I survived.

I survived my first week of work.  I was spoiled with pictures sent to me all day and even a drop by visit during one of my lunch breaks.  Carter was all down hill after the first day.  He really gave Sarah a hard time the vast majority of the time.  He seems to be teething but I don’t know for sure.  He absolutely has a cold though.  Poor guy is all stuffed up.

Squeezing out a smile for Sarah

Squeezing out a smile for Sarah

It’s really not as bad as I thought it would be.  I miss him terribly but I’m able to focus on work.  I’m able to listen to CBC radio and I feel like I’m finally hearing the news for the first time in 9 months.  I have conversations with people that aren’t either all about my baby or constantly interrupted by said baby.  It’s actually kind of nice.  I can’t believe I’m saying that.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  If I could be home, I’d be home in a second but I have to make the best of it.

Putting in some hours at the office

Putting in some hours at the office

I’ve enjoyed making dinner for Carter and sitting down to watch him eat followed by bath time.  These are two of my favourite things.  Watching him enjoy food is really exciting and bath time has been his favourite since he was born.  On the days of constant fuss, I have given him multiple baths just for a break from it.

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Hanging out in the tub!

He’s getting more and more interested in foods.  I can put piles of different things on his tray and he will try each one of them before he mixes them all together.  He stuffs his little mouth like a hamster sometimes and this week the result has been a big mess when he sneezes.  He cooperates with the spoon if I’m feeding him something that requires a spoon (yogurt, oatmeal, chopped spinach).

Working the spoon in the least efficient way possible.

Working the spoon in the least efficient way possible.

Bed times have been hard.  He has decided that 6:30 is a reasonable time to hit the hay the past few nights.  This means I get very little time with him.  After his bath I rub him down in coconut oil and sing to him and then read a few books.  He loves playing with the blinds next to the bed that is in his room.  While I know I should just put him in the crib and let him get to sleep, I’ve been lying there with him and letting him play himself to sleep and then I lie there a little longer as he’s tucked into my arm.  It’s just not enough time.

Night night!

Night night!

This week has been huge for me.  I’ve accepted that I can do this, and so can he.  Even though it was a tough week for him, I know he can survive without me.  He’s a champ.

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Carter and Violet

There are a lot of things I will miss when I return to work this week now that my maternity leave has concluded.  I will miss the snuggles, and the walks with Carter in the Ergo for hours each day.  I’ll miss swimming pool trips and the drop-in play centre.  I’ll miss feeding him dinner when Daniela comes home to watch his face light up with pure love.  I’ll miss having so much time watching him learn new things and make new noises.  I’ll miss watching his little fluffy butt wiggle around on the floor.  I’ll even miss some of his little mini-meltdowns when he reaches out to me with so much eagerness.  The greatest thing, however, that I will miss, is the many days of Carter and Violet.

Carter and Violet met when they were still in their belly homes in my Pre-natal Class.  They met in the flesh when Carter was around 7 weeks old and Violet was just shy of 2 weeks old.  

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They had a bit of a long distance relationship going while Carter set off to travel the world (visit family in the states) and then they have spent day after day together since.  He’s been blessed with the comfort of familiarity and a friend to grow and learn with and I’ve been blessed with the friendship of her mother, Brandi.  (I’ve also been grateful to have time with a lovely little girl baby who wears the cutest dresses!) Together we have done baby yoga, carrier-fit, stroller-fit, swim lessons, baby massage, parks, drop-ins and countless hours of just sitting around.

ImageI don’t know how I would’ve gotten through some of the days without Brandi and Violet.  It’s been amazing to watch them go from being two babies placed next to each other to two little ones reaching out for one another, sharing toys and babbling on.

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ImageI don’t know how anyone does it without another mom around.  I never even thought I would need someone to spend time with aside from my son but it absolutely never occurred to me that my son would need someone to spend time with aside from me.  On Carter’s worst days Violet is almost always a break from the tears.  

ImageI’m sure that Carter would have a close relationship with any baby he spent so much time with but I want to believe that his relationship with Violet is a little different.  

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I know their relationship isn’t over just because I’m going back to work.  I know she still lives just down the street and I know there is a chance they will have the opportunity to grow up together but I’m still sad that seeing each other on a daily basis is over for a while.  I’m sad that I won’t get to see my friend every day either.  We’ve gotten to navigate this whole motherhood thing together.  I’ve had someone to whine to and someone to celebrate with.  I don’t think I ever could have imagined the value of the friendship between two new moms.  

It’s pretty sad that I don’t have a single picture of Brandi and I together.

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The end of a mini-era

Today is bittersweet. Today was my first day of not breastfeeding. At this point is has been over 36 hours since I last nursed my son. I woke up this morning and when I would normally nurse him first thing I handed him a bottle. It felt okay at first but as the day progressed I felt increasingly sad about it. Breast feeding was never easy for me and I never produced enough milk despite all attempts, all lactation consultants and internet research. I worked so hard to be all that he needed but I was just starving my baby and I couldn’t keep that up so we had to supplement early on. It got better for a while and then I got mastitis which then reduced my supply even more to a point it could not recover from. I then “quit” when he started biting, and then started back a few hours later. I had a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding but my love always won.

I go back to work next week and we’d like to start trying for our next child soon so the decision was made that I would stop. Yesterday morning was not intentionally my last time nursing, And so I didn’t focus on all the positives and enjoy the little things like how he holds my finger while he’s eating or how he looks into my eyes more deeply than any other time of day. I didn’t take the time to love the parts I love and now I regret that. This morning I ripped the band-aid off. I had been putting a cabbage leaf in my bra to reduce production for a few days and I just didn’t feel the desperate need to breast feed so I just went with it. As the day wore on I considered just taking a little time with him and holding him close while he nursed but I knew it was selfish and just for me to feel better. I started this blog because I want time to reflect after he goes to bed and tonight I’ve been mostly feeling like a wreck. My brain is confident in this decision and grateful that he is doing well with it but my heart is aching. I was the only one that got those moments with him and now they are over.
I want to say this means I’ve learned a valuable lesson to treasure each moment, but I’m sure I’ll need reminders along the way.

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Excitement

Starting solids was disappointing for us.  As we edged up to the 6 month mark we were discussing what foods we would start with and what our plan would be.  We had a Baby Bullet ready to go and a book all about healthy foods for babies.  Around 5 months Carter started watching us with envy as we ate and then he started reaching out trying to grab it.  I guess it was par for the course.  He would chew on celery stalks and cucumber when he was teething and loved it so we thought for sure food was going to be a big hit!  We were visiting my family in Connecticut when he turned 6 months so we had decided we would hold off until we returned home before we introduced solids but he was getting so worked up about it we gave in and ran out for a butternut squash.  It was a major flop.

We tried tons of pureed food and there was not a single thing he liked but if i handed him a chunk he’d be content for a while.  And so we entered unintentional baby led weaning.  We still haven’t progressed much in the last 2 months except with bread.  He hasn’t shown a great love or excitement for any particular food except bread which he shrieks about when we take it away from him.

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Baby led weaning with a super clumsy baby is pretty difficult and very, very messy.  In the interest of actually getting some food into his mouth I’ve been trying to spoon feed him a bit of chopped up food and he’s done alright with lentils and bananas but everything else hasn’t amounted to much.  Tonight, I was making a dish with black beans and decided to try giving him some beans without much hope.  Much to my amazement, my little boy loves black beans.  He had seconds and then thirds and was so excited about them!  Carter has some really great qualities; he is really cute (I’m biased) and he has really strong legs and he’s a big healthy boy.  Other than that he is a little behind from what I can tell and personality-wise, he’s pretty unimpressed with everything.  He’s never shown extreme happiness unless I am directly playing with him but tonight, a giggle came out while eating.  He smiled and squealed while eating his silly black beans.  I never would’ve guess that.

One of the cutest parts was when a bean fell on his tray and he couldn’t pick it up without a pincer grasp (which he lacks) so he just bent over with his lips pursed trying to suck it up.

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After a trying day with a very clingy son, I’m so happy to have tucked an adorably content, well fed child into bed.

10 Months is a long time when it’s more than twice your age.

The next time Carter see’s his grandfather (my father-in-law) he will be 17 months old. I can’t say for sure what he will have mastered by then, but I know he will be a very different little boy by then.

My in-laws spend the better part of the year in the Philipines. Daniela’s step-mother is Filipino and her father has decided he likes the lifestyle and the weather too much to want to be in Canada for too long each year.  This is bittersweet.  I can’t say I desperately want to spend time with them as we are very different people (this is being generous)but they are now my son’s only local grandparents.  My parents who live in Connecticut would do just about anything to live closer to Carter and to watch him grow.  Anything except desert my brother and my grandmother.  I understand this completely and I know that I’m the one that moved away but I just feel so sad for Carter.  I remember missing my grandparents desperately when they were in Florida each winter.  I was heartbroken when they missed my birthdays.  Carter may never have any grandparents with him for a birthday.

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We went to see my father-in-law today to say good by before he leaves for just over 10 months.  Carter’s Lola will be here for a couple more months to get some medical procedures taken care of so Carter doesn’t seem to recognize him yet but always enjoys the bird noises he makes and today he was in a particularly chill mood.  He showed off his newly developed “creeping” and he played with everything he could get his hands on while babbling on.

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His Nono wanted to show him off to the neighbours so he loaded him into our Onya carrier and paraded him around.  Despite all the things I dislike about my father-in-law, there is nothing I could be more grateful for than the fact that despite the fact that he is an old-school Italian a lot of the time, no part of him doesn’t accept Carter as his own grandson.  He adopted both Daniela and her Brother as babies and sometimes I’m amazed by the lack of even acknowledgment that his children and his grandson are not biologically related to him.  It seems to make everything else worth it for me.

So, today was Carter’s first long-term goodbye despite the fact that it went unnoticed by him.

Birth Story – Nothing Short of Amazing

I’ve been wanting to write out my birth story for a while now, I suppose for about 7 months and 9 days.  The truth is that I typed it out once and felt like it captured it really well and then I went and deleted it by accident.  I don’t know that I can do it justice but I think that it’s time to get it out and at least have something written before I forget even more.

There is much that precedes the birth of my son but not much that is more magical than that moment in time.  If you’re reading, I would go ahead and skip most of Friday and Saturday but it’s important to me to write it out.

Friday January 11, 2013 – 3 days past his due date

-I woke up feeling strange.  I was full energy and not having contractions.  I wasn’t swollen and I wasn’t in pain but my hands felt weird.  I felt a buzz running through my body like I had had a coffee on an empty stomach.  It wasn’t a great feeling, but it also wasn’t that bad.  I had little planned for the day except for my chiropractor so I headed there and had some acupuncture done for SPD and then met Daniela for a walk down to a coffee shop.  I was still feeling off so as we passed by the drug store I decided to pop in and check my blood pressure.  It was 140/95.  That didn’t seem right so I had Daniela check hers.  Surely the machine was broken.  She came out with numbers that would lead you to believe she was training for a marathon.  I jumped on the machine again and came back with 141/98.  I figured I should probably tell my midwife but I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it so I went ahead and texted her the numbers.  My student midwife called me back immediately.  She suggested I drink some juice and head home and wait for them to get over, they said they weren’t sure about the accuracy of the machines.  Daniela held my hand tightly as we walked home slowly without much conversation.

-The midwives arrived around 11:30am and my student midwife(Tracey) took my blood pressure.  Still high. My primary midwife (Julie) didn’t seem to believe it and acted as though it must have been done wrong.  She said she would check it in a bit after they checked everything else out.  They poked and prodded at my belly and he kicked and wiggled around trying to get away.  His head had been locked in position for weeks at this point and mostly he was just stretching his legs out aching for more space to grow.  They checked my cervix and said I was under 2cm, nothing remarkable.  Blood pressure was taken again…still high.  Julie took both hands and with all her kindness said “We’re going to go to the hospital now and have them check you out”.  She said to bring everything we needed.  I was still processing what she was saying but Daniela was up and slowly stuffing anything she could think of into the hospital bag.  Daniela has a knack for putting EVERYTHING into a bag as long as it’s edible.

Julie and Tracey packed up and assured us they would be waiting at the hospital with us.  I went to my bedroom to change but end up in a heap of tears.  I was overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty mixed with excitement.  We drove downtown to the hospital that we planned to give birth at if we didn’t end up having a home birth.  It looked like home birth was off the table now.

-At the hospital there was a lot of waiting with all the monitors attached.  A doctor came and did another cervical check, still under 2cm.  She said she wasn’t going to induce me if I wasn’t most dilated.  In the hours of being there my blood pressure ended up dropping a bit to a point where they weren’t so concerned.  The doctor was great but simply said that it was in our best interest to get him out before the BP became more of an issue.  She suggested a Clean & Sweep and then send me home for the night and check again in the morning if I hadn’t gone into labour.  At this point there was a transfer of care from the midwives to the doctor.  Unless I went into labour that night the midwives wouldn’t be back with me until I was in active labour.  Daniela and I went home that night with mixed emotions.  I wish I could remember what we had for dinner that night.  I know it doesn’t matter but it still bugs me that I don’t know.  That was the last meal we had at home together, alone before the birth of our son.

Saturday January 12, 2013 – 4 days past his due date

-I was supposed to call the hospital at 7am to make sure I could come in for an induction.  This of course meant that i was up all night and fell asleep just before 7am and startled awake at 8:36 (it’s strange the details we remember).  I panicked like I had missed the opportunity for his birth.  I jumped up and grabbed my phone to call as Daniela groggily told me to relax.  The hospital told me to come in for 9 (was that even possible).  We grabbed everything and hurried there.

-The rush was far from necessary as we waited until 11am to be seen by the doctor.  They checked all the normal things.  I wasn’t having contractions that were remarkable and everything felt pretty normal and my blood pressure had even stayed down.  Cervical check showed I hadn’t budged.  Still under 2cm and so they didn’t want to induce me.  They did another clean and sweep and sent me to a different room down the hall to wait.  They would check me out later in the day.  Daniela and I were bored.  Very, very bored.  We are very different people in our boredom (we are very different people all around).  I walked around the hospital all day.  I knew all the floors very well and knew where all the great views were.  Daniela watched netflix on her iPhone for hours on end.  Nothing was happening.  Afternoon checks said I still wasn’t ready.  I was having contractions but they were mild and infrequent.  They said they would do the final assessment of the day at 11pm and likely they would just go ahead with the induction the following morning.  I should mention my fear of induction.  I fear pretty much anything that isn’t natural and the idea of them telling my body to do something my body didn’t think it was ready for really freaked me out.  I had a chat with my belly and gave it one last chance.

-After hours of walking I decided I was tired.  I got myself tucked into bed and had just fallen asleep when a new doctor walked in.  Of course, it was after 11 and time for my checks.  They ran through everything and nothing had budged.  He told me to rest up and they would reassess at 11am.  I tossed and turned for a while trying to get comfortable and then decided that what was missing was an arm around me.  I knew the hospital bed was little and my belly was huge but I asked Daniela to come up out of her cot and snuggle behind me.  I think she was happy I asked and she climbed in quickly.  It was just after midnight and we laid there chatting for a bit.  She reached her arm around my belly and as she settled into it there was a pop.

-I rolled myself out of bed and rushed to the washroom sure I had lost bladder control but no, there was blood and stickiness and and general panic.  I waddled out to the nurse and asked her if i would actually feel my water breaking.  She said “it’s possible” and handed me some lovely large pads and told me she would go speak with the nurses in the birth wing.  I went back in and told Dan to get our stuff together.  The nurse rolled in with a wheelchair that I didn’t really want.  She insisted.  I hate being down at wheelchair level but I climbed in and Dan stacked the bags on top of me (so she didn’t have to carry them of course).

-There was some back and forth about whether they were ready for me or not but they eventually put us in a room.  It was huge.  Completely not what I expected.  It felt so empty with just the two of us in there.  I walked around (read: paced) and paused every so often for a mild contraction.  I could feel Daniela’s nerves but I was just too tired to care.  The doctor finally got to us around 1:30am and did yet another cervical check.  He said “well, you’re almost 3cm so I’m going to go ahead and have them call the midwives so we can transfer you back to their care.”  I felt like he just didn’t want to be responsible for me.

-So, I wasn’t even in active labour yet. (That’s a very dramatic period for the record.)  I decided we shouldn’t call my doula yet or my friend Beth who wanted very badly to be there for the birth.  I didn’t want them up all night for no reason.

-That’s when the contractions started and they weren’t gentle with me.  A nurse came in to tell us that the midwives had been called and would be in around 3.  She reminded Daniela how to apply counter pressure.  Then we were alone again in the big giant room. Around 2:45 I decided my pride was unimportant and I should just get the epidural.  The pain was far more than I expected and the average 8 hours of this was unbearable to think about.  I told Daniela I needed it.  Daniela who has a way of reacting completely inappropriately to my pain was cool as a cucumber and told me to just wait until the midwives got there and we could discuss it.  Neither of us knew I wouldn’t be able to form a sentence by the time they got there.  She also made the independent decision to call the doula and have her come right away. Birth Partner Extraordinaire.

From here on out I am just retelling a mix of moments of consciousness and what the people present told me after.  

-I don’t remember the midwives arriving but I remember looking up at one point from my hunched over position against the bed and seeing my back up midwife (Melida) and my Tracy standing near the door observing how Daniela and I were getting through.  I know the room was silent.  I had told Daniela to “shut the fuck up when I was having contractions” after she had asked me one too many questions.  I think she decided it was best to just not talk to me. I’m not one to make much noise and I held to that through most of the contractions.

-3:20am my doula (Also a Rachel) arrived.  She jumped right in to support Daniela.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night (read: previous 36 weeks).  With each contraction I told myself I just had to get through it and then I could take a nap.  Between each contraction I closed my eyes and rested my head on the bed despite the fact that I was still standing.  My “sleep” was always disrupted with another contraction.  I remember just wishing i could turn it off so that I could go to sleep.  Rachel asked if we had tried the tub yet.  We hadn’t yet but everyone was in agreement that I should try it out.  I was out numbered and in no position to contest.  They filled the bath and Daniela helped me get ready to climb in.  This is approximately when all my insecurities disappeared and being naked was no longer a fear of mine.  Being in a tub with everything else coming out of me still wasn’t high up there on my list of good ideas but I welcomed anything that would offer a little respite.

-I got into the tub and the next thing I remember is being completely submerged.  Rachel was pulling to bring my up.  I just wanted to sleep.  She tried to get me into a position where I could relax but then I saw it.  I was in the tub with blood clots, not where I wanted to be.  As I turned to protest a contraction came on and with it was the worst feeling.  I just knew I was going to poo in the tub.  I knew it.  I couldn’t think of a worse thing at that moment.  Then I remembered the midwife telling me about the “need to push”.  This was it, but no, it was far too early for that.  Never the less I turned and mumbled to them that I was feeling it.  They looked at each other and I could tell they didn’t believe me.  Tracy said she was going to check me after the contraction.  I remember the surprise in her face so clearly as she said “his head is right there!”

-They said they had to pull me out of the tub as tub births were not allowed at the hospital.  They wrapped me in blankets and walked me to the bed and helped me climb up as quickly as they could before the next contraction.  There were only a few pushes before They could see him.  All of this is very foggy except for Daniela’s face when she saw his hair.  I could never capture in words the way she smiled in that moment.  I turned to my doula and said “I can’t do this”, she held my hand and said “you don’t have a choice.” I suppose it’s a good thing I’ve always been up for a challenge because she was right.  With one more push (with Tracy exclaiming “Slow down”) he came flying out covered in a thick layer of vernix.  In one smooth motion that had him, my screaming son, up on my chest and a hat on his head and blankets around us both.  I wanted so desperately to see his face but he settled into me and I was terrified I would drop him. I held him so tightly for close to an hour.  Daniela wrapped her arms around us both and kissed me repetitively.  I know that the first thing I said was “I love him!”.  In my mind this escaped my mouth with much relief before they even placed him on my chest.  One of my biggest fears through my pregnancy was that I would have a hard time bonding with my child and I was so overjoyed when he came out because I knew instantly that I loved him with all that I am.

-I remembered from the prenatal class that they only cut the cord right away and use oxytocin to deliver the placenta if there is something wrong with the mother or the baby.  She pulled out the syringe and gave me warning.  I knew there was nothing wrong with the bundle in my arms so it must have been me.  I heard something about blood and probably should have been concerned but nothing in the world mattered more than the small body in my arms.

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-I delivered the placenta quickly and easily and everything seemed okay.  At some point Daniela and I looked at each  other and without speaking it was clear that his name was Carter.

-There was a lot of stitches and Tracy asked “aren’t you glad my background is in textiles?” We laughed.

-I went into shock at some point but I never let go of my boy.  I was chattering and shaking everywhere.  They wrapped me in even more blankets and didn’t separate us until I had calmed down and the nurses outside were saying they needed his details.  As Daniela went with him for his measurements and Vitamin K, I decided I needed a shower.  Rachel helped me to the bathroom and stood with me and spotted me while I stood under the shower head staring at my belly that until just over an hour ago had looked so differently.  I ran my hands over the skin and looked down at my feet.  Everything was still there.  My heart fluttered, my life changed.

Carter weighed in at 8lbs1oz and was 22.5″ long.  He was beautiful and peaceful and everything I dreamed of with a VERY round head.

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Now I’m Here

If you’re not familiar with Drake’s most annoying song “Started from the Bottom”, then I don’t recommend listening to it.  You will hate it and it will get stuck in your head.  I was overwhelmed with my desire to smash the speakers when I first heard it and 9 months later it is still in my head.  My wife and I toyed with the idea of creating a video (which would surely go viral) of a parody entitled “Started in the Belly”.  The video would feature our son, Carter, and flashbacks to my giant belly.  We worked out fantastic lyrics and had all our ideas for filming and then abandoned the project for two reasons:
1) I hated myself for even coming close to doing anything with that song
2) We have no video filming or editing experience and it seemed far too daunting with an infant
I guess you could mostly just say it was laziness.

None of this changes the fact that our son did indeed start in the belly and now he is here.  I figured it was a reasonable place to start my blog.  I haven’t blogged in a while with my last miserable attempt going no where but I think i’m ready to start anew.  The major reason I’m feeling compelled to start blogging are that my memory is failing me on a regular basis since pregnancy and I really want to keep track of everything wonderful and terrible to remind myself and to share with people, including Carter.  I start back at work in less than two weeks and my time with an awake child will be pretty minimal, I think that if I take some of my time when he is sleeping to recap our time together it will serve as equally important.  I also want to take time to think back on what has led us to where we are now.

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