Monthly Archives: July 2008

Because I’ve never done one, or, Glyn’s asleep and I’ve got time to myself

Seven Deadly Sins meme:

WRATH
1. Who did you last get angry with?
– Uh, I guess that would be Peanut. I love her to pieces, but, my word, she can be infuriating at times!

2. What is your weapon of choice?
– Words can be handy, but my tiny attack dog is far more humiliating!

3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex?
– I took a self-defence course when I was 14, and since then I’ve thought “Hells yeah! Bring on the smack!!” If warranted, of course.

4. How about of the same sex?
– Same story.

5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you?
– I think it must have been The Man. Must have been a long while ago, though.

6. What is your pet peeve?
– Bicyclists who ride the wrong way on one-way streets, or on the sidewalk, or roll through stop signs, thus nearly wiping me and my little daughter out. Grrr…

7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily?
– Not really. I more learn from previous experiences, and refuse to allow the same people to mistreat me in the future.

SLOTH
1. What is one thing you’re supposed to do daily that you don’t?
– Dishes. Or laundry. Or cleaning. And eating much. Peanut takes so much time.

2. What is the latest you’ve ever woken up?
– Recently: 8am. Ever: 4pm, the day after I arrived home from my student exchange trip to Seoul. I proceeded to eat 4 bowls of cereal. It was a weird, and very short, day.

4. What is the last lame excuse you made?
– Probably something about why I was late because of Peanut. She does complicate things.

5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through?
– Definitely. Never getting that hour back, am I!

6. When was the last time you got in a good workout?
– Last night. Insanely, I’m dancing at the Highland Games Tattoo again this year. (Careful of that link: there’s pipe music. And if you click on ‘Tattoo’ on the “Events” drop down, you’ll see a blurry picture of dancers on the field. I’m in there.)

7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today?
– My alarm clock is an 8lb infant, so, zero!

GLUTTONY
1. What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice?
– Venti Vanilla Non-fat Decaf Latte.

2. Meat eaters: white meat or dark meat??
– White, though I’m phasing chicken back out again.

3. What is the greatest amount of alcohol you’ve had in one sitting/outing/event?
-Um, I can’t really remember. It started with “Scandinavian Lover”s, a drink my roommate made up involving peach puree, and then we had some wine, and a lot of beer…and the evening concluded with me smoking a cigarette. And I hate cigs.

4. Have you ever used a professional diet company?
– Nah.

5. Do you have an issue with your weight?
– 10 weeks post-partum, you bet my rather larger-than-I’d-like a$$.

6. Do you prefer sweets, salty foods, or spicy?
– Each in their own time, but crunchy-salty more than anything.

7. Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought “lunch”?
– No. Committal? Absolutely!

LUST
1. How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies/family)?
– A handful by choice, a few by surprise.

2. How many people have seen YOU naked (not counting physicians/family)?
– Same by choice, but no surprises. 🙂

3. Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a member of the opposite gender during a normal conversation?
– Yep, it was weird.

4. Have you ever kissed two people in one night?
– I think so…but who can remember!

5. What is your favorite body part on a person of your gender of choice?
– I was on the swim team in high school. I’m still a sucker for good shoulders and back.

6. Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute?
– By a prostitute? No. By a beat up drunk in a market in Seoul? Yes.

GREED
1. How many credit cards do you own?
– One, prepaid.

2. What’s your guilty pleasure store?
– MAC. I like to feel pretty. 🙂

3. Would you rather be rich, or famous?
– Depends. If it was fame for singing, fame, otherwise, fewer worries about money would be fabulous.

4. Would you accept a boring job if it meant you would make megabucks?
– Only if it wasn’t soul-sucking.

5. Have you ever stolen anything?
– Nope, though I mistakenly walked out of a grocery store with two sweet potatoes once. I went back and paid for them.

6. How many MP3s are on your hard drive?
– If I could figure out how to get iTunes to count them, I’d tell you. About a bazillion, though.

PRIDE
1. What’s one thing you have done that you’re most proud of?
– I’d say Peanut, but I’m more proud of her, so I suppose it’s been the opera role I had last year. I think I was a pretty cool Papagena.

2. What one thing have you done that your parents are most proud of?
– Peanut. My mother is over the moon for this child!

3. What things would you like to accomplish in your life?
– Finish my BHum (finally) and then go on to grad school. Maybe end up writing or with a professorship.

4. Do you get annoyed by coming in second place?
– Only if I know that I could have tried harder or done more.

5. Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors?
– Not ahead of time, though I discovered as the audition began that I was a shoe-in.

6. Have you ever cheated on something to get a higher score?
– I may have had a little extra *help* once or twice in my senior math courses.

7. What did you do today that you’re proud of?
– I got Peanut to take a nap. That alone is an accomplishment. This child does not sleep.

ENVY
1. What item (or person) of your friends would you most want to have for your own?
– Our friends have a pretty red laptop…and this one is about to kick it, pretty new one would be nice.

2. Who would you want to go on “Trading Spaces” with?
– Our friends K&M

3. If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be?
– One of the more reasonable professional singers. Maybe Emma Kirkby: she’s so talented and lovely and British!

4. Have you ever been cheated on?
– Yeah, but that was years and boyfriends and lifetimes ago! Hardly seems to matter, now.

5. Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own?
– I’d like a better jawline. And about 20 lbs less. Grr…baby-weight.

6. What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself?
– Less anxiety. I’d love to just know and believe that things will be alright, whatever the concern.

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It’s coming, or, Just wait!

I have been knitting, truly. Knitting content as soon as I have photos!

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I know what I said, or, How She Arrived

I worked my final day of work before beginning maternity leave on May 16. It was a nice day, with a staff lunch to see me off. The Man and I began the necessary pre-baby-arrival running around the next day: we checked out some local antique/random old stuff shops to see if we could find a chest of drawers cheap (we couldn’t) but did find a new unfinished one that was a decent price. We picked up some paint for the baby’s room and for the chest of drawers, and then picked up some baby clothes so that the little one would have something to wear. It was a busy day, but productive, and left me feeling far more relaxed, knowing that we had begun the final preparations for the baby.

The next day we went to church as usual, and then I had opera practice. Several of my friends beetiesthere told my belly, very emphatically, not to make any grand entrances until after the opera show on the 7th of June, or to be born the very next day, so that I’d have recovery time before the performance. We laughed. I spent a good 20 minutes with the musical director, accompanist, and one of the more accomplished performers trying to find the right physical space to sing my very challenging solo, what with there being a small human being occupying much of the space I usually have available for my lungs while singing. As rehearsal ended, I felt very confident about how my solo would go.

The Man picked up at practice at 3:30. I got in the car, thinking “I should probably have gone to the bathroom before getting in the car” and immediately lost *some* sort of fluid. I grabbed a grocery bag (The Man had gotten a few things) and sat on it for the ride home. I assumed that it was just a little late pregnancy incontinence due to standing for a few hours with a person sitting on my bladder, and went about my evening, same as always. We joked, though, on our drive home: “Wouldn’t it be funny if my water just broke and I’m in labour and I were to show up at practice next week with a baby!” I stayed up a little later than I normally would because, hey, the next day was Victoria Day, and a holiday, and I didn’t have to go to work for the next year, so I wasn’t asleep until after 12am.

I woke at 5am, feeling like I was losing fluid again. I hurried to the bathroom. A few minutes later, after changing, I started to get back into bed. As I lowered myself onto the bed, I felt another loss of fluid, this time much, much larger, and ran back to the bathroom. Once there, it was apparent that, whatever the fluid was – and I still wasn’t convinced that I wasn’t just peeing myself repeatedly – I had no control over it, and it wasn’t stopping any time soon. Somehow, I felt mildly embarrassed, still thinking that I was just incontinent, and also not wanting to wake The Man as he was still asleep. A few minutes later, around 5:15am, I noticed that I felt very crampy, low in my abdomen, as though I had painful gas. I thought, “Great: now I’m peeing myself and I’m constipated. That’s just fantastic.” The cramps hurt quite a bit, and were getting worse, and I thought, “What a lightweight am I?! How am I ever going to get through labour if I can’t handle a few little gas cramps?!” What struck me as odd, though, was that these cramps seemed to be rather rhythmic in nature. We have a clock on the bathroom wall, so I started watching the clock, and noticed that they seemed to start every 4 minutes or so, and seemed to be getting stronger with time, also. Hmmm…

Sometime just after 6, I started calling for The Man. A few hollers, and then I’d sent him out to pick up some incontinence pads. About a half-hour later he was back, and I crawled back into bed, and curled up on my side to try and go back to sleep, while rocking back and forth through the cramps. I managed to sleep until just after 7am. When I woke, the cramps were still happening, and still getting stronger, so I used the stopwatch on my mobile phone to time them, and they were all between 3 and 5 minutes apart. I decided to call my midwife. I explained to her what had been happening that morning, and that I suspected it might just be incontinence and constipation – such a flattering combination – and she said she certainly hoped I wasn’t in labour, since I wasn’t yet to term. She told me she’d get up (I had woken her) and grab some food, and then would be over at our place in a few hours. I told her there was no rush: it was probably a false alarm, after all.

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A while later, I decided to have a shower, because I was starting to strongly suspect that this was not, in fact, a false alarm, and I knew that I would want to have had a shower. I stood in the shower for a good twenty minutes. The water felt so good, and the repeated surging pains kept stopping me mid-shampoo, mid-soap, mid-rinse. I donned some comfy clothes and went downstairs to the living room. I ended up sitting on the floor while The Man sat on our chaise lounge, I resting my forehead against his knees, breathing slowly. Over the course of the next 45 minutes or so, I had only three or four cramps, as I was still thinking of them, as I did not want to allow myself to believe that I was in labour, if only because learning later that I was not would prove disappointing.

Diane, our midwife, arrived between 10 and 11. The Man greeted her at the door, and I heard her ask him “How far apart are the cramps?” and him reply “About 10 to 15 minutes” as they had been for the better part of an hour, by then. She made a surprised sound, and came into the living room, where I was still on the floor, and breathing through another “Thing” as I’d been calling them. She looked down at me, cocked her head with a mildly confused look on her face, and said, “So: what’s going on here?” Due to my nonchalance on the phone earlier, I think the sight of me must have been rather a surprise. I sort of chuckled, and replied, “I’m not exactly sure! You tell me!” She sat down on the chaise, and asked me about what had happened that morning, and what I was feeling. In the midst of talking to her, another wave came on, and I stopped speaking to breathe and compose myself.
“Well, that looked like a contraction!” she said.
“Oh! Did it?” I asked her.
“Oh, yes,” she told me. We tested the fluid and it was definitely amniotic fluid, and I was most assuredly in labour. I proceeded to begin having contractions about 2 minutes apart, at which point she looked at The Man and said, “Alright, I think we should get to the hospital now.” He had, during this time, been dutifully putting together a bag with clothes and toiletries. I called my mother so that she could come dog-sit for us. When her boyfriend, Poppy, answered the phone, I told him I was in labour. “What?!!” he exclaimed. He handed the phone to my mother who then exclaimed, “You’re kidding!!!” I had three contractions in the space of that very short conversation, which cemented the necessity of getting to the hospital as soon as possible, so The Man brought the car around, and we made our way to the only hospital in the city which grants delivery privileges to midwives.

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Ever since I had entered active labour I had been worried that I was going to be sick. As soon as we reached the hospital and I was out of the car, I relaxed because now, if I was ill, I didn’t have to worry about cleaning up our rental carpet or leased car interior! We slowly worked our way into the hospital. It was largely deserted due to it being a holiday Monday, and the staff were…not the best hospital staff I have encountered. Still, I didn’t care very much since our plan was to have as little contact with them as possible, ours being a midwife-assisted birth and all. Diane had arrived before we had, and she showed us into the examination room we had been assigned. She had, during the drive, been calling Gen, our doula, who had been a midwife student of Diane’s, to tell her to come to the hospital. I was worried that because we were a month early, and it was a long weekend, that she might be out of town, but she arrived just as we were getting into the exam room.

I still hadn’t had my dilation checked at this point. Diane and Gen helped me onto the bed while The Man went to properly park the car and get me registered with the hospital. Diane hooked me up to a monitor to get an idea of what the contractions were doing, and they were certainly good, strong contractions. Diane did the internal exam between contractions. I watched her face as she mentally gauged my dilation, saying “Ok, you’re 6…7…8…we’ll call that full!” She looked quite surprised, as I went from 6 cm to fully dilated in a matter of seconds! We all laughed a little, and I felt relieved that this was truly happening, and excited and a little nervous, knowing that our baby was really arriving that very day!

We were moved into a delivery room (by all accounts the worst one in the hospital) and my mum arrived to pick up the key to our house so that she could get Wembley. She didn’t stay long, but it was nice to see her for a minute and then get down to business, as labour began to move along rather rapidly. Gen was an absolute godsend, rubbing my back and applying counter-pressure precisely how I needed it. She also spoke the encouragement and reassurance that I needed in my ear. When I was putting too much energy into the muscles in my face, she would gently stroke my forehead and remind me to relax my face and allow the labour to progress as it needed to, just as I needed. She and I had discussed a month earlier the way I envisioned my labour unfolding, and the sorts of relaxation techniques I wanted to employ. She and I both feel strongly about breath and using breathing for pain relief and energy, so she helped me remember to breathe as I had planned, intentionally and calmly. The Man rubbed my scalp – something I always love – and held my hands or rubbed my arms through the contractions, as they got heavier and more intense.

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Throughout the day, sitting had felt uncomfortable. I think I must have been just very aware of Peanut’s head as it dropped further and further, so instead, I stood and leaned. At home I leaned on the counter in the bathroom or the back of the chaise; at the hospital, we raised the bed in the delivery room and I leaned on a pile of pillows.

I recall saying to Gen, “I can’t do this, I’m just too tired” and really wishing I had gotten a better night’s sleep! I was also still very sure that I’d be sick, so I was labouring while hugging a metal bedpan, which was blissfully cool for my warm face. Very shortly after saying that I couldn’t go on, I said, almost in a whisper, “I think I want to push.” Strangely, I never felt the overwhelming need to push so many women describe. It was more just that I slowly felt that pushing was something I could now do, and once started, as Peanut moved further down and I could feel her more and more, I wanted to get her out!!

Here are my midwife’s notes from the birth, since the entire thing is a hazey, dreamy memory to me, without time or much form:

13:42 – Darlene pushing
13:46 – Head visible with contraction
13:50 – Darlene moves to bed on hands and knees (I had been standing and leaning on the bed up to this point. We lowered the bed, and raised the head up almost vertical and I knelt, hanging onto the back of the bed)
13:56 – Head visible between contractions
13:57 – Head
13:57 – Baby born

And suddenly I felt back in my body again, after feeling very much apart and away during the active stages of labour. Diane said, “Let’s let the parents see what we have!” And I turned around, since Peanut was behind me, and said “Is it a girl?” I was fairly certain I was seeing girl-parts, but didn’t trust myself after all the craziness of delivery. And it was, and we call her Glynis.

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And she’s perfect.

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Moving forward, or, a quick catch-up*

Wow, so much has happened. By the same token, almost nothing has happened. I think that is sort of the nature of having a newborn: my days are both incredibly busy and incredibly boring and incredibly fascinating. It’s odd.

I’ve been working on Peanut’s birth story when I have time (read: hardly at all) but it’s coming out awfully long. It might bore the pants off just about anyone but me and immediate family. Suffice it to say, she arrived on May 19, 2008 at 1:57, 29 days before her due date. She weighed 2505 grams, or 5lbs 8oz; much smaller than a typical newborn, but was of entirely average length (about 51 cm). Labour was fairly quick, and I was successful in avoiding any medical intervention at all, though I did have to wear a monitor because she was early, and needed antibiotics because my Group B Strep test hadn’t yet been done. Still, I was entirely satisfied – thrilled, even – by the progress of my labour. My midwives and doula were, quite frankly, amazing, and The Man did a great job of both being supportive and staying quiet when I needed him to be so.

We had some trouble getting her fed, though. Peanut had trouble latching on, so she wasn’t getting much to eat at all in that first week. Her weight plummeted. Still, she was healthy looking and of robust energy, so it was hard to worry as much as the midwives seemed to do. We rented an electric pump, I started taking herbs for supply, and we started working towards getting her weight up, and breastfeeding working. Eventually, I began prescription domperidone as well.

Slowly but surely, things have been improving. There have been days when I thought I would be hooked up to a pump forever. There have been days when I have been utterly convinced that I would have to switch her to formula, and I have wept. There have been days when I have been so sore from her refusal to open her mouth and latch well, and so exhausted and frustrated by all this trial, that I have been this close to just throwing in the towel and giving up entirely.

php2GWlmtPMLast week, in desperation for a magic fix, my mother – an angel of a woman! – drove Peanut and I down to Toronto to meet Dr. Jack Newman, the North American breastfeeding guru. He wrote the book – several, in fact – on breastfeeding problems and solutions. He truly cares about women and babies, and assists them with real dignity, respect, a relaxed attitude, and humour. Meeting him was great, and the consultants at his clinic were certainly very helpful. phpAMh8e7PMThere is no magic wand, and we continued to struggle a little after that, but at least I had been told that what I was doing was very close to ideal, and that there was no need to worry about how Peanut was eating. She’s doing alright, they said. It was just what I needed to hear, and made the trip totally worthwhile. Plus, we got a quick visit with my great aunt and uncle, my grandmother’s only living sibling out of the eleven. And my aunt made Peanut a diaper cake!

About three days ago, three days after our visit, something clicked. She gets it!! She’s opening well, and latching painlessly (for me!) and eating really well. So well is she eating that she has gained between 40 and 50 grams (that’s between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 oz for you non-metrics) per day since our visit to Toronto! I’m thrilled, and now no longer dread feedings because of the pain and frustration accompanying them.

So tomorrow we say goodbye to the pump which has occupied a spot on a wooden chair next to the couch since May 23. I will be happily returning it to the LC who rented it to us, and Peanut and I will continue on as we have been for the past week, pump-free. Hopefully, someday soon I will be able to get off the domperidone, but even if I have to stay on it indefinitely, so be it. It’s a small price to pay for being able to feed my daughter the way I want.

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And she’s smiling! Not always, and not regularly, but about once a day she’ll give me a giant, open-mouthed, face-illuminating smile! She’s also taken to grinning quite regularly, and just generally looking amused and happy. We must be doing something right with her!

*ok, so not so quick, but considering she’s over 8 weeks old, it’s pretty quick!

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