Sunday, June 26, 2011

Motherhood changes you.

Since the birth of my daughter (four weeks ago today... wow), I've noticed the following:

I have more patience than I used to.  To anyone who has never breastfed: pinch your nipple.  Pull it about a centimeter away from your body.  Repeat for two hours.  Now picture a tiny sweet baby on your breast, make it three in the morning, you haven't slept yet, you're thirsty, you have to pee, and you smell like the bottom of a diaper pail.  Baby fusses and tries to pull off, in the process attempting to take your nipple away with her.  You cry out in pain.  Baby looks up at you, she's concentrating, she's confused, you coo at her in the high pitched Mummie voice and tell her how sweet and precious she is as you break her latch and burp her.  She fusses and you put her back to your sore and tired breast.  Night after night.

I am this fierce lioness now.  If you cut me off or drive like a hot dog, there are children in these cars and you will hear about it!  My doctor has these long fingernails, and although Audrey seems to love him for some reason, if he scratched her with those talons, I'd be up on the table scratching his eyeballs.  

I have this very accepting, Mother Theresa-esque aspect to my personality now.  I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe it but I'm always thinking of the unfortunate/mentally ill/addicted/hard-done-by person as being someone's daughter, someone's son.  Someone loves and worries about them, or I hope that someone does.  I want to give motherly hugs, some carrot sticks, a warm blanket, a shoulder to cry on, and tell them that everything will be okay.  But there is such a very fine line between the lioness and the Mother Theresa.  

At the same time, I'm overtired, overjoyed, irritable, unshowered, hungry, and still a bit sore.  I've lost 40lbs.  Breastfeeding is not as painful as it was the first week.  Thank God for small miracles.

I've heard that you forget the pain of childbirth but I'm not there yet.  I'm so glad that I wrote my story down while it was still somewhat fresh.  I probably left a few anecdotes out because I waited so long to write it.  I'm going to get Anson to tell me his version of what happened and put it up on here, because he remembers it differently.  But that's for another day.... 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The birth story of Audrey Anne

              A couple of weeks before the arrival of our daughter, we embarked on our weekly Thursday adventure to the Doctor's office.  I was 37 weeks pregnant.  Apparently my blood pressure was quite high and the weekly pee in the cup revealed protein in my urine.  My swelling was at a high and she scolded me for the previous night's walking trip through Rona, Walmart, Home Outfitters, and Home Sense.  I had thought the walking might bring on labour but it didn't help the symptoms of pre-eclampsia I had been developing.  So - It was quite different from her usual declaration, "You're beautiful!"  and we were quite surprised when she told us "You're having the baby this weekend.  Do you have your hospital bag with you?" Of course we didn't, but she told us we had time to go home to get ready, and then we were to head straight to the hospital to be admitted to the seventh floor - prenatal special care unit.

               After a quick trip home to collect our hospital bag, my lovely cousin Kim brought us in to the IWK, and we got settled in (a comfy cot for the Daddy-to-be and a lovely air-bed for me).  My blood pressure was checked right away and it was revealed to be at an almost normal level.  So they monitored my pee and blood pressure and fetal activity for 24 hours and observed that my blood pressure stayed down.  There was talk of inducing labour, my doctor visited in the hospital and told us that we weren't going home without the baby (which excited us immensely) but the next day another doctor discharged us because they didn't want to induce labour before 38 weeks just in case the baby's lungs weren't mature.  I was put on bed rest at home.  So while we were slightly disappointed on the long ride home with the empty car seat, it was for the best that the baby had more time to cook in there.  
              Anson stayed with me in the hospital and while I was on bed rest afterwards.  He cooked all my meals, kept the apartment nice and clean, sat with me, and helped me get up off the bed/couch every single time.  I swelled and swelled.  Family and friends were in and out, which was great.  I couldn't find a comfortable position on the couch or in the bed.  I felt like a big caricature of myself.  Anson's Dad, Tony, and his partner Dianna came over while my sister was here and they decorated the baby's room with shelving and the beautiful decals from the last week's Rona trip.  Anson went back to work the following Wednesday after making sure I had everything in arms reach.  His time back at work would be short lived....

                  The very next day, my Dad driving us with hospital bag in tow, we went back to the Doctor's office for the weekly checkup.  This time, she checked my cervix (which was dilated between 1 and 2 cm) and while she was at it swept the membranes (ouch).  She said that my water was about to break and also had observed that I had very high blood pressure, protein in my urine, and increased swelling in my face and extremities.  She called ahead to the hospital "Who's this?  Judy?  Linda?  This is Dr Delisle, I'm sending you Kelly Martin, high BP, Protein plus two, she's a real puffball", and declared "You're having this baby tonight!" Dad made a beeline for the IWK and we were admitted to the Early Labour Assessment unit at 3pm.  I was having some light contractions by this time, and was checked a couple of times, hooked up to monitors a few times, had my blood pressure checked about a million times, and then at 10pm (7 hours on the examining table - ouch!) it was decided that I was to be admitted back to the 7th floor, with pregnancy induced hypertension.  By that time I was very uncomfortable - probably more from the table than anything - and was rolling my hips on a birthing ball for relief.  My family came up to say goodnight, and very shortly after that we fell asleep.  The next day the doctor on call decided to get my labour moving faster with Cervadil at noon - which is like a little string that is inserted up near the cervix, is time-released over 24 hours, and is meant to induce labour.  It didn't start working right away, but the contractions got stronger slowly, especially through the night, and come noon, they checked me and found that I was dilated another cm and my cervix was soft and thinned.  I was transferred to the birthing unit.  (Is anyone keeping track of the time here?)

               The doctor wanted to start me on an IV with Pitocin to move the labour along, because my blood pressure was very high.  So, Paula, the big Newfie nurse, started my IV (Did I mention I'm terrified of needles?), and the Pitocin drip was started.  Very shortly afterwards I started feeling strong contractions.  Someone (a doctor?  a nurse?) told me that I would need an epidural to keep my blood pressure from getting too high.  I was kind of hoping to hold out on the epidural for as long as possible but that seemed like a good reason to take one.  I was kind of relieved that they suggested it because the contractions were very strong and painful.  Having the epidural inserted was bizarre.  It was the strangest kind of pain I've ever felt.  They asked me if I was laughing or crying and I can honestly say I wasn't laughing!  It took a few minutes to kick in and a few minutes longer to realize that there was a big part of my lower abdomen where I was still feeling a lot of pain.  The nurse told me to push my button ("Yay" for patient controlled anesthesia) when I felt the pain, up to every ten minutes.  I was feeling the pain with each contraction!  They had to replace the syringe a few times as I kept using up all the fentanyl in the epidural.  They told me that they were concerned about stroke or seizure due to my blood pressure so I needed a drip for magnesium sulfate, which would make me feel groggy and shitty but was necessary as a preventative measure.  I again agreed.  With the 3 IVs and epidural I could not get out of the bed if I wanted to, so they had put in a catheter.  So many new experiences.  My angelic cousin Kim brought the hard candies I'd been begging for.  Campinos and Jolly Ranchers - YUM!  I had one of each and promptly forgot about them.  I started feeling groggy and shitty as promised, they did some stuff to my epidural to make it work better, and next thing I know it's midnight, our lovely nurse with the small hands April says that I'm 10cm dilated and can start pushing!  Someone calls our families and tells them it's time to come back in to the hospital as the baby is being born in the next one to two hours (ha!)!
Look Ma, I got an epidural!
Never were there such devoted sisters
            So they break down the bed, Anson takes a leg/foot, Tara takes a leg/foot, and once a contraction comes, they tell me to push "into my bottom"/ put my chin to my chest/ pull back on my thighs.  Big quick breath, repeat.  Again.  Then relax.  I don't know why I thought this wouldn't be painful, I guess because I'd had the epidural, but it was as if everything was numb except my crotch (and that spot on my tummy).  Let me elaborate about the pushing "into my bottom", for those of you who aren't aware, you push as though you are moving your bowels.  The point where they want you to push to, is the point where it feels as if you're trying to expel your arsehole right off your body into the next room.  That's how hard I was pushing, again and again.  I looked like Chris Farley while I was pushing - sweaty, red, and huge.  My coaches Tara and Anson kept telling me "You're doing great!  Almost there!  Good job Kelly!"  to my exasperated cries of "....water" and "I'm pooping!" (although I was assured by everyone in the room that there was no poop at any time).  At some point I looked at the clock and realized I'd been pushing for three hours and then I didn't want to hear any more from the liars who'd been telling me I was "almost there" since the third push.  Someone mentioned vacuum assisted or forceps delivery and somehow I found strength to push even harder.  I figured they were trying to motivate me.  I lost consciousness in between pushes.  I had some of the best dreams ever.  I woke up mostly talking about food and started pushing SO hard.  A group of doctors came in and told me that a vacuum assisted birth wouldn't work so they wanted to do a "forceps trial" - meaning they would try to deliver with forceps and if that didn't work, they would do a c-section.  Before they did so they wanted to do an examination, and of course out of the five doctors there it couldn't have been the delicate little one with the tiny hands, they sent in the big guy, who must have weighed three hundred pounds and had hands like baseball gloves.  I made some joke about sausage fingers and signed some paper (I'm sure they must have  had to move my arm for me) and they wheeled us off to the Operating room.  Tara stayed behind in the birthing room.  I was transferred to the Operating table.  My feet were shoved into the disco boot goalie pad foot stirrup contraptions.  There were about a dozen people in the room, Doctors, Nurses, Anesthesiologists, and the NICU team. Anson appeared beside me in scrubs.  "I'm scared", I told him, as he held my hand.
I'm ready for my close up now...
              They started poking around down there and it didn't take long for them to realize that I had plenty of feeling still.  They upped my epidural so that I was fairly numb up to my chest.  I was surprised to find that I was still able to push.  After three hard-as-you-can pushes, at 6:53am on Sunday, I felt the pressure of our daughter being pulled from my body.  There was a moment of eerie silence as they untangled her from the umbilical cord which was wrapped around her neck and torso.  Then, a hearty cry from our baby girl!  They held her up but I could only barely see her goopy little face as there was a bloody surgical blanket in the way.  She somehow made her way over to the baby table area, and I tried to catch a glimpse of her unsuccessfully, and Anson cut what was left of the umbilical cord.  I barely noticed when my placenta was birthed.  I was mesmerized by the baby sounds that were coming from across the room.  Anson carried her over and presented her to me, she was placed on my bare chest and we had a wee snuggle.  Within minutes she latched on for her first meal.  I was feeling no pain as they fixed up my insides but was told afterwards that I had two first degree tears (on the sides), an episiotomy (on the side), and a torn cervix that they stitched back together.  One thing I was aware of was the big doctor working away on me, and without even seeing him I declared "I know you're down there, sausage fingers!"

Welcome to the crazy planet, Audrey.
Our family
              We were wheeled back to the birthing suite and a sleepy Auntie Tara was very excited to meet little Audrey.  I was glad that she was there to meet her first because she put in so many hours of coaching and didn't get to see the big moment!  The next person to meet Audrey was Mum, via Skype from Trinidad.  It was a very touching and emotional scene for everyone, Mum wanted so badly to be here.  Over the next few hours we Skyped in Audrey's Auntie Adria, and we had visitors trickling in: my Dad, Anson's Mum, Anson's Dad and Dianna and her 7 year old granddaughter Tavi, my Auntie Chris, Auntie Lisa, cousins Michael, Chris, and Ashley, our friends Daniece and Matt.  Nana brought birthday hats and we had a little celebration.  They took out my magnesium sulfate drip around 11pm.  They kept us in the birthing room until 3am the next day because of my blood pressure.  My bladder didn't work properly after the catheter was removed and they had to drain it a couple of times (ouch).  I felt wonky long after they removed the magnesium sulfate and it took a long time for my legs to work properly.  We were moved up to the 5th floor where we stayed for two nights.  Audrey got a clean bill of health and so did I.  As we left the hospital, I felt a sense of purpose that I'd never felt before.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

Look at the marks on her face from the forceps!  They were gone by the time we went home.
Homeward bound!

                 To be continued.....

PS: You can check out our Picasa album here to see everyone meeting baby and more: Picasa Album

PPS: One of the nurses took pictures of Audrey actually being born, email me if you are interested in seeing that and I will consider your request!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rewind: Fall 2010

            Weeks before finding out about our impending bundle of joy, I had sworn off alcohol after a shameful and unflattering performance on my part at an Orchid's Curse gig.  I was going out to see the bands at least once a week, always with my trusty bottle of water.  My jogging habit was reaching its seasonal low (nonexistent), my smoking consumption was average (about 10 cigs a day or more).  I had recently moved in with Anson and that motley crew (altogether 3 boys, one dog, and two cats) beside the Armouries.  Work at the hotel was fun and life was pretty smooth sailing.

            Then, of course, I peed on a stick and the whole world changed.   Anson and I sat over the test waiting, looking at each other, looking at the test, looking at each other, looking at the test, and to be honest with you we had a somewhat mixed reaction to the two pink lines.  I guess we kind of pep talked each other: it's okay, we can do this, it's okay, this is great news, it's okay, we love each other.  Both of us wanted kids, it was a happy surprise.
           Our reaction grew from shock to excitement.  We slowly told our families (Not nerve wracking at all).  Right away I told my sister, whose reaction was not as positive or enthusiastic as I'd hoped for (which is funny because she was such a huge support during the later stages of the pregnancy and the labour, and now she is the proudest Auntie ever)... I was disappointed to get a pep-talk from her about my financial situation (lol).  My Grandfather's sudden death threw off the timing of revealing our big news to my family, and I don't think anyone noticed that I wasn't drinking or smoking (I quit smoking the day of the pregnancy test).  So of our parents we first told Tony, Anson's Dad, and his partner Dianna - they had the best reaction by far: jumping into the air with raised fists and a "Woo hooooo!".  We told Anson's Mom Vicky whilst sitting at her kitchen table.  My memory is fuzzy here but Anson says she said something funny when he told her the news.  Next I told Mum (who was in town from Trinidad) after the funeral was done with and things had settled down, her reaction was tearful, tears of joy and worry.  Dad was coming to town in November so we decided to wait until then to tell him in person.  He was overjoyed.

             With the big news finally out of the bag, we started to plan for the future.  Animal house was not suitable for raising a baby.  We started looking at two bedroom apartments.  I disassembled my band, Grab That Gun, to save money for the upcoming expenses (gear and a jam spot aren't cheap!).  We borrowed money to acquire a reliable vehicle.  The flat that we ended up in was up three flights of stairs, part of which had no railing, which proved to be difficult and hazardous in the winter (we got out of the lease pretty quickly).  We moved into Anson's Moms until we could find a new place. The Mazda Protege that we bought was a lemon, and we lost a lot of money on it.  Two major setbacks, but we rose above them!  The yet-unborn baby and I travelled to Trinidad in January for some R&R and time with Mum/Bill.  Meanwhile, my clothes were getting awfully snug.  We frequent the local maternity wear shops.  An ultrasound revealed that we were having a baby girl - we were so excited!  Work was becoming a challenge as my body was changing.  Standing on my feet for 8 hours (at the front desk of the hotel) became painful and awkward.   I was told that my pregnancy was "high risk" at the beginning of it because of a pituitary tumor, and a family history of pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension).  However I suffered no complications in the first/second trimester.  My weight gain was very slow at first.  My obstetrician sang my praises on each visit: "You're beautiful!  Keep doing what you're doing!" Which of course was eating whatever I wanted (in my defense, for every junky thing I ate, I ate something nutritious).  My physical exercise was unfortunately down to yoga and swimming (no jogging).  I didn't do too much of either.  But she said that was alright too.

            At the end of March, I started to pack on almost 5lbs a week, which is a sign of pregnancy induced hypertension, but I didn't have the other symptoms of swelling, protein in the urine, etc.  As I got bigger and bigger ("How many babies ya got in there girl?!") I was feeling worse and worse, eventually my work was kind enough to move me to the back office where I worked on the phones, instead of being on my feet.  If it weren't for that, I'd have been off work long before.  We acquired a reliable Honda Accord, which kept me going into work - I lasted at work until late April, when my Doctor got a glimpse of my feet, which had rolls and by that point didn't fit into any of my shoes.  I had to buy flip flops a size larger than I usually wear and they were the only things I could wedge on.  So, I was put off work, eight weeks before my due date, just in time for us to move to our "dream apartment" in Clayton Park - so that I could "relax at home".  I really should have done more relaxing - somehow my feet swelled to an impossible size and the rest of me (hands, face, legs, arms) kept ballooning.  My blood pressure was slowly rising to borderline pre-eclampsia levels.  I was feeling the pressure to get the new apartment ready for baby.  Waddling around was especially uncomfortable as I had always carried pretty low.  But I kept at it, which is why what happened next was not particularly shocking.....

.... to be continued!


Saturday, June 4, 2011


Good day, readers!
I've started this blog to tell stories: past and present (dare I say future?), talk about ideas and generally get things off my chest.  It's my first attempt at a real grown up (ha!) blog.  If you are easily unsettled by graphic tales of womanhood, by all means read on and follow my adventures in blogging, because you should probably grow a pair.

My journal will have gaps and inaccuracies but that's part of the beauty of the thing, in theory.  As I write this I am sitting on four sets of stitches - every few seconds sneaking a guilty glance at my 6 day old daughter, who is laying quietly in the ("chair of neglect") baby swing to the simulated sound of a mother's heartbeat.  How I got to be at this place in time is another story, for another blog. 

For now I'd best go scoop up the pretty bird and get on with some mothering.
Until next time....
(pictured as pregnant and swollen faced) 
- Kelly