And you’re a parent!

The moment your baby enters this world is when your life changes completely. It’s like you’ve been given a new job and you are expected to know exactly what to do without any training. All the books in the world can’t prepare you for this moment. You finally get to meet the little one that you’ve been picturing in your head and feeling in your womb. You will stare at him or her in disbelief and feel every emotion possible.

The hardest part of all this is (for mothers) that you never really get time to recover from the delivery. Whether you’ve had a natural birth or c-section,  you aren’t given any time to sleep like you normally would with any major surgery. Your body goes through an extraordinary amount of pain and stress during birth and you will be beyond exhausted and in pain. I don’t know if it’s the hormones or human instinct but you will be able to somehow truck on and care for your baby despite all of this.

Once our baby girl arrived and my uncontrollable shaking from the epidural stopped, my husband and I felt a sense of calm and of course, an insurmountable amount of love. We literally stared at our baby, every little part of her. We took hundreds of pictures and talked about who she looked like and how tiny she was.

Once we were in our hospital room, nurses were coming in very frequently to check on me and the baby. Our parents were in the room with us too and the joy on their faces was amazing!  Rest whenever you can at this point. Bring headphones with you too- hospitals can be very loud so having some music in your ears might help you get a nap in here and there. If someone offers to hold your baby for an hour,  take it! If there’s a lull in visitors and your baby is sleeping, sleep! The first few weeks at home will be very exhausting so take all the help you can get.

Don’t be afraid to ask nurses for help when you need.  That’s what they are there for. Ask all the questions you have and trust that your baby will be just fine. Finally, take advice from your family members. They know a lot from experience.  Every day will be an adventure from here on out. Embrace it and know that it gets easier!

 

 

Delivery

I won’t go into too much detail about the delivery of our sweet baby girl. I will however give you the best advice I can: go into you labour and delivery with an open mind. You can plan every detail you want, but at that moment, your baby’s safety and health (and yours too) might require a change of plan.

Like most, I had planned a natural delivery. I decided that if I needed an epidural I would take it, but I wanted to see what the pain was like first and if I could handle it. I also had planned to do skin-on-skin immediately after she entered this world. I imagined what the birth would be like, and yet things didn’t turn out as planned after all.

After my water broke I waited for my husband to get home from work.  Actually, my water didn’t really “break” per se. It was more like a slow trickle which made me question if it was even my water at all. After a few hours of this trickling, I called the hospital to tell them what was happening and the nurse on the phone told me to come in. So my husband and I got in the car and headed to the hospital with our bags which were already packed. We were both very calm and serene during the drive. Maybe because we weren’t even sure my water had broken yet. Maybe because it was hard for us to believe our baby was finally going to arrive. Once the doctor examined me she confirmed that my water had broke and that our baby was on her way! My contractions started off pretty mild and very quickly got much worse. The pain eventually became unbearable and I requested the epidural. The epidural was a bit scary to me but but my fear of it was overcome by the terrible labour pains.

Once the epidural kicked in, I was able to rest. My husband and mom tried to get some sleep in the uncomfortable visitor chairs while I lay in the hospital bed, anxious and already tired. Hours later, and once I was dilated enough, the nurse came in and had me start pushing. On her command I pushed and pushed (or at least I think I was pushing because I couldn’t feel anything!).

To make a long story short, I pushed for two straight hours with no success.  Our baby would not fit through my birth canal. So, after becoming exhausted from pushing,  the doctor performed an emergency c-section. So there it was, after all the planning and picturing the birth a certain way, things changed and I just had to accept it. Before I knew it, our baby girl was here.

During and after the surgery I had uncontrollable shaking throughout my body, which most women get as a side effect from the epidural. I was also very  tired and could barely keep my eyes open. So I actually didn’t hold our baby until about an hour or two after the delivery. Instead, my husband held her and took care of her. He did an amazing job.

 

 

Week 38 of pregnancy – the storm before the calm

After a fairly textbook pregnancy, things changed pretty quickly during my 38th week. I had stopped work already and was trying to keep busy at home by cleaning EVERYTHING. I read somewhere that this is called ‘nesting’ but I think it was more likely my boredom or obsessive compulsiveness kicking in.

I had gone the entire pregnancy without getting sick until this 38th week. Go figure,  I get sick when I’ve been home, away from the many germs at work and the people who never cover their mouths when they cough. I spent two days trying to breathe mostly. With the weight of the baby pushing up on my lungs and my nose being completely congested, I struggled big time!

A few days later I woke up in the middle of the night with the most excruciating pain behind my left ear. The pain didn’t subside at all and in fact got worse as the hours passed. I noticed the left side of my tongue felt different too. I thought it must had been related to my cold and sinuses and I went on with my day as best as I could. Then that evening I noticed my upper lip was slightly pulling to one side. It was then that I decided to go to the hospital.

The doctor who saw me in the emergency room didn’t seem too concerned and after hours of waiting he gave me a referral to a neurologist. I went home that night feeling a bit uneasy as the doctor didn’t perform any tests and barely examined me. The pain continued and I tried to sleep through the night although that proved to be very difficult.  I woke up again in the middle of the night to see that the entire left side of my face was completely paralyzed. My left eye was wide open, I had no control over the left side of my mouth and my tongue felt numb. I panicked and woke up my husband. I was scared and sad and frustrated and I cried for hours.  I went back to the emergency room where another doctor examined me. He immediately diagnosed me with Bell’s Palsy, a temporary paralysis of one side of my face. I was prescribed prednisone and told that it could take 4 to 6 months to recover, possibly longer.

To say I was upset was an understatement.  I mean I was happy it wasn’t a stroke (which was the first thing that crossed my mind). And I was happy that my baby was OK of course. But this was the last thing I expected to happen. I felt like I looked deformed.

It was a challenge learning how to eat, brush my teeth and speak. I even had to buy a patch for my eye so that it wouldn’t dry up while I slept. Sound was amplified in my left ear, making me feel a it off balance. Going outside was tough too as the cold air dried up my eye.

Developing Bell’s Palsy is very difficult thing to deal with. However, at the time, I didn’t want to let this overshadow what was to come.  My baby would be arriving soon and I had to step up and be brave. So I coped with the pain behind my ear. I coped with the lack of movement in my face and how people looked at me funny. I guess you can say this was the first time I experienced what it was like being a parent even though my baby wasn’t even born yet. Putting my her needs before mine and focusing on preparations for her arrival were more important then what was going on with my face.

The delivery did not go as planned either, but that story is for my next blog.

 

 

Baby prep! What to buy or register for

Visiting a baby store to make the first purchases for your baby is very overwhelming. What brands are best? What big items will be useful? What can you afford? You can search online for the ‘must haves’ and the ‘top registry items’ but it’s best to talk to friends and family who have kids. See what items they used and which ones they regret buying. You may even be lucky and get some hand-me-downs. Here is my input on some of the items we purchased. Hopefully this can help your decisions.

Clothing

When looking at baby clothing,  remember that your baby will grow quite fast in the first few months. My baby outgrew her newborn clothing well before her first month. I was sadly packing up these clothes way sooner then I thought I would. So my advice is to buy many different sizes in addition to nb size like 0-3 months and 3 months. Think about how often you want to do laundry too. The more clothes your baby has will reduce the frequency of laundry duty. Also, if you are planning on having more kids down the road,  get some gender neutral clothing that can be re-used despite the gender of your next bundle of joy.

If your friends and family are anything like ours, you will also get a lot of gifts after the baby is born. Our baby got tons of clothes when people came to visit. Keep this in mind when buying all those clothes!

Sleepers are the easiest to dress your baby in at first. You will need quite a few of these as they get dirty very quickly with the constant peeing, pooping and spitting up.

Playpen

The best purchase we made was a 3 in 1 playpen. This playpen which is by Baby Trend has a changing station,  removable bassinet and adjustable mattress.  It also has a removeable storage spot on the side where we keep diapers, wipes, diaper cream etc. During the first month or so, you can bring your baby around with you in the removeable bassinet. Although our baby outgrew the bassinet fairly quickly we still found this playpen to be the most useful item by far. We keep this item in our family room and continue to use it all day everyday.

The one and only negative of this item is that the changing station is quite low so your back may not appreciate it over time.

Bassinet

I am conflicted about how to rate our use of our bassinet. We purchased a standard Summer Infant bassinet to keep beside our bed. It’s a great bassinet with a sturdy, firm mattress and it doesn’t take up a lot of room. However if your baby is like mine, he or she will outgrow it quickly.  Our baby is just shy of 3 months and she is getting to the point where her head is almost touching the top of the bassinet. So now,  we are trying to decide if we should disassemble her crib and bring it in our room or start putting her in her own room to sleep. Overall, bassinets are no doubt great to have, they just might only be useful for a few months. It would be great if you could save some money and get a used one from family or friends.

Furniture for nursery

Buying our baby’s crib was fairly easy. We looked around at a few stores but in the end we decided to go with the same one that a family member had recently purchased. Your choice of crib will decide on your budget, the quality of the material you prefer and whether or not you want one that converts into a bed.

Further to my bassinet review, I would suggest not putting together your crib until you decide if you will need to use it in your room after your baby outgrows their bassinet or if you will leave it in their nursery only.

As for additional furniture, we decided to purchase a chest of drawers from Ikea. We found that the chest of drawers sold at the baby stores were way over priced. They were also pretty small which would limit further use in the future.

Bottles

If you are formula feeding or pumping you will need many bottles. This will save you time with sterilizing and prepping bottles.  I am mostly formula feeding and finding the right bottles for my baby was very challenging. I read many online reviews to see what brands had good ratings, but at the end of the day, your baby’s needs will be unique. Trial and error is the best way to approach this. My advice is to buy only one or two bottles of a specific brand and try them out for a couple weeks before you buy more.  I registered for Avent bottles and purchased even more myself, only to find that they caused my baby to have a lot of gas.  I had 10-15 bottles that I couldn’t use or return. I then tried out different brands of bottles and finally found the best ones for my baby. Funny enough, the best brand, Essentials was the cheapest. Essentials has a set of 3 bottles for under $7 at Walmart. These bottles have a filter in the nipple which prevents air from going through. The nipple shape and size is also ideal. So if you take away anything from this, try out different bottles before you buy more!

 

Bouncer chair/swing

We purchased a simple Bouncer chair which has come in handy. You could get fancier ones that swing as well which keeps your baby occupied for short periods of time. The good thing about the simple one is that you can bring it to different rooms such as the bathroom (if you want to attempt to shower). It allows you to strap in your baby and have him or her in your sights at all times. The larger ones that swing are great, however they are less mobile and take up more space.

I will continue to add to this blog as we try out new products!