Imogen’s birth story

My water broke around 2 pm last Sunday, about 100 yards from the top of Drachenfels, a hill that was formed by rising magma that could not break through to the surface, but cooled and became solid underneath.

We made the initial call to our midwife Heike and excitedly began the stomp down. Something was finally happening with the baby we’d been waiting to meet since January! I felt completely ready for whatever was going to come our way.

Regular contractions started about 5 pm, an hour after we made it home on the tram: they’d been between five and six minutes apart for the duration of one episode of The Wire. We called Heike again.

She showed up 15 minutes later, checked me, and found I was 3.5 centimeters dilated. As we’d discussed, this was probably too soon to go to our Geburtshaus (birth center) so she went home to wait for our call.

I spent the next phase in the hot shower, Jacob holding the wand to my lower back. At 9 pm we called Heike and said we were ready. At the Geburtshaus I hopped in the tub for a bit, and when I got out I was at 7.5 centimeters.

Continued “rushing” all night, Jacob breathing with me through every one, kissing me, giving the kind of support I’d read about in my books. By 5 am I was 9.5 cm dilated – but the remaining .5 cm was not the problem.

Imogen’s head was down in my pelvis as it had been for months, but she wasn’t positioned in such a way that would allow for any descent, much less a smooth descent, down the birth canal.

It was suggested that we lie down and take a rest: another midwife would be in in the (later) morning; the best way to proceed would be decided upon her arrival. The contractions continued through this “rest”.

Christiane showed up over an hour later and confirmed the fact that the baby was stuck in my pelvis and that the contractions weren’t powerful enough to bring her down. It was during this confirmation I did my one push.

We try different positions. We do an enema. We go outside for a walk, Jacob and I. When I can’t do anything anymore Jacob convinces Heike we need to lie down again. Christiane seems to have vanished into thin air.

Heike hooks me up to the fetal heartbeat monitor and tells us that another midwife is coming to fill in for her because she is so tired. I understand the tiredness and thank her for her help, but cannot believe she is leaving at this particular moment.

A contraction wakes me up and I see my baby’s heartbeat, which has never once dropped below 120 in nine months of doctor appointments, at just 39. At this point the midwife Barbara shows up and essentially plays cleanup crew:

she calls the university hospital and makes sure they can take us. Asks Jacob to gather our things. Helps me in the bathroom as my bladder is too full to go (or really to walk, I’d find out upon catheterisation at the hospital).

Drives us to the hospital. Debriefs our new team who induce me to try to establish lost regularity of contractions. (This doesn’t help.)

It is explained to me that since the water had broken now close to 24 hours prior there is a high risk of infection for me and for the baby, whose heartbeat is now up but irregular.

Keeping my eye on the fetal heartbeat monitor, I’m on all fours trying to somehow regulate my own contractions and of course I don’t have a hair tie. The 20-year-old nurse somehow knows I’m thinking this and puts my hair up and applies cold cloths to my neck.

A female Asian doctor comes in and explains the head thing again. Jacob asks if we can have a few minutes. He tells me what I already know, that they are recommending a c-section.

Another doctor who looks like she came from the set of the L Word comes in and stares at me but she is assessing the situation, which she’ll tell me the next day they refer to as “oh fuck what do we do now” (and, later, “come with us if you want to live”).

From the cut until the baby is out takes about a minute, I am told. I am shaven, given something to stop the contractions, put into a gown and green shower cap. They try to take my necklace off but can’t and leave it.

I am wheeled in bed to the “theater” (everyone seems familiar with the word in this context but me), made to switch beds, given an (ineffective) epidural while in the midst of a contraction.

I remember being polite and trying to make small talk even in this situation and thinking at least the theater was cooler than any of the other rooms (I was getting too hot, I was told later) – I am such an optimistic person.

I thought of my baby and my husband the whole time. I remember Jacob yelling at the anesthesiologist and telling me that the Caesarean was named after Julius Caesar.

Imogen Charlotte Resneck was born Monday, September 12, 2016, at 5:04 pm after about 24 hours of labor. I'll never forget the face of the pediatrician who handed her to me. My first thought was simply "that's her." 
Imogen Charlotte Resneck was born Monday, September 12, 2016, at 5:04 pm after 24 hours of labor. When the pediatrician handed her to me my first thought was simply “that’s her.”

Jake says I died and came back to life. It was worth it for who was waiting for me at the hospital in Bonn.

Post script Sept. 12 5:04 pm – Sept. 13 5:04 pm (first 24 hours of Imogen’s life)

The midwife first brought you to me in a yellow towel. You looked very familiar to me. I was only able to glance at you because I was dealing with the pain of what felt like them rearranging my insides.

The pediatrician brought you back after having checked you out and laid you on my left shoulder. I tried to focus on you but kept feeling like I was going to knock you onto the floor.

I was so over whatever they were still doing inside me that hadn’t been explained to me ahead of time. Finally I told them I couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to get knocked out.

Your dad took you and left for this part (they made him or he would’ve stayed). On his way out they said congratulations to him while they were, as he put it, elbow deep in my gore. Thanks, not looking at them.

We were both pretty exasperated with not having been given any opportunity to discuss this ahead of time. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled back into the room where you and your father were waiting.

He told me he told you a little bit about the world during that time. This was about the first hour. For the next couple of hours doctors paraded in and out explaining things. Jacob listened to it all.

There was no family room available that night so Jake had to go. You nursed like a pro and turned yourself a different color.

They wheeled me into another room and I fell asleep with you in my bed in vintage jammies.
They wheeled me into another room and I fell asleep with you in my bed in vintage jammies.

The girl in the next bed called the nurse because of your breathing but I knew you were fine. Your dad rode his bike back in the morning with a bunny for you. You didn’t cry until that afternoon.

When you did cry the midwife said it could be because your first memory (your birth) was not a nice one. I figure I have the next 18 years to the rest of my life to improve on it.

Proud mommy (despite super puffy belly!)
Proud mommy (despite super puffy belly!)

Imogen Charlotte’s nursery

The main things I focused on getting were a rocking chair (secondhand from IKEA), a STICK (ground scored from the nature preserve by our house while walking), and (not pictured – yet) a sheepskin rug (scoured the Internet for this and eventually found one sold by Polish farmers at the flohmarkt in Bonn).

This is what her nursery looked like in June when we got home from the baby shower with all her beautiful new things. Now for the fun part: setting them all up!
This is what her nursery looked like in June when we got home from the baby shower with all her beautiful new things. Now for the fun part: setting them all up!
"The friends" (Installment I) from (L-R) Rick and Heather, Laura Jean, Irie and Fern, and Aunt Sara
A few of our new friends: Musical lamb from Rick and Heather, Baby elephant from Laura Jean, Irie and Fern, and bunny crocheted by Aunt Sara
Fun (again Pinterest-inspired) name bunting made with cute shower cards
Name bunting made with cute shower cards and orchid LEAVES ONLY (this is in June)…
Dresser/changing table with all clothes and blankets washed line dried and ready to go.
Dresser/changing table with all clothes and blankets washed, line dried, and ready to go.
Euro store over-the-door shoe and hat rack: check!
Euro over-the-door shoe and hat rack: check!
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Finished! Bassinet mattress cover and curtains courtesy of mom!  
Last but not least, this orchid was given to me by a woman who told me it never flowered. But I put it in the nursery and thought I noticed something one day...
Last but not least, this orchid was given to me by a woman who told me it never flowered. But I put it in the nursery and thought I noticed something one day…

You only turn 38 once!

Started out the sunny summer day in our new happy place, a watering hole on the Zieg, a Rhein tributary!
Started out the sunny summer day in our new happy place, a watering hole on the Sieg, a Rhein tributary!
After swimming, a Wundertüte (literally "wonderful bag") was in order!
After swimming, the much-anticipated Wundertüte (literally “wonderful bag”) at our local gelateria was in order.
Present time and he liked the shirt I got him, phew, yay!
Present time and he liked the shirt I got him, phew, yay!
Rushed the lattice on my strawberry pie but it turned out great and I can't wait to try it again!
Rushed the lattice on my strawberry pie but it turned out great and I can’t wait to try it again!
Lovely guy on the walk back from our fish dinner at a Spanish-Portugese restaurant on the river...
My lovely guy pauses for a photo op on the walk back from our fish dinner at a Spanish-Portugese restaurant on the river…
...and ended the day with a lil' garden party. Happy birthday Jake!!  'Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.' -Vonnegut
…and we ended the day with pie in the garden with our sweet neighbors.

‘Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.’ -Vonnegut

Happy birthday Jake!!

 

Baltic/East Prussian Honeymoon III: Home Sweet Home

Hi everybody! We got home almost a week ago and had a lot to do in terms of getting back on track here in Bonn so it took me a minute to finish my honeymoon posts but here are a few pictures from Lithuania, Latvia and our journey back to Germany by Stena ferry.

It was a great trip and I’m super glad we did it – I reached my fortieth country (Latvia, which was a new one for Jaco too) and have some beautiful new memories to cherish. As is often the case, it did feel good to get home to our *other* clothes and our own bed.

Thank you for following along on the last (big) journey before our little girl arrives in September! It was a special trip for us and it means a lot to have your love and support here on our East Prussian/Baltic Honey-/Babymoon 2.0…and beyond!

See ya soon,

Jame

Of course I am smiling on the ferry to Klaipeda; he gave me the raincoat and the coffee!
Of course I am smiling on the ferry to Klaipeda; he gave me his raincoat and got me coffee! (“Wow, your wife is so prepared!”)
This guy loves his Lithuanian dumplings!
This guy loves his Lithuanian dumplings! Klaipeda, Lithuania.
The one picture I took in Riga - my guy and a huge Soviet building.
The one picture I took in Riga – the guy and a Soviet building. Fun fact: I got stung by a bee I startled when I crouched down to get the whole building in the frame!
Ventspils
Took this along the harbor near “Horkplatz” where I got into the tornado warning position to be sick in Ventspils…I was in an altered state when I took it but I’d like to see this as a painting!
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After 1 am, still not dark, we decided to get up and go find the music we could hear from our little pension. It wasn’t hard to find, the band was good and there was a bonfire, and many wreathed people. Happy solstice Ventspils, Latvia, and world!
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Boarding our 20-hour ferry back to Travemunde/Lubeck, where we’d catch the train to Bonn via Hamburg. Fun to walk past all the cars on the way in…not so fun when they all got to peel out before us after we’d docked.
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“Meet ya on the heli-pad for a dance:” hands-down my favorite moment.
30 wks en route from Ventspils to Travemunde
Couldn’t resist posting 30-week bumpdate from the ship…let’s do this! #stoked #maternitystockings #babyonboard

Baltic/East Prussian Honeymoon II: Curonian Overland

Spent our first full morning on the Spit walking through honeysuckle-smelling pine forests which reminded me of the grasshoppers bounding around my great-grandmother’s farm in Princeton, Wisconsin.

Lunched on canned curry and rice left over from our dinner the night before and, after a quick snooze at the end of which a baby came and sat down by us, borrowed bicycles and rode the same paths we had walked earlier to a place to watch the sea that made me realize why the Curonian Spit is a sought-after destination.

Found fish dinners (I had perch, Jake had squid) and desserts (me – black currant sorbet and creme brulee ice cream; Jake cold borscht with sour cream) that matched.

Took this un-selfie-like selfie after fixing his bike on the Spit near Leneskoy.
Took this un-selfie-like selfie after fixing his bike on the Spit near Lesnoy.
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Third trimester-ing outside the fish restaurant in Lesnoy on the Curonian Spit.

Twenty-five minutes by bus up the Spit, a kind of paradise awaited us in Rybachy: we found a beautifully restored German guesthouse (read: at least twelve foot high ceilings) in quiet, serene surroundings full of irises, peonies and daisies – a welcome change indeed after the first place which had a few issues with overcrowding and plumbing.

Peonies pretty much the same in Rybachy as anywhere; worth mentioning.
Peonies pretty much the same in Rybachy as anywhere; worth mentioning.

After a picnic lunch (sardines and bread) on the “quiet” side of the Spit (the ocean and bay sides are only about two miles apart for the Spit’s whole ninety miles) we went out for dinner, called both our moms, and organized the next two days: sea, Lithuania.

Digs in Rybachy
Digs in Rybachy.
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Timer photo after a sardine-and-bread lunch on the chill side of the Spit.

On our full day in Rybachy we read for about an hour and a half after having breakfast outside and then went to the beach and lounged in the dunes.

Believe it or not before lounging we ate sardines and bread again! I love this lunch and hold it dear partly because when I first met this husband of mine and we were traveling by bus through Mali which would stop for 10 – 15 minutes, I would run off to find a bathroom and return to find him just out of the exhaust fumes of the bus but close enough we’d be able to catch it if it tried to leave us, with this snack.

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Dune loungin’ (aka ‘sunnin’ the bump’) in Rybachy, R.F.

We are so far north that the sun rises before four (which is what time I have been waking up), but I was still sleeping at six when he woke me up to go stand on the side of the road and wait for someone driving to Lithuania (buses only cross that border in the evening).

No sooner had I arranged a nice seat on the side of the road when, in succession appeared Jake with a piece of cardboard he’d fished out of the dumpster on which he’d penned “LT” (Lithuania) and – in a black 2012 Audi with double sunroofs – Damjan, who “likes to do nice things for people if he can” (or so he told us after waiting for us to get questioned at the border again on the way out).

Lithuania is quite a bit different feeling than Russia – in Nida, we are back on the euro, for one thing, so everything is more expensive, there are a lot more tourists, and everything is much easier, but we also aren’t looked upon with the same general bemusement the way we were in Russia.

Jake did help me see that one can appreciate visiting/holidaying/living in an EU country in a different way after spending some time in Russia: besides maybe China, it (Russia) is the one place outside the US’ sphere of influence; it makes one recognize how one should answer for oneself should there be no ‘state’ protection (to be fair, how much is there anyway?).

Happy Learningmoon from Pervalka, Lithuania!

 

 

Baltic/East Prussian Honeymoon I: Bonn –> Kaliningrad, Russian Federation

I know, ‘how lame to update your blog while on your honeymoon,’ but I’d like to remind you that I am already pregnant (28 weeks today, as a matter of fact), and the end of a travel day plus Jake not needing/wanting his laptop equals the time is right for my first post!

We left Bonn about 8 am for Berlin where we caught the train to Gdańsk, Poland. I only slept from about 1 am to 5 am the night before but Jake didn’t sleep at all so this is what the majority of our 11-hour train journey looked like to the casual observer:

On the train from Berlin to Gdańsk
On the train from Berlin to Gdańsk

We were able to find our place just fine, went out for some mushroom and cabbage pierogies (me; Jake went with ‘Gdańsk guinea fowl’ which was actually chicken) and after checking out the town square and getting some stuff for breakfast (and pistachio ice cream) climbed into a bathtub surrounded by candles.

The next day after checking out a pretty cool ship we found a really beautiful restaurant where I ordered trout and Jake was just in general really excited.

A happy husband awaiting his herring in Gdańsk
Happy husband awaiting his herring in Gdańsk

Our next destination after Gdańsk was Kaliningrad which was just about 120 km away, but we’d heard it might take a bit longer at the Polish-Russian border which turned out to be true in our case.

Our driver was gruff but patient and we were able to get a walk to the old part of the city in before it got dark, after which time we lit all the tea lights again and watched the Tetris documentary The Ecstasy of Order we’d been saving for Russia.

View from our digs in Kaliningrad.
View from our digs in Kaliningrad.

After breakfast we walked to an aquarium/submarine museum which was pretty fun, then an art cafe Jake had read about, and then an art/history of Kaliningrad museum.

After all of that walking my city dogs were barking and we got Sushi Love for the second night in a row, watched Silicon Valley and ‘chillaxed’ (even though I hate that word and all made up words).

Now we find ourselves in the Curonian Spit, just an hour away from Kaliningrad but right on the Baltic Sea!  Let’s see what happens…

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Being seven months pregnant should not prohibit one from crawling around Soviet submarines on her honeymoon. -Jame
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I’m so happy to have found this cherry picker.