Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

Our Year in Review

  • I finally met and hung out with my Designer friend from Brazil.
  • We found out that we were expecting in April.  We then became very sick with a cough and ended up as no-shows to the Vancouver Sun Run for the first time.
  • We tried Chinese Herbal Medicine for the first time after consulting the doctor at the herbal medicine store.  Jean-Louis' prescription had dried worms in it and both of our drinks were gross! Yuck!
  • I went to emergency at the hospital for the first time.
  • Jean-Louis switched to everything Mac.
  • We went back to Hawaii but this time to Maui to celebrate 10 years together.
  • We finally took a sunset cruise and dinner around the harbor of Vancouver.
  • I transitioned from being an employee in office to contracting for the company I worked for.
  • I applied for Employment Insurance benefits and collected for the first time.
  • I started my first blog here :)
  • Jean-Louis got hit by a car while biking to work.  His ribs were sore for months!
  • Jean-Louis almost quit his job.  No, seriously.
  • Jean-Louis and I worked on our first iPhone app together.
  • Barack Obama won the Presidency in the USA, the first African-American to do so.  Hey, I just had to mention it!
  • I went through labour and birth and had my first baby.  I breastfed for the first time.  I stayed overnight at the hospital for the first time.  Many firsts were involved here!
  • Our car got broken into in the underground parking of our complex.  It was unfortunate but it could have been worst.
  • We both got iPod Touches.

For the first time this year, I also did not do a few things.  I did not carve a pumpkin.  Usually I pick a more and more ambitious design every year.  I did not decorate for Christmas nor did I throw a party for Christmas or the New Year :(  We also did not enter in any races this year because of my pregnancy.  We're definitely looking forward to doing all these things in 2009!

Tummy time photo at 5 weeks

Our visiting nurse told us to give Tristan tummy time 4-5 times a day for 1-2 minutes after his cord falls off.  Well, his cord fell off on day 16th and we have been subjecting him to tummy time since.  Most of the time, he just hates it because it's hard work so he cries :(  Other times, he is just too tired and he sleeps with his head on the side.  Needless to say, it's hard to give Tristan good tummy time and even harder to capture a good photo of it when he is bobbling his head around.

Tristan is in his best mood first thing in the morning.  This morning during tummy time, I was able to capture this clear perfect shot of him lifting his head.  He put great height into it too!  Good job little sweetie!  I was so proud to have finally gotten a good shot, I entered it into a fun photo contest.  Most the entries so far (and there aren't many) are of older babies.  Tristan is the youngest so I think he should get extra points for that :)  If you like his tummy time picture too, please vote for him here: Tummy Time Photo Contest on

Monday, December 29, 2008

A few hours without Tristan

Yesterday, I left Tristan alone with Jean-Louis for a few hours while I took off to the Metrotown area. I had to go to the walk-in-clinic to see the doctor about the severe allergic reaction on my skin. I still have no idea what I'm allergic to but it is the worst skin rash I have ever experienced. I thought my eczema and cold hives were bad enough and now this :( It's a hot red rash all over my arms and spreading all over my body starting with small red blotches. It's super itchy and I don't know how much longer I can take it. I am now on antibiotics (yes, again) and stronger hydrocortisone cream. I'm so glad I went yesterday because it's getting worst. The rash is creeping up on my breasts too. I think I would be quite devastated if I couldn't breastfeed because of it. When will all these skin problems be over! Can't wait until the spring... unfortunately, winter just started :(

Ok, I kind of went off topic there for a minute. Yes, so for the first time since giving birth, I left Tristan's side. I went to the doctors and then to the mall and it felt really weird to be by myself. Without Jean-Louis too. It sure felt weird. Did I miss Tristan? Not too much but when I got home, I sure was happy to see him. Jean-Louis seemed to have had a great time with him while I was gone. They apparently played the entire time, which was great! I told him not to let Tristan sleep or cry the entire time and he didn't :) I think they bonded very well during that time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sleeping, feeding, and crying

Sleeping, feeding, and crying are the three main things that Tristan does these days.  Jean-Louis estimates that Tristan cries probably 3 hours a day but it doesn't seem as much to me since it's spread out over 24 hours.  Anyway, up to 4 hours a day is normal for a baby at his age.

Tristan is cooing more lately.  It's great to see him become more and more like a big baby.  He's starting to realize he's got arms, legs, hands etc.  One cute thing I observed a couple of days again when I was breastfeeding him was that he had both his hands on my breast and he started to press at them, as though he knew that was how he could pump out more milk.  It happened about 3 times so far so I don't know if it was intentional or not.

Tristan is smiling more too but I'm still not sure if it's a reaction to us or if it's still just gas.  He's suppose to smile within 2 months of birth though.  I think he recognizes me now or at least he knows what I smell like.  Sometimes when Jean-Louis can't calm him down when he's crying, I can.  He says it's because he knows the smell of his mother.  Probably true.  After all I do breastfeed him like 10 times a day.  Knowing that I can stop him from crying when no one else can, does makes me feel special :)  It's only a matter of time before Jean-Louis feels the same way.  Right now, I don't think he feels very adequate as a father.  He just needs to be a bit more patient and accept all the crying as perfectly normal.  The worst is yet to come I think.  Crying is suppose to peak at 6 weeks to 2 months.  Eeeeks!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tristan's first Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I just can't let today go by without mentioning that it's Tristan's first Christmas. Unfortunately, we did not decorate the house :( That's my fault, I should have decorated back at the beginning of November. I did plan to get a fresh tree this year but then things got a little nuts when Tristan arrived. Next year for sure!

One thing we didn't skip this year was a turkey dinner. It was the simplest Christmas dinner I had ever had! For those who know me, I typically go crazy over the holidays and end up with 10-12 cooked dishes. This year, we even had to buy a couple of our dishes. It was plenty though since we didn't have a lot of time to enjoy it together. Compared to what we have been able to eat lately, it was definitely a feast and I'm glad we have lots of leftovers for the next few days!

BTW, Tristan is exactly 5 weeks old today. Wow. Time sure goes by.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow, snow, and more snow

It's Christmas Eve and it's snowing! It has been snowing quite a bit lately and the forecast calls for snow on Christmas day as well. The entire country will be covered in snow for Christmas. The last time that happened was back in 1971. Yes, it is beautiful but many of us are now "snowed-in." Luckily, we live in an area where we can walk everywhere.

All of our Christmas plans have fallen through due to the weather. Looks like we will be staying put at home and having ourselves a small turkey dinner alone. That's okay since Tristan is keeping us very busy! Thank goodness for video Skype.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tristan is 1 month old

Wow, we have survived 1 month with a newborn!  And Tristan has survived 1 month with us :)  Technically speaking, I believe starting tomorrow, he is no longer considered a newborn.

Today, we were planning to go over to Victoria to celebrate his important 1 month birthday "Chinese-style" but we had to cancel the trip due to cold weather.  Instead, I was told just to boil and color a few eggs red and eat that with roast pork.  Sure, why not!  We were going to get a cake too but we weren't organized enough to get one when Jean-Louis made the grocery shopping trip early this morning.  We had no food at home and ended up having breakfast at around noon, when he came home with bran muffins.  It really is very hard to do house work while taking care of a baby.  How do others do it so well?  It seems like all day we have been taking turns doing house work but there is so much more to do.  Tonight after dinner, we will reward ourselves with a sit down rental movie, Kung Fu Panda.  Tristan can even watch too if he's not sleeping.  He'll probably only cry though so it's best he does sleep :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another rough night

Man, just when I thought we were progressing and then another sleepless night.  Tristan was completely passed out for most of the evening, which I thought was a bad sign.  When it was time to sleep, he was wide awake of course.  He woke up every 1-2 hours to feed last night and did not go to sleep after each feeding either.  I was pooped!  With all the feeding and rocking him to sleep, I didn't get to snooze much.  He kept spitting up milk too, which is probably why he became hungry more often.  I did what I could to avoid spits.  I moved slowly, held him upright for a bit and made sure he drank slowly.

Okay, I got one last thing I need to vent about.  My nipples are screaming for their lives again.  Night feedings are bad because I'm tired and we are both wearing a ton of clothes, which all makes latching on properly more difficult.  Tristan doesn't make it easy either when he only opens a small mouth.  Plus I'm so uncomfortable.  Feeding in bed with pillows is uncomfortable.  Feeding in the chair with the foot stool is uncomfortable.  It's so cold and I had another itch attack from my eczema and cold hives.  My arms are starting to look bloody from all my scratching - it's gross but it feels so gooood to scratch.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And now we are three...

It had just been the 2 of us for the past 7 years since we were married but now we are 3 and it's taking a bit of getting used to.  It's sort of hard to grasp the idea that we are becoming more like a family.  We actually have a child now.... wow!  A biological child that is part me and part Jean-Louis.  How amazing is that?!?!  Again, wow!  Listen to me - can you tell I'm a parent newbie?  I can't be the only one that thinks the whole concept of human reproduction is fascinating and miraculous, am I?  There's nothing that makes you feel more womanly and human than going through pregnancy and birth.  I still can't believe I got to experience it all.  Now, for being a mommy.... that's another adventure I'm looking forward to :)  To be able to see Tristan grow and develop over the next little bit and cherish every moment of it - this is a lifetime opportunity.  He's giving us a lot of stress these days but no matter what challenges are thrown our way, we will still be there to support and encourage him through all his tough milestones.

I finally have a routine going that enables me to snooze more during the day and I'm beginning to feel like there is a bit more time to do things now.  I got to hand wash some of Tristan's clothes and got to prepare and eat my lunch in peace today.  Yay!  I also cleaned up the dirty stove area this morning... it was a brief clean but already I feel so much better.  I can't stand filth - yuk!  I'm also starting to read more about breastfeeding and taking care of a baby.  Slowly but surely, things are looking brighter.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The challenges of breastfeeding

 It's been 3 weeks now since I've been breastfeeding Tristan.  However, since I didn't initially have enough milk, he has only been exclusively breastfed for just over a week now.  We went to the doctors yesterday and he has gained 7 ounces since last week so he's definitely getting enough milk!  Phew.  I was worried that we would have to supplement with formula again.

Breastfeeding is tough.  Getting comfortable with pillows, with all my aches and pains, and then latching him on takes a bit of time.  Sometimes, he just doesn't open his mouth very wide... then I have to wait until he cries and then shove the boob in.  This of course has to happen very quickly else the opportunity is lost.  Tristan still does not know that he has arms and legs so he has no control over them.  His arms are constantly in the way so that presents a challenge too.  And boy, is he strong!  He wails his arms and I have to use a lot of force to move them out of the way.  His suck is so strong too.  Babies already suck in the womb so when they are out sucking is natural to them.  My breasts used to scream of horror every time feeding time came around but now, because of my inflammation and itchiness, it's actually a nice relief when he sucks.  I have learned to accept blistering nipples and it hurts less and less now but I am starting to develop a sort of infection and inflammation on my breasts.  My doctor says it may be because I don't feed on both breasts each time.  She was the one that recommended I feed on one and alternate until he is satisfied.  Now, I'm sort of forcing him on both breasts for the same amount of time.  It's been 2 days since I've done this and my breasts are still very itchy.  I'm going to wait another day and see if things improve.  If it doesn't, I will have to get the antibiotics my doctors prescribed for me :(

Tristan may be addicted to the breast.  It doesn't really surprise me that he would develop an addiction to it since he's on it for like 5 hours a day over 10-12 feedings.  It's warm, it fills his tummy, he feels safe next to me and so on.  If I let him, he could spend 24 hours just on the breast feeding and sleeping.  So now, when he's off the breast and not sleeping, he's searching for it.  Sucking on it soothes him and sometimes he's not hungry and just wants to suck.  I don't want to let him do this but at times I'm fooled too.  We debated back and forth, did some research, and have finally decided to buy him a pacifier.  We will only resort to the pacifier when all else fails.  We used it for the first time last night with little success.  When I breastfed him afterwards at 2 or 3 AM, I noticed he started to suck a little funny.  It was just the one time so I'm not sure if it had to do with the pacifier.  I'll have to monitor it long term and see what I can make of it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

First day alone with Tristan

Jean-Louis went back to work today after taking 2 weeks off.  We both didn't have a great night since Tristan wouldn't feed and sleep like we had hoped.  I was a bit scared to be alone with him since I couldn't watch him all the time by myself.  Forget about cooking - it's hard just to heat up pre-cooked food and sit down to eat it.  I had to leave him several times crying just so I could pee, wash the dishes, etc.  Tristan wouldn't sleep much today so that may be good news for us tonight.  I'm certainly crossing my fingers.

Today I was able to accomplish pretty much nothing aside from taking care of Tristan.  Feeding him is still very demanding.  It's mostly every 2 hours and some times 3 if he has a good feeding in the previous session.  I was counting the number of times we feed and it's around 10-12 times a day.  The feeding sessions last around 20-30 minutes each and based on those numbers, we estimate that I spend 30-35 hours a week just feeding him.  That's a lot of breast time!  It's almost a full time job alone to feed him.  Luckily, diapering has tapered off a bit.  We change him maybe 6-7 times a day now.  The first 2 weeks we actually went through 132 diaper changes :(  Eeeks!  It's so wasteful but was necessary for us newbies.  This is a big learning process for us and we're becoming more and more efficient and conservative every day at how we handle Tristan.

When Jean-Louis came home, I finally got a chance to get something done.  I finished scanning all the photos my mom dropped off.  Tonight, I also got to prepare a claims forms for our extended health coverage and now I'm blogging a little :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pregnancy timeline complete

I viewed a pregnancy timeline video on youtube once and thought it was so cool. When we found out we were expecting, I wanted to do the same thing. We started out taking pictures once every month and then some time in my second trimester, we took pictures every two weeks. We tried our best to take it around the same position on the wall but hey, we're amateurs! Piecing everything together in iMovie produced the following very unprofessional video. I still like it and it's better than nothing :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recap of the first 2 weeks

As expected, our lives have changed drastically. What we didn't expect is how hard the adjustment has been. We're going on 3-4 hours of sleep a day now and it's hard, especially since I'm used to at least 8 hours of sleep. Tristan is exactly 2 weeks old today and needs us a lot right now. Being there for him doesn't allow us much time to do things for ourselves. I barely have time to read and reply to emails. There is so much I want to blog about but I have no time to!

Postpartum is tough. I'm still very sore "down there" and am still relying on pain killers for relief. I would cut myself off except that breastfeeding requires me to sit a lot and I can't really. We made a donut out of a big towel and I sit on that, which helps a bit. What surprised me about postpartum is how swollen you can get from all the water retention after birth and being on the IV therapy. My feet were huge the first week, my face was round, my tongue was huge and it felt funny to brush it, my hands huge... I looked so different and I was kind of scared. Another thing that I didn't read about was how sore your body muscles would be from the labour and birth. When you are pushing, you are using all your muscles, especially, your legs and arms. After 9 months of taking it relatively easy and not using much muscle, I was really sore for days. It was like going for a long hard run after taking a break from running for months. My arms were so sore and weak; I was afraid to carry Tristan the first few days. Breastfeeding was a big challenge as a result. Other things I experienced or am experiencing during postpartum include the baby blues, stinging when I urinate, breast engorgement, and sore nipples.

The transition home from the hospital was a bit nerve wrecking.  We could no longer rely on the help of nurses and had to clean up after ourselves.  The day we left the hospital, I remembered my friend telling me that it was so emotional for her and it made her cry.  Not surprisingly, I cried too as we dressed Tristan in his going-home clothes and strapped him in his car seat.  He was asleep and looked like such an angel.  I couldn't believe we were taking him home with us forever.  Luckily, we were not totally alone for our first few days at home.  My parents come over from Victoria and they stayed with us for 2 nights.  They cooked for us, stocked up our fridge and freezer, and watched Tristan while Jean-Louis helped me in the shower.  We were not very good hosts though.  I was easily irritated at the time and I think they sensed it too.

Tristan is a sweetheart.  I can't believe he is mine.  How was it ever possible for this little human being to grow inside me and come out?  Reproduction is so fascinating and I can't believe I got to experience it.  I am very grateful.  The 9 months of pregnancy felt a bit difficult for me with all the nausea, heartburn, rib spasms, leg cramps, and discomfort and then the labour experience was exhausting and such an ordeal.  All of this makes the prize at the end even sweeter :)   Tristan is healthy and I'm so thankful!  Nothing about it was easy and I appreciate that and have even more respect for pregnant woman and moms now.

Tristan cries a lot.  Other parents may disagree with me but I find that he cries a lot.  When he cries and we have checked everything and still can't figure out what's wrong, it's so frustrating :(  Some nights are better than others.  Last night for instance, we couldn't sleep until 6AM since he wouldn't sleep.  He was tired and hungry and I fed him on and off all through the night.  Part of the reason why we think he won't sleep is that he hates his crib.  It's cold, dark and he's alone so I don't blame the guy.  I think we may need to implement a co-sleeping system and have him bed with us for the first little while.  If it works, he will sleep better and so will we.  We need our strength to take care of him and my milk production relies on good rest, which is extremely hard to come by these days.  We certainly don't want him to get used to it though, which is why we are a bit hesitant to do this.

Feed, feed, feed.  We breastfeed 8-10 times a day or every 2-3 hours.  On top of recording how often and how long we feed on each breast, we have to record all his pees and poops.  Trust me we never thought we would be writing all this down.  The healthcare nurse asks for this when she contacts you so you must keep a record of it.  Initially at the hospital, we were told to wake the baby up every 3 hours max and force feed him.  Because my milk did not come in the first few days, we supplemented with ready-to-feed formula using a finger and syringe.  Our routine was to feed on the breasts first, then finger feed with colostrum we pumped in the previous session, and then finally top up with formula from a bottle.  Poor little Tristan was a bit jaundice the first few days too so he was extremely tired.  So were we!  This feeding routine lasted 2 hours and then we would have an hour rest and then it was time to feed again.  On and on this went and we were so pooped!  It was only when the visiting healthcare nurse told us to stop and that we were exhausting ourselves and the baby did we finally change our routine.  We then started to eliminate the finger feeding and breast pumping and cut our feeding time in half.  Thank goodness!

As new parents, we have a lot to learn and much to get used to.  Constantly tending to the baby will take awhile to get used to.  We're so used to being just the two of us.  It's not like you are babysitting and then at the end of the day you get to hand the baby over and tell yourself that you can sleep in the next day.  This is our baby and he is here to stay permanently.  It's pretty scary.  And then there are disasters.  I wasn't aware changing a little boy's diaper was so challenging.  He pees everywhere every time we try to change him!  Urine even sprayed in his mouth one time and he was choking on it.  I felt like a horrible mom :(  I fed him a bit of breast milk to help wash it down but I was upset.  We're getting better and better at dodging his urine now but accidents still frequently occur.

Overall, things have been going pretty well so far.  We've survived 2 weeks with a newborn and that in itself is impressive!  Just taking it one day at a time.  I know they don't stay small for long so we're cherishing every moment of it.  I don't think there has been a day that has gone by without us taking any pictures of him.  Will post more on the blog soon... once our routine is more established.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thank god for Jean-Louis

The first few days at the hospital was bad for me. I was not in the state to take care of Tristan since I couldn't even take care of myself. I had pulled a muscle in my upper leg during my 8th month of pregnancy and thought it was just another pregnancy pain. I limped around and had to climb into bed a certain way so it wouldn't hurt. After the labour the pain only got worst and I had to walk with my one good leg and drag the other around. I couldn't lift the other leg more than ankle height. I needed help getting in and out of bed. This was just one of the many pains that I had but it was the most crippling one for me. I barely held Tristan because I was afraid I would drop him.

Jean-Louis was a saint. We didn't initially plan for him to stay with me at the hospital, especially since I had a vaginal delivery, and he would have for sure slept better at home. He slept in the room with Tristan and I the entire time we were at the hospital. He was basically the sole caretaker of Tristan for the first few days. He had to learn how to hold a newborn, diaper and swaddle for the first time. At night he had to soothe Tristan every time he cried. On top of this, he had to assist me in and out of bed and bring me new ice pads for my swelling. When I wanted to shower, he assisted me in the shower and one of the nurses offered to feed Tristan. He did all this without much sleep, just like me and he was sick too. He caught a cold on the day I went into labour and was sneezing and coughing around us. I was worried Tristan would get sick from him since they were in such close contact but there was nothing we could do about that. All I was able to do was focus on the breastfeeding since I knew that antibodies would be passed on to Tristan to protect him. Tristan did develop a bit of a stuffy nose but apparently it's normal and he's not sick. Thank goodness.

It doesn't end there. Now that we are home, Jean-Louis has taken 2 weeks off of work. He is continually helping out where he can. Without the presence of nurses however, we have our hands full taking care of Tristan and doing house chores. Luckily, I am feeling stronger and stronger each day so I'm able to help out more. Still it's a challenge since we're both still sleep deprived and it seems all we do in the day is feed, feed, and feed. Either we feed Tristan or we have to cook and feed ourselves.

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