Podcasts, workouts, books and looks of November!

November is a bit of a blur honestly. My maternity leave started on November 1 at 38 weeks + 3 days pregnant and then 24 longgggg days later we finally welcomed our beautiful baby into the world. Time since then has absolutely flown by.

But I will attempt to recap November as best as I can!

Podcasts

I basically listened to podcasts non stop the first couple weeks of November because I was on maternity leave and doing a bunch of organizing, cleaning and cooking around the house. I really enjoyed the ‘It’s a Real Mother’ series on the Longest Shortest Time. Man did it ever make me feel extremely grateful for my 12-month paid maternity leave! Though a disclaimer to that is that it is not fully paid, for me it works out to about 1/3 of my normal salary.

Workouts

Walking, walking and more walking. I walked at the track with my mom for 30 – 60 minutes almost every day in November. I went to 3 prenatal yoga classes in November and 1 or 2 beginner yoga classes. I also swam 2 or 3 times. But, for the most part, walking was my go to in those last few weeks of pregnancy.

Books

I read 3 books before going into labour and then it took me like 14 days to finish a book post baby being born. I am hoping that once we get more established with breastfeeding I will be able to read books on my kindle while feeding Olivia. Right now I need both hands to adjust her / help her latch etc. but I have recently started listening to podcasts while feeding her because otherwise I was just mindlessly scrolling my phone (when I could use my hand) or watching whatever Eric had on TV, which has been Smallville as of late ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyways… in November I only read 3 books but 2 of the 3 were 5 star books for me!

ย ย 

Two by Two was our family book club pick for the month. It was a typical Nicholas Sparks book. Kind of mindless and not terrible, but way way too long. Also it was written in the first person and the main character really annoyed me. 3 stars.

The Heart’s Invisible Furiesย is probably going to be my favourite book of 2017. I loved this book so much. It follows the life of Cyril, a gay man in Ireland in the 50’s and 60’s. The dialogue between the characters is amazing and Cyril’s wry sense of humour is fantastic. I can’t recommend this book enough. These are the exact kind of books I love – it’s long, it follows a character for their entire life so you really get to know them well and it covers some incredibly deep and complex topics while also having some lighter and more humorous parts. I would recommend this for fans of A Little Life, though it’s not nearly as depressing as A Little Life.

This is How it Always Isย was also an excellent book that got 5 stars from me. It’s very well written and includes some quirky, interesting and lovable characters. It also tackles some very relevant and current societal issues around raising a transgender child and what it even means to be transgender as a child.

Looks

I did get my hair cut in November – one last pre-baby do. Other than the day I got it cut I’m pretty sure it was in a ponytail for the majority of the month.

I basically lived in stretchy workout clothes in November. Here is a picture taken at 41 weeks – still 4 days before Miss Olivia would make her appearance. Remember when I had a 10 lb baby in my belly?? Yikes. I do NOT miss being pregnant.

November 2017 is one for the books for sure since we welcomed our sweet daughter on November 24th! And life will never be the same again, but in the best way ๐Ÿ™‚

What were your podcasts, books, workouts and looks for November?ย 

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2 weeks of Olivia!

Today Olivia Mabelynn is 2 weeks old!

Side note, Olivia’s middle name is a combination of her two Grandma’s names. My mother-in-law’s name is Mabel and my mom’s name is Lynn. So we combined them to get Mabelynn!

I really wanted to get something down on the blog to remember the last two weeks, as things have changed so so much already with Olivia and I don’t want to forget these early days.

Since Olivia was born super early (3:30am) in the morning of Friday, November 24 we ended up spending 2.5 days in the hospital. We spent all day on the 24th, all day on the 25th and half the day on the 26th there. Those early days were tough. I was in quite a bit of pain from my episiotomy and getting in and out of bed was hard. Both Olivia and I were trying to learn how to breastfeed and she was cluster feeding. Basically for those first few nights Eric would get up when she did, wake me up, I would feed her and then Eric would burp her, change her and put her back to sleep. During those nights in the hospital Eric would head back to our house to sleep during the day because he would basically be up all night. Luckily we had SO much family visiting us that I was never alone during the day while he was gone and I’m very grateful for all the support.

This photo was taken on her 2nd night.ย 

I am also so very thankful for the Labour & Delivery nurses who would come and help us with breastfeeding. I knew it would be very hard at the beginning but I didn’t realize that I would literally need an additional person to help with latching and about 5,000 cushions/pillows propped around me. Luckily Eric learned well from the L&D nurses and was an incredible help with latching once we left the hospital. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without Eric those first 5 days. He basically did everything except actually feed her. Ha ha!

We are pretty sure for the first few days Olivia had her days and nights mixed up, so she was asleep most of the day and awake most of the night. The second night after we got home from the hospital was our hardest night yet. Olivia was cluster feeding and basically did not sleep from 1am – 8:30am. Eric and I were so so tired and wondering how we could possibly do that night after night. Luckily her sleep has improved immensely and that was our only really bad night with her.

She sleeps in the Halo Bassinet beside our bed at night and during the day she naps on the coffee table downstairs in a baby nest my Grandma made for us – crafty grandma strikes again as these baby nests sell for $150+! And yes, we do attempt to swaddle her at night but she almost always breaks free and puts up quite the fuss if we swaddle her too tight. She likes to have her hands out!

I can’t remember when but at about night 3 or 4 at home Olivia got her days and nights straightened out and started sleeping amazingly well. We are SO LUCKY. She will sleep for a 4 hour stretch at night easily, and I usually have to wake her up to feed at the 4 hour mark or she would sleep even longer. I have been told this is a benefit of having a bigger baby – she comes out already being a good sleeper. I am so grateful!

The night before she hit 2 weeks she slept from midnight – 4:30am and again from 5:30 – 8:30am. She is also really good about sleeping in her bassinet and in her nest as long as she is asleep when we put her in there. She does not like being laid down awake which is a challenge as sometimes it takes lots of rocking to get her back to sleep after a feed, which is not always fun when you are just so so desperate to go to sleep yourself!

Breastfeeding is going quite well and her and I can now feed on our own and with only one pillow for support instead of 5,000! A huge win. I am pumping to store some milk in the freezer but we have not attempted to introduce the bottle yet as we want to make sure we get well established with breastfeeding before doing so.

Chloe seems to be doing well with her. This is a topic for a separate blog post, but a few months ago Chloe went completely blind. She had slowly been losing her eyesight since the spring, and she lost it completely this fall. We are so sad Chloe never got to see Olivia, but she is definitely aware that she is there and has carefully sniffed her a couple of times. When Chloe first came back to our house (she was at my dad’s while we were in the hospital) she would whimper on her bed whenever Olivia cried. Sympathy crying!

Webster has gone to live at my dad’s house for the first few months. This is again a topic for another blog post, but we were having some issues with him and Chloe since Chloe went blind and Webster is a very ornery cat. We weren’t totally sure how he would act with the baby and we weren’t ready to risk it, especially since he’d been attacking Chloe a lot since she went blind because she would get too close to him or run into him. My brother and dad send me daily pictures of Webster and he has settled in nicely with them and gets tons of cuddles. I’ll be going out to visit him soon and slowly introducing him to Olivia over the next few months and hopefully we can bring him home in the spring when she is older. It was a super hard decision, and I sobbed the day my brother picked him up, but I know it was the right decision for our little family right now.

I should also note that I could never have given Webster away completely and I am so grateful my brother and dad were willing to take him in and have been taking such great care of him and of course sending me daily photos and snapchats. I trade Olivia photos for Webster photos now ๐Ÿ™‚

The weather warmed up immensely last week so we were able to get outside for our first outdoor walk. It was so nice to get some sunshine and fresh air!! Speaking of going for a walk, I am doing 100x better physically in week 2 than I was in week 1. I was very very sore for a few days and couldn’t spend too much time on my feet or go up and down the stairs too much as it would really intensify my bleeding. I’m also pretty sure I ripped / popped a stitch on our 2nd night at home getting up from the chair after feeding her, so that was very sore for a few days. I couldn’t even *think* about going for a walk for awhile.

All of a sudden in week 2 I started to feel a lot better and could be on my feet more and even took Chloe for a couple of slow walks around the block. I still get pretty tuckered out and need to sit and rest after a 10-15 minute walk, but I am definitely feeling better.

On the hormones / emotions level, they really are no joke post partum. The tears will come so so easily these days. The other night I was sitting on the couch snuggling Olivia and I just started crying. It was part exhaustion and part gratefulness / happy tears. I never used to cry happy tears but I definitely am in these PP days.ย I also would start crying anytime I even *thought* about Eric going back to work those first few days but now that I’m feeling so much better and have a better handle on breastfeeding I am feeling OK about him going back to work next week, though Olivia and I will miss him so so much.

Soaking up those newborn cuddles.ย 

This newborn stage is really hard. We are lucky to have an amazing sleeper on our hands, and it’s still hard. But it is also so amazing. This little person is just so darn cute and perfect in every way and you literally cannot beat those newborn snuggles. There is nothing better. Also, why do they smell SO good??

I already know the time is going to pass way too quickly so I’m really focusing on being in the moment and enjoying this time with our sweet and cuddly newborn.

At 2 weeks old Olivia loves…

  • The mamaroo swing
  • Sleeping on mommy or daddy’s chest

She hates…

  • Diaper changes
  • Baths (see below photo for how she feels about them…)
  • Being hungry for even 3 seconds

Things I haven’t felt like doing at all are cooking or cleaning. I am very grateful that Eric has taken over pretty much all cleaning the last couple of weeks. My amazing BFF Jen also flew up to spend 3 nights with us and scrubbed our house top to bottom while here and my mom has been amazing with helping clean as well. I’ve also had sooo many family members drop off food, which I am so appreciative for. Just tonight I enjoyed some amazing homemade chicken soup and homemade bread that my cousin dropped off.

I think that pretty much sums up the first 2 weeks of life with a baby. We don’t really do much, but the days pass by so quickly. I still can hardly believe it’s already been 2 weeks since she entered our lives. I am sad about Eric going back to work next week but happy that he will have some more time off with us at Christmas.

Perhaps my next blog post will not be baby related, but don’t count on it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Baby H’s Birth Story

Since all during the labour Olivia was still referred to as “Baby H” it seemed appropriate to title this post with Baby H’s Birth Story instead of Olivia’s Birth Story ๐Ÿ™‚

It has now been just over one week since Olivia entered our world as she was born at 3:39 am on Friday, November 24th.

This birth story actually starts on Wednesday, November 22. I still wasn’t showing any signs of labour at 9 days overdue so was scheduled to start the induction process that evening. Eric and I headed to the hospital at 7:30pm where we got a cervical check and found out my cervix was “soft and favourable but closed”. They inserted the prostin gel to soften my cervix even more and get it ready for labour and we then had to lay there for an hour while they monitored both mine and babies vitals before sending us home. I started getting really crampy in that hour and they offered me a shot of morphine but I declined. They said to come back if I couldn’t sleep.

Well sure enough we got home and I took some sleeping pills they had given me but it wasn’t enough. I was crazy crampy and that I probably could have handled but the cramps were moving into my lower back and there was no way I was falling asleep. Eric filled some of his socks with barley and heated them up in the microwave to act as heating pads but even that didn’t help. Back to the hospital we went to get the shot of morphine. It was after midnight when we got there so they had to do another cervical check before they could give it to me.

We headed home and I crawled into bed, still having terrible terrible cramping in my lower belly and back. Eric was laying in bed with me rubbing my back when I got up to go to the bathroom and heard a pop and felt wetness running down my leg. When I got into the bathroom more wetness gushed out of me. Sure enough, my water had broken! Because I was group B strep positive I had to go to the hospital and get a dose of antibiotics so back to the hospital we went for the third time that night.

At this point we called my aunt who was acting as our doula / birth support and she met us at the hospital. It took awhile to get the antibiotics in and actually I have very little memory of this, maybe because of the morphine, but we left the hospital around 2 or 2:30am and headed home. At this point the cramping and contractions were getting pretty strong and it was clear we weren’t going to sleep that night. We had to be back at the hospital at 8am for another dose of antibiotics so we spent the next 6 hours labouring at home.

While I was technically in the ‘early’ labour stage at this point, and I know a lot of people can sleep through early labour, that was not the case for me at all. They say when you are induced it can bring on contractions faster and harder and I definitely found that to be the case. I spent a lot of those 6 hours in a hot bath and my aunt or Eric would sit beside me on the toilet and pour hot water over my stomach when I would have a contraction. My aunt snapped the below photo of Eric and I ๐Ÿ™‚

I found myself dozing off between contractions, which were about 10 minutes apart at this point. I also spent some time labouring on my hands and knees or leaning over the table/counter and swaying my hips. Moving during the contractions definitely made all the difference in the world.

At 8am we headed back to the hospital and I have to say the vehicle ride there was terrible. I had two contractions in the 6 or 7 minute drive and I had to be in the back seat of the truck on my hands and knees.

At the hospital we got our next dose of antibiotics and a cervical check. I was 3cm. At this point we could have gone home, but we were offered to check into a labour & delivery room and I really didn’t think I could handle driving back to the house again so opted to stay at the hospital. Luckily the labour & delivery room had it’s own private bathroom so I again spent a lot of time labouring in the bath tub or walking the halls of the birthing centre. I had another shot of morphine at 9am. At 12pm, I was 5cm dilated so requested they get organized for the epidural. I think it was around 2 or 3pm when I finally got the epidural.

And here is a lovely photo of me getting the epidural ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately the epidural significantly slowed down my labour. From 3pm – 5pm I wasn’t really having contractions despite them hooking me up to pitocin. At 5pm the contractions started again but were very irregular despite being on the highest dose of pitocin. By 8pm I was only 7-8cm dilated.

Honestly all the time in bed is a bit of a blur to me. I looked at my phone, visited with my family, dozed… at the time it seemed like time was moving SO slowly but in hindsight it’s all a bit fuzzy as to what was actually happening.

At 8pm when we found out I was 7-8cm we knew this would be a November 24 baby and also born in the middle of the night so were advised to get some sleep. Honestly it was a bit hard sleeping with all the monitors they had hooked up to me but I slept the best I could. At midnight I was fully dilated and they told me to get ready to start pushing even though I didn’t actually start pushing until closer to 1am. The epidural made this super hard as my legs were completely numb. I had started to feel some back cramping again about 30 minutes before that so had pressed my button to give myself a higher dose of the epidural as the back cramps were keeping me awake. So the first 30 minutes or so of pushing was super difficult because I couldn’t feel anything and the contraction monitor wasn’t doing a great job picking up my contractions so I didn’t really know when to push.

Then the epidural started to wear off because they turned it down so I could feel my contractions. I don’t remember what time this was at but I just remember the pain was excruciating. This is when it got super duper hard. I was pushing so hard and between each push my stomach and lower back was still cramping and having contractions so there was no break from the pain. I would push, then I would “rest” but during the “rest” I was in so so much pain.

This is when I started sobbing and saying I couldn’t do it and I couldn’t handle the pain. I was basically hyperventilating between contractions and pushes and they were trying to calm me down. Finally they started giving me laughing gas between contractions as it would force me to regulate my breathing and take the edge off.

At one point I flipped onto my hands and knees and pushed on my hands and knees for awhile because I literally could not stand the pain in my lower back anymore. We later found out the back labour was due to her not ideal positioning…

I don’t remember when the doctor arrived but that is when things got pretty crazy. I guess as soon as he arrived he knew he had to get out the vacuum so he could pull while I was pushing. Baby’s position was not great and she was not moving down the birth canal as she should have been. So for awhile he pulled on the vacuum while I pushed. Again this was SUPER HARD, I can’t stress enough how hard and painful this was. Now that it’s over it does seem like it went by so quickly but in the moment it was excruciating, felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done and I truly truly felt like I could not continue.

Then things got really scary…

All of the rest of this is what I was told by my aunt, mom and Eric who were all in the delivery room with me. I of course did not know this was happening at the time (thank god) and now that it’s behind me I realize how truly lucky we were to have incredible and competent medical staff looking after us.

Of course we did not know we were having a 10lb+ baby and apparently my pelvis was not quite big enough to accommodate her so her shoulders got stuck after her head came out. This is called shoulder dystocia.

But here is the scary part. Our doctor has delivered babies for 40 years and he told us later this was the worst case of shoulder dystocia he had ever seen. Once the head is out the babies breathing is usually cut off and that means they need to get the shoulders out ASAP. They have 5 – 10 minutes to do so before there is a huge risk of permanent brain damage from lack of oxygen.

Olivia’s shoulders were stuck for 6 minutes.ย 

Eric was right there watching and he said her head came out and then he could literally see it start to turn blue/purple almost immediately.

A code blue was called and suddenly the delivery room filled up with other doctors and nurses. The doctor had to give me an episiotomy to get her out and he also had to tug very hard on her one arm / shoulder. When she came out she was completely blue/purple and was not breathing. They put her on my chest for all of 3 seconds so I could see her before whisking her away and starting to work on her to get her breathing again. I kept saying “where’s my baby?” “is she ok?” and my aunt and mom kept saying she was and they were just checking her over (which was a lie they actually didn’t know what was going on).

I then had to deliver the placenta and the doctor started stitching me up and I kept asking over and over again if my baby was ok. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we were told that she was and everyone in the room was SHOCKED when she was weighed and we found out she was over 10 lbs. Talk about a big baby and explains why she had shoulder dystocia. Also, Eric’s shoulders got stuck when he was born and apparently shoulder dystocia can be hereditary.

After what seemed like FOREVER, she was placed on my chest for some skin-to-skin. As you can see in the below photo her right arm / bottom arm is still really purple. Her whole body was that colour when she came out! That is the arm that was stuck when she was yanked out and it got hurt. They thought her collar bone might even be broken but after some follow-up with the peadiatrician and x-rays we found out it just has nerve and tissue damage. We need to take her to physiotherapy but they expect her to make a full recovery.

I am doing pretty good considering how tough of a labour it was. The episiotomy is obviously very sore but I was lucky to have such an experienced doctor, all of the nurses in labour and delivery told me that his stitches are impeccable. I actually don’t even know how many stitches I have, he wouldn’t tell me, but it took him a good 20 minutes to stitch me up and I was told by a couple of people that it was a big cut!

So, after 26.5 hours of labour that included 2.5 hours of pushing Olivia Mabelynn was here and healthy despite the scare. And in the end, that’s really all we can ask for.

Kudos to you if you read this whole thing!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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