Tag Archives: natural childbirth

Bless Bless

Dear Iceland,

You have been close to our hearts for a long time now, as the first time Eric came here, for 9 whole months just after we started dating, served as a crucially formative period in our relationship.  I visited you then, in the dark, windy 1st week of December 2005.  We came again in 2009, a remarkably gorgeous summer, just a year before we had our first child.  We saw some amazing bits of your countryside on two road trips, and I soaked up every inch of Reykjavik that I could.  Once more, last spring, with our boy just 7 months old, you greeted us with snow on the 1st of May.  We stayed in the city then, laying low as Everett battled a fever.

And then this year, deep in the middle of February, we returned, in the dark, in the snow.  Everett now 16 months, and a baby girl growing within me.  We settled in, we hibernated as our active toddler would allow.  Eric set to work on some of your manuscripts, working on a writing project and exploring the history of your fascinating people.  I set to work exploring the walkable radius of our apartment in the snow, meeting other mothers and knitters, and growing this baby.

Then she came.  Helped along, no doubt, by the many kilometers I must have walked through your streets as she grew, she made her entrance swiftly.  Aided and welcomed by two of your own daughters who comforted and encouraged me through the labor; your naturally heated spring water as the first element to touch her fresh new skin, she arrived.  Bryndís Ann, bearing a name that is part of your beautiful language, and who I hope will always be proud to claim you as the land of her birth.  You are now an indelible part of our family.

We say farewell, or “Bless bless,” to you now, but it is not forever.  We will be back, it feels inevitable, even necessary.

With Love,
Eric, Emily, Everett, and Bryndís

This chapter in the Bryan Family Adventure was made possible by: Icelandair, The Missouri Research Board, the American Scandinavian Foundation, The Arni Magnusson Institute, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology.  We would also like to thank Jóhanna Bogdottir, Hanna og Elvar Ingolfer for their lovely apartments; Magnea and Helga at Hallgrimskirkja, Bergdís Rosantsdottir and Hrafnhildur at the Red Cross; Jenny, Torril, Kassia, Renee, Jana, Colleen, Amanda, Sonja, Johanna, Sandra, Anna, Dawn, Angela, and all the other wonderful mothers I had the pleasure of sharing playtime with (no doubt I’m leaving someone important out); Hrafnhildur at Bjorkin Midwives, and Soffía of Hönd í Hönd for making Bryndís’ birth possible at home, and a peaceful, joyful experience; Kara Payne for coming to take care of us for awhile; Diane, Mike, Kaitlin, and Freya  Wilson, for being the difference between surviving and enjoying this visit; and of course our families, for showering us with love and encouragement, spending a fortune to send us the things we couldn’t buy here, and another fortune on coming to visit, serving as glorified babysitters and taking us out to dinner.  We couldn’t do it without you, and we appreciate you letting us take your grandchildren so far away for awhile.


Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Travel, Writings


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Bryndís Ann

þingvellir National Park; 3 1/2 weeks old

In the interest of catching up as much as possible (and I confess, some of these posts are as much for my own personal record keeping as for sharing), I want to properly introduce you to my beautiful daughter.  I have not finished writing up her birth story, but I’ll include Eric’s version of it as a pdf download because it’s hilarious (keep in mind while reading that it’s a copy of the email we sent to family and friends the day of).  In short, she arrived two weeks early, and made her entrance so swiftly that I did not make it to the hospital but rather delivered her, with the help of Eric, our wonderful doula Soffía, and a midwife who arrived just in the nick of time, in our bathtub!  Unbelievably, our sweet Bryndís Ann is already 10 weeks old, so here are just a few portraits of her life thus far.

A few minutes old!

About 1 month

Road Trip! With Grandma and Grandaddy Bryan, 2 months



Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Bryndís


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I took an unintentional 3.5 month hiatus from blogging and quite a bit has changed since I last posted, like, let’s see: our home, the weather, the number of people in our family, the overall shape of my body, amount of sunlight in each day. . . I have lots of thoughts, pictures, news, and on and on to share, but for now, here are some highlights:

April 1-we moved from 107 to 101 Reykjavik, to an awesome flat facing the Tjorn in the center of town.  It was nice being next to Laugardalur park, but I’m much happier downtown where I don’t have to take the bus to get anywhere.

April-May, sometime–it stopped getting dark, at all, ever.

May 7th–Baby girl enters the world!!  I really look forward to sharing her insane birth story and a few precious pictures in an upcoming post:)

May 8-June 2–first our friend Kara visits, then my mom, then my sister!  Several fun day trips with everyone to other fantastically beautiful parts of this country

June–settling into life with two kids, fortunately with the help of some gorgeous weather!  Lots of time spent at the playground, in the kitchen, at playgroups, and the library.

Projects finished since March 13–Everett’s sweater (ALMOST in time for Easter), E’s Easter basket (now toy storage), easter garlands and letters for friends back home, E’s overalls, knit baby blanket, tiny baby sweater and matching hat, tote bag for a friend’s birthday, fathers’ day present.

In other news: a new addiction to Pinterest (something easily explored one-handed and while nursing or bouncing a fussy baby) has led to a growing project list and several yummy kitchen experiments.

Pictures and links to all patterns, tutorials, and recipes forthcoming!

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in At Home, My Projects, Travel


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Addendum to Birth section of 6 Months: Reflection

I remembered that there was something else I’ve been wanting to share for awhile about Everett’s birth and just forgot to pop it in my post from yesterday. It’s something I put in a letter to a friend who gave birth in December; as is often the case, I find writing letters to be one of the most thought-clarifying activities ever, and this was no exception:

“While I try not to be too arrogant about having an all-natural birth, I think it is something to be commended in our world today.* When B— came to see us just a few hours after Everett was born, she gave me a hug and said, “I’m so proud of you!” and that was probably the best thing I heard all day. That being said, I also feel that it’s tremendously humbling, and as crazy hard as it was, an honor to have experienced it. I’ve had many conversations with my doula about it and we agree that the experience of labor really sets the stage for parenthood in all its wildness and beauty, and I feel as if it is a very visceral and physical manifestation of what God requires of us every day: a complete surrender of control to allow His beautifully designed creation to do it’s wonderful work, to bear that otherworldly pain through prayer and meditation and reliance upon our community, and to faithfully receive into our arms a new life and the humbling honor of being called to parent. I also feel that on a very basic level my perspective on my own body and pain has completely changed for the better. While they had their own life-changing experience, I almost feel sorry for our husbands that they will never get to experience what we have!”

*please please please don’t read any judgment into the way I speak about so called all-natural childbirth. I firmly believe that our bodies are good at telling us what they need, and that sometimes what they need is some relief from distracting pain and exhaustion to get a job done, sometimes they need help from a surgical procedure, and sometimes they just need to be left alone.  I am grateful for my experience, but like I said yesterday, everyone’s is different and uniquely special.

This same friend (who did give me full permission to publish this, just fyi) just sent me her amazing birth story, written as a letter to her little boy, which of course gave me all kinds of ideas and reminded me of all kinds of things that I want to go back and change in mine!  Ah well, perhaps I will keep adapting it, perhaps my perspective on it will continually change, and maybe new things will pop into my memory over and over.  I also hope to get Eric to write it from his point of view; I didn’t want to speak for him in my writing but I know he has a lot to say about the experience!

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Fun with Everett


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6 Months: Reflections

All smiles!

Today my little guy hit his 6-month-birthday.  Part of me is tempted to think, “where did the time go?” but to be honest, I feel like the last half-year has been a perfect blend of whizzing by and slowly passing, full of adventure, tricky challenges, and perfectly quiet lovely moments.  I broke down a few of my thoughts into three little nuggets to avoid gushing on and on about the whole of my life since September.

Everyone feels differently about their labor and delivery experience, but if asked, all the advice I have for those anticipating the birth of their first child can be summed up in just a few sentences: Of course it’s wonderful and miraculous and all the rest of it, but I will not lie to you–do not believe anyone who tells you it won’t hurt–they don’t know your body, every labor experience is different, and the truth is that the pain can be shocking in it’s strangeness and its intensity.  BUT, you can do it, and in the words of my amazing doula, “time is just a thing,” and it will pass, and labor will at some point be over, and you will be confronted with the most amazing overwhelming little being when it is.  Secondly, and along the same lines, prepare to be unprepared, no matter how many books you’ve read or how many classes you’ve taken.  The experience is out of this world, and I suspect this applies to labor and delivery as well as the next 18+ years.  (Everett’s full birth story from my perspective available to download here, if you really want all the details.  Warning: it’s kinda long b/c I tried to recall all the details I could)

Brand new baby Everett

The first thought that both Eric and I had when we saw Everett’s funny-shaped little head was, “who ARE you?!”  It hit us in that moment that we did not know him yet; he’s not a mini-Emily or a mini-Eric, he is a whole separate person.  Whoa.  This was not in any way a negative realization.  Rather it filled me with an overwhelming sense of  respect for this tiny being–for his life, for every need that he has, for the person he was at birth and the person he’s going to become under our watch.  Respect was not a sensation I expected to feel for a baby, any baby, and it was a pleasant surprise.  Close on the heels of Respect came a humbling sense of honor that I get to be this little being’s mother, the one who gets to be with him through so much growth and development, experience new life with him, and hopefully help him out a little along the way.  What an amazing privilege, like receiving the most sought-after commission from my high commander. I hope and pray Eric and I can hold onto these sensations into toddler tantrums, childhood sass, teenage attitude, and whatever else might come our way.

The other night I went into Everett’s room where he was sleeping soundly and felt so special that it was my right and privilege to be able pick him up and hold him and kiss him just because I wanted to, because I love him, because I love the feeling of his warm skin and limp relaxed body when he’sasleep, and because he’s mine.  Then a rush of grief seized me as I suddenly thought of all the mothers around the world who have mourned, and are mourning, their babies lost to

My Sweet Family

earthquakes and tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes, and fires; illness, famine, starvation; war, even American missiles, insurgent attacks, suicide bombs, nuclear meltdown; cancer, leukemia, genetic defects, famine; freak accidents, vindictive psychotic ex-husbands, car wrecks.  I held Everett and wept, praying, and praising God that my baby is healthy, safe, and close to me at all times.

I maintain that Eric and I became a family the day we got married, 2 1/2 years before we found out Everett was on his way, but his addition and his steady growth from single cell to 6-month-old has resulted and is beautifully tangled up in steady growth for all three of us together.  His milestones may be more obvious but there can be no doubt that Eric and I have grown as individuals, in our marriage, and of course as parents.  I don’t mean to gush too much, but it really is fun to sit back and reflect on how miraculous this whole family infrastructure truly is.


Posted by on March 21, 2011 in At Home, Fun with Everett


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