Friday, September 26, 2008

If Edie were a fish...

She would be called a strong-necked mullet. The former describing her surprising ability to hold her head up and the latter referring to her fine hair-do. She was born with a sweet mullet, with an occasional mohawk that is very much in the style of the Australian teenage boy. She may have inherited it from her mother, who was known to sport a shorty-longback in her not-so-distant youth. Of course, I am not in a very good position to make fun of anyone's hair. Everyone who meets Edie here says "she has more hair than you do!" Har de har.

Three weeks in, it seems as though we are settling into a pretty good routine. Edie gets a bath from her Dad every couple of days, and Laura reads Dr. Seuss books to her every day (see pic at right). She's only three weeks old but she's reading at a 5-week level! Basically that involves grunting and jerking and staring at whatever shiny object has caught her attention. She is starting to follow us with her eyes though.

The visitors are slowly getting up the nerve to drop by. Our friend Joyce, who makes delicious curry puffs and spring rolls that we buy every week at the market, came by with her daughter Amy. She very kindly brought us some curry dishes that we've been enjoying - since taking the time to cook is not at the top of our priority list right now.

We occasionally are venturing out of the house with Edie in tow, but most trips have been functional, like going to the police station to get fingerprints for our permanent residency application. Otherwise we stick around the house. The Rugby League finals (playoffs) have been on for the last few weeks which has kept me plenty entertained. Brisbane got beat out by Melbourne last Friday night on a last minute try after one of their players knocked-on (fumbled) 20 metres out from their line. All they had to do was run out the clock. The crowd of 52,000 was stunned, as well as the Brisbane players who were poised for a huge upset of the defending champions. You can see amateur footage of the last couple of minutes here (Brisbane are in maroon, Melbourne in white). Definitely one of the most shocking last minute losses I've seen in real time.

I'm working from home as much as possible, writing up papers from my PhD, which is now officially in the examination stage. That means I'll be home to defend it in December, so the whole family is coming along. We've booked our tickets, and will attempt to make a 14 hour flight across the Pacific without getting killed by our fellow passengers for having a cranky baby. That'll be followed by a Westjet flight from Vancouver to Moncton. Let's just hope Miss Edie is a good flyer. Otherwise, it's going to be a rough couple of days.

All for now. Take care everyone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New kind of normal for the Jardine family

Hello my friends,

Well, as you might have suspected, life has changed dramatically for us in the past 2 weeks...Understatement of the century. For one thing, I’m able to sit and write this entry while keeping an eye on our beautiful Edie who is entertaining herself on the living room floor. I could honestly just sit and watch her here for the rest of my life. My next door neighbour who just had her first baby about 4 months ago has talked a lot about how priorities change once a baby comes into the picture. She was so right that as soon as we met little Edie, most things that I deemed important fell way off the scale. I’m feeling quite primal in that my main priorities are to feed and shelter our little one. I like it way more then I thought I would, which is surprising, and nice. Just a couple of days before we went in to hospital to have a baby, our kitchen clock, which Tim proudly bought for 2 dollars when we got here, stopped working. In the rush of everything happening at that time, we haven’t replaced it. And I think that it’s kind of neat that right now we have no clue how much time is passing, and no real concept of what time of day it is even, and that we’re ok with that. If any of you have known either Tim or I for any amount of time, you’d know that we like to be on top of things like time (despite the fact that I’m perpetually late, I always know how late I am). So this shuffling of priorities is kind of refreshing.

So, I thought that I would give you an update on where things are at with us, and also a little bit of my perspective of how things went down with this whole delivery and how they are going now. Then again, Tim was much more aware of what was going on during the actual delivery than I was, but there were a few funny moments that I remember that I think that you might enjoy reading about. We’re aware that this blog wasn’t created only to talk about our newborn, rather, we wanted to keep people up to date on our lives in Australia, so we’re working on trying to keep a balance. Despite the fact that we’re over the moon over Edie we realize that there are other things to talk about as well. Just not today.

So, the few days before Edie was born were a busy, busy time for us. She was supposed to come on the 2nd of September and when she didn’t, and I was still feeling good, I figured that it was time to wrap up all of the still loose ends that I hadn’t have the chance to before. So I cooked, baked some cookies (came in handy once I did go into labour), finished up some files for work and submitted a manuscript for publication from my Masters work, which I had been sitting on for way too long. All in all, the delayed labour was the drive that I needed to get that stuff done. Actually, the manuscript was submitted late Thursday night and I went into labour on Friday. Am I ever glad that I don’t have that hanging over my head any longer. I don’t know if I’d ever have gotten around to it if I had waited until after Edie was here.

Like Tim said in his last posting, that Friday at noon he got the call that he’d been waiting for for weeks prior; me telling him to get home because things were moving along. He was actually pretty funny all of that week. Everyday he’d have everything packed up in the morning to go to work and he’d leave to go catch the bus. And everyday he came back through the door about 5 minutes later and said that he’d work from home. I think that Friday was actually the only day he actually got to his office, which is a bit ironic as it was the day that I called him home.

When he got home we decided that in order to pass time and to move labour along, that we’d go for a walk. Contractions were bearable at that point, but I definitely knew that we’d be having this baby soon. We took a drive out to Toohey Forest and had a nice little stroll where we were able to birdwatch a bit and in general, relax. We then decided to pick up a few odds and ends that we’d be needing from the shops and headed home. We popped in the movie “The Castle”, which is the only movie we have here and is also a new favourite of mine, and relaxed for a while longer. As time progressed, contractions were getting more intense and closer together and by the time that 8pm rolled around, my water had broken and our midwife told us to get to the hospital.

My idea of what labour would be like was based on the copious amounts of books, websites, and literature that I’d read, on our prenatal classes, and on the experiences of others. I knew that it would probably be long (first timers on average have 12-15 hour labours), and I knew it would probably be painful (why have the option of pain relief if it weren’t). I had tips coming out of my ears from other women who’d done the whole labour thing, I stayed active up until labour and even practiced breathing and relaxation techniques just to try and prepare for what I expected. Tim and I had decided that we knew we wanted to have a natural birth with as little drug intervention as possible and had written up a plan so that our midwives and doctors knew what we wanted. I thought that if we went in to it with the idea that it was possible to get through this naturally and had prepared to do so, that we would be able to.

Basically, my idea of what labour would be like was off by a thousand miles. Without retelling what Tim has already told, contractions were coming hard and fast for hours. I initially was able to breathe my way through them but by the time 6 hours had passed (i.e. 2am) I was getting worn out and I also thought that I was closer to delivery than I was (in the end it was another 7 hours away). I think all of us (Tim, the midwife and I) were thinking that things were progressing faster than they were, i.e. that dilation was occurring, but in reality labour was progressing quite slowly. Just imagine that you’re running a 10km race and start sprinting for the finish line at the 5km mark. You’d be an idiot to do that. You’d wear yourself out. That’s how I felt at about 4am…Like I’d been sprinting to this finish-line that I thought was way closer than it really was. I was just beat. It was about that time that the midwife started to see my blood pressure rise and the obstetricians started lurking. The sun was also starting to rise which also stressed me out because it meant that I’d been there for way longer than I wanted and expected to be. Oh ya, to top things off, I vomited intensely for the entire night, that basically threw all relaxation techniques out of the window.

In the meantime, Tim was trying to support me as much as he could. Poor guy. Neither of us are night people, so it was rotten for both of us to be awake all night plus deal with labour. He tried hard to be supportive, but it seemed that when he thought that he should, for example, rub my back, it was usually the last thing that I wanted him to do. And if he then decided to back off, I’d be irritated that he wasn’t closer. I think I had a cool enough head to not freak out at him, but there are parts of the night that I don’t remember all that well. One thing I do remember well was the one time that Tim went for one of the many snacks that we had packed for labour. He decided to open up a package of fig newtons. I hate fig newtons, Tim loves them. Unfortunately for him, when he decided to open the package I was just beginning another contraction. He was opposite me on the bed and all I could hear was the rattling of the plastic on these fig newtons. I don’t know if it was just because I was in the middle of a contraction, but he seemed to be rattling that package forever. So at some point during that contraction I snapped at him and told/yelled at him to just wait on trying to get into the package. Again, poor guy. He put the newtons away and didn’t eat another snack the entire night. I’m glad that we can now laugh about it.

Around 5am the obstetrician came by and told us that they’d have to do something to bring down my blood pressure. In the end we decided that an epidural would be the best method, and I was weak from the night of labour so I thought it might help. But it was another hour and a half before they would actually get around to attempting to give it. And, as Tim said, as they were prepping to give the epidural, I started seeing double and then completely blacked out. From that point on I can only take other peoples’ word for what happened because my head was not in the game. All I know is that when I came to there were people everywhere and they were yelling at me to push. I remember pushing twice or three times and then Tim came over to kiss me and tell me that we had a little baby girl. So the last hour of labour is really a blank for me although I didn’t feel any pain at all despite the fact that I had had no pain relief (good ol’ endorphins).

One thing that we really appreciated was the fact that with all of these people involved, almost everyone followed up with us at some point in our stay in hospital. Some had to, but most just wanted to make sure that we were ok and made a point to see us on their own time. It was interesting to hear things from their perspectives. Apparently I kept them entertained.

Anyway, following that whole drama, I was admitted to ICU for monitoring over the next 24 hours to ensure that no more seizures occurred. During that time baby Edie was admitted to the special care nursery (a premie nursery- Edie was a giant in there). We were able to get her breastfeeding right away which turned out to be very important as it took her almost 4 days to wake up enough to feed again without the aid of a feeding tube inserted into her nose. I had lost enough blood during delivery that I was told that I would need a transfusion if I showed any signs of distress, but was able to convince the specialists that I was fine with the help of iron suppliments. I had so many wires and needles stuck to and sticking in me at one point that I told Tim that if someone had walked into my room and told me that they were going to have to break my leg, I would have responded by telling them that it was fine but that I wouldn’t be able to watch them do it. So all in all, with Edie’s slow feeding start and my recovery, we were in the hospital for 8 nights (they let Tim and I go home on Thursday night but we had to go back for Friday and Saturday night). We’re sick of hospitals although they took amazing care of us at the Mater.

So we’re home now. It’s only been 5 nights of being here but we’re figuring things out. Edie sleeps a lot and eats a lot. She’s not too fussy unless she’s got wind, but we’re figuring out how to deal with that as time goes by. She’s very, very entertaining and is usually ok to just lie on the floor and coo away. She’s pretty predictable with feeding times and I tend to be very aware when they should be anyway (mother nature pulls through again). Edie loves her dad. I call him the snake charmer because she seems to melt in his arms. I, on the other hand, think that Edie might look upon me as a 2L bottle of milk on legs. Either way, we’re glad that there are 2 of us looking after her. She’s altogether beautiful with her strawberry blonde locks, long fingers and long feet…it’s just hard to believe how much you can love someone in such a short time. Life is good in the Jardine household.

To wrap up, I’ll have to just say that we’ve been overwhelmed with the inflow of congratulations and well wishes to us…Thanks everyone, we appreciate it. Hopefully we’ll be able to find the time in the near future to get back to you. But if not, know that we’re missing our friends and family so much these days. We hope to see you soon.

Love to everyone,


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sweet Relief

It's a girl!

Edie Lillian Jardine, born at 8:43 a.m. Saturday September 6th, weighing a solid 8 pounds 4 ounces. Technically you could say she was born on September 5th (Friday night in Canada), so I guess we'll have to celebrate separate Canadian and Aussie birthdays.

Mom and baby are both doing well, but the labour didn't go through without a bit of a scare. If you are interested in the details, read on. If not, enjoy the pics at the right!

Here's a timeline of how things transpired for us.

Friday 12:00 (noon): Laura calls me home from work as labour has officially begun - mild contractions plus "the show"

Fri afternoon: contractions getting stronger but she's still able to move around - we go for a couple of walks

6:00 pm: things are advancing, we get out the warm towels and she has a bit of lay-down to conserve energy

8:00 pm: the water breaks, it's go time!

8:30 pm: we arrive at hospital, contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, she is admitted directly to the birthing suite

9:00 pm: 1st checkup - she is dilated to 3 cm and right on track, mid-wife seems pleased

1:00 a.m.: 2nd checkup - she is dilated to 6 cm, again on schedule; the midwife was in and out the whole time, but for the most part it was quiet in the birthing suite

5:00 a.m.: 3rd checkup - and this where things start to go astray; Laura is only dilated to 7 cm (1 cm gain in 4 hours), indicating a slowing of progress; also her blood pressure has crept up

6:00 a.m.: an epidural is recommended by the obstetrician; this will ease the pain of contractions as well as reducing Laura's blood pressure. We are initially resistant because we were hoping for a drug-free birth, but in consultation with the mid-wife (who had been with us since we got to the hospital), we decide it is the best way forward.

7:00 a.m.: still no epidural as staff changeover is occurring, we lose the midwife in exchange for a new one; we are both getting frustrated and Laura is tired

7:30 a.m.: Here is where the drama occurred; as the anethestist is washing up to give the epidural, Laura has a seizure, a result of pre-eclampsia (which has now become eclampsia and was causing the high blood pressure). The mid-wife hits the alarm button and all heck breaks loose. Laura is convulsing uncontrollably as staff (15 in total) spill into the room, unwillingly transforming my life into a scene from ER. By far the scariest moment of my life. The seizure passes and staff deliver magnesium sulfate to drop the blood pressure. Baby's heart rate jumped during the seizure but stabilized quickly. I am a blubbering mess in the corner of the room.

8:00 a.m.: Laura is slowly coming back to reality, we collectively coax her into resuming her pushing.

8:30 a.m.: Laura is fully back, even with her sense of humor starting to show through, she's putting all she's got into the pushing

8:43 a.m.: With the help of incredible hospital staff, a vacuum, forceps, and Laura's Herculean strength, she delivers our beautiful daughter.

So that's how it all unfolded. Laura is recovering and should be out of the hospital in a couple of days. And I changed my 1st diaper. Oh, and coincidentally, today (Sept 7th) is Father's Day in Australia, so I just made it!

Lots of love to all, we'll talk soon.