Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Not so bad but my organizational skills could use some work

The morning was pretty good actually. Emily was very good and was a good "Mummy helper." However, my organizational skills, which I've definitely prided myself on with just one child, definitely need work now that a second has been added to the mix. It took me quite a while to throw all the crap together I needed, get the crap and the two children into the stroller and head to the library. After that it all went well. The only problems really were: Emily throwing a complete fit after I turned off Barney resulting in her second "time out" of the morning; the realization that Hope is going to have to be extremely adaptable starting next week when Emily is home full time.

The reality is that Hope is going to have to figure out how to have a morning nap on the go. So far the morning is her toughest time for getting to sleep. This will coincide with the time that Emily needs activity (as we can't spend every day, all day, at home). Not sure how other parents do this but I'll have to poll my other stay-at-home mom friends and find out. Today was a difficult day for Hope and I am assuming it is because there was a lot of activity and her afternoon was also thrown off by a visit from a friend. I hope this doesn't mean that she will be needing a very strict routine because she just won't be able to get it in the morning. I figure she'll adapt though. She is only 3 weeks old so I have to expect some bumps at this point.

Damn cute that Hope, though.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Remember this face

Take a good look at this face. I noticed at 3 am or so last night that the baby acne has started. So, remember this cute face because we won't see it quite like this for about a month or so. Instead, we'll see a pubescent face pasted on top of a baby face. It will be quite something. I'll post photo evidence later. And, yes, her hand is really that big.

You have also, I'm sure, noticed the soother firmly planted in her mouth. Hope has developed a bit of a sucking addiction and being that my boobs can only take so much, I've given her a soother and she is quickly learning to take it and like it. Probably a little too much.

Emily is home tomorrow morning as Dawn has an interview (wah). I'll report back on how it goes... me with the two girls. Alone. Could be all Nanny-911ish or could be Mary Poppins-ish. I'm hoping for Mary Poppins. I've got her in me. She's made appearances before. Now I just have to go deep in there and draw her out for good.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A swaddled babe

The night after the one I wrote about below, I decided to try swaddling Hope. Emily never liked it/it never made a difference for her. But, for a lot of babies it offers a lot of comfort after the close confines of their original homes. Seems to be the case for Hope because it totally made a difference. Now, I breastfeed her, wrap her up, walk the floor for a couple of minutes and she is out. I put her in the Moses bed and she goes to sleep. Sometimes she may need to suck on my finger for a bit to really go to sleep but usually that is all it takes. We've also introduced the soother to her and she does like it but she still prefers boob or my finger to suck on to go to sleep. I'll keep up with the soother as well and maybe someday that will be an easy way for her to fall asleep. The only issue I'm really having with her sleep is her morning nap. She fights it but also needs it. I hope to work on that this week as well as work on getting her used to the sling and chest carrier (aka the hug-a-bub).

This morning we went out for dim sum with Dawn, John and Mimi. It was great. Emily loved it, Hope slept the whole time and John and I relaxed and had a great time. For Emily, one of the highlights was going to the bathroom to wash her hands. The second time she wanted to do this I sent her off with John to the bathroom. This is where it got good. Emily loves to do the play by play on everything going on around her. While in the bathroom with John someone came in to use the urinal. Emily: "Girl pee pee." John: "No, boy pee pee." Emily: "Boy pee pee." Man at urinal laughs. Man at urinal farts. Emily: "Boy toot toot." Man at urinal: "Sorry about that." Man laughs. Emily laughs. John must find urinal quickly to avoid peeing in his pants. Karen: when John tells her in car, cannot contain laughter. Laughs all the way home. Laughs when thinking of it in afternoon. Laughing now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Was it too good to be true?

John and I have spent the last two weeks, since Hope's birth, telling people what a good sleeper, eater, baby she is. Then last night happened. It's like Hope suddently woke up and said: Hey, I'm a newborn. I'm supposed to make life a living hell for these people between the hours of 10:00 pm and 8:00 am.

It all started out as usual for Hope. Sleeping through supper and into the evening. She woke up around 9:00 and I fed her. Then she didn't go back to sleep until around 2:00. She wasn't even crying during that time though. The last three days she has had battles with gas. It doesn't make her cry but it does keep her unsettled, wanting to feed constantly (for solace I think) and makes her grunt like nobody's business. Until last night we were able to plunk her into her bed and within a couple of minutes she would be asleep with little or no fussing. Last night, after feeding her too many times to count, I'd plunk her in and then listen to a symphony of grunts, groans, fist sucking that rivalled many pig babies I've encountered. Well, maybe not the fist sucking. It was enough to keep John and I awake anyway and enough to drive us crazy. Every time I was back up and trying to get her settled. John stepped in to take over around midnight and had her sleep on top of him for an hour before trying her bed again. Within 8 minutes she was awake and sucking that damn fist!

I was back up, tried to feed her, but she was so tired she just fell asleep, then back in her bed. Two minutes later, awake. I jumped up, probably swore, put the bathroom fan on for some white noise and boom, she was asleep and slept until around 5:30 or so. Okay, so sometimes you think that you learn everything you need to know about babies after the first one (ie white noise) and sometimes your brain shuts down at 2:00 am.

After the last night feeding of 5:30, I put her back in her bed and decided to just ride through the grunting to see where it took me. After about 5-10 minutes, she was asleep and slept until around 8:45. Hmmm. This could mean that the hours of sleeplessness last night could have been avoided with 5-10 minutes of patience. I'm not going to overanalyze this or speculate. That could send me round the bend.

I've also realized that Hope has gone from very quiet go-to-sleeper to very loud grunter. She will wake up occasionally, grunt, and go back to sleep. The problem here is that she sleeps in a basket right beside our bed. I could move her into her own room but then I'd have to rely on her crying to tell me she is hungry and I don't want Emily to be disturbed, or I'd have to use a monitor which would totally defeat the purpose of getting her out of our room so we could sleep.

Well, I guess it was bound to happen eventually that we'd lose a night of sleep. Can't miss out on all the fun.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thanks, Beth

Beth just left. She was here for 8 amazing days. She was such a huge help. She did everything including cleaning, cooking, washing Hope's diapers every day, playing with Emily all day long, baking with Emily (help bake!), and more and more. I know that Emily will wake up tomorrow and her first question will be: "What Beth doin'?" We'll really miss Beth.

One of Emily's favourite activities of the week was helping Beth bake... every day. Through this Emily learned to lick beaters, crack eggs, etc.

Beth also spent some time with Hope although more of her time was with Emily which was totally what we needed. And who's kidding who... Emily is just more fun right now. I mean, Hope can't crack an egg to save her life.

So, Beth. Thanks. And don't buy the Kite Runner because it
is on its way to you via

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My comic

Emily's favourite thing of the last month or so is to constantly ask everyone what they are doing. To the point of torture really. Often I'll turn it around, after she asks me "Ma, what doin?" about 17 times, by saying, "what do you think I'm doing?" This is pretty effective actually. She either answers or gets confused.

Every Tuesday evening, we pick up a load of organic vegetables from an Ethiopian farmer who has a big organic farm east of Ottawa. It is a great deal. We pay $15 and get a load of veggies for the week. Emily loves the routine because we go to a park to get the veggies and there is a playground and sandbox there. Due to the birth of Hope, Emily and John went without me last night. Emily usually prefaces our arrival at the park with "vegtals... park... guy". Or some combination like that. Last night, John tells me, she kept saying: "Vegtal guy, vegtal guy" as they approached the park. John kept correcting her by telling her: "say Vegetable Man." and she did. On their arrival, she ran over to the farmer (who totally loves her since she is completely enraptured by his vegetables) and said: "Vegtal Man... What doin'?"

Friday, September 08, 2006

The birth of Hope

On September 7, 2006 at 11:35 a.m., Hope Lois Reyburn Walsh was born at our house.

It was the most amazing experience. Everything went exactly as we wanted minus a third degree tear.

My contractions woke me up around 1:15 a.m. on Thursday morning. I could tell these were the real thing this time. They weren't strong enough to keep me awake but I was too distracted to sleep so I got up around 2:30 and started cutting up fruit, organizing the basement etc. Unknown to me, John built a new shed, went for a 23km run, brushed his teeth, and recited the original lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven" (under its original title, "Boy this Joint is Big"). Ahem. It seems John has provided some edits while I stepped away. Back to the story... By 4:00, I was getting back pain that was difficult to deal with on my own so I woke up John and he came down to the basement with me and provided counter-pressure on my lower back. It really helped me get through the contractions pretty easily. Or so it seemed anyway. My contractions were getting steadily closer together so we decided at 5:30 a.m. to call my friend Pam who had graciously volunteered to take Emily to daycare or pick her up or do whatever we needed. So, we set everything up with Pam who aimed to be at our house at 7:00 around the time Emily normally wakes up. At 6:00 my contractions were 5 minutes apart so we called our midwife, Sarah. She talked to me (kind of) through a contraction on the phone and after listening to me and us speaking she decided she should come over.

I stayed in the basement while John got Emily going on her morning routine. Pam helped me through the contractions. This worked really well because nothing seemed too out of the ordinary for Emily except that it was Daddy instead of Mummy doing her morning. Sarah arrived as well around the same time as Pam and gave me a vaginal exam. I was 5 cm dilated. This was great news for me as I was moving along quickly, as Sarah had predicted. It gave me a motivation boost. Of course, my contractions slowed down as soon as Sarah arrived. This was actually helpful for me though because I needed to take a course of penicillin (I had tested positive for Group B Strep). This would have been difficult if my contractions stayed 5 minutes apart as it takes 20 minutes to take the course of antibiotics. The contractions moved to 10 minutes apart so it was easier for me.

After Pam left with Emily, Sarah suggested that John and I go back to bed for a while and try and get some rest between contractions. I think this was around 9:00 (I lost track of time a little, not surprisingly). This was great. I was able to doze off between contractions and breathe through a few. After a few more though I needed the counter-pressure on my back again so I would get on my hands and knees and John would do his thing again. I actually spent most of my early and active labour on my hands and knees. I was really worried about the baby turning posterior like Emily was - an experience I didn't want to relive. Staying on hands and knees is the best position to encourage baby to be in an anterior position. It totally worked for me. For most of my labour she was perfectly placed with her back towards my left side and then at the end of our rest session in our bedroom, around 10:00 a.m., I had four contractions come one right after another and during the last one I felt her move and then I had less back pressure all of a sudden and I was sure she moved into an anterior position. At that point, Sarah had come upstairs to check the baby's heart rate. She suggested that we move back to the basement where I planned to deliver her. On the way downstairs I had one more contraction - the piano served me well there. Then I got into the pool and right away started feeling a strong urge to push.

I got scared at this point because it was exactly the same feeling I had with Emily, yet even though I tried pushing her, I didn't get anywhere in bringing her down. However, that fear was replaced with elation when I heard Sarah call my other midwife, Claudia, and ask her to come as soon as possible. That made me feel great! I knew that things were happening just as they should. I heard Sarah tell Claudia that I was at 10 cm and ready to push. Another huge motivator. In fact, Sarah said to us that she hoped Claudia got there soon because she didn't want the baby to come until she got there. It made me feel like this would be quick. In reality, the pushing took an hour and 20 minutes but it felt like 15 minutes to me.

Pushing. Wow, there is some serious work. I think labour is labelled 'labour' just because of that stage. I have never exerted so much physical effort into anything in my life. The great thing though was that between the contractions I felt no pain and just rested and floated in the birthing pool. I pushed at first leaning over the side and grabbing John's legs while he put counter-pressure on my hips. After a while I started to cramp in my legs so Sarah had me flip over. I squatted and pushed and then, so Sarah could see better, I had my pelvis in front of me. During the breaks I just let my hips float up. Things were moving quickly and Sarah was having trouble seeing. Sometime during all this Claudia arrived with Cathy, a midwifery student. Sarah had me focus all my energy on my pushes by having me stay as quiet as possible during the pushes. This really helped too. Anyway, I crowned, Sarah held me back from pushing further but during the next contraction, Hope's head came out with her hand up around her face. The speed of that and her hand resulted in a big tear. I could tell - not from pain, but from how quick it happened. I just assumed that I tore. I think that if I had left the tub for the delivery the tear wouldn't have been so bad but I just wasn't willing to move.

So, after that I felt that I had done it. John had to remind me that it wasn't over yet. I had to stay focussed. Quickly, her shoulders came (which hurt more than the head, by the way) and then she was out, on my chest, and having her cord unwrapped from her neck (it was around twice). No problem though. It was an absolutely glorious, empowering experience. I really felt like I had accomplished, with John, something huge. And poor John only suffered from squished fingers, legs and some pelvic bruisng of his own. I won't embellish.

We left the now very gross pool and I delivered the placenta. Hope was wrapped up beside me soon after that, sucking on my finger but clearly ready to breastfeed. We got going on that while we waited for another midwife, Sandra, known to be an expert suturer to arrive. Sandra spent 30 minutes repairing my 3rd degree tear. I was so thankful for her expertise. Otherwise, I would have had to transfer to a hospital for suturing and be admitted. That would have royally sucked.

After that it was just a really beautiful time of a group of women (and one great guy), laughing and talking, drinking tea and eating toast while listening to Claudia play the piano upstairs. Turns out she was playing a hymn: Oh God, Dear Womb. Very cool indeed.

You know, the idea of uterine rupture never even crossed my mind during the delivery. I just felt that everything was happening as it should - my body was doing what it was designed to do, the baby was doing what she was supposed to do. None of those fears that OBs put into our heads about VBACs entered my mind. I think that came from a lot of research on my part and the total confidence and joy of the midwives that were with me.

After everyone left, John, Hope and I were left to sleep the rest of the afternoon away in the basement. Emily had supper at Pam's and was thrilled to come home and meet her sister. Since then it has pretty much been perfect.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Still nada

Still no news. Obviously. Although I've stepped up my natural induction "remedies." I just got back from a really long walk and I was contracting on the way home but, of course, that has stopped now. I'm taking LOTS of oil of evening primrose. I'm drinking LOTS of raspberry leaf tea. Yes, I've had sex. And this afternoon, I'm whipping out the breast pump to try that out. I've also tried some accupressure. But, I've also come to realize that this baby will come when it is time for it to come, probably in spite of all the things I'm trying.

What would be nice is if people would stop asking me "No baby yet, eh?" No, no baby yet. But thanks for ensuring I don't feel any pressure. I'm sure that helps.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I gave in

I saw this costume in Old Navy and gave in. Emily said she wanted it and I obliged. Until now I have not done anything Hallowe'eenie with Emily. But this year I thought it would be fun to find a community party or something and so I was on the lookout for a costume. Now that I've dressed her in it (its a purple dragon by the way... the picture isn't great quality so it is kind of hard to tell), I'm kind of glad I went for it... for the pictures alone. Oh, and of course the fact that no good parent would allow a 2-year old to eat all that candy by herself. That would be irresponsible.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Squirrel is asking for it

It also seems that the squirrel has a death wish. John watched him climb the screen door again this morning heading towards the hole again. John was in the kitchen so scared him off before he got there (the glass door was closed anyway) but it seems we might have to take some serious action against squirrel. And I'm not talking cayenne pepper.

I thought it was happening

Yesterday starting around noon I felt very crampy and it seemed to be happening in regular sort of intervals. By evening, it had developed into definite contractions. So, I prepared everything in the basement so we'd be ready if it developed into a more established labour. By 9:00 in the evening, I decided to time the contractions and they were 11 minutes apart. Not very strong though - just tight, achy and some pressure. I could definitely talk through them. I got on the exercise ball and stayed there for a while. By 10:00, we went to bed and I was able to sleep through them and by 1:30 they were gone. So, I guess it was early labour/practice labour. Anyway, things must be close to happening ... stay tuned!

Friday, September 01, 2006

What happened to my spine?

I was taking a nap this morning after I dropped Emily off at Dawn's. After sleeping for an hour, I heard a noise downstairs. I went to check it out and found a black squirrel sitting on the bake table in the kitchen. I had left the glass patio door open so it was just the screen door there. But, this is something I always do and it's never a problem. It wasn't ajar. However, I could see two smallish holes about chest height (see photo evidence). The damn squirrel had obviously jumped from the deck railing onto the door and clawed its way in to get at my oh-so-delicious banana bread.

It was freaked out when it saw me. In my infinite wisdom, I yelled at it (hoping to scare it back through its entry way) and then when that didn't work, I smartly chucked something at it. Of course, all this did was force it to leap through the opening to the living room and hang out in there. So, I opened the screen door hoping it would return to the kitchen and run out the back.

I grabbed a mop and went into the living room. I jabbed towards it trying to make it flee back through the opening to the kitchen. No luck. It ran by me towards the front screen door and took a flying leap onto that screen which, of course, only frustrated the squirrel. It took another run at it. By this time, I was on the phone with John who encouraged me to use the mop, chase it, etc, etc. My biggest worry was that it would head upstairs. I didn't want the thing in the bedrooms and I didn't want to have to follow it up there.

Of course, its next course of action was to go upstairs (you could've guessed that, right?). So, back on the phone with John. He suggested I go get Kumar (our neighbour) to help me. Of course, Kumar wasn't home. So, rather than chase it upstairs, I propped open the front screen door now giving it two wide openings to the outside and I sat in the living room (mop in hand) and waited for it to come back downstairs and peacefully make its way outside.

I should say at this point that people with spines would have just gone upstairs but here's the thing for me: I hate squirrels. I hate them in houses, cottages etc. I don't even like them much outside. Last summer I became known around the cottage as Mengele because I waged war on a brood of squirrels that were constantly coming into the cottage, eating our food, running along the wiring in the ceiling etc. They were hissing and climbing the walls. I tried the humane approach but eventually about 6 squirrels ended up going swimming and being buried behind the shed (and thus the name Mengele was applied to me). It was the killing fields.

The squirrel of today was a large, black squirrel rather than the smaller, red squirrels at the cottage. This was a different league. These guys seem a little more vicious and I feel pretty vulnerable when squirrels are in my house/cottage and are perched above my head where they can easily fly towards my face, claws flying. So, that is why I wanted no piece of chasing it upstairs. I also wanted to see it go out a door and I thought that if I chased it from upstairs I wouldn't necessarily see it leave (leaving me to wonder if it was still somewhere in the house/vents).

So after I came back from confirming Kumar wasn't home, John phoned to tell me he was borrowing a car and coming to help me. Thank me stars! He came home and within five minutes the squirrel was flying out the front door (really, it was flying). I closed everything, told John he was my hero, he laughed at me and my pathetic (yet well-grounded) fear of squirrels and was on his way. I went back to the kitchen to clean up (luckily there wasn't too much of a mess). As I was sweeping I saw a movement on the deck.

It was the squirrel. He was peering up at the hole he made and clearly wondering if he could get back in. Honestly, can you blame me for waging my war on these things? I don't think the gene pool is missing those six from last summer. Natural selection. If these guys dare to come near me, then they deserve what they get. Unfortunately, there is no lake nearby for me to test out his swimming skills so I'll have to put up with him until something else higher on the food chain gives him what's coming to him.

The plus side to all of this, is that I'm hoping the stress/excitement will put me into labour because I'm really ready to have this baby.