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.