Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is this what it's like?

Samara has been acting out the last few evenings - Not listening. Not eating nicely. Talking back (ok, saying "NO!"). She seems to only want me to do things, and even when I do it, she is still super frustrated. She is CRAVING my attention, and it's pretty obvious.

This morning I thought that I felt well enough to take her to school, so I suggested we bring baby Elie so she could show him to her class and her teachers. Mission successful. She was proud. She told everyone his name. All good.

...Till I got a call from Sam's school. "Is this Samara's mommy? We have a situation where Samara has put a Cheerio in her nose, and it's up there very high, and we can't get it out. We will have to bring Samara to the clinic." "I will be there in 2 minutes. Actually 5."

13 days post-c section, I have been SUPER taking it easy, only going out for doctor appointments and our US Embassy appointment to get Elie a passport (I HAVE to get out of Singapore ASAP - it's been SEVEN MONTHS!!!). I grabbed the baby, threw him in his carseat/stroller, grabbed diapers, called the doctor to see if we should go there or to the ER (they said they could look at her first and send her to an ENT if needed), called Matt (he said he would meet me at the doctor), and RAN to her school. I passed Fran and Tom at the pool and told them what was going on, but when Tom asked what I needed I didn't even know how to answer - I just said I was going to get Sam to make sure she was ok.

Though Sam's school is across the street, I had to take the circuitous route to get the stroller up the ramp, and by the time I got to the lift, Tom was there (he knew he would be helpful - I just didn't even know to ask!), and we went together to Sam's school. When we got there, they said, "She sneezed it out. She's fine." Apparently she started crying in class and said, "It's in my nose!" They realized she was talking about a Cheerio. Oy.

She was waiting for me, so she came out, gave me a hug, went back to class and carried on with her day. We will talk about what happened later, but in the meantime, I had my first taste of real life with 2 kids. Crisis with one, dragging the other alone...and also with the attention craving behavior which we have never seen from Samara before. It's gonna be a fun few months...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Impressions of Our New Family

So far so good, overall. I'm recovering well, and Elie seems to be pretty amenable to whatever I'm doing.

We had all grandparents around for FOUR days, which was a LOT of people in our super small 1100 square foot apartment, but it was also super nice. It actually felt like a holiday or celebration, which it was! Samara LOVED the attention, and we loved that someone was always doing dishes and organizing the next meal. Elie didn't seem to notice. Honestly, we are appreciative that everyone could be here with us and to help us.

The Bris was on Friday. We ended up flying out Dr David Ungar from Melbourne. He's basically the only progressive Mohel in Asia/Aus/NZ. He is a GP who was recently trained as a Mohel to fill the need in the community there. He put together a really meaningful service, and overall we were really happy with it. Our friends Pam and Marc ended up hosting the event, which was SO SUPER GENEROUS. We had around 40 of our friends and co-workers and generally our support system out here. It was so amazing that so many people could take time out of their Friday morning to share our simcha. I have to say, though that circumcizing a little tiny boy in public like that seems an awful lot like a horrible barbaric tradition. Elie had local anesthetic and didn't seem to be too bothered by the procedure, but I did not enjoy the circumcision. I did, however, enjoy the bagels, lox, kugel, cakes and fruit...and of course seeing all of the people who have helped us for the last few months and actually catching up a bit with people I haven't seen in weeks (I kept thinking I was going to give birth, so I didn't make plans). Overall, it wasn't too bad, but I will determine that once this little penis heals and I see that all is alright.

Other than the Bris, another big thing that stands out (so to speak) about the last 11 days is that having a boy is waaaaay different to having a girl...already. When Sam was a little baby Matt and I asked each other, "Why do people seem to have so much laundry with babies?" "Why is changing a diaper such a big deal?" "Why do babies go through so many outfits?" Samara had her blankets and sheets changed after a week, she almost never soiled an outfit, and she never peed on us. Life was a breeze. We knew it, but we thought other people just must not cope well or something. Well, it turns out Samara was an anomaly. Elie is more normal, it appears. He goes through a blanket a day, at least three outfits (t shirts only so far since his silly umbilical cord still hasn't fallen off), multiple sheets per week...He pees nearly every time we take off his diaper (on my shirt at least four times), and he poos also. It's as if he has the feeling he's sitting on the toilet when I change his diaper, and it just all comes out. It's a mess. I'm getting better at managing it, but boy was it a shock the first few days, and it's pretty inconvenient. Luckily he's super cute, so it makes it easier to take.

Otherwise, I'm sorting out how I will be with two kids at the same time - luckily I don't have to do that yet since Matt's parents are here, but it will be challenging. Clearly people do this all the time, all over the world, but I suppose everyone has to figure it out for themselves. As I mentioned last time, too, I'm looking forward to figuring it out when I'm not in pain (the pain is getting MUCH better, but still...).

I can't count my sleeping chickens before they hatch, but so far, Elie is sleeping like a champ, so nights aren't so bad...but somehow I still feel super exhausted. I guess that's part of the recovery. We will see how much patience I have to parent Samara without sleeping through the night. It's all yet to be practiced.

All in all, though, so far so good. We're working on it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Unplanning the Planned - Welcome Healthy Baby Elie Zvi!!

Caution: Long Post!

As mentioned in previous posts, just about nothing in the creation and gestation of this baby has been planned, or gone according to what we expected, even before it started. In the end, I spent so much energy keeping him in, that he didn't want to come out. So, as I mentioned in my previous post, we decided we would have a c-section last Friday (40 weeks +11 days), if I didn't go into labor before then.  Coming to terms with this was really hard, as I wrote about...but I did it, and I was starting to get used to the idea.

...until I went to Tekka market on Thursday morning with my mom. We walked there and took the bus home (that's the responsible thing to do when you're trying to go into labor but then also carrying lots of fruits and veggies). On the three minute walk home from the bus stop, I slipped in a puddle, skidded a bit on the sidewalk and landed on my leg, with my upper leg going into the baby. Shit. (photo is from today, 5 days later)

I had fallen into the corner of our coffee table a few weeks ago (HUGE bruise and cut on the top of my belly, thankfully missing the baby but scaring me a lot). The doctor's office told me to rest, see if there are any contractions, if I lose any liquid or if I feel the baby slow down his movement. So when I called to say that I fell down but thought I was fine I was sure the answer would be the same. And it was for 5 minutes. I got home, started washing my wound with soap and then got a call from the nurse. She said the doctor wants me to go to the hospital immediately and get hooked up to a CTG machine for the baby. He wanted me to be monitored immediately once I went into labour because of all of the risks associated with my delivery, so I suppose I should have realized that. And I was ten days overdue...

I grabbed my purse with a book, my iphone charger, my medical docs, contact solution/glasses, snacks and water, said bye to my mom and helper (she was flying back to the Philippines the next day) and jumped in a taxi, aiming to be back in a few hours. Once connected to the CTG machine it was clear that the baby was fine and I was having contractions. I was 1cm dilated. After an hour of monitoring, they spoke with the doctor who confirmed that I was not going home. I got moved into a double room, as they didn't have any single rooms available. I walked and walked and walked (in circles in this tiny garden) trying to go into proper labor. It was Thursday afternoon, and if I didn't progress quickly, I was having the dreaded c-section (it became dreaded again once I realized it might not have to happen!) on Friday at 3pm. We would decide if we were going ahead with the surgery on Friday at 9am. Thursday evening I went down for monitoring, and I saw my roommate being rolled up from what looked like awful surgery. I was totally traumatized from my last birth and decided I was not going to spend the night in a room with a woman (who's relatives didn't respond when I said "hi" or "bye") who was recovering from awful surgery/birth. I would rather spend the night on the couch in the waiting room.

I grabbed all of my stuff and went down. I was still having contractions, but nothing exciting. Matt came to visit for a couple of hours around 9pm. They decided to monitor again at 11, and they said I could stay and try to sleep in the labor room rather than returning to my room. At midnight it was the same deal, and around 1am a single room became available. I got moved to the room and proceeded to not sleep all night.

At 8am I went down for monitoring again, and I was the same. The doctor came and helped me "decide" that we were having the c-section at 3pm. I would be ready by 2pm. I asked Matt to please come by 1:30. I had to start fasting right away, so I had no energy to do anything. So I waited.

At 2:10 someone came to get me and Matt and rolled us (me, really. He walked) to the operating theater floor. He got protective gear to wear, and I got prepped. Around 2:45 I got rolled into the theater itself. I had elected to be awake for the surgery (never again - not recommended), so I was to get an epidural. I had to roll onto my left side. Meanwhile, on the side of my left leg I had a HUGE scrape that super hurt. I also had a cold for the last week and nearly NO voice at all. So they're wondering why it's taking me so long to roll and I can't explain/talk, and I'm in so much pain. Just not convenient to have a c section when you have a huge boo boo and are super sick. I got a small shot to numb the skin, then I got the big epidural then had to roll onto my back, quickly (again - not so easy!). I felt my legs turn to pins and needles and felt so yucky. I wanted Matt there, but he wasn't allowed until I was totally prepped. Finally when he came in, I asked him to keep touching my face and hold my hand and tell me about our previous holidays (he remembers every detail about our trip to New Zealand, it turns out). The face distracted me from what I felt and didn't feel in the rest of my body. I felt a lot of pressure and generally hated the feeling of being numb. Plus I was so terrified of what was going to happen during the surgery (I had CRAZY amounts of bleeding at my last birth plus the worst recovery ever) and just wasn't fun.

At 3:27 I heard a little, wet cry. We had a baby! He got put on the table, analyzed and whatever, then wrapped up and put on my chest. I couldn't believe I was looking at my miracle baby - who we never thought we would have and then had made it through so much, and he looked EXACTLY like Samara. After about a minute of some teary hellos, I begged Matt to please get the pediatrician's attention, since he seemed to have a lot of liquid in his breathing and stuff was coming out of his mouth. He was then suctioned down his nose and throat and then swept off to NICU, with Matt. I had an HOUR of more surgery and closing me up before it was over.

With Sam, I had placenta which was left inside me, and the doctor said it had seriously stuck to the side of my uterus. I had gone over again and again with my current doctor to please look for this, as in serious cases (it's called accreta) you lose your uterus and your life is at risk. It turned out that I didn't have accreta this time, but the placenta was indeed seriously stuck in one part, and I'm glad I didn't try to deliver vaginally. He wanted to sweep and sweep to make sure everything was out, not to repeat my last experience. He also looked around to see if my innards looked healthy enough to have another kid or if they were totally shot from their past few years' ordeals. He also wanted to do a stellar job of sewing up all of his work (apparently he's known for excellent c-sections - the nurses told me), so it took a WHILE. Finally, at 4:33 I was wheeled into a recovery area for a few minutes. I was totally conscious, and really ok, but I didn't know what happened with my baby.

I got wheeled up to my room, and Matt was there, but there was no baby. Elie was in the NICU (photo from the NICU), as they said he had "wet lung". They would monitor him for FOUR HOURS (that's an eternity in new baby time!), and it usually cleared up within a few days. After three hours they brought me a pump for colostrum, and I was worried that he had not yet latched, had any skin to skin contact, and that I hadn't really SEEN him yet...but Matt kept going back and forth, and he really seemed ok. He spoke with the pediatrician and convinced him to let Elie out (obviously if he had to stay we would have agreed, but he really seemed fine), and around 8:30 we finally got to spend some time with our baby.

Recovery this time was TOTALLY different to last time. I was up and moving the next day, while it had taken three days for me to get out of bed last time. I really felt ok. Yes - it hurts like a bitch, because it's major surgery, but I told Matt I felt like I had a c-section and not like I had been hit by a truck, which is what I felt last time.

Sam and my mom came to visit on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon (photo of Sam with her gift from Elie). And Elie did a great job sleeping. I had to consistently wake him up after four hours to try to feed. Matt could leave a bit to spend time with Sam and give my mom a break, and I was actually ok.

We got discharged on Monday, and I felt like a normal person going back to normal life - which is NOT what I felt like last time. Again, yes, it hurts to walk, move or really do anything, but that's normal...

So far Elie (EH-lee) is pretty awesome. He is super cute and does a good job at being cute. He sleeps like a super champ (and even better now that we're home and have our straight-jaket swaddles. He broke every single swaddle at the hospital). He is a SUPER strong sucker (OUCH!!) and I think he's doing well at the nursing thing and his latch looks good, but I suppose I just need to build calluses or something. Holy painful. One thing that has taken us by surprise is the difference between changing boy diapers and girl diapers. And I'm not talking about the infrastructure. Nearly EVERY time we change his diaper he pees all over. The first time he pissed on his own face. We have gone through more laundry already than we did for Sam's first week, I think. We have a new solution for this, but it's still alarming. I can't say I wasn't warned by my friends with boys.

Sam seems to understand that she is now a big sister, that this is her brother and he's here to stay, and that mommy has a boo boo. She is having a FANTASTIC time with her Savta and Papa (he arrived on Sunday night) and doesn't seem shaken yet. She's fascinated with his umbilical cord stump. She picked out a Doggy to match her Froggy, which is her favorite guy that she sleeps with and is most attached to. Elie actually does seem to like looking at it.

I'm doing WAAAY better than expected, but it's still hard. I'm having a hard time sleeping (even when the baby is sleeping), so I have slept about 8 hours in the last five nights combined. Starting last night I have an EXTREMELY tight and knotty back, probably because of stress and the whole experience, but this makes feeding uncomfortable and sitting, lying, or really any position pretty uncomfortable. I had a massage today, I will have another tomorrow, and I hope it loosens up soon. I'm focusing on relaxing and not stressing about the upcoming few weeks.

Matt and my mom have been super champs - holding everything together, ensuring there is food, cooking, Sam's food, cleaning, helping me and Sam with EVERYTHING. Especially considering the fact that Alma, our helper quit when I was 39 weeks pregnant, and we asked her to stay until the 16th...we were sure we would have had the baby by then...doing this all with no help was not what my mom signed up for. I don't know what we would do if she weren't here. Seriously. I probably would have just stayed in the hospital because it was easier!

All in all, five days in, and everyone seems to be doing great. I'm just totally in shock that we have a new reality of a family, and I can't wait to really enjoy it without pain!

Elie chillin' in the hospital

Our new and improved family!

Elie curing his mild jaundice

Seriously, I'm pretty sure we have this photo of Sam and it looks the same.

Big sister! and Big Papa!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting this baby out safely

I am now 41 weeks + 2 days. My doctor said that he used to let people go two weeks, but research showed that after 10 days post EDD, risks of aspiration on meconium increases dramatically, and he now prefers that all babies come out by then. I just went to see him, and the baby is doing great and is happy in there. I have not progressed into labor at all and the baby hasn't descended. We discussed the different options:

- Letting me go past 10 days, understanding the risks, which he believes are not worth it, given if there is a problem, it can be significant for the baby.

- Inducing me, which he believes is extremely risky given my uterus's history - not just c-section, but scarring, D&C, hystroscopy, laproscopy, endometriosis, cysts and everything else fun that has happened in there...not to mention bleeding for nearly half of this pregnancy. When you induce, contractions are stronger, which is riskier when you have any problems with the uterus.

- Scheduling a c-section. He talked me through my last birth and the trauma of it all, what I felt went wrong and also what we can do to make this experience better. He said that given my history, and the risks of all of the other options, weighed with the risks of this option, he very much recommends a scheduled c section. It seems that even if I go into labor, there is still a much higher than normal chance I will end up with an emergency c section, which is much riskier though I wanted to do EVERYTHING I could to avoid another c section, it looks like that's what's happening. And, with all of his explanations, I agreed that this was the best option.

This doctor's appointment took a record 1.5 hours. There was a lot to talk about. Though, I have to say, it was a climax of a conclusion to SO many doctors appointments. I went once at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, then twice weekly from 12 weeks until 24, then once per week until 34...then I got to wait a few weeks between appointments until I got to 38. This equals SO MANY visits (remember, the Starbucks at the office knows my drink!)...I suppose I should get my money's worth for this last shebang.

So, if I go into labor before Friday, they will let me try a VBAC, but if not, I will go in for surgery. He will do all that he can to make it different to my last experience. He is a different doctor with a really really different style, it's a different hospital, and he also knows that I'm pretty traumatized from the last one (plus D&C, the consequences, etc.), and he is taking all of this into account. I feel extremely disappointed that I can't try to give birth, like yet again I'm failing at this (which I felt very strongly with Samara's birth), but I have literally done everything I can. I'm also trying to remember that until about 34 weeks I was sure I would have a c section anyway, and I was focused on just getting the baby to term and out safely. It was only after that when the doctor said I can try for a VBAC, so I really should be considering the chance for a VBAC as a bonus and the c section as the assumption/base case scenario. I will be disappointed for a few hours, and then I will work on getting over it.

I shouldn't be surprised...nothing about this pregnancy has been straightforward. It didn't come easily...then once I finally got pregnant, I had a few good weeks until the fun began. Since then it has been anything but boring. I happened to heal by the middle of the third trimester and I felt good enough to build my strength, so I got tricked into thinking this could be normal...for a few weeks I could be super active and be a normal pregnant person. I appreciate that I even had that time to build my strength, spend time with Samara and enjoy the pregnancy. Now I really will focus on having a healthy baby, safely.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anticipation II

Now I'm 41 weeks...and to think that I have already written about anticipation? It feels like the baby may never come! All was ready to go around 38 weeks - so now what? I probably should re-wash all of the baby clothes, re-pack my bag for the hospital, dust the changing's all a little over-ripe by now!

I spent SO much energy - both physically and mentally - doing everything I could to keep this baby in, starting in JANUARY. I visualized it (him...) being comfortable in there, being nourished and growing into a little baby. After months of bed rest, I was finally able to move around, but still focused on keeping the baby in and happy until 34 weeks. By then it seemed like the pregnancy had stabilized and I could be a bit more active, but still, I very much wanted to go to term. Well - I think I tried to hard!

Given my previous birth experience and the following ordeals, I am terrified of having a c-section, and I'm also probably quite terrified of birth altogether. In addition, I know that once the baby is born, our helper leaves (though she is leaving on Friday no matter what), all grandparents arrive, there is a bris (which is not a simple thing to plan here) and life as I know it (especially in terms of Samara) will be forever changed...put all of this together, and I think my pelvis is probably not allowing anything to progress!

Given all of that, I'm still trying as hard as I can to relax...and trying all of the other tricks in the book too. I have a deadline of Thursday or perhaps Friday...and if nothing happens, the doctor won't induce me since I have had a c-section before, and induced contractions are stronger and have more of a chance of rupturing the c-section scar. I will then automatically have a c-section.

I have...gone for acupuncture, eaten lots of spicy curry, walked incredible amounts (like back from downtown or the equivalent at least once a day), eaten so much pineapple I have sores in my mouth, swayed my hips on an exercise ball, drank at least four cups of raspberry leaf tea today alone and all else I can possibly think of to get this baby moving. The doctor monitored the baby on Saturday since I felt a bit less movement, and so far the baby is doing great (though he is indeed moving less - there's no space!). He was chilling, sucking his thumb. The doctor tried to sweep my membranes on Saturday and also last Monday, but he said the baby hadn't descended yet, so he didn't think it would be too productive. That's the only type of induction he will do with me. I am going back for more acupuncture tomorrow, will continue to walk, and will see the doctor on Wednesday if nothing happens before then.

In the meantime, I treat everyday as my last. It's been fun spending so much time with Samara and Savta, and we had Matt home for a super long four day weekend (Hari Raya Puasa, National Day plus a weekend). Since we didn't have any plans going into the weekend (we were SURE we would have a baby!), we ended up with lots of spontaneous plans, visiting the botanic gardens, swimming at the American Club, going to friends' houses, picnic-ing on the Padang and watching the fireworks, going for pizza with friends, a whole family trip to the doctor, a coffee and temple neighborhood tour, was really fun and also really relaxing and we ate a lot of my favorite foods...because we can!

Now...let's go body! Do some good work!! I want to meet this baby boy!!