Well, is it really a photoshoot when Mom and Dad lay a blanket down and torture their 1 week old into posing for pictures for 30 minutes during his nap time? We are by no means professionals, but we really wanted to capture some of the little things about Teddy we won’t want to forget. Enjoy!
Let me first start off by saying throughout this entire labor and delivery I saw God’s hand in all of it. Him being late meant that close family and friends would be able to be there for his birth and that meant the world to me.
Okay ready? Get set. Go!
It all started at 3:30 am on Sunday morning. I had attended the wedding of William and Sarah Kappen just the day before and hoola-hooped at their reception to try and get some labor started. Still nothing. My in-laws, who really missed us, had planned a trip out to see us for the night and join us for church in the morning where our entire church would be praying over our family. Whelp, change of plans! Right at 3:30 am as I was about to get out of bed (to take care of some business), my water broke — like a lot! I woke up Alex with a start and jaunted to the restroom. I was a mess so I hopped into the shower to wash off and warm my muscles. After that, Alex and I decided to do some walking and time any contractions. Sure enough, within 30 minutes I was starting to feel some heavy cramping that was coming every 3 minutes and lasting 30 seconds. I wasn’t really convinced I was in labor though because I had just been to the doctor earlier in the week and they told me I had not begun to dilate yet. After a couple of laps around our complex, we parked it on the porch and Debbie started timing contractions for me while Alex packed the car up to leave for the hospital. Suddenly, another gush! This time, it was a not so awesome brownish color. My mother in law said, “You need to go to the hospital!” So, off we went.
The entire drive my contractions were getting stronger, now at 2 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute long. That only gave me a minute between contractions to recover and they were getting more intense. We arrived at the hospital and yet, another gush! I was so embarrassed to walk into the ER soaking in my pj pants. They checked us in and got us into a room. What was really awesome though was that arriving on a Sunday morning to birth a baby, the labor and delivery area was completely empty! No one else was giving birth, so I had the attention of about 8 nurses around the clock. We called everyone and told them we were being admitted and that they may want to head down because it must be getting close… Not even 1 cm yet… you have got to be kidding me.
The contractions continued to be strong and the nurse suggested an epidural for the pain. I didn’t want one yet because I was going by dilation and if my contractions were too painful to handle at 7 centimeters I could see getting an epidural, but “too painful” contractions at 1cm? Please. I ain’t no wuss!
The contractions continued and people began to arrive. It was so nice because my mom and sister were coming out my way already for my sister’s wedding dress fitting, Debbie and Wil were already out here “just because” (a HUGE blessing), and Chris and Amber would be able to come because we were having Teddy on a Sunday! I was ready and so was everyone else. Obviously, Amy was a little excited.
So we waited. People came into my room and watched me struggle as contraction after contraction mounted in time and intensity so I must have been progressing pretty well (I thought). The doctor checked me and I was “maybe” 1.5cm.
I don’t even know how long I had been in labor but I knew I was disappointed. I was supposed to be making progress at around 1 cm an hour and I only got .5. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to ask for an epidural. One more hour and two double contractions later — I was exactly the same. The nurse told me that if I continued to labor in this much pain and this quickly, I might not have the energy to even push when the time was ready. My family encouraged me to make my own decision, but I opted for the epidural hoping to slow down the contractions and allow my cervix to catch up.
Unfortunately there was no such luck. The contractions lowered in intensity and I was able to have some momentary relief, but what we wanted was a lowering of the amount per minute. Blah. Thus started the brutal battle of petocin and the epidural to try and steady the contractions and make them more consistent. The nurse was wonderful and monitored Teddy’s heart closely to make sure it stayed within his normal 150 bpm range through the entire 25 hours of labor. Yeah, you heard me… 25 HOURS.
I was supposed to be progressing at 1 cm per hour so everyone in the waiting room took a pool on when he would be here (5/19). Not so quickly afterward we learned he wouldn’t be arriving on the 19th. So, we took ANOTHER pool and everyone lost… again.
Finally, I hit the 21 hour mark from when my water broke. The nurse checked me and I was at 9cm. My doctor came in an hour later and told me I was still at 9 cm, but the lip of my cervix would not dilate and the baby’s head would not come down into the canal. He asked me if I wanted to continue the labor and my first thought was… Wait? You can end it? I didn’t realize he meant via c-section. Haha. I really wanted to continue laboring and felt I was so close to the end, I knew I could do it. So I said, yes I do. He said okay, I’m going to come back in an hour and check you. He did and I was STILL 9cm! It had been 4 hours with no progress.
Side Bar: Back labor is absolutely horrible. I would take uterus contractions ANY DAY over back labor. Now knowing what I put my poor mother through, I love you Mom and I am SO SORRY. It literally feels like your back is being ripped from your spine. I felt like the exorcist — and that was with an epidural (which was clearly wearing off).
Anyway, the doctor looked and me and said, “Okay I want you to push. Just once for me.” I did and he immediately said, “Okay he’s pushing back instead of coming down, I think we need to do a c-section. You should be holding your baby in just over 30 minutes.” Then he started talking and telling me about the procedure. He said I could have two people in the room with me. I, still trying to comprehend this new course, looked at my Mom and said, “My mom and Alex.” I was just a wreck. I immediately started weeping. I didn’t feel like I had failed or anything; I had just endured 25 hours of on and off painful labor and progressed as far as I could. But I knew this meant major surgery, and surgery that for most people I knew had been in an emergency situation. I searched the room for knowing eyes and my mother-in-law came to my side. She was calm and reassuring.
I asked her, “Does it hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt.”
“Is it scary?”
“No, it isn’t scary.”
Just what I needed. Just simple assurance. I breathed as the drugs started taking effect. Amy came in and tried her best to make me laugh, smiling at me through tears I knew were for me — knowing how tired I was and how badly I wanted to do this. I just looked at her and said, “I’m so scared.”
And she said, “You’ll be great. You get to hold him in 30 mins.”
I just started to sob. I get to hold him in 30 mins. My baby!
My family gathered around me and my father in law prayed over me and the procedure. The nurse, Tracy got Mom and Alex their “outfits” and twisted up my hair while the anesthesiologist capped me. I laughed at the hilarious “ghostbusters” outfits my mom and Alex had to wear and Amy snapped this picture.
Tracy told me she’d be in the room for the delivery and talked over a few things with the anesthesiologist. She was so great and it was reassuring to know both she and he would be there. They geared up and wheeled me over to the operating room. I saw Robert and Hannah (my awesome OBGYN duo) prepping in the hall, and I was so glad to know they would be doing this together!
I was wheeled to the room and transferred to the bed. The NICU team arrived as the others prepped the room. My mom and Alex came in. The anesthesiologist came over to my head and asked if I had any music I would like to play during the procedure. Alex handed him his phone and put on my worship mix that had gotten me through the first 4 painful hours of my labor. The song “10,000 reasons” came on and a great peace covered me. With that they began the procedure. Alex stayed by my side looking at my face and periodically filming. Then it came time for them to pull Teddy out. I felt a release of pressure and some movement and Alex say, “He’s here. He’s here.”
The NICU grabbed him and Alex went over to cut the cord. I caught a glimpse of him and kept saying over and over, “my baby, my baby, my baby.” My mom followed Alex with the camera, sweetly documenting everything. The ladies from the NICU were so overwhelmed by his size that they jokingly called him “Bruiser.” Haha, if only they knew the number he did on my ribs from the inside! They weighed him and everyone laughed… “9lbs and 9oz!” Holy cow!
They washed him and joked about how he would need lots of baths — he was covered in his own poop (sorry Teddy). All the nurses fell in love with him cooing and telling me how beautiful he was. Finally, they brought him to me and placed him on my chest. He was perfect, all swaddled there and making faces at me. He looked just like his Daddy, who came over and kissed us both. We did it. We made and delivered a baby. It was so amazing.
The effect of the block began to sink further into my brain and they took him as they stitched me up. The doctor sweetly came to me and said, “Natalee, I’m so sorry. If I had a crystal ball and could have seen inside you I would have been able to tell you right away that you aren’t going to be able to have this baby vaginally. The cord was wrapped around his body, keeping him inside.”
I said, and still mean it, “Honestly Robert. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”
The drugs took effect and I don’t really remember a lot afterward. Except how excited everyone was and that he was beautiful. They all got to see him wheeled into the nursery and have his first (well second) bath. Lots of love all around.
They brought him to me again and he was even more handsome than I remembered. Dark swirly hair. Grey eyes. Brown skin. Surprisingly, I think he kinda looks like me. He is 9lbs 9oz and 21.5 inches of pure joy. And he has dimples to boot!
Over the next few days in the hospital we had tons of visitors and family came frequently to coo at Teddy. I struggled to reconcile my mind as the narcotics took effect. I decided after say one that would stick with Motrin. It was hard, but I wanted my body to heal quickly. As soon as my catheter was out, I was up walking. Alex and all the nurses were so encouraged and impressed. I just wanted to get out of there!
I did enjoy the round-the-clock care the hospital provided but I hated how they would wake us up to check vitals and give medication.
Even though this birth didn’t end up the way I had hoped, I know God orchestrated it all. If anything it helped further my resolve that God works in all births and every life is a gift from him no matter how they come into the world.
I am so thankful for your prayers and encouragement through this process. The recovery has been hard but we are so glad to be home now with our “little” guy.
Now, back to kissing and squeezing my new guy.
Leelo and Ander +1
Kid, we made it. 40 weeks of pregnancy; just you and me and of course your Dad who dealt with all the ups and downs of it. Teddy, it’s been real but let’s get this thing started shall we? I know you’re good and comfy in there but Mama needs some room to breath and this carpal tunnel has gots-ta-go!
I’ve really enjoyed having you in my womb. Honest. Dad said something the other day that totally made me cry. He said that you and I have had these last 9 months of special bonding time that no one else is ever going to get to experience. It’s like I got my own personal time with you before you were even born. I know your habits already, which side you like to sleep on, and noises you do/don’t like. You also started doing this funny thing that Dad and I call “starfish”. We seem to stretch out your arms and legs at the same time (yes, it’s kind of painful since you don’t have a ton of space) and move them around. We keep telling you there is LOTS of room out here if you want to join us!
I am really looking forward to seeing your sweet little face though! I wonder if you’ll be dark or light, what color your hair will be, and your eyes. I’ve always imagined you as a mini version of your Dad so I’m excited to see if you have any of my traits. So, let’s get this show on the road huh, kid?
* * *
I can’t believe this pregnancy is about to come to an end! I’m ready for the next phase; as much as I can be. I’ve never experienced labor or postpartum so I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I have really appreciated all the wonderful advice I’ve been receiving from other moms who have. I know this week is going to be a long one while we wait for Teddy to make his appearance, but I seriously can’t wait to be a mom.
I said it in my Mother’s Day post but I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a mom and I always thought I would have two boys. We’ll see I guess, but so far we’re off to a good start! For me, it’s been crazy to imagine myself NOT pregnant — I’ve been pregnant for 9 months (40 weeks)! Considering there are only 52 weeks in a year, that’s crazy!
Throughout this pregnancy body has responded pretty normally. I had morning sickness and carpal tunnel and heartburn, but I have loved that I haven’t gained a ton of weight and that my stretch marks have been minimal. Funny story though, I keep imagining that after the baby comes out, my stomach is just going to turn into this hallow sack and hang there for the rest of my life, to forever be stuffed into some high waisted mom jeans and I will never, ever, ever wear a bathing suit again. Hah! But, then I also imagine myself being a bit more relaxed with myself. You know how we women are super critical of ourselves! I actually imagine cutting myself some slack after bearing a child and saying, “Eh, good enough!” I know there will be days where I feel both feelings, but you know what? I am really proud of my body for the sacrifices it’s made to grow this little one! It really is amazing.
Soooooooo, the next time I write Teddy will be here hopefully! I can’t wait to meet him.
Leelo and Ander +1
Happy Mother’s Day!!
While Teddy’s due date isn’t until tomorrow (and I have a feeling he’s going to make us wait a few more days) I’m so anxious and excited about the idea of becoming a mother. It is something I have ALWAYS wanted to be. I’ve talked about it since I was young and it was something in the forefront of my mind while I was dating, and finally chose to marry, Alex. I wanted a man who wanted kids, who loved kids.
I did not know how I would become a mother. Whether through fostering, adopting or biological — as I’ve always had the desire for all three. I am so happy to experience a biological child and I hope the Lord continues to bless us with other children however he sees fit!
I’ve had wonderful examples of mothers in my life — my mom, my grandma and for the last 10 years my mother in law. Each of them is so special in their own way and I know they were hand picked by God to be the amazing influences they are for many. I can’t wait to take the things I’ve learned from them and show Teddy the kind of woman I hope he chooses to marry. She’ll be a little bit crazy, creative, loving and caring, patient and kind, always truthful and strong! May I be those things for him so he knows what to look for in a partner.
Thank you Moms for all you’ve sacrificed for us and taught us! Today we celebrate you!!
This little guy has been sensing all the changes going on in the house. At first I think he thought all these cool new toys and crib were for him, but he quickly learned that they are not. In fact, he’s been really great about not chewing/laying on any of Teddy’s stuff. Which has been a huge relief for me.
For the majority of my pregnancy this little guy, Boone, has been my companion. We hang out every day, walk to the dog park (we drive now — I ain’t walking two miles anymore!), go potty, clean the house, cook as watch movies together.
To be honest, even though he’s a sweet dog, I’ve never really thought of him as mine. He has always clearly favored Alex and we just seem to sort of live with each other. But, this last week I’ve been joking about how he’s been my little shadow. He wants to sleep in his bed on my side of our bed, he wakes up every time I get up to go pee in the middle of the night, when I’m up pacing the floor at 4:00 in the morning he’s up with me pacing, and when I finally crash on the couch at around 6:00 as Alex is getting up for work, he’s there with me too.
It’s actually been kind of sweet and I know Alex has appreciated Boone “stepping in” during the middle of the night so he can sleep.
So, I guess this little guy and I kinda like each other now — juuuuuust in time for all the attention to shift onto Teddy. Haha. Don’t worry bud, we’ll still have Grey’s Anatomy Thursdays together!
Here is the long awaited post on Teddy’s Room! Let’s start with a little background, shall we?
Alex and I tried for 10 months to get pregnant, which is not long by many people’s standards but was definitely a trying time in our lives. Anyway, we were originally living with a dear friend and we weren’t going to be able to afford the same apartment without her, so we went in search of a one bedroom that was about $300 cheaper a month. We found one in Camarillo, 740 sq ft, wood floors, pet friendly, a large kitchen, BUT only one closet and hardly any storage. We knew if we were to get pregnant that it would be a challenge, but we thought it might continue to take us a while and we were running out of options. So, we went for it and signed a 15 month lease. Then, a month after we moved in, we found out we were pregnant! Thus, the transformation began.
Our little one bedroom has definitely turned into Teddy’s place, but we’re completely fine with that. Little kid stuff is uber cute and since we already had a sort of theme going in our room, we decided to expand on it for Teddy. Our “theme” for him is “adventure”. We are hoping that Teddy has a global view on life. We want him to look past where he lives, the friends he has, etc. and seek adventure — so, we decided to flood the poor kid with subliminal messaging. We have travel posters, vintage finds, homemade treasures, globes, books and items from around the world to decorate his space.
We decided to use our current dresser and transform it into a changing table, but we still needed the drawer space because we only have ONE closet! So, we also opted for a pegboard solution to hold onesies, diapers, and changing necessities.
I really wanted a little reading/rocking area in the corner so we found an IKEA rocking chair and some small IKEA shelves to house some bedtime books. The lamp has a very dim light to read by at night and the basket next to the chair is full of stuffed animals and handmade blankets.
We also have some very unique and special treasures throughout the room. A vintage bust of a sea captain that we found in a store called “Treasure Island” in Santa Paula — if you get a chance to go, please do and say hello to the store owner, Robert. He was an ad designer in the 60′s for Nordstroms and has some amazing stories. We also have a piece drawn by a friend Kyle Naylor called “Northern Bear”. I purchased it before we knew we were pregnant in hopes that I could put it over our little baby’s crib. Check out his stuff, here. I also made Teddy’s mobile. I wanted to continue with the adventure theme and imagined him camping outdoors and looking up at the stars. I used an embroidery hoop, some of Alex’s Abuelita’s fabric from her sewing box and painted gold stars.
I also made a door hanger (for the front door) asking people to knock because Boone loves to bark when someone rings the doorbell. In addition, I wanted to include one of my favorite quotes from Disney’s Up, “Adventure is Out There!”, so I found a wood plaque at Michaels and drew it up. Finally, and probably one of my favorite details, is this vintage ship clock/nightlight. It belonged to Alex’s Abuelito and his brother found it in the garage of their house. He gave it to us as a gift for Teddy. I’m not actually even sure what era it’s from, but it still works as a clock and a night light!
Now, where are we going to put all of this kid’s clothes?! Off to the living room we go! Alex and I found a wardrobe from IKEA that worked perfectly in the space; then purchased a bookshelf from IKEA as well, turned it on it side and made it a bench under the window. All of Teddy’s clothes fit into the wardrobe and the bench houses his toys. Yay!
So, there you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed the little tour of Teddy’s space. We can’t wait for him to make a complete mess of it all and I’m well aware that this is probably the cleanest my house will look until he’s 3 and we make him do chores.
Only a few more days (hopefully) until we get to bring him home!
So, this entire pregnancy I haven’t really “craved” anything. I did have some weird moments like when I wanted to eat peaches and spanish olives and I did have a love affair gone bad with coke and mexican food. But, truly — those are things I would eat NOT pregnant. Truly, I would probably eat peaches and spanish olives all the time and not bat an eye. But, one thing I have been CRAVING for the past month that I do not eat/drink normally is milk. I kind of don’t really love it. I’ve always thought it tasted kind of weird and never really wanted to have it apart from cereal.
That is… until now! Now, I drink practically a gallon a week, by myself. Yes! It’s true. And I want milk in every form: yogurt, cheese, shakes. You name it, I’ll ask you if it has milk in it, then I’ll take it!
There was a time just a few weeks ago, when this whole thing started, that I couldn’t actually believe I was craving it. It was the middle of the night and I had heartburn somethin’ fierce. A brief moment passed where I thought, maybe a glass of milk will help (since I didn’t want to load up on TUMS). It was absurd. Me? Milk? No. But, then I got up and poured myself the tiniest glass possible. I held it to my lips and gulped that sucker down! I couldn’t believe it and I wanted MORE!! So, I poured another, larger glass and drank the whole thing. Then, I slept like a baby for 2 hours.
Since then, milk and I have had nothing but ups. Our relationship is fantastic and fulfilling. Also, Teddy seems to like it too! It has helped curb some late night munchies, except when my craving is specifically for a shake — then milk will have to do, unless it’s a decent time of the day for a shake. Like, between the hours of 8 am and midnight.
Teddy! We officially have one month left until your due date. I cannot believe that in just a few weeks I will get to see your sweet face. Daddy and I were just talking about how not knowing what you will look like or be like is so rare this day in age — between Amazon where you can see the item and read reviews before you purchase something and our iPhones were everything is instant gratification. It makes the excitement of getting to see you so much more precious.
* * *
I’m still believing that the third trimester is the best! I wish I could have just skipped over the whole morning sickness and restlessness (and carpal tunnel) of the second trimester and shot straight to the third!
So much has happened in the last month. I started physical therapy for my wrist which has helped so much. I I’ve my wrist and exercise it 3-5 times a day and I’ve noticed much more relief. Hooray!
I also had a LOVELY shower thrown for me by my Mom and bestie Amy! So many of my friends and family helped make it so special — and of course all those who attended. It was a brunch shower so they did bright sunshine colors. We had tasty treats, fun games and prizes, and onesie decorating! I so love all the onesies everyone created and I can’t wait to put him in every single one. We also received so many amazing books, diapers and gifts — I’m overwhelmed by how much love this little guy has been shown.
After my shower we celebrated Easter with our two families and then I was able to go on a mini babymoon of my own with my Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa! For three days I rested and laid by the pool. It was wonderful.
Amy even brought the goobers out to play on Wednesday and we had a blast in the lazy river and the kiddy-pool. Camden mostly slept and pooped and looked cute.
When I got back to Riverside, I worked with my MIL who was throwing a shower for Amber (My SIL)! We had so much fun making everything girly and pink.
We shopped and planned and everything turned out to be so girly and fun! I can’t wait for these two little ones to arrive.
On another note, Alex started an extremely hard semester and we also found out that Teddy is due the week of his finals! Eek. Please keep him in your prayers. He’s a fantastic student and I know he will do great, but I also know that spending such little time with me before the Bubba comes has been hard.
We ALSO have allllllmost finished Teddy’s corner! I cannot believe how much we’ve been able to squeeze into this place. We have 750 sq feet, which I know if more than most (and we are extremely grateful), but babies have a lot of crap you guys! We can’t wait to show you the finished product.
As always, thank you for the prayers, love and support!
Leelo & Ander +1
Teddy Boy, only 2 more months until I get to hold you, kiss your cheeks, toes, and tiny fingers. I cannot wait. You are such an active little guy — there’s no point in me tracking your movements because you are ALWAYS on the move. Punching my bladder, kicking my ribs, squirming and moving. It’s been an amazing experience and I know being your Mommy is going to be a whole new one!
I think about you a lot. I imagine what you’re going to look like and act like and hope you are sweet and cuddly guy; which is a lot coming from me because I really don’t like to cuddle or hug. I hope to always have your best interests at heart and I am so ready for life to become all about you!
Now, two more months little buddy. Don’t get too huge!
* * *
Two months left! I am so ready to hold this little guy already. So far third trimester has been my favorite even though the carpal tunnel is still pretty constant and is now accompanied with heartburn and insomnia every night. Even with alllll that, it’s still my favorite and I know it’s because I will finally get to hold our little guy at the end of it.
For the past 9 months, I’ve been volunteering at a local charter school on Mondays and Tuesday in upper grade and then on Thursdays I have been running their Kinderclub. It has been an absolute joy and WONDERFUL training for mommy-hood. On Thursdays I was able to create the whole curriculum, including a craft, which I loved. This past Thursday was my last week and all the kid’s families got together to give me a gift card, a box of cookies, and a very sweet card. Seeing all their faces and receiving their warm hugs made it extremely hard to leave, but I am really looking forward to taking the month of April to get everything ready for Teddy’s arrival. The kids are also so excited to see Teddy and begged me to bring him with me to the school once I have him.
I am at the point now where I have to see the doctor every two weeks, so the anticipation is mounting! Today was my 32 week check-up and everything looks great. He’s head down, has a strong heartbeat and my fluid is good as well. I am just happy that this pregnancy has been as smooth as it has for Teddy. He seems to be pretty happy in there. I would take carpal tunnel, heartburn, insomnia, charlie-horses and throwing up any day over harm coming to him. Even now that the crazy hormones are back where I’m crying one minute and laughing the next.
This coming month I’ll be spending most of my time getting ready for his arrival. We’ve slowly been working on Teddy’s corner of the room as well as re-arranging things in the bedroom and living room so we have space for all his clothes, toys, diapers, crib, and changing station. Here’s a few pictures of the work in progress:
We purchased a wardrobe from IKEA for all his clothes and we also put in those green bins to store all his toys and other items we find that fit in there. The above picture is our dresser, which will now be Teddy’s changing table. The more I look at the pegboard in our room, the more I love it — but it’s huge so I think we’ll be doing some re-adjusting. Next to the changing table I hope to have a rocking chair and then right next to my side of the bed, we’d like to have his crib. It’s all starting to feel so real and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
Only 8 more weeks (hopefully) until he will get to enjoy it!
Thank you all so much for your love and support,
Leelo & Ander +1
This post is long overdue, but I’ve been so preoccupied with other life things that I forgot to post this!
Alex and I decided to do a combined anniversary and babymoon over our anniversary weekend in January. We struggled with deciding where to go; I wanted New York and he wanted somewhere warmer. We ultimately decided on Portland since we know quite of few people who frequent the city and love it. Some of you have been asking about all the places we ate and visited — wanting to have a list of great stops should you ever visit. So, here ya go!
We headed out on a Thursday and landed at the airport in the late morning. First, let me say it was pretty chilly but oh, so crisp. Second, public transportation in Portland was exceptional. We hopped on a shuttle that took us directly downtown to our hotel. Then, we continued to master transportation using the Google Maps app on our phones, which was extremely helpful and updated frequently. If we ever missed a bus, Google would tell us the next available route to where we wanted to go. Also, a day pass for the bus was only $5.00, much cheaper than renting a car. We were able to get to every single district downtown and even to church on Sunday using the buses and shuttles.
One thing that worked out wonderfully was that Portland doesn’t have any huge landmarks or “must see” places. I was worried that I wouldn’t be up for a ton of walking around and sight seeing, so it was wonderful that we didn’t feel as though we missed out on anything just by walking around, heading into shops, chatting with folks, and eating — lots of eating.
Portland is broken up into districts: Pearl District, Northwest District, Lloyd District, Alberta Street, Hawthorne District and Belmont District. We could get to any district using shuttles and buses, so we broke up our days by district. We choose one district a day and decided what to eat and visit before we headed out. It made the days more enjoyable since we could just walk around the districts and eat whenever we felt like it.
One place we did visit definitely had a “sight-seeing” value to it: McMenamins Kennedy School.
It is a refurbished school house turned hotel! I don’t know if I could actually stay there (the rooms gave me the creeps), but the hotel has a movie theater, three different “bars/pubs”, smoking rooms, a public hot tub (more of a huge soaking tub — think Roman bath), and lots of places to eat.
The decor keeps to the original age of the building and there are pictures of students, historical figures, and other interesting art pieces everywhere.
When we travel for our anniversary we try to stay at a particular branch of hotels call Kimpton. We stayed at a Kimpton hotel in Seattle, WA for our first anniversary and found them not only extremely comfortable but enjoyable.
The Kimpton in Downtown Portland is called Hotel Monaco. It is located in business district of Portland, which is close to the fashion district as well. The decor is quite modern and very eclectic. While I love that decor, it took a while to get used to and it was very bright at first. The rooms are very long and well laid out. The staff was very friendly and they even provided us with complimentary champagne to celebrate our anniversary. Housekeeping came every morning, the fridge was always fully stocked and we even indulged in room service one evening.
The hotel is pet friendly, which I find enchanting — though we didn’t bring Boone with us this time. They also provided free bike rentals and two complimentary beverages: a hot chocolate bar fully stocked with toppings from 7:00 am to 10:00 am every morning and a champagne reception in the evenings complete with a piano player.
We meet some pretty amazing people in the lobby area and enjoyed the huge fireplace. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars — only as compared to the other Kimpton hotels we’ve stayed in past.
As I had mentioned, there aren’t many “sights” to see in Portland so much of what we did included food. I won’t list off every place we ate, but here are the ones that stood out to me:
Voodoo Doughnut - If you miss out on visiting this place, you will be pretty bummed about it. When we were traveling back home we saw so many passengers with pink boxes from this place just dying to take some doughnuts home! The vibe is eccentric and loud so we opted to sit outside, but the doughnuts were delicious. I was boring and opted for an old fashioned but Alex ventured out and ordered a maple bacon bar. Both were very delicious. Keep in mind, it’s cash only!
Henry’s 12th Street Tavern – We came here to take advantage of their happy hour. We were able to purchase a pizza and salad, Alex ordered a beer, I ordered a coke and we even ordered an appetizer. If I remember correctly, the bill was under $30 and all the food was extremely tasty. Oh, and another great thing about Portland… NO SALES TAX! So the price you see, is the price you pay. I even felt as though we tipped more because we weren’t worried about rounding up or percentages.
Mother’s Bistro & Bar – This place is my Mother-in-law’s favorite in Portland. The food is fantastic and the music they play was right up our alley (Jamie Cullum, Corrine Bailey Rae, and some Mayor Hawthorne). Don’t let the “somewhat” outdated decor fool you — the food is amazing. Every meal comes with a huge biscuit that weighs the size of a toddler. We ate here once for dinner and came back the next morning for breakfast. You absolutely must get the biscuits and gravy!
Tin Shed - A pet friendly gardenesque atmosphere, but very busy in the afternoon right after church. They have a strict menu schedule on Sundays and serve only breakfast until 2:00 pm, so you cannot order lunch before then. The lunch menu looked delicious, but breakfast was great too! We split an eggs benedict and the eggs were cooked to perfection. You do serve yourself water and coffee (there are stations around the restaurant) so if you’re looking for a full service place this isn’t it.
The Courtyard Restaurant at Kennedy School - As I mentioned before, this is a place you want to have ample time to explore. There is a theater, smoking room, soaking tub, gardens, and plenty of tasty places to eat. We decided on the Courtyard Restaurant after much walking around. It was busy, but they had a full service bar so we ordered our food there. The wait for a table wasn’t very long at all, but this mama was VERY HUNGRY! We ordered cajun tater tots as an appetizer and they were delicious — I’m sorry that we’re not sorry we ate the whole plate full. I then ordered a minestrone soup and Alex ordered a burger. Both were delicious. The ambiance was wonderful and the view overlooked the garden in the center of the school. We didn’t end up making any of the movies but we found out later that you could order food and drinks before in the theater bar and take them into the movies with you! It is an absolute must visit.
Screen Door - Last, but certainly NOT least, was Screen Door. Luke and Hallie (friends of ours from California who relocated to Portland) took us here for dinner before our flight home. There was a line around the building before it even opened and we soon figured out why. The food was amazing — mostly likely the best southern/creole food I’ve ever tasted! Luke ordered the shrimp and grits, I ordered the mac n’ cheese, Alex ordered pulled pork, and Hallie ordered a mixed plate of three different items. They have beers on tap to pair with the food and the service was great. If you can, and it’s not too chilly, sit outside under the tin shed and heat lamps — the ambiance makes you feel like you’re sitting in the south eating some of your mama’s good home cookin’.
We truly enjoyed our experience and felt as thought 5 days was just enough time to really take in all that Portland had to offer. We enjoyed Sunday morning service at Mars Hill Portland and found most everyone in the city to be friendly and helpful with suggestions.
At first I was nervous about using public transportation, but we have always found that having to ask people for directions and relying on each other for help has made for a unique experience when we travel. We were able to meet some very interesting people and had to trust each other a lot — considering that neither of us knew where we were going half the time.
Every eatery we patronized was amazing. I would say it would be hard to find a place we didn’t like and I strongly recommend all of the above listed.
Our hotel was in a great location; central to all of our travels to the districts and we often had down time for a bath or nap in the middle of the day before hitting the town at night.
The weather was very cold in January (ranging from 30-45 degrees) but we enjoyed coffee and hot chocolate to keep us warm. I wore the same large jacket every day and bundled up in beanies and scarves. I really enjoy cold weather so I did not find that it inhibited our experience at all. If anything it provided beautiful scenery.
So, I would say Operation: Babymoon 2013 was a success! I hope you found this guide helpful and you enjoyed our video.
Teddy, you can go ahead and come now!