Arrival

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This is Miriam Eleanor. She arrived on December 16 at 1:50 in the morning, the day after her ‘due’ date.
I thought I’d tell her birth story, though honestly, there’s not much to it.

A week before, Monday, I had an afternoon and evening of back pain and belly contractions that felt exactly like my labour with Devin. We all got excited – but I woke up the next morning still pregnant. The rest of the week passed without incident, and I became increasingly frustrated and a little miserable – it was hot, I was tired, and we’d expected baby to have arrived already. What’s more, because my first labour was just over four hours long, we had to be ready to go at the first hint of serious pains, and it was exhausting being on high-alert.

That Sunday, I was awoken by the same pains, and though the felt slightly stronger, they still didn’t establish into any kind of pattern, even after 16 hours. I eventually fell asleep at 11 that night, fully expecting to wake up the next morning to nothing.
But, I woke up at 12:20am to something. I sat and waited. They were starting to hurt, and they were very close together. I woke Jene and called my midwife, and we left for the hospital while Devin and his Aunty Amanda slept soundly in Devin’s room.

IMG_8186This was 34 minutes before Miriam was born. The look on my face is the break after a contraction, and the knowledge that another is coming soon.

I was examined at around 1:30 upon being admitted to the birthing unit. “Only 4-5cm?” I thought to myself. “Holy fuck, I’m not going to be able to do this.”
We moved to a delivery room – and we had our pick, the entire ward was completely empty after several weeks of non-stop births. I hunched over the bed and got undressed while my midwife started filling the bath, but I knew as soon as I was there that I wouldn’t make it to the bath. I wouldn’t even make it on to the bed – I wanted to push baby out right now. So, I did.
I managed to yell, “Pushing!” so that someone could, you know, catch, and after three contractions there was a tiny, slippery person being handed up to me.

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Miriam fed for two and a half hours before I gave the ok for her to be checked and weighed. We all thought she would barely be 3kg (6.6lb), but she was a surprising 3.38kg. (During that time, three more women presented to the birthing unit, and all three gave birth less than an hour after arriving!)
Because I was under the care of a case load midwife we would have been able to go home straight away, but I sustained some damage from Miriam’s speedy exit and had to stay until the afternoon. Nonetheless, after my (rather unnecessary) four day stay following Devin’s birth, being home in twelve hours was amazing.

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Devin was weaning off a very strong steroid and didn’t show much interest at first, but as the days went by he began to open up again, and now he adores his sister. Stroking her head, giving her kisses, asking to hold her, watching me change her, repeating the soothing phrases we say to her… He also has a funny habit of calling her “Ah-Miriam”, though he knows her name and we often shorten it to Miri.

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We were surprised by her hair, just like we were with Devin’s. Both of us thought Devin was a fluke, and this baby would surely have dark hair.
Nope. Another ginger. Almost a strawberry blonde, even. Genetics are weird.

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The other thing I expected was a very alert baby. One, Devin had his eyes open from the minute he was born and they were barely closed from then on. And two, Miriam pummelled the bejeesus out of me when she was inside, so much that it was painful.
But actually, she’s quite sleepy, and only now at two weeks old is she opening her eyes more. What she is is a little wriggler – her legs are almost always stretched out, and she moves around like the hands of a clock while she sleeps.

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We’re totally in love with her, and I already suspect that both boys will be at her every beck and call.

Two months in…

I’ve been wanting to write a long (loooong) post, but I’m just so exhausted by the end of the day. Growing a baby is tiring enough in normal circumstances… Here are some short updates.

  • Devin is doing generally well. The leukaemia he has is the most common, and most responsive to treatment, and for that I am very thankful. I know there are parents at the hospital who wish their children have what Devin has…
  • We’ve been in Sydney for two months now, without leave. Ten days in hospital, one week in a Leukaemia Foundation unit, and six weeks and counting at Ronald McDonald House. It is… difficult in the house. I’m struggling here. But that’s for another time.
  • The treatment schedule is quite variable and they don’t tell us what each stage involves and when it will happen until we have finished the one before it. We can’t plan for anything. At the moment, we’ve been set back two weeks because Devin’s blood counts have been too low for chemotherapy. And that’s the catch-22 with the treatment – chemo destroys the cancer so the bone marrow can produce normal blood cells again, but chemo also destroys other fast-growing cells like hair and… normal blood cells. Transfusions are a fact of life for patients, and never have I ever been more grateful for the people who donate their blood. I’ve only ever donated whole blood, but will make it my mission to donate platelets and plasma when I am able to again.
  • Steroids are the most awful and useful drugs.
  • Most of the medications in the treatment are given to counteract the ill-effects of other medications, and it starts to feel absurd.
  • We’ve been getting incredible support from lots of people, especially family and friends who are organising fundraising (and doing an overwhelmingly good job at it), and my online mother’s group. I ‘met’ those ladies over four years ago, and never did I think the group would become what it has. Very, very special.
  • I’m 21 weeks pregnant now, and we know that baby is a healthy little girl! I had absolutely no preference for a daughter or another son, but I did have a feeling she was a she. We are all excited… and maybe somewhat nervous.

Obviously this is just the very tip of an emotional few months, but since I’m now typing this with one hand while prostrate in bed, I’ll have to leave it there.

An important message from Devin

hooray!

Yes, the t-shirt doesn’t lie. Little Person #2 is estimated to arrive on the 15th of December.
That makes me 11 weeks now, and it might seem unusual to be telling everyone already. Actually, the bun was out of the oven (?) when I was only 5 weeks pregnant – I needed to tell Dad during that awful week at the ICU, to give him more motivation to fight (and damn, he was doing a good job), or so he would know before he left us.
The shirt was intended for my parents, but life happens, doesn’t it. Now it gets its debut here.

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Devin is enjoying the fruits of my cravings, like cake-in-a-mug. The sweet tooth that was kicked into high-gear by my first pregnancy has finally been quashed by this one – I mostly want salt and protein (which is funny because apparently sugar cravings are caused by a lack of protein?) – but I do still have sudden urges to eat something chocolatey. I am still me.

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I have a pretty constant craving for eggs with runny yolks, but they’re verboten, much to my despair. This day, what I actually wanted was runny eggs on rice with oyster sauce, but had to make-do with hard eggs on toast with spinach and oyster sauce. I’m pretty sure I was still hungry after I ate it. My appetite is out of control.

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And so is my stomach. This was 8 weeks. Let’s not get excited – it is technically caused by baby, but it’s not baby. It’s bloat, and it’s juuuust wonderful. I was over 20 weeks pregnant with Devin before my belly started poking out in any way, and I wore my usual clothes for the full 39 weeks he was in there. This time, I’ve had to scramble to buy actual maternity wear because of my overexcited tum…

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… See?

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I managed to nab this coat from asos for more than 70% off, and what’s more, it’s a maternity coat. No cold belly for me.
Both Devin and Jene, separately, said it looks like a bear when they first saw it. That’s ok by me. It makes me beary warm.

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Something poor Dev has heard me say a lot is, “I’m sorry Devy, I just feel too sick.” He lifts my shirt up and rubs my tummy to make me feel better.

I was nauseous for 10 weeks with Devin, starting exactly at 6 weeks. When I started feeling green at 6 weeks this time, I started bracing myself for a repeat while being secretly scared of how we’d get through following weeks. I slept a lot the first time, and didn’t do much else. I didn’t eat much apart from cheeseburgers, and I lost weight.
I’m hesitantly going to say that it seems to have passed already. I had a few bad weeks, but I wore sea sick acupressure bands for a little while (starting the day of Dad’s funeral) and they seemed to help. I’ve also been eating a whole lot more than I did with Devin, because the sickness caused by an empty stomach outweighed that caused by eating.
Though I was sick for a long time while pregnant with Devin, that was practically my only discomfort. This time, I seem to be experiencing every other symptom that is common in the first trimester… Let’s just not even go there.

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I cannot get enough of this kind of stuff. The ways that a body has to change in order to grow a person are just incredible. It also serves to make me feel better about sometimes feeling kind of miserable.

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I might have to think of a new name for this blog, now.