Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Crew’s Birth Story:

He’s here! I can’t believe I have three kids! Crew Rushton Rahlf was born September 28th at 12:18 pm. He is 7 lbs 2 ounces and 21 inches long. His middle name is the same as Dane’s. (It’s Dane’s grandma’s maiden name.) We just really liked his first name and that’s why we picked it. Everyone keeps asking me if we are fans of Joanna Gaines and if that’s why we picked the name (she had a boy a few months before and named him Crew…I guess that’s what you get when you keep his name a secret) but honestly I didn’t even know who she was besides the fact that she has an awesome line at Target. I guess we could have picked a worse celebrity to have our children share a name.

I have always loved being pregnant but this time around was the hardest. Chasing two kids while being pregnant is no joke! I started having Braxton Hicks contractions at 19 weeks which was earlier then my last two pregnancies so I was hopeful that this pregnancy I would go into labor by myself. It got to the point where I was having Braxton Hicks contractions all day long but they would never turn into the real deal. I was so worried I wouldn’t know when I was in actual labor because they always felt like they could turn into contractions. 

Last pregnancy I dilated at 35 weeks but this time around I was dilated to a 2 at 33 weeks. I didn’t feel like this was super uncommon for pregnancy number 3 but my doctors were a little worried. They put me on bed rest and prescribed a medicine to slow my contractions (again I was having them all day everyday but obviously they were only BH). I was on actual bed rest (like lay down and don’t do anything unnecessary) for 2 weeks and it was miserable. I thought it sounded like fun to do nothing all day and sleep but I was bored after 3 hours. I can’t imagine people who have to do it for months (shout out to my mom, Brittany and Dane for taking care of the other kids). I made it to 35 weeks with no baby and the doctors were pleased and said if I went into labor they wouldn't stop me. I think like my body just dilates super early but doesn’t ever go into labor. So, next pregnancy if I dilate early I probably won’t do bed rest and just take it easy. 

I continued to dilate each appointment but I didn’t go into labor (still having regular BH). This was actually very frustrating . With Adler my water broke and labor started all by itself. But with Ettley I had to be induced. It looked like that was what was going to happen this time around. We set my induction for September 28 which made me 39 weeks. The plus side of being induced is you can make a plan. Because I am a planner, this was good. I knew my kids would for sure be taken care of and Dane would be with me when I went into labor. 

We checked in on the 28th at 7:30 am and got situated in our room. I was 5 cm and 50 % effaced and a -2 engaged. After I got checked my contractions stared to pick up but like I said I had no idea what was real or BH anymore. I also had them put my IV in my arm instead of my hand because I hate needles and it always feels so weird in my hand. Big mistake it is way worse in your arm haha. I asked if they could just break my water like last time instead of pitocin and they agreed. They broke my water at 10:15 am and I was already at a 6. My contractions were coming every 4 to 5 minutes and they weren’t that bad so I thought maybe I was going to be eased into this labor unlike last time. At 11:02 the contractions picked up and got bad really fast! 

That’s the one thing I hate about being induced I don’t get to ease into my contractions they are just bad really fast. The contractions were terrible and hurt so bad! I had a strong urge to push but they checked and I was only an 8. After they checked me I literally felt like his head was coming out with some of my contractions and I felt like my body was naturally pushing him out. It kind of freaked me out because you always hear “listen to your body” but they had told me I was only an 8. I didn’t want to hurt my body or the baby. I didn’t know what to do ( I should of had Dane look and see if he could see the head). This feeling only lasted through 3 contractions and then it went away. But it hurt so much, like a burning stretching feeling, that it made me want to get the epidural just for the pushing part. By now my contractions were some of the worst pain I have ever felt. I always want to try going natural but I am also a wimp. I asked for the epidural. I should also mention that since I was induced I had a different doctor. She was amazing and one of the best in the practice but if I had my other doctor I feel like maybe she would have helped me through this part. 

They came in and said instead of an epidural they would just give me a spinal. This just meant they would give me one shot of numbing medicine that would take effect immediately and they wouldn’t put the tube in that they do with epidurals so you can continually get medicine. I got the spinal ( pretty sure that’s what they called it) at 11:54 am at an 8. It kicked in immediately and it was the greatest feeling ever. 

When I go into labor I get full body shakes, which is very tiring. So this was a nice break from those. Not too long after that, lots of nurses came into our room. We were concerned and they told us that Crew’s heart rate dropped and they were trying to figure out what was going on. They told us that sometimes when the heart rate drops that means the baby is moving down and ready to come out. She lifted up my gown and his head was already coming out! I started pushing at 12:13 and I pushed 3 times through very close contractions and he was born at 12:18! When he came out he had the cord loosely wrapped around his neck and he didn’t cry a ton (compared to my other kids)but the doctor wasn’t worried at all. His apgar score was a 9 so he was just fine! 

He was perfect! He looked just like his siblings and I did some skin to skin with him. I was so excited to have another baby in our family. 

This is were it gets a little scary. I was having some blood clots after so the doctor gave me some medicine that I had to take as a suppository. Then, my shakes started again and came back really strong. My uterus also wasn’t contracting so the doctor gave me a shot in my thigh to help with that (so glad I was numb now for all this stuff). They told me I had almost lost as much blood as someone who had a c- section. During all of this they kept trying to get my blood pressure and it kept failing because I was shaking so bad and couldn’t relax. When they did get a reading the bottom number was over 90. It stayed over 90 for multiple readings. 

They gave me medicine in my IV to relax me and they tested me for preeclampsia. They told me the medicine would make me drowsy and it really did. Everything was fuzzy and I just wanted to sleep. My bleeding was slowing down and my uterus was contracting like it was suppose to. My nurse was also feeding me crackers and apple juice to get some sugar in me. It was nice to eat but I was so drowsy and wanted to sleep. The medicine was working and my shakes finally went away and they got a good blood pressure reading for me. Then the after birth contractions started. They didn’t hurt but they were uncomfortable. Then I started having chest pain. 

I decided to tell them because I seemed to be having so many issues so they wanted to get me an EKG. The doctor asked if my pain happened when I was having a contraction and I hadn’t noticed so I started to pay attention. They were but she wanted the EKG just in case. I got the EKG and a couple hours later (the computer systems went down around this time so results were taking longer to get) the EKG and blood work both came back normal. I was in the labor and delivery room until 5pm that night! This whole time I was super emotional because I just wanted to hold my little baby boy and I couldn’t. It was super intense and poor Dane was holding Crew while trying to comfort me and hold it together himself. It was a very eventful day but I was so glad to just relax after and finally hold Crew.

I can’t believe we are a family of 5! We love our Crew and he gets endless snuggles from everyone. His brother and sister love him so much and sometimes a little too much! I can’t wait to watch our little boy grow. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Italy Trip: Florence and Cinque Terre

Florence was our next city and we all fell in love as soon as we arrived. Florence is romantic and charming and is home to some amazing gems of history. We spent a day and a half here but I would have loved to stay for much longer. We were able to hit the main attractions in Florence in one day but we could have just explored for a full day. Here is what we did:

On our way to Florence we drove an hour to Pisa to see the leaning tower. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Strittendfud. I would highly recommend it. It’s simple street food that you can take with you if you want, but it was super tasty. If you can, stop at Pisa the tower is definitely worth seeing. This was our Day 1 and when we arrived in Florence we just wondered the streets and enjoyed the view. 

 We stayed at the Hotel Berchielli. This was a pretty nice hotel and very central. The Ponte Vecchio bridge is two blocks away and the hotel overlooks the river. 

Day 2: 
Piazzalo Michelangelo- This is a big square that is located above the city giving you amazing views of Florence. Our guide took us here and she said in her opinion it’s a better view then if you climb the dome. We went both during the day and then again at sunset. It does tend to get pretty crowded at night. We sat on the side of the square though with lots of other people and watched the sunset. It was beautiful. It’s always cool to see a panoramic view of the city you are exploring. 

I love how you could see the lush green trees on one side and then the beautiful city on the other. 

Boboli gardens- (paid right at entrance) These gardens were stunning! It was also very big! You feel like you’re in the country and then you exit right into the heart of the city. You could easily spend a few hours there just walking around and exploring. We had a tour guide so we walked through everything and she gave us some quick information. You don’t have to go to the palace to see the gardens but tickets for the palace are separate if you want to do that as well. I love gardens so I would say this is something I would do again because it shows the beauty of Florence. 

Uffizi Gallery- (NEED TICKETS) This was my favorite art gallery we saw. This gallery has a ton to see! Our tour guide showed us the most popular pieces and we skipped lots of other installations. So if you aren’t doing a tour I would suggest figuring out what to see before you go. I really enjoyed this gallery because it had a lot of painting that I recognized my favorite being the Birth of Venus by Botttcelli. It also had works by Raphael, Michelangelo and some amazing art by Leonardo Da Vinci including one of his unfinished paintings.

Accademia- (NEED TICKETS) This was hands down my favorite thing in Florence! This is where Michelangelo’s David is. When you walk in there are a few painting but the only thing we looked at was the David statue. I wouldn’t consider myself a person who is moved by art too often and there was so much hype around this that I was nervous I wouldn’t think it was that great. But let me tell you, it is! The way he carved David from the marble and the detail he was able to achieve is astounding. He is so giant but you can feel the movement he has. One of my favorite parts though is his eyes. They are full of expression and if you look closely they are actually heart shaped. He did this to make the eyes look more 3-D and to make the viewer feel he is actually looking. I would definitely go back and see this again.

Santa Maria della Fiore- (Florence Cathedral)- This was a beautiful church. It has a dome that you can climb and get a view of all of Florence. This is the main church in Florence. One thing that I noticed (and I’m not sure why) was in Florence the outside of all the churches were exquisite with so much detail and the insides were simple and clean where as in Rome is was the opposite.  

Santa Croce church- This church has the graves of Galileo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Machiavelli, Marconi, and quite a few other famous Florentines are buried. It was very interesting to see these graves and explore the church.

Pointe Vecchio- the famous bridge that is lined with shops and different entertainers. It’s always very crowded, but we woke at 6, right as the sun was rising and the water was still, and we had the whole bridge to ourself.


Ristorante Buca Mario- This place was our favorite in Florence but a little on the expensive side. All of our food was great but Florence is known for their beef. We had the most delicious balsamic steak that literally melts in your mouth. It was probably one of the best steaks I have ever had.

Restaurant Toto- This place was good. It was recommended to us by the guy at the front desk of our hotel. 

La carraia- This had good gelato with lots of flavor options. I tried one called cookies and it was delicious. I feel like it was not super authentic though.  

La Strega Nocciola- THIS HAS THE BEST GELATO IN ALL OF ITALY (in my opinion)!!!! They have this flavor called Buontalenti and they only have it in Florence…it’s amazing. I think we went here 3 times in the day and a half we were there. I still crave this flavor and hope to find it in the U.S. one day. 

We woke up super early to take some pictures around the city when no one was out.

A yummy little bread and cheese shop!

 The reason we only stayed in Florence for one and a half days is because we spent a full day in Cinque Terre. That is one picturesque place.


 From Florence to Cinque Terre it is 2 hrs by bus and on the way home it only took 1 hr 45 min. 

We spent one full day and we booked a tour with a company. The company we used was called Walk About Tours. It was a tour with a lots of other people but they did a good job. They helped us see all the cities in a day and they hit all the main points which was nice. I probably would go back and spend a little more time here.

*You start in Manarola and do a small hike around the city. This place is very picturesque with all the colorful buildings spilling into the water. The city is also very quaint and you can walk/hike around and see the vineyards and beautiful houses.  

*Then you take the train to Corniglia and walk up a ton of stairs (like seriously, a lot of stairs) and look around the city. You eat lunch here at a place called Ristorante Pensione Cecio. It is a set menu for you but it’s all the food they are known for (you can also opt out of the set menu and restaurant and eat by yourself). It is the smallest city, but so beautiful. 

*Next you do a big hike to Vernazza. It a beautiful and, I would say, moderate hike. There is a place along the way called Bar Gabbiano and they have the most amazing orange/lemon juice and lemon slushies. When you arrive at Vernazza you have some time to explore. The streets and buildings are so pretty. There is a beach there where you can swim and enjoy all the views from the harbor. There is a castle called Castello Doria and I hear it’s so beautiful but we didn’t explore it.

*Then you take the train to Monterosso and we had an hour to explore. This city has the biggest beaches. A lot of the beaches have private areas so you just need to find the public part. The beaches are nice but there isn’t fine sand, it’ more like small gravel.

*Last, you take the train to Riomaggiore. It has a steep main street but when you get up to the city it’s very pretty. They are famous for their focaccia and it’s so good! Also the famous hike “Lover’s Way” is in this city and it takes you to Manarola. It is a good hike if you don’t want to hike too long but want a good view between cities. 

Cinque Terre is known for their sardines, seafood, olive oil, pesto. Riomaggiore is known for their focaccia and it is definitely a must try!

Ristorante Pensione Cecio (Corniglia)- really good! We got the seafood plate which had a stuffed fried sardine. I am not a fan of sardines but these were actually really tasty. It also had octopus, mussels,potatoes and squid. My family got pesto pasta (they are known for pesto) and they said it was delicious. It was made with peanuts though so I got tomato pasta and it was so simple but mouth-watering. 

I loved Florence and Cinque Terre so much! These places are astoundingly beautiful and will always be on my top travel list. Next we headed to Venice!