Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve

Mel posted about New Year's Resolutions in her Microblog Monday post. When I went to reply, I thought there are so many things I could write about, including any of the new things on my mind that I wrote about earlier this week.  Then I realized that when it comes to resolutions, there's really only one thing I will resolve to do, and that's to not constantly look back to "this time last year" in 2015. 2014 was an eventful year. There was a lot about this year that was joyful and wonderful. There was also some stuff that was traumatic, and I really don't want to spend more time living it over and over in my mind. Especially January and February.

But today I find myself feeling a bit emotional because it is the last day of the year AJ was born. It will never be the year of her birth again. She will look back on 2014 as the beginning of time, at least of her time.  I feel a bit regretful that she wasn't born earlier in the year so we could have lived in the year of her birth longer.

And there is something awesome about realizing that whatever 2014 was.....well, it was. It's in the past tense. Some times it's hard to leave experiences in the past, either because they were awful and they have made me afraid, or because they were wonderful and I don't want to let them go. But now on New Year's Eve, I feel like I'm free to see 2014 in a new light. The story has been told. It can be re-told and re-interpreted, but whatever happened, cannot be changed or undone. And that's somehow liberating.

At the same time I recall Caroline's post about how year ends and beginnings are really an illusion. We decided as humans that we would mark time in years, but maybe there is a better way of marking time.

AJ has come up with some totally different coos and cries today. Her daily growth and development is a reminder that life is happens in motion. And if 2014 was her year, so will be the future years.  She's also figuring out how to get her thumb into her mouth and keep it there long enough to suck. Maybe thumb sucking is not a good habit,  but she perseveres so much, it's really touching. And she is so sad when it falls out again and she loses it, and cries like the world is such a terrible unjust place. OK that was a bit random.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for walking with me this year. It means so much. I hope so much that 2015 brings everyone closer to their dreams, or even brings new dreams into your path.

Monday 29 December 2014

Microblog Mondays: New year, new stuff to do and write about

Ok, not technically the new year yet, but already I have so many "new" things on my mind!

AJ is doing great. She is bigger all the time, and giving us more and more smiles when she's in a good mood, including big gummy grins. Here is one of my favourite photos. This is the one we put on her Christmas keepsake ornament. She is already bigger than in the photo (goodbye cute fish pajamas that daddy bought her) but I'm behind on downloading and organizing photos.

I will write something about Christmas holidays eventually (hope everyone had a good one and/or survived with some grace). But my mind is already turning to the new, so here somewhat briefly are things on my mind:

1) Breastmilk storage/pumping

I have been planning to do this for a while but only worked up the nerve recently. I am hoping in the new year to be able to leave AJ with someone (i.e. grandparent) so I can resume weekly activities like band and hopefully a dance class. Not to mention being able to go on the occasional date with Mr. Turtle. But for this to work the babysitter has to be able to feed AJ and since I am exclusively breastfeeding, this means getting a supply of milk. So I'm having a go with the Medela hand pump. I didn't want to invest in an electric pump if the hand one would be sufficient ($60 vs. up to $200). It seems to be working in that pumping doesn't hurt and I'm expressing milk, but it is slow going. For the most part I'm only expressing milk after a feed, so I suppose it makes sense that there isn't much left. It comes out a few drops at a time, so it is rather tedious. My goal is to have between 40 and 50 mL collected by the end of today, which doesn't sound like a lot, but perhaps good for a start?

Any other moms have experience with using a hand pump and what kind of results to expect?

2) Car!

After being car-free up to age 30, then a one car household for the next four and a half years, I now have a car! So it is the end of an era but the beginning of another one and I am mostly positive about it. We were able to import my MIL's 2006 Volvo which I'm told is a good car. (I know nothing about cars and just want it to get me from A to B without breaking down. Oh, and a seat warmer is essential.) This should mean I am less house-bound and dependent on others. Of course my task is to get confident with city driving. I have had my license since age 18 and I have some experience driving, but it is something I have gone to great lengths to avoid in the city. Even when our shared car was available to me I preferred to take transit, walk or car pool.  So I have some work to do, including working up the nerve  for that first solo drive with AJ. There are places nearby I can go, I can choose to avoid high stress times like rush hour, and I have extras like Garmin and AMA membership, so I really have no excuses, although I will probably never understand the Romance of the Car that many people have.

3) Weight

It's not a big deal, but I would like to lose the last 10 pounds or so of baby weight. I feel fine and I'm happy with my body proportions, but I have a wardrobe of clothes that don't quite fit! Especially pants (trousers for UK readers). Pre-pregnancy I liked clothes a lot and bought quite a few, so I would like to be able to wear them again and not have to replace that many things, especially now with a tighter budget. I have been wearing my maternity jeans and knitted leggings, but as I get re-acquainted with my body post-birth I would like to wear real pants again. When I left the hospital I thought I would never wear anything but yoga pants again, but behold, I am moving on! Or at least thinking about it. I have decided to buy a couple of pairs of "real" pants that fit right now, however, so I'm not stuck in maternity jeans on the days that I do care what I'm wearing.

3) Child care for the fall

In my city it's common for parents to put their children on daycare waiting lists well before they are born. Well, if you read my blog during pregnancy you know that daycare was the last thing on my mind. Fine, whatever. But now I have definitely have to think about it, as the assumption is that I'll return to work in the fall. I've made a couple of inquiries; I don't know much yet. I really hate even thinking about child care for AJ, when she is so new and the time with her so precious, but it's not something that can be decided last minute. This could be the most stressful thing I deal with this year.

4) Birth control

Ack, what to think or do? This is one topic that I don't ever recall anyone blogging about! In our last post-natal class, the instructor went to great lengths to tell us how bad it is to get pregnant in the months after birth, how the body is not ready again for 18 months, etc. The general cultural assumption seems to be that you go on birth control after giving birth, because "anything can happen!" but of course that's assuming both partners are (optimally?) fertile. So I will go ahead and ask: Any IFfers who have had a baby (or have an opinion), did you use birth control (not counting breast feeding) and if so what kind? Or did you assume you would be your own birth control? I have such conflicted feelings about this because of course it brings up the question of a second child and if/how/when.

Happy new year to everyone; I hope 2015 brings you closer to your hopes and dreams.

...all about Microblog Mondays and post your entry!....

Friday 12 December 2014

Everything I have to say about being an infertility "urban legend"

This could be a very short post. Actually, I almost didn't write it. Then, I didn't post it for several months. After all, what is there to say about being an urban legend? It's not like I can give anyone advice on how to be an infertility urban legend. I can speculate (and have) about how I became pregnant, but it hardly feels useful to me, never mind anyone else. I could make platitudes like "never give up hope, anything can happen." But while that might be what some people really want to hear, for others it might not be the best advice. Sometimes people do need to give up hope, or rather, to look for hope down a different path. (See this post from An Infertile Man's Perspective for a great discussion of the significance of hope.) Mr. Turtle and I have been in that place of decision a few times in the past 2 years, and we don't take it lightly.

I suppose I should define "infertility urban legend" in case someone hasn't heard the term or used it in this context. I first heard it maybe a year ago, on someone's blog; I want to say the infertile chemist although I'm not 100% sure.  And I certainly read this post by Barefoot and... Basically, the infertility "urban legend" is the woman/couple who were told by experts that they couldn't conceive naturally, went through X diagnostic tests/treatments, possibly gave up hope of having a baby, either naturally or less naturally, and then BAM! got pregnant one day. One often hears about the urban legend from friends/family/acquaintances/strangers who know-someone-who-knows-someone who is an urban legend. The tale of the urban legend may be told to relay hope, to attempt to find common ground, or (this is how I most often perceive it) to stop the infertile person from relating those annoying uncomfortable facts about infertility already.

So why am I writing / finally publishing this piece?

I guess from a vague sense that I want to have some control over how my story is told. I can't really control it, of course, and I knew that when I started writing the blog. Most of my highest-rated posts have to do with the discovery of AJ's conception (i.e. Lightning Strike) and the subsequent drama. I have a few regular commenters (hugs to you all!), but they can't account for all those hits. I have no idea what the goals or motivations of my anonymous readers are and how they will interpret/read/pass on my story (or even if they read it at all. Maybe they were actually searching for stories about people being struck by lightning.) Furthermore, I don't particularly care. I find people's motivations and machinations very entertaining, but I'm not about to take responsibility for them.

Still. I feel like I should have at least one post out here where I state how I feel, so that it at least exists in the internet universe.

So. In no particular order.

1) Being an urban legend does not mean that the pain and fear of infertility goes magically away. Inevitably, after we found out I was pregnant, something we heard most often was "At least now you know you can conceive!" This from doctor, nurses, family. I heard it a lot especially after I feared/was sure we were losing the pregnancy. One of the urgent care nurses actually added "You know, a lot of people can't conceive at all." I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was one of those people. I knew she was trying to comfort/calm me, and I wasn't interested in correcting anyone's perceptions on the verge of a panic attack.

For that matter, I didn't say anything much to anyone who gave us the "at least you can get pregnant" line during that time, but in my mind, the answer always was "if you think I am ever, ever, ever going through this again, you are a fucking turd." The less profane translation being, while I could, barely, barely, imagine some parallel universe where I might find something positive about a miracle conception that ended in loss, there was nothing remotely comforting or hopeful about contemplating life in that universe. Nor is there now.

2) Being an urban legend does not mean that infertility is cured. OK, nobody's actually come up to me and said "Congratulations, you (and Mr. Turtle) not infertile anymore!" But its been, well, implied by some people in my life, who talk about this being the "first one" (and these people do know our history). Again, I have just let those remarks go. But they do touch on a sensitive spot, albeit one I can't really deal with yet. Clearly, the doctors who did our tests and drew the logical conclusions that we could not conceive naturally (or with assistance) did not know everything. But that doesn't mean our tests were wrong or that we don't have issues. I have egg issues, Mr. Turtle has sperm issues. Fertility does not improve with age. Lightning struck once, but can it strike again? Maybe it can, but AJ is also quite likely to be an only child. And that does make me a little sad, although at the same time a healthy living AJ is more than I dared hope for and worth more to me than almost anything in whole universe. Is that paradoxical?

3) "Just relaxing" does not lead to conception. That's hardly news to anyone in the ALI community, but just for the record, AJ was conceived during one of the most stressful months of my recent life. (My life to that point.) First of all, January is a really hectic time at work. Second, we were doing IVF for the first time. Third, IVF failed, and we were told not to bother even trying another cycle of IVF with our own gametes. Fourth, our house was burgled. Some time in between IVF failure and burglary Ember was conceived.  Fun, eh?

On the other hand, even though we had a lot of shit go down, Mr. Turtle and I handled it all quite well. I think the fact that we knew we were going to do IVF had a lot to do with it, because we  expected it to be stressful and were very deliberate about how we handled the stress. I worried less about work than I ever have (because I decided I was going to not care about stupid things). The IVF failure was crushing, but we did have a lot of support and we were able to care for each other and have rational conversations about next steps. The burglary was awful, but we put it in perspective. As I said to Mr. Turtle: "We can feel bad about all the things that happened this month, but we can feel good about how we were handling it." So, yeah, January was stressful, and we were stressed, but we did cope well, all things considered.

4) Control over ourselves - or our pregnancy/child - or anything or anyone - is an illusion. Again, this probably isn't news to anyone, and it shouldn't have been news to me, but. Other than joy-shock-fear, the biggest emotion I felt - and still often feel - with regards to AJ's conception was an overwhelming sense of being utterly helpless in the face of fate. AJ might live and grow, or might not, and in some scenarios at least, no knowledge or action of mine could change the outcome. Whether it's my personality, or the circumstances, or a bit of both, I've been unable to completely look away from this particular piece of knowledge, and sometimes I feel like I'm shattering from the inside out from the sheer awfulness of knowing it.  As my pregnancy progressed uneventfully, the logical part of me felt like the burden should be easier to bear because our story is a happy one. Why am I sometimes so negative? But if good things can be bestowed in the blink of an eye, they can also be taken away. When I come to this dark place, I can feel envious of people who have the consolation of religious faith and practice, because it seems like they have a mental/emotional structure for dealing with the questions, that the rest of us don't. Maybe.

Many years ago, I wrote a poem while walking along the ocean, that ended with these lines:

the waves break and break
but leave no pieces to be picked up.

I break and break and break, but throughout my pregnancy, I held on to the hope that my child and I are like waves on the ocean, and we will both be drawn back into something bigger and deeper than all the small pieces of this experience that I can perceive right now. And I hold on to it still.

Monday 8 December 2014

#Microblog Mondays: Little things that make a big difference

I think I might have some hormonal thing going on because lately I feel what I can only describe as icky a lot of the time, even after shower with clean clothes.

However, yesterday we attended to two things that I hope will help:

1. Haircut (both myself and Mr. Turtle were getting very shaggy)

2. New bras. The two I had were fine at first, but lately the gigantoboobs have not been happy in them.  Right boob also has a tendency toward blocked ducts, which so far has not turned into a major problem, fortunately. I am hopeful  that a different style and size of bra is more comfortable.

AJ: currently napping beside me. going to a Christmas concert tonight.
...has been sounding congested at night, wheezing and thrashing about. She sleeps through it, albeit noisily, but I get rather less sleep as it sounds like she is struggling to breathe. We are going to start using a humidifier and see if that helps. Tried the nasal bulb, but it seems to big for her nose and I don't want to force it in.   Planning to get a NoseFrida too...not sure if that is necessary yet.  I also bring her into the bathroom with me when I shower (sometimes twice a day).

(it really is a microblog this time)

....more on Microblog Monday and link to your post...

Thursday 27 November 2014

One month and those multiple Kleenex moments

It's one month since AJ was born.

She woke up to feed Wednesday morning at about 3am. She fed well and was comfortable, and I was hoping she would go right back to sleep. However, in between burping her and getting her to the bassinet, something twigged her and she got fidgety, in a frustrated, over-tired way.  I was also tired (of course) and I could feel my frustration level building. Everything seemed too hard. I couldn't get the blanket lined up properly to swaddle her. Then I did, and she started crying and worked her arms out of it. Then I had to pick her up and carry her back to the nursery (which is just across from our room). The logical part of my brain (which wasn't functioning too well) was telling me: None of this is a big deal. You can see she's tired, she just needs some cuddling and rocking and she'll be fine.

But AJ was squirming and it was like I couldn't find a way to hold her that was comfortable for us. Try one thing, wail. Try another, wail. That slippery feeling when I know things are not going my way and I don't really know what to do, or if I can fake through it. Finally I took AJ to her pram stroller (which I use as a safe place to put her down in the nursery) and swaddled her in another blanket. Grabbed the nursing pillow to try to help find a comfy hold. And at some point I noticed the time: It was about quarter to four. Aj was born at 4:32 am on a Wednesday.

And the next thing I knew I was hugging AJ to my chest, rocking on the glider with tears pouring down, whispering "I'm so sorry baby" over and over. So sorry that my baby, who was born a short month ago, just wanted to be held and that I begrudged her that. How could I forget so soon all the times that I would have given anything just to be able to hold her, hear her cry, know that the promise would be fulfilled. Oddly enough, as soon as I started crying AJ stopped. She calmed down almost immediately. She was fine; I needed rather more time. So I rocked and wept and built a pile of dirty Kleenex on the table. And I knew I wouldn't go to sleep until it was 4:32 am. I had to be there with her when she turned one month. Had to.

AJ was happily asleep in her bassinet when her birth time came around. I stared at her and whispered "Happy one month."  Cried some more. Stayed awake some more. The irony. But it was fine, it was OK, it was better than OK.

I know it isn't possible  to always live life with that much emotional intensity. I know I have to do mundane things, think mundane thoughts. Just go to sleep. I will get annoyed by stupid things,  even things my perfect miracle child does. But it is a blessing to be so full of feeling, of love, of gratitude, that I just have to burst with it every now and then.

AJ at one month:

  • Outgrowing her newborn clothes fast - some of them still fit, but she's wearing the larger 0-3 sleepers and onesies
  • Bigger, heavier, stronger. 8lbs 13oz.  Lots of power in that (still) little body
  • Likes to show us what a tall baby she is by stre-e-e-e-e-etching
  • Longer awake/alert times, without fussiness (well, some days anyway)
  • Head control improving: when on her tummy, she can lift her head right up and move it around for a few seconds. She tires quite quickly though. If she's fussy in the carrier she bangs her nose into my chest. I feel bad that she's frustrated but at the same time it's funny. She easily turns her head from side to side when lying on her back.
  • Feeding well but for shorter periods of time. She had started gagging on my milk letdown so instead of switching her from one breast to the other I'm having her feed the whole time on one, and alternating for each feeding. Seems to be working.
  • Fussiest period is still late evening, but it's manageable, so far. We can't really complain too much because she does sleep for long stretches at night. Occasionally she doesn't want to go back to sleep at night and needs extra soothing.
  • Following faces/moving objects with her eyes. 
  • During awake/alert time, she can make intense eye contact. One of my friends who visited yesterday commented on how present she is and how her gaze communicates intelligence (And my friend is one of the smartest people I know, so I believe her).

Monday 24 November 2014

Microblog Mondays: Out and About

Yesterday AJ and I went with Grandma N. to a Christmas craft fair, while the boys were watching CFL football. I opted to use the Mei Tai with AJ, and a smart choice it was since the fair was so crowded!

This was the first time I used the carrier in public, and for the longest amount of time. Grandma N. said we were walking around for 90 minutes. AJ mostly chilled out in the carrier, except for the end when she'd had Enough Already.

As usual she got her share of Adoration from Random Strangers. I find these encounters quite sweet.

Because this experience was a first, I had to really make an effort to pay attention to the craft fair. I could easily have just stared at AJ the whole time and not taken in a thing!  Also, although I was hands-free and very comfortable in the mei tai, my instinct was to have my arms wrapped around AJ and the carrier! I had to make a conscious point to not do that. I saw a few other parents with carriers doing the same thing though, so I guess I'm not just weird.

Also interesting was my reaction to being surrounded by so many material things. Although the crafts were beautiful, I found it hard to care when my attention was on AJ.  Howver, I greatly appreciated the chance to be "out" and walk around! Being surrounded by so many Things underlined that I already have what is most important to me, and that Stuff is really not at all important.

My favourite part of the fair was a puppet band. Too adorable! I especially liked the baritone players on the far left (I play euphonium).

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Babywearing (photo added)

I was really looking forward to babywearing before AJ arrived. It sounded like it would suit my personality and lifestyle and would be great for the baby as well. A few weeks before AJ arrived, Mr. Turtle and I went to Babes in Arms and tried a couple of carriers. We wanted something that would  work for a child at various ages and that both of us could use. We tried one carrier with buckles (I forget the brand) and the BabyHawk Mei Tai. We liked both but ended up getting the Mei Tai because it was simpler and seemed like it would be easier to use around the house, which is the first place it would be needed. (We won't likely be taking AJ on hikes in the mountains this winter - but may invest in the buckle carrier in the spring).

Anyway, once AJ was here it took a couple of weeks to work up the confidence to use the carrier. It is actually easy to get her into it; I did it on my own the first time and have since. But I felt  insecure about it, for various reasons: I can't seem to tie a proper square knot behind my back, so I worry about the knot slipping; I worry if AJ has a proper head position, if she should be sleeping in the carrier, if she's uncomfortable or in pain if she fusses while in it. So for the past week she'd only spent a few minutes in it at a time.

Yesterday AJ went to her first event: And adult community band concert where her dad played in one of the bands! We thought this would be a great first event for her because it is a relaxed setting and it was also a chance for people we know to meet her (I played in several bands up until this September. I'm hoping to return to band in January.) AJ did great. She was not fazed by the people or the noise and seemed to like the music. She also had 2 sets of grandparents to attend to her. Everybody had a good time.

When it was time to put her to bed a few hours later though - different story altogether! Perhaps she was overwhelmed by all the new experiences or perhaps it had nothing to do with that and she's entering a "fussier" stage at 3 weeks. But when I tried to put her in her sleep sack after feeding, she started to wail. It wasn't her usual grumpy complaining cry either; it was almost a pain cry. She was also very squirmy which made it hard to hold her. Poor AJ seemed to be utterly miserable no matter what I did. Finally, more out of desperation than anything, I got out the Mei Tai and put her in it. I remembered that she always seems to fall asleep after a few minutes in it. AJ did relax in the carrier and doze off, especially when I walked around the house. I had her in it for maybe half and hour, and despite being tired and worried I thought, hey, maybe I got this! Unfortunately the minute I tried to put her back into her bassinet to sleep she screamed and screamed. Took another half hour and a feeding to settle her.

This morning I noticed that AJ wanted to be held a lot, so I tried the carrier again and she was happy in it. I had her in it long enough to tidy up a little, put dinner in the slow cooker, and fix some breakfast. I put her in the bassinet to nap while I ate (I don't like to eat with her in the carrier; I worry about dropping or spilling something on her). Luckily she did not fuss in the bassinet this time!

So I am feeling more confident with the Mei Tai now, although less excited about long stretches of night time crying! I got a few photos of her while I was wearing it. Any feedback from others who do baby wearing? Does it look OK? I always worry about head position/breathing but she had space under her chin and seemed to be breathing easily.

Monday 10 November 2014

MicroBlog Mondays: Singing

I realized the other day that I need to make sure I have enough song lyrics memorized to entertain AJ when she wants to rock on the glider. When I was younger I used to make a point of memorizing songs and poems, but haven't done so deliberately in some years. OK, I'm sure AJ doesn't care what I'm singing or if I mumble "something...something....something" along to the melody occasionally, but it's more satisfying for me to be able to sing the full song. Sometimes I will put on a CD and sing along, which is the cheat way of doing it (she likes that too). But with an armful of baby, meanwhile wrangling a nursing pillow, a blanket, a glass of water and my shirt, just for example, getting the music on doesn't always happen.

There are some songs to which I never have any difficult remembering the words. One of these is "Wild Mountain Thyme" which became popular in Celtic/Folk circles starting in the 90s. Not sure who first recorded it (The Corries?) but for some years everybody seemed to be singing this song. It has a melody that is easy to carry even if you are not so great at carrying a melody (and/or it is some witching hour of the night when I'd be asleep if it was up to me.)

Here are a variety of renditions of Wild Mountain Thyme, if you haven't heard it.

As I watched the snow falling on Sunday however, I decided I needed a winter version of this song - summer won't be coming for a long time. So here are my revised lyrics. I considered myself a bit of a poet once, but it's also been a long time since I made any particular effort in that area. But this will do for a midnight concert for an audience of one, I think. See the original lyrics here.

Oh, the wintertime is coming
And the snow is softly falling
All among the trees and hollows
On the slopes of this tall mountain
Will ye go, lassie, go

And we'll all go together
A-sledding on the mountain
Where the snowdrifts reach to cover
All the trees and shrubs in whiteness
Will ye go, lassie, go

I will build my love a snow-fort
Near yon clear and crystal skate rink
And on it I will pile
All the snowballs on the mountain
Will ye go, lassie, go

And we'll all go together.....

If my true love she were gone
I would surely find another
Where the children laugh together
On the slopes of this tall mountain
Will ye go, lassie go

And we'll all go together
A-sledding on the mountain
Where the snowdrifts reach to cover
All the trees and shrubs in whiteness
Will ye go, lassie, go
Will ye go, lassie, go

Here are a few other favourites (which I haven't yet attempted to re-write!)

Castle of Dromore (traditional) Very appropriate for an October baby!
Barrett's Privateers (Stan Rogers) It's just so much fun to sing!
Whiskey in the Cup (The Rankin Family) Not sure why this one often comes to mind when AJ is fussy....but it does
Rise Again (The Rankin Family) Simply a beautiful song. Although I often get weepy in the middle of it.

Does anyone else sing to soothe baby? or your own nerves.....sometimes I'm doing it as much for me as for her! Any favourites? I'm actually enjoying sharing my old folkie favourites with her. If my tastes were ever more sophisticated, I can't remember when it was.

Sleepy AJ:

All about MicroBlog Mondays

Thursday 6 November 2014

Birth Story and Photos

Thank you everyone first of all for your sweet comments and congratulations. It really is overwhelming how much love and happiness baby AJ has brought with her.

On Wednesday AJ was a week old (!!!). Hard to believe that only a week ago I had just met her. We have learned so much together in the first week.  She is a great feeder and was over her birth weight at this week's checkup. We were given the OK to feed her on demand instead of every 3 hours. AJ likes napping during the day, feeding, chewing on her fingers, staring, car rides and being rocked or swung and mommy's terrible singing. Doesn't like having diaper changed, medical tests, and she hasn't made up her mind about tummy time. She tends to have a fussy period in the evening where she cries and does this panting thing like she's hyperventilating. She also wants to feed more often in the evening. Sometimes it's hard for her to go to sleep at night although once she's settled she's been doing pretty good and waking up every 3 hours or so to feed.

Today we gave her a bath at home which bugged her a bit but she was happy afterwards.

Mr. Turtle has been at home with me most of the week which is great. It is a little intimidating to think about what I will do when he isn't here as he is so great with AJ, and he also helps keep me emotionally calm. I've also had the support of MIL and my mom, so that has helped a lot.

The birth story is quite long and detailed, but I wanted to record it for myself before the details slip away - they are paradoxically both blurry and very vivid.

The Birth

In one of our Birthing From Within classes, everybody made a piece of art. We were each given a piece of poster paper divided into quadrants. For each quadrant, we had about a minute to draw a picture based on a prompt. The prompts were:

"Draw yourself being strong during labour."
"Draw yourself being strong after twenty hours of labour."
"Draw yourself being strong after you have received an epidural."
"Draw yourself being strong when you are having a Caesarean birth."

The first prompt was probably the easiest one to draw. The next ones were not so easy, and everyone was crying by the time they drew their fourth piece. But I found this a very profound experience.

As I drew, I realized that I did indeed have elements of strength in each of my drawings. Into each drawing I put rain (life giving) and lightning (energy).  By the end I understood that regardless of the situation I find myself in, I could bring strength and energy and life into it.  As I look back on my birth experience, I think this drawing sums it up the best.

Ember's due date was October 21st, 2014. In the weeks leading up to the due date we scrambled to get everything ready, always with the thought that I could go into labour before 40 weeks. That didn't happen though. Every night I'd go to bed wondering "if this was it" and would analyze my sensations and Braxton-Hicks contractions. But I would go peacefully to sleep and wake up in the morning as pregnant as ever. Mr. Turtle was both anxious for baby to be born but also wanting to finish his graduate assignments. Meanwhile Ember was very active and seemed to be more aware of the outside world. I found this reassuring and felt like she was getting ready to come out.

By the weekend of October 25 and 26 we were getting a bit anxious for things to move along. At our Birth and Babies class the previous week there was very low attendance, implying that most of the 12 couples were having their babies! there were two couples present with babies who were born early, and one other overdue couple. So the topic of natural labour induction came up. We took a few notes. Mr. Turtle was enamoured with the two baby girls at the class. "They were awesome! Best babies ever....until ours is born, of course..."

I wanted to try to induce labour from Saturday, but Mr. Turtle wanted to finish assignments. My view was that it might take a few tries! We went for a long-ish walk by a local lake on Saturday. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. We walked for about an hour and by the end of it my hips were aching. However, we stayed out and about and did some shopping. My hands got a bit swollen at one point and I had to use spit to get my rings off.

Saturday night and Sunday, still nothing. Sunday Mr. Turtle says: "Tonight we'll try something". So, we spent a relaxing evening eating dinner (pasta) in front of the TV and watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine on DVD.  At about 11pm we tried sex to see if that would start labour. It had been a while and it took  lot of experimenting to figure out what would work. We went to bed after but I had to get up several times to go to the bathroom. At one point I saw bloody show. Of course this freaked me out as I knew it would. So although I was not in any physical discomfort I huddled in bed with a roll of TP and monitored it. After a few minutes I started to feel contractions, which were just a bit uncomfortable. Mr. Turtle had gone to sleep without a care in the world, so I waited a while to see if they would stick around. When they seemed to be coming regularly I woke him up and told him.

This would have been a good time to relax and sleep, but I wasn't really capable of doing that, especially since I was continuing to have some bleeding and blood is an anxiety trigger for me, even if it is supposed to be normal. I tried to distract myself by reading a book. The contractions continued to intensify to the point where I wasn't progressing much in the book, and I started using some of my breathing techniques.  When a more intense contraction hit, one that needed all my focus, I said "Call J" (our doula). It was about 3am.  Mr. Turtle talked to her on the phone. J reassured me that it was early labour, and the best thing to do was to try and sleep.  I found I was able to do so and stayed in bed the rest of the night and till early afternoon Monday. Sometimes if the contractions were more intense I would get on the birth ball and rock, but overall tried to rest. Mr. Turtle and J stayed in touch throughout the day. The contractions continued to average 7-10 minutes apart.

At 5:30 J called Mr. Turtle to say we needed a plan to combat exhaustion and to try to speed up the labour, as I was facing the second night of labour. J arrived at our house at about 7:45 and I got out of bed and started using the birth ball. J was also worried that I had not eaten much all day and so she coaxed some banana and yoghurt into me. J  and Mr. Turtle used heat packs on my back and my lower pelvis and talked me through each contraction. J explained what might be happening with labour, either A) just a long early labour or B) baby is OP position (back to back) and therefore long labour without much progression.  After the birth ball we tried walking. The contractions seemed to be coming a little closer together, but still 5-7 minutes apart. I got nauseated and threw up.

At 9:15 J made the recommendation to go to the hospital for assessment as I had been active for 3 hours and contractions were still 5-7 minutes apart. The drive to the hospital wasn't too bad - I had 2 contractions in the car.  In triage at the hospital I felt nauseous again and threw up. Baby's heartrate was great. My cervix was 1 cm dilated and thinning out. Because it was still "early labour" (ironic term as it had been going on so long) I was not admitted and the doctor on call did not see me. I chose to have a shot of Gravol and morphine, and to go home and try to rest and see if labour would progress. Augmenting labour (i.e. Pitocin) was not an option at this point.

I spent the night in a dopey haze and was able to sleep although the contractions kept coming, maybe about every 10 minutes. Mr. Turtle kept using the heating pad which made the bed reek like burnt popcorn. Tuesday morning I did feel better and more rested, and was able to eat a bit and keep it down. With J's advice, we decided to call my maternity clinic for an appointment, to discuss what to do next. I saw the doctor at about noon. In the 13 and a half hours since the cervical check at the hospital, my cervix had opened 1 more centimetre. The doctor was quite optimistic, but it was still very slow progress. (In her notes J has made a note at this point: "From Monday 2am to Tuesday noon is 34 hours that Turtle has been at this. She's amazing!")

We had an ultrasound scheduled for the afternoon, the standard one at 41 weeks. The doctor wanted me to go to it as depending on the results they might be able to get me on the induction list. The ultrasound showed baby healthy and well, as J had predicted it would. It was early Tuesday afternoon at this point and Mr. Turtle needed to go out to get some lunch and pick up a few things. I went to bed to see if I could rest some more while he was out.

At this point things started to get surreal. I did manage to sleep, but the contractions started coming closer together and more intense, although I was not in a mental state to analyze intellectually what was going on. I had to apply my own heating pad as I was alone, and when Mr. Turtle came home he found me leaning against the wall with the heat pack balanced and groaning. Mr. Turtle observed that the contractions were coming about 3 minutes apart now. He called J again, who told him there was no rush, no need to panic: if I was 2 cm dilated at noon I was likely only about 3 now. At her suggestion I got into the bath to try to calm things down a bit before the car ride to the hospital. We did that and it did help me to be more comfortable. The contractions were quite intense at this point and I was working hard to stay ahead of them. I focused on my breathing and making deep vocalizations. At one point I was going "MOOOOOOOOOO" like a cow. Apparently Mr. Turtle found this really hilarious and he had to try very hard not to laugh.

The ride to the hospital was OK. I put a hot water bottle behind my back and hung off of the handle at the top of the car window. That helped. There were also some driving rock songs on the car radio which felt really good and helped me to focus. The one I remember in particular was "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer.

Recommended labour music!

4:40pm - back in triage at the hospital! I noticed that this time around staff reacted to me very differently than the first time. People seemed to take one look at me and decide: she means business. The nurse who cared for me in triage was a bit of a battleaxe with a no-nonsense manner.  While she was assessing me the contractions were coming quite hard and she brought me laughing gas. The gas helped although I also got quite loopy, either from inhaling it or from hyperventilating. That made me even more out of it. When the nurse put my IV in (antibiotics) my blood sprayed everywhere but I had only a vague idea what was happening. Mr. Turtle impressed the nursing staff by having a cool head throughout the whole thing and not reacting to the blood or anything else.  The nurse was a bit surprised to see that I was still just 3 centimetres dilated, but she said that she did not think I would be going home. She did a sweep on the membranes as well. A few minutes later, my water broke. At that point I was definitely admitted which was a relief.

Shortly after that we went to a birthing room. I vaguely registered a beautiful picture window with mountains before I had to focus on the contractions again. Now that my waters had broken the pain started to become more intense. The nursing staff gave me the option to walk or sit up, but I felt too tired and just wanted to lie down. At this point we talked options. Since I was only 3 centimetres dilated, I was still facing a long night of labour. My concern was to not slow down the contractions because they had taken so long to get going. Attending physician Dr. V-E said that morphine would slow them down, but an epidural should not. We decided to go with the epidural so that I could rest for when I had to push the baby out.  Now, I had hoped to birth without any drugs, but I was exhausted and so the decision was quite easy. As J pointed out, it was the compassionate choice. I was really grateful for the all the learning and research we had done into labour and birth because I felt I understood the situation and was able to make a good decision.

The epidural took a while to place since apparently the spaces in between my vertebrae are very small! however the staff was very gentle and calm so I was able to stay still (which was hard because of the contractions) so the anesthesiologist  could do his thing. He was quite joky and told a story about being bit by a rabid bat. I thought about telling my bat story but decided against it. After the epidural was placed I did not feel any pain although I could feel the contractions a little. I was now attached to a lot of monitors, but since all I really wanted was to lie on the bed, I didn't care. I was able to get up and go to the bathroom on my own.  I also listened to Moya Brennan on my iPod which helped me to relax a little.

A few hours went by. Unfortunately my contractions started to space out again, so Dr. V.E. recommended augmenting with Pitocin starting at 9:30pm. As per usual they started with the lowest dose and slowly raised it. At some point there was concern over baby's heartrate, and the dose was lowered again. Although I was not in any pain the constant fetal monitoring did make me anxious because I was always listening to it. Usually it was reassuring but as the night went on, there were more frequent dips in the heart rate.

As the contractions came closer together, I started to have sensation and pain again in my back. Now, this was the one point in the labour where I could almost wish I had done things differently. Because of the increased pain I asked for the epidural to be topped up. However, the side effect was that I lost all sensation in my lower body - I could not feel or move my legs anymore. This bothered me a bit because I liked to feel I still had some control, and it may have had repercussions for the rest of the labour.

At 1:50 am, Dr. VE examined me and said that I was 10 centimetres dilated and ready to push! That was 6 and 1/2 hours from admission. I was almost surprised as I could not physically feel any difference. This was probably the weirdest part of labour because it was so anti-climactic. In our labour classes we talked a lot about the time of "transition" and what a huge emotional and physical moment it is. But I was not even aware of mine and had to be told by someone else it was happening. However, I was happy because I thought the baby would be here soon, and I was glad that my cervix had finally cooperated!

Now, for some reason I had got it into my head that the pushing part of labour would last about 10 minutes, or at most half an hour. I'm not sure where I got this idea. But I assumed I was almost done! I felt disappointed because J was not in the room. She lives a 30 minute drive away and I thought she would miss the birth. Mr. Turtle was trying to reach her on the phone and I called to him to hurry up and get to my bedside before the baby was born and he missed it too!

Well, I need not have worried about that.  I continued pushing for two hours! Both Mr. Turtle and J. had plenty of time to get to me. Dr. VE continued to drop in due to continuing dips in the baby's heart rate. Overall they thought she was doing well but needed close monitoring.  At 3:30 Dr. VE says "Lots of hair on this baby" and I said "So we are at the point of hair are we?" I was hoping this meant significant labour progress but unfortunately not! Dr. VE said to me "Your pushing effort is fantastic. You know how to push, where to push." This was encouraging as I had very little sensation to help me push due to the epidural. However, as it started to wear off and I tuned into my body I was able to find some sense in it: I could feel my uterus go hard if I put my hand on it, and I could again feel some of labour in my back. I continued to try very hard to push during contractions, and the team around me including Mr. Turtle and J. were very helpful and encouraging. In between contractions I felt incredibly tired and would almost doze off.

3:50am marked two hours of pushing. There was some descent but not a lot. A change in position may have helped, but because of the strength of the epidural I was only able to labour on my back or on my side. This was the point where I regretted topping up the epidural: perhaps if I had chosen to work through the pain I could have had more mobility and helped the baby to move down.  Things being what they were, Dr. VE suggested an OB consult. Dr. C then assessed me. He gave his opinion that it was time for the baby to be delivered one way or another. He thought forceps might work but was not completely sure.  He explained the situation very well, and we agreed that we needed our baby here now! This did mean we had to leave the birthing room for the OR. The plan was to try forceps, and if it did not work, to do a C-section.

From here things moved very quickly. I was calm and felt confident we were doing the best thing for our baby. Mr. Turtle was able to come to the OR with me, although J was not. In the OR, Dr. C used one contraction to rotate the baby. When he did this he became a lot more optimistic that the forceps would work. He got into position. I knew when the next contraction came that this was it, so I gave it all my focus! I had the strangest sensation like my pregnancy bump was moving away between my legs. And it was our baby being born! I saw her come out all baby-shaped and then I heard her cry. At that moment I had no words, no thoughts but my heart burst open and I cried.

They took her to the scale and warmer immediately, and I followed her with my eyes and Mr. Turtle also went to be with her. The first thing that came into my head to ask was "Is she really a girl?" (Yes she was.)
She was weighed: 6lbs and 7oz. Then they brought her for skin to skin. She was so strong already and kept crawling up my chest. She also had her little mouth open and tongue out like she wanted to eat.

My cup runneth over.

After the birth J helped us to breastfeed right away, which was great. We then had a mostly uneventful stay at the hospital. Because AJ was considered small for her gestational age, she had to do a variety of tests over two days, but she did great on them and has been doing great since. 

Other details: (that's really all they are to me, a few details, but others might find helpful)

  • 3rd degree tear (from vagina to anus) Obviously with the anesthetic I didn't feel the tear or the stitching afterwards. For a couple of weeks the stitches made it feel like I had moss growing down there, which was a rather icky sensation (I chose to not ever look at the stitches!) I was glad not to have an episiotomy, which is harder to recover from than a tear.
  • The umbilical cord was wrapped several times around AJ, and apparently it was thin and scrawny-looking. This might have impacted on her heart rate during labour but didn't seem to affect her overall prenatal health as all her ultrasound checkups showed her doing fine.
  • After birth the umbilical cord separated from the placenta, and I think that had to scrape the placenta out of the uterus (I was otherwise occupied at the time so didn't pay a lot of attention to the details)
  • Other things that were weird/awkward about post-partum:
  • Being attached to an IV pole for a day (seriously annoying!) Hard to learn how to hold and care for a baby when I had to pull that thing around after me. Eventually I learned to just ask for help more often from the nurses.
  • having to re-learn how to pee. My nurse told me that blowing bubbles in a cup of water would help, and it did...eventually. I managed to empty my bladder enough that I didn't require a catheter. I was pretty happy about that!
  • Sweating.  So gross! The first week I would wake up soaked and shivering uncontrollably.
  • Things I'm grateful for:
  • How professional all the doctors and nurses were, and the help and support we received at all stages. So glad that J was able to help AJ and I to nurse immediately. For all the nursing tips I received in the days following. which helped build my confidence that I could feed AJ. That was huge.
Of course birth was just the beginning of the journey we have started. This is such a strange and amazing time because there is so much to process: the end of pregnancy, the birth, AJ's new life, and the rest of our lives together! With so much living to do, I don't know how I will ever catch up. But I do hope to continue to share some of the stories on this blog, as we learn how to be a family of 3.

And as always, thank you for reading (or for skimming this extremely long entry). LOL

Sunday 2 November 2014

My Ember is a blaze of glory

Alice Joy, born October 29th 2014, 4:32am.

Not with it enough at this point to have a photo to upload.

So much love, joy, gratitude. Sleep and time, not so much.

With soul and heart thanks to everyone for your support. Hope to write more soon.

Thursday 23 October 2014


She’s curled up on the couch, waiting, a ball of baby and emotions. A scrambled pile of books on pregnancy, labor, baby names, breastfeeding … not one more word can be absorbed. The birth supplies are loaded in a laundry basket, ready for action. The freezer is filled with meals, the car seat installed, the camera charged. It’s time to hurry up and wait. Not a comfortable place to be, but wholly necessary. - The Last Days of Pregnancy  (read it; it's good)

Yup, that's where I'm at.

The writer, Zana Studelska, uses the German word "Zwischen" or "between" to write about the last days of pregnancy, i.e. waiting for baby.

What is it with due dates, anyway? The stats say that only 5% of babies arrive on their due date. I suppose it is medically necessary, as this article says, to set one so that doctors can monitor baby's growth and tests can be performed at about the right times.  And having that future date seemed quite convenient, in terms to talking about the pregnancy with others, until it came and went. The people around me are very respectful and considerate: I've heard awful stories of friends and family members who call or text multiple times a day asking "Are you in labour yet?" Nobody is doing that to me (and they'd be in big do-do if they tried).  But still, now that the due date is in the past, I find myself wishing somehow that I didn't have this date in my head.

For example, when I was teaching, I didn't like to share too many details with my students. When they asked about when baby was coming, I would say things like "sometime in October" or "in a few weeks - it's one of the great mysteries of life, and I don't really get to choose." That was my way of maintaining boundaries, but now I kind of wish I'd used that same line with more people - not because I care much what they think or know, but so I'd be used to the idea too.

I also hate to think of Ember as "overdue," as if she is a library book. (Random Turtle trivia: a major reason I let my library card lapse was because I am terrible about returning items, especially since online renewal. I would deal with due dates by renewing materials for weeks and weeks instead of taking them in, which can totally work until you forget to renew on time, and then (at least with some libraries) you start to accumulate fines anyway, sometimes with interest. See another reason I don't like due dates? They come with penalties if you miss them. Bleah, I say!)

What's going on now?

Well, at my check-up today the doctor was unable to feel my cervix, which is posterior (i.e. behind the baby's head). So, obviously there was no sweep of the membranes, either. She didn't make any big deal out of it, emphasizing that none of these tests actually predict anything about labour. I am scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound next Tuesday (41 weeks) and the Friday after that. Apparently standard procedure is ultrasounds every 3 days after 41 weeks.  I do hope I give birth before I have all that monitoring, since I know that increased monitoring = increased anxiety for me, and if there's anything I would like to keep away from, it's anxietyanxietyanxiety. The only other advice I got was to keep monitoring baby's movements as movement is evidence of continued placental health. After 41 weeks they can induce, but doctor emphasized "that's not something we need to talk about right now." And then she said she hoped she sees me this weekend, as she's on call at the hospital.

Of course upon getting home I googled "posterior cervix at 40 weeks" (IknowIshouldn'tbutIdo). Naturally I didn't find out anything new, just anecdotes and more opinion. Some people claim that a posterior cervix means labour is not imminent, or that labour won't progress because baby's head is not pushing on cervix, or even that it means induction will fail and Caesarean birth will be prescribed! Then there are tons of stories of women in similar situation as me who went into labour a few hours or days later, no problem. So I might as well listen to the doctor and not make it a big deal.

As for other symptoms....I continue to have frequent Braxton-Hicks, especially in the evening. Sometimes I will feel bloated or heavy, like before a period, but it goes away when I change position or move around. I've also felt mild cramping or backache on occasion. Sometimes I'll feel sudden pressure or even pain low down, but like everything else, it's fleeting. Sometimes mild nausea - the same. All things considered I have very few late pregnancy discomforts.

So, what do I do with myself? I've gotten quite a few things done around the house. I know walking is considered good exercise, and I would love to; the problem is that after my fall in September I've gotten wary about walking long distances on my own. Even with very good, flat footwear, I can still roll my ankles. It hasn't caused me to lose my balance again, but it does stress me out. When Mr. Turtle is walking with me I don't worry so much because I figure he can catch me if I start to go down, but it does worry me when I'm alone. The weather has been so beautiful though, I might try some short walks at least.

Time for some lunch now. I'll end with some more thoughts from the article on Zwischen, which I hope will continue to be calm, productive, and......short.

I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual. To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey. 

Monday 20 October 2014

MicroBlog Mondays: Waiting

So, it's, er, one day before Ember's due date.

I've been trying to not get too invested in the due date. Despite the fact that for the past two, three months (especially the last one) all anybody wants to know is "When are you due?" whereupon I give this mythical date of October 21st, knowing that it may not actually mean anything.

Our physical space is ready for a baby. I can come up with other things to do of course: on the agenda for today (possibly) is going through my hall closet (not many closets in the house so must optimize space), vacuuming the downstairs, going through and shredding old mail, because.....well, it would feel good on some level to not have piles of old mail around. And laundry, there's always something to do with laundry. On the other hand, none of that is really necessary.  The necessary things are done: baby supplies are in place, even the hospital bags are packed.  Despite being procrastinators, we got there.

One thing I would like to do is work out some dependable method for photo organizing and sharing. We won't be doing a lot of Facebook photo sharing, but we do want to be able to share with family and close friends who are not close by. I have been playing around with Google Picasa, which seems promising. Unfortunately, any job that involves learning and concentration is not really my thing these days. A few weeks ago my brain kind of stopped processing and organizing new information.

It occurred to me the other day that waiting for the birth is a bit like a two week wait. With the notable difference that this time around something has to happen. But the rituals are a bit similar, e.g. symptom spotting:

  • Am I having more Braxton-Hicks?
  • Was that contraction maybe a little bit painful?
  • Is that heavy feeling in my pelvis?
  • Am I going to the washroom more often?
  • Any sign of mucous plug? (not so far)
  • Is baby sitting lower? (probably)
So far, any "symptom" of impending birth has been fleeting: here now, then gone. At my 39 week appointment last Thursday, the doctor said cervix was shortening and softening but was still completely closed.  She said though that baby was descending and putting pressure on the escape hatch, which sooner or later will ease it open.  "Lots of good things happening." The rational part of my brain has no problem with Ember taking her time, as long as she is healthy. The less rational part doesn't like waiting and can come up with too many Scenarios.

On the other hand, birth doesn't seem quite real yet. Despite all the classes and preparations, I don't quite believe that this is going to happen to my body, inside of my own skin

It seems to me like Ember had been more aware and responsive the past few days. Maybe she's just big enough now that I noticed almost every movement, but it feels like she's more tuned into her environment: she wakes up when I wake up (and is sometimes awake when I'm not), moves in response to my belly being stroked, or a change in position.

So, a quiet day of chores and belly wriggles. Probably. And waiting while trying not to consciously, well, wait.

Update: My doula sent me the link to this article, which I thought was really good:

The Last Days of Pregnancy

Friday 17 October 2014

Belated words

October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Most of the bloggers I regularly read, and most of the people who read this blog and support me, have experienced a pregnancy loss. It's not that I don't know or often think of your stories, but I didn't exactly pause and think of how they all added up to a shared experience.

And it made me feel a bit ashamed that I didn't acknowledge October 15th.

And I know why I didn't, and it isn't because these days there is so much to do, so much to think about. It's because at about 5 weeks, I thought I was losing Ember.  I will never forget the tsunami of grief that washed over me, obliterating every flimsy defense I thought I had against the random cruelty of the universe. Now, as it turned out, Ember and I were fine. Fine. Which is wonderful, except...all I was left with was the memory of that grief. I never got to experience the healing after it. That may sound ridiculous, because...shouldn't a healthy pregnancy have been healing? Well, yes and no.  I do feel joy and gratitude and with time, it's become stronger than the....other fears and feelings. But the point is this: I have no idea how somebody actually continues to live after a pregnancy loss, except from reading your blogs. And while I try to empathize, and while your testimony and the courage to make it leaves me in awe, and aching, I'm also afraid that I don't have same courage. I feel like that black hole of grief that still exists somewhere in my universe is still waiting for me and there's no way out.

This isn't a plea for sympathy. I guess it's just something I had to say. I want to acknowledge Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day, and I suppose that means that today, I get to face and acknowledge my fear here.  We all have to step forward from where we stand.

Monday 13 October 2014

MicroBlog Monday: Kinda Sorta Almost

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Among the many, many things Mr. Turtle and I have to be thankful for: an extra day off to work on our many tasks around the house.

Today he....

  • finished putting in baseboards and putting up the curtain rod
  • built the crib
  • unpacked and installed car seat
  • made breakfast and dinner
  • inflated my ball chair
  • carried various things up and down the stairs, on request
....I hope I'm not forgetting anything as he does read this sometimes LOL.

Today I....
  • built an IKEA drawer thingy for the closet
  • organized the closet
  • washed cloth diapers (we bought 6 BumGenius All-in-Ones with the notion of seeing how well they work)
  • put away a few Tupperwares of various items that had been hanging around en route to their eventual destination
  • futzed around the baby's room so that it looks tidy
The baby's room is kinda sorta almost ready. At least, it's functional. Having it "perfect" is not a necessity, since she won't even be sleeping there for a few months, but having it clean and organized is still a good feeling - so much better than having baby articles in piles on the floor or thrown in boxes!  There's still a lot we could do to make it "pretty": things like curtains, artwork etc. But I figure those details can be added in the next few months - even years.

It's pretty impossible to get a photo of the whole room as it's quite small and I can't find a camera angle that shows everything. But these give you an idea:

Crib and recliner

Change table / diaper pail

Really like this woven leaf hanging that we found in Pier 1 imports.

The closet that I put together today. Can you spot the turtles?

I appreciate how clean and comfortable the room feels. However, the less rational part of me feels almost dismayed at how....uncomplicated it looks now. It's as if the order I've imposed hides the messiness of the journey to get here, and I feel ambiguous about that. Oh well, I suppose the arrival of a baby will put plenty of messiness back into the picture.

The next big job that really should have been done yesterday/last week: packing the hospital bags. I have the lists; I have the bags; I even think I have most of the stuff. I think it's among the last of the necessary tasks that is intimidating me a little. Even though I've packed for trips many many times, without much grief, this particular trip feels bigger than any other one.

Ember continues to appear happy and comfortable in situ. Last Thursday the doctor attempted to check my cervix. I was curious what was going on up there but once the actual inspection started I was less than enthusiastic about it. Apparently my cervix is high and tilted toward the back, which makes it harder to feel and quite uncomfortable for me. No evidence of dilation yet, or even effacement. This fits with my sense that Ember is going to stay in side for a least a few more days, even weeks, although the doctor was careful to point out that a thick cervix in no way guaranteed that labour wasn't about to start. As long as she's healthy then I am in no hurry. Although I strongly dislike the idea of being induced and it is my wish  that things progress naturally.

So it continues. Kinda sorta almost.

Monday 6 October 2014

MicroBlog Monday: Photo Shoot

I posted a couple weeks ago about wanting to do a maternity photo shoot. Like just a few other things, I procrastinated taking steps, making excuses that maybe it was too expensive, maybe too self-indulgent, whatever. Finally I decided that it was important to me, and to us, to have some really positive images of this pregnancy. So many of the images I've carried around in my head the past months have been scary and morbid. I know that's not the whole reality, but when I get a notion or an image stuck in my head it's not that easy to get it out. Then it took a few weeks to find a photographer and a time (there doesn't seem to be much time for anything these days.)

Anyway, today we finally had a beautiful fall evening, a funny and very "in tune" photographer couple, and a great experience. Although the photographers picked the location, they chose a park in the city where we walk a lot, so it felt very familiar and comfortable.

I don't have the actual pictures yet, so I can't share any, but I wanted to just share the mood. I am so glad I got up the nerve to actually do this.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

And now it is October

I remember struggling a lot with October as a young person. Not sure why. Lots of people think it is a beautiful month. It can be beautiful in my part of Canada, and some years it is. Other years winter comes fast and furious, and October means short days and decaying leaves and landscapes of wintry brown.

This year of course, October is something mythical. October is the month when we meet Ember.

Speaking of mythical, here is one of the latest "Oh !@#$" purchases.

Before anyone hates me for posting this unbearable cuteness, I must say that if I was left to my devices, our baby would probably have come home in a pillow case. I couldn't even look at baby clothes until week 30 or something. Then I would look, but I couldn't buy. Finally, last weekend my mom came over and asked awkward questions like, "So, what do you have?" and "What if you went into labour in the next few days?" I don't think I will, incidentally, but at 37 weeks, it's possible. Yikes.

So I put on my brave face and we went baby shopping. Despite several distinct urges to find an excuse, any excuse to run out from the store, we did it together. I just needed the backup. 

Unbearable cuteness it is.

The closest outfits are the newborn ones, and then the next row are the slightly bigger ones.

Now I will have to wash them all in the next few weeks....

Oh, and here's a lovely shot of the nursery. LOL.  That's the crib and change table in boxes on the floor. Bassinet (which will go in our bedroom) is in the background. Glider is ordered, hasn't arrived. (Same with stroller.)

The past week has been kind of crazy. Besides the fact I have a week and half left of work to get things mostly organized for my replacement, my colleague bunged her knee and has been off work. So I feel like I'm trying to keep twice as many balls in the air.  We also have two baby classes on the go, and in addition to other commitments, it seems like we have something scheduled to do every single day and evening. Not exactly what we've been used to. But it will all be worth it. It will.

Thinking of everyone always.

Sunday 21 September 2014

I think it might be "Oh !@#$" time

That was my thought as I woke up this morning.

Okay, to clarify:

Some people who are expecting babies have showers where there are cupcakes and balloons and it's all cute and they get gifts and stuff. So I'm told. I've never actually been to one.

Some people start "nesting" while pregnant (I think second trimester is considered an appropriate time for that?) and then by third trimester they have cute nurseries and piles of baby stuff and that kind of thing.

Then there's us.

I don't do cute.  I have no idea how to throw a baby shower, no motivation to figure out how and apparently this apathy/avoidance subliminally communicated itself to anyone in my immediate circle of family or friends who might have thrown one, because nobody has. I don't actually care; I think I'd  rather have some kind of welcome event after baby is born. Occasionally, though, the thought has crossed my mind: "How did that (not) happen?" As it has for a few other things we've procrastinated.

Answer: A lot of the time, my notion of preparing for baby is to cuddle my tummy, thinking how miraculous it is when baby kicks, wriggles and is alive.

I've told people humourously when they ask about preparations that well, we're painting the room, we're considering this or that product, and a couple of weeks before baby is due to arrive, we'll have an "Oh !@#$ weekend" and buy everything at once.

I just counted the weekends before full term (38 weeks) and we have like, 2 weekends (not including this one) to go "Oh !@#$" and do things.

Okay, we actually may be not quite as disorganized as I'm making it sound. Lots of good things are happening!

We have started prenatal class #1 (Birth and Babies) and start prenatal class #2 (Birthing From Within) next week. (See the Birth/Parenting resources page for more info.)

We have a bassinet in the house and a glider on order.

The room is painted and looks awesome.

My FIL has been helping us with neglected jobs around the house the past few weeks (so helpful!). Stepmother-in-law is also very excited.

My parents have been overseas on holiday for a few weeks but they will do anything to help us when they are back; I know this.

My MIL is across the continent, but will also do anything she can.

The family is there and ready; I don't want to make it sound like they don't care about us. I think they have been waiting for us to give them cues about what we need. Which is actually very considerate and kind.

Although there are a lot of big items we haven't yet purchased, I think we know what we want in most cases and it shouldn't be too hard to get it.

I have a registry with about 10 smaller things on it, although I don't know yet what I will do with it exactly.

I booked my last day of work (October 10th).

But. I think my biggest accomplishment has been my attitude. Despite this being "Oh !@#$" time, I actually feel very good about baby and the birth. I am hopeful that we can have as normal and natural a birth as possible, which is important to me because of the anxiety/fear/dread that accompanied the beginning of this pregnancy. A calm, hopeful attitude is much more important than a fully decorated nursery or a baby shower.

I've also put in a call to a photographer to schedule a maternity photo shoot. I waffled on this for a long time. How important is it, do we want the expense, etc. But all along I've had the thought that this could be my only pregnancy, and it would be nice to have some professional photos as memories. I've pushed that thought away a lot of the time because the priority has always been, baby gets here healthy and well.  Anything else felt like an indulgence. Finally I thought, might as well do it (last minute of course). If things don't work out with the studio, I'll see if my brother, who is a talented amateur photographer and took our wedding photographs, can do something with us.

Finally, it's a beautiful fall day (autumn comes early in this climate) and the trees have started turning colour in earnest the past couple of days. Fall colours don't last long so we will make some time to go for a walk.

35+ weeks and autumn colours.

Blessings to all.

Thursday 18 September 2014


I had no ideas for MicroBlog Monday, but today I made these:

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. Recipe Here!

They were the perfect cookies to make with one leftover browning banana, the remnants of a bag of chocolate chips, and a couple cups of oatmeal to make it all healthy-ish. Does anyone else ever crave milk and cookies for dinner?

We have eaten/will eat about a dozen of these cookies and the rest will hopefully be sufficiently enticing to bribe someone at work into doing me a favour LOL.

have a beautiful Friday!

Saturday 13 September 2014

When the bough breaks

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all

My co-teacher at work calls this "a horrifying lullaby" and I have to agree....Who came up with this and WHY??

My day yesterday was a little too much like this lullaby.  First of all, there are a lot of broken boughs around the city after last week's snowstorms.  Since trees had not yet dropped their leaves, many suffered broken branches and in a few cases whole trees came down. There are fallen branches blocking sidewalks in many areas, and people have had tree branches fall on homes and cars. Apart from the property damage and inconvenience, it's sad that so many trees have been broken. And it does make walking a bit more dangerous.

However, my mishap occurred while crossing a road that was not blocked. I was walking to work. My right ankle rolled, I staggered forward a few steps, and when I was unable to regain my balance I went down. Aie! It wasn't too bad of a fall as I was able to break the impact with my arms and my knees. I don't exactly remember doing so, but I have scrapes on my palms, big bruises and scrapes on my knees and today my arm muscles hurt like hell, so I know I used them to break my fall. I landed on my left side. There was no direct impact on my belly as far as I can tell. However, I did call my doctor and they said "if you are worried come in." Of course I took a cab directly there. Baby had good heart rate, was moving around a lot and I had no pain or unusual discharge or symptoms. The doctor said "she doesn't seem fazed by what happened at all." Well, that was good; I was quite a bit more shaken up.

I ended up going home and not going in to work, in large part because the ankle I rolled started to hurt quite a bit after the initial shock and adrenaline wore off. I didn't want to rise injuring it further, or heaven forbid, rolling it and falling again. If I wasn't pregnant, I wouldn't worry, but if I wasn't pregnant I probably wouldn't have fallen in the first place.

Since I walk a lot, this experience has been quite upsetting to me, though since there was no harm done I'm doing my best to let it go. But it has made me think. My ankles roll quite easily for whatever reason. This is true even when not pregnant. When I take ballet and stepdance classes, it really helps with the problem because the exercise strengthens them. But I haven't taken those classes in months. Also, I feel bad about this because I do feel like it was probably preventable. I had noticed that I was rolling my ankles more when I wore shoes that have a heel. Now, I almost never wear "high heels" and certainly I have never worn them since becoming pregnant.  But several of my regular shoes have heels of about 2 inches on a comfortable, full support shoe. I put away all my heeled shoes when I realized that they were causing me problems, buuuuuuuut.....when the weather suddenly got cold I took out my boots with heels. I thought that boots would be OK because they have more support than shoes. Well, I was wrong.

These are the boots I was wearing when I fell. Usually I can live in these boots. They are ridiculously comfortable, practical and they look awesome. I have the same footbed in a different style because I like them so much. But I wish I had realized that even the small heel could make me roll my ankle. I feel like my vanity / desire to wear my awesome boots won out over what I knew about safety.

If you are pregnant and have a tendency to roll your ankles, DON'T WEAR HEELS! Any heels! I will just put that out there. It freaks me out when I see pregnant people wearing heels (some far higher and less practical than mine) but I suppose not everybody has my foot issues and perhaps they can do it safely. I will not be wearing any heeled shoes or boots until I am able to go back to my dance classes. I assume my sense of balance should improve after baby is born, of course, but then I thought....what if I'm carrying baby and fall?! that could be much worse even than falling while pregnant.

In other news, today I've been distracting myself by researching more baby stuff online.  Mr. Turtle is quite tired after his week and hasn't been up to hitting any stores so far, but I'm busy learning about things from home. I have added a few things to the page on baby items.  I even started a baby registry though I don't know if I will share it with anyone as currently there are no plans for a shower or similar event. Most notably I finally found a traditional stroller that seems to have all the features I want. It comes with a big price tag, but we could save on not having to buy a bunch of add-ons. Also, it's not a travel system. I really don't want a travel system.  I haven't make any decisions on a baby carrier yet, but there is a store in my city that specializes in babywearing / cloth diapering, so we plan to visit soon to learn more about those options.

(I've only spent a little bit of time looking at new boots.)