Monday, June 28, 2010

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

Early on in my pregnancy I started to rub my belly, not because I had any real sense of attachment to the growing bub yet (he was still quite alien looking at that point) but because my swelling tum could easily be mistaken for flab and short of wearing a shirt that said “Not fat, pregnant” it was the best thing I could think of to make myself feel less frumpy. I'd lean back, stick out my tum and rub it, hoping that the people walking past didn't think I was nursing a stomach full of Hungry Jack's (in reality I'm sure no one walking past looked at me or even cared).

As time wore on and I could no longer be mistaken for a prize heifer the belly rubbing became affectionate. Most of the time I wouldn't even realise I was doing it. It became second nature to place my hands on the little shelf that had developed and give it a little pat, even talk to it. I was bonding with Tricky (even if he didn't know it) each time I did it. When Hubby would touch my belly I would love it, especially if he could feel Tricky's kicks or hiccups.

But now? Tricky is out and the majority of the tum is gone, but there is still quite a bit of jelly belly action going on - and I don't mean the yummy flavoured jelly bean variety. This itself is not my problem – I'm fully aware that it can take a looong time to get back in to your pre-baby jeans and some women never do. The problem is the habit of rubbing it is still there so I am now affectionately rubbing my verandah of stretched skin. Highly attractive. I'm just waiting for someone to ask me when I'm due... “No I'm not pregnant, I'm just patting my own flab.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Let's for a minute discuss the phrase “sleeping like a baby”. It's used to describe a peaceful, deep sleep that you wake from feeling refreshed and ready to go. How on earth this came about is beyond me because now that I have a baby I know they don't sleep like that at all. A newborn wakes every two to four hours for a feed and when this is over there is always a bit of time to crap their pants and spit up a bit of milk. Screaming your lungs out because you've soiled yourself doesn't normally make it's way in to the “sleeping like a baby” image. These are what my nights (and days) are like right now.

Hubby is amazing. In the middle of the night after Tricky has been fed it is Super Dad who changes him and settles him back to sleep – or at least tries to – Tricky has his “witching hour” normally at 4:00am. No amount of nappy changes, singing, patting, rocking or cooing seems to settle him. Then just as suddenly as it all started... silence. Whatever was ailing him passes and he drifts back off to sleep making cute little snorty noises. The cuteness doesn't get rid of the bags under my eyes though, which are now too big for a standard cabin size and must be checked through to the cargo hold.

We are taking comfort in the fact that this stage doesn't last forever. His stomach is currently the size of a walnut and he can only have a little bit to drink before he is full to the brim. Add to this that breastmilk is so easily digestible that it can pass completely through his tiny little system in just over half an hour and you have a recipe for really frequent feeds! Soon though it will expand and the time between feeds will gradually lengthen. Which means I will be able to sleep for more than 45minutes at a time. Pure bliss!

As tired as I am, I cannot get angry at my little Tricky. He doesn't know what is happening – doesn't know what the pain in his tiny little tummy means, doesn't know that the hand pulling out his dummy is his own (yes, I'm a terrible mother who gave her child a dummy – we call it his plug). At this age the only way he can communicate that there is some sort of discomfort is by crying. I try to remember that no matter how frustrating it is for me to not be able to comfort him and get no sleep, how frustrating must it be for him? The poor little tacker is still getting used to this big world.

In the not too distant past, at time like this a dummy was dipped in whiskey to help junior off to the land of nod... turns out though that some people still do this – a woman in the United States has just been sentenced to eight years in prison for giving a nine month old she was babysitting a sippy cup full of wine to help the little boy go to sleep. Whilst it is not something I would choose to do, I can actually understand why some people would dip a dummy in alcohol, but how this chick thought an entire cup full of wine would be anything other than extremely dangerous is beyond me. The little boy had a blood alcohol reading of .33 – that is SIX TIMES the legal driving limit in Australia!!! According to Wikipedia, readings of .35 and above are associated with coma and death and 50% of cases reaching 0.40 will prove fatal. In my mind what makes this worse is that the woman was only in charge of the child and his siblings for five hours – she had not endured days or weeks of a screaming child. How could you be so impatient with such a tiny, innocent creature?

So I've had my rant and thanks, I feel a bit better. I will continue to have sleepless nights for a while but it could be much worse. I have a healthy baby, a supportive family more than willing to cuddle Tricky for a few hours so I can have a nap, and a wonderful husband who does not “babysit” - he cares for his child. I'm luckier than a lot of people out there, and that thought gets me through... well that and a bit of chocolate.

What got you through the sleepless nights?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Got milk? Got munchies!

Everyone knows that pregnant women get cravings and the more bizarre the food combination the better. Other than two weeks of wanting a cheeseburger for breakfast, lunch and dinner I didn't really have any “I MUST EAT THIS NOW OR I WILL DIE” cravings that I'd heard other people talk about. The ones where you have to send your partner to the service station at 2:00am to buy up half the store only to be asleep by the time he comes home, tired as a dog. But now I'm experiencing a different type of food craving – of the I MUST EAT EVERYTHING IN THE HOUSE NOW OR I WILL DIE” variety.

Breast milk takes a lot of calories to produce and the hunger I'm feeling is overwhelming. Heaven forbid I skip a meal because, oh I don't know, there is a screaming child needing my attention, boy do I know about it! No food is safe around me, even the healthy stuff that tastes horrible is inhaled instantly the moment I set eyes on it. On a side note it is very strange to be gorging myself on every available piece of food and be losing weight at the same time – whilst I know it's just decreasing blood volume and all that jazz, it's still pretty cool.

My night time routine now involves catering not only for Tricky's hunger, but my own. Before bed I get ready in the usual PJ's, brushing of teeth way but now there is a final step before snuggling down in to my pillows... I have to restock my bedside table, or as I now refer to it, the snack bar. Muesli bars, fun size Milky Ways, bananas, sultanas and more. Each time after Tricky has had his feed and is settled back to sleep the real feast begins! I try to be really quiet so as not to wake Hubby but it's a task I'm failing miserably at – it's just like opening a packet of chips when you're in the cinema during a really quiet bit in the movie, you know the packet doesn't really make that much noise but in the silence it is DEAFENING! So the crumple and crackle of my muesli bar wrapper, not to mention the munching and crunching of the muesli bar itself, are adding to Hubby's sleep deprivation. I could go to the kitchen but it's winter and unless the bed is on fire I'm not getting out – why be hungry and cold?

I did try eating at the same time I fed Tricky, but felt guilty when I looked down to see his little head covered in crumbs and then felt even worse when I was picking them off and eating them and realised I looked just like a mother chimp picking off lice. Perhaps it is my punishment for wondering if Tricky would look like a monkey when he was born?

How did you handle the breastfeeding munchies?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chop chop!

One thing I didn't expect when we brought Tricky home was to be questioned by nearly every visitor over the age of 50, it seemed, as to whether or not we were going to get him circumcised. None of the midwives asked me. The paediatrician didn't ask either. It seems to go in and out of fashion (unless you're Jewish in which case it's always in) and people my parents' age are all for it. Did our younger visitors not ask because they don't care, they felt uncomfortable, or did they think it none of their business? Ooh let's hope they chose door number three, Susie, let's see what they've won!

It was mentioned at antenatal classes, but only to say that it is not routinely done unless there is a medical or religious reason. One thing that I know for sure though, is that it is a touchy subject with people falling very clearly in to the cut or don't cut categories – there are no fence sitters in this debate.

I hadn't even looked in to it, Hubby and I had a two second chat sometime during the pregnancy that went “You don't want to circumcise him do ya?” “Nah, don't like the idea.” End of conversation. If he wants it done when he is older then it is up to him – just like when he decides to get a piercing or tattoo or whatever the cool thing is 17 years from now. Turns out though that if we had wanted to, there may have been some hurdles... cosmetic circumcision (when there is no medical or religious reason behind the procedure) has been banned in all Australian public hospitals since 2007. And a research paper from the Queensland Law Reform Commission concluded that "On a strict interpretation of the assault provisions of the Queensland Criminal Code, routine circumcision of a male infant could be regarded as a criminal act", and that doctors who perform the procedure may in fact be able to be sued by the child at a later date. There is a legal precedent for botched circumcisions in Australia thanks to a Perth man who successfully sued the doctor who operated on him as an infant, but this interpretation of the law allows for men to sue the doctor even if the circumcision is deemed 'successful'. I had no idea about any of this – and wish I had when everyone had been asking me last week if we were going to do it or not!

My opinion (and yes I'm opening the door for abuse here) is completely opposite to that of my parents. I believe we have evolved over millions of years to have that little piece of skin there, and who am I to say that nature got it wrong and have it lopped off? There are websites galore for both sides each claiming that their stance is the correct one. They tout statistics on infections, sexually transmitted diseases, loss of sensation and more. I'm not ready to think about my little Tricky all grown up and having sex so I'm quite happy to stop at the “It's an operation and operations hurt” argument. Some people will say I'm wrong and they're more than welcome to feel that way – we'll just have to agree to disagree, hopefully while cooing over how cute each others' son is (for the record, Tricky is pretty cute so your kid is gonna have to try to be super special when I meet him).

Do you feel strongly on this subject? Were you criticised for your decision - no matter which decision it was? Leave your story in the comments section below.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gettin the girls out

Boobs. The second you have a baby those glorious mammary glands are no longer yours. Whether they're big or small, been your best asset and used to obtain free drinks every Friday night in Northbridge or your worst enemy, getting in the way and causing nothing but trouble it doesn't matter. Because as of that moment they are there solely to feed this creature you have created. Tricky's paediatrician put it best when he said “they're not just for sticking in a bikini anymore.”

I'm still new at this breastfeeding business and wasn't too sure I was doing it correctly even though all the midwives said he was 'latching on' perfectly... because it really hurt! You see, it's not meant to be painful if you do properly... but one of the midwives explained that when you're not used to it and learning, it can hurt even when you're doing it textbook perfectly. Her actual words were: “Well you've never had a vacuum attached to your nipple ten times a day before.” It took all my resolve not to reply “As kinky as I am, you're right, I only ever get the old Hoover on the nipples twice a day maximum.”

I've always been rather well endowed in the chest region and was not really looking forward to finding out just how big those suckers would get when my milk came in. On day three I went to bed looking quite normal only to wake up on day four looking like a porn star. Oh my! Up until now the midwives had been asking if my milk had come in or if I felt like it was coming in... they stopped asking - the enormous melons bursting out of my top spoke for themselves. Even Hubby had trouble looking at my face that day. I told him I felt like a cow to which he replied, “Don't be stupid, cows only get milked once a day.” Thanks, I'm feeling the love.

So one week on Tricky and I definitely seem to be getting the hang of it and the pain is almost gone. But as much as I am all for the right of women to breastfeed in public I don't think I'll be joining that club any time soon because I'm not quite at the discreet stage yet... it's nipples akimbo right now and I can't do anything else whilst feeding but sit there and watch tele. When it becomes second nature though, you better watch out – the girls will be featuring at a coffee shop or shopping centre near you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

And then there were three - Part two

Previously, on “Tricky gets born” - Booked in for an induction but didn't need it (hooray!), got put on a Syntocinon drip to speed up labour and Tricky had a bad reaction to it (boo!), got prepped for a caesarean section (boo, hiss!). If you want to read all about it, have a look at part one. If you're up to speed then keep reading...

In the next few hours my contractions still weren't doing much. This is what the obstetric community call 'stalled labour' but an old-school midwife will tell you that labour never stalls, it just slows down when the labouring woman is faced with danger. It is the classic case of fight or flight. Our bodies are designed to temporarily halt labour so that we can run away from a sabre tooth tiger if we need to... unfortunately the shock of being prepped for surgery does the same thing.

At 1.40pm I was 3cm dilated and the contractions were about 4 minutes apart. Not good enough. More Syntocinon was ordered, but this time at a lower strength. Were these people trying to make Tricky distressed again? He had such a bad reaction last time but yet you're going to try it again? It made no sense to me. So as the Syntocinon went up, my spirits went down.

It acted fast. My contractions started coming every two minutes and were lasting for what seemed like half an hour but was more likely two minutes from first twinge to peak to final release. I was wearing a TENS machine for natural pain relief and I was getting close to the top setting – it was no match for the super contractions. The drip was stopped after half an hour because it was obvious it was becoming too much for me. It was now 2.25pm and I was at 4cm. All of that for one lousy centimetre!

Even though the Syntocinon drip had stopped the contractions were becoming more and more intense. I was told that it would be another four to six hours of labour and the midwives suggested I have an epidural since it didn't look like I would progress much more on my own and with the pain relief they'd be able to crank up the Syntocinon and get the show on the road. These afternoon midwives, Penny (not to be confused with Aunty Penny) and Mary, were amazingly supportive and when they said they were proud of me for going so far without pain relief I believed them (Miss Melodrama's shift had finished and I was glad to see the back of her). I don't know why, but those few words made me feel a little bit better. I had done more than had been expected of me hours earlier when I was being prepped for a c-section, so even if I wasn't going to get my natural birth, at least I'd felt some of it.

In the next ten minutes my contractions went insane! They were less than thirty seconds apart and lasting for two minutes. I was getting no break between them and I was pounding the boost button on my hired TENS machine so furiously that I might not get my deposit back. Penny had gone to get the anaesthetist and Mary stayed with me and Hubby, helping me focus and breathe. It was 2.35pm... I told her I felt like pushing... she checked me... I had gone from 4cm to 10cm in ten minutes. So THAT'S why it had started hurting so much! I was being offered the epidural for what they thought was an unreasonable level of pain only to realize I was in transition (the stage between 8cm and 10cm, considered the most painful stage of labour)! Women in transition have been known to say they have changed their mind, they're not having this baby, and they would like to leave now, thank you very much. I can see why.

She said I could push whenever I felt like it. But there was a slight problem... I had not heard her say that I was at 10cm. I was thinking “Are you crazy, woman?! I'm at 4cm and you're saying I can push?! You're all insane!”. So I used all my strength to resist the urge to push, thinking I was about to injure myself! Only ten minutes ago she had said we were looking at about five more hours and gone to call the anaesthetist. Penny and Mary managed to get my attention somehow and told me that this was it, they could see Tricky – he was coming now! We were go for launch!

The room got very busy all of a sudden! The OB came rushing in announcing with a laugh that the second most important person in the room was now here. Penny and Mary were running around getting everything ready and a student midwife stood watching the scene unfold in front of her, trying not to get in the way. Hubby, who had been holding my hand, rubbing my back, pressing the acupressure pain relief points this whole time, whispered words of encouragement and love to me, saying our baby was about to be born... and I STILL didn't quite believe it.

His cord had stayed by his head and therefore the pressure on it while he was coming out meant his heart rate started dropping again so an episiotomy had to be done because there was no time to let me stretch that last little bit naturally . About half a dozen pushes later... Tricky came in to the world at 2.54pm weighing 3825grams (8lb 7oz), measuring 54cm long (21.3 inches) with a head circumference of 36cm (14.2 inches) and was placed on my chest.

His crushed cord and low heart rate meant we couldn't have the delayed clamping we had wanted, so the scissors were shoved in to Hubby's hands to do the cutting. He hadn't yet taken a breath and they wanted to take him to the “Cosy Crib” (what a lovely name for a piece of machinery that looks so ominous with heat lamps, wires and oxygen tanks!) to get him going, but in true Tricky style, the second the cord was cut he sucked in a huge breath and let out a fantastic cry! It was the most wonderful noise I have ever heard! Although ask me in a few weeks if I still think his cry is wonderful and I may have changed my mind.

Mary picked him up saying “I'll just give him to Aunty Penny for a check” and even in the haze of endorphins and adrenaline I remember thinking, no, he already has an Aunty Penny and she won't be happy if you take her title from her! A quick check over and he was handed straight back to me. Hubby and I stared at him in amazement, saying hello to him over and over again, looking at every inch of his body, in total awe that he was here. Mary and Penny fussed over all of us and then said the words that will stay with me forever, “We love to be proven wrong”. It dawned on me, I had done it. I had just given birth with only the supportive hands of my husband, a TENS machine and a whole lot of determination (some would call it being stubborn). I will admit that part of me wanted to say "I told ya so!" but I was too fascinated by this new creature in my arms to care about anything else.

Immediately I felt a fierce protective love for him. I had only just met this child and already I knew I would do anything and everything in my power to protect him. It had been such an adventure and now he was in our arms, perfect in every way. There are no words to describe the joy.

From water's breaking to birth had been ten hours... so I guess they got their average of 1cm an hour after all!

 Introducing Tricky

Note: In the coming weeks I'll endeavour to keep blogging my experiences with this new little guy as often as I can. From the nights with no sleep, the tears of the baby blues to the first meetings with the dog. I hope you'll come on this journey with me.

And then there were three - Part one

3rd June 2010
After lamenting for hours on the pros and cons, Hubby and I decided to opt for an induction and my obstetrician booked us in. The prostaglandin gel is normally applied at 7pm the night before to allow it time to work, but I was so close to popping anyway that I was told to come in the next day to get it applied at 7.30am, and with all things running smoothly I should be in established labour by midday and have a baby that evening! I was happy that I was only going to need the gel, I wanted to avoid a Syntocinon drip (an artificial version of Oxytocin, the hormone that gets labour going) at all costs because it produces unnaturally long and strong contractions – definitely something to avoid if you're hoping on going down the natural pain relief road! Hubby and I joked to the OB that now it was all booked in I'd probably go in to labour by myself.

That night we were both giddy – we'd have a baby tomorrow! It was a strange feeling having it scheduled in, like a haircut, but the relief of knowing it was all happening was welcome. After unpacking and re-packing my hospital bag we eventually went to bed around around midnight although sleep did not come easily. What would he look like? What would labour feel like? Can I do this?

4th June 2010
I woke up and experienced that brief moment of surprise when you realise you'd managed to sleep with all the excitement. I laid there in the dark, smiling to myself, thinking today I would finally get to meet my precious little man. Then without warning, I felt a strange sensation... my waters broke! It was exactly 5.10am and Tricky decided that yes, today was going to be a good day to be born, no induction necessary. I patted my belly, “Good boy, Tricky.”

I got up and had a light breakfast, trying to be really quiet so Hubby could get a bit more sleep. At around 6am Hubby woke up (I'd stopped being quiet, we were due at the hospital soon anyway so it was time to get up!) and I smiled at him. “Guess what?” I asked. “We're going to have a baby today” he replied. “Yep, because my waters broke about an hour ago!” and we both lost it laughing. I guess having the weight of 'when will it happen' lifted let things happen naturally. I could not have been more pleased.

We got to the hospital at 7am, went to the delivery suite and got hooked up to the CTG machine for the standard initial reading of Tricky's heartbeat... it didn't look so good, fluctuating wildly while my contractions were still really mild and irregular. The OB was called for the first of many times that day. By the time he got there (about twenty minutes later) Tricky's heartbeat had started to settle down in to a more normal rhythm but I was told I would now have to remain strapped to the CTG the entire labour. Bugger – there goes my plan to use yoga positions to get me through the pain of contractions!

By now it was almost 10am and nothing was happening, which in a hospital environment they don't like at all. There are very strict time limits on birthing a baby – can't have our doctors being late for their round of golf. I was only 2cm and had now been labelled as “not progressing” so I was put on a Syntocinon drip (yep, the drug I was trying to avoid). I was sitting back chatting to the morning shift midwife (I forget her name, so I'll call her Miss Melodrama) when she stopped talking, started lowering the bed and telling me to quickly lay down on my side. I didn't know what was happening, and then the CTG alarm went off – Tricky's heartbeat had dropped well below the acceptable level and it wasn't coming back up. The Syntocinon (which was immediately cut off, less than ten minutes after being started) was causing really long contractions that were crushing Tricky's umbilical cord between my pelvic bones and his head. His little lifeline was taking the full force of it all, leaving no room for the blood to flow.

The OB was called and Miss Melodrama informed me that I would need a caesarean section. Hot, angry tears pricked at my eyes. I was so disappointed. I didn't want that bloody drug in the first place and look what it had done! I hadn't even been given a chance to labour and I was being told that it was all over due to 'foetal distress'. In my mind I was shouting "He wasn't distressed until you intervened! Why couldn't you just let nature run it's course? Why must I dilate at 1cm per hour?"

In the next few minutes as the drug left my system, Tricky's heartbeat came back up and my contractions settled to normal strength. The OB said he was happy for me to not go straight to surgery, that I could wait a while and see what happened but it was more than likely I would be operated on that afternoon. I was measured for compression stockings, my blood was taken to be cross-matched and I was shaved in preparation for what they all saw as inevitable surgery. I had to keep telling myself that as long as Tricky got here healthy in the end, that it didn't matter how he came out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Letter to Tricky from Aunty Penny

Dear Tricky

I can’t wait until you decide it’s time to join our family! 

I’m Aunty Penny, and I’m your mum’s sister.  It’d be cool if you called me Aunty Penny a couple of times when you’re little (and, hint, it’s likely to lead to you getting a heap more gifts), but you can just call me Penny if you prefer (that’s what I did with my aunties and uncles).

There’s so many things I want to do with you, like reading and drawing and counting and teaching you all sorts of things.  And singing and dancing and telling you stories and feeding you too many lollies that your mum says you can’t have.  When I was little my nanna once gave me ice-cream for breakfast and I thought that was way cool.  Let’s do that sometime, huh?  

I have to admit, I don’t know much about boy stuff.  I’ve never played cars, and I don’t even know which of the trains is which in Thomas the Tank Engine, so you’ll have to teach me that. 

I hope you like dress-ups – that’s one of my favourite things.  If you’d arrived last week you might have got to wear lederhosen for a Eurovision party your Mum and Dad went too.  At Christmas time you’ll be 6 months old – perfect for your first Santa suit!

Your mum and I went to a Regina Spektor concert about 6 weeks ago.  Judging from your reaction that night your favourite song of hers is “Apres Moi”.  Excellent choice little dude, that’s a good one.  I thought you might have liked “Folding Chair”, because it contains the line “Let’s get ourselves a bullet trailer and have a baby boy!”, but apparently not.  Too literal for you?

Before we officially meet, this is probably a good time to establish some ground rules.  If you could try to avoid throwing up on me that’d be great, and anything that involves nappy changing is really going to test our friendship, so maybe try and avoid that too. 

So whenever you decide you’d like to come meet us all, that’d be cool.  I don’t wanna rush you or anything, but your Mum and Dad have got your room all ready for you, and I’m really looking forward to hanging out with you. 

Aunty Penny

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Contractual obligations

I am now officially overdue, even by my Obstetrician's dates, and fast running out of both patience and possible sweepstakes contenders. What happens if Tricky comes after the dates everyone has guessed?

The Braxton Hicks contractions have now been full on for almost two weeks and I will admit to feeling like a complete failure already – and I haven't even tried the hard bit of giving birth yet! I thought the feelings of inadequacy were coming later - after Tricky is born and I start screwing up his life as Freud assures me I will. But no, it's here now and I'm only on the starting blocks of motherhood.

The pain of the BH contractions isn't that bad, it is more the relentlessness of two weeks of them and the knowledge that they're going to get worse and become real labour before they eventually go away. Yep I'm whining but c'mon, this is getting ridiculous.

It has gotten to the point where I am even thinking about being induced. Me who wants as little medical intervention as possible is considering having a synthetic hormone dripped in to my veins to start contractions – even though I know that once you have one intervention, the chances of another sky rocket.

Everyone I know who was due around the same time as me or later has given birth already... and I'm jealous! I realise how pathetic that is, but as I sit here having even more BH contractions, I know that the grass has never ever looked so green over there. But what if that green, lush grass turns out to be prickly astroturf? Could I, knowing what I know about all the possible side effects on both Tricky and myself, actually go through with an induction without a medical reason? Or is my sanity worth more than the chance of complications?

Is it selfish of me to want this to be over? The hip pain, the heartburn (both of which get worse the bigger this guy gets), the poor sleep, the back aches and the constant contractions... how much can I take? I think the government should employ me in the new role of state sex-ed teacher in schools, because after hearing me complain this much, what teen would risk unprotected sex?

Did you struggle playing the waiting game? How did you handle it? Leave a comment, my mental health may just depend on it.


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