pregnancy

Zero to Baby in 10 minutes. Thank you RBWH !

Rory_1I can proudly say I’m a father to a beautiful, and more importantly, healthy little boy. It was a long wait, especially the last 30 plus hours, but the final scary minutes was unexpectedly hurried. I nearly missed it, and can’t thank the staff involved (all 12 of them or more) for making what could have been a disastrous outcome, a little blessing. An emergency C-section was not something we had planned for, or even crossed our minds, as everything about the pregnancy had been normal up until giving birth.

I’ll try to be brief, not really my forte, but basically this is what happened.

Around about 3am on the Wednesday before, my partner started getting much more period like pain, and by later that morning, 10am or so, her contractions had become much more regular and consistent. The intensity of them slowly increased, and they didn’t fade away like previous ones had. The show was finally on the road, so to speak.

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Bianca – The heart monitor

By 5pm we thought it best to call the hospital, luckily, we lived just around the corner, so they told us to come in. After a few tests, they concluded it was still a little bit away (2cm cervix dilation). They offered us to stay but going home seemed to be preferred. We were utilising a public hospital, so we thought why take up much needed space. It was great to be home too, especially for pain management, plenty of shower time and nudity involved, which you really don’t want made public. At about 11pm, my partner’s waters broke, but it wasn’t sweet smelling, like it should be, and after a call to the hospital we headed in. The non-sweet smell, and yellowish green colouration was because our boy had defecated whilst in-utero. Our onsite mid wife decided to induce. Luckily we had discussed our pain management plan beforehand, speaking with a friend who is an anaesthetist, who reassured us about the benefits and disadvantages of an epidural, we decided to go with the jab sooner than later. A big factor he said, is that once you decide to have an epidural, it may take an hour for it to be administered and become useful. If you want it, then remember that. Also, he perhaps fatefully said that they are great to have in case of an emergency. As we were to find out, this was invaluable advice.

Our birth suite was very comfortable, even a lazy boy for me to recline on, which I used with pleasure, whilst holding my partner’s hand. We were allowed to bring in snacks, jerky is a must, and other items to help soothe the tension of the labour. We watched some TV, and a movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, now that I think about it, it seems a little fateful too.

Mainly though, we were happy just chatting, and listening to the comforting beeping of Bianca, the machine that monitored baby and mum’s heart rate. Another strange detail actually, as Bianca, is my partner’s sister’s birth name (Tia Yanta!). I like seeing such signs.

At about 4am Thursday morning, I decided to get some sleep.  Marilyn seemed ok, and the epidural had gone smoothly. I slept and awoke a couple of hours later, to the midwife and doctor discussing something that caused me concern. Whilst I was asleep the boy’s pulse rate had been dropping every time my partner had a contraction, to nearly half of what it should be !! They brought in an ultra sound and found that, even though the boy was upside down and in the right position, there was one slight problem. His head was tilted up, rather than down on his chin, so each contraction would extend his neck backwards. For such a small detail, it complicated matters immensely for a natural birth.

My partner’s cervix was starting to swell from irritation on one side, luckily the epidural was already in, as the pain would have been way more severe for her, and likely to cause more stress on our boy. All we could do was nervously wait to see if his position would change, this was not in our initial plan.

The doctor after some time came back into the room (they work tirelessly in Public Hospitals, due to these little surprises), read the charts spitting out of Bianca, and decided to do a lactate test. Especially so as there was blood colouring in my partner’s urine, visible in her catheter.

A lactate test involves a tiny blood sample taken from the child’s head and testing it for lactic acid levels. If the boy was still receiving nutrients from the placenta it would be low, if not, it would be high. There were 3 outcomes pending on levels. 1. Wait some more to see if his position changes. 2. Organise a C-section for a couple of hours time. 3. Emergency C-section. Our level was 5.5, it was too high, things were about to become hectic.

The doctor quickly stood up, told me not to worry and the rush began, and not only from my tear ducts. Seeing the room flood with people shouting stats and medical jargon, with my partner being prepped and whisked away was too movie like for my liking, and I have never been fond of dramas. Marilyn was strong and mouthed ‘I love you’ as she disappeared down the hall, with midwives and others hovering over her. I was alone after all these hours, and lost.

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Thumbs up to being stitched up !

Another doctor took me by the hand comforting me, with the good old ‘she’ll be right’ aussie attitude, and lead me to the changing room to get into scrubs. I was not thinking straight, putting pants on my head, and hair nets on my feet. Finally, I was ready, and literally jogged down to the operating theatre. Jogging in, my heart dropped, Marilyn was on the table, stomach open…don’t look left, don’t look left, I made my way to behind the blue curtain, safe from any images I didn’t want burned into my mind.

Marilyn was thankfully awake (if she hadn’t had the epidural she would have missed the birth as she would have been put under), and looking stable, there appeared to be a person for everything. A man who was just there to explain what was going on, asked me to sit down. 10 seconds later we could hear crying. The boy was out!!! I couldn’t believe it, it was so surreal, after 9 months, 30 hours of labour or so, no pushing, no crowning, he was just…out. 10 minutes ago my partner and I were holding hands, watching the doctor do a test.

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First contact with Mum

Now here he was, amaze-balls (in more ways than one) !

He was then taken over to a table to be checked, pipes cleaned of any possible poo remnants, and taking general measurements. The strangest thing was that amongst the excitement, I noticed his balls were huge, seriously huge, like a grown man’s!!!

My partner from her vantage point, lying on the operating table, getting stitched up, thought he had a tumour, thankfully not, I was told this happens a lot due to fluid retention. The staff were great and had brought my camera in, I’d forgotten it due to the rush, and so was able to document this case of big balls for his future 21st. The fluid build up probably had nothing to do with it, but the little guy certainly released some, in the form of pee, all over his new medical handlers. Nice one I thought, if only I had the camera switched to video.

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Beanie measurement (or something similar)

Anyway, what a day, what a ride, and I am so, so, thankful, that we were surrounded by experienced and professional staff. A free service mind you, well done Queensland’s health system! I can only give them praise, for their help, care, and service. Pre checks, classes, birth suite, onsite midwife, epidural, operation, post-op after care, post checks of baby, vaccinations, breast feeding services, what to do once home, and a free beanie!rorybeanie

All done professionally, all done with the utmost care and heart. To think I heard someone complain about having to pay for parking, I nearly said something, but hey, I had just become a father, I’d let that one go. Thank you functioning health system and thank you RBWH. From my experience, I would never even consider home birth, it could have been much different and not so, well, clinical.

I hope all who read this, don’t have to go through an emergency operation for birth like us, but it is what it is, and this little guy is a reminder of not just our love, but the love of others too, in all their chosen roles.

Tip of the Ice-Blog #5

When there is so much at stake, we all get nervous, which can lead to us being a little rude to the people that are trying to help. I noticed in the hospital a lot of media about not abusing staff, when I asked about this, I was told it is a frequent occurrence. I was shocked. Worry can of course lead to anger, but I feel if we can’t do things ourselves, then we need to rely on experts and trust they are doing the right thing. No point venting frustration on hospital staff, as they like you, just want the best result for all involved. Stay calm, ask questions, and like the old adage ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’.

 

 

 

 

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Budgeting for baby stuff…do we really need that?

babyblingThe excitement and nerves are building up, perfectly correlated with my partner’s crescendo of ooohs & ahhhhs (my partner wants it noted this is not in the good way). Last night we said goodbye to the mucus plug, so with the cork removed and a little airing, the time is ripe for our beautiful Rory to be poured into this world. Although, like all good spirits or wine, it can come with a hefty price tag, especially when it seems everything with the term ‘baby’ or ‘maternity’ seems to add 30%.

As I’ve said, my partner and I are unexpectedly expecting, so therefore had no budget or fancy excel spread sheets arranged pre pregnancy. To be honest, the shock, emotional change, and geographical logistics, took up most of our efforts for the first part. However, with both of us having an accounting background, a budget was inevitable. Personally, I believe a budget is a must for any new family, as it gives you some monetary direction of incomings and outgoings, whilst making you think about what you need. I use the term need liberally here, as many of the items we acquired are only recent additions to what has nurtured the human race thus far. Although the image of our primate ancestors using a double breast pump bra is one that you wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

monkeybreastpumpI believe the budget basics to prepare for a newborn, is most of all about being sensible with your purchases. I found it amazing the difference in prices between two nearly identical products, but the one with ‘baby’ or ‘maternity’ was more expensive.

It is an emotionally driven market and I’m sure those kind hearted marketing types are well aware of this. Research is king. Recommendation is his queen.

Ask yourself such questions as – 

1. Does it really need to be brand new? A lot of baby items are only used for a short period of time, and are therefore more than likely in a good condition when second hand. EBay is your friend.

2. Does it really need to be a brand name? As with most other items, brand names can carry with it a certain social pedigree that you pay for. However, they can also be a trusted name due to  their products being tried and tested. I’m sure a common ground can be found between the two.

3. Is it really necessary for the child’s well being? Like I stated before, need is a vague word when it comes to your child. What one person says is a must another will say is a luxury. As you will find out, this question is very subjective, but something to think about in your budget.

and the most important of all,

4. Is it safe? Safety always has a cost involved, but one worth paying for. For any product that you are going to purchase, especially from EBay, check out it’s safety record. If it’s second hand, could there be problems. We got a second hand car seat from a trusted friend, so knew it wasn’t in an accident but still we got it checked out, and installed by an expert. Kidsafe are a great non-profit organisation devoted to helping with a huge array of safety issues. I also found out through this organisation, that a plastic cover for a mattress is no good, as the child needs to be able to breathe through it. I would never have thought of that, so these little bits of advice are invaluable.

Basically, I believe all you need are the following items in bold (as a guy you’ll find that your partner has final say on this matter). Most of these items can be bought second hand, just give them a thorough clean before use. Clothing, a safe place to sleep ( a new mattress ), a solid change table, cleaning items, bottles, a sturdy and easy to use stroller, a safe and secure car seat, swaddle wraps for sleeping, a separate nappy bin, a truck load of nappies, and the cheapest but most important item of all…your love and devotion.

These lists are everywhere and you will get plenty of advice from others about what is handy. Feel free to list them here for others to read and share. I will have a better idea of what is handy and what isn’t once the boy arrives ( my partner’s moaning in the background is becoming more frequent so it could be soon ). Before you say anything, I’m only 2 metres away and the beauty of writing is that you can easily walk away from it, as I have a couple of times, bet you didn’t even notice. Even a trip to the hospital has happened since starting this blog. My partners cervix is at 2cm dilation so great news….it looks like we’ll be parents by morning !

newbabySo I will leave you with one more story, which I found quite funny and sums up the process of getting the nest ready. One night while my partner was on Ebay looking for a breast pump (got it for half the price of a new one, savings of $250, bam), and a stroller (got one for $275 worth nearly a $1000 new, bam bam), and a baby monitor (ended up getting one free from a friend, bam bam bam)….anyway sorry back to the story….I thought I’d challenge her to a duel. I would use Facebook (or Facebay as I termed it) and she would use EBay to find us one of the items. We settled on the baby monitor, as we were of the idea that most people would have used one. I was confident that Facebay would come up trumps, so I made the post and put out the call for an angelcare baby monitor.

After about a half hour as my partner and I swapped between our two screens, computer and TV, I decided to check my feed on the monitor. Triumphantly I said to her ‘Ha ha ! 20 comments, are you ready to raise your white flag’. My partner smiled and said ‘We’ll see.’ I started reading through to see who was able to lend us a monitor. To my surprise, not one comment was about being able to lend us the monitor. The feed read as a Monitor Vs No Monitor blog, challenging debates for each side of the line, and some people just giving support. The only person that came close to offering a monitor, sadly couldn’t, my friend’s father had been using it for the past nine years, as a successful monitor for his dogs! It still worked great, he said. Good to know it lasts I guess.

Anyway, my partner won the duel, EBay works far better than Facebay in this respect. Thankfully, we did end up getting a monitor, along with many other items from friends, but not on that particular night. You will find many people have opinions on all baby matters, and it’s all good advice, everyone means well, but being a new parent, it’s just that, advice. Take it or leave it, if you’re sensible you’ll be fine.

Tip of the Ice-blog #4

Contractions is where labour is at. We used to get worried after one or two Braxton hicks, keys in hand, bag on shoulder, nearly out the door, but it would subside. I can tell you now, you’ll know when labour is upon you, the contractions intensity and frequency are full on. I downloaded a cool app called Full Term. This app allows the user to easily follow and time the regularity of your partner’s contractions, and provides a reference relating to the stage of labour she is at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To snip, or not to snip? That was my question.

squidThe boy, being like his father, is running a little late. This is a common occurrence for most new parents so nothing to be worried about for the time being. It does however, give me more time to ponder, should the boy be even more like his father…

As mentioned in my previous blog Sex & Score, I touched on the confusion regarding male circumcision. Not so confusing for some who know straight away what they’d be doing. When I first told my Mum that it was a boy, her first comments weren’t ‘a grandson, oh wow, that’s wonderful’, but were in fact ‘Well, you know what you have to do then?‘. Huh? That took me by surprise. Umm no, what do I have to do then? I had only just mentioned it was a boy and suddenly I seemingly knew what I was supposed to do. I must admit this ‘you’ll know what to do’ or ‘you’ll work out as you go’ advice, does appear to be the favourite approach in many baby matters, but in this case I pushed on. Mum without hesitation continued ‘Well, you are done, and your father was done. The boy should be done too.’ Well that settled it, in that I finally knew what Mum was talking about, not that I was to circumcise my boy. That decision required some more advice than ‘because I am’.

helmetI actually found this topic rather interesting to research, there were many facts and opinions I would never have guessed. As a child, there was a little bit of pointing and so forth ie. he’s a squid & he’s a helmet, but no real bother from either sides. Strangely, later chatting to girls and mothers, the poor ol squid’s appearance seemed to get the short end of the stick…I guess squids aren’t known for their looks. But this purely aesthetic reason, was still not a reason to snip, so I looked a little further.

One thing I found out, as all you squids would know, is that what is cut off, the foreskin or prepuce, is not just a bit of skin, but a double-layered fold of smooth muscle tissue, blood vessels, neurons, skin, mucous membrane, and finally skin, that covers the glans (head). Wowsers I thought, no wonder lubricant was unnecessary for a self satisfying squid. A good friend proudly confirmed this was the case. So it’s a cost saver. I was now leaning towards keeping it but still I needed more advice.

Strangely, getting a yes or no from the professionals in the medical field was impossible. At each appointment, their line was that it’s an unnecessary operation in most cases but your choice, whether it be a religious one or not. This unnecessary operation idea is perpetuated by the fact that our public hospital does not provide the service. It was up to us to get a doctor and pay the cost (approx. $250-$400). I did find through my own social circles a recommended doctor, but another thing I noticed, was that a lot of medical types that I knew, decided against circumcision for their own children (or squidlets, my partner’s term, not mine). Stating again, that they saw it as an unnecessary operation, but of course it is your choice. So it’s a cost saver, costs to get removed, and appears to be an unnecessary operation. I was getting very close to making my decision, but why unnecessary?

My partner is from the UK and of Portuguese descent. She found my interest in the matter quite amusing and odd, as circumcision is rare in Europe. It is much more prevalent in Australia, Africa ( partly due to a clinical movement to try and combat HIV ) and USA. Certain religious beliefs such as Islam and Judaism internationally circumcise, but if not for religious reasons, it is uncommon in Europe. I did find some research that stated the ritual came from people that inhabited sandy regions, as it was a way to prevent inflammation from sand that would stick. It really does get everywhere! I found this to be very interesting, as I am always of the belief a tradition starts somewhere, and usually it’s for a sound reason. Australian aborigines circumcised, the middle east circumcised, parts of Asia circumcised, Europe…not so much. Also it should be noted, this tradition started along time ago ( it has been suggested that it is the world’s oldest planned surgical procedure ) and our standard of living and cleanliness was not as it is today.

2008-01-11_2007-WHO-prevalence-of-circumcision

Anyway, like I originally said, it’s quite an interesting topic to research, and well worth looking into if you’re involved with making such a decision. The main pros & cons for circumcision I’ve come across are the following. You can get such advice from sites like kidshealth.org or Circumcision Australia Organisation.

Pros

  • Less likely to develop Urinary Tract Infections. UTIs are about 10 times more common in uncircumcised males than circumcised infants. However, even with this increased risk of UTI, only 1% or less of uncircumcised males will be affected. Therefore it fixes a problem that has a small chance of occurring in this day and age.
  • Circumcised men also might be at lower risk for penile cancer. This disease is rare in both circumcised and uncircumcised males. Some studies indicate that the procedure might offer an additional line of defence against STD’s like HIV. The foreskin provides a better environment to linger in and be transmitted.
  • Easier to keep clean, as an unwashed foreskin can lead to inflammation and infection.
  • Some research is linked to the foreskin carrying the Human Papillomavirus which can cause penile cancer and cervical cancer (for female partners). This is something to look into much more closely than I have, but there is research out there.

Cons

  • It requires an operation, so therefore there is a small chance of complications.
  • It is painful ( not that I can remember ).
  • It is permanent.
  • The glans/head can become desensitised due to no protective covering (this can also be seen as a positive…).

Basically, in summary, there are potential benefits to circumcision but not enough evidence to make it mandatory. For some boys, it may be necessary anyway due to a problem with their foreskin, too tight etc.

As you can see, the more you look into it, the more questions arise and the more confusing it becomes. I have flipped flopped (pun intended) many times in what to do. In the end, it is a choice, and most likely, whatever you decide to do, it will be the right choice. At least you have given it some thought.

Personally, at this stage, I have decided not to circumcise, unless it is necessary. I know Rory will look different, and cleaning will need to be taught, but I look forward to this question of difference, so I can explain to him that such differences don’t make us any less human. I envy the people who just know, like my Mum, but I always think it is best to question the notion, ‘because it was done before’.

Tip of the Ice-Blog #3

Practice drills are great. With the birth just around the corner, I really enjoyed the comfort of knowing how to get the baby carriage from ground, to stroller, to car, out of car, and back in stroller. The last thing I want when it comes to taking him home is not knowing how to do the basics. Also, have bags packed with the items, your partner, baby, and yourself need for the big day / night. It could happen any moment now ! Remember that phone charger, and is there enough space for photos?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex & Score – Ask yourself, Do I want to know?

Definitely a boy

Definitely a boy.

Hi there and welcome to new readers,

Like any good match, lets get straight into it. I awoke this morning to find a text sitting there merrily on my screen, plain as day for all to see, and it was the one sentence that would ruin my daily plan. It involved Argentina V Netherlands. (Don’t click if you don’t want to know the score). I won’t divulge the rest of the text, as I don’t want others to relive the ‘Noooo, I didn’t want to know!’. This got me thinking about the question to know or not to know?

Does knowing the outcome of your child’s sex ruin the game?

I am in the court of to know, as my partner and I, as I like to call it, are unexpectedly expecting. Another surprise wasn’t warranted and at least the gender could be one thing to prepare for. Also, as you can tell from the above pic, it was like this morning’s text, hard to miss. Knowing we were to have a boy we were able to start mentally preparing for that. It solidified the name, as per previous blog, we started calling the little bean, him, rather than it, and allowed us to perhaps bond a little more with the idea of what was to come.

Not everyone is in this boat though. At one of the pre-natal classes we attended, it was asked of each couple, sex and due date. Half the class were leaving the sex as a surprise, or perhaps were unable to get a good vantage point (even if you want to know, it’s not entirely accurate as the child needs to be positioned right). This stance, of leaving the gender as a surprise, for some reason surprised me. I know it’s kind of a tradition to not find out, but is it more the fact that we sometimes just don’t find out, and it’s easier to explain that it will be a surprise, to friends and family.

I personally am happy with our choice of finding out. It’s helped a lot with preparation, both mentally and physically (we now have a lot of hand me down boys clothing, pretty much up until he’s 3). Also, as you can read, I’m able to say ‘he’, no confusion. Even though having a he has caused some confusion with regards to snip or not to snip, but that question is for another blog.

In the end, either way it is still a fun game, just like previous soccer games I’ve watched, (yes soccer), and known the score, knowing the final outcome doesn’t take away from the thrill of watching! But for those that want to keep it a surprise, I can certainly understand that too, those final moments, when pushing into extra time and heading towards a penalty shootout, it will perhaps be even more exciting. Boy V Girl, like Argentina V Holland. It’s all part of the build up for our very own world game final.

Tip of the Ice-Blog #2

Try not to miss any appointments involving the scans. It can be a wonderful time being there together and seeing your little one inside the womb. Capturing the images of the inner workings of your new child is fascinating and also hopefully re-assuring. 5 fingers, check. (although the Simpsons survive with 3). Some places also give you a little DVD to take home and show family.

 

And we’re off and racing…

 

roryHi there,

If you’ve read my ‘look who’s talking’ page, then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say this is my Ba that made me a D. If not, then this is my baby that has in turn made me a dad. We are equals. Simples.

This 3D Image is the first time I had the pleasure of seeing my little boy’s face. You easily forget that the bulge in your partner’s belly has all the features of a tiny human. It’s kind of cool to reflect on this from time to time. He’s yawning, crying, smiling, and even hiccupping (a very weird sensation for my partner) whilst in the womb.

As a guy, this photo was the first time I felt properly connected with the pregnancy. I could finally put a name to a face. Yes, even at this stage we had a name, like previous garage bands I’ve been in, and never played a gig, the naming is still one of my favourite parts in the creative process. At the very early stages of pregnancy we were sitting out on the balcony discussing names. Within a few name exchanges we had settled on Rory, (for boy or girl), it felt right, and after googling the meaning, it felt even better. Just one more quality test was needed – my mother. Thankfully it passed this rigid test with flying colours, very much to my surprise. Mum actually advised that I had a Great Uncle Rory, and she then proceeded to pull out a photo form circa 1800’s to show me. There he was, sitting on a horse, with that eerie stare from ages gone by. I find all these old portrait’s a little unsettling for some reason. I think smiling must have been an early 1900’s invention.

One slight difference to Uncle Rory for the time being, is our Rory has the word bean at the end of it, which will be lost upon birth (or at least the birth certificate). This particular term of endearment, lead me to thinking if this is how Frances Bean gained her monika, daughter of Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) & Courtney Love. A google later & I was right, we’d used bean for the same reason, as we too thought our little man looked like a kidney bean on the earlier ultrasounds.

Such images show we were all beans once, magical beans that grew, and finally broke through the clouds, delivering us into the land of giants. Now we just got to try and not be eaten while searching for the goose that lays the golden egg.

Tip of the Ice-blog #1

Even though as a guy we don’t go through the same symptoms as our female counterparts during pregnancy, it is a great exercise to try and imagine what it would be like if we did. Shoe on the other foot kind of idea.