An End and A Beginning

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I can’t believe my baby girl has been here for four weeks now! It’s that cliche of time where it feels like she’s been here for just a minute, yet it’s like a lifetime has passed.

The day my pregnancy “finished” and my baby girl came into this world was a pretty amazing one. The process started with a regular monitoring appointment with my OB on Aug. 25. She had just gotten back from holidays that week and I told her baby and I held off, waiting for her to come back. She did my cervical check, and noted that I was 2 – 3 can dilated, which I was pleased about because I hadn’t noticed any contractions, but had seen some mucousy discharge that week. She asked if I was ok to do another cervical sweep, and I said ok despite the fact that I would have been quite content to stay pregnant into September, plus when her locum did a sweep for me, it did nothing so I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work anyways. Well, my OB was definitely not delicate about it and afterwards I was feeling a bit sore and crampy. 

I decided I best run some errands and cross some items off of my to do list just in case baby was going to make her debut soon. I spent the day running around, managed to fit a pedicure into my stops and when I got home later that evening I finally had some time to sit down and rest, that’s when I noticed the crampy-ness and back pain were sporadic, but not lessening up. I googled what contractions would feel like and when it came back as intense menstrual cramps I realised that I had actually been having contractions and back labor all day. 

It got a bit worse in the evening but I was determined to make cookies, partly as a distraction, and partly because I really wanted to take them to the hospital as a thank you for the nurses who would take care of us when the time came. So I puttered around the kitchen, occasionally taking a break to sit on my exercise ball or lean against the couch. After the cookies were done, I relaxed on the couch until about 10:30pm when it felt like things were slowing down, so I went to bed.

I slept pretty well the entire night (as well as one sleeps at 39 weeks pregnant). I woke up in the morning around 6am when J was getting ready for work and noticed the contractions again, but didn’t pay them much attention. When J left at 7:00 it became apparent that I was not going to be able to go back to sleep so I lay in bed and started timing contractions. They were between 9 to 6 minutes apart so I figured I should get up and get showered in case I had to go to the hospital soon. During the course of time it took me to get showered the contractions got closer together pretty quickly. By the time I was working on putting my make up on they were between 5 to 3 minutes apart and more intense. I text J and told him he was probably going to have to come home, despite the fact that he had only been at work for about 40 minutes. By the time he got home I was struggling to braid my hair, doubling over the bathroom counter every three minutes. 

J tried to remain calm but got the car packed pretty frantically. I had planned on eating breakfast after I finished getting ready but that was out of the question now and for the best as we had to pull the car over on the way to the hospital so I could be sick on the side of the road. The car ride sucked but luckily it was a bit past rush hour and we live very close to the hospital. 

We arrived at around 9:30am. Once there I got admitted to labor and delivery assessment, where they make sure you are progressing before they admit you to an actual L&D room. It must have been pretty clear to them that I was moving along because after a couple checks from a nurse, and the resident doctor they started doing up the paperwork to move me into a room (assessment is basically just little cubicles with curtains). By that point I was at 4 cm dilated and my membranes were bulging. I mentioned that I planned on having an epidural and the nurse told me they couldn’t administer it in the assessment area but she did offer morphine which I happily accepted. About 30 seconds after she injected it, I had to be sick again. I was really glad we had a light dinner the night before.

I think it was around 11:00 am when I was moved to a room and the nurse asked if I wanted to try a warm shower before getting the epidural but I was pretty uncomfortable at that point so I declined and said I would take the epidural when the anesthesiologist was free. They told me it may be a bit of a wait because he was in for a c section at the moment. The morphine had helped take the edge off and there was nothing I could do about the wait, so all in all I was pretty calm. Surprisingly it was a very short time later that they came in to administer the epidural. I have scoliosis, and I think it was a resident inserting the needle because it took 3 pokes and about half an hour (and a different doctor after all) to get it in. One of my biggest fears was not being able to get the epidural due to my scoliosis but they managed. I kept wiggling my toes to see when it would take effect but the nurse told me I would still be able to move, just not feel anything, which proved true when she put a latex glove full of ice on my skin and I couldn’t feel the cold, it was the weirdest sensation. 

After that I lay comfortably in the bed, chatting away and being told I was having contractions that I couldn’t feel. The nurse offered to give me oxytocin which would help the contractions keep going and make sure I continued to progress (in hindsight it was overkill because further into my labour they had to turn it off all together as I was contracting too frequently). Around 1pm they officially broke my waters though I’d had a slow leak since the resident doctor checked me in admitting. At approximately 3pm the nurse told me it was time to push. Large amounts of amniotic fluid were soaking the pad under me with every push, I was surprised at how much there was! Once I was pushing and the contractions were at there strongest I was surprised to find I could feel the immense pressure from baby, as well as the tightening sensation of the contractions and was in a fair bit of pain. I’d thought that the epidural would negate all feeling but I guess I was wrong, or they do it in such a way that I could still feel enough of the contractions to push. Either way, the experience was not what I expected and I was really glad for the epidural because I can’t imagine what it would have felt like without it. Kudos to the au naturel ladies, you have my full respect. 

For the next couple hours I pushed with all my might and by the time my doctor showed up she was apologetic that I had been pushing for so long, she was surprised everything has progressed so quickly since the previous day (so was I to be honest!). I was lucky that I managed to have my own doctor there for delivery, if it had been much later I would have ended up with the on call doctor. Once my doctor was there things really started moving along. She is an awesome doctor but she is definitely not gentle. There was a lot of stretching and pulling going on and I had some renewed strength to push. My doctor offered that they could try forceps or a vacuum to help me out, I tried a few more pushes on my own and then decided I was going to need some help from the vacuum. As it turned out, baby’s head was at a bit of an angle before they used the vacuum and it would have been near impossible for me to push her out on my own. After her head was righted the rest happened rather quickly. After a little over 3 hours of pushing we met our daughter at 6:15 pm, August 26. 

J followed her to the warmer in the room where they cleaned her up and weighed her. They told me she was a big baby and I was thinking over 8lbs, but I guess 7lbs9oz was big for my petite stature. I’m probably lucky I didn’t last all the way until my due date or beyond. They brought her back to me, placed her on my chest and the world around me all came crashing on. I cried; heaving, loud sobs. All of the emotion and exhaustion (physical and mental, both if that day and of all the days that brought us to that point) and she was finally there in my arms. J snuggled in with us, and we marvelled at the addition to our family.

I delivered the placenta easily and quickly. My doctor was sewing up a 2nd degree tear while I held my new daughter and lemme tell you I think the epidural had worn off a fair bit by then because it hurt like a mofo. I was kept in labor and delivery a bit longer than normal because I had a hemorrhage and they needed to make sure it was under control before they sent me to postpartum. Once we were sent down to our room for the night, our families descended upon us, and life as we knew it had forever changed.

Overall I’m very happy with how the delivery went; I got the epidural, I got my own doctor and I avoided an emergency c section. J was great, encouraging me, watching our baby come into the world and cutting the cord. The tearing, the three hours pushing and the vacuum assistance are just part of our story. 

The first 24 hours was a sleepless blur, the first week I was an anxious mess, and though things have been tough, they have eased somewhat over the course of time. I’m still stressed a lot of the time, and I’m still an anxious mess some of (ok, most of) the time but were functioning, albeit at a much different level than we’re used to. 


I never intended for this to become a “mommy blog” so I’m not entirely sure what to do with this space. There may be sporadic updates, and I still have some unresolved feelings with infertility (does that ever really resolve itself?) to discuss. I’ll definitely be following everyone else’s journeys as well!

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Life on the Other Side

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I’ve had intentions of writing about my birth story and what’s been going on with us several times over the past few weeks but every time I plan on it something else comes up, or the baby wants to eat (again), or it just feels like a frivolous thing to do with my time when there are a hundred other things I want to get done, or just take a nap.

Life is pretty tough right now, as there have been challenges since we came home, some normal newborn stuff, plus some extra stressors. Baby girl had a mild case of jaundice when she came home which made her a bit lethargic and difficult to feed. I was not to let her go more than three hours without eating as she needed to expel the excess bilirubin from her system to get rid of the jaundice. But given the fact that she was very sleepy she didn’t eat well, which was not helping with the jaundice, it was a vicious circle as you can imagine. In my province a home health nurse is sent to check on mom and baby a day or two after being discharged from the hospital. I think this is an amazing service, and couldn’t imagine not having it. Because of the jaundice we actually ended up getting 4 home visits so I was able to get advice and reassurance with breastfeeding issues, as well as have baby checked on without having to leave the house. We came close to having to be readmitted to the hospital based on the jaundice but it did manage to clear up on its own with time.

Breastfeeding has been tricky, and I figured it would be but i just didn’t know in what ways, and how badly it would affect all aspects of life. Initially it was a learning curve for both of us, with latch and positioning, plus waiting for my milk to come in. That didn’t take long and by about day 3/4 I was so engorged that my chest looked like something from the incredible hulk; swollen to the extreme, veins galore and rock hard. Couple that with the fact that baby wasn’t feeding well, and I was in a great deal of pain without being able to relieve the pressure. I was only able to get a few drops when pumping, hand expression didn’t work and  I was so swollen that there was nothing but nipple for baby to suck on, which didn’t really work and lead to cracked nipples, an upset baby and a distraught mommy. I was referred to a lactation consultant and luckily was able to get in within a day of the referral (my MIL has some pull in the medical field, which is also how we got in to the fertility clinic fairly quickly as well, thank goodness for her ties).

The LC confirmed that I was doing nothing wrong, though I felt like a pure failure as we had caved and used formula to supplement at times when I just couldn’t take the struggle anymore. She suspected that I was so engorged that there was fluid in my breast tissue which was making it difficult for my milk to be expelled, so when I was using a hot shower and warm compresses to try and get my milk to let down, it was probably making things worse by increasing the swelling of fluid and she suggest I use cold compress to get it under control. This was around day 6, and I had an appointment to see her again this past Friday. Things have improved in some ways since then, the engorgement is gone, and both myself and baby have gotten better at feeding, but now our issue is little C like to use me as a pacifier, and when she is feeding she spends maybe 10% of the time eating and 90% of the rest of the time just sucking. Not all of her feeds go like this, she was feeding well in the night when they were spaced out so I had plenty of milk on tap when she did feed and she would have a good sleep and be hungry enough to feed well.

That is until last night when I spent several hours going back and forth on the boob, trying to get her to feed, comforting her and trying to get her to sleep with no success. Last night was one of the hardest so far, and both of us shed tears, but managed to make it through with some help from daddy who somehow was able to soothe her to sleep at one point, for which I was grateful, but also made me feel like I can’t comfort my own child. There is a lot of guilt in this parenthood business…

So breastfeeding is probably our biggest challenge right now, just getting her to eat instead of suckling for hours on end. I know a baby is wont to have an evening witching time when they are fussy and want to cluster feed so I try and remember that when she behaves this way but it is a lot to take and I am hoping we fall into a bit more of a rhythm sooner rather than later. I have had success with the pump and there is a 3 oz packet in our freezer. That is only enough for one feed but going from being able to pump nothing, to about an ounce per pumping session is progress for me. I would like to pump more regularly just to have a milk stash on hand so dad can be involved and I might be able to leave the house without baby at some point but it is slow going and I find sometimes I am too tired to pump, or baby won’t go down after a feeding so I am not able to pump if I am tending to her. I am lucky in that I don’t have to pump, it’s not like I am going back to work, it is more just for my own sanity that I would like to have a stockpile but I am still trying to work it into our day.

Getting out of the house nowadays is a pretty huge ordeal, and generally takes two stages, one where I shower and get ready while baby is sleeping, and then I either wake her up to feed before we leave the house, or wait for her to wake up and feed. I am not opposed to feeding her in public but it’s probably more than I can manage right now. Plus I tried using a cover once while we had company visiting and it made things infinitely more difficult. I’m sure eventually we will get the hang of it, or I will be less concerned about people seeing my boob because I can’t live life without being able to take my baby out and worry about having to feed her. We’ve made it to a few doctors appointments, a couple of walks in our neighbourhood, and a trip to Babies R’ Us. Last week on our way home from the doctors, less than five minutes from home, we were rear ended while stopped for a red light. Luckily it was very minor, no one was hurt and the damage minimal but it was still terrifying at the time. We called 911 and had an ambulance come and check on baby just because she is so teeny and can’t tell us if something is wrong. She checked out fine, and has had no problems since but now I have the hassle of getting my car repaired, dealing with a rental vehicle, and I had to order a new car seat since our existing one was involved in an accident. It’s covered by insurance and I’d certainly rather have it replaced than take a chance but all of this is a huge pain in my ass, when I have to tote my newborn with me as I try and manage all of these tasks. One more stressor I didn’t need.

On top of the rest of that, the tenant that is renting our other condo unit gave us notice on Aug. 31 that they had to unexpectedly break their lease as one of them is having health problems which is causing them to relocate to a different city. They were not due to leave until July of next year, and this left us in a huge lurch to scramble and find a new tenant. Besides the economy not being so hot right now, we live near a university and tons of students move into our area in the fall, but being that our tenants didn’t give notice until end of August, to be out end of September, we were too late to try and get a student in our place. This has been a huge source of anxiety for us, we luckily have found a new tenant now but we dropped the rent $140 from what we were previously getting. Unfortunately we sort of screwed ourselves because the rental agreement stated the lease could be broken for a penalty of $1000, as opposed to the tenant being responsible for the remainder of the lease. You can bet we’ve rectified that in the new contract!

So life as we know it has been pretty topsy turvy, dealing with a new baby plus all the extras we’ve been facing as well. I’ve heard the first month to six weeks is the hardest so we are just taking it a day at a time trying to survive because the thought of struggling to keep my head above water for even another week seems daunting at times. We have a weight check for baby tomorrow, as she was not quite back at birth weight at the two week mark (but by day 16 she was) so that will also be a good indicator if she is getting enough to eat from me.

Our dogs have been great with her, and the one I was worried about is so protective. He barks when she cries (I don’t appreciate that, but it is kind of sweet), he is so interested in her and wants to give her puppy kisses (we don’t let him). He actually gets upset with us if he thinks we are not doing right by her, and he has actually nipped a bit at me to “protect” baby girl. That was not appreciated and he did get swatted but at least it’s at us and not her. 

J has been a superstar, he really wants to be involved, and feels badly that he can’t do more to help me when I am taking the brunt of the stress due to being her food source. He has a hard time not being mister fix-it and sometimes I find he is trying to offer solutions when what I really need is just support. I think he is starting to realize that but I know he hates the helpless feeling. He was home for almost two weeks with us and it was nice having him around but he got restless and bored watching TV for hours on end while I struggled with feeding. He is great with diaper changes, getting her bundled into her car seat and anything else he can do besides feeding. He is so in love and in awe of her.

It is difficult, the emotions are intense, and I feel like I am constantly failing, but when it goes well, even for a few hours at a time it feels like magic and we are a little family unit. I feel like I have so much more to say, but it changes day by day. I’ll get to my birth story at some point, but it went rather smoothly and I feel very happy with the experience I had despite a few not so great parts.

*I hope this doesn’t come off as too whiny but I want to be real about how tough it has been.

#Microblog Mondays: Oh, the Irony

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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A few days after we came home with our daughter I decided to venture outside to take the garbage out and get some fresh air. On the way back in I checked the mail, as it had been collecting since the day we went into the hospital. There was mostly nothing important; junk mail and flyers, but then I noticed the envelope marked private and confidential. As I opened the letter I saw the familiar header from my fertility clinic. The first bill for our annual embryo storage had arrived sometime between when our daughter was born and when I decided to check the mail. I had been expecting it, but thought it would have come sooner since our retrieval was in July of last year. As we brought home the product of that group of embryos they send us a reminder of the other four, potential siblings to our baby girl. Well timed, universe.