crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Birth Story

I know it's been a while, but I guess that's what happens with a new baby around.

Riccardo and I welcomed Avery Rae into the world on 26th Decemeber, 2010!

I thought I'd share my birth story, even if it's only for my own memory's sake. It's probably not suitable for the squeamish, so there's your warning.

Avery came into the world in a rather dramatic manner. On Thursday (6 days overdue) I attended my 'postdate' appointment at the hospital, where my induction was booked for the following Tuesday. My blood pressure was quite high, so they checked it twice more and confirmed that it was a concern. I also had to report that the baby was moving around less than usual, which was troubling. So the doctor asked me to have my midwife check my BP again on Friday.

My midwife came to my house Friday morning and on first check, found my BP even higher than Thursday! After 10 minutes we checked it again and it was nearly down to normal, but since it had been so erratic, she called Triage at the hospital and I was told to come in for monitoring, where they hook baby and me up to monitors to track our BPs over time.

So early Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve, I became an inpatient in Triage and the monitoring revealed that our BPs were ok, but that baby was not moving as much as she should. Induction was then rescheduled for immediately, so I wasn't discharged - good thing we brought the hospital bags just in case! This was kind of funny, because in true British fashion, the doctor didn't tell me that I had to stay, outright. So Riccardo was getting ready to take me home, thinking we still had a choice until the doctor was forced to say, explicitly, that I wasn't going anywhere.

Induction involved putting a pessary (like a mini, drugged tampon) onto my cervix. This proved a nightmare because every time I went to the loo it fell out! I had to have it re-done 5 times over the next 24hrs. Not to mention that it's very painful to have put in! I really don't understand the logic here: the pessary is a tiny piece of cardboard attached to a big fat string; as soon as the string gets waterlogged, it pulls out the cardboard. Duh!

Friday night Riccardo went home and I had mild contractions that stopped by morning. Finally, by about mid-day Saturday my contractions were beginning to get regular, but my cervix remained only about 1cm dilated (same as the previous Monday, when I'd seen the midwife for my membrane sweep). Things moved fairly slowly, but by Saturday evening my contractions were regular enough that Riki was allowed to stay with me. The goal of the pessary was to open my cervix enough that my water could be manually broken, which should have started off full labour, but they say is quite a painful procedure. Luckily, around 1am that night, my water broke on its own! That was very strange because it was like an actual lake coming out - so much liquid in there! After this, the contractions came thick and fast and were very painful but my cervix refused to open. Because I'd already been awake for about 36 hours with a long way to go, I was given Pethadine, a morphine-derived miracle drug that allowed me to sleep a little (dulled down the pain and knocked me out, so I felt the contractions, but could usually sleep through). What a fun Christmas!

Sunday morning my contractions were excruciating. By this point, I was topping the waitlist to go down to delivery, so off we went. I don't know how women stand those things unaided! You are heroes! So despite earlier reservations, I decided to have an epidural, which didn't work properly the first time and had to be re-done, but didn't hurt at all to be put in. Actually, it was truly lucky that I decided to have an epidural because by late Sunday morning there were big concerns about baby's lack of movement, which resulted in internal scratch blood tests of baby's scalp tissue. This was horrendous, and involved inserting and tons of shifting around of a huge metal funnel (at this point my cervix was still only about 3 cms!) And I'm sure the 5 times the doctor did it would have been the death of me if I hadn't been numb. Plus, they only partially numb you here, so I could still feel my legs and wasn't totally useless. The epidural was great; I SO recommend it!

Induction-wise, I was supposed to receive an IV drip of a drug to really get my contractions going and my cervix to open, but my body took over by mid-afternoon and I progressed from 3cm to 8 in about 2 hrs. Unfortunately, through all this, baby was hardly moving, which had the doctors very worried. Babies are supposed to go through 20 min intervals of wakefulness and sleep, but Ava wasn't very awake, though at this point her BP was fine.

By about 4:30 I was fully dilated and ready to go. For some unknown reason only then did the doctor decide to put me on the above mentioned drip and this seemed to really stressed baby out: her BP went WAY up. The doctor then hastily informed me that despite my good progress and readiness to go, natural delivery was pretty much out the window: I was brought directly to the surgery suite where I got 2 tries to push out baby naturally, another 2 tries to push her out with the aid of a suction cap on her head and then an immediate, emergency caesarean-section was performed. All of this took no more than 8 minutes! So Avery came out through section safe and sound and they spent another 40 mins stitching me up - happily there's no damage to my girl bits since baby couldn't come through the birth canal. Surprise, surprise: she was too big and there wasn't time to force it. Again, it was lucky that I'd chosen the epidural because it only needed to be topped up for the c-section, meaning I didn't need to be knocked out and things could happen very quickly! The only downside was for the final hour or so the epidural gave me the severe shakes, which was rather off-putting. I also threw up several times right before going into surgery because I was dehydrated (only allowed a little water the whole day in case I ended up needing a section). The c-section and stitching didn't hurt one bit.

Unfortunately both Ava and I came down with fevers right after delivery and we were put on IV antibiotics. Our temperatures came down quickly, but because there's a chance that Avery picked up an infection of some sort, we had to stay in the hospital for five days (they usually discharge 6 hours after delivery, all being well). I cannot say how excrutiating it is to stay in a ward with three other women and their squalling children; thankfully, on day three the midwives took pity on us and gave us a private room.

As for my recovery, Iwas a little sore for the first couple weeks, but they kept me well drugged. My scar isn't too noticeable, and other than a very small infection which required another course of antibiotics, has healed really well. It took some time to get my strength up, but I feel absolutely fine now, and given the choice, I think I would opt for a C-section for baby number two.

Overall, we are all fine. Ava is so so so cute and cuddly. She already has a full head of dark curly hair! Riccardo and I are already totally besotted with her and cannot believe she's ours and we get to keep her. We've never been happier! :D


    • At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Danica said…

      Oh my goodness, what an ordeal. I've been waiting to hear all about it. Can't wait to see some pictures! Hope you are all doing well and that this develops into a really good season of life for you.

    • At 8:29 PM, Blogger TheRevolutionary said…

      :D congratulations. Its sounds like you had A LOT of scary moments. I remember when my aunt was delivering, and she had a problem w/ her blood pressure, which caused her to have anxiety attacks, I think. And she almost bit through her tongue! :P, but she was alright in the end, and so was the baby! So right now I have one of the happiest 2 year old nephews in the world :). Congrats again!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

For Future Reference

40 weeks today. Such a milestone, yet so anti-climactic. No baby to speak of yet.

I'm not sure how I'm feeling about the situation. I mean, really I don't have a lot of choice either way, but I still have mixed feelings about Baby coming now or later.

The Thursday before last my ultrasound scan indicated that Baby is a bit of a piglet at 10lbs and growing. Not too keen on labouring that, but I'm getting constant reassurance that it's all about positioning, rather than size. Right. I'm sure in this case, size really doesn't matter. Uh-huh. Whatever, Baby is coming regardless. I am still thinking the sooner the better. So far I can conclusively say that baths, scrubbing the floor on all fours, bouncing on a yoga ball, walking and keeping active, climbing up 4 - 6 flights of stairs and curry have not done the trick. I'm currently waiting on the midwife to show up to do a 'sweep', the first, non-chemical stage of induction. We'll see. Have to schedule in some sex as well. Ha. In the end, as everyone and their dog reiterates, Baby will come when it's ready.

So why the mixed feelings? Well, looking back, I've really enjoyed being pregnant. Of course there's the added attention, which this girl obviously revels in! But there have also been a range of other benefits: better skin, better hair, cute maternity clothes, flutters and wallops in the belly, shopping, decorating, ultrasound scans (of which I've had 8!)... For my own future reference, it wasn't as bad as they make out. Even now, I'm increasingly uncomfortable and still having trouble sleeping, but I do love my expansive baby bump.

On the downside, and again, for my own future reference, there have been hard parts. Morning sickness wasn't that bad, but not being able to brush my teeth without gagging for four months was trying. Also the bleeding gums, not painful, but gross. The worst thing during the mid-section of the pregnancy was the pelvic girdle pain: excrutiating. It is still there, but either I've grown used to it or my other discomforts have masked it, because I'm not noticing it as much. Later in the pregnancy, as I've whined about, sleeping became an issue. Now my turning over at night is an on-going point of contention in our bed: the process usually takes at least five minutes and requires a break mid-way to summon up the energy to continue. I've had slight issues with itchy palms and feet, but thankfully not with swelling or rashes. I've had the usual boughts of 'women's issues' in the nether regions, but nothing out of the ordinary. Overall, I think I've been very lucky.

What's more, Riccardo said something very cute the other day. He said, 'If this whole pregnancy thing wasn't so uncomfortable for you, I would have you pregnant all the time, because I think you're even more beautiful than usual!' Aw - gotta love him!

So it's bittersweet, this imminent end and imminent beginning. I want to deliver a healthy baby, naturally and without lasting damage to either of us, and I honestly cannot wait to meet the little nipper and cuddle it, and bathe it, and dress it, and feed it and play with it, and, and, and... But I know that I'll also miss this very special stage in my life, this condition that I will get to experience for such a short time overall. Riccardo and I agree that making a child of our own is a blooming miracle, but also, pregnancy in itself is an amazing and precious time.

That said, KNOCK, KNOCK! Time to come out now, Baby!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

38 Weeks

I've been well taken care of over the past couple weeks: Ashley's been here from Canada! While Riccardo was in Germany, we had some great girly time, and she's stayed on an extra week to visit London! I really hope she loves London as much as I do!
So what have we been up to? Well, we went for Afternoon Tea in Stratford-upon-Avon; bought truckloads of chocolate at Cadbury World; shopped in the Bullring and on New Street; got into the festive spirit at the Frankfurt Christmas Market; and enjoyed a traditional Sunday roast lunch at a lovely country pub. All this in addition to never-ending laundry (have to wash all the baby stuff I've bought!) and preparations of food for the Christmas season. This year I've scaled back slightly, despite knowing we're still going to have a very full house! We've made wontons, filo triangles, greek rice pies and chocolate chip cookies. I have yet to do the sugar cookies and macaroons. And people think I'm sitting around with my feet up during this maternity leave! Ha!

In other news, my parents and sister, Kelsey, are currently sunning in the Mayan Riviera. So jealous! They seem to really be enjoying themselves; they're currently at an ocean-side villa with private pool. Because it's in the middle of nowhere, it's actually quite affordable. Definitely something I'd consider doing on a future holiday! (None of those in the horizon, however!)

Baby is still baking nicely and seems to have no intention of making it's debut any time soon. Now that Riccardo has safely returned from Germany, I'm amping up my physical activities: more walking, more cleaning, more stair-climbing. At 38 weeks, as long as it's done in moderation, there's no harm... especially when baby is currently sized at about 41 weeks! OMG! Otherwise, I'm feeling healthy and energetic still. Back to the hospital for ultrasound scan #8 and other check-ups on Thursday.

Riccardo and I recently finished the antenatal course we signed up for in our area. It was quite expensive, but really worth it on two levels: obviously the 15 hours were full of information - in some cases, Riccardo thought, a little too much information! But also, we got to meet eight other couples in the same situation as us. Of course they are all expecting a baby within a month of us, but also, they are all around our age, from our local area and at least semi-professional. It's been a great way to meet people. Tomorrow I'm meeting u
p for a second post-course luncheon with the ladies, and on Thursday evening Riccardo will meet with the guys for drinks. I'm just so pleased about this!

When we took Ashley out for the roast lunch last weekend, we enlisted her photography skills. Since the location is so picturesque, we asked her to take some preggers pics of us together, so that's what you can see here. I'm 38 weeks in these photos - what a beach ball! xx


    • At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Danica said…

      Look how beautiful you are!
      Glad to hear everything is going so well. Merry Christmas! (Why don't you e-mail me your address and I'll send a card in the mail.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

34 Weeks

Okay, new preggers pics at 34 weeks. Apologies for the horrible hair, again - we always seem to take these as we're running out the door!

Riccardo, who refuses to believe that Baby could be a girl, insisted on taking the back shot. Apparently if a woman carries wholly in front, it's a boy; if she carries all round the middle (thus, you can tell she's pregnant from behind), it's a girl. He says Baby's all up front.

Just over 5 weeks to go: what do you think?


    • At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Danica said…

      Well, you certainly don't look pregnant from the back, but I don't necessarily believe that means anything. Look at that beautiful belly! Almost there....

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Not Sleeping

About six weeks to go until Baby arrives! Overall, I feel remarkably good. I mean, there's still that pelvic thing, but I expected an 8-months-preggers belly to be more uncomfortable. Sleep, however, is becoming an issue. It doesn't come. It's currently 1:30 am.

I've got all the pillows. Riccardo has a vendetta against one such pillow; the culprit, Mr Cuddles, takes up most of the bed. Riccardo sometimes talks in his sleep. One night, he woke me up saying, 'You tell that Mr Cuddles if he comes over here, I'm gonna kick his ass!' At which point, I started giggling uncontrollably and informed my sleeping husband that Mr Cuddles was indeed a pillow, and as such, doesn't have an ass! We had a good chuckle over that one when I reminded him of the altercation in the morning.

Anyhow, Mr Cuddles or no Mr Cuddles, sleeping is not happening. Might be because I'm up 8 times per night to pee; might be that I can't get comfortable; might be that I don't do enough during the day to tire myself out; might be that I just can't turn off. Whatever it is, it keeps me up. Guess I'm getting prepared for the sleepless nights to come once Baby is here.

Speaking of Baby: we had another ultrasound scan on Thursday. Baby is BIG: already weighing in around 5 lbs, 4 oz! That's what it should be around 35 weeks, not 32.5! Yikers! No, Mom, it's not just a chubby baby; that weight is based on head-circumpherence, too. And yes, I've been checked for gestational diabetes! Plus, I'm still 10 lbs UNDER my pre-preggers weight, even with Baby on board! We're now hoping more than ever that Baby arrives a little bit early!

In other news: Riccardo's 2-week trip to India is cancelled. Yay! I can't get over how relieved I am about this. Also, I have a new Blackberry, which I'm loving. Such fun, despite having to endure more horrible British customer service to get it. We were meant to have a Hallowe'en party again this year, but Riccardo came home from Brussels super ill, so we cancelled it. This turned out to be a good thing because I hadn't had time to sort out our costumes! Riki and carved pumpkins anyway - Riccardo's is the traditional Jack O'Lantern, but can you guess what mine is? Finally, the in-laws arrive this Friday! Very excited!



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maternity Leaving

Yesterday was my last official day of work. Yay!

I could probably have worked further into my pregnancy, but since it's best for me to return from maternity leave (if I return) next September, I had some time to play with. It's also easier to change-over to a new teacher during a break, and today marks the start of half-term break. Plus, it'll be a relief to not HAVE to do things, like sleep. I found myself not sleeping often over the past few weeks, then I'd get stressed about not sleeping because I knew I had to get up and give 'er for a full day the next morning. Then I'd not sleep even more. It's a vicious cycle. But now, no pressure. Ahhhh...

That said, as is usually the case going into a holiday, I have a pile of marking and catching-up to do over the next week. I want to ensure all the loose ends are taken care of for my replacement, including moving out of my old desk in the office. And of course, I feel responsible to give my best to the kids even until the bitter end. Ah, the kids. I love teaching.

I had one class I found a particular challenge this year, and for the most part, I will not be missing them. Certain individuals especially. Another of my classes was trying at times because they were such a low-ability group: I'd have to remind them every lesson just to write the date on their exercise books; and if they brought in a pen it was a miracle, let alone their homework! But they are not as flagrantly irritating as the above-mentioned group - I'm not even going to go into details there. Nonetheless, these were two out of my seven groups this year, so that's pretty lucky.

Then there were my good groups, my lovely groups. My 27 year sevens got OMGSOEXCITED when I played the radio during 'independent' writing times; they also LOVED when I read to them, and I loved reading to them. Setting homework was an adventure with this group because some were bound to come back with amazing, creative and over-the-top results! Year sevens still know how to think outside the box.

I was daunted when I learned I'd have a group of 30 year tens at the beginning of the year, and even more daunted when I learned their projected grades were entirely A and A* (no pressure!), but they have been by far my favourite group this year. They at once took words, ideas and lessons out of my mouth because they grasped things so quickly, and ensured I was always on my toes with planning and subject-knowledge. But they seem to have gotten the impression, however, that I am an expert in everything and were constantly engrossed in my every word - great for me and my attention-seeking nature! Yesterday, upon saying our goodbyes, one boy who has recently been fitted with a sling from a basketball accident asked me to sign his sling. This sparked about a dozen others to seek my 'autograph' on their personal copies of the text we are studying. I laughed, reminded them that I'm not a celebrity, and promptly signed away! Hilarious. I'm going to miss being astounded every day by their enthusiasm to learn and do well. We did paired research presentations on themes surrounding Shelley's 'Frankenstein', for example, and one group created an on-screen 'interview' with animated Eskimos during their talk-show version of the task, presenting Arctic exploration in the last 1700 - early 1800s. Their little animations actually responded to the questions they asked them, live, during a segment lasting at least 4-5 minutes! How do you not give that an A?

So when I second-guess my return to teaching almost a year from now, I'll have to read this post and remind myself that amidst all the bureaucracy and administration, amidst the 55-hour+ work weeks and the nerve-grating discipline issues, there are good reasons to return to teaching. At least 30 of them.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

I am a mountain, you are the sea...

I'm pretty sure the writers of Biffy Clyro's (awesome band!) hit, Many of Horror, did not intend these lyrics to be taken literally; however, it is true: I am a mountain. And just like a mountain, I grow a little every day.

I love my bump. I love dressing it up in the new maternity clothes I got to buy for it. I love having a rub now and again (okay, it's really more constant than that). I love feeling Grape have a wiggle or a jab, and because I'm obviously going to be that sort of mom, giving a little jab back.

At this stage, pregnancy is pretty cool. There are currently no new negative symptoms, and I'm somewhat used to the old, on-going ones. Though I get tired easily, and have plenty of aches and pains, the extra attention and getting treated like a princess definitely make up for it (Thanks, honey!)

And right now I'm looking forward to two really cool things: the first, of course, is Grape's official debut in around 2 months. The second is maternity leave... just 5 more get-ups and 20 more lessons to go!

What's actually been going on then, besides the heightening of Mount Grape? Well, I placed my order for the baby furniture. We'd bought some in a local baby-store chain, but then decided it was too expensive and cancelled the order; this new set we found online and is virtually the same for 300 quid less. My parents-in-law are coming over for 10 days in November to help us paint the nursery and put the furniture together. The bedding has arrived, too, so after their visit we'll be ready to rock. ha.

As Riccardo has to be in Germany for work at the end of November, beginning of December, my lovely friend Ashley has agreed to come over from Canada to babysit (er, entertain?) me in his absence. This is also a safety precaution in case I go into labour! - hope not! I am sooooo excited for her visit, and hope I am up for all the bits and bobs I'm already planning.

Riccardo and I are attending baby courses at our hospital. They are excellent - probably because we're so uneducated in this whole thing. Last time we got a tour of the delivery ward and the birthing centre. I will likely have to have the baby in the delivery ward (the hospital part) rather than the birthing centre because of my thyroid condition. This is crap: the delivery ward is old, stuff, stinky, impersonal and lacking in privacy. Conversely, the birthing centre (which is midwife-lead) is like a bloody hotel. Grrrr. I'm going to ask my doctor if I can start out in the birthing centre, since my pregnancy has gone to smoothly. I mean, it's only down the corridor from the delivery ward if there were any issues. Which there won't be. Definitely not.

The pictures are me at 26 and 30 weeks, respectively. I'm now 31 weeks. Yay!


    • At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Danica said…

      You look as cute as can be. You should definitely push the birthing centre issue. I'm sure you can get your way if you make enough fuss. It sounds so much better, and you'll be in good hands with a trained midwife.

    • At 4:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      WOW! You look wonderful and you are glowing! I am so very happy for you and Riccardo. I am glad that everything is going two will be the best parents to the little grape;-) Miss you and love you


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