Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three weeks

Leaving it a bit late to report on three weeks. It's now four weeks since my labour started. I've now gone back to exercise, two yoga classes and two rides on the stationary bike. Body feels weak but it is so good to be back. The day I go for a run will be amazing.

Milla went to her first party, an afternoon tea in a Northcote backyard. By the time we got there it was time to feed, which I did in the car, no problem. Milla was quite content to be passed around the party. We've been wondering about what makes Milla/babies overtired as we have determined that is the cause of long crying spells. But after that party we had visitors at home and she had a good night's sleep. Yesterday however was a long quiet day with just the unit of three, and she slept long at home and long as I walked her in Ergo to Williamstown. But the evening had long tragic howls from the tiny one.

Her hair seems to be fading. We asked the nurse about her neck mark and found it's from where the stork left its mark. She hasn't slept on our room overnight for a while and we're bringing ourselves around to setting up her own room. She's been swaddled and stayed swaddled through long night sleeps, much to our surprise as she'd recently rejected all attempts and we gave up. Things do change. She feeds more efficiently it seems, quicker to attach and draws deep.

Arms up! Arms up!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Routine and Excursion

Another Ergo Photo, this time out at the You Yangs. Charlie went for a ride and we walked for about an hour, I tried to point out some wallabies to Milla but she was fast asleep. Same for the bunjil geoglyph, no interest from lil Miss. It was very warm in the sun and there were tiny birds darting all around. I loved it. Amazing how slow my body feels.

Brief moment of consciousness before falling asleep again (Milla, not me). 
Today we enter day three of a routine! Although Milla still has crying spells and mystifying behaviour, the routine helps me (us) feel a bit more sane. The routine includes supplementing each feed with either formula (once or twice a day) or expressed milk, in a response to the weigh-in on Friday. The routine is for feeds every 3 hours but lil Miss seems happy to skip the 3am feed and sleep through to a reasonable wake-up time around the 6am feed.

She's utterly adorable and her face, expressions and gestures are changing. She looks a lil more like a baby now and has a nice repertoire of smiles and curious faces.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Birth story - Part Two

Part two of the story is harder. It's a tale that ends well but is difficult - for me to remember and maybe for others to read. It reminds me why we gave birth in a hospital, and how valuable it was for me to be fit and well.  

I held Milla to my chest, in water that turned red, it was euphoria, relief that the pain was over and sheer excruciating joy.

Somehow I moved from the bath to the bed. The cord was attached, it felt weird between my legs as I carried her. Her little bottom felt so sweet.

Everything in this part of the story requires a lot of Charlie's help to remember.

On the bed I held her, tried to feed, to deliver the placenta. It was hard to find contractions to push with. Midwife Melissa tried to help get Milla to feed. I knew this was important but it was hard to focus on pushing again. Melissa said I'd need to change position, I told Charlie to take his t-shirt off and he held Milla. I stood up and leaned over the bed, facing him, cord between my legs, severed now.

Blankets on the floor collected blood. And lumps. And more blood. I can't remember them putting me on oxytocin drip. I can't remember the placenta coming out. I remember them checking it and it not being complete. Melissa said it was going to get busy. She inserted a catheter, it hurt and made me feel sad. Doctors and nurses appeared. I was going to theatre as I'd lost too much blood (about 1.5 litres at that point) and would continue to if they didn't quickly remove the rest of the placenta. Milla was only minutes old. More pushing on my tummy. Very painful. Someone asked about gold teeth and I had to remove my earrings and ring. I handed them to Charlie. He looked bereft. I was wheeled away, trying to keep my eyes locked on his. For Charlie it was shocking how white I was, and how red the floor was.

Down corridors and into an assessment area where a young guy in scrubs talked me through forms and how injections into my spine would work. I signed forms. I said I was allergic to Maxalon, a question I would be asked again and again. He knew that meant muscle spasms. Melissa was with me, I can't remember what she said or did. I was thinking about Charlie, wishing I was with him, or he was with me.

Into theatre and cheerful nurses and orderlies moved me prone onto the bed in the centre of the room. We chatted about my nail polish colour. I was congratulated on Milla's birth. Lots was going on. They explained I was to make a 'C' shape with my back. I was injected in my back. A surgeon insisted a nurse called someone to ensure they were aware of my condition and what they were planning. The blood bank was called to have two units on standby. The surgeon said he 'just touched' me and I lost another 300ml. I'm not sure when I was told I'd lost 1.8 litres.

I shook. It felt like fits and stressed me out. I was cold and tense. Apparently normal for the spinal block but I hated it and complained over and over. My hands shoulders arms were the worst. Staff held them for me. Everyone was kind.

I got wheeled to recovery. My shakes were so bad the nurse couldn't read my blood pressure from the cuff and was trying everything to get my vitals. We talked about her niece who studies at Melbourne Uni, Vietnamese people who she knew working at RMIT, and how if she had another baby she'd definitely get an epidural. It was very quiet and I wondered how long I'd been away from Charlie for.

A midwife appeared and was given handover from the nurse. I made a joke about getting my bikini body back. Not well received. She pushed my tummy, checking my uterus was contracting into a distinct mass. We went back to the birth suite. It took me a moment to realise it was the same room I'd given birth in. Charlie was holding Milla.

They moved me across onto the bed. Charlie brought Milla over. She was dressed. I asked Charlie if they had decided on a name.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Time of our Lives

Going bush 
Milla and I had our first social outing, to visit in Heidelberg and go for a walk in Banyule Flats. Baby steps towards the great outdoors. She slept while the two Jessies talked about The Time of Our Lives, rock art, breastfeeding, and all things in between. It rained and I pulled the Ergo Baby rain cover over her tiny head.

Yesterday Milla was weighed by the nurse and had lost 64 grams on birth weight, so we need to do even more to fatten her up. It was upsetting as it feels quite exhausting. I'm expressing for top ups, and now we're also topping up with formula once or twice a day. She has no routine though a few times she's had a long sleep through from about 1am to a reasonable get-up time. We're both very tired. From today we're going to attempt a semblance of routine with 3-hourly feeds. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two weeks

A week ago we celebrated Milla's first week, and I celebrated 'my most straightforward night'. Last night was the opposite, with Milla crying for hours and us getting to sleep sometime around 8am. It was Charlie's first day back at work. It's been difficult.

Apparently this is the position I sleep in too. 
Yesterday the Maternal and Child Nurse weighed Milla and found she'd lost 94 grams on birth weight so we are on a fatten-up campaign. It involves expressing milk, which is so boring and a little bit miserable, as well as trying to feed an overtired Milla. She's amazingly alert and wired when overtired, with big shiny eyes and a strong chin.

Monday, July 14, 2014


First Ergo outing
Each day and night is different. We had two very broken nights; we had nights with 6-8 hours' sleep each; we had long crying spells; and long sleeps. We parked Milla in her buggy bassinet at night and tried to settle her in the kitchen. Yesterday we planned to move the crib out of our room and set up a nursery for real. We walked to Williamstown as a family and did the shopping; she cried the whole way there and half the way back. Today we did a similar walk, using the Ergobaby carrier for the first time. Quiet and calm. Tomorrow we'll try a car ride.

Her eyelashes seem to grow every day; her face us so expressive; she loves her hands and gestures all the time; her eyes are big, shiny and keen.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Long night

Yesterday Milla slept long during the day, had long breaks between feeds, and come night time cried and cried. And cried and cried. We watched Game of Thrones and she fed for 50 minutes. We rocked her. We changed her nappy. We ran a bath and rubbed in coconut oil. We fed again. At 1:30am we packed her in the stroller and walked as a funny little family down to the waterfront and watched a huge container ship glide past.

She stopped and started and stopped and started. We got back home and tucked her in securely in the stroller bassinet, parked it in the kitchen and went to bed to listen to her cry, knowing we had tried everything. We fell asleep.

This morning we woke, she was gorgeous and comfy where we left her. Charlie made pancakes, I picked some juicy lemons and limes. We resolved to have an activity day with Milla. Our only day with no visits scheduled.

Grandma made cardi and blanket

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

One week

One week new
Milla has been in this big world with us for a week now. I watched the clock last night, remembering how I felt around 10pm when labour was intense and we met Milla. Happy tears, and I think gratitude was a key emotion.

Milk drunk
She's sleeping in the crib attached to our bed, and last night was my most straightforward night with feeding. I had a little utility pack next to my pillow with my essentials (shields, lansinoh, phone, notebook, pen) so I could set myself up when I heard her wake for milk.

Yesterday Midwife Melissa came for her final visit with us. I came back from my 20 minute walk down to the water and back to find Charlie giving Melissa the update. She weighed Milla and we found that she already is above birthweight, a good sign for our feeding. I had been worried as my nipples were damaged early, my milk was delayed due to complications in hospital, and now I had blocked ducts. But we'd kept feeding and the weight gain meant we were doing well.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Birth Story - Milla's arrival

Contractions started. Sometime in the evening, maybe around 9pm, after I talked work on the phone with my boss, before we headed to bed as normal. I took some painkillers at 11pm. It's hazy already but I didn't sleep through. I can remember being in discomfort and wondering why Charlie wasn't waking up. He was being smart, conserving energy. I was calm and cosy in bed. Around 6am his work alarm went off and we started timing the contractions with the app on my phone. They were 10-12 minutes apart and lasting about 50 seconds.

I stayed in bed, Charlie pulled in a chair and sat with me, made me toast, brought coffee, another round of painkillers, and the morning wore on. At 8am Charlie called the hospital, we had in mind that we might need to go later in the day and we should alert then so they could plan for us. We got a midwife on the phone that we didn't know, who was sweet and clear as we hoped. 

We pulled out the TENS machine and Charlie fixed it to my back. I didn't like the electrical feeling at all but kept it on and it proved to be a major ingredient in my pain management. 

The afternoon approached, I was still in bed, no sleep, TENS machine on and in use, and contractions were getting more frequent. By 2pm they were lasting up to 2 minutes and about 5 minutes apart. I had some showers and found it hard to find my contractions while there. 

We spoke to the midwife again, I had a shower and something that looked exactly like a 'mucous plug' appeared. I realised there was no chance I'd be washing my hair before going to hospital.

Back in bed, I became aware of Charlie packing, realised he was getting ready to go. I was vaguely pleased that I didn't have to make a decision about going. It was time. 

At 4:30pm, we got in the car. I felt aware of the stories I'd read of this time being hard, and sitting down felt terrible. I hung onto the grab handle and focused internally. At one point I bit the seatbelt. I closed my eyes and was quiet. Occasionally I looked at traffic and resisted instructing Charlie on how to drive. 

They registered our arrival at 5:02pm at the emergency counter. We waited for 45 minutes before getting called. I stood up the whole time, staying quiet. I felt a bit wet but there was no breaking of waters. It felt absurd to be in this amount of pain and just hanging out in a waiting room.

In the assessment, they said lie on the bed, which was not going to happen, so I got on all fours, the position I'd kept at home. One of the few specific things I can say I used from my pre-natal classes. We stayed in the assessment stall for perhaps my 'transition' time, it was hard.

I got louder. A nurse checked on me and Charlie thought that she was impressed with my 'active labour' position on the bed. It maybe gave the idea that I was far along in my labour, which she confirmed with an examination - 7cm dilated. I was delighted and Charlie was relieved. It meant we had timed it well, and that we weren't going to be sent home. A wheelchair was offered with options for how to use it - seated, kneeling backwards or walking alongside. I thought I could walk, but kneeling was it. Charlie texted our student midwife at 6pm with progress and shortly after we were in birth suite. 

Midwife Melissa was in the darkened birth suite and asked me if I wanted a bath. Charlie answered for me as I couldn't make a decision through the pain and trying to get in a position that worked. It takes time to fill the bath, and she went to find a plug. I stood, leaning on the bed.    

The bathroom was dark, a yellow torch in the corner provided just enough to see. Unsteadily, I stepped into the bath, using Charlie as my crutch. 

The rest of my labour happened in the bath. After a strong start, with Melissa thinking our student midwife would miss the birth if she arrived at 8:30pm as expected, contractions slowed. I was moving between different positions, the water was topped up to keep warm, Melissa continually suggested new positions. Over and over I heard positive words 'good work', 'keep breathing', 'come on gorgeous', 'you're doing brilliantly', 'that's it!'. Charlie never moved from my side. 

Student Midwife Tanya arrived 8:30pm, there was a period of hard work followed by a final stage where instructions changed and I fought my internal fears about the spaced out contractions. Melissa drove me hard, and monitoring of baby heartbeat became more frequent. We were so happy to hear that same steady sound we knew from checkups. 

The pushes hurt, I was driven by Melissa's instructions and Charlie's encouragement. She instructed me to change positions, to push. She checked there was no impediments and said that my baby was just waiting for me, waiting for me to push: "she's right there!'. Though I hadn't planned to, I watched the mirror in the bath to see Milla's head and know what each push meant. It hurt. Charlie was behind me, talking closely in my ear. I was told to give a push for her eyes, a push her nose, another for her nose, and her chin. This was so real. 

10:14pm she's on my chest.

* This is part one of the story. It makes me so happy to reflect on, as it follows my birth plan that we had written. My wishes were respected and my intentions realised. I stayed at home for most of my labour, I took no drugs in labour, Charlie was by my side, midwives were awesome, no tough decisions had to be made and Milla came straight up to my chest for cuddles. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Third day at home

Milla 4 days old, meeting her backyard. 
Days and nights are long. First bath at home today. We are taking lots of notes on all the happenings, cross-referencing with books. We keep the heater on, we are always getting cuddles. My rings fit back on, I'm weary. Happy and calm.

Friday, July 04, 2014


We have welcomed the one and only - Milla.

Our daughter Milla, born 1 July 2014, into water and loving arms. 
Arriving at home today was an amazing feeling, simply stepping through the front door felt like some kind of magic. We three. 

The journey from my long walk on Monday through to this sunny westside Friday afternoon has been ... again - amazing.