Friday, 31 August 2012

A Birth Story

I don't know why, but people's labour stories are interesting. Here's my own, except without all the sensational "I felt like I was being ripped in half!" smugness, because one thing I've learned is that sort of dramatisation is nonsense and unnecessary. Epidurals people: there where it's at.

***

The last week of my pregnancy was extremely uncomfortable. In addition to being crippled due to my sciatic nerve, I also started retaining water like a boat with a hole in it. A heat wave out of Africa had reached us, and the soaring summer temperatures caused my hands to swell so badly I could hardly bend my fingers, my feet were enormous, and my face was really puffy. To be quite honest I was really, really upset because my body just felt out of control. Additionally, it was getting harder to feel Little Baby kick and that made me nervous.

On Friday morning, August 17th, I had an appointment at my doctor's office at 8:00 a.m. to see the midwife. Naturally, I woke up late. As I hurried to get ready to go, I quickly used the facilities wherein something wasn't quite right. Namely, it was one of those gross things that signal your body is getting ready for labour. Dan was just getting ready to head out the door for work, and I told him he'd better come to this appointment with me.

We got to the doctor's office, per usual I had to pee in a cup, per usual they checked it, and then the midwife told me that something was going on but not in a 'labour is imminent' sort of way; just a "anytime within the next two weeks" sort of way. As a precaution I was hooked up to the CTG machine, and the baby's heartbeat was very high. Because I hadn't had time to eat or drink anything before leaving, my doctor figured this was probably the reason why it was elevated. At this point Dan went to work and I stayed hooked up to the monitor for another forty minutes. My doctor then had me into her office to do an ultrasound of the baby.  When my doctor did the ultrasound she said that my amniotic fluid levels had gotten too high in one week--borderline dangerous--and she was going to keep in contact with me over the weekend, and on Monday if they hadn't gone down she was going to induce labour.

After the ultrasound, she and the midwife asked me to please go have breakfast and drink a lot of water, try to go for an hour walk, and then head back to the office for another control to see how the baby's heartbeat was doing.

So I slowly limped the three minutes it takes to get to the Migros restaurant where I ate breakfast, drank three bottles of water, and sunned my pasty skin for awhile. Then I sighed in annoyance that I now had to drag my gimpy body around the block before returning to the doctor's. I got up and put my tray away and started to walk out of the restaurant when I felt a very alarming small 'gush' of water. I froze like a deer and remained still--refusing to take a step--unsure of what the hell happened or what I was supposed to do. I was afraid to move. So with breathless nervousness I called Dan and told him to meet me outside the restaurant ASAP because I couldn't be sure but maybe my water had broken.

But maybe it hadn't.

But maybe it had.

But maybe it hadn't.

I wasn't soaking wet, after all.

Maybe I should have read the labour part of the baby book, a little more carefully.

When he got to me I decided I'd been wrong because I wasn't soaked, and decided to skip the hour long walk but do a little turn around the block before heading back up to the office. So holding hands he helped me walk around the block and we basically spent the entire time speculating WTF? As we walked, a butterfly with orange wings and black tips rested on my belly and rode with us for a ways. This seemed really poignant to me: a peaceful symbol that all would be okay.

Apparently pregnancy hormones also make me super hippy-dippy.

When we got back to the doctor's I told the midwife what happened, and she checked me out and said that though I wasn't soaked, my water had broken and I had to get to the hospital. Dan became a whirlwind of adrenaline, and in a flash he was out the door and speeding back to our apartment to grab all the necessities we would need. In the meantime I was hooked up to the CTG machine again, and the baby's heartbeat was reassuringly normal.

When Dan returned to the office he was sweating like a sprinter; probably because it was already 32 degrees outside and it was only 11:00 in the morning.

When we got to the hospital I was put up in a pre-labour room in the delivery wing, and for the next three hours Dan and I played Monopoly on my phone and wondered when the baby was coming. At around 2:30 my doctor came to check on me, and the midwives told her that they didn't think my water had broken since their tests didn't show I was loosing amniotic fluid. Then for the next half hour I was intimately and uncomfortably investigated for signs that my water had broken, and I can't be sure but at one point I think they tickled a lung. After the investigations my doctor profusely, profusely apologised but all tests indicated that it probably hadn't been my water that broke, but rather the second--false--water sack.

If it had been my water, I should be showing way less amniotic fluid in the ultra-sound since it had now been four hours since the apparent rupture.

Because I wasn't showing any contractions that indicated labour was starting they told us we could go home, but to rest assured that in their estimations I would likely be going into labour in the next two weeks, or else on Monday if my amniotic fluid remained high. So with great dejection we packed up to head home. We decided to take the bus, since I obviously wasn't in labour.

We walked down to the bus stop as silent as ghosts, both of us feeling majorly bummed that we didn't get to have a baby that day even though we knew she was still four days too early of the safe "37 weeks" marker. When we got to bus, Dan hurried ahead to get my ticket as the bus was almost ready to leave. As I hurried a few steps to make it, I felt a huge, undeniable, gushing of water.

Then another one.

Then another one.

Then I started to hyperventilate because water was gushing down my legs and forming a puddle at my feet.

AT THE BUS STOP.

My water had definitely, undeniably, broken.

School kids swarmed around me to make the bus and in a panic I yelled at Dan to get back to me as water continued to gush down my legs. My pants were so soaked, you could snap them. Honestly, I was freaked out and MORTIFIED: it was 3:30 in the afternoon and people were staring with bugged out eyes at the hugely pregnant woman standing in a puddle of water on a 37 degree day that was a dry as a Sahara breeze.

"Oh my god, oh my god, ohmygod, ohmygodohmygodohmygod," I kept crying as I sucked in air.

I don't really remember it, but Dan turned me around and propelled me back in the direction of the hospital as I kept gushing more and more water.

"It's fine, it's fine! We're so lucky we're still at the hospital! You're fine!"


Untitled
The bus stop where it all happened. I was standing right where the girl in black is.
 
My shoes squished and squeaked as we walked back, and once the hospital came back into view I got over being mortified and instead started to laugh at how hilarious this scenario actually was. When we got back to the delivery wing the midwives clustered around the door in confusion as to why we were back, and in hurried Swiss-German Dan told them without a doubt my water had broken. With a snap of my wet pants they all doubled over in laughter and disbelief, and for the second time that day I was ushered into the pre-labour room where I changed into dry clothes and Dan and I resumed our Monopoly game.

That evening around 9:30 my doctor stopped in to see me on her way home from a party, and as she walked in the door she cried, "You're unbelievable! I've never done so many investigations on a person to see if their water broke, only to have it really break 15 minutes later! Unbelievable!"

I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or feel like maybe I'm a medical freak who should end up in a textbook. In the end I didn't answer because I was having a contraction.

My doctor then told me that with average labour times she figured she'd be seeing me around 7 or 8 in the morning for the delivery of our Little Baby. She squeezed my hand and wished me a good night, and after she left all Monopoly play ceased as my contractions started coming with fast regularity every two minutes.

I was not getting the breaks that I had heard about.

WHERE WAS MY BREAK?

At 11:00 they put me in a delivery room, and determined I was only four centimetres dilated even though my contractions kept coming and coming and coming with no relief. With my whole body shaking with adrenaline I sort of gasp/cried if I could "please" have an epidural, before promptly throwing-up the eggs and spinach that I'd had for dinner. That was really gross.

The epidural people came, I remember getting really pissy at a nurse when she was trying to check to see if my puny little vein had collapsed under the needle, then immediately feeling bad for my actions because 'that was rude, she's just doing her job'.

I ACTUALLY THOUGHT THAT.

I am seriously screwed up.

But oh, the sweet relief of the epidural. It was immediate. For the first time in two hours I actually had more than two minutes to relax, and it was bliss. It was so blissful I started giggling, like I was high or something. And here's where I'm going to pause to talk about birth plans. I know a few people who were adamant on their birth plans, refusing to even contemplate any sort of pain relief, and when they asked about my birth plan I responded thusly: to have the baby.

That was my plan.

I had no idea what to expect, and people were filling my head with horror stories.

Labour is AWFUL.

I felt like I was being RIPPED IN HALF.

It's the worse pain I've EVER EXPERIENCED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

I'M JUST GLAD I DIDN'T DIE FROM THE PAIN.

People actually told me these things! Who says this to someone?! Smug people who already have birthed their babies, that's who! Was labour painful? Yes. But every person is unique to how they handle pain. For me, contractions felt exactly like period pain and that pain just intensified as the evening wore on.

Your baby will be drugged out if you have an epidural.

Screw off and get your MD, idiot who doesn't know what they're talking about.

I had no problems getting the epidural, and at 11:30 I was feeling great. So great that I fell asleep until 1:00 when I could start feeling stuff going on. The midwife checked me, and at 1:00 I was six centimetres dilated.

"We'll definitely be having a baby tonight," she smiled at me.

Then I tried to sleep again, but at 1:30 I was restless and she checked me again.

"You are fully dilated!" She said brightly, with wide eyes. "Just excuse me for one minute."  Then she ran out of the room. In two minutes she was back and told me if I started to feel pressure, I was allowed to push. Dan had been sleeping on a bean bag on the floor and he jumped up, alert. Almost as soon as she said these words I started pushing. Before I knew it my doctor was coming through the door.

"You're crazy! Absolutely crazy! I can't believe I'm back here so early! It thought I'd have an hour to get ready, but your midwife told me to get down here as fast as possible! Crazy! So, let's meet your baby!"

I really, really like my doctor.

It went fast and at 2:10 a.m. our Little Baby came squawking into the world (3 kilos, 47 centimetres long), where she was laid on my chest. Unfortunately I was wearing a white shirt. Oh well. I expected to cry, but I didn't. Dan and I just stared down at our perfect girl in disbelief, laughing and repeating, "holycowholycowholycow."

Why is 'holy cow' a saying? I don't know, but I can attest to using it repeatedly.

Afterwards my doctor told me that I had had a very fast labour for someone having their first baby, and for a second baby tight controls will have to be used because labour goes even faster.

"Basically we don't want you delivering a baby in a car."

The next few hours were bliss. We cradled our girl, and in the recovery room called all our family whose excited voices rang bell-clear through telephone lines, bouncing off the walls, congratulating us.

It was the craziest day of my life, with the sweetest ending imaginable.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Update

I am a little bit tired and couldn't think of a more original title for a post that is, well, an update.

Our Little Baby has been home from the hospital for six days now, and we have gone back to the hospital three times so they can continue to monitor her jaundice as well as her weight. Because she was born four days sooner than the safe '37 week' mark, she was still considered premature though obviously not a risky premature like a baby born way earlier. But she's still having a harder time shaking the jaundice and bulking up. I keep whispering in her ear that we need to fatten her up like a Christmas turkey, and whenever I do whisper this I get a little smile.

A gas reflex smile, but still.

They look something like this.

 
Z
Oh hello, I'm adorable.
 
The nurses in the hospital told me that they call these little smiles Engel Lachen. Angel laughs. It even sounds good in German which means you just know it's a good thing.
 
And she is a good thing. A great thing. The best thing. Dan and I have remarked to each other, friends, and family, that we feel like we won life's lottery. I mean, just look at that face. Obviously we did, don't you think? Of course we're tired, but that goes without saying. After spending copious hours staring at our Little Baby, then making sure we give Pops and Cos the cuddles they need, then remembering to feed and bath ourselves, it's already evening and we collapse into bed ready--but not really--to rise in three hours to feed Lill.
 
She's on a tight feeding schedule until her weight is back up and her jaundice is back to normal, and it takes both of us to get her ready and fed before she slips back asleep before she's had enough to eat.
 
I'll have more to say, including my labour post (aren't you so excited about that!), her name, pictures of her room, and my thoughts on how much I will actually talk about her on my blog. As a hint, I'm reluctant to. Even though she's a baby, she deserves privacy to be a baby and I don't want to exploit that.
 
But more to come in due time.
 

Friday, 24 August 2012

There's a Little Mouse in our House

Lillian Blythe
 
On August 18th at 2:10 a.m. she arrived.
 
3.5 weeks early for the party, and doing wonderfully.
 
Dan and I can't believe she's real--except for around 3:30 a.m. when reality sounds through the baby monitor, wakening us from deep, short, slumber.
 
It's love.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Perfect Weekend

Friday was my birthday and I know it's not cool to be all, "Boo-hoo, it sucks getting older," but I never claimed I was cool. In fact, if you dig through the archives it is very apparent that I have done everything within my power to show you all just how uncool I like to be. For example, remember the time I opted not to go to the clubs with my girlfriends and instead spent Saturday night at home in my p.j.'s watching a marathon of Keeping Up Appearances on the Knowledge Network. That's how I roll, Internet; don't be intimidated.

So anyhow, I'm not cool, never have been, never will be, and hence I woke up on Saturday feeling, "Boo-hoo, it sucks getting older. I don't want to be 31. I have to spend my birthday on bed rest and waiting for a toilet repairman. Cry me a river, and all that."

So I got up, stiffly made my way to the computer where I worked for a bit, then onto the couch where I texted with my sister for awhile while waiting for the guy to come and fix our toilet.

Then the doorbell rang around 9:30, and when I opened it there was not in fact a toilet repairman standing there but rather my very dear friend and she had come bearing gifts!  The first thing that ran through my mind was, "Huh? She's supposed to be on a trip?" Then I thought, "Oh shit, I really need to get in the habit of brushing my hair after I shower." So I was totally surprised and delighted to have someone to chat the morning away with.

She brought me some books to read, croissants to eat, a sunny sunflower to brighten my day, and a homemade chocolate cake she made herself that was so damn delicious I swear I've never eaten anything better.

Z
Here it is!
I'm sad to report it's all gone now...

Dan came home over lunch bearing flowers, and then he proceeded to set-up a little gift table for me.

Z
Presents!
If you don't get excited over presents you are dead inside!
Dead!

The card says 'GSL' which is a joke between us. When in Canada, my nick-name for Dan was ESL (English as a Second Language) because he made some really hilarious language blunders. Now he calls me GSL, which is very kind of him since I do not know enough German to quantify it as a second language, though I've made my fair share of blunders (for example, the time I told everyone we ate dog for dinner and people were horrified. I was trying to say the Swiss-German word for rabbit).

Since I have been drooling over the fall clothes, but am realistically not expecting to be able to purchase anything anytime soon, Dan decided to buy me fall accessories. He got me a new leather purse, a scarf, and a hat. He was extremely stressed by this shopping trip and spent Thursday night in restless agony, despairing that he didn't think the gifts he chose were any good. Silly boy, they were perfect and very, very thoughtful.

Z
I miss this cake.

On Friday night we chowed down on pizza and watched movies, and Dan told me had one more surprise for me on Sunday.

Yes! Why do I ever dread birthdays? They're the greatest!

Keeping in mind that I still can not walk with any degree of mobility, it turns out the Sunday surprise was a first-class brunch cruise around the Thunersee (Thun Lake) on an old ship. Food and a view, it doesn't get any better than that!

DSC_0525
Since Dan clearly wins the gold medal in the 'Best Husband' Olympics, I made him pose like Bolt.
It's entirely possible we've watched too much Olympics these past two weeks.

The brunch was really delicious, and the two hours it took to cruise around the lake were awesome. Lots of fresh juices, free coffee-refills, and the glaring reminder that I am not really first-class material as I kept giggling like crazy as I snapped pictures of the most ironic condiment to grace our table:

DSC_0526
Titanic creamers!
Oh well, if we went down at least I knew first-class would have first access to the lifeboats!

It was a really lovely weekend, all made possible by the lovely people in my life!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Week 35

Greetings from Bedrest, Switzerland.

Population: 3

Town mayor: Poppy

Secretary of destructive affairs: Cosmo

New resident: Me.

This week I am on bed rest, though it's nothing alarming. I don't know about you, but whenever I hear about someone having to go on bed rest I assume it's for one of these two serious reasons: (a) the baby is coming too soon, or (b) the mother is carrying a litter of children and her insides will spill out if she stands upright.  Neither of these are reasons why I have been put on bed rest (or couch rest, since I don't want to stay in my room all day because boring).

The actual problem is my damn sciatic nerve. I have been trying to ignore it for over a week and just carry on with my life and To-Do list, but as the days ticked by it was becoming increasingly harder to ignore the fact that every time I stepped forward with my right leg, IT EFFING HURT LIKE A MOFO. My solution to this increasingly severe pain had been to up my yoga, trying walking through the pain, and rising at 3:30 in the morning to try a number of sciatic nerve stretches that didn't work at all but actually pulled my groin muscle.

Neat!

On Tuesday I went into Bern determined to get the things I need for my hospital bag; I was really excited for this trip because what I needed to hunt and gather were tiny toiletries and nothing gives me more pleasure than buying incredibly small deodorants, toothpastes, and hand creams. I find these purchases exciting because it means you're going somewhere, even if 'somewhere' is a hospital. However, my excitement to browse Coop's selection of travel goods was stamped out by the fact that I found myself quietly weeping in pain as I hobbled around the store.

I'm not even kidding.

It wasn't an intentional "I feel sorry for myself cry", but rather it seemed to be an involuntary tear-duct reflux that I couldn't control. Every time I took a step, my tear ducts leaked water. I had to keep pretending to scratch my face to blot out those freaking tears. It was awful. People were staring but then quickly scattered out of my way as I limped closer, which made me feel like I was a Jehovah's Witness trying to approach them with a magazine and a message. That's when I decided that waiting until my next doctor's appointment (next Friday) was not going to happen.

I got in to see my doctor within the hour where she hooked me up to a CTG machine and eliminated back contractions. And contractions in general. This didn't surprise me as I was really positive I wasn't in labour, but rather just experiencing insane nerve pain and I needed someone to solve it for me! When she found out that my remedies to the pain were to move more, she gave me a little "bless your heart you sodding idiot" sigh and told me to go home immediately, stop putting stress on my body and the baby, and do nothing but lie down until I could get in to the physiotherapist.

Apparently walking around when you are in severe pain is really bad for you. Go figure. LB was also distressed when I first got in, and my blood pressure was high which is the first time for this entire pregnancy that it hasn't been perfect.

(Truth: I always beam with pride when they take my blood pressure because they're always really happy about the numbers. I even get thumbs ups from the nurses! I'm weird.)

So anyhow, I have no idea why but resting NEVER OCCURRED TO ME. My friend was right when she said that moving through the pain is very North American. Because it is, isn't it? If you're sick, you don't call in sick: you show up until everyone takes pity on you and sends you home. When you are so crippled over that you can hardly walk, the last thing you do is lie down and wait to see a physiotherapist: you just keep moving until it becomes almost physically impossible to take another step.

THAT WILL SHOW THE PAIN.

I will not give in to it! If I don't move, it will own me and I'll never get better.

 
Z
Week 35
Resting.
Weird.

The doctor did tell me that the reason for this discomfort, which is common but happens to women in varying degrees of painfulness, is because of the separation of the pelvis when the baby starts to move down. The only thing I can say is wouldn't it be a terrible coincidence if LB is overdue, because right now it really seems to me like all signs are indicating that things are moving along.

Though the doctor did tell me to hang on for two more weeks.

TWO MORE WEEKS.

But yeah, other than the fact I spilt water on the CTG machine (oops! It still works though; I'm not sure health insurance would have covered that) I don't have much else to report this week because not a lot happens from the couch.

Although, we did have a hospital tour on Sunday. I found out I will stay there for three to four days after birth if all is normal.  They provide all the clothing and diapers that LB will need, they will teach Dan and I how to diaper and care for the tushie of our Little Baby, and there is a private breastfeeding room that I can retreat to if my room becomes noisy. 

Even though I don't think I need to spell it out, but I feel very lucky to be having this experience in Switzerland. The medical care has been top-notch so far, and once I come home the midwives will continue to visit me for a period of time to make sure we're doing okay.

Lucky indeed.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Week 34

My body is starting to go on strike. Slowly but surely the weight and pressure of this Little Baby is making my insides be all, "What?? This isn't cool. Dude, I will just stop working properly until you figure this deal out."  My bladder is a bit pissed (hehe) at how aggressively Little Baby seems to be using it as a sparing bag, and I didn't know the bladder could actually hurt but it does. IT DOES. Also, some sort of weird signal to the brain must be demanding that every sip of water I take gets stored in my fingers because I am retaining water...in my hands. WHAT.

However, the loudest striker in this union of physiology is my sciatic nerve. I wasn't kidding when I said it was busted. I can hardly walk at this point, and none of my stretches are doing anything to relieve the pressure. I'm at a loss. There's still so much I have to get done, and it's a bit of a bitch to contemplate my To-Do list when I have to whittle it down to "what task can I complete that is closest to my bus stop?"  I still need to go to IKEA for one last thing! I'm totally effed!

Dan gives me a massage every night to try and unpinch the nerve, but I think I undo all his work when I sleep at night: every time I try to flip from left to right, I can hear things popping in my lower back.

I hope that LB gets here sooner than later :-s

Z
Meh, there's worse problems to have.

Dan and I split our household chores pretty evenly, and this Thursday I was hobbled over the vacuum trying to suck up Poppy's twin sister that she's shed all over the carpet (NEVER GET A BLACK CARPET WHEN YOU HAVE A PERMA-SHEDDING WHITE CAT) and I just lost it. I totally and completely lost my cool.

I banged the vacuum head onto the floor, ripped the cord out of the wall, and basically kick-pulled the vacuum down the hall and back into the storage cupboard before collapsing into some weird sciatic-fetal position on the bed, raging over the pointlessness of housework. Then I texted Dan.

"I QUIT. I'M NOT DOING ANYMORE HOUSEWORK UNTIL I CAN WALK PROPERLY. I'M DONE."

Oh Dan, he's lucky to have such a special lady in his life.

Well Internet, I should have quit doing my half of the chores years ago. That night Dan came home from work and he was a flurry of domestic activity; the boy got stuff done in record breaking time. It was unbelievable. He also announced that he's taking over the grocery shopping for me as well. There are perks to being a pregnant crippled woman! Who knew?!

And in other news from this week, I have now definitely been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions. In fact, yesterday I was having loads of them! I still have to make it three more weeks before LB is safely cooked, but I really do hope that the fact I'm starting to have more of these--that I can actually feel--are good signs that everything is readying itself! 

I finally cracked a pregnancy book and have skipped to the end to get some insight into delivery.  It's said that in the last few weeks before labour, a few signs might be that weight gain stops, the BH contractions pick up, and...some other gross stuff happens I haven't experienced yet.  Well, at my last appointment I hadn't gained anything, the BH contractions are picking up, but none of the other slightly gross sounding stuff has happened yet. I'm hoping the gross stuff holds off for three weeks, and then GAME. ON.

I'm ready to meet our Little Baby!

(Once I actually have managed to get my To-Do list complete. NOT BEFORE.) 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Yesterday was my third August 1st here in Switzerland, and the fact I've now celebrated three of these national holidays officially blew my mind.

THREE.

We kept things extremely low key though. It would have been the most perfect day for a walk in the mountains, but my sciatic nerve feels officially busted so out of necessity we kept close to home. We spent most of the day at our Badi where Dan kept insisting on me floating on my back because apparently it looked hilarious to see my stomach rising out of the water like some kind menacing advertisement for birth control. It's surprising how many teenage boys look at your stomach and visibly gulp whilst looking slightly horrified. Or maybe that's just the sight of me in my swimsuit.

NOT.

I am rocking my maternity suit, and don't mind saying not only do I feel great in it, I look great too.  In fact, buying this suit was truly the most liberating swimwear shopping experience I've ever had. I just stopped expecting my mirror reflection to be anything other than what it was and thought, "Hot damn, this is a great suit that looks good on me. I'M BUYING IT." And I don't feel smug saying that because that's something women are allowed to say: we are allowed to feel good in a bathing suit and think we look good in one too! I know, I know, last week I admitted to being upset about stretch marks and feeling like there's a lot of me, but we are also allowed to feel a little satirical "OMG helpless" about the rapid changes to our bodies during pregnancy. However, in how we feel about ourselves overall, we are allowed to be confident. We don't always have to self-hate. It's self-obsession combined with a cultural paranoia of not looking like the magazine that makes us feel like everyone is watching our dimply thighs thunder across the sand, but no one cares. No one cares. And if they do, what a sad little life they do lead. If you don't believe me that no one cares, and that you actually look awesome-sauce in your swimwear, just spend an afternoon surrounded by Europeans in swimsuits; these women rock a bikini no matter what. And I really mean, no matter what. Every single body type and age-group imaginable is wearing a bikini--it's the united nations of ageing, capable, bodies--and no one appears to feel like they have to look like a supermodel, or be of a certain age, to be in one, and it's kick-ass refreshing.

So yes, we were at the Badi.

It was, as always, a great time.

Later we came home and made a raclette for dinner. I know, right?! Hot melty cheese on a 30 degree day is just crazy, but Dan has been craving one since about, oh, January, and I have not been able to even consider eating molten cheese at all. As a result we have not had one fondue or raclette since last year, and it's been killing the poor guy. So on Swiss National Day it seemed like a good time to end his suffering; we set up the raclette oven, it was hot--so hot--but delicious, though I only stomached three pieces of cheese and then had to stick to the grilled mushrooms, peppers, pickles, and copious helpings of my homemade iced tea.

Later we chilled and watched the Olympics while waiting for it to get dark. I know I've shown you all, a time or two, pictures of the village bonfire and Gurten fireworks, but I don't think either of those portray the sheer amount of noise that August 1st brings with it. Noise that lasts for hours. Everyone is setting off noise crackers and fireworks, and it's just a symphony of absolute, wonderful, chaos.

Twenty seconds of noise.


Also, there's fireworks being set-off in a 360 degree circle around you: everyone is lighting something. These ones were going off right in front of our building, lit by a family:


And of course, Dan had to contribute to the chaos too:


But the most incredible part of last night is that shortly after lighting the volcanoes we bought, we got a wicked summer storm--thunder, sheet lightening, forked lightening, driving rain--and had to run (or in my case, quickly waddle) inside. We set up on our balcony as we have a perfect view of the Gurten's fireworks from there, and it was so crazy cool to watch Bern's official fireworks show compete with Mother Nature to see who could put on the better show. Sorry I didn't bother to get any video of that, but I assure you they both did a rad job.

The only member of our household who didn't appreciate the show was poor Poppy. She was hiding under the bed, and we'd have to check in on her from time-to-time to make sure she hadn't suffered from cardiac arrest or spontaneous hair loss due to the stress of the never-ending and frightening booms of thunder and explosions.  She's still a bit shaky this morning, and it's safe to say August 1st is not her favourite day of the year. The rest of us liked it though (yes, especially Cosmo) and even LB was kicking like mad throughout the evening.

But really how can you not get on board with a day that's about letting people lounge around a pool by day, then go crazy and blow shit up by night.

You can't. It's not possible.