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.