Family Photos

When we were in Langley visiting Shawn’s family at the beginning of July, we got a “professional” photographer to do some family photos for us. Don’t worry, grammar nerds, I didn’t use those quotation marks for emphasis. I used them because I didn’t feel that the whole experience was all that professional. Granted, the photographer is just starting out, but if I was just entering my chosen field, I would want to put extra love and time into everything I did so my business would flourish. Shawn and I didn’t really feel that our experience was very pro.

The lady who did the session, owner of Louroo Photography, did the newborn photos for our niece, so Shawn’s mom thought she would be a good choice, and as she’s just starting out, the session fee wasn’t sky high. She was able to be flexible with two littles along for the ride, so that was nice, but for me, that’s where the good impressions ended.

The whole thing felt extremely rushed; I don’t think we were out for much more than an hour, if that, to photograph six adults and two babies. The time distribution between the three couples was also a little skewed, with us getting the short end of the stick. This was especially noticeable when we got the pictures back; not a single shot of just the two of us made it through. Apparently, they just weren’t good enough.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m getting pictures done and the photographer says something like, “Got it!” I assume they got a usable shot. If they say they got it and I find out later that they’re not happy with anything they took, that’s not likely to make me happy. When my mother in law asked what happened, she did say there was one that she felt okay about sending on, but so far we’ve seen nothing. That’s also not encouraging.

I could just be extremely spoiled when it comes to photographers and their work. Our wedding photographer, Kelly Redinger, was absolutely amazing. For example:

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This is not even one of the best shots. It’s not even one of the retouched shots. It’s just one of the many fabulous things that happened with a little bit of direction and his finger on the trigger. That’s one of the things I loved about him. He took pictures until he was sure he got exactly what he was looking for, no matter how long it took, and he gave us all of them, even the ones where we were blinking or making a funny face. That way, we had so much choice it was insane.

Then, there was the newborn photographer that we used, Kristen J Photography. She had the same kind of philosophy: it takes as long as it takes, and I’ll take as many shots as I need to get the best ones. (I mean, why not? It’s digital. Taking more photos doesn’t cost you any more. Sure, editing them does, but only edit the best ones.) For example:

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She was so patient with all of us, and was amazing at making us feel comfortable. For our session being the first meeting, this was a great skill to have. Also, trusting someone with your brand new baby isn’t easy, but I had no problems putting Finn in her capable hands.

The actual pictures we got from our family photo session were lacklustre. She has the general idea, but she needs to take way more shots to make sure she gets something that’s really great. That’s the joy of digital. More pictures does not equal more money required on the part of the photographer, unless they choose to edit them all, like I stated above. She also need to work a little on composition, but that could be my lack of love for overly staged shots coming through.

So, without further ado, these are the photos I didn’t hate:

I edited this one myself to correct a gap at the bust of my dress that was showing off my white bra. Not flattering.

I edited this one myself to correct a gap at the bust of my dress that was showing off my white bra. Not flattering.

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Edited

There were also some where the babies were on their tummies, but I guess Natalya ended up in focus and Finn was blurry. I don’t know how that happened or how she didn’t notice. Oh well. Adorable photo op wasted.

There are a few things I should probably make clear: I didn’t dislike these most of these photos because I didn’t get my hair and makeup done, or because they weren’t retouched. I had one photo with pro hair/makeup above, and one where I did everything myself, and neither of them were retouched. I just think this particular photographer has some work to do. Some of the shots were okay, like the ones posted above, but this is not someone I would consider going back to in the future without evidence of some serious improvement.

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Travelling and a Sigh of Relief

I mentioned the other day that we took a trip out to Langley to visit Shawn’s family. Both of us were really looking forward to it, but my anticipation was buried under a huge pile of anxiety. That’s right, I getting hugely anxious before I travel, and this time it seemed to be compounded with the added pressure of flying/travelling with Finn for the first time. I don’t know what it is. I love going places, especially places I’ve never been before, but in the weeks leading up to a trip my nerves go into overdrive. I start thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong, most of these usually having to do with my health, and I end up, for lack of a more appropriate phrase, tripping balls. This isn’t good for me or anyone around me, and ends up being a cycle that just repeats until I’m dreading the going more than I’m looking forward to the trip.

In the weeks leading up to this particular trip, my hemiplegic migraines decided to make a triumphant return. Hurray! One of the worst thing, for me, in dealing with a chronic illness, is to have a hurricane right when you could really use some calm waters. I didn’t want to pack my cane. I didn’t want to have to bring it to the airport. Not only that, but taking care of a baby when I can’t walk properly is HARD. Like everything else I do, I had to adapt the way I was doing things so I could use the left side of my body for almost everything. It was doable, but definitely not in the top five things I wanted to accomplish last month. Do I feel like a pro for being able to carry a 20+ pound baby and walk with a cane at the same time? Of course, but it’s a skill I could have done without. Add all of that to my normal travel anxiety, plus the anxiety I get when I think about my in-laws and my illness, and I was having a bad time. (Let me clarify that a little: my in-laws know about my illness and are fairly good with it. However, unless you live with something and deal with it every day, it’s just not something you are good at dealing with. It’s not a failing, it’s just the truth, and because they live in a different province, they haven’t had to deal with it on a large scale. I say, lucky for them.)

My normal, rational self was still looking forward to going, but the rest of me kept screaming, “Hell no! I want to stay here! Here is safe. I can sleep how I want, and be as borked as I need to be, and everything will be fine.” Obviously, my rational self won out. Finn is a pretty amazing baby. He doesn’t cry without a reason, and I wasn’t overly worried about him flying. Besides, babies cry on planes. It happens. If they don’t feel like nursing/eating/sucking, their ears might hurt and they might cry. Parents shouldn’t have to apologize for a baby being a baby. (For more on that, read The No-Bullsh*t Goody Bag for Parents to Give Out on Planes. It’s brilliant.) Luckily, he fell asleep during take off, had a decent nap, woke up, ate a little, and only fussed for a few minutes on the way down. It was great, and he did an excellent job of charming as many people on the flight as possible without our help.

I am fully willing to admit that we were not prepared for the ungodly heat waiting for us. When I checked the forecast before we left, it said 19-22 for the week. We were both looking forward to this, as it had been hot as hell at home, but when we got there, things had changed. It was close to the thirty degree mark the whole week, and so humid it felt hotter than it actually was. Being from Alberta, we both know how to deal with a windchill factor, but humidity that makes it feel hotter than it is? That is an utterly foreign concept. It was awful. We also live in a basement suite that is just over seven feet underground, so it stays a nice temperature at all times. We don’t have A/C, but we don’t really need it. Our house is cool and comfortable, and we can always turn on the circulating fans if we need an extra boost. Contrast this with my in-laws house, and we both felt like we were going to die. It was a sauna, and no amount of window opening or fan blowing seemed to be helping. This made the first night a little on the horrible side for all three of us. I couldn’t settle down to sleep with the heat, regardless of how tired I was, and Finn was up more than normal too.

This probably accounted for my extra irritability on Monday. Well, we were all a little more irritable than normal, but it still ended up being a good day. Shawn’s parents took us to Krause Berry Farms, which is a really neat place, and a great place to eat. I’m not big on berries and never have been, despite being exposed to fresh off the bush berries as a child,  but there were plenty of other things to do and eat. Have you ever had corn on a pizza? No? Well, it was freaking delicious. For more on that, check out my Yelp Review.

Checking out the little petting zoo at Krause Berry Farms. This goat freaked me out, but Finn seemed to like the animals.

Checking out the little petting zoo at Krause Berry Farms. This goat freaked me out, but Finn seemed to like the animals.

Monday night, we all slept in the basement, which was a vast improvement. Finn actually slept through the night, and we woke much refreshed for our day trip out to Whistler (with a stop at Shannon Falls) on Tuesday. I had never been to Whistler in the summer before, so this was a new thing for me. It’s awesome in the winter, so I was expecting no less from a summer visit. It was still stupidly hot, so thank god for air conditioning. I felt really bad for Finn having to be stuck in his hot ass car seat the whole time, but there was nothing else we could do. At least the drive was broken up a bit by the stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park, a place I had never been at all, so that was really nice. After convincing Finn that he should have something to eat, in spite of all the fun things and people there were to look at, we popped him in the carrier and headed off. It’s not a very large park, but it does have some lovely trails and a really great view.

Trucking across the river on Daddy's back.

Trucking across the river on Daddy’s back.

Enjoying the view whilst trying to eat his carrier straps like a pro.

Enjoying the view whilst trying to eat his carrier straps like a pro.

The actual, and totally stunning, falls.

The actual, and totally stunning, falls.

Finn and his Grams.

Finn and his Grams.

Shawn, in his typical fashion, didn’t shy from climbing everything he could, even if the baby happened to be on his back. Finn didn’t mind at all. We did take him out once we started back down the trail, but that was mostly to keep the two of them from over heating. They’re both furnaces, and Finn starts to get antsy if he’s in his carrier for too long anymore. He just can’t move as much as he’d like. Shawn and his dad took a climb up the lower part of the falls, and we even managed to stick Finn’s feet in the river. He loved it, right up until he realized that he was getting cold. After a stop at the Squamish Valley Golf Club (good food and fabulous views, see my Yelp review), we headed off to Whistler. The plan was to take a trip on the Peak to Peak gondola, which is a fairly recent installation. To get there, you have to take a gondola up Whistler itself, a ride that we were all quite familiar with. Finn slept for this part of the journey, which was good. He needed a little break.

Taking the ride to the top of Whistler. We were both melting, but luckily it only shows in my bangs.

Taking the ride to the top of Whistler. We were both melting, but luckily it only shows in my bangs.

At the top of Whistler, looking out at the snow and the blessedly cool air.

At the top of Whistler, looking out at the snow and the blessedly cool air.

Apparently, the temperature at the top of the mountain was only about sixteen celsius or so, but it felt like heaven. It it had been like that everywhere else, it would have been much more tolerable. Also, and I’m not going to speculate about where these people were from, but there were bears that had been sighted on the mountain within view of the gondola to the top. These people asked the lift operators if the bears were wild and what they did with them in the winter. We laughed about that for most of the ride up. I mean, seriously? Did they really think a mountain resort would keep bears around for fun? It’s still a wild place. There are going to be bears. Ha. The Peak to Peak gondola is pretty amazing. There are two types of cars: regular and glass floor. The wait for the glass floor was ridiculous, so we just grabbed a regular one. The view was spectacular all the same. 024 It was incredible riding an unsupported cable all the way across the valley. Finn woke up, and got to come out of his stroller to have a look around (after he was done eating one of our maps, of course).020 We’re not sure how aware he was of what was going on, but he did have a good laugh at his reflection in the glass. Regardless of whether he knew how high up he was or not, we got some great pictures of him, and I’m glad he got to do something so neat at such a young age. It reminded me a little of when my parents took me to Europe when I was his age, just on a smaller scale. He’s got Gondola pictures, I have “riding the train to the Alps” pictures.     029

Getting the lay of the land.

Getting the lay of the land.

We trucked around  bit on the other side before heading back to the Whistler end. Finn was starting to not want to be in the stroller any more, so we were taking turns holding him. They had a set of Olympic Rings and an old podium set up at the top Whistler, so we grabbed a shot of me with the “Number One Champion Gross Baby”. 036 One thing that Whistler is doing really well is not shoving the fact that they were part of hosting the Winter Olympics down your throat at every turn. They have it on signs on the way it, but it’s not kicking you in the face everywhere you look, and I think that’s a good thing. They were an extremely popular spot before the Olympics landed there, and they should stick with what they do best. I was very impressed with the way they do the downhill bike trails, and would love to go back for some lessons, as downhill mountain biking is something that I’ve never really done before, at least not on purpose. Another time, when Finn is old enough to join in the fun, we will have to go back for a day or two of biking and hiking. There is so much mountain space to cover, you really could make it a new adventure every day.

Wednesday, we took a much needed break before heading out to Hell’s Gate on Thursday. Now it was starting to feel like a gondola vacation! The Hell’s Gate Airtram is one of the longest descending gondolas in the world, so that’s pretty cool. It runs over an insanely deep part of the Fraser River, and we were there it was over 400 feet deep. They actually had to construct metal viaducts (they may be called something else, but that’s what they made me think of) so that the salmon could make it through that part of the river during salmon run season. 

006 (3)Apparently, the place is haunted, but not y anything malicious. There is a haunted stove near the gold panning site, and there are several documented cases of ghost sightings and paranormal activity. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything weird. Oh well.

Lunch was good, even though they made a mistake on my order and put the bacon in my poutine instead of on my burger. I will never say no to meat in my poutine. The salmon chowder, which is apparently world famous, was enjoyed by everyone who had it. I did not, as I can’t abide seafood or fish. What I have was good, though, and we all left happy.

They also have two gift shops (one at the top and one at the bottom), a candy store with some damn fine ice cream and some decent fudge, a fisheries interpretive centre, a little spot where you can pan for gold, and a suspension bridge that goes across the river and over some train tracks if you feel like taking a bit of a hike.

Sitting in a large, and very hot on the ass, chair. Finn was apparently trying to get my attention. I obviously didn't notice.

Sitting in a large, and very hot on the ass, chair. Finn was apparently trying to get my attention. I obviously didn’t notice.

Finn and his Daddy taking a look around on the suspension bridge.

Finn and his Daddy taking a look around on the suspension bridge.

After Hell’s Gate, we stopped off at Harrison to take a dip in the lake. Neither of the babies, Finn or his cousin Natalya, were overly excited about the cold water. Natalya was neutral about using Finn’s floaty, at best, and Finn wasn’t really happy until we just sat him in the shallows and let him splash around on his own. He did look wicked cute in his dragon bathing suit. My husband also looked wicked handsome, as always.

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Finn was fascinated by his cousin. Natalya was almost ten months old when we were there, and he kept looking at her like, “Hey, she’s like me. Why can’t I do some of that stuff?” She seemed to think he was rather interesting, too. I loved the fact that she was taller than him by several inches, but weighed practically nothing any time I picked her up. It was a nice change, and something that my arms greatly appreciated.

Natalya checking out Finn's toy tray, and Finn checking out her feet. He was all, "Those are not my feet. What?"

Natalya checking out Finn’s toy tray, and Finn checking out her feet. He was all, “Those are not my feet. What?”

Our last stop for that day was dinner at the absolutely stunning Pretty Estate Resort. Seriously, this place is divine. 044I kept picturing a Victorian or Steampunk wedding here (in full costume, of course, because full-on traditional weddings bore the pants off me for the most part). I’m still hoping someone will do it and post the photos to Off Beat Bride, just so I can drool over them.

The food was decent, although I left wishing I had ordered a bigger bowl of the chicken chowder. It was really good. The ribs I had were well cooked, but the flavour of the sauce didn’t stick. It vanished in the middle of each bite, so that was a bit of a bummer.

The babies were really well behaved, in spite of being tired and hungry. Finn was playing with Sophie the Giraffe, and Natalya decided this was a great toy. This came in handy the next day for family pictures. At least the decided that they could share:

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Also, here’s another picture of my spectacular husband, just because:

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He’s fabulous. How could I not love a guy like that? He’s just as awesome as he looks 🙂

Friday, we got up early to go and take family pictures at a local heritage site. The park was very pretty, with views of the river, lots of trees, and old buildings. The photographer doing to shoot also did Natalya’s newborn photos, and she’s fairly new on the photography scene. She was able to be flexible with timing because we obviously had little ones to deal with, so that was nice. I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail on the experience here, as I’m planning on doing a separate post to cover the photos and my thoughts on the whole process. When that will be is another thing. Blogging with a baby is quite the process.

Saturday, being our last day there, ended up being mostly just a day of sleep. The rest of the week was fairly full, and it was so damn hot and humid, that we were exhausted. This isn’t a complaint, by any means. It was a great week. I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with my in-laws. In spite of the face that Shawn and I have been together for just over four years, I really didn’t feel like I knew them overly well, and I don’t think they knew me, or us, either. This trip fixed that, and that’s where the sigh of relief comes from.

I really like both of Shawn’s parents, and getting to spend time with them, and have them spend time with us and with Finn, was great. I love watching people love my son. He’s such a little charmer. He loves to meet new people and spend time with people other than us, so it was great to give his other grandparents ample time to spend with him.

I also really appreciated the immense amount of effort that Shawn’s mom put in to making sure we had a good trip. She’s such a sweet and kindhearted person, and it shows. I feel that we have a better relationship (not that it was terrible before) after this trip, and that’s a great thing for me.

Reinforced may not be the right word to use here, but spending time with Caelin and Natalya reinforced the fact that Shawn and I have a real, live niece. It’s one of those facts that always floats around in the back of my head, the same way that I know Star Wars: Episode I was a huge disappointment, but seeing her several days in a row was really great. I loved how she was fascinated by my lipstick and kept trying to touch it. I didn’t even care if it smeared or not. She wanted to touch the red, she could touch the red. It’s not something she sees a lot of, so she was welcome to explore it, no matter how many tiny red fingerprints I ended up with on my face.

We even got to spend some time with our brother-in-law, Dmytri, which, if I’m being honest, was a little strange. He’s not the same guy that he was when we first met him, and he and Caelin came and stayed with us for a week. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seemed like he was spending time with us out of obligation rather than a genuine desire to be there, and that made me sad. He barely spoke, though he did ask me how things in Edmonton were and how my parents were doing, which I appreciated, and he only took Finn because I physically put him in his arms.

This is is an improvement over when he was here for Finn’s Baptism. I’m not even sure why he made that trip. And yes, I could be taking things out of context, but I really don’t know how else to take things. I have one niece, and I loved getting to spend time with her. As far as I know, Finn is his only nephew, and I just thought he would be a little more jazzed about it.

That was the only thing about the trip that kind of bummed me out. I feel that it was a smashing success otherwise, and am looking forward to going back in January. We will be there the week before Finn and my collective birthday (birthday thief!!), so it’s not going to be so stinking hot. People who live in BC seem to think that it’s cold at that time of year. People who live in Alberta just sit back and laugh at them.

Here’s to great vacations, great families, and good memories.

Reflecting on Our First Year of Marriage

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: being married has not changed our relationship. People kept asking if I felt different now that I was married, and that never made any sense to me. We stayed the same people, with the same house and same relationship. The only difference was a legally binding contract. I mean, yay and all, but the actual relationship didn’t change one bit.

Do I really need to do a post about our first year then? It feels like I do. After all, I became, for lack of a better term, violently pregnant before we even got back from our honeymoon, so things have been going at warp speed. That is not a complaint, just a statement of fact. We wanted a baby right away, and Finn wanted to be with us. I wouldn’t change the way things happened for anything. It’s just been a hectic few years and, for the sake of sanity, we need to slow the hell down.

We planned our wedding for almost a year and a half, and the actual day was freaking magical. There were not a lot of things, if any, that I would have changed, and I don’t know many brides that can say that. Our honeymoon was pretty great, even with the discovery that neither of us like cruises over much. Then we came home and confirmed that we were going to be parents. Talk about a whirl wind.

So many things happening at once, and having a rather rotten pregnancy, only served to confirm that I have a spectacular husband. I would not have wanted to deal with a c-section with anyone else. For a while, he was way better with the diapers than I was because he did most of the diapering. Unless it was the middle of the night and I was up feeding him while Shawn slept, diaper duty belonged to him. Every time I had a doubt that I could have done something differently to have a different birth experience (which is total crap), Shawn was there to reassure me  that no, nothing I did could have changed anything.

I still doubt myself as a mom sometimes. When I have a migraine, and that happens far more often than I would like, I feel guilty for not being able to take Finn for a walk, or take him outside to sit on the porch. I know how much he loves it out there, but we have to stay inside if we’re by ourselves. I feel terrible on the days that I’m so tired I would kill for a two hour nap, but Finn doesn’t nap. I love watching him play, but he’s in this phase where screaming in delight is the best thing to do, and that is not conducive to migraines. You can’t, however, explain to a five month old that mummy’s head hurts so we have to have a quiet day.

My husband, the husband I honestly never thought I would have, sees me as an amazing mother. When I have doubts about the kind of parent I am, he wipes them away. When I feel bad about not helping with something because Finn is eating, he reassures me. He is everything I ever could have asked for.

I think that’s why this year has been so surreal. This is going to sound very cliché, but the two things I’ve always wanted for my life were to be a wife, whether it be to a man or woman, and a mother, and I got both those things almost at the same time. It’s like my life decided to finish clicking in to place right as I was coming up on my thirtieth decade of life. I was happy with things before, but now I really feel complete.

Our anniversary was a great day. Shawn bought me a new dress (a blue swing dress with black cats and red balls of yarn by Pinup Couture, we got to try out a new barbecue joint called MEAT, and we took in two movies (both X-mean: Days of Future Past and Maleficent). Without even realizing it, we recreated out first date, which happened exactly four years earlier. Luckily, neither of the movies this time was Prince of Persia. It reminded me of why, and how, we connected in the first place.

Shawn and I don’t just watch movies (or play games or read books). We talk about them and hash them over, sometimes for weeks after the fact. Our tastes are very similar, and it was a lot of those things that drew us together in the first place. I’m pretty sure that Shawn loved the idea of a decent looking girl who played video games, read fantasy novels and comic books and was capable of having and intelligent conversation. If I had found me, I must admit that I would have been turned on. If I can’t talk to someone and I have nothing in common with them (or they have to pretend to like what I like) there is no point. When Shawn found me, we both struck gold.

So, was the first year good? Of course it was. We formed our family. We enlarged our family. The many reasons I love the man I married have been reinforced a dozen times over. It’s been exhausting. It’s been frustrating. I wouldn’t change any of it.

Changes

Easter and Mother’s Day have come and gone. Easter was pretty standard. Finn and I went to church with my parents (Shawn is not a church person, so he only does really important occasions), and then we headed home to Finns first Easter basket. He got books, toys and a Jolly Jumper, and I can tell you right now, that was the best investment we have made for him.

He will literally jump until he falls asleep. I nave several excellent videos of him doing just that, and often the last thing he will do before bed is have a good long jump. He turned three months on Easter Monday, so the timing was perfect. He’s always liked being in a standing position, and this way he gets to stand on his own with a lot of really good spinal support. It’s really win win.

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There were a lot of people at my parents house for dinner, and unfortunately, Finn got really over stimulated. When this happens, he gets cranky, and it’s hard to settle him for the night. Also unfortunately, my family doesn’t always get that he still needs quiet time. He’s not used to tons of rowdy people all wanting a piece of him. He can handle it for shot periods, but we’re still working up to being able to do it for longer periods. When he did finally settle, he was out for a long time, but getting there was a challenge. Luckily, if I can get him to nurse, he usually settles pretty well. Hurray for breastfeeding. It really is useful on so many levels.

Mother’s Day was pretty much a bust. We went to church again and ended up working around the yard for most of the day. Shawn was working, and while he did remember to send me a text message (he didn’t forget!) I didn’t get so much as a card. I was super pissed. See, he’s not the type of person who thinks that cards are a big deal, but it was my first Mother’s Day, and it meant a lot to me. I wanted to have something to remember it with, and while I have a few adorable pictures of Finn sitting on the deck, that’s about all I have. Add to that the fact that Finn was fussy most of the he day and I was fighting a migraine, and it was just disappointing all around. I cried, I’ll admit it.

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It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been more emotional than normal lately. (Yes, in realize that Mother’s Day is not lately anymore, but this is when things started, so near with me.) And, my hair has been falling out. It don’t mean the normal, “Hey, I’m losing all the hair I never lost when I was pregnant” my hair is falling out. I’m talking it it looks like a balding wookie lives in my house. Whenever I vacuum, I’m stopping to clean out the power head three times, at least, so the poor thing doesn’t have a heart attack and die. The hair loss and mood swings, combined with extreme exhaustion and the fact that my son eats like a starving polar bear and I started gaining weight back, led me to believe that my thyroid, or the half of it that I have left, had finally started to die.

My GP is great. If I can give him a solid reason for something (and no, googling doesn’t count as a solid reason), he will be in board with requests for blood work. I told him what had been going on, and he agreed that things needed to be checked out. We also did a bunch of other stuff, just to cover all the bases. Hey, if you’re having blood drawn anyway, what are a few extra vials?

Part of me really wanted things to be all in my head, but I knew they weren’t. It didn’t take long for the call from the doctors office confirming what I already knew, and adding an extra turd to the shit heap: the ferritin levels in my blood were very low. My doctor likes mine to be around 50 and they were sitting at 4. Low blood iron and an under producing thyroid? No wonder I felt like road kill.

So, now I’m taking iron supplements, although not as high a dose as I was because they were making the baby unbearable gassy, And a low starting dose of synthroid. In the grand scheme of things, taking a few extra pills every day isn’t really a big deal, but it still bums me out. I don’t clearly recall a time in my life when there hasn’t been something wrong with me, and that is extremely tiring. I’m not trying to complaint for the sake of complaining, because I have a pretty stellar life, but being chronically ill can be frustrating and mentally exhausting beyond belief.

There are days when I hope and pray that I will feel normal for five minutes. I would love to be tired in a way that sleep would actually be able to fix. The exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately doesn’t go away if I get eight hours. I can have the worst day and be emotionally fine with it, and have the best day and be a complete mess. Add to that the old standbys of migraines and GERD and you can imagine that I must be feeling like a million bucks.

Taking care of Finn is sucking up all my energy. I don’t have anything left to use on being pleasant to people. I’m extremely irritable, even when there’s not reason for it. If there is a reason for it, you’d better watch the hell out because I will turn into a bitch faster than you can blink. Poor Shawn has been getting the huge brunt of this and I don’t know how he deals with it. I knew he was an amazing man, but situations like this just further impress upon me how lucky I am to have him.

I’m trying hard not to stress about it, but with the upcoming trip to visit his parents in BC for the the week, it’s hard not to. I know the smart thing to do would be to tell them what’s going on with my health, so honey don’t think I dislike them more than they already do, but a large part of me doesn’t want to say a word. Shawn’s dad especially gives me the impression that he thinks Shawn married a broken person, and adding more illnesses to the heap wouldn’t help that at all. On the other hand, if I say nothing and I happen to be extra irritable, they might just think that I don’t want to be there.

What a great situation.

I can’t say that I am looking forward to going, but it has nothing to do with dislike for my in laws. I don’t dislike them. I just like being in complete control of my environment, especially when I need to sleep somewhere. Shawn snores, and I don’t always sleep in the same room because of it. When I’m staying in someone else’s house, though, I can’t exactly get up and wander off in the middle of the night. I also don’t want the in laws to know how May nights we sleep apart, eve though it has no negative impact on our relationship/marriage whatsoever. They would mostly likely assume that it does regardless of what we say. After all, Shawn’s dad assumed that his weight gain was because of stress in our relationship.

(We have been sleeping apart more than together for a long time. As we have a son that was not immaculately conceived, you can imagine that our relationship is not suffering.)

The goal at this point is to stay positive about everything that happens from here on out. The problems have been identified and are being dealt with. My husband is amazing and supportive, as always. I have an incredibly good baby (for more on what that means to me, see the next post) who I still can’t get enough of. I guess if I look at the bigger picture, two more small broken things on my body is not a big deal, no matter what it feels like.

On a side note, the blog is changing. The new name has taken effect. Shawn says that the old address is no longer active, although it should be, so I’m going to look in to that and make sure. Categories re being reorganized, and some features are going to be dealt away with. It was just getting to be too much. The features are now going to come when there is a call for them as opposed to me trying to bang one out every day. This should eke then content more quality focused instead of quantity focused. I would love some feedback on this, so please, drop me an email or comment.

On Feeling Supported… And Then Not

When I was still in hospital after Finn was born, my mum made a point of telling me what a great job I was doing. She said it was absolutely amazing watching her child become a parent, and that it was so obvious that being a mum myself was something that I was just meant to do. This, of course, brought me to tears. Not only did this help to silence the tiny psycho in my head that kept telling me I was going to suck at parenthood, getting that kind of reinforcement from someone that I respect so much as a parent herself was incredible.

The rest of my family pretty much followed suit. My grandma kept telling my mum (and eventually me) how natural and relaxed I was with Finn. She said this was obviously what I was meant to do, and that he was a very lucky little boy to have such great parents. Both my grandma and grandpa have remarked on how Shawn is such a natural father, and how he’s taking to his role just like my dad did, and that is a huge compliment.

Both my aunts said close to the same thing. One aunt, who lives in Camrose, compared me to a neighbours kids who had just had a baby. Apparently they had a spaz when she out him up over her shoulder because they hadn’t held him that way yet. She said they just seemed very tense and nervous about everything, unlike me. Apparently, I have been schooled in the art of zen parenting. Who knew?

A large part of my relaxed attitude probably comes from this not being my first exposure to babies. Sure, it’s my first baby, and that’s a lot different from looking after someone else’s, but it’s still not my “first”. I have changed diapers, done bottle feedings, taken care of nap times. I’ve even dealt with spitting up before. Babies and the a are of them is not foreign territory for me.

Shawn’s family, perhaps not realizing this or perhaps just thinking that being a first time mum turns you into a moron, has been pretty much the opposite of my family. They haven’t told either of us that we’re doing a good job as parents. In fact, a lot of the comments have made me feel like they are expecting me to screw up. Whether that is the intended result or not, I’m not enjoying it.

During a FaceTime call with Shawn’s nana, she said (to the baby), “Your mom sure is holding you real good!” Aside from the appalling structure of that sentence, what was she expecting? Was she thinking I would be completely unaware of how to hold a child? I know it’s difficult to grasp, but I do know that you don’t hold infants upside down by the leg. Thing that boggled me even more is that she has seen me hold the baby before, so the fact that I know what I’m doing shouldn’t have been a fresh revelation.

Upon seeing Finn spit up some formula, again on the much hated FaceTime, my mother in law said, “Oh, you’re giving him formula now?” It being his second, and last, serving of formula ever I calmly explained why he’d had it. Coming from someone who was exclusively formula fed, this seemed odd. I’m not a shitty parent because my son had to have formula twice, totally less than eight ounces between two feedings. He needed to eat. I wasn’t able to feed him. It’s that simple.

They also seem overly concerned with how much he spits up. My father in law thought, during that same FaceTime call, that it was the formula irritating his tummy. I said, again calmly, that the formula had nothing to do with it as he hadn’t spit up any of his first formula feeding at all. Finn is just a spitty baby. Does this concern me? Not at all, as he continues to gain weight at an astonishing pace. Currently, he’s sitting at 15.5 pounds and he’s just over eleven weeks. I’d say he’s getting more than enough breast milk, even. With the splitting up, to sustain him over the long haul.

Speaking of his weight, father in law also mentioned that perhaps we should be feeding him less. Yeah, because telling a two and a half month old baby that he can’t eat when he’s hungry will go over really well! I’m hoping this was something he meant facetiously because if he was serious, it betrays a level of ignorance that I find hard to comprehend.

(As a side note, my grandma is convinced that I’m producing cream, as that can be then only explanation for such a robust and healthy boy. Several of my mums friends an coworkers are very impressed by how well he’s gaining with just breast milk. I don’t know why that’s impressive, but there you have it.)

We also get asked on a regular basis if he’s sleeping through the night yet. No, as he’s not even three months old. I would say we’re doing fairly well with the 5-6.5 hour stretch, then not getting up again until morning. We asked, subsequently, if we were giving him any pablum, I believe my response was, “Hell no! He’s way too young for that!” Just because it’s something people used to do doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy. I’m a stay at home mum. I will survive if I have to get up in the middle of the night.

Maybe it’s because I hate unsolicited advice that these things are getting to me so much. Maybe it’s just the stark contrast between how my family has reacted versus how Shawn’s family has. Unadulterated praise and support is completely the opposite of what I feel we’ve been getting from his family, and I don’t understand.

They were convinced his hair was going to fall out. It never did. Shawn’s mom was asking after the bald patch on the he back of his head for a while. He doesn’t have one. It’s been a huge like of assumptions and not much else, and that drives me nuts.

Do I dislike them? Of course not. Are they very different from my family? Yes, and while that’s not a bad thing, letting us know they don’t think we’re completely screwing up our son would be nice. You know, just once.

Local Jazz: Kristen J. Photography

When I started looking for a newborn photographer, I had no idea what I was looking for. Shawn didn’t think we needed the photos at all, but this may be the only baby we ever have, so I wanted to make sure things were properly documented.

The web was scoured. Many a website was looked at, many a portfolio perused. Honestly, nothing really jumped out at me, regardless of the price being charged, and I was starting to feel very discouraged. Perhaps these photos just weren’t meant to be.

It was at this point that I decided to take a different approach: I started thinking about all the newborn photos I had seen in the last year, and which ones really stood out for me. The clear winner came from a friend and co-worker of my mum at work. Her daughter had twins in the last year, and I really loved her photos. We decided to ask who had done them and go from there.

Kristen J. Photography turned out to be just what we needed. not only was she within our budget, but I liked everything she had on her website. That doesn’t happen for me very often (hence why it took us such a long time to find a wedding photographer). I decided to shoot off an email, and the rest is history.

Our photos were taken two days after we got home from hospital, when Finn was five days old. Everything about the shoot went smoothly, in spite of the fact that I got pooped and peed on. Finn was brilliant and we ended up getting some really great shots. Take a look:

Five days old! Photo by Kristen J. Photography

Five days old!
Photo by Kristen J. Photography

With daddy.

With daddy.

Wearing the custom Finn the Human (Adventure Time) hat from his Auntie Caelin.

Wearing the custom Finn the Human (Adventure Time) hat from his Auntie Caelin.

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Finn was definitely the star of the show. Both of us were exhausted. Shawn forgot to shave. I was super sore from my surgery, and I had grey hairs sticking out all over the place. Still, I’m so happy with how things turned out. Kristen was amazing to work with: great with the baby, super personable, easy to talk to and easy to work with. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending her to anyone else.

Looking back on these pictures now, I realize how dark Finn’s hair was when he was born. It was nearly black, with white blonde eyebrows and lashes. Now, his hair is more the colour of Shawn’s, and his eyebrows are darkening to match. Either way, I’m not ashamed to say that I think he’s one beautiful baby.

Birthdays, Backfires and Babies.

Well, hello. I’ve been gone a while, and I kind of feel like crap about it. Not only because people actually read this blog, but because this blog tends to keep me sane. A lot has happened in the last few months, so this is going to be a long one. Bear with me, and be forewarned that if you’re at all squeamish about medical type stuff, you may have to skip over some bits. I also have no “shame”; there will be pictures of the actual labour. I put shame in quotes because I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of.

By Christmas, I felt like I was getting huge. I was having a hard time not waddling when I walked, and the lack of sleep was really starting to get to me. Things in that department hadn’t gotten any better. The bigger I got, the more problems were stopping me from sleeping (and the worse my restless legs became). I was having a bath two to four times a night just so I could relax the lower half of my body. Eventually, my legs would sometimes twitch in the water, and those moments usually ended up with me a frustrated ball of tears.

My back hurt. one of my knees usually ached. Not both, just one at a time. The Little Man had his butt pressed up into my rib cage, making my heart burn so bad that I would wake up gasping not only for breath, but from the pain. His head? Right on top of my bladder. Oh yeah, I was having a hell of a good time.

Jump forward a two weeks. It’s January 9th, and I’ve gone to the OB for my first internal exam. At that point, I was 36+1 weeks along, and what do you know! It turns out I was already 3cm dilated. I’m not going to lie, I may have freaked out with joy a little bit. Dilated? Already? Let’s get this party started!

Sure, there was a ways to go, and you can sit at 3cm for weeks and have nothing happen, but I was confident. Things were going to start moving, and I was going to have my son. Maybe I shouldn’t have wanted things to get going so early, but I couldn’t help it. I was done, totally and utterly done. The fact that I wasn’t sleeping was really starting to take its toll, both physically and mentally. If it’s just me not sleeping, I can deal with it, but not sleeping and growing another person? No. No, thank you.

Now, over the course of the next week, I ended up in the assessment room of labour and delivery twice. The first time (and here is where it might get gross for some people), is because I had a rather large gush of greenish brown fluid. Now, never having done the whole labour thing before, I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or if my vagina was just being extra icky that day. I texted my mum about it, because that’s what I do, and she told me to go in and get it checked.

I have a huge complex about going to the hospital for no reason. This stems from having a chronic illness and hating the need to go the ER for any reason. Sure, I may be extremely dehydrated, but there are people who need the hospital resources more than me, right? This was applying to my L&D visit, too. Naturally, everyone who was working there, including my OB, kept telling me that that is exactly what they were there for. Pregnancy, after all, is not something that you should be screwing around with. My mum, too, kept saying that it was better to be safe than sorry. I really should listen to her. She is, after all, and expert when it comes to tragedy in pregnancy, so she would know better than most people.

I was subjected to another very uncomfortable internal exam (still 3cm!) and a swab. The swab was to check for the presence of amniotic fluid. If the swab turns blue, your water has broken. Mine did not turn blue. After a while longer of observation, just to be sure, I got to go home.

The next time, I started having sharp lower abdominal pains. This was seriously concerning. It didn’t feel like Braxton-Hicks, it didn’t feel like intense period cramps, it just felt like pain. The wrong kind of pain. Did I want to go back in for the second time in a week? Of course not. Was I willing to risk my baby by staying home? Absolutely not. The hospital is not that far from home and again, better safe than sorry.

I was having mild contractions, it turns out, but there was nothing to be concerned with. I had, however, dilated another centimetre, but I was still only in pre labour. The baby had a great heart beat, and after establishing that it was good and steady, and monitors came off and I got to go home. Again.

My next OB appointment was on January 16th, and I told Shawn and my mum that if nothing had happened before then, I was going to get her to do a membrane sweep. For those of you that don’t know, a membrane sweep is when an OB or midwife inserts a finger in to a dilated cervix and “sweeps” it between the cervix and the amniotic sac. This is supposed to bring on labour, usually within 48 hours. By that point, I would have reached 37 weeks, and I would have zero issue having the baby. No guilt, no remorse. Just relief.

Mum and I went out walking (inside, as it was the  middle of January, freezing cold and icy as hell) as often as we could, but it didn’t do a damn thing. By the time my appointment rolled around, I had been having contractions at night that would wake me up if I managed to doze off. I was so exhausted by this point that it felt more like passing out than sleeping until a contraction would start up. Every 30-40 minutes I would be sitting up on the couch, breathing through the squeezing, or running myself yet another bath to make things a little more comfortable. The closer my appointment came, the more intense they started to get. Eventually, the discomfort moved around to my back, and while it didn’t feel particularly great, it was encouraging. Perhaps things were finally starting to progress.

The membrane sweep itself didn’t really feel like much. I know a lot of people say that they’re really unpleasant, but after having and IUD put in and removed, I barely noticed anything other than an ordinary cervical exam. I was still 4cm dilated and 80% effaced (that describes how thin the cervix has gotten, FYI), so it felt, at that point, that all the walking and bouncing on my exercise ball had been for naught.

With the membrane sweep accomplished, I wandered over to the hospital, which happens to be across the street from my OB’s office, so I could catch a ride back home with my mum. I think she could tell that I was feeling a little defeated, so she just kept talking about letting the sweep do it’s thing, and reminding me that I was only 37 weeks, so not having the baby immediately wouldn’t be the end of the world (even if it felt like it).

By the time we got home, I was having pain that made me want to crawl into the tub and never get out. I left mum at her house to eat and relax while I retreated to our house to let the hot water flow. It wasn’t long before I was texting her and asking for some company. The pain was getting worse than it had been up to that point, and they were coming closer together. I hadn’t had anything resembling a membrane rupture, but that doesn’t always happen. (Apparently, I was born with the membrane still intact over my head.) I was just sitting in the tub, feeling the contractions getting worse and worse, closer and closer together, and debating whether or not to go to the hospital.

Shawn was still at work at this point. I don’t quite remember when we decided to get me out of the tub and start packing my things (my hospital bag wasn’t finished yet, as it was on my to-do list for the following day), but when that started, I call him and left him a message saying that it was probably go time and he needed to get home ASAP. By the time the three of us were ready to leave, the contractions were two minutes apart and running from my abdomen and into my back. This was it. The baby was coming.

When we got to the hospital, it was apparent right away that they were insanely busy. It took a while to get an assessment bed, so we just parked ourselves out in the hall with my on my ball and my mum taking pictures. Some people think I’m nuts, but I actually wanted pictures of the whole process. I might only be going through this the one time, so why not document it?

Let me tell you something about labour pains: I didn’t find the abdominal pain to be that terrible. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it was unpleasant, but it’s not something that I would have been unable to handle. However, no one prepared me for the horror that is back labour. If your baby hasn’t turned to face the right direction or if they happen to be in a funny position, this will make the contractions move in to your back. This is excruciating. I have had pain as bad as this with my migraine disease, but I haven’t had anything the same as this, and I think that’s what made it so horrible. Migraine pain, while awful, is something that I know how to deal with. This was a whole other animal, and it scared the shit out of me.

The original plan was to go it without drugs of any kind. I didn’t want morphine. I didn’t want an epidural. I wanted to do things naturally. After several agonizing hours of back labour, however, I consented to some Tylenol #3. Here’s the thing, though: my cerix was refusing to dilate any more, and once the T3 had mellowed me out a bit (it still hurt like hell, but it was more manageable), my contractions slowed down. They slowed down to such an extent that, you guessed it, we got to go home.

I was devastated. After almost 6 hours of labouring, I was sent home again. I think I would have been able to tough it out without getting discouraged if I hadn’t gotten a taste of the process and how things were going to go. As it was, we went home, and I ended up in the bath, in tears, again. Mum and Shawn took the next day off and we went out and did a lot of walking. Again. It happened to be productive walking, though, as we decided to grab some baby things that we were still missing. Hey, even though I had given up on having the baby any time soon, he was still going to come eventually, right?

That Sunday was our baby shower. I say “our” because we decided to make it co-ed. Only one of Shawn’s friends was able to make it, which sucks, but it was still a decent time none the less. We got to show off the fabulous room we put together for the Little Man (it was finished on New Year’s Day, and a post on that will be coming soon), and there were lots of yummy things to eat. My dad made both chocolate silk and banana cream pie. How can you go wrong with that?

With my baby brother, a very excited soon-to-be uncle (See? See how much bigger I am than at Christmas?)

My grandma was convinced that I didn’t look any bigger than I was at Christmas. One of my aunts assured her that I was indeed bigger, and she didn’t think I was going to make it until my due date. My grandma sometimes forgets that she only has one real eye. I also think she didn’t want him to come early because they were leaving for Mexico the day after the shower  and she wanted him to come when they got back. Because I was so downtrodden about the whole thing, I was convinced that she was right. No matter what I wanted, the Little Man was not coming out until February.

Monday night was miserable. My mum had brought home one of the amniotic fluid swabs because I was 110% not going back to the hospital until I was sure that it was time. If there was no fluid, we were not leaving. I swabbed before going to bed that night, and it didn’t turn blue, so there was no leak. I wasn’t really discouraged by this at all because it seemed so typical of how things had been going. I decided to hang on to the swab, though, just in case I needed it. The rest of the night was pretty standard: twitchy legs, a lack of sleep, contractions and a lot of peeing. I wasn’t expecting anything exciting to happen.

And then it did.

At about 330am on Tuesday, January 21st, when I was on my millionth trip to the bathroom, I had a really strange feeling. Imagine, if you will, that someone has pushed a very full water balloon up your vagina when you weren’t looking. This balloon then decides to drop a little bit before bursting all over the place. This is what it felt like when my water broke.

When the dropping sensation happened, I was sitting on the toilet. Something compelled me to stand up, over top of the bath mat, and I’m glad I did. A lot of clear fluid came rushing out, and all I could do for a few minutes was stand there and stare at it. I was almost certain that I knew what it was, but after all my false starts and weird goings on I needed to be sure. The text I sent my mum said, “I think my water just broke.” I then proceeded to grab the swab from the counter. Lo and behold, the base of it had turned blue! I guess I had been leaking, but not enough to get an instant reading. When I ran the swab through the fluid on my bath mat, it instantly turned blue. Success at last!

Mum came down and just as she was taking  a look at what was already there, I oozed some more, this time with a little bit of pink show. I had thought show was supposed to come first, but hey, I never do things the right way. We woke Shawn and headed back to the hospital. We didn’t need to bring a lot back with us because most of the essentials were left in my mum’s office, just to make things easy.

(But what about your mucous plug? I know that’s what you were thinking. I just know it. It started coming out in large gobs from about 3.5cm or so. Let me tell you, that was not a fun time. Having to look at the toilet paper when you pee and seeing what looks like an enormous booger? Gross. Having do this multiple times over the course of a week? Even better. I’m also going to stop here and say that I never thought I would get so used to smelling the things that came out of me as I did towards the end of my pregnancy. Certain things are supposed to have certain smells (or no smell), and I needed to know what I was dealing with. Amniotic fluid doesn’t smell like much, just FYI. Mucous smells like, well, mucous, and looks just like snot. It’s not something I ever want to have come out of my vagina again.)

The initial assessment. I’m thrilled; no going home this time!

When we got to assessment this time, they swabbed all the lovely stuff I was still oozing, and the result was the same as what I’d gotten at home: blue. This time, I got a real hospital bracelet! That’s right, they were not sending me home this time. I was having a baby. When I got there, I was 6cm and my contractions were just over three minutes apart. The shitty thing? They were still in my back. It was awesome.

Luckily, it wasn’t long before we got ushered in to an actual birthing room. These rooms are great. Each patient is assigned a nurse (the 1:1 ratio is so nice), there is a birthing bed, a chair that pulls out in to a single bed for birth partners to get some rest, a bathroom with a tub/shower combo, and tons of room to move around. I was in that shower as fast I could get there. The only thing that was going to help my back pain, aside from drugs, was a steady stream of really hot water. My water had broken, obviously, or I would have been in a bath like that. I’m not willing to risk infection, no matter how small the chances, so the shower it was. I popped on my bikini top (mostly to cover my gigantic nipples from the world for as long as possible), grabbed my big purple ball and got to it.

You can see how red my back is from the water. Yeah, I had it very, very hot.

The water was wonderful. Shawn sat just outside the tub, either holding my hand or directing the stream. My amniotic fluid kept coming out in regular gushes, and let me tell you, it feels disgusting. There is nothing quite like being sat on an exercise ball and feeling fluid rush out of you every few minutes. (Sure, this had been happening since the walk in from the car, but something about the ball gave it an extra squick factor.) There was some concern that I was going to burn myself, but I have a stupid high tolerance for heat. I blame my use of heat packs for my migraines for that, added to the insanely hot water I had been putting my restless legs in. Eventually, even I knew that my blood pressure could be going wonky from the heat, so I got out and hopped back up on the bed.

These beds are great. They are designed for any and all types of birthing positions. I could move around, reposition and try to get comfortable as much as I needed to. It was easy to get my cervix poked at (I went from 6-8cm in a hurry!), and if I needed the fetal monitors on, it was easy to do.

Okay. I had every intention of not letting the back labour get the better of me this time. I really did. Not only was it making me was to curl up in a tiny ball (not that being in this position helped at all), the baby started having sporadic decelerations in his heart rate. It wasn’t really anything to be concerned about, and tickling his head via internal exam did a decent job of stimulating him and getting is back up. I was concerned that the amount of pain that I was in was causing the baby some distress, and I thought that both of us would be a little more comfortable if I accepted something for the pain. Nothing oral was going to do the trick, and I eventually caved to an epidural. This is where the first backfire comes in.

I told myself that I never wanted to have an epidural. It’s not because I see it as a weak thing to do. It’s not because I think that it will adversely effect labour, or that I was worried about side effects. It’s just not something that I wanted. That being said, I don’t think that I “caved”. It turned out to be the best thing for everyone in the long run. Let me continue.

The epidural went in at around noon. I’m honestly surprised that I was able to stay still enough for them to get it in while still having contractions. Maybe it was the motivation that, hopefully, some relief for me and the baby was on the way. No matter the reasoning, it got put in successfully. I now know the reason so many women opt to get one. I could still feel my contractions, move my legs and toes, but the pain was drastically reduced. I was able to rest, and it looked like the nerve wracking decels had come to an end. I think everyone was breathing a sigh of relief at that point.

Two hours later or so, two different people checked my cervix (again), and said that I was at 10cm. I was given the option to start pushing, or give it a little bit to make sure everything was in a good position. I opted to start pushing. I was getting really excited at the thought of actually being able to hold our son for the first time. I was also getting excited to watch the whole process. Yes, I’m one of those people who wanted to have a mirror so I could see the whole thing go down. My mum was very amused by the mirror they  brought in. It had come from the old building, and she was pretty sure it had been around longer than she had. That’s impressive. When I actually started pushing, it was really interesting to see which muscles I was engaging, how they were working together, and that I was actually doing a good job. Sure, everyone was telling me that I was pushing just where I needed to, but seeing it was great. No, I didn’t really need the close up view of my Amazon bush or my hemorrhoids, but hey, it was all part of the experience.

The actual act of pushing was intense, even with the epidural. I could still feel the contractions coming on, but they had me hooked up to monitors just in case I got extra frozen. This turned out to be a very good thing. After going at it for a while, we started to see decels in the baby again. It was nothing drastic, and he was able to get his heart rate back up on his own for the most part, but I still wasn’t happy about it. This just meant that he needed to e very closely watched, and we continued on with the process of trying to get him out.

After two hours of pushing without really getting anywhere, something truly terrifying happened. Shawn was taking a break (and a nap on the handy pull out bed), and my mum had stepped in as my main birth coach. I started to push at the beginning of a contraction and told to stop. The baby was having another decel, and this time, his heart rate dropped all the way to 85. This is not a good thing. It took a good two minutes of tickling him on the head to get it back up to normal, and it was at this point that I knew something was not going as it should. Something was causing his heart rate to dip, and it was starting to get dangerously low.

I had another internal exam after the baby had stabilized, and what we thought had been a full dilated cervix was actually only at 8cm. It had felt fully dilated because I had a wonky cervical lip that had been throwing everyone off. Two nurses and one OB missed it, and I can’t fault anyone for it. It’s something that happens. It also turns out that my son had his head tilted to one side and resting on his shoulder. With his head not properly engaged, my cervix wasn’t making any more progress. This is also what was causing my intense back labour. Fantastic.

I had a choice to make. We could wait and see if things were going to sort themselves out, or I could go for a c-section. Neither of these options appealed to me. Waiting meant risking the baby’s heart rate dropping again, and needing even more stimulation to get back up. Having a c-section… well, it was on my list of things I did not want unless it was an emergency. Things hadn’t gotten viciously emergent, yet, but there was a strong chance that they could. So, did I choose an “elective emergent” section, or risk waiting until they had to call a code pink for me?

I was exhausted. I was coming up on fourteen hours of labour at this point, nothing was going according to plan, and I didn’t know what to do. I ended up in tears with my mum, husband, and nurse telling me that I couldn’t make a wrong choice, and that having a section wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried to do things they way I wanted to. Sometimes, though, it just doesn’t work out. Between my exhaustion and the risk of the baby having his heart rate drop and not be able to  bring it back up, I finally opted for a section.

It was another hour before we were actually prepped to go in. I was really lucky that I already had en epidural, because I don’t think I would have done well trying to get one put in with how anxious I was feeling about the whole thing. Seriously, I was terrified. I was terrified when I had to have asleep surgery. This time, I was going to be awake while they sliced me open and rooted around to get my baby out and to safety. Yes, I knew that’s what having a section entailed, but that didn’t make it any less intimidating. Because I had been so convinced I wouldn’t need one and wasn’t going to have one, this was one option I really didn’t prep for.

They wheeled me in to the OR and got me draped, prepped and topped up. The anesthesiologist was great. I think he could tell that I was horribly scared, as he kept talking to me about non-baby related things. I could heart my heart rate on the monitor, and made a conscious effort to slow it down whenever I heard it start to get too fast.

I also knew that they were going to start before they let Shawn come in, but that wasn’t helping me. I  kept trying to not think about what was happening below the sheet and just focus on staying calm. The doctor who was going to be performing the surgery came in (luckily, it was someone I knew) and told me they were going to get started. Shawn still wasn’t there, and I was starting to panic again. Then, right before the tears started coming, there he was. He was gowned and covered in a mask, but his eyes were as reassuring as ever.

A c-section is one of the weirdest things I think I will ever feel. When they were making sure I was frozen enough (for lack of a better term), people kept slapping my legs. I could feel it, but it felt more like I was feeling it happen to someone else. The actual operation felt like a lot of tugging and pressure, but not much else. I’ve never felt such a weird disconnect from my own body before. It was definitely an interesting experience, but it’s one that I could have gone without.

In a remarkable short period of time, they brought our son around the curtain for us to see. He had barely cried at all when they pulled him out, so seeing him, in the flesh, was a bit of a shock. I started crying right away. The first thing I said, when I looked at Shawn, was, “He’s perfect!” And he was. Shawn was crying too, which doesn’t often happen for happy reasons, and that made me more emotional than ever. They checked him out and brought him right back to me so I could have some skin on skin time and try early breast feeding. The last thing I really remember is being wheeled out of the OR with the baby on my chest and Shawn by my side, my parents both rushing up to the stretcher with huge smiles on their faces to get a look at their first grandchild. After that, I was pretty much dead to the world.

First check up with nurse Janna!

Finn Malcolm was born at 703pm on January 21, 2014, two weeks and one day early. He was exactly 8 pounds to the ounce (thank goodness he was early!) and measured 21 inches. Oh, and I think I forgot to mention: January 21, 2014, was my 30th birthday.

Cuddles with mummy! Two Days Old

That was definitely not what I had planned for my 30th birthday. The plan was actually to get on our Harry Potter  gear, grab our wands, and head over to Harry Potter: The Exhibition at Telus World of Science. Instead, I got to have the most interesting and exciting birthday of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever manage to have another one like it, not that I’m going to try for a repeat. There were several people who said that I jinxed myself because I kept saying I didn’t want to have the baby on my birthday; I wanted this birthday to be all about me. So much for that! It’s never going to be all about me, ever again, and you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that.

I think the biggest thing I learned was that no matter how much you plan, hope or are filled with determination, sometimes things just don’t end up going the way you want. They backfire. That is certainly what happened with me and my birth. For several weeks after everything went down, I had moments where I was really upset that I needed a section. It was mostly when I had a moment where I couldn’t do something by myself, where my pain was getting the better of me, or when I was really wanting to sleep in my own bed but it was just to high to get in to and out of in the middle of the night. My birth experience was not what I envisioned, but that’s okay. The outcome was exactly what I wanted: Finn and I are doing perfectly well. As a matter of fact, he will be two months old tomorrow, and he’s already reached a whopping 14 pounds!

I do need to give a huge thank you to everyone at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. I received exceptional care the whole way through, from admitting and prenatal visits, to labour, delivery, and my three days of postpartum care. I couldn’t have asked for better people to be taking care of me, or a better place to have gone through the entire experience. If we decide to have another baby (and right now I’m leaning towards No on that front), we will be back.

I will probably write more about specific details of the last two months, as a lot happens when you have a wee one to look after. If you read this all the way through (and didn’t just skim through the pictures) I appreciate it. This is what happens when you have a baby and major abdominal surgery at the same time. You get behind in everything. Something gives me the feeling that is not going to change.