Archive for the ‘adventure’ Category

In early August of last year, I pushed off from the dock at Buntzen Lake in a “bottomless” inflatable dinghy. The weeks leading up to that day had been chillier than usual, so the water was COLD.

Maybe we should head back now … WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “I’M TIRED”?!

I was pregnant at the time; we suspected as much, though it hadn’t been confirmed.* Kevin wasn’t too happy about my risking hypothermia out in the middle of the lake with three other guys, and gave me an earful when we returned.

One year later, here we are again:

This is a very big bath …

It was hot and humid, the lake much warmer, but an oncoming thunderstorm jettisoned my swimming plans.

* So far I’m the only person I know who was too cheap/lazy to take a home pregnancy test.

* 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.

* 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.

Ashelyn Vienna, 6.4 6.3 lbs, born March 30 at 7:50AM. At home, because we never made it to the hospital. And our midwife didn’t make it to us. And Kevin, who has said all along that he wanted to remain on the “head” side of the birthing action, had to help catch the baby.

Hopefully that story will be up soon.

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January is the beginning of my last semester of a two-year Associate of Arts in music. At the end of the month, I miss two of four live sound intensives because Kevin’s friend and fellow financial guru invited us on an eastern Caribbean cruise.

On the docks in St. Maarten.

In February we’re back on the sunny, but cold, West Coast. I miss the tropical islands. I miss ordering two appetizers, two entrées, and three desserts at dinner. I miss the Celebrity Equinox staff. But life goes on.

Studio time in March! I love this place to pieces. Studios and libraries – the best indoor places on earth.

Hello, my lovelies.

April is graduation month. Final papers and projects, exams, recital. I resolve to stop collecting degrees. Then a trip to snowy Manning Park at the end of it all.

Near the end of May, Kevin and I fly to Beijing with my family, then my hometown Changsha, then Lijiang. We spend our third wedding anniversary in Shangri-La, not wholly unaffected by mountain sickness.

My parents, brother, and our singing tour guide.

We’re in Asia for most of June, parting ways with my parents after Hong Kong. They fly home while David joins Kevin and me for two weeks in Taiwan. We stay in hostels, roam night markets, and fraternize with Kevin’s relatives and childhood friends.

Once back in Canada, Kevin and I start house hunting. We’ve lived in a suburban townhouse with his parents and sister for three years, and it’s beyond time for our own place. We move into a cozy little ground level suite in July. Oh, we also stop using condoms (the only form of birth control we’ve ever used).

My period doesn’t come for 45 days, but my cycle is so long that I’ve gone 49 days before. Kevin thinks I’m definitely pregnant. I tell him people don’t always get pregnant on the first try. I eat sashimi and undercooked meat. I swim in a freezing lake. When we finally arrange a doctor’s appointment in August, it turns out that Kevin is right.

August is sprinkled with weddings and a camping trip. I feel, for the most part, fine.

On the dock at Cultus Lake.

Another wedding – Kevin’s sister! – in September. I hear about midwifery and transfer away from the doctor we only saw twice. Midwives are awesome. They don’t scoff at your questions.

I’m teaching piano again in October. I see Priscilla Ahn in concert at the Media Club. I continue growing our mini-Hu.

Munchkin refuses to show us his/her sex at my ultrasound in November. Unexpectedly, we move again, this time to a big old house on the west side. It’s a temporary arrangement; we expect to be here for roughly a year.

December is a flurry of activity, with lots of meet-ups and Christmas events and dinners. Yesterday Kevin and I finally had dinner at home, just the two of us, for the first time in two weeks.

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