Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Birth Story, Part 3

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?

After meeting my baby girl, it was time for her to go to the nursery with her daddy and time for me to be put back together. The entire surgery took about an hour but over half of that was to close me up. It's very much a blur and seems like it took no more than five minutes before I was transferred to a new bed and sent to the recovery room. I've always wondered what it would feel like to be carried from one bed to another bed, like you see on tv, and now I know!

I was required to be in the recovery room for two hours and I watched the clock the entire time. I couldn't wait to get out of there and hold my girl! I kept telling M to go sit with her, skin to skin, because that's exactly what I would have been doing if everything went according to plan! I didn't want the poor girl to be alone in the world during her first hours.

My doula stayed with me in the recovery room, massaging my shoulder which was still in a lot of pain and helping me stay relaxed. I was given a morphine drip that I could press, which I actually forgot about until M reminded me the other day. No wonder I was so out of it and can hardly remember anything! The one thing I do remember was shivering and shaking like never before. Uncontrollable shivers, which they told me is normal, that lasted a good hour. M came to check on me a few times and show me pictures of our daughter, like the one below.
Finally, finally, finally the two hours in recovery were over and I was wheeled to my room. M brought little m in from the nursery and I got to hold her for the first time! Ahhhh! I took off her clothes and layed her on my chest for some skin to skin contact.
I loved every moment of it!

At some point I called my BFF and emailed a few people, and I apologize if I sounded crazy but I blame the drugs!
So there you have it, the story of how our little girl came into this world! Was it what I expected? No! Was it memorable? Yes! I've actually shed quite a few tears while writing these blog posts. Baby girl's birth scared the daylights out of me but it's also brought me so much joy. Half the time I'm not sure if I'm crying out of happiness or from reliving this semi-traumatizing experience!

I'm just relieved it had a happy ending :) Today is little peanut's 13th day of existence and she is the sweetest little thing!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Birth Story, Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of the birth story, catch it here!

Around 6:30pm I found myself being wheeled into the operating room. It was surreal to say the least and although I knew it was a possibility, I never imagined this is how my baby would enter the world! I tried to stay as calm as possible and focused my energy on breathing and praying and hoping that my baby was healthy.

M was not allowed to join me in the operating room until my spinal epidural was in. All of the doctors and nurses introduced themselves to me and I found it interesting to watch them help each other put their surgical gloves on... the things you remember, eh? The crazy anesthesiologist came in (she was a super fast talker and absolutely nutty) and started preparing me for the epidural. I sat cross legged on the bed and did my best deep breathing because frankly, needles freak me out, especially big ones. All I felt was a tiny pinch and shortly after, my legs started to feel fuzzy. The doctors layed me back down, someone came over to insert a catheter, which also did not hurt a bit, and they started putting up the curtain. I remember the doctors poking my belly and asking if I could feel anything, and eventually I couldn't.

Dr. Jill, whoever she is, was the doctor who stayed by my head the entire time. She was very comforting and somehow found out I'm Canadian. She started to sing the national anthem and made me continue on when she forgot the words. Then she started trivia with the other doctors, asking them if they knew the capital of Canada. Oh dear... some said Quebec, some Montreal, and others... Ontario. I was laughing my head off, especially when they realized their mistake and talked about Ontario being one of the states, not the capital :)

At some point, M came in and we were ready to get this baby out. Through the procedure I felt a bit of pressure, then a whole lot of pushing on my chest near the very end, I'm assuming when the baby was being pulled out. The pushing caused a lot of referred pain in my right shoulder and one of the nurses came over to massage it. I also started feeling nauseous and I remember Dr. Jill saying, okay, I can give you something for that, and I instantly felt better!

We told the doctors that M was to announce the sex of the baby, but Dr. Jill accidentally slipped up said "her" just a second before she whispered that it was a girl into M's ear. He then told me, but it's all a bit of a blur because I only cared about whether or not my baby was healthy. We heard our baby girl give a cat like meow and M and I looked at each other thinking, was that her cry?! And yes it was, we heard it again a second later and then I told M to go over and meet our girl!
Baby girl underwent some suctioning because she had passed merconium and when M told me she was okay and healthy, I don't think I really believed him at first! I probably asked him over and over, she's okay? she's alright? Oh sweet relief!

M brought over the pictures he'd taken with his iPhone and showed me our daughter. Beautiful! A tiny package, weighing in at 5 lbs 9.5 oz and measuring 19.5 inches. I was shocked she was so small, considering the size of both her parents, and my doctor estimating she'd be around 7lbs! She scored a 6 and a 9 on the apgar tests.

After a few minutes, I got to meet our little peanut and I remember kissing her head a million times!
Here's our first family picture!
That's where I'll leave off for today.. one more part should finish it off!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birth Story, Part 1

She's here! She's here!
(actually a yawn, not a scream!)

I thought for sure I was going to go overdue, but little peanut surprised us and was born one week ago at 39 weeks and 5 days, on Wednesday, August 17th at 6:54pm. When I say surprised us, I really mean surprised us. I don't want to forget any details of her birth, so here they are, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Over the weekend of August 13th and 14th, baby felt like she was having a party in my belly - moving around more than ever before. On the Monday she slowed down and on Tuesday I noticed almost no movement at all. Somewhere I had heard that babies slow down close to the time of delivery so I figured that labour was pretty imminent. On Wednesday I started to get a bit nervous about the lack of movement and told M that something didn't feel right. He suggested I drink something cold, lay down, and count the number of kicks. I made myself an iced coffee, thinking that the caffeine would give the baby some oomph, plus ate an apple. I layed down for over half an hour and still felt next to nothing. Very strange. At this point I decided to do a bit of googling and found mixed opinions, but mostly people saying that babies should never slow down their movements, no matter how close to delivery they are.

Cue the panic attack! This is when I started seriously getting nervous. My doctor told me from the very beginning that if I ever saw changes in movement, to call her. I'm not sure why it took me a day and a half to decide to do so, but after speaking with her she told me to get myself to the hospital to be monitored. I took a shower, sobbing the entire time because I couldn't stop thinking about getting to the hospital and finding no heartbeat. Waiting for M to get home from work to drive us there was torture! I was very, very scared.

We arrived at the hospital around 2pm and had to wait an hour (how ridiculous) to get hooked up to the fetal monitors. The nurse found the baby's heart beat right away and I burst into tears because it was the best sound I've ever heard! I stayed hooked up the monitors for about half an hour and thought everything was going splendidly. I emailed my mom, my doula, and a friend and told them everything was fine.
M and I watched the monitors and noticed the baby's heart rate was beating around 150 but would go down around 120 after each contraction I had. I think the contractions were actually Braxton Hicks because I could hardly feel them and was in no pain whatsoever. I had three contractions in a row and all of a sudden we watched the baby's heart rate dip below 100. The alarms went off and a minute later there were five nurses and doctors in my room. Then they told me I was going to have a baby by the end of the day.

A doctor came in and did a thirty minute ultrasound where she looked for the baby to perform ten specific things. We sat starting at the screen, silently pleading for the baby to move around. By the end of the half hour the doctor saw only four out of the ten things on her list, including zero fine motor movements.

At this point the doctor basically gave us two choices: 1) have a c-section, or 2) they could break my water and induce labour. The problem with the second option was that the baby was already in distress from my very light contractions and they feared I'd end up having an emergency c-section because the baby wouldn't be able to handle stronger contractions. M and I weighed the options and came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth risking the baby's health and we should go ahead with the c-section.

At first I was seriously pissed. I had done so much research and preparation for natural birth and felt I was really ready for it. I absolutely did not want a c-section for a million reasons - being separated from baby for two hours, the inability to breast feed immediately, the side effects and risks of surgery and the spinal epidural, the recovery associated with the surgery, etc.

I quickly came to terms with having the surgery because I had other things to worry about. Mainly, why isn't my baby moving??? My head was racing with terrible scenarios about what could be wrong with my baby. We tried to stay positive but it was quite an emotional time. I wanted the surgery and I wanted it now! We had to wait for my doctor to get to the hospital but by 6:30pm they were wheeling me into the operating room. I felt like I was on an episode of ER.

And that's where I'll stop for today! The story has a happy ending of course, so nobody panic!

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's Wrong With Chicago? (Example #1)

I am particularly annoyed at the moment. While walking my dog this morning, I got told off by a police officer for crossing the street improperly. Let me lay out the scenario for you:

I'm at a street corner, about to walk across it, using the clearly identified crosswalk. It's a four way stop, and there are cars approaching from a few different ways but none are already stopped and waiting to go. I start walking across the street. One of the cars slides through the stop sign, guns it, then has to stop mid-way in the intersection so that I can continue crossing. A police officer then pulls up and tells me I need to wait to cross streets until every car from every direction has gone through. Say what? If I follow that rule, it could take me hours to cross one little side street!

Let's see here... I'm quite familiar with the laws of the road, having taken and passed an Illinois driving test recently, but to be sure, let's review the Secretary of State's driving handbook:

Pedestrian Right-of-Way:
A driver must come to a complete stop (and yield):
• When a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk.
• When a pedestrian is in an unmarked crosswalk on the driver’s side of the road and there are no traffic control signals.
• When making a turn at any intersection.
• When making a lawful turn on a red light after coming to a complete stop.
• After coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or flashing red signal at an intersection.
• When a pedestrian enters a crosswalk before the traffic light changed.
• When a pedestrian is walking with a green light, to a walking person symbol or a walk signal.
• When a pedestrian is leaving or entering a street or highway from an alley, building, private road or driveway.

Clearly, the car was in the wrong. I know how to cross a street properly and I'm quite surprised that a police officer would take the time to stop ME, when all I did was follow the rules and almost get run over! Shouldn't people, especially those in positions of power, be trying to make their city more walker friendly?

As much as I love Chicago, there are SO many things backwards about it. This is just a silly, small example, but I can think of a hundred more. I should start a series of blog posts titled "What's Wrong with Chicago". Next week's post? The lack of recycling. It's disgusting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

38 Week Update

Well, it's official! Baby has reached what is considered to be full-term! He/she will be coming sometime in the next 3 to 4 weeks maximum! I've actually had mini heart attacks three times now, thinking I'm going into labour, but of course they were all false alarms! I can't have this baby yet, my mom is on a golfing trip!

Let's see some updated baby bump pictures, shall we?

July 1st (33 weeks) VS July 22nd (36 weeks)

And now today, August 4th at 38 weeks...
Here are also some regular clothed pictures, comparing July 22nd to August 4th.


I've been going in for weekly checkups and the internal exams have begun, which is so much fun. Yesterday I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced, but this doesn't mean a lot. I actually lost weight over the last week, so now I'm up 10lbs total, which is just insane. Don't worry though, my doctor says I'm measuring perfectly and that it's normal to lose weight in the last couple of weeks. Seriously though, how I'm losing weight I will never ever understand. I have been starving this week and eating like it's my job! Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to have a snack and am famished again by morning. Baby must be working hard in there. If there's anything at all I can say I crave, it's fruit. This week in fact, I polished off a huge watermelon all by myself.. in two days! Does anyone have hidden messages into what this addiction to fruit means?

For a month or two it's been physically impossible to bend over. My body cannot move in the forward fold direction any longer. I mean, it makes sense, but I didn't realize this would happen! (It's not just me, right?). I'm also quite uncomfortable sitting down and find that I need to do so with perfect posture, like in the picture below. I've gone to see a few movies lately, which makes my body ache, but I must say, Harry Potter was so worth the sore back :)
Last week I realized my usual sleeping method was all wrong. I used to sleep on my side with my legs bent and stacked on each other, with a pillow between them. No, no, no. It's so much more comfortable to take a "runner's position" and put my top leg forward, bottom leg backward, and belly tilted onto the mattress a bit. So much better! I've been getting up at least four times a night to use the washroom, which is exhausting in itself, but I guess good practice for when Baby comes, right? And you know how everyone tells you to sleep now while you can? Well I can't. I go to bed later than ever, get up early, and often for an hour at 4am to read. What is wrong with me? I'm just not that tired!

Maybe all of that loss of sleep is catching up to me because earlier this week I absolutely hit a wall, energy wise. I spent the majority of Monday and Tuesday laying around with the beginnings of a cold, but I'm feeling much better today and my energy is back! Thank goodness because there's still so many things I want to do, like try out the new Chick-Fil-A restaurant downtown. I can't get it out of my mind!

Recently I've noticed that Baby is getting the hiccups! It's happened three times so far, fortunately once when M was home, so he got to feel them. Also, every time I think of Baby, I picture her as a girl. This started happening only a few weeks ago. Before then, I had no inkling of what the gender could be. I'm not sure why, but if it turns out to be a boy, I'll be quite surprised.
I've been preparing myself for natural birth by reading lots of books, including the Bradley Method, which talks about the birthing techniques of animals, and how using similar methods can create a stress-free, natural environment for humans. I've also been listening to the Hypnobabies soundtrack, which is a form of self-hypnosis, and sounds wacky, but may work with me because I can become zen really, really easily! It sounds funny, but it's true. One of the nurses told me I could be a professional meditator, whatever that means.

After spending a lot of time researching doulas, M and I finally chose one to work with through an organization called Birthways. I really want a doula for extra labour support and guidance. If I was still living in Canada I most certainly would have a midwife, but here, a doula will have to suffice. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say about my experiences after the baby is born!

So, with two weeks til my due date, I'm ready, both physically and mentally, to have this baby. Over the last few months I have gone through many emotional states. To be completely honest the most common being.. oh lordy, why am I having a baby, I enjoy my freedom too much, I'm not ready for this, I don't want to be so tied down, etc. etc. Now my mindset has (mostly) changed to being excited for this next stage of life and finally finding out if this thing inside me is a boy or girl!

Mostly though, I am just content in the fact that I've had a wonderful pregnancy thus far! There are so many people who struggle with fertility issues and I'm feeling a whole lot of gratitude right now about how beautiful this process has been. The human body is so amazing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Marine City Fish Company

Back a few weeks ago when I was visiting my parents, we went out for lunch/dinner/linner at Marine City Fish Company to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's eleventh wedding anniversary. I feel the need to write a blog post about it because man, was our meal ever delicious!

We rode the ferry from Sombra, ON to Marine City, MI which is something I haven't done in ages! Pictured below is the small ferry, but there is also a bigger one that runs back and forth.
It's a short ride, but fun nonetheless, especially for kids.
We ordered two appetizers to start. Thinking about the Fish Company Spread, shown below, still makes my mouth water. It was heavenly. It's a mixture of smoked salmon, onion, and herbs, served with baguette crackers. A party in my mouth.
The second appetizer was Smoked Fish and Cheese, which consisted of smoked salmon plus dill havarti and asiago cheese. Very nice as well.
For my main entree, I'm pretty sure I ordered perch, which I didn't take a picture of because I was too busy devouring it. I did capture my bowl of clam chowder though, which was quite possibly the best I've ever had. In my whole life. That's big.
The food at this restaurant is quite reasonably priced and if you're a fan of fish, this is a place you must try if you're in the area!

Sadly, I rarely cook fish at home because it's too stanky, but I do enjoy when someone makes it for me! Don't even talk to me about my love for sushi, or I'll want to make a trip to Toronto where you can actually find good, cheap stuff. What say you? Are you a big fish eater?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer So Far...

I've been off work for a month and a half and I'm loving every minute of it! I feel like the last few months have been busier than ever and just this week, I'm feeling a bit more relaxed and that I actually have time to sit down to chill for a few minutes. What have I been up to, you ask?

Baby Related Things
Getting ready for a baby takes a lot of work! Organizing the nursery took up a lot of time, as did washing everything baby related - clothing, cloth diapers, sheets, etc.
I was a good wife and watched M install the car seat, which the inspector said he did perfectly!
I've also been reading a few books on natural birthing, taking childbirth classes, and researching doulas.

In the spring I took on a job with a tutoring company. I'm currently working with only one student until the baby comes, but it is nice to have a bit of extra income coming in.

One of my 36 in 365 goals is to volunteer once a month. Since I've had the free time, I've been volunteering a couple mornings a week at a local soup kitchen. I think it's time to slow this down a bit because standing for 2 1/2 hours is getting a tiring.

I've been taking two or three prenatal yoga classes a week, which I absolutely love. I also try to walk at least an hour a day and have taken over dog-walking duties, which seriously, becomes such a chore in this heat and humidity. I feel so sorry for black dogs in the summer.

I'm not sure if I'm nesting but I have been very busy cleaning the house and completing random things that have been on my to-do list for ages. Right now my list still has 15 things to finish up, but considering it probably started with 40, I'm not doing too badly!

M and I have been trying to eat more "real" foods, so instead of buying things like granola bars (have you ever looked at the ingredients in those?), I've been making my own. We absolutely love Annie P's recipe for 5 minute granola bars. This recipe is so easy, although saying it takes 5 minutes is a bit misleading... I would say 15 minutes from start to finish is more like it!

Having Fun!
I know my life is about to change drastically, so I'm trying to enjoy the freedom while I still can! For example, last week after getting a prenatal massage I went to the Lunchbreak Music Series in Millenium Park and enjoyed a picnic lunch while watching a jazz band perform. This is something I've wanted to do for over a year now!

M's birthday was last weekend, so we went out with friends to celebrate and this pregnant lady stayed up till 5am! Wheeee!
For his birthday dessert, I made my peanut butter lovin' husband this pb pie with oreo crust and real whipped cream to top it. It was too sweet for my liking and I happily left it at our friend's apartment for others to finish off!
Chicago in the summer is all about weekend festivals. On any given weekend from June to September you can find a neighbourhood festival (or 5) going on. Last weekend near our 'hood was the Sheffield Garden Walk and the weekend before that was the Lincoln Park Arts & Music Fest. It's nice to stroll around on a Sunday afternoon and I must say Chicago is a pretty amazing place to be in the summertime.

As I mentioned before, things have finally slowed down this past week and I've had time to read! I've been knocking books off my reading list like crazy. I love finding books I can fly through and finish in a day or two. My recent faves have been Night Road by Kristin Hannah and The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers.

I've also been putting my Groupon addiction to good use and, while using up my vouchers, have become a frozen yogurt connoisseur. Forever Yogurt is the best I've found in the city so far - self serve with 14 flavours and 40 toppings to choose from is simply genius.

So there you have it.. I've been doing a lot of monotonous chores mixed in with a lot of fun activities, which means I've been having a great summer so far! What's up for next month? I think I shall have a baby!

What have you been doing lately?