Now I get what everyone meant when they said, ‘once you have a baby, everything changes.’ I’m happy to announce we welcomed our little girl, Wilhelmina Janée, over the weekend on Saturday night in Switzerland – and it’s been quite an experience.
First of all, the Swiss really know how to welcome new mothers! They have spent the last 3 days in the hospital training me around-the-clock how to be a mom from feeding, to pain, to Pampers. They even have a staff photographer come a couple days after birth to snap a professional pic for hospital records – so I got one over her shoulder above. It’s been a truly amazing week on many levels and although every mom has her ‘birth story,’ I’ll try to keep mine as tame as possible. Let’s just say the day started with fresh croissants and ended with a sweet little bundle of joy in my arms…
Saturday morning, two days past my due date, started out like any other weekend with warm Swiss croissants from the gas station, raspberry jelly, and orange juice with my husband. After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk and stopped by this organic Swiss farm, before venturing back home to avoid an afternoon storm.
Around 6 pm, I felt something I was pretty sure was a contraction, but ignored it. Then I felt it again 30 minutes later. By 8 pm, I was feeling the pain every 10 minutes, but thought I was just being a baby since this was my first pregnancy. By 9 pm, I was tracking contractions at 5 minutes apart, thanks to an app my husband downloaded on his iphone. I was in a lot of pain so he called our neighbor, a doctor, and she came by and said ‘go to the hospital now,’ which thankfully was just a few miles away.
I barely walked in, doubled over, and the midwife immediately took me into a room to check and I was already 8 cm dilated! Apparently it was go-time as they rushed me over to the delivery room where I learned it was too late for any real painkiller except inhaling laughing gas during contractions which didn’t help.
I’ll spare the details of the next 2.5 hours, but it was the most.painful.experience ever! While it’s a blur now (a traumatic blur I’ll never forget), after the first 20 minutes of panting, begging for painkiller, and screaming, I ordered my husband out of the room. I couldn’t stand to have him see such craziness and unless he had an epidural up his sleeve, there was nothing he could do for me anyway.
The pain level rose by the second and the Dr. and midwife spoke German to each other while pleading with me, ‘Breath Frau Schroeter, breath!…Push Frau Schroeter, push more!‘ Finally, minutes before Swiss clocks throughout the hospital struck midnight, out she came.
‘You have a GIRL,’ the Dr. said holding her up and I started crying tears of relief the labor was over and seeing a real baby. Then I asked a nurse to run and get Jakob who was on the brink of a nervous breakdown waiting in the hallway. When he walked in, our eyes met, and he knew I was okay and then he saw our little baby in my arms and snapped the pic above with her crying red eyes. We were both beyond happy to have our healthy little baby finally arrive.
<Sidenote> Although this pic above was one of the only pics right after delivery because we were both so emotionally and physically exhausted, my sister teased me for wearing fake eyelashes, which I was already wearing earlier in the day. The point is I want to give a MAJOR shout-out to Ardell Lashes and Prestige Liquid Eyeliner. Drugstore makeup brands that can withstand the conditions of childbirth deserve the highest rating possible!
Wilhelmina was born at 11:57 pm on June 27th weighing in at 8 pounds, 5 oz and 20 inches long. Why the name Wilhelmina? Sure, it’s not popular and got a few looks like ‘huh‘ when we told people that was our ‘girl name.’ According to the US popularity on Nameberry.com, ‘it was as high as Number 215 in the 1880s, but has been off the list completely since 1955.’
The truth is that a week after our 2013 honeymoon, my husband and I were on a hike in Switzerland. ‘So if we have kids, what should we call them?’ he asked. ‘Let’s come up with a boy name and girl name,‘ I said. He googled, ‘Royal Baby Names from Europe‘ (here’s an updated list) as I rolled my eyes. But as he came to the end of the list, he said, ‘What about Wilhelmina?‘
It’s a German name by origin and there were a few ‘Wilhemina’s’ way back in my husband’s family history. I thought about it for a few seconds and loved how it was old-fashioned and ultra-feminine with plenty of nick name options if she wants later. It also reminded me of Willkommen (which means ‘Welcome’ in German). Willkommen was the first German word I knew and always found it comforting to see or hear as I ventured around Zurich as a new nervous expat.
Lastly, as I hold her little hand each night (I can’t believe she was born with the natural manicure I’ve always wanted), the name ‘Wilhelmina‘ means ‘resolute protector‘ which I hope she will be if she has a younger sibling in the future. Although, the thought of siblings hasn’t popped into my head yet since Saturday night.
By the end of that honeymoon hike a couple years ago, we’d settled on our first ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ name and never thought about it again. And today we’re finally back home and that is the story of how we welcomed little Wilhelmina into our lives. Thank you for all the well wishes – we truly appreciate it! Now I need to try and get 3 hours of sleep before the next wake-up call.