Monthly Archives: August 2011

What I Read in August 2011

Ash by Malinda Lo
A Curse As Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong (reread)
Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong (reread)
Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deb Robson & Carol Ekarius
Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
Three Men and a Maid by PG Wodehouse (eBook)
Beekeeping for Beginners by Laurie R King (eBook)

I highly recommend both Ash and A Curse as Dark as Gold to anyone who is interested in fairy tale retellings.

Owlet: Photo Post

A few notes first:

    Baby eyelashes have made an appearance. Yes, this is as adorable as it sounds. (If it doesn’t sound adorable to you, well, then, as you were.) Next up: Eyebrows. (Because people have asked: Those pink patches on her eyelids are temporary birthmarks called salmon patches, and they will fade. The red mark between her eyes is a stork bite; she has a matching one behind her neck. These ones are permanent, though they become less obvious as the skin darkens and becomes less translucent. I still have mine, as does the boy, and we both have them in the same place, too.)

    This child loves being on her stomach, and hates being on her back with a passion. It makes the whole Back to Sleep thing a real challenge.

    She has very long fingers and toes, and a lot of hair. It’s mostly at the back of her head, where it’s long enough to extend down past the back of her skull. It started off a dark brown, but has been lightening.

    She spends a lot of her time with a furrowed brow. This is, I freely admit, completely the fault of my genes.

    Things keep improving re. feeding. Last Friday’s weigh-in at the CLSC demonstrated that she’s gaining about 20 grams a day, which is right where she needs to be. All three nurses on duty made a point of coming over to me and saying “Good job, mama!”. Of course, she’s still about a week behind where she ought to be because of that insane first ten days, but they’re very pleased. Sleeping is going well too, especially at night, to the point where she nurses around eleven, sleeps for three hours, nurses, sleeps for another three hours, then gets up for the day. There was a crazy five or six-hour stretch the other day after a very unhappy, fussy evening when she didn’t nap at all between six and midnight, but that was freakish and while appreciated physically, is Not A Good Thing at the point in time. She’s too tiny to go for that long without a meal.

    We appear to have a pediatrician. I’m as stunned as the next person who exists in this awful doctor-shorted region. A new doctor who also sees kids started at my GP’s clinic the week Owlet had her two-week-old appointment, and my GP wrote a referral for both kids since she wanted them placed before she retired. If I like the new doctor I may ask to be placed with her as well, since my GP will be gone in a year. And let me tell you, while I will miss her dreadfully, no one deserves retirement more than she does.

    My mum was in town, spending a week with us to help out when HRH went back to work after his five days of compassionate leave. I loved every moment of it, and I miss her dreadfully already. And not just because she made me lunch every day, because this baby has an uncanny ability to sense exactly when we are sitting down to a meal, wakes up, and demands her own.

    Tamu, Pat, and Bébé Flora came to visit last weekend!

    Taking photos has been very annoying, because they all distort her face or head somehow, quite apart from the flattish first few days post-birth and the tendency of babies to contort their faces into hilarious and unflattering expressions.

Okay, you have been very good. Have some pictures.

The menagerie of toys the boy gave her. She lunged for the rattle bunny in the centre the day after he gave it to her, and stares at it often:

She also loves to look at the high-contrast cloth book Erin and her family sent to her, going to far as to carefully flip pages the other day, looking all the world like she was reading it:

Look what I made!

Babies sleep a lot once you get them to eat enough so that they’re not just dozing and awake every hour for a frustrating half-hour feeding session, and she sleeps best on or next to someone:

Yes, this set is pink, but the top is an adorable little swing top and I like the style enough to see past the base colour. Also, as I suspected, it turns out that when one only has a couple of pink things in a wardrobe instead of only pink to choose from, it’s a lot easier to take. (Someone who doesn’t know us very well gave us a tiny cotton-candy pink skirt. I am tempted to dye it black so she can wear it with her Batman onesie and look totally punk. Or hey, I can dig out the boy’s old Ramones onesie! That’s it, now I have to do it…)

And finally, the mobile the boy and I made, with support from HRH:

Owlet: Week One & Two

Don’t worry; eventually the journal will swing back to cello, writing, and fibre arts. It’s just that right now there isn’t much time for all that! I do use this to record stuff for my own reference later on, after all, so if you’re not interested in the family and baby stuff just skip these entries.

We’ve never had a newborn with us, so this has all been very, well, new! The baby is a sweetheart and very good-tempered in general, and we love her to pieces.

Highlights of the past two weeks:

    Meeting Ceri, Scott, and Ada; meeting Jeff, Paze, Devon, and Tallis (complete with Tallis taking it upon herself to choose one of her own stuffed animals to give to the baby); meeting Uncle Marc M and Uncle Marc L; and meeting Rob, Kristie, and Rowan. And of course, meeting Nana, who has come down to spend a week with us! This weekend she gets to meet Granddad, who is coming down to join Nana.

    Our first post-discharge visit from the CLSC nurse on the Tuesday went very well: I am recovering splendidly, and Owlet is doing very well, too, gaining good weight. We’d been having latching issues, so the nurse showed us a couple of tricks.

    Owlet’s first outing was to the luthier! Very important to start them young. She travels beautifully both in the car and in the stroller. We did a two-hour shopping trip nearby on foot and she didn’t stir the entire time.

    She lost her cord stump exactly one week after she was born, so that Friday was our first official cloth diapering day! It went very well, without any accidents. In general it’s great, and I’m very happy with it. We’re using disposables at night until her system matures more.

This next bit is hard to write, so bear with me. It’s probably TMI for most of you other than mothers, so like I said, feel free to skip it; it’s mostly here for my records.

Breastfeeding in the first ten days was agony. Owlet tore me up really badly; she chomped and ground and I had bruises and scabs that bled into her mouth. This was beyond the basic “cracked and bleeding” thing you get warned about, and was decidedly unpleasant. She was feeding almost every hour for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, too, and I dreaded nursing her because it was agonizing. She comfort sucks a lot as well, which is nice for her but not so nice for me what with the open wounds and all. I loved breastfeeding the boy, and I was so looking forward to doing it again, so I developed a complex about feeding Owlet because I desperately want to do it but it hurt like OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP.

Friday I took the baby to the CLSC for her follow-up weigh-in. Turned out that she lost ten grams since that Tuesday when the nurse was here. Now, this normally wouldn’t fuss me, because she’d gained at a really good rate between discharge and Tuesday. But Friday’s nurse was concerned. I’d also requested to see a lactation consultant, so she took me into an interview room and we talked about the problem. “Show me what you’re doing,” she said, so I dropped one of my bra cups in prep for nursing, and she had a fit at the state of my breast, which was much worse than Tuesday’s nurse had seen. “It hurts me just looking at it,” she said. So then we brought the baby to the breast, and sure enough she chomped and locked her jaw, and we struggled to unlatched her… and there was blood dripping from me onto the baby’s sleeper. (Charming, I know. Let me tell you, one does not feel like a stellar mum when one’s baby’s clothing is bloodstained.) “How long has nursing been like this?” the LC asked, aghast. Since day one, I told her, and she stared at me. “You’re so courageous,” she said. “You’ve been nursing like this through intense pain for eight days? I’d have stopped long ago.” And it was such a relief to hear that, to know I was really trying hard and not faking it somehow. “Are you putting something on them?” she asked. Lanolin, I told her, and she shook her head and said, “No, I meant a real cream, to heal them. I’ll prescribe you one.”

She watched the baby eat, and she said that there were a couple of problems: one, that she wasn’t opening her mouth wide enough (which we knew, and we’ve been working on pulling her lower jaw down); and two, she’s sucking the nipple sideways into the pocket of her cheek, so that it scrubs back and forth along her sharp upper and lower jawbones. That plus the chomping = sensitive areas that look like ground beef. It’s nothing I was doing wrong, which was also a relief to hear. But the theory is that because she’s not sucking properly and essentially cutting off her own supply by how she’s latching, she’s not getting enough milk despite nursing for at least fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, and pretty much every hour to an hour and a half. The frequency of her feedings is to cover the low amount of milk she’s drawing at every feeding. And of course, the frequency isn’t helping the wounds.

So the first prescription was: Supplement. But bless the nurse, I was to supplement with pumped breastmilk, between 15 to 30 ml after each feeding; that way the baby gets more milk to bulk up, she’ll feed less frequently allowing me to heal, and we know she’s getting more milk. The second prescription was for me: An antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory cream for the open wounds.

In the days before the CLSC visit I was in so much pain feeding her that I’d taken out the small hand pump my cousin’s wife had passed on to me and cleaned it in preparation for possibly giving up on breastfeeding for a bit and pumping to feed her instead. I came home from the CLSC and pumped for ten minutes with that teeny hand pump, and pulled 60 ml right off the bat from the breast she’d fed from at the clinic. So, um, it wasn’t my supply that the issue (not that I was worried about that). After she nursed HRH gave her 30 ml and she gobbled it up, so I checked to see if I could pump more (um, another 80 ml… okay) and then he gave her the other 30 ml I’d pumped initially. She gobbled that, too, then passed out in his arms.

So it looks like she’d been hungry all this time, because her latch isn’t efficient enough to get her what she wants (or needs). Poor thing, she was starving, so she attacked the breast aggressively, which had been causing physical damage and creating tension in both of us. Breastfeeding will continue, but the ointment plus the supplementing has certainly eased the pain and her aggression at feeding time, and allowed me to almost completely heal in three days. So here I am, pumping again regularly when I thought it would only be an occasional thing. I dragged out the big double pump I used to pump for the boy when he was in hospital, cleaned it, and have been using that once or twice a day.

But we already saw an improvement within a day: the supplement allowed her to sleep a bit longer between feedings and she didn’t come to me ravenous. The ointment numbed the pain and sped up healing of the wounds, making the physical aspect much easier to deal with. Definitely a thumbs up from me. Plus HRH doesn’t feel as helpless any more, and the specialized not-a-standard-bottle/delivery system we’re using for the supplement (Medela Calma, for those interested in that kind of thing) will allow him to handle a whole feeding if he wants, as there’s been no issue with nipple confusion or rejection so far. We also resorted to a pacifier, since she demanded comfort sucking and I couldn’t give that to her while nursing was so incredibly painful. The pacifier has turned out to be a godsend, as much as I dislike them.

Monday’s CLSC weigh-in revealed that she gained 20 gr over the weekend, a good improvement, so while she’s not yet where they’d like her to be at 11 days post-birth she’s already past where she was on the initial Tuesday visit. Yesterday she had her first appointment with our GP, who weighed her in at 7 1/2 lbs, so she’s certainly gaining well; she’s just a week behind where she ought to be on her post-discharge timeline.

Speaking of sleeping better, at night she’s nursing, sleeping for three hours, nursing, then sleeping for another three hours, so nights have settled nicely. Days are more social; she likes being snuggled with someone and looking around at things with a funny furrowed brow. She has crazy-impressive neck and head control already. The poor thing has had some nasty problems with gas, too, bad enough that I went out for gripe water last week. She loves the taste of it, and when she’s taken some she settles right down, and then I love to bury my nose in her neck and sniff the dill/fennel/anise/new baby smell.

She is awesome. The boy is a fabulous big brother, too, doing drive-by kisses on the top of her head as he runs headlong through a room, or reading books to her. We’ve been trying very hard to pay a lot of attention to him and give him special time with us. And speaking of reading books, I am going to indulge in a bit of bragging here, and state that we have just finished reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets together. And when I say ‘together’ I actually mean together, taking turns reading. My mother said to me, “You said he was reading well and I thought oh, well, yes, everyone says that about their kids, but then I got here and heard him… and no, you weren’t exaggerating, were you.”

Okay, I think I’m caught up. This post was originally a one-week post that dragged on in draft form. I know you all want more pictures, but those will have to wait till I have more time.

Welcome, Bria Elisabeth!

Hello, world. We’ve been offline for a few days; sorry about that. I managed to get a quick announcement via text message out to Twitter late Thursday morning, and eventually a quick post to FaceBook when I’d had the time to sit back and buy data access for my iPhone on Thursday night, but this is the first chance I’ve had to sit at my computer since we got home late Friday night to acquaint you all with the lovely news of our daughter’s birth and shower you with photos.

In a delicious show of irony, the Owlet decided to hatch on the estimated due date I’d been using from the beginning before my doctor adjusted it back and forth. To the medical community, I say Ha, and Ha again.

Thursday morning I woke up just after 4 AM and thought to myself, Hmm, that’s probably another annoying prodromal labour contraction. And really, there was no reason to think otherwise, seeing as how I’d been handling two weeks of prodromal labour on and off. I got up to walk around as usual, and started timing the contractions just out of habit. Good thing I did, because it turned out that they were getting more intense, were lasting about ninety seconds, and were coming between two and four minutes apart. After a solid hour of timing them to be extra-sure I woke HRH, who called his parents, and we threw the last few things we needed into bags. The boy woke up just before his grandparents arrived and we gave him hugs and kisses and told him his sister would finally arrive that day, and that he could come meet her that afternoon. The roads were beautifully clear at six-thirty in the morning, and we got to the hospital in record time. Good thing, too, because when they checked me out they discovered I was just passing 4 cm, and the contractions were getting stronger. They let me move around with the monitors strapped to me, thank goodness. Within an hour I was at 8cm, and then suddenly 9+cm, and the doctor was there and they made me get on the bed to push ( “Please don’t make me get on the bed, I hate the bed, the contractions are worse on the bed,” I remember saying). After fifteen minutes of pushing (which certainly felt much longer than that), and a grand total of four hours of labour (a time span which I certainly do not recommend in general, because yes, that was about fourteen hours of work compressed into a quite intensified four hours), Bria Elisabeth was born at 08:13, weighing 7 lbs 12 oz and measuring 51 cm long.

Our first family picture, post-birth:


A close-up of the baby!

True to our word, the boy was the first person to hold the baby after HRH and I, and he got a little teary about it:

And then he began gifting her with all the little toys he’d chosen and bought for her:

Culminating in the ceremonial Passing of the Bunny, one of the boy’s special favourite toys when he was just a tiny thing:

We were released 36 hours after the baby’s birth, and only that late because they weren’t allowed to release us any earlier. Both baby and I are in sparkling good health, eating and sleeping and settling in well. Today the hit-by-a-bus feeling that lands a couple of days after a major physical undertaking arrived, and Tylenol is my friend, because everything everywhere hurts.

For those wondering, Bria is pronounced BREE-ah, and yes, it’s Elisabeth with an S instead of a Z.

While Waiting

Life goes on, of course, and I’m trying to keep busy, which is a challenge when you’re exhausted. We’ve started watching the Read or Die TV series with Marc after rewatching the OVA, which is fun. In the attic, HRH and his dad have finished everything but the drywalling and laying the laminate floor, although we are still waiting on an electrician. The boy and I went up into the attic during the terrific thunderstorm we had Monday afternoon and delighted in hearing the rain pound the roof about three feet above our heads.

I sat down yesterday to gather all the info I needed for the QPIP application for maternity benefits for self-employed workers, and discovered that I hadn’t made the minimum income last year required to qualify for the program. This was really, really annoying. The programme didn’t exist for self-employed workers the last time I had a baby, so this was going to be a nice bonus, but now I can’t take advantage of it. Equally annoying in a different way is the fact that HRH can’t take paternity leave. Or rather, he could, but there are a couple of major obstacles. First, it would require him taking the weeks immediately before plus the first week of school off again, which did not go over well last year when we moved the week before school started; and it would also mean training someone else to do his job while he’s gone because the technician is essential personnel at this time of year. This is more trouble than it’s worth and very risky to do besides, because then they may not take him back but put him somewhere else instead (his permanency guarantees him *a* job, not necessarily the job he’s got at the moment if he goes on leave of whatever kind). And second, taking paternity leave means bringing home only 75% of his salary, which we cannot survive on if I’m not working, which I can’t because hello, I’ll be taking care of a baby. If he chose to take it he’d only get 3 weeks at 75% pay, or he could do 5 weeks at 70% but that would be even more financially suicidal for us.

It just sucks on so many levels. If it were any other time of year he could take, say, a week apart from his five days of compassionate leave (that’s at full pay, whew), and we might get by. If we’d had the baby last year, there wouldn’t be an issue because I made twice as much in 2009, which puts me well over the minimum. I’m cranky about it because the money would have been nice, as I can’t really take on freelance work again for at least two or three months when things have settled down to a point where I can start shoehorning a productive hour at the computer in here and there, which means the cheques won’t start arriving till the end of the year.

The good thing that came of this annoyance is that I was angry enough to pull out my cello for the first time in a month, physical awkwardness be damned, and I played the Prelude to the Bach G major solo cello suite the best I’d ever played it. Owlet was all “Whoa whoa whoa, what is this, no no, LOUD” so I had to stop after playing it twice and then noodling experimentally through more of the first two suites. But it made me feel fantastic. I haven’t played it in well over a year, so to just sit down and pull it off made me really appreciate all the hard work I’ve been putting in at lessons and orchestra. Also, it served to remind me that callouses fade when you don’t use them. Ow, my poor left hand fingers.

I’ve been slowly getting through A Dance With Dragons and I’m still not sure where I stand on it. There’s so much going on in the grand scheme of things that nothing feels like it’s moving, although that can often happen in a middle book of a series. People keep leaving Westeros so more and more of the action is taking place elsewhere, and the reader has to keep learning about new cultures. It’s all moving the story in a way, but it’s doing it slowly enough that it doesn’t feel as rewarding as it used to. I bought my first eBook, too, which is actually a Laurie R. King novella only available in electronic format, and I am saving that to read in hospital. No, I lie; that’s my second purchased eBook. I bought, read, and enjoyed Cate Polacek’s Tempus House in May (aha, I knew I missed something in my May booklist! eBooks are going to be harder to keep track of, I suspect, because I can’t pile them on my desk as I finish them).

I pulled out a braid of Louet Karaoke fibre (half wool, half soysilk) in the Parrotfish colourway on Saturday (more pale greens and purples, with touches of gold and blue) and finished spinning it today. I’m chain-plying it to preserve the colour changes and suspect I may use it to knit an Oriental Lily dress for Owlet, should she ever decide to make an appearance. The soysilk was finicky to draft, though, and made for an overall weird chunky , sticky drafting experience. Curiously, I had similar issues when drafting silk pencil roving from Ozark, so I had an idea of how to deal with it (hold it just less than a staple length apart and snap it between the hands); it just made drafting the blend tricky, because the soysilk would slide past the wool, muddling the colour changes a bit. I’d have preferred sharper colour changes, so if I ever use this fibre again I’ll split it by colour and spin from the fold or something.

I’ve knit three more inches of the back of the lace cardigan. It looks just like it did in the last post, only longer. Knitting lace to length is somewhat annoying, because you really have to pin it out to measure where it’s at in order to have a proper idea of what its actual length is since lace looks like a ramen noodle disaster while in progress on the needles. And I picked up a skein of brownish orange embroidery floss to embroider beaks on our mobile owls, I ordered a yard and a half of owl motif fabric for the coverlet the boy wanted me to make for the baby, and a stamp to use to make thank you cards. I’d almost decided on some Cluny lace to finish the short ends of the woven blanket, but I re-examined the edges and I might be able to live with them as they are after all. In fact, all they may need is a row or two of single crochet to secure them a bit more. Which means I have to look up how to do that, because I have forgotten how after my one use of the technique to finish something eighteen months ago. Something to do tomorrow while waiting for the Owlet…