Tuesday, 31 July 2018

6 months: half year birthday

I’ve now had a baby for 6 months and I get another 6 months with a baby until she turns into a toddler. It’s a bit sad how fast time is going.

But not really. Because she is after all the cutest embodiment of passing time.



14.5 pounds. Length, I dunno. Long.

Sits with support, rocks herself back and forth, rolls from back to tummy. Has rolled a couple of times tummy to back.

Pushes all the way up to her hands and turns her body around, though not crawling yet.

Likes to play with her feet, especially games of footsie with big sister. Very wiggly toes.

Squealing and giggling, especially at big sister. Loves to raspberry and laughs when other people do it.

Eating, eating eating. We started purées this month and Dani loooooooves them. She has eaten everything we have given her. She particularly likes a creation of her daddy’s: chicken, apple, prune and pear. We make our own baby food and use the packaged stuff if we are going somewhere.

We started offering formula only when I am away from her (eg date night) and grandparents are taking care of her. Pumping breastmilk was getting more and more onerous and I wasn’t getting enough. We figured she would drink formula as she eats and drinks anything. We were right. But otherwise still breastfeeding. 

Still self soothes by sucking thumb.

Mostly a good sleeper. Early riser (between 6 and 7) with sometimes a night time feeding.

Still incredibly snuggly and cuddly and huggable. 

AJ is still a loving and attentive big sister. And mostly considerate. We have talked on occasion about how she can’t just take toys away from Dani when she feels like it. One day Dani will be big enough to say no and be annoyed about it.

Still doing lots of family stuff and hanging out with other families a fair bit. The summer continues to be awesome; I just can’t believe it’s going to be August already.

Cuteness you can almost taste:








Monday, 23 July 2018

Microblog Mondays: torthúil reads

A few weeks ago I started a new writing/reading project: Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. I’m currently on chapter 4. It’s a difficult book, as it tackles the heavy topic of why humans would do some of the most evil actions recorded in history, and not just a few humans, but most people in a society.  I decided to start a new blog where I would record my observations and thoughts as I read. So far I am writing something resembling a personal essay for every chapter, which has slowed down the reading pace even more. However, it has helped me recall and process what I read. I like this. I have the sort of brain that quickly grasps the bigger picture but forgets details. I’m the person who says: “I read this interesting story about....but sorry I can’t remember the names or the dates or where it happened! You’ll have to google that....but here’s what I learned!” Writing as I read helps me to not forget so fast.

My new blog is torthúil reads. I write about my reasons for undertaking The Gulag Archipelago here. I’ve written about chapters 1-3 so far. In my ideal world, a few people will read along with me (reading the book as well would be stellar, but I try to make the blog entries readable even if you’ve never read Gulag Archipelago). However, I’m committed to this even if it’s just me: that is part of the challenge. I want to increase my confidence and ability to write about difficult material. If anyone else does read, I'd be interested in 1) For people who have read GA: how your impressions about the book are similar or different from mine, and whether similar or different parts of the book made an impression on you. 2) for people who haven't read GA, I'd be interested in your reactions to the sections of the book I discuss (I quote extensively. Sometimes it's hard not to copy large sections of each chapter because I can't believe what I just read.)

Here’s an excerpt from my entry on the first chapter, "Arrest":

The first theme of chapter one is the shock and outrage of arrest. The moment of arrest is a life crisis where it appears that everything you once believed is wrong.
“The Universe has many different centres as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a centre of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: ‘You are under arrest!’
“If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm?
But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these displacements in our universe, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life’s experiences, can gasp out only: ‘Me? What for?’
And this is a question which,though repeated millions and millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer.
Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somersault from one state to another.” (Pages 3-4)
I suspect one reason I did not make progress with GA when I was younger was because I did not have personal experience of the feeling Solzhenitsyn is talking about. I had not had my assumed reality and expectations shattered; I had not been thrust from one state into another. Life was still very safe and predictable. This of course changes in most people’s lives as they grow older. Apart from arrest in a totalitarian state, some analogous experiences might be diagnosis with a serious illness (self or loved one), being a crime victim, a severe accident or injury.  In my case I think being told we might never be able to have children was my most profound displacement. It altered all my assumptions and how I saw my place in society. (Chapter 1, Arrest)

 Back to Microblog Mondays

Saturday, 7 July 2018

5 going on 6 months

Hey, I was doing well there with regular blogging for a while! Then summer happened apparently.

It’s kind of amusing to write these baby updates as they parallel AJ’s so closely. I could practically copy AJ’s except that Dani is meeting her physical milestones about a month sooner.

Dani was 5 months old at the end of June.



  • Sitting and “standing” with support
  • Rolling rolling rolling...from back to tummy. Not from tummy to back yet, so she often gets frustrated. She rolls, squawks about it, we roll her back; anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes later she’s rolled again. Aaaaaand repeat.
  • Laughs, at mom and dad but especially at big sister
  • Likes mobiles, and immediately perks up when I play them on her mat or crib
  • Still likes the mechanical swing. And it gives me a break when she’s rolled and cried for the 100th time
  • No visual evidence of teeth yet....but tons of drool, and sometimes a pricking sensation on my breast
  • We started solids a bit earlier this time because she was showing interest. Dani was very excited to try avocado mixed with breast milk.



  • Going to move to crib...any day now
  • Squeals loudly for attention and to be part of group. Loves giggling and interacting with her sister
  • Generally social and likes attention
  • At vaccine appt, 14lbs l oz
  • Wearing 6-9 month clothing
  • Still likes baths
  • Usually good sleeper, sometimes early wakes
  • Curious about movies
  • Sucks thumb and everything else including toes
  • First family vacation went well. We did a road trip to see Mr Turtle’s convocation ceremony and then spent a few days in the city where he grew up. Nothing overly ambitious but we enjoyed ourselves and family outings to malls, zoo, parks, historical parks etc. 
We are enjoying the summer a lot. Activities include:
  • Fairly frequent play dates with community playgroup and a family or two that I am friends with. A happy synchronicity happened with my fellow infertile friend from AJ’s daycare, in that we had babies within a few months of each other. So both being on mat leave now we can do things together
  • AJ is taking swim lessons and doing great 
  • I completed my stroller -cize class and planning to take again. Also doing some drop in ballet barre classses. Hoping to shake a few pounds off my belly and hips and thighs and improve fitness. I figure I should get as fit as I can before 40 as I imagine it becomes a war of attrition at some point after that
  • Family outings to zoo, playgrounds, kid themed areas etc
  • Quite a bit of time with grandparents

....so life is good. I have started a new reading blog, and I’ll link to it in a bit. The first book I picked is super tough (Gulag Archipelago) and I’m blogging about every chapter. But I’m enjoying the challenge to write about a different topic. I’m making myself get through at least 3 chapters before sharing it (although you can find the link by going to my blogger profile).  I want to know I can carry on under my own steam so if nobody actually reads it I don’t feel discouraged.

Enjoy the summer and this precious unique moment...happiness and joy to all...

Monday, 4 June 2018

5 years reflections: resolving

So, I’ve been struggling a little with “being resolved”. Even though I feel for all practical purposes that we are resolved, as in, finished having kids. But it sounds so....one directional. So wrapped up and tidy. And I don’t feel especially tidy or like I have a direction. I’m dealing with a healthy amount of internal chaos, although it feels like purposeful chaos. It occurs to me that I like the continuous present tense better: “I am resolving.” Also there’s an incompleteness to the statement: resolving to do what? Indeed!

As I move toward the next phase in our lives, I’ve found the best way, at least right now, to resolve is to embrace being complicated. And to recognize that there are multiple layers to resolution, and I’m going to have to deal with them a few at a time. 

Where I’m at:

The family discussion: Mr Turtle says he feels very fortunate to have two children, and I can’t say I disagree. We also talked about permanent birth control, and he volunteered to be the one to have a procedure....which filled me with a surprising feeling of relief. Although we went through infertility together, I feel like most of the drama was enacted on and in my body. Even though I was extremely lucky in many ways, it was still a physical and psychological burden. To consider putting hormones in my body (nope nope nope), foreign objects (ugh, not really appealing) or surgery (not wild about that either) feels like an additional burden. For Mr Turtle to offer to take responsibility for this piece, without being asked....it is an act of great kindness and generosity, and I didn’t understand what it meant to me till it was offered.

I don’t know when a procedure actually happen, and we need to have more conversations, because the emotional piece is still complicated for me. But I think what I need most is to acknowledge it, and to work through it. I don’t need to be frozen in time. I can act like I know what I’m doing, even if I don’t, all the time.

Blogging and related commitments: I like torthuil. Writing about my experiences and inner world during infertility struggles helped make it manageable. The connections I made with this blog kept me above water many times. At the same time, I feel like I need to grow away from anonymous confessional blogging. I started blogging here because what I was doing (journaling) wasn’t answering my need. And I’m starting to feel that way again. Although I don’t want to shut down torthuil either, if for no other reason that its existence gives me perspective by providing contrast.

What will I write, in what context or community? Not sure, but it will involve writing a new life into reality. Much the way torthuil did. When I started blogging, I was facing the unknown, unsure if we would ever have children, questions of science and ethics and relationships and personal limits swirling around me. Now these questions have been answered, as well as I’m ever going to be able to answer them. It’s time to look for new questions.

With that in mind:
  • I’ll continue to write here. I’ll probably move the pages and template around a little. But all the content will stay up for now. I am not sure why, but it still feels necessary to have my story out there, in public, accessible. I don’t care about having a ton of readers (I value those I have) and I don’t even know if I have a point in writing. But visibility is a risk and....I need to take that risk. I need putting my words down to be an act of courage. 
  • I will no longer actively follow trying to conceive blogs. It’s not my pressing issue anymore and I need to step away. With the following exceptions: the blogs I already follow, anyone who reaches out to me, and anyone I get interested in just because I do. I can’t not read an interesting story. 
  • I’m going to start thinking more deliberately about what I want the rest of my life to look like. Miracle babies and all! It’s discombobulating to realize The Rest Of Life doesn’t have to take second priority to getting pregnant. Wonder of wonders. I can actually think of something else.
The possibilities are just starting to occur to me.

******
Addendum:
Shortly after I wrote the notes above, I had an interesting dream. I was in the deep water playing on a sort of raft or surfboard. For some reason I had personal possessions with me that were valuable, including a journal. These possessions kept falling off the raft, but I didn’t feel a deep sense of loss until the journal was lost in the depths. And I wasn’t sure what was written in it, even, but I thought it contained memories of our early marriage. However upset as I was, it never occurred to me to stop playing in the water. Rather I left behind the raft and all the stuff I had with me and started taking these huge bouncy leaps through in the water, as if I had a giant pogo stick. I suddenly found the ability to jump high in the air and go farther and deeper than I ever had. And there was a group of people somewhere in the distance, who were saying: you can come join us. I don’t know who exactly they were, but it was easier to join them now that I was free of the raft.

*****

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Dani 4 months

What, it’s the end of May? I guess we were having lots of fun this month....

I am still excited when I get to write an update on the 31st, ie when Dani has a “real” month birthday.

I have filled the car with gas 3 times since Dani was born. (It was full the day of.) I will one day lose count but I haven’t yet. Obviously I am driving less which is good as gas prices  have sure gone up.

Anytime it’s a full moon I think of Dani’s birthday.

I had to delete the photos and video from Dani’s birth and early weeks off my phone a couple of weeks ago. And even though they are on the hard drive I feel kinda crappy about it because it means I can’t see them anytime I want. I struggle to organize media but I really would like to some way make photos and videos more accessible while keeping them safe. I feel like there’s some kind of cloud technology I should learn how to use.  I like the hard drive backup but I’d like a virtual backup too. People who know about this sort of thing, feel free to comment.

Dani continues to meet her milestones. She is long and lean like her sister. I forgot to write down her length and weight at the doctors’, oops. She is a solid little cutie, though.

What’s new the past month:
  • Sits with support, and tries to sit up from a lying down or reclined position
  • Pushes up when she’s on her tummy and holds up her head



  • Rolls onto her side (usually in pursuit of her thumb). Doctor thinks she is getrting ready to roll all the way and will do this early.
  • We saw a specialist about the hip dysplasia, but he was not convinced there is a problem (apparently only one photo showed an issue, and there are no physical signs of a problem). So we will go back for a follow up ultrasound.
  • Squeals and giggles. I have a fitful career as a comedian, as in I sometimes discover a silly sound or word that will make her giggle for a few minutes, until she’s bored with the joke.
  • Blowing Raspberries
  • Grabs her toes



  • Still loves to suck her thumb
  • Taking a bottle better: last date night she stayed with grandparents and actually drank all the milk I left her
  • Sleeps  through night for most part, but starting to wake up to be fed between 4 and 5am....usually I can get her, and myself, back to sleep for another hour or two though. Self soothes with her thumb.....no more swaddled arms.
  • Dani is increasingly full of charm and personality. Sibling interactions continue to go well. AJ and Dani can interact for a few minutes together, smiling and cuddling. AJ shows great caring to her baby sister. 
  • Nicknames: Dani, Dani Bear, or simply Bear
Me:
  • Had a period of time this month when I felt really exhausted, but energy seems to have returned
  • Breastfeeding going well. Boobs don’t feel so huge and heavy anymore  so I think my body has found a balance 
  • On the other hand I wonder if hormones are being weird. I have been waking up hot lately, even when it isn’t a hot night. It’s not exactly how I’ve heard a hot flash described, not so dramatic, but I wonder? Also woke up nauseous in the night which sometimes occurs during menstrual cycle (though it has not returned)
  • Weight is slowly coming off. I don’t usually pay much attention to my weight so I imagined myself losing 5 lbs a month which isn’t apparently realistic, especially since I’m not interested in making any major lifestyle changes. I go for walks with the kids, take a weekly exercise class and try not to snack on junk food.  I’m down to about 12 lbs over pre preg weight and consistently dropping and I’m good with that.
Plans:
  • Vacation next week, to Mr Turtle’s convocation ceremony and then a few days in the city where he was born. MIL and husband will be there too. Should be fun.
  • We are enjoying the summer and play date opportunities. And relax time, either inside or outside.
Wishing everyone a wonderful June.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Dani 3 months

Our baby girl is 3 months, and so cuddly and fun!  This is such a super snuggly age: old enough to not be too wobbly but little enough to fit perfectly in the crook of my arm.






I’ve bern writing this when I have a chance in my phone. Haphazard bullet points it is: 
  • Dani learned to suck her thumb. I joke that she has accomplished her first life goal because she has been trying so hard for weeks. Not sure how I feel about thumb sucking in general but I have to give her “thumbs up” for persistence anyway. AJ also learned to suck her thumb at the same age but interestingly lost interest in it shortly after. Dani does seem to like to self soothe though, so she might be a longer term commitment.


  • Smiles and laughs. It’s wonderful to see her sheer joy at being in the world. 
  • Wearing 6 month size clothes 
  • Favourite toy is a knotted ribbon I call the jellyfish.  It was on one of her shower presents and she can be entertained for long periods of time watching it dangled over her head.



  • Enjoys music, lately the musical “Cats”. Why Cats? Well we were playing with the jellyfish, (see above) and that brought to mind jellicle cats, so I played her a couple of songs and she seemed to like them, so now we regularly listen to the whole soundtrack. I like the poetry, the variety in instrumentation, and the general playful absurdity of it.
  • Dani likes to be upright and tries to sit up. Increasingly I hold her in a supported seated position. 
  • Loves being sung to and having her feet played with while we sing a song: eg hokey pokey, wheels on the bus, this is the way we ride our bicycle, if you’re happy and you know it
  • Sleep is getting a bit rougher? Dani was sleeping through the night consistently, but the past couple of weeks have seem more early morning and middle of the night wake ups.  Perhaps it is the warmer weather which makes it harder  to get cozy without being hot? She will quickly go back to sleep after a feed but I have not been able to get back to sleep as easily, so I have had long wakeful periods at night. It still works best to swaddle Dani’s arms in in the Halo sleep sack, but she will outgrow the swaddle soon I think. So there could be more challenges on the horizon.
  • Brings hand together, can hold a toy kind of and tries to bring it to her mouth. She is opening and closing her fingers and appears to be using them to grasp.
  • Rolls onto her side 
  • Lifting head slightly during tummy time. She can fairly easily move it from side to side now.
  • Watches and listens while AJ tells her a story. Dani really does seem to like her big sister. AJ is very affectionate with her and I encourage her to talk to and interact with her little sister.

     
  • Diagnosed with mild hip dyplasia in her right hip. The screening is protocol for all breech babies, and being female increases the risk.  I am currently waiting to hear back for consult with orthopaedic surgeon. At this age the interventions are non surgical from what I have read. I’m hoping it is no big deal, but I’m still disappointed she has it as I’d convinced myself she didn’t and the screening was only a precaution.
  • I feel like Dani’s emotions are more intense than AJ’s. She shows happiness much of the time but when she is displeased the fury rains down on the just and the unjust. Other family members also have difficulty soothing her: it usually has to be me (and my boobs). Mr Turtle can also do a pretty good job short term if he lets her suck his finger.
  • Dani enjoys her bath and we have also taken her to the swimming pool a few times. She enjoys splashing in the warm water of the shallow kiddie pool. Both the girls have a fun time there though I find it a bit revolting: there were unidentified brown particulates floating in the water once for example. Also AJ likes to point to things on the floor and say “What’s that Mommy?” I finally told her that if she kept pointing out to me what was on the floor, we might never come to the pool again.
  • Outside time is still enjoyed. Dani has not been too fond of the mei tai so mostly we use the stroller. She will still sleep in the stroller though not as much as she used to. Still it’s highly likely on any given day that she has her nap outside. She also seems to enjoy the playpen outside so we will likely do more of that.
In summary, I am just so happy our baby girl chose to manifest in our family a year ago. Already memory is editing the past and it’s hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t here (though the blog does help preserve the record of those times, with their questions and uncertainties.) I am simultaneously trying to savour every moment and so excited for what is to come.

Monday, 30 April 2018

A day in the life: April 2018

AJ: 3 and a half years old
Dani: nearly 3 months old
The day was April 23rd, 2018

I am on maternity leave and Mr Turtle is working full time.

6:11: Mr Turtle’s alarm goes off. He goes to have a shower.

I peek at Dani in the bedside bassinet. She is slurping a bit on her hand, which she’s worked out of the swaddle.  She has not managed to wake herself up though. She has slept through night after going to sleep around 10. We were at my mom’s for my brothers birthday so it was a late night. I doze off again.





7:00ish: Get out of bed to go to bathroom and say goodbye to Mr Turtle.

Go back to bed, read Facebook and blogs.

Community mom’s group posted last minute play date for 10 am at a local playground. Since it is close by this might be doable.

7:30 everyone is still asleep, so I decide to have shower.

7:50 done. Hear baby sniffles. But not quite awake. Throw in a load of laundry: AJ’s snow pants, winter jacket, dinosaur costume and favourite dress. I am reasonably sure we are done with the never ending winter. For the first time in recent memory, no snow in the forecast and temps in the double digits.

Dani fully wakes up. Diaper change, nasal aspiration.

AJ wakes up. “Mom!” And “where are we going today?” I tell her about the play date.

8:15 give AJ a banana, boob feed Dani. We sit together on the couch.





Ask AJ to put banana peels in the compost. She analyzes them for a while, says they look like jellyfish, then goes to kitchen and puts them in what I hope is the compost.

AJ tries to play peekaboo with Dani. 





Dani is in extremely cuddly huggable 3 month stage. Snuggle snuggle snuggle.





8:30 AJ goes to potty. Hear demented giggling from bathroom. What.

AJ is sitting on the potty cooing over her baby dolls. Too adorable.





Put Dani into her crib which is across from bathroom. Help A J with wiping. She puts the new roll of  toilet paper on the holder. I refrain from criticizing when she puts it on flap underneath. She doesn’t want to wash and dress yet.

Bath for Dani. I don’t wash her hair. I think I washed it yesterday.  I think I should probably have washed my hair today though. Can’t keep track of whose hair has and hasn’t been washed. 





Fussy Dani after bath and dress so I offer more boob. AJ still playing with baby dolls. 

9:00: Dani off boob. Decide to get some breakfast.

9:10 make peanut butter sandwich for myself and for AJ, for later. AJ needs to poop. She undresses and sits on potty without help. I boil water for instant coffee, boil eggs and slice cheese. Pack some and eat some. Periodically check on AJ on bathroom. 

Find AJ lying naked face down on the bathroom rug. It happens to be clean, but I tell her that is not hygienic. Help with wiping etc.

9:30 sit down to eat some breakfast. Dani is in the swing. AJ entertains her by babbling and waving around a toy. Dani likes it, smiles and coos. Very cute.

9:40 done breakfast 

Hustle around doing odds and ends, packing to go out. Remind AJ about getting dressed.

9:54 time for AJ’s wash. Dani fussy so I take her out of swing and hold her. AJ needs to be cajoled into coming for a wash. I talk about getting to the park in time to see the others. Feeling a tad crabby at this point.

Wipe AJ’s face and butt with washcloth while holding Dani in the other hand.  She wipes her feet with the cloth. Is currently obsessed with her “toe jam.” 

We go to pick out clothes.  I convince AJ to wear shirt and pants to playground because a dress will get dirty and torn. Lately she always wants to wear a dress or her dinosaur costume (which she received for Halloween when she was 2 years old and which still fits, barely.)

10:10 AJ dressed with teeth brushed. She gets her clothes on by herself and mostly does her own teeth. She ignores me when I ask her to come and get her hair brushed and braided. I decide to let it go and boob feed Dani, who is crying.

When AJ comes to living room I remind her about hair. Not yet, she says. When she asks me to tie her favourite blanket around her neck like a cape, I say I’ll do it when her hair is done. We get hair done. Then AJ tears around wearing her tiara, a necklace and the “cape.”

Between 10:15 and 10:45:  getting stroller out of car, getting everyone dressed, convincing AJ to leave her accessories at home, loading stroller, running back and forth looking for things I forget or think I forgot, only to realize they are already in the stroller.

10:45: we are ready to head to park. I reflect that I’m really quite good at this parenting business, as long as you don’t expect me to be anywhere on time. Or to have dinner ready every day. I mean I have dinner ready some days. Just not all of them.  Luckily Mr Turtle is good at making a fast meal.

I found a scooter in the school recycle bin last fall, still in good condition. AJ is learning how to use it. I suggest to get we take the short way to the playground to get there faster, but she insists on the long way. Halfway there complaining AJ tired and hungry, but we make it. The scooter actually slows us down but I’m able to put it on the stroller when AJ is tired of it. Dani is awake and observant for about 15 minutes then falls asleep.

At the park we sit with the other playgroup moms, eat our snacks. AJ goes to play after a while. She doesn’t know the other kids really well yet,so sometimes she plays with them, sometimes stares at them, sometimes does her own thing. I’m not sure she yet knows how to ask to play or invite another child but she usually responds to others or shows interest in joining a group. Unfortunately the little girl she most likes to play with is having another off day, clinging to mom and whimpering.  (Find out later she is suffering from unknown allergies. Ugh, poor thing). Dani sleeps.

1:00, most of the other moms are moving toward going home, but it takes another half hour before they actually leave.  I convince AJ to leave by saying we’ll eat some goldfish when we cross the street.

Cross the street successfully. AJ drops a goldfish on the ground. I tell her it’s for the birds. A few meters on she starts crying, says she doesn’t want the birds to have it, so we walk back pick it up, and put it in my pocket.

2:00ish, we are home. AJ wants to stay outside and eat her snack. It’s sunny and warm, and Dani is still sleeping in her stroller, so it seems like a good idea. I retrieve the eggs I boiled earlier and forgot about. We sit outside for an hour. I catch up on this blog. I love spring. 

3:00ish, Dani is still sleeping. AJ is playing in the yard in her own world. I consider doing something useful and decide against it. I don’t want to leave Dani outside on her own and I don’t want to try to transfer her either. So I go get a snack and a book.

I read a chapter and a half of The Gulag Archepelago. First chapter is “Arrest” and describes many of the ways people were arrested in the Soviet Union. For the most part they did not resist at all.  Interesting reading but hardly reassuring with regards to humanity. I also call my mom. 

Around 4ish Dani starts to stir. I feed her outside then pop in to change a diaper. Feed her some more. Mr Turtle is baking fish tonight so I decide to try to prepare some sides. I find AJ’s bubbles which keep her happy outside a little longer.  

Dani is happy for a few minutes on a blanket on the kitchen floor while I peel potatoes and chop vegetables for salad. I talk to her and watch AJ out the  window as she plays in the backyard. She keeps asking us to come outside again, so we do, then as soon as we are comfortable she decides to go into the house. I am slightly annoyed by this and tell her it’s not fair to baby Dani.. However, AJ makes it up by hugging Dani and talking to her for several minutes. Dani smiles and coos at her. It is beautiful.

We chill until Mr Turtle comes home around 5:30. He is just in time to help AJ on the potty: hurrah. Mr Turtle is in a good mood. He was recently promoted and has been a bit stressed adjusting to the new job, but things are coming together better. 

I hand Dani, who is also in a good mood, to Mr Turtle for cuddles. I go outside to bring my book in and continue by putting away the stroller, taking the laundry out (remember the laundry?) changing my clothes, etc.

AJ has spread her dinosaurs all over the kitchen floor. She partially clears them so Mr Turtle can cook. I hold Dani in my lap and sit in the kitchen so we can talk while he continues with dinner. Dani feeds again. And poops massively.

Dinner is baked salmon, mashed potatoes and salad. We all enjoy it thoroughly including AJ who has a good appetite from her time outside. Fish is one of her favourites. Dani smiles and coos at us from her swing.

7:45ish: Mr Turtle has also made chocolate pudding upon request. AJ has eaten her dinner so she can watch two mini movies. We all go downstairs to the TV. Dani’s mood has turned and she has scream crying. I stick a boob in her mouth. She becomes happy again. And poops. Diaper change.

When I come back I give Dani to Mr Turtle again so I can eat my pudding. She stays happy for a decent amount of time but is clearly getting tired. A few minutes later we split up to do bedtimes. Mr Turtle does cleanup, pyjanas, floss and toothbrush with AJ. I put Dani in pyjamas and a sleep sack, cuddle and feed her one last time. She falls asleep after feeding at around 8:50. Mr Turtle shows AJ three short songs on iPhone and reads her two stories (as agreed). I transfer Dani to her bassinet. She stays asleep but stirs and whimpers a few times, so I need to stay close and settle her by putting a hand on her chest or gently holding her hands away from her face.

Mr Turtle finished cleaning up then goes downstairs for his quiet time when AJ has settled, and I finish the blog in bed beside Dani.

9:30, Dani seems well asleep. I have forgotten my vitamins again so grab a snack and take them. Brush teeth. Say goodnight to Mr Turtle, then listen to audiobook Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Fall asleep.

Overall, another awesome spring. And as I post this it is exactly a year since I started the cycle that led to Dani. Kind of a peculiar anniversary but I like to think back and remember how life has changed in a year. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

5 years reflections: gift card

Back in January 2014, I went to a post Christmas school staff party. One of the organizers had a fiancé who worked at a luxury hotel chain, and they were able to get a deal to hold the dinner there. The hotel also donated the grand prize and behold.....My name was drawn! This was shortly after our IVF was cancelled. Several  people there knew about it, and told me they were particularly happy we had won since we surely needed a pick-me-up. It was a sweet moment. Our prize consisted of gift certificates to brunch and “death by chocolate”  (a dessert buffet) at the hotel, as well as a  $100 gift certificate and a gift basket.

Then, a few days later....our house was burgled. Seriously, that month. It was insane. Afterwards I hid the gift certificates in the back of a cupboard, although logically I knew we were unlikely to be robbed again and it was even more unlikely a burglar would take them.

The surprises were not over, however. A few weeks later we got the biggest surprise of all.

I meant to use the gift certificates. In the early weeks of our first pregnancy, I took them on a weekend trip to the mountains. We stayed in the hotel chain and I intended  to go to the spa. Instead I was stuck in bed either throwing up, asleep, or awake trying not to throw up. I spent the weekend watching CNN and late night infomercials on the hotel TV. Many months later, after AJ was born, I did finally take a friend to Death By Chocolate.

The other day I was digging in the cupboard for a can of something and spotted the bag where I had hidden the remaining prizes. Inside I found the brunch certificate and the $100 gift card. The brunch certificate expired three years ago. But the gift card was still valid.





I decided we would finally use it to have a date night. It seemed somehow appropriate to go out and celebrate now that both our children are safely here, and the events of that January a memory that has mellowed with time.





We enjoyed delicious food, but the best part was the conversation: having the time and attention to explore trains of thought together and let them take us where they would. It is reassuring to realize that after knowing each other for 10 years, and being married for nearly 8, and now with 2 children, that we do still like to talk to each other.



Salad, and wine. Living dangerously!



Main course: lamb




Blurry dessert. Having too much fun to hold the phone steady. This was a “melting chocolate sphere”: dessert inside chocolate globe that melts when hot sauce poured over it.

Several times wait staff asked if we were celebrating anything: anniversary, birthday etc. We replied “no just date night!” But after being asked and asked I thought back to early 2014, and said impulsively to Mr Turtle: “It is the anniversary of the death of despair.” And as soon as I said it I really liked it. Worry and uncertainty didn’t end with the pregnancy; in fact they were really just getting started, from one point of view. But there was no more despair. People embrace the future in different ways, and we often have to be creative, and flexible, not knowing what it will bring, or when it is different than imagined. Four years ago, we were just learning to embrace what our lives would become. It wasn’t always an easy process but it was a good process.

The thought fills my heart with light. Something to celebrate. One day, I think we will look back on this dinner as a new beginning in our lives.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Comfort zones

I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty good job of getting myself and my children out into the community, rather more so than when AJ was a baby. Some of this is no doubt because I have a three year old now, and it’s rather more difficult to poke around all day at home with a young energetic child. But I like to think some of it is me being braver and more imaginative, too.

AJ is now home 3 days a week, at daycare 2 days a week. We are still working out a routine, but we’ve gone to one weekly play date with a local moms group and plan to keep going.  I’m going to take AJ to kids yoga this week.  We go for walks regularly and I have taken both kids grocery shopping. AJ does really well when all 3 of us are out. We talk a lot about safety when we are out walking, crossing the road, pointing out blind corners and back alleys, etc. I hope I can help her a get a good sense of independent safety so she can have the maximum amount of freedom. I really hate hovering and hectoring.

I’ve also started going to a stroller fitness class at a local rec centre, although it hasn’t involved strollers so far as it’s been too cold to go outside. This has been interesting. My first choice would have been the mom and baby barre class, but it wasn’t on the day I wanted. 
So instead  I found myself in a gym with a few other moms running laps and skipping rope and using weights and whatever else the instructor came up with.

I’m not sporty. I’ll happily walk and bike and cycle and swim and ski, but I don’t “work out”  and have never played team or competitive sports. I’ve always been able to maintain a acceptable level of fitness and health without a great deal of effort, so I’ve never explored fitness culture. As for sports, I have little to no comprehension of them and am not the slightest bit motivated to run after a ball or other projectile. I’m more likely to run the other way. Luckily our stroller fit class has not involved any actual sports; that would be totally embarrassing (and probably dangerous for the babies).  However, I still felt a bit like I was back in high school gym class, except everything jiggled a bit more.

The sense of being slightly out of my depth is  increased by my cheap shoes (I didn’t think we’d be inside much so didn’t want to spend much on them), the fact that the instructor keeps reminding me that I don’t have to try anything too difficult, and by the conversation that can run to sports played by the other ladies as children, etc. I do find ways to insert myself into the conversation but thinking too much means missing the natural openings. Also I swear that women sense when someone is hesitant to talk and rush to fill gaps with more chatter. But really it is better to leave silent space so that people who need more time to think can say something. I’m going to try to remember that.


My crappy but also rather pretty shoes

Anyway, this got me thinking about how I approach situations  and I realized that when I feel uncomfortable I tend to pull back and analyze what is going on (as you can tell from this entry). That does come in useful sometimes but especially in a non-serious situation, it isn’t the best approach necessarily.  The stakes in my little fitness class are very low. I only see these ladies once a week and we don’t have to work together or anything. So I’ve decided to try to do the opposite of my  instinct and embrace the (slight) weirdness rather than be put off by it. I can learn useful things like what kind of sports to introduce the girls to. Even though it was never my thing I am sure there are many advantages to them playing sports if they want. AJ is already interested in hockey (although she can barely stand on the ice so we are a ways away from any solid commitment there). It’s fun to look for resemblances to yourself in ones children but also fun to think they can totally grow up without my personal limitations. And the best way to embrace that, I think, is to also push my limitations so I look forward to doing that, in little steps.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

5 years reflections: the fertility clinic

 torthúil was 5 years old in January 2018. I had other things on my mind then, so I didn’t write anything on my blogoversary. But I thought it might be interesting to write a few retrospective entries on the last 5 years. So I will plan to do that and put the label “5 years reflections” in the titles.

In January 2013 we got our referral to The Fertility Clinic for the first time. I remember being both anxious and excited and my entries reflect that. I felt like I was about to be initiated into an exclusive club, and I was nervous about what that meant. I felt like a lot of things were going to happen but I didn’t know what any of them would be. All we could do was set sail and hope we would ride out whatever storms were on the horizon. I didn’t doubt there would be storms. I didn’t think it would be easy.

Our first contact with The Fertility Clinic was in April 2013. Our first appointment was in May. We spent the next few months doing seemingly endless tests culminating in an IVF attempt January 2014.

I was trying to think the other day if I have any happy memories whatsoever of The Fertility Clinic. There’s really only one, and that was when I picked up my drugs for IVF. I had been feeling quite apprehensive about IVF shortly before. My mom came with me to the clinic to get all the medication and we rode back to my parents place on the bus. (Mr Turtle was still in the US visiting his mom.) It was cold, overcast and snowy. The bag containing the drugs was purple. I had not thought about this in a long time but when I finally disposed of the leftover IVF drugs and supplies a few weeks ago, I remembered later and thought: that visit was actually a happy experience. I liked having my mom with me. She was excited too. Later we played Scrabble and we made all sorts of fertility related words like “ova” and “baby.” Probably not coincidence. 

The next day I had to go renew my driver’s license. It was sunny and the light reflected brightly off the winter snow. I walked to a nearby registry office. As I walked home afterwards, I suddenly felt a lightness of spirit. I believed we were doing the right thing and beyond that, I felt a joyful presence with me. I was not alone. I have never talked about this experience because I can’t explain it. But I can’t dismiss it either. It is one of the sacred memories of my life.

Otherwise, however, I really have no good associations with The Fertility Clinic. They never got us pregnant. Almost every meeting was bad news. Mind you the last one was more hopeful, and it’s funny to think I was already pregnant when we were there but I didn’t know it. When the nurse called me the next month to get set up for IUI, I got to say “thanks, but I’m already pregnant.” Somehow that was more embarrassing than satisfying.

I was thinking of all this recently because I am as close to certain as I can be that we will never go to the Fertility Clinic again. Hurrah! We are probably done having children as well, but we do not intend to ask The Fertility Clinic to help in any case.

There’s only one scenario where I can see us going back and that’s if - God forbid - one of our children dies and we decide to do absolutely anything to have another. I don’t know why my mind goes there but that’s literally the only circumstance I can think of. Unless I also consider insanity. I hope neither of those things ever happen.

With that in mind, I feel like I can say we are “resolved.” Even if we choose not to actively prevent pregnancy (that’s another can of worms), I’m done with any form of assisted reproduction.

I am so grateful for my children and to close the book on assisted reproduction it makes my head spin. Paradoxically, it also makes me feel a little closer to the memories of when we were starting out. I can now re-read the entries where we were anticipating or doing various treatments and think “and this is how it ends.” What a great gift. There's a little frisson of deja vu, a thought of "so now what?" but mainly sweet relief and gratitude.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Dani 2 months

Here we are two months after baby Dani’s birthday. Since not every month has 31 days it’s exciting to celebrate a real month birthday.

Before Dani was born I rather hoped I wouldn’t have a January baby but now I think she has the coolest birthday. And because it’s at the end of January it will make furure Januarys better because of the anticipation.

Likes:
Bouncing on the ball chair, the swing for short periods of time, car rides (sometimes), stroller rides (usually), smiling at her people, baths. Tummy time-kind of? I discovered I could make it more interesting for her by using those wind up toys. I send them skittering around her and it gives her something to look at so she tolerates tummy time longer.

Weight: 11.2 lbs

Length: “”

Fashion: 3-6  month clothes. Some even marked 6-9 months. Both my girls have long torsos (I guess?) so even though some of these are quite wide they are the right length.



 Wearing one of the two sleepers that I bought 
before she was born.  Almost outgrown. Sigh and smile.

Social life:
Smiling, cooing, little one and two syllable giggle sounds. When she is in a good mood she can interact for up to ten minutes with someone. 





Sleeping: 5-7 hour stretches at night, usually followed by another 2 hour snooze. Sometimes a longish nap during the day, though she can be a challenge to put down. She will usually sleep in car or stroller (but often wakes up VERY pissed). She also can fuss a lot before bed. Goes to sleep between 9:30 and 11:30. Wakes up between 4am and 7am to feed, then back asleep 40 to 90 minutes later.

Eating: lots of boob milk. Other than the sore nipples for  a few days after birth, no issues. I haven’t been pumping or practicing with a bottle since mid March. She is reluctant to take a bottle, despite initial success. Will try to start again next month. 

When I drive past the road we took to the hospital, I always think of Dani’s birth.  I remember how the foundations of my world shifted that night, the power that surged through my body to bring the new reality into being.

Nicknames: Dani Bear, Squish, Snuggleumpagus.

Looking forward to spring with family!

Monday, 26 March 2018

Microblog Monday: Baby shower

A few months ago, my MIL and I were talking about my SIL’s baby shower, and I mentioned I’d  never been to a baby shower. Or had one.

There aren’t a lot of babies among my family and friends, as I’ve previously mentioned. Of the few that have had babies so far, they’ve been from out of town. It’s not exactly true that I’ve never been invited to a baby shower. I was once. But it was a friend’s daughter, not a close friend, and we had vacation plans, and we were right in the middle of infertility. So I didn’t go.

I would have gone to my SIL’s shower. But she’s a 3 hour plane ride away. Hence the conversation.

MIL seemed rather perturbed by this information. She said: “ I just assumed somebody would have organized a shower for you.” (She’s also a 3 hour plane ride away.) As I explained though, my mother grew up and had her kids outside of the kind of culture that has baby showers (however you define that). So it wouldn’t occur to her on her own. I don’t have sisters or sisters in law. It would be a weird request to make of my friends without children. Or so it seems to me. My step MIL would have organized a shower for me, I’m sure, if I’d asked. Thing is, with AJ I was too anxious throughout the pregnancy 
to want a shower.  Any time I was at a family dinner or something and people started talking about my pregnancy, it made me panicky. I would briefly enjoy the attention then I would imagine the baby dying and everyone heartbroken, and it just added to my emotional baggage. 

With Dani I was much less anxious (those thoughts didn’t creep in till very close to birth), but since she was a second child and I didn’t have a shower for AJ, again it seemed like a weird thing to ask. Plus we already have a lot of stuff. And I haven’t been to any showers or organized any, so it wasn’t like payback was in order. 

(Speaking of payback, check out 
You Owe Me by Baroness Von Sketch.)

 MIL is action oriented, so once she had processed all this social awkwardness and omission, she decided we were having a shower for Dani. I liked the idea as Dani was already born, or going to be very soon (I forget when exactly we spoke about it). I much prefer a party with the baby here. Even if pregnancy was emotionally easier the second time around.  (I have never liked the adjective  “expecting” with its presumptive  missing noun. Everyone fills in “a baby” without a second thought, it seems, but I also mentally filled the gap with all sorts of disasters.)

As it happened, the past weekend most of the family on MIL’s side was gathering in a small town north of us to celebrate MIL’s brother’s birthday and retirement. So my MIL arranged a brunch the day after the party for our family. She booked a room at a cozy inn and bought a cake. Mr. Turtle’s cousins helped decorate. 



People with faces tastefully obscured with red scribbling.



Cake 

It was fun. The food was delicious and we were able to talk and visit in a relaxed fashion. Dani fed and then slept in step FIL’s arms for the remainder of the party. There were presents for Dani but also for AJ and for the only other baby born so far on this side of the family, a little boy.

My favourite present was from Mr Turtle’s uncle: a beautiful, soft blanket monogrammed with Dani’s name and birthdate. I just love this blanket (here folded to preserve some anonymity.) 




I think seeing Dani’s name and birthday just makes me so happy that she is truly here and the twisting and uncertain journey that brought her to us has an end date, and a happy ending. And I can cuddle her in the blanket and be reminded of this every day.

I am glad that we got to have a shower after all. Despite all my previous excuses and mixed feelings I think it is important to bring people together to mark milestones. I am grateful to have people who will do this for us, and do it in the way that is most enjoyable.

Back to 
microblog Mondays

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A night out with Natalie

Before I found and fell in love with baby Dani's name, one of the girl names on my list was Natalie. This was in no small part because of Canadian musician Nat.alie Mac.master. I've listened to Natalie's music for twenty years at least and own most of her albums. I saw her live for the first time in 2000, outside in the rain, and since then I've lost count of how many shows I've been to.  As I grew into young and mid-adulthood she was more and more the model of a woman who had it together (I dislike the expression "has it all" but you could say that too).  She was close enough to my age to be relate-able but enough older to be a role model and to experience life milestones just the right amount of time before I did.

There is a life parallel or two. Despite being extraordinarily good looking, popular and talented, Natalie didn't date much in her twenties or have many relationships. In interviews she usually gave the reason that she was too busy playing music (for several years she had an incredibly busy touring schedule) but she also implied a few times that it was because she took relationships very seriously and was not into casual relationships or sex. I am not extraordinarily good looking, popular or talented but also didn't date much for similar reasons, so I liked the fact she was honest about this.

Natalie married at age 30, the same age I got married. She married another talented fiddler from Ontario who, like her, was part of a strong musical tradition. After this our personal lives become rather different. Natalie and her husband didn't have kids for two or three years after marriage. And then they started having kids....a lot of kids. Baby number 6 was born in 2014 when she was 42.  She and her husband continue to play music professionally, run a farm and home school their children. And as you might expect, all the kids are learning music and  dancing. I have yet to see them all live, but I'm sure it's adorable.

My favourite quote about the right time to have children is from Natalie: "No time is a good time, so any time works." I don't recall feeling resentful of her during the years we were struggling to conceive. Natalie and her husband must have already had four or five kids by the time we started trying, so it's not like we were ever going to catch up. Besides, she's so down to earth she's not an easy person to be negative towards. After baby 6, a girl, I assumed she was done especially since the baby was born with Down Syndrome (this has not stopped her from taking up the fiddle).

Anyway. Last year Mr. Turtle and I were discussing Christmas presents and decided to continue with our recent tradition of "experience" gifts, i.e. planning a date night for each other. I browsed through the concert listings in our city and noticed Natalie was playing here March 17th, so I suggested that to Mr. Turtle for my present. Neither of us bothered to calculate that we would have a six week old infant at the time; also maybe the memory of what babies are like was a little faint.

The weeks went by and this past weekend, it was time to go out and enjoy my Christmas present! By a lucky coincidence my mother in law and her husband were visiting so we had someone to watch the girls. I was a bit anxious, but I succeeded in pumping milk the week before, and after watching Grandma successfully feed Dani more than two ounces from a bottle, I started looking forward to the night out. We also had dinner at home, so we weren't away for more than three hours including travel time.

Natalie had played a show on Friday night, and my step dance teacher went and posted effusively about it on Face.book. She added in the ensuing comment conversation:  "And she's expecting baby number seven! Amazing woman!" My response was "OMG LOL." Internet-ese is great for expressing emotion efficiently and opaquely in six letters.  Of course, I did the math. Natalie is 45.

It was an excellent show, and Mr. Turtle had bought tickets in the 4th row from the stage. This is not the ideal place for sound, but we could see all the expressions and the stepdancing. Natalie is a great showman. She walked on stage with a big grin, and rubbed her belly before launching into her first set. I could see the mischievous look she gave the audience while doing it, and it was awesome, I can't deny it. Nevertheless, I was glad I was warned. Knowing that I was going to see a pregnant woman performing on stage meant I could take it in and then move on to listening the the music, whooping and hollering, tapping my feet, and pondering such matters as how exactly she had attached her electronics to her back and how she was keeping her pants up.

After a couple of sets, Natalie patted her belly and said "I guess I should explain this...." She said she and her husband had not set out to have seven kids, but, life happens (paraphrasing). She told the audience "I'm 45" and joked about being "AMA": "Advanced maternal age." "Age is just a number!" and "We are looking forward to meeting this sweetheart." I genuinely liked her bold comments. Maybe (probably?) I would have felt differently if we hadn't been able to have our children. I may even have felt differently if I didn't know she was pregnant walking in. I don't know. But I can see how she could be judged for having a lot of children, or having children into her 40s. Even I am inclined to judge a bit for having another baby after one is born with Down's, because it's something I'm afraid of and would like to avoid. But at the same time....It was life affirming to see her on stage, joyful, and not remotely apologetic for her choices. I like that she is child positive. I like the fact she was open about her age. It's a pet peeve of mine that women are supposed to lie about or conceal our ages.

Although it is funny timing, coming just as I am sorting out my feelings about whether or not I am done having children.  But I think the lesson to draw from this experience is not that people should have more or less children, but that life is better when you do your best to open your heart up to whatever opportunities present themselves.

As for Dani, she did just fine. She ended up refusing to take the bottle, but she only fussed a bit and then dozed off in her car seat (which was the only place grandparents could put her down). I fed her and moved her to her bassinet with a lot less trouble than I sometimes have (her fussiest time is often before bed, and it can drag on for an hour or two).

Life is good.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Six weeks

I took Dani for her six week check up today (six week post partum visit for me). It was the first time she and I have been to the doctor since she was 5 days old. At 5 days Dani was already over her birthweight so we did not need to go in sooner.




She is 10 lbs and change (I really need to remember to note these numbers) and in good health. I mentioned her nose / throat mucus which can irritate her when we put her down to sleep. There wasn’t any reason to suppose it was caused by anything serious though.

I am also good: a bit of constipation to take care of, and my stomach muscles are slightly separated in front. I have to remember to breathe normally if I’m working out my abs. That seems to be all. I’ve lost about 15 lbs from what I remember of my last pregnant weigh-in. Still around 20lbs over pre preg weight. At this point I don’t really care if I’m losing weight as long as I’m not gaining.

This could also be my last ever visit to the maternity clinic, as Dani will now be seen by our family doctor. How do I feel about this? Well.....fine actually. Several times a day, I think to myself  “We have a baby.” Not a hope, not a dream. Not a gamble every month. Not a treatment plan. Not a little embryo or fetus that we hope makes it. An actual baby. That’s such a big deal. It is so very different than it was before.

Moving forward: 
  • Signed up for a stroller exercise class next month
  • Also next month AJ will only be at daycare 2 days a week. We are calling it preschool (because it’s as good or better, and we don’t have to find a preschool)
  • My extended leave is approved: plan is to return to work sept 2019
Rest of life, here I come!

Love and light to all.


Monday, 12 March 2018

Microblog Monday: Reading

I don’t want to put too many baby pictures on the blog, so instead here is a picture of the book I’m reading: 



The title is pretty descriptive. It’s kind of “self-help” but with psychology, philosophy, literature, religion, mythology all mixed in. Each chapter has a lot to challenge your mind but also common sense advice you can start using immediately.  (Here are the 
12 rules, for the curious.)

I first discovered Dr. Peterson’s online lectures 
last May. But I really got into them in the summer when I was in early pregnancy and struggling with nausea. They helped occupy my mind and half the time I would also fall asleep. Which may not sound like a compliment to the professor but I was grateful for the sleep!

I’ve worked my way through most of the online lectures, and now I sometimes enjoy one of the longer interviews while breastfeeding or baby cuddling. (They seem to put her to sleep too...)

I can’t sleep through the book. It took a bit of getting used to, as Dr Peterson’s written voice had a different feel from the spoken one. A bit more stern maybe? But I’m into it now.

I’m glad I’m finally actually reading a book as I’d lost most of my desire to read books in the past two years. I’ve not yet found the author who will interest me in fiction again, but this is a start....




Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Dani 1 month

Well here we are....one month after Dani’s birth. February just flew by. One more day and I can start dreaming of spring. It feels like a vain dream at present because the earth has vanished under the masses of snow we got this winter. But the days are getting longer....the days of rebirth and renewal are coming; the days of hibernation will be a thing of the past. Yeah maybe. March and April are two of our heaviest snow months. 

By 3 weeks, Dani had outgrown newborn diapers and her teensy newborn clothes. She has long legs so needs the extra room of 0-3 sizes to accommodate. Wearing size 1 diapers. 

Dani is starting to do more cute baby things like little coos and vowel sounds. She also has the best snarl of rage when she is not happy. (She’s had that since birth).  She clings to me when she is carried. I have tried the carrier (mei tai) a couple of times: the first time she was not impressed and the second time she slept. So that’s a success overall? It will be so freeing, especially as the weather warms up, to not always haul around  the car seat or stroller. 

Perhaps because of her cold, Dani had  major spit ups at around 3 weeks.  I started bringing an extra top for myself wherever I went. We also go through a lot of receiving blankets. The laundry accumulates fast....same amount in 2 days we used to get in a week. The spit up doesn’t seem to bother her and she poops and pees a lot so I’m not worried: I just have to remember to take the extra time to burp her.

Great head and neck control: hoping I don’t have to worry about flat spots for this reason, as she turns her head herself when sleeping.

We went to a concert with Dani on the 23rd. The band was Altan from Ireland. I have wanted to see them for years and they have never come to my city in my memory, so crazy as it might be I decided to get tickets (this was months ago). It went ok. We only stayed for the first half (till about 9) because Dani did seem a bit stressed by the loudness of it and I didn’t want to push things.  I was also admittedly not that into it as I was preoccupied with the baby. 

However, I’m glad we made the effort.  It’s still very easy (for me) to not do anything outside the house with a baby around. When I force myself to make plans though, I remember I can still be the (usually) organized and efficient person I am in another life (though gosh I love not being scheduled to death. I think I’ve only said that 10 times on here. It’s still true!)

AJ is enamoured of her baby sister. She likes to kiss her (that is how she will try to comfort her if she cries) and shows her books and toys and tell her stories. Probably the most adorable thing is that she uses a special voice to talk to Dani. We all do, of course, but I notice it most with AJ. I’m starting to see the beginnings of interaction. Dani certainly pays attention to AJ: she turns toward her voice and will look at her for up to several minutes when she’s talking. I’m trying to catch some of these interactions on video.

The sibling interaction is the big exciting unknown in the picture. Well obviously, the future is always unknown but with the second daughter it does feel like we can anticipate better what is going to happen. So far there is nothing radically different from our first experience with an infant. It’s also both more poignant and exciting because we know how fast babies change. Mr. Turtle and I definitely have the feeling that we must “take it all in.” (Did I mention how bloody fast this first month went?) At the same time it’s rather awesome to look at Dani and AJ side by side and realize that this baby is going to be an amazing little girl. It’s like having a present that you unwrap a little bit more each day.




Meeeee:

I feel pretty normal. Big appetite, but I figure that goes along with breastfeeding. I haven’t been particularly physically active other than the exercise of schlepping around a baby and her kit, and sometimes her sister (thank goodness AJ is old enough to get places on her own steam). I look forward to increasing my activity: walking, mom yoga, whatever....although I’ll be more excited when this SNOW is reduced.

AJ is still in full time daycare, but when I figure out details of how long my leave will be, the plan is to put her in part time. The long term plan  is still to return to work, though the thought feels overwhelming at present. The thought of not going back to work is equally overwhelming. I guess that belongs in the “I can’t deal with it” category for now. But we will plan as if I will work after my leave. Anyway, at present Dani and I have a lot of chill time at home, though I miss her big sister. But we do a lot of snuggling and listening to podcasts.

Upcoming plans:

We have another concert date in mid March and we can’t take Dani to this one, so next week (I guess?) I’ll start pumping with the goal of teaching Dani to take a bottle when desired. I kind of wonder what we were thinking making these plans but whatever....I’ll assume it’s all going to work! Ooh, pumping, so sexy. Breastfeeding can be beautiful in an earth mother way but pumping is not....haha.

My MIL is coming mid March. Somewhere in her visit Mr Turtle’s uncle, who has a farm up north, has a birthday so I think a road trip is planned.  That all sounds fun in theory, and hopefully we will make many memories of a happy sort.

The blog was 5 years old in January. Seems like I should acknowledge that and reflect on where I am going with this documentation of my reproductive life. At present I have no idea except that I will keep writing.

Cheers to everyone!







Monday, 26 February 2018

Ritual objects and offerings

Speaking of procrastination, there are some jobs I might never do if I think about doing them, but if I just start doing them, somehow they get done.

Some stuff that I am not currently using has been taking up shelf space. I started going through it yesterday morning and did a photo shoot as I went. I may be weird but if anyone can understand I figure my blog audience will.

As I laid out each item I thought about the role it has played in my life for the past two years, or longer.  For these aren’t just tools, though they are that: they are ritual props. Each was part of a routine that helped form the structure of my life. Putting each one away I thought about those routines and rituals and how they shaped my daily life. I think perhaps this is only doable in hindsight.

Exhibit 1: fertility supplements 




Folic acid, CO Q10 and DHEA for egg health, low dose aspirin for implantation, and I can’t remember what the B6 was even for. I guess the prenatal vitamins should be here too but I’m still working through the last bottle.

As far as taking drugs and medications goes, we got off easy. But taking the supplements meant I thought of fertility with every meal, at least until I stopped taking them regularly.

Exhibit 2 fertility monitoring




OPKs, preseed lubricant, Ovacue fertility monitor, and one pregnancy test left over from this spring. 
I went through a 9-pack of OPKs every month, usually.

What should I do with this stuff? We haven’t made any decisions about birth control yet. I have ambivalent feelings about BC. I’m sure we could successfully avoid pregnancy with fertility awareness, especially since we are not very fertile. On the other hand, I don’t know if I could actually follow through on preventing pregnancy; old habits die hard.

I kind of wish I’d used up that lone pregnancy test in the spring. Under what conditions would I use it now? I don’t like to speculate. If Dani was my final  pregnancy, I’d rather my last memory be of a positive test.

I think I’m done with the Ovacue. It wasn’t working too well the past 2 years, though it helped achieve first pregnancy.

Exhibit 3: pregnancy stuff




So much fun. My anti nausea pills, which helped me survive first trimester and early second trimester. Much appreciated, but I don’t want to see them again: going to drugstore for disposal.

My blood sugar monitoring kit. I can’t say this was an fun part of being pregnant either.  The diet restrictions....the stress of wondering if I was keeping my sugar in the right range. And yet.....after giving birth it felt odd and even sad at first to not be monitoring. The only way I can explain it is that the controlled diet and sugar testing were concrete things I was doing for my baby. It was not enjoyable but it was meaningful.

Finally, here is everything packaged up for storage or disposal:


Live your adventure.....hahaha Eddie Bauer. I sure have. 

Not pictured: some weeks ago I finally threw out the positive pregnancy tests from both pregnancies. They were so old I could hardly see the positive and.....they were gross. Like another blogger observed, my children are enough proof I was pregnant. And I still have the photographs and blog entries from the embryonic stages, which are better records anyway.

Since I was cleaning up, I pulled up a chair and looked in the highest cupboard of the house for the remnants of our one cancelled IVF. Yikes, I’d forgotten how much medication was involved. And there was a fair bit of it left. I sorted it as quickly as possible into garbage, recycling and remnants to go back to the drugstore. I have no emotional attachment to any of that stuff. I guess our non starter IVF is one experience from which I have truly moved on.

Maybe in four years I’ll be able to say that of all the other ones too.

But in the meantime the sight of the fertility and pregnancy stuff causes me to catch my breath a little. If the items were the ritual objects, the ritual offering was all the time, thought and emotional energy given in the hope of having a child.

I hope finding a new place for all the objects helps the emotions find a new place too.




Monday, 19 February 2018

Microblog Monday: accomplishment

Today I finished a task I’ve been procrastinating for more than a year: updating the photos in our dining room display frames. The photos there previously were all from AJ’s first year of life, not even including her first birthday. They’ve been feeling out of date for a long time. The goal is to highlight good photos of our family and also extended family.

This project involved:
  • Going through hundreds of digital photos that are not really organized, and copying photos to print into a file. The photos were on phones, email, computer and hard drive
  • As I went through them I made sure all the photos were saved to the hard drive
  • Uploading to website to print
  • Processing the order
  • While I was at it I made two poster collages for the girls’ rooms
  • Taking all the old prints out, putting them into photo albums, plus the other ~400 prints that I had just put in a box. We took an awful lot of photos of our firstborn.
  • Cleaning the picture frames 
  • Going through the ~120 new pictures I printed, choosing which to put in the frames, and putting the rest on the albums
See why this job gets done maybe once every two years?

Nevertheless it feels very good to have updated pictures.




Something else that’s cool: I am writing this on my phone with a blogging app! Maybe this means I will write more frequently.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Two weeks baby/post partum

We've been taking it pretty easy the past two weeks. Considering January was packed full of appointments, decisions, schedules, plans and finally our date with destiny, it's been a huge relief to hibernate for a while....particularly since our city was buried in snow the week after Dani was born. What a relief to not need to leave the house or do very much at all!

Dani's two week update:
  • increasing awake/alert times
  • Lots of smiles, which are so adorable. People say newborns don't smile....they're just wrong.  Not only does Dani smile but her face blooms with personality when she does. I've even seen her chuckle to herself.
  • Like her sister, she appears very observant, even at a young age. She watches what we do and responds to voices.
  • Pretty good sleeper for a newborn. She does 2-3 hour stretches, maybe up to 4 hours occasionally. Nighttime feedings/diaper changes/rock and soothe still takes at least an hour though....longer if she decides to make a few more dirty diapers while she's awake.
  • She did seem to get the cold Mr. Turtle and I both caught around the time she was born. It hasn't interfered with her appetite but has made her fussier especially at night. Nasal drops and occasionally the nasal aspirator have helped.
  • Eats very well, has easily learned how to breastfeed. It came back to me too. If you had asked me last month to explain how to breastfeed, I'm not sure I could have done so but when I had to do it I had little difficulty. I had sore nipples for a few days after Dani was cluster feeding but careful attention to her latch has allowed them to heal and so far so good. She does get some pretty major spit up though. It doesnt seem to bother her but  it sure is messy. And I thought I had a ton of laundry before....
  • Dani feels very strong. She can already lift up her head and move it around. It seems to me that AJ did not have the same tone. Who knows, but this one may not be a late crawler/walker like her sister

Me, physically:
  • Post partum bleeding is light, with occasional gushes. I had an episode of bleeding yesterday that freaked me out and had me calling the health hotline....but everything was fine. Apparently it's quite common to have a sudden increase in bleeding a couple of weeks after giving birth.
  • Mostly healed up down below...occasional pain from coughing or sneezing. I didn't know I sneeze with my pelvic floor but there you are
  • My boobs are now in competition with Pluto for small planet status. They can cause me a bit of discomfort especially at night: they flop around at odd angles and can even make my back hurt.
  • Big appetite; not monitoring my weight but my little pooch in front has noticeably shrunk: I can even wear jeans (the bigger sizes I own). That's pretty awesome. It took weeks after AJ's birth for me to want to wear real clothes. 
Mental me:

Mostly I feel great. I had a wonderful birth experience, and since it was low intervention I have had a faster recovery time. We have gone to the zoo and out for breakfast a few times. I love being able to relax and focus on family. The last few weeks, especially at work, I was pushed to my limit time and attention-wise and I am not at all sorry to let that go. I'm enjoying doing domestic tasks like baking (and blogging!) I've kind of gone to the other extreme now where I will procrastinate anything I don't feel like doing: I'll have to find a happy medium in the next few weeks.

Post-partum is also a time for up and down emotions so I guess I shouldn't be surprised I have had some of those too. I have been thinking a lot about how Dani is likely my last pregnancy/child and I have ambivalent feelings about that. When I was pregnant I felt quite OK with it being the last time but now that she's born it feels more complicated. Since I know my pregnancy ended happily it's easier to view the whole process in a positive light and feel nostalgic about it and/or sad that my child bearing days might be at an end.  I feel like I need to add the qualifier....we probably won't have any more children, but I can't say so with finality just yet.

It's been a smooth transition so far to a four person family but still momentous. I'm giving myself some time to process it, and it's both happy and poignant.  We wanted this life change, no doubt about it but our previous life was very good too, and now that there is no going back it's both sweet and sad to remember it. The fact that I spent a long time not knowing if we could expand our family, and actively cultivating an appreciation for our three person family has probably increased these emotions.

As I mentioned previously, AJ looks like such a big girl beside Dani. After holding a tiny newborn all day, I go to give her a hug when she comes back from daycare and she feels huge. (We've left her in her daycare program for now, and will make decisions about her attendance in a few weeks). I still call her Baby but she is growing up and (mostly) embracing her big kid/sister role. And I just realized that AJ will be starting kindergarten in the fall of next year. When I realized this I started looking up schools and programs near us and freaking out as I thought about all the decisions to make: we have an elementary school a five minute walk away but it's a alternative program: would that be right for us? How do we apply? Does our daycare do transportation to kindergarten? Bloody hell, do I even want to go back to work if I have a child in kindergarten. Maybe I'd rather be walking her to school and volunteering in her class rather than being with other people's children. Argh, the school open house was in January. Why didn't we  think to go?

Okay, breathe. We have a year to think about that and there will be another open house.

Anyway. The future is exciting, and as we start to live it I do think I will embrace it. Whatever it looks like.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Night of the full moon: Sprite's breech birth story.

She is here!


Sprite, who in real life shares a name with this race car driver  and this tree arrived safely and swiftly on her due date, January 31st. Here is our story.

First of all, a recap of a few details:

  • Healthy pregnancy, with only issues being severe nausea in the first trimester, gestational diabetes diagnosed in second trimester (diet controlled). Compared to first pregnancy, I had much less anxiety.
  • At 37 weeks, an ultrasound showed Sprite footling breech.
  • Shortly after we started a variety of things to encourage Sprite to turn. Chiropractic work (Webster protocol), moxibustion, inversions, acupuncture and external cephalic version (ECV). First ECV, unmedicated, at Designated Hospital failed to get Sprite head down.
  • After ECV failed, we asked for a consult with the breech delivery team at New Hospital. Ultrasound showed Sprite still footling breech. We were given two options: 1) continue to monitor her position and 2) try the ECV again with spinal block. We decided to try both
  • During 2nd ECV Sprite was successfully turned twice, and turned back to breech, twice. I struggled with the spinal block and the operating room atmosphere. I really wasn't looking forward to a c-Section now, but we went ahead with scheduling a c-section at Designated Hospital and discussing gentle Caesarian birth with our doula.
  • At 39 weeks, however, another ultrasound showed Sprite in the frank breech position (bum down, feet up). We also met the other criteria for a breech birth at New Hospital: not too large baby, amniotic fluid good, no cord issues, healthy baby. The fact that I had had a previous vaginal birth also improved our chances. We rescheduled our c-section for a few days after the due date in hopes that it wouldn't be needed (but I wasn't willing to go a long way past due date to meet our baby, either).
 Week 39, and the consult with the doctors at New Hospital marked at turning point in my mental state. I felt very ready to have this baby, one way or another! I felt quite good about our decision to attempt a breech birth, but also a little anxious. There is a bit of history (and politics) around breech birth and why it is not widely available, but I won't get into that (this will be a long enough entry without). Speaking for myself, I know people who have had a cephalic vaginal birth (including me), and I know people who have a had c-sections, but I don't know anybody who has had a breech vaginal birth. Knowing that we were taking "the road less traveled" caused some trepidation and self-doubt.

There also wasn't a lot online or in my birth books to give me confidence. Most websites talk in general terms about why breech births are no longer common (OBs have lost the skills over a generation or two, and/or breech birth is considered riskier, if not by doctors then by their insurance companies). I did find and watch some videos of breech birth, but while fascinating these were either home births or happened in different countries: they didn't show the way our birth was supposed to take place. My "Birthing From Within" book only included one breech birth story, and it happened in a hospital and was a negative experience, unfortunately.  The literature that would usually give me confidence was almost all about cephalic birth, which didn't exactly erode my confidence, but didn't help it much either.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth did include one breech birth story, and I found it helpful. In this story Ina May talks to a first time mother who is carrying a breech baby and is worried that it is too big to get out of her. "You're going to get HUUUUUUGE" Ina May assures her, and forms her hands to the size of a grapefruit. During her birth, the mother repeats "I'm going to get HUUUUUUGE" to herself as a mantra, and she does, delivering without issue.  Ina May also shares other images of the female body getting huuuuuuuge, including one of my favourites, the Sheela-Na-Gig. With this in mind I came up with an inspiring image for myself: a grapefruit with a Sheela-Na-Gig drawn on it.


As it turned out, I never got around to drawing on my grapefruit and taking it with me to the hospital (I drew this one after the fact). But the mental image of it did help give me confidence.

So what was our plan? We discussed the following at our consult with Dr. W at New Hospital:

  1. If my water broke, we would go immediately to New Hospital
  2. If I started contractions, I could labour at home for a while, but not as long as one would for a cephalic birth (maybe a couple of hours at most), then I would go to the hospital
  3. At the hospital, baby and I would be assessed and another ultrasound performed to check baby's position
  4. There would be constant fetal monitoring. However, other than that, no interventions such as pitocin. The idea is that, if it is going to happen, a breech birth will happen on its own.
  5. Time limits on transition (90 minutes) and pushing (60 minutes). Dr. W reassured me that for second time moms in particular, those are very generous limits. However, going over those limits and/or fetal distress would be reason to have a c-section. 
  6. The birth, or "pushing" phase would happen in the operating room with a full team standing by in case c-section was needed
  7. I asked about epidural. Dr. W. said it was mostly patient choice. It is easier to push without an epidural. However, that was more for first time moms: he didn't think it would make much difference for second time moms. In the case that forceps or an emergency c-section needed to be done, it helped to have an epidural placed in advance, otherwise they might have to use forceps without anaesthetic (ouch) or use general anaesthetic for surgery. I leaned toward no epidural as I knew it had limited my movement with AJ and I felt that if I was going to have a successful breech birth, I needed to be able to move my body.
  8. Dr. W went over worst case scenarios. The head might get stuck, leading to asphyxiation or spinal damage. If they couldn't get baby out, there was a "hail Mary" operation where they cut open the mother's pelvis, which has a high chance of maternal death. He added that nobody in the hospital had ever done such an operation and it was very unlikely, and I was a good candidate for breech birth. I listened to the reassurance but of course it was scary to contemplate these possibilities. 
After the consult, Dr W did the membrane sweep. He was able to open the cervix a couple of centimetres.  I went home feeling like I could go into labour anytime now, the sooner the better. I thought that once I was in labour I could cope with it, but it was uncomfortable to be waiting to see what would happen. But other than an increase in Braxton Hicks and some spotting, the next days were quiet.

Over the weekend I finally finished packing the hospital bags. I kept busy with various chores and other procrastinated tasks. I grocery shopped and cooked and  baked. Mr Turtle was at home with a bad cold. Tuesday January 30th, I talked about possibilities for labour induction with our doula. I had an appointment on the 31st to have the membranes swept again. Our doula, Joanna, also suggested acupuncture to encourage a strong labour.  I scheduled the appointment.  But then we started to have doubts. Joanna had another client who was very overdue. She was concerned that we might go into labour at the same time. Mr Turtle went to see his doctor who sent him to be tested for influenza. He raised concerns about a newborn being exposed to flu, if he had it. So by Tuesday evening I was leaning toward not inducing the next day.  I picked AJ up from daycare and as we were driving home I pointed out the big, full moon in the sky. It was of course the super blue blood moon. We had a nice dinner and I had a snack around 8:30 pm and went to bed.

Credit: Neight Elder

I woke a few minutes after midnight on the 31st with liquid pooling between my legs. I registered "water break!' and jumped out of bed fast enough to save the sheets and mattress. It was a very weird sensation. I threw on a pad and went to find Mr. Turtle, who hadn't gone to bed: he was playing video games. Mentally we found the right place on our "flow chart" of possible events (water break=>hospital!) and went into action. Phone calls were made to my FIL to come pick up AJ, who would spend the night with them then go to my mom's. Our doula was notified and asked us to let her know when we were checked into the hospital. I got sort of dressed. My pad had already soaked through. No contractions. The in-laws had arrived and we were ready to go by about twenty to one. I tried to tell AJ what was happening but she seemed too sleepy to respond. However, according to FIL she knew exactly what was going on and told them on the car ride over.

It was a quiet night and we had about a 15 minute drive to New Hospital. I was mostly calm but also had some anxiety. When had I last felt the baby move? There was no discernible movement at the moment. What would they find at the hospital? what would happen next? The radio played mellow Celtic music...such as the song "Both Sides the Tweed." I sang along quietly. I thought I felt some gentle contractions: little more than Braxton Hicks.

We arrived at the hospital. I was having more noticeable contractions as we walked in, but nothing painful and I had no trouble walking and talking. I started paying some attention to my breath, but more to practice than out of necessity. We checked in and went to triage. I was hooked up to monitors which found a strong steady heartbeat (phew). An IV was placed as this was standard for breech deliveries. I sat on the bed with the back up high as that was most comfortable. My contractions were getting stronger, and I felt them mainly in my lower back. I started to cope by sitting up straight and digging my fists into the mattress. As they became more intense I would also press my fists into my lower back. Despite the IV I still felt thirsty and sipped water regularly.

When the triage nurse heard we had a breech baby, she said "Breech births are so cool!" I found this statement reassuring. "Oh, so you've seen some?" "Oh yes!" she said enthusiastically. This helped me to feel like I had come to the right place. The resident I saw next did not inspire the same confidence somehow. Although she said and did all the typical things she did not seem very sure of herself. She asked if I have been told the risks of breech birth. This brought to mind asphyxiated babies and pelvises sawed open: images I didn't need at the moment. I said yes, I was aware of the general risks but with regards to my particular case, I was relying on their expertise to stay informed. Dr. Resident then did an ultrasound. She took a long time to locate both legs but was finally satisfied that they were up and no feet were presenting. She also did an internal check and said I was dilated 4 centimetres. This was encouraging and I continued to visualize grapefruit. (For comparison, I was only 2 centimetres dilated after 24 hours when I was in labour with AJ).

Next the OB on call, Dr. Z came in. She said we were good to do "trial of labour."  There was some uncertainty if I'd signed the consent form for breech birth because I didn't remember doing so, but I must have because I didn't hear about it again. She said that the plan was for me to labour mostly "hands off". Because my waters had broken, they would avoid doing many internal checks. I believe she said they wouldn't bother again until I was "quite uncomfortable".  Dr. Z went over mostly the same information I had discussed with Dr. W earlier. The ward was quite busy so we stayed another 30 or 40 minutes in the triage room. I went to the bathroom. I was starting to cope more actively with labour and the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I tried not to think too much about them and when Mr. Turtle timed them and told me, I said that was nice but I didn't really care.

Finally, a birthing room was open (around 3am, I think) and another cheerful nurse came to show us there. I walked on my own. I had to stop a few times on the way to the room to lean on the wall and breath through the contractions. Cheerful Nurse sang the praises of the labour nurse assigned to me: her name was Janet and she had been a midwife in England. As we walked to the room Mr. Turtle and I joked about  my butt hanging out of my hospital gown, the fact it was a full moon and how we hoped to see another "full moon" tonight as our baby would be born butt first.

In the birth room, I climbed back on the bed with one foot curled up, one foot down. I was slightly annoyed that the bed was too high for my dangling foot to reach the floor. The contractions were increasing in intensity and frequency and I started to vocalize through them, mostly low hums and grunts. Janet was very steady and helpful. At one point I stood during a contraction and leaned on her. She definitely helped me feel safe and calm. I asked for a hot pack and Mr. Turtle put it on my lower back during contractions. My attention was starting to move inward and the other people in the room felt like they were at a distance from me. I was still hooked up to the heartbeat monitors but I wasn't paying too much attention. The monitors needed frequent readjustment because true to my intentions I was not sitting still. There was not much of a break between contractions anymore, and I was starting to feel them in front as well as in my back.  Janet kept trying to take my blood pressure between contractions but there was some kind of problem with the cuff: it wasn't getting an accurate reading. She finally gave up. But all this contributed to a fuzzy sense that baby and I were on one timeline and everybody else was on another.

After I had been in the birth room for a while I felt like I really had to pee, so I went to the bathroom. Nothing happened though, and I rode out about 3 contractions on the toilet before giving up. Janet asked if I would like a birth ball, and I said yes. I sat on it and leaned on the bed, which was where I stayed for the rest of labour. I came out of my daze long enough to ask Mr. Turtle if he'd called Joanna to update her. He said no, he'd better do that. In the back of my mind I thought we should have called her a while ago but I wasn't able to focus on the thought.  My labour continued to get stronger and I started to vocalize very loud. I was staying ahead of the contractions mentally and with my breath but it was getting very challenging. Joanna heard me groaning over the phone and was a bit shocked, realizing that things had progressed quite far. She started on her way.  My body temperature was fluctuating. In between contractions I felt hot and threw off my skimpy hospital gown. But during contractions I felt cold. I managed to communicate (with difficulty) that I wanted the gown off between contractions and over my shoulders during contractions.

Sometime around 4am (I'm estimating) Janet went on her tea break, and Michelle came in to cover for her. I vaguely heard Janet updating Michelle, telling her that I had started off coping easily but that it was getting more difficult. I continued to sit on the ball and lean into the bed, and was beginning to feel a bit frantic. Michelle asked if I wanted laughing gas. I said OK. The gas canister arrived and I felt like I was watching everyone move in slow motion, trying to get it set up. I had the impression the hose on the tank was all tangled up and they couldn't untangle it. This was probably not true but in any case the gas never made it to me.

The contractions were incredibly intense now and I felt like I was right at my limit, maybe over it. I started to howl and yell in a less mindful way during contractions. I felt like they were overtaking me and I was losing my ability to cope.  Michelle asked me at one point if I felt the urge to push. I said yes, a bit. She asked if I felt that only during contractions or also in between. I said only during contractions, but I was not really sure. Despite my intention to labour without an epidural, I thought an epidural sounded awfully good right now. But before I could find the words to vocalize this thought, I had the most irresistible urge to push.  It is hard to describe as I have never felt anything like that. Ina May Gaskin gives this advice to women who are afraid of what happens in labour: "Let your monkey do it." Meaning, don't try to intellectualize or control what is happening: labour as if you are an animal. My monkey was now 100% in control. I could only holler: "I need to push! I need to push!" while my body bore down madly. It would have been about 4:15 or 4:20 now (I was not looking at the clock, obviously).

I think Michelle said: "If you are feeling that way, you need to get back on the bed!" but she might as well have told me to hang upside down from the ceiling: I had no idea how to do that. I squatted over the ball and pushed with every piece of my being. Strangely, there was no pain anymore, just the feeling that I was about to take the biggest dump of my life. Suddenly, I was startled to feel something globular and wet between my legs....not a poop! I began bellowing "The baby is coming! The baby is coming!" The evidence of this very thing was plain through my mesh hospital underwear. I rather regret not having the presence of mind to notice Mr. Turtle and Michelle's expressions at that moment. Michelle now insisted I get back into the bed, which was not at all easy to do, considering my urge to bear down and the fact that a baby was falling out of me. Left to my own devices, I probably would have spread my legs and said "Ready....set....catch!" As it was Mr. Turtle and Michelle somehow got me onto the bed: I have no idea how but I guess they each grabbed a leg and hauled. The hospital underwear also disappeared at some point.

Every bright blazing light in the room was turned on, and people began pouring in. I continued to yell that the baby was coming and who knows what other nonsense. Everyone kept paging for a doctor, and it seemed to take forever for Dr. Z to arrive, although it was probably only a few minutes. I was vaguely aware that we were supposed to be doing this in the operating room and that it was not going to happen that way: was that bad? But mostly I was in the moment, and not focused on "should have beens." My feet were put in stirrups and Mr. Turtle and Michelle were holding my hands since apparently I kept reaching down to the baby (but I have no memory of this).

Finally Dr. Z and Dr. Resident were both in the room and everybody seemed organized. Someone told me the baby was peeing. This humourous and prosaic detail was reassuring (she also pooped, as breech babies usually do). With everyone in position, I got instructions to take a breath, hold it, and count to 10 as I bore down. This was briefly confusing to me because I did not feel like my conscious mind was in charge of pushing: it just happened. But I managed to reconnect with my body and bore down on cue.  Again there was no pain: just a burning sensation as the perineum stretched. It was simply a physiological urge on a magnitude I had never experienced. But it didn't matter what I knew or didn't know. Let your monkey do it. 

One push, another push...or two...I knew she was coming but I could not see her.  The last was the head. This is of course the critical part in a breech birth, but I was not worried: this baby was greased lightning and she was not going to get stuck now. Dr. Resident was pressing on my lower abdomen as I pushed out the head. Suddenly - plop! I see a baby. She is grey and purple looking but has a human face and open eyes.  It is 4:29am. They put her on my abdomen. Mr. Turtle gets to cut the cord. I was apparently laughing and cheering madly....in an ecstasy Mr. Turtle said. All I remember is being astonished at what I have just done.


Sprite was put on my chest and was immediately alert and active. She was crawling around on my chest looking for a nipple, and somebody helped her to latch. She remained at my breast for the next hour, nursing on both sides. Joanna arrived shortly after the birth. It is too bad she missed it but it was great to have her there to assist me and talk to me after the birth. It also allowed Mr. Turtle to go take a nap, since of course he hadn't slept all night and was sick. One great thing about New Hospital is all the birth rooms have a bed for the support person to sleep in. 

I had some difficulty delivering the placenta as my bladder was very full. They had to put a catheter in to empty it, and then I pushed the placenta out. I also had a second degree tear which required some freezing and stitching. All the mucking about in my nether regions was uncomfortable but at least I had Sprite to distract me.

The high I had from the birth lasted all day and I felt very peaceful and blissed out.  In the pictures from after the labour I notice how healthy I look, compared with after AJ's birth. I bounced back quite quickly: it was much easier to go to the bathroom and regain normal functions without the after effects of anesthetic or major tears. We left the hospital a bit over 24 hours later with a healthy baby and happy mom and dad. Breastfeeding has continued to go well. I had a couple of hairy nights when Sprite was cluster feeding, but it served to bring my milk in and she is quite a chill baby so far. As of this writing Sprite....hereafter Dani....is a week old, alert and responsive, a great feeder and a decent sleeper for a newborn. Mr. Turtle was able to take a couple of weeks off work so we have been relaxing and settling into our new life as a family of four.

AJ has been doing really well, too, I think. She talks lovingly of her "baby sister" and likes to give her gentle pats and kisses. She is working through the idea of an expanded family in her own way: For example she likes to count us: "One....two....three....four!" and give us titles: King Daddy, Queen Mommy, Princess AJ......and Princess Dani. But I feel like I have lost my oldest baby. AJ was always little to me, and now she looks huge by comparison. She is indeed the Big Sister, and although I love her to pieces just as she is I feel like she has grown up even more since Dani was born.  The contrast is just too obvious.


I look forward to writing more as we embrace our new reality, both joyful and poignant. Thank you to everyone who reads and I wish you many blessings on your path.