A lifestyle blog about life and living in Southeast, Alaska.
Becoming an Alaskan Mom
May 20, 2016
My husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child just 6 short months into our marriage. We like to call Charlie our "planned surprise", because he really was. We wanted to have kids but just not as soon as we thought but it happened! Here were a couple things I learned during my pregnancy...
Picking a name is really really hard! My husband and I would lay in bed for hours and hours trying to suggest names to each other. Each one of us trying to decipher each name and it's meaning. I wanted a nautical name or even names that represented a place in Alaska. My husband wanted more traditional names. So in the end, we picked one that we thought we would not regret, (I don't know if you can even regret naming your child their given name?) Charlie Steven. After both of his grandpas. My daughter on the other hand was another difficult feat. I have lot of wonderful female names on my side of the family. Lael and S'rae just to name a few. With my daughter I wanted her to have a beautiful name, regardless of family names. I remember hearing the name Lorelai from the show Girlmore Girls. A friend of mine always watched it in college. I googled the meaning a Lorelei and it means siren in German. I was sold right away! Mermaids and fishing and ocean it was meant to be! Really just love the name you pick for you kids even if it is traditional or maybe very unique.
What is happening to my body? So when your pregnant...your body is no longer your own! A little creature inside of you pretty much determines your day. Is it going to be kicking you in your ribs today? Probably. Are you going to have to get up 4 times in the middle of the night to pee? Yup. Is it going to be hard to get dressed, especially putting boots on in winter? You bet! Not to mention other stuff that leaks and aches, but we will leave that for another time.
The waiting game. So living in rural Alaska you must travel to the nearest city that has a hospital to have your baby. Haines does not have a hospital so you must travel to either Juneau (4.5 hour ferry) or Whitehorse (4 hour drive) which are the most common. We however, took a 20 hour ferry ride to Sitka where I had my children at Mt. Edgecumbe hositpal. Woman are required to leave at the least 2 weeks before the babies due date. Some babies come early and then you don't have to stay out of town for too long or some babies come late and you end up being in another city for over a month waiting for your little one! Either way it is hard to be away, most people dream of leaving the hospital and getting in their car and driving right to their home where the nursery is awaiting. For me, after I had both my kids it went like this...
With Charlie: left the hospital, went to the ferry terminal, took a 16 hour ferry to Junueau, got off the ferry and checked into a hotel, spent the night at a hotel and got up at 6am the next morning to get on another ferry for Haines, got off the ferry in Haines and drive 15 minutes to our house where a big pot of moose stew was waiting that my friend Tennie had made. Mind you Charlie was now only 4 days old when we got home, quiet the traveler at such a young age huh?
With Loralai: left the hospital, spent 3 nights at our friends house whom we had been staying with, then left for the ferry terminal, took a 20 hour ferry ride to Haines, got off the ferry in Haines, and went straight to our house where there was balloons and a sign saying "Welcome baby Loralai". Loralai was 5 days old when we got home.
Birth is an adventure! So I don't care who you are. Birth is hard, birth is painful, and just plain sucks. I've never met anyone that loved birth so much they wish they could just do it again tomorrow. I understand how birth can be beautiful, I mean a new being coming into this world and it's a miracle, really! The other day my husband said he came home and saw a cow moose on the road with a baby she probably had just birthed hours before. All I could think of was how that had to hurt like hell for that momma moose! But like a pro, she was now doing her motherly duty of protecting her little calf and carrying on. My births in the grand scheme of things were pretty awesome. Twelve hours and no drugs with the first one, and 5 hours and an epidural (thank god) with the second. I can't complain. The best advice I got for preparing myself for birth was from our family doctor, Julia Heinz. She just looked at me and said "Lexie, it's something you have never done before. Aren't you curious to see how your going to do? It's going to be an adventure. Enjoy it." She was right, I was curious to see how this whole birth thing was going to go for me. Once I had that mindset, this little and I were going to make it through (and also it was going to be the worst pain I've ever felt) I felt at ease to try the biggest adventure my body has ever been on.
Your husband MUST be present. Your partner, husband, wife or whomever helped put you in the birth situation, must be there to help you get through the birth. They must witness what you and your body can do to get this little one out of you. They must stay with you and rub your feet for hours, get you ice chips, hold your hand, and tell you that "you are amazing" as they will bear witness to the most unbelievable and magical thing that can happen to a woman. Even if you get a cesarean, your partner must be there to witness them cutting you open to get that little one out. My husband was right there with me holding my left leg both times while I pushed my kiddos out, now he has a deeper appreciation not just for me as his wife but the power of what a woman can do!
Give yourself 6 weeks. After baby arrives there is this weird haze that clouds your mind for the next 6 weeks. You are trying to figure out sleeping, eating, and how to take showers without worrying if they are going to stop breathing because you don't have your eye on them while you are washing the soap from your face. Just relax and have a friend or family member come over and just hold the baby so you can make yourself a sandwich or go for quick walk with the dog. My friend Sarah started a meal train when we got home with Loralai, takethemameal.com was a great way for friends to sign up and make dinners for us so we didn't have to worry putting in the time to cook. Once that 6 week mark hit, I felt the fog lift and a routine started to take place. I knew that I got this! I was a mother and strong and I was fortunate to do this all in our rural little town in Alaska!
Loralai Lani DeWitt 15 months Charlie Steven DeWitt 4 years
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!