When was the last time I showered??

Yes. I am actually trying to recall when I last showered. Gone are the days where I could spend 30 minutes in a hot bath. Gone are the days of daily showers. I know when my baby last burped and memorized the number of ounces she devoured in her last meal before she decided to nod off but for goodness’ sakes, can someone tell me when was the last time I took a shower?

Ok. So I am typing this blog with one hand because my baby is sleeping in my arms and I am using my other arm to cradle her. Why you ask? Why is she sleeping in my arms even though we bought her a playpen, crib, bassinet, swing, vibrating chair and an expensive monitor? I will reply to you by saying… just because. Just because I want her in my arms. Just because I love feeling her warmth and seeing her expressions as she sleeps. Just because the days are passing too quickly and she is already three months old today. Just because I love seeing her little chest rise as she takes quick little breaths. Just because I love watching her wake up as her beautiful big eyes shift me into focus. Is that a good enough answer?

On to the issues of the day.
Issue one: What’s up with the comparisons? I feel like every new mom out there is comparing her little one to mine. I had a lady in the grocery store tell me that by three months her little boy was awake 10 hours a day. Well good for him, my baby happens to love her sleep (except at night when I’m sleepy but whatever). Another lady commented while I was shopping at Babies’R’Us about how tiny my baby is for her age. Really? Just because your child is sitting up at three months does not make it normal! Besides, she is tiny because she was born this way. Two words- LADY GAGA… look her up and give her a listen =)

Moral of the story: Each baby is unique and my baby is fine! *Also, Lady Gaga is a bad role model for children but her songs are one of my guilty pleasures.*

Issue two: I am a laid back mom. I still obsess about the safety of my baby and if bubbles were actual accessories, I would buy one but that doesn’t mean I am ok with strangers kissing my baby and touching her while she is sleeping in her car seat (because she likes to sleep during the day). Hands off- get your own baby. No offense grandma of 7 but I’m a little paranoid because I saw you handle meat back there in aisle one and you did not sanitize after (look who’s talking, the person who can’t remember her last shower). At the end of the day, other people’s babies are just like Kim Kardashian’s 20 karat ring… beautiful, bright and ridiculously valuable. Look, admire but please do not touch! 

Moral of the story: Kim’s ring is actually gaudy in my opinion. Unlike my baby of course- it was just an analogy!

Issue three: Does it make me a bad mom that I don’t want to overdo it with the scrapbooking and professional photos because I know I would have to do that for child number two and maybe three? I mean, it is all fine and good and I am really impressed with the moms who do this but I am the youngest and let me tell you… how bitter I would have been if mommy focussed on my sister (the eldest) more than me. My childhood is just as fascinating. 

Moral of the story: My mom chose not to do anything for any of us. Just some simple albums with our photos in them (unless my sister is stashing her memorabilia somewhere).

Issue four: I miss my husband. I see him- yes but I feel like I don’t have time with him. I love it when he focusses on the baby but I am experiencing an amazing need to be with him the way we used to be before she was born. I am sure this will get better (experienced moms- if this is not true, please just lie to me). I look at him sometimes and remember us running through green fields flying kites and blowing bubbles (yup, we actually did those things- you mean you didn’t?!) 

Moral of the story: There is no moral lesson here just a word of caution to those who do not have children or are expecting… spend as much time together as possible. That means without the television, friends, relatives or the other everyday distractions.

Issue four: I have to vent here. There is NO NEED to spend hundreds of dollars on name brand clothing for babies!!!!! Why, I ask you, when they grow out of them so quickly? I love the moms who are like “Oh, that is so cute, is that Calvin Klein? I bought Jessica a pair of Jordans, they were on sale for $99, what a deal eh?” No, I disagree. All you did was buy into the capitalist and commercially driven marketing ploys to seemingly satiate your appetite for optimal parenthood through the purchase of material goods. Basically, you were a sucker and you could have invested the $89 you could have saved into a respectable savings account for your baby so that they can grow up, go to university and become the next business mogul or successful entrepreneur. Instead, they will have to settle on being really fashionable mall rats… is that what you want? Well, is it?

Moral of the story: I need to stop hating on people who like to dress their babies in outfits other than onesies which my baby happens to love! Also, there is nothing wrong with George and Joe Fresh as name brands for me and my baby!

Issue five and last issue for today: I have a belly that hangs over and makes me look like I am still slightly pregnant. I am not sure what to do with this extra skin and I refuse to believe that it will just sit there until I get pregnant again. I am walking, Yoga-ing, Tae-Bo’ing and even doing crunches (less occasionally than the other three forms of exercise but nevertheless) and yet there it is. It’s like a small skin tag except it’s not small and it’s not a skin tag =(

Moral of the story: If your husband gets fat with you then it will make you feel better about yourself!

Ok. She is waking up and I want to play with her so I will sign off here and let you know that I finally remembered the last time I showered… it was before her thirty-second spit-up episode and after her third time wearing that cute onesy with the kitty cat on it. We’re good for at least another day when my husband can take care of her for an hour or so…

Thank you for reading, until next time…

Finally

Finally, some semblance of a routine. I’m not sure if it is a good routine or not but it is consistent which is good enough for me. My baby is now 9 weeks old and she has finally decided to sleep 6 hours in a row at night. She didn’t get there on her own and it wasn’t easy but she did it! We were wondering why she is eating double the normal amount in the evenings then we realized- she needs it to hibernate through the night and who are we to stop her? She is also napping 2-3 times during the day and when she isn’t napping, she is usually cooing, kickboxing with little limbs and fists on her back or crying because she is: hungry/tired/bored/sad/lonely cranky/wet.
I learned to figure out when she is hungry but not- like people and forums say- because of her cry. She usually puts her fist in her mouth and tries to find a few fingers to suck on while crying. She also turns her head from side to side with mouth agape hoping to find a nipple somewhere that will produce milk. It is actually quite comical and obvious that she is hungry.
It doesn’t make me a bad mom that I can’t tell most of her cries apart. After all, they all sound really similar (like a kitten who is in pain) and they are all for a purpose. So my husband and I will just go through the checklist: Gas? Diaper wet or dirty? Eyes red? etc. Once the root cause of the weeping is determined, we resolve the problem and respond to the need quickly and efficiently. So it is all like a well-oiled machine now… finally.
But I have noticed the house is less clean than before the arrival of our little angel. There are burp cloths, half-finished bottles, bibs, diapers and blankets everywhere. She has managed to take over the entire 4 bedroom house. Her things are everywhere and now I know that it is quite impossible to keep the house in the pristine condition it used to be in prior to baby.
Also-Time. Where does it go? She is already 9 weeks and I miss her newborn-ness. Also, it took me almost 6.5 hours to write this blog because she needed my attention every 15-20 minutes. And why does it seem like it is taking TOO MUCH time when she is feeding at 6 am? It is all relative- I guess.
Here is another random thought- I have new-skinny-mom-body-envy. I am skinnier than some new moms I see but hey, I noticed that there is a substantial number of women out there who have babies younger than mine and look better than I ever looked. What’s up with that? It’s hard enough feeling frumpy as a result of the lack of time aforementioned and smell like Eau De Spit Up all the time… why do I have to keep seeing women who look fabulous post-partum? That’s it… I’m quitting Mommy and Baby Yoga- the aggravation is just not worth it. I need to obsess about healthier things like perfecting the art of a 10 minute feeding to maximize on sleep!
Last but not least, it is just about that time for my little baby to be transitioned to her crib. What- you say- you haven’t done that yet? Nope. I did not. I have a variety of good reasons and they are all valid. First of all, it would be more work for me to get up when and if she gets up during the night. Second of all, my baby is the notorious S.P.I.T up. I often hear her almost choking on the liquid as it comes back the wrong way up her esophagus. I promptly hold her upright to prevent choking then gently lure back to sleep with a pacifier. Thirdly, she is sleeping in a bassinet next to my bed not IN my bed which is the same thing as her sleeping in a crib in her room. Lastly, I put her to sleep in the bassinet while she is still awake so she doesn’t get used to sleeping on my chest or in my arms (ok, I do that last thing only 20% of the time which is still good!!).
In the end, we are thriving and I am getting some sleep and she is healthy and my family unit is whole. I am learning something new every day and I am loving the adventure of motherhood. I will actually consider having another one of these little beings a bit later in the future but for now I will take a nap beside my little angel because she decided that she is done eating/playing/farting/crying/pooing/peeing smiling… finally.
SMartignani

Mommy knows best…

I write this as my baby lies beside me on a Baby Einstein jungle gym kicking her legs wildly and causing rattles to shake. She is happily cooing and smiling as she stares at a faraway spot on the wall because the dangling toys and numerous singing, shaking and colorful items hanging from her jungle gym are just not as interesting as that one spot on the wall. Half the time we don’t know what she is staring at but she seems quite content with simple things. I sometimes wish we were the same…

She sucks on her pacifier and makes a loud noise which is why my husband and I jokingly call her Maggie Simpson. Our baby girl is often impressed with our many facial gestures and lip smacking sounds. She will tolerate a few kisses from me but then start to whine and threaten to cry if I overdo it. She has a personality already and seems to know what she likes and what she doesn’t. She is also very expressive and her pout melts my heart and makes me want to do ANYTHING on earth and heaven to make her happy and not pout anymore.

I write this blog with a few issues in mind.

1) I am becoming so in tune with my baby that I just know what she wants all the time. My husband will look at me and ask “What’s wrong with her?” and I am able to respond “She is tired” or “She is hungry” or “She wants to poopoo”. I think the special mommy data chip that was inherently placed by God in mothers has been activated and now I know best… So when she looks at me now, I can read her mind and her cries. There is nothing more spectacular than guessing it right. It is such a rush when she sleeps because I knew she wanted to or eat because I called it. I feel like an age old line of communication has just been opened and I am privy to every thought and fleeting emotion. It’s a gift and I am both humbled and grateful for it.

2) A secondary, yet equally important, issue concerns the marriage or relationship between the father and mother. I find that there are endless and often senseless arguments that ensue soon after bringing the baby home. I am NOT complaining about my husband but after talking with other new parents, I found a common trend. We are so tired all the time that we start getting on each other’s nerves. There is also the inability to be intimate as well as the added stress of caring for a dependant human being that adds stress to a marriage/relationship. The truth is, I adore my husband and I think I am in love with him now more than ever! However, we find ourselves arguing about the silliest things like how to wash the baby bottles or why the television was too loud and when should the baby sleep in the crib. Wow… apparently we each think we know what is best for the baby and sometimes we disagree on methodologies and ideologies. I am almost afraid of what the future holds when she is two or three or… fourteen! She is not even two months yet and we are being challenged by the very essence of parenting options. So what should we do?

Here is what worked for us- self-awareness. We know when we are lashing out at the other person because we are exhausted and mentally fatigued. We are so aware of it that we state “I am tired right now so please forgive my short temper”. We are both overwhelmed with the task of caring for a newborn baby full-time with little or no time to ourselves. We are also missing the days where we actually spent time with one another and slept in on holidays. So now that we know all this, we communicate regularly, apologize repeatedly and vent frequently. We remind each other that she is a gift and that we are so fortunate to be parents. Then we try and remember to say “I love you” to one another because that was the basis and reason for our daughter’s existence in the first place.

3) Each baby is different and unique. I know this now for certain because three of my best friends have babies and we are all just a few months apart. Truth is, there is no hard set rule and no regimented timeline to when each baby will perform a certain function. So as I fret as to why my baby is not smiling yet, another baby has yet to learn holding their own bottle and while my baby can coo, another baby can only cry. So I learned to respect and love my baby for everything she can do and everything she is yet to learn. Though I must admit, it is very hard to read her a book when she won’t even look where I want her to look but she has her own mind and I need to respect that. I guess she just loves that spot on the wall that is just left of my right ear.

I am also beginning to see humour in the little things in life because that is what she taught me. I really think farting is funny now. She smiles every time and makes me smile too. Her smiles also come after a really loud burp and I have to admit, she sounds a bit like a drunken sailor when she belches. She also finds the quietest and often times, busiest places to share her wondrous bodily functions of gas expulsions. She likes to let the really loud ones rip at church when there is that moment of silence after a prayer or at the grocery store when we are in line. She also loves to cry just as we enter the doctor’s office or friend’s gathering. My husband and I have also noticed a pattern in her behaviour. She is an angel when people are around but at night when everyone is gone and it’s just us three- she turns… Mrs. Hyde comes out at almost midnight and the screaming, playing, alertness and constant need for attention begins. Funny that this is exactly when she used to be up and kicking me while I was pregnant. She is going to be a night owl and we are in for it!

So now she is sleeping and before I sign off to go shower, shampoo, snack and sleep- I would like to share one more thing I wrote in my head as I was feeding her last night at 3 am…

Typical thoughts of a newborn baby (If only we can hear them out loud)

I am hungry, oh what’s this- are those my fingers- whoa, I am starving I need to eat NOW! Where is everyone- oh there is someone holding me, I need to cry louder- what’s this, where is my bottle?? Hello, don’t you know I’m starving- oh did I already mention- I AM HUNGRY, I need to eat something now, oh, what’s this? My fingers again, nope, no milk coming out of this hand, I will try the other one if I can find it now… oh there it is. Someone is talking to me and I have no idea what they are saying but I know that they are not listening- HELLO. STARVING HERE… oh what will I do… it is so hard being hungry, my stomach is tight and I need to eat now… oh…oh… there we go… I feel so pleased now even though it took forever… oh wait a minute why did you take the bottle out of my mouth… BBBBUUURRRRPPPPP… oh that felt good but now I am starving, where oh where is my bottle… ok, here we go… I think I am full so I will spit out the last 10 milliliters I drank just to prove that I am done with this. Oh, I think I did something in my diaper, I need a change, Hello?? Change me!! I need a change NOW!! It is wet and sticky but I am so sleepy. Closing my eyes and drifting- OH MY GOODNESS where the heck is that draft coming from? Oh, I am getting a new diaper… wow, so nice not to feel wet anymore but I am now unhappy because I was sleepy and you zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Hope you enjoyed the trip into what I think is my baby’s mind… feel free to share your babies’ thoughts. It is actually a fun exercise!

Until next time…

SMartignani

Motherhood- What a trip!

And I thought learning a new language, finishing school while working, and learning to love myself after pregnancy was hard… wow. I had no idea how challenging parenting can be. This is, by far, the most difficult yet rewarding trips I have ever been on…
My baby is now one month old- already. It is hard to believe others when they say time flies by- especially during the night feedings when I am barely awake to see if she is happily feeding on the bottle or my finger… but time does fly and I am almost saddened by the days gone by. Almost.

My baby was born small and she was so adorable. She is now almost 7 whole pounds and has miraculously stretched in height to a complete 53 cm. That is almost 21 inches. Her head is getting heavier by the day and her wakeful moments are increasing. Every week of the first month something new was happening and I think I took over 1000 photos so far and 50 or so videos with my phone, my camera and the recently purchased HD Camcorder that my husband got for me.

Here are the things I learned so far about being a mommy.

1) Everyone who has had a child will offer advice and know more than me but only I know what is best for my baby.

No matter what anyone says, thinks, imagines, assumes or believes, the baby is mine and only my husband and I can truly decide what is best for our child. It is great to hear experience from others but at the end of the day every child is different and so each piece of information needs to be dissected carefully and taken with a large grain of salt.

2) Breastfeeding is necessary but if the mother is unable to provide enough nutrition or the baby will not latch, then it is time to move to formula.

Ok. I have to vent here so that it is out of my system once and for all. What is with the pressure?? Seriously. Why do random strangers and acquaintances think it is ok to make comments like “Oh, you SHOULD breastfeed- it’s what is best for the baby”- Really? You’d think I would know that since it makes that same exact statement on the Formula containers, the sign in the NICU and every commercial and ad created for new moms. Here is the deal- some women just CANNOT breastfeed. There are a variety of reasons including the child’s inability to latch, the mother’s inability to express enough milk for the child, and most importantly, the mother’s decision NOT to breastfeed because she does not feel comfortable doing so.

I tried everything. Pumping, nipple shield, medicine that made me nauseous and dizzy as well as endless nights of persuading, crying, and yelling at my tiny baby to “just latch please” to no avail. After much money spent, hours spent in the breastfeeding clinic and online researching, as well as incessant pumping, I decided that it is just not worth it. I was so concerned about breastfeeding that I was not enjoying my newborn baby who was just as happy with a formula filled bottle. Before my husband and I made the final decision, I was depressed, anxious, disappointed, angry, bitter and tense. All negative emotions that manifested themselves and were felt by my baby who was beginning to be tense in my arms because she “feels” me. I was headed towards postpartum psychosis and my husband was actually told that a colleague’s wife was full out psychotic as a result of the same issue. So I ask you in the name of all that is good and mighty, next time a new mom pulls out a bottle to feed her child, resist the urge to ask the million dollar question and do NOT proceed to recite the advantages of breast feeding because in essence, every mom knows but not every mom can perform this inexplicably and “un”natural form of feeding for her child. No matter the reason, I feel like an outsider and shame washes over me because I have failed my mission to lactate for my child. But I am now realizing that I have tried my best and my child needs me…not my breast…me. Formula has its benefits as well… especially at the midnight feeding which my husband gladly performs to give me a decent 5 hour sleep! I have come to peace with the fact that she needs to eat and we are able to provide this basic need… one way or another. Now I have more time to hold her, kiss her, and play with her knowing that I am doing the best for my baby.

Ok. Vent completed. Now on to more humorous observations.

3) Every parent WILL get frustrated with their first newborn baby at some point when the crying won’t cease and there seems to be no justifiable reason for the drama.

It is 3 am and she is crying sporadically. She closes her eyes and I think she is about to doze off for three or four minutes then suddenly an eruption of unhappiness flows out. I go through the checklist of things she may be crying about- feeding, check- diaper change, check- burping, check- warmth, check- temperature ok, check- comfortable position, check- spinal cord aligned, check… then what is it???

I hold her close to my chest and it works for two minutes then another scream. I rock and coo and sing and make sounds with my lips that I have never thought possible- nothing. She is miserable and the bottom lip is shaking and I am torn between crying with her and screaming at her. I am so frustrated that I want to just put her down and walk away. Let her cry. If she doesn’t know why she is crying then why would I try and figure it out?
So this is why they say that newborns are challenging, I can’t wait until she starts talking. Then I make the stark realization that she will start talking soon and that I need to treasure every moment even these ones where I am completely comfuddled by her moods and reasoning for being in them. This gives me a new surge of hope and I gently turn her head towards me as she rages at the tragedy of being a baby and I say “Baby, you will not remember this when you are older but I will because everything you do is beautiful to me”. I kiss her reddened face and start humming a soft lullaby and after mere seconds she begins to calm down. As the ire seeps out of her little taut body, she begins to show signs of fatigue and is now slowly closing her eyes as her blinks become lengthier. She just wanted to sleep but didn’t want to leave mama so soon… at least that is what I believe and I am sticking with it!

4) Grandma will do things better than me and make it look easy because she is already a veteran and can take care of the baby and us… two generations at a time.

For all you moms out there who are upset at how grandma decides to hold, feed, lay the baby to sleep and how to deal with all the different moods- I have one word of advice- LEARN. She knows how to do this is her sleep. She is capable and knowledgeable and deep inside she is smirking at how lost I seem to be. She gently reminds me that this is hard and that I should be proud of myself and that I can finally take a nap. Internally, she knows exactly why my baby is crying before I do but she holds back and asks “Do you think she may be tired or hot? Maybe she is just cranky because she has gas?” Grandma knows because as she is taking care of our baby, she is taking care of her baby- my husband and I. I would like to take a moment to thank all the grandmas out there. You are angels and idols. We are grateful for your existence and I promise I will never doubt you… again.

5) Guilt is an infinite and constant companion of a new mom because no matter what I do, I feel like I could, should and need to do more for my baby.

So no matter what I do or don’t do or have done, I feel guilty. I feel guilty when she is crying and when she throws up. I feel guilty when I am 15 minutes late in feeding her because I overslept or because I am just not singing to her enough. I feel guilty when I think of how I need to spend some alone time with my husband. I even feel guilty when other moms seem so much more “in tune” with their babies. I don’t think I have ever experienced more guilt in my life (except when I was 13 and had a secret stash of Cosmopolitan magazines in the third drawer underneath my folded up t-shirts). So I have decided to rechannel my guilt into something productive. Every time I feel guilty now, I hold her close to me and whisper to her that I love her. I remind myself that feeling guilty is a dark shadow on the sunshine she brings into my life. I am now guilty of one emotion- infinite love for my baby!

On a final note- I know, this is a long entry- I want to take another moment to recognize the most important person in my life right now- my husband. A loyal father and an amazing partner, I couldn’t ask for anything more. The things he does for us are incredible and there is nothing sexier than a man who takes care of his family. I can’t take my eyes off him when he is with our daughter and she adores him with every inch of her tiny body but I already warned her- he is mine and she needs to find someone to make her happy when she is older just like him and just like I did!

SMartignani

Mother has been… this one is loooooooong

"My Baby Demiana"

Ok. Where do I possibly begin? This blog will have to be split into chapters because of everything that occurred in the past week or so.
First, after all the pain and misery of trying to induce a baby, my cervix refused to cooperate which lead to a planned emergency C-section. The difference between a planned emergency C-section and an emergency C-section is the cut. The Planned Emergency is a nice even horizontal cut at the bottom of the abdomen which is often small but still painful. The emergency C-section is a final attempt at saving the foetus in the least amount of time possible, so the cut, I’m told, is lengthwise vertically across the stomach. I learned that from my cool NICU mama group (more on that in a bit). Ok, so fortunately for me, it was the planned emergency- even though I really didn’t plan on it but my blood pressure was so high, they were afraid that I was distressing the baby. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting my little one in any capacity so we begrudgingly conceded and decided to go ahead with it.

I won’t lighten nor exaggerate the painful aspects of getting major abdominal surgery. The spinal doctor was amazing. He literally talked me through the whole process and my nurse was there for me to hug and squeeze when the small 3 second pain of freezing took place. After that, I really can’t say I felt anything at all from under the rib cage down. I felt touch and pressure but no pain. I was in awe at how fast time flew when they opened me up and started pushing the top of my belly to get my baby out and then I heard my baby’s first guttural and squeaky war cry and the announcement “It’s a GIRL!” I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh because I thought Peanut was a boy for a long time and now I have a little Diva who decided to take her time and arrive fashionably late. My husband was at my side and you can see how torn he was when he heard the baby cry and saw her being tested at the scale. I released his hand and told him “Go see our little girl”. It was overall an intensely emotional experience.

Then something awful happened. I heard them announce her weight. She was only 4 pounds and 13 ounces. I had been carrying her around for 9 months and she was half the usual birth weight. Something was off and I knew what was coming. A nurse from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit approached me and solemnly announced that they are concerned about the size of my baby. They will need to take her to the ICU for a few days for monitoring and observation. I heard her say “Take her… 24 to 48 hours” and my heart sank. I was wondering if the surgeon could actually see pieces of my broken heart coming out of my unsewn abdomen.

How can I describe the deep sated sadness that took over me? I can’t. I can only say that I heard them say “Your baby is sick and we need to take her away” and I refused to acknowledge any of the other pieces of information such as “…all organs are functioning normally and baby is healthy”. All I heard was, “We are taking your little princess away now… for a few days”.

They swaddled her nice and tight and my husband brought her over to me. I couldn’t hold her because I was still being stitched back up like a raggedy Ann doll and all I could do was helplessly cry as I watch the single most important human being in my life hold the most gorgeous product of our love and years of marriage. I am crying now as I write this which is quite the opposite of my general style. Humour to come later, I promise!

Anyway, they send me to recovery, I recover nicely. I get to wheeled chaired over to the NICU to see my daughter with tubes and IV’s and monitors on her. She looked like a tiny robot with all the attachments and I felt nothing but unconditional love and irrational fear for her little life. I was happy when they told me that she is fine but she takes fast and shallow breaths when touched. I instantly thought “WHAT? I won’t be able to touch my baby?” They reassured me that this is temporary and I didn’t believe them. I slept that night like my baby- tossing and turning and in more pain of separation and anxiety than actual physical symptoms.

I was up at 6 am waking my husband and telling him that I want my baby. I didn’t want to sit and recover in a bed in the hospital while my baby was being taken care of by other people. I got up on my own and I pledged to walk over there that same day. Two hallways later and I was at the bedside of where they kept my little princess. I looked down and many tubes had been removed, including the awful elephant-trunk-looking tube that helped her breathe. She was breathing on her own and thriving beautifully. I don’t think there was anything I thanked God for more than at the moment!

The days are passing into nights and I was at the hospital for 6 long sleepless days. I am discharged but my baby was not so I stayed by her side while my husband was prohibited to stay in the same room called the courtesy room. This room was for mothers of infants who were in the NICU and this is where I learned a lot!

First, I learned that my baby is fine in comparison to others who were born under 2 pounds. Also, I learned that there are much worse things that pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. I also learned to love and cherish every sad story and every sick infant in the NICU because they had all one thing in common- an inherent, amazing and astounding instinct to thrive and survive. They were all, like my baby, fighters. It was such an enriching experience meeting all those parents and I hope we cross paths one day in happier times.
Finally, after a roller coaster of emotions and nights of feedings and cajoling, my baby girl is sent home. My husband is so happy he fist pumps in the air and carries her out proudly. There is nothing more beautiful than bringing her home.

I hold her at night and cry over her with tears of joy and sadness that I missed days of her short existence. I thank God for this tiny miracle in my arms that is slowly inheriting the gorgeous facial features of my husband and I am humbled and awed by the knowledge that just days past, this little human being was inside my belly kicking it up like a night at the Disco.

My husband holds her and feeds her and sniffs her and I stand back in awe and take photos and videos. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing him with her. I have never been more attracted to him since the days of first love. There is something so infinitely beautiful in seeing a dad with his little girl. I am also grateful for his support because it allows me some measure of comfort and rest when I am released off my “shift” to take a well-deserved three or four hour nap. At other times, we find ourselves comically arguing about whose turn it is to hold her, feed her, change her and burp her. We each desire the most amount of time with this little angel who seems to be growing up too fast- already.

Now- as I sit at home on my couch watching over my baby girl sleeping right next to the warmth of my legs with her hands carefully intertwined to mimic a peaceful and thoughtful pose- I think to myself- I know now what many new moms describe as an ethereal and surreal joy in seeing my own flesh and blood with her own soul and personality. I am faced with the stark reality that I would literally do ANYTHING for her. Any measure of sacrifice would never be too great for my baby. Motherhood is the ultimate experience that completes a woman’s emotional spectrum and fulfills her entire potential capacity for self-actualization.

I warned you that this one is long!

Finally, before I sign off- I want to let everyone know that there was pain and endless summer nights of discomfort but after seeing my very small bundle of joy, I think that everyone was right. It was all worth it in the end and YES, I would do it again and soon!

SMartignani

Do not read-if you have not had a delivery experience yet!

I write to you from the bowels of … wait… it’s just the 4th floor of the hospital- Labour and delivery ward. I am in day two of trying to deliver a child. And I now know why they call it labour! Long arduous hours of work, very little pay or praise and lots of pain.

Truth is, it all started with an innocent regular appointment with my doctor yesterday morning. I went in to get the regular run through then BAM… my blood pressure was elevated. She made me wait for 15 minutes and re-measured my blood pressure- 170/100… apparently too high. She told me to cancel all my appointments and go straight to the hospital for a non-stress test (they hook you up to a monitor to measure baby movements) and a series of blood tests. I cannot pass GO and cannot collect $200 =(

This was at 9:30 am. At 11:30 am, same morning, I was escorted to a beautiful private room which is to become my labour room. I am not allowed to go home so I call the hubby and say the dreaded…ehem… the wonderful news. I have high blood pressure, they are worried about a condition called pre-eclampsia and they are inducing me. Please grab everything and come to the room.

I am relieved that my deepest, darkest desire of having the baby early is fulfilled BUT and this is a big BUT… I didn’t know it is going to be like this!

I am currently sitting on the bed on which I am slowly atrophying for the past 32 hours! I have been violated with cervical exams that were too painful to describe. I have had a hormone called Cervadil tucked nicely deep inside my private part to soften the cervix but to no end. Then today, I was treated to a small rubber water balloon that was inserted then inflated inside my poor uterus. Still, the most painful of each procedure was the innocent “cervical exams”. Oh my goodness gracious… wow… how can I describe the feeling without making you hurl the nice meal you might have had 4 hours ago…

Imagine a small pressure at first then almost a fist in the smallest hole in your body. Then it moves and you feel every movement. Yeah… it hurts… leave it at that.

The balloon was like a pap test given by a slow and slightly blind doctor. My doctor is amazing don’t get me wrong, it just takes longer and involves a catheter that stays deep inside your hoohah. The insertion is not as painful as the pressure you feel (as if you are having a panic attack or you’ve been holding off on going number 2 for a day or so)… that is what it feels like. But not entirely unpleasant.

Please… remember that I have no epidural at this point or pain meds or even laughing gas. Just a hope and a prayer.

Here is the biggest bummer… my cervix is still rock solid and apparently they need it to soften to have a baby or break water and all that. Despite it all, they put me on Petocin which is through another painful device worldly known as the IV. It has been going non-stop since 11 this morning which is a day later than I arrived, but to no avail. I am having mini-contractions but if the cervix doesn’t soften, really, it is all for naught.

At 5 pm (day two) the doctor tells me that they will stop everything and start the Petocin again tomorrow. The balloon is removed manually (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like- PAINFUL) and then there is one more cervical check. I see stars. I think I would rather have my eyelashes plucked one by one and then be tar and feathered than have another cervix check. May the Almighty Lord help humanity invent a tool that can be used in substitution before my children have children. Tomorrow she said, she will give me an epidural to… get this… be more comfortable when they do a cervix check on me. You mean they could have given it to me today??? I would have gladly taken it if I had known!

So the saga of this baby continues. It is probably easier to deliver an ice-berg from Africa than having this child right now. I ask myself repeatedly, What the HECK is wrong with adoption and how do people have more babies? Does Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones appear with the small memory loss device from MIB and flash moms??
At this point, I have begged, pleaded and yes… resorted to tears asking everyone and anyone, especially God, to help me deliver and be delivered. 3 days is too long for anyone to do anything at a time. You can’t go fishing for that length of time without doing something different! I wager you would even get tired of a vacation if you are doing the exact same thing three days in a row…

Mmmmmm… vacation… *sigh* I just came back from Aruba but I would give my first born to go back… wait a minute… my first born needs to be born first I guess… well… here goes. Tomorrow is a new day. Tonight I am pigging out on a large Quizno’s chicken sandwich and leaving you with this…

Having babies is not for the faint of heart but it is for the naively ignorant. Now I know why mothers everywhere are vowed to secrecy because human extinction would not be too unlikely if we all knew what this could be like……

SMartignani

I’m like a bird…

Nesting? What is that???

Are the twigs and twine symbolic of the baby swing I just painstakingly (operative word “PAIN”) assembled in the time it took my hubby to install a new ceiling fan?
Is nesting the feeling you get when you are on maternity leave and are just bored to death with waiting for the unborn child? Or is it the near burning desire to accomplish, complete and purchase everything on the packing list of the hospital bag that has been packed now for a week and a half?

Nesting is a phenomenon that is a sure sign that a mother is soon to birth a child. Like the basketball shaped belly and swollen body parts weren’t proof enough. This emotional obsession is the cherry on top or another reassuring sign that truly- labour is approaching.
Yay? I think.

Truth is, between re-packing my bag, doubting whether I have enough onesies and watching my belly button ever so slightly invert, I am truly ready to get on with it. I think that was the wisdom in the creation of this process itself. Have the woman wait that extra two weeks so that when it is time to deliver and insane amount of pain, she will basically say “Who cares- let’s just get this done and over with!”

At this point, I am finding it hard to stand back up after sitting but sitting too long hurts my back. I am also finding it hard to walk around with the persistent weight at the bottom of my belly. It feels like a rock has sunk to the bottom of my stomach and won’t let me manoeuvre the rest of my body in order to function normally. I walk like I have something between my legs and only God knows how peeing at night has become an almost urgent need. I feel like if I hold it, I will be explode- literally and suddenly.

I am also quite emotional. I feel lonely and content at the same time. I also feel angry then I laugh hysterically almost simultaneously. I am weirding myself out. I was asked if I am carrying twins today and I was almost in tears. On a side note, why do people think it is ok to tell a pregnant woman that she is huge or swollen or ask if she is carrying twins. It is not only inappropriate, rude and offensive- it is also absolutely unacceptable in ANY context! I don’t care if you are my mother- tell me I am beautiful because after all, I am carrying a full grown baby at 9 months so please- give me a break! I was almost in tears today because of the comments I was getting.

So there could be a plausible other use for the phenomenon of nesting… it gives women late in their pregnancies an escape or excuse to avoid all contact with the outside world to avoid the comments that they may receive on their swollen parts and super-size tummies.
I am just saying. Nesting is fun. It provides me with a real connection with my baby to be because it is a constant reminder that I am preparing for a new life in my little family. Nesting also provides me the opportunity to purchase small, silly things that make the wait a little sweeter. Nesting built the swing we bought. So whatever the definition or root cause is, it is a nice feeling. A positive one.

Now I need to go and repack my hospital bag. I think I need more pillows!

Week 37- Still Waiting

So I am now in my ninth month gestating away as I say good-bye to my fellow workers and head home for a year long respite- or is it?
I was just thinking, I don’t think I ever stayed home for an entire year since I was a child. I was always in school or work. This is different! I am not completely clueless and I know that staying home with a newborn is no small feat but then again, I used to hold down two jobs, go to university and have time to style my hair- and that my friends is called multi-tasking. Have you even seen my hair?

So I am now at the stage where I see my doctor every week and there is always something new and exciting to learn. Like how I need to monitor the movements of the baby because it NEEDS to move 6 times every two hours. That alone is becoming a full-time gig for me. I have a spreadsheet and I check off movements because if there are none, I need to head to the emergency immidiately. I cannot pass GO or collect $200.
I was also instructed to monitor my sugar intake, increase my excercise routine to a 45 minute walk and to be wary that at any moment I can potentially leak which is a common sign that labour might begin. And here is the funny part, there are a lot of maybe’s at this stage. If your water breaks, you MAY go into labour right away but it MAY also take hours. If you feel contractions, you MAY be in active labour, you MAY not be. If you start feeling pressure on your pelvis, you MAY be experiencing the baby pushing its head into the birth canal or MAY be experiencing the normal effect of the baby turning (they call it lightening, I laugh at that term).

So after all the MAY be’s, there is one sure thing- I am still nervous about the whole labour thing. Truth is, I am afraid because I don’t know what the pain is like. I read on forums that it is “nothing like you have ever experienced before”- thanks. How the heck am I supposed to relate to that? Tell me something useful like “It will feel like a million papercuts” or “The pain will be like a migraine in your pelvis”… something… anything! Don’t people know that half the fear is not knowing?? For once, I just want one person to tell me the honest truth… only to prepare my poor and terrified pelvis!
I realize that this blog is about a mother-to-be but I think I will continue logging in after the baby is born and call it “A mother has been…” Only to share the stark reality of a newborn regimen and routine and ready moms who are taking the plunge into maternal heaven. I would like to be the one true voice in the wilderness that states it like it is… raw and unmodified from the facts of reality.

I am leaving work and everyone says, “You will be really busy with the little one, enjoy every minute”. I want to define what “busy” means. So keep reading…
But first, I will continue ranting about the rest of this gestational waiting game to either prepare moms to be or just to get a laugh. I just have to remember that there is no “undo” here and there is really no “refunds, exchanges or upgrades”. Nowhere to go but forward and onwards. So forward I march into the dark realm of labour and impending motherhood and I pray that as light is being shed on what it all feels like, that I will adjust quickly and with agility. I am ready and set, now all I need is the “Go”.

Smartignani

B. Ed and B.A Psychology

Update

So my belly is getting even bigger… which I thought was truly impossible from the last post but here we are. I feel my skin stretching in areas where undoubtedly my baby’s oversized head or shoulders may be. I know it is hard work being a mother but this is extremely alien to me!
Each night, I go to bed optimistic that I will fall asleep like the good old days and stay sleeping with dreams of fields of green and beautiful roses and every night, I wake up at least 5 times because I either have to go to the restroom to empty my bladder or adjust my body in a position that doesn’t make me want to gag.

I am like a truck getting in and out of bed and my poor husband is instantly awake asking “Are you ok?” each time. God love him for his patience, he truly has my undying gratitude but I wish he knew what it felt like to be a “beached whale”.

My self-esteem is beginning to suffer. Yes, me. I can’t believe it either! For those who do not know me, I usually love me. This is obvious through the hundreds of photos I take of myself and the endless hours I can spend laughing and giggling in my own company using only a mirror. I was the youngest of three children with a big age gap in between so I was left to entertain myself by myself quite often, thank you very much.

But even then, I try to strike up a conversation with my reflection but then I am distracted by the implosion of my nose or the sheer size of my chin(s). I am calling myself bad names like “whale” and “truck” (as aforementioned) and even my husband is alarmed and keeps reassuring me that I am beautiful (he is perfect, I am lucky but I am still whale-ish).
I am finding it hard to put make up on because everything enhances my larger than life features. I think my body is slowly turning against me and just taunting me sometimes. I look down and see my belly moving from side to side because the baby is shifting. We call the baby Peanut because we do not know the gender. So Peanut has decided to change positions and all of a sudden, my belly looks like an oddly shaped pear or mango. It is quite humourous when you can see a bulge sticking out (it looks like a small hernia really because the head or shoulders are running out of space in there).

The feelings I am experiencing are quite strange and I know I will miss Peanut once it decides to grace us with its presence! I just feel like I am becoming more of a U-Haul than a mom to be. Space for rent and this is why I ask, why is it taking so long?
This blog is helping me vent a litttle because I am not entirely sure how else to handle the longest three week wait of my life. I can’t wait till’ this is over and I am holding my new baby. Until then, I need to learn to love every stage of pregnancy and remind myself that I am one of the chosen people who will raise a generation of others to complete the circle of life (cue Lion King music here).

SMartignani

B. Ed and B.A Psychology

Thoughts of a mother to be- The Conception…

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

OK. Motherhood, here I come. Wow. Did 9 months really fly past? Where was I? It felt like one long string of doctor appointments and medical tests. I find out that I am “with child” and all of a sudden our lives change forever… and the baby is not even here yet!
 
I tell the husband and he is calm, collected and somewhat…apathetic? It hasn’t hit him yet. I am actually still waiting until it does. Some people say it strikes most at the moment when he first holds the newborn, others say it happens during labour (if he doesn’t faint or gag first). I know he is going to be a fabulous father but to be honest, I am worried.
 
We argued over the colour of the nursery furniture, the paint colour of the room, the type of stroller to purchase as well as the darn baby swing. We still argue about the potential names for our currently androgynous baby. We seem to agree that there will be many more of these disagreements and how do parents do it? How can you possibly be a united front when you are divided within? I hope the baby doesn’t pick up on our disagreements and decide to play us against each other; as in bawl when one parent wants to sing it to sleep just to get out of bedtime!
 
Here is the thing…my anxieties are mounting and the cumulative stress from the past 35 weeks is culminating into one big ball of hazardous and toxic ball. I am unable to sleep for fear that I will end up on my back and plug up the aorta and asphyxiate my unborn baby! Then there are the dreams of dropping the baby or having my water break at the grocery store- ewwwww. I also have the weirdest dreams of my husband cheating on me with one of my skinnier friends and images of my life-long struggle with obesity. Why? Why can’t I just close my eyes and sleep? Can’t I just ignore the what ifs and go with it?
 
Yeah. Tried that but to no end. There is a method to the madness and a rational explanation for this according to Google (my information god). Apparently, this is Mother Nature’s way of preparing me for motherhood. Want to know what I think of that? Screw you Mother Nature… I highly disfavour you right now and I don’t care if there is going to be an eternal rain cloud hovering over my head for the next millennia…
 
So here is the other thing – I am consistently hungry. It’s like my stomach has been overtaken by an alien that also happens to maintain an astounding bottomless pit. I think about food constantly and I am asking myself “when is the next time to eat? What will I eat? Do I want to eat now? What is she eating? Is he eating what I think he is eating”- What the FREAKIN’ heck is going on here?
 
And when did I become a tight a$$? I find myself sneering and leering at individuals who spit, swear and smoke. I have an unexplainable sense of self- righteousness which frankly, used to piss me off when I saw it in other people. Who the heck am I to be looking down on people who have extra saliva, no manners and those who practice a vice in which I partook…
 
I want my body back. I can just hear my spinal column sing with pain “What the hell have you done- carrying all this weight’s no fun- please get this weight off of me- or you’ll have a herniated disc to be”… can anyone else hear that crack? Oh yeah, and why does no on tell you about the sciatic nerve when you happily announce your pregnancy? I can’t sit, I can’t stand, I can’t walk and I can’t move. It is the single most painful feeling in the world; a shooting pain from the tips of you little toes to the top of you pounding skull.OMG. I am told that the best I can do is take Tylenol extra strength… BUT I NEED MORPHINE… something… the pain, oh the pain.
 
So coming back to the lies and deception of others’ who have had children. How could you? When I come to you with a big stupidly naive smile telling you I am pregnant, you should appropriately react with sympathy, pity or in the least- fair warning. Why did you not inform me of the gross invasion that this spawn will cast on my poor, unknowing body? Why wouldn’t you tell me that with my disappearing waist, there will also be endless bouts of starvation, hormonal hurricanes and incessant gas (enough to blow up a city)? Why would you hide the immeasurable pain involved in simply bending over and trying to get back up? Or how the stairs become insurmountable after the 30th week of pregnancy? And let me ask you this, because maybe you will know- WHERE ON FREAKIN’ EARTH ARE MY ANKLES????? I lost them somewhere between the 5th and 6th month of gestation and I have been walking around with gross looking blobs as feet ever since. They actually make people flinch but I don’t feel pain- just shame. You let me down, a little. But thanks for repeating the one line that sheds an even slight hope on the situation: “It will all be worth it in the end”… I hope you’re right. I will thank you when the kid is graduating from med school!
 
Well… there are other reasons why I should be thankful I guess. Some people can’t conceive so I am fortunate to be given the opportunity, even though adoption seems like a pretty good option now for remaining 5 children I wanted! Also, there is the whole enjoyment of seeing people light up when they cast their eyes upon my bulging belly. I am usually perceived as a sign of hope because I carry a future citizen of our planet earth. Then there is the intriguing and often unpredictable belly rubs that I get in anticipation of a kick. I was uncomfortable with this at first but it brings such joy to people’s eyes that I cannot resist to smile and shut up. So what if some random 40-year-old-gentleman is rubbing my belly… I am pretty sure there is NOTHING sexual about it. I think…I hope.
 
Finally, I wanted to rant about one more thing. With the ever increasing use of technology in all its forms, humanity can now predict the weather, the next major world war and even the possible fluctuations of the stock market- but why can’t we figure out a way to predict the exact date of delivery for a baby? I was told that women gestate for 40 weeks- that’s 10 months and hey, I only signed up for 9!! Also, I was asked to start counting from the date of my last menstrual cycle… why? I was not pregnant then, believe me, I actually got my period! Also, I was told that the first ultrasound is the most accurate in informing us of how many weeks I am pregnant. I go for my first ultrasound thinking I am 5 weeks preggo and lo and behold- nope, I am 8 weeks already!!! What? That doesn’t make sense! My husband and I weren’t even in the same country at the perceived point of the alleged conception. Now forums, Google and my doctor are saying that the baby can come anytime after 35 weeks… so I have to literally pack a towel in my bag in case my water breaks (how embarrassing if it happens at work- which is why most sane pregnant women take an early mat leave- who wants to “gush” while at work???)
 
I am honestly scared. I don’t know if I can stretch far enough to accommodate the enormous, disproportionate and obese skull of my baby. I know it is natural and that women (some kids in other countries) do it all the time but my hole might be freakishly smaller and I might end up with 1000 stitches. I am exaggerating of course but no one has fears that are realistic. Partially, this is due to being a first time mom. Apparently, it is easier the second time around which can be a totally different experience… because wouldn’t you know it but every pregnancy for each woman is different. So you think you own it… you think you know it all… you think you can predict the feeling… then BAM- new complications and new experiences hit you. Wow… motherhood is charming, isn’t it?
SMartignani B. Ed and B.A Psychology

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