Saturday, November 29, 2008

Patient care at Burnaby Hospital's Maternity Unit

We were at the hospital for 3 and a half days.  I don't have much experience being at hospitals but I was overall very impressed with the patient care at Burnaby General.  The staff were very knowledgeable and friendly and I don't know if we could have made the transition home without their help.

Several doctors, including my Obstetrician served me, while the nurses and pediatrician served baby Tristan.  In and out they came checking to make sure I was on my way to recovery and checking that Tristan was healthy.  Giving birth to Tristan was rough on my uterus and I bled a lot.  The first 24 hours I had major blood clots and they had to put me back on IV therapy to control the bleeding.  I also couldn't pee because of all the swelling so I had the urine catheter tube in me for 48 hours after delivery.

The nursing staff at Burnaby General helped us with breastfeeding, showed us how to bathe Tristan, answered all our questions and concerns, and gave us access to all sorts of supplies including diapers, towels, pads, clean linens, pillows, breast pump, baby formula, pain-killers etc.  Jean-Louis and I always joked about how we are finally taking advantage of the MSP that we pay every month.  We're typically healthy and probably only visit the doctors at the clinic once every year or two.  This pregnancy and having Tristan has totally made us use the MSP services :)

We would like to thank Johanna, our assigned nurse in the birthing suite, and Brooke, Nadia, Noreen, and Jill from the Maternity Ward.  These girls are awesome caretakers!

Last but not least, we are thankful for our assigned visiting nurse, Donna.  Within 24 hours of being discharged from the hospital, we were contacted by Donna from the Fraser Health Department. She contacted us first by phone to see how things were going with the baby and myself. She was very concerned and it was very helpful and reassuring to talk to her. She then visited us at home soon after and gave us a truck load of reading material about taking care of the baby. There is so much to know! Donna weighed Tristan and we went through breastfeeding again. We were so tired and she could tell. She also complimented us on all our efforts, which was nice to hear.  She then followed up during the week with more phone calls and then again the next week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Revisiting the labour experience

The worst time to go into labour is probably when you just crawl into bed at night. This is what happened to us. To make things worst, I went to bed hungry that night. I only had fruit and yogurt for dinner and my stomach was growling. That was the start of a very long night...

My water broke and we arrived at the hospital just before 1 AM. Contractions started soon after so we were moved to the birthing suite for the night. Because of my Strep B, I had antibiotics given to me right away through an IV tube. It was very early labour for me since I was only 1 cm dilated. At this time, Jean-Louis was feeling a bit light headed and thought he was going to vomit. Contractions were coming around every 5 minutes and were pretty strong. The pain was like a bad stomach ache like you are about to have diarrhea but can't. Each contraction also came with intense lower back pain and more and more blood spewing out. The brand new slippers I brought to the hospital was covered in blood, as well as everything else I wore. Am I allowed to be this graphical on a blog? Anyway, I would totally recommend only wearing hospital gowns and perhaps an underwear you can throw away afterwards. Jean-Louis was massaging me the whole time until he realized it was too tiring and then he resorted to only massaging me during each contraction. I am now healing from bruises on my back and I'm sure his hands and arms were sore for days.

Labour lasted for around 10 hours and then I had to push for around 2 hours. It was absolutely brutal. I had no energy and no sleep and I barely drank water since my full bladder was interfering with the labour. In fact, I couldn't feel my bladder and couldn't pee so they had to insert a urine catheter to collect my urine at one point. Relaxing so that strong contractions would come was very difficult. I had to breathe long and slow with each contraction but my impulse was to hyperventilate instead. It was bad. Jean-Louis and I practiced massages at home but we didn't do any relaxation exercises. We played our rainforest nature sounds CD and I tried to close my eyes but it was so hard to focus and not think about the pain. When the nurse was around, she would talk to me and her voice would soothe me but Jean-Louis was more of a silent support partner. I can totally see why people hire doulas to accompany them during labour. I would totally recommend hiring a doula for your first labour experience, especially if your support partner is quiet like mine. Jean-Louis and I thought we were well prepared but we could have been better prepared for sure. It was a good thing we packed a lot of stuff in our hospital bag because we ended up using most of what was in it.

I was obviously in pain when I approached the transition phase of labour. I couldn't really tell the difference between the active and transition phase. The nurse kept asking me if I wanted to take something for the pain and I responded no each time, although I was ready to give up. Finally, I did try the laughing gas for a few contractions. It's suppose to relax you and I need to calm down so that harder contractions would come and dilate my cervix. I'm not sure if it helped much but it did make me aware of my breathing. When I got a bit dizzy, I stopped using it. At this point, it so hard not to push because with each wave of contraction, my body would automatically push down. Positioning did not help me with this, although I read it would.

Pushing seemed like it lasted forever. At this point, I hardly had any strength. I was sucking on ice chips and sweating like nuts. My obstetrician suggested I have an episiotomy and I agreed. I felt no pain from it. Then it was decided that we would use a vacuum too :( These were all still better alternatives to having surgery, which was what I feared of most. The vacuum, along with my pushing finally did it and baby Tristan, all 8 pounds 2.6 ounces of him, emerged all at once right onto my chest. What a relief! And boy did he feel heavy. He cried instantly. I didn't know what to think.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Born November 20th...

Tristan Gabriel has finally entered the world at last. Baby is healthy and we feel like the luckiest people in the world. I have lots to blog about but I am still recovering from the traumatic experience and am so sleep deprived right now. Lots more coming soon - I promise.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Now our iPhone app is also waiting for the labour

Some of you may have recalled me talking about a geeky project I was involved with Jean-Louis in my first blog post.  Well, our nice expectant-baby has given us enough time to finish a working version of the app so that we can use it for when I go into labour.  Congratulations to Jean-Louis for he was accepted into the iPhone Developer Program this week (finally!).  That allowed him to install our app on the iTouch yesterday!

This app is going to work marvelously for what we were looking for!  Once we sat down to discuss about all the ideas and started implementing it, we found out that there are many other apps and programs already out there which do similar things - go figure!  That's okay, ours is original since we were not influenced by any of these when we first came up with our plan :)  Why the heck are we doing this?  Well, it's practical and why not?  I'm a UI Designer, specialized in Human-Computer Interaction, and Jean-Louis is a Software Engineer, with previous experience working with Symbian and handheld devices,  so this is the sort of thing we enjoy doing ;)  Okay, we're geeks but he's 10 times more geeky than I am!

I'm excited to be the first one to user test it for us!  Afterwards, we will refine it and then I will continue to research a bit more so we can further improve it for an initial release.  It will still be awhile before we will make it available through the App Store.  We would like to test it more with actual users first.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wow, 39 weeks!

We didn't think we would make it this far.  Being pregnant for 39 weeks is a long time.  This baby is definitely taking its sweet time!  I can tell you right now some of his clothes won't fit him anymore (likely not anyway).  Jean-Louis and I were talking and we both agreed that it was when he installed the base of the car seat in the car a couple of weeks ago that jinxed us.  In fact, we have the car seat ready in the living room too - double jinx!

Today was another doctor's appointment day.  Everything seems to be in order and it's possible I may have dilated just 1 cm but it could still be days or weeks away I guess.  The good news is I seemed to have lost 2 pounds :)  I was quite pleased about that.  It's true I haven't been very hungry lately and decided to eat less.  I think I'll keep that up :)  Because the pregnancy is still on, I'm quite worried that the baby is going to be huge.  The more weight you gain, the higher the risk you have of delivering a heavy baby says postings on New York Times and babycenter.  When we asked our doctor how heavy she thought the baby was, she replied about 8 pounds.  That's huge man!  Am I going to be able to push it out and survive?  8 pounds now but in a week, it will be 9 pounds probably :(  Our next doctor's appointment is next Friday, the 21st.  Man, I sure hope we don't have to go to that appointment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We're still here

It seems like everyone now has their own predictions of when the baby will arrive. Some are saying the 14th, 15th, or 17th. The 18th would be somewhat of a lucky number since the Chinese believe "8's" are lucky. However, we are already lucky since it's 2008 :) For myself, I just hope the arrival day will be soon since that will give me more time to spend with him before starting work again in January. Of course, January is just tentative right now. I don't want to disappoint anyone.

What have I been doing to pass time? Well, I'm trying to enjoy the pregnancy or what's left of it. We've taken some pictures lately as a souvenir for memories and I've been spending the last few days photoshopping :) Jean-Louis hasn't seen them all yet so once we decide what's good, we're going to print some in color and black/white. I may even display a couple here - I don't know yet.

Been walking every day still but it is becoming increasingly difficult because I'm very uncomfortable walking, am slow, and now, we're getting back home when it's dark outside. Some times it's raining too but this is the season! We just hope it doesn't snow when we have to head to the hospital.

Overall, I'm still feeling pretty good. My leg cramps are getting worst and so is my lower back pain. I'm already so huge but it appears I'm still expanding - eeks! Yeah, hard to believe. It's amazing how your belly can stretch so much. Everything about pregnancy amazes me :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Celebrating 10 years as a couple

Today, Jean-Louis and I are celebrating 10 years as a couple.  We chose our vacation in Hawaii in July for this reason.  Hawaii is where we met and we've been inseparable since then.  Well, we did have a long distance relationship for about 3 years but since we got married we probably spent no more than one day apart.  Ok, so we weren't totally inseparable.

To mark the occasion, we decided to buy groceries and cook a special meal at home.  We had lobster (Hawaiian style), gai lan beef, fish in yogurt sauce, all served with brown rice and then chestnut cake.  Yummy and are we ever stuffed!!!  We slaved for a few hours this afternoon but we get to feast for several days :)

All the shopping, cooking, and walking after we ate just made me exhausted.  I was actually starting to fall asleep at the table while eating since I was so full and I didn't sleep well at all last night.  I'm so glad to be sitting at the computer right now!  My feet are so sore :(  That's the last big meal we will be cooking for ourselves until petit-boy arrives.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My friend just had her baby!

November 8, 2008 (1188) is a good day to have a baby :) Congratulations to my good friend in Victoria, who just had her baby this morning! We were pregnancy sync since our due dates were just 1 day apart. Mommy and baby are doing well. We're so happy for her. It's her second child. She may be petite but she is some warrior. She did all this while she was sick!

Ok, now it's petit-boy's turn! When are you going to arrive for us? Jean-Louis and I are very anxious to meet you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

38 weeks and counting...

Here we are - just 2 weeks away. I'm feeling about the same, except that I ache more when I sleep, my rib spasms are worst, and the baby is moving more lately.

What actually triggers labour? I read an article online that suggests that it's actually the baby that triggers the labour, not the mother, which was what was believed in the past. The theories suggest that once the baby is "ready" it will release either an enzyme or its adrenal glands will send a signal to start the labour process. However, no one really knows what triggers labour. Sort of like how no one really knows why a baby hiccups in your belly. A possible theory here is that it is preparing them to breathe in the outside world. Speaking of hiccups, I'm feeling them right now! Ahh, so many pregnancy mysteries...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Doctor's appointment

We just got back from the doctors. We found out that I tested positive for Strep B. The doctor tells us that there is a 50/50 chance of getting it so it's very common.  However, I read that anywhere from 15% to 40% of women carry Group B Strep bacteria.  I'm still bummed that I have to be on antibiotics when I go into labour :( Luckily, I will still be able to walk around. I decided to research a bit more about Strep B or Group B Streptococcus and it's sort of frightening. Should I be worried?

We wanted to know how far along we really were and if I have started to dilate yet. They won't examine you though until you are 38 weeks along. Our next appointment is set for November 14th. I'm starting to think the baby is going to take its precious time to exit. I have to keep busy so I don't have to think about all the discomfort. Maybe I'll start to revamp our company website after all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Packing for the hospital

It is suggested that you pack a suitcase before going into labour.  Different sources will tell you slightly different things and what you actually bring will vary from person to person.  Here are some of the typical things most sources recommend:
  • Copies of birth plan
  • Comfortable clothes like sweat suits
  • Nursing bras
  • Slippers, socks
  • Several pairs of underwear
  • Soap, shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Music
  • Partner's swimming trunks (for helping you in the shower during labour)
  • Food/snacks for your partner
  • Sleeping items for your partner, if he/she is staying the night
  • Sanitary pads
  • Camera
  • Baby clothes, blanket for going home
  • Car seat (best brought in the day you leave)
I think there are a lot more things to bring and it's probably best to be safe and pack more, in case you end up having to go through surgery and staying longer at the hospital.  You could always ask your partner to grab things for you from home, given that you don't live that far from the hospital.  However, since I am the main homemaker, it's probably easier and more efficient for me to just plan and pack everything we could possibly need now.  Now, you don't want to look like you are about to go on vacation by showing up at the hospital with 2 check-in luggages.  In fact, the staff at the hospital do stress that storage space is limited and we should only pack a small bag.  So we'll try to keep things to a minimal and pack efficiently so that we can fit as much as possible in our little bag :)

Here are things you may also want to pack:
  • Coins for parking
  • Insurance info so that you can bill your semi-private or private room
  • Hair brush or comb, hair tier
  • Chap stick or lip gloss
  • Hand lotion, face moisturizer
  • Massage tools that you have practiced with
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Phone numbers and phone card
  • Battery charger, extra memory cards for your camera
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Breast-feeding cream for nipples
  • 2 diapers
  • iTouch or watch
  • Juice boxes, celebratory drink for after the delivery
  • Plastic bags for dirty laundry
  • Going home outfit for yourself
  • Baby-on-board sign
  • Book(s) to read
Did I miss anything?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Baby arrival month

I had a nightmare last night. I dreamed that I was bleeding and I couldn't get a hold of Jean-Louis at work to take me to the hospital. I kept trying to call but couldn't dial the right number and skype wasn't working either. I imagine I will have more stress-related dreams as the days pass by - pfft :(

I'm hoping the baby will arrive early some time this week, preferably on the weekend. I heard that it's common for the baby to arrive two weeks early and that would be this weekend for us. I'm feeling quite uncomfortable these days and anxiety is building up. Heartburn, killer leg cramps, huge belly, baby hiccups, back pain - I can't wait for all this to go away already! I also feel a bit helpless and am having to rely more and more on Jean-Louis. He's been great at helping out with everything but I sort of wish I could do more. I have never been this useless before. I can't imagine doing all this without Jean-Louis's support. I think I'd be doom without him here.

Here is a list of my fears entering into labour and birth:
  • Drug use (because the labour has gone on too long or there is a problem)
  • C-section (eeks! surgery!)
  • Something wrong with the baby
  • Not being able to breastfeed
  • Postpartum depression

Saturday, November 1, 2008

For those who don't know me

I'm Susan. I live in the Greater Vancouver Area and I'm about to be a mommy for the first time. Hooray! I'm usually a very private person and I wasn't sure if blogging was the right thing for me. I do have a lot to share and hope that others who read my posts can connect with me in some way. The goal of this blog is to share my life as a new mommy in my 30s and to document this great journey into parenthood for my husband, Jean-Louis, and I.

As a couple, married for 7 years now, we've been through many up and downs and getting pregnant was like winning the lottery for us! We can't wait to tell the world and that's big for us since we're typically reserved and quiet. I will try to keep the blog as interesting as I can. Visit often and please feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you :)
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