baby c: the first 10 days…

Well here we are… equal parts, “it’s like she’s always been here” and “wow- you mean, she’s really ours?“. 10 days later, I’m just about used to thinking, “we have a baby” – but that’s such an object-attributive perspective.

we have a daughter.

That’s just different, isn’t it. She’s not a thing, she’s a living, growing, changing-every-day part of our family who will develop, learn, and undoubtedly teach us more than we can imagine.

At the moment, the big teaching is how to slow down, be comfortable being in a place of “I don’t know” and most of all, be flexible.

But i’m getting ahead of myself.

how it all happened.

Friday, August 3 – 40w & 3 days: Friday mid-morning, Ken and I packed up and headed to BC Women’s Hospital for a regular-scheduled maternity visit. I weighed in and the doctor was casually explaining the general options of “what happens now that the baby is past 40 weeks” as she took my blood pressure, listened to the baby’s heart rate, etc. When she measured my stomach, things started to feel a bit off, as she measured, looked at my chart, re-measured, looked at the chart again, and re-measured a third time. She then politely excused herself and went to the next room, where we heard her making a phone call, explaining that she had a past-due date mother-to-be whose fundal measurement hasn’t changed in 4 weeks, and whose weight was now going down.

Okay. Deep breath, deep breath… Ken asked me what we would do if she came back and said it was time to have the baby Now. I was just scared. An ultrasound and stress test for the baby were set up for that morning; Ken asked the doctor “what happens if it comes back not normal?” and the doctor responded “let’s cross that bridge if we come to it“… Which we didn’t. In fact, the ultrasound tech commented that our little baby had the longest femur (upper leg) bone she had ever seen (i’m 5 foot 11.5, Ken is almost 6 foot 5), and that her weight looked good. She was just curled in a tiny, tiny ball. Her only cautionary observation was that the fluid around her was starting to look low, which apparently starts to happen when babies are past-due – just one of those things that need to be watched. Likewise with the stress test; our little girl was asleep for the first half of it, but once she woke, passed with flying colours. With that, we were given the all clear to go home, advised that sex and walking would both be good to Bring Things On, and re-booked to have the same tests done on Tuesday.

We headed home to follow the doctor’s orders ;) and then Ken headed off to work. I went for a 3 hour walk, finishing up at the grocery store where I bought ingredients for blueberry scones. As I was making them, things started to feel different. Ken came home from work (loved the scones) and, as we watched a movie, I said “things might actually be happening here… ” We downloaded a Contraction Timer App, and indeed, things Were happening, every 5 minutes or so. We called the on-call doctor to let them know we looked to be in-swing, and were advised to stay home as long as possible (until the pain was “unbearable”) and that baths and showers would probably feel good.

Friday night passed, Saturday came and the contractions were coming every 2-5 minutes – closer together when we were out walking around, further apart as soon as I sat down. By about midnight, they were every 2-3 minutes and more on the Painful side, so we headed to the hospital; unfortunately, when we arrived, I was only 3 cm dilated (boo… ) and the requirement to be checked in is 4cm, so we were sent back home. I spent the night alternating between walking around the apartment, kneeling over our bed, and standing in the shower and at about 6:30am, the doctor texted Ken to see how I was doing. Ken called her back and when she heard me in the background, she said “sounds like it’s time to come in“.

Back to the hospital, re-assesed, told I was now 6cm dilated, and rolled upstairs to one of the delivery suites, the nurse going over my “birth plan” with me on the way (not much of a “plan”, really – wanted to go in the big tub (each private suite has a 2 person tub) with Ken, wanted to try to go medication free, but wasn’t militant against it, that was about it). The nurse filled up the tub, Ken and I got in, and about 2 contractions later, it started to feel Very Different. The only way I can describe it (for the benefit of those who have never been through this) is it felt like I was having the largest out-of-body bowel movement one could imagine. All of a sudden, I was having the baby Right Now.

Stand up, out of the tub, over to the bed, doctor who just left is called back, and says “yep – your at 10cm” and encourages Ken to grab my left leg and pull it towards him (classy). 20 minutes max of pushing, things (once again) went from Normal to Not with frightening speed. All of a sudden, the baby’s heart rate had disappeared, all of a sudden it was a priority to get her out Now, all of a sudden there was a paediatric specialist called in, all of a sudden there was a vacuum being used, and all of a sudden I was being cut (rewind and re-read the lack of drugs – lol. yowza.) Apparently I screamed. One more push, and she was out; but instead of being gently placed on my chest while she was being rubbed down (the way the videos showed it would happen) she was being taken to a warming machine that had somehow appeared in the corner of the room, and I was being told I was going to feel a slight pinch as I was being stitched back up. And just like that, it was all done, and she was on my chest, and she. was. perfect.

Her name is Camden Grace, and she was born at 9:14am on Sunday, August 5th at 3215 grams (7 pounds and 1 ounce).

At some point, when she was much smaller, she had swum an actual, true, full knot into her umbilical cord, which thankfully didn’t cause any trouble at all, until she tried to Get Out and, in the process, also wrapped the cord around her neck.

Over the next few hours, amidst all the regular visits to check in for breastfeeding, diaper changing and baby bathing lessons, a few extra tests were done to ensure that all systems were Go (apparently “traumatic births” exponentially increase the risk for sugar problems from birth, amongst other challenges. Everything checked out fine. She is perfect. Hallelujah.

It’s all been a bit of a blur since then…

Day 1 – August 5th What a day! Camden is born, lots of phone calls to friends and family from coast to coast, visits from friends to meet the new little girl. Feeding patterns are erratic, there wasn’t much sleep, I basically passed out with her on my right arm. I’m glad we were at BC Women’s hospital, as they have a bed in the room for Ken to sleep in and keep the baby with the parents at all times. It’s a great facility.

Day 2 – August 6th Discharged! Cab ride home with the new little girl, Cab driver seems confused that my stomach is still swollen and asks if we’re having twins – seems to think I’ve had one baby and am holding off on the other one until a little time has passed.

Day 3 – August 7th The first night at home was a challenge… I was exhausted and Camden wanted to feed, seemingly, constantly. The only way we made it through was that Ken somehow demonstrated superhuman strength, literally staying up all night, repositioning Camden to eat while I slept, and changing her. He is amazing, I am lucky and blessed to have him. During the day, some more visits from friends. Camden has her first bath at home.

Day 4 – August 8th First regular scheduled check in for Camden, so we load up and head to the hospital. Staff everywhere seem surprised to see me, (“wow – 3 days old and you’re up and out and about already!”) I tell more than a few people that I didn’t know I had a choice not to be – why schedule a visit for her 3rd day alive if it’s not expected that we’ll show up? Staff seem utterly confused at the question and tell us that Camden is gorgeous. We agree wholeheartedly. She is above her discharge weight, signifying that she is eating well and thriving. I breastfeed in public for the first time (using this awesome breastfeeding shawl) I’m covered, feel surprisingly comfortable, and not overheated. Camden is feeding every 2-3 hours during the day, and every 3-4 hours overnight, We are actually sleeping (in chunks). Some reality star had a baby today and also named her Camden. We were first :)

Day 5 – August 9 When the community health nurse had called to check in, she had mentioned that the day the milk really starts to flow, my breasticles (lol) will feel full, hard, and a little painful. That happened. a warmed beanie bag helped. Now we’re dealing with leakages (i’m using these, which work, but I probably need to get a few more, as I seem to soak through them by mid-day) and Camden is covered in a combination of red “newborn rash”, and peeling skin (“she’s moulting!” says Ken). A quick call to the newborn hotline, and we are reassured that it’s all normal. Camden continues to feed every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 hours at night. We are all tired, yet surprised to be sleeping as much as we are.

We have developed a pattern: I feed Camden, Ken whisks her away and changes her after. Camden hates being changed, so therefor is crying every time Ken is with her – we need to integrate more relaxed time for them to spend together. We are all up, showered, dressed and ready for another visit from some wonderful friends. Later on that night, Ken suggests it’s probably time to bathe Camden again, as “the smell of her bum is leaving a bad taste in his mouth“. We go for a nice walk down by the water. I breastfeed on a bench, because i’m crazy like that.

Day 6 – August 10 Camden is sleeping and eating so well, we’re feeling remarkably Okay, and we head out on another walk. This time, i’m experiencing a bit of lower back stiffness and pain. Ken surprises and delights me by footing the bill for a Bamboo Belly Bandit , which is basically a giant belt that compresses and supports the core structure while providing a bonus slimming/corsety effect. I have worn it every day since and would recommend it to anyone. Honestly, I think it should be standard issue for any new mums leaving the hospital. We go out for lunch, hit up starbucks, and then – weirdly – Camden is crying, and crying and crying. A diaper change later, we notice there is a bit of blood in the front flap of her diaper and I see that her little cord stump has pulled off in a way that has left some raw, bleeding, oozy skin. We have no idea if this is normal, it’s 4:58pm and all the regular walk-in clinics, etc are closing, so we head to the hospital. During our 4 hour wait, we realize that the nasty smell Ken had commented on last night was actually the cord stump, not a poopy bum. Doctor comes, cleans it all up, proclaims Camden to be Very Healthy and sends us on our way with the cord stump dangling by a few little hairs of skin.

Day 7 – August 11 Overnight, the cord stump has fallen completely off. Ken finds it in our bed. Camden seems to be much more comfortable now (she still managed to sleep in four hour chunks) We head to the Vancouver Convention Centre to meet up with some friends, and then take a walk along the seawall. An evening at some friends’ home is postponed and we spend the night at home. It’s lovely.

Day 8 – August 12 Camden is one week old! Amazing. We head to church, where she clocks in a record feeding session (45 minutes) and we enjoy a nice walk home (the weather has been too perfect to not be outside as much as possible) and some friends come over to visit, bringing a delicious meal for us.

Day 9 – August 13 After a week straight of sleeping overnight in 3-4 hour chunks, we are packing up to head to Ken’s parents for 2 nights. After I feed Camden, Ken takes her while I finish packing everything up and she is still crying and fussy. He comments that “she is doing that thing with her mouth“, indicating that he thinks she is still hungry, and I have a meltdown. It’s not good. It’s a combination of a lot of things, including disrupted sleep, medication wearing off, and my fear that I really have no idea what i’m doing, which I don’t. We have a bit of an argument, Ken goes for a walk, and I declare that from this point on, I’ll feed her every time she makes any noise. It was not my finest hour. We make it through, talk it out, and head West to the island. His parents meet Camden, their first grandchild. It’s a great day.

Day 10 – August 14 The visit is a bit broken up; after all the great things we are saying about Camden’s eating and sleeping patterns, both seem to be a little off. It’s taking her longer and longer to settle when she’s tired – she seems to fully fight falling asleep; her eyelids droop, she yawns, and then she pops her eyes open. She still sleeps for 4 hours at night, it just takes a bit longer to get her there. Much of the visit for Camden and I is spent feeding and sleeping, visiting in 30 min sessions after her feeding.

Day 11 – August 15 We head home, laden with Stuff. We Had to take the car seat, because Camden would be riding in Ken’s parents’ truck and it’s the law. But we also Had to take the carrycot so that she would have somewhere to sleep. Then the stroller, then our clothes for 3 people for 2 nights, then bringing back the lovely gifts that were given to us while we were there… So much stuff!! It was a good visit, we are so proud to show off this little girl. Now, she’s fed, napping like the angel we’ve been telling everyone she is, and I’m typing, drinking a glass of riesling (finally) and staring out at this perfect view that we have. Life is good. We are blessed.

At 10 days…

Camden is here! She has worked through a few days of newborn rash, dry skin, lost her cord stump, regained her weight to surpass her birth weight, and is feeding every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 hours overnight. She is remarkably healthy and doing really, really well. When she cries, she is soothed by bring rocked/bounced side to side, and saying “shh shh shh” seems to help too. She burps like a sailor, poops on schedule about 3 minutes into every feeding, and pees on the change mat pretty much every time she is on it. She’s in really, really great health.

I am recovering. The stitches caused a bit of discomfort for the first few days, and just the idea of bowel movements was (and still is, a bit) frightening. My weight has gone from 180 (just before she was born) to 171 at the time we were discharged, to 162 as of today. So there’s about 14 pounds left between me and my pre-pregnancy weight. FYI, i’m not dieting, i’m not hungry, i’m not limiting anything… this is just what is happening; however, wearing the Belly Bandit, which sucks in the loose parts, really is helping with my body image post-pregnancy – I am confident that no one would ever look at me and ask how far along I am. I’m feeling good. There’s still a bit of bleeding, but the “scary bleeding” that i’d heard all about was really done by the time we left the hospital, then it was Normal bleeding. Now its just trickly.

At the moment, I look at people who’ve had multiple kids and have no idea why anyone would go back and do it again. Apparently that fades. We’ll see.

As for this blog… Now that Camden is here, this is just the beginning!

2 thoughts on “baby c: the first 10 days…

  1. Jenn! My darling dear friend you did it! And not only did you do it, you managed to document your experience so beautifully, with pictures and everything! You’re a kind of super woman!!! The great thing about being your kind of superwoman is you got tons of support, always remember that! Camden is so beautiful and I’m so glad to read healthy with no surprise- long femurs. Look out track and field Olympics 2032. ha ha. I’m so happy you and Ken get to do this together- you two are already great parents, don’t forget that either, and I’m very proud and happy for him too. I think you’re inspiration to every person who’s considering birthing about doing what’s right at the moment, what feels right for each situation, and the strive to go as all natural as possible- awesome! I support you all 100% on breastfeeding, to give it a try must take a lot of patience and endurance, but the results are highly desirable! So happy for you, all the best to you three I can’t wait to meet your family. Love Heather

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