On the hunt...again

Well we're on the house hunt yet again. I normally love this sort of thing but after the luck we've been having lately I'm really starting to dread the whole process. There are very few properties available and anything with potential gets snatched up super fast (we're talking a matter of hours...hours!) I has been a bit discouraging folks!

Plus this time we're moving across country with a baby which poses a whole new set of challenges.

But I'm still excited for the adventure, getting settled into a new neighbourhood - perhaps one with real trees and green grass to replace the concrete playground of downtown living - and of course, returning home to our friends and family.

We'll get through it!


Four Months: Babble Babble

This bunny is starting to look pretty small next to our Big Ben! I remember when it was the same size as him. Let's revisit that time, shall we?

Ben continues to grow like a weed, topping the charts at 15lbs and 26.5in of pure fun. This kid is big! I can barely hold him anymore without getting kicked or smacked with those flailing limbs. Such a strong boy. He loves to stand up on his own (he holds onto our fingers), springs up and down, leans forward in his chair, stroller or mamaroo (a signal meaning he wants to get out) and easily lifts up his legs into the air to help us with diaper changes or to play with his toes. Ben barely fits in his bathtub but loves to kick and splash around anyway. Coordination is continually being refined, especially when grabbing on to toys and putting them in his mouth. Nom Nom Nom.

Sleep is still a bit random at times but we can usually get in a good 6+ hour stretch before a feed and then a couple more after that. I really can't complain. He's also alert for longer periods during the day but enjoys 2-3 naps a day, some longer than others. My favourite time of day continues to be when Ben first wakes up. He's so cheerful and chattery. Even copies the sounds we babble to him.

Ben may have had his first bought of illness this month with a week+ of GI issues. His temperature was great and he was taking in lots of fluids but we changed many many dirty diapers every day. So grateful that it hasn't turned into anything serious.

This past month was lots of fun! We took our first major road trip to Montreal over the Easter weekend and Ben did so well (providing one of us was in the back seat of the car to keep him company). It was our first over-night visit and he handled it like a champ. We also celebrated Danny's birthday with a big family dinner at our place and then again the next night at another house. We took our first trip to the zoo and had a blast playing with the monkeys, penguins and polar bears. I've been wanting to get outside a bit more often but the weather has been pretty cool lately so we'll just have to hang out inside a bit longer.

We've got a few busy weeks ahead and can't wait to share them with you!


Ben's Birth Story: Part 2

Continued from Part 1...

I’m so pleased to say that getting the epidural was nowhere near as traumatic as I had expected. Perhaps it was the freezing, perhaps it was the relative pain compared to the contractions, perhaps I was just being delusional but I only felt a few soft taps before I was allowed to recline again.


The next few hours sort of meld together for me. After a few initial tweaks, the epidural had taken effect and I couldn’t feel a thing. I napped, I ate a Popsicle, I listened to the thub thub thubbing of the monitors and then napped some more. I didn’t have much to complain about except for my heavily bruised hands, arms and elbows that had been poked and prodded. A series of nurses came in to check in on me but for the most part we were left alone to rest. And so we did.

After a shift change, a new nurse came into our room, held my hand, and said in the sweetest most cheerful voice, “My name is Mona and today we’re going to have a baby.” A baby? Haha, oh yeah, that part! As far into labour as I was, it still hadn’t completely sunk in that I would be leaving this room with a baby. My baby.

The OB/GYN came into the room shortly thereafter for another internal exam. This time I felt absolutely nothing apart from a bit of pressure. No tears, no crying. What a difference modern medicine makes. She said I was 7cm dilated and was surprised at how quickly I was progressing especially with this being my first child. She thought this baby would be born before midnight. It was starting to become very real.

Less than an hour later it was time to push. The OB/GYN was there with her resident along with a Respiratory Therapist (for the baby). Danny was on one side, my nurse on the other bracing my legs on their hips. We were a team and we were going to do this!

I felt excited but I also wanted to do a good job pushing so I focused on that task first and foremost. I couldn’t feel my contractions nor could I feel the ‘urge’ to push so I relied on the nurse and the monitor to dictate when to start and for how long. I focused all of my energy downwards and pushed with all my might. It was hard but I just stayed present. I remember them coaching me along and saying ‘yes like that again’ but truthfully couldn’t feel the difference between a ‘good’ push and a ‘less effective’ push. But we kept going.

I was really pleased at how calm everyone in the room was. The last thing I wanted was a team of over-zealous cheerleader types. That being said, the atmosphere wasn’t totally solemn either. At one point between contractions the resident decided to style the baby’s visible hair ‘just like Daddy’s’, which I thought, was cute. Even when it was discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck (twice) the OB just referred to it as a pearl necklace instead of using language that would likely panic a first time mom.

At 2339h and with one final push our Benjamin Alexander arrived. Immediately after Danny cut the cord Ben was placed on my chest for some skin-to-skin time. There was this little creature all puffy and swollen but all ours. I choked back some tears as I studied all his little features. His curly dark hair, long finger and these wonderful brown eyes. This was the little rib-kicker living inside me for the past nine plus months? This will be the boy I take care of and tuck in at night? We created this little boy and he is ours to keep? I couldn’t stop staring in awe.

After a few minutes the respiratory therapist took Ben aside to clean him off and assess his vitals. The OB/GYN and resident were nearly done stitching me up and my nurse had collected the cord blood. I was relieved that the process was over but also couldn’t believe how fast it had all happened.

For the next few hours the three of us were allowed to stay in the L&D room. I tried getting Ben to latch on, the lights were dimmed, I was brought a tuna sandwich (much to Danny’s dismay as he was starving too but hates fish) and my nurse popped in for the occasional update. But, for the most part we were left alone to enjoy the first few moments of being a new family.

When I regained enough sensation and strength in my legs I was transported to the recovery unit on the tenth floor. Riding in the wheelchair holding our bundled boy in my arms was a feeling I’ll never forget. Exiting that dark quiet L&D room where all the action took place behind closed doors into the bright noisy halls of the hospital for all to see was almost like our debut into reality. We passed the nurses station where I received smiles and congratulatory messages. I tried to convey a look of encouragement to a labouring mother walking the halls. It felt like a lifetime had passed in just the span of a few short hours.

When I got settled in my recovery room shortly after 3am I sent Danny home for some much needed food and rest. Although I knew that sleeping was the smart thing to do, I found myself checking Facebook updates on my phone. Perhaps I was craving some semblance of ‘normalcy’ in this day of overwhelming change. The nurse came in to help me to the bathroom but unbeknownst to me I ended up peeing all over the floor on my hobble over. Glamorous right? Luckily she took it all in stride and got me cleaned up and re-settled in bed.

As I lay in bed I reflected on the events of the day. How much had happened. How much had changed. I recalled the way Danny held our first-born son with such natural confidence and pride - as if he had been prepared for this moment his whole life. I knew he would make a wonderful dad. You see, not only did I fall in love with my new little boy that day but I also fell deeper in love with his father. I watched Ben through heavy eyelids sleeping in a basket next to me and I finally drifted off too; a new mom, a new baby and a new life ahead.


Ben's Birth Story: Part 1

When something significant happens in my life, I often want to document and record the experience in the very best way possible. I want it to sound profound and poetic, be something I can reflect on and be proud of for years to come. Unfortunately, however, these self-imposed expectations more often than not create so much inward pressure that I end up paralyzed and write nothing. So I’m going to try and surrender to that doubting voice and just write my story because at the end of the day it’s worth documenting, imperfections and all.

Ben’s Birth Story

It all began on Christmas Day… I had reached my official due date and there was absolutely no indication that this baby would be appearing any time soon. After indulging in turkey, mashed potatoes and all the fixings my family and I sat around the kitchen table and we played Scrabble.

I had been wondering for months how and when this baby would arrive. I had researched the requisite baby books and websites, read various birth stories, talked to families and friends about their personal experiences and spoke with my OB/GYN. But I knew labour was something I would never be fully ready for and that I’d just have to deal with it as best as I could while it progressed.

During the final few weeks leading up to my due date I had felt a lot of aches, pains and weird twinges that constantly left me wondering, “Is this going to develop into something?” I worried that I’d go into labour the week in December when Danny was on call and wouldn’t be able to get away easily. Then there were days I was so tired of being pregnant that I wished, even begged to feel contractions and get this party started. But there we were on Christmas Day, my due date reached, playing Scrabble and feeling diddley squat.

Late that night Danny and I walked (or more like paced) up and down, up and down, up and down our condo. It seemed a little silly but I wanted to get things going and if that meant an hour of pacing at two in the morning then so be it.

At 0700h on Boxing Day I woke up with a very tight and slightly painful feeling in my abdomen. Hmmm, I thought, this definitely feels like something. And sure enough, my contractions began.

I spent the first few hours labouring at home, mostly in our bedroom. It wasn’t completely awful but it was definitely uncomfortable and increasing in intensity over time. We started recording my contractions. Twenty minutes apart. Twelve minutes apart. Ten minutes apart. Danny brought me a peanut butter and jam sandwich (girl’s gotta eat – who knows when my next meal will be?) and stayed by my side most of the morning rubbing my back or holding my hand while I tried to find a position to relieve the pain of the next contraction. My parents and sister were occupying themselves quietly in the other rooms but would come in from time to time to offer a glass of milk, a cup of chicken noodle soup or some encouraging words.

To my great surprise, time was going by very quickly. By around 1200h my contractions were averaging seven minutes apart. I wasn’t feeling desperate or completely out of control but I definitely wanted some thing to help relieve the pain. I didn’t, however, want to go to the hospital too early. The idea of leaving my ‘safe’ place, putting on boots, jackets, grabbing bags, driving to the hospital, walking through the building and being assessed by triage only to be sent home was not appealing. I only wanted to make that trip once. So I held out for a while longer.

At 1400h Danny said it was time to go. My contractions had consistently been five minutes apart for over an hour, I was very uncomfortable and there was little chance of things slowing down. Reluctantly, I agreed.

My dad drove us the short few blocks to the hospital. I remember wanting to minimize the number of contractions I had ‘in public’ (silly, I know) so we waited a couple minutes before I got out of the car. As soon as my last wave finished I stepped outside. My plan didn’t hold for long, however, as I found myself bearing down on a planter not thirty feet from the hospital entrance wincing in pain. My loving dad snapped a photo on his iPhone because ‘that’s what my uncle Ted would do’. Thanks Dad.

The admitting area was totally empty (hooray) but I swear the guy collecting my information was more interested in making small talk with Danny than hurrying things along. I had submitted my admission papers weeks ago so what was the hold up? Perhaps I wasn’t making enough noise?

We took the elevator up to the seventh floor for triage. Again, it was relatively empty. My contractions were about three to four minutes apart. I got changed into my dressing gown and we waited for an assessment. Because it was Boxing Day, a statutory holiday, there wasn’t a lot of staff on hand so we had to wait a while for the resident to come by. In the mean time, I had three failed attempts to get an IV started (did I mention how much I hate needles?) and was hooked up to the monitors.  The contractions continued. I wondered aloud if this is what an exorcism looked like, retaining however slight, a semblance of my lame sense of humour.

The resident still hadn’t come by to see me so the ward nurse did my internal exam to determine how far along I was. I’m not going to lie, this was the most painful experience thus far and I burst into tears. Normally I would have been horrified at drawing attention to myself in this manner but I didn’t care. It was awful. I felt a warm gush of liquid – she had broke my water. No need to see the resident any longer; it was go time. Bring on the epidural.

Danny tells me that we walked over to my labour and delivery room a few doors down, stopping once for a contraction, but I honestly don’t recall this at all. All I remember is thinking, ‘this L&D room is huge’. It was all very surreal.

I felt a mixture of dread and relief when the anesthesiologist entered the room. On one hand… pain relief was coming but on the other hand… I had to get a big scary needle. I realize how asinine this sounds in retrospect but it was honestly what I was feeling. However, after a few rounds of very intense contractions and two more failed attempts before an IV was inserted successfully, my fear shifted from ‘how much is this needle going to hurt’ to ‘how the heck am I going to stay still through this procedure? I buried my head against Danny’s chest while they taped up my back in preparation. 

Deep Breaths.