Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"S" days 25 to 31: Road to Recovery

We spent the end of S's first month in recovery and adaptation mode, following my appendectomy on Saturday, December 18th. As the percocets wore off on Sunday evening, I was in quite a bit of discomfort which the prescribed Tylenol 3s were only partially able to mitigate. It wouldn't have been a huge deal pre-baby, but with S here and Chris back to work the next day, I was going to need some help!

The first thing we figured out was how I was going to breastfeed over the next little while, since the standard cradle hold put too much weight on my tender belly and side lying was pretty uncomfortable as well. Women who deliver via c-section (a similar situation) tend to nurse using the "football" hold, however I'd tried this already and found it quite awkward. (The lactation consultant we saw early on thought my arms were too long for it to be comfortable!) So Chris and I amended the hold by constructing a "pillow tower" beside the boob I planned to nurse on and positioning S on top. The tower consisted of one of those standard U-shaped pillows on the bottom and a "My Brest Friend" on top. I hadn't really used either up until this point (preferring just a regular, firm pillow to support the cradle hold) but they certainly came in handy for this contraption!

Dad and Linda brought over beef stew the next day and also picked up an extra Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag for me that I found on Kijiji - brand new for $10 from a seller in Baden. (No more "transitional" dirty diaper piles bunched up in the basket during laundry time - w00t!) Chris' parents came over that evening with some groceries - lotsa fruit, prunes and other healthy "regulatory" stuff. (Mom and Baby were both a little blocked up since the operation!)

Mom and Norm came over on Tuesday and were super helpful. Mom did a bunch of chores such as sterilizing the bottles and pumping equipment we'd used recently, and Norm managed to jump my car (the battery had conked out due to non-usage at some point since S's birth - I think I mentioned this in a previous post.) Mom and Norm also got in some good snoozy time with S. No wonder she cluster feeds in the evening and stays up so late - she does all her sleeping in the afternoon!

S finally pooped later that day and it was a dandy! Mom was all proud because it was HER prefold that successfully held in the mess. :) I was feeling somewhat weak & dizzy by the end of the day, but the tenderness in my belly was starting to subside, allowing me to move around a little more easily and get some stuff done myself.

Chris' parents came over again on Wednesday, affording me a much appreciated nap in the afternoon and allowing Chris and I to get out and finish our Christmas shopping that night. "Santa Sharyn" was feeling particularly festive!

Finally, Mom came over once more on the Thursday for more baby time, enabling me to get all the gift wrapping done. Chris and I are lucky to have our families so close by - without all the support this week, it would have been a lot more challenging to recover, keep our home relatively undisgusting AND get everything done before the holidays. Love you guys!! Laughs and winks from S too!

"S" days 22 to 24: Snowsuit FAIL!

Day 22: Wednesday, December 15th

Chris and I were feeling cooped up from the last few days of snowbound-ness, so we decided to take S outside to experience the resulting winter wonderland. First things first - bundle her up nice & warm!

The first snowsuit we tried was too small. Too bad - such a cute one too!

Next we tried a super warm & puffy Winnie the Pooh number - too big! S began to express her displeasure at this point.

Finally, we tossed her into a bunting bag which fit her juuuust right! Unfortunately S was still ticked off at us from the previous two failed attempts!

After all the lead up, we only managed a few token pictures before we headed back in. Brrrr!!

That evening, we hit up the two "R Us"es (Toys & Babies) for some birthday & giftmas shopping. You know you're firmly entrenched in a new generation when the vast majority of your holiday shopping takes place at these two stores!

Day 23: Thursday, December 16th

Today was Mom / Grandma Mary's birthday so we headed into K-Dub to celebrate at Great Grandma Catherine's place with some tasty Topper's. S charmed the pants off her grandma and GG with lots of gurgles and smiles! She proved to be so entertaining that GG had a fall as she turned to look at her on the way back from grabbing some more pizza, but luckily she fell "gracefully" and was just fine - whew!

4 generations - priceless! :)

Day 24: Friday, December 17th

We managed our long overdue visit with Maryana, Jeff and "Suds" who had finally gotten over the sickness they'd been battling. It was Suds' 2nd birthday so we got her a Melissa & Doug beginner pattern block set. (This toy rules! It has about 10 fun & colourful puzzles to fill in, and the many blocks can also be used on their own for less structured fun & learning. I'm totally getting one of these for S!) Suds had fun and quickly got the hang of things!

S of course got in some good cuddle time as well! She impressed Uncle Jeff in particular with her stylish argyle apparel.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"S" days 19 to 21: Snowbound

Day 19: Sunday, December 12th

Chris curled in the morning which marked the first time I was alone for a substantial period of time with S. This gave a pretty good sense of the days ahead when Chris would be working and I'd basically be her exclusive caretaker during the day. When he came home, we had a good chat about our experiences so far as parents, expectations for the days ahead, how S had developed as a little person, etc. I was feeling a bit weepy as well - perhaps a bit of the baby blues kicking in?

Grandma Mary & Empa Norm were planning to come over that afternoon for a visit but didn't as both Norm and the weather were beginning to feel quite crappy. I took the opportunity to get organized with a to do list and get some stuff done, starting with a thorough perusal of a big box of clothes borrowed from Cousin Avery. S's wardrobe almost doubled after this - lucky girl!

Day 20: Monday, December 13th

The snowfall continued all morning and afternoon - the type of day that made us quite happy about our company's work from home policy!

S decided to test her mommy's mettle by staying awake until early evening doing a lot of fussing and seemingly requiring constant changes and feeding sessions. I'll admit that I did bug Chris a bit in the afternoon to see if he could get her to calm down. He tried out the "football hold" which did help for a little bit!

I filed down her fingernails for the first time myself (Chris had done this up until now) which was a delicate operation and established our routine for cloth diaper laundry. In the evening, I started on some yoga-based postpartum exercises and Chris and I tried out our Moby Wrap which we couldn't quite get the hang of getting S into. She seemed too big for the various newborn holds we learned about on YouTube but not yet big enough for the regular hug hold with her feet hanging out. It was late so I planned to give it another go again soon.

Day 21: Tuesday, December 14th

I hadn't started my car since before S was born, despite Chris' periodic suggestions that I do so previously. Unfortunately this was one of the many things that had gotten deprioritized, so when I finally went to fire it up today it just chugged. Oops. Looked like it needed a jump or a new battery altogether.

In the afternoon I researched making our own baby wipes to control the substances that are touching Little One's sensitive skin and save some extra $$ to boot. There are some awesome sites out there, including this one which includes over a dozen different "recipes" to try out. I like the sound of the Olive 'n' Tea Tree solution (though this made me a bit chuffed that I acquired so many Body Shop goodies the other week and tea tree oil didn't make the cut. :-/ )

S refused the boob during an attempted feeding later that day. She was "hand-mouthing" as we like to say, which is usually a pretty spot-on hunger cue. However when I offered her a meal, she arched her back, beat at my chest and cried. Apparently she was just in need of some soothing and wasn't actually hungry at that point. This may have been a good time for a pacifier, however Chris and I hadn't introduced one to her yet and were still determining whether or not we would. In any case, we knew we wanted to wait at least a full month to allow breastfeeding to be well established. To help calm her down, I gave her a little massage with a sample of Burriti Baby Massage Gel I *had* included in my Body Shop stash and she LOVED this! She was alert the whole time and gave me a few contented smiles and sighs. Ahhh! :)

In the evening I was feeling a li'l stir crazy so I ran a few errands around town. It was freakin' cold, however, which quickly reinforced why I'd been hibernating the last few days. Chris and I momentarily mulled over the idea of moving to Costa Rica that night. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"S" days 16 to 18: GSPrincess

Day 16: Thursday, December 9th

As we got ready to head out for my ultrasound, I discovered another milestone - I fit back into a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans. Yay! Creds to S on this one as she's become such a good little eater. :)

The ultrasound was fairly quick & uneventful. I had a technician who went by "mum's the word" so she didn't fill me in on anything during the procedure, but neither did she send me immediately for a debrief so I took this as a good sign. Following the ultrasound, we popped in on Grandma Mary for a short visit and ran a few errands.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from Dr. Schnarr's office requesting that I come in the next day to review results. Hmm - so maybe something did show up after all. Well at least we'd find out what it was soon if that was the case!

Finally, cousin Nick came by for Baby's First Beer. S chugged hers and was fussing about for another when we took this pic (don't worry - we're responsible adults and therefore limiting her to one at a time for her first couple months):

Day 17: Friday, December 10th

Today marked S's most elaborate outing to date! We hauled the UPPAbaby out of the garage for the first time, packed 'er into the van and headed off to Fairview Mall to get in some Christmas shopping. We figured that since we were heading out in the early afternoon, the mall wouldn't be too crazy. Wrong! Apparently it's common practice for last minute shoppers to take Friday afternoons off to get 'er done before the holidays. Oops!

Shuffling S between her car seat and the UPPAbaby bassinet in the snow and wind proved to be a bit of an ordeal, so unfortunately I didn't get a picture - boo! However we did get some good shopping done. I ended up scoring $160 of Body Shop merchandise for $40 due to the combination of a 2 for 1 Groupon and 50% off promotional wheel spin, so I went a little nuts. Anyone want any coconut body butter or satsuma shower gel??? I have a crapload, especially given we weren't able to participate in the Cameron Christmas (including the Ladies gift exchange). Our excursion also reinforced the fact that the UPPAbaby steers like a DREAM - it was perfect for malling about (aside from a few stores which were a bit too cramped w/ stuffs to navigate through.)

Following the mall, we hit up Toys + Babies R Us where we discovered the salvation that is the Parenting Room. A quick feed & change later, and S was good to finish off the day's tasks.

The last errand of the day was my OB appointment to review ultrasound results. Evidently the scan turned up a fairly large cyst in my vaginal wall. Dr. Schnarr thought this was a bit odd, but she checked me out and didn't feel it was anything to be concerned with. I did some research later that evening and it turns out that these cysts can happen following a vaginal delivery, especially when a lot of repair work is involved. They generally don't cause any issues and resolve on their own. All in all, not the most fabulous result to learn about, but evidently nothing earth shattering either.

Gramma and Grampa Campbell came over in the evening for a quick visit, and S was pretty fussy. Chris and I thought she might be gassy as she was crying quite a bit and doing some grunting and clenching. However eventually she fell into a good 4-5 hour sleep that's become her standard each night - whew!

Day 18: Saturday, December 11th

In the morning, I Googled gas in newborns and came up with a few tips:
  • Keep her upright for a little while after a feeding
  • Ensure she's getting enough hind milk (i.e. try to keep her on one boob longer before switching.)
  • Watch my own diet (I have to admit I was guilty of enjoying a few spicy dishes for a couple days there, plus I was drinking a lot of chocolate milk for the calcium - babies can be sensitive to dairy.)
Dad & Linda came over in the afternoon for a quick visit and another game of Settlers. S employed a winning strategy once more and this time she helped ME win. Yay!

That night, we headed over to Gramma & Grampa Campbell's place for the big GSP fight. Daddy dressed S up in her best game time gear:

(GSP won, though unfortunately both S and Mommy ended up sleeping through the entire main event. Whoops! :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"I see your labour and raise you an appendectomy"

(Creds to Chris for the title of this post!)

Just got back from Grand River hospital a few hours ago where we were thrown a bit of a curveball - I got my appendix removed. The whole affair started yesterday morning at the Crossroads in Elmira, where we were enjoying what started out as a nice breakfast with Linda's family (the Botts). Midway through, I started feeling a pain in my right side which progressively began to worsen. On the ride home, I was literally doubling over which ALMOST prompted a detour to the hospital (and in hindsight should have) but at that point I felt like I just wanted to get home and relax - as though that may have been all that was required to relieve the pain and get me back on track. Nope. When we got back, I could barely crawl into the house and into some comfier clothes, and then I lay curled up on the floor shaking, essentially unable to move. We quickly decided for Chris to call 911, and an ambulance was sent for me. (My first time riding in one of those bad boys - see, life continues to keep things fresh! ;) The stretcher was actually fairly comfy, and the pain lessened from being extremely sharp & acute to more diffuse and sore. Or perhaps it was more that the fear was lessening now that I was on my way to answers and presumably treatment. In parallel, Chris drove the van back into town with S, dropped her off at Mom's place and met me at the hospital.

We waited for over 2 1/2 hours in emergency and the pain thankfully continued to be tolerable. Then they got me a room in triage where we remained for another 2-3 hours. During this time, I expressed some milk as I was quite engorged by this point, and then Chris went back for S so she could come in for a feeding. (Mom and Norm had been great during this time, running around to get extra formula, nipples and diapers. S also had her first bottle over there which I had some concerns about, but all in all I felt pretty secure about our breastfeeding relationship as she's now 3 1/2 weeks old and feeding well.) The triage staff ran a battery of tests on me - urine, blood, blood pressure and finally ultrasound (which was quite uncomfortable). I was fearing the worst when the OBGYN came back in to debrief, but his first words were "Your ultrasound results were fine." Huh? However he then proceeded to mention that the white blood cell counts in my urine and blood were high, so they still hadn't ruled out appendicitis. He felt around at my abdomen and the spot that was the most sore was indeed the location of the appendix. He then phoned the on-call surgeon (Dr. Saunders) who came in to ask me some questions and check me himself, and the conclusion was that it was, indeed, almost certainly my appendix causing the pain. I asked why this didn't show up on the ultrasound and he said that sometimes an ultrasound will show an inflamed appendix, sometimes it will show a normal appendix and sometimes it won't show the appendix at all, due to its location. I fell into the 3rd scenario evidently. As for next steps, they said that a CAT scan might show things a little more clearly, but that I might be waiting a fairly long time for this which isn't ideal when appendicitis is suspected (as it's basically a ticking time bomb - wait too long and the appendix is likely to rupture which is a medical emergency). Sooooooo the suggestion was to go under the knife and remove the mofo - something they were able to arrange that evening. They informed us that the procedure would be performed laparoscopically, which meant it would be minimally invasive and involve a shorter recovery time, which was good as it was really important for us to keep breastfeeding going with S. We agreed to the surgery and off I went on a stretcher to the operating room.

One thing I have to say about minor surgery is that you feel DAMN good immediately afterwards. Anyone agree? You're hopped up on a bunch of fun drugs so you don't feel the pain and the environment around you is super stimulating. Even a simple conversation among the operating room staff can appear to be extremely intriguing and/or amusing. This fades fairly quickly however as the pain and reality begin to set in - "They just cut me open and removed an organ! w00t! :)"

I ended up spending the night in the pediatric unit, which was quite nice. The ward was all festively decorated and my room had happy fish adorning the walls. Apparently close to half the ward was actually occupied by adults due to the demographic distribution of the patients that night. I had two AWESOME nurses from 7 PM to 7 AM (Nicole and Fran) who were incredibly friendly, attentive and helpful. They hooked me up with a breast pump so I could express milk for S (to limit the amount of formula she had to eat overnight) and Chris came by later that night to pick it up. It was fairly slow that night, so Nicole hung around a bit and we got in a great conversation about traveling. (She was interested in seeing the world but hadn't gotten out there too much just yet, so I inspired her with tales from our trips to Thailand, Costa Rica and Amsterdam.) All in all, I felt pretty good overnight (thanks percoset!)

Meanwhile, Chris spent the night back at our place and Sharyn (Chris' mom) stayed over as well. Apparently she just took control of the situation, ordering Chris to get some sleep and staying with S for the night - feeding, changing and comforting her as needed. We're truly lucky to have such a great support network of family and friends nearby!!

This morning, I had breakfast, the nurse on the new shift (Katie) took my vital signs and Dr. Saunders came in for a debrief. Apparently my appendix was indeed somewhat red/inflamed, but it appeared to be a secondary inflammation resulting from a primary infection in my pelvic area. My right fallopian tube was about 50% larger than the left one, and the appendix was sitting in some "gunky fluid" (IIRC this was the expression he used - nice). I asked him what the repercussions may be in terms of future fertility, and he said that my ability to conceive may be slightly affected, and there also may be some minor increased risks of complications such as ectopic pregnancy, but he doesn't think there is anything to be extremely concerned with at this point. He did send me off with a handful of prescriptions - two antibiotics (clindamycin and flagyl) and Tylenol 3 - and a recommendation to pick up a stool softener as well. Chris and S arrived at the hospital just after 10:00 at which point we took a few quick pics to "capture the moment"...

...reviewed home care instructions with Katie, filled the prescriptions at the hospital pharmacy, grabbed a bite to eat in the cafeteria and headed home.

The last several hours have certainly been challenging. We called New Mother Support at the hospital for reassurance that I could continue breastfeeding on the antibiotics (they told me I could), and then Chris and I worked together to find decent breastfeeding positions for S (a pseudo football hold and side lying on my left side - the right side's still too sore). Tylenol 3 is evidently not as potent as the percocets, so I've been in a fair amount of discomfort so far. (It didn't help that li'l S decided to kick me in the groin during the side feeding - youch!) After the last feeding, Chris head over to his parents' place with S for Hailey's birthday party so I'm taking the opportunity to blog a bit and then get in some more rest.

I suspect the days ahead will be....interesting as we contend with this latest setback in the midst of our continued adjustment to early parenthood and Chris "bringing home the bacon". However, we've had numerous offers of support which we'll gladly accept for the upcoming week in particular, and we'll get through this! It sucks that we had to miss the Cameron Christmas yesterday, especially since we would have been "unveiling" S to the extended family for the first time, but unfortunately we can't control the timing of these things! :-/ Now I'm just hoping for a speedy recovery so we can enjoy the rest of the upcoming holiday events and get back into the swing of things with S. Wish us luck!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"S" days 13 to 15: Frogs and Frenzied Feedings

Day 13: Monday, December 6th

Great Aunt Heather and Uncle Terry came over to meet S. They brought over Swiss Chalet for dinner and gave her the most adorable gift - a customized froggie from Build a Bear Workshop with her name and date of birth! I was obsessively into acquiring frogs when I was young (both real and collectible) so S's been receiving a few frog-themed gifts, but this one took the cake! I got a little teary when I opened it up. :)

Proud Great Aunt & Uncle:


It was a bit of a tough evening & overnight with S. She appeared to be ravenously hungry, but a number of times when I tried to feed her she got upset and fussy. She also spit up a few times. I've read that babies can go through growth spurts at around 2 weeks, so perhaps our little one was starting hers early!

Day 14: Tuesday, December 7th

Chris and I had planned to embark upon a sizely Christmas shopping excursion today, but we only made it as far as Walmart. I'd been feeling more cramping & pressure over the last couple days, my bleeding had increased and I was feeling physically weak, so I was ready to head home after just an hour. (S, on the other hand, slept like an angel the whole trip. I guess she'd pooped herself out the night before!)

When we got home, I called my OB and they made an appointment for an ultrasound. They wanted to check me out to ensure no "products of conception" remained kicking about given my recent symptoms. Shortly after this, I passed a blood clot the size of a golf ball! It was quite disturbing, but apparently large blood clots like this are fairly common in the postpartum period. The general consensus is that one should only be concerned when the clots are the size of a lemon. A LEMON! That's almost the size of a human kidney! Ahhh the lovely things our bodies go through to have kids!

I made another fascinating bodily discovery that evening. I was beginning to leak milk! This happened most prominently from the "unused" breast during a feeding, but I also noticed little spots on both sides when I heard her fuss just prior to another one of her meals. It's official - my boobies have fully morphed into udders!

And finally, some exciting news to end the day - Ange finally had her baby! He was born at 5:34 PM and weighed 8 lbs, 9 oz. So just one ounce heavier than S, and also born 10 days overdue (one day before a scheduled induction!) Methinks the two of them will get along famously! :)

Day 15: Wednesday, December 8th

This was our most challenging night / early morning with S since her first few days. She wanted to eat every hour or so until about 3 AM, but continued to be crabby and spit up frequently. She went through quite a few sleepers, lemme tell ya!

Despite the rough night, we felt pretty good the next day. My bleeding had subsided somewhat and I felt less pressure, which was likely due to getting rid of the clot. This was the first day in a long time that we stayed in and S didn't have any visitors, so we took the opportunity to do some chores and relax. I researched cloth diaper laundering techniques, which helped us arrive at the routine I described in my last post. I also unearthed my favourite childhood story book from one of the myriad basement bins and read a couple of the shorter tales to S.

That evening, S's birth certificate arrived via courier, less than a week after we completed the application. Evidently Service Ontario doesn't mess around when it comes to certifying a new human's existence!

....aaand finally, a li'l dose of preciousness to cap things off:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cloth diaper laundry - what worked for us!

We have now done about 6 loads of cloth diaper laundry (about once every 2 days) in our Frigidaire front load washer with Country Save detergent. Our loads consist mainly of the Bummis organic prefolds plus some Bummis covers, Kawaii snazzy minky pockets, AMP pockets and wet bag. For the first load, we followed the directions in the Bummis manual and the dipes seemed to come out OK. However about 2 loads later, we started to notice a bit of an unpleasant ammonia-y smell so obviously things weren't getting fully clean. During the next load, I added half a cup of vinegar to the initial prewash cycle and then continued with the Bummis instructions and there was still a bit of a smell. So I changed things up a bit further during the latest cycle and it seemed to work wonderfully - no smell! I also noted that the latest load was larger due to a few extra Kawaiis and microfiber inserts in the mix, so the washer would have used additional water which may have helped as well. Here are the full directions we will be following moving forward; I'll post an update if we find we need to make additional adjustments (e.g. when S starts eating solids.)
  1. Start with a large load of cloth diaper laundry. (If it's smaller, add a wet towel to the mix to get the washer to add more water.)
  2. Make sure inserts are removed from all pockets, one size diapers are fully unsnapped, velcro tabs are fastened and prefolds are "unbunched".
  3. Run a cold/cold delicate cycle with 1/4 the recommended detergent for a front load washer (this amounts to about 1/2 a tablespoon of Country Save).
  4. Run a hot/cold normal cycle with the same amount of detergent as the previous cycle. Turn the extra rinse option on.
  5. Run an additional light wash cycle on warm with extra rinse off.
  6. Remove the Bummis covers and wet bag and hang to dry (Note: we need a better solution for soiled dipes while the wet bag is drying. We're currently just setting them on dirty clothes in a laundry basket!)
  7. Dry remainder of load on medium heat. Do a full cycle then an extra 15-20 minutes to fully dry the prefolds.
In the summer, we'll probably hang dry the dipes to help sanitize them and remove any stains. In the meantime, we'll dry the occasional load on high heat to help with sanitization. We'll also likely replace the detergent in the cold/cold cycle with a cup of vinegar about once a month to help remove detergent build-up in the washer.

Now that we seem to have a good handle on laundry, my next mini-project is to figure out an effective solution for home-made baby wipes! This should save a few extra hundred $$s and also allow us to control the "ingredients" touching our little one's tushy! I'll post on our experiences here as well - stay tuned!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"S" days 10 to 12: Cuddles and Cousins

Day 10: Friday, December 3rd

S was lucky enough to have two of her grandmothers over for lunch - Gramma Campbell and Grandma Mary (or "Emma Mary", as she likes to call her!) Like usual, she snoozed for most of the visit!

Mom brought over some donuts and in return, she allowed me to set her up with a Facebook account. :)

Chris and I had a pretty laid back evening, enjoying some good snuggles with our girl and relaxing with a couple episodes of Ally McBeal.

Day 11: Saturday, December 4th

Today was a big day for S! She got to meet her two cousins Hailey and Avery and her Uncle Jay for the first time, and visit with the rest of the Campbell clan as well! Chris picked her outfit for the day - not 100% colour-coordinated but she pulled it off! ;)

Adoring looks from Uncle Mike and Aunt Anne-Marie!

First cuddles with Avery and Hailey! (The matching outfits and hair were a complete coincidence, if you can believe that!)

Chris and I with all the girls!

Snuggles with Aunt Tracey!

S was busy during the visit - she fed three times and needed four diaper changes! That's our good little growing girl! :)

Day 12: Sunday, December 5th

Another visit today - this time from Great Uncle Larry (or MrOnstett)! He came bearing gifts for S (cute little shirts, soft fuzzy blankets and a teddy bear) and for Dad (some Old Port cigars :). At first he was very hesitant to hold S, but we convinced him to pose for one picture! (See - he's a natural, but S was no more interested in the Old Ports than Dad was!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"S" days 7 to 9: "Settling" into Parenthood

Day 7: Tuesday, November 30th

S, Chris and I had quite the lengthy outing today! We attended a New Mother Support clinic back at Grand River which was SUPER helpful - not only did we get additional reassurance that S was well nourished via breastfeeding (she was up to 8 lbs 2 oz prior to a feeding and then 8 lbs 4 oz following a 15 minute feeding - the Lact-Aid was taking us 4 times that long to get the same amount into her) but we also got some tips to make latching even easier ("hamburger" the boob when offering it to her) and nursing more comfortable (bring the other arm around to complete the cradle with intermittent rather than more regular compressions).

Following the clinic, S had her first shopping trip. We hit up the Baby Boutique to spend the $60 gift certificate we received when we purchased her UPPAbaby Vista stroller. There were some good specials so we ended up with a sizely bag o' loot - an additional HALO SleepSack for when she's a bit older (6 to 12 months), another change pad cover with a pretty flower pattern (which S picked out - she went "Ahhh!" when we showed her this one!), an extra hooded bath towel which matched the change pad cover, a monkey bath mitt and a "Buncha Farmers" stain remover wetstick.

Finally, we popped into Chris' grandparents place where S got to see Gramma and Grampa Campbell AND Great Gramma and Great Grampa MacDonald! Lots of photo opportunities ensued.

Gramma and Grampa Campbell:

Great Gramma and Great Grampa MacDonald:

When we came home, a huge box was waiting for us on the front porch. Our work had sent us an adorable toy cradle with a doll, a sleeper and a rattle. So sweet! :)

That night, we hooked S up with her first cloth diaper - a Bummis prefold with a "super whisper wrap" froggie cover. She's on the low end of the weight range at this point so they're pretty huge on her, but adorable nonetheless (if we do say so ourselves!)


 Day 8: Wednesday, December 1st

Happy 1st week birthday, S! :)

In the early afternoon, we took her to Dr. Irvine (here in New Hamburg) for her first check-up. She weighed in at 8 lbs, 5 oz (just 3 ounces back from her birth weight already!) and in the doctor's words, there were "checkmarks in all the right places"! Of course we had our fair share of new parent concerns (Her tongue looks white - is that thrush? What about that rashy looking area on her chest?) but the doctor reassured us that all was A-OK!

Aunt Becky and Uncle Paul came by for a visit later that afternoon. S got pretty fussy and hungry so they didn't stay too long, though Beck did get in some good cuddle time!

That night, Chris and I got to enjoy some relaxation with an episode of Ally McBeal (we're currently working our way through Season 2), and then he found the finale of America's Next Top Model (Cycle 15) for me. It was nice to have a bit of a break from 24/7 baby-related activities. :)

Day 9: Thursday, December 2nd

In the morning, we registered for S's birth certificate and then in the early afternoon we had a home visit from a friendly & gregarious public health nurse named Kathy. She asked us a bunch of questions and provided us with numerous baby & parenting resources (booklets, checklists, etc.). And finally, she gave us two thumbs up that S is thriving nicely and we're doing well as new parents (and that no, our home was not yet in a state meriting its own episode of Hoarders, despite our mild concerns :)

Papa Charlie and Nana Linda brought over an early dinner (delicious crockpot beef stew) and stayed for a game of Settlers of Catan. S learned the ropes quickly and helped Chris win!

"Build a settlement on the wheat port, Daddy!"

Of course, there was lots of time for snuggles too! S and Papa had fun making faces at each other. :)

We ended the day with our first load of cloth diaper laundry. The prefolds appeared to launder nicely as per the instructions in the Bummis manual, but we'll see how things go after a few washes. Effective long-term CD laundering can evidently be quite tricky with a front load washer!

We also noticed before bedtime that S had developed little "breast buds". A quick Google revealed that this was in all likelihood due to Baby getting hormones from Mom through breast milk, which is quite common. Something to watch, in any case!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"S" days 4 to 6: the Way to Milky

Day 4: Saturday, November 27th

Happy 35th birthday to Daddy! I felt my milk starting to come in slowly overnight, but there still wasn't enough to feed her fully, and latching continued to be a bit hit & miss. Add to this our growing exhaustion levels and lack of 24-hour support and it was definitely a challenging day! We alternated breastfeeding with Lact-Aid, and supplemented with formula for a couple feedings. I pumped after every feeding as well to help my milk come in.

Tracey and Don (Chris' dad) came by momentarily to see S. Don wasn't able to visit her in the hospital as he was staying with Chris' Grampa MacDonald, who was alone as Gramma MacDonald was undergoing knee surgery in Owen Sound. Sharyn (Chris' mom) was there with her so she wasn't able to see S during her first few days either.

S only had one poo and one pee the whole day, so we were pretty concerned about this. We called Beth and New Mother Support at the hospital to get some tips, and to arrange a meeting with Beth the next day (along with our postpartum appointment with the public health nurse).

A few positive notes from the day - I got S to feed successfully on the right side (up until this point we'd only really had success on the left), her cord stump came off (quite early, but it looked healthy so we were grateful rather than concerned about this!), our Kawaii diapers arrived (!!!!!!!!) and Chris gave S her first home sponge bath!

Day 5: Sunday, November 28th

I woke up in the morning and felt that my milk had fully come in - yay! My breasts were definitely larger and tender, but not overwhelmingly so like some of the horror stories I'd heard. That said, my milk might have been a bit less plentiful because of our difficulty feeding during the first couple days. As such, I planned to continue pumping for another day or two to help things out.

S had a really good feeding that morning on both sides and Chris and I were beginning to feel a lot more optimistic. At our postnatal appointment, the public health nurse Monica thought S was doing well (and in fact, she'd already gained back 2 ounces from her discharge weight, putting her back up to 8 pounds). The remaining concern was the lack of wet & dirty diapers, so we were really hoping to see more of these shortly! We had been planning a home visit with Beth, however we discussed our progress with her and we'd made such great strides that we mutually decided we didn't need that extra step at this point. Instead, we celebrated with Starbucks lattes and called it a day! :)

On our way back home, we stopped back in on Don and Doug (Chris' grampa) for a quick visit. That evening, S "broke the seal" and had 6 wet diapers in as many hours, as well as a big poop! What a relief! (Pun partially intended.) Funny how these are the things that excite you when you become new parents. ;)

S and I also discovered the side lying position for breast feeding which she seemed to prefer on the right side in particular, and Chris gave her her first REAL bath. She loved it!

Following her bath, Mommy and S enjoyed some nice skin to skin time...

...then we wrapped her up like a burrito and got some shut-eye! (On a side note, the Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe RULES!)

Day 6: Monday, November 29th

Grandma Mary and Great Grandma Catherine came over today for a visit. S slept the whole time in her adorable cow outfit. :) Great grandchild #18 for Grandma C!

S continued with lots more wet and dirty diapers today, so we took a risk and made it a 100% booby day - no more Lact-Aid! This was evidently a good move as she appeared to be fully satiated at the end of the day - yay!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"S" days 1 to 3: First Visitors and Latches

It's hard to believe that S is already 11 days old! I'm starting to appreciate the sentiment we've heard from so many parents to enjoy our little one while she's young as "they grow up so fast!"

On this note, I decided to fully document S's first month on a daily basis, as there is so much learning and growing during this early period and we wanted to capture all the experiences and milestones (along with lots of pictures of course!)

Day 1: Wednesday, November 24

Following S's birth at 8:19 AM, Chris and I spent a good 3-4 hours holding and cuddling her close. She spent most of this time crying and sleeping, and didn't enter into the quiet, alert period which many babies do soon after birth. I wasn't able to get her to breastfeed either. We assumed this was probably because of the stress she underwent having to be immediately whisked away and suctioned, but it was still early so we weren't too concerned. Beth stayed with us for a couple hours as well, which was nice.

S's visitors started to arrive shortly after noon, beginning with Chris' sister Tracey and my mom. Tracey physically entered the room first, but turned down the first hold as she said she couldn't hold her before her grandmother. :) According to Chris, Mom "looked like she was going to have a seizure" when she first entered and saw S ("...but at least she was in the right place" he added). Look at the proud Grandma!

Aunt Tracey got to spend some time with her next:

 Soon after, Aunt Becky, Paul, Papa Charlie, Nana Linda, Aunty Maryana, Uncle Mike, Aunt Anne Marie, Cousin Hailey and Aunty Ange came to visit her as well. What a day! Aunty Ange was just about due to have another little one of her own!

Pictures of all S's visitors can be found in my FB album.

Once the last of our visitors had left it was about 8:30. I tried to nurse S a bit more but I still couldn't get her to latch, so I expressed some colostrum and fed her a few drops from my fingers. One nurse named Mary was able to get her to latch momentarily but she was just nibbling and not really feeding in a nutritive fashion. The nurses said the expression and finger feeding should give her enough nutrition for her first day, but that we'd really need to work on things the next day. Chris and I spent a lot more skin to skin time with her that night and I believe we managed about 3-4 hours of sleep. Chris also ended up changing about 4-5 meconium diapers the first day as well, so at least she was eliminating well!

Day 2: Thursday, November 25

S and I started the day with a 9:00 AM breastfeeding class conducted by a lactation consultant named Brenda. About 4 other mothers & babies joined along with us. I was starting to feel frustrated and anxious as a couple of the other mothers were able to nurse their babies right away but we were still having such difficulty. Brenda came over and tried to help me latch S. She latched for a few seconds but then came off and was quite agitated. Brenda told me she'd come by our room a bit later for more dedicated support.

Chris and I dedicated the rest of the day to getting this nursing thing down. When Brenda came by we had our first pseudo-successful session. S stayed latched on for a few minutes and she was swallowing, which was great progress! I still felt the various positions to be quite awkward (especially in my own state of recovery) but was starting to get the hang of things. I also started using a breast pump to encourage my milk to come in. Another nurse named Jennifer helped us later in the evening. S still wasn't getting enough so Jennifer showed us how to use Lact-Aid, a device consisting of a syringe and feeding tube. Expressed breast milk and/or formula can be fed to Baby through the tube via your finger or as a supplement while Baby is latched on the breast. We tried both methods, and S seemed to take better to the finger feeding so we fed her a few times this way. We used expressed colostrum and ended up supplementing with formula as well. I was really hoping we didn't have to go this route, but S was hungry and the most important thing at this point was to get her some food!

All in all, Day 2 was quite exhausting, though it did end on a positive note. Sometime late at night or very early the next morning (can't quite remember), S was hungry and the oh-so-determined Mom in me took over. I got her to latch and do a small feeding on my own! It was very empowering and left me hopeful that we would get the hang of things after all!

Day 3: Friday, November 26

Sometime overnight, one of the nurses came in to do S's hearing test (she passed) and evidently give her a bath as well, as she was clean when we woke up in the morning. We managed a couple more tentative feedings with her, both on the breast and via finger Lact-Aid. We also watched a couple videos - Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding and the hospital discharge video which covered various topics from fever to postpartum depression. The staff wanted to ensure we had a nursing plan for her once we were discharged, so we met with Brenda once more. The plan was to nurse her when we could, pump after nursing and use the Lact-Aid device with either expressed milk or formula when necessary to "top her up". We were to also diligently track all feedings and wet & dirty diaper changes over the course of her first week. We felt pretty good at this point - we were getting there! Right before we left, a couple assistants came in to take S's blood for her PKU and hypothyroidism screening test. She wasn't a big fan of this!

We finally completed all the paperwork and were all set to leave at about 4:00 PM. It actually felt sort of bittersweet leaving the hospital. On the one hand, we were finally taking our new daughter home, but on the other, we'd no longer have the 24/7 support from the hospital staff who had been so wonderful. This was more than a little bit intimidating!

Here's a pic of Daddy getting S ready for her first car ride back home to New Hamburg! She slept the whole way, as expected. :)

When we got home, we immediately brought S upstairs to our bedroom to start getting all "nested". We had her bassinet all ready to go, and got out extra pillows, blankets and our various nursing accessories. Then I spent some nice skin to skin time with her, and Chris and I shared an emotional moment as everything was just starting to truly sink in. We were parents!!

The evening brought some additional concerns & challenges as S continued to sleep for 3-4 more hours. We were hoping to feed her within an hour or two of getting home, but we couldn't rouse her! Eventually we called Telehealth, and the nurse told us that if she didn't eat for 6 hours we should be concerned. We were at 5ish hours at that point, so we continued to talk to her, apply cool wash cloths to her forehead, etc. until she did eventually stir and we got her to do a few good feedings....whew! Looks like she has procrastination tendencies like Mom! ;)


Dad's up with S right now having some post-nap play time. She'll be hungry in a few minutes, so time to get ready for a feeding! More "early life" posts to come!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

S's birth story

Over the last few days, Chris and I have really begun adjusting to parenthood, affording us a bit more time once more for non-baby related activities (like blogging in my case and cooking delicious breakfasts and stirfries in his :) ). As my first "real" entry since S arrived, I thought I would document her birth as it was an incredible experience - something I will want to share with her when she is a little older! I asked Chris to read through the post as well and add his own comments where details were missing or where I got some facts messed up. :)

Starting where we left off last Tuesday, November 23rd, I'd been having a lot of cramping and Braxton Hicks since my stretch & sweep on Monday night. Soon after I wrote that post, I lost my mucous plug and then we headed into Kitchener for our post-dates biophysical profile ultrasound. The technician who conducted this session was much more willing to reveal specifics than ones we'd encountered previously, including the approximate weight of our child - 8 lbs, 9 oz!! So much for having a small baby like Dr. Schnarr suspected! This gave me some concern about being able to birth her naturally, but I recalled some of the stories in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth where women effectively birthed babies over 10 pounds, so this kept me hopeful. Chris and I headed back home hoping/expecting further progression, but things seemed to have slowed down. The cramps even eased off somewhat that evening. Chris and I watched Season 1 of Hoarders on Netflix while I squatted on my exercise ball in an attempt to get things moving further, but no dice. We went to sleep at around midnight, me feeling a bit anxious with one more day to go before our scheduled induction.

I woke up at around 3 AM Wednesday morning, again feeling crampy and uncomfortable. I was experiencing "waves" every 5-7 minutes or so which I assumed were more Braxton Hicks, as so many people have said that when it's real labour, I "would know". I wasn't sure, however, as the waves felt like tightening sensations rather than pain, and in between them I still felt crampy. I paced around a bit, then tried to go back to sleep to no avail. I ended up calling Beth (our doula) at about 3:30 AM and described what I was experiencing. She thought it was likely early labour, and suggested that I try getting a bit more sleep while I could. Right at the end of the conversation, however, I felt my first real contraction - it hurt and I needed a moment to catch my breath. Beth thought it sounded like the real deal as well, and we decided I'd take a bit more time to see how it developed and then call her back. As it turned out, we didn't need much time as these painful contractions were coming 4-5 minutes apart. I woke up Chris, told him what was going on and we had called Beth back and were in the car within about 15 minutes - luckily our hospital bags were ready to go!

The 25 minute ride to the hospital was less than pleasant, with contractions shortening to 2-3 minutes apart and limited range of movement. I worked on my slow breathing and low tones, however, which helped me manage the discomfort. Chris parked right in front of emergency (illegally as it turns out, however there were more pressing concerns at that point!) and he helped me through the hospital up to 4D Childbirth. I remember crouching down in the elevator in the middle of a fairly intense contraction, which ended up being a position I assumed quite frequently later on. (Chris - when the elevator doors opened, Kristy was frozen in a position and did not want to move. I wedged the door with a foot and it started beeping at us before she was finally ready to keep moving. There were several places from home to 4D where I thought I might be delivering our first child into the world!) We were admitted immediately into Triage, where they checked me and I was already 6 cms dilated! It was GREAT to hear that I had progressed so far already and that the contractions were as manageable as they were. While in Triage, Chris left to move the car and Beth arrived. Apparently they checked baby's heartbeat during this time and I did a lot more leaning / kneeling on the bed, but my memory's a bit foggy here.

I believe I was only in Triage for 40 minutes or so until they found a birthing room for me. Chris and Beth were both there at this point as well as a nurse named Tiffany who was really nice. Once in my room, someone (Tiffany?) checked me and proclaimed I was at 9 cm! WOW!! I couldn't believe how quickly things had progressed! My contractions were coming fast and furious at this point, and I asked to go in the tub. Apparently I went in for just a couple minutes (Chris - she was in the tub for 10 seconds tops!) on my hands and knees and then "got the hell out" (according to Chris). Tiffany was also concerned as I think I made a comment to the effect of the baby "coming out" soon, so she wanted me out of the tub too. Apparently Tiffany also asked us around this point what we'd be naming our daughter (I think she was trying to help keep my mind off things), and I told Chris to tell her. So one of the GR nurses was the first person to learn the name of our new daughter. :)

As an aside, I'm amused how I did all this research ahead of time on what I would be wearing in labour - in the tub, in bed, etc. In the heat of the moment, however, I didn't give a flying crap what I was wearing. I think I ended up with just a tank top and a bra on top and nothing on the bottom, and then switching to a hospital gown some point in the middle of everything. Fashion was certainly the last thing on my mind, right down there with modesty. :) But I digress...

Following the tub I spent about an hour and a half in transition. Coping with the contractions was very challenging at this point. According to Chris, I swore 5 times (3 effs, a shit and a goddammit) and bit him once. :) ( Chris - she also bit the bed and left a mark that would stay there for the rest of our visit) I also recall saying "I can't do this" several times as well, which I believe was somewhat deliberate as we learned in our prenatal class that if a woman feels this way during transition, she should vocalize it as it actually helps her push through. (Thanks Tracey! :) Chris, Beth and the nurses were great this whole time. Beth told me I *was* doing it, and Chris kept telling me he was in awe of me and I was amazing. I leaned on both of them a lot as well as over the bed, and spent some time in the hands & knees position. I was trying to maintain the slow breathing and low tones I'd been practicing, but this was hard and I often just ended up wailing my way through the peak of some of the most intense contractions.

A number of things happened during transition. Dr. McQuaig broke my water, and mentioned there was meconium in the fluid. (Beth quickly reassured me that this didn't necessarily mean anything was wrong with baby.) They asked if I wanted an epidural and I turned it down, and they checked me again and determined that a bit of "cervical lip" was in the way preventing me from pushing. (The contraction during the check was the most agonizing, presumably because I was semi-upright on my back. Ladies it's so true - this is the worst position to labour in!!!) I believe Dr. Raby ( Chris - nope! it was still Dr. McQuaig at this point) took over at around this point and did some "manual manipulation" to help move the cervical lip away from baby's head. Then they told me I could start pushing, which was such a relief! They suggested hands & knees position, I believe because I was comfortable with this and they thought I could make good progress this way. The doctor told me I'd have to be very effective with my pushing otherwise they'd need to medicate me to help baby out, which made me that much more determined to do whatever I needed to do to get her out on my own!

The pushing stage lasted about an hour. This part felt *a lot* better than transition. It was hard work, but thankfully my short labour left me with quite a bit of energy to get 'er done and it felt great to be at this stage so close to meeting our little girl! It was definitely intense and somewhat painful at the end when she was crowning, but not nearly as bad as I imagined it could be. Beth and Chris encouraged me to touch her head and at first I said no as I wanted to focus on the task at hand, but then Beth suggested it one more time so I reached down. Her head felt all warm, soft and wrinkled - what a crazy, surreal feeling! Just after this point, they had me flip over on the table so Dr. Raby could deliver our baby. (I can't quite remember how I managed this, though my guess is that it was more than a bit awkard and challenging!) About 5 minutes and some pulling and prodding later, I saw our little baby's head and then body twisting and turning its way out. Tears of relief and joy immediately trickled down my cheeks - S was finally here!

Unfortunately due to the meconium, they had to cut the umbilical cord right away and take her to the examination table to suction her airways and perform some quick checks. Beth and Chris stayed with me during this time ( Chris - I ducked away to make sure everything was okay with S after I knew things were good with Kristy) (which felt like forever, though was only about 4-5 minutes or so in reality). Once they were finished, they laid her on my chest and it felt wonderful to be able to cuddle, kiss, smell and love our new baby. :)

I did rip a little during the delivery so Dr. Raby had to do some "repair work", and I also had what they referred to as a "soft uterus", so they put me on a pitocin drip to help deliver the placenta and reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. All told, my feet were up in stirrups for a good 30-40 minutes after the delivery, but I couldn't care less as our baby girl was here with us, and she was healthy!

All in all, I'm so happy and grateful about how S's birth unfolded. I had a wonderful support network, I was able to get through labour without medication according to plan, and the mere 4 1/2 hour duration left me with plenty of energy for the delivery. Chris said I should be careful who I say this to as I could make some enemies, but I disagree - I think we need more positive labour stories out there to counterbalance the horror stories that seem to be so prevalent! Even now, as I recollect the events from that incredible morning, I feel oddly wistful that the experience is over. But much more prominent is the joy that I feel when I hold and snuggle our baby, and when Chris and I share our thoughts and dreams about all the exciting times ahead with our new daughter. :)

Here are a few of our favourite pictures from S's birth day. More pictures in my FB album here.

First weigh-in: 3.87 kg (or 8 lb 8 oz)

Minutes after birth - Cuddling with Mommy!

Our amazing Doula, Beth Murch!

Our beautiful girl :)

Skin-to-Skin with Daddy