Open Up! Brushing & Flossing My Toddler’s Teeth

We went to the dentist today for my daughter’s cleaning appointment.  She is not yet 3.5 years old and didn’t get her first tooth until she was almost 2 years old but she has been to the dentist 3 times already, which seems excessive to me.  But our dental plan covers a cleaning and check-up every 6 months, and so while I question whether such frequent dental visits are necessary, I take her anyways for peace of mind.  Our hygienist and dentist both mentioned that these initial visits were really for relationship building and for establishing good dental habits.

toddler getting teeth cleaned at dentist

So far so good.  My daughter was a trooper and got a reward in addition to a goody bag with a toothbrush of her choice (she picked Nemo because of the colors), a floss sample, and some travel-sized floss and kid’s toothpaste.  She was also entered into the monthly raffle for being cavity-free.

dentist goody bag

While my daughter didn’t get her first tooth until she was almost 2 years old, my friend’s baby was born with teeth.  When did your baby get his or her first tooth?

Typically, babies get their first teeth between 5 and 10 months old.  These primary teeth are sometimes called milk teeth because of their white color and are pushed out and replaced by the permanent teeth at around age 6.

The Importance of Primary Teeth

Caring for these primary teeth is important because they are just as prone to captivities as permanent teeth, and even though they will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth, they help baby chew, speak more clearly, and serve as placeholders in the gums for the permanent teeth.  If the primary teeth fall out prematurely, the permanent teeth may drift into the empty spaces, potentially making for a very crooked smile. So open up wide!

Our dentist had recommended practicing dental hygiene even before the first tooth and clean our baby’s gums with a wet washcloth or an extra soft baby toothbrush.  Then when she gets her first tooth, to start brushing with a small amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste until she is able to spit well.  But by the time my daughter got her first tooth, the guidelines must have changed, because our dentist recommended using fluoridated toothpaste from the get-go.

Getting a Toddler to Her Brush Teeth

Our dentist also gave some suggestions on getting my daughter to brush.  Most revolved around keeping the experience light and fun:

  1. singing a (silly brushing) song and incorporating the song into the routine
  2. letting my daughter pick her own toothbrush and or toothpaste
  3. playing brushing with her favorite toy
  4. allowing her to brush our teeth first
  5. playing copycat or follow the leader
  6. try brushing and flossing as early in the evening as possible before she is tired and fussy

When my daughter was young she was like most kids who want to mimic adults, so getting her to brush her own teeth was easy since I had always brushed in front of her.  But getting her to let me brush her teeth was, and still is, a battle.  Some parents would be appalled that I’m still brushing her teeth for her but our pediatrician was a huge advocate.  I encourage my daughter to do almost everything she is capable of, and had initially protested his recommendation because she actually does a reasonably decent job at brushing.

Our pediatrician stood firm and said with conviction that caring for her teeth is something that is too important for potentially well enough because that means it’s also potentially not well enough.  That sold it for me.

I felt it was personal for him as he said he was admonished by his dentist for letting his now 5 year old son brush his own teeth.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask him if his son got any cavities when he brushed on his own.  Anyway, he is promoting assisted brushing until age 6 (and possibly age 10 for flossing).

Our routine now is she gets to brush her own teeth first, and then I floss and brush it again for her.  And if she was really good letting me brush, she gets to use the mouthwash.  That girl loves doing whatever mommy does.

Toothbrushes

These are some of the first few toothbrushes she had picked out herself.  She had no idea what Monster’s Inc. or My Little Pony was at the time but had wanted an electric toothbrush like mommy’s.

kid's toothbrushes

I now use the 360 brush by baby buddy exclusively because it’s just much easier and quicker to clean her teeth.  Proper brushing requires a 45 degree angle.  This is hard to attain without twisting the wrist and practically impossible to achieve with a squirmy toddler.  The 360 brush has extra dense bristles all around so as long as I can get the brush in her mouth, we’re golden.  I also like that the soft bristles all around means I don’t need to worry about accidentally hurting her gums as much as I did with the regular toothbrush designs.

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360 brush = Best Toddler Toothbrush Ever! Ever!

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As a compromise for no longer letting her choose her own toothbrush, and using the 360 brush, we use toothpastes in all her favorite colors (yes, she has multiple favorite colors).

Flossing

Our dentist had said that not flossing wasn’t an option for us because my daughter’s jaw is so small that her teeth are crowded and super tight (sigh…braces down the road?) while most toddlers tend to have spaces and gaps between their teeth (a very good thing since these primary teeth are space holders for even bigger permanent teeth).

Fun Flossers

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We got a sample of these fun flossers the first time we went to the dentist and they seem to clean more effectively and are easier to get in between her super tight teeth than the traditional string floss so we’ve been using these for my daughter ever since.  Her next dentist visit is in December.  Let’s hope everything is still good then.

Cheers,

with love charlie.jpg

 

Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice

White rice has a bad rap because much of the vitamins, minerals and fibers in rice are in the bran and germ, and these are removed in the milling and polishing processes to create white rice.  Although in the USA, white rice is enriched by law so that some of the B vitamins, iron and folate levels are similar to or above that of the whole grain (brown rice).  White rice is also often considered unhealthy because it is both high in carbohydrates and easily digestible which causes spikes in blood sugar, potentially concerning to diabetic individuals.

White Rice is Awesome

Despite those reasons, white rice makes a regular appearance on our kitchen table.  It’s high in complex carbohydrates which we need for energy. The general rule of thumb is that half of our calories should be from complex carbohydrates.  White rice is also a relatively fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free source of protein.

The main reasons why white rice is a staple in this household is because it’s quick and easy to cook, it’s inexpensive, and it’s very versatile.  It’s neutral taste and texture blends well with most foods and white rice can be made into virtually any part of the meal: soups, salads, mains, sides, or desserts.  And it seems that no matter how it’s made, it’s a comfort food too.

It’s a comfort food in particular though when it’s hot and cheesy.  This recipe is my go to cheesy rice recipe because it doesn’t require any butter or cream so it’s light, but still very tasty and fulfilling.

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Recipe

  • 1 lb broccoli florets
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 3 oz shredded cheese of choice or 4 slices of cheese

When serving rice as a side, the general rule of thumb is 1/3 to 1/2 cup of uncooked rice per person.  When serving this cheesy broccoli rice as a side, that won’t be enough 😉

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Method

  1. Rinse rice (optional if it’s clean or you prefer a stickier rice dish)
  2. Heat oil and fry garlic and ginger and black pepper until fragrant, a few minutes
  3. Add rice to pan and cook until rice is toasted, approximately 5 minutes

fragrant rice4. Remove rice mixture from heat.  Add chicken bouillon to rice mixture and mix well

5. Add broccoli, rice mixture, sugar and chicken broth to pressure cooker and set for 12 minutes (I have a rice setting on my pressure cooker so it’s dummy proof for me).  If using stove top or microwave or rice cooker, chicken broth and cooking time will need to be adjusted to your methods

frozen broccoli

I use frozen broccoli florets (from Costco) and add them to the pressure cooker frozen and they are so soft that they practically disintegrate after 12 minutes.  They are also so sweet that I omit the sugar in the recipe

6. After rice is cooked, mix in cheese while rice is still hot until cheese is melted

cheesy broccoli rice

Can you believe there is a whole pound of broccoli in there?  This can probably be called a sneaky recipe too.

7. Let rest 10 minutes and serve while it’s still warm or reheat if necessary.  Enjoy!

cheesy rice with chicken

Tonight we had cheesy broccoli rice and strawberry chicken, with extra cheese for my daughter.  More cheesy please!

Cheers,

with love charlie

Beach Essesntials With Babies & Toddlers

Now that we have a daughter, and she is a little older, we go to the beach 3 or 4 times a year.  It’s a relatively easy trip to plan and something our whole family can enjoy.  It’s not even summer yet and we’ve already been twice this year to nearby destinations.  Before we had our daughter, I was at the lake or on a beach almost every other weekend during the summer months.  Life prior to baby was definitely more carefree and spontaneous.  Before baby, planning was simply:

Friends: “Beach this weekend?”

Me: “Sure!”

After baby, as simple as I try to keep the planning and packing, the car is still loaded up to the brim, and then there is the logistics of actually getting to the beach involved.  A 6 hour drive is no longer 6 hours as we need to stop more frequently for diaper changes and melt downs.  We try to time the bulk of the drive during nap times for our sanity but that means the actual vacation time is cut short since driving is done during the middle of the day.  After finally arriving at the beach, how long we stay is dictated by baby’s needs and many times I might not even get a chance to go in the water, tan or walk along the shore.  Please don’t get me wrong though; I’m not complaining.  These beach trips are treasured family adventures and I love seeing my daughter enjoying the gorgeous outdoors.  I’m just noting the complications going to the beach now entails for me after becoming a mother.

mother and toddler playing in sand at beach

Earlier, as a lead up to Mother’s Day, I had written about my 3 unexpected pregnancy challenges, but like Melissa, restrictions were top on my list of (expected) pregnancy challenges.  Jet skiing was definitely something I gave up after I became pregnant.  I also didn’t go boating anymore and eventually stopped going to the lake and beach because I didn’t want to wait or watch alone by the shore.  My friend, who owned the boat and jet skis, didn’t really understand my overly cautious stance as his wife was also pregnant at the same time I was and she continued to go boating with him.  If I were 10 years younger like she was, or if I hadn’t miscarried before, or if it hadn’t taken such a long time to get pregnant again after the traumatizing miscarriage, I might have continued to join them.

I don’t know how many more years it will be before I can be a spontaneous beach goer like before, but packing for the beach this year with my 3 year old was already notably less intensive than packing for the beach last year or the year prior.  Maybe with each experience we get better at determining which gears work for us but my 3 year old also has much more predictable needs and her schedule is more flexible. I also didn’t need to prepare and bring specific (baby) food, diapers, swim diapers, and more diapers.  The essentials that haven’t changed for our family beach trips, in no particular order, are:

Sun Protection

Some or all of these: Sunglasses, hat, sunblock, umbrella, and tent or shelter with SPF.  The tent also comes in handy for keeping baby off sand and for naps, and privacy if you’re big on that like I am (e.g. for diaper changes, nursing, etc.).  A rash-guard with SPF, especially ones with sleeves, will also provide more sun protection coverage than a swim suit and serve double duty in keeping baby or young child warm if the surf is cold.

Sunday Afternoon Toddler's Play Hat

 

Baby Powder (talc-free)

This makes removing sand a breeze. BREEZE!  Just apply liberally to body and the sand brushes right off with the powder.

 

Toys

This can be as simple as a disposable cup or spoon for the sand and water.  My daughter’s favorite is still just a shovel and a bucket.  Bubbles and a kite are also fun toys at the beach.  Other toy ideas we tried include water gun, floats, and sand molds.

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We haven’t tried a metal detector but that was a great suggestion from Stephanie. She also suggested the great idea of burying treasure, such as beautiful seashells, for kids to discover or dig out and it was a super huge hit with my daughter.

seashells by the seashore

A young baby also needs toys, albeit maybe not sand toys, but toys to distract baby from trying to eat sand.

 

Towels/ Change of Clothes

For drying off (and for laying or sitting on if not bringing blankets or beach chairs).

Dry clothes with plastic bag(s) for wet or sandy clothes or suits.

 

Hand and Face Wipes

You could just use a towel, but I felt the moist wipes were better and most conveniently, not sandy, when attempting to clean food from faces, wiping runny noses, moping up sweat, or cleaning weird stuff found on the little fingers etc.

 

Hydration

Beverage bottles with built in lids like funtainers (I swear I never knew these existed before my daughter needed one and now I see that almost all kids have one?) are so much easier to use on the beach than trying to open a bottle cap with sandy hands, and keeping tabs on the cap.

 

Food/ Snacks

For me, I found it’s almost always handy to have some (healthy) snacks on hand when with young kids.  They can expend a lot of energy in a short period of time and a snack can be just that, but it can also be the magic that prevents an impending melt down from over exhaustion.  Some snacks like fruits will also provide hydration.

How much food to bring really depends on how long you’re staying on the beach and when you’re going.  I used to see families with young kids spend the whole day on the beach eating not one but two meals in the sand, and I envy them.  With my daughter, we have stayed for a maximum of 3 hours, because she would either want to, or I would see that she needs to leave.  We have been having lunch on the beach because my daughter loves picnics but since we stay for just a few hours, we can easily just go after lunch and not have to bring any food to the beach.

 

Safety/ First Aid

It doesn’t have to be fancy and can be just a plastic bag with saline solution, in case sand or sunblock gets in eyes, and a few bandages and antiseptic ointment, in case of cuts (e.g. sharp rocks or shells vs. little tender baby feet).

This year we took a life jacket with us because my daughter loves the water and despite swim lessons, can’t swim.  I can’t swim to save my life either after 5+ years of lessons so I thought a life jacket when playing in deeper water would be the safer bet.

Life jacket or swim floaties is where I see the most variation on the beach. Most families have some sort of toys, or food, or sun protection with them, but as far as life jackets or floaties, it’s all over the map.  Some families are on one extreme of helicopter parenting, like ours, where the kid is within arms reach and attached to some sort of flotation device, while some families are on the other extreme of ‘no-rescue’/ free-range/ platform parenting, and kids barely able to walk yet are playing happily along the shoreline with the parents looking up from tanning only when the kid returns, with all kind of variations along the two ends of the spectrum.

Toddler in life jacket on boogie board at beach

Depending on where along the paranoid parent spectrum you fall, safety/ first aid might not be beach essentials on your list.  On our last day at the beach, the family next to us had 4 beautiful boys ranging from a non-crawling infant to maybe 5 or 6 years old.  They had a large cooler of snacks and beverages and lots of toys.  But then the 2nd eldest boy came back to their tent crying because he got sand in his eye.  And he got spanked for crying and refusing to go back out to play because he said his eye hurt too much so I’m sure they thought our kid looked absolutely ridiculous in a life jacket.

 

Waterproof Bags/ Pouches

You can probably leave most your valuables at home/ hotel but something for your keys and phone can be useful.  I really wanted needed a phone protector because face it, don’t you want to try to get pictures of your cute kid on the beach too?  Water proof pouches also double as sand proofing gear too.

waterproof phone protector (1)

 

Most things are standard for a beach trip with or without kids; just with babies and young kids, I need to be extra diligent about sun protection and hydration.  I never use all I bring but I just find it less stressful being prepared for contingencies.  Having some extra clothes and extra towels in the car came in handy several times.  So what are your beach essentials when going with a baby or young kids?

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Cheers,

with love charlie

 

 

 

 

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Why Having a Baby is like Eating Humble Pie

Melissa recently asked “What is one thing you learned from your pregnancy/birth experience(s)?”

I learned so much from the experience but the two that resonate the most is humility and empathy.

Over my lifetime, I’ve heard different people’s anecdotes about pregnancy and being a parent.  I thought I had a good understanding of their situations and their feelings, but it was only after finally experiencing pregnancy and motherhood myself, that I got a mom’s perspective that I never had before.

Gaining this new perspective was earth shattering for me because I’ve always considered myself fairly open minded and emphatic but it turned out I had unintentionally made a lot of assumptions about pregnancy, being a mom and parenting.

 

Scarfing Down Big Fat Humble Pies

For example, I was so proud of myself when I took a shower and washed my hair at the hospital (almost immediately after giving birth when the nurse had my baby for tests). I even put on makeup and thought, “see, you can easily find time to shower after having a baby.”  Ha! HA! HAAAA!!! Biggest joke on myself ever.

After a blissful two weeks of thinking that, my baby started to cry all the time when I wasn’t holding her. And she was much louder than running water.  A two minute shower meant I was cringing for a full two minutes, and my mouth was constantly filled with shampoo because I kept opening it to try to say reassuring words to calm her.  The floor got sopping wet as I reached out frequently to bounce her.  All pointless. I even considered ordering a baby sling to take her into the shower with me. It took a few weeks but I finally understood why people say it can be hard to shower after a baby is born.

That was just the beginning too.

After another two more weeks, my baby started to cry for hours, even when I held her.

I did everything I can think of under the sun but nothing seemed to work. Then I started doing something I had thought I would never do, buy every pillow, chair or swing with good reviews with the hope that one might soothe her.  I only succeeded in amassing a room full of stuff. I had assumed if I tried hard enough, I can stop my baby’s crying. Nope.

A Little Bit More Empathy (from Me to You)

Now, when I hear someone else’s baby cry, my heart goes out to both baby and parents and I no longer think, “please do something to get the baby to stop crying”.

My daughter is now 3 and no longer cries with her little tears when I’m taking a shower, but she is still sticking her little fingers under the door and “cries” with her little voice.  That is if the Mister was able to distract her long enough for me to slip inside and shut the door, otherwise, she would be right next to the tub playing with the shower curtain, asking if I’m done yet, if I’m done yet, if I’m done yet…

Life is slowly shifting back to “normal”, but I am no longer the me from before.  Can’t go back.  Don’t want to go back.  I miss being her with her freedoms and her self indulgent life, and extended 30 minute showers, but I love being this exhausted and sometimes greasy mommy too.

My water bill is lower for one.  A two minute shower really is sufficient/ all that I can deal with.

A Lesson in Humility

The lesson of humility from experiencing some basic things I didn’t even know I didn’t know was profound.  The realization that there is so much that I don’t know, won’t understand, and may never experience makes me a happier and more receptive person.  I apologize for my old self.  There is still plenty I need to apologize for my current self, but it’s a start.  I’m plenty full on humble pie right now, but I’ll make room for more.

While I choose to be and prepared to be a parent, it isn’t always easy and without hardships, so I now have more empathy and respect for other people because I don’t know what they are dealing with.  They might not be sharing their challenges but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just trying to keep it together too.

And finally, the purpose and contentment I feel when my daughter repeatedly calls “mamee”, not to annoy me as I had exasperatedly concluded before, but because my presence makes her feel secure, comforted and happy, is absolutely priceless.  I love you to the moon and back my baby.

 

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?

 

The Best Baby Advice I Got

Melissa recently asked me “What was the best piece of advice someone gave to you before you had your baby?”

The Best Baby Advice I Got

“It’s not a sprint.”  I got that piece of advice early in my pregnancy, and it wasn’t until my daughter was almost 2 before I realized it was the best parenting advice I was given.  At the time, I thought it was a backhanded comment and I was being chided for being so high strung.

I knew I was a perfectionist, and I liked to plan for contingencies, so while this understandably got on some people’s nerves, it served me well as a project manager. And it was why I was often put in charge of process improvement initiatives.  “It’s not a sprint” is now one of my key parenting mantras.  It’s not a sprint.  Heck, parenting is not even a marathon.  It’s…just life.

The first two weeks when my newborn daughter was still sleeping like a champ, I stayed up day and night, despite the choruses of “sleep when you can, sleep”, because I was so busy cleaning, and preparing and planning.

Now I know I really should have been sleeping because none of my cleaning mattered, none of the preparation prepared me for when my daughter refused to sleep again for the next 22 months, and none of my well intended plans came to fruition because baby came first and baby doesn’t care I had plans.

Now?  Some days I go to sleep even though my house is in a state of emergency because it was hit by a rainbow tornado.  It’s okay to wait to clean another day because it’s not a sprint.  I can sleep first knowing we had fun making a giant paper Mache Easter Egg.

I now also know that some things just aren’t up to me.  All my so called contingency plans had underestimated how much influence/ sway my little baby, now preschooler, has over me.  Irrationally, my fear of her shiny little tears and the desire to see her giggle just get so much more weight in daily decisions than I imagined.  Some days she is extra fussy and just wants to cuddle and read books together so I “couldn’t” get groceries and make dinner as planned.  I just boil some frozen dumplings instead and it’s okay.  It’s not a sprint; not every meal has to be three courses and balanced, as long as it is mostly and generally healthy in the long run.

The long hours I had poured into my work soon paled in comparison to the hours I am a parent (because it’s all the time- it’s not a sprint) and the pace I had taken was just not sustainable.  For almost two years, I stayed fully engaged and this allowed me to limit screen time to practically zero.  Right now, my daughter is watching Bubble Guppies and eating a popsicle while I type this.  I just needed a break, both mentally and physically, and it’s a hot day, so it’s okay since a little screen time (and sugar today) can’t be more damaging for her than if I burnt out as a parent.  I’m glad I got to sprint a few years, but now I’m at a better pace to enjoy what I hope is many many more years together…life.

“What was the best piece of advice someone gave to you before you had your baby?”

 

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: Dropping the P-bomb (or Not)

With Mother’s Day coming next month, we wanted to share some of the key moments in our journey to motherhood.  My previous pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage and while the pregnancy was unplanned, and it would have been a difficult time for me to raise a baby, I was devastated beyond my imagination.
I was going through an especially stressful time in my life and not menstruating for 3 to 4 months at a time was “regular” so I hadn’t considered the possibility that I was pregnant when I had a bad flu and was crippled by fatigue.  I was randomly griping about my never-ending flu symptoms and fatigue when someone suggested I take a pregnancy test.  To my surprise I was more than two months pregnant!

MISCARRYING

Boy did I freak out and started worrying- my diet was atrocious (pretty much just gallons of diet coke to battle the fatigue) and I had taken so much cold and flu medicine!! I stopped drinking all caffeine and medicine and started taking prenatal vitamins immediately but a month later, I felt a strange dropping sensation and I started to worry.  That night, I tried hard to sleep but I couldn’t nudge the feeling something was wrong.  Around 3 AM, I felt the urge to use the bathroom and that’s when I started to bleed.
It was difficult news to share, especially with my dad who really wanted more grandkids and was extremely disappointed.  He is superstitious and had strongly voioced that I should not have revealed the pregnancy before the second trimester so this was his I told you so.
It’s been a decade since that horrific night but I still miss and think often of my unborn child.  A few months ago I was going through old photos and came across the belly pictures I had started taking and couldn’t decide if I should keep or delete them.

FINALLY PREGNANT AGAIN

Unlike Melissa and Stephanie, it was years after planning to start a family before I was pregnant again.  Despite the elation of finally getting pregnant, and wanting to shout on rooftops, I was also hesitant to announce my pregnancy given what had happened.  In fact, I felt like I was holding my breath from the moment I found out I was pregnant till months after my daughter was born.
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Photo by: Yuliya29

TELLING IMMEDIATE FAMILY & CLOSE FRIENDS

I went with the need-to-know principle and less than a handful of people knew right away.  Needless to say, I did not tell my dad until the beginning of the second trimester.  At this time, the Mister and I told our immediate family members as well as we felt if we waited any longer, some may feel slighted.
The disappointment one family member expressed when she found out that I was pregnant and not just gaining weight was hilarious.

BEING DISCOVERED AT WORK (AT ALMOST 6 MONTHS)

At work, I had called HR and they said as long as they have the due date, I just work with my manager on coverage.  There were no timelines it seemed (I called three times and never got an actual answer) both the paper work for maternity leave and the actual leave doesn’t start until after I give birth and not something I can do ahead of time so I had planned to talk to my manager after the 20 week gender revealing visit but my manager and I played meeting tag a few times and left it at that.  Besides, it had become almost a game hiding my growing bump successfully.
But people started murmuring when I was almost 6 months pregnant.  It ended up being people coming to my office to “ask” and probe instead of me making an announcement.  One coworker said she had a suspicion much earlier because I had switched from my usual high heels for flats as soon as I found out I was pregnant.

BABY POOL

Since it was obvious now that I was pregnant, I set up a baby pool on expectnet and sent it to all my friends and family because I thought it was a fun way to make the announcement but several friends thought I was annoying for setting up the baby pool.  So my attempt at a fun announcement backfired, but it was a relief when everyone finally knew because it was hard keeping secrets.
So my attempt at a fun reveal was a big flop, but I think Melissa executed it perfectly.  Did you check out her announcement post?