Monday, August 31, 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend

This Monday was "Bank Holiday" here in the UK - which is funny because they don't give their holidays names (Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc.) just a general "Bank Holiday". We had a fun time as a family of FOUR (it's still weird to say that!) going to a little farm here in the English countryside. They had lots of chickens roaming about, goats, cows, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigs, turkeys, and peacocks. Lincoln has no fear when it comes to animals! Here he is feeding some rams random grass, leaves, and even a feather that he found on the ground.

I like how Link is making the same face as the ram in this one!

My favorite part of the farm was the scrumptious farm restaurant. We had the lamb stew which was delicious, with some yummy fudge for dessert.

Sunday was Ellie's debut at church! Here is our attempt at a "kids going to church" picture - clearly Link wasn't cooperating.

It sure is fun putting a little dress on a girl!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Last Wednesday my mom left after helping us for 2 whole weeks. It was really sad to see her go, and even worse was the impending doom that now it was all up to me to take care of these two little kids. I was remembering when my mom left after helping when Lincoln was born and how I just cried and cried and thought I could never do it on my own. Now I look back and wonder what was I thinking?! One kid is EASY! I'm hopeful that one day I will look back at this time and say "What was I thinking?! TWO kids is easy!"

Things have actually gone really well. I've managed to shower every day (a definite accomplishment in mommy-world!) and all three of us have coordinated naps on most days. Lincoln is doing well with the adjustment overall - he only gets sent to timeout a time or two a day when he gets a little excited (ie: rough) with baby sister, but loves to come up to Ellie and tickle her or have help holding her. Here they are sharing the Boppy pillow together:

We took Ellie to the beach for the first time this weekend! She really enjoyed it - okay, she slept in her carseat the whole time - but it was fun for us! When we were getting ready to leave Link said "Beach - rocks - windy - cold" I guess he knows what an English beach is like! It was actually beautiful and sunny, and yes, some nude sunbathers were out again [not pictured] :)

Ellie is growing! Last week she was weighed and is already 4.3kg (9 1/2 lbs)! She is a big girl! She is being more awake lately and getting more into a routine with feeding. She loves to be in motion - either in the Bjorn or in the car, and also just loves to lay on the ground and look around. My favorite is when she puts her fuzzy little head on my shoulder and holds on with her tiny hands. It melts my heart! It also melts my heart when I see my two kids together; what could make a parent happier?!

We're looking forward to another good week, and maybe even venturing out with the two kiddos on my own! We'll see how that goes!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My UK Delivery Experience

I've been promising to tell about the differences between healthcare here in the UK and the US, so I thought I'd list a few. Some are funny, some things I like better here, and some are just strange! I wanted to make sure that I survived the whole experience before saying anything! Now luckily, it's a very interesting experience that I can look back on and share with Ellie. (Note: this was just my experience, may not be representative of all UK deliveries)

- At prenatal checks they never weigh you. I had to request to check my weight a couple times just because I was curious. So I don't even know how much weight I put on this pregnancy!

- Most women never see an OB/GYN - you are seen by the community midwives for all your checkups. You would only have an OB if you are an at-risk pregnancy or would be having a scheduled c-section.

- They don't check dilation/effacement until you are in active labor; leaving you with no clue when the baby may come!

- The prenatal checkup schedule is much less frequent than in the US. Even at the end of pregnancy you only see the midwife every-other week.

- When I had my glucose tolerance test they have you buy your own "gatorade" and bring it to the lab to drink for the test.

- They asked me if I'd like to have a home birth, and they're actually pretty common here. I said "NO" - I'd much rather have all the equipment and help that a hospital has...oh, and I don't want to have to buy a new bed after delivering the baby in it!

- I don't think I saw any computers in the hospital while I was there. I am so used to seeing a computer with monitors in every labor room, plus several at the nurses' station for charting. Everything is charted on these little blue notes that you carry around with you during your pregnancy and while you are at the hospital.

- While in labor, they don't have monitors to check the baby's heart rate or your contractions. The midwife would occasionally put a doppler on my tummy to listen to the baby's heartbeat, but nothing continuous, and as I said before, no computer read-out or printed reading.

- The doctor on the delivery unit placed my IV for my antibiotics - and totally missed the first time - badly! I still have an ugly, huge bruise. Good thing I was in labor so the pain was minor in comparison!

- The bed I was in for delivery had no pillows, the left stirrup was broken, and it took 2 midwives the better part of 5 minutes to figure out how to put the bed together. Maybe they should not use that room next time!!

- They offer Nitrous Oxide as a method of pain relief. I used some while I was being stitched up and I really think it was just oxygen. It did NOTHING! The only benefit was that you suck it out of this plastic mouthpiece, so I was able to bite on that while the doctor (same one who botched my arm!) was taking his sweet time with the stitching - oh, and not numbing me up properly. He kept saying "This would be a lot better if you had an epidural" - um yeah! You're telling me!! As you can see, I was not impressed with this doctor...maybe it's a good thing I didn't get an epidural...if he was administering it I may be paralyzed!

- My midwife Tina was amazing. She was so kind and really helped me to calm down while experiencing my very quick, unexpected, natural delivery. There was no "team" of doctors and nurses in the room when Ellie was born like in the US - just Tina and Ryan. It's a good thing Ryan wanted to cut the umbilical cord, because if he didn't do it I don't think there would have been enough hands to manage it all!

- They don't give you a hospital gown! You are told to "bring your own clothes to deliver in". Minutes before Ellie was born I finally took my pants off and my new baby was placed on the very shirt I wore into the hospital. Afterwards you just wear your own clothes or a nightgown. I'm a pj pants girl, so I had to go out and buy a nightgown especially for the occasion.

- I wasn't stitched up after the delivery for what seemed like a very long time (long enough to call both our families) - I was telling the midwives that it must not be too bad a tear or I would be losing a lot of blood!

- Babies aren't measured for length. I asked why and was told that "length doesn't matter" so they don't do it. Everything has to be very cost-effective in a national healthcare setting; length doesn't have any particular health implications, so they don't check it.

- You can leave the hospital any time you want after delivery (as long as everything checks out okay). I had a roommate (yes, a roommate - more of that to come) who delivered a baby at 4am and was gone before noon.

- There is no baby nursery, which means they don't bathe the baby after the birth, and don't keep them in there while you sleep. You have to keep your baby with you 24/7 - if you go into the bathroom you just wheel your baby along with you.

- They don't give you any diapers, wipes, onesies, or pads in the hospital - bring your own!

- I was lucky to snag 1 of 2 private rooms in the "mother/baby" unit (someone tipped us off beforehand that we could at least try and ask for one), but sadly was moved that first night because someone needed the room more. My new room was a big room that can hold SIX moms and their babies, only divided by curtains, with the bathroom down the hall. Luckily, there was no one else in there when I first came in, and at most there were 3 of us - but still slightly uncomfortable nonetheless. No privacy, and I felt badly when Ellie would cry knowing that she was probably waking up someone else's baby. Utah Valley hospital is like a hotel compared to the hospital here!

- When you come home from the hospital, midwives come to your house to check up on you and the baby 1 day, 5 days, and 10 days later. They see how everything is going, how you are healing, weigh the baby, and answer any questions. I LOVE this! It's very reassuring to be able to ask questions and make sure you are doing things right; I think I question myself more this time around because I'm always comparing the 2 kids.

And here's a picture of my cute kids!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Week Later

It's hard to imagine that just over a week ago we were a family of three awaiting the arrival of our little girl. Then right on her due date, little Elizabeth came into the world. (Well, not SO little - weighing in at a nice 8lb 12oz - surprising us all!) We had to stay in the hospital for 2 days so that Elizabeth could get IV antibiotics; I was Strep B positive but barely got in one dose of antibiotics since the labor was SO fast. Her blood results came back negative, so everything was fine and we could go home.

I am so lucky to have my sweet mom come all the way over here from Kansas to help out. Everyone here is amazed that she would come all this way to see us, even after she was just here a couple months ago. I can't thank her enough, and I might not let her leave! Ryan also gets a very generous 2 week paternity leave - so we are well taken care of!

Here are some pictures from the past week of our little Ellie:

Lincoln is very sweet with his new sister. He rarely says her name, but refers to her as "baby sister". He will spontaneously run over to her when she is laying on the floor and get very close to her face and smile and rub her head and say "cute" or "soft". We are trying to capture one of his sweet moments, but our little guy always has a "cheese!" at the ready before we are able to snap the picture.

Daddy's little girl

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Elizabeth Rose Giles

Natural birth is hard. We wanted drugs, but things went too fast. The midwife first checked on us around 445-500 am. Jamie measured a 2-3 cm. By 613 Elizabeth was born. Jamie handled it very well, I think she probably held back showing all the pain she felt for my sake. It was over quickly though which was nice.

Oh and giving birth in the UK is a very different experience. I'll let Jamie fill in more details but, we didn't get a pillow for her bed until about 530, the bed itself was broken so we couldn't really use the stir up things, and they wrap the babies up in rough towels. Oh and we are expected to bathe and clean our own baby! I know I sound like a spoiled brat, but we really noticed a difference in the level of care.

That being said, the people that have been taking care of us have been wonderful. Having the midwife coaching Jamie with a nice British accent made it sound a little more pleasant then the NY/NJ accent. We even knew to ask for a private room and there happened to be one available (usually they have 4-6 women sharing a room). Anyway, enjoy the pics.

Sunday, August 2, 2009