Archive for April 2012

* My mom finds an excuse to drop by every few days. David tells me that before Ashelyn was born, mom was all, “Oh, it’s not a big deal,” and now she’s all, “Let’s go see the baby!”

* Ashelyn tends to cluster feed in the evenings until around midnight, give or take an hour. Feedings on a good night look something like this: 11:00, 2:30, 6:00, 9:30 (Apr/23-24). On a bad night: 11:00, 12:40, 2:00, 5:00, 6:30, 9:30 (Apr/24-25). I remember being mortified when new fathers said of their wives, “She hasn’t slept for more than two hours at a time for two months!” But actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Not as bad as I thought. (I don’t think I’ve had more than four hours at a stretch, but I’ve definitely slept more than two.)

* Ashelyn is weird in that she resists burping. I see her trying to swallow them back down, and when she does burp, she gets this stricken look on her face, like, Was that me? It’s okay to burp, girl! Saves us dealing with gas-related fussiness later!

* Next Monday we’re going to Harrison with my side of the family, spending a night at the hotsprings. This was my mom’s idea. Monday is the day Ashelyn turns one month, and the Sunday before that is my birthday. I must be getting old, because I’m as nervous as I am excited, worrying about how Ashelyn will handle a two-hour drive, and how do I pack for a one-month-old? And will she annoy the people in neighbouring hotel rooms at night? I don’t want them giving me dark looks in the morning.

On Friday, at three weeks, you weighed in at NINE POUNDS. That’s a gain of two pounds in two weeks! Clearly you are a rockstar.

So far, you don’t seem to be a huge fan of baths. The first time, you freaked right out. Since then you’ve been calmer, but still kind of nervous-looking. As with diaper changes, you like being clean, but the cleansing process? Not so much.

Oh, and you aren’t wild about being naked, either.

I can’t keep up with the rate at which your fingernails grow. The scratches along my neckline testify to that.

Sometimes we’ll know you’re hungry, yet you won’t eat. In fact the nipple will be IN YOUR MOUTH, and you’ll still be rooting around like a crazed woodpecker. This is, admittedly, hilarious, and I have no qualms about laughing at you. But then you become frustrated and start crying, and I’ll worry that you’ve suddenly forgotten how to latch or something. We’re slowly figuring that whenever this scenario plays out, you either (1) are gassy and need to burp or fart, or (2) have a dirty diaper and want it changed. Only then will you settle down and nurse. You are one particular little lady.

Speaking of nursing, you’re always hungry when I’M eating. So you interrupt my sleep AND my meals. What’s up with that?

You’re outgrowing your smallest onesies!

2. Clean laundry doesn’t stay clean.

Spit-up on the bedsheet, pee on the change pad cover, and always when they’ve just been washed. Call me OCD, but this drives me NUTS. (Hey, I figure if I go to the trouble of cleaning something, it should at least stay clean for a while!)

Milk stains are the worst. Nursing pads don’t help when I’m actually nursing. If for any reason Ashelyn is slow to latch, or unlatches in the middle of a feed, I leak on my bras and shirts, and occasionally the sheets and sofa cushions. Often she’ll help by getting her hands in the way and smearing milk all over her face and clothes, too. I’ve since made sure that there are burp cloths and blankets scattered strategically around the house, but still. Sometimes I leak through them.

1. The cumulative weight of unsolicited opinion.

“If she’s feeding that often, it means she’s not getting enough milk.” “If she’s feeding so long, she’s not getting enough milk.” “You should get that jaundice checked out by the doctor.” “Spitting up? Her digestive system must be immature.” “Are you sure her neck is okay at that incline?” “Stay in bed – if you strain your back now you’ll suffer from arthritis later.” “Her poop is runny. It’s diarrhea!” “Don’t eat that, it’ll dry up your milk supply.” “Those diapers are too big for her; they’ll cause bow-leggedness!”

People mean well, I know. But is this really what a new mother needs to hear? Don’t I have enough on my plate without worrying about medically unfounded things?

That’s why I like my midwives. They are REASSURING.

* I wouldn’t say that Ashelyn is a difficult baby. Look, I have time to blog, and the house is clean! (Though Kevin has taken over all the cooking, bless him.)

* Ashelyn hates being in a dirty diaper. But she isn’t fond of diaper changes either, especially if they take too long.

* We get three-hour stretches of sleep at night, which is great. I don’t even feel particularly sleep-deprived … yet. Kevin requires more sleep to function than I do, though, so he’ll usually nap sometime during the day.

* My belly button actually protruded MORE the first few days after birth than during pregnancy, but now it’s an innie again. No stretch marks, but the linea nigra is this really noticeable stripe. And WHOA, belly flab. It’s not half so bad anymore, but it was a deflated balloon that first day. Is it shallow of me to miss my four-pack?

* I got pooped on yesterday. Some milestone has been reached.

You like having your hands up around your face, pretty much the way they were at your twenty-week ultrasound. (Thanks for getting them out of the way during birth!)

You’re astonishingly quiet and sweet and sleepy when we have people over. You seem to enjoy being surrounded by conversation and ambient noise. We never have to walk on eggshells when you’re sleeping.

You sleep for longer stretches during the day than at night. You sleep for longer stretches while being held than in your bassinet or crib.

Your fingernails are exquisite, but they grow faster than I can find opportunity to file them down.

I thought holding your head up was a one-month milestone, but you’ve been doing it for some time already. And I thought your smiles might be gas-related, but now you’re laughing!

You snort when you cry.

* Ashelyn slept through most of her first day. They say to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” but I was hopped up on adrenaline and only managed to nap for an hour and a half of the eight hours she slept following the birth.

* The first two nights were rough (I didn’t get more than one stretch of sleep lasting over an hour), but we’re getting the hang of things and the rest have been much better.

* Kevin is smitten. Can you say “daddy’s girl”?

* My milk came in, and thank God for nursing pads or I’d be leaking all over the place. Breastfeeding stung for the first few days, especially the latchings, but is now going awesome. And my boobs have grown three cup sizes. I’m not sure what to think about this.

* The only times Ashelyn doesn’t breastfeed like a champ is when she’s having a meltdown. We’ve had a couple of those. Happens when she’s crying so hard she becomes frantic and can’t latch. Silly munchkin – but the girl can get ANGRY.

* My feet are sweaty. I don’t sweat much in general, so I’d qualify this as my oddest postpartum symptom.

* Ashelyn makes the most adorable puppy sounds – little squeaks and pants and whimpers. She’s also really smiley (though like I said, it could be gas).

* As of yesterday’s check-up, Ashelyn has a very slight touch of jaundice on her face (not enough to warrant any concern) and milia on her nose. But no newborn acne, and she’s gained 70 grams (2.5 ounces) on her birth weight, both unusual according to the midwife.

* Yesterday was our first visitor-free day, not counting a visit from our midwife. We actually had five sets of visitors the first day. Probably unadvisable, but Ashelyn was angelic throughout, and we’re touched that so many people love her.

In hindsight, it might’ve started on Thursday, with what they call “bloody show.” I figured it was my mucous plug. Kevin paged the midwife on call, who assured us about changes in the cervix and mentioned that I might go into labour that weekend.

There was “bloody show” a few more times that day, but nothing else unusual. A ton of braxton-hicks.

I started feeling contractions that night. Turns out they were shaped similarly to the braxton-hicks, a slow clenching of the uterus, but whereas the braxton-hicks were painless these were accompanied by a bit of a burn – just under the threshold of what I would consider pain. Actually, I wasn’t positive they were contractions, but they came regularly enough that I began timing them around 2:40AM.

We had instructions to contact our midwife once contractions had been 1 minute long and 3 minutes apart over the course of 2 hours. From 2:40 to almost 4:00, mine were roughly a minute long and 4-6 minutes apart. Then I stopped timing them in favour of trying to sleep, except there wasn’t enough time in between contractions for me to fall asleep. Also, munchkin was having a dance party and kept headbutting my bladder. I must’ve used up half a roll of toilet paper that night.

I woke Kevin up around 5:20AM. Of course, he insisted on calling our midwife. I told Kat the contractions were “bearable,” and she said to give it another hour. By 6:30AM they were measuring in at 3 minutes apart, so Kevin paged again. Kat told him to call her when I could no longer speak through contractions, and that she’d be ready to come over when he did.

At that point I had no desire to talk during contractions anyway, though I figured I still could, especially at their tail ends. The first half required some … focus.

They got worse fairly quickly. I told Kevin to call Kat in at 7:20AM. By then I had to stop what I was doing (getting dressed, packing toiletries for the hospital bag) and clutch at items of furniture. At the same time I was wondering about my progress in terms of dilation, effacement, and station (Kat had offered to check at our last appointment, but I’d declined because I thought IT WAS EARLY). What if I was only, like, three centimetres dilated? I remember bracing myself for several more hours of this.

And then it got surreal.

I don’t know how I knew it was a good idea to head for the bathroom. Somehow I thought I’d feel better sitting on the toilet? Then all of a sudden I was making these weird growly noises, and Kevin was all, “Are you okay?” and I had to tell him to stop asking me such an irrelevant question.

He got Kat on the phone; she was on her way but stuck in traffic (there was also a mix-up where initially she had my parents’ address instead of ours). “Do you feel pressure low in your pelvis?”

“… yes.”

“Do you feel like you need to push?”

It hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you mention it: “YES.” Followed by two sets of growly noises.

So, change of plans – head to the hospital and Kat would meet us there. Except then I couldn’t get up, much less sit in a car.

They talk about “popping out a baby,” but in my case it was almost literal. The head just kind of popped out. None of us were expecting that. It didn’t even hurt, really, at least not that I remember. Kevin says he was freaking out, but it must’ve been mostly internal, since he seemed calm enough for someone who wanted to stay on the “other end” of the birthing action. Although in an effort to reassure him I did say something along the lines of, “It’s okay, I think the hardest part is supposed to be over now.”

(When Kevin recounted this part of the story, the other midwife thought it was hilarious.)

So we’re looking at each other all, NOW WHAT? The head was kind of purple and still, though I could still feel movement from the body. Kevin’s cell phone record shows a frantic call to Kat at 7:47AM (“The head is out! I don’t know what to do!”) and a 911 call at 7:51AM.

In those four minutes, as per Kat’s instructions, I pushed the rest of the baby out (more “slip” than “pop” that time) and Kevin called an ambulance. After catching the baby.

And it’s a girl! (Which means 95% of people guessed wrong. Told you all those indicators are myths.) Ashelyn Vienna, born March 30 at 7:50AM. I misquoted her birth weight, actually – it was 2870 grams (6.3 pounds).

Two paramedics arrived. They clamped and cut the umbilical cord, supplied us with lots of blood-absorbing sheet protector things, and helped move me to a stretcher. (First time on a stretcher!) Kat arrived, delivered the placenta (it reminded me of a jellyfish), did all the post-birth stuff. And she declared that I DID NOT TEAR. I was afraid of tearing in the same way I’m afraid of c-sections, so yay!

The paramedics wanted to take us to the hospital, but Kat maintained it wasn’t necessary, since everything they’d do there she could do in our home. Thus I missed my first chance at an ambulance ride.

Today is day six as a family of three. Ashelyn lost her umbilical cord stump yesterday and is already 2.5 ounces over her birth weight. She smirks and grins, though maybe it’s gas. Kevin and I want to thank everyone for the kind words, the chicken soups, the outpouring of support. We feel so very blessed and so very well loved.