Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Birth of my Daughter

We're a family of four!
I've ignored my blog for a long while, but I want to record my second birth story before it all slips from memory.

I had an OB appointment on Wednesday, July 22nd, the day after my due date. Three years ago when Lachlan was born ten days late, I swore that if I had another child, I would lie to everyone about the due date so that I wouldn't get so many calls, emails and texts about why baby hadn't arrived yet. Fibbing just isn't in my nature, though, so I reported the actual due date to friends and family and, of course, received lots of messages that essentially said, "is baby here yet?"

All of those people who contacted me love us and were just excited about baby's arrival, but I didn't like the feeling of everyone waiting on me. I was also adamant that my labor not be induced. I wanted baby girl to come when she was ready.

The OB reported that I was three centimetres dilated and did a quick membrane sweep, which can kick start labor if baby is ready. I then experienced contractions off and on through the afternoon and evening. I went to bed that night, but the contractions were strong enough to prevent me from actually falling asleep. At 11:30pm I felt a huge gush and I knew that my water had broken. My contractions remained irregular (every twelve minutes) so we phoned the hospital to find out whether or not we should come in. After spending twenty minutes on hold and two changes of pajama pants, the hospital never picked up the phone and we decided to go anyway because I was leaky and uncomfortable.

Mickey and I couldn't find the after hours entrance to the hospital and learned that though it was midnight, we could enter through the normal front entrance. I was admitted and filled out some paperwork. The nurses monitored my still irregular contractions and recommended that I walk around the corridor to get more active labor started. Mickey and I made one lap up and back, but I felt too much pressure and discomfort and back pain to continue to walk.

Back in the delivery room I was given a steroid drug via IV that I needed because of a recent flare up of one of my gastro conditions. The nurse offered another IV drug to help with the pain and I accepted. It made me dizzy almost immediately, but it did help with the pain. My contractions remained irregular, but when they did come, I felt them in my back far more than I remember with Lachlan's birth. I was ready for an epidural and the anaesthesiologist gave it to me without any judgement. It was very effective, but I could still feel some back pain. The nurses helped me reposition my body to allow the drug to get to my back.

I was then comfortable enough to doze for a couple of hours while they gave me pitocin to speed up contractions. I was delighted to not feel most of this. At about 6:40 in the morning, they checked me and reported that baby was ready to come out.

The epidural mercifully took away all sensation and I felt a sense of disbelief that baby could actually be eminent. The doctor said I'd have baby out in a push or two. I remember thinking about how terribly disappointed the doctor would be once she realized that I had no sensation and thus no ability to push baby out. To my shock and delight, though, I pretended to push (by putting my chin to my chest and squeezing any abdominal muscles that I could feel) and baby did in fact come out in about eight minutes. I suppose my body knew what to do even though I felt disconnected from my lower half. When they said that her head was born, I thought 'could have fooled me,' because I really could not feel a thing.

They handed baby to me and I cried tears of joy and disbelief. Simi's birth had been different from Lachlan's, but it was very positive and not nearly as uncomfortable as it could have been. The doctor stitched me up while they weighed and measured our perfect little girl: 7lbs and 10ozs, 20.5 inches long. The nurses wheeled me on a gurney out of labor and delivery and into the mother/baby wing of the maternity floor. It was several hours before I could really feel my legs again and before the nurses allowed me to walk and shower.

Simi and I received really good care at the hospital. Friendly nurses and doctors checked in on us often and generally didn't scold me for not feeding baby often enough and didn't interrupt us too many times. I sent Simi to the nursery at night so that I could rest and no one seemed to judge me for that.

Triumphant, but puffy
Lachlan and Nani were our first visitors in the hospital on Thursday morning. Lachlan wore his 'Awesome, Awesome, Awesome Brother' t-shirt for the photos, but was afraid to get too close to Simi. He would talk to her and look at her, but didn't want to touch her. That was okay by me because I'd rather he be cautious than all over baby. Grandpa Tom arrived the next day with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and baby girl balloons for the house.

After lots of tests and checks for baby and paperwork for me, I was released from the hospital on Saturday morning. I put on a dress and make up for the triumphant 'coming home from the hospital' photos a la Kate Middleton. I looked presentable, but I couldn't be bothered with my hair and I felt decidedly more puffy than I imagine Kate felt.

During my hospital stay and in the week following Simi's birth, I experienced a lot of back pain in one spot. My doctor said it resulted from the labor that I didn't feel. Now, two and a half weeks after the birth, my back is in good shape and I'm wearing non-maternity shorts (though they're a bit snug). After months of carrying a heavy belly, it's delightful not to be pregnant.

I'm afraid of jinxing myself, but Simi is a very good baby so far. She caught on to nursing quickly and doesn't have long bouts of unexplained crying. When she's upset she's usually hungry, tired or wet. She seems like a fairly easy baby because I am much more relaxed than I was when Lachlan arrived. Three years ago, the anxiety I felt about the responsibility of caring for a new baby prevented me from enjoying Lachlan's early development. I could hardly look at him without worrying that if he was awake, he should be asleep and vice versa. This time around, I can gaze and admire my new baby without fear. I also have a perspective on the newborn days that I didn't have last time. I know that it all ends very quickly as baby grows and moves on to the next phase. When Lachlan first arrived, I felt like my new normal was endless cycles of feeding, changing and settling baby, but now I know that this is just the beginning. By Christmas, Simi will be able to do all kinds of things that she cannot yet do and caring for her will be different (harder in some ways, easier in others) than it is today.

Simi already has more clothes than any other member of our family thanks to hand-me-downs and gifts from dear friends. Nani and I have taken a lot of joy from dressing baby everyday and I've started calling her 'Dolly' because she is my little doll.

Lachlan has warmed up to his sister a little bit and asks to hold her sometimes. Last night he held and kissed her very sweetly. This morning he wanted to read her some books, but I suspected he actually just wanted extra attention from me. When Lachlan senses that he's not getting enough attention, he gets louder and more aggressive. For the most part, though, I think he's adjusting to this major change as well as can be expected. It helps that his grandparents are around to take him out and burn off some energy. I also try to hand baby over to grandparents when she's happy so that I can have quality time with Lachlan.

I hardly left the house yesterday and I didn't get into the shower until nearly 11am today, but at least I got a shower in the end. I also finished this blog post. Neither of these things would be possible without the help I'm receiving from Mickey, of course, my mom and in-laws. It absolutely takes a village.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The stars at night...

At the end of last month we took an ambitious, eight-night family trip to Texas. I'd call any trip involving air travel with a two year old ambitious, but this was all the more so because it had three separate legs with three different accommodations.

Super excited to be a ring bearer
The purpose behind the trip was my cousin Helen's Texas-sized (and yet so elegant) wedding in San Antonio. She graciously asked Lachlan to be the ring bearer on her big day and I was touched that she wished to include him. Initially I fantasized about how darling he would be walking down the aisle in a tiny tuxedo. "He's going to steal the show," my mom predicted.

Then reality set in and I started to fret about whether he would actually tolerate that tiny tuxedo and the sweet coral-colored bow tie that Helen bought for him. Even if he wore it without a hassle, would he walk down the aisle holding the flower girl's hand as planned? It was a total gamble as to whether or not the two year old ring bearer would actually cooperate. I did my best to set Helen's expectations of Lachlan's performance. She said that she wouldn't mind if he refused to participate in the ceremony and only wanted a couple of cute pictures with him. In hindsight, I realize that the person who would care most about Lachlan not sticking to the plan was me.

Fortunately, Helen didn't entrust him with the actual rings. Instead, she gave him a bell to ring while he walked down the aisle. While waiting with Mickey in the wings he said, "not wanna ring the bell" many times, but at the critical moment, he came through. He did ring the bell while holding the flower girl's hand all the way to the front of the church. I was overcome with emotion and started to cry with relief. "He totally killed it," I whispered proudly to myself. Once at the front of the church he spotted me and I hoisted him up to the pew. I gave him the fruit snacks that I had used to bribe him and that kept him quiet for a blissful 2.5 minutes. Then, unfortunately, he behaved like the two year old he is and Tom had to take him out of the church. I was so focused on getting him down the aisle that I had absolutely no plan to keep him contained during the ceremony. Oops.

I'd like to think that this first San Antonio leg of our journey was fun for the whole family. In between wedding events, we took a hop on hop off double decker bus tour of the city. This was fun for Lachlan because he enjoys vehicles and public transportation. It was fun for us because we learned a bit about the history of the city. We also managed to catch up with my brother over drinks at our hotel's Menger Bar, an exact replica of the pub in the House of Lords.

Livin' the good life in Comfort, Texas
Birthday barbecue lunch at Rudy's
We left Lachlan with a babysitter at the hotel while Mickey and I enjoyed a child-free reception. The path leading to the event space was lit by luminaries, just one of this wedding's many thoughtful, beautiful details. The food was fantastic, the drinks were flowing and the company was family; it doesn't get a lot better than that.

The day after the wedding was Mickey's birthday and though I had made a restaurant reservation for brunch to surprise him, it ended up making more sense to drive out to the hill country where my aunt and her husband Brian now live. We stopped for barbecue at Rudy's on the way, a Texas institution that serves tender smoked meat on waxed paper. I feel hungry now just thinking about Rudy's and all the other Texas barbecue we enjoyed.

Lyndon B Johnson Nat'l Park
Nic and Kathleen followed us up to the hill country and Aunt Jill lead us on a tour of Comfort after Lachlan woke up from his nap. We were surprised by how chic and fun this small hill country town was. We spotted deer by the creek and relaxed on bench swings. Lachlan enjoyed seeing the longhorns from afar and everyone fell in love with the local Bluebell ice cream. We sipped wine while watching the sunset from Aunt Jill and Brian's wraparound porch. It would have been even more relaxing if the porch had glass panes, but they weren't yet installed so someone had to constantly be on guard making sure Lachlan didn't tumble over the edge and fall two stories to the ground. Aunt Jill made a lovely meal and there was leftover wedding cake to celebrate Kat's 30th birthday and Mickey's, too.

A train ride through Zilker Park
On subsequent days we explored Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock and the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park en route to Austin. We had heard great things about Austin and added it to our itinerary even though none of our friends currently live there. We realize that there is only so much sightseeing that a two year old can manage so we kept our travel goals simple for the Austin leg of the journey. "We're just here to eat and look around," we said. Austin absolutely lived up to the hype and I'm eager to go back again one day perhaps for a girls' trip or couples trip. We knew it was home to lots of hipsters, but I didn't realize it also had a sort of San Francisco meets Las Vegas with a Texas twist kind of vibe.

We hiked some urban trails, toured the capital building, watched the bats depart from Congress Bridge, visited the Whole Foods flagship store and of course ate lots of delicious food. In fact, Mickey says the burger he ate at Hopdoddy, a burger and craft beer place, was the best he's ever eaten.
A very cool train table at the Thinkery

Lachlan said that he wanted to go home every day of our trip, but he was actually a really good sport. His favorite destination was the Thinkery, a very cool children's museum on the north side of town. We arrived home on the morning of Halloween, just in time to put on a costume and keep on celebrating.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Morning nap with his neck in an awkward position
Though Lachlan's language skills are improving by the day, he's not yet able to articulate what's wrong when he doesn't feel well. Indeed, when we get sick it feels like we all take one gigantic leap backward. We don't have time to be polite or express ourselves eloquently; we just want our moms.

Lachie woke up with a fever on Monday morning and I knew he wasn't himself when he stood in one place and just cried while I took my shower and later again when I ate my lunch. I couldn't interest him in any food, not even his tried and true favorites like raspberries.
Cuddling Papi

Unwilling to infect other children, we spent a lot of time in the house. Lachlan didn't want to play the way he normally does, but we sat in front of the television and watched Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood together while he took a couple of bites of popcorn.

I figured if he was going to be sitting around and watching TV, we might as well take a car trip (he watches DVDs in the car) and escape the 100F degree weather on Wednesday. We drove through the Santa Cruz mountains and further south on highway 1 to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Lachlan seemed excited about going, as he kept repeating the word 'quarium' but he wasn't interested in staying a long time once we arrived. At least we got out of the house and saw some gorgeous fish.

The upside to a sick child is that he lets me give him extra cuddles. I cuddled him while we watched TV and he even fell asleep in my arms in the morning before nap time. It feels like he hasn't done that since he was a much smaller baby. He didn't require much entertainment and seemed content when I sang Lisa Loeb's The Disappointing Pancake album in its entirety.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Vivid Imagination

One of my greatest joys as a parent is tracking Lachlan's development. Language is most obvious because it allows him to communicate better with each passing day. He likes to ask questions lately such as "where Lachie's going?" and "what's that one?" He can also now use the phrases "right here" and "right now." I love how he's picked up from me phrases such as "nice and safe" and "nice and cosy." It's funny and adorable to hear those come out of his mouth.

Beloved bulldozer from Grandpa Tom
I'm also fascinated by his growing imagination which seems less based on mimicking me and more about expressing his own thoughts and exploring simple narratives. When we're in the car, Lachlan will ask "which Mommy pick?" and I'm guessing that he wants me to choose a car/truck on the road that I like. I choose one (usually based on color) and then he'll pick one, too. Sometimes he pretends that we are both taxi drivers and I'll ask him about the color of his taxi (usually orange), where he's going (usually preschool) and who's in his taxi (usually Mommy and Papi). One time he told me that he was driving a big orange pumper truck (unclear what that is) with red hoses. He said he was driving it to a station to get a new tank.

Lachlan loves pretend that he is a worker. Putting on his construction helmet helps set the stage for him to use his bulldozer (both real toys) to go to the construction site and feed the ducks corn. Today he was playing with a cart and a popper and pretending that he was a gardner who had to mow the lawn and use the edger. He made motor noises and kept running to the dishwasher to retrieve his "backpack" (he's noticed that gardners wear leaf blowers strapped to their backs). He loves enacting similar scenarios at the park where he'll run in circles and keep repeating that he has "lots of work to do."

He seemed to never tire of a game he roped Uncle Doug into playing with him last Friday afternoon. He was at the playground and would pretend to wash his hands at a small basin. The soap was at the other end of the play structure so he and Doug would have to run back and forth to get more soap. Orange soap, then red soap and then blue soap, etc. This game went on and on.

I wonder if the parts of the brain that control imagination are close to those that involve fine motor skills. Lachlan enjoys small motor tasks these days as his skills improve. He likes to spend ages with his seat belt (snap snap), putting "people" into his toy school bus and putting ladders back into their small slots on his fire engine.

I love to watch my boy grow and change.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Last Easter Post, I Swear

Jess sent me her pictures of the dyeing eggstravaganza.

Yay for Lachie's Elmo apron!

Johanna was a pro at painting her eggs with a golden sheen.

Both sweeties looking at the camera!