Saturday, June 30, 2012

E turned 3! A Birthday Boy Questionnaire

In the midst of our move and welcoming our newest addition, E turned 3!

During the week of E's birthday, I worked away on a little questionnaire with him. I've seen a number of birthday interview ideas and thought this was an awesome tradition to start. My inspiration came rom this "21 questions to ask your kids" and this "20 Questions: Birthday Q & A Album". Since he is only three, it was a little tough to keep his interest at this "game", so I ended up asking a few questions each night.  Some went unanswered so I'll save them for next year.

Birthday Boy Questions - Three Years Old

3 years old

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite toy?
A baseball.

What is your favourite food?
Hang-ga-burrs with ketchup and mustard and relish and pickles and tomatoes and mayonaise.
* Hang-ga-burrs or better known as Hamburgers are his go-to and always need to me all-dressed. He also requested Shepherd's Pie for his birthday dinner which is another favourite and every morning it's Oat-ba-neal and blueberries!

What is your favourite animal?
A piggy and a horse and cows. And bears too. Oh and Mumble.
*Mumble is his stuffed penquin (from the movie Happy Feet).

What is your favourite song?
Happy Birthday.

What is your favourite thing to do outside?
Play games like soccer.

What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
My animals - my brown bear, my cow, my giraffe, white teddy and Mumble.

What is something that Mommy always says to you?

How old is Mommy?

How old is Daddy?

How does Mommy make you laugh?
Just because.

What's your favourite thing to do with Mommy?

What's your favourite thing to do with Daddy?
Play. Play games like baseball.

What makes Mommy happy?

What makes Daddy happy?
*I swear I had nothing to do with those last two answers - pretty sweet, right?

What does Mommy do at work?
Um, I dunno? Exercising?
*Ha! I work for a National Sport Organization, but sadly sit at my desk all day.

What does Daddy do at work?
*Ha! He's on the road alot!

I just love watching him grow!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Preparing myself for a home birth

I did my research on home births and felt this was the best choice for me.

I gathered up all the supplies I needed, including a birthing tub.

I made sure E was ready.

Now what?
Prepare for a no-fault birth...
If you confidently participate in all the decisions made during your labour and delivery - even those that were not in your birth plan - you are likely to look upon your birth with no blame and no regrets. ~ William and Martha Sears

Throughout my pregnancy I did a lot of reading. Some of it old, some new. Since I gave birth to E unmedicated and planned to do this again, I felt I needed to be more mentally prepared. An advantage during your first birth experience in my opinion is how naive you are. The advantage to a second birth is your experience because you know what to expect. However, this can also be a disadvantage. You need to be prepared to cope through the pain. I forgot the pain, but not how it made me feel. I knew I could do it, but I wanted to calm and prepare myself to make this birthing experience as easy on myself as possible. Preparing my body and mind for birth was one of the most important things on my to-do list.

I re-read some books that were a huge help in preparing for my first birth. These included HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, Birthing from Within by Pam England and Calm Birth by Robert Newman. It was amazing to me how much more they made sense to me after having experienced a birth. I was also able to pick up some new pointers on comfort measures that I had skimmed over the first time. HypnoBirthing has remained my ultimate favorite book on childbirth preparation. I believe in the philosophy behind it and although I did not practice it's technique to the very fullest - it was the most helpful and beneficial practice for me in both of my birthing experiences. I love it so much that I would love to teach it. I wish all pregnant woman could benefit from the deep meanings and technics of a hypnobirth.

Motivation is closely tied to your intent and your self-image. It is said that a woman births pretty much the same way that she lives life. ~ Marie Mongan

During my pregnancy with E I was really active, on purpose, to ensure that I stayed fit and healthy for both of us and to be physically prepared for birth. This time around, I was only active from chasing E around. I did however, learn about the benefits of the Tupler Technique from Susanne at Kangaroo Fitness which I believed helped my core strength and strengthened my pelvic muscles immensely.  I also took up prenatal yoga through Amanda at Little Lotus Yoga which I believe was a game-changer in this pregnancy.  It was my first time taking a yoga class and I'm sorry it took me so long in life to jump in. I felt stress free and relieved when leaving each class. I also loved yoga since it was so in line with the HypnoBirthing practice. I had absolutely no aches or pains throughout this pregnancy and felt in tip-top shape throughout thanks to these two programs. For good measure, the two weeks leading up to my due date I received a couple prenatal massages at Anna Belanger and Associates.

I felt mentally and physcially prepared for this birth. Now it was time to kick up my feet and relax.

Download photo.JPG (358.0 KB)
Ready when you are, baby!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Breastfeeding with experience

I read this article about breastfeeding the second time around when I was pregnant with R. The list of tips really jumped out at me. My first breastfeeding experience with E taught me so much and there were a lot of lessons learned. I am also not only experienced this time but a heck of a lot more educated and I've even recently received my certificate as a trained Ottawa Breastfeeding Buddy.

WOW! pretty much sums up my experience this time. R has been an amazing nurser since he latched on for the first time and he hasn't looked back. I can not believe how much of a difference and how much more enjoyable these first few weeks have been. With E I had cracked and sore nipples from a poor latch and he had very little weight gain in the first few weeks. These issues led to low supply which I had to build back up again and it made him a weak, sleepy eater. I think a lot of things factored into my issues with nursing for the first time including:
  • Looking at the clock too much. I was too concerned with timing his feedings rather than following his cues. Everything I read about breastfeeding mentioned that magic three hour window. Ignore that number or any number!
  • This ties into the first point, but because of sore nipples I would subconsciously seek out other reasons for his crying rather than putting E to the breast first and foremost. Looking at the clock and telling myself , "But he just ate an hour ago!" was just an excuse for not having to deal with the pain. I remember telling my SIL this little lesson learned after I discovered it and she later told me it was one of the best pieces of breastfeeding advice. When they squirm, root or cry - put them on the boob!
  • Immediately after E was born I had little skin-to-skin time with him and it took too long to initiate breastfeeding in the hospital. I've written about this and other lessons learned from my first birth experience. Silly hospital protocol!  Sure he looked super cute all bundle up, but little did I know I was being booby trapped!
 Some of the reasons why I believe nursing started off much easier this time:
  • I haven't noticed the clock once. R has been fed on demand from the beginning.
  • I gave birth at home in a calm environment and I had immediate and plenty of skin-to-skin time with him from the start.
  • Breastfeeding was initiated within the first 15-30 minutes.
  • I am much more confident.
  • My milk came in much quicker (1 1/2 days rather than 3)
  • And I actually know what I good latch is supposed to feel like :)
Accessories like the nursing cover and pillow haven't been touched. Nursing in public has been a breeze due to my new comfort level. R weighed 8lbs at birth and this week, at 3 1/2 weeks old, he weighed in at 10lbs and 4.5oz. Is it not a mother's dream to see that scale rise in the first few weeks? While E's weight was a constant stress for me in the beginning, I  am currently jumping for joy. That's almost a pound a week! Mama's milk does the body good!

Milk drunk :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Big Brother Blues

Big brother in charge indeed!

I think we did a pretty good job preparing E for what he would experience during the birth and telling him all about a new baby. What we FAILED in (and I'm not sure it is even possible to WIN at this) was preparing him for the lack of routine and split attention he would get when the baby arrived.

We had planned for E to stay in day care for the baby's first week to give me time to rest, recover from the birth, establish breastfeeding and get into some kind of groove with the new baby. Thankfully, our timeline worked out beautifully. Hubby went back to work after three days (yes only three days home, and yes it was a blessing to have him home for three whole days when you factor in his otherwise hectic and demanding work schedule) and I enjoyed some nice long naps during the day and even some running around town with baby R (day five in the house was my breaking point so off to the mall I went!)

When everyone asked how E was adjusting I replied that he was doing fabulous BUT and I made sure to say BUT, he was still in day care and the fun was only to begin the following week.

And fun it has been.

On the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of my new life as a SAHM of two I thought that E had actually come down with something. Oddly enough, he didn't have a fever? WEIRD. His whining, clingingness, screaming and cry-baby behaviour continued into Thursday and Friday. This was typical fever behaviour but no fever. SO WEIRD! Then it hit us. This is what everyone warned us about. The Big Brother Blues!

Don't get me wrong, E has been amazing with R. He asks to hold him and kiss him and tells him it will be okay when he cries. I never doubted that he would be a great big brother. However, not having my full attention has been hard on him and not having a routine is absolutely crushing him. A friend recommended some great tips to help him through this rough patch including more eye contact, physical contact and focused attention. I'm trying to be aware of these things and I find that it has helped a lot.

But. BUT.

It has been a rough couple weeks. Well into the second week I did see a bit if a turn around. A bit. That turn around came with a lot of work on my part in trying to get some normal back into his life. We've had trying afternoons especially since E is currently refusing his naps and bedtime has been a chore. Jiggling, rocking, nursing a baby while reading bedtime stories isn't the easiest task!

What I'm struggling with is how to start my days off on the right foot. I'm finding it nearly impossible to get out of the house before 10am and before we know it it's lunch time. Nap time has always been 1-3pm but he is just not tired enough yet at this time lately because our mornings are so blah. Mornings filled with TV (not proud of the amount he has been watching lately), puzzles, games are just not wearing this dude out and he is getting bored, antsy, annoyed with the lack of stimulation. I can tell by his constant questions. What are you making mommy? Where are we doing today, Mommy? What are we doing now, Mommy? I'm surprised he hasn't started begging me to take him back to day care yet.
I know it will come and the three of us with get into a groove soon, but man, I thought I would be the one with the blues during these early weeks! There is just no time for that!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Books to help prepare your toddler for birth and a new baby

Weeks before my due date I started loading up books to keep E busy (and me sane from not reading the same thing over and over again). Many of these books were focused on our impending new arrival.  I was really happy with the selection I found at the Ottawa Public Library. Here are some of the books we borrowed that I would recommend for your toddler.
Welcome With Love
Welcome With Love by Jenni Overend

Welcome With Love is the only home birth book I could find.  I love the pictures and how the story is written from one of the children's (the youngest in the family) points of view. It shows pictures of the Father supporting the Mother which I loved and refer to a midwife which was perfect for our plans. And I love how at the end of the story the family all curl up together by the fire place - similar to how our very own story happened! If you are planning a home birth this is a beautiful book.

Hello Baby!
Hello Baby! by Lizzy Rockwell

My Mom's Having a Baby!: A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy
My Mom's Having a Baby! by Dori Hillestad Butler

Hello Baby! and My Mom's Having a Baby! were really cute and great for E's age (3). They explain the stages of pregnancy and show pictures of the baby developing in Mother's belly. They were slightly confusing for E because the stories are based on the Mother's visiting the Doctor/OB and going to the hospital to give birth but they would be perfect for others in this situation ( I just changed the wording).
Baby on the Way (Sears Children's Library)
Baby on the Way by William and Martha Sears
What Baby Needs (Sears Children's Library)
What Baby Needs by William and Martha Sears
I had no idea that William and Martha Sears wrote children books too! These are awesome books to help teach children about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  They sparked a lot of questions from E, including questions about the umbilical cord and breast milk. I loved watching the wheels turn in his head as I flipped each page. Awesome books! Highly recommend!

Alligator Baby
Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch
There were a few other books that I returned that weren't age appropriate. I also picked up some books that were just for fun, like Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch. One book that looked awesome that I found online and wasn't available at the library was a book called, We're Having a Homebirth by Kelly Mochel. It has great reviews and is featured in one of the home birth videos I loved and watched the most, titled Born at Home. If you get a chance to order that book, I bet it is awesome!

E and I are big readers. We love going to the library and I love to pick up books on topics that currently interest him. It was only natural for us to read up on birth and baby before the event and I really believe it helped him understand, prepare for and picture it all. Now, if they only wrote a picture book for Mommy and Daddy to prepare us for the adjustment period our toddler would have to not being our one and only anymore, we would be set! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Preparing our home for a birth

I'm still getting caught up here with all the planning that went into Rohan's birth...

One of the first lists I put together after deciding I was going to stay home was a list of supplies that I needed to give birth comfortably.  I say comfortably, because to give birth naturally there aren't many things you really NEED, right?

I asked my midwives and we put together the following list of items that they wanted me to have onsite:

5 large old towels
5 receiving blankets
2 baby hats
2 large garbage bags
plastic drop sheets (to protect the floor, bed, couches)
hydrogen peroxide (for any stains)
peri bottle (for post-partum care)
hot water bottle or heating pad (for baby or a comfort measure for me)
blue chux pads (I also picked up some puppy pads from the Dollar store which are the same thing and much cheaper)

Then there was the list of extra items I wanted to have and also needed for post-partum. This list also includes items that friends kindly suggested when I posted the question on my blog Facebook page.

birthing water tub
rescue remedy (calming labour aid)
arnica (post-partum care)
calming essential oils (lavender, frankincense and myrrh were suggested)
yoga mat and stability ball
sanitary pads
nursing pads
witch hazel (for hemorrhoids)
epsom salts (for sore muscles)
post-partum bath herbs
food (for me and for my birth support team)

The biggest thing on the list was a birthing tub since I had decided that a water birth was the most appealing to me. I originally had my mind set on picking up a tub from a mother in the area that was loaning hers out for cheap. It was a large Rubbermaid tub, that looked like a horse trough. How awesome would that have been? I think I was more excited just to tell my farmer father.  But it required pick-up and drop-off and did not come with any of the added equipment, including a disposable liner which meant it would have required cleaning. As I got closer to my due date, the stress of having to order all the extra pieces and borrow a truck to pick it up was just not worth it. So I decided to cancel that tub and my midwife pointed me to another mother who has a side business of renting out an eco-inflatable tub. I was thankful to find her, especially since she charged nearly half the price of all others I researched in Ottawa, and because everything was included.  Simple as that.
When she dropped it off we were able to give it a test run so we felt prepared for the big day. The only extra piece I picked up was a longer hose since the one provided could not attach to the funky taps we had on our main level and we had to attach it to the tap in our laundry room in the basement. It all worked out because we needed a hose for our new backyard anyways :)

Testing out the tub! (38 1/2 weeks)
So far we had made the decision to have a home birth and gathered all the supplies needed. Next up was preparing myself, my family and my support team. Stay tuned for these notes and Rohan's full birth story to follow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why would I want to give birth at home?

Birth. Every Home Should Have One Greeting Card
Photo Source

Somewhere around mid-pregnancy I decided to start planning for a home birth.  Until this point, it was an option I discussed with my midwives and something to be decided upon once we moved.  Because we didn't know where we were going to live, I didn't want to make any final decisions until we had our new home.  Our house search and move was stressful and at times I joked with friends that I may need to switch my plans to a "cardboard box birth". I was not convinced everything including our timing was going to work. Thankfully, it did and we moved into our home on March 31st, just short of two months before baby was due to arrive.

So why would I want to give birth at home? I've answered this question a million times now and there are a few contributing factors that went into my decision. Besides reading the FACTS ABOUT HOME BIRTH IN ONTARIO, I had personal reasons too.

A quick labour
When my midwives and I initially discussed the option of a home birth, the topic of a quick labour came up. Because my first labour and delivery with E was quick (about 6 hours of active labour), they were convinced that my second labour would be half that.  This excited me, but I tried not to get my hopes up. Anticipating a quick labour, it made more sense to plan to stay home rather than quickly packing for the hospital. I may not make it there in time anyways! (wishful thinking)

The perfect candidate
I had absolutely no complications throughout my pregnancy. My blood pressure, baby's heart rate and all other tests turned up steady and perfect at each appointment. The most of my worries was a urinary tract infection that was treated quickly and a yeast infection later in my pregnancy. Otherwise, I felt great. Even more so than my first pregnancy. I feel fortunate for my health and that pregnancy agrees with me, but I'm also proud of the many life choices that I make on a daily basis that ultimately make me the perfect candidate.

A natural birth plan
Having gone through labour once before in the hospital and not needing pain medications, there was no doubt in my mind that I couldn't birth naturally again.  It made no sense to me, being completely healthy and not needing pain medications, to go to a hospital. I also loved the idea of sleeping in my own bed and not having to deal with the hospital protocols and time lines that I was forced in to the first time.  I could have still had my midwife at the hospital, but in the end staying home was more appealing. I could also argue that a home birth was safer for me than a hospital birth.  Check out the stats from this post titled, "Home births safer than hospital births for low risk pregnancies", by PhD in Parenting. 

Once I made the decision there was only one person I needed on board - Hubby, my birthing partner and "rock". I needed him on my side, otherwise I was not confident I could do this on my own. Initially he thought I was downright crazy.  For weeks I continuously brought up the subject, until he realized this was the real deal and I was actually serious.  He signed up and we sealed the deal but he admitted that he was scared. More scared than being in the hospital? No. He was just not looking forward to seeing me go through pain again. He didn't doubt my plans for a second natural birth and I agreed to continue educating him through my reading and research to help ease his mind. And it did.

I was not concerned about others acceptance.  My family was supportive, although my Dad was slightly concerned about having "trained professionals" on site. Yes, pops, midwives are actually the experts in natural child birth - not doctors! We didn't really tell many of Hubby's family because the explanation and negativity was not something I wanted to concern my time with.  And my friends were all awesome, even if some of them called me a crazy hippie!

The next steps? To start gathering supplies, mentally prepare and to prepare for a possible hospital transfer.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Introducing our newest addition!

On top of all the big changes happening in my life with our move and preparing for our second child and having computer issues on top of that, I have completely neglected my writing in the last two months. That doesn't mean I am lacking material. I have posts drafted on my phone, on the computer and on little notes in my purse and scrap pieces of paper around the house.  I hope to have some time now to finally type them out. So many memories have been made in the last two months they simply can not go without journalling or being told.  And writing makes me happy. I miss it.

So without further ado...I would like to introduce our new baby boy, Rohan.

Hours old - asleep in our bed.
Born on May 26, 2012, a day before his estimated due date, at 5:05am, Rohan came into this world just like I dreamed.  Although, a little quicker than I imagined - it was perfect!  A quick labour and fast delivery. So quick that the midwives just got here in the nick of time. It all happened at home - a natural water birth just like I hoped for. I feel so blessed.  I will soon write out my birth story while it is still so fresh in my mind. For now, you can see it in pictures, taken by the very talented Danielle Lynn Photography, my birth photographer! I also want to write out my journey towards a home birth and the planning that went into it.  What a ride!

Our family of four - 1 day old.

My midwife told me that evening when she returned to check on us, that I laboured and birthed so well and asked how many more children we were planning on having. At that moment, immediately after the birth, I laughed and told her to ask me at a later date. Hubby also laughed because he is convinced that two is our limit. Would you think I was crazy that not quite two weeks later, I am already thinking I could go for a third? If I could have a birth like this again - I would take it! I'm crazy, right?

Maybe it's because Rohan is such a easy baby (so far). Nursing like a champ, gaining a lot of weight and sleeping well.  Maybe it's because of all the support I have had. Or maybe it's because I am a confident, calm, cool and collect second time Mom. Whatever the reason, this time around has been SO much easier.

Brothers :)

Big brother, Elijah, is doing well. He is gentle and asks to hold his baby brother often. E had one week left of day care when R was born so that gave me a great transition into balancing the mother of two act. This week E started off extra clingy and whiny so I thought he was coming down with a bug. Turns out as we are ending the week now and nothing has changed, it seems he has caught nothing more than the big brother blues bug! I'm sure I'll have much more to write about on this topic ;)

Here we go!