walked 1,5-2 hours (10-13 km) pretty much every morning covering 465 km in 7th month; 462 km in 8th and 444 km in the 9th month. Since it was the lockdown time anyway and not too many options of going out, this was MY time. I loved being in the fresh air and especially doing it first thing in the morning. On some walks, my belly went hard and I had to rest a bit, but it wasn´t anything too bad.

Winter and summer walks

  • Drinking a lot of water. A LOT! That was a habit I had already before, but now it was even more elevated. Did it get annoying when on longer trips Nick had to stop a thousand times for me to use the bathroom? Probably. Was it worth it though? 100%!:)
  • Listening to baby seminars, audiobooks, and preparing myself. For me, knowledge is a source of confidence. I don´t like "winging it" in pretty much any part of my life, so I figured taking care of a human being, 100% dependent on me, is definitely not a place to do that too. The goal for me was not to do everything "by the book," the goal was to listen to my body and balance it with what I had learned. To know enough to form my own opinion. I read books, did a 20 seminar course, looked at some other webinars, watched youtube- videos, asked my friends. Not all of it was definitely necessary, but whatever gave me peace of mind at that time was healthy and helpful.
  • Tried to eat as healthy as I could. This worked better at the beginning of the pregnancy when I had the previous good habits but got worse and worse as the months rolled by. The carrots became chocolates and cottage cheese gummy bears.

Most days (at the beginning) I maintained the previous healthy habits, but some days had to leave myself reminders not to go on crazy food adventures and eat EVERYTHING we had

  • No whining. At the very beginning of the pregnancy, I promised myself that I will not complain about anything. This was exactly what I had wished and hoped for and it would be hypocritical to now not choose to be happy about it. As you read before I was scared in the first part of the pregnancy, but I wasn´t whining.
  • Trusted my body and mind. I feel that in the parenthood world it is so easy to compare. It starts already during the pregnancy- some have bigger bellies than others. Some gain 10 kgs, some 20, some 30. Some get more complications than others. Some like to get the baby stuff earlier, some later. Some want very specific brands, some prefer aftermarket. It´s ALL FINE! Being apart of baby groups you see women talking, sharing about their experience and it is so easy to get caught up in what others are doing. As much as I researched and talked with people I still trusted that whatever I had decided I´ll stick to it and not worry or compare.

One of my very favourite things during the 2nd trimester was to see Nick´s involvement and reactions. He was literally the sweetest!

Every week we read from an app about the size and development of the baby. He talked with the baby every day. Every night before bed he gave me a good-night kiss and then held his hands on my stomach and chatted with the baby. I don´t know how much of it is a coincidence and how much actual effect, but the baby was moving more when she was hearing Nick´s voice. I still remember Nick saying- "Hey sweetie, it´s papa here." Or "Give papa a little kick." I had tears in my eyes looking at it.

The baby liked to be on my left side of the stomach all the time and Nick had a theory that it´s because he sleeps on that side of me.

Nick was also having a little tapping-communication with her and he was sure the baby was answering to him. Again- this might sound a little funny, but hey- it was so sweet how the were already becoming buddies.

First little body for the nugget

In the 2nd (and 3rd) trimester I was also veeeeery emotional. Everything and anything brought tears to my eyes. Whether it was a touching movie or a sunny day, some pictures, or sometimes even an ordinary moment was enough to get the waterworks going. Every feeling was somehow elevated.

All the pregnancy moods

Week 25: We started getting some things for the baby (the stroller, the bed, carseat etc). I made a gigantic Excel and for weeks was soooo overwhelmed with all the million options for every product. Step-by-step I made a plan though and started executing on it.

First baby things

3rd trimester:

Week 31-32- At the beginning of July, week 31 at the midwife´s appointment my belly measured smaller than at that moment was normal, so I was sent to another ultrasound. Everyone kept saying "Oh, your belly is so small" and at that point, I actually started thinking too: "Well... what if the baby is not growing the way she should?"

In the ultrasound, the baby measured smaller than average, but nothing to the extent that there was something wrong. The baby was still in the breech position (tuharseis) and I knew that if she doesn´t turn head-down soon we need to do the manual turning or decide for a c-section.

Since we have a technology-free bedroom, this here is literally one of three pictures taken there during 2020. I just wanted to remember how I built a pillow-tower every evening to give relief to my slowly more and more swollen feet.

Although at that week there is still plenty of time for the baby to turn around, I started doing different exercises to motivate her to do that. I watched all kinds of videos and since I didn´t want to do the manual, outside turning nor c-section, I was ready to try anything. I was doing hip-exercises with the bouncing ball, I held cold on top of my stomach and warm at the bottom for her to turn towards the lower part. I was watching TV with my knees on the couch and my head lower. I even did the flashlight technique where I showed the light to the belly for her to see "the light at the end of the tunnel":D

Motivating the baby to turn head down:D Watching TV head down, booty up was very interesting:D

Week 31-32- We were planning to go to a baby-moon and enjoy one last trip the two of us. I consulted with multiple midwives and friends about recommendation and risks travelling at that stage. I was feeling great, but with the Covid restrictions added to the mix, we decided to make the most of Estonian summer.

Answering emails with feet in cold water:D

Week 32 (pregnancy book)- "Dear Camilla, you are really growing and making momma´s rib-cage expand. I don´t have really any other pains other than the feeling like someone has punched me in my ribs. If this is what it takes for you to grow happily and healthy, then I´ll take it:) Keep growing, little one."

Third trimester strong kicks and a very popped belly button

Week 33- (pregnancy book)"Mila... Momma and Papa put together your bed today. We hope that you will get the sweetest dreams and best sleep in it. We love you so much and we are excited to meet you."

"Babe, I have another little project for you for the evening"

Week 34-35- I did a belly photoshoot and we make some pictures with our wedding photographer. Between weeks 32-36 I felt as beautiful as I had ever felt. The belly was big already, but it wasn´t heavy for me. I wore tight clothes and stuck it out every moment I could. I was so proud! "Look- I am growing a human!". I strongly suggest every women to capture that time in some photos. It doesn´t have to be a fancy photoshoot, but to have something to look back at is so precious.

Loving the wait

Week 36: I have no idea if my flashlight and hip moving exercises had helped, but by this week she had turned around and was head down, ready to make her entrance into the world:)

Week 37: Overnight I have gained 1,5 kilos and my fingers and toes are way bigger than usual. I go to the hospital just in case to eliminate the option of preeclampsia. They look at the baby´s heartbeat and everything is the way it should. No signs of her wanting to start getting out.

Week 37-39: Organized my closet. Cleaned EVERYTHING. I truly felt like the baby will come and do a dust-control:D Also food-prepped a bunch of chicken- cottage cheese patties, tomato soup, and beef-bean mixture. That was areal a blessing in the first weeks to eat home-made food without the need to pour time into it. Future mommas- if there is anything that will help you in the first weeks- this is it!

Food prep

Week 38-39: It started to get heavy! My legs were swollen and only a few pairs of sneakers barely fit me. I got varicose veins and it was uncomfortable to sleep. The baby was kicking stronger and stronger and it felt like my ribs were bruised. Now I didn´t feel like the maternal goddess I had seemed to myself a few weeks ago. Nothing overly hard though. Just the normal differences in the body while carrying a little one with you. I was soooo excited though! Any time now... any time.

Week 40: The schedule was cleared and we were ready!

Total I had gained 14 kg-s. 9 in the first 8 months and 5 in the final month. In the last one, I literally ate anything and everything I could get my hands on. I´d order a bunch of groceries and snacks with the idea of those lasting a little longer, but every time ended up destroying all the sweets and junk in an evening or two. If I hadn´t moved as much as I did I probably would have ended up gaining muuuuuch more.

If the first 8 months I tried to stay somewhat healthy, then last month I destroyed an absolutely unbelievable amount of candies, cookies, and ice-cream

Week 40 +3- Camilla is born (days leading up to it in Camilla´s birth story blog). Best day of my life!

To sum up, all pregnancies are different and not to be compared in an unhealthy way. I do believe though that some of the pregnancy is " in our head" and many things under our control. I believe that no matter the extent of pregnancy effects, women are the most beautiful during that time and should be so proud of baking those little miracles.

I personally could not have asked for a better pregnancy and am very grateful to have this experience. It was truly such a special time and I felt the prettiest I´ve ever felt. It is still insane to me how women are able to do everything they do and I sure have a heck more respect for my body than I previously did. Carrying a little human inside made me more humble, grateful, scared, emotional, empowered, amazed. It made me more of everything!

Love,

Liisa.

Meeting our baby girl- Camilla´s birth story

"Are you scared of the labour?"

I couldn´t even count the times I was asked that question. Being a pregnant woman, especially in the third trimester, I was probably not the only one who heard it as the most commonly asked question.

Isn´t it interesting how there is a strong, programmed belief and association in a lot of people´s mind, that childbirth is definitely something to be afraid of? The worst thing is that no matter how much you try to keep your cool when everyone keeps on asking it, you start thinking- "Hmmm...SHOULD I be scared?"

My best friend taught me to tell people around me instead to ask- "Are you excited about the labour?"

With one simple word- swap, the entire mood changes, and the expecting mom gets to think of the thrilling event of meeting her new baby. So next time you see a mom with a bump- make her day by asking cheerfully- "What are you the most excited about?:)"

Okay...enough of the overall theoretical part. Let´s get to the point...

When it came to labour I had three main hopes throughout my pregnancy:

  1. The baby will be healthy.
  2. Nick can be at the birth.
  3. The labour will be as natural as possible.

If those three things happened, it would have been in my eyes a perfect experience. As much as I visualized this dream scenario I also prepped my mind that if for some reason one or none of these things happened, I am not going to beat myself up. Nor is that a reason to not be proud or happy or whatever good emotions I tied in my mind to these three points.

I will write a separate pregnancy blog-post about the nine expecting months and what were the things I did to prepare for the grand finale. So in this one I will purely focus on the few days leading to and following our daughter´s birth.

Camilla´s due date was the 3rd of September. On that day we also had our Southwestern Consulting yearly client networking event. I let everyone know, that if I am not in the hospital, then I´ll find a way to be there. If they won´t see me there though, then I have a good reason for not showing up:) During that day there were no signs of feeling any different so I headed to the event, feeling like a whale, bearly fitting my sneakers on.

Due-date look

I knew somehow that the baby will not join us earlier than 40 weeks. I literally didn´t even pack the hospital bag until week 39. Yes, I had thought through and bought the stuff, but if the little one would have decided to come at week 37, 38, it would have been a whole lot of packing before heading to the hospital:D

Yet at the same time for some reason, I was really scared of carrying the baby much longer. My own due date was on the 24th of December and well... my birthday is on the 15th of January. Since a lot of my pregnancy was similar to my mom´s first pregnancy (I am the oldest), then that was surely a fear of mine.

So on the morning of the 4th of September on my morning walk, I watched a whole bunch of videos about ways to naturally induce labour.

I really wasn´t feeling any different or anything along the lines of "this is happening soon," so I was ready to try whatever in order for her to start coming.

Babygirl, come meet us

I really enjoyed my pregnancy and I wasn´t in pain, but the last days just mentally were dragging so much. Things were uncomfortable and I was just so, so, so ready and excited to meet our daughter.

There are a lot of suggestions on what to do to encourage the start of your labour. I don´t know at all how much actual data or research supports those. People with medical background might say that there´s no correlation to actual stimulation, but I figured it doesn´t hurt to try. So on the 4th, I drank raspberry leaf tea literally all day (previously drank it since week 38 1-2 cups a day), made hip-rounds with the bouncing ball, drank a bit champagne, walked a lot of stairs, did a bunch of squats etc.

10km walk a day after the due date

On the evening of the 4th of September, Friday, I started feeling a bit "different." I told Nick, that I wouldn´t call it "pain " yet, but definitely feels how I haven´t felt before. I started having some irregular contractions and that night didn´t get much sleep. Somehow close to the morning I got some rest and we had a slow long morning.

The contractions slowed down, but came and went during the day. I didn´t know what to think of them. "Is this how the REAL contractions feel like?" "Should this be the beginning of the labour?" It wasn´t anything significantly painful, just uncomfortable and nothing I could compare with that I had experienced before.

Around 3 o clock, we went on a small walk with Nick. Although the day before I was able to keep a good pace, now I was moving with literally a snail´s speed, having to stop here and there to breathe. To me, that was a sign that something´s really going on.

We went running a few errands and grabbed some food. It was now around 4-5 pm and although I was able to walk, sitting down at the table to eat I had to occasionally close my eyes and take deep breaths. We decided to go home and started watching a movie.

Last meal before delivering the baby (yes, breakfast at 5 pm:D)

Around 8 o clock, my contractions started getting much stronger. I couldn´t just sit on the couch anymore so I went upstairs to the bed. I texted my midwife and asked her for some guidance.

I am jumping ahead here a little, but having our private midwife was something we were debating for a long time, thinking if it is a necessary expense. Looking back now it ended up being the best decision and probably the best investment I´ve ever made.

What it eventually came down to was that I knew women who hadn´t had one and regretted it, but I didn´t know anyone who had had one and said they wish they hadn´t. There are definitely a lot of positive stories from not having a private midwife, just here I don´t have any comparison. All I know is that I am so amazingly grateful for the help of our midwife and I know it was the right decision for us.

Bags were packed, room was ready

Back to the business....

Nick was watching a movie downstairs and I was upstairs breathing through the contractions. They were getting stronger and stronger and I was trying to find a position to feel somewhat comfortable in. I was trying to move as much as I could. I was sitting, standing, walking, and being on my fours. Eventually, I went to a bath. That really helped to relieve the pain.

I did quite a bit of research during my pregnancy and to me it seemed like a big test now. I tried to breathe deep and long, relax my mouth, and just calm myself as much as possible. I remembered how in every webinar/book they suggested not to get stuck in one position, so I kept moving my body for it to work with me.

Somehow I didn´t realize to update Nick on how things are going and involve him too much in the process:D We didn´t really do any birth-related preparation together. The main thing I told him is that I need his encouragement, belief, positivity, and reminders to breathe, move, and just keep on going.

He came and checked on me here and there, but I had never visualized nor expected him to massage me, breathe with me, or be holding my hand. I was in my own bubble, just focusing on succeeding in my "exam" and that was exactly what I needed.

Around 12 am Nick came upstairs and I asked him to put some music on. I had done a labour playlist for myself and played the scenarios through in my head on many of my walks. Looking back, the vibe of that playlist was TOTALLY different than what I needed at that moment. I had added fun, good mood, pump-up songs, which I thought would give me power, but at the time would have actually made me cringe. Nick put on some worship music, which calmed me so much.

I was focused. Laser-focused!

I was in the bath, lights out, empoweringly calming music on, trying to be as relaxed as humanly possible through the pain I´d never even imagined being this unique and overtaking.

Nick´s expectation of labour was somewhat like in the movies. With a big splash my waters would break and then he´d rush to get the bags to the car and we´d quickly go to the hospital and then pushing would start right away.

Now don´t get me wrong... although I was giving my best during this time not to freak out, the pain was getting really, really, really strong. I was now in constant communication with my midwife and going into every call I thought to myself: "Now´s the point where I say- I can´t anymore, it´s getting unbearable."

She was encouraging me, giving me perspective, and positively challenging me. She told me to start heading to the hospital when the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. Mine had been around 4-5 minutes for a few hours. She also added- "Liisa, when it´s too much, just tell and we´ll meet right away."

One thing that works really well for me is challenging and setting short little goals. Even when Nick wants to push and help me to believe I can do something he says- "I dare you..."

That´s what Minni (our midwife) did too. After every call I took a breath and thought- "Okay...15 minutes more, I can do that."

Around 1.15 am I told her, that the contractions are so strong, that I need to get some help. By that moment I had been laboring pretty much alone for 5 hours and my own wisdom had exhausted. Some of the contractions brought tears into my eyes and it was the time where just breathing through them didn´t work anymore. I was in real, real pain.

I remember thinking- "How on earth do women do this?"

We agreed to meet at the hospital at 2.15 am.

Previous hospital bag packing. Should I write a blogpost about the hospital bag too?

Nick got the bags in the car and I brushed my teeth and got my clothes on. Every step took so much time and needed intentional effort. Getting into the car felt like an accomplishment. My number one thought was- "I want epidural the moment we get there!"

By that time I was in strong pain. Some of my girlfriends have asked how does it feel like and truth be told it´s really indescribable. It´s the type of pain that is just different from anything else.

Some women compare it to very strong menstrual pains. If some women actually have so intense discomfort every month, they are troopers, because mine were NOTHING like menstrual pain.

We were walking to the hospital and I had to crouch down a few times walking from the parking lot to the door. We made it there at 2.15 am.

We signed in, I had to do the Corona test and change into the hospital gown. I remember telling my pregnancy midwife previously- "I am afraid of the Corona test." During those contractions, getting that test done was the last thing I should have worried about:D

The lady at the admin desk asked- "Do you want a wheelchair to go upstairs or do you feel you can walk?" That was again one of those moments, where my mental toughness was challenged and I said- "I think I can make it."

So we walked to the elevator and headed to the labour floor.

Our midwife was waiting there and I was so happy to see her positive face. We had met with her before and I had seen the labour room and both of those things gave me so, so much power at that point. It was somehow "familiar" and I was actually excited to be there.

If we hadn´t had Minni, I would have started going to the hospital much earlier. I am grateful we didn´t. I was able to be at home and the shift of finally heading there came at a very good time. It gave me new strength.

We got to the room around 2.45 and she saw me breathe through a few contractions. Somehow I wanted to impress her and was able to handle them much better than at home.

My biggest fear was that she´ll check me, the dilaton is 1 cm and we have to go back home. She checked me and said- "Liisa, the dilation is 5 cm."

First minutes in the labour room

She was surprised because the way I had managed to get through the last contraction had given her the impression that it wasn´t that painful. Hmm, I guess I was good at faking it at that point.

She also asked what do we think the baby´s birth time will be. Nick said 6 am and since I was born at 6.53 am myself I said that time. I was thinking to myself- "Is that realistic? Could I really be holding our baby in my arms then?"

Hearing that the dilation was 5 cm gave me so much hope and power. Minni was so encouraging and maybe it was a placebo effect, but somehow the pain got smaller for a short period. Purely from words of affirmation. I asked Minni about the epidural idea and she again positively challenged me to wait another 30 minutes and see then. At that point, we were wearing masks and she said that the Corona test´s answer should come shortly, and then it´s easier to get the anesthesiologist there.

About an hour before meeting Camilla

One thing I knew about epidural and that Minni confirmed too is that often it slows the birth process a bit. It´ll take away the pain so that the woman can catch a breath for a little, but is still a short-term helper. I wasn´t sure if that was the solution. I wasn´t begging for it and the fact that Minni and Nick believed I could do without, made me believe that too.

Minnie came back and at that point, the contractions had got SO painful that I was making sounds that I didn´t know could come out of me. Still, between the contractions, I was able to pull myself together.

From there on things get a bit blurry to me.

At one point Minni was checking me again and said, that the dilation is 8 cm. By then the contractions had reached their maximum peak and the calm breathing I was able to do at home was taken over by loud roars.

I knew at that point that any painkiller wouldn´t work anymore. It was time to just go through it.

Although I knew in my mind that there is nothing more to do than just keep on going that was the period where I said to Nick and Minni multiple times- "I just can´t anymore. I can´t."

Minni had told me about the "breaking point" that most women go through at the end of the opening period. I had heard about my friends describing that part as wanting to just leave or quit the process. Might sound funny to those that haven´t been in that situation, but I know my fellow mommas can relate. I literally thought, that I don´t know what you guys are going to do now and I am sorry, but I just can´t do this anymore. During the most painful contraction, I thought- "Can you just really quickly put me to sleep and then get the baby out somehow?"

But still kept going.

Isn´t it funny how our mind gives up way earlier than our body!?

Fortunately, Nick and Minni both were the greatest cheerleaders a girl could have. If at home I felt I didn´t need Nick´s support that much, then now it was absolutely crucial and he helped me big time. To every "It´s coming again, I can´t anymore" Nick said- "Yes you can, Liisa."

During that time I felt like being in a different dimension. My eyes were twirling and I was just hoping for it to end soon. I remember Minni saying- "Liisa, make eye-contact with me for a second."

At home, I was moving as much as I could, but in the hospital, I was pretty much in one position. On my side or on my back on the bed. There were two times Minni told me to go to the bathroom, but other than that moving seemed impossible.

At some point, through the contractions, I heard Minni saying- "Liisa, you are fully dilated, now when the feeling of pressure comes, just push like there´s no tomorrow."

Since the tempo was so fast (that was all between 2.50 am and 4.10 am, meaning the last 5 cm dilation happened in a little more than an hour) there were some contractions that were combined with the pushes. Nick told me later, "Liisa, then I understood how much pain you were in because when you were screaming your voice was breaking." My legs started shivering too.

Now when the pushing period started it got a little calmer. I know a lot of women have described this period as easier or somewhat even enjoyable. I definitely wouldn´t call it enjoyable, but at least the pace was slower.

I just pushed as hard as I could and my main motivator was that if I don´t push hard enough it comes again and I have to do it all over.

Minni was motivating me, saying- "Liisa, she wants to come so much. So much." That was a HUGE help for me. Somehow it wasn´t about me anymore, it was about helping our sweet daughter reach us." Minni said- "Next time take your lungs full of air and 3 times in a row push as hard as you can." I don´t remember exactly how many pushes there had been until then, probably 5-6. My water had broke during one of those pushes, so not quite at that time that Nick had expected:D

Then I just took my last strength and pushed one more time.

None of this do I remember very clearly, because I think I wasn´t breathing very well, just pushing as hard as possible. Nick had put a phone to film, so I was able to look later and see what was actually happening.

Nick was next to me and asked Minni- "Is that her hair?"

"Hair? Oh my gosh, she has hair!" went through my mind and I just wanted to get that little girl out so bad.

I pushed again as hard as I could and all of a sudden felt something gushing out of me. Then there was THE cry....

These pictures are as real as it gets. They are blurry because they are screenshots of a video. I have watched that video so many times, tears in my eyes, gratitude in my heart. My memory of this period is as blurry as the imagines, so I am so glad Nick captured those emotions for us to look back at

Minni put the baby on me and although I felt an ENORMOUS relief and joy, I just couldn´t yet look down. I think I hadn´t breathed during the last pushes and was just pulling oxygen in.

After a few deep breaths, I was able to move my head and really realize that there she was.

Our precious daughter!

I start crying even writing this right now. There will never be a moment that could replace those minutes. I was crying, Nick was crying. We were just overjoyed with love and gratitude. Our baby girl was on my chest. Finally! A long time of waiting, praying, then carrying her for 9 months and now actually holding her. What an honour.

There was so much blood, that Minni put the IV for me. In the end, there was no calmly breathing the baby out, it was just raw and barbaric strength. I feared that it had done quite a bit of damage down there.

Minni helped with the placenta and getting the uterus empty and with each of those lumps coming out, it got lighter and lighter. Minni checked my tears and there were three minimal ones. One of them she even stitched without the numbing injection.

When our midwife was ready with me, she showed Nick how to cut the umbilical cord. Minni washed and cleaned Camilla, weighed her, and put clothes on. I remembered how I had packed the clothes at home and dreamt how there´ll be a little girl in them. And now there was.

She was 53 cm tall and weighed 3588 grams and was born at 4.39 on the 6th of September.

"Nick I can´t believe it" We are parents"

Minni put Camilla on my chest to eat and I was so surprised. "What if there´s no milk?" Minnie pressed my other nipple and some milk came out of there and I laughed- "When did that get in there?":D

All the three hopes I had, were fulfilled. The baby was healthy. Nick was with me at the labour and the birth was unmedicated.

I couldn´t have been more grateful.

Since there were no family rooms available we were able to stay for some hours in the delivery room.

Tired papa didn´t fit in the labour bed, so he got creative:D

Minni made sure that we are all good and we stayed in there the three of us. I know I mentioned it before, but for us having a private midwife was really an amazing experience. She is a big reason why the labour went somewhat fast for the first time delivery and was 100% unmedicated. She is a big reason why when I think of giving birth positive emotions come to my mind. Also, I think it’s funny that we did our baby reveal with Minnie-Mickey and our midwife´s name was Minni. If that isn’t meant to be.... well, I don’t know what is.

Nick fell asleep in the bath. I was super hungry, so I crushed half of the snacks in the snack bag I had packed. Although I hadn´t slept for a second night, I wasn´t tired at all. I was going on adrenaline and overwhelming joy and although Nick and Minni both suggested me to rest, I couldn´t fall asleep. I was just staring at Camilla´s face, proud of her for being such a good team-member and grateful she was with us.

Around lunch-time, we were able to go to a family room. I was so thankful, that Nick was able to stay and we got the opportunity to be together during the first days of our daughter´s life.

First snuggles

Our first hospital day was filled with texts and calls to family, friends, ordering all kinds of goodies with Wolt and smooching, and staring with awe at our little girly. We were both still astonished about what we had just experienced.

The first two nights I didn´t get much sleep, because I was afraid that I´ll miss the three-hour feeding rule. I am overall pretty coachable and when the nurses said that right now the main goal is that she´ll get enough food, I made that my mission. That mission kept me up most night though.

First morning being a mom

I feel that labour is discussed quite a bit, but what is not are the days after that. You are sore and it´s hard to move, but you have this little human to take care of. I couldn´t imagine how mom´s with c-section or without someone else do it. Just wow!

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed her, but what I didn´t know was HOW painful that could be at the beginning. The second day my nipples were hurting SOOOOO bad. Nick asked how does it feel like and I said that it is like someone pushes needles through them. That was not fun. The nurses gave me hope, that it will get better. It did eventually.

First family photo
Trip of the day- getting snacks from the hospital´s first floor

After the second night, the doctor checked Camilla and myself and both of our recoveries were at a good pace. We were able to go home. UNBELIEVABLE.

"Let´s go home"

I am not exaggerating if I say that I had never been that happy in my life.

We took our little bundle of joy and headed home. Time for a new chapter...

Most importantly- I respect and admire every woman who has given life SO much. It is absolutely life-changing in every way and I think every mom should be incredibly, incredibly proud of themselves.

Labours are different, moms and babies are different, but the unifying link here is that what women choose to go through in order to bring their babies into this world, is insane and amazing.

I bow down to you, mommas!!!

Our babygirl

Love,

Liisa.




Babyshower

Two weeks ago, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my family and girlfriends organized us the sweetest baby shower. I had dreamed about celebrating our baby girl, but never would I have imagined that the day would be filled with so many absolutely beautiful moments, people, and emotions.

I sobbed the entire evening after that with a heart more grateful than ever. Our baby has been hoped and prayed for a while and actually knowing that these people came together to cherish her soon arrival, was still pretty surreal for me. I and our daughter are so blessed to have these gorgeous, smart, powerful, kind women in our lives and I am excited for her to have them as amazing examples to learn from.

My breath-taking women squad (and Nico:))

Since I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the day I figured I would share some of the highlights. Hopefully, someone organizing their good friend´s baby party will get some extra ideas. Or just smile along with me through these feels:)

Organization

Since babyshower is more of an American tradition, I wasn´t quite sure how we should go about it. In Estonia friends are often invited to a gathering after the baby is already born (katsikud). In America, similar to a bachelor/ bachelorette party before a wedding, baby shower is mostly done ahead of the arrival of the new family-member. Some organize it themselves and some get to enjoy it being organized for them. All options are wonderful and serve the same purpose. So as there are many ways to do it, I think the best way is just what works the best for that specific couple / family.

I sniffed out that at the beginning the girls were planning to do a surprise party. Eventually, I asked them to tell us the time and place of it so that I can show up in something other than the usual pregnancy "black leggings- messy bun"- look. You know the deal- look good, feel good:)

Preparations

We showed up at the appointed time, amazed and teary-eyed.

Arrival, hugs and champaign cheers

The most beautiful setting and happy soon-to-be-parents

Food

I greatly appreciated that a lot of the food was done by the girls themselves.

My bestie Dagmar carved the cutest little fruit-carriages

A lot of healthy, fresh veggies, fruits, berries, quiches, tacos, cupcakes, cake pops, pastries, and other snacks

Activities

1.Quiz

The girls had prepared questions about pregnancy and newborns. They had sent them before to Nick and I answered them on spot to see how similar our answers were. Neither of us was too knowledgable with the general topics, but the game was full of laughter and also educational. Win-win!

For example- did you know how many diapers on average a baby goes through in a year? Or how many bones they are born with?

It was cool to hear what Nick had answered to questions like- what will my first post-labor meal be; which part of me grew faster- belly or booty and what will be the most useful item in the hospital bag?

Laughing at each other´s silly answers

2. Braiding workshop

The girls gave me a gift box with a card and a comb. The note said that having a girl (with potentially very curly hair from Nick) will require developing some new skills and the comb was the hint for it. I was already excited...

Soon a girl arrived who did a little braining-workshop. We learned different ways of braiding and practiced on each other.

3. Babyfood blind-tasting

I guess this is one of the most common baby shower games for a reason. It gives a little sneak peek (or sneak taste) into the future and is very fun. There were six different baby foods that I tasted and had to guess the ingredients. Some of them were pretty good (mostly sweet ones) and some surprisingly disgusting (for example pasta bolognese).

Me cracking my brains trying to identify another veggie seemed to be good entertainment:D

The many emotions of liquid meal tastings

Babyshower´s four-legged special guests Bruno and Ellie and their beautiful mommas. Left one is my momma too:)

4. Baby picture identification

The girls had gathered their baby photos and I had to guess who was who. Truth be told- it was WAY harder than I thought. I guessed only a few correct (one was my sister because I had seen the picture before:D). When the names were revealed later it was much easier to see the resemblances.

"Hmm, who is this one?" "Wait, let me take another look." "Dang, this is hard!"

5. Guessing game

All the girls filled papers with their guesses about the birth date, the height and weight, name suggestion and whether they think the baby will be more like Mini-Me or Mini-Nick. They added a suggestion and what they wish Baby Connor will get from either of us.

It was so sweet reading their answers. A lot of the advise and reminders were around making our relationship always a priority and taking time for ourselves and each other. When our glasses are full and we are happy, the baby will be too. Some of the things that they wished our baby will get from me were blue eyes, long legs, dimples, determination, discipline, spark, positivity; from Nick his dark curls and skin, charisma and swag, athletisism, humor, confidence, creativity.

Definitely keeping these papers for the tougher days to re-read and smile:)

They also put together vouchers, where everyone had written a service that they will provide and we are able to use. How intentional and cute! Wow.

Capturing memories

Last, but not least some picture-time. Since life-events like this don´t happen every day, freezing those memories in photos is the best way to relive them.

Me and baby C love you!

Video summary for the babyshower:

https://youtu.be/23dH6UvHgdM

Tüdrukud- aitäh teile! Armastan teid maailma lõpuni.

Eriline aitäh- Daki, emme, Maarja. Olete imelised.

Saagu tänatud ka teised, võrratud kaas-osalised:

  1. Dekoratsioonid- Celebrate_it
  2. Fotod- Maarika Roosi
  3. Meik/ soeng- Reelika Reimann
  4. Video- Tarmo Pihelgas

Love,

Liisa.

Creating your vision and "Family Creed"

Some of you know my background and our unified story with Nick a bit better, some less, some not at all. So I figured I'd start off with sharing with you a bit about our vision, how we came up with it and hopefully inspire you to think through and craft out your bigger picture too.

Our vision board
Bare with me we'll get to the creation of it at the end of the post

I have practiced and believed in the power of visualization, goal-setting and everything involving it since my first year of college when my personal development journey started. Everything revolving this topic seemed a bit fluffy to me at first, to be honest, but over the years I have understood the value that having a longer perspective brings. Now helping people develop and reach their vision is a topic near and dear to my heart.

The first self-development book I read was "The Secret." I was probably 18-19 years old at the time and the idea of "Law of Attraction" seemed very fascinating. Since then I have created vision boards, bucket lists, goal books... you name it.

My goal books from 2011 to 2015
My bucket list made in 2013

I was taught that setting specific goals, actually writing them down and having a clear vision will make reaching those things so much more likely. Teachable, as I was, I figured it can't hurt if I actually try to do this.

My vision boards made at the beginning of 2016

My previous vision boards were made in 2016 when I was switching jobs and going through a transitional phase in my life. I had dated Nick literally for a week or so and we had exactly three pictures together. I decided to put one of those (on the right board, up and middle) on my new dream board. I recall even telling him- “Hey, I decided- you are a part of my vision.“

I guess we have to be careful with what we wish for!:)


When I was putting together my last vision board I also answered a lot of questions. The goal was not for the board to be a collage of pretty pictures, but a collection of images that really meant something for me. I wrote out answers to questions like: “What would my ideal job and ideal day look like? What places in the world do I want to travel to? What do I believe in? What do I want to give back to the world? What are the characteristics of my perfect spouse? What excites me the most?" and so on.

When you will be putting together yours, I definitely recommend you do the same. Then your vision board will be so much more than shiny, pretty things.

Just having these vision boards though will not be the game-changer. Then you have to go out and put in the work. That's when the magic happens!

When we met with Nick at the beginning of 2016 we both had our own goals in life. Throughout the 3,5 years we've been together we have had to learn how to unify our vision so it'll serve us both.

Having a clear vision has been something that has helped us through a lot of bumps and curveballs that life has thrown at us during this short amount of time. Starting from the very beginning- living on different continents; having come from various countries, cultures, upbringings; having 10 years of age difference… all of that has made forming a common ground, a mutual vision sometimes pretty tough.
Going through immigration problems, health issues, sicknesses, losses, handling working in different time-zones have definitely added to the list of reasons why co-existing or furthermore building a life together could be hard.


The main thing, though, that has helped us to keep on going and staying as persistent as humanly possible in the midst of all of it, has been our vision.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_8496-1-747x1024.jpg
Connors x2

We still have our separate dreams and those are not going anywhere, but for the first time in our lives we came up with our mutual vision board.

So here, my friends, is how it all went down:


1. First, we did an exercise where we both went through a long list of values and separately chose 10 we felt are the most important. Then we discussed those and narrowed them down. Those became the core values of what we stand for.

2. Second, we talked about our vision and mission in the world and tried to put those into words.
From this value- discussion our own "Connor Family Creed" was born.
This is the base for our relationship. This is going to help us make decisions when we can’t agree on them ourselves.

Connor Family Creed


3. After we had formed The Creed we started looking for pictures to make our words visual. I had a goal of adding 5 pictures every day for about 20 days and then we felt everything we saw in our vision was in that document.


4. I printed them out, cut and glued for multiple days.

5. We also decided to add our wedding vows to always remember what we promised each other.

Our wedding vows

6. Lastly, I added a reminder for little things we wouldn't forget to be grateful for.

7. We put it all together and framed it. Voila!

After months of work, our vision board came together

We divided it into different sections:

  • Dream traveling destinations
  • Professional aspirations
  • Cool experiences
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Family inspirations

Some of the things on this vision board scare the heck out of me and I know will challenge us and definitely require a lot of determination, effort, and commitment. Our vision board is in my office, in front of my eyes every single day, reminding me why we do what we do.

We have also tried to form a habit of reading the Creed out loud together once every month or so and that is so refreshing every time. I dream that one day when our kids will be older and someone asks about their upbringing, reading The Creed will be something they will always remember and value.

I know I have given you a lot of potential ideas and further possible exercises involving this vision-casting process. What's important is that this doesn't have to be an overnight task nor does it have to look anything like ours. It should be 100% YOURS.

Often times vision seems a soft topic, but truth be told- I don't know one person, who has actually taken the steps, thought through their goals, written them out, put them in pictures and then regretted doing it. That just doesn't happen!

Our everyday motivation is oftentimes very directly tied to the clarity of our vision, and hey- if something helps me to be more focused daily, I am all for it.

I will leave you with this...

I know this is all a bit of a dreamy topic, but what is the likelihood of us getting to a place where we want to be if we have no sight of that? I'd say the chances of that are smaller than when we actually knew where we are even headed to. Would you agree?

So, go ahead, dream a bit. I know you are busy and have a long list of to-do items. We all do. Just choose to spend time on this. I am giving you emotional permission for that.

Take the steps and let me know in the end how your vision board looks like. When it's ready, send it to me, post it on your Instagram and add #mrsconnorblog #visionboardexercise #dreamitachieveit or share it in your story and tag me too. I'd be glad to see your dreams.

Alrighty, pals- time to dream!

Love,

Liisa.