Thursday, March 29, 2012

some photos

Sneaking some time on the computer to blog and browse and just mess around now that baby enjoys being in her wrap carrier. I can even put in and fold laundry with her strapped to me instead of waiting for her nap time. :P I say this with only semi sarcastically as I am actually somewhat excited by being able to do laundry.....

This photo is from a few weeks ago... but I wanted to share it because it's one of my favourites. This was the week that Rowen started to really make good eye contact and interact with us with her smiles and gurgling.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

R.I.P. Grey/purple boots

I found this photo floating around on the computer. *sniff* I miss my beautiful boots. This was also probably my favourite phase of being pregnant... when I was clearly showing and not just tubby looking, but not very big yet.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


This pregnancy was a surprise as most of us know... but here are some more things that surprised me.

This is by no means advice or lessons for anybody. Just random anecdotes and things that I wish I had known before hand or was surprised by and thought I'd share with anyone else who might be pregnant or planning to be pregnant...or none of the above and just reading this just for whatever reason.

  • This is a big one for me. I wish I had known to purchase maternity tops that were also nursing tops. Nursing tops are much more pricey but chances are, you'll wind up wearing them for just as long (or maybe quite a bit longer) than your mat tops. I made a big effort to spend as little as possible on maternity clothes... but now I'm in a situation where I don't have any nursing tops. It would have been absolutely worth it to pick out a few quality "before and after" mat/nursing pieces to splurge on as they would be so useful now. Also, I wish I had been more prepared with these nursing clothes before the baby was actually born because it is HARD getting out of the house with a newborn. Shopping is pretty much impossible. Thank goodness for the Internet.
  • In the same general area, I got some advice from a Momma friend to wait as long as possible to go get fitted for a nursing bra. I waited until the Thursday before my Sunday due date. Lowell and I went for lunch at New Gen and then I went to Secrets From Your Sister to get fitted. The fitting doesn't cost anything and you get individual one on one attention. The nursing bra is not something you want to scrimp on or take a good guess at your size if you plan on breastfeeding... or just in general really. I had no idea how much my body had changed, not just in the boobage area but the entire ribcage. The girl who fitted me recommended going back about a month after baby as your body goes through some major changes. Boy was she right....and this was something that surprised me. Within 2 days of Rowen being born, my entire ribcage shrunk dramatically... like, a good 3-4 centimeters. I went from needing the widest of 6 hooks on the back of the bra to the smallest setting. I didn't even realize it had expanded so much! They tell you that all your joints loosen up and open, not just the hips, in preparation for baby but it was still surprising being able to actually measure such a drastic change.

    The girl who fitted me also recommended practicing using the little nursing clippy/latch thing on the bra. I thought this seemed weird but realized what she meant when I first tried it. Things like undoing bra hooks become second nature by this age... but fiddling with that little clasp was a new motion. It was good to get a hang of it before baby came. But then as it turns out, I find it easier to just take the whole bra off when we're at home. The nursing flap is certainly necessary for when we're not at home though.
  • I was shocked by how quickly time flew by from the moment labour started. If you are the type who likes taking photos or journaling to commemorate events, make sure you make an effort to remember to do so. Or have your partner make it happen.
  • I touched on this briefly before, but I was surprised at how drastically different my actual wants and needs during labour were from the plan I had formed in my head leading up to the event. I had initially thought that perhaps I could go without drugs since I had been practicing breathing techniques and yoga. I had this picture of myself being shockingly calm and lovely and surprising everyone. I truly believe that breathing can help with pain... but what I wasn't prepared for was that I would be so exhausted 2 hours after arriving at the hospital due to the timing. In our birth class, we also learned about massage techniques to help with labour. I thought this was perfect as I loooove massages. But then then the contractions started, I realized that I didn't want to be touched when they were happening. I wanted one of Lowell's hands to squeeze and didn't even want him to talk. It was confusing for him because I was inconsistent as to when I wanted him to help me countdown and breathe through contractions and when I'd snap at him to be quiet. I've been told that I'm a bit of a control freak... and admittedly I probably am. So I'm glad that I got it through my head to be open to whatever happened on the big day, as you really have no idea how you're going to react. The best advice that I got was to trust your body and trust your team and don't lose sight of the goal at the end of the whole thing... a healthy baby! Getting drugs and forgoing a "natural" birth doesn't make you weak and really, at the end it's still your very own body that endures the amazing but incredibly strenuous process off having a baby so it's all natural in a sense.
  • OMG. Tearing and stitches. Everyone talks about labour and delivery and the pain there. But no one, not even our birth class or the books and dvds I used in preparation... and even my Momma friends, tell you about how freakin' painful it is initially and then it becomes aggravating and constantly uncomfortable even when the actual sharp pain subsides. I had no idea how difficult the first few weeks at home would be... sitting up to breastfeed sucked. Just sitting up in general sucked. In my mind, I thought "Ooh, once I come home I won't be pregnant anymore and I'll be sooo comfortable" but it took about 3 or 4 weeks to get comfortable in my own body again. I haven't done my "Aftermath" entry yet. But I wound up with a 3rd degree tear due to the fact that Rowen was 9lbs and somehow emerged with a perfectly shaped head like a C-section baby. I tells ya, the human body is amazing but totally not designed to deliver a 9 pound baby.
  • My morning sickness came back in the last few weeks of being pregnant. Or my stomach ran out of room and was getting kicked all the time so it rejected food.
  • This last one is the most fun. I had an inkling that something like this would happen....seeing as I started feeling much affection for the baby before we even met her. Everyone talks about this but the amount of love you feel for this tiny little creature is overwhelming. What surprised me was just how overwhelming this baby love is and how it didn't kick in immediately.

    It didn't hit me immediately when they plopped her on me. There was no happy sobbing like in the movies.... It didn't hit me when they took her away because she was turning blue (though nervous panic hit me then)... It didn't even hit me when they returned her to me and she was fine. It's stupid but in the back of my mind I was worried that something was wrong with me. I didn't cry at any point. After the baby was breathing well and I was finally stitched back together and no longer bleeding profusely, the Doctors and Nurses left us alone. Lowell cried, a lot but I still didn't. I certainly liked the little baby but I was more worried about whether or not I was holding it correctly, how silly I felt having her suck on my empty boobs, whether or not she was breathing well.... But then, there was a moment in the middle of that first awful night at the hospital when it kicked in. The room was painfully hot and cramped, the couples we were sharing with had cranky awful babies and kept turning the room lights on and off all night. I was exhausted, sore and felt awful from not being able to sleep or get comfortable. Lowell and I were sleeping head to toe in the hospital bed because that stupid recliner thing sucks (I'd totally recommend trying that if your partner is stuck in that recliner thing).

    Anyway, after everyone turned the lights off and I could hear strangers and Lowell snoring away, I couldn't sleep. I propped myself up, pulled the bassinet close and stuck my face in. I just stared at the baby who was also sleeping... this puffy, stranger baby who was just a few hours old and was our baby. This absolutely perfect baby with her massive head of hair whose little hat kept popping off and was sleeping peacefully while the other babies cried. All of a sudden she pops her eyes wide open and I figure she's going to start wailing, but she doesn't. She just stared back at me for about 2 minutes, yawned and went back to sleep... who knows if she could even see me, but that was when I was head over heels in love. We just needed a minute to ourselves!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

18 to 42 weeks in photos

One of the things I regret not doing was take more photos. I had every intention to take a photo every Sunday to commemorate the start of each new week of gestation... but the weeks started flying by and it got harder and harder to commit to the photo when I started feeling big and gross. If I could do it over though, I would try to make a better effort! Here is what we have!

17 weeks

18 weeks

22 weeks plus 1 day. Plus Thanksgiving food baby.

23 weeks

24 weeks

25 weeks. Baby's first rock show merch.

29 weeks and 6 days

31 or 32 weeks?

33 weeks

My 36 week photo is missing... will add when I find them.

37 weeks

38 weeks

Skipped photos for a few weeks... and then:

Miss Rowen at "42 weeks". Much love. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A birth story of sorts

About two weeks ago, I started a draft entry for our "Birth Story". Then I realized that it was far too long-winded and detailed. I re-read some of my favourite Birth Stories and now I'll give it another go. Here are two that I found particularly inspiring and relatable. A CUP OF JO Joanna Goddard's and Sarah Sophie's at HelloGiggles. Both of these ladies had (what seemed to me) to be a great approach to the whole childbirth experience.

I don't think there is anyway to prepare for the experience. You can read and talk to people about the process but I think the reason why I've had such a had time sitting down and writing about the experience (besides the taking care of a newborn and not getting any sleep thing) is that it's...indescribable. It's scary, intense, exciting, overwhelming. All the cliches and things that people say are true... it's pretty much the worst pain ever and it seems like everyone goes through the "I can't do this" moment but holding your baby at the end of it makes it worth it. So worth it.

So let's recap this story before it becomes too hazey.

So the baby was due on a Sunday. Sunday came and went and nothing happened. I didn't feel any different but I kept waiting and watching for changes. I was achey, huge and cranky. I took a photo of my belly on D-day so that I could remember just how terrible I felt. My belly skin was tight and uncomfortable, I started getting stretch marks around my belly button and the skin was actually bruising. It looked and felt like it was about to split open. I probably won't post that photo.

Anyway, the Monday after due date, the day before Valentine's Day, I spent the day doing everything on the list of "Things to do to induce labour naturally"... The day was coming to an end and one of the only things left was "Go for a walk". So after dinner, Lowell and I bundled up and went for a walk on Queen Street. Our original intention was to make it to the new crepe place that I had been frequenting as they have delicious hot chocolates. Normally this walk would take 15 minutes or so. On this night, we would never make it there as walking was incredibly difficult. I had been used to feeling gigantic, achey and gotten used to having to pee all the time.... but on this night, every step was uncomfortable and borderline painful and I felt like I was going to pee myself. I thought at the time that it was because I hadn't been getting much physical activity in but in retrospect, I realize now it was because the baby had dropped super low.

Anyway, we never made it to the crepe place as I gave up a few blocks short. We wound up at Starbuck's instead and then I waddled alone home. My Mom was staying with us and goes to bed around 9:30, so Lowell and I also went to bed but stayed up until about 11:30pm watching DVDs.

Around 1:30am, I woke up feeling a little bit.... off. My stomach was churning so I went to the bathroom. I was starting to feel crampy, like all the books and baby class said, it was like period cramps. I decided to get in the shower to relax and just in case it was go time... and as I was showering, the cramps started to get worse and I started to realize it was happening. I wasn't nervous or excited or anything like i expected. After my shower, I dried my hair and went back to bed. My plan was to let Lowell sleep a few more hours and then wake him up. But he woke up on his own and I said something along the lines of "I think it's baby time". We were both surprisingly calm but I think part of this was due to lack of sleep. For the next few hours, we stayed in bed and started tracking the contractions. At this point, time started flying by in fast forward. The contractions were starting to happen closer and closer together and getting more intense. I remember a moment during a particularly intense contraction when the thought of "this is just the beginning, eeeep" crossed my mind. Yet somehow, I wasn't scared or nervous like I expected to be.

After a few hours, at around 4:30am, we decided to get ready to head to the hospital. Our plan was to stay at home as long as possible to avoid being sent home and having to go back later. Also because our birth class teacher mentioned that staying home as long as possible would help avoid getting medications if you're planning for a natural birth. My intention was to try for a natural birth but I was certainly open to the idea of an epidural.

We arrived at the hospital around 5:30am. It kinda felt like we were going on a roadtrip, cruising along the desserted highway, listening to the New Pornographers. Walking into the hospital, I felt a twinge of nervousness. We got checked in to a triage room and was hooked up to a monitor and checked just after 6am. At this point, the contractions were between 3-6 minutes apart and I was tired and not dealing with the pain very well. I was disappointed when the Doctor sent us to go for a walk even though I was already 4cm dilated. To me, that seemed like enough to be checked in but it wasn't. I knew that "walking for a few hours" like they told us to wasn't going to be an option as I was exhausted and cranky and not dealing well with the pain. Most of this time period is a bit of a blur now, but I remember whimpering to Lowell that I wanted the drugs. I was so tired and a little bit delirious and decided that I wanted an epidural. I knew at that point that I was too tired and no amount of breathing, yoga and massaging (as I had originally idyllically planned) would get me through. I was surprised to discover that I didn't want to be touched during the contractions.

At 7:30am, we were put back into the triage room to get checked again and wait for a Labour and Delivery room to be ready. The hour or so spent in the tiny, brightly lit room was probably the most painful. I really have such great respect for women who cope with childbirth naturally. To me, it was truly the worst pain I've ever experienced. Comparing it to an intense period cramp is a start.... but is really just the tip of the iceberg. The anticipation of the next inevitable contraction turned out to be bad as well. I remember thinking to myself at one point in between contractions that I just didn't want to do it anymore. Perhaps I could just go get a C-section and have them cut the baby out.

After a few more hours, a nurse finally became available and we were finally checked into our Labour and Delivery room. This room was awesome compared to the tiny, overly bright triage room. It was huge and spacious, had big windows and a big whirlpool bathtub. Our nurse Deanna was fantastic, after she showed us around the room she discussed our birth plan with us. At this point, I was absolutely set on getting the epidural pretty much as soon as it was possible. And our only other request was to delay the baby's eye drops after her birth and that Lowell was not planning on cutting the cord.

We wound up having to wait a few more hours until the anesthetist finally showed up. This Doctor was amazing, had a sense of humour and was very reassuring. I liked how he kept describing everything he was doing. Getting the epidural was a bit scary as they kept stressing how you can't move... and picturing needles in my spine was pretty scary. I was scared that I'd have a contraction and wind up moving and screwing everything up. As promised, the worst part was actually the shot they gave first to freeze the area. Once the freezing was done, the rest was a breeze. Once they started the epidural, the pain magically went away. One of the side effects of the epidural drugs is low blood pressure, which I started experiencing. I remember telling Nurse Deanna that I felt a bit dizzy and her putting an oxygen mask on my face. And then "a bit" dizzy became intensely dizzy... and then intensely nauseous. I wound up puking a bunch and then after they ran some drugs in my IV, I went back to feeling lovely.

At this point it was probably 11:30am or so... The epidural made me feel lovely and I was able to use my cellphone and text my affections for the epidural to my friends. I sent Lowell off to get lunch and we were able to relax and rest. The Doctor came to check me again and at this point I was 4-5cm dilated. So not very much progress. I asked if there was anything I could do to help the process and was told that I just needed to hang out and rest up. Time continued to go in fast forward but I was feeling pretty good thanks to the epidural. I was able to nod off a few times and just relax. Around 4pm, Lowell went to check on our parking and the Doctor came in to check on me. For some reason, I wasn't expecting her to tell me that I was fully dilated and we'd be ready to start the pushing process. All the books and personal experiences that I've read talk about "transition", which is supposed to be an intense, emotional time regardless of the epidural. I didn't really experience this. They decided to give me half an hour to rest up and then at 4:30, it'd be go time.

Perhaps this was the typical "transition" feelings, but I recall feeling really anxious and excited for the first time. Even having had the epidural, I was exhausted since I hadn't slept and hadn't had a meal in almost 24 hours. Nurse Deanna was great at coaching me through the pushing. The first contraction came and all the things we learned in birth class and everything that I read about went out the window. I felt defeated after the first round of pushing came and went and nothing happened. For some reason, I had expected to be really great at pushing and that I could get the baby out nice and quick. The pushing was physically the most intense thing I've ever experienced. And even with the epidural, the pressure was very intense. After a few more ineffective rounds of pushing, I was wiped and in tears and convinced that I couldn't do it. I remember honestly thinking that I would be stuck like that forever. I remember saying over and over again that I wanted to do it but couldn't. At this point, Nurse Deanna was fantastic and snapped me out of it by making me open my eyes and look at her. She was firm and direct, without being mean and pretty much whipped my butt into gear by telling me that I couldn't waste my energy on being negative and that I would get my baby out.

So almost exactly 12 hours after we first arrived at the hospital, in a huge blur and after a few more full body, intense pushes... our baby was out. They announced that she was a girl and then they plopped this beautiful pink baby on me and I couldn't stop looking at her. There was no overwhelming emotional response like I expected and always read about. It was just a feeling of... peace. Even when it was all over, I didn't cry like I expected to. As soon as she was here, it was like it was a relief and I felt at peace.

Since this is hugely long-winded, I will wrap it up now. I'll save the aftermath story for another entry. And I'll try to make an effort to "blog" more often and share some more photos.... but as I'll write about in the "taking care of baby" entry, there is just not enough hours in the day sometimes. Time has been flying by ever since the moment we left for the hospital. The sleep deprivation is more intense than anything I could have imagined. My former "all nighter nights" and bouts of insomnia were nothing in comparison. But Little Miss Rowen makes it all worth it.