Mass Update

4 Feb
Well, it has been difficult for me to get online since Jade was born but I know you’ve all been following along on Michael’s blog because you’ve kicked his "hit" rate into the stratosphere!  He’s been getting over 200 hits to his blogsite every day.  I won’t be able to compete since he’s the one putting up all the pics, but here are some of my thoughts over the past few days.
There are details on Jade’s delivery and breastfeeding and stuff that certain squeamish readers might not enjoy, but since I was writing out my thoughts as a journal for yourself (and now you get the privilege of peeking at – *WINKS*) I figured I’d leave them in.
January 30
Last night Michael and I both slept very lightly, as Jeddi the nurse was in and out to do fetal monitoring every hour.  Between Jeddi’s visits, I was waking up for some minor contractions that felt like strong menstrual cramps.  Michael asked me to let him know whenever they started and ended, and they were coming in 15-minute, then 8-minute intervals.  Still, they didn’t feel strong enough to me to be called contractions.
Dr. Williams came in and checked me at around 8:30 this morning.  She announced that I was between 3 and 4 cm dilated.  It was great to know that I had made progress, but they still wanted to put me on oxytocin.  Dr. Williams did tell me that we could continue to wait, but she didn’t really see a point to waiting; plus, I know she was a bit anxious about the meconium staining, and the fact that it had been almost 24 hours since my water had broken.  I felt a bit anxious about it, too, although I also felt very disappointed about having to be induced.  I hated being attached to the IV and having to unplug it and cart it with me to go to the bathroom, not being able to get up to fetch small items, just being confined.  I was also nervous about being able to handle the intensity of contractions that weren’t "really mine".  Michael’s mom had reassured me about induction yesterday, and Dr. Williams also said they would use "just a whiff" to get things started.  So I decided it was probably for the best, but I still felt anxious and emotional when they attached the bag of oxytocin and hooked me up.
It’s funny how things work out.  My labour was not at all what I had wished for or planned, but it turned out to be a great experience.  Things progressed so quickly and although there was obviously pain involved, it was less difficult than I had ever dremed possible.
The oxytocin drip started at 10:55 a.m.; it didn’t take long for me to start feeling those cramps again, now stronger and closer together . . . definitely contractions.  Our nurse, Doris (wonderful Doris, to whom I will forever be grateful!) was fabulous in coaching me and Michael and how to work together through the contractions.  Michael was a pillar of strength and patience.  It was only forty-five minutes, perhaps an hour later, as I was sitting on a birthing ball with my arms around Michael’s neck, that I felt a strong need to have a bowel movement.  Actually, I felt I had to pee, too, but the contractions were so close together, I couldn’t make it to the bathroom.  Doris wanted to do an internal exam because of the way I was describing the pressure, but all I wanted to do was go to the bathroom.  She put an absorbent pad under my bottom and told me to go ahead.  Nothing happened, and so she urged me to get onto the bed so she could do an internal exam.  It didn’t take long for her to announced that I was fully dilated.  Even in this short time, another contraction was coming on, and I shouted out for her to stop.  Doris told me to go ahead and do what my body was telling me to do, so I started pushing.
There was a whirlwind of activity as a table of instruments was produced, and the baby-warming machine was set up.
Doris and Michael coached me through the pushing and then Dr. Williams showed up and added her encouragement.  (She had just left the hospital about 20 or 30 minutes earlier and had only had enough time to pour herself a cup of coffee and make a lunch date when she got called back.  She said, "That’s okay, I’d rather have a baby than lunch, anyway.") 
I think I pushed for about 20 or 30 minutes in all, with everyone giving me lots of encouragement and praise the whole time.  I tried to listen to their advice throughout, although I wasn’t always able to take the recommended deep breaths!  The student nurse, Adrienne, brought me a mirror so I could watch the baby’s progress.  Before actually experiencing labour, I didn’t think I’d want to watch the baby actually coming out, but having it there was great because I could see how things were progressing.  I didn’t actually watch the whole thing, as my eyes were squeezed tight during the actual pushes, but in between pushes I could see the baby’s head progressing and NOT sliding back.  It was strangely reassuring to actually be able to see what was creating all that pressure.
Dr. Williams was holding warm cloths to my perineum to help it stretch, and she assisted in getting the baby’s head out.  I couldn’t believe the burning sensation but followed Doris’s instructions to "push past the burn".  All of a sudden, the head was out, and one more small push got the baby out.  It was 12:37.
I was completely disconnected from reality when the baby was placed on my belly.  I didn’t feel any sense of recognition as to what this warm, heavy, and slimy lump was!  Doris had a towel out and was drying off the baby’s body.  We didn’t yet know whether it was a boy or a girl.  Michael hadn’t had enough time to see as the baby was being whisked out and onto of me.  I moved the receiving blanket and had a look and said, "It’s a girl!"
The next few minutes were a blur of activity as they took our little girl over to the baby warmer to suction the fluid from her nose and held some oxygen over her face to help her clear her lungs.  I urged Michael to go take pictures as I lay, rather stunned that it was really all over so quickly.  We had our little girl!
P.S. – For those who want to know, I understand Michael’s blog is missing a the vital information about Jade’s birthweight.  She came out a tiny but healthy 6 lbs.  (For the perfectionists out there, her exact weight according to the scale was 5 lbs and 15.6 oz. I can’t remember what the metric weight is – something like 2750g.)  She measured 48cm from head to heel, and 34cm around her head.
February 3
12:33 a.m.
I don’t know if it’s just a "babymoon" phase, but so far I am absolutely thrilled with motherhood.  I love watching Jade (when I can actually get far enough away to really see her!) and I am absolutely filled with wonder at the existence of this little person.  I don’t really feel like I can take any credit for her because I feel so extremely blessed, not only just to have her here, but because I had such a wonderful pregnancy and birthing experience.  All I can do is thank God for blessing me with such a perfect joy. (Oh dear, here come some tears – is it the the hormones or the late hour?)  Lindsay put it so well when she remarked to me a couple of months ago, "Aren’t we so lucky to be given the chance to help raise these little people?"  (Lindsay, sorry if I’m misquoting you – I can’t recall your exact words, but the idea that we’ve been granted the privilege to help shape our children’s lives, rather than that we’ve somehow single-handedly and selfishly "created" them is what resonated with me.)
I’m told I should sleep when baby sleeps, and I have been trying to do that, except right now Jade is sleeping on my chest as I finally take the opportunity to write down a few thoughts.  I know that a lot of details from the past few days have already slipped away from me and I am hastening to write down the ones that are left me before they join the rest of the blur.
The day after Jade’s birth was a busy one.  For one thing, both of us (Jade and I, that is) were trying to learn how to breastfeed, and me with sore and blistered nipples.  My first attempt at breastfeeding on Jade’s birthday had lasted an hour and a half, which was definitely a mistake.  On top of the pain, there was frustration, as Jade was learning how to effectively latch on and I was learning how to guide her to do this.  She has a strong need to suck, as evidenced by the sucking blister on her right hand (at the base of her thumb); it’s fading now, but it shows us she spent a lot of time sucking before she was even born.  However, suckling at a breast requires a different technique from sucking on one’s tiny hand, and I had to try to get her on my breast quite a number of times before each feed.  Each bad latch was painful and also required me to remove her from my breast and try again, much to her confusion.  Now that we’re a few days in, things are going much better; I’m still a bit sore, but I’m toughening up, and it helps that Jade now knows what she’s supposed to do.
Jade has had quite a lot of visitors since her birth, both at the hospital and at home.  Before she was born, I was a bit worried about how much energy I’d have for visiting, but nothing gives you energy like the pride of showing off your newborn child!  I have to admit that it also helps that Jade sleeps for fairly long stretches at times (two to three hours is pretty good, I think) and that Michael has been home to take care of us.  He’s done all the cooking (except this evening, when one of our lovely neighbours dropped off a lasagna) and other household chores, as well as taking tons of pictures and being fantastic at burping Jade and also being a human cot when she’s having a nice long sleep.  He loves having her sleep on his chest.
One of the surprises of parenthood for me has been how natural co-sleeping has been for us.  Before Jade was born, the idea of having the baby in bed with us seemed to be a pretty bad idea.  I knew it was great for some people, but I figured having her in her crib right from the beginning made the most sense, rather than trying to eventually wean her from our bed.  I wasn’t completely against it, and figured we might sometimes nap together, but I was totally unprepared for how we just naturally wanted her close to us all the time, even as she slept.  I guess it’s a natural extension of how things were before she was born. 
I admit that co-sleeping was easier to do in the hospital than it is at home.  At the hospital, Michael and I were in different beds, both of which had rails, so it was really easy  to just let her roll to one side after breastfeeding, or to have her stay tucked next to me, with her warm body limp with relaxation.  Also, in her first 24 hours, she was pretty exhausted and slept for very long stretches (4 to 5 hours a couple of times).
Last night was our first night home and the sleep issue became a bit of a dilemma.  We have a thick comforter on our bed, plus a ton of pillows, all of which are hazardous to sleeping babies. On the other hand, because I was expecting to feed frequently, it didn’t make sense to me for her to be sleeping in her own room just yet.  Our neighbour Cathy (the one I lived with in July) has loaned us the cradle her children slept in, and even though it’s right next to my side of the bed, it still seems like Jade is far away when she’s in there!  Last night I ended up sleeping pretty lightly and had Jade in bed with me for the few hours we slept there, but tonight I thought I’d better try the cradle.  She was only in it for about half an hour before she started fussing – I don’t know if it’s because she’s used to sleeping right next to a warm body or just because of the gas she always gets after a feeding.  Up to now, she has tended to sleep on her stomach (on one of us, so it’s not dangerous), or else sort of on her side when she gets tucked up against us.  The gas seems to be more of a bother when she’s on her back.  Anyway, her fussiness was the reason I’m up writing now.  I got up to calm her down, then she had another short feed and has been sleeping ever since.  I guess I might try to put her down in the crib again; now that she’s been sleeping for a while she’s burped up a few times and is quite relaxed.  She might take to it better.  I know I’d better try to catch some sleep before she’s up again with an empty stomach!
February 3 Addendum (Other stuff that happened on Thursday, February 2)
I forgot to mention the home visit we had from Ann, the public health nurse.  She called me at lunchtime  on Thursday (having tried all morning and getting a busy signal because of Michael being online, getting new baby pictures up for everyone) and asked if she could make a visit in the afternoon.  Michael and I had been planning to get downtown because 1) I wanted to apply for EI and 2) I was dying to get a new nursing bra, as the one I had bought WASN’T BIG ENOUGH and was killing me.  (I didn’t anticipate the amount of, uh, growth that I have experienced.)  With Ann’s call, I decided to put off the trip downtown to the next day, especially as she gently admonished me that I had to take care not to overdo things.
Ann’s visit was great.  She sat on the floor (with Nanuq in her lap, at times) and answered our questions and offered us information about the first little while at home.  Jade got weighed (Crook hid in the scale case while we were using the scale) and got all her reflexes and joints checked out.  Ann also gave us information on Yukon’s immunization program as well as the "weigh and measure" clinics at the Whitehorse Health Centre.  This city has such great support for new famlies!
After Ann’s house call, our friend Marusia came for a visit, bringing a birthday present for Jade.  Marusia is an avid knitter and she brought Jade the most adorable hand-knitted wool hat, fashioned to look like the top of a strawberry.  Besides being cuter than cute, it’s warm and ACTUALLY FITS Jade’s tiny head.
February 4
Yesterday was a really busy day; it doesn’t take much to go from "busy" to "overdoing it".  Michael got up and made me breakfast in bed again (what would I do without him?!) and then we started preparing to go downtown to do the EI thing and to (FINALLY!) get me a bra that fits.  It took all morning to get ready and even though we had been trying to leave all day, it was 2:00 before we headed out the door.  Things went pretty smoothly, with Michael visiting the office of Vital Statistics to register Jade’s birth and me at the Government Services office applying for EI.  Michael wanted to stop for a visit at Derek’s office (the guy he had been hiking with when my water broke) and since it was across the street from the EI office, we went in.  Derek wasn’t there but Jade attracted the whole office with people exclaiming over her small size and her strawberry hat. 
The visit was fun, with everyone telling us how beautiful Jade is and generally being excited, but I was a little stressed out because I was worried she’d wake up, which usually means crying for 20 or 30 minutes – that would probably scatter the crowd pretty quickly!  A number of ladies grabbed her feet and pulled her hands and generally poked at her – what is with that?!  Someone even remarked that we’d have to bring her back when she was awake so that they could "play" with her!  Sorry, folks, she’s a bit young for that yet.
After that, I headed for the store to get my nursing bra, while Michael stopped in at his own office to show off.  I quickly found the bra I wanted (insert angel chorus here), then joined Michael at his office.  The visit there was fairly short because I was getting really tired and I was also still stressed about the possiblity of Jade waking up, although no one there tried to "play" with her.
When we got home, we discovered that two different florists had tried to make deliveries while we’d been out.  The first was a gorgeous basket of spring bulb flowers from Mike and Melanie and the second was an arrangement of carnations, chrysanthemums, and daisies in a cute basket-shaped ceramic pot.  I love flowers, and our kitchen is now aglow with them!
As I mentioned before, Jade has tended to wake up crying inconsolably and has required 20 or 30 minutes to calm down before I could get her to breastfeed.  The first couple of days this was bewildering as we really didn’t know what the problem was – she’d be happy to suck on a finger, but would only stay at my breast for a few seconds before turning her head away and howling.  We finally figured out that her little belly was making her uncomfortable; a few burps and, better yet, farts were what she needed to relieve her.  Last night I finally gave in to the idea of giving her a tiny bit of gripe water – just half a dose.  It didn’t work immediately, but I do think it helped.  We also had been worried about how short her feeds had been, but the idea that she needed help getting air or gas out of her system led to a different approach to her feeding, involving a short feed, a burping session, another short feed, a diaper change, and finally a longer feed.  Whew!  It seems to have helped with the gas problem, though, and last night was a much quieter one, with only a few minutes of howling in the whole night.  In between feeds, Jade slept on Michael’s chest, which allowed me to get a better sleep without worrying I would let her fall.  Michael’s really tuned in to her feeding cues, too, so the system worked really well.  I think it’s amazing how we can learn to adapt to each other.  I’m really not looking forward to Michael going back to work next week!
The only hitch we had in the night was when I woke up shivering uncontrollably.  Yesterday was "the day" for me – the milk had come in.  (Before new moms start manufacturing milk, babies don’t get very hungry, and they just get a bit of colustrum or "pre-milk".)  Man, were my boobs ever sore!  Sometimes, this "engorgement" can be accompanied by a low fever.  I was shivering so hard that it woke Michael up.  He had me shuffle forward and sat behind me to warm me as I took Jade for a feeding.  The combination of Michael’s warmth with Jade emptying my breast were enough to make the shivers go away, but what a weird experience!
The other thing I’ve noticed about my body in the last few days is that I have been SWEATING like crazy!  I’ve had two showers every day because of it and we need to wash the sheets.  I read today that this sweating is my body’s way of getting rid of the excess fluids that I have been storing during pregnancy.  This whole motherhood thing really does strange things to the body!
Now that the meconium is all gone, we’ve switched Jade to cloth diapers.  A lot of folks seem skeptical when we tell them we’re going to use cloth diapers, but so far it has been going well.  I never knew that breastfed babies had such sweet-smelling poop!  I know most people will laugh to hear me say it and will probably attribute it to the fact that it’s my own baby’s poop, but really, when one thinks of poopy diapers, one anticipates a much more rancid smell.  I know this won’t last once Jade starts eating solids, but that’s a whole six months away yet.
We’ve heard that a few more folks in our pre-natal class have had their babies, so we’re thinking of going up to the hospital this evening to see who we find there.  That means I need to get off the computer and relieve Michael of Jade so that he can go make supper!

5 Responses to “Mass Update”

  1. Nemmy February 5, 2006 at 4:53 am #

    This is so exciting… look forward to hearing more. More. MORE! 😀

  2. Marian February 5, 2006 at 4:22 pm #

    Thanks for the update – it\’s nice to read your side of the story. Getting used to everything about a new baby – especially the first – takes time. You\’re doing a great job. What a team!!! Can\’t wait to see you all. Hopefully soon.

  3. Kat February 6, 2006 at 6:55 am #

    Congradulations Fawn and Michael!

  4. Hollie February 10, 2006 at 5:52 am #

    Congratulations Congratulations Congratulations!! I\’m so happy for you. And from what MY sister tells me, it\’s only going to get better and better for you. You\’ll never be as madly in love with anyone as with your baby – so enjoy every moment 🙂

  5. Unknown February 10, 2006 at 6:12 am #

    Hi Fawn!  Congratulations on your new addition!  I know what you mean about the baby poop, Caity\’s smelled like buttered popcorn, and it lasted that for quite a while, until she was at least 9-10 months.

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