Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 1

O is 14 days old today and it's my first day on my own with her and Sebby. The past 2 weeks were a blur of excitement as we adjusted to becoming a family of 4. We are so thankful for the great support we received following O's birth including tons of meals, visitors and help with Sebby. Our friend, Joyce hung out with Sebby for at least an hour every day, giving us a little break to get things done and giving him some undivided attention. (He loved it!) Our church arranged to have several families deliver us meals and most of them stayed to eat with us, which was an added treat as it gave us the opportunity to visit with some great people. Some people brought gifts and flowers, one couple even brought Sebby a gift, a flute set for the bath that has been a HUGE hit with him! All of this in addition to having Darren around 24/7 was almost too good to be true.

This morning I woke up realizing that today would be a bit of an adjustment since Darren was starting back at work. I wondered how I would manage even simple things like showering and getting out to the clothesline, although I knew I could do it. When I got up, I noticed I was bleeding a bit more heavily, which the midwife told me was a sign that I was overdoing it a little so although I felt like yesterday hadn't been particularly strenuous, I took a cue from my body and asked Darren if I could sleep a bit longer. When S woke me at 9:30am, breakfast was on the table, S was dressed and diapers were in the washing machine (we now wash diapers every day!). I was thankful for my super helpful husband, realizing that he'd given me a huge boost to start my day. He left for work and we were on our own.

I fed O then spent a bit of time with her because she was awake and S was playing well on his own. I decided that the most strategic way to shower was to leave O in her chair in our room with the door closed since S can't open that one door. I thought about putting O's chair in the bathroom and closing the door but thought S might not like that as he's used to me leaving the door open. My strategy worked, and when I finished showering, I still had 2 happy kiddies.

O was sleeping in her chair so I put S on my back and went out to hang out the diapers on the line since our backyard is a total mud pit these days. I had hoped to go pick up a few things at at Tesco but it was too late to go out before Sebby's nap. Instead, I did the breakfast dishes, put away the 2 loads of laundry that were hanging in the living room then changed the sheets on our bed. After lunch, S went for his nap but I couldn't fall asleep so I rested in bed for awhile then hung out the second load of laundry then our grocery delivery arrived so I started putting that away.  I was in the kitchen when I heard Darren's keys in the door.

Not bad at all for day 1 on our own! The house wasn't a total disaster, I was showered and dressed and I was feeling quite relaxed overall. I was a little disappointed that I didn't make it outside to enjoy the sunshine today but I'm trying to not be too hard on myself. I'll work on getting out of the flat with the kids but for today I was really thankful for the sunshine coming in our windows and S who contentedly played inside all morning.

To top off a good day, a couple from church brought us a really delicious meal, homemade chicken pie and mashed potatoes. We loved it, even S liked it, especially the pastry! What a great meal to end the meals that our church had organized for us.

I'm so excited for our friend, Karen, to arrive tomorrow for a week. I'm looking forward to catching up with her and I'm sure she'll be able to help me get out of the house too.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ophelia Birth Story Part 3

No more than 2 minutes after Ophelia was born, our midwife, Ann rushed in. She was probably parking her car as Ophelia was entering the world. She had tried to get her as fast as possible but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. She was thrilled that everything had gone so smoothly and said quietly to me that it was probably nicer that we got to go through the experience on our own anyways.

She began sorting through the homebirth kits, pulling out cord clamps, scissors and other tools she would need. A few minutes later she clamped the cord then passed Darren the scissors so he could cut it. We called our friend who was watching Sebby and told her she could bring him back. We also called our friend and neighbour, Anna, to tell her the news (she squealed in excitement and woke up her two kids!) and said she was welcome to come by. (Her husband was the friend who had helped fill the pool).

Just then the buzzer rang and midwife number 2 rushed in. She was the "backup" midwife that the hospital had dispatched when they found out that Ann was at another birth. She was a little disappointed that she had missed all the action but decided to stay to help Ann finish up the paperwork, check Ophelia and help me deliver the placenta.

A few minutes later, the buzzer rang and in rushed midwife number 3, the "backup" that the "backup" had called when she found out that we lived on the opposite side of the city. She thought that her colleague may have a chance to get to our place quicker so she asked her to come.

Still hanging out in the pool at that point, I called my sister, Krista on Skype to tell her the news since my parents weren't home. We talked for a few minutes then I hung up as Anna arrived, followed shortly after by Sebby and Joyce who had been watching him.

Anna held Ophelia and introduced her to Sebby as he arrived. They were out in the entry so I didn't see or hear what was happening but Darren said that as soon as Sebby saw her, he exclaimed, "WOW!"

 While Sebby was meeting Ophelia, the midwives asked me to stand up to deliver the placenta. I was a little bit confused about why they wanted me to stand but quickly understood because as soon as I stood, there was a big gush of blood (up until that point there was barely any blood at all) and out came the placenta. They took the placenta away then helped me up out of the pool and on to the couch where they helped me get dressed. They then handed Ophelia back to me so that she could rest on my chest and enjoy a little "skin to skin" with her momma.

A few minutes later, the buzzer rang yet again and in rushed a paramedic. Apparently the hospital had called them after Darren had told them that the baby was coming then hung up. They had been super busy, though, and so only arrived at our place an hour and a half after the call had been placed. Thankfully we didn't need them so the midwives sent her away pretty quickly.

With the paperwork complete and Mom and baby doing fine, the midwives and guests left to let us settle in as a family of four. Darren read a few stories to Sebby and Ophelia then put Sebby to bed. Too high on adrenaline to sleep, we began cleaning up our flat. I picked up towels and threw them in the laundry, Darren finished emptying and putting away the pool then put our living room back together.

When everything was in order, we sat down to eat (we hadn't eaten since lunch at Crazy Wok) and try calling our parents again. We talked to his parents first and they were pretty surprised to hear that Ophelia was born. My parents were less surprised but equally excited to chat, as my siblings had filled them in on the news already.

Darren, Ophelia & I finally got tucked in for the night at around 2am, still a bit high from the excitement of the day but with tired bodies from all that had been done.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ophelia Birth Story Part 2

For awhile I sat on our exercise ball, leaning my body forward and on to our bed to relax in between contractions and standing up then squatting when contractions would come. Later, I moved to the bed, kneeling on my hands and knees during contractions and leaning forward to lay my head and chest on the bed (the "child's pose" in yoga) in between them.

The hypnobirthing exercises REALLY helped! Outside the room, I could hear Darren busily working, then calling a friend to ask him to come help fill the pool with water because the hose wasn't staying attached to the faucet in the bath tub (oops!). Soon our friend arrived with his electric kettle and an extra pot and they got to work filling pots and dumping them into the 4 ft deep pool in our living room.

Throughout the entire labour I felt intensely focused, calm, relaxed and in control. I was able to fully relax in between the contractions (in hypnobirthing, they call them "surges" and emphasize that contractions do not involve pain, only pressure and that pressure is good because it is your body working to open the path for your baby to be born). When the contractions hit I would focus on getting through them, thinking and saying the word "open" as I visualized my  cervix opening and Ophelia moving down the birth canal

When I heard our friend leave, I opened the bedroom door and went into the bathroom where I laboured while sitting on the toilet for a few contractions. I told Darren that I had no idea when we should call to have the midwife come but I thought perhaps soon. I heard him calling then he came to tell me that the pool was ready. I headed into the living room and was struck by the peaceful, calm atmosphere that Darren had created. He had the pool ready, blinds down, lights dimmed, candles lit and hypnobirthing recording playing softly in the background.

At around 7pm, he helped me into the pool (it was so tall that I had to use a step stool to get in) and as soon as I sunk into the warm water (37 degrees is what they recommend and what we aimed to keep it at), I felt comfortable and even more relaxed. In the pool, I spent some time on my hands and knees then shifted to lying on my side, leaning one hand on the little inflatable seat on the side of the pool) and one leg against the side of the pool, foot partially out of the water. The contractions were getting even more intense and closer together and my soft spoken "open" was becoming a louder and louder "oooo" during each contraction as I visualized my cervix opening and Ophelia coming closer to being born. Darren was also there helping massage my hand during each contraction. 

Darren called back to see if the hospital had made progress on sending out a midwife because when he has called the last time, they told him that ours was busy at another birth so they would have to send a backup midwife who lived on the other side of the city, about 50 minutes away. This time, he told them that the contractions were getting closer together and that we would need a midwife to come ASAP, the baby was coming quickly. They asked him if I was feeling like pushing and I said "Yes!" as I was feeling the pressure lower and lower during the previous 2 contractions. I knew at that point that I was in the transition phase (dilating the final bit to 10 cms and starting to have an urge to push) and I also knew that she would be born before the midwives arrived, although I'm not sure I said that to Darren. The person on the phone with Darren told him that I should get out of the pool. He said that he wasn't sure he'd be able to convince me to get out of the pool but they kept telling him that he had to get me out of the pool. Finally they threatened, "You're going to be in big trouble if you don't get her out of the pool!" so at that point he said he would be hanging up and he did.  

A few minutes after he got out of the phone, I started to feel the intense stinging or burning sensation that signaled to me that her head was crowning. I was so excited because I knew that the second stage of labour probably wouldn't take more than a few minutes, we were about to meet our little girl. I had read that natural childbirthing advocates usually recommend against intense pushing in this stage (in the hospital when I gave birth to Sebby they were telling me to take a deep breath then push as hard as I could) as it contributes to tearing and isn't necessary (with Sebby I tore and had to get stitches, it was quite painful) so I told myself relax and be patient. As I felt her head and body slowly moving downwwards, I continued to breathe deeply, relieved that the stinging sensation subsided as soon as her head was completely out. 

Darren had spoken to our midwife on the phone and since she knew that there was a possibility that no one would make it to our place in time, she gave Darren a few instructions. She said that the most important thing to know was that we should make sure she stayed under water until her whole body was out then we were to grab her and wrap her in a towel and put her on my chest. She also told him to open the bags from the "homebirthing kit that had been delivered to our house and pull out a few things. She has a fairly thick Glasgwegian accent, though, so he heard something about instruments and something else about forceps but he admitted after getting off the phone that he had no idea what she was talking about. In the end he just zipped the bag back up and left it. 
I wasn't aware of the time and although it felt long because I was so excited that she was about to be born, I don't think the second stage lasted any more than about 15 minutes. I felt her moving slowly down and the finally I felt her whole body slip out. When we pulled her up out of the water, we noticed the cord was around her neck so we quickly unwapped it and then lay her on my chest. She was a little blue but breathing well and once on my chest in the water, quickly began regaining her colour. 

What a rush!

*** Check back soon for the finale & more pictures ***

PS: Sorry there aren't more pictures to share. Darren intended to document the labour and birth, however, things happened so fast that he didn't have time to snap any pictures until after the first midwife arrived. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ophelia Birth Story Part 1

Darren had the morning off on Monday so he was able to join me for my midwife appointment. Walking there, we were talking about how perfect it would be if Ophelia decided to make an appearance that day so Darren could take his full two weeks of paternity leave just before our first "post baby" visitor would arrive from Canada. We wondered whether my midwife would do a membrane sweep (an internal exam where the midwife sweeps her fingers around the cervix to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac from the cervix, which releases hormones that can stimulate the onset of labour) to potentially speed up the onset of my labour.

When we arrived at the clinic, just before 10am, the receptionist said that my appointment may have to be postponed because my midwife had just been called out to attend a homebirth. I felt a slight twinge of disappointment as I waited, while the receptionist checked to see if Ann had time to see me quickly before heading out. Thankfully, she agreed to squeeze in our appointment before she had to rush off. While quickly checking my blood pressure, she explained that unfortunately she would be off for 10 vacation days starting this Thursday. This meant that unless I went into labour before Wednesday, I would be looked after by another midwife for the rest of my pregnancy. She asked if I had tried reflexology or any other natural labour induction methods and I explained that I had been practicing hypnobirthing (listening to a recording of relaxation and visualization exercises every day that would help me stay calm and relaxed during the process of labour) and doing lots of walking. I told her that Darren and I had been wondering whether she would do a membrane sweep and without skipping a beat she replied, "Oh, do you want me to do one now? We'll call it an 'internal exam' if anyone asks though, because I'm not supposed to do it until 40 weeks..."

The sweep wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as I anticipated and I was excited to hear that she thought the sweep would work, she even went as far as to say that she would see me at our place tomorrow for the birth of our baby! The chances of a sweep being successful go way up if the cervix is already ripe/ready for birth and I was already 3cms dilated and 50% effaced! (the cervix has to open to 10 cms and thin to 100% effaced in order for the baby to be born).

As soon as we left the clinic, I began feeling minor cramping that progressively got worse as we walked down to the Kelvingrove Museum to look at the animals with Sebby.

The cramping continued throughout our lunch at Crazy Wok (our favourite Cantonese food restaurant in Glasgow) and our walk back home. Darren went off to work after lunch and I went home to put Sebby in for a nap and laid down to relax. At that point, around 2pm, I was beginning to feel very minor contractions so I texted Darren to update him, and then turned off my phone to relax while Sebby slept. After Darren's meeting ended, he texted to say he had to go do some errands in town and told me that our friend, Joyce was willing to watch Sebby so I might as well send him off to the park with her. I was reluctant at first, saying that the contractions were pretty weak so I was fine with having Sebby with me but Darren convinced me that it would be good for Sebby to get some fresh air and hang out with Joyce, even if it was just so I could bake a few more loaves of bread or get things more ready for once the baby was here.

 I contacted Joyce then headed into the kitchen to wash the dishes before she arrived while Sebby played in the living room. At around 4pm, I noticed that the contractions were starting to come closer together so I sent Darren a text message, telling him that I thought he should come home as soon as possible because my contractions were 4 minutes apart and getting closer together. By the time Joyce arrived, about 20 minutes later, I had long abandoned the plan of cooking or cleaning and was pulling the furniture out of the living room and the birthing pool out of the closet. 

Joyce jumped into action, helping me re-arrange the living room and vacuum under where the pool was going to be set up. Sebby was thrilled that the air pump had re-emerged from the closet and was excitedly pumping with it. I was leaving the room every few minutes as the contractions would hit so that I could be alone to focus on getting through them.

A sweaty Darren arrived a few minutes after Joyce and sent Joyce and Sebby off then started getting the pool set up. At that point, I decided that I would stay out of the living room until the pool was entirely set up. I had a shower while Darren inflated the pool then went into our bedroom to relax with the help of my hypnobirthing recording (a 50 minute recording we had downloaded from iTunes that contained different breathing, relaxation and visualization exercises that I could use during labour). 

*** Check back soon for part 2 ***

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And The Winner Is...???

Thanks for your votes. We're not sure who voted for October 1st but they got it right!

Ophelia Grace Lai Kwong 

was born just before 8pm Glasgow time. She was so excited to meet us that she couldn't wait until the midwife arrived. Darren was too busy assisting to snap pictures during the labour but he got this one just a few minutes after she was born.

I'll be starting to work on her birth story very soon because I think it's a pretty exciting story will keep you in suspense until I share more details then. We're off to an early bed since the adrenaline rush kept us from sleeping much last night.