Saturday, July 25, 2009

Go Give Beth Some Love

Dr. Beth, my best girlfriend and frequent commenter around these parts, is taking part in today's Vancouver blogathon for charity. She has to post every half hour around the clock, and she cannot have any posts in the can! She's crazy!

Beth is a witty and intelligent writer; you'll find her posts interesting and informative. Plus, many of the people in her life (Dave and myself included) will be doing guest posts, based on the theme Dave suggested: "Stuff Books Taught Me".

You'll find her blog over at: . Go on over and cheer her on!

Friday, July 24, 2009

MY six month anniversary

Today marks an anniversary for me; it's been 6 months of expressing, since months since dehydration day. It's hard to believe that I made it to my goal.

When it became clear that breastfeeding wouldn't work (stupid, stupid tongue tie!), we faced a tough decision -- did I keep pumping, or did we switch to formula. It was a question that we had to revisit several times, especially early on with the repeated bouts of thrush and mastitis. But I was adamant -- I wanted to make it to six months. He was GOING to have breast milk for six months. And he has.

I could not have done it without support - Dave and my parents in particular. On the days when I felt so awful that it hurt to pick up the baby, I was so fortunate to have you there. I am sure that you occasionally thought I was crazy to continue, but you respected my dogged determination. Now we've got a freezer full of milk and a kid who's thriving!

What's next (with respect to this)? I am not 100% certain. I'm down to 4 times a day (still getting a litre or so) and it isn't a trial any longer. At 4 months, I thought "Can I get to 8?", then recoiled in horror, thinking of how difficult the first few months had been; could I go the same amount of time all over again? Now, staring down the second half of the year, it seems doable. We've vacationed while doing it, and it's just so freaking convenient to make the food even if you have to store it in the fridge and pour it into bottles. My tentative plan is to get through our trip in late September/early October and then we'll see. At that point, he'll be nearly 9 months old (!!!). But I'd like to go as long as possible, to give him the best possible nutrition I can.

He's doing so well, by the way. He's weighing in at nearly 18 lbs (not monstrous -- lately, I've met two kids within a few weeks of Teddy who weigh over 21 lbs!) and solidly in the 60th percentile. He's such a good-natured kid and a joy to be around (see photographic evidence, once again taken by Becky). I'm so happy that I've been able to give him this. And I'm so very proud of myself for persevering, for toughing this out!

Monday, July 20, 2009

6 Months

This is going to be short, since Auntie Leanne is in town tonight for a visit.

Six months ago today, Teddy was born. Happy "...and a half" birthday, baby! You got a cool gift from Aunt Beth, and you're growing like a weed. You love to babble "babababa bobobo" and "mmmmmummumu", you're so smiley and you laugh at the most random things. We love you to pieces.

Photo credit - my friend Becky, whose adorable daughter Mandy may just become Teddy's first girlfriend! We have photos of them spontaneously holding hands!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Dear Aunt Flo,

Today would have been your 51st birthday. Not that you looked 51 -- you looked at least a decade younger. You share this birthday with Hunter S. Thompson and Margaret Laurence; you'd have liked that, with your ecclectic book collection that's now ensconced in our house. You also share it with Kristen Bell. My Veronica Mars loving heart likes that fact. You'd have loved that show, too.

I had planned to write a big, stirring tribute to you so that I could post it today, but I got derailed due to the stress over the past week or so. Maybe that's a good thing. I can write this letter more honestly and do a tribute later.

Last year, on your 50th, we were in Atlanta visiting friends. I felt a wee bit bad missing it, but I felt guiltier for NOT feeling worse. You didn't know it was your birthday, and that just made it harder. You'd always planned to do something amazing for your 50th (like go to Africa) and it was so difficult to see you unable to live out your dream.

Having a loved one with severe cognitive impairment is so strange. You're never sure how much the loved one is understanding, what they are thinking, how much they're suffering or what they're really enjoying. I always wondered how Dave's Mom handled her father's decline from Alzheimer's, but through your illness I realized that the only thing to worry about is your loved one's comfort and happiness. And you hold off thinking about 'what might have been' because it hurts too much.

It's not fair that you were struck down at 47. You'd done everything right in terms of a healthy lifestyle and it didn't matter a whit. The last three years, with you in palliative care, were a challenge. I saw glimmers of the old you, and that made me miss you all the more.

Oddly - this birthday is almost easier. I miss you so much; not a day goes by when I don't think about you, your love and your generosity. But this year, I don't feel guilty mourning your loss. While you were still sick, it felt disloyal to think about how I missed you; you were still there. Now, I can openly delight in the memories I have of you, your first 47 years and some moments of wonder during the difficult final 3.

Happy birthday, Aunt Flo. Though I am not giving you a personalized "Precious Moments Figurine" or dressing up like a clown to deliver balloons (what? I was a kid!), I'd like to think you'd like this letter, this candour, even more.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Can I get a do-over week?

This week has sucked around these parts.

It started with the death, visitation and funeral of a friend. There's craziness at my work, despite the fact that I'm on mat. leave, which will make the rest of my maternity leave more stressful. Wednesday, Teddy had his 6 month vaccinations which went well at the time, but have lead to brutal amounts of discomfort since (this, added to teething). And on Wednesday, I started feeling AWFUL. I really thought I had mastitis again, with the flu-like symptoms and fever, but this time it was accompanied by a sore throat and swollen glands.

Last night, I checked my throat (which I usually do as soon as I feel ill; why didn't I do it sooner?). A MESS. When my temperature hit nearly 103 F with fever suppressants, I suspected strep. That was confirmed this morning. Hooray for my immune system kicking in and for antibiotics.

So.tired. Have a first birthday party and a baby shower (which I am co-hosting) tomorrow.

All that to say - I haven't yet finished my tribute to my Aunt Flo which I'd hoped to post tomorrow. It, along with the Greg tribute, will be forthcoming.

However - despite the blah, we have still had many awesome moments. One in particular was Teddy trying pieces of plum tonight. It was hilarious. I'll have to make Dave put up the videos of his eating adventures. PRICELESS.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A warning - depressing posts ahead.

So. The past week has been crappy. I am still processing it, and some of that is going to come out here. I need to write about Greg, reflecting on the good times so I can share the post with Jen and go back to it to remember him in the future. I REFUSE to have my most vivid memories of him be tied to the horrible open coffin, to me sobbing as they played the Stereophonics at his funeral.

I've lost loved ones before. Suicide has touched my life before. But not like this and never this close.

I am going to apologize in advance for the tone of the posts this week - one for Greg and one for my Aunt Flo (who would have been 51 on the 18th). I will post baby pictures again at some point, but I've lost these two loved ones recently and I need to pay them their due.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Prayers and good thoughts, please

I'm posting a quick note with a request for prayers and good thoughts. One of my dear friends - Jen - lost her husband Greg yesterday. He took his own life; he had just turned 31. Needless to say, we are all reeling. We were also very close to Greg and it's just such a shock.

If you could spare any prayers or thoughts over the difficult days ahead, we would greatly appreciate it. We'll be heading back to the Toronto area as soon as we have visitation and funeral details.

Greg was an awesome guy; I can't believe he's gone. Jen is a rock - she's been one of my closest friends for years - and I am feel so incredibly impotent that I can't do more...or anything, right now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teddy's Birth Story - Part 3

If you're curious: Part 1, Part 2

It's freezing cold and the air is crisp as we head to the hospital. I should note that getting my boots and shoes on was a total fiasco, what with contractions, water retention and my massive belly. I manage to get into the front seat and steel myself for an ugly car ride.

And ugly it is. With Dave driving and the doulas in their cars, I'm dealing with the contractions alone and it's not fun. In addition, I am feeling immense downward pressure while seated, and I'm effectively...ahem...'one-cheeking' it through each contraction. Happily, the hospital is only 7 km from our house. Dave drops me at the entrance and where Shannon and Zoia are already waiting for me. I insist on walking to the L&D ward, up a huge flight of stairs. I have to stop several times for contractions, which Shannon talks me through. Our progress is so slow that Dave manages to catch up with us after parking the car and hauling in all our stuff. At 6 a.m. exactly, we get to the L&D triage, where Ann is waiting.

Ann gets me settled on the same bed I was on several hours before. She's alone, which is unusual, as her student Erin is almost always with her. I discover later that, thinking this would be a consult regarding painkillers, Ann hadn't called Erin allowing Erin to sleep longer. She hooks me up to a monitor to check out my contractions and goes to check paperwork.

The contractions are just as intense as before, but still 6 or 7 minutes apart. Zoia talks me through them, and I can hear the monitor registering them. This is the only time I'll be on the monitor, actually. After about 15 minutes of monitoring (which seems like about 5 minutes), Ann comes with the doppler to monitor the baby's heart rate. This is where things get interesting.

The baby had been left occiput anterior for weeks, so Ann places the doppler on my left hand side, at hip level. Zoia and Shannon exchange significant glances as Ann shifts the doppler all the way to my middle and down way past my bikini line. Then, Ann asks if I'd like to be checked. I really need to know where I stand (not having picked up on the glance between the doulas) so I whole-heartedly agree.

So - Ann begins the check. I brace myself, expecting to hear "2 cm" and the subsequent discussion of interventions. Ann makes a surprised face and lets out an excited puff of air. "Wow!" she exclaims. "Sarah, you're at least 7.5 cm and 100% effaced.AND - there's still an amniotic sac around the baby's head; he's not even resting on your cervix yet!" I am absolutely gobsmacked. Ann checks again during a contraction; I have a bit of an anterior lip, but everywhere else I am at 8 cm.

"Ann," I keep saying, "I cannot believe this. Seriously, this is like a dream. I can't believe that I'm this far along."

"Believe it!" Ann exclaims. "We can admit you, break that amniotic sac and you can head into the tub."

And that's just what we do. I head into the room in which I'll spend the next 24 hours, and get into a gown. I hop on the bed, Ann breaks out the amnio hook and breaks the remaining membrane. In the meantime, Zoia is running hot water into the tub. Once it's ready, I hop in. It's about 6:30 a.m.

While in the tub, the contractions get more intense but they're much more manageable. The doulas suggest that we put on relaxing music; Dave and I had programmed a classical playlist on his ipod for just such a time. EXCEPT - he hits 'random' and EVERY song, it seems, starts with screeching violins which bounce off the tile walls. The doulas take pity on me and bust out their CD of 'spa sounds', which must be soothing because I really don't remember it.

In order to cope with the contractions, Shannon talks me through. She suggests getting a onesie so that I can 'focus on the baby' but as awful as this sounds, it's the last thing I want. I need to focus on Shannon's face and on breathing, as I realize that there's no way around the pain but through.

It's hospital policy that bloodwork get taken once a labouring woman is admitted. Unfortunately, this means that I have to have blood drawn while in transition. Ann tries three times to get a good vein but nothing doing. She brings in a nurse (whose name is either Julie or Nathalie); she hits a vein and draws several vials. I have two contractions during this time...what a treat!

During this time in the tub, I only have two contractions on top of each other. As the time goes on and the water gets cooler, I start having an OVERWHELMING urge to push. I insist on getting out of the tub, because I cannot stand to be lying down. Shannon and Zoia caution me that I can't push until Ann checks me, but Ann says that since my cervix is so ripe I can do a few test pushes. I sit down on the toilet and try. After three, I head to the bed for a check.

Ann comments on how calm I am during checks; they aren't fun, but they aren't all that bad. According to her, I am nearly 10 cm dialated; I have an anterior lip where I'm only 9.5. She suggests that I lie on both my left and right sides for 3 contractions each with no pushing. This proves INCREDIBLY difficult, but I get through. Ann checks again - the lip is nearly gone and she suggests I push through it while she holds it back. As much as that sucks, it only takes three pushes and I am cleared to actually start pushing in earnest. It's just after 8 a.m.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dispatch from Vermont

I'm writing this from our hotel in Rutland, Vermont -- we finally got the wifi working for Dave's computer. We're here for a few days of R&R. Teddy is taking his morning nap so I thought I'd try to post.

We left on Wednesday morning (once again missing Canada Day in Ottawa) and drove through a very quiet Montreal. We crossed into NY at Lacolle (the border officer liked Teddy's passport photo) and met up with my parents in Plattsburgh at Friendly's, our usual stop. We had lunch, picked up booze and stopped into a K-mart (like a fool, I'd forgotten the bag with the baby wipes) and headed off. We crossed into Vermont at the south end of Lake Champlain and got to Rutland by 3. Woot!

I love Vermont; it is my favourite state. It's so idyllic and charming with the rolling green mountains, the beautiful homes, the yummy food and drink, and the friendly New Englanders. It also has decent shopping! My parents and I camped here when I was tiny (it's so close to Montreal) but we hadn't been in 25 years until we moved to Ottawa. Now we come at least once a year! Dave really likes it, too. Especially since his guilty pleasure fast food joint - Taco Bell - opened 400 feet from the hotel at which we stay!

We have shopped up a storm; apparently we like to stimulate the US economy, too. But the deals - holy cow! Dave desperately needed clothes (other than one visit to the GAP in April, he'd bought no clothes in over a year) and I wanted to pick up gifts for the many babies in/about to enter our lives. The outlets at Manchester (plus the stores here in Rutland) did not disappoint. Crazy deals - like an Ann Taylor tweed skirt that was normally $88 which I got for $3.58. And children's clothes at the GAP and Carter's for 80% to 90% off usual prices. Dave got some crazy bargains, too. All in all, we've done well!

Yesterday, I added another state to my overall total, now sitting at 34. We drove east along US Route 4, passing Killington and Woodstock and the Quechee Gorge to White River Junction VT. We drove north for 5 miles and crossed into adorable Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth as well as authors Janet Evanovich, Jodi Picoult and (for a time) Bill Bryson. We parked and wandered the downtown and the campus, having lunch at a restaurant frequented by both parents and students. I felt OLD; the students are now a decade younger than me! The town is lovely, as is the campus. We shopped a bit (Dave got amazing deals at the GAP; I got some books including one signed by Bill Bryson). Then, we headed down to Lebanon to shop a bit as NH has no sales tax. Vermont has none on clothes and shoes, but NH has none at all. I have to admit - Lebanon wasn't so great. We did hit our third K-mart (one in each of NY, VT and NH; we're all class) b/c my Dad was looking for a GPS which is on sale, but there werenone in stock. We bid farewell to NH and headed back to Vermont, stopping at the Long Trail Brewery pub for dinner and a pint before heading back to Rutland.

Today, the 4th, we are taking it easy. We were thinking of going to Calvin Coolidge's birthplace in Plymouth Notch (the most amazing spot; it's a little hamlet that is architecturally identical to how it was in 1920. HIGHLY recommended) but it's also Silent Cal's birthday so it'll be a zoo. Re-visiting the site will have to wait for our next trip! We thought about visiting Killington but there's a triathlon on today. So, we're going to stick around Rutland. We're going to take Teddy swimming (his first time in a pool) and we'll putter around. Maybe we'll see some fireworks? This trip has been great and it's a nice break for Dave who is heading into a BRUTAL month at work.

Teddy has been an absolute doll this whole trip. He's been hauled all over the place, but he is just such a happy kid that he's been fine. Lots of naps in the car seat, lots of new things to look at. He's such a sweet little boy; he's been charming passers-by the whole time.

I've hogged Dave's computer long enough. Off to celebrate Indepedence Day (the day that also indirectly led to the founding of my fair nation). I hope that you're all staying out of trouble!