Tuesday, August 30, 2011

settling in...again

My miniature daughter is settling in again.  She cried heartily last night, and was very fussy the whole day yesterday, to the point that I became worried that I would never shower/floss/get dressed again.  I can do things with one hand while breastfeeding football style at the same time quite well.  And she likes to latch and stay on the breast non stop when she is hungry or cranky.  Both of which adjectives applied to her yesterday though, as my milk was still in pretty poor supply after my bleeding episode, and it took a while to build it back up.  For the record, I am taking motilium (domperidone) which has never been approved for this usage (breast milk augmentation) but who cares, it works, and it has no side effects in me (it's supposed to cause diarrhea, but with all the iron pills I am taking, it balances out nicely).

Anyway, after a day like yesterday I was a bit worried about the future of my personal hygiene and also about what kind of food can I cook with one hand, I mean one cannot even open a can of tuna with one hand only.  I was ready to google "how to go through life using just one hand" and join some one-handed support groups out there.  Then, miraculously, Emma slept well last night (six hours straight), ate very well the whole day, my milk came in abundantly again, and she is a different child.  She feeds, then she sleeps, we can go for a long walk in the stroller and there is minimal fussing.  I even sorted out my cashmere sweaters today (with both hands!) and took them out of the freezer where I store them in summer, so that the moths don't get them.  Winter is coming up here in the North :(

So that is when I discovered that she is not a fussy child at all, she is just not full enough, and if I don't have enough milk she will cry and tug at my breast like a little kitten until she gets full.  I think it is an instinctual way of stimulating me to produce more prolactin, and hence more milk.  I am so happy when I hear her little gulping sounds, there is nothing that relaxes me more.

I am less of a formula nazi but I still avoid it like the plague if I can.  It constipates her, and gives her cramps, and it made her skin break out during the two days that I was in ICU and then recovering on the ward without her.  On the plus side, it is so quick to feed her a bottle, OMG she gulps it down in three seconds flat and doesn't even burp!  I can totally see the attraction of bottle feeding, especially formula which does not require pumping and takes one second to prepare.  And then keeps her full for hours afterwards.

That being said, it is so sweet to see her sleep at night with her head between my breasts, and to wake up to her kitten face and lip smacking sounds, then to feed her half asleep and to snooze while feeling her tugging at my nipple.  The closeness is unbeatable.  Last night she once again latched on by herself, and I woke up because my nipple was hurting.  I was ready to say to MrH to "stop that, it hurts" thinking that he was up to no good, but then realized that my daughter had found my breast while I was sleeping and was helping herself to a snack.  That was so funny and sweet at the same time.

Life is getting back to normal.  And I am happy to report that I have flossed tonight.

Dolphin face

Sunday, August 28, 2011

living with courage

We are home at last!  Emma is struggling to get full from my breast, and she is sucking almost non stop.  I had a luxurious 5 minute break from her today when I could finally take a shower and put some clothes on, otherwise I spend my whole day and night continuously breastfeeding her.  She is 99% of the time just sleeping with the boob in her mouth, occasionally chewing on it.  I think she needs it for comfort and I cannot deny it to her, it breaks my heart to know that she was without her mommy for two days, and that she almost lost me.

This is a scary thought:  I almost died.  I am lucky to be alive.  I look at my little girl and think of how her life would have been without her mother, and I feel so sad.  I know that she would have had many good people loving her, especially her father, and that she would have been wonderfully taken care of.  I know that she would grow up to be a quality person if that is in her, and with all my motherly instincts I feel that she is kind and loving and sweet-natured, and seems to be very smart.  I am happy to die giving life to her, but nevertheless I feel so sad thinking that she should grow up without this deep bond that we are sharing.

I also feel very sad thinking of MrH having to lose me as well.  The man has lost so many people in his life already, it would have been so cruel for him to lose his wife and best friend, especially now when it looked like we had a little break from trauma and worry and were finally relaxing and sleeping well at night.  We were starting to feel safe.  It will take a couple more weeks to get back there, I think, but we'll get there again.

I keep thinking about all the women who die from pregnancy and post partum causes, one per second in the world.  About how dangerous this baby-making business really is, despite the fact that in my neck of the woods, complications are rare and uneventful deliveries are the norm.  I phoned my retired OB and discussed this whole story with him, and he asked me "why risk your life again" when I mentioned another pregnancy.  However, the risk of this kind of hemorrhage happening again is low, and if there is one decision that I have made after losing Adrian is that I would NEVER live my life in fear.  (That is when I finally allowed MrH to buy a motorcycle, and we had lots of fun riding it.  He still does).

Living life out of a fear place, out of a cautious place, will lead to living less than one is fully capable of. I do not want Emma to know that her mother has not tried to fulfill her dreams because she was afraid of dying.  And she will know.  I want her to live with the example of two parents who go for what they want, even when doing so is bloody scary (no pun intended).

I spoke with my OB in Vancouver as well, and he said that what happened is rare and unlikely to repeat, hence he did encourage me to go for another pregnancy if I want to.  That is reassuring.  Of course, there is a risk of further infertility due to Asherman's syndrome (a consequence of post partum D&C), but I choose to believe that I got to keep my uterus so that I can have another baby.  Otherwise what would have been the point?

Emma, if you ever read this blog when you are older, first of all get a life, what are you doing reading my ramblings?  Just kidding.  I just want you to know you are worth EVERYTHING to me, that I would do it again in a heartbeat to have you.  This road has been all my choice.  And I would like you to  live with courage, and make your own choices always out of hope, not out of fear.  But you are NOT allowed to ride your father's motorcycle!

Friday, August 26, 2011

discharge anxiety

I am deemed fixed and ready to go back tomorrow.  The attending has kept me an extra day just in case.  Today I had some increased serosanguinous discharge, but they assured me that it is to be expected, and that it will fluctuate for a bit, given that the uterus is not completely healed yet.  I  have been told to go to ER back in my home town if I bleed bright red.  Good advice, as really I was planning on just putting my feet up and watching some Oprah in relaxed fashion if that happened. 

So yeah,  I am a bit worried about going home from the city of all possibilities,  Edmonton (and in particular the City of the Uterine Artery Embolization),  but I figure that if I were meant to die I would have died already.  Perhaps it is not my time yet.


From the Merck manual of veterinary medicine:
SIPS is abnormal repair of the endometrial placental sites. This disorder is most common in young bitches (<3 yr old) after whelping a first litter. Bitches with SIPS are normal except for hemorrhagic uterine discharge passing from the vulva for several weeks postpartum. Diagnosis is by exclusion; differentials include metritis, vaginitis, and cystitis. Treatment is supportive. Ovariohysterectomy is recommended for bitches that become anemic enough to require transfusion and for bitches not intended for future breeding.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

update from the land of the still alive

Emma got here today and the poor soul latched on my breast at 1 pm and she has not let go until 6 pm, when she took an hour break for a nap, then back on.  I was worried badly that she would not take the breast, since she was on formula for the whole time we were separated, but she still remembers how to latch, she does not mind that my  milk is slightly bitter from the large doses of IV clindamycin, and I am still making enough milk for her (although of course what she used to get in 20 minutes she must now work for a couple of hours to extract...).  My mom told me that yesterday before bedtime she took 150 mL.  Well, on my best pumping sessions I was not able to express more than 50 ml in almost one hour.  So, big difference. 

She is also quite constipated, another side effect from the formula that I hope the breast milk will rectify quickly.  My breasts are finally feeling empty and soft.  The cracks have healed in the two days of pumping, and as a bonus  I know now that she will easily take a bottle which I can easily pump for her, and then happily go back to the breast with no fuss.  She does not seem to have nipple confusion.  My mom also convinced her to take the soother for about ten minutes at a time, which is progress. 

It is so good to be alive.  I read more about this subinvolution of the placental site, there is an article that explains it as abnormal healing of the placental attachment,  where the uterine lining should reform normal blood vessels but instead it continues to behave as if still pregnant and stays raw.  Less than  1% of women have a delayed post partum hemorrhage, and of course a small number of these are due to this particular complication, more due to infection or retained products of conception.  Half of all the women that bleed from this condition end up with a hysterectomy, because of the ineffectiveness of the dilation and curettage.  I take the fact that I kept my uterus as a sign that am extremely lucky, and that perhaps God would like me to have another baby someday.  First, I have to give the docs time to recover from the shock.  Apparently when the plane came to get me they were giving each other a group hug and trying to recover from the mental trauma.

Holy Cow, I nearly died

I nearly died of a very bad post partum hemorrhage on Tuesday.  I  am now in Edmonton, in the women's hospital (Louis Blot or something like that), and will try to tell the story as best as I can, but might give more details later, as I am still shell-shocked.

On Monday I remember having a gush of fresh blood on the pad, despite the fact that I had been without bleeding for a couple of days and was just spotting at that time.  I had not had much bleeding after the C section, and in fact remember wearing white pants that day and going to the mall.  While I was at the mall I bled over the white pants, and had to come home, and changed four more pads that day.  Then, at night, another couple of pads. 

The  next day the bleeding had stopped in the morning, and I remember being happy about that because my hemoglobin was 94 when I got out of the hospital and I was worried about losing more blood.  At lunch however, I was on the phone with a water filter company, trying to get a new filter for our ovopur system, and I felt a big gush of fresh bright red blood.  I hang up the phone, grabbed two towels, and bled through both in what looked like one minute.  I was gushing and gushing.  I felt faint, and lied on the floor, with a third towel between my legs.  I called my husband, who initially did not answer, so I called 911.  Both my husband and the ambulance came at the same time.  I was very hypotensive, probably mostly because of all the bleeding making me vasovagal at that point.  I say this because my pulse was low, and usually when one is hypotensive because of volume loss, the pulse goes high in an attempt to compensate. 

Anyway,  I crawled to the door and waited for the ambulance, who took me to the hospital.  Initially nobody realized how bad it was and they thought I had lost about three cups of blood in total.  My hemoglobin was still around 90, but they had not given me any fluids yet, so the number was of course not accurate, since my blood volume was constricted.  In the ER I continued to  bleed, slower but passing clots the size of a fist.  I  had an ultrasound that showed that my uterus was full of clot.  We had no OB GYN town at this point, so one of the GP's that does dilations and curettages agreed to take me to the OR to evacuate the uterus.  I got a general anesthetic, went to the OR, got the uterus evacuated (mainly of clot, there was not much retained product) and got some misoprostol.  When I came out of the OR,  I started shivering and developped a high fever, which now we realize that was from the misoprostol, but at the time it looked like an infection starting to brew in my uterus.  I got antibiotics IV (cefuroxime,  flagyl and gentamycin) and we waited.  I was getting sicker and weaker.  My hemoglobin continued to drop to 65, my uterus filled up with blood again and was the size of a 20 week pregnancy.  I had to go to the operating room again for a second evacuation.  This time, once I got put to sleep, I did not wake up in my home town,  but in Edmonton, at the Royal  Alexandra intensive care unit, intubated.  I remember trying to write on a piece of paper "where am I?" while I still had the breathing tube in.  I also remember feeling very uncomfortable with the tube in, but I was very edematous (swollen) from all  the resuscitation fluid and the multiple transfusions that I got (I received five or six units of red cells and two units of plasma in total, and would have needed several units of platelets too but my little hospital doesn't have platelets, so my coagulation system was a bit out of whack).  Later, they extubated me, and told me what happened (part of the story I got from MrH  who drove halfway to Edmonton and then flew the other halfway when he  realized that he was a danger on the road from tiredness and stress). 

So apparently they took me to the OR a second time and evacuated 1.5 liters of blood from the uterus, but the uterus would not contract at all and kept on bleeding profusely.  The first GP called another GP in to help, and together they put manual pressure on the uterus for two hours, but it would still not stop bleeding.  They were transfusing me and giving me fluids and the blood pressure would still not come up,  as I kept on bleeding.  At one point, they asked MrH if it would be ok if they did a hysterectomy.  This was a last resort, both because I would lose the uterus, and because neither of the two GP s had done a hysterectomy in a million years.  They both have the ability to do c sections, but a hysterectomy on a large boggy  bleeding uterus is a difficult procedure, so I can only imagine how desperate they must have been that I was dying to prepare for the hysterctomy.  In the meantime, they were also trying to organize transfer for me to a place that had platelets, and an obs-gyn, and preferably the ability to do a uterine artery embolization instead of separating me from my temperamental uterus.   Edmonton accepted me, and they transferred me intubated, with the transfer team holding pressure on my uterus the entire time.  By the  time I got to Edmonton, I had stopped bleeding, and they put me in ICU and eventually extubated me when the edema got less. 

I woke up in this gorgeous hospital, with no possessions or clothes or shoes, and a face that was so swollen that I did not recognize myself.  My eyelashes were shorter than the thickness of my eyelids.  I have not bled since, and gradually my face became more like my own.  When the attending physician saw me this morning, she nearly did not recognized me, that's how much I had changed.  I miss Emma and arranged for my mom to bring her today, as I did not know how long I would be in here.  But it looks like I might be  discharged tomorrow.  I will stick around in Edmonton for the weekend, just in case,  but they think that I will not rebleed.  The ob gyn thinks I have a rare condition called subinvolution of the placental site, where the placental site does not contract properly.  When asked her how rare, she said that she sees  about one every couple of  years at this large referral centre.  Once again, I am left wondering why all these rare things are happening to me.  But we'll dissect the philosophical details later, for now I just want to get better and am glad that I am alive, as I came very close to dying this time.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I am starting to settle into a nice routine with Emma and the rest of my family.  She cluster feeds in the evenings, then sleeps very well, with two-three feeds at night evenly spaced.  I wake up quite rested at 10 am or so, and feed her first thing in the morning, then bathe her (in the sink, we still don't have a tub), then feed her again, then I wash and have breakfast while mom holds her.  I don't know what I will do when mom is gone, as Emma is little miss social in the mornings and will not simply sleep by herself.  I have decided to take her out for a quick walk around the block every morning after my breakfast, as I need to get used to maneuvering her and the stroller.  She starts out in the stroller, sleeps a little, then gets hungry (she cluster feeds in the mornings too) and wants some boob.  So I end up holding the baby on the breast with one hand, and pushing the empty stroller with the other hand :)

Everybody is telling me that I am spoiling her because I keep her on the breast when she starts crying or is upset.  But I think that there is nothing more natural.  Why is it that most of baby rearing advice goes against the grain of what babies want to do?  Babies know what is right for them, and Emma likes to snuggle up to my warm body and sleep with my boob in her mouth, then so be it, that is why I am taking time off work so that I can supply these basic needs for her full time.  Hopefully by January, when she is 6 months old, she will naturally want some independence...otherwise I am in trouble, as I have to go back to work then, at least half-days.

The other issue is the introduction of bottles or soothers:  I don't want any artificial nipples near her, as I struggled hard to forge a good breastfeeding relationship.  She had trouble latching and I don't want to backtrack any of my efforts.  The soother (pacifier) she spits out in any case, so I don't think we'll be using it anytime soon.  The bottles are not necessary until I go back to work, and even then she will be eating some solids so it won't be all that needed for the brief time in the afternoons that I will be gone.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Little feet

protective instincts

There is a big difference between the iphone and the SLR camera after all.  I am a big fan of iphone pictures, because they are so easy to do and to post, but hey, if I have the extra time, it looks like the SLR is awesome, especially when accompanied by the newly borrowed/hijacked 50 mm lens that was MrH's and still is but is now held hostage by my sweaty paws...

Today I got too ambitious and then got overwhelmed and then I cried.  I went shopping to the local grocery store with the stroller and the baby.  Emma wanted to eat the whole day today, and then she kept on falling asleep at the boob, so I think she never got full, hence she wanted to eat some more soon after.  So I had to breastfeed in the store, and I get a bit stressed out because I expect of myself to be all natural and not embarrassed about baring my breasts in public (in BC it is legal to do it anywhere, and you don't have to cover up, which is why I have decided not to hide breastfeeding behind a screen like it is a bad thing), and then I had to push the stroller with one hand while holding Emma with the other and trying to protect her against the very fierce wind that kept on blowing the stroller off to one side and the blankets off her on the way back from the store.  And, to top it off, one of the cashiers came to hug her/hold her, without asking for permission, she was going to grab her in the infinite excitement of seeing such a small baby, when I politely pointed out that she was attached to my breast.  I felt ATTACKED!  I keep on telling people that she is too young to be held by the whole tribe, at the moment I don't want to overwhelm her with smells and sounds and viruses from everybody, when she has a couple more weeks on board it will be a different story.  

Anyway, I got home and cried and talked to MrH about how hard it is to go shopping with Emma as I don't have enough hands to breastfeed her and hold her and shop and push the stroller or the cart.  So we decided that until she is quite a bit older, and does not need to be fed so frequently, I am not going to take her to the grocery store.  I also feel like protecting her against people who are too excited and want to hold her, so I am going to only take her out around the block, not in very busy places, trying to avoid situations like today.  I think my instinct is to bunk up and protect my baby at this point, so I am going to do just that.  

Thankfully my mom is here for another three weeks, and she is very helpful.  She can do the grocery shopping for now.  I think I was expecting too much of myself.  I am already making pancakes with one hand while breastfeeding, I think if it could be done I would have been able to do it, but it frays my nerves too much, so I will give both myself and Emma a break from the public places.  

As far as day 12 of life goes, Emma is starting to treat me differently from the other family members.  She stops crying when I hold her, and whimpers with a different tone of voice, like trying to communicate to me.  She keeps her eyes open much more often and for longer periods of time while breastfeeding, and looks around interested.  She also smiles a lot, but probably as a reflex, while as today I think she smiled on purpose while I was blowing raspberries on her soft belly.  

And I am completely in love with her feet.  They are so cute and tiny.  I think I will spend a couple of hours photographing them (with the stolen/hijacked lens, of course).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

day 11

Life is so sweet and smooth.  Emma is now taking the breast with very little fuss, and she sleeps well in between feeds.  She is actually a very "good" baby by general standards, I would be happy with her anyway, but I am definitely a better person after a good night's sleep.

I sleep MUCH better now with a newborn than I did during my last trimester of pregnancy.  The restless legs are gone, and I can fall asleep easily next to her.  We are continuing to sleep in the same bed, and all three of us like it.  If you remember, I had initially ordered a crib that I fell in love with, the Stokke Sleepi crib, and I had found a site in the US that was a couple of hundred dollars cheaper.  This was in June.  In August they emailed me to tell me that it will be another couple of months until they ship it.  At that point I had decided to listen to MrH, who had prior experience with his offspring not wanting to sleep in a crib, and I got a king size bed (and cancelled the crib purchase).  Then, for some reason, I got anxious about all the home renovations that needed to be done to accommodate the king size bed (aka covering some holes in the walls, getting matching paint, etc), and cancelled the king size bed, reordering the crib again from a site in Vancouver.  Now, after I brought her home, and slept with her in our bed, and feel so very very happy doing it, I have decided that no crib is necessary, and cancelled the crib, then... bought another king size bed.  This time I am not cancelling it.  I actually just got an organic mattress and box spring, and because it was organic, it was expensive, and I don't have any money left over for a proper bed, so I am buying a metal frame, and the actual bed will come in time (like when I go back to work).  I am only giving this detailed account to illustrate how indecisive my post partum brain can be.

Totally unrelated is the fact that I went to buy jeans yesterday, and I could not find anything in the regular store to fit me!!!!!!!!!! I had to buy a pair of stretchy high waist jeans from ... THE PLUS SIZE STORE.  I am officially obese.  And I don't feel unhappy at all.  I just feel beautiful and normal.  If it weren't for Emma and this insane happiness that I am floating in, I would have been devastated.  But like this, I just shrug and eat less.  And it's all going to sort itself out.  I can't believe how relaxed about life I can be with my little kitten sleeping on my chest.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

day 8

I promise to never eat pizza again if it means that I will not have the night that I had last night with Emma.  She cried and was cranky and had cramps until about 4 am, when she finally fell asleep.  Then she woke up on the dot at 8 am, and we had an appointment for newborn pictures with our local photographer.  She was fresh as a daisy and I looked like a truck runneth me over.

The first hour of the appointment we spent feeding, as she could not stop eating.  The next half an hour we spent crying.  Then feeding again.  Somewhere in there, we snuck in some beautiful photos.  My mom and grandma were there as well, and they were horrified that she was naked for so long (the place was colder than the house).  In Romania babies are bundled up very well, with hats and blankets and swaddles, and definitely nakedness in baby is sure to cause meningitis or some other crap.  So they spent the whole day giving me fleck for it.  Such a difference of opinions and habits.  I mean this baby lives in Northern Canada, I cannot fear cold all that much with her.  I made sure she was not hypothermic, and when we got home I snuggled in with her warmly and we slept for a long time, but I don't think the session was too traumatic, except, you know, for the photographer who said she had not seen such a cranky baby in a long time.  I think of her as feisty, and I told the photographer that she is not cranky, she just has a long long list of things that she does not like.  And a short list of things that she likes:  THE BOOB.

Will post pictures soon.  They have turned out adorable.

Lillypadz are not perfect but we still love them

This no crib thing is working out well for us. This is how we sleep. We love it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 7

I am writing these blog posts as much for me and for the others, as well as for Emma, I want her to have it when she grows up in case she cares.  I am also going to make a video of her making a fuss with the feedings so that I can play it at her wedding.  She is so incredibly cute, making little angry kitten sounds and hitting me with her fists, bobbing her head into my breast, etc.  Last night we had a 45 min episode of trying to latch over and over again, and I enjoyed it immensely to see how much more relaxed we both are about this difficulty we are having.  I am laughing at her and talking to her, and she cries and "talks" to me back, in a sort of upset and pissed off fashion that I find hilarious, and happen to think would make very good wedding material later on.  In any case, today she latched on flawlessly the entire day, and other than last night the rest of the time was spent in a way that really gives me hope that breastfeeding might possibly be pleasant after all.

Before I had Emma, in my last trimester, I was reading a lot of books on cosleeping versus crib sleeping, and of course know all the rules about avoiding SIDS, such as always put them to sleep on their back, sleep with them in your room until about 6 months, but preferably not on the same bed, avoid pillows and blankets that might suffocate them, etc.  I was so paranoid when I brought her home that the first morning when I woke up I was half expecting to find her not breathing and suffocated by some pillow or other unknown danger in my bed.  We have a queen size bed, and I lay her to sleep with us, as we still don't have a crib or a bassinet.  Actually, the reason I do it is not that, it is because I cannot bear to be separated from her little body for so long.  I think I am going to cry when she will demand to sleep in her own bed at the age of 20.  Just kidding.

Anyway, so my habit is to lay her on my side of the bed, and then MrH and I try to squeeze ourselves on his half.  Just so that I don't accidentally roll over her or something.  Well, last night was different.  I gave her to MrH to put her to sleep, as he likes to chat with her and kiss her and generally adore her from head to toe before bedtime.  When she fell asleep, he wrapped her up and put her to bed... on her stomach!  I nearly fainted.  I told him about all the books on SIDS and the fact that putting baby to sleep prone is anathema, and he shrugged and said that all his previous kids slept on their tummies all the time, and that if she is comfortable there is no reason to panic about it.  She had bad stomach cramps as her stools are becoming poopy, instead of meconium, and I must say that the stomach sleeping helped her with the cramps.  Of course I looked at MrH crooked and I said "you do realize that I am going to be awake all night watching her breathing if you do that" and he informed me casually "that's your problem".  That is when I talked to him about my fear of the pillows and blankets and all dangers lurking in our bed, and he  said two things that absolutely made sense:  one is that she needs a very small amount of oxygen, so even if our very light comforter falls over her face she will still have lots of oxygen left to breathe.  The second thing is that if something bothers her, she will move and I will notice.  Both of those things made sense to me, and I relaxed instantly about the whole blanket/pillow/rolling over her thing.  Which lead to an excellent night's sleep for everybody: she slept with her head right between my breasts, and breastfed while I dozed off, she was nicely warm (for the first time she had warm hands when I slept with her glued to my body), and MrH had lots of room to sleep like a normal person.  And we all woke up happy.  Except, of course, I turned her on her side as soon as MrH started snoring.  Hehehe (insert evil laugh).

The charm of a hat too big.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 6

How can I love this little soul so much?  I love her so much that I want to sleep with her hand in my mouth to warm it up.  I curl up like an animal around her and smell her sweet head for hours.  I want to kiss her little scrunched up face when she gets pissed off and cries (which is with every feed when it is time to latch).  I feel like my heart breaks from this overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude and awe, and I have spent many moments crying from this emotional mixture that feels so engulfing.

Today I started worrying about her future: will she be healthy, will she be safe?  I think of all the dangers that lurk around and I so don't want to be that woman that stops her child from living because she is afraid. Plus really, we all know that if something bad does happen, there is no preventing suffering because one has done the work of worry beforehand.  I remember that two days before I went into the hospital with Adrian I was thinking "another three weeks and he will be viable, what is three weeks, nothing much can go wrong in this time."  I was so worried about the pregnancy the whole time, because of several episodes of bleeding.  Well, all the worry beforehand did not help one bit when the disaster happened, and when I lost him I was not more prepared or more protected from suffering.  I still had to grieve just as much.

Now, onto more mundane things:  she really really does not like to latch.  If anybody can give me tips on how to deal with this, please do.  A feeding session goes something like this:  she wakes up from her 3 hour sleep cycle, and starts to smack her lips and look for a boob.  I notice it and pick her up as she is just waking up.  I take off the lillypad and wash the areola with water, then express some milk and spread it over the area to make it smell more appetizing.  I wait until she opens her mouth wide, and offer her the breast.  She takes one taste of it and scrunches up her face, then pushes her tongue out and does not latch.  I offer her the breast again, she refuses again, about six times, until she wakes up properly, gets pissed off, and starts to cry.  I try to pacify here by walking, talking to her, etc, and she does pacify but she is hungry and keeps rooting for food.  I give her the breast again.  She spits it out disgusted again.  Many many times.  Then she gets annoyed again and cries, then I pacify her, then again we try.  This goes on for what feels like (and sometimes is) half an hour.  Then, for some unknown reason, she latches on (after I offer her the breast for the millionth time) and sucks like she is getting water out of a stone.  I can hear her gulping and finally relax a bit.  After she is done 10 minutes of sucking, she pushes out the breast, and starts looking for it again (for the same breast that she has just spit out, for goodness' sake!), and the whole half an hour struggle to latch begins again.  The second and third time it takes less time to convince her to take the breast, but really, a feeding session lasts anywhere from one hour to two hours with all this spitting out the breast, then eating like a hungry lunatic for a long time.  Today she ate so much that my arms were aching from holding her (when she finally latches, I am terrified that any movement will make her unlatch, so I hold her in whatever unorthodox position she is in at the time of The Latch.  I am going to capitalize it like it is holy event really).

She eats well, and is filling in nicely with plumper cheeks and lips, but oh, if only she did it more efficiently!

That being said, last night I was up from 4 to 6 with one of these lengthy negotiations with Emma, and she cried, and she cried, and cried so much that I was sure that the neighbours would evict us from the strata.  MrH had to work early this morning so I did not want to wake him up and ask for help.  (Plus he has no boobs.  Not the working kind anyway).  I looked at my daughter's sweet face crinkled up in the middle of an angry-baby crying fit, and kissed her like I always do on the cheek, the lips, the eyes, the everything I can get to because I want to kiss her non stop especially when she is so feisty.  And I told her from the bottom of my heart that I would sit with her no matter how long it took to help her fall asleep, or latch, or calm down and unwind, or whatever.  I feel like for her I have infinite patience.  I have had time to practice infinite patience throughout this whole wild ride to get here.

That being said, tonight she is sleeping and I was tidying up the closet together with MrH.  We had such a nice time together, him and I, that for a moment I forgot that I had been pregnant and had a baby and it felt like it was just the two of us again.  Then I walked into the bedroom and Holy shit, there was a baby on the bed.  So there, I am at the same time capable of spending hours crying because I love her so much, and of completely forgetting that she is here.  Demented, I say.

Outfit of the day

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is the ?allergic rash? Most likely from the surgical tape. It is so itchy!

Don't I look good in pink?

day 5

We have almost made it through the first week!  And I must say, things are improving a lot.  The chills are more bearable, and I found that breastfeeding makes them almost go away.  I wake up at night to feed, I am soaking wet (the chills come with cold sweating as well) and I quickly change into some dryer clothes, then I am off to feeding Emma, and the shivering stops completely.  She is starting to sleep for four hours after each feed, and I can tell that she takes in a fair bit because I weighed her before and after the feeds, and she seems to be getting a good 100-200 grams sometimes, which is excellent (babies need 120 calories / kg body weight, which means 120 x 3.4 kg divided by 78 cal/100 ml = 510 ml needed per day, spread over about six feeds or more, so 100 ml is very much enough).  Sorry about the math digression, I just figure some other person might want to use this information.

She cries a lot and gets angry when it is time to latch, I thought at first that she did not like the taste of the skin after I applied the Lilypadz, but I need them badly, so I persisted in using them, just washing the skin before a feed with clear water and spreading some breast milk over the areola to trick her.  I suspect what she does not like is having to work for food.  Eventually, after about half an hour of screaming like mad, she takes the breast and sucks like an industrial machine, so I just have to ride it out with her until she gets used to the concept that breastfeeding is a necessary job and no free lunch is provided here.  Today she was so much better that I feared that the night fairies have substituted my baby for someone else's.  She fed, then slept, then woke up, fed again, then was awake and looked around for half an hour, then went outside in the fresh air and a bit of indirect sunlight, then fed again, then slept some more.  Almost no screaming at all.  The household is so much calmer, my mom and grandma are happier and MrH, who is so amazing at calming Emma down when she is angry, is also feeling less tired after three four-hour intervals of sleep last night.

MrH does some sort of magic with Emma when she is very angry, I don't know exactly what, but he always succeeds in calming her.  I have watched him, trying to learn his technique, and he is simply holding her and walking around with her on his forearms, with her head in his cupped hands, no jiggling, no bouncing, no swinging, he is just talking to her and walking very gently, and she is instantly calmed down.  It is amazing amazing amazing.  I have a real gem for a husband, I knew that, but Emma has a real gem for a father, which I was also suspected but now I can confirm.

I only feel like dressing her in pink, she looks so good in white and pink, and peach colours, which interestingly are also my favourite colours.  We probably have the same skin tone, which is funny, since she has a bit of jaundice... I am enjoying this whole thing about having a girl immensely.  This house will soon become the house of pink.  Fortunately MrH is used to sleeping on sheets with pink and purple embroidery, and no protesting so far.  He knows he is outnumbered...hehehe...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is how I spend most of the day...when I am not screaming my head off!

surviving the week

So my goal for now is to survive the week.  Hehehe.  Not so funny.  This morning I have discovered my Lilypadz, a silicone shield for the nipples, and they are so so so divine!  they protect the nipples against everything, at the moment even the air hurts them.  I am also starting to get The Chills.  I don't know if other people get them after deliveries, but I definitely got them bad after Adrian, and last night while I woke up and went to the bathroom, I got my first episode of The Chills during this post partum period.  It feels like ice is coming out of my bones, I cannot describe it differently.  If anybody has ever had shivers because of fever, that is what it is like, and the shivers come in waves, for about twenty minutes or so.  I used to take cold showers to soothe the restless legs, but this is a lot worse, it is like being dunked in cold water over and over again for several minutes.  The first time I got it, I thought I had a post partum infection.  I now know that is not the case, so I am more relaxed about it, it is still unpleasant but at least I know I am not dying from sepsis, like I initially thought...

In addition, my c/section scar has popped open because the guy assisting did not put the staples in properly and they were hanging only on one half of the skin incision in one corner.  I need to get the wound re-sutured today, as it is open and draining a lot.  Lastly, I got some sort of allergic reaction to something, I think it was the surgical tape used on my abdomen, and my trunk is covered in a red dotty rash.  At least it is not itchy.

Considering my track record, I think I got off easily...(see bad post op infection in my very first post about the TAC). ( If I were an obstetrician, I would refuse to operate on me, really, given my penchant for every complication possible, and for even inventing new ones, like the pneumomediastinum).

I feel very blessed throughout all this.  Last night Emma was crying for a good half hour and nothing much worked to soothe her.  My milk has come in, thank God, but she was just gassy and upset, or something, who knows.  I kept on offering her the breast, but she was too worked up to take it.  Then MrH pointed out that she is anxious, just like her mommy, and I felt like a light switched was turned on.  Of course, my child should be anxious.  I am anxious and sensitive, and she has inherited my personality.  I just love her to bits, and am so much more relaxed about her crying now that I feel like I understand her.  I would be exactly the same in her position, newborn with an incompetent mother who does not know anything about why I am upset or what I need, and does not even know how to swaddle me properly so that I don't uncover during the night.  Yes, that would piss me off big time as well.

I had another epiphany last night that has helped me immensely:  I flushed the toilet and there was blood in the toilet bowl.  For a second, I had forgotten that I am not pregnant anymore, and a flash of panic washed over me when I saw the blood.  Just like it had so many times in both pregnancies, first with Adrian, then with Emma in the first trimester when I thought I was miscarrying.  Then I realized that she is out and she is safe, and that I will never again have to worry about her being stillborn or in danger of being born premature, or a gazillion pregnancy related-worries that I had.  No matter what, now that she is on the outside, she is safer, and she is so strong and healthy I cannot stop thanking God.


So, let's try for a longer post, if I don't fall asleep in the middle of it.

The C section went well, however once he got into my uterus, the OB saw the TAC stitch sitting INSIDE the uterine cavity, and displaced to the right.  It had migrated through the wall of the uterus as the uterus grew, and he said it was clearly a chronic process, since there was no obvious hole in the uterine wall, no bleeding, or anything to indicate a recent event.  So the TAC held up to a point, probably up to about 32 weeks, when I had the last ultrasound and they had a hard time seeing it, then it started crossing over through the wall, to the inside of the uterus, and it became useless at some point in the third trimester.  He had to remove it, which means if I want more children, which I do (only one more, I promise MrH!), I will have to get a new cerclage.  He suggested that I go for the McDonalds (the regular transvaginal one), as my cervix is likely fibrosed enough by now not to move much, since it hasn't changed at all in the third trimester, even without the band around it.  The bottom line is, I could have had a uterine tear, or a premature birth, and I didn't have either, which goes to show that sometimes things go well and we have no clue as to why.

I am quite swollen, my hands and feet, and my incision came apart in one corner and it is oozing bloody stuff all over the place.  But for now, I will leave it, even if it heals funny it can always be redone with the next c/s.

Now, onto all things about Emma.  She is incredible.  I realize that I am biased, but she seems really strong for a newborn.  She can lift up her head, and butt me in the breast with it when she gets mad.  She also punches me with her little fists when she does not get milk fast enough for her liking.  She looks at me, opens her eyes, grabs my hair, and generally does things that I did not think a newborn would do.  And she has a very very strong suck.  I could dangle her on my breast.   The first night in the hospital was not too bad, I fed her twice, and we both slept in between (I lay her to sleep next to me, as I cannot bear to put her anywhere else, separate from me.  The whole time I was in the hospital her bassinet was untouched).  The second night though, I did not sleep at all.  She wanted to feed every twenty minutes or so, for almost an hour each time, and was probably a bit dehydrated, had some brick stains on the diapers (the brick colour shows dehydration), so I fed her almost non stop.  By morning she made some nice wet diapers, and my breasts lost a layer of skin and gained some groovy cracks in the nipples.  I think my milk finally came in, but still no breast engorgement.  I so much want to be able to offer her a full breast, and I think I am getting there, as she sucks for only ten minutes before falling asleep, as opposed to the previous hour after hour.  She even had some milk in her mouth after I fed her, which makes me feel so much happier.

I should probably mention briefly how hard it is to get support for exclusive breastfeeding in my neck of the woods.  The first couple of days are rough, since there is only colostrum, and while waiting for the milk to kick in, the baby gets mad, and sucks non stop, the mom gets very sore and it all overlaps with the day three hormonal storm that in any case makes one feel very sensitive.  Thank God for my husband, who encourages me to survive, as everybody else thinks that formula is the way out.  "Just give her a top up" I hear left, right and centre.  I realize that doing that would make her sleep for four hours instead of cluster feeding for two days straight, but I still think breastfeeding is a naturally occurring skill and that patience and the instinct to survive for both of us will do the trick.   Speaking of which, I have a lot of respect for her will to go on and on and not give up, she is only 3.6 kg but has more determination than a bull.

The hormonal storm of day 3 hit me last night, on the clock, and I am crying a lot.  Mostly I feel happy, and blessed, and overwhelmed at the same time.  I look at her and I cannot believe that I got to take her home.  Like it did not register in my brain that she would survive, and I am somewhat surprised that after all she gets to stay with us.  She is so beautiful, and strong, and that makes me cry as well.  Everything does.  All I want to do is to stare at her and kiss her little face.  Will update as soon as I can.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The C section is scheduled for tomorrow morning, and I am looking forward to it.  I can't believe it is really happening!  People ask me if I am nervous, I am definitely not nervous about the surgery, but I am in a daze about the whole baby part.  I mean really, it hasn't clicked in yet.  It won't until I hold her in my arms. Will update when I can.

Friday, August 5, 2011


false alarm

I was so hungry last night, because I decided that if I go into labour it would be unsafe to have food in my stomach prior to the C/s, so I held off on dinner.  I continued to contract throughout the night, and MrH who slept with his hand on my belly (my very own tocometer!) was quite amazed that I did not tip into labour.  By 4 am, I was so hungry that I could eat a sheep, horns and all.  I hadn't slept at all.  I decided that I am going to eat, as I felt things were easing off, and afterwards slept and woke up still pregnant with not much happening today.  If it starts again, I am pretty sure it will be more intense.

I had the preanesthetic appointment today, and laughed my ass off that they only give you two lines to write your prior surgical history.  I had six surgeries so far, and only one was non-obstetrical/non-gyne.  By the time I am done having kids, if I do have two, I will have had eight.  And I will need to fix the surgical hernia that I got from my laparoscopy, so likely nine.  Yes, they really need to revise that form to give more space to weirdos like me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

prelabour contractions

I woke up with a painful contraction this morning.  The whole day I had Braxton Hicks in large amounts, and a very very active Emma inside.  I went to the hospital for an NST, and it looked good, she moved about fifty times in 20 minutes, my cervix is 50% effaced, and 1 cm dilated, mid position and soft.  It hasn't changed over the past 6 hours, so I am not getting the C section yet, but I am continuing to have contractions, and some of them are hurting a bit, so I don't know if I will last the night.  I am now in that unpredictable prelabour period, that can last days, but I doubt very much that I will make it until the 10th of August.  In fact, I have my bag ready for tonight :)

So I have actually become a responsible mother and packed a bag.  In my hospital, we are not given underwear, large menstrual pads, baby diapers, or wipes, so all of that is now in my bag, together with two pajamas, six onesies (three short sleeve, three long sleeve), a pacifier, a nail clipper (in case Emma needs an urgent manicure after birth), and a wholelottamakeup for me, 'cause I can't show my less than perfectly made up face in public, C/section or not.  Plus a hair curler, 1.5 inch.  And basic toiletries (baby soap, shampoo, conditioner, floss, hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste).

We are all set and ready to go.  And I moved mom's plane ticket to tomorrow, the soonest I could get.  It is so exciting.  I am making a big roast for my family to eat while I am in the hospital, and the house smells and feels like Christmas.  Hope I get a nice present! (so giddy).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Tonight, as many nights before, I cannot sleep.  I have had pretty bad insomnia since I got back from Vancouver.  I sleep well during the day, but stay awake and think at night.  I am usually happy and my thoughts involve baby-related plans and anticipation.  For the last hour though, as I am hovering in twilight sleep (not quite asleep, not quite awake), I am reliving giving birth to Adrian.  The contractions, the obstetrician thinking out loud that he did not think we were yet ready to let go of him, my husband telling him that we are, that it was obvious to both of us that I was in labour and there was not stopping the end.  The warm gush of amniotic fluid, such a lot of it... The desperation that I felt when it suddenly dawned on me that I had lost him forever, that he was a little boy, when I held him and I saw that he was real and it all became so clear what an immense loss it was.  Half out of my mind after so many anesthetics, lying on the OR stretcher for the second time that day waiting for the manual removal of the placenta, telling a physician friend who came to see me words that I can still hear myself saying, I lost my baby.  I might have said I lost myself that day.

Emma is moving lots in my belly as I am typing this, and she has been active all night.  She likes to move at night, which is such a reassuring blessing.  Because even though I am almost 38 weeks, I am still half looking at my body as unreliable, and expecting that something somewhere is so defective that it might kill her.  I often worry so much that I just want her out before I do something to harm her, like I did with Adrian.  I know that statistics are on my side, but when have I ever obeyed statistics?

And yet... Emma deserves to have a normal pregnancy, a normal birth, a normal mother.  She does not deserve to come into this world to a mother who is afraid, and paranoid, and expecting things to go wrong at any time.  What kind of childhood would that be?  what would she learn about the world? that it is unsafe, that she might die at any time, or at least that her mother fears so, which is just as bad for a child?  We do the best we can, as parents, and I certainly don't indulge in my memories or fears too much, definitely not out loud.  But I will always have to be aware of this fear, of these memories, of the fact that I experience life and happiness as such fragile and temporary entities.  And I will have to do my best to focus on showing Emma that life can be happy and robust, which means that I will have to start paying attention to moments when life actually IS happy and robust.  Like NOW.

Snapping back to reality.  Almost 38 weeks pregnant.  One week until I will touch her skin.  A whole pregnancy going flawlessly.  The happiest I have ever been.