11.29.2007

Transitions, Part II

My second daughter was born one week ago.

My dad died ten weeks ago.

Despite my fiercest hopes and wishes, I was not able to tell him about the birth of his third granddaughter. I wrote about my hope, but based on how relentlessly the disease progressed right before his death, I realize now how far off that possibility really was.

But I’ve been thinking about him a lot. Of course I have.

I get the feeling that everybody has been watching me a little closer than necessary, wondering if the birth of my child would truly bring home the reality of the death of my father. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that my midwives were concerned about PPD, but they stayed close at hand for the first five days, knowing so well that post-birth emotions and hormones can get to a girl, especially one who may be mourning the loss of both a parent and a birth plan.

The thing is, I am feeling my dad’s presence more than his absence right now.

When we had to make the scary and disappointing decision to deliver via c-section, I thought about all the scary and disappointing medical decisions my dad had to make. When I was walking around with an IV attached to my hand, I thought about the many times over the 8 months that he was ill that my dad had a tube attached to his body. Sometimes his IV was delivering sustenance and medicine, but sometimes it was poison.

He endured agonizing tests that yielded unfavourable results over and over again. But he didn’t complain about having to go through it.

I thought about why I was experiencing my discomfort and why he experienced his. I drew strength and perspective from these thoughts.

I thought very clearly about why I was there, and what I was getting out of the experience.

I am not mourning the loss of my perfect birth expectations. I am celebrating the birth of my perfect child.

My dad would be proud of me. He would have been worried, and happy and proud of me.

He would have loved this child; this child that snorts and grunts and squeals like a little piglet, and makes faces when she sleeps and gazes wide-eyed when she’s awake.

He would have loved her name. It would have made him smile and probably shake his head a bit, in acknowledgement that her name is so us. That it is so her. He would understand why we decided not to name her after him. He would understand that it was too soon, that he was still too present for us to place his absence so symbolically on this tiny child. And if we had, he would have been embarrassed, tried to convince us not to.

He won’t know her, and I could cry ten thousand tears over this painful fact. But she will know him. She will know him from pictures and stories and music and favourite places.

I don’t know if I can say that I look at my daughter and see my father. Maybe as she grows I will see aspects of him in her behaviour or expressions or habits. I hope I can teach her the things that he taught me, like patience and tolerance and how to understand hockey stats. And if his lousy sense of direction skips a generation, well, that’s ok too.


once upon a time



***

11.26.2007

Born To Me

Well, she’s here. Thankfully, blissfully, finally here. And if her entrance into this world is any indication, she’s gonna be trouble.

If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that best-laid plans are simply that, and that there are no guarantees.

Like a baby remaining head-down at 41 weeks and 2 days gestation. Apparently, in my grand naivety, I thought we had this one in the bag.

I woke up Wednesday morning early, sad to have to say goodbye to my sister and niece who, after a nearly 3-week stay had to travel back to BC to fulfill a previously-made commitment. Seems naivety runs in my family, as my sister was sure that this child would have made her entrance by then. Ensconced in panic that our labour/childcare support plans A, B and C was walking out the door, we hastily implemented plan D, and Chris’ mom was on a train to Toronto within the hour. My sister joked that more than sex, spicy food or acupuncture, her stepping on a plane would surely be our successful method of labour induction. She wasn’t far off.

That afternoon, as Chris and Bee headed to the train station to pick up my mother-in-law, I went to my scheduled midwife appointment. We joked about some of the non-traditional induction methods we might think of implementing as Tracy, my midwife, felt my belly. Abruptly, the joking stopped and Tracy looked at me more seriously than she had throughout this or my previous pregnancy with her.

‘She’s transverse again.’

Oh, good Christ on the cross, I thought, this child is so grounded when she’s born.

After much palpating, consultation and discussion with all of the midwives in the clinic, Tracy sent me home for a vigorous walk with Chris. She would be back at my place in a couple of hours, and we would map out next steps then.

So off we go, in the pouring, cold rain, to try to walk this baby back into head-down position. We had already discussed the possible courses of action and outcomes, so really, the time we were given was pretty much just to come to peace with what lay ahead. At that point, only one thing was pretty certain – this was not going to be the birth we had expected.

Sure enough, Tracy’s visit revealed no new information, and we headed to the hospital for a consultation with an OB. The only time I had ever been in this particular hospital was to register for each of my births, and though I can see the place from my bedroom window, I certainly never expected that one day I would be looking out the window of the hospital back at my house.

In triage we met the on-call OB, a warm, straightforward doctor originally from Africa, who went over the options that Tracy had alluded to. Really, this whole part was a ruse, designed to make me and Chris feel as though we actually had options. We didn’t. Well, we did. We could choose to wait for or implement a couple of risky things that would most likely end in an emergency c-section, or we could plan for a c-section now, and at least enjoy the benefits of controlling as many of the circumstances as possible. It didn’t take long for us to let them know our ‘choice.’

The next 4 hours were completely surreal. Even though I was now well on my way to delivering via c-section, I had a really hard time realizing that it was me that would have to actually go through it. As the IV was set up and inserted, as we walked the hallways with the drip, waiting to be summoned to the OR, as Chris was taken away to be gloved, gowned and masked and as I was prepped for and administered a spinal block, I had this weird sensation that this was just all part of some third-person narrative, and that this was not actually happening to me.

The morphine helped. Stupidly, I thought it was the oxygen going up my nose that was making me kind of giddy, and I remember remarking that it was obvious why people liked going to oxygen bars. I believe it was the anesthesiologist that said, ‘Oh, they don’t get what you’re getting at the oxygen bar!’

So Chris came in, the surgery began, and so did the puking. I’m a puker. It actually had a pretty good distraction factor, and I don’t really recall much sensation of the surgery because of it. Or maybe that was the morphine.

At any rate, our baby was born healthy and purple at 1:37 am, the news of which I believe I reacted to by barfing. She had a good rubbing by my midwives, and then was able to enjoy skin-to-skin contact with Chris, which I think was really wonderful for him, and helped him recover from looking over the sheet just a little too early and peering into a pool of my blood with a purple leg sticking out.

The next couple of hours, also blurry, due to the rush of hormones, and well, morphine, but I do remember a few things about being in recovery. I remember ice chips, and I remember the baby practically crawling up my chest to latch herself onto my boob, and I remember Chris holding the little blue trough over the baby’s head so that I could puke without disturbing her first meal.

The hospital stay was not as bad as I had anticipated a hospital stay being, and improved greatly once a private room became available after the first night. The nurses were attentive, and for the most part very warm and considerate of both the fact that I was a midwife’s client and the fact that I intended to make informed decisions, but I still managed to piss a few of them off. Like after the decision not to allow them to bathe the baby after 8 hours on the outside, and the decision to not allow them to repeat the jaundice blood test after the first, administered with the PKU, did not yield enough blood to get results. You poke my baby 3 times already and leave a bruise on her heel and you are not my friend. You’re not coming back for more.

I also pissed off a night nurse who didn’t like my latch. She woke us up in the middle of the night to check temp/blood pressure for the millionth time, and at that point the baby was pretty much asleep on the boob, after having nursed for a good half hour previously. She was slipping off already, and the nurse was concerned that she was too high up on the nipple. I insisted that she was ok, that I was in no pain, and that this was just fine for a baby that had just been nursing lying down for a while. The nurse clucked at me and left, and Chris made a joke that she was going to sic a lactation consultant on us. I balked, but sure enough, at 8 am the next morning, there was a knock on the door and in walked Lori, the lactation consultant. I happened to be nursing at that point, and her visit was a very short one, especially when I told her that I had just weaned my firstborn 5 months prior.

Rest assured that although I viewed this as a minor, humourous annoyance, I am impressed and happy that so much effort is made to ensure breastfeeding success. I’m just not used to someone second-guessing my mad breastfeeding skillz.

Anyway, I was released on Saturday, early by hospital standards, and again I was thankful that I had my midwives as both advocates for my release and as dedicated caregivers responsible for overseeing my recovery at home.

Home, ahh. It’s better to be here for sure (hospital food really is as bad as everyone says it is, although Bee loved the copious amounts of jello I always saved for her), but the realities of recovering from abdominal surgery are slightly more vivid than they were in the hospital. Apparently I’m healing very well, and Tracy took my staples out today, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by the long road to full recovery. No steps until next week if I can help it, and no picking up Bee for 6 weeks. The pain is manageable, peaking at night or when I sneeze (holy fuck, sneezing hurts), and I’ll milk this for as long as I (or Chris) can manage.

And the baby? Holy mother of sweetness, she is worth any discomfort, any discarded birth plan, any sneeze trauma and any perma-paunch that comes my way. I forgot how tiny, how alien, how fascinating, how miraculous new babies are. As for the bond that I always thought could only come from the anticipation and hormonal rush of early labour; from feeling my body extract my child in an intense choreography of pleasure and pain; from that new baby being placed immediately on my chest; from introducing Bee to her baby sister in the warm, welcoming comfort of the bed that she had also been born in – well, I was wrong about that. I didn’t have any of those things this time, but the result is there. The result is the same, and it is powerful. She is my baby. She was born to me. And she is love.




***

11.23.2007

guess who?


guest post by chris the new dad

who is this?
who's this cute little baby girl who was born Thursday Nov 22nd at 1:37am, at 7pounds 7 ounces?
and why, after all of our most carefully laid plans went all topsy turvy, is she giving us the finger?

kgirl will be back on the weekend with the full story.

11.18.2007

I Must Have Been An Elephant In a Previous Life

Still freaking pregnant.

But having good contractions. Won't post again until the baby is here, but rest assured, we have now tried EVERYTHING.

xok


***

11.16.2007

I Love You. Get Out.

Hey, so if you’re clicking over because I’m all nice and bold in bloglines, and you figure this must be baby news,

Psyche!

The only news I have is that there is no baby yet. The title of this post is also my continuous mantra to my unborn daughter, and she’s not listening. I used to be all, ‘Hi baby, come out please so that we can love love love you,’ but Lisa B, smart girl that she is, convinced me that I might need to take a bit more of a hardline approach.

Since I am technically only 3 days late today, my midwives and I are not even discussing interventions, but so far, spicy food, accupuncture and long walks on the beach (seriously) have not coerced this babe from my uterus. I must be one hell of a comfy incubator. Or maybe this is just a super-mellow child who sees no need to rush her introduction to the world. Yes, let’s go with that.

Anyway, the circumstances did allow for me and Chris to go out for a wonderful sushi dinner for his 32nd birthday last night. (Happy birthday love! Don’t worry internets, I didn’t eat raw fish.) However, he was kind of hoping that he’d get a new baby for his birthday.

And I have had a few good false alarms, and there is so much pressure where there needs to be that I feel like I am already crowning, so I know it’ll happen soon.

It’s just starting to feel like not soon enough.

So, my dear, precious, desired, anticipated baby girl:

I love you. Get out.


***

11.12.2007

Passed Due

So, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see that I am one day away from my actual due date. For all of my bitching and pleading, I’m technically not even overdue yet.

Today, to celebrate the very end of my pregnancy, I thought I would ruminate a bit over the very beginning of my pregnancy. Specifically, conception.

See, Soon-to-Bee, due mid-November, give or take, owes her conception to the year’s (and fertility’s) biggest cliché, Valentine’s Day. Sad but true, Soon-to-Bee more than likely began as a fun, but somewhat obligatory romp between her tired parents; the result of a paternity line that seems to rev up the fertility meter at this time of year – her father and grandfather are both mid-November babies, and though I haven’t traced the lineage further, I suspect Hallmark does pretty big business in my husband’s family on Feb. 14.

How ‘bout you? When you were born? Really, it says quite a bit about whom your parents are. I was thinking of my own birthday, January 6, and realized that it is almost 40 weeks to the day from my parents’ former April 4 anniversary. So my birthday makes perfect sense and my conception was hopefully a communication of love that, truth be told, I rarely glimpsed during my life.

Are there a lot of you born end of September/beginning of October? If so, you must obviously credit your existence to New Year’s revelry and perhaps more than a little bit of the bubbly. Born a little bit earlier in the year and it could be deduced that your parents were indulging in a wee bit of the Christmas cheer when you became a zygote.

Mid-December baby are you? Thank St. Patrick next March for helping your parents get drunk enough to think that it was (or wasn’t, heh heh) the right time of the month.

Are you a Pisces? Perhaps your parents celebrated Flag Day by raising a pole of their own.

Does your birthday fall around the middle of July? You might want to ask for a DNA test to make sure Mom wasn’t being too generous on National Boss Day. And if Mom is the boss, you should definitely get the test.

Birthday at the beginning of September? Blessed with unaccountable gifts such as water-parting, the healing touch, flocking lepers at your door or the ability to spark two thousand years of senseless war? Hmmm – what were your parents doing (or not doing) during Immaculate Conception?

Beginning of May babies (like Bee and many of her friends) make the most sense of course; their conception date?

Labour Day.

***

11.08.2007

Still Pregnant + Devilish Toddler + Houseguests = I'm Just Going to Go Lay Down and Cry

Seriously. Is it not enough that I am 40 weeks pregnant and this little acrobat of mine is insisting on doing somersaults until she is absolutely forced to move head down and y’know, be birthed, keeping her mother in a constant state of second plan-ing, in case my water breaks somewhere stupid like, say, Loblaws, and I must call for an ambulance to haul my on-all-fours, waggling ass to a hospital (shudder) for cord presentation assessment?

Must I also add to the fray a 2 1/2 year old who is channeling the devil (or at least roadrunner) and seems to have gone deaf to my pleading voice for her to please, come back, come here, don’t run away, stay with the group, mummy can’t run after you, please put your shoes on, please put your pants on, please sit for two seconds so I can brush out your rat’s nest of a hairdo, ok, no snack/park/show/train store/special treat for you. (She could care less, by the way. Off she goes.)

How about if I mix in a little bit of visiting sister and niece, who I begged to come and be here for the birth, but right now are baring the brunt of my super-pregnant impatient control-freakyness, because they do things differently than I do, and right now that is simply too much for me to handle graciously. So Jen, my sister that I love and adore and rely on so much, just humour me, and put only beverages on the top shelf of the fridge, and clean up the kitchen as you go instead of leaving it until later, and just let me pack the groceries the way they are supposed to be I would prefer to pack them.

I promise, I promise, once this child finally, finally decides to vacate my body, I will go back to being my only-slightly-insane usual self. Except for on Day 3. Because those Day 3 vacating hormones will get a gal every time. Consider yourself warned.

***

11.02.2007

New Computer! Whoot Whoot

Sorry 'bout the bullets; lots to say and I know my energy ups don't last long...

• I am blogging! From my own computer! My very own, pretty new Imac! Normally I wouldn’t brag, but seriously, this thing is pretty. And I was starting to feel incredibly cut off from the rest of the world. Well, except for the wordwhomping old men. I’m down with those fellas.

• Thank you, oh kind bloggers that are NOT participating in NoGoBloMe or whatever it is called. See, I’s having a baby real, real soon, and there is no chance in hell that I will be able to keep up with those that are participating. I will barely be able to keep up with those that aren’t. I will barely be able to keep up with my friend knitrovert, who posts twice a year.

• I am getting really, really excited to have this baby. This will make many of you hate me, but I am excited to go into labour. I’m planning another homebirth, and my first was what my midwife likes to call ‘efficient.’ As in, 4 hours. That’s it. So, I’m figuring baby #2 should be at least as efficient, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. Oh yeah, and I’m also excited to meet my new child.

• In fact, I’m so ready to have this babe that we’ve started the completely unproven, wives’ tale methods of getting things going. Today, spicy Indian food. Tomorrow we may even try sex. After that, who know? Bumpy roads? Castor oil? My midwife has already offered a Sn’S, but they make me feel yucky, so I’m holding out.

• Not sure if I’m nesting yet. I fluctuate between complete physical exhaustion and doing something stupid like magic-erasering the wall, or organizing the 1001 hair clips that are lying around my house. Nothing practical like cleaning the bathtub or say, finding some clothes for my newborn to wear. True to form, Chris is doing the lion’s share of the childcare and prep work while I go nap.

• Halloween at our house was not nearly the spectacle it has been in the past – Chris, ever-mindful of impending babydom, didn’t want to go all apeshit this year in case the baby came in the middle of things and we end up being those people that leave the decorations out until Easter – but we managed to have fun. Bee was transformed into a freakin cute ladybug, and though she was way too shy to actually go to our neighbours’ houses and trick-or-treat, she had a ball handing out the candy. (photo coming as soon as I can find the dang cord.) I have seriously enjoyed the pictures of all of your little trick-or-treaters, and even if I haven’t had a chance to leave a comment, what I would have said was that your kid(s) is totally adorable.


Burst… of energy… waning… must go lay down…


***