My Pregnancy Experience & Henry’s Birth Story

Bringing a baby into the world is honestly THE BEST FEELING EVER! I feel so blessed to have had the experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and becoming a mom. My heart is so full of love thinking back over the past couple of months of pregnancy and the whirlwind that was our first week with a newborn. I consider myself fortunate to have had a relatively easy pregnancy. Asides from terrible all-day nausea from week 6 to 14 (flu symptoms all day every day) and relentless heartburn up until my tummy dropped, everything progressed smoothly. No swelling, no changes in my complexion, no mood swings, no cravings other than for cantaloupe, and I slept pretty well with my Snoogle up until 9 months. I know not every mom can say the same; I'm so thankful for my luck. I did; however, pay for my general lack of discomfort with lots of stretchmarks. Much of the 30 pounds I gained went straight to my belly. I had the biggest belly! IMG_1705 Roger and I found out we were pregnant on December 17th, the morning of his work Christmas party. I was too excited to hold back the results of my early pregnancy test. I barged into the bathroom while he was showering and showed him the two pink lines. Roger, being the pragmatic guy that he is, told me to not get my hopes up until I officially missed a period and confirmed the results with my doctor. That was the longest two week wait ever! I have zero self control so of course I took more pregnancy tests on the sly, all of which boasted a big fat positive. An expectant bundle was confirmed around Christmastime. I had the hardest time pretending to drink wine around my family members! Roger kept sneaking sips from my glass and we managed to keep our secret under wraps through multiple holiday get-togethers. The only person who caught on was my dad. He's incredibly observant. He hugged me by the decadent Christmas cheese tray and whispered in my ear, "I know." All I could think was "Ahhh, please don't tell mom." He didn't. We kept the happy secret to ourselves until mid-February. We shared the exciting news with my parents by gifting them a "late Christmas present" - a pack of diapers. For Roger's mom, we wrapped up a pacifier. And for Roger's dad, we re-gifted an old Christmas card where he wrote to Roger, "I can't wait to see what kind of dad you'll become." We gave it back to him and wrote underneath, "You don't need to wait very long!" We decided to keep the gender a surprise for everyone, including ourselves. For anyone thinking of going this route, I highly recommend it. There are few surprises in life like this one and I LOVED not knowing! I won't soon forget the momentous occasion of our first baby's birth; however, I feel obligated to record the event just in case my memory fails me on the small things. Roger co-wrote many of the details below because quite frankly I was in baby-having mode that day and my sense of time is not reliable. I'm still in absolute awe that my body was able to bring a human into the world. It's such a miraculous and strange feeling to spend nine months pregnant and then suddenly have a baby in your arms. A baby that you created and are now completely responsible for. For your entire life. You are that person's person. All at once you are so full of love and so aware of your importance. I'd be lying if I said I didn't sob uncontrollably when we first brought our brand new baby home. I cried wet tears all over the crown of baby's head. Firstly, because I already loved this little person so incredibly much. Secondly, because my mom just left to go back home. Thirdly, because baby was already a few days old and one day would be all grown up and not my little baby anymore. Fourthly, because Disney nursery songs make my ovaries hurt. And fifthly, because my milk had just come in and my hormone levels were through the roof. Before I get teary again, I'll share my birth story here. It was a Tuesday. My water started leaking at 6:15am. I got out of bed, showered, and got ready for work, thinking maybe it was just pee. I organized a team photo with my new colleagues at 9am, so my main concern was making it to that on time. I had Roger place the infant seat in the car, just in case. My water continued to leak until 8:30am. I called the Labour & Delivery nurse at the hospital and she advised me to come get checked out. If it was a false alarm, I'd be sent home within 10 minutes and would make my work photo. When I got to the hospital my water broke with a gush while lying in triage. Like in the movies. Except I was lying down and in the larger than life granny panties that the hospital provides. My OB sent me into a spin when she calmly remarked, "Your water definitely broke. You're having a baby today." How could this be? Baby had only been cooking for 37 weeks! I had three days of work left before maternity leave! My cupboards were a mess! I hadn't prepared any frozen lasagnas! I called Roger with the news and he left work straightaway to grab some items from home. Thankfully we had our hospital bags packed and the car seat installed. I called my mom next and I could tell she was itching to jump in the car, even though I advised her and my dad to take their time getting to the hospitals. I wasn't feeling any cramping or contractions yet. It was all so surreal. My parents were just at our house two days prior helping us install new flooring. Before they left they joked, "You better not go into labour this week!" They live 4 hours away and had to make the trek all over again. Happily, of course. But definitely not what any of us expected. I turned out to be GBS positive, so an IV drip with antibiotics was administered right away. The nurses started giving me Pitocin around 10:30am to start contractions. My original plan was NOT to be induced in any way, but what was best for baby was good for me. Any hint of a birth plan was pretty much thrown out the window when my water broke early. I was perfectly okay with this. I just wanted baby to be healthy. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor to track baby's heartbeat. The nurses were so nice and reassuring and my OB had no concerns whatsoever about me giving birth at 37 weeks. They just wanted to get baby out as soon as possible to avoid any GBS infection. For how busy the maternity ward was I received the best of care. Six women arrived whose water had broke that morning, which resulted in more ladies in labour than nurses on duty! I spent much of the day waiting to feel something and texting updates to anxious friends and family members. My cervix was checked around 4:30pm when contractions started to ramp up. I was told that it was highly posterior. The nurse couldn't tell if I was dilated or not, so she had another nurse check me. At 5:30pm I was 2cm dilated. Contractions were coming on strong, but were not consistent. By this time Roger had all the medical equipment figured out; he was keeping track of my contractions, baby's heart rate, my heart rate, and both the Pitocin and penicillin levels. At 5:45pm Roger went to the cafeteria to stock up on food before it closed and at the exit he noticed fortune cookies and decided to tempt fate. My fortune cookie read "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." We were convinced at this point we would have our baby before midnight. IMG_2142 By 7:00pm the nurses changed shift and I was 4cm dilated. Things were relatively slow going, and the Pitocin dosage was getting too strong with irregular contractions. I was not having any fun and become very non-communicative as I focused solely on my breathing. The nurses needed me to lie on my left side to help me dilate. I couldn't move; it hurt too much. I tried sitting on the peanut-shaped birthing ball. That was more awkward than helpful. At this point I decided to go with the epidural as my yoga breathing just wasn't cutting through the pain. This too was not a part of my original birth plan. The epidural took an hour to be administered and thank goodness we decided to get it when we did! After the epidural I was able to relax and turn from side to side for the contractions, helping baby get into position.  Time passed much more quickly when I was not in pain. Around 10:45pm my OB checked me and I was 9cm dilated. My parents brought me a steeped tea with honey and I threw it up. Apparently this is common at the "transition" stage. We were ecstatic at the progress made and felt more confident this baby would arrive before midnight (although all the nurses and my OB felt 1am-2am was more likely). Only 20 minutes later our nurse decided to check me again and determined I was fully dilated! I could feel a lot of pressure down low near my bum and with the epidural turned off, I certainly felt the urge to push. This was around 11:20pm. My OB and the nurses coached me to breathe in, hold my breath, and push with everything in me. Finally my efforts were rewarded. Roger was very quick to notice the genitals and was beside himself with overwhelming joy as he was the only  person in the room who thought this baby was going to be a boy! At 11:37 our brand new baby boy was delivered and Roger cut the cord! My OB laid him immediately my chest for some mommy-baby skin-to-skin bonding. He hardly cried; he made faces and cooed like a baby lamb. Of course, we immediately fell in love with our little guy as he looked up at us with wide blue eyes, all brand new and adorable. IMG_2141 IMG_1855 IMG_1854 Baby Henry Leo Roger Claveau officially arrived on August 2nd, 2016. He was more than ready to born at 7 pounds 3 ounces. Seeing now that he is beautiful, healthy, and alert, I am so thankful that he decided to grace us before his official due date. As for his name, we had Henry picked out for about two years, ever since we seriously started talking about having children. We wanted a strong, old fashioned name (like Roger) that was unmistakably masculine. We also like that his pet name can be pronounced "Ahn-ree" which works so well with our French surname. Leo just so happens to be one of Roger's middle names and it suits little Henry so well because his birthday falls under the Leo zodiac sign! IMG_1872 IMG_1875 Baby Henry couldn't be more perfect, nor could we be more smitten with him. Despite the lack of sleep, the constant worrying, the poopy diapers, and all the trying times that come with learning to be parents, Roger and I are loving every moment of this new adventure. Mom life is truly shaping up to be the best life.
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Destination California: Santa Monica & Palm Springs

This weekend's post features our latest vacation adventures! Roger and I have always dreamed of driving the California coast in a convertible together. We envisioned warm sun and palm trees and strong margaritas by the pool. Our sights were set on crossing this destination off our bucket list for a while; however, our timeline moved up when we found out some life-changing news: We're having a baby!! We are over-the-moon in love with baby already and I can happily say that our golden state getaway was everything we hoped it would be... minus the margaritas. After three straight months of morning sickness (such a misnomer - more like all-day sickness!) and winter hibernation, I couldn't wait to get some sunshine on my growing belly. This trip was extra special for us because we celebrated our birthdays together in a brand new place (only two days apart!) and we announced our pregnancy news to the world. Where we stayed: - Wyndham Santa Monica (right by the ocean!) - Hard Rock Palm Springs What we drove: - the new Mustang convertible What we explored: - Santa Monica Pier - Third Street Promenade - Mulholland Drive & Hollywood sign - L.A. Farmer's Market - Hollywood Boulevard - Zuma Beach, Malibu - Griffith Observatory - Big Bear Lake - Cabazon Dinosaurs - Palm Springs Tramway What we ate: - so many tacos! - Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica - Hugo's Restaurant in L.A. - allergy friendly everything! - Tyler's Burgers in Palm Springs - Las Casuelas in Palm Springs - Date shakes in Palm Springs - a must! IMG_0735 IMG_0793 IMG_0736 IMG_0745 IMG_0857 IMG_0747 IMG_0769 IMG_0765 IMG_0829 IMG_0756 IMG_0840 IMG_1090 IMG_0794 IMG_0920 IMG_0902 IMG_0919 IMG_0928 IMG_0941 IMG_1050 photo IMG_0984 IMG_1002 IMG_1010 IMG_1008 IMG_1011 IMG_1012 DSC_0965 IMG_0724 Our alcoholic beverage count for the week: TWO. Zero for me, two for Roger. It's kinda funny that I celebrated my "champagne" birthday sans my favourite thing - champagne! We wouldn't have changed a thing.
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Honeymoon Day 7: Neuschwanstein Castle and Munich, Germany

We had to travel back to Munich to drop off our rental car. You would not believe how much you can save by dropping a car off in the same location you picked it up!! Roger was happy because it meant getting to drive on the autobahn again and I was excited to make Neuschwanstein castle a stop along the way. Rainy and early, we took off from Lucerne, Switzerland and cut across Austria to get back into Germany. We were amazed how much time this saved us! We were in Austria for literally 45 minutes and the only way we knew we had crossed country lines was by way of an Austrian flag as we crossed a small bridge. Neuschwanstein Castle is the castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, an anti-social king who built his solitary fortress in the more beautiful and habitable than Hohenschwangau Castle below, which had belonged to his father and where he had spent his childhood. Construction began in 1869 and was completed by 1880. Over this time, King Ludwig (who was actually stripped of his army and no longer a sovereign king) became increasingly withdrawn and all the hospitable rooms in the castle (such as the guest rooms and audience room) were replaced by rooms for only himself. He created a fantasy world for himself where he could be a real king. Fun fact: The Disney World Castle is modeled in part after Neuschwanstein Castle, hence why it is such a popular tourist attraction. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in myself for getting caught up in the magic. I much preferred visiting Heidelberg Castle because it was older and more historically significant. That being said, it was nice to get some fresh mountain air and experience the scariest bus ride of our lives: our tour bus driver took us to the peak while singing David Guetta's "Dangerous" in a German accent. He embraced the mountain's curves with zero fear and much gusto. Roger loved every second of it; I held onto him for dear life. DSC_0408 DSC_0351 DSC_0346 DSC_0355 DSC_0356 DSC_0363 DSC_0365 DSC_0394 DSC_0388 DSC_0371 DSC_0378 IMG_3259 We arrived at our lodgings around 6:00pm that night, a room in a home/yoga studio we had scoped out months before our trip. It was actually the first place we reserved during our online planning and the only accommodation we booked through AirBNB. The rest of our stays were either at hotels or resorts. The reason we chose AirBNB was because we knew we would only be there for a short period of time and we didn't want to pay full price for a hotel when we wouldn't even be eating breakfast there. Plus we also wanted to experience local hospitality. This place was close to the Munich airport and had hundreds of positive reviews. The host was a yoga instructor, trained in the US (so we knew she spoke English) and her place was only 20 minutes from the airport. IMG_3281 Her home was something straight outta Pinterest. It had a gated entrance and a large apple orchard out back. You can't see it in the photo, but the left side of the house wrapped around and boasted a huge yoga studio with beautiful rugs and big glass windows. My heart yearned to practice there, but unfortunately she didn't have an evening class that night. IMG_3280 To make things even better, the homeowner had the best cat! I'm more of a dog person on account of having a moody and disinterested cat as a child, but this cat was the sweetest. It didn't purr--it squeaked. It had 7 toes on each paw. It greeted you at the door and nuzzled up to you and followed you up the stairs. It didn't try to bite you when you pet it. I am now officially a believer in cats... or maybe just polydactyl German ones. IMG_9526 This was our very last night in Germany before our cruise adventure and even though we were exhausted from driving through three countries (Switzerland, Austria, and Germany), we wanted to make the most of our last evening there. Our host suggested we dine at a small Bavarian restaurant just down the road from her place. IMG_9499 The place was empty; however, that didn't bother us considering it was a Wednesday. Even though the choice of decor was questionable, I found it quite charming, inviting, and warm. The waitress offered us translated menus and all the entrees looked amazing! IMG_9503 Roger ordered pork Schnitzel and fried potatoes with an impressive salad and I went with chicken Schnitzel with sweet potato fries. We were craving something hearty. It was almost as good as the Schnitzel my Opa makes! Almost. You'll notice in Germany mayonnaise on fries is a common occurrence--they had squeezable Heinz mayo for just that purpose. IMG_9514 Despite having the most gracious host and the comfiest bed, I had the worst sleep that night. Call me crazy but I just couldn't shake the idea of someone maliciously sneaking into our bedroom. The rational side of me felt completely safe having done a ton of research on where we were staying, but a small part of my brain was going bonkers--what if these people have a crazy neighbour? What kind of security system is in place? What if the apples were poisoned? Why didn't we just stay someplace traditional like a hotel with doors that lock? All my irrational thoughts kept me awake until 5am-- the precise time we had to be up for our flight from Munich to Rome. Yes, Roger thought I was silly... he slept like a baby in this beautiful home. I think I would have felt more comfortable if we had spent the day there and gotten to know our surroundings better before spending the night. I would have LOVED to do a yoga session, had a tea on the veranda, and perused the house a little more. Today we fly to Rome and board our cruise ship for a tour of the Mediterranean Sea!
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Honeymoon Day 6: Lauterbrunnen & Lucerne, Switzerland

DSC_0203 Our friends had suggested that we stop in Lauterbrunnen on our way to Lucerne and we're SO happy that we took their advice! It's a ski and extreme sports village up in the mountains and it's a beautiful spot for adventurists and tourists alike. Our drive up to the village was pretty exhilarating--we went up and around several large mountains, through tunnels, and past crystal-clear lakes--I hyperventilated again when looking out the passenger window and seeing nothing but a straight drop below. Luckily I trust Roger's driving skills. We saw base-jumpers and wing-suit enthusiasts in action and marveled at waterfalls coming down off of the cliffs. Roger really wanted to take a gondola ride up to the apex of the mountain; however, it was too cloudy of a day. We instead swung on swing-sets and had tea in a cafe. It would have been so cool to stay the night--I imagine the people staying there would have interesting stories to tell. We were totally out of place in our everyday clothes--almost everyone else was either wearing hiking boots, backpacks, windbreakers, or all three. DSC_0259 DSC_0263 My favourite part was seeing all the flowerbeds on the windowsills. It didn't matter what kind of building it was--homes, shoppes, hotels... they all had geraniums on display. So pretty! DSC_0295 DSC_0270 IMG_3207 IMG_3208 DSC_0290 As you can see, the locals were very accommodating to English-speaking visitors. IMG_3209 And there was plenty of beer and cheese to go around. DSC_0293 Now I can say I have driven in a foreign country! IMG_3203 DSC_0311 IMG_3196 I believe this was Roger's 22nd croissant, 7th by the lakeside. He was just warming up for France. IMG_3195 After experiencing some fresh mountain air, we were ready to venture back into the city. We arrived at our hotel in Lucerne around 7:00pm and decided to go to a highly-rated dive bar for dinner. Fried potatoes and onions and tomatoes with cheese sauce... I just had to order it! Roger ordered some kind of Schnitzel, but he didn't get to eat it. We had to send it back because the restaurant only took cash! We didn't bring enough with us and they didn't accept Canadian credit cards. Boo. Life tip: ALWAYS carry cash. IMG_9443 Yogurt, cottage cheese, swiss cheese, brie cheese... we are getting very used to this! IMG_3227 Today we head back to Germany to drop off our rental car!
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