Happy Blogiversary to me!

One whole year ago today, back when we were still calling the microscopic baby Perry, I posted my first blog entry.

There was a time, maybe a couple of months in, when I casually figured that I could easily get to 100 posts within a year. But I didn’t make it a goal. Then when Sloane was born and I saw where I was at, I recalibrated based on my track record of slackdom, and figured that I’d be more likely to hit 75 entries. But I didn’t make that a goal either. Which is actually a real shame because with a little focus I could have easily achieved that.

And so here I sit, in the dying hours of the Blogiversary, at an appropriately shameful 69 posts. Thinking about my blog in particular and goal setting in general. It’s something my husband is really good at — he chooses them well, writes them down, and ticks them off on the regular, both personally and professionally. This is obviously something I need to do as well or I spend the whole summer watching Big Brother and American Ninja Warrior. And okay, raising a baby who eats a thousand times a day, but still.

September has always felt like more of a “new year” than actual New Year to me, so it seems like a good time to breathe and reboot. I need to take some time to figure out what this will look like – should I post on a pre-set schedule? Or write a certain amount of minutes per day or week? Or just set a more realistic, long-term goal but leave the details more open-ended? As a stop-gap goal, I’m committing to 75 posts by Halloween, while I figure out how to best move forward. With other goals as well – because frankly, my motivation and energy levels have never been lower, so obviously something (or a number of things) has to give. The situation may be so dire that I will have to actually start exercising again. The horror.

For now, I’m tired. The baby is asleep. And American Ninja Warrior is on.

Baby & Body: 3 Month Update

First things first, can someone explain to me why one of the cats HAS to poo the second I sit down at this table (closest to the  litter box, natch)?

This update is going to be short and sweet. Not only on account of cat shit in the immediate vicinity, but also because as Sloane is about to turn 4 months old, I realize that I’m having a hard time remembering the time span between months 2 and 3. And what is coming to mind, I’m realizing actually happened between the three and (soon to be 4) month birthdays and I have to jot down notes for the next update.

There is a lesson here. And it is that not writing for over a month isn’t exactly working for me. But it’s been so busy lately…which brings us to the short and hazy updates.

Baby

There’s now a lot more proper “awake” time that requires engagement and interaction and a hell of a lot more effort and attention on my part than the “eat, poop, sleep, repeat” cycle that takes up the first 8 weeks or so. And there are far fewer of the marathon naps (which were sometimes 3 or 4 hours long) happening, meaning that finding the time to write these posts is becoming more and more difficult! She’s sleeping at this very moment…and this, the first nap of the day, seems to be the most important in terms of setting the tone for the rest of the day. If she has a quick, unsettled cat-nap now, she is likely to remain unsettled and be harder to put down for the rest of the day.

Sloane is still a champion eater and, as predicted, had gained a ton of weight by her vaccination appointment on July 14, weighing in at 14 lbs. Her measurements put her in the 85th percentile for weight, 95th for head size (!!!) and just the 50th for height. She is a compact but decidedly chunky little monkey. She found her voice this month, and babbling has become a chief activity. All sorts of syllabic noises and coos and squeals with ever-increasing variations  in pitch, volume and pattern: ga-ga-ga-ga-ooh-ooh-oooooh-wheeeee!!! (the latter vowels only heard by a border collie 5 blocks away).

She has been swimming at our neighbourhood outdoor pool a few times now and seems to enjoy it, we started with quick dips and have worked our way up to an hour or so of “in-water” time. I always try to take her out while she’s still having fun (or when she’s so relaxed she falls asleep in the water) so that the associations stay as positive as possible. It’s the child-rearing version of quitting while you’re ahead, which is pretty key to avoiding fussiness and over-tiredness. Also on that topic, we discovered that our 10 pm bedtime was no longer working so we moved it up to 9 pm and bam! Out like a light when she hits the bassinet once again. (It’s hard for me to even believe that is – or was – true right now, because we are currently in the midst of another sleep regression, but it WAS true and this is a story for the next monthly update).

Baby’s current favourite things include: trees (trees are endlessly entertaining and often elicit squeals of delight and arm flailing in the stroller), the “gear” on her swing (where it hinges) which she stares, smiles and laughs at like a maniac and my friend Kim’s boobs – which, to be fair, are quite impressive to say the least, and provoke the same rapturous joy as trees.

Me

This is the month I got tired. Finally. Despite the fact that I am SUPER lucky to have a baby that sleeps through the night, I find that I am more tired now than I was in the early, more sleepless weeks. The adrenaline has finally worn off and I actually need (though rarely get) more daytime naps now.

On the upside, this was the month that breastfeeding went from a B to an A grade. It’s now pretty much effortless for the both of us, and my supply is still, um, abundant, let’s say. Every once in a while I forget to put pads in my bra and I am quickly soaked down to my belly button. The couple of times I’ve given her a bottle (mainly just to keep her in the habit) I actually felt like I was missing out on something…which was weird. It’s just not as cuddly and satisfying, in my opinion.

Body-wise, I believe I’ve sort of plateaued. Which is unsurprising since I’ve done absolutely jack shit about it–no workouts whatsoever besides daily walking (which I FIRMLY stand behind as a legitimate form of exercise) and splashing around in the pool with Sloane (which can hardly count but is a ton of fun). That said, I haven’t actually weighed myself in about 2 months. I’m actually considering giving that up on a permanent basis, because as long as I feel okay and my clothes fit, I’m not really sure I need to know. I’m yet to decide if this is a healthy or unhealthy attitude. I do know that one day I need (want) to get back to Pilates, but time has never been at a greater premium for me personally, and it is summer – the rarest of all phenomenon in this city…I’d rather be out strolling in the sun or sitting on a patio (between thunderstorms).

 

 

And then came baby

As a big believer in Murphy’s Law, I knew all along that I shouldn’t have bothered writing a birth plan. But it’s what you’re supposed to do, according to the prenatal classes…and with Andrew egging me on too, I finally caved and banged out a simple bullet list. But I put “plan” in quotation marks to make sure the powers that be (both physical and metaphysical) would know that I know how very little control I have over such divine acts of modern medicine and nature.

Nonetheless, by the time we had our baby girl in our arms, the “plan” had become a running joke around the L & D wards of not one, but two hospitals. It all started on a Saturday in a hospital not too far away…

Saturday, April 23

Since I was overdue with no signs of imminent labour, and a cervical sweep hadn’t moved any mountains (or babies) I was scheduled to start induction on this date. This was my choice – as my other option was to schedule an ultrasound to check if baby was thriving (or not) and wait for labour to start spontaneously, provided all was well on the ultrasound. My maternity clinic had no preference on which choice to make, and since they only let you go 10 days over anyways, I thought I may as well schedule induction and hope for labour to kick in naturally before then. I thought that, like her mom, baby might rise to meet a hard deadline.

She didn’t.

So I was 40 weeks and 6 days when I went to the hospital I was assigned to deliver at (FMC) to get a cervical ripening balloon (CRB) inserted around 4 pm. It actually involves the insertion of two saline-filled balloons into your cervix to start the dilation (widening) and effacement (thinning) process required to achieve the 10 cm necessary for vaginal delivery. The CRB insertion sounds kind of awful, but is actually no big deal. No pain; just weird to go home for the evening with two tubes hanging out of your body, taped to your inner thigh. Ideally, you will start having contractions and/or your water will break and/or the balloon will fall out (because the cervix dilates larger than the saline balloons and releases it). Failing all of the above, you phone in at 8 am the next morning to schedule a time to have the CRB removed and begin chemical induction (synthetic oxytocin).

That evening, we ate pizza and cupcakes and watched Netflix. I had some mild, period-type cramps and lower backache–but no real action.

Sunday, April 24

At 8 am we called FMC to report, well, nothing – and they told us to eat breakfast and come on in. By the time we got there, FMC had turned into a zoo of women in active labour. So, after a couple hours of uneventful fetal monitoring, they sent me home and said they expected to have room to accommodate me around 3pm and would call me then – if they didn’t, I was to call them.

At 4 pm they still hadn’t called, so I called them and was asked to come in at 5pm. When I got there they had suddenly gotten crazy busy again and once again couldn’t handle me. Their best suggestion was to call around and try to get me into another hospital (I asked if just getting the CRB out and going home was an option and they said no – it had to come out after 24 hours max and besides, they preferred to keep going with induction once they had started). Two other hospitals had no room for me either. Finally, SHC – a hospital clear across town – called and accepted me.

So I ended up at SHC around 7 pm (tranquil, sparkly new, freaking amazing facilities, a room service menu, 24 hour unlimited friends & family visitation). When they checked me there I was 4 cm and still unaware I was having contractions. Naturally, I assumed things were going to keeping going along swimmingly (ahahahahaha. No.)

When they broke my water there was meconium (baby’s first poop) in it, so they didn’t give me very long to labour on my own (maybe 2 hours? I dunno. Time ceased to exist) before starting the oxytocin drip which – I won’t lie – fucking sucked. My contractions, which noticeably kicked in when my water broke, went from manageable to out of control with barely any breaks, very quickly. I hadn’t wanted an epidural…and I tried the laughing gas…but shortly after midnight I got an epidural (courtesy of one Dr. Cheeseman – I can’t make this shit up) which favored my left side, resulting in a totally dead left leg (dead as in, it fell off the bed and somebody literally had to pick it up for me) and still some pain (like maybe 30%) on my right side. Go figure. Whatever – it was 100% heaven compared to no epidural.

Note: the physician group that works out of SHC always insists on an ultrasound before CRB and/or induction (as opposed to the physician group from my clinic who gave me the option of either booking induction or having the ultrasound and waiting out spontaneous labour,not doing both). So when I was transferred to SHC with no recent ultrasound, they were not happy about that and insisted on continuous fetal monitoring and starting an IV on me. Being all hooked up like that seriously hindered my mobility and ability to cope with the labour – I’ll stop short of saying that I know I could have done it au naturel without the oxytocin…but it certainly felt at the time like that was what broke me. And fast. Well…if 24 hours is fast.

They kept cranking up the oxytocin at what felt to me like insanely frequent intervals and I slooooowly got to 7 cm and that’s where I stalled.

Monday, April 25

At 9 am Monday morning I was at 7 cm and at 3 pm when I was still stuck there we were given the choice to max out the oxytocin drip and give it another 2 to 3 hours before going to a C-section. Or go for the c-section then and there. The OB GYN was comfortable with either course of action, although we both got the impression that she was leaning towards “let’s get this over with”. Se decided to go for it. I didn’t feel like another hour or two would help and I was exhausted. I felt like I’d been in labour for days…and I kind of had.

I wasn’t overly worried about the procedure, although the only thing I remember thinking over and over was “I just want her to be okay”. Luckily, the surgeon distracted me by asking if I had any musical requests and I asked for classic rock, as you do when you’re on fentanyl.

Sloane was born very quickly at 6:05 pm, weighing 8 lbs 2 oz and 19.5 inches. It’s all a blur and all I remember are various unidentifiable people saying that she was a girl after all (we knew this, but I was actually doubting it going into the OR), that she was peeing on me (ha!), and that she had hair. After that, I was so out of it (shaking, puking, super stoned from the fentanyl and epidural top-up) that Andrew had to do the skin to skin contact (literally took off his shirt) and she was given a bottle. But about an hour or two later we were back in our room (suite really, these hospital rooms are all private, huge, big bathroom with a shower and a little curtained off bedroom area for your partner to sleep in and you do labour, delivery and postpartum in the same room…it was so awesome, I keep accidentally calling it our “hotel room”…and everything was fine. Plus I had a fine selection of birth photos courtesy of a nurse who took my phone and documented it from the other side of the curtain.

Literally every single thing I had on my very simple birth plan did not happen the way I wanted it to. I didn’t want continuous fetal monitoring, I wanted to do early labour at home and remain mobile throughout my labour at the hospital, I wanted to be allowed to drink water and clear fluids, I didn’t want an epidural, I wanted to do skin-to-skin and breastfeed right away, I didn’t want to be induced with oxytocin and on and on…I still go back and forth between being fine with this and being unhappy/emotional about some of it. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had opted first for the ultrasound and gone from there so that even if everything else went exactly the same way it did, I would have at least had more information about Sloane’s status in utero and more options (like avoiding the continuous monitoring) at SHC.

Hindsight, right?

But at the end of the day, everything they say is true. Once the baby is there nothing else matters. Except maybe catheters…and IVs that fall out…and 7000 blood pressure checks…

And for the curious, this is the song that was playing when Sloane was born. She coulda done worse.

 

This nesting thing…

How early does it start? And, more pressingly, does it manifest as an eye-twitch and burning desire to throw away everything in your house?

See, I always thought it was more about starting to feel all cozy and maternal. Spending time stowing away baby clothes, prepping freezer meals and wanting to spend time at home, sipping tea and knitting booties…or something.

Whereas this crazy bitch wants to flag down a trucker and pay him to come in and cart away everything in the fucking house. Clothes? Way too many of them and they don’t fit anyways (I have lost ALL perspective here, anything that doesn’t currently fit me is utterly useless, always has been and will never have a purpose in my life again) Everything must go! Off to the clothing donation bin! My husband’s stuff? Like, why does he even need to keep his things in our house at all? Can’t it all just go away? Totally reasonable. The couch, the coffee table, our stupid (godforsaken wobbly framed) bed, old computers, desks, boxes, old packages, WHY IS THIS STUFF IN MY HOUSE??!!

And the worst part is, when you’re 7 months pregnant, you can’t really take any action. Short of actually flagging down a trucker, which…honestly, isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever had…I’m in no physical position to do much to satisfy the urge to purge. I can (and am) cleaning, donating and tossing the light stuff that I can carry (and my body will still be a disaster by day’s end) but the rest of it just has to wait until my husband can get it done (and get the help he needs to do it, since again, I am the definition of dead weight in this partnership).

Naturally, I did the only thing I know how to do. Which is make a ridiculously complex, colour-coded (pink and blue jobs) list of goals and task. At least my eye has stopped twitching long enough to pack for vacation. Can’t you tell how relaxed and carefree I am on my first day of holidays?

Advent Calendar: December 21 -25

I know – late, late, late. As is my style nowadays be it with getting to work or getting blog posts done. Better late than never I s’pose?

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This included St. Tropez Instant Tan (Day 21), Eve Lom cleanser (Day 22) which Vogue described as “probably the best cleanser in the world” (you know, if you’re into rave reviews from the foremost fashion authority) Murad Rapid Collagen Infusion (Day 23), Nuxe Reve de Miel makeup removing and cleansing gel (Day 24) and the final door held a Tangle Teezer brush which, frankly, is not nearly as good as my beloved Wet Brush – if you don’t have one, you need one. It will change your life if you have long, tangly hair.

All in all, I’m super happy with the contents of this beauty advent calendar and I am for sure going to do one again next year! I would probably do the Look Fantastic one again, but I may spend some time checking out other options now that I know they are a thing!

A series of uncomfortable events

As you may be able to guess from the title, this one is all about our big, old fashioned family Christmas vacation.

Psych! No, it’s not. And my husband probably just had a heart attack. Although I can’t let it go unsaid that I vividly fantasized about clubbing my father-in-law with a yuletide log when he cheerfully reminded me that I “still have three more months to go!” and that, going by his wife’s experiences, I “should have a ton of energy!” as I was lying on the floor trying to release a seized-up back muscle the day I was puking (from a weird 24-hour stomach bug) and had fallen (on motherfucking treacherous ice outside our charming little mountain-town rental). Anyways…family holidays are magical.

Breathe and refocus. The title is actually just a phrase I used to describe pregnancy in general to my sister- and brother-in-law over a brunch of what is quite possibly the world’s best french toast and a true holiday highlight. Well, I’m not sure it was my exact wording, because the french toast was really distracting, but it was something along those lines.

Overall, I have very little to complain about (and yet I will) because it’s not that my pregnancy has been particularly problematic, painful or difficult in any serious way. Nonetheless, I’d still say that I’m vaguely, in some way, at least a little bit uncomfortable a good, oh, 75% of the time. Of course, the 25% of the time that I feel really good is always in the comfort of my own home and never when it would actually be super helpful to feel good – like in a client meeting, on a plane or stuck in my desk at work. And nearly every day brings at least one moment of, “Great, so my body does THAT now. Awesome.”

Like, you start getting sharp pains when you sit up (or get up) too quickly. Cool, so that’s a thing. Your leg/hip sort of “gives out” when you make certain movements. Right on. Your lower back/pelvis hurts or feels weak or unstable almost all the time. Sweet, that’s normal now. The list goes on. And it’s always a moving target. Just as you get used to “what’s normal now”, a new little niggling symptom appears or an old one disappears.

Currently, my biggest complaints are heartburn / acid reflux type issues when I lie down, and the general sense that all my organs are undergoing a massive reorganization. My stomach feels like it is somewhere up by the top of my ribs and my lungs do not like walking up two or more flights of stairs. Consider this handy GIF that illustrates what I am feeling happening:

How a woman's internal organs move when she's pregnant

Slightly disturbing, no? Other than that, I’m not really digging the heaviness – literally, not metaphorically. While the weight gain and change in body shape isn’t the most esthetically pleasing proposition, it’s actually more about how it feels than how it looks. Now that my bump has officially popped out and I’ve gained about 17 lbs, I’m starting to feel heavy and awkward. Bending over sorta sucks. Putting on shoes/boots sorta sucks. Getting up from lying on your back sorta sucks. Basically, your body just feels weighed-down, sluggish and less nimble than it normally does. Which also makes you feel less confident and capable. Which then makes you feel less attractive as much (or more so) as your reflection in the mirror dictates. At least for me.

On the bright side, feeling the baby kick is still pretty fun. She’s big enough now to pack a solid punch/kick/flip (CONSTANTLY), but not so big yet that she’s actually causing any discomfort. At my check-up today all was well, measurements are normal and her little ticker is pumping away at 136 bpm. I also learned that I am officially in my third trimester now (!!!), so the thought of being in the homestretch is helpful.

A quick word on why I suck before I go: As many of you have reminded me, I have not been the best at keeping up with blog posts lately. I could offer up a myriad of excuses: Christmas holidays, work, company, etc. etc. but the boring truth is that I’m just lazy sometimes (often) and over the last few weeks it’s been a bit of a struggle to sit in my desk at work and pretend to be a creative writer, let alone to face the computer when I get home and again, pretend to have the creative energy to come up with anything worth the effort of typing. I think that’s an inherent problem with maintaining a creative side project when you have a creative day job. Sometimes, there’s just nothing left over to give.

Advent Calendar: December 6 & 7

The intention was to photograph the products on my white bathroom tile in one of the only rooms in the house with decent lighting at night. Hundred-year-old houses were not built with overhead wiring, so mine has the shittiest lighting in the world. But as I was lying on the floor I noticed Mr. T looking awfully dapper in the hallway. The camera kept wanting to focus on him instead of the product labels and I had to make a choice…in-focus products or a sharp looking cat? Who am I to fight what the camera loves?

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What you’re sort of seeing is an Inika certified organic eyeliner in Black Caviar and the Paul Mitchell Ultimate Color Repair Triple Rescue thermal protection/shine/conditioning spray with, I shit you not, “Quinoa Color Repair” because apparently there is nothing quinoa isn’t good for. Superfood, indeed.