Update: 1 month post return to work

Hiya!  As promised, here’s an update on life after returning to work.  It’s been over a month since I last posted.  So sorry for being MIA!!  I don’t like making excuses, but I do have a couple.  😉  Firstly, we’ve been sick as dogs for over a month thanks to the super bug my daughter bought home from daycare.  Only in the last two weeks or so have we been feeling human again.  Scratch that.  Since starting this post, we had a stomach bug and baby is sick again.  🙁   Secondly, since returning to work,

I am just plain tired all the time and have less free time to blog.  Well, just in case you were wondering, I thought I would fill you in on how things are going….

close up thermometer on schedule with pills

Photo by Daphoto

Daycare

Before I went back to work, I was very concerned that my daughter would not adjust to being in daycare.  This is because she was very unhappy, by unhappy I mean cried A LOT, during gradual entry.  Even during the first couple of weeks after gradual entry, she cried quite a bit, but that could’ve been partly because she was extra cranky from being sick.  Luckily, my husband does the pick up and drop off so I don’t have to see her being upset.  In the last three weeks, though, things have changed.  She now willingly goes to the daycare teachers, when before it required some coaxing and distractions.  She doesn’t cry when my husband leaves.  She just waves good-bye.  They tell us that she doesn’t cry anymore while she’s there.  She’s doing well, eats a lot and sleeps well.  In fact she naps longer when she’s in daycare than at home.  When my husband picks her up, he finds her happily playing.  She waves at him when she sees him and doesn’t whine or cry for him to pick her up.  This change is bittersweet for my husband and I.  We are happy that she is finally comfortable in the care of others, but we are also a bit sad that she doesn’t need us all the time anymore.  My baby is growing up… 🙁

cute little girl drawing with pencil in kindergarten

Photo by Olesiabilkei

Work

Work has been okay.   I’ve been pretty good at going home on time and not working crazy hours.  I’ve only had two long days thus far.  But then again, I’ve just started two new projects and the work load hasn’t gotten too heavy yet.  Pre-baby days, I used to work minimum 10 hour days and also worked on the weekends often.  Hopefully, those days are long gone as my priorities have now changed.

Pipette with drop of liquid and lab equipment on the seascape (collage)

Collage by Zakiroff

Home Life

Having a child certainly changes things.  We are no longer on our own schedule.  We cannot come and go as we please.  After rushing home from work, we try to get dinner on the table as soon as possible so that we can all have dinner together and spend a little time together before baby’s 7:30pm bedtime.  Cooking dinner or doing anything for that matter is a challenge these days.  Baby has yet to outgrow her separation anxiety.  In order to get anything done, one of us stays with her while the other cooks or cleans.  Either that or we get our chores done while she’s napping or after she’s down for the night.  Because of this, we try to make quick and easy meals, like Charlie’s lemongrass pork (also tastes great with boneless chicken thighs).  We try to plan out our meals for the week so that we know exactly what we’re going to eat.  Weekends are left for the fun stuff: laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.  Why does it seem like there are always endless piles of dishes and laundry to do? 🙁

orange in the grocery store

Photo by voronin76

Tired all the time

You guessed it.  I am tired all the time!  Doesn’t help that for the past month, baby has decided 5:30am is a good time to wake up. 😛  Doesn’t matter that I get at least 6 hours of sleep each night.  By mid-week, I am ready to conk out pretty much right after baby goes to bed.  Maybe my low energy is from all the rushing around I do all day.  Rushing to get out of the house in the morning to beat traffic and get to work early.  Rushing at work to get all my stuff done.  Rushing home to make dinner.  Rush, rush, rush.  I signed up for yoga to slow down, to relax and for some “me time”.  Even though class is only once a week, I’ve managed to miss half of them due to either being sick, coming home late from work and just wanting to spend more time with baby.  There are not enough hours in the day!

alarm clock and book on bed

Photo by Rita Blue

That’s all for now, folks.

How do you find balance between family and work?  How do you find time to do everything?  Please share!

First week back at work

Good morning!  How is everyone’s Monday going?  Last week was my first week back at work after being on maternity leave for a year.  On top of that the whole house was and is still, as I type, sick.  Well the dog isn’t.  Lucky guy.  Since it started with baby, I blame it on daycare.  She must have caught something during her gradual entry.  Sigh….daycare, can’t live without it, can’t live with it.  Anyhoo, needless to say, having a sick, extra clingy baby did not make the week easier.  I had a lot of anxiety about going back to work.  Here are a few reasons why:

Leaving my baby

This wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  I think it was because I knew she was in good hands.  Since she was sick, she was only able to go to daycare one day.  The other days, my husband and mom took care of her, whom I trusted would care for her to the best of their abilities.  Even so, I checked in with my husband multiple times a day, but did restrict myself to calling my mom only once.  While she was in daycare, I left it to my husband to check in on her.  The first day back at work was a little tough because everyone asked how I was feeling about being back and how my baby was.  This made me think about her, how she was sick and I wasn’t with her.  So, I was fine, if I didn’t think or talk about her.  Easy, right?  The transition was definitely easier for her than for me.  She would wave goodbye to me in the mornings and when I returned at night, she would look up from whatever she was doing and just smile.  She did not cling to me as I left the house or cry for me to hold her when I got home.  I am a bit sadden by this, that she does not need me so much anymore.  But I suppose this is a good thing.

Going back to work

Office

Photo by Mantinov

While on maternity leave, I kept in touch with a few co-workers and had also been checking work email, so I knew what was going on.  In the past year, the company and my department has grown substantially.  There have been a bunch of new hires and our department has expanded both in manpower and space.  What I was anxious about was going back and being the “new” person, even though I had already worked there longer than the people who were hired while I was away.  I was worried that I would have to rebuild old relationships and not be “in the know” anymore.  I was worried for nothing.  All my co-workers were so happy to see me come back.  I had the same rapport with everyone as I had before I left.  I was able to jump right into the lab since I didn’t have to be trained and get started with experiments (this helped with keeping my mind off baby).

Lab Experiments

Photo by jk1991

It was like I never left.  I was new, but aside from not knowing the names connected to a bunch of new faces and where my desk and the washroom were, a lot has remained the same.  I have to admit that going to work is like going on a mini vacation away from baby each day.  I get to get “dressed up”, put on some makeup,  have “adult” conversations and finish a meal.  Maybe going back to work is a good thing.  Maybe it’s good for me….

Driving

Shift Gears

Photo by Alex White

Even though I’ve had my license for years, I’ve never had my own car so I am a very inexperience driver.  I always just took transit everywhere.  When I was in university, it would sometimes take an hour to get to school by bus because of traffic, but I didn’t mind.  I was able to study or sleep on the bus.  No stress of being behind the wheel while sleep derived.  When I started working, I either lived really close to work or lived close to transit so driving to work was unnecessary.  Before baby was born, we moved into a new place, that is not so transit friendly.  It would take me about 50 minutes to get to work by bus, but that’s if I catch the bus at the right time.  If I didn’t, I would have to wait 20 to 30 minutes since the bus doesn’t come very often.  Even though I had started driving more while on maternity leave (to go yoga, to go buy groceries and yarn 😉 ), these trips were short.  I did not have to drive on the highway or cross a bridge, something I would have to do to go to work.  Up until the night before work I was still thinking about taking the bus.  When I told my husband this, he said, “I didn’t know you were a coward!”   Well, that made me a little mad.  So, I did a test run.  I got onto the highway and drove across the bridge and back.  It wasn’t so bad because it was after dinner on a Sunday.  There wasn’t a lot of cars on the road.  This gave me the confidence to take the car the next day.  Oh boy, I was nervous that first morning.  There were way more cars than the night before.  But that kind of made merging onto the highway easier.  The rest of the way to work was uneventful.  On the way home, however, I wasn’t very careful when changing lanes after getting on the highway, that I almost caused an accident.  Scared the #*$% out of me!   After a week of driving back and forth, I am still anxious and not very confident behind the wheel.  Hopefully, that will change with time.

So, that was my first week back at work.  It wasn’t so bad, after all.  We will see how the next weeks and months play out.

How did you deal with going back to work after having baby? 

Gradual entry into daycare – Days 3 to 5

Day 2 of gradual entry into daycare was rough.  Here’s how the rest of the week went:

Day 3

After a tearful day 2, I had a little chat with a friend who had already gone through the process.  She gave me some advice, “Don’t doddle.  Make goodbyes short and sweet.  Just like ripping off a bandaid.”  I did just this at drop off on day 3.  I handed my daughter over to the teacher, said, “goodbye, I love you” and walked away.  She started crying immediately, but I kept on walking.  Unlike day 2, I was free to leave the facilities since they already had all our completed paperwork.  The plan was for my daughter to be there alone for 3.5 hours.

I actually got a lot done during those hours away from my daughter.  I didn’t want to stray too far from the daycare, so I went to the mall, not just to wander around aimlessly for I had missions to complete.  Shopping trips these days now involve looking for stuff for baby or other people’s babies.  The first mission was to find non-slip shoes for daycare.  Why is it so hard to find shoes for babies?  And why do they need them anyway if they don’t walk?  The second mission was to find a gift for a kid’s birthday party we’re attending this weekend.  And the last mission was to find new work clothes.  But why do I need new work clothes anyway?  Is it so bad to wear the same clothes if you still fit them and there’s nothing wrong with them?  But I digress.  Aside from the last mission, the trip to the mall was a success.  Shoes and pjs for baby check.  Present for kid’s party check.  I even had time to get some grocery shopping done and made some phone calls and lunch dates with my supervisor and work colleagues.

I called the daycare about an hour and a half after I left her.  They said that she was crying on and off and didn’t eat much at breakfast (maybe due to discomfort from bowel movements).  When I called she was napping.  Apparently, she went down easily.  I guess my sleep training helped.  When I returned, the kids were being served lunch.  I could hear my daughter crying and complaining as I walked toward the classroom.  She was in a highchair, not wanting to eat anymore having already eaten quite a bit, according to the teacher.  When she saw me, she cried and immediately wanted out of the highchair to be in my arms.  The teacher assured me that the crying was normal and that she’d seen worse.  Apparently they’d previously had a child that cried non-stop for 6 months.  Yikes!   After a few tears and cuddles, my daughter was herself again, smiling and waving goodbye to everyone.

As I left the daycare, a few things crossed my mind:

  1. I thought how much trust you have to put into complete strangers when you leave your child with them.  Did she really just cry on and off or did she cry the entire time?  Did she really eat?  I guess I just have to take their word for it.
  2. Did I not do enough to prep her for this transition?  Is she naturally more clingy or did I make her that way?  Did I not take her out enough to socialize with other people and babies?  Was mother goose, story time and swimming once a week not enough?
  3. I hope that she will never forget that….

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Day 4

My husband dropped baby off on his way to work so that I wouldn’t have to drive back and forth 4 times.  She was to be there from 9am to 2:30pm.  Since my husband dropped her off, I didn’t have to rush to get ready and was able to squeeze in some cuddles in bed with baby before they left.  With my morning free, I was able to spend some quality time with my fur baby.  🙂

13124769_10153395200771571_6057103143554230598_nWhen I called to check in, they said she again cried on and off after daddy dropped her off, but she enjoyed the cream of wheat breakfast and had a long morning nap.  She did much better in the afternoon after eating a bit of lasagna for lunch and drinking some milk.  She was actually playing quietly on her own they said.  Even after hearing this, I was anxious.  My tummy was uneasy like I was about to poop my pants.  This was the feeling I got before I left the house to go pick her up.  What would I find?

I was 30 minutes early.  To my shock, when I walked into the building, it was quiet.  As I walked toward her classroom, I was not greeted with sounds of her cries.  Could there be light at the end of the tunnel?  She was, as they said, playing on the ground by herself.  She was fine.  Fine, until she saw me.  The moment she saw me, she started to cry.  She wanted me.  She cried and screamed hysterically on the car ride all the way home.  I forgot to bring snacks to make the ride more enjoyable.  She normally doesn’t like being strapped in and me not being next to her after a long day apart made the ride even worse.  Not even my tone deaf singing was able to calm her down.  She just wanted to be held.

Day 5

Day 5 of gradual entry was to be the longest.  She was to be there from 9am to 4pm.  She was not happy to get into the car seat in the morning.  Did she know where we were going?  Unlike yesterday, singing helped.  I cycled between wheels on the bus, twinkle twinkle little star, itsy bitsy spider, slippery fish and you are my sunshine over and over again.

Before I left her in the classroom, I saw that sad little girl from day 1.  She was upset again, so I smiled, said hi and asked her how she was doing.  She said quietly, “miss daddy”.  🙁

Once again, baby cried when I said goodbye and walked away.  Funny enough as she was crying, she was also waving bye bye to me at the same time.  Silly girl.  I guess that’s an improvement.

I waited until after lunch to call to check up on her.  Boy did the time pass slowly.  Every time I looked at the clock, only 30 minutes had passed.  It is so weird being home without her.  So quiet.  I had to keep myself busy cleaning and getting ready for my return to work.  I packed up some baby things we no longer needed (breast pump, clothes and toys she’s outgrown) and did some re-organizing of my closet.

When I called, they told me that she was crying on and off more today than the other day.  She had an hour nap in the morning and didn’t eat much lunch (none of the kids did apparently because lunch was egg sandwich).  She wasn’t even happy to play in the sandbox, which she usually likes to do.  Why was she extra upset today?  Was it because I had dropped her off instead of dad?  Like the day before, she was much better in the afternoon.  She had some one on one time with the teacher while the other kids were napping and they had a pretend tea party.  When I picked her up, she had just woken up from a long afternoon nap.  I guess it’s a good thing that she comfortable enough to able to sleep there.

So, that’s was the last day of gradual entry.  The week was full of ups and downs.  Baby still cries on and off while there by herself.  It’s not like she never cries at home.  So why am I so hung up on the fact that she cries on and off at daycare?  I guess it will take some time for her to adjust.  Hopefully, not 6 months.

Ready or not, I go back to work next week and she will be doing full days in daycare.  Wish us luck!

Gradual entry into daycare – Day 2

Day 2 of gradual entry into daycare started out better than day 1.  Once again, I pressed the snooze button when the alarm went off, but baby woke us up so we didn’t sleep in like the day before.  We had, so I thought, enough time to eat breakfast since the daycare told us to come later.  Even with the extra time, we still left the house 20 minutes later than my husband had suggested.  Rush, rush, rush.  Is this how it’s going to be when I go back to work?  Traffic was good and I would’ve made it on time if it didn’t take 5 minutes for me to park.  And I wasn’t even parallel parking!  Shows how inexperienced of a driver I am, but that’s another story.

The plan for today was for baby to spend 2 hours there, but with me in another room.  We entered the daycare as they were just settling down for the baby signs lesson.  My daughter must have sensed my anxiety over leaving her because unlike yesterday, she stuck to me pretty closely.  She was not interested in the baby signs and the other children.  She was more interested in the murals and mirrors on the wall and did not want to go to the daycare workers.  While I was with her, I saw the same sad little girl I saw yesterday, except she looked even sadder today.  During the 20 minutes I stayed with my daughter, this little girl sat and cried quietly.  I wanted to go over and give her a hug, but it was not my place.  The only thing the daycare workers did to comfort her was ask if she was okay.   Is that good enough?

I took my opportunity to escape leave when my daughter began to show interest in some toys.  She started to cry as soon as I said good-bye and started walking away.  I went down the hall and sat near the reception area.  From what I could hear, she cried loudly for a good 10 to 15 minutes.  It was heartbreaking and felt like sleep training all over again.  Luckily, they were doing some cleaning of the facility and her cries (and my tears) were drowned out by the sounds of a vacuum.  I thought I heard her crying non-stop, but when I checked on her after 30 minutes, the daycare worker I spoke to said the cries were from other kids.  They said that she was better after they gave her breakfast and changed her poppy diaper and was only crying on and off a bit.  She didn’t see me, but I could see that she was crawling on the ground by herself and was whining a little, making it known that she was not happy at all.  I went back to my little area and spent the next 30 minutes looking at photos of her on dropbox.  I have taken thousands of photos of her since she was born and the majority are photos of her being silly, laughing, smiling and happy.  Happy was not how she was feeling at that moment.  How could I put her in any situation that would make her unhappy?  After another 30 minutes of crying on and off, I went to her.  I decided that an hour was enough for her (and me).  I thought it would be better for her to end the day there happy rather than sad.  She clung onto me for dear life as soon as she saw me.  After a few minutes of comforting, I led her to the others and she began playing with a big box of dried pasta.  She really enjoyed this activity, but for the rest of the time we were there, she kept her eye on me and was never too far away.

At the end, the daycare worker told me that my daughter seemd better when they left her alone.  That she got more worked up when they interacted with her.  Is that why they didn’t comfort that girl?  As I left the daycare, I wondered if my baby will ever adjust.  Will she become that sad little girl overtime?  Will she feel abandoned and alone and willl her loud protests and cries become muted?

It is midnight now as I finish this post.  I am tired.  I am drained.  I am dreading day 3.

Gradual entry into daycare – Day 1

This week, my daughter started gradual entry into daycare, where she will be spending a few hours each day there so that she gets used to the people and environment.  She will be attending daycare two days a week once I return to work next week.  This is my account of events.

Day 1 started a little rough.  We just return from vacationing in Hawaii on Saturday so we are still on island time.  We all ignored the alarm and woke up late, leaving only about 15 mintues to get ready.  These days with baby, it takes at least 30-45 minutes to get out of the house.  To save time, we ate breakfast in the car and luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad so we were only 15 minutes late.

We spent about 2 hours there.  The plan for this first day was for me to be with my daughter for the duration that we were there.  To my surprise, she did better than I thought.  She didn’t stick to me like glue the whole time as she usually does these days (separation anxiety is alive and well).  She even let the daycare workers carry her around even though she had only met them briefly 2 times prior.   This is surprising because it still takes her a while to warm up to her grandparents, aunts and uncles after not seeing them for a while.   There were a few moments when she got upset when she didn’t see me or wanted me to hold her.  But she did go explore on her own and “played” with the other kids.  She really enjoyed the breakfast they provided (she loves to eat), the music and dancing “class”, and playing in the sandbox.

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I think the first day was harder on me than on my daughter.   Why?  Because there were a  few kids there that didn’t seem too happy to be there.  There was this one particularly sad looking little girl there who caught my attention.  She’s only been attending this daycare for about a month, but I’d heard from the workers that she’s had a tough time adjusting.   When I sat next to her during the baby sign lesson, she turned to me and said in her tiny pleading voice, “I want my daddy.”  That just about broke my heart.  I was so close to bawling my eyes out and taking my daughter home right then and there.  Sure, she was fine at that moment sitting with one of the workers at the opposite end of the room.   But how will she be when I’m not there?  Will she cry and want someone to take her to me or my husband?  I guess we will see on day 2….

Best baby advice given to me before birth

A co-worker, who already had a child and was expecting another one around the same time as I was, told me not to have high expectations and that it wasn’t always going to be easy.  I thought this was the best baby advice given to me before birth.  Truth be told I’m a glass half empty kind of person, so I didn’t think it would be easy.  Call me pessimistic, but I think it’s the best way to live.  Having low expectations means having little disappointment.    Anything above and beyond what you expect would be a bonus.  So, we had breastfeeding issues and baby did not sleep well the first few months, no sweat.  Having a baby isn’t easy.  😉  With time and consultation with a lactation consultant, the breastfeeding issues were resolved.   She also slept better after some sleep training.  It got easier, until something else comes up, like teething or a cold or what we are dealing with right now – separation anxiety.

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As I look back now, my co-worker probably also told me that although it won’t be easy, it would be worth it and that I should savour every moment.  I was probably just too focused on the negative to hear the latter.  I tend to do that – focus on the negative rather than the positive.  If someone were to ask me for baby advice, I would definitely tell them to savour every moment because in a blink of an eye, your baby would’ve changed and not be the same as they were last month or last week or even yesterday.  In a blink of an eye, they would no longer be that tiny newborn who could barely keep their eyes open.  Before you know it, they will start to roll over, then crawl and run.  They change so quickly and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  I would advise moms to be to cherish the first smiles, hiccups and giggles.

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This is where I’m at now.  A year has past since my baby girl was born.  I cannot believe how fast it’s gone by.  One minute, I was having contractions and the next, my little baby is now a toddler who would prefer to furniture surf than be held, who is no longer content just sitting in one spot but is curious and prefers to explore.  I am in awe of the new things she learns everyday and her increasing understanding of language.  I look forward to the day when she can walk, speak and feed herself, but I also miss the “simplier” days when she was content just eating and sleeping the day away.

What was the best baby advice given to you?

 

My Birth Story

As my due date drew nearer, I found myself visiting a lot of mom blogs to see birth stories for an idea of what to expect.  It was my first time and I was clueless. I had taken a birthing class but it seemed too textbook: there are three stages, labor, birth and afterbirth.  Don’t go to the hospital too soon, or you’ll be sent home. Don’t go too late or else…

I did pay attention, I really did, but it was months ago and I just couldn’t get a good idea of the general timeline or how I would know how everything is proceeding, well or not.

Holding hands with Newborn hands

My Birth Story

So here is my birth story.  The shortish version is that my water broke, sorta, and so I was admitted into the hospital before my contractions started.  Turned out I had a double amniotic sac and only the outer layer had broken.  I ended up getting an amniotomy (AROM) because my unborn daughter and I both developed a temperature.  I also ended up getting an epidural with mixed feelings as it wasn’t originally a part of my birth plan, but having it resulted in such an easy, enjoyable, painless (except for the burning sensation from the Pitocin) and most importantly quick delivery that with 20/20 hindsight I wish I had gotten it as soon as it was offered.  Another benefit was I didn’t feel the episiotomy or the stitches afterwards, although a part of me still feels like I missed the full experience of giving birth to my daughter.  And in the future, when she is being an insufferable teenager, I can’t say I had a rough time bringing her into this world.

Just kidding.  But not really.  Anyways, now the loooooooong version.

3 AM – Water Breaks

According to Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, a pregnancy and childbirth expert, only 13% of water breaks before labor.  Well, two days after my due date, I think my water broke. At 3 AM in the morning, a warm wet feeling in my nether region, like a heavy period or a (female) wet dream, woke me from my sleep.  I had started wearing a pad and was sleeping on a few towels just in case (yeah, I am prepared like that!) so I wasn’t worried about cleaning up, instead I was staring at a damp pad. So did my water break? I didn’t have any contradictions yet so from what I can google, I shouldn’t be going to the hospital either case.

I wasn’t sure if my water broke but I was too excited to fall back asleep so I just wandered around the house organizing this and that until around 6 AM when the mister woke up for work.

He called the 24 hr answering service for the obgyn office and left a message.  The obgyn who was on call returned his call around 7 AM and after asking about my COAT (color, odor, amount and time) told me to go to the hospital for a check up, given the fact I had no check ups the 3 recent weeks, and that I was already past my due date.

8 AM – Arrive at Hospital

Since we only lived 10 minutes from the hospital, I took a shower first and ate breakfast and still arrived before 8 AM.  However, the receptionists, reasonably, admitted the moms arriving in active labor first so I wait until almost 10 AM before seeing the room where the magic will happen.

Hospital delivery room

My newborn awaiting testing in the hospital delivery room

I still had no contractions and not sure if the water broke so a nurse examined me and confirmed with litmus paper, and reconfirmed under the microscope that the water had broken.  But by noon (8 to 9 hours since my water broke) I was still only a few centimeters dilated and didn’t have contractions yet.

3 PM – Started Temperature (Fever)

Over the next few hours, I started getting contractions.  They were fairly regular, intense and lasted 45 to 60 seconds and were 3 to 5 minutes apart.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is the active labor phase and when I should have headed to the hospital.  With my contractions, I also felt chills and started to shake uncontrollably. I had a fever/ temperature and was given antibiotics through IV.

4 PM – Amniotomy

The obstetrician examined me and said my amniotic sac was still intact and after conferring with the nurses and reviewing the test results, determined that I had a double sac and only the outer layer had ruptured.  I don’t recall making a decision but the obstetrician performed an amniotomy, otherwise known as an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). I didn’t remember reading or learning anything about this before but apparently it’s common although not always necessary.

5 PM – Epidural

The obstetrician and nurses who came to check on me, and there were many had all highly recommended I get an epidural.  I was originally noting down people’s names so I can send thank you cards, but there were approximately 5 new faces every 4 hours. By now I had been introduced to at least 20 different people.  I declined the epidural repeatedly, partly because I am scared of needles, and even more scared of urinary catheters, and partly because I had wanted to feel the whole birthing experience.

I persisted until my daughter’s heart rate stayed high even when I wasn’t having contractions and I started having a temperature.  The obstetrician said if things don’t progress really really quickly, it’s highly likely I would need a cesarean section and then I would have to get an epidural or anesthesia anyway.  I didn’t want to risk my daughter’s health so I readily agreed to an epidural at this point.

She also wondered if I might be suppressing the contractions to limit the pain (only normal right?) and so it might progress faster if I wasn’t feeling the contractions.

An hour later, I met with the anesthesiologist.  The anesthesiologist was very nice and addressed my concerns and tried to calm my fears.  The local anesthesia felt like a small cold pinch – like a typical flu shot or blood draw.  It worked quickly because I didn’t feel any pain when the epidural needle or the tube that replaced it were inserted. I had sat and leaned forward for the procedure.

In less than half an hour, I suddenly felt no more pain.  Wow!  I can feel the tightening and the pressure of the contractions but there was no discomfort.  Did I say wow?  The epidural tube was connected to an automatic pump so the dosage could be dialed up or down easily.  I had requested the lowest dose possible to start, knowing that I can always increase the dosage if required.

With the epidural at the lowest dosage, I could still move my legs if I tried to, but I didn’t feel any discomfort from the contractions.  I also didn’t feel the episiotomy, a surgical cut in the perineum to facilitate delivery and reduce the likelihood of tearing.  I also didn’t feel the urinary catheter insertion which was one of my biggest fears for getting an epidural.  My grandmother, before she passed away, had told me several times she mostly dreaded her hospital stays because of how uncomfortable it was to have a urinary catheter inserted so I had not wanted to ever experience it for myself.

In fact, the Pitocin, a hormone to cause uterus contractions, which made my hand and most of my arm feel like it was burning, was the most painful part of the whole delivery.

9 PM – Delivery

Just 3 hours later, maybe because of the epidural, or the amniotomy, or the Pitocin, or some combination of those three, I was ready.  The nurse called the obstetrician because I was crowning.  I of course couldn’t feel it.  So I pushed when they said push and 4 pushes later, 3.5 pushes if I want to be exact, my baby was out.  It could have been only 3 pushes, but I ran out of breath on that third push it was totally weak sauce.

My newborn came into the room and said “eh” once.  And that was the end of my birth story and the start of a completely new one where we are both still writing together everyday.

Newborn foot print

The nurse made a foot print of our newborn for us upon request after her bath. But they no longer did hand prints.

Looking for more birth stories?  Check out Melissa’s amazing home birth story!  They are more rare than my birthing class led me to believe.

 

Best Housewarming Gift Ever

I am sorry if you thought you were going to get a list of most awesome housewarming gift ideas.  What you’re going to get instead is so much better – a recount of how I came to have a home birth.  😉  Bear with me, this is a long one.

Let me start by saying that it was not how I had imagined I would have my baby.  I thought, like the majority of births in Canada, that I would have my baby in a hospital.  In fact less than 2% (7000/380000) of births in 2012 were outside the hospital.   A similar statistic  is seen in the United States (53,000 home births in 2012 out of 3.95 million births or 1.36%, the highest % since 1975).  I did not that know what I did was so uncommon.

My plan was to also have a physician deliver my baby.  There were a few reasons why I ended up in the care of midwives.  I didn’t have a regular family doctor, well not after I became an “adult”, anyway.  I went to walk-in clinics when I needed to.  So when I became pregnant, I went to my usual walk-in clinic to confirm the pregnancy and they referred me to a maternity clinic near where I lived.   This clinic was supposed to call me for an appointment but they never did.  By the time I finally got an appointment with them, there was a mad rush to try to get me in for the prenatal genetic testing.  We were able to have the testing done in time but it was stressful not knowing why I wasn’t contacted for an appointment and that I might have missed the window for the testing.  Aside from the mix-up, I had 3 appointments with the clinic and each time the appointments before me ran late and I had to wait for 30-60 minutes for 10-15 minutes of face time.  Is this the norm in other places?   Being busy and not having a lot of time to read on my own, I wanted more time with the experts to answer all my questions.   Also, there were 7 physicians in the clinic and whoever was on call the day I go into labour would deliver my baby.  So there was a high chance that I wouldn’t even know the doctor that delivers my baby if I don’t meet him or her during my prenatal appointments.  I wanted to build a relationship and have a rapport with the person who was going to “catch” my baby.   These were the reasons I decided to seek out the care of midwives.

After I switched to midwives, I still had to wait for my appointments, but the waits were shorter and the appointments longer (at least 45 minutes) so I had more time to connect with each of them.   There were 3 midwives who cared for me rather than 7.   Since I was having a low risk pregnancy, we had discussed the option of having a home birth, but this wasn’t an option for me.  I was set on having a hospital birth.  I thought I would be more comfortable with that.  I thought I would feel more secure in a hospital environment.

Our baby decided to arrive 10 days after we moved into our new home.  She had perfect timing!  I was already off work and had unpacked the essentials for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.  Our new sofa had arrived and the living room was pretty much set up.  My husband played his last round of golf the morning before my contractions started and we even managed to have my in-laws over for dinner.

My contractions started around 10:30pm that night.  Maybe baby wanted to come out and have a taste of Japanese food herself.  😉  The contractions started at about 10 minutes apart and progressed, in my opinion, slowly.  I couldn’t sleep all night.  It was too painful for me to lie down or sit during the contractions so I was standing or pacing into the early morning.  During those wee hours, as I tried to cope with the pain, I thought about how I was going to go to the hospital when the time came.  How was I going to sit in the car during the contractions when it was too painful to sit?  How long would it take to get to the hospital?  The hospital was only about 15 minutes away, but what if we hit rush hour traffic?  What if there was an accident?  The contractions were not 3 minutes apart until about 7 am.  My husband called the midwives at around 8 am.  By then, I was almost certain, but not positive, that I didn’t want to go to the hospital.  The midwife came a short time later.  She checked on me and the baby.  We were both doing fine, aside from me throwing up all over the powder room floor from being exhausted.  I was only 5 cm dilated so there was still some time to go.  The midwife reassured me that it would be safe to have to baby at home, so that’s what I decided to do.

When I made the decision to not go to the hospital, I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural if I wanted one.  It wasn’t in the birth plan.  I wanted an un-medicated birth, but at times, the pain seemed so unbearable that I think I would’ve asked for an epidural if I was in the hospital.  To cope with the pain, the midwife suggested I soak in the bathtub.  I’m not a bath person (think it’s gross to soak in dirty water), so I was reluctant, but I gave it a try and it really helped.  That was another perk to staying at home, since the hospital I planned to deliver at didn’t have tubs, only showers.

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When it came time to push, we tried many different positions, and moved from bathroom to the bedroom floor, to the bed.  Obviously, we were not prepared for a home birth since we didn’t plan for one.   We hadn’t bought one of those home birth kits, which basically includes a bunch of plastic bags to keep your furniture clean.  But the midwife was resourceful.   She put a shower curtain under our sheets to protect the mattress.  And it didn’t get too messy aside from a few dirty towels.  Sorry if this is too much information.  We even learned a few things like use cold water, instead of hot to rinse out blood stains so that the stain doesn’t set and add salt to washing machine to get rid of the stains.

We didn’t let either of our families know that we were having the baby at home.   I didn’t want to hear their opinions on my decision or have them worry about whether it was safe or not.   We didn’t even tell them I was in labour until after baby arrived.   My mom wasn’t too happy about not being present, but I had everyone I wanted with me (my husband and the midwife).

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My baby arrived just before 3pm on our bed after about 2 hours of pushing.  She was perfect and healthy.  I had a bit of tearing which the midwife took care of.  In the end, having a home birth was the right decision for me.  Although we were only in our new place for a short time prior to the birth, I was comfortable there.  I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be present at the birth.  I was confident in the skills of the midwives and knew that they wouldn’t let me have a home birth if it wasn’t safe.  My daughter was the best housewarming gift I could’ve gotten.

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Pregnancy challenges and cravings

Have you read Charlie’s post about her three pregnancy challenges?  I, too, got leg cramps, but not to the extent that she did.  Ouch!  These were my pregnancy challenges and cravings…

I had a relatively painless pregnancy, well until the end anyway, but that’s another post to come…. This easy pregnancy was surprising to me because I am a high stressed/easily stressed person.  Given my personality, I thought I would have a tough pregnancy, but I didn’t even have high blood pressure the entire time.

Being pregnant wasn’t like what I’d seen in the movies.  I didn’t have bad morning sickness (except for one minor episode).  I had some nausea in the early months, which was easily cured by snacking, which in turn helped the constant hunger I felt.   You don’t know how many times I went to bed, after I had brushed by teeth, feeling like I wanted something to eat.  Most of the time I resisted and just went to sleep hungry.  A couple of times, I asked my husband to get me a snack and I ate in bed – a no no in my books on a regular day, but being pregnant I thought I would give myself a break.  😉

Cravings

I didn’t have majorly weird cravings.  No desire for pickles on ice cream for this lady.  No siree!  I did have an affinity for spicy foods, and seemingly an increased tolerance for it because whether it was curry or kimchi, it wasn’t spicy enough.  Whatever I ate just didn’t seem as flavourful as it used to be.  Maybe the extra spicy foods I ate is why my daughter turned out so sassy – total opposite of me!

My husband claims that I once had a craving for jalapeno cheddar bagels from this particular coffee shop chain one morning and sent him all over the city to get it for me.  Truth be told, I merely suggested it for breakfast.  Turns out, the closest shop to us was closed due to renovations after a fire and he had to go across town to the next closest one.  Took him an hour to come back with breakfast.  It was very sweet of him, but I would’ve lived if we had something else for breakfast.  🙂

My major pregnancy woes were the constant tiredness and restrictions.  Let me explain.

Constant fatigue

I felt like I had a cold the whole time I was pregnant, and I did for a good four months.  I was tired, ALL THE TIME.  I went from sleeping at around midnight to being in bed by 9:30pm.  Just like that, I turned into an old lady (no offense to those of you who sleep early).  Though I was tired and fell asleep easily, I often woke up in the middle of the night, sometimes due to leg cramps and sometimes to use the washroom.  Other times, I would wake at 3 or 4 am and have trouble falling back to sleep.  During those times, I took the opportunity to update my Facebook status or message friends on the east coast, who were already up and getting ready for work.  Good use of time wouldn’t you agree?   Later on in my pregnancy, it become even harder for me to sleep because of my big belly, which made me wish I had invested in a pregnancy pillow.  Do those things help?

Restrictions

Two of my biggest weakness are coffee and….baked goods of course.  They go hand in hand, right?  I thought I would have a tough time cutting back on the caffeine, since I usually drink more coffee than water, but it really wasn’t that bad.  Maybe the early bedtime helped.  Even though I knew I was allowed 2 cups a day, I usually only drank about half a cup.  I have since more than made up for all the coffee I could’ve had but didn’t. 😉

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Being in a higher risk group for developing gestational diabetes, my health care providers advised that I cut back the on the sugar intake.  I had to cut the sugar out of my coffee, which wasn’t difficult since I wasn’t drinking much anyway.  But cutting out baked good was extremely difficult.  I used to bake a lot.  And although I usually say I bake for my husband, I probably end up consuming more of it then he does.  I have a major sweet tooth.  I even had to cut back on some fruits because of the high sugar content. 🙁

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I also had trouble trying to eat healthy and getting enough of the right fats, nutrients, vitamins, yada, yada, yada…. It was hard enough for me to keep track of when to take my prenatal vitamins and iron and calcium supplements, let alone making sure I ate enough of the right foods.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  I mean, what did people do in the olden days when there weren’t prenatal vitamins, etc, and they had to worry about more important things like not being eaten by a dinosaur?  But I digress.

What were your pregnancy challenges?  Did you have any strange cravings?

 

 

My 3 Unexpected Pregnancy Challenges

Mother’s Day is less than a month away and so we wanted to share some of the milestones and challenges on our journey to motherhood.  Overall my pregnancy was easy and everything had gone smoothly but, I faced 3 challenges that I want to share:  leg cramps, anemia, and limited access to care during the Christmas holiday season.

LEG CRAMPS/ CHARLEY HORSE

Overall I had an easy pregnancy- no morning sickness, no excessive mood changes (I think), no real back pain, and only slight swelling despite 60+ lbs weight gain at the highest (I actually lost some weight in the third trimester). But. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious.  Were the leg cramps horrible! I didn’t know leg cramps were common in pregnancies (they are, particularly in the 2nd trimester) so I hadn’t expected them which made the first episode worse than it was because it scared me as much as it hurt.  I was worried the cramping was a sign that something terrible was happening and I was going to lose my baby (again).  

They were so frequent too.  Almost every morning when I woke, I was greeted by an excruciating one. Anytime I tried to stretch, hello leg cramp.  In a meeting at work? Cramp.  Whenever I got to a good part of a movie? Yikes. Trying to eat lunch or dinner? Cramp and cramp.  Sleep? Nah, it’s cramp time.  I cramped so often that my legs were constantly tired and hurt like I had a really good workout.

They were so frequent that I couldn’t risk driving to work (or anywhere).  When it was a severe cramp, which it often was in the 2nd trimester, the muscles in my leg (never both at the exact same time) would knot/ lump up and be rock hard and I would almost be immobile until the cramping stopped so I was worried that I would get into an accident if my leg cramped while I was driving.

5 THINGS I TRIED TO HELP PREVENT LEG CRAMPS

  • Staying well hydrated
  • Eating a calcium, potassium and magnesium rich diet (e.g. spinach, banana, yogurt, lentils, nuts & seeds, avocados etc.)
  • Wearing compression stocking or socks (support hose)
  • Stretching (shin and calf muscles in particular) and exercising
  • Resting and taking breaks often (even from sitting or walking or standing)

I had originally dreaded wearing compression socks, also good for reducing swelling, because I had ignorantly thought they would look ugly, but there are compression socks that look just like regular socks.  There were a large selection of compression socks with fun prints too!

5 THINGS I TRIED TO STOP/ RELIEVE LEG CRAMPS

  • Running water down leg in the sink or shower
  • Standing/ walking barefoot on a cold surface
  • Straightening leg and flex toes  
  • Applying heat (heat pad)
  • Massaging


Running water down my leg helped me the most while straightening my leg and stretching during a cramp sometimes helped but sometimes made it cramp worse for me.

 

ANEMIA/ B12 DEFICIENCY

Just went my legs stopped cramping as frequently, either due to my efforts above, or just because I was now in my 3rd trimester, my memory and concentration started to get notably terrible.  I had thought maybe pregnancy brain isn’t just a myth.  Turned out I was anemic, despite watching my nutrition closely on a daily basis.  Ensuring I got enough of everything was partly why I had such a big +60 weight gain.

My obgyn sent me to a hematologist who recommended iron supplements and B12 injections.  Luckily my legs were no longer cramping frequently because I had to drive to the hematologist often during my last trimester.  After the initial 3x a week B12 loading doses, I still had to return weekly for the B12 injections.

I still got blood work every six months after giving birth because I had decided to nurse my daughter.  When I stopped nursing, I also stopped monitoring my blood and last month, when I got a routine check up, I found out I was anemic again and made me worry about my daughter (since we have a similar diet) and I saw that it may affect IQ in children so I switched her multivitamin to one that includes iron too.

HELLO?  IS EVERYONE SERIOUSLY ON VACATION?

I was supposed to get weekly B12 injections but the month before my due date, I was unable to find anyone to administer it.  The hematologist I was seeing had gone on vacation and I couldn’t get any appointments with the doctors covering her.  Getting care only got worse from that point.

My baby’s due date was right around Christmas, and at the beginning of December, at the 37 week visit, the obgyn said she was concerned that my baby will have a low birth weight (~6lbs) and referred me to a mfm specialist.  But after arriving at the mfm’s office, the receptionist insisted I had no referral.  I persisted so an assistant briefly talked to me- to advise me that the mfm can’t see me, but she had describe my situation to the mfm, and both she and the mfm felt that due to my size (only 5’3”) a ~6lb baby would be normal, not low or concerning, especially since fetal weight estimation by ultrasound had a 15% margin of error in 85-90% of cases.  They do not believe I require mfm care and won’t set up any appointments for me.

I didn’t tell her that I had overheard her conversation with the mfm.  I also didn’t tell her that she neglected to relay the part where the mfm’s opinion was that my obgyn was just trying to dump my care on her since it was the holidays.

When I went back to my obgyn, I suspect the mfm’s opinion was correct as my 3 remaining weekly obgyn appointments, made a few months in advance, were all cancelled without my knowledge.  It was impossible to reschedule as no more appointments were available.  As a result, I had no prenatal care or checkups for the last three weeks until I delivered.

These 3 challenges aside though, I was very lucky and had a relatively smooth and easy pregnancy.  What challenges, if any, did you face in your pregnancy?

 

 

NOTE:  Please note that there are some affiliate links in this post; these were just products I had success using and wanted to review and share.  This post and blog are for information purpose only.  I am not giving any kind of education or medical advice (I don’t know what’s what).  Please consult your health care provider (pediatrician, physician, obgyn, mfm, hematologist, etc.) for diagnosis, treatment and medical advice.

 

Links/ resources for Pregnancy Leg Cramps/ Charley Horses:

 

 

Affiliate links: