Wednesday, 28 October 2015

October Thoughts

Last October we suffered our last early miscarriage.

Last October Bubs was conceived the cycle following that last loss.  We didn't find out until November, but October 25th, give or take 24 hours, wee Bubs was created.  A year ago she was just a group of cells working her way towards a comfy home in the uterus.

I've been pretty flat out busy with my work project, with wee Bubs, and with moving the Moose's mother to the rest home up here (well, indirectly busy with the last part- the Moose's absence creates more work for me), but all the same I have been thinking a lot lately.

Those early losses, at the time, were a frustration.  An obstacle to overcome.  They were the loss of a dream, a goal, but not the loss of anything tangent.  I don't think I really understood until holding Bubs, and even then, it has taken five months for me to really feel the loss of those other little lives that blinked into existence and just as quickly out.  Maybe they were nothing more than cells with a genetic composition that could never mean life, or maybe they didn't stand a chance against a hostile uterus that didn't want them to implant.  Maybe they could never have been.  But when I look into Bub's eyes, I think about them.  Would they have had eyes so blue?  Hair so thick and dark?  Would they have been smiley, happy bubbies?  Would they have been shy, outgoing?  Knowing my Bubs has enabled me to feel their loss as I hadn't felt it before.  Not just the loss of a dream, but the loss of something real.  The loss of little bundles that were a little bit Moose, a little bit Tig. 

Now that I have Bubs, I can grieve them in a way I couldn't before.  I understand now what I lost.  And also what I have.  Bubs is an amazing, mischievous little thing with the most amazing smile and often a naughty sparkle in the eye.  She is my world.

I was on facebook this morning, and a friend had shared this piece on grief.  It is a great read, and I really have to share it.  Some people may not agree with it, and may prefer to believe things happen for a reason, and to me that is fine.  It just isn't how I look at the world.  I don't believe any of my early losses happened so that Bubs would happen.  Each event happened, sure, but there is no causation there.  Those losses happened.  I love my Bubs, and I realize that if any of those earlier pregnancies had stuck, I wouldn't have Bubs.  I would have a different Bubs, a Bubs I am sure I would love just as much as I love my Bubs.  A different world.  Those losses weren't meant to be, they weren't necessary to arrive at my Bubs, to make me love and appreciate her even more.  To believe so, I think, cheapens the losses and places a lot of weight on Bub's shoulders.

Now for something a little lighter- my 5 month old cutie:

The hat she is wearing has little bear ears...she just moved around so much it was hard to keep them visible!!  It is also hard to believe she is 5 months old!!  5 MONTHS!!!  

**I think, given some of the things I said above, I would like to point something out.  I am incredibly pro-choice.  I know above I spoke of my losses from a "life begins at conception" side.  That is sort of how I have looked at it lately.  But that is my view, for my situation, in which a baby was desperately wanted, and it doesn't apply to everyone in every situation.  I don't want in anyway to imply that my view is the "true" and "only" one.  And I don't think I really implied that above, but nonetheless, I feel like it is important for me to add this wee note to my post.  


Thursday, 1 October 2015


I have started up my fitness blog.  I have written one post in one week, when I was aiming at posting more, but oh well, it has started.  As has, more or less, my attempts at getting fitter.  So far so good (or so-so good...I have had lapses).  You can find me here.  If you want.  It will probably be pretty boring for a while (it should get exciting when Bubs is old enough for us to take her tramping, and then there will be stunning photos- not because I am a great photographer, but because we live in such a beautiful place).

In the meantime, I have a few little housekeeping things I am going to do with this blog.  I want to link a few things to various posts, update the pages, and generally just make this blog an easy place to navigate for anyone new who stumbles upon it, or for anyone who has been here before and wants to look back at something.  I always searched out blogs that seemed similar to what I was going through, even the ones that had been sitting in the dust for a few years, so I assume there are others who do this, who may find this blog, and could find some of it insightful or comforting, or whatever.

I will also pop up a final post.  I think my thoughts on the whole thing.  Everything.  All the things.  I am actually going to do it right (even spellcheck it), so it will be sometime before that happens.  I have got a massive work project that I need to get done in the next two months, and Bubs is very good at helping me procrastinate.   I will be lucky if I post it before Christmas.

Of course I will still be reading all the blogs I follow.  When I got preggers, I decided I would keep reading all the blogs until all the bloggers got their happy endings.  There are still a few of them out there, and I will be cheering them on, lurking and maybe even commenting.  But I won't be blogging here anymore.  Not until we try to go for baby #2, and even then I have mixed feelings.  But I will get into all that on my last post. 

Of course, anyone wishing to contact me can email me, or comment on this blog, as I will eventually see it (probably not at first, I don't check that often).  

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Coming Soon...

So I have decided to do a fitness blog.  It won't be here, as I want a clean slate, but I will provide a link when I eventually get around to creating the page.  Hopefully soon. 

I need to do this because I am really struggling with my weight.  Breastfeeding is not a magical diet for me, it seems.  I am up 6kg from my pregnancy weight.  I look more pregnant now than I did when I was pregnant!!  And I want to eat all the things, especially the chocolate things.  Self control is not strong at the moment.  Blogging will help keep me accountable, I hope.  

So my goal is to have a page created and a first post written by the end of the week.  I just need to figure out a plan that will work for me and my dieting beliefs (which are basically that diets don't work). 

And Bubs is 4 months old today!!!  My goal for her is to force her to do more tummy time (oh the screams and the tears I have to look forward to here!!), and start using the cloth nappies more.  But the good news is I have got her sleeping longer!  Earlier to bed, later to rise!!  But she sounds like she is waking up now, which will coincide with laundry in the wash finishing up and brownies needing to come out of the oven (yeah, yeah, I know, brownies are not healthy...I told you I have a problem with the chocolate!).

Saturday, 5 September 2015

NICU Revisited

We have been home from the NICU for two months now.  Two months isn't that long, and yet it feels like ages ago, a memory so distant that the reality of it is questionable.  Were we really there for 6 weeks?  And yet...some things bring it back into such sudden sharpness that it leaves me stunned.  A news program featuring some medical advancements, and instantly I can hear the alarms on monitors.  I can feel the quiet pressure of parents trying to hold it together day after day after day.  The warmth of the room, the dry and cracking skin of hands washed over and over.  The silence of babies too little or too sick to cry.

The thing is, I coped well with it at the time by pushing all these things aside.  After all, my baby was doing well.  She was never in any real danger (apart from that third day when they thought she may have had an infection since she wasn't digesting the tiny amount of milk she was receiving through her ng tube).  When meeting with other NICU moms in the parent room, or the pumping station, or just in the hallways, when they asked how she was doing, my answer was always the same.  She was doing great.  Sometimes I dreaded asking that question back.  Sometimes I knew their babies were struggling.  And yet they held it together.  If they could do this, then I had no business falling apart when things were going so well for me.  A sort of survivor's guilt?  I don't know. 

Last week one of the babies from the NICU passed away.  He had been born at 24 weeks, just at 500g, and the doctors initially thought he wouldn't make it.  But he did, for 23 weeks.  He made it through surgeries, blood transfusions, infections.  When I was in the NICU, he and his mum had been there the longest.  When I left the NICU, he actually weighed more than Bubs, and was holding his temperature better, even though he still needed oxygen.  Everyone thought he would be heading home in September, or maybe October. 

I really feel for his parents.  His mum (who lived a short distance from the hospital) was in every day, doing skin to skin and feeding him and just sitting with him.  For 23 weeks.  Her heart must be breaking over and over again.  How does she fill her day now?  I can't even begin to imagine the feeling of emptiness.  Empty arms, empty hours. 

A full term but very sick baby died while Bubs and I were still in the NICU, and I remember talking with the other mums about this, about how terrible and awkward we all feel, wheeling breast pumps past grieving families, doing skin to skin in the same room with parents who have only a short time in which they can do the same with their babies.  Now this mum, who witnessed the passing of two other NICU babies, has become the grieving parent.  When we talked about how horrible it was, I am sure neither of us ever expected to be in those shoes.  We were out of the woods.  Or so it felt.

After hearing about her wee boy passing away, I just cuddled Bubs all day.  I am thankful and lucky.  Things could have been so different, and I am so glad to have her here and healthy, despite the rather dramatic early entrance.  No matter how much I try, or how distant in the past it gets, the NICU will never really leave me.  I will always remember.  The other mums and the camaraderie.  The grief and the joys.  The kindness of the nurses.  The stress of maintaining such a routine, day in and day out.  The sounds, the smells, the noises, the heaviness of it all.  It is all so fuzzy and distant until it is not.  Something triggers it.  And I do feel it.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometimes I try to think of something else.  Sometimes I just pick up Bubs and cuddle her.  I am so proud of how far she has come.

The first picture of Bubs.

Bubs at 14 weeks.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Three and a half months, with photos!

We've been busy.  First getting ready for my parents to visit, then surprisingly busy doing things while they were here, and now deciding that we aren't going to sleep much during the day, and oh yeah, lets both catch a cold. 

Anyway, Bubs is three and a half months.  A few weeks ago she made it to 7lbs.  Not sure what she would be now, but more than that.  She is quickly outgrowing her new born sizes, and is mostly fitting 0-3 months.  Carters fit her best, because she is long and skinny, and lots of other brands seem to be shorter in the torso or legs, and wider.  Anyway, turns out I only have a few things in this size range that fit her well.  Bugger. 

I buried her in her toys...I love this photo, it looks like she is pretending to be a hairdresser and having a good gossip with teddy.  
We set up a "photo shoot" when my mom was here...this one is a bit blurry, but I like how peaceful she looks!
From the photo shoot.  This one is my favorite!
A sleepy smile (sleeping on her grandma).
This is the expression we refer to as "bath eyes", because when you put her in a bath, her face freezes this way and she goes still (well, used to, she has discovered wiggling but the face stays the same).  She makes this face at things that surprise her, or that she just can't figure out.
Cleo trying to teach Bubs to roll over.  

I have to admit, I am slack on tummy time because she hates it so much.  She loves to be held upright though, I at least that is something.  She has good control of her neck and head then.  But we are making an effort now to spend more time on the dreaded tummy.  She has rolled from tummy to back about half a dozen times, but she easily gets frustrated and forgets how.  She can roll easily in my arms though.

Her head is a bit flattened on the right, and has been since she left the NICU.  She strongly prefers that side and it doesn't really matter what you do, she will go back to it.  But she is starting to sleep more and more on the left, so I am not too worried.  One of the NICU docs who came up this way to see NICU grads that live afar said I should put a wedge on the right to prevent her from lying on that side, but I am choosing to ignore him based on the fact that I don't want her to suffocate!  SIDS, SUDI, whichever you call it, I am not about to risk it.  The well child nurse agreed with me.  Anyway, working on that tummy time now.  
As far as my postpartum fun time parents being here naturally meant that we ate only junk food for 10 whole days.  So I am up a few pounds now.  Definitely more than I weighed during pregnancy.  And now I am used to indulging, so it is going to be even harder to loose.  Arg.  But the weather is getting nicer so Bubs and I are getting out for walks more now.
My tummy still has some impressive nerve damage that prevents me from wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans for more than a few hours.  The fact that the jeans are too tight in the waist wouldn't be too much of an issue otherwise (they have some stretch to them), but the pressure just kills the nerves.  

I am still taking the mini pill, and my period has been awol.  It had shown up something like 7 or 8 weeks postpartum (grr), but hasn't returned.  I am on CD51 I guess, but I am not pregnant, so I will blame the pills and secretly be thankful!  

My hair is falling out.  More noticeably because it is long enough to be worn in a messy bun, which holds all the hair up there until I take it down to wash it, and then heaps of it comb/wash out.  I don't know how different this is to during pregnancy, because my hair during pregnancy was too short to tie back.  It is annoying though- I will have to clean the shower drain more often, and I HATE cleaning the shower drain!!

I'll try to write a post about NICU again soon, but not sure when I will get around to it.  Bubs keeps me busy.  Like me she doesn't like to sleep much during the day.  I've been trying to wear her out with play though, and it seems to be working.  She actually napped a bit yesterday.

But she is waking up now, and since I should have gone back to bed instead of blogging and internet-ing, I guess I had best skul this cup of coffee!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Stuff and Things

My parents will be here in about an hour.  The Moose just went to pick them up from the airport.  They are here for 10 days.  I am sooo looking forward to getting some sleep, since I will pretty much only be needed for feeding Bubs for the next 10 days.  And even that is only assuming they don't find the frozen breast milk or the bottles and decide to go it themselves (they won't, I am joking here). 

Poor poor Moose.  I got a bit violent with him last night and gave him one hell of a fright.  I got Bubs down to sleep, and was trying to get to sleep myself (and failing miserably) when he came to bed and turned on the light.  Which was just enough to nudge Bubs slowly awake, so by the time he turned the light off, she was up and squacking.  He of course was sound asleep.  So I gave him one hell of a nudge and a yell when my not so subtle sighs didn't get his attention.  It took forever to get Bubs back to sleep, since she just wanted to comfort suck and would wake as soon as I moved her (she got her jabs that day).  So in the end I just put her back in the bassinet and decided to clean the shower drain and the cat box.  I was secretly hoping she would wake up screaming and wake the Moose.  If I can't sleep, why should he??  But Bubs stayed asleep.  At least I got a nice long shower and a chance to shave my legs.  Even if I got to sleep only an hour before Bub's next feeding.  And then for two hours after that. 

So with all my frantic cleaning, I have stuffed my back as well.  Sigh. 

Bubs is waking up, so I need to put another log on the fire and change her into a cute outfit to meet her grandparents.  And maybe I can get the laundry hung if she feeds quickly.

Also, how many times do you have to not so subtly mention chocolate before a Moose will go to the store to get some for a poor Tig??  Sigh.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Whoop whoop boo

Bubs is sound asleep in the bassinet.  Instead of getting anything checked off my to do list, I thought I would hop on and have a winge.  Turns out it may have been the right choice.  Bubs is starting to stir so I probably wouldn't get anything done anyway!! of last week, my small little town is a part of a whooping cough outbreak.  Bubs and I are undergoing self-imposed quarantine.  Well, Bubs is, and by necessity I am, though I can go out to the shops when the Moose is home.  I got my vaccine at 28 weeks 1 day preggers, and Bubs got her 6 week vaccines before we left the NICU (at 5 and a half weeks gestation), and she gets her three month vaccines next week.  But I don't want to chance it.  She won't be fully protected yet.  And so I put a message on facebook saying please no visitors.  And people have been pretty supportive, which is cool.

I am all for immunizing.  I personally believe it is very important, not only for the health of my bubby but for that of the community at large, and to protect those who absolutely can not be immunized due to medical reasons.  While I absolutely believe parents have a right to choose not to immunize their children, I believe they also have a responsibility to the community and to their families, and I believe they should do their research and really run a risk analysis on it.  There is a lot of bogus science out there, and they should look beyond what celebrities and discredited doctors say.  And if they still choose not to immunize their children, well, that is their decision but with it comes some repercussions, like their children being unable to attend school during an outbreak and being at a higher risk of catching a serious disease or passing it on to someone who, for medical reasons, can't be immunized and has no choice in the matter.

I am not a germaphobe.  I hardly ever get sick.  Honestly I hope Bub's follows after me and has a really robust immune system.  But perhaps not so robust that it attacks every kind of pollen that comes its way.   But either way, until this whooping cough outbreak runs its course, Bubs is stuck at home.  And mostly I am too.  Good thing I have a massive to do list to get ready for my parents visit in a week.  And they have both been immunized recently.

Here is Bub's chatting away to her elephant.  Well, grunting is more like it.  It was, in fact, a day of multiple Poonamis, hence the peaceful grunting to the elephant.  Anyway, she is 11 weeks here (3 corrected) and 6lbs!!  And she can grab that elephant, but can't pull it to her mouth, which she tries like hell to do.  Mostly she just ends up batting the elephant around.  And the other day she discovered that she can reach up and grab Mommy's lower lip.  I think it was her hint for me to shut up. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Big Questions

The first and most difficult to answer:  What am I going to do about this blog?

I am not sure yet.  I don't really want to mommy blog.  Mostly I am concerned and confused as regards what I should do for Bub's privacy.  It is probably fine if I blog about her as a baby, but as a teenager?  Perhaps not so much.  And when does it stop?  When she is two?  Four?  Starts school?  How do you know?  I don't mind airing my thoughts to the world, but I don't want to expose her.  I am having similar thoughts regarding facebook.  I have been posting heaps of pictures of her for my family back home, but I don't want to continue to do that.  So I am thinking about these issues and trying to come up with something.

I still want to blog, but I am not sure what I want to blog about.  Or where I want to blog.

I have some thoughts about starting a fitness blog, and trying to whip my ass into shape.  It would certainly help me be accountable, but I doubt anyone would want to read it.  But maybe that isn't the point.  And it will be a new blog, because this blog had a different purpose.  Which sort of leads into the next difficult question.

Will we try for another Bubs?

Of course this is something on my mind, and something that I have been waffling on.  Immediately after Bubs arrived, I thought hell no!  I can not do this again!  I was terrified of labor, terrified of a c-section, which of course is ridiculous since I had JUST HAD a c-section!  Now I am thinking perhaps Bubs needs a little brother or sister. 

Medical advice ranges from "wait 18 months before trying" to "wait one year and get a consult first" to "oh, you can wait 6 months".  This from doctors and midwives.  Fun stuff.  Reasons for a longer wait are to avoid the small chance of uterine rupture from c-section scar and reduce the already increased risk of a repeat pre-eclampsia pregnancy (my odds of this are about 25%).  Reasons for the shorter wait??  No idea.  I think that doctor was a bit nutty.  And in a subsequent pregnancy I will get the low does aspirin and calcium supplements, which should halve my 25% chance.

Regardless, Irish twins are out of the question.  I am on the mini-pill to prevent this.  Unfortunately, I can't remember to take the bloody thing, which I need to do at the same time every day.  I can't take the combined pill without risking my milk supply.  So we need to be careful.

All that, of course, supposing I can get pregnant again.  But thing is, I think I can.  The question is just will it stick or end in miscarriage.  And is the Moose wanting to add to the family.  I think he is torn.  Pre-eclampsia scared the shit out of him, and he really, really doesn't want to go through with that again.  But I think he would like another.  But in time.  But not too long, because he is getting older.  As am I.  If we try again, I will be advanced maternal age.

So...I think in time, if we decide to try again, I will return to this blog for that purpose. 

This isn't a goodbye to Tiggy's Den.  Not yet.  I still have some things I want to blog about, I think.  And I am still going to keep reading the blogs I follow regardless.  When I decide what I want to do, I will write a post about it.  But for now, I think my posts will be few and far between.  But I will still be reading, and commenting and lurking! 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Due Date

Bub's due date was July 20th.  Her father's birthday and her grandmother's.  She was 7weeks 6days old.  Just over 5lbs. 

On her due date the Moose went to work, but I spent the day mostly feeding and consoling a grumpy baby.  Cluster feeding.  She feeds for 15-20 minutes, falls asleep, I put her in the bassinet, she sleeps for 20 minutes (or up to an hour but not over) and then we start again.  With much screaming when there isn't a boob in her mouth.

A few things about Bubs.

She loves lights and blinds.  She loves lots of people standing around her talking to her.  She loves rides in the car.  She prefers to sleep cuddled up with me on the sofa and faking me out with false poo-y nappies, as she farts like a sailor.  She loves her Vitadol-C and iron supplement.  She enjoys baths, although she hates getting into them!!

She hates having her nappies changed, her clothes removed or put back on, her temperature taken (she used to be fine with this in the NICU but developed a hatred of it just before we left), or having to wait for anything. 

She is indifferent to the cats, who are mostly indifferent (and slightly terrified) of her.

Her timing is impeccable.  Mom is making lunch, time for a feed (even though she is an hour or two early and Mom thought she would have time for toast...damn toast addiction).  Clothes just off, nappy undone, time for a wee (or a poo cannon). 

She doesn't spit up often (she may have silent reflux, but it doesn't bother her and I see no evidence of it, so no idea), but yesterday she did a big one and it came out her nose.  Didn't bother her in the least, but it grossed me out!!

She can smile, but she prefers to frown, scowl, and sneer, which is no surprise given that her mother has an amazing natural resting bitch face.  Her unhappy screamy face is not so pretty, but every other face is gorgeous!! 

She mostly eats every 3-4 hours, but likes to throw a curve and eat every two on occasion, and cluster feed nearly hourly (talk about exhausted boobs!).  But at night she is generally good and goes nearly 4 hours, letting me get some sleep!  She mostly latches well and feeds like a champ, but occasionally becomes an angry piranha. 

Tummy time doesn't bother her too much, unless she is hungry, which if she is awake she generally is.  She can lift her head and turn it towards me, and can nearly turn over.  She did roll over the other day, but it was a fluke as she managed to use me to do it.  I don't think she could do it again just yet. 

Her hair seems to be getting lighter in colour, and her eyes as well.  Both were so dark when she was born, but now there is some auburn to her hair, and her eyes are a very dark blue-gray.  They looked almost purple the other day. 

She is still really skinny, but her cheeks are much cheekier and her jowls much jowlier.  There is more meat on her arms and legs too, but compared to other babies (the full term ones on facebook that are actually younger than she is) she is very skinny.  The theory that me eating high calorie foods might make high calorie milk looks to have been just a convenient excuse for me to eat chocolate. 

She has just started to make laughing noises.  Not because she is laughing, but they sound like laughing.  Which is strange.  She also growls and squeaks, just like Cleo.  I think her first words will be "meow".

So today she is 8weeks 3days old, but her corrected age is only 3 days.  So her development will be different from full term babies, and because she was a preemie and because of the IUGR she may have difficulties along the way, but so far she is where she should be, doing what she should do.  And she should be up for her next feed within the hour, so I am going to go make lunch.  Probably toast and a coffee, but I may throw an apple in there.

The Postpartum Funhouse Body

I was lucky throughout my pregnancy.  I gained about the right amount of weight despite my best efforts to EAT ALL THE THINGS.  I wasn't very sick.  I generally had energy to do things.  I wasn't overly emotional (apart from the pregnancy rage...that shit was real).

Postpartum Tiggy has been a bit different. Probably still lucky, but a little less so.


Living on hospital food with near war-time ration portions led to a weight loss.  How much?  No idea, as I had no scales around.  But going by how my clothes fit, I think I was getting close to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Until I was discharged and started receiving large portions from the staff cafeteria.  Developing an addiction to chocolate and other sweets (the tan square...oh my god) has not helped.  Last time I hopped on the scales I was up to my pre-eclampsia pregnancy weight.  Only now it isn't mostly water, baby, and baby accessories.  Since coming home I have been living off of coffee, hot chocolate (because I can't have coffee all day), and toast.  Lots and lots of toast.  As in half a loaf of bread a day!  And chocolate.  And cookies.  And as much dinner as I can cram into my face.  Why??  Because lactating.  I NEED it.  I don't.  I have realized this and am adjusting the diet accordingly.  Except the coffee and hot chocolate.  Nobody's perfect.

The Tummy

My once taut beer belly has fallen.  I have a proper FUPA.  My pregnancy bump was smaller than the one I am now sporting.  And I can't seem to hide it or suck it in.  I have been meaning to start exercising...

I never got a stretch mark, thanks to IUGR and pre-eclampsia, but I did have a faint linea nigra which was more noticeable after Bubs.  

The c-section left parts of my stomach numb, although it is getting better.  I can fit my pre-pregnancy jeans, but not for too long because of how they cut across my numb tum.  Pretty uncomfortable.  The incision healed cleanly and the scar won't be so noticeable now that my flub has migrated south.

The Boobs

I think they have settled down.  They didn't get too much bigger, but when they get engorged, holy hell.  Hard as rock melons and about the same size.  And they are a bit achy.  And the nips hurt like hell if there is a cold draft.  But I have a good supply thanks to lots of help from the midwives, and now thanks to Bubs.  And while I do leak a bit, they aren't like faucet taps.  Yet.

The Lady Parts

Since I didn't have a vaginal birth, the downstairs is much as it was, except perhaps a bit dusty (hint hint Moose).  I was lucky after the birth in that I didn't bleed too heavily or for too long.  However I paid for it and Karma gave me a period 7 weeks after Bubs, despite breast feeding on demand.  Boo.  Hiss. I am now "fertile" again.  And on the mini-pill.

Other bits

My hair never got nice and thick, so it is still the same.  My nails are still hard, but I keep them cut short anyway so I don't scratch poor Bubs.  My skin was fine, up until a sudden burst of acne and oily-ness.  Wunderbar.

The first week after Bub's arrival I puffed up.  I lost the pre-eclampsia swelling from my face and hands, but it went straight to my legs.  Impressive cankles.  After a few days it disappeared.

My blood pressure at first wouldn't behave, and I was back onto a big does of labetelol, but after four weeks they started weaning me off it, and I was totally off it before we took Bubs home.

I had forgotten how nice it is not to have to pee every five minutes.  I feel like I now have a bladder of steel. 

Boobs aside, I think my rib cage is bigger than it was.  Not in terms of fat, because along the ribs is the one place I am not cushy, but my shirts fit tighter in areas other than the boobs, and my bras need to be on the outer clasp.  I think, despite my uterus not growing up to the diaphragm, that perhaps my ribs have expanded. 

I am tired, I hurt in odd places (my knees!!), and I just don't have the energy I had when I was pregnant.  But I suppose that has more to do with being up to feed the Bubs, and enduring an epic cluster feed earlier in the week. 

The Emotional Stuff

Apart from my day 3 hormone crash which coincided with Bubs struggling in the NICU, I have been pretty even keel.  The pregnancy rage is gone.  The worst I can complain about is extreme frustration when Bubs won't sleep or let me sleep during the epic long cluster feeds, and even that is more concern that the Moose won't get enough sleep for work because I can't keep her happy.  The Moose, of course, isn't worried about that and just wants to help when I need the help.  What a good Moose.

I think that just about covers much of the postpartum fun.  I've probably forgotten other things I could have written about.  Baby brain.  Just as bad as pregnancy brain.  Maybe worse. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Life In the NICU

Or the Coo, as it is referred to here.  I guess.

We took a tour of the NICU when I was hospitalized at 30 weeks, so we at least knew what we would be walking in to.  It wasn't as scary and overwhelming as it could have been. Bubs was in the middle room, meaning she required less care than the intensive-care room, but more care than the least intensive-care room.  She was on CPAP for 6 hours, and pulled her umbilical line out on the first day (that's my girl!).  She had a PICC line in for a few weeks, and slowly was given more and more expressed breast milk via nasal gastric tube.  After the first week, when her risk of infection had dropped away, she was just a "feed and grow".  I took over her cares (taking temps, changing nappies and giving feeds down the ng tube), and when her PICC line came out I was finally brave enough to take her out and put her back in the incubator myself.  Also, by that time, the c-section wound wasn't as sore and I could get up and down from a chair without a problem.  I joined a study (where I was the guinea pig) that evaluates parental well being and experience in the NICU as well as length of stay in relation to level of parent involvement.  I was already doing a lot of these things, but it made sense to start caring for her as soon as I could, or the first day home would be really overwhelming!!

(presenting at medical rounds in my pajamas)

We had one bad day in the NICU, the day the Moose went back home to look after the cats and bring back some stuff for me.  Naturally this fell on the day the pregnancy hormones crashed, the dreaded Day 3.  I came down from the post natal ward (aka fifth circle of hell), and met one of the doctors by the incubator.  The doctor told me that it was possible Bubs had an infection because the gastric fluids they aspirated from the ng tube were green and bile-y, and that it was really not good to get an infection so early.  All I could think of was necrotizing enterocolitis (the doc did not say it).  I nearly lost my shit sitting all alone next to the incubator, watching an unhappy Bubs (unhappy because her tummy was empty- her food was cut off and she was being fed only by TPN through the PICC line).  I at least made it back to the post natal ward and my room before I burst into tears.  I allowed myself 5 minutes to cry, and then forced myself to think more positive thoughts.  It turns out Bubs did not have an infection.  She simply didn't tolerate having her feed through the ng tube increased.  But as soon as her tummy settled and her feeds resumed (on a slightly different schedule), she was away and had no more problems.

I was having cuddles with Bubs one day in the NICU when I was called upstairs to the post natal ward.  We had only just taken Bubs out of the incubator, and as you aren't supposed to overstimulate preemies, that meant that my cuddles were over for a little while.  But still, I had the nurse put Bubs back, and I went upstairs, thinking certainly something must be up, some blood tests must have come back showing some problem.  When I got upstairs the midwife apologized profusely.  It was Dr. Unibrow.  He wanted to check on my incision.  That was it.  Nothing else.  And clearly he couldn't do it later.  The midwife had chewed him out.  I refrained, but after that I pretty much made faces at him whenever I saw him, and once I admit I hissed at him like a cat.  Total reflex.  Couldn't help it.  

(Someone should call the Dental Surgery- they are missing their breast pump)

Life in the NICU was a lot like the previous 8 days living on the post natal ward, except I was able to take my own meds (less chance of an overdose or drug mix up!), eat food (for free) from the staff cafeteria, and sleep on a REAL bed!!  Yup, not a hospital bed.  A real, honest to god proper bed.  It was awesome!  Still crappy hospital bedding and pillows, but hey, there was a mattress.  A bed frame that didn't adjust height or creak really loudly every time you moved.  It was also quiet at night.  No crying babies, no dinging calls or blood pressure cuffs being wheeled down the hall.

The most important part, though, was easy access to Bubs.  She was just a 20 second walk away.  I could pop in any time to see her, and spend as long as I wanted without having to go get my blood pressure taken/meds/food (ok, I still had to go get food within a certain time frame, but it was far more reasonable).

The other NICU moms, especially the boarder moms (ones like me who lived too far away), were awesome.  It was great talking to them and hearing their stories.  Some simply went into early labour, a few others were things like pre-eclampsia or placental abruption.  There were two babies there weeks before we arrived that had been born at 24 weeks.  One is from my town (I didn't know her before).  Most moms were quite positive, used to the routine, used to the good days and the bad days, and getting by one step at a time.  The longer I was there the more I saw new moms come in.  They were always quiet, maybe smiled a little in passing, but mostly they just looked shell-shocked.

I think being a parent of a baby in a NICU puts you into a sort of shitty club, like the infertility/subfertility club.  It is a very different club, but it still brings you together with a common yet unique experience.  I made a few friends and it is great to watch their wee ones grow and reach new milestones.

The NICU also gave me another advantage.  As I have little to no experience with babies (especially newborns), taking one (full term, of course) home the day after birth would have been a challenge.  Mastering breast feeding, getting sleep, recovering from birth and just getting used to such a new life would have been overwhelming for me.  Obviously I wouldn't wish premature birth or a less than healthy bubs upon myself or anyone else, but given the hand I was dealt here, I can see the positive.  The NICU eased me into motherhood slowly.  I had time to recover.  I got sleep between pumping sessions.  Hell, pumping sessions helped me to know a bit about breast feeding and latches (because if you don't get that nipple just right in the pump it hurts like hell too!).  I had the best teachers possible (the NICU nurses) show me how to do pretty much everything.  The knowledge and experience I gained through them gave me confidence that otherwise would have been slow to grow.  Of course I would have rather Bubs made it to full term and received all the advantages further cooking in the oven could give her, and had she been less than perfect in the NICU I am sure I would have found it all way more stressful.  But overall, I have to say I am very happy with not just my birth experience, but with my NICU experience as well.  It wasn't what we wanted or would have wished for, but everything has turned out well, and a happy healthy Bubs was the goal afterall! 

(2 weeks and 4 days)

(7 weeks)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Quick Public Service Announcement least for first time moms of newborns who are less accustomed to caring for babies (those of us who haven't changed a nappy in a long time...or ever).

If the baby is calmly tolerating the nappy change instead of screaming her head off- just stop and do it later.  Don't assume that the series of farts that caused her whole body to shake mean that the nappy is now full and she is done.  Because she aint.  And when you get those legs up to wipe that bum,'ve got a perfect fully loaded poo cannon just waiting to go off.  And it will.  Several times over as you frantically try to minimize the disaster zone. 

So...just keep the poo-y nappy on and make yourself a cup of coffee and wait it out.  When the screaming starts, the poos have probably stopped.  Probably.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Fifth Circle of Hell (aka Life on the Post Natal Ward Without a Baby)

I'll make this just a quick snap shot of the 8 days I spent trying to get myself discharged from the post natal ward.  Bubs was safely in the NICU one floor below, but I was stuck up in what can only be described as hell.

In no particular order:

*The coming apocalypse?  We had a blizzard, an earthquake, and severe flooding.  All during my time spent up here.  No locusts though.  Just uncomfortable beds.

*The food.  Small portions of particularly nasty hospital food.  There is a menu, and you can pick your poison, but obviously someone only gives you the choice so that they can give you something else and laugh evilly.  And no veggies half the time.  Which leads to the next thing...

*Lack of fiber + c-section + various painkillers = 2 days of constipation leading to a most painful and horrible experience on the loo.  4th degree tearing was not out of the question, but I finally got to use some breathing techniques.  I took the laxatives they offered, but it was not enough I guess.  Because I got to repeat this experience every couple of days with slightly less pain until I managed to finally retrain my guts and whip them in shape (thank you veggies).

*The drugs.  One night someone tried to overdose me on opiates.  I was given morphine and codeine and should not have had them together or so close together.  At this stage I stopped trustingly taking whatever they gave me and decided to stick to plain old panadol (tylenol).  Which may have led to one night of hallucinations...or that may have been a dream...hard to know.  Also my blood pressure drugs were switched with another woman's, and I got her lower dose and she got my higher dose. At least it turned out that she needed to be on a higher dose anyway, and they tracked me down and gave me an extra pill.

*The schedule.  Between expressing breast milk, eating the shitty food, cuddling bubs, and waiting for meds and blood pressure monitoring, and time spent running between floors, my days flew.  Mostly because none of these things ever lined up well, so I spent many half hours waiting for one or the other, knowing that I didn't have time to do anything else. 

*Other mom's babies.  Yup.  Living on the post natal ward means you see all these new mums, with their bubs, and your bubs is down in the NICU.  The crying that wakes you up at night isn't from your baby.  The gianormous full term babies seem huge and yours is tiny.  They are swaddled and cute, yours is in an incubator being fed through tubes and lines.  They can cuddle their babies and pick them up anytime.  You can only have skin to skin a few times a day (when it fits in between meds and meals) and can't overstimulate them by picking them up whenever you want.  Plus all the tubes and lines and monitors.

*Expressing.  Gotta get that milk supply.  So even if you aren't getting up every 2-3 hours to feed a bubs, you are getting up every 2-3 hours to pump milk to freeze for later.  And wheeling the pump down to the NICU mom overflow room at night??  Noisy as hell and sweet revenge on all those new mums whose crying babies are waking me up at night. 

*Dr. Unibrow.  I could write a whole post about this guy.  Ugh.  Lets just say young arrogant prick who doesn't know shit and kept turning up when I really didn't want him to.  None of the midwives liked him.  And I have yet to meet a patient that liked him. 

*Understaffed.  Who's leg do you have to hump to get a labetelol around here??  Come on people, I have a baby in the NICU that needs cuddles and I have to get back in an hour and a half to pump and get my questionable dinner.  GIMME THE DRUGS!

 *Not today.  Am I going to be discharged?  Maybe tomorrow.  And when I asked that the next day?  Same answer.  Never mind that my blood pressure is not dangerously out of control.  It wasn't even out of control.  Turns out they were concerned I would get sick again.  I didn't think pre-eclampsia could make a comeback, but apparently they thought it might.  I never dropped dead, but I did start to get a bit stroppy. 

*??  The two IV access thingies were left in my hands for days.  DAYS.  No one would take them out.  But also no one would flush them with saline, which should apparently be done every six hours instead of once every few days.  No wonder they closed up!!  It took some conning and lying, but I eventually got them both out.  And have a scar on each hand now.

There were some positives.  I met a lot of cool midwives, and really got to know the ins and outs of the maternity ward.  I am not only an armchair gyno, but I am now an arm chair midwife.  Except I will not be found elbows deep in vag.  The people (Dr. Unibrow aside) made it bearable.  And honestly I only stayed up in the post natal ward for meds, food, sleep, and bp check.  The remainder of my time was spent in the NICU, which will be the subject of my next post!

*I should probably state that overall I do consider the whole experience from the emergency c-section to the stay in the post natal ward on a whole to be positive.  It was frustrating at times, but I had other things to think of, and as always it is easier to laugh about this sort of stuff than it is to get upset about it.  When I refer to it as hell, it is tongue in cheek.  But not the magnesium stuff.  That actually was hell. 

Up next, NICU post!  The story is almost all told!!


Today we came home.  All of us.  Our family :)

It took forever to leave the hospital.  And turns out we snuck out before I watched a dvd required for discharge, but I know that you shake martinis, not babies, so I think we are fine.  And of course you don't drink martinis when breast feeding, unless you have a freezer full of expressed breast milk because your hobby in the NICU was pumping (thus leading to an oversupply and a new hobby- a constant battle against engorgement, blocked ducts and the looming threat of mastitis). 

So I will try to bang out a few posts to catch up tomorrow or the next day.  Not tonight.  It is nearly 1am and the next feed is sometime between 3 and 4 am, or whenever bubs demands, and in the meantime, I should manually express a bit before I burst.  Or sleep and chance it.

But really quick.  The cats.  Cleo took a sniff and decided to go on with her life as before.  Toffs has been much more curious, and also surprisingly brave.  She was the first to come check out Bubs.  Neither one has gotten too close but they no longer look concerned when she fusses or cries (things she generally only does when a nappy change is imminent.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

My 24 Hours of Magnesium Hell

*I wrote the following a week or so ago, and then didn't get free internet at a motel to publish it last weekend!  So here it is now, unedited so chock full of the same errors as the last post.  I sort of look at it as I wouldn't take the time to pick up the house if someone was coming over, so why take the time to sort out my grammar quirks?  They add character.  On another note we will hopefully be home in a week!!  Woot woot!!  So here it is, the next part in the installment!

24 hours of hell (aka I somehow avoid the ICU)

So…Bubs is safely out and stable in the NICU, breathing with the help of CPAP.  The Moose takes the first few pictures of her and comes to update me on how she is doing.  The midwives switched shifts at 11pm and I was left in the hands of a midwife who is extremely interested in and knowledgeable about pre-eclampsia.  I had constant company for at least the two hours after bubs was born.  The Moose came and went between my room and the NICU and eventually, when things were settled down enough, he went to his room at the backpackers where he had secured lodging for the night.  I chatted about politics and the environment and hospital waste with the pre-eclampsia midwife (as she shall now be known) for a while, and I think I was reasonably coherent at the time.
I am writing this nearly 3 weeks later, so some things are a bit hazy, but the one thing that I remember more than anything else was my sense of the world shrinking.  The only things that seemed to exist were the things within my room.  I didn’t think about bubs.  At all.  The Moose said she was doing fine, and I think I just took that for granted. 

The thing is, magnesium really knocked me around.  I thought I was feeling good at first, that it wouldn’t be a problem, but as I progressed through the next 24 hours of it, I grew more and more lethargic, found it harder and harder to concentrate, or to even give a f*ck.  I was on morphine and Tylenol for the pain, and I have no idea what was in the spinal block or how long that lasted or what effect it could have on me, but I am pretty sure that 99% of that hell was the magnesium.  Like I said, my world shrunk down to include pretty much just myself and whatever was within arm’s reach. 
So, after the first few hours of constant monitoring, lots of blood tests, and so on, the night (and the next day) fell into an hourly routine that began and ended on the half of every hour.  The world outside of this reality simply did not exist for me.  Because I was on fluid restrictions, and was receiving fluid through the iv with the magnesium, once an hour I was given 70 ml to drink.  I think that is something like 3 oz.  It had to last me until the next hour, when anything left (ha!) would be dumped and I would get a new 70 ml.  As I was given that, my output through the catheter was measured, my ivs checked, my blood pressure checked, and my reflexes checked (let’s just say those went from pathologically brisk to nearly non-existent).  Periodically throughout the night and following day someone would come to take my blood.  All this would take 5-30 minutes depending on if the midwife stayed to chat (and I chatted a lot with some of them), and during this time I would sip on my 70ml.  Then I would sleep for half an hour until they came back to start the whole thing all over again.

And every 4 hours overnight and 2-3 hours the next day the midwives would come in to express colostrum from me, as I couldn’t do it myself (hands were sooo weak, and still had iv in left and iv access thingy in right).  This they collected in syringes to be sent to the NICU for bubs.  I think if it hadn’t been for them, I would not have had such an amazing supply of breast milk for Bubs.  I am so grateful for this!!  As awkward as it is having nearly complete strangers playing with ones nips…
How I avoided the ICU…well, my platelets continued to fall, but thankfully they stopped just short of whatever level they send you off to the ICU.  Since they were expecting me to get worse before I got better, they were keeping a close eye on everything.  Thankfully I didn’t get that kind of worse!!  Of course, I didn’t find this out until 2 weeks later, but I suppose there are just some things you don’t tell a woman with a high blood pressure problem.

Anyway water became everything to me as my throat dried out and my voice got raspy.  I was obsessed with the time, watching the clock until the long hand hit the 6 and I would get my next bit of water.  I was distraught to discover that the milk I put on my cereal was taken out of my water (and the iv fluid reduced to compensate).  By the time breakfast had come, my throat was too dry to swallow toast, and I barely made it through the cereal.  I did discover I could eat some toast if I dipped it in the milk.  But by this point just the effort of eating and using my hands was getting to be too much (by the time lunch came I could eat only the soup, and by dinner time I managed only 3 bites of pasta and a couple bites of mystery dessert).

Pre-eclampsia midwife’s shift ended in the morning, and incompetent midwife came on.  By this time I was feeling like ass and still had 15 hours of magnesium to go.  Anyway this new midwife is probably perfectly competent in most things, but she admitted to pre-eclampsia midwife in front of me as they were doing the hand-over that she had never dealt with the after effects of pre-eclampsia, and didn’t really know what she was doing.  This became very obvious to me very quickly as she took a very liberal stance with my fluid restrictions and output measurements.  It took a lot of self-control to not drink up the extra water she accidentally gave me, but somehow I did it.
And then she tried to kill me.  Or at least that is how I am interpreting it!

About 10am she thought it would be a good idea for me to go down to the NICU to see Bubs.  I agreed, for one because I felt like I should want to (really I just wanted water and sleep), and secondly I felt pressured to do so.  Had she wheeled me down in my bed things may have turned out a bit better for me.  Instead she decided I should go down in a wheel chair. 

Let’s just say that if you can barely use your hands to eat your breakfast, probably your legs can’t support your weight.  In which case, forgetting to put the brakes on the wheel chair probably won’t help matters!  Thankfully I managed to fall back on the bed when the chair pushed away from me.  By the time I got into the chair, my hearing had gone and the room faded out.  I had enough presence of mind to tell the midwife and the Moose to wait for a minute because I wasn’t feeling well.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my blood pressure tanking and me nearly passing out. 

The trip to the NICU nearly did me in.  The chairs here have to be wheeled backwards in order to turn correctly, and me, my catheter and my iv were slow enough to move, but to me it felt like we were zipping along.  I could hardly see straight and was feeling so nauseous!  But we made it to the NICU, I managed somehow to wash my hands (though probably not well). 

Bubs was so small, and with so many lines and cables and things, and she honestly looked a wee bit like a monkey!  Her arms and legs were so skinny and wrinkly that compared to them her head and abdomen seemed gigantic!  It was hard to feel any sort of connection to this poor little thing in an incubator, and as my blood pressure tanked again, I started vomiting.  The midwife took my blood pressure just after this, and it was 90/50.  And vomiting apparently raises blood pressure, so it must have been lower than that!  Also, I vomited up half a litre of fluid.  Half a litre that I couldn’t get back because I could only have 70 ml an hour!  I was a little bitter about that.

At that point I had had enough and wanted nothing more than to get back in bed where I felt at least a little less like death warmed up.  So my first glimpse of Bubs was really just a quick peak at a tiny scrawny baby.  I will write more about this sort of thing in my next post, but I will say it has taken some time for this to feel real, and to feel a bond between bubs and myself (which I know can be perfectly normal).

Other highlights (lowlights?) of my 24 hours of hell:
·         *My boss called, unaware that I was in the hospital, to see if the Moose and I would be coming to his wedding, which was a few days away.  I was sufficiently out of it enough to freak him out, leading him to call the Moose to find out what actually had happened (I guess I was not overly coherent!)
·          *A woman gave birth in the room next to me.  Her screams never woke me up.
·         *Another woman gave birth in the other room next to me, but she never screamed, just grunted twice and then bam, baby.  I like to think that would have been me had it not been for pre-eclampsia.  Of course, I was awake and sipping on my 70ml otherwise I would have slept through her too.
·         *I posted a pic of bubs on facebook to announce the birth (after sending a quick email to my mom and sister).  Of course, I was going cross eyed trying to do this, but I managed.  My sister’s husband was the first to read the news (while facebooking on the loo), and announced it to my sister, who ran downstairs to tell my parents (who were living in the basement for a few months). 

**And best of all, at 10pm, my new midwife came in to announce that the magnesium was finished!  I cheered as best I could (a feeble but enthusiastic “yay!”), and within minutes of it coming out, I was already feeling better!  By morning, I was much more awake and alert!  I could even eat breakfast.  And no more fluid restrictions!!!  And the Moose took me down to see Bubs, and I got to do kangaroo care (or skin to skin or cuddles as I call it!). 
More to come on my next post, Surviving the Fifth Circle of Hell (aka life on the post-natal ward).  

Up next:  Life in the 5th Circle of Hell (aka the post natal ward)