Introducing Svea! (+ Her Birth Story)


In case you missed it over on Instagram, we have a new member of the family to introduce to you! Our third child, Svea, was born in March!

Svea Kjersti Olson was born on March 20th, on the first day of spring! She weighed 6 lbs. 11 oz. and was 20″ long. We are grateful for a positive birth experience and that everyone was healthy and doing well.


Svea is a Scandinavian name. We pronounce it SVAY-uh (with the SVAY rhyming with PLAY). The name Svea has multiple different meanings, ranging from “free” or “spear” or “sun,” to “Sweden” or “little Swedish girl.”

Kjersti is also Scandinavian. It means “Christ-follower” and is pronounced KEER-stee.

If you love baby names like I do, you may be interested to know our first two children’s names are Solveig Brynn (she goes by Sophie) and Soren Dietrich! As you can see, we went with Scandinavian names that start with S!

Svea is over 4 months old now! When she was one month old, I took the time to type out Svea’s birth story, before time started to fly by and before the details became less vivid in my mind.

*This is a mostly positive, hospital birth story.*

*I also want to say, we 100% believe that a baby is a blessing and a gift. I believe it is a great privilege and amazing experience to be able to carry my own children! However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t difficult times, so part of this birth story reflects on the reality of pregnancy sometimes being just plain hard! Boy, are we thankful for precious Svea, though – and we’re sure glad she’s here!*

^ 19 weeks and 35 weeks with Svea ^

This pregnancy was the hardest on me, both physically and emotionally. This third time around, my body was extra achy. I gained the most weight with this pregnancy, and I was “chasing” around two other small children 24/7! I tried to stay pretty active, which is kind of mandatory anyway when you have other kids to care for. I would say that staying generally active during pregnancy (even out of necessity, and not necessarily working out) has helped me to feel good postpartum, but it was still a tiring pregnancy for my body and at the end of each day, I was achy, sore, and craving my lavender epsom salt bath before bed!

Emotionally speaking, there were a few factors that affected this pregnancy differently than my other pregnancies. During the hardest phase of morning sickness, my husband was out of town for a whole month for army. That was back in August, and the kids and I definitely spent a lot of time on the couch, reading books and watching shows. I really don’t like feeling lazy or feeling sick, so that month of solo parenting (and all of the time spent on the couch) was discouraging.

Being due in March meant I would be delivering in a different location than my first two babies. Because of my husband’s job, our family lives (together) in two places during the year; roughly the first half of the year, we’re in the Twin Cities, and we spend the other half of the year in rural southern Minnesota. I had delivered my first two babies back “home” in southern Minnesota and I love our doctors and clinic there, so during this pregnancy I had to mentally prepare myself to deliver in a different city, with a new doctor, new clinic, and hospital system I was unfamiliar with. (Luckily, I found a great obgyn who I got to see for the last 3 months of my pregnancy, and I was grateful for her, although I knew she likely wouldn’t be the one who’d be on call to deliver the baby.)

I was technically due on St. Patrick’s Day. By the end of the pregnancy, I was mentally and emotionally drained, because Svea ended up being born 2 days after her due date and I had thought she’d be born well before her due date. (Fellow mamas, you probably understand that feeling of the last days and weeks of pregnancy feeling crazy long!) Our second child had been born 10 days early, so I definitely thought our third baby would follow suit. Because I had that expectation or even that hope, I set myself up for some disappointment and extra discouragement before we got to my official due date!

^ 37 weeks ^

I worked hard this pregnancy on relaxation techniques and mental strategies, especially in the weeks nearing my due date. I also did special stretches every day to try to get/keep the baby in an optimal position for delivery, and I listened to relaxing labor music as I napped on the couch during my kids’ Quiet Time every afternoon. I also refreshed myself on information and made sure I was educated on childbirth. I think focusing on being mentally prepared for birth itself helped me out later on!

I had prodromal labor and was quite a bit dilated for at least a couple weeks before Svea was born. Svea was my most “kicky” baby in general, but there were also stronger contractions towards the end that often made me wonder if “this was it.” I ended up timing contractions most of those nights the last two weeks of pregnancy, which, as many moms know, can be mentally and emotionally draining.

Part of the reason I was so vigilant about timing contractions and anticipating labor is because I’ve historically had short labors! Our firstborn, Sophie, came quite quickly, although she was induced with pitocin at a week late, so it’s harder for me to judge how long her labor was. But that labor did progress surprisingly fast for a first baby, and the total amount of hours was something like 7 or less. Our second child, Soren, was born 10 days early and labor was very short and fast – so fast, in fact, that we almost didn’t make it to the hospital on time! (For Soren’s birth, I was dilated to 10 cm and ready to push when I arrived at the hospital – you can read Soren’s birth story HERE.) Something in me just knew Svea would come fast, too, once labor began, so I wanted to be extra watchful. I didn’t want to give birth unprepared at home or in the car. 🙂

Thankfully, our apartment in the Twin Cities is only about 6 minutes away from the hospital, so we knew we wouldn’t have to drive far – we just had to make sure our logistics were all figured out. We actually ended up having my mom sleep over at our apartment as we got closer to my due date, since my parents live 30 minutes away from our apartment. (Thank you to my mom, for that week of nights on the couch! We’re so grateful!) It gave us the peace of mind we needed (and Mom needed) that she’d be there in time to watch Sophie and Soren for us whenever we’d need to rush off to the hospital.

Sunday, March 19th was a normal evening for us. It was 2 days after my due date. We put the kids to bed, tidied up the apartment, did laundry, I had a bath, and we went to bed. Bjorn was asleep before me and I was reading for a while in order to relax a bit before the night began. (Most nights, around 10 pm or so, the baby would begin kicking/stretching and I would be trying to work through lightning crotch pain for about 60-90 minutes before I could fall asleep. Then later, during the night each night, I’d wake up and write down any contractions to make sure labor hadn’t truly begun.) This night, I tried to go to sleep around 11 pm or so, but never actually fell asleep.

The first contraction I timed that night was at 11:55 pm. The next contraction was 12 minutes later. The next, 5 minutes later…then 9 minutes, 5 minutes, 5 minutes…I finally woke Bjorn up around 12:15 am because things just seemed different. My obgyn had told me to probably get to the hospital when contractions were 6-7 minutes apart. The hardest thing to determine every night had been whether or not this was “the real thing,” but we knew this was finally go-time! From then on, once we got up and started gathering our things, all the contractions were basically 4 minutes apart. I quickly went to the bathroom, put in my contacts, Bjorn got dressed and grabbed my hospital bag, and we headed downstairs. We woke my mom and told her we were heading to the hospital. At that point I was stopping to breathe through the intense contractions every time they came, knowing that the name of the game was relaxation, not panic/anxiety. And between contractions was when we really hurried. We hopped in the truck and drove the few minutes to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 12:45 am. We went through the Emergency entrance to the front desk there. When we were asked how long I’d been having contractions and it had been only about 45 minutes, the people at the front desk weren’t too concerned that I was in labor. But Bjorn assured them that this wasn’t our first rodeo and that we did need to hurry upstairs! One of the women kindly helped me into a wheelchair and escorted us all the way upstairs to the 4th floor, where labor & delivery was. (In the wheelchair and as we rode in the elevator, I had my phone out and kept writing down when each contraction started. They were getting closer and closer together until they were about 3 minutes apart each time!)

We got checked in upstairs and went right to a delivery room. I was dilated to 6 cm, but contractions were getting very close together and very intense so we knew I wouldn’t be at a 6 for long. What helped me was breathing through contractions and doing some visualization exercises (which I had been practicing for weeks, but it was essentially breathing intentionally, making sure I was really relaxing my jaw, and determinedly visualizing the most peaceful scene I could think of).

20 minutes later, the doctor who was on call that night came in to introduce himself (he was one of the doctors from my obgyn clinic). He said he had a surgery to perform for someone else and would be back in a little while when it was time for me to deliver… By that point I couldn’t really talk to him because contractions were so intense. They checked me and suddenly the doctor decided to stay! I had dilated to 10 cm in those 20 minutes, and baby was coming right then! Everyone rushed into place. The doctor asked if he could break my water and I agreed. (I’ve never had my water break on its own – with my first two babies, my water broke during pushing.) I pushed twice, and then they told me I could rest a sec if I wanted to. But I felt like pushing one more time and went for it. (I was just so ready to be done, ha!) And Svea was born with that third push, at 1:59 am on March 20th – 2 hours after the first contraction!

Svea didn’t cry when she was born, just like Soren; I think that she was just in shock from such a fast birth. She was fine and healthy, though, so we were all very grateful! Svea and I got to do skin-to-skin time right away and for a long time, maybe even a couple hours. It was so nice! And she was so sweet and peaceful and just looked up at me. It was surreal to meet her for the first time – this kicky little girl who had been inside of me for those 9 months – and so special. I had a second-degree tear, just like with Soren’s birth. Svea did a wonderful job with nursing right from the start.

I was eager to move to a post-delivery room to continue cuddles and begin the healing process. We were so, so tired! Unfortunately, my bleeding was, as the nurses kept saying, “more than they were comfortable with.” They kept me in the delivery room for at least several extra hours, continuing to check me every 15 minutes. I was so hungry, so Bjorn was making me little peanut butter & graham cracker sandwiches. I hadn’t had any meds in my IV this whole time (hadn’t had time or the need!), but now they started me on pitocin to try to help curb the bleeding. When that wasn’t fully doing the job, they next gave me a shot that had a different type of medicine. (The shot was very painful and I’m not sure why! I had a big, tender bruise on my thigh for a couple weeks afterwards.) That shot made my blood pressure go up, and I couldn’t stop shaking for hours – which we thought was probably a combination of the medicine in it, anxiety, and adrenaline. After that they were still not thrilled with my bleeding so next they gave me 4 tablets of another kind of medicine. I was really anxious by that point, not because of the birth but because of all the extra concern and meds afterwards. Bjorn was so kind and thoughtful, holding my hand and reminding me that I was being taken care of well. (It wasn’t officially classified as hemorrhaging, from my understanding, but they were trying to combat it proactively.)

Finally, hours later, they were comfortable with my bleeding so we got to move rooms! I felt pretty good overall, just exhausted from that intense all-nighter. I held Svea as a nurse pushed me in a wheelchair. The hospital plays a special lullaby song over the entire hospital’s speakers whenever a new baby moves to the post-delivery area. When we crossed over the threshold to that area of the hospital, the song played over the speakers and it was so sweet, it made me tear up!

Svea and I spent the next couple days at the hospital. Because of the time she was born, I could choose between 1 or 2 nights and I opted for the extra night (we also have really good insurance – thank you, Tricare!). I just thought that some extra monitoring would be nice, plus it would help me transition more slowly into life as a mom of 3! Bjorn spent lots of time at the hospital as well, but we had him go home to the apartment a few minutes away to spend the nights there and to help the “big kids” with bedtime.

It was really special getting that time alone with Svea in the hospital, since I knew that most of her life would be lived amongst 2 busy older siblings! She got her first bath in the hospital when she was a day or so old – we were asked if she could be the “example” baby for some nursing students who were in town for a practicum, so Svea’s first bath was in the hospital nursery with them! The nurses at the hospital were so, so kind and thoughtful, bringing me lots of extra snacks (I was starving and eating constantly)! Another sweet memory: I did have the nurse one night take Svea for a couple hours so I could try to sleep. Svea hung out with the nurses at the nurses’ station, and they said it was the sweetest thing – she just wanted to hold someone’s hand the whole time! (She’s still definitely a hand-holder – so sweet.)

The evening of Monday the 20th, Bjorn brought Sophie and Soren along with my parents to meet Svea for the first time! Those moments were so precious. Sophie and Soren were (and are) such proud, kind big siblings, so it was a celebratory, joyful time.

Since then, life has been busy and full, and we’ve been finding our new normal as a family of 5. Healing went really well, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m 5 weeks postpartum now as I type this, and I would say I’m pretty much back to feeling like myself. I’ve had my moments and even days of feeling bone-tired, or feeling hormone shifts that resulted in dizziness or tears or bits of anxiety…but I know that’s all normal and I feel like we’re really evening out by this point. I’ve been able to resume homeschooling more consistently with Sophie and Soren, take the 3 kids on an outing to the zoo by myself, run errands, walk at the mall, and more. (When Svea was 3 weeks old, we road tripped as a family down to St. Louis for my grandma’s funeral, and I’m glad that that went pretty well health-wise and newborn-travel-wise.)

5 week update (although she’s 4 month at the time this blog post was published):

Svea has been such a joy! She is cuddly and sweet and squeaky. 🙂 She still loves holding hands – either mine as she nurses, or she’ll calmly hold Sophie’s or Soren’s hand as they sing to her. One of her favorite things to do is to cuddle vertically against me, but she especially loves that cuddle time with her dad. She doesn’t seem phased by noise levels or the general sounds of a busy family. She really doesn’t like being cold, hungry, or having a dirty diaper! (She also adores being held – I think she likes to be in the thick of everything going on!) Svea likes to be swaddled for naps and bedtime, but she’s definitely a strong, wiggly girl when it comes to tummy time or kicking along to fun music as we clean up the living room each night! And one of the best more recent developments: she’s begun to give us real smiles! They make my day every time!

^ Svea’s first smile, which I happened to catch on camera! ^

It’s crazy how fast time flies, after those 9 months of pregnancy have passed. The intensity of labor and the uncomfortable parts of healing usually start to fade into memory by this point for me. While I’m glad I got all of the details down to look back on someday, and I’m very grateful that things went smoothly overall, I always like this part of postpartum when we start to really settle into our new normal as a family. We’re so happy Svea’s here. There is always so much to be thankful for!

Hope you enjoyed this birth story (unexpectedly long for such a short labor, haha) and update! Thank you for reading!


Fighting Fear In Pregnancy After Miscarriage

Soren’s Birth Story