Monday, February 20, 2012

dear arthur: one month

dearest arty-bear,

today you are one month old.
you are such a bright, sweet, beautiful little person. the more we get to know you, the more we love you.

every day you seem to lose a little more of your newborn dreaminess. you're starting to look us in the eye, and engage with us more, which is so exciting for us. we're expecting your first smile any day.

you are fascinated by light and colour. at home you love gazing out the windows, or standing with us under the wisteria on the back porch. when we visit your oma she takes you outside to watch the sunlight in the leaves. your eyes widen, and you look so cute, and strangely wise and philosophical as you gaze around.

you are very strong. you can hold your head up when you're lying on your tummy, and your little legs can kick like nothing else (your uncle jess thinks you will make a good footballer)! you seem to be enjoying settling into your body, though you do still sometimes look as though the world feels very big to you.

you're sleeping in your cot now, and we're so happy about that. we have a bedtime routine which helps you settle. first we change your nappy, then we put you in your sleep sack. after that you have a feed, and we put you down on your sheepskin in your cot with classical music playing quietly.
you generally sleep for three or four hours before waking up for another feed, and then if we're lucky we get another two shorter sleeps before you decide you're up for the day at five or six.

we go for at least one walk every day. you usually fall asleep in your pram after a few minutes, and if you're in your ergo carrier it's pretty much instant.

you like being out and about. you don't mind noisy cafes, and will generally just fall asleep, or look placidly around at the new and interesting surroundings. you've visited one or two of our friends with us, had appointments with the doctor and the child health nurse, and attended one of your mummy's aquaproko training sessions.

both sides of your family continue to adore you. you have been to your first deG. gathering where you were much admired and exclaimed over, and you have skyped with your nanna over in perth. your oma is so besotted with you that when we visit her we hardly hold you because she is so keen to cuddle and fuss over you. it makes us so happy to see that you are loved by your clan.

you've had some trouble with wind, which has caused you some serious discomfort. it's been hard to watch you experience that pain, but we took you to the doctor today, and he's advised us to give you infacol, so now that you're taking that you should have less trouble. you don't mind taking it - you just look vaguely surprised when we squirt a tiny bit of it into your mouth before a feed.

so you are travelling well, precious boy. we're doing our best to give you everything you need, and we are loving you just as much as we can. which has actually turned out to be more than i ever thought possible.

biggest kisses,
mama xxx

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


during my pregnancy, whenever i met someone who'd had a caesarian birth i asked them how their recovery went. i felt like i had a good understanding of the procedure, and what to expect in the operating room, but my picture of how i would heal, and how long it would take was a bit sketchier.
there was no point when i was frightened of the surgery (though as i've said before, i was anxious about the spinal block), but i wondered how i would go in the weeks afterwards, with a sore tummy and a baby to look after. i knew i would cope, because i had s with me, and some wonderfully supportive friends and family to call on if we got stuck, but i still wanted to get an idea of what it would be like.

well, arty is now almost four weeks old, and i'm happy to report that i feel really good. they say it takes six weeks to fully recover from that kind of surgery, but i feel 100% better already.

the first few days after the birth were spent in hospital, where my pain was managed really well. i was bleeding quite heavily (going through a couple of heavy duty maternity pads a day), and i moved somewhat gingerly, but overall it was very manageable. i also spent most of my time in bed, and really only got up to shower, use the toilet, visit the breastfeeding room, or change arty's nappy.

when we got home, i tried to do a little too much. i was now just on panadine forte and voltaren, and because i had been feeling so good in hospital i had an unrealistic idea of how much the combination of bedrest and stronger pain killers had been doing to mask the pain.
i tried to do loads of washing, climb in and out of bed too quickly, and was generally up and about way more than i should have been. and it hurt. after a stern-ish talk from s, i scaled things back. for a couple of days i spent much more time lying down, allowed s to bring me snacks and meals in bed, and just focussed on feeding arty, and feeling better.

the pain lessened a little every day. some movements were much easier than others. i was quickly pain free while siting still, or lying down, but found that getting up from a lying-down position hurt, as did bending over too far to lift arty or pick something up off the floor. interestingly, the whole 20cm-ish incision wasn't sore - it was just the right end of it that hurt, so lifting my right leg was also quite painful, and s had to help me on with my undies whenever i had a shower for the first two weeks. laughing and sneezing also hurt quite a lot, and were actually among the last things to stop causing me pain. i took fewer and fewer pain killers over the third week, and was completely pain free by arty's 3 week birthday.

the tape peeled off my incision by about day 15, revealing a very thin scar that had healed over nicely. the stitches had dissolved, and it looked good. i don't know how quickly it had healed because i let the tape come off in its own time and it was well and truly better by the time it did - i just made sure i kept it clean and dry while it was on.

i am still bleeding a little - it's like having a light to moderate period, but without the cramps and other pms symptoms. for the first ten days or so the bleeding diminished a bit every day, but it's stayed relatively steady since then. i'm looking forward to that finishing up soon. it's kind of like making up for all the menstruation i didn't do for nine months.

i am really happy with the way i chose to give birth, and pleased with how i've recovered. yes, it took a little time, but not necessarily any longer than it would have if i'd had a difficult vaginal birth. all aspects of the procedure and recovery were predictable and manageable which was very reassuring for me. i will definitely be making the same choices for any future pregnancies.

Monday, February 6, 2012

birth playlist

while we were preparing for arty's birth i was thinking of things that would help me manage any fear or anxiety i might feel during the procedure. i didn't feel particularly nervous in the lead up, but i'd never undergone major surgery before, so i wasn't sure how i was going to react as it was happening.

one thing i've always found helpful to steady my mind and allay panic is to go over the lyrics to familiar songs, or silently recite poetry to myself. something about focussing on the rhythm of the words, and the structure of the composition seems to break the panic spiral, and distract me (at least partially) from my fear.

so i asked our obstetrician if it would be ok for us to bring some music in with us to listen to while arty was being born. she said they had an ipod dock in the theatre and if i wanted to plug something into that she was fine with it.

i ended up angsting quite a bit about what to put on the playlist. i thought it would be easy to make, but in the end i fretted over it quite a lot.
i wanted songs that were familiar, and had words i knew really well, so i could focus on them if i needed to. but i didn't want to put any of my most favourite songs on there, because i didn't want them to be ruined by association if i found the whole procedure to be traumatic.
i ummed and ahhed over what to choose for ages, and in the end i put the playlist together on the morning of the day he was born. i was syncing my ipod up at the last minute before we left for the hospital.

arty's birth playlist

in the end it wasn't traumatic, but it was intense and overwhelming, so having familiar songs playing was definitely a good thing. and those songs will always be a little more special because of the role they played on that day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

dear arthur: two weeks

dearest arty-bear, 

today you are two weeks old. it has been an extraordinary two weeks for your mummy and i. we are tired, overwhelmed, and so full of love for you that it's quite indescribable.

your cord stump fell off yesterday, revealing the sweetest little belly-button. i felt a little sad that it was gone. it may have been a gross, shrivelled, black thing, but it was the last physical evidence of a connection we shared for nine months, so it mattered. it felt wrong to put it in the bin, so i dug a little hole under the marjoram in the herb patch, and buried it.

you are so small and fragile, that the idea of taking you places has been a bit scary for me. but it had to happen sooner or later, so yesterday we took you for your first walk. just up to the post box and back. we put you in your little pram, and you slept all the way.

then today we were extra brave and took you for a drive all the way up to your oma's house. you slept all the way there too. and all the way back. and most of the time we were there you slept too. your oma, who adores you, watched over you while your mummy and i tried to get some sleep ourselves. it was lovely to spend some time together in her familiar and friendly house, and definitely the right place to take you for your first visit.

we are still working the sleeping thing out. you flatly refuse to be put down in your cot, even though it is connected to our bed and you are very close to us. as soon as we put you in there you start to squeak and squawk. if you could, you would sleep faceplanted on my chest, or your mummy's, but that's not safe at night when we are asleep too, so we can't do that, even though you love it (in fact it's how you're sleeping as i write this, typing one-handed). in the last few days you have consented to snooze in your hammock, so we have been rocking you in there at night. we take it in shifts - one of us gets some rest up in the bedroom, while the other dozes on the couch and bounces you. it's working for now, but i'm looking forward to when we can all sleep in the same room as a family.

you have such an expressive little face. when you sleep a whole range of expressions flicker across it as you dream. when you are awake and alert, your little blue eyes are so bright and interested. but my favourite expression is when you lift your eyebrows, make your forehead all wrinkly and purse your lips into a tiny 'o' as if to say "how interesting, do tell me more". you're still too little to do proper smiles, but you've had a few flukey practice ones, and they have been very exciting previews.

you're not a huge fan of having your nappy changed, though you don't always scream the house down every time we do it like you did when you were first born. you're not a huge fan of having your clothes changed either. generally you prefer being clothed to being naked, with the exception of bath time. you relax when your little body is put in the water, and your arms and legs fan out and splash about happily.

your visit from the maternal and child health nurse went very well this week. she checked you over and was pleased with how you are growing. you are already back up to your birth weight, which is great - it means that you're healthy and getting plenty of good nutrition from my milk.

you really are the most dear and precious little boy. you're adjusting brilliantly to life on the outside, and your mummy and i couldn't be more proud of you. we love you so very, very much - from the top of your peach-fuzz head, to the tips of your tiny-sausage toes.

with all my love,
mama xxx