Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seb's First Month

In a babies life, 1 month of development is huge! Seb has already grown and changed a lot since his birth. I wanted to write down some of the things that we have learned about him over the past month...

His Likes & Dislikes:

- Seb LOVES baths. We thought it was a fluke the first time we bathed him and he didn't cry
but it wasn't, he really loves it!

- He does not like getting his face & eyes washed.

- He likes being warm. The first night he would cry as soon as I put him in his bassinet. When we talked to my sister the next day she mentioned that he may have been too cold so Darren suggested we dress him in his snowsuit. The next night we dressed him in his snowsuit and he was fine to stay in his bassinet!

- He likes driving fast. He starts crying when we drive slowly.

- He really does not like getting into the carseat.

- He loves to eat and eats even more when Mommy is around (sometimes he begins asking for food when he hears her voice in the room).

- He really enjoys being around people. At church he sleeps during the service and is was wide awake after, "socializing" with all our friends.

- Daddy discovered that when Seb is fussing, rhythmic "bum pats" often calms him down. He loves it!


- He gets his best sleeps while cuddling & napping on the couch with Daddy. (Mommy also gets her best sleep when he is hanging out with Daddy!)

- Although he protests while we're wrapping him, he sleeps best while swaddled.

 - He sleeps better with our humidifier going and his bed propped up slightly, these two things help his stuffy nose.

- He has slept a maximum of 3 hours at once but usually sleeps about 2 hours before waking up to eat again.

His Development:

- He definitely recognizes Mommy & Daddy when we're out and of course at home too.

- In the past week or so we have noticed him begin to smile more, he smiles extra wide for us.

- He is beginning to interact more with his surroundings. He played with toys for the first time this week, reaching for and kicking at the toys hanging from his little chair.

- He loves being cozy against us in the carrier but is beginning to not like being in there when he is awake because it obstructs his vision, he would rather be able to observe what is going on around him..

- He has begun cooing more, especially when someone is talking to him, when he's falling asleep and when he's really satisfied with his meal.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The First Weeks

It's hard to believe Seb is already 1 month old. This crazy, amazing adventure of having a baby has continued to blow me away. Darren reminded me yesterday that I should write about some of my memories from the past month before I forget.

It seems like the first week or two that Seb was at home was a sleep-deprived blur, especially since I was having trouble sleeping. I think there were a few reasons I couldn't sleep:

1. My adrenaline was pumping. I had so many thoughts running through my head. Mostly happy, excited thoughts but certainly a big jumble of them.

2. Seb was SO noisy in the bassinet beside me: breathing quickly then more slowly, softly then more loudly. I would look at him every few minutes to make sure he was OK. I couldn't fall asleep with him beside me.

3. Breastfeeding was difficult and stressful, especially in the middle of the night. I would dread him waking up hungry because I knew how long it would likely take for him to latch well and how much it would hurt in the process. I was caught off guard since I had never imagined breastfeeding to be difficult.

Although the first weeks were a challenge, we were blessed to have so much support!

Darren was AMAZING! 

    He worked so hard without once complaining (even doing chores that he hates), making all the   meals and keeping the house clean.

    He sat beside me to help me breastfeed when I found it difficult and painful.

    He took Seb and laid with him on the couch or did housework with him in the carrier in the mornings and evenings so I could sleep.

    He made sure we got out of the house for at least one little outing every day so I could get a bit of exercise and feel like I'd accomplished something every day.

Karen was AWESOME!

    She picked up things we needed from the store so we wouldn't have to go out.

    She came shopping with me and held Seb so I could try things on.

    She helped out around our place in countless ways: cooking dinner, laundry, putting away Christmas decorations, re-organizing to make room for Sebby's things.

    She made and printed Sebby's birth announcement, it's really nice!

Church friends were GREAT!

    Some friends from small group visited and dropped off delicious meals. Amy made several super healthy & tasty meals (the best curry I've ever had!) and gave us a baby blanket -- one of my favourites we're received! Michelle brought a big lasagne, mmm!

    Two families with boys lent us almost all the baby stuff we have: clothes, toys, a swing, a chair, a bathtub, etc... Our house is full of baby stuff. We barely had to buy anything!

    Several people gave cards & thoughtful gifts.

Maryanne made my Christmas!

     Maryanne is a lactation consultant I saw on Christmas eve. Up until that point, I had really been struggling with breastfeeding so it was a huge blessing to get an appointment with her. She gave such clear instructions and so many great tips that I got the hang of it after that. It was pretty amazing, I followed her instructions for the next feeding at home and things went great! What an amazing Christmas gift!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Seb's Birth Story - At the Hospital

Leaving home I told Darren that I would like to park at the mall across the street from the hospital and walk over but a few minutes later I changed my mind and only wanted to walk from the hospital parking lot. I had 2 contractions outside and it was so cold that I insisted we continue walking! By the time we arrived in the lobby I was having a third contraction and the elevator was taking forever to arrive! The first contraction I had as I got out of the car though was especially painful ... but because of how cold it was we had to keep moving!

Once I got checked, in they hooked me up to a fetal heart monitor for about an hour to make sure Seb was doing OK and part way through that time someone came to check how much I was dilated.

I was 6cms!!! 

I was SO relieved that I was more than 5cms and that the contractions had not slowed down since I had arrived at the hospital! I guess I was holding it together really well too because the staff were very surprised that I was 6cms, they kept saying, "Wow, you seem like you're only 2cms, great work, you're so calm!"

I went over my birth plan with the resident then the doctor then again with my nurse (once you are admitted in the labour & delivery department, you are assigned a nurse that stays with you the entire time). I made it really short and simple: I wanted to not be offered any pain medication; I wanted to get a lock instead of an IV so I could move around as much as possible; and I wanted to do skin to skin as soon as the baby was born. They said they could
probably accommodate my requests but I did have to do a bit of convincing to get the lock and towards the end, they did put in an IV. Looking back, I wish I had put something on there about pushing in an upright position because that was the major issue that I had with our nurse, since she wanted me on my back for pushing. But we'll get to that part later.

We got to our room and the nurse got me a really cool ball that looked like a bum to sit on. It was more comfortable than a regular ball because it was more stable. I sat on it till the doctor came in to check me an hour later ... 8 cms!!! Yes!

Unfortunately, when the doctor came back 2 hours later I was still 8cms. Darren says when they told me, it looked like I was going to cry. I had decided that at that point, I wanted them to rupture my membranes, so they took a small hook and broke my water. Wow, SO much liquid!!! It felt like a huge gush of relief but then the contractions became more painful. Later on, Darren goes: "woah, did you feel all that water coming out?" Uh, yes. They broke my water at around 10:45 pm.

Thankfully after only a few more contractions, I started to feel like I was going to push. The nurse wanted me to get to the toilet just in case I was going to poo but no poo came out, I just felt the baby moving farther and farther down. Unfortunately she wouldn't let me stay on the toilet very long before she wanted me to get back in bed. I asked for a birthing stool or
to kneel or to do anything other than lie in bed and Meghan tried to negotiate with her as well but the nurse wouldn't have it.  

She actually said it was dangerous for the baby!

I was quite annoyed because I knew very well that it is absurd to believe that pushing out a baby in a squatting position is dangerous for the baby! However, I was pretty tired and in no mood to argue so I got back in bed and before I knew it I was flat on my back, pushing the baby out while the doctor was comfortably seated on her stool (I actually heard her ask to have it adjusted and that made me even more annoyed).

But the pushing, even though it felt like intense burning as I stretched, was a great change of pace. They had me wait for a contraction then hold my breath and push as hard as I could for 10 seconds. Darren said my face got super red and I noticed later that I had burst blood vessels in my face and arms from pushing so hard. It was really rewarding, though, because I could feel progress as the baby descended. I wanted to watch but they didn't have a mirror. At least I could hear Darren's response as he watched and commented about how cool it was to see his head emerge.I did get to reach down and feel his head as it was coming out though, so cool! Darren told me later that all I kept saying was "woah, that's him?! crazy".

The last push and what came after was the biggest rush I've ever experienced in my life. It was amazing! I couldn't believe that he was out and as they passed him up right away so I could have him on my chest, I said something like "Wow, this is crazy" as I was hit with a tide of so many emotions: love, joy, pride and so much more. 

I continued holding him while delivering the placenta (so amazing we got Meghan to take a picture!) and they stitched me up. Darren got to cut the cord and hold a newborn for the very first time. He's a natural! We had a sweet time bonding as a new family.

What an amazing experience! Giving birth was the hardest but also the most rewarding thing I have ever done, although I didn't do it alone. I am most thankful for Darren & Meghan being with me! I relied on Darren for so much strength, he was an amazing encourager! I can't imagine how much harder it would have been without him there, especially because he was the person I most wanted with me and the person whose voice I heard when I was blocking everything else out to focus on getting through the contractions. Our doula, Meghan was super thoughtful and she did a great job of lending an extra set of hands to comfort and help without taking over or needing to be in charge.

Being parents has already been quite an adventure and I look forward to all the fun and learning ahead for us!

Seb's Birth Story - Labouring At Home

I went into labour around 4:30pm on Friday, December 17th. I knew this was the beginning of labour because the contractions remained consistent and gradually increased in length and strength. For the first few hours I watched chick flicks (Dirty Dancing -- my favourite! and Pretty Woman), which was a great distraction. As a funny aside, part way through Dirty Dancing, Darren just got up and started "nesting" around the house. I guess he didn't like it as much as me, haha.

At around 8pm, our doula, Meghan, came over to see how things were going and an unexpected thing happened, my contractions slowed down! I had heard of this happening if you go to the hospital too early but hadn't anticipated it in this case. It was strange, I remember sensing my body going into protective mode, I felt I like I needed to be a good hostess and "entertain" Meghan while she was here. She stayed about an hour and as soon as she left, the contractions resumed and continued to progress.

I tried to sleep but the contractions hurt more when I laid down so I tried to rest on the couch off and on during the night. I stayed out of our room so at least one if us (Darren) would have an OK sleep.

By Saturday morning Darren and I really began relying on the pain management techniques that we had learned from Meghan and our prenatal classes. We had been using the pain management techniques all throughout Friday afternoon and night, but by this time the contractions had really ramped up. I was so glad to have had access to such excellent prenatal education because the contractions really hurt and these techniques really helped me remain calm, focused and confident that I wouldn't need pain meds. When I would have a contraction, Darren would massage my hand and remind me to relax and breathe deeply, a routine that carried me through my entire labour. I also took two warm showers and they were quite refreshing. The only reason I got out of the shower is because we ran out of hot water (I must have been in there a looong time because we've never had that happen before)! 

Throughout the entire process at home, Darren had lit candles, turned off all our lights (except for a couple of small lamps), and had employed the use of a "rain" noise maker to help me remain calm and peaceful. It really helped me relax and focus. We used "Sleep-Relax" scented massage oils, creams, and candles from Bath and Bodyworks that Darren's brother had given us for Christmas which was an added bonus.

As I approached the 24 hour mark, things started getting more difficult as the contractions started coming closer together and for longer periods of time. I started to wonder just how long this labour would last and if things were even progressing. Then I started to sob. Darren held it together (although he told after me that he felt like crying with me but told himself not to because he knew it wouldn't help the situation), continuing to encourage me that I was doing a great job.

Then he asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I wasn't sure what to say but when he asked again I said yes. I was sick of being at home and wanted a change of scenery. I hoped that I would be pushing soon but I had no idea I knowing. At least at the hospital they could check to see how dilated I was and tell me that my body had been doing something "right" for the past 24 hours. So we grabbed our bags, texted Meghan to meet us at the hospital and headed out.

The half hour drive to the hospital seemed really long! Darren told me later that he purposely drove extra slowly, he stopped at every light and took a slightly longer route to the hospital. At the time I wondered why it seemed like it was taking forever to get there but I didn't say anything. [Edited to add, from Darren: I took a bit longer because I knew that if we got there and Tara had hardly dilated that it would be super discouraging for her! At that point we had no idea, so I figured a bit of extra time wouldn't hurt.] The contractions slowed down when we first got into the car but then picked up again so I was fairly confident that we had waited until an appropriate time to go to the hospital and my labour wouldn't stop once we arrived.

I was so in suspense, what would the internal exam reveal???

Seb's Birth Story - Early Labour

On Thursday, December 16th, I woke up at 2:30am because I had my first contraction. I was sure that was a contraction...twisting pain in my stomach that felt a bit like period cramps that went away after about 30 seconds. I knew that this was the beginning of a long process that would likely take at least several hours to progress so I didn't wake Darren. Sure enough, by 8am the contractions had calmed down and I was able to go back to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up, the contractions had essentially vanished. Sad times!

That whole day is a bit of a blur to me, breathing through early labour and running errands. One thing I do remember is that Darren had called his parents in the morning to say that I was having contractions. They sounded quite excited. Later in the afternoon we missed a call from them because we had been installing the car seat. When we talked to them a bit later Darren's dad said, "Wow, you had the baby and are already being discharged from the hospital, that's fast!" I laughed then had to give him the bad news that he was potentially still many hours away from becoming a grandad.

By Friday, we decided to try some different tricks to help the baby come out.

Even though it was really cold outside, we walked to the Farmers Market (half hour each way). Still very few contractions so we tried something diffeerent when we got home and amazingly it WORKED! Contractions were back and in full swing! Labor had begun!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seb's Birth Story - The Prequel

The prequel to Seb's birth story occurred in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, December 7th. We had arrived late on Monday evening to a work retreat just outside Lacombe and were getting ready for bed when I felt a small gush of liquid.

Could it have been my water breaking?

It didn't seem like a lot of liquid but it was clear and it was a gush.

My cell phone didn't have much reception because we were in the country but I managed to get through to my mom. She said it was different ever time so it was be hard to say for sure unless I got checked out. Hmm, not exactly the answer I was hoping for...

Next I called Health Link and after a long string of questions and answers about my condition, they suggested I get to the hospital within 4 hours. Again, not the most helpful advice...

Finally, I called the Lacombe hospital and the nurse said if I went in she could do a test to see it was amniotic fluid then we would know for sure if my water had broken. Yes, now we were getting somewhere! We hopped in the car for the short drive to Lacombe, full of adrenaline as we considered the possibility of meeting our little guy very soon.

After a very brief wait, the nurse got me hooked up to a fetal heart monitor then did a swab to see if the gush I felt was really amniotic fluid...

The test was NEGATIVE, I wasn't having a baby just yet!

We jumped back in the car and headed back to the camp where we were staying. We were a bit sad that we wouldn't meet our little guy right away but at the same time we were relieved to be able to go back to bed. We were tired but we had a great story to share with people over breakfast!

This is the last photo taken of me before I went to the hospital to have Seb. It taken home on Saturday, December 11th (the day after our work retreat ended). By this point I had finally gotten really big and pregnant!

Sebastian is here!

I thought November and early December were busy as I was finishing work and kicking baby prep into high gear but looking back, I wasn't that busy at all. Now I am a mommy who is on call around the clock for feedings, diaper changes and cuddles with our beautiful baby boy.

It is still hard for me to believe that Seb grew inside of me for 39 weeks and 6 days then we met for the first time. His Chinese name means that he is a gift like a fountain and he is already living up to the meaning of his name, he is an amazing blessing and gift from God to Darren and I. It is our prayer that his life will be a gift to many others.

I'm going to work on writing up his birth story over the next few days. It was the most challenging yet most rewarding experience of my life and I don't want to forget it. So stay tuned!