Sunday, August 31, 2008

labour of love

Babies are hard work. Like really hard work. Duh. Just had to put that out there.

Breastfeeding challenges have continued, though they are getting better. Maya still has the occasional bloody meal, which I absolutely hate. She seems to be doing well on my breast milk, though; she seems content after feeds and sleeps well. The big test will be on Tuesday when Charlotte (our nurse) comes to weigh her. She has been down about 4% from her birth weight and I am really hoping she'll come up again by Tuesday.

Maya's umbilical cord fell off this morning. What a milestone! Now she has a real belly button and it's oh so cute. I considered taking pictures of it but I think I'm the only person who would enjoy them.

Things Maya likes:
1. Eating
2. Eating
3. Eating
4 Spitting up
5. Being swaddled
6. Making monster sounds
7. When I talk to her
8. Being cuddled in bed

Things Maya dislikes:
1. Waiting to eat
2. Wondering when that boob is coming
3. Waiting for mummy to take her shirt off and get that boob ready already
4. Waiting for the next meal
5. Being changed
6. Being naked
7. Being bathed
8. Being burped

Sorry for the disjointed post. My brain is all over the place this morning. Here are some photos from this week...

Baby Feet: I like them.
"Miss Spit Up Queen Vancouver 2008" (note the spit up on baby girl's right shoulder)
Maya and grandma (my mum)
Maya's first adventure going outside (we went to the drugstore for more diapers!)

Friday, August 29, 2008

birth story

On Saturday August 23rd (40w6d), I woke up in tears because I still hadn't gone into labour and was certain I would have to be induced. My husband D tried to console me by reminding me that our long awaited baby girl was coming out by Wednesday, no matter what, and I should just try to focus on that. I decided that he was right and to get my mind off things by cleaning the house and going over to my parents' house for a visit.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was feeling much better. Weirdly calmer and more peaceful. I realized that there was nothing I could do so I may as well just try to relax.

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since my membranes were stripped for the second time the day before. But they were generally irregular and mild so I wasn't paying much attention. At my parents' house I started noticing that they were happening about 6-8 minutes apart, but every so often I would skip a contraction altogether, so I didn't think anything significant was happening.

Wow was I wrong.

I stood up to leave to walk home from my parents' house. As I went from sitting to standing, I felt a trickle of what I thought was urine come out. I laughed and announced, "ooh, feels like I peed myself again!" This was an ongoing joke because I had developed a bit of incontinence since around 38 weeks. Late pregnancy is funny by nature, and when you've finally lost all dignity and can't put on your own socks, wipe your own ass or control your own bladder, it's time to laugh.

I walked home and went to the washroom. Usually, when I had an episode of incontinence, it was only a couple of drops at the most. But this time, I noticed it was more like a couple of tablespoons. I casually mentioned this little development to my husband and he said it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to call the hospital and check with them, just to be sure. I was totally certain I had only leaked pee but thought he was right, a call to the hospital was probably prudent. Better safe than sorry, I thought.

So I called and talked the the doctor on call. He said, "at 41 weeks, leaking fluid is largely academic, especially if you're GBS negative. However, it would be my recommendation to have you come in to be assessed so we can see what's what." I am laughing at myself now because my first thought was, "But I have dinner reservations!"

I called my dad and asked him if he could drive me to the hospital for a quick check up. D decided not to join us for our hospital excursion because he had worked hard that morning and had just got home. And honestly, neither one of us had anticipated the craziness that was about to happen.

My dad showed up about 15 minutes later and we headed for the hospital. As we were driving over the Granville Street bridge, I felt a two weird "clicks" in my pelvic floor. It felt like something had suddenly popped. Before I knew what was happening, warm fluid just started gushing out of me. Gushing. Uncontrollably. Tons of fluid. All over my dad's Lexus. Fluid everywhere, on the seat, the floor mats, my clothes. My water had broken.

I started freaking out, shouting, "Dad! We need to get to the hospital now! Drive faster!" I called my husband on the way and told him what was happening. I think he was shocked. I was too. I couldn't believe that my water broke. It was all so surreal.

Dad and I arrived at the hospital about 10 minutes later. Meanwhile, fluid was still pouring out. I am not exaggerating when I say that there was probably over a gallon of amniotic fluid gushing out of me. When I got to the assessment room, they had to follow me around with a mop. I changed into a gown right away and they got me checked into an exam room for assessment. The contractions - the REAL contractions - started happening right away. I went from zero to a thousand in terms of pain in about 5 minutes. I'm not sure, but I think when your water breaks, you kinda skip the first two stages of labour and pretty well go straight into transition. I felt like my body was being ripped in half and I was screaming, crying, foaming at the mouth even before the doctor could come in to check me out.

Finally, after what felt like a week, the doctor arrived and did a quick exam. He said, "Well, your cervix is only dilated to about 2cm, so my recommendation would be for you to go back home and come back in a few hours and we'll check you again to see where you're at." As if possessed by a demon, my head spun around and I snarled back, "There is NO F-ING WAY I could get in a car right now, please let me stay!" I remember the doctor sighing and saying, "OK. You're obviously in a lot of pain. We'll bring you some gas and you can stay. But I have to warn you, this is just the beginning of your labour. You probably won't be giving birth for at least another 12 to 20 hours. But I'll come back to check your cervix in about 30 minutes and we'll see how you're progressing, sound good?" I am quite sure I spit out some obscenity in his direction. Meanwhile, my dad raced home to pick up my husband, my mom and the birth bags.

The nurse brought me a birth ball and some nitrous oxide. The gas didn't even come close to touching the pain, all it did was make me feel stoned and help me to not panic as much in between contractions. I didn't like it. Every minute that passed was absolutely pure hell. I was screaming bloody murder for an epidural.

The doctor came back 30 minutes later as promised. A quick cervical check revealed that in 30 minutes, I had dilated to 5cm, much to the surprise of everyone. The doctor admitted that it was good I didn't go home because this baby was coming - and fast! The epidural was ordered, the delivery room was readied, and by the time they hooked me up to all the machines and and the IV, everything started happening. Within about an hour I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing.

And push I did. For about an hour. D coached me all the way through it, he did such a great job. The nurses and doctor were amazing, and I felt very supported. They offered me the mirror so I could watch my baby being born. At first I declined, but then I changed my mind and asked for it. And I'm so glad I did. It was so incredible to watch my own baby's birth, and it was an incredible motivational tool for pushing. With every contraction and every push, I could see Maya's head coming down further and further. It was happening!

On Sunday, August 24th at 2:03am, our daughter Maya was born. 7 pounds, 10 ounces, 20 inches long. Gorgeous and perfect in every way. My dreams all came true in that instant.

And now, we start a new life with our long awaited baby girl. This new blog will serve as a journal of sorts, so that I can record and remember the details - big and small - of how it feels to be a new mum. Maya's mum.

Here we go.

week one

Holy crap, I'm a mum.

This first week has been pure insanity. Thank G-d for my parents who have come to the rescue by helping with the housework and keeping D and I fed.

My first real challenge as a new mum has been breastfeeding. Maya has a huge appetite and a very, VERY hard suck. Thanks to that, and some terrible latches early on, my nipples have been sore, cracked and bleeding. Which is obnoxious in and of itself (feels like I've been dragged across a gravel road on my chest), but the worst part has been the bleeding. Maya can't help but express and ingest that blood every time she feeds and when she spits up, it looks like she's a little vampire. I have been assured and reassured that it doesn't harm the baby to ingest some blood in these situations, but it really seems to have been hard on her digestion.

Thank goodness for Charlotte, our community health nurse (in Canada, every new parent gets a personal nurse who comes to your house every day to check on you for as long as you need) who suggested the miracle that is the nipple shield. I have used it only for 24 hours so far but what a difference it has made. Maya now gets pure milk, with no blood, and my poor ragged nipples get a fighting chance to heal. I think I will use it for one more day and see how it goes from there.

Speaking of milk, I apparently have enough milk to feed twins. Seriously, I make loads of milk. It practically sprays out whenever I even hear Maya starting to fuss. A woman's body is so incredible. I am so relieved because I was nervous that because of my PCOS, I might have troubles in the milk department. Not so.

Other pearls of wisdom I've learned this week, that I'd like to pass on to my fellow expecting bloggers:

1. Do not bother to change baby's outfit every time she spits up on it. You will never be able to keep up with the laundry.
2. Become adept at picking things up with your feet. At least one hand/one arm will always be tied up going forward.
3. Your bed will become a soiled mess with all things that come out of your baby. Expect it and be happy. Fight it and lose the battle (see point #1).
4. Everything takes waaaaay longer than it should. If you would normally take, say, 5 minutes to load the dishwasher, expect the job to be done in 45 minutes. Nothing goes smoothly anymore and baby distractions are numerous and imminent. To that end, try not to make any plans either. There is a very good chance you will have to break them.
5. Invest in a good sling. With my sling, I am able to walk around, check my email, do the dishes, eat a snack, go to the washroom, etc. I am wearing Maya right now as I type this. And she is sucking her fingers and snorting like a little piggy girl. Observe: