Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Life Unabridged: one month

Little miss Audrey is one month old today although, she still isn’t “due” for another two days. One month of baby snuggles, of sleep deprivation, of joy, of frustration, anticipation and worry. I forgot about the worry. When Ella was born, I swore the worry was grounds enough for not having another child. But then you watch them as they sleep, you hold them tight and brush their soft skin with yours, your heart swells and the worry seems like a small price to pay – not necessarily absent, but not as consequential. I must confess that I am not the type that falls in love at first sight. I never have been (ask Ben). For me, love, and by love, I mean the love that everyone talks about in the movies, creeps up on me. To begin, love is a choice. That choice is then acted upon until one day I realize how madly, deeply in love I really am. That happened about a week ago with Audrey.

Life with Audrey, is like molasses through an hour glass. Few days have agendas. Sleep, feed, burb, change, repeat. And while I savour these moments I have with Audrey – to hold her for hours on end whilst binge watching Friends and Departures, life has taken on a different rhythm in our house as we adjust to being a family of 5.

Ben has stepped up to the plate like an all-star and works from dawn to well after dusk making sure the house is up to my standards – washing dishes, vacuuming, tidying, doing laundry. You name it. All the while, he has his own responsibilities and stresses.

Jakob, while being infatuated with Audrey from the start, is still, I believe was unnerved from having a new baby around. Every night he has some complaint – his tummy hurts, he needs the light on, he can’t sleep, he wants to sleep in my bed…the list goes on. He complains that he is too busy and has too much to do, although, this is usually brought on by us asking him to do something that is on Ella’s chore chart like set the table. With the start of Spring Break, I assured him, he would have plenty of time to play. My boy definitely has a maximum capacity and once he has reached that, he benefits exponentially from time to decompress. We saw the same moodiness just before Christmas break. That being said, he loves to hold his baby sister. He wants to help as much as possible – burping her, giving her her pacifier, scaring the hiccups out of her. He loves her, I can see that.

Ella, obviously, as my youngest, is needing the most time to adjust. It took her a good week and a half but she eventually warmed up to Audrey. I think she just needed time to realize that Audrey did not cry all the time and she would still have her momma. The hard part about Ella is that she is unable to articulate, verbally how she feels but you can see it. Anyone close to her can see it. She doesn’t understand why I can’t lift her up or stop to give her cuddles at the drop of a hat like I used to. She asks for hugs often these days and we have seen this not only at home but at school as well. I know that it is a natural part of life and dare I say, most children have to face the adjustment of a younger sibling but I feel for her. We never know how much she really understands. Sometimes, she seems to understand so much more than we give her credit for and yet at other times, when we ask her a simple question, we cannot get a coherent answer. And yet, she is one of the most genuine people I know, and I know her love for Audrey is just that.

Are you still with me? There is so much to say, so many things I want to share, but this is just a snapshot of life unabridged as a family of 5. Life has revealed much, taught much, and tested much in this last month. These thoughts in due time however - you can't hold a baby and type at the same time.

Thank you to Kat, at Stone Photo for capturing the early days - basically, I am in LOVE with these photos...and it was love at first sight.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Audrey Hannah: A birth story (PG-13)

My pregnancy with my third was unlike the other two. Each pregnancy is unique as is each child but in terms of symptoms and complications my third was entirely different. From the very early days I was acutely aware of the life growing inside me. The way it made me nauseas, woke me in the wee hours of the morning and the way it took me totally and utterly off-guard.

At our 20-week ultrasound we were thrilled to find out that we would be having another little girl. We were also disappointed to find out that she would come via cesarean section due to complete placenta previa (in other words, the exit was blocked).

As pregnancy progressed we had a couple scares due to bleeding and I was restricted to modified bed rest. No exercise. No lifting.

Thankfully, my Mother-in-law came from Alberta to stay with us for the few weeks leading up to my scheduled operation. The week before was especially quiet. In the evenings I was trying to tie up loose ends on various projects. Tuesday evening was no different. Ben was at a choir rehearsal and Shelley and I got the kids ready for bed and settled. Earlier in the day, Ella had thrown up. My motherly instinct kicked in and I rushed her to the toilet. We hoped it was just due to exhaustion but around 9:00 pm, I heard her stir and went to her bed just as she began to vomit again. I quickly grabbed her and pulled her to the bucket beside her bed to avoid as much vomit on the bed as possible. As she threw up, I felt it come – a gush. I called out for Shelley to take over with Ella as I rushed to the bathroom. By the time that I had gotten to the toilet everything from the waist down was drenched in blood, or so it seemed. I told Shelley to call 9-1-1. Then I called a friend of mine who was on the “emergency list”. The paramedics were on their way. Don’t have her sit on the toilet, the 911 agent told Shelley . Right, so blood is streaming from my body and I am not to sit on the toilet. I called my mother and she coached me through as Shelley liaised with 911 whilst holding a vomiting child. Is she breathing? Is she conscious? Lay down, my mother told me. And where was I supposed to do that? I crawled into the bath, sat reclined and waited and shivered. The blood formed a stream to the drain. My mom said she would call Ben – I texted him anyway. The firemen were the first to arrive. I was shaking like crazy probably due to the fact that I had no pants on and was sitting in a cold tub. They took my vitals and tried to keep me calm while we waited for the paramedics by asking me the same questions I would answer a near hundred times by the end of the evening. Did we know what we were having? Was this one going to make it? How many other children did we have? Were they awake? Was Ella okay?

The first set of paramedics arrived and reviewed all the pertinent information: when did the bleeding start, did I have bleeding before, when was I due, did I feel light headed? And then the infant transport team: second verse same as the first. Still shaking uncontrollably but somewhat more sound in mind, they put me in one of Ella’s pull ups and a towel diaper and loaded me onto some sort of wheelchair because there was no way they were getting a stretcher into our teeny tiny Kitsilano apartment. They navigated me carefully through the living room, past the many emergency workers, my friend Christina (who made it to our place in record time) out the door and down the front steps. It was like a bad ride at Disney Land. As I looked up, I could see all the shadows watching intently from the second and third floors of the surrounding houses – I was happy to give them the show. From the chair I was loaded onto the stretcher and put into the ambulance - my first ride in an ambulance…hopefully, my last.  Before we could get going, they needed to put an IV in - never an easy feat with me for even the most experienced medical workers. Second try and we were off to BC Women’s hospital.

I continued to shake and worried about how the baby was doing. Would this affect her? Was she alright? Had I felt her move since all of this started? I don’t think so. The infant transport team was extremely encouraging however and assured me everything would be okay. Still no word from Ben.

As they rolled me in, I saw my mother waiting. Ben arrived shortly after I was settled into the “green room” as he calls it. They quickly put a fetal monitor on. Lub-dub lub-dub lub-dub – it was music to my ears. From there, I lost track of the who, what, where and when. Somewhere between 9:30 and 10:30 pm I sang the third, fourth and fifth verses to the nurses, the anesthesiologist, the resident OB and my actual OB, who just happened to be the OB on for the evening. Didn’t I just see you this morning? The bleeding continued. At home, I had lost roughly 1300 cc’s of blood. Change of plans: baby would not be born on Friday but tonight. But I didn’t bring my camera.

By around 11:00pm, I was prepped and ready to go. They wheeled me into the operating room and ushered Ben to where he could change into scrubs. The hospital has a policy that partners can only join the fun when mom is totally ready to go. (Apparently too many have fainted at the sight of the preparations). By now, I was close to tears. I am sure you think I’m strong but quite frankly, I am not. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it one bit. I would have much rather gone into labour and had a vaginal delivery. I know how to do that. I know how to keep control under those circumstances but in a operating room? Where I can’t see what is going on? Let alone have any understanding of it. I shook. The anesthesiologist went to work. First up, a second IV. They wanted two good points of entry just in case I needed a blood transfusion. Second try…and then rip. Did someone just trip over the cord? Third try. I needed Ben. I had a nurse, who was extremely kind and held my hand as they turned me on my side to clean my back and insert the freezing that would preempt the spinal anesthetic that would numb me from the bust down. The plan was that they would give me a spinal for the operation but rig me up for an epidural just in case things took longer than planned (which is a risk that comes with complete previa). 

All around me it seemed like chaos. I listened to one nurse spoke on the phone with a woman who had been sent home after a cesarean and was having issues, and to another nurse or OB that came in to explain that a woman, who had been pushing for four hours could wait no longer. Then everyone left and I felt alone. To be honest, I think there may have been a nurse in the room with me, but I couldn’t see anyone. I just laid on the table. Helpless. Shaking. After some time, a different anesthesiologist came in…and started all over. Needles with the freezing for the second time, and then the rest. Finally, Ben was able to come in. He sat near my head as my upper body convulsed uncontrollably. I don’t like this. I repeated over and over.

The surgical team went to work. I didn’t feel a thing except the jostling of the operating table. I kept telling Ben to talk to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my life. And yet, women have c-sections all the time. I laid there and thought about cuddling with Ella earlier in the day – it gave me comfort. At last, they called Ben and asked if he was ready to take a picture of her coming out. She was breech but soon emerged with a short small cry. February 10th , at 11:39 pm we welcomed Audrey Hannah Ewert into the world. I listened, watched and shook as they took her and cleaned off her small six pound frame. Ben cut the cord and they wrapped her up in blankets, then he brought her to meet her momma. She was perfect. I held her on my chest. She was here. She was safe. Time passed slowly as I listened to the OB and her resident discuss the in’s and out’s of my uterus. There was a problem area but they could always open me back up if needed…Because that is just what I wanted to hear.  I tried to focus on Audrey. It wouldn’t be long and then I could properly hold my little girl.

Despite her dramatic entrance, Audrey settled into life outside the womb gracefully. Born at only 35 weeks and 6 days, she had apgar scores of 9 and 9. She could breathe well, she ate well and was perfectly perfect in every way.

We are so incredibly thankful for Audrey. We feel truly blessed and are grateful for all of the encouragement, prayers and support that our community (in person and at a distance) has provided surrounding the arrival of our baby girl. Thank you.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Early days

I woke to the sound of her smacking her lips together, looking for her momma’s goodness. 6 am. I pull myself to sitting carefully, as by morning the pain meds have worn off and my tummy is tender. I turn on the lamp and go to her crib, which is tucked in a corner of our room. She doesn’t cry, she just smacks her small perfect lips to let me know it’s been three hours since her last meal. Jakob wakes and comes to snuggle at my feet while Audrey finishes eating. Ella follows shortly after. Both have their morning snuggles with their baby sister whilst I savour my morning coffee and each moment that passes. These are the early days. The days which are consumed only by breathing in newborn sweetness – the smell of her head, the softness of her skin, baby cries and cuddles…oh the cuddles.

Audrey is ten days old today. We have been home for a week.  It has flown by.
This much I know to be true – recovering from a c-section, (for my body), is a lot more difficult than recovering from a vaginal birth. The first couple of days in the hospital I wondered how I would make it through the next six weeks but with each day that passed the pain lessened and I began to feel more like myself. As for Audrey, she settled into life outside of the womb gracefully, charming everyone who laid eyes on her.

These are the early days. She has almost recovered to her birth weight as she eats well, that is, when she doesn’t fall asleep before she’s finished. Her small amount of jaundice has also subsided and, (knock on wood), she has maintained a pattern of night time feedings for which I am truly grateful. She wakes at midnight, 3 am and then at 6 am, sleeping in between. And while I know this could change at anytime, this routine has given me enough rest to be ready for the day by morning (with the help of some coffee). Rest, which is essential when you have two other littles to care for...especially now that the in-laws are gone. It's nothing short of a miracle that we got the kids to school on time today.

Audrey is a more petite feminine version of Jakob, when he was a newborn. She has dark hair, and while this could change, many say it is darker than the other two kids were. Her eyes remain the newborn slate blue.

She doesn’t fuss. 
As we round the corner into the two week mark, I am hoping she remains so easy going but again, as is always the case with newborns...you just never know...

Point of Interest:
The blanket in this picture was my baby blanket, it was then used by Ella and has been passed down to Audrey. 

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