Friday, February 20, 2009

My funny Valentine

Well, as everyone who reads this blog will already know, at 3.30pm (AEST) on 14th February 2009 my beautiful daughter Phoebe finally made her way into the world, with a little yelp of surprise. It was a long labour but that little cry convinced me that she'd been completely oblivious to the whole event, her heart rate remaining a healthy and constant 130 beats per minute, no matter what her poor mother was going through.

Toby and I are absolutely smitten with our gorgeous little girl. I just can't stop looking at her and she is so wonderfully cuddly. She is feeding and sleeping really well which is a relief for me. She has at least one period during the day when she is awake for what seems to be a long time, during which time she snacks, sometimes getting grizzly and not feeding as well as I'd like and wants lots of cuddles. But generally she is a very well behaved baby with cute little cries that rarely get frantic.

So far she has enjoyed one out of three baths. She screamed during the other two so we'll see what this evening's bath time brings.

We spent 5 wonderful days in hospital in a huge double room, being waited on hand and foot, not having to think about food, sleeping when tired, with the most amazing midwives on hand to answer any of our questions. So far the transition to home hasn't been too bad and we even went for a short walk yesterday afternoon. The weather is hot so it's a bit difficult for Phoebe to get used to it. At hospital she was all wrapped up in the cutest baby-grows but at home she will wear a vest or t-shirt even in the air-conditioning. I hope it cools down soon. We were going to head to the shops today but I don't really think that's going to happen now. The day is slipping by fast and I'm quite tired.

I probably have a two week recovery period to look forward to, followed by a month of taking it easy. Thankfully Toby is off work for the two weeks that I really need to be looked after. I have sore and weakened abdominal muscles and stitches in my perineum so need to take it quite easy for the time being. Thank god I'm fit and healthy though. It is making things a bit easier for me I think. It's a bit frustrating having to ask Toby to do everything for me and it's probably even more so for him.

Toby is a hands-on dad and seems to be really enjoying it. He helps me change her and settle her at night and does his fair share during the day, making me lunch and doing the shopping and the laundry.

I am currently uploading some photos to a new web album - as you can imagine there are many - and will be back after a snooze to give all the gory details of the labour and birth.

That's all for now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Quick 41 week update

Gestation: 41 weeks
Days since EDD: 7
Weight gain: 14kg
Number of chocolates eaten today: None. Ha! That's been a whole 4 days. I have been tempted today though and did have peanut butter and jam on bread. But NO CAKE OR CHOCOLATE since Sunday. That must be unheard of over the last 9 months. Very proud of me.

Okay, so the latest is this. I went to see Dr Stokes for a CTG today. I thought they'd strap me up to a monitor but no, I had to actually hold the thing in place. So my left hand was holding a doppler thing to my belly which recorded the baby's heartbeat and my right hand held a button I had to press whenever I felt a movement, the idea being that when the baby moves its heartrate increases. Damn thing was asleep, wasn't it? So I prodded it and it pushed its foot out... we like that game. Seems that baby can play it in its sleep though as it didn't do much to the heartbeat.

Meanwhile, Dr Stokes, who is also a fertility specialist, was on the phone to a local radio station doing a live interview about the octuplets born in America a couple of weeks ago. He was discussing the fact that legal guidelines in Australia prevent any more than two embryos being implanted during fertility treatment and said that it's usually only one. America has similar guidelines but the difference is that clinics in Australia are audited whereas there are no such checks in America.

Eventually Ajie woke up and stretched and the heartrate went up. A couple more movements like that a few minutes later and the midwife was happy to let me get up. 

Dr Stokes said that all seemed to be well. The baby and I are both healthy and the baby shouldn't get any bigger so unless labour starts before then (which he now doesn't think it will) I will see him for another CTG on Monday afternoon and then go to hospital to have my membranes artificially ruptured on Tuesday. So, at the latest we'll have a baby on Tuesday.

I am now playing Jet's Get Born to the baby as a BIG HINT of what I think it should do before the day is through. Then it would be born on Darwin's 200th birthday. Much better than Friday 13th or Valentine's Day if you ask me.

Oh, I forgot to mention the other day that I had a dream that the baby was a girl and a couple of times since then I've found myself calling it by our girl name. This might just be because we only have one girl name and three boy names but I now have no idea whether to expect it to be a boy or a girl. A couple of days before this dream Mam had a dream that I phoned her up and said "it's a girl" although she didn't tell me this until after I'd had my dream. Hmmmmm..... only 5 days until we found out. Unless the baby follows Jet's advice and gets born.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What a difference a day makes

Gestation: 40 weeks and 6 days
Days since EDD: 6
Weight gain: 14.5kg
Number of chocolates eaten today: None. Haven't had any for the past two days. Or cake. Or ice cream. Quite pleased with myself. If I start to feel a bit down I might grab an ice cream but so far I'm feeling rather pleased with my will power. Consistency, you see.

Just thought I'd pop in and say my impatience with waiting for this baby seemed to disappear yesterday. It coincided with some more obvious signs of early labour: increased tingling in the groin and pelvic region, period-type cramps that were on and off all day rather than just in the morning, and last night - excitement - I could actually feel my contractions. They were very mild and subtle and went from being regular to irregular. The advice I read said to ignore them so I did. And for once I didn't think "oh I'm going to have a baby tonight". I fully expected to wake up this morning and find nothing happening. Which is exactly what did happen and that's quite alright. Weird.

I had a bad night's sleep. It was hot and humid, even with the air-con on and I ended up on the sofa for a couple of hours because it was cooler in here. I really must try and get some more sleep today.

One thing is bugging me and that is the fact that I am still being offered unsolicited advice about how to get this baby out, and it's nothing I haven't heard before, or indeed tried... except for acupuncture which I'm considering but think I'll just leave it to be honest. I don't feel the need to spend money on that when I could just get my doctor to break my waters. I am quite confident that there won't be any further intervention if he does that. I'm struggling to take the advice and funny comments good-naturedly. I mean, they really are quite unnecessary.

One thing I must do is stop watching the news regarding the bush fires down south as I'm sure it's not conducive for a nice relaxing pre-labour mood. It's so upsetting and maddening to think that someone is doing that on purpose. I just don't even want to think about it but it's all that's on telly at the moment. We'll certainly remember the week this baby was born... or the week before, depending on when it decides to grace us with its presence.

Well, I've attempted to have a sleep, lounged on the bed for about an hour and think I slept for all of about 10 minutes. That seems to be the way whenever I have naps during the day. It was worth a try though and I might try again later. Right now, I'm off to hang out the washing and have some lunch before wandering around the shops, and possibly heading to the beach for a quick walk and a swim. Then maybe some fruit shop shopping. I might buy the baby a toy, maybe one that squeaks and I'll squeak it at my belly in an attempt to entice baby out. And I will not have an ice cream today, no I won't!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Still pregnant

Gestation: 40 weeks and 5 days
Days since EDD: 5
Weight gain: 14kg
Number of chocolates eaten today: None. But then I have just had breakfast. But I didn't have any yesterday. The nearest I got was peanut butter and jam on bread. I have told Ajie that it will get no more cakes until it has been born. Of course, no sooner had I said this on Sunday than friends turned up and Toby and Jim went out to buy a cake. So of course I had a slice. But now I'm trying very hard not to cave again. First rule of parenting: be consistent.
So, still no sign of baby although it does feel like it's about to fall out and yesterday morning it felt like it was trying to break free. I almost cried from the discomfort, especially as it was 5am and I hadn't got to bed until midnight and all I wanted to do was sleep. Had to use a million pillows to make myself comfortable on my back to stop it bothering me so much.

So currently the baby is way down low, pushing farts out every time I relax my pelvic floor (thankfully usually only when I'm on the loo), making me wee a lot, giving me a sore tweenie and groin area, making my inner thighs ache when I walk, making it difficult to walk for that matter (often I feel like I have to carry my belly), making my stools loose and frequent due to pressure on my bowel. Oh it's a joy. I have crampy pains and my belly keeps tightening and I have lots of twinges down low... but nothing much different to what I've had for a week or two now. 

Every night I go to bed convinced, based on the way I've been feeling during the day, that I will wake up to contractions. And every morning I wake up feeling crampy and achey but no contractions. I have a few analogies. One is it's a bit like a kid who has been told that tomorrow is Christmas Day but when he wakes up he finds it isn't and is then told it's actually the next day and so on. Another is that it's like preparing for a marathon that keeps getting cancelled. It's important that you keep getting enough rest, that you train but not too hard and that you continue to eat the right foods... but you don't know how long you have to do this for. You worry that all your hard training is going to waste but you can't go out and run 20k or whatever (I've never trained for a marathon so it's a very loose analogy) because you might have to run the actual marathon tomorrow and you don't want to overdo it. And another analogy is it's like a flight that's been cancelled. You have to hang around waiting for it to be rescheduled, you can't plan too much in case you're not around to do it, and as Jim added you can't scuba-dive because you might have to fly the next day or later that day. So you just kill time, waiting.

So I wake up in the morning and realise a baby isn't imminent. If I'm lucky I have plans for the day. Either way I have to work on not being too disappointed and just chilling and enjoying the day, whilst trying not to feel like it's been wasted. By the end of the day I'm analysing symptoms again, congratulating myself for getting through another day and telling myself it could be tomorrow.

Then I wake up with no obvious signs and the whole thing starts again. It's exhausting.

And would you believe, the time is flying by. I'm getting nearer and nearer to having the choice of induction taken away from me and being told I have to do it. Whatever happens, this time next week I will either have a baby, or be having a baby. Scary thought....

To top it all off I'm covered in mozzie bites... grrrrr.... as if I don't have enough to deal with.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nine months

Gestation: 40 weeks and 2 days
Days since EDD: 2
Weight gain: 14kg, although it did seem more like 13kg when I weighed myself earlier. I do hope I'm not going to spend the next 9 months being pregnant but backwards.
Number of chocolates eaten today: I think perhaps I might have managed another 3 or 4 of those chocolate chip cookies but I resisted the temptation to buy a Cadbury's Creme Egg.

So, I am now 9 months pregnant, 2 days overdue, full term, or simply "term" as they call it at Dr Stokes' surgery. It's very similar to being 8 1/2 months pregnant except most of my knickers don't fit, my hormones are making me intermittently grumpy, my belly has to be carried (by hand) from one side of the bed to the other when I roll over at night (and to the bathroom for those interminable loo visits), my clothes no longer sit snuggly under my bump without falling down, I'm very slow, I sink when I swim and I have non-stop phone calls, text messages, online chat, facebook chat etc. etc. asking how I'm doing, is there any news, are there any signs etc. etc.

Just so you know... if you are immediate family we will call as soon as we are sure labour is underway. If I have your mobile number you will receive a text message as soon as we have remotely recovered from the birth. This will probably be 1 - 6 hours following the birth, depending upon the time of day. If I have your email address or you're a Facebook contact you will either hear through the grapevine from one of the many we have SMSed, or you will get an email from Toby in the days following the birth, or you will hear from me as soon as I get home. You do not need to contact me to ask me if there is any news.... it probably means there isn't.

See, it's lovely to know that people care but the waiting game isn't much fun at the best of times without having to explain to people that yes, I am still waiting actually. Call me for a chat by all means but only if you have something to say, other than smart comments. And please remember if I am grumpy when you call I am dealing with hormones and heat here. I have started unplugging the phone during naps because I had so many rest periods interrupted by phone calls. And I sleep at strange times... just whenever I can really. When most people are getting up for the day, I'm sometimes heading back to bed post-breakfast.

After my last appointment with Dr Stokes I was very relaxed and excited, so sure was I that a baby was imminent. Then when my due date arrived with no signs of labour I got stressed. Now I'm kind of "whatever". I am bouncing on my fitball (yes, currently, although I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to do), taking fast 5 minute walks (not currently) and that's a strange sensation with a 3-4kg baby bouncing around in your pelvis, massaging acupressure points with clary sage, and watching and reading anything that has nothing to do with babies.

I had a home day on Thursday, which was my due date. I'm trying to do this at least once a week so I don't wear myself out but I just couldn't do it and in the end I asked Toby to take me out for dinner. I had my second pinot noir of my pregnancy (my first one was for my birthday) and pretended not to be pregnant for a while. I think I might have a beer with dinner tonight, whilst watching Season 2 of Heroes (yes, we're a bit behind).

The night before my due date I had what I think was my first experience of Braxton Hicks. I was sitting on the floor leaning forward to my computer on the coffee table when I was suddenly aware that my belly was in the way. When I touched it, it was hard. I got Toby to touch it too just to be sure I wasn't imagining it (because at this point I was convinced I was going to start labouring that night). He said it felt hard too. A short while later we felt it again and it was back to normal. Well, as normal as it can be at the moment. I've no idea how often this is happening because I can't feel it unless I touch my belly. I felt another one just before. I can only hope this is an indication of a short or pain-free labour. Well, one can dream.

And so my pregnancy continues, my baby is cooking and I am waiting, desperately trying to keep the house reasonably tidy. I can't believe that soon I will no longer be pregnant. I can't remember what it's like to not be pregnant and I will miss it. Although I'm looking forward to swimming freestyle again, sleeping on my back, lounging on the beach on my back, reclining on the sofa, running (not really but I ran back into the house to get something today and realised that it was very uncomfortable), eating oysters and soft blue cheese and god knows what else! Not so much looking forward to having to cut back on the cakes and chocolate though, which I realise I will have to do, and not having an excuse not to clear out the litter tray. There are some advantages of pregnancy and the longer I'm pregnant the longer I get to reap the benefits. Hurrah!!!

That said, hopefully my next post will be my birth story. Check out the Baby Clewett album for one last photo shoot with Lucie, my best bump!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Almost full term

Gestation: 39 weeks and 5 days
Days to EDD: 2
Weight gain: 14kg
Number of chocolates eaten today: Four home-baked chocolate chip cookies (yikes!).

Current ailments:
  • Lots and lots of pressure down low, which can be a bit uncomfortable at times, and results in frequent trips to the loo.
  • Lower back pain, which has been fairly constant when I've been vertical over the last few days. I have addressed this by spending as much time lounging on my new sofa as possible.
  • Tiredness, at times almost like the first trimester again, and which seems to be worse in the morning.
  • Slight nausea on and off over the last few days, which could be caused by the tiredness.
  • A pulling twinge in my groin, which is probably my ligament stretching in preparation for pulling the pubic bones apart (sounds much worse than it is). Strangely though, this only happens on the right hand side.
  • A few niggles around my belly but nothing like this Braxton Hicks thing I keep hearing about.
  • Very few of my clothes fitting.

Well, we're definitely on the home stretch now. I saw Dr Stokes this afternoon for what we hope is the last time until the birth. I have another appointment next Thursday during which he'll strap me up to a CTG and monitor the baby's heartbeat. But the general consensus seems to be we won't get to that point.

Dr Stokes asked if I'd like him to perform an internal examination to see how ready my cervix is so I said, why not! He said he'd try not to hurt me but it might be a bit uncomfortable especially as there seemed to be a bit of pressure on my bowel. Well, compared to the movements and pressure I've been getting from the baby I could barely feel the doctor. The baby's head was so low he could feel it. He said my cervix was nice and soft and about 1cm dilated so it really could happen any time now.

He then gave me the option of booking into hospital to have my waters broken. When I asked what the procedure would be, that is, would I end up needing a syntocinon (artificial oxytocin which is the labour hormone) injection if labour wasn't established in a certain time period his answer was that nothing is certain but he's extremely confident that it wouldn't come to that. He said that I'm ready for labour but might just need a little push in the right direction. He also said he would choose that option because it's more known than just waiting. I think some of that might be coming from the fact that he isn't currently on call so if the baby comes at night or over the weekend he won't be delivering it. He has also said to me a couple of times that he wouldn't like a baby growing in his belly for various reasons so I think he is probably of a mindset where he likes to be in control and to know what's happening. Personally, I gave up control of my body and my life 9 months ago so he couldn't really give me a good enough reason to do it. Although I would like Dr Stokes to deliver the baby, I would rather labour at home than in hospital and if I'm only 1cm dilated I'm not sure how long it would take to get to 10cm. As I haven't even reached the due date I'm going to defer the decision for now. I will have a rethink on Monday. Until then I will let nature and fate run their course.

As well as being physically ready I'm mentally ready too. The pram arrived yesterday and I spent a bit of time getting to know it. On Friday Karen brought around the cradle swing that they had for their girls that has been doing the rounds of family and friends for the past few years. It has certainly been well used and it's the midwives' secret recipe in hospital when parents need sleep and ask them to take their crying babies to the nursery. I have put that up and washed the fabric insert. I have also washed a couple of sheepskins for the baby to lie on on the floor. Today a friend dropped around a baby bath and stand and that needs to be cleaned up a bit but I'll leave that for another day otherwise I'll have nothing to do if the baby doesn't come soon. Clare sent me a manual breast pump so another job is to read the instructions on that and give it a good clean as I imagine it has been sitting in the box for quite a while.

I am the last left to birth out of our little January/February group in yoga. Sasha cheated and jumped ahead of me. She was due this Saturday but had a little girl yesterday afternoon. I think Saturday will be my last yoga session, if I make it. I don't fancy driving up on my own on Tuesdays any more and can't see me making it through to next Saturday. Dr Stokes and his staff don't even think I'll make my appointment next Thursday.

I have made my labour bracelet and I'm now wearing it in anticipation. I told Sherry my story of trekking in Nepal today and finding the internal strength to go on and she said that sounds exactly like the transition phase of labour so I'll definitely draw on that wisdom. Let's face it, if I can trek 13km a day for 21 days carrying 12kg or whatever it was, suffering sore ankles, hips, shoulders, feet etc. I think I can handle labour. Sure, you don't get much of a break once you've started but at least it'll only last a day or two at the most. I'll take my picture of birth as a journey up a mountain to look at and remind me of what is at the top of the mountain... a lovely little baby.

Anyway, if my mother's experiences are anything to go by I won't have time to think about all of this. We had a chat about mine and my sister's births the other night. Mam had no pre-labour signs, which makes me feel better about the lack of Braxton Hicks. With me her contractions progressed to two minutes apart very quickly. We didn't have a phone or a car so when Dad said he'd pop out to the phone box to call an ambulance (via the all-night garage to get some smokes) Mam said "finish your hot chocolate first". Well, the contractions intensified in the ambulance and the paramedics (did they have paramedics then or just ambulance drivers?) freaked out and switched on the siren. All in all labour was about 4 hours. With Clare it was even shorter and they nearly didn't make it to hospital in time. My mother in law had similar experiences with painless labours lasting only a couple of hours. Jeff nearly missed Toby's birth because he was parking the car. So, if genetics play a part in any of this we should be alright.

I still have a bit of work to do on the baby's quilt square and the pantry could still do with a good clean and a sort but really, I'm pretty much ready for this baby to come and I'm feeling quite organised. I just need to do a check of the hospital bag and make sure that everything that can go in at this stage is in there. And keep the house tidy so it's nice to come back to.

I have uploaded more photos to the Baby Clewett album. Click on the slideshow to the right to get to them.