Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Birth story

I tried to write up how the birth happened, mainly for myself. This is what I posted on one of the web boards (baby-related) that I visit.

In short: med-free birth that almost happened in the car on the way to the birth center.

A week and a half ago our daughter Emilie (just think Emily) was born. Unlike with our first daughter, Sonja, I did not have any back labor, and overall, I got really lucky, and my contractions were very manageable - in fact, I kept waiting for them to really start to hurt, and they never did, which was the reason we almost didn't make it to the birth center on time.

My milk came in after two days (compared with 3 days the first time). The afterpains (where the uterus hurts as it contracts, especially when the baby is feeding) stopped after 3-4 days (don't remember the first time how it was). My bleeding nearly stopped after 1 week (compared with bleeding the full 6 weeks the first time). And I made sure to start taking metamucil after the birth, so I had no problem with constipation, unlike the first time...

emilie's birth story

On Sunday after dinner, we went for a walk around our neighborhood with our dogs. I told Martin I thought I started having some contractions, though I wasn't sure if it was just the food. They were 10-15 minutes apart, probably, not very strong at all. After Martin put Sonja to bed, I decided to time two or three, so that I could give the midwives a heads-up by 9pm that things were possibly happening. And I did.

Over the next two hours, despite Martin's suggestion that I try to get some sleep (I could not get comfortable in bed), I did small things around the house, mainly preparing the things to bring with us, just in case it was it. At 11pm, he decided to check on me, and together we walked to our mailbox (some 400 yards away) and back, while he started keeping track of the contractions. As with my labor with Sonja, periodically one contraction might be missing or very weak.

Still, Martin suggested we call the midwife back, and head to the birth center. So we did. Sometime around 11:50pm, he called the midwife on duty, who said she will meet us in half an hour at the birth center. We waited a few minutes before heading out, since it takes less than half an hour for us to get there. In those fifteen minutes, my water broke during one contraction (12:08) - a spectacular "pop" sound like one pops a balloon, followed by a flood coming down my legs. After the contraction, I dropped the pants and went to put on a clean pair of panties and something else. The contractions were coming every few minutes by then. (Every 4 minutes while we walked to the mailbox, after the water breaking may be every 3 minutes ?)

We jumped into the truck and drove. I was bracing myself against the above-the-door handle. Real close to the house, my body suddenly started pushing during one contraction. I couldn't help it. I cried to Martin "I am pushing". He asked whether he should pull over or continue, I really did not know. We went on. During the next contraction, doing some breathing exercises helped to stop the pushing, but not for the contraction after that. Since it was midnight and not much traffic, at one point I told him to run the red light where we had stopped, once the traffic passed.

We got to the birth center, I barged in, the midwife showed me to the room where she started filling the water tub with water, I told her that I am pushing, she threw some sheets onto the bed, I dropped my skirt and panties, kneeled on all fours, and pushed as the next contraction came. As with Sonja, I could feel the pain associated with the head going through. Our daughter Emilie was born within a few moments. 12:24. Later, when a second midwife arrived and was filling out the form, she filled out the time of the birth (12:24), and asked when had we arrived at the center. The midwife who delivered the baby said a minute before, still, the midwife who filled out the form said that she will put down 12:22 as our official arrival time.

We snuggled with Emilie for about an hour before they did cut the umbilical cord, weighted her (7 lbs 12 oz), and did the eye treatment and the vitamin K shot. She was a tiny bit jaundiced, so the midwife told us the next day to leave her in the sun for 10 minutes, up to three times a day.

We had to spend at least 3 hours after birth at the birth center. Instead of heading home in the middle of the night, we spent the night at the birth center. The next morning my dad brought our 2 year old with him to the birth center. The two year old, whom we had thought of as a baby until that point, looked like a giant compared to the newborn. After a nice breakfast of pancakes and blueberries and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (yay for an alaskan breakfast), we headed home.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Trying for a passport picture....

Trying to take passport pictures at home.... from the FAQ on the website:
  • "The customer should have a natural expression, mouth closed, and eyes open and looking directly ahead.",
  • "The head of the person being photographed should not be tilted up, down or to the side. "
  • "Can a parent or guardian appear in the photo of a minor child? No, the minor child must be the only subject in the photo. Nothing used to support the minor child, whether by mechanical or human means, should be in the camera''s frame."
Darn, I think between the tilted head, closed eyes, and flailing arms, none of these may qualify...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

One week old

We'll have to work on some nicer pictures, but here are a few. One week after birth, Emilie is watching the world a lot more intently. The first few hours, her brain was probably just trying to figure out what all this information coming from the eyes was all about, and she did not keep them open very long. Now, she will look around, or at least appear to look around, quite a bit more.

And you expect me to be happy that I have a sister now?

Hmmm, her hands are pretty small:

OK, here, I will give her a kiss, but she can't look.

After we brought Emilie home, Sonja started throwing fits about any little thing that happened. Now, a week later, things are a little bit better, but she still definitely feels the change from being an only child to being an older sister. We are trying to do stuff with her on her own, without her sister, and sometimes it helps, and sometimes it does not.

Sonja did have fun playing with Torsten ball at Anne and Don's - Torsten would throw the ball to Matt, Matt to Sonja, and Sonja, after much deliberation, would run within two yards of Torsten, and then throw the ball at him. She really liked that. Thanks, Torsten and Matt for letting us play ball with you! (And nice to see you, Carrie, too!)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Emilie Radka

We welcomed our daughter, Emilie Radka, to this world at 12:24am today, at the birth center. She weighed in at 7 lbs 12 oz (according to google, 3.52 kg) and was 21.5 in long (55 cm according to google).
Thanks to my dad for watching Sonja and bringing her to the birth center in the morning. Sonja seems excited about having a sister, so far at least.

Emilie in the morning:

Martin's three girls:

Sonja's first post

That was the empty one below... she managed to publish it before we added anything. Blogger Sonja.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A quick trip to Goldking

Today the weather forecast was for a beautiful, possibly record-breaking day, and it sure was. In the afternoon, Martin thought we could do a short trip somewhere. Decided to try to go south to Gold King, an airstrip just at the foothills of Alaska Range, a bit over half-hour flight from Fairbanks.

Here is Martin checking the fuel to make sure there is no water in it while Sonja is playing with her car seat. Unfrotunately Sonja really did not want to go flying, and was really really scared inside the airplane. We decided to change the trip. My dad volunteered to stay in Fairbanks with Sonja, while Martin and I did the trip. Since Martin can take grandpa flying next week, even once the new baby arrives, while I probably would not go again before we leave for Europe, we decided to take him up on that offer.

Here's Sonja cuddling in my dad's arms as the airplane pulls away. She really did not like the noise the engine made, but was definitely a happier camper outside the airplane than she had been inside.

In the airplane.

Interior alaska quilt of summer greenery.

In Gold King, we landed, walked around for perhaps half an hour, then headed back to Fairbanks. Grandpa and Sonja were waiting for us when we got there. Sonja really wanted papa's pen when he was writing the trip into his logbook.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Little Prince

A joke on "The Little Prince". Missing a few volcanoes though.

Morning visitors

"Mom, why is she staring at us?"

The above is a shot of this morning's visitors. I should have tried to take a picture of them and the car - the tail (of the mom) is at about the height of the roof of our subaru, if I saw things correctly later.

Nothing new on the other front yet. At the latest, if nothing happens by Friday in a week, castor oil will come to the rescue.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Grandpa arrives; Sonja's last day at daycare; The Fair; no new arrival yet

Sonja's grandpa arrived on Thursday with a friend of his who wanted to see Alaska. Sonja has taken to grandpa very well, perhaps because we have told her ahead of time that he is coming. And he likes to play with her.

On Friday was Sonja's last day at daycare. I am sure she will miss it somewhat, but we will try to get her involved with other kids her age, perhaps through play groups, or similar. She has definitely had some favorite tachers there, such as Miss Jen from Wobblers class, or Miss Anna from her Toddler class. And of course other kids her age, such as Wylie.

On Friday, we (minus Martin) went to the Fair. I mainly wanted to show Sonja the animals, and that did happen. The petting zoo was almost a bit disappointing, as the only animal that was allowed to be touched was a bunny. The other animals one could feed. Still, I think Sonja had fun. We also went to watch some horse competition, and went through the chicken barn.

Saturday and Sunday we went to two birthday potlucks, for Mette, who turned 40, and Jessica, who turned 39. Weather cooperated for both. Martin remarked how ten years ago, these potlucks would have been full of dogs. These days, the potlucks have plenty of toddlers attending. Funny how times change. And with respect to the numbers. I guess we're getting old, and the people we're hanging out with likewise :). Or perhaps better, not old, but wise.

No news on our expected arrival, the due date was three days ago.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Martin's joke about the bump

I started challenging Martin to flossing, since both of us don't do it enough. The other night, when he was doing his daily push-ups, he suddenly started laughing: It occurred to him that he should challenge me in return to do some push-ups. But with the current extension (bump) in front of me, he thought that probably the moment I was ready to do one push up, and started bending my arms, I would immediately get stuck on the bump, and be there like a beached whale, arms and legs flying in all directions. He got quite a kick out of that mental image. :)

That time of the year (cranes, raspberries, fair time); potty

On Saturday, we stopped shortly by Creamer's field, and realized it was that time of the year - not only is our motion sensor light outside our front door triggering by 11 pm, but the cranes are also heading back. Oh well. Overall, it has been a very nice summer. Warm, so that we could eat dinner outside on the porch a lot; but with enough showers to keep the forests wet so that we had perhaps one day of smoke, and that the rain also killed off the wasps that were out in numbers in the beginning of the season.

And the periodic rains made for a nice raspberry crop by our house too. Sonja of course didn't want anything to do with raspberries until about three days ago. By that time August came (and fair time), meaning that it started raining, and has been raining or drizzling since. And the raspberries have started rotting due to all that rain. Still, Sonja now loves going outside and picking any that she can find, often even the ones that are not ripe yet.

Hopefully sometimes this week, or on the weekend, it won't rain, so that we can take Sonja to the fair, and especially to the petting zoo. She loves animals, and I think she would enjoy that a lot. but, exactly since it is fair time, who knows whether the weather will cooperate.

This weekend, Martin also finished the work on the water line from the tank to the pump. He ductaped a heating tape to the hose, and wrapped insulation around it. Finished product lies by his feet in the first picture. Then he crawled underneath the house and got that hose connected from the pump to the tank. I sure was glad I didn't have to do the crawling, since right now I would probably get stuck somewhere down there. As a result of his work, our water comes once again from the underground tank, instead of the tank we borrowed from Keith and Susan (seen behind Martin on that first picture, the big white thing).

I was trying to play a bit with the camera last week, so here is one picture of the bump. I would definitely get stuck crawling underneath the house these days.

The last thing that happened this weekend is that Sonja has now successfully used the potty more than ten times. Only in the mornings and evenings though, but she is definitely excited when she uses it, which makes us excited. She even went #2 in it. We will see whether we manage to keep that up.
A big congrats to Matt and Carrie and bigT on buying the new house and selling the old. Can't wait to see the pics!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Swiss National Day - August 1

Yesterday we celebrated the Swiss National Day at Swiss Chris and Denise's house with some good food. Sonja had her swiss shirt on, and enjoyed watching the other kids play ping pong, as well as the bear that Denise brought out for the occasion (see first picture). Other pictures show Rita, with the gazebo that Denise and Chris build in their back yard (including the amazing stained glass windows) , then Denise, Tom and kids with Sami in the foreground (check out the gazebo again-very impressive!); Swiss Chris talking with the other Martin; Boris and Tom chuckling; the other Martin; and Swiss Chris with his daughter Sami. There was a lot of swiss german spoken. I tried to tell Sonja as we were driving there that she will hear other people talking the same language as her dad. Overall, though, she did not pay much attention to others, except for the kids (who spoke english), and mainly wanted to play with us, or to take us places. We will see how she does in Switzerland next year.

And, unrelated, here is Sonja after bathtime the other day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Recipe: Beef Bourguignonne from Williams-Sonoma

In order to use up the turnips we got from our share of the CSA, we made a modified version of the beef bourguignonne recipe from It was good. Probably would have been even better if we had indeed followed the recipe, but we did have a bit more turnips with a bit less meat/bacon/wine.

Beef Stew with Turnips (Beef Bourguignonne)
Turnips have a delicately sweet flavor when young, but as they mature they lose their sweetness and become woody. Therefore, it is best to buy them when they are at their peak, between November and February. The greens, which are edible, should be bright green and garden fresh. If unavailable, substitute Swiss chard, dandelion greens, beet greens or kale.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 oz. bacon or pancetta, finely diced
  • 3 lb. beef stew meat such as chuck roast or sirloin tip, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 fresh flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Côtes-du-Rhône
  • 3 cups beef or veal broth
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 4 turnips or 15 baby turnips, peeled and larger ones cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed and leaves cut crosswise into strips
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and bacon and sauté until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions and bacon to a plate and set aside.

Working in batches, add the beef to the pot in a single layer; do not crowd the pot. Cook, uncovered, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. When all the meat is browned, return it to the pot, sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, until the meat is evenly coated, about 1 minute. Return the onions and bacon to the pot and add the garlic. Using kitchen string, tie the parsley stems, thyme sprigs and bay leaves into a bundle and add to the pot as well.

Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pot bottom. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by one-fourth, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and tomato paste and stir well. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the meat is tender when pierced with a knife, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the herb bundle and discard. Add the turnips, cover and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Add the turnip greens, cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Winter, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).

Blueberries and porcupine quills

On Sunday, we went to Murphy Dome Road to pick some blueberries. Sonja does not like blueberries, though yesterday, she did try a raspberry for the first time this year! Last year, towards the end of the raspberry season, she decided to put one into her mouth, liked it, and that was the end of raspberries for Martin and me. This year, she didn't try a single one until yesterday, so we will see whether from now on she will eat them or not.

Anyways, blueberries were not a hit with Sonja. Instead of picking blueberries for herself, Sonja wanted to help us carry the containers around. In order to limit spill damage, we ended up asking her to first come to me, I would put a handful of blueberries I picked into the container she had in her hands, then she would go empty that into the main container. Then we would ask her to go to Martin, and get his handful of blueberries. Even though the distance between us was only a couple feet, it is still difficult for a toddler to navigate through or over blueberry bushes, so it kept Sonja busy.

Not so Saphira though - once she came jumping through and knocked Martin's container over. Another time Martin said she was eating the blueberries.

After an hour or so, as it got towards dinner time, Sonja got unhappy, so we went home. Since the dogs did not do that much runnig, we left them run next to the car. That was fine except for one spot, where they went into the bushes and didn't want to come back. We had to back up to them and do some more persuasion. Some calling eventually did get them back onto the road, and running next to the car again. After a bit, Mica got tired, so we let her go into the car. Saphira continued to run next to the car. Her mouth was open as she was trying to get air and stay cool. I noticed something by her mouth - three porcupine quills. So the dogs must have seen a porcupine back in the bushes. Surprisingly, Saphira had only three quills in her mouth - personally, I would have expected to see her mouth full of them. Perhaps she is a bit smarter than I thought! Mica did not have any, luckily.

We performed a small operation, with me holding Saphira's behind (while she stood over us in the front seats of the car) while Martin pulled the three quills out. And on we went.

These days, instead of having raspberries topped with ice cream topped with (unwhipped) heavy cream for dessert, we wave raspberries and blueberries with ice cream and cream. Mmmmmm. Good stuff.