Infertility and Loss

A regular commenter on my husband’s blog just posted his very sad story about infertility and miscarriage. Here’s a quote from it:

“It isn’t fair. I was a dad for 17 weeks, and now I’m not. I was going to teach them to cook. Play board games with them. Watch them grow up and experience the world and find their place in life and fall in love. I wanted to spend life time with them, and instead only got 17 weeks, and got to be there when they died in an emergency room.”

It reminded me of how lucky I am to have conceived and gone through a problem-free, enjoyable pregnancy. And most importantly, how lucky I am to have a beautiful, healthy son.

It’s stories like Lorne’s, though, that make me feel slightly guilty for talking about my baby and sharing my happiness. I’m sure his story isn’t about placing guilt on other parents nor is he asking for sympathy; I think it’s one way to cope and to touch others who are going through the same. I truly sympathize with Lorne and his wife (along with anyone who has experienced infertility or loss) and I admire their inner and physical strength. I can only imagine the heartbreak they must be feeling. I have no words that can make them feel any better; I have no words actually. It just truly sucks that some have it more difficult than others without rhyme or reason.

I thank Lorne for sharing his story. For me, it’s another reminder to cherish every moment with my son. For others who can relate, I hope you can take away some sort of strength and encouragement.

Read Lorne’s story here.

“Fitbit” for Your Lady Part

Especially throughout and post pregnancy, you’ll likely be encouraged to work out your pelvic floor muscles by doing kegels. I admit that I only did them when I randomly remembered to do them, but they are pretty easy to do very discreetly. I’m sure a lot of women forget about these muscles, so you’re welcome for the reminder; you’re probably doing kegels right now :)

But how do you know if you’re doing them right? Thanks to smartphones and wearable technology, these can be tracked! Crazy, right? kGoal is an “exercise tool” that you insert and communicates (wirelessly, thankfully) to your smartphone to give you real-time feedback.

kgoal Image by Minna Life blog

What will they come up with next??

My Labour & Delivery Story

Warning: I’m going to be frank, so stop reading here if you don’t want TMI. :)

Monday, April 7th

11:50PM – I went to the bathroom to pee and when I wiped I noticed there was a bit of blood. It wasn’t pink tinged; it was red blood. We had just had intercourse so I thought that could be a possible reason, which I heard was pretty common. There was no cramping, no pain, but being 38+ weeks pregnant, I didn’t want to risk it, so we went straight to emergency.

Tuesday, April 8th

12:05AM – I explained my situation to the triage nurse and even though she didn’t think I was in labour, she had me wheelchaired to the Labour & Delivery unit for an assessment. I felt funny being in the wheelchair because I felt fine; I was able to walk (waddle). When we got there, the nurse strapped a monitor around my belly and we just waited for the doctor. For the hour that we were waiting, I started feeling cramps/contractions. I wasn’t sure if these were real contractions or just false labour. They were pretty consistent at about 5-10 minutes apart. The doctor arrived and checked me internally. He confirmed that I was in pre-labour and 2 cm dilated. However, it’s not going to happen soon (probably in a day or two) so he sent us home. By the time we got home, my “contractions” diminished. I was feeling them about once an hour.

For the rest of the day, these contractions continued coming every 30 min to an hour. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t progressing and that it might actually be false labour. That evening, my husband and I went for a long stroll to see if that would help. After an hour of walking, the contractions became a bit more intense and frequent (every 7-15 min). When I got home, I decided to start timing them with this awesome app called Full Term Contraction Timer:

contraction app

Wednesday, April 9th

9:30AM – I arrived at the doctor’s office for my weekly OB appointment and his receptionist was surprised to see me. She expected that I had given birth already, and they had already put my file to the side. Unfortunately, baby had not yet arrived. I described how my previous day went and the doctor said that considering the contractions weren’t consistent and increasing in intensity, he might have been wrong when he claimed I was in pre-labour–and that I was experiencing false labour, but he’d do an internal to check anyway. Once he checked me, he was excited to say that I was 5 cm dilated and I should go to the Labour & Delivery unit right away. He was surprised that I wasn’t feeling much pain but I was definitely in labour. My husband and I were so excited! The baby was going to arrive that day!

10:00AM – We arrived at the unit and told them I was in labour. Unfortunately, there were no rooms, so I had to wait. Husband went home to pick up all my things and I just chilled out in the hallway waiting patiently, with contractions coming every 5-10 min.

2:00PM – There was a room available but the doctor on duty wanted to assess me first to determine which patient was closer to delivery. She said I was fully effaced and 7 cm dilated, but my water was still in tact. She said that she rarely saw an ideal situation; everything progressed perfectly up to that point, hence the lack of painful contractions. Doctor confirmed that if things kept progressing fine, I should easily be able to deliver without epidural as I’d hoped. I was moved to the delivery room.

4:00PM – After taking warm showers, sitting on the birthing ball, and getting back massages with a tennis ball, my water was still in tact. The doctor came to check on me and recommended that they break it for me to move things along. I agreed, and she popped my water using a tool that sort of looked like a crochet hook. It felt like a gush of warm fluid and the “gush” happened during every contraction for about half an hour.

5:00PM – By this time, the contractions were frequent (every 3-5 minutes) and they were intense. I went back to sit in the shower to ease the discomfort. I started to feel the need to push. The nurse said to hold off and they’ll check in a hour to see how far along I was.

6:00PM – A resident came to check on me. Only 8cm. Back to dealing with the contractions. By this point, it was really painful — mostly in my lower back. My breathing technique turned from quick in and out breaths to dreadful moans. The contractions were so painful that I kept a bag beside me because I felt like vomiting each time. After half an hour, I wanted the doctor to check again. The nurse recommended that I wait a bit longer as they want to prevent the risk of infection by limiting the number of internals performed. I agreed to wait until 7.

7:00PM – The resident came back and said I was still at 8cm. I was extremely disappointed. I started wondering how much longer I could take it. The thought of an epidural crossed my mind. I went through a few more contractions and the doctor came in to tell me that I was feeling a lot of pain because the baby was posterior (facing up or back towards my back),  and she can “turn” the baby. I remember her saying that I can avoid an epidural by her doing this. I agreed and within minutes, she went in, somehow turned the baby, and all the pain was gone. I was totally at ease. Very shortly after, I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to push.

7:30PM – Pushing was not painful at all, but it was extremely exhausting. At every contraction, I had to take a deep breath and push at least 3 times. I wasn’t sure if I was pushing correctly as it felt like I was trying to push out a big poo, but the nurse acknowledged the progress each time. The pace, being about 1 mm at a time, seemed like it would take forever to get the baby out.

It was just the nurse and my husband in the room. My husband had the job of feeding me ice chips or giving me water to keep my hydrated. Every contraction, I hear the nurse encouraging me and saying the baby’s coming, but by 9:15, I started to doubt her. I asked how the much longer, naively hoping she’d give me a time so I can start counting down. She said, ‘By 9:30, the baby will be here.’ This gave me hope. Only 15 more minutes of pushing.

9:30PM – I looked at the clock; still no baby. A minute later, spotlights came on, and the doctor and another nurse came in. Things were happening. The doctor got right in there and said the baby was so close.

9:46PM – One last contraction and four pushes later, baby Jarvis arrived. I heard him cry and the nurse immediately put him on my chest. It was surreal. I was exhausted yet felt a sense of joy and calmness as I stared down at this little person. It was love at first sight.

jarvis-birth

Newborn and Postnatal Care: Old vs. New School

My parents are visiting the city in anticipation of their first grandchild. I haven’t seen them in months, so when I saw them, right away, my mom had a few things she wanted to give me, including cloth diapers! She didn’t yet know about my plan to use cloth diapers, so I thought it was amusing. I had no idea she used cloth diapers on us. Anyway, she went into her bag, and this is what she gave me:

cloth

…the actual set of cloth diapers she used on me over 30 years ago! She had dozens of them. I was amazed she still had them. They were just pieces of flannel material. I explained to her that cloth diapering has come a long way and I showed her what I had. She had no idea that these “modern” looking diapers were also cloth. Anyway, I can still put these pieces of flannel to use by cutting them up and using them as inserts, since we’ll be using pocket diapers. Oh, I was also impressed that there was no staining whatsoever. She told me she washed everything by hand, immediately after changing. Ha! That won’t be me. Besides, I think fabric technology and detergents have come a long way to prevent as much staining as possible.

I asked my mom why she used cloth. Her reasons: less expensive, more comfortable for the baby, and less diaper rash. My reasons: less expensive, less waste, and promotes earlier potty training.

Another item she gave me was a long piece of cloth to be used to cinch my tummy after delivery. Not too long ago, I just learned about this technique. In Japan, it’s called sarashi, and apparently this technique is well known in the Asian culture. I had no idea. It’s a piece of fabric that’s wrapped around the abdomen, which is supposed to help women get their pre-pregnancy bodies back quicker. This was practiced for centuries.

Again, I explained to her that I had this already — not exactly what she was recommending, but I have what is now available in the market. Today, the Western culture has the same thing: the Belly Bandit or some sort of variation. Kourtney Kardashian actually made this particular brand popular by contributing to the design and making it fashionable.

kourtney-kardashian-belly-bandit

I asked my mom why she used one. Her reason: to tighten up/get rid of her excess the baby weight quicker. My reason: to tighten up/get rid of the excess baby weight (oh, and now they say it provides good back support while carrying or breastfeeding the baby).

It’s funny how some things never change — they just get fancier and more expensive.