The First Month

I can’t believe Savina is over 6 weeks old already! Even though days are rough at the moment, time seems to fly.

The first ten days after Savina’s birth were exhausting only because of our breastfeeding issues and my lack of sleep. I loved (still do) cuddling up with Savina every night, but those first ten days she needed day and night attention, and she had day and night confused. I got so sleep deprived (had 5 hours of sleep within 10 days) that I actually started hallucinating. I’ve never experienced something like that before: I looked at my sweet baby girl’s face and saw a furry cat face!!! Sue was sitting at the end of the bed, so no I was not looking at my cat. I was looking at my baby. And I thought, damn that’s not right–I so need some sleep!

Sleep has gotten better since. I can almost set my clock to Savina’s wake-up times. She wakes up every night around 3am for a feeding, then most of the time again around 6am. Though some nights she wouldn’t go back to sleep very much anymore after the 3am feeding. So I mostly get 3-4 hours of sleep a night, sometimes 5 or 6. With interruptions, of course.

Feeding has become easy after the initial difficulties. Of course by now Savina has become lazy because with the nipple shields in place, it’s easy to just slide right on and off with no effort, which makes teaching her to properly latch without the shields a bit of a challenge. I’m planning on going to the weekly breastfeeding support group to get some help with that.

Very early on, within the first ten days I believe, Savina began signing to me. I could hardly believe it when I saw it! I had my knees angled up, Savina resting on my thighs. She was crying. I was getting ready to feed her to rule out that she was crying out of hunger. But then she looked at me and spread out her arms wide, then crossed them over her chest, then spread them wide again. So I thought, okay, that looks like a hug. So I placed her on my chest. She immediately stopped crying!! She hasn’t done that one since, but she’s given me a different sign instead: one for hunger. When the usual tongue movement and lip smacking doesn’t get my attention quick enough (and she’s an impatient girl I’ll have you know), she then moves her hand to her mouth a few times, signaling me that she wants food! She does that quite a lot–it’s just too cute!

Of course Savina also had her first bath when she was 8 days old. She did not like it whatsoever, and screamed hysterically as if she was being stabbed to death. She got another bath the next day and the same thing happened again. I felt so bad for her, afraid I’d traumatize her. So I researched online (god bless the internet hah!) to see what other moms suggested. I learned quickly three things:

  1. Babies don’t like to be cold
  2. Babies don’t like to be naked
  3. When lowering baby into the tub, s/he feels like falling

So the suggestion was to have Mommy sit in the tub with baby in her arms, baby wrapped in a towel, maybe even with the diaper on. So I wrapped Savina in a towel (no diaper), cuddled her close to my chest, and sat in a tub filled with nice warm water. Not a peep from my baby girl!!

After her bath I lifted her up to her Daddy, so he could dry her. She screamed hysterically, both the first day I tried it and the second day. I was at a loss again! But then I remembered: When lowering babies into the tub, they feel like falling. So the next time, I held Savina in my arms, stood up with her, and then handed her to her Daddy. Not a peep from my baby girl!!

I think newborn-psychology is the most amazing thing! More on that next time. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Giving Thanks

Thank you for my beautiful, healthy baby girl.

Thank you for my loving and supporting family.

Thank you for my family’s and my own health.

Thank you for our home and food.

Thank you for my friends.

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Thank you for smiling.

Thank you for caring.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for your advice.

Thank you for your warmth.

Thank you for security.

Thank you for your hug.

Thank you for your gentle kiss.

Thank you for asking how I feel.

Thank you for accepting me the way I am.

Thank you for loving me with all my flaws.

Thank you for forgiving my mistakes.

Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for having faith in me.

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Thank you for every new morning…

…with my husband

…with my daughter

…with my wonderful life.

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Thank you for you.

Thank you for love.

The First Few Days

Giving birth was a breathtaking, amazing experience. The time after–healing–is not the most pleasant time. If you are a lady and have never (vaginally) given birth before, imagine your lady parts bulging out down there as if they were a whole seperate entity. I never realized that I’d be seeing all layers of my labia when looking at my bottom. And that they would look huge! Like a giant’s labia. And that it would feel like there was flesh hanging down between my legs when I walk…. because… there was flesh… Ok, Mr., you can stop smiling now–it does feel weird for a woman. Apart from feeling strange, there was nothing much too bad about it. It didn’t hurt, really. I used frozen witch hazel pads, which we had prepared ahead of time. I was supposed to keep my legs together. Following my midwife’s medical advice is probably the reason I healed so well and so fast. The really painful part was my bones. Oh my gosh, my tailbone was worse than ever! And my butt joined right in with the pain. I had to stay in bed the first few days to help my body heal quicker, but oh my bones did not like that at all. I sat on a heating pad, which gave only some relief. I had minor cramps, but not for long. I had almost stopped bleeding six days postpartum, but it picked up again afterwards.

My medical team has been so supportive during this time of healing, giving me all the advice and natural remedies I needed, including a sitzbath and a bottle with herbal water to spray at my lady parts during each bathroom visit. The coolness of that really eased the burning sensation when doing my business. I was given Arnica pills, some special honey to help heal the little nick, was provided with drinks and food and pillows. I was really well cared for by everyone, including my dear husband and my mom once she arrived Oct. 20. And having my baby in bed with me, in my arms almost 24/7 was of course my special treat.

Nursing proved to be a challenge in the early days. Savina wouldn’t latch on right and my nipples got sooooo sore! To the point where they got blood-red and rough looking. My midwife brought a lactation consultant to one of our postpartum visits, which I’m so thankful for! At first she scared me a little bit, putting pressure on me that the baby needs to gain weight, and if we can’t make it work I may have to supplement. I felt horrible not being able to feed my baby! Apart from Savina not latching right, my colostrum didn’t flow well. I was just not getting a lot. We tried pumping but I was lucky to get 2 or 3 drops. Also, pumping really hurt bad! I tried hand extraction too, but nothing would come out. The LC brought a feeding cup for Savina, and when my milk finally came in, I was able to pump very little amounts to cup feed her. I got like half an ounce in 20 minutes of pumping, ignoring the pain, so my little girl could have some nourishment! At first it was a challenge to cup feed her, careful not to pour the milk in and have her choke on it. She had to lick it out of the cup herself–quite the challenge indeed. I had to hold the cup just right so that she could get at the milk but I wouldn’t be pouring it into her mouth. We only cup-fed her twice because I just couldn’t take the pain of pumping anymore. The Tommy Tippee double electric pump has a silicone horn, which I now believe was the problem. I’d continued having painful and swollen and reddened nipples when using the pump even after I’d started doing well nursing Savina. They finally sent us a manual pump, where the horn is not silicone, and that seems to work much better for me. So, since I couldn’t pump, the LC came again and brought nipple shields. Thank god for the invention of those miraculous little things! I’ve been able to nurse her with those shields just fine. She started latching well, and by now I can even feed her well without–she latches just fine without them. It’s still painful if I nurse her without the shields several times a day, and I have to usually give it a rest for a few days after that, but we’re slowly getting there. Yay.

Motherhood has been very wonderful, rewarding, amazing so far, but also a challenge in the first few days. I had no idea of the trials to come in the following weeks…

 

My “yay” of today: I finally fit in one of my pre-pregnancy pants again! 🙂

Welcome, Savina Celestiale

Savina Celestiale Comeau, born Oct 16, 2012 @ 9:58am — 6lb 5oz, 20 inches

(at 38 weeks 6 days)

What a month. Three weeks ago I would have never imagined I’d be holding my daughter in my arms that Tuesday morning. It all started Friday night. Get comfy in your seat as you have a long read ahead of you. Here is Savina’s amazing birth story:

Friday, October 12, 2012. For the first time in this pregnancy I found a lot of white, creamy discharge and had to pick up liners.

Saturday, October 13, 2012. I found more of that extra discharge in the morning and then again around 5:30pm. White and creamy on the liner, but more watery and with a yellow tinge when wiping. I was looking forward to participate in our club’s Oktoberfest. I’d so been hoping Savina would stay put until after the event. And she did, that little sweetheart. That night though, I felt my first two contractions, although my uterus didn’t feel hard when I checked. It was the first time I felt something like a painful BH, or maybe just a very strong cramping. I felt baby move during the contractions.

Sunday, October 14, 2012. My friend Theresa came by to finish the mural. Yes, my weekly update would have included images of the mural and the finished nursery. That will have to wait now. I’m so so happy and so lucky Theresa had the time to finish it on Sunday (save a couple fairies and some landscaping)–I just never thought Savina would make an entrance only two days later. Thank you Theresa, your beautiful work of art is breathtaking, and everyone who gets to see it admires it! I had more of those Saturday-night-like contractions scattered throughout Sunday. Very irregular, very much nothing I thought too much of. I also found more discharge around 7pm–this time with an itsy bitsy tiny tinge of pink.
At night contractions continued. Peter asked early that night if I was okay, I answered yea just more of those pains. We had no idea…
The night was really restless, as I needed to go to the bathroom about once every hour, and with every trip, I felt one of those pains. Baby did not move during those contractions.

Monday, October 15, 2012. I had lost exactly three pounds over night. Peter had to stay home from work because tenants were still in the house he was supposed to work on. What a coincidence… I continued feeling those pains, now even stronger, and decided that maybe I should time them. I still had no such idea in my mind that I’d be holding my girl within the next 24 hours. All I thought was, yay my body is getting ready. A few contractions, maybe another week… Well. No. I was so wrong.
So I timed my contractions. At first they came irregularely at 5-9 min. apart. Then they spaced out to  15-20 min. apart, just to return to 6-9 min. apart. I was confused by them too, because they would be painful but sometimes the pain would go away long before the uterus relaxed. I didn’t know what to make of it. My wonderful midwife suggested to take a hot shower and a walk outside.
I had two contractions during a 20 min. shower and the shower felt really good. Afterwards, contractions slowed down. We went for a walk about 1.5 hours later. My back began to hurt only about 2 min. out the door. We returned about 40 min. later, and I had only 2 contractions during the walk. I was expecting to be having these contractions for days, or a week or more, but was hoping I wouldn’t. After the walk, contractions came 6-9 min. apart again, still irregular. During dinner they came 5-7 min. apart, around 7pm about every 15 min.. I still didn’t make much of that. My midwife was going to come up that night to check on me.

At this point I stopped timing the contractions. My midwife, Becca, came around 9/9:30pm that Monday. We did a regular checkup and discussed what had been going on. She then asked me if I wanted her to check my cervix. Since she asked, and I’d been just too curious, I said ‘sure!’ She asked whether I’d be okay if my cervix hadn’t opened yet. I said yes. I wasn’t really expecting anything anyway. After all, I wasn’t even 39 weeks yet. So she checked and told me I was 50% effaced and almost 3cm dilated. Wow. Suddenly this got a little more real, although I still didn’t think I’d have a baby about 12 hours later. Many women are dilated for weeks, and more than 3cm, too. My midwife agreed that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. When she was about to leave for the day, she jinxed herself. She told me I could call her anytime, even if it’s 4 o’clock in the morning. Well, little did she know… I’d be calling her almost exactly at 4am. I find that rather comical to this day.

After she left, we had ourselves a sweet treat and watched a couple episodes of 24. Then it was bedtime. Not much rest was destined for us though…

Tuesday, October 16, 2012. Around 12am. I continued having contractions. Painful ones. I had to breathe through them. After some time, Peter asked me if I was all right. Yea, just more contractions. He asked, should I time them? I felt really overwhelmed by that question. I don’t know, if you’d like, I guess. I knew he had to work the next day, and I didn’t want to keep him up for nothing. Of course our little baby girl doesn’t do things ‘for nothing’ haha! So Peter got a pen and paper and a watch and began timing around 2am. Contractions came about 8 minutes apart, with the occasional odd one, for almost an hour. Then they came every 4-6 min. for about 15 minutes. I found some more pink in my mucus and then decided to take a shower to see if that would slow down contractions, like it had happened the other day. Instead of slowing them, the shower seemed to speed them up. Contractions came 3 minutes apart, occasionally 2 minutes. The shower felt great though. The sharp stabbing pains turned dull, and I thought, yes! the pool is going to be great for giving birth–it’s really going to help! After showering for almost 20 min., contractions went back to 4-5 min. apart for a short while, until they sped up again. It was funny, while I showered contractions became so regular: I would shout to Peter in the other room when a contraction started and when it would stop. At some point he shouted back: “I know.” And I was like, huh?! And he said: “You’re getting predictable.”

After my shower, at about 3:30, Peter began setting up the pool. He’d asked me earlier, before I stepped into that shower, if he should set it up, and I was once again overwhelmed and answered: “Please stop asking me that.” (He’d asked about setting up the pool for days cuz he wanted to be ready for when we needed it.). I’m so glad he decided to take matters into his own hand and just started setting it up. Meanwhile I called my midwife at about 3:50am. I described the situation to her and eventually she asked me what I wanted to do. Did I want her to come to my house? Or wait a little longer? I decided to wait another hour and see what happens. At 4:05 the pain became more intense, and I’d been feeling nauseous for some time now. I couldn’t wait for that pool to fill up with water. I so wanted to be in the water to just feel better and ease the pain at that point. We stopped timing contractions at 4:20am. I figured this wasn’t really going to change any time soon, so why keep up the hard work of keeping record, while trying to fill that tub with enough water?

4:40am. I called my midwife again. I couldn’t wait the last ten minutes to make the hour full. This was happening. This was definitely happening. I’m not sure if I realized that. I think I just felt that having my midwife nearby would help me get through this, whether this was going to be it or not. I called and told her that there was no change in frequency of contractions. Pain was more intense though. She didn’t hesitate to say, “I’m coming up.”

I then called my doula, Jessica, but hung up before she could answer the phone, because I was getting another contraction and knew I wouldn’t be able to talk. Can you imagine answering the phone and all you hear is heavy, controlled breathing? Weird, right? Then she returned the call and I let Peter answer it. When the pool had just about enough water to cover my lower abdomen, I went in and felt so relieved. I hadn’t bothered putting any clothes on after the shower because it just felt so much better without. All I wore was a towel around my belly. I got back out of the pool when Becca and Jessica arrived at 5:47am. Becca examined my belly to check where I was at in labor. I got back into the pool shortly after that. Peter had to boil water to help fill the pool because our hot water heater was trying to keep up with our hot water demands. I was very impressed how well the pool kept the water warm this entire time! Jessica and Peter kept me hydrated while Becca checked the baby’s heart rate every 20-30 min. I was very hot and loving that, although the cold compresses they rotated on my forehead, neck, and later on my back as well were very refreshing.

6:47am. I dozed off between contractions. It was so nice and relaxing. I was so gone at one point that as the next contraction started, I thought: am I dreaming? Is this really happening? I breathed long, hard blows during contractions. They were quite controlled, and I’m so glad I practiced hypnobirthing, because that really helped me breathe right. I could tell that when I moaned during my breathing it hurt more than if I didn’t, so the constant reminders on how to breathe (along with all the affirmations) by everyone throughout my labor were such great help. Then my arms began to go numb, and Jessica massaged my arms and hands, while I continued to focus on my breathing.

7:34am. My breathing had become strong and I concentrated on blowing away my contractions. I started to feel the urge to push but was encouraged to breathe it out.

7:46am. Still pretty much in the same position. It was comfortable. Jessica was rubbing my hands and Peter was rubbing my shoulders. More cold face cloths were rotated on my forehead. I continued getting hydration by Jessica and Peter. I even took Gatorade, yikes! I was too exhausted to resist and I knew beforehand that I’d have to drink flavored water.

8am. I really wanted to bear down in my contractions now. I was told to hold off pushing as long as I could. In my trance-like condition I looked deadpan at Jessica and asked: “What do you mean?” Becca then explained that if I held off as long as I could, and then push, it would turn the whole contraction into a push. Wow, I didn’t really get what that meant, but it sounded really good lol.
Peter was holding me up at my right shoulder and upper torso, while Jessica held my left arm/shoulder and my hand. I squeezed Jessica’s hand so hard during my pushes, I felt really sorry afterwards. I also had to put my right foot on the edge of the pool. I much rather had it in the warm water, but I was getting a cramp in my leg, and every time I put it back in the pool, I’d feel the cramp coming on again. That really annoyed me.

8:40am. Our backup midwife, Amanda, arrived.

9:07am. Amanda very much wanted me to change position. I was comfortable in the position I was in, but she knew just what to say to make me change: “for the baby”. So I went on my left side, but I didn’t like that position at all.
Becca explained to me that the baby was coming down more with each push and then going a little back up again, basically stretching the area to come out easy. I thought, really? When will this end? I kept looking at the clock, especially when 9:30 rolled around, thinking: I want her out, I want her out!! I was soooooo close to giving up and letting them bring me to the hospital for an epidural. Today I don’t remember the pain anymore. What I do remember is that the act of pushing was not painful at all, only each contraction leading up to it. I also remember that I screamed my lungs out during the pushes, and they kept reminding me that I should just press and stop vocalizing the push. They were right, the pushes got much stronger if I held my tongue, but it was difficult to concentrate on that at first.
Becca told me to feel my baby, but I was too exhausted to reach down and just wanted all this to be over.

9:12am. I went on my knees, holding myself up at the edge of the pool with my arms. It was an instinctual position change, but my midwives seemed to be very happy about it, and it felt good to hear that they approved. That gave me additional strength. Jessica sat in front of me, holding my hands until Peter took over. Some time before this position change I could feel my water break. No one else ever noticed when my water broke, since I was in the water. I was too exhausted to tell anyone ‘hey my water just broke,’ and I didn’t make note of the time. But it happened somewhere between 8:40am and 9:15am I believe. With that gush of fluid I could also feel some pee come out at the same time. And I think at some point during one of the pushes I released a little something from the other opening down there. Sorry girls!
Jessica went to turn the thermostat down. I didn’t realize how hot it had been in the room, obviously. Then someone started to make coffee, and while I usually love the scent of freshly brewed coffee, it really bothered me that time. Again, I was too exhausted to say a thing. That scent went away after a while, so it was fine. In the meantime, my cat, Sue, scouted out the room, probably looking for breakfast.

My team was able to see the head in the vaginal opening–head with lots of hair! Becca told me again to feel my baby. This time I did feel her. Felt soooo weird!

By now I felt so much pressure on my butt, so Becca pressed against it, which helped a lot!

9:50am. Holding a mirror in the pool, my team could see our baby starting to crown.

9:57am. Savina fully crowned. I couldn’t tell the difference between her head and the rest of her body coming out. When she came out, it felt like all at once, not with a minute in between. As her head was almost fully crowned, I felt the real pain of labor: the beginning of a tear. I did sustain a small nick but no major tear, no stitches needed. When it started tearing, my moaning and pressing and breathing turned into shouts of “ou, ou, ou”. There is a world of difference between real pain and labor pain. Becca told me to slow down the pushing, and I thought: ‘Are you kidding?’ It was really hard to control that muscle, to hold back while my whole body just independently wants to push. But I’m grateful to my midwife for advising me, because if she hadn’t and if I hadn’t tried so hard to follow her advice, I’m sure, I would have had a good tear.

9:58am. Savina was born! Becca gave us the saying of the day as she called: “Elli, catch your baby. I can’t reach her.” I don’t even remember hearing her say that–Peter told me afterwards, and I saw/heard it on the videotape we recorded (the final 1.5 hours of labor–the tape ran out about 2 min. after Savina was born. We were quite lucky there.) I did catch Savina in the pool though–I really must have been in a trance-like state. I watched the video afterwards and am baffled by all the things that were quietly said during my labor and that I completely missed.

Jessica says my look was of awe, disbelief, and relief, all within one split second. I kept saying “oh my god,” and somewhere inbetween all the oh my gods I said “Happy Birthday.”

10:19am. Third stage of labor: I delivered my placenta, which was quite different from what I had imagined. I thought I would feel it detaching, thought I would have a few more painful contractions and then have to actively push it out. But it wasn’t quite like that. It just kind of slipped right out with a slight cramp feeling. And it felt so small compared to baby hah!
You may be shocked to learn that yours truly has become a cannibal since. Yes, I had my placenta cooked and turned into pills, and I’m taking them regularly. They do smell like cooked meat, almost like dog food, and sometimes they leave behind a strange taste, but only sometimes. I do believe in the benefits of taking them.

10:25am. Peter cut the umbilical cord.

10:30am. I finally got out of the pool.

Some final thoughts

I’m so grateful and happy that I didn’t need to go to the hospital. I can now see how women can easily get convinced there of procedures they neither need nor want. Had I been at the hospital, I know I would have given in to an epidural. I really, really didn’t want that though.
And the warm water in the pool helped tremendously–I don’t even want to think about what the pain would have felt like outside the pool. Thank you so much for letting me stay in the pool that long, Becca!

Peter asked me, shortly after getting out of the pool: “So, do you want another?” I answered “yes.” … of course I want another. Yes, it was hard, yes there was pain, but I got through it. I had the best support in the world. Thank you girls! Thank you, love!

I still can’t believe what a miracle this is. This tiny body was inside me, and now it’s not. I keep wondering where this body was in me. Where did this fit inside me? And every time I look at my daughter, it’s still so surreal to me. She’s here, she’s mine. Even after three weeks I look upon her as a true miracle. Wow. Yes, I’m still baffled. I don’t even know what to say. It’s simply amazing, breathtaking, unbelievable. And soooo good. Giving birth to my baby is the best and most amazing thing I ever got the privilege of experiencing.

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If you’ve made it this far, wow, you’re awesome :). I have to apologize for not keeping my promise of posting that kick/move video. I do have a really good excuse: I was having major issues with the video editing program I’ve been using, so I had to look for a new one and then learn all the ins and outs of that one. It took a while but I finally had it almost done. But then Savina decided to make an entrance. I know, now that she’s here, the video is only half as exciting, but I still plan to get it done and let you see it, as soon as time allows.

Special thanks go out to my medical team, Becca, Amanda, and Jessica, for all the care you provided and for taking notes of everything that happened, which helped greatly in recreating this memory for a complete birth story.

A heartfelt thank you, a kiss, and a hug, to my dearest husband, who was so supportive, affirmative, and strong during my time in labor! I love you to pieces!

Below you will see my last belly pics (at 38 weeks 2 days) and my 1 week postpartum pics. I gained a total average of 35 lbs, max. weight gain was almost 37 lbs (at 181.8 lbs). One day postpartum: 166.6 lbs. Currently: 160 lbs (yes I’ve been indulging in a lot of sweet treats since Savina’s birth, therefore only a slow weight loss). Pre-pregnancy: 145 lbs. Goal: 139 lbs and less (139 lbs was my weight prior to my miscarriage in Nov 2011).