A Great Doula is Hard to Find

I didn’t know how indispensable our doula would be for our birth experience. Our midwives were great and they delivered our baby with such skill and certifiable awesomeness… however, our doula fulfilled so many of the skills, support and roles that I assumed our midwife would perform: comfort, hand-holding, motivation and being there early, as soon as labour ‘might’ have started. Who will be/was present at your birth? I thought we’d have each other (wife and I) and our midwives, but when the opportunity to have a doula arose, I was curious whether it would be a good fit.

Our doula’s name was Laura and I can’t say enough good things.

I honestly could not have imagined the birth of my first child without Laura’s support and I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal doula experience. Before and after labour, Laura was invested in our family and in finding just the right way to support us, both me as a new mother and my partner. During labour and delivery I cannot express how essential Laura’s care, attention to detail, advocacy and kindness were for me, both mentally and physically. She ensured that we had the labour we wanted and reminded us of our options; when a complication arose, and it turned out that I was delivering a 10 pound baby, Laura was there to make sure that I remained calm and focused, coaching me through the hardest moments of my life and helping my partner and me reach our end goal: the safe arrival of our little one and a safe delivery for me.

Laura is intuitive, professional and warm. She’s a fantastic listener. Laura anticipated my needs and was a constant reassuring, strong presence for me at each step of the birth journey. Laura’s approach is equity focused, which was very important to my partner and me. She took the time to listen to us, to understand what our family envisioned for the birth of our child. She really alleviated my fears by sharing excellent professional knowledge and asking great questions, which allowed her to provide information, expertise and emotional support in the most positive way. I could say that ‘I couldn’t have done it without her,’ but more accurately – I wouldn’t have wanted to labour and deliver without Laura’s care and support.

All in all it was a very feminist birth: all women and none over 40 – pretty impressive and empowering. Our doula, at left, was someone I didn’t expect to need so much.

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Six weeks in

Where, oh where, is the time going? I am so busy, but rarely find a moment to write (although I’m taking so many photos). At times it’s bliss. I love this little face.

Here’s to six weeks with our little person.

Hard Looks

Oscar Wilde said, to paraphrase: we recoil when we don’t like what we see in the mirror. “The rage of Caliban.” I’d argue, however, that some things become funnier, more precious and deeply touching when you have the insight of self-recognition. IMG_4141.JPG

I’m having revelations almost daily.

My new barometer of ‘clean’ relies on questions like, ‘well, how much pee was it?’ Just a little? Okay, then I’m not changing. I said this after realizing that my son had secretly peed a little on me as I was finishing his bare-bum tummy time, right after I’d changed two diapers. How dirty could my pant leg be? Urine is sterile, right?

I have mini arguments with my wife about how tired each of us is, and even though we are empathetic and understand each other’s different work stresses and day-to-day, I still have moments where I resent having to get up to breast feed – FOR AN HOUR three times a night – while she dozes, interrupted and fitful … or not.

I am watching the show “The Letdown” and am finding so much overlap with my real life. There is a scene where the frustrated parents are tearfully discussing the failed attempts to sleep train (ep. 2) when the husband declares, ‘If we’re being honest, she (the baby) is the one being a dickhead’. Which sends Mom into a weepy ‘Don’t call her a dickhead!…’ FullSizeRender-2.jpg

This is echoes of last night in our own bed: we know we have a sweet, content little guy… for the most part. Yet, there are these intense minutes, sometimes hours, when bouncing on an exercise ball, or after singing, rocking, walking, shusshing, swaying, reading, and everything you’ve tried still results in a not-asleep, possibly just squeaky, but maybe also crying-intermittently baby.  Allia said, “I love him so much, when he’s not being a shithead.”

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And he is SO cute. I can’t get enough of his faces; his squirmy waking up body movements; the voracious way he attacks my boobs, like he is a Walking Dead zombie, blindly lashing out with his jaw flapping, or like an old school Nosferatu, creepily drumming his long fingers on my ribs and breast while he sucks deeply, or other times… it’s like he is making a Zoolander model face, trying to seduce the nipple. Sometimes it’s lip-smacky and funny, others he seems milk drunk and fumbly. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of him, even if sometimes I don’t want to be stuck with a tiny person on my person.

We took him to get his passport photo yesterday. He looked like a baby-burrito, wrapped in a swaddle to obscure my hands that held him. The guidelines are semi-ridiculous; they prefer that babies are ‘square to the camera, ears visible, no shadows, white background, eyes open, neutral expression. *although some variations of expression are permissible for newborns. Oh yeah, and the person holding him can’t be visible.IMG_4242.JPG FullSizeRender.jpg

The whole thing was comical – holding him aloft as the photographer tried to catch him in frame with ALL of these requirements being met simultaneously.

Also, the new daily gong show is all about avoiding poop explosions (blowouts, or whatever you’d like to call them) and pee pee surprises that prevent you from getting anywhere on time. I sometimes think I’m running on schedule but then I’m hijacked by a sudden need to feed, again, or a wet diaper even though just changed it. Or I suddenly feel that my foot is wet and wonder how on earth he managed to pee without me seeing it, or that maybe I’ll be able to eat this toast with one hand while I hold him on my breast with the other hand and my elbow. Not.

I’ve peed with him attached to the boob. I’ve bounced him with my foot while unloading the dishwasher in a routine that would impress Cirque du Soleil. I have sung hours of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Christmas carols, which (it turns out) are the songs I know all the words to.

In other words, I am killing it. We have kept our sense of humour about all of it and I honestly have doubts at times that this new normal is going to be something I can handle… but then I have some small success, or look at his face, and feel better about whatever doubts I’ve been having.

Cheers to breast feeding in parking lots, eating with the same hand I changed a pee pee diaper with, not washing my hair for six days … and cheersing with cold coffee.

 

Breast Feeding

What I wish I’d known: Breast feeding is hard. It’s so much more active and more challenging than I ever imagined. Getting a latch was not my issue. Getting a DEEP latch was the problem. My nipples have never been so sore… from squashed and tender, to calloused and cracked… peeling, sharp pains that shoot under and through the tissue. It’s a nightmare. And once the bad latch happens, feeding through the pain, even with better technique is awful. And you feel guilty, because your baby is crying for food and you shudder each time you connect. Sometimes it’s a good latch and doesn’t hurt, even a few times in a row… but it’s so touch and go right now that I’m feeling defeated and sad that what I imagined I’d just naturally be good at is proving so tough.

I still have beautiful moments where I look down at his face and fall head over heels. Sometimes his face is blissed out, sometimes dopey, and sometimes he looks mad as hell. He makes the cutest expressions. I am loving HIM, but the challenges are real, for sure. I know and hope that it gets better. I am wishing that it will … soon.

Also… the emotions are veritable. I bawled reading another new mom’s post. I thought I’d share, since it made me just melt and also reminded me to be patient with myself, as well as baby. If you are new to this (or will be soon… you know who you are), please get help soon… don’t even leave the hospital before reaching out to a lactation consultant.

So, what have I learned ?

It’s a big adjustment! I’ve spent a few days wondering if Life will ever feel normal again LOL. It is amazing to me that people can actuaIt’s a big adjustment! I’ve spent a few days wondering if Life will ever feel normal again. It is amazing to me that people can actually do things with their day once they have a child. I knew it would be hard, but it is all consuming!

I always had huge respect for parents, but this is quite a learning curve. Do people really do things with their day once they have a child? I knew it would be hard, but it is all consuming! I always had huge respect for parents, but this is quite a learning curve

After meeting with the lactation consultant for a second time, we have some new info: he is only getting about 35 mL of breast milk per feed, and ideally he should be getting about 85. For little man must be hungry, even though he seems strong and quite content.

Now our plan is to supplement with formula, so that he’s getting enough to eat. Maybe my milk supply will catch up; maybe once he is fall, he will get more energetic and have a better latch; maybe will always need to use formula in addition to breast; but either way he will be getting enough to eat, and that is a relief. You know what they say about best laid plans. The most important thing is that he is gaining weight, satisfied and that we are able to be calm.

That’s my two cents.

xoxo

Hello Pumpkin

Kingston Grey Carson McLeod was born the evening of October 27th at the wee size of 10lbs 3oz. Both mommies are doing great and like most new parents deprived of sleep, we are deliriously in love.

❤️❤️❤️

Birth Story

This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And Allia and I got through it together – with amazing coaching from Laura, our doula, and Mariah the midwife, plus Kathleen who arrives for the pushing.

No epidural available until hour 13, after three days of pre-labour; laboured from 6 am-noon at home with Laura joining us at 9 am. We went to the hospital at 12:15 and was already 7 cm. Surprising, given how chill I was about the contractions. Things progressed and I was handling it like a champ until right before 10 cm. The pain and nervousness, plus exhaustion started to ge to me, but we took it as part of our journey and tried to approach it from a ‘if this is how it has to go, alright’ mindset. However, I stayed at 9 cm for hours and he was stuck. Finally one of the anesthesiologists was available. Got the epidural at about 7 pm, which worked on half my body only… then pushed out this ten pounder in an hour. Allia was so amazing and I still can’t believe it happened. He is two days old, not even, and I can’t believe he came out of my body – except for how sore I feel.

He did skin to skin right away. We sang three little birds to him. I saw him coming in the mirror. It was insane and scary and vital. He went straight for the latch. We stayed skin to skin for an hour and they brought in a specialist to stitch me up. Three second degree tears. And the stay was also because of my hemorrhage post-partum and his size, to watch his glucose, etc.

He is so chill and very snuggly. He is already out of newborn sized clothes.

Last night was so rough – the cluster feeding, engorgement and super stressed nipples. Plus a diapered lady-region that feels like an instalment of Star Wars was filmed down there – replete with battles and light sabres tearing through the galaxy.

For delivery room and power doula, midwife and spouse team highlights… more later.

In Labour

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It is very odd to welcome discomfort. But this just reminds me that we are closer to our goal. When the past 9 months were our reality, minimizing discomfort was the order of the day… now, discomfort and pain means K is closer to being in our arms. I’m in a rhythm, a bit of a groove. I feel supported and Allia is getting me what I need, but we are also working on a puzzle and playing solitaire, respectively, until contractions happen.

Latent labour… early labour. I can still talk. We are laughing. I’m changing positions. Breathing deliberately. It’s 11 pm. I’ve been having contractions, getting closer together, but not necessarily more intense or consistent, since noon.

It’s so hard to tell what is going on, since no one can tell you how it will feel for you, not even if you’ve already done it. Each pregnancy is different. That’s what they tell me. How do you know when Braxton Hicks contractions, which are practice for labour, progress into the next phase. These are more intense, with more pain in the hips, low back and some waves of sharpness, but does the contraction end when the belly softens, or when it’s still rock hard, but the pain dulls slightly. Baby is moving and rolling and I’m focused on relaxing and rocking, walking, bouncing, leaning forward… different positions, which tend to make the contractions worse, but if they are getting more intense, rather than easier, it feels intuitive that I should keep changing spots and activities to keep things moving along.

And maybe none of this is comparable to what I’ll feel later tonight, or tomorrow. Of course it’s not. How do you describe versions of pain? Especially when your threshold is high to begin with?

It feels very arbitrary… the timing, the levels and measures of pain, start and stop…

compared to what? On a scale of what?

8 AM –

I lost my mucous plug at 4:50 am and have had contractions from 5:47 am, 14 min., 12 min., 17 min., 13 min., 11 min., 8 min., apart…

Now I’m eating cinnamon raisin toast and trying to relax.

2 PM –

Nothing is more frustrating than lateness (okay, some things are for sure), but right now it feels like the LONGEST wait. I’m getting contractions, not as strong as yesterday, except occasionally… and not regular. Where is the progress? Sigh.

This is what being overdue and impatient feels like.

Week 39, 40 and now 40 weeks and 4 Days

The bumpy road ahead. This week, so close to the end, I’ve had a few spills and near misses. Some tears shed. Bad dreams. Real life silliness- I electrocuted my finger, had a hysterical crying fit over the fact that we don’t have a formal will, slipped down the last three steps of our stairs, all with no damage to baby. I’m trying to get all the things done that I won’t want to do once he gets here.

Had our midwife checkup today. All things are progressing well – I am eating a pineapple a day, taking Evening Primrose Oil, drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea, stimulating, stretching, walking around, having nightly massages and bouncing on an exercise ball.

We talked about an induction at 41.1 weeks. I’d love to spontaneously start, but that’s a good avenue if things continue to go slowly. Don’t dawdle, little guy!

We did a stretch and sweep today, in addition to the normal heartbeat, pulse and bump radius measures. Not going to lie… it was intense. Maybe it’s because I have a long torso and my mindwife is very petite (with very petite hands)… but it was very invasive… and hurt more than I expected. But fortunately I was able to follow her prompt to ‘relaxxxxx’ even as my body was following its natural inclination to tense up in protectiveness. The stretch involves going into the cervix, if it’s open, while the sweep aims to detach the membranes on the other side of the cervix and release oxytocin and hormones that can bring on, or at least speed up labour.

It was worse than I thought it would be, but I’m tough. Allia was there and I’m so glad, because as our midwife announced, “I am touching his head” I thought I’d burst into tears. Plus, we now know that I’m officially 2 cm dilated (stretched to 3 ish) and 40% effaced… already with no interventions. This bodes well.

So, here we are at 40 weeks and 4 days. And I can’t stop wondering how I will pass the time until we meet.