Welcome Riley Joy!

Apparently I still remember my WordPress login so here comes a blog post!

We are so happy to announce the birth of our sweet daughter Riley Joy. She was born May 5th at 7:12 pm, weighing 7 Lbs 4 Oz. We had planned for a hospital birth but had the surprise of a home birth instead.

I woke up at 3:30 am on May 5th with some reasonably strong contractions but of course debated if labour was actually starting for two hours before deciding to take some gravol and Tylenol and get some more sleep. I was pretty excited but managed to drift back to sleep from 6:30 until 9:30, which really set me up for success later in the day.

When I woke up for the day, I was still having contractions and Dana let work know he would be MIA for the day. Knowing with Rhys’ labour that I didn’t eat enough, I got a good breakfast in and then Dana and I headed out for a walk to see if we could get labour to progress. It definitely got things moving and I was having contractions leaning on Dana every block… then every half block…

We kept debating when to call the midwife as we didn’t want to get excited if things weren’t far enough along. But as we did call our midwife Tiffany around 11 and she listened to a few of my contractions. She thought I should walk home and get in the bathtub to see if labour would progress.

Somehow we made it home and I got in the tub (managing to save my nice blowout curls from my haircut the day before). My contractions did seem to get stronger and closer together so Dana called Tiffany again and we decided to make our way to Rockyview Hospital to get checked.

Now it seems hilarious to me, but through my contractions I did my hair, put waterproof mascara on, and put on a nice dress. I got in the car in the front seat and off we went. By coincidence we passed my father-in-law as we left our cul-de-sac and he knowingly asked “are you headed to the hospital?” and wished us luck.

The car ride was uncomfortable but not terrible. I laboured through contractions walking into the hospital and up to the L&D floor. I joked afterwards that I was like Moira from Schitt’s Creek showing up: “I’m here to have a bebe”, looking all put together. We checked in and met up with Tiffany. She checked me and I was only 3 cm! I needed to be 6 to be admitted so she gave me the option to labour at the hospital or go home. She administered antibiotics as I was group B strep positive then we decided to go home, with the plan we’d see her around 6 for my next check and round of antibiotics.

I was feeling pretty damn disappointed that despite my discomfort I was only 3 cm! And the thought of not only a car ride home, but then back to the hospital again later on seemed impossible even at that point. I think I knew then we would be having a home birth. It was about 3 pm at this point.

With me on all fours in the trunk of the Edge, yelling at Dana to slow down in between contractions, we made it home. I crawled into bed and tried to rest with some gravol. My contractions were pretty awful by then but I lasted an hour then got in the tub. My hair didn’t look so cute at this point. Dana rubbed my back through each contraction and eventually the contractions started to become a pattern of strong followed by a slightly weaker one. Turns out that’s called coupling and means the baby is turning and positioning for delivery!

One detail I’m forgetting to add is that we hired a doula this time! Her name is Jennie and she was worth every penny and then some. Although she would come at any point in my labour, I had decided at some point (for some dumb reason) not to call her until we were back at Rockyview to have the baby. Fortunately we did call her before that and she arrived at 5:45 to give Dana some relief rubbing my back. Since Tiffany was coming to the house at 6, they got me out of the tub and dried off just in time to get me on the toilet and have my water break!

I think Dana and Jennie were both thrilled to hear the doorbell ring at 6 but it was a delivery guy dropping off a package. Tiffany pulled up at 6:15 and Dana ran out to tell her my water had just broken. She came inside to give me my antibiotics and check me, then quickly announced we were changing plans to have a home birth as I was fully dilated. Dana, Jennie, and Tiffany all rushed around getting the bedroom ready for our baby’s arrival while I was struggling through contractions praying I could have the baby soon.

Midwives work in teams of two: one for mom and one for baby. The on-call midwife was too far away for the imminent arrival of Riley so Tiffany called the nearest in proximity. That midwife, Connie, was out walking her dog and ran home, jumped in her car, and arrived 3 minutes before Riley did!

I started pushing on all fours but was in pain from my IV jabbing my wrist. Jennie recalled my wrist’s discomfort from Rhys’ labour and helped me get upright, leaning on Dana, to finish pushing and deliver Riley. I was hoarse from yelling after. They immediately put Riley on my chest and soon we were all covered in her poop (haha). I still didn’t know the baby’s gender but at that point I was just grateful we were both healthy and that I had done it – a home birth! Thank god I bought the emergency shower curtain to cover the bed 😂.

After that it was a blur of delivering the placenta, stitches, checking on Riley and I, and all the clean-up. Jennie was an amazing help to us through all of this, not to mention the thorough and amazing care the midwives provided.

We capped off the day’s work with pizza and kale salad from Una. It was such a nice feeling being tucked into my own bed, learning to breastfeed all over again with Riley, while everyone gathered around our table to rehash and eat dinner.

My recovery from Riley’s birth has truly been night and day from Rhys’. Riley is 5 weeks old today and of course I am tired, but physically and emotionally I am doing so, so much better.

Welcome to our family Riley Joy! ❤️

Photo credits: portraits by Valerie Richer and labour photos by doula Jennie Charlesworth

Hike: Cory & Edith Passes Loop

Grandma and Grandpa Kinnaird kindly took Rhys for a weekend and Dana and I headed to Banff for a getaway.

After last weekend’s brush with heat stroke, I talked the big talk about getting up early and beating the sun, but of course we didn’t get headed off until about 10 this morning. Somehow sleeping in a big fluffy hotel bed with air conditioning didn’t exactly motivate me to get up at the crack of dawn.

The Bow Valley parkway is closed to car traffic so we parked at the road closure and hiked in to the trailhead at the Fireside picnic area, about a km in. We were a bit uncertain about where to head from there as the bridge was out, but once we crossed the creek, the trail was well-marked and obvious.

The trail starts out with the noise of highway 1 behind you. The sun was hot already and the mosquitoes were out and ravenous. Within about a km in, the trail splits: Cory Pass to the left and Edith to the right. Only a fool would hike counter-clockwise. The direction of preference is Cory first, coming back on Edith.

We headed up Cory with our hiking poles and it was pretty immediately and harshly a hard climb. There was thankfully a bit more shade and occasionally a slight breeze which made all the difference. We climbed and climbed, trying to outpace the mosquitoes. We occasionally passed a couple hiking groups. Just when I was contemplating telling Dana I’d had my fill, about 500 m elevation gain in, the incline levelled off and then we could catch our breath a bit.

Across the valley, we could see the trail continuing up over the pass. The only issue was the decrease and then increase in elevation to get up there.

Dana fed me some nuun water and Haribo gummies then I happily carried on down and then back up, up, up. About 1000 metres elevation gain to get up there.

We ate lunch at the top of the pass and enjoyed a bit of shade and mosquito-free bliss. Then I gritted my teeth and made it down the scree on the other side. (No tears, you guys would have been proud.)

The shade in the valley was a welcome respite and the wildfire smoke didn’t bother us anymore. We were making excellent time as we came back on the Edith Pass side… especially once the mosquitoes descended on us. We were both covered with DEET bug spray and it had almost no impact on the clouds of bugs chasing us. As a result, we took very few breaks and jogged sections on the way back to the car to escape the pests.

It was a shame to rush through the Edith Pass as it was very beautiful through there, but the bugs were terrible. I longingly thought about soaking my feet in the little stream that intersected the trail, but the mosquito bites just weren’t worth it.

The crazy thing was that we passed the last hiking party just before we ate lunch and then didn’t see another soul until we got back to the car!

Other than the terrible mosquitoes, we really enjoyed the array of environments we hiked through, the shade on much of the hike, and the interesting rocks up at the top of the pass. It was a great hike.

16 kms, 4.5 hours.

Fireside Picnic Area

Hike: Centennial Ridge & Mt. Allan

Guys, it was quite the day. 1,200 metres elevation gain for me and 15.5 kms. Oh, and I threw up. But we’ll get to that.

We dropped Rhys off at his dayhome around 9 this morning, and grabbed lunches from Sunterra. Then off we headed to the trailhead.

Mount Allan can be approached from Dead Man’s Flats or the Ribbon Creek trailhead parking lot. We talked lots about wanting to through-hike, but without a willing friend (and a second vehicle), it just wasn’t meant to be. We decided to go with Ribbon Creek as I’d read that approach had the Rock Garden to check out.

Getting started on a hot day around 10:00 in the morning isn’t a fantastic idea but we did it anyway. The first couple kms in the forest were nice and cool and I soaked them up. The uphill starts almost immediately. The trail – the whole way up – was remarkably well taken care of and there was great signage/trail markings too.

When we got out of the trees, the flies were incredibly bad. Like, the worst I’ve ever experienced or even imagined. You couldn’t stop for long or you’d have flies in your sunglasses, your ears, your mouth, all over your body. As Dana said though – at least they weren’t horseflies.

The views out there were incredible and almost distracted me from the heat and steep hill climb we were grunting through. The wildflowers were out in vast quantities and there were so many different kinds to appreciate. Up, and up, and up we hiked. My heart rate was pretty constantly 165 and I couldn’t seem to get much lower than that, so it was stop and go as I laboured on up the hillside.

I started to get a bad headache and was sad to find out there was no Tylenol in our first aid kits. We drank some nuun tablets and carried on.

After about two hours, we ate our lunches in a breezy spot then carried on up. When we got to the Nakiska Ridgetop weather station, the trail levelled out a bit which I really appreciated. The views were extraordinary in all directions.

Around 6 or 7 kms in, we entered the Rock Garden and it was amazing. Unlike anything we’ve ever hiked through in Kananaskis or Banff! At this point, as we kept an eye on the time, I told Dana to go ahead without me so he could reach the summit of Mount Allan. He hoofed it ahead while I took a more leisurely pace. I was feeling pretty fatigued from the hike up and I’m a bit leery about heights and scree so I was happy to let him go ahead.

I saw a huge marmot as I hiked along through the huge rock towers. Then I sat down at the base of the ascent to Mount Allan’s summit to wait. There was a slight breeze but I couldn’t escape the sun – it was very hot up there today. My phone died about then which was unfortunate as I would have loved to call Dana to tell him to hurry up! 😉

Around 2:00, Dana came jogging down from the summit and we carried on back to the car together. He said the views from the top were extraordinary.

Our legs might fall off tomorrow after we literally ran down the mountain to make up time.

We had a blast running down but the headache I’d been nursing all day started to get worse and worse with all the jostling, and my stomach was feeling pretty queasy by the time we got back to the treeline.

At this point I slowed down a lot and eventually couldn’t walk more than a few steps at a time as what seemed like sun stroke hit me hard. We were running low on water but Dana kept coaxing me to drink more. When we were a mile from the car and I had collapsed on the side of the trail, Dana decided to race down and filter more water to bring me. I was sure I would throw up because my head hurt so badly.

As Dana jogged out of sight, I drank a bit more nuun water then decided to try to keep going. I staggered on a bit further then threw up everything I’d eaten all day. Amazingly, that seemed to help me turn a corner and I was able to get all the way down the trail, just in time to meet Dana who was coming back for me.

Dana insisted I cool off in Ribbon Creek before we drove home so I soaked my feet until they were numb. Then with a bag of creek water on my lap and an ice pack on my neck, I dozed off in the car as we drove home.

Amazingly, with more water in my system, homemade pizza for dinner (thanks Dana) and an extra-strength Advil, I’m feeling much improved now.

All this to say: Centennial Ridge was a fantastic hike and one we shall not soon forget. Will I do it again? Maybe on a more overcast day with at least 4 litres of water to drink (2.5 L wasn’t sufficient!).