On Leave.

What I am about to say is not going to be popular.  It might not resonate or sound reasonable to some of you.  And some of you will probably dismiss this post as bad mommy judgement.  But as this is my blog, here goes:

I miss work.

No, I mean I REALLY miss work.  And I want to return to it – in a very real, “how can I make this happen” type of way.

I started maternity leave in early March, a month before baby boy was due.  As most of you might know, here in Canada we get the reap the year-long combined maternity/parental leave benefits.  And as some of you might know, I am co-owner of the company I work for.  A year off is not really in the cards for me, as I will need to return before that to help my partner run the company. 

I am slated to return full time in early 2009.  But, but, but….that just seems so far away.  I can’t wait that long.  Aside from the very real demands that our company has, it’s also a personal need.   A need to step inside my professional life again.  But how can I feel this way so soon after his birth?  I am so very conflicted.

I love my boy.  I love his smile and how he tries to talk to me. I love holding his chubby little hands in mine and watching him watch me.  He is a delight and I cherish these moments we have together.  I know, from seeing my big five year girl leap her way towards six years old, that this time is fleeting.  That someday soon I will turn around and think HOW did this baby become a toddler?

I also love my work.  I love the strategy and conversation involved in my line of work.  I love developing new ideas with my partner about the company and how we want it to work.  I love seeing our ideas come to life and  grow into something so satisfying.   It’s rare to love your job these days, and I appreciate my luck in this regard.

I have many friends who are sad to see their maternity leave end.  And I can understand that, I can.  My time off with Alice was different, as I was working for someone else at the time and just about to start this new venture that has now turned into a most valuable partnership.  This time around, I know how great it can be to have a balanced life of a satisfying job and quality time with my kids.  I know that it is possible to structure a week of working “outside” and “inside” the home (god I hate those terms).  And I know that I can still love and have a special relationship with my kids as much as anyone who chooses to stay home with their own.

i just don’t want to regret any decision i might make that could take me away from this beautiful baby. 

A conflicted heart, am I.

 

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Gratitude

It’s been 7 weeks now since baby boy bounced into our lives.  7 weeks of getting to know a new person.  7 weeks of realising we are now a family of 4.  7 weeks of trying to make our first born not feel left out.  And 7 weeks of – quite honestly – brutal recovery for me.  I can now see the other side of it, given that I am now able to sit without wincing, take a shower without crying, walk around the neighbourhood, give my 5 year old a bath again, and read a book while breastfeeding at the same time.  Important goals, people.

The VBAC was great.  The physical damage a giant baby did to my nether regions?  Not so great.  But I’m still here, and each day I return more and more to the land of the living.  And most importantly, I would not have made it without the most excellent support and nurturing I received in the past 7 weeks.  I am a lucky lucky girl to have these people in my life.  People like:

1.  Matt.  The VBAC experience was intense, exciting, horrifying, electrifying and heart-stopping emotional all at the same time.  And Matt was there the entire time, holding my hand and letting me be me.  Which is the best thing a partner can do, really – allow the birthing woman to be who she is and not feel badly about the fact that she has a yucky cold washcloth over her face, having a panic attack, and yelling at her midwife not to deny her an epidural all at the same time.  Even more important, though, was Matt’s presence these last few weeks.  He soldiered on beside me while I cried my way through a post partum infection, depression, and general pain.   He never made me feel weak or ridiculous when I needed to cry, and he made my home a place of comfort and safety.  This experience has bonded our relationship like nothing else, and I am in awe of his strength and giving nature.

2. My mom.  In the weeks right after Henry’s birth, my awesome mom came to my house, slept over, made meals, cleaned the house, did the laundry, brought me food when I couldn’t walk down the stairs, picked up my daughter at school, and generally took care of everything so I could focus on the baby.  She also took Henry in the middle of the night at times, so I could get a nap, and was there when my anxiety reared its ugly head.  She was, quite honestly, absolutely amazing.  I can’t thank her enough for helping my newly expanded family find its way.

3. The midwives.  I know I have waxed poetic here before about how great it is to have free access to midwives here in Ontario.   Their presence throughout the pregnancy and their helping hands at the birth itself was invaluable.  But it was their support in the post partum period where I really saw how lucky I was.  They came to my house, for example, when I was having symptoms of a post partum infection. And checked me out in my own bedroom.  They were available 24-7 by pager, and many times talked me through the recovery pain.  I had one memorable phone conversation with Kay in the bathroom at 11PM one night, as the infection didn’t seem to be going away.  I was tired and cranky, and sick of being incapable of living regular life.  As always, she talked me down and made me laugh.  And for those moments, I am so very very grateful.

4. My friends.  Whether it was bringing us food and treats, taking Alice for a playdate, or just plain commiserating on the phone with me, these amazing women got me through.  We were astounded by the support we received.  People were sweet and loving and just wanted to hold our baby and visit with us.  Not only my real-life friends, but my most favourite bloggy friends too.  The lovely group of Nadine, Marla, Ann, Jen, Dani, Andrea, and Andrea got me the most beautiful silver bracelet with Alice and Henry’s names engraved on it. And gifted me with it on Mother’s Day, a day when I was at a particular low point.  I wear it with pride, and will take a picture and post it here soon so the rest of you can adore it as well.

5. The rest of my family.  My sister, who took Alice to her house in the middle of the night when I was moaning in labour pain.  My brother and SIL who took Alice to the museum one day so I could get some much needed peace.  My other brother, who came to visit that first week and sat in my bedroom with me holding his new nephew.  My father, who cleaned up my garden and front yard while I was at the hospital giving birth.  So I would come home to a fresh-looking lawn and house.  How generous and supportive all of these people are.

6. and finally – my kids.  (Plural!)  Every day it gets a little easier to maneover life with 2, and I’m starting to be able to relax.  They are my greatest gifts, these two.  The feisty little girl whose tall leggy body takes up the length of the bathtub now.  The girl whose face lit up when she saw I was downstairs again after the first week of being stuck on the 2nd floor.  The lovely little spitfire girly who still wants to sit on my lap and rest her head against my own. 

And then there is him.  He who all these people gathered to meet and hold.  He who took his sweet time coming into this world, and then bore his giant body into the room.  The sweet little milky-breath boy, who gave me my first smile on Mother’s Day.  Whose shy smile breaks into a grin that quickly spreads across his entire face.  Whose beautiful newborn-ness had now made two of my friends spontaneously cry real tears in awe.   The one who has somehow carved out a new place in my heart I didn’t know existed.

For all of this, I am so grateful.  So very grateful.

 

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Henry’s birth story

Oh gawd what day is it?  Have I showered today? 

Yes yes, I know.  All you parents out there feel me and know what I mean.  But for the record:  my name is Kate, and I currently have a pedicure given to me by my five year old.

So before I forget and get all revisionist  (oh the birth was PERFECT and it DIDN’T HURT ONE BIT and I COULD DO THIS AGAIN!), let me get out Henry’s birth story while it is still (relatively) fresh in my mind.

I had been having early labour contractions for over a week before he finally made his appearance.  On Friday, April 11th at about midnight, they started full strength.  Matt and I had settled down for the night to watch a movie.  We had started out with Eastern Promises, but the dead baby image within the first 5 minutes had me clicking OFF on the remote faster than you can say fuck you, David Cronenberg.   So, we ended up watching the perfectly awful THE HEARTBREAK KID.  Really really bad, I must say.  At about midnight, the contractions started coming in at 40 seconds long, every 5 minutes.  And I mean every 5 minutes – we still have the sheet of paper Matt was using to time them.  After about an hour of that business, we called and woke the midwife who said we needed to wait until they were one minute long.  “It’s not active labour yet” she said.  Well, let me tell you otherwise.  When a woman is screaming in pain from the contractions that are only 20 seconds short of the official labour, there is definitely something “active” about that.  We called my mom and sister at about 2AM to come and get Alice before I started yelling in agony (instread of into my pillow).  They came, picked up the big sister, and we proceeded to continue on with labour. 

And so it went.  On.  And on.  And on into the next day, next night, and following morning.  My contractions continued to be 5 minutes apart for upwards of 32 hours.  There was no let-up,  and no sleep to be had.  They didn’t progress to longer than 40 seconds until into the 2nd evening.   The Saturday day and night passed in a haze.  I cocooned in my room with Matt, a heating pad, my supply of frozen grapes, and clammy hands and face.  By 7PM on the Saturday night, I was starting to panic that this stage would never end.  That I would be forever stuck in 40 second long land.  We called the midwife again and I begged for a new plan.  I needed to know something would happen, and that we had some plan in action.  So we decided to meet at the hospital (finally!) the next morning at 7:30AM if nothing else changed.  And at that point I would be checked out by the OB on call and discuss a possible C section.  After mon ths of planning for a VBAC, I was surprisingly OK with perhaps moving to a C section at that point.  I was exhausted and pissed off, and wanted an end to it all.

(Sidebar – the issue with VBACs is that there is a problem with administering oxytocin, which is given to many other women to induce labour.  That procedure is one of the possible links to uterine rupture, which occurs in a small amount of women who attempt a trial of labour after a C Section birth.  For this reason, we were trying to get my body to bring on active labour by itself.  Hence, the reason we were waiting at home until then.)

We left for the hospital the next morning, with me cursing over every bump we hit.  If I was in a better mindset, and not so pissed off at that point, I would have noticed how beautiful the day was.  It was Sunday, April 13th, at 7AM.  No traffic, and the weather had moved quickly from spring-like into summer. 

We arrived at the hospital, and my midwife – Kay – met us at the front doors.  I started chanting ” I want the epidural, give me that damn epidural” the moment I saw her.  We had wanted to go for a drug-free birth, but after about 33 hours of contractions by that point, I was over it.  I would have bent over for anyone had they offered to take my pain away.

Kay broke my water once we got into a room, and we were all surprised to find out that I was at 7 cm!  My god, all that work at home had paid off.  Suddenly, we were back on track for a VBAC, as I was so close.  Kay agreed that an epidural would be a good idea at that point, since I was exhausted and would need more energy in the coming hours.  I have to say, the epidural felt great once it got going.  I rode out transition on those drugs, and it ended up being the best situation for me.  A few hours later I was ready to push.

With Kay on one leg and Matt on the other, we started to push. And push.  And fucking push.  The baby’s head would appear, and then go back again. Over and over again.  After an hour of that, Kay warned me that the hospital staff was started to talk about a possible C Section again, given how long it was taking.  That was all I needed to hear. I started crying hysterically – how could we have gone this far and then go to a section?  With one mighty push, I pushed that head of out me.  That giant head. 

What I know now is that Henry’s head at 37 cm was much bigger than most.  The regular size is 33 or 34 cm.  Apparently once the OB saw the size of the head, she leaned over and said to Kay “get ready for stuck shoulders”  Good thing I didn’t know that, because Kay just said to me “Ok Kate, we need one more enormous push.”  And so I did.   I pushed with everything I had left from the last 10 months of carrying around a giant baby and he basically crawled out of me.  And then he was there!  In the world!  Our beautiful big baby boy, all gooey and pink and fleshy.  Everyone in the room cheered, Matt started crying, and all I could scream was “IS HE OUT OF ME??!” 

He weighed in at 9lbs, 14 ozs, born at 7:06PM.  The sun had started to set and so a beautiful light came into the room.  It was a perfect end to a long and painful labour.  But at that point, I did not care.  He was here and fed right away and looking up at me with the most clear face.   Kay and Matt high fived each other and I just gazed at our son and felt so very very happy it was all over.

Doing the VBAC gave me such a sense of accomplishment.  I see now how great it was that we stayed at home during those long hours labouring.  If we had gone into the hospital earlier, I would have probably had a section.  In fact, afterwards, the OB admitted to the midwife that had they known how large the baby was they probably would not have let me go for the VBAC.  Luckily, I had excellent midwives who put just enough pressure on me to stay the course at home.  

And now he’s here, our son.  Henry Paul.  We had decided on his first name a few months ago, and then gave him the second name of Paul after my dad.  It was the perfect compliment to his sister – Alice Jane.  Like an elderly couple walking down the street together, hand in hand.

So many other things to tell you.  Coming up next:  just how many stitches does a large baby give his mama?   Oh the fun to be had with those stories.  But that’s it for now.  Thank you all for your kind comments and emails.  We are so blessed to have the people who surround us with friendship and love.  We are still recovering and coping with life right now, but suffice to say we will be eternally grateful for the support.  It gets us through, it does.

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and then came Henry

After 41 hours of labour, 1 hour of pushing, and many many moments of “mother f$@*ker, get this kid outta me!”  the beautiful babe arrived April 13, 2008 at 7:06PM.  All 9lbs 14 oz of him.  Who said you couldn’t have a successful VBAC with a (close to) 10 lb baby?? 

 

Birth story to come. For the time being, I am a little bed bound while I heal my umm…wounds.  But suffice to say, I am so happy to have done the VBAC.  Now I get to enjoy my chilled out little boy, and start this new chapter in my life.  Whew!

 

 

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oh yes.

Did you come here thinking there was a baby out of the womb?  Because there isn’t.  He’s content to hang out inside my body and drive me to distraction.  He is getting a head start on that, I suppose.

But the good news is that the Black Cohosh and Evening Primrose Oil is doing the trick.  The midwife had a good ‘ole time up in my business on Monday and happily reported the remedies are doing the trick – the cervix, she is softening.   It wasn’t considered a full “stretch and sweep” because I wasn’t still fully dilated (gawd I love writing about my bits on the internet), but lordy lordy I felt the cramping instantly.  She was up there roaming around for almost 10 minutes, while I focused on breathing and pretending to ignore the little voice inside me that said “CRAP!  This is going to hurt much MUCH worse than this!”

I have another stretch and sweep scheduled for Friday morning, so we’ll see how much further I have progressed then.  Because it is a VBAC, I can’t be induced the hospital way (with oxytocin), as that is one of the risks for uterine rupture.  As well, after a week overdue things become a little more sketchy with a VBAC, and for that reason I have given my consent to go to c-section at that point.  So basically, if baby penis doesn’t want to make his way down and out before Sunday, we will move to having the c section on Monday.  Which, to be perfectly honest, I am OK with.  He’s already been in there 3 weeks longer than his sister, and the whole point of this VBAC trial for me was to let my body try and do its own thing. 

And so, we wait.   Everyone had prepared me for this crazy state of waiting you go through post due date, but really it is insanity-making.  I can see how easily it would be to become depressed during this period.  I’m trying to keep my spirits up, and sleep/read/eat a lot.  But there are moments where I start to get obsesssive about things like OHMYGOD have I not felt the baby move in 5 minutes?   Jesus lord I must drink a latte to wake him up.  And then sure enough, poor penis is jolted awake and made to move around by his freaking-out mama.  Just a shade of what is to come, my child. 

 

 

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not. favourable.

Well, due to some delays (apparently some other women had the nerve to go into labour yesterday AND today), my midwife wasn’t able to come over to check me until this afternoon.  (But I have to say – how awesome is it that she can come right to my house and check my cervix in my own home?  I will say again how grateful I am to be living in a place where this kind of care is not only available, but free!).  And after she stuck her fingers up my – ahem – lady parts, she told me what I had already guessed – the cervix, she ain’t open yet.  No dilation.  In technical terms – my cervix is not favourable.  (you can guess the fun I had with that one).   But to reassure me (because she is so sweet, after all), the midwife did say that it’s getting to a good point.  That it’s softening and ripening, and all of those odd words that make me think of fruit going bad on a windowsill somewhere.

So, now I’m taking my doses of Actaea Racemosa (Black Cohosh) and sticking the Evening Primrose Oil pills where the sun don’t shine, and waiting and waiting for my cervix to play along.  I see her again on Monday morning, where she’ll see if I have dilated so she can perform the actual stretch and sweep. 

Thanks for all of your good wishes and advice.  Glad to know I have some internets out there along for the ride with me.  Maybe you too would be interested in having my midwife come to your house and stick her gloved hand up your hoo-ha?  Or, you could always think of the stretch and sweep in a different light, the way Nadine did when she said to me “oh, there’s nothing to get anxious about.  You’re just going to get fi$(%ted by some woman.”

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still here

And no baby yet.

My official due date is this Saturday.  I just keep getting bigger and bigger and more impatient.  And yes, a little anxious about the birth itself.  But mostly impatient and wanting this part of the baby-making to be OVER already.

My midwife is coming over tomorrow to try a “stretch and sweep”, so will try to get things going.  Anybody else had this before?  I know it’s fairly common, but I just thought I would (of course) ask the internet its opinion on this procedure.  Because the internet never lets me down, you know.

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