For Unto Us a Child is Born

Zoe Ruth was born on December 3rd at 12:33pm, and weighed in at a chunkalicious 9.1 lbs.

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After all my whining about being overdue, this post is overdue by about 7 days. Maybe there’s a pattern in my life/womb that I need to examine…

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Zoe’s birth story – Part 1.

** disclaimer for my brothers: don’t worry. I’m not going to get all graphic on you.**

When I hit 10 days past my due date, my obstetrician told me that he wanted to induce labour. Induction was something that I had been dreading since I hit my due date. While I wouldn’t describe myself as being rigidly “natural,” I was looking forward to a natural birth experience. We had hired a doula, and I assumed that I would follow in my mother’s footsteps, and have a straightforward labour experience. While induction doesn’t preclude this, it does increase the possibility of medical interventions, which I didn’t want. My doctor wasn’t comfortable with letting my pregnancy continue, though, and told me that I would have to sign a form waiving him of any liability if I chose to keep waiting for labour to start by itself. Todd and I weren’t prepared to ignore our doctor’s advice, and I was also starting to have serious doubts that Zoe would ever arrive on her own. So we checked into the hospital on Monday night to start the induction process.

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Getting ready to leave. When you’re overdue, you have time to add a ridiculous amount of extras to your hospital bag.

I was given a low dose of hormones overnight, in the hopes that, at the very least, they would prepare my body for labour, and hopefully even trigger regular contractions. I had several random contractions that night, but nothing that indicated real labour was on its way. The next morning, I was hooked up to several monitors so that the nurses could observe my contractions as well as Zoe’s heart rate. After an hour of this, my doctor decided to start me on a Pitocin drip. Most women respond to the drug quickly, and it tends to trigger intense, regular contractions. When our doula, Catherine, heard that we were about to start Pitocin, she got to the hospital as quickly as she could. I was nervous, but excited. Finally, I would get to experience REAL contractions! (any woman who has given birth is probably rolling her eyes right now) After two hours of pleasant chit-chat with Todd and Catherine, interspersed with mild contractions, I was starting to wonder when things would actually get going. So were the nurses. When asked, I told them that my pain level was at a 3 or a 4. They responded with “We want you to be at a 10, ka.” Much as I wanted to believe that I have an exceptionally high pain tolerance, it was clear that something wasn’t working. And then Zoe’s heart rate dropped dramatically three times in a row, and I had an oxygen tube strapped to my face. Before we really knew what was going on, my doctor had arrived, and was recommending an immediate c-section. We were in shock by this point, but agreed to go ahead with the procedure.

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Waiting for the Pitocin to kick in.

I don’t think surgery is ever pleasant, but trying to mentally prepare so suddenly for it was tough, especially when I was so scared for the safety of our baby. Fortunately, I had a great doctor standing by my head explaining each step of the procedure to me. I was given an epidural, and as it took effect, I lay there praying and telling myself to be strong. Before the surgeons began, Todd came in and held my hand. By this point, I was feeling so woozy that it was all I could do focus on one spot on the sheet hanging in front of my face. The surgeons pummelled my upper torso so hard that I thought my ribs would break, and through the numbness of the epidural, I could feel Zoe being squeezed down my torso. Before we knew it, we heard her first cries, and we both immediately started crying as well. That is my favourite memory of our birth experience – hearing our daughter for the first time. She was immediately taken to a table in a corner of the operating theatre to have her lungs vacuumed. I couldn’t see anything, but Todd described her to me as he watched the procedure. A nurse brought her to me, and pressed her against my cheek – I wasn’t able to move my arms. I was barely conscious at this point – the only thing I remember is thinking that she was beautiful. She was then taken to the nursery, and I told Todd to follow her. As soon as they were gone, I passed out.

More to come when I get some sleep.

Bannock: the bun that just keeps on baking

Well, I can’t say that I was expecting to have to write the last post on being overdue, but I reeeally wasn’t expecting to write this one. At nine days overdue, my little rib-stomper is still frolicking to her heart’s content inside my innards. I know that wombs are generally warm and soothing environments, but mine must really be providing the ultimate resort experience.

To distract herself from the fact that she still has no grandchild, my mother has started a new hobby which involves taking horrific photographs of me:

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That may or may not be a knife in my hand…

Much as I enjoy cracking jokes, the past two weeks have been a psychologically difficult time. Every day has felt like a bit of an emotional roller coaster – at times, I have coped pretty well, but at other times, I have been a full-on basket case. It’s like being a kid again and waiting for Christmas morning, but Christmas morning keeps getting indefinitely delayed. I know in my (semi) rational brain that Christmas WILL come, but at times, I forget. (To make a truly accurate analogy, I guess the eventual Christmas morning would need to begin with a few sledgehammer blows to the uterus before opening presents from Santa).

And another one of my mother’s gems:

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Making the pedicurist nervous that I am about to give birth in the foot bath.

We managed to waddle our way over to church yesterday, and were reminded that it is the first Sunday of the Advent season. On the way there, we were debating what the first Advent candle symbolized (different faith traditions follow different patterns). Turns out that at our church in Bangkok, it symbolizes waiting. One line from the bulletin jumped out at me: “Waiting is difficult. But when the object of our waiting is a treasure of great value, the waiting is worth it; the waiting is rewarded.” While the message was referring to the world waiting for a Messiah, I also felt like God was reminding me that He holds Bannock, the little over-baked bun, in His hands, and that I can trust Him with this whole crazy experience. She’ll arrive at the right time.

And one final photo from my mother:100_2494

Todd and Zach prepare themselves for labour…

 

The due date that came and went

Well, it is three days past my official due date, and Bannock is not showing any interest in making an appearance on this terrestrial sphere. I knew before I hit the 40 week mark that it is quite common for first pregnancies to run over term, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the psychological toll this would exact. It’s kind of like running a marathon, and then having “someone” (*ahem* Bannock) tack on an extra mile at the end. Instead of a mini-me, I’ve been hanging out with this ugly dude:

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Only a mother could love this face…

Also my more-human, but less toothy Momalot, who arrived last Tuesday. Since she has no baby to cuddle, she has been forced to fill her time by cooking butter beef, and buying me ice cream. This is healthy pregnancy eating at its finest.

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Not quite sure how I ever fit in her torso

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Todd and I spent my due date at the hospital. My doctor wanted to make sure that everything was still looking normal, so he prescribed a non-stress test for Bannock. Basically, I had a couple of monitors strapped to my impossibly large mid-section in an effort to determine whether Bannock was still moving normally. While I appreciated the diligence, I could have answered that question on my own: Bannock and her best friend Placenta are throwing a rager.

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Only in Thailand do the birthing rooms and nurses look like they belong in a soothing spa.

I took the test in the room that I will most likely be giving birth in. It was nice to get a feel for it in advance, but also an annoying reminder that we weren’t there for the actual event. So I made Todd placate me with more ice cream.

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If you haven’t tried Haagen Dazs’s salted caramel flavour yet, do yourself a favour and buy some immediately. It may be trendy, but you won’t care once it’s in your mouth.

The rest of my recent pre-child days have been filled with bad photo shoots, bouncing on my birthing ball, and giving Bannock lectures about the importance of respecting other people’s schedules.

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In the battle of the bulge, Bannock is clearly dominating.

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Ok. That’s probably enough whining, and more than enough revolting photographs of me. I’ll try to enjoy these last, fleeting moments of butter beef bliss, and start preparing the ultimate sermon on punctuality that I will preach to Bannock throughout her life.

Showered with love/diapers

2 weeks ago, several of our lovely friends from school (Beth, Keeley, and Kim) organized a baby shower for me and my friend Therese. Therese is a high school English teacher at the school, and the students’ prototype for what a normal pregnant woman should look like. I blame her for all the confused looks the students give me when they witness my massiveness (the fact that I am due in November and she is due in February doesn’t seem to register – these children have grown up without health class).

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Therese is very happy to be of service.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect before I got to the shower – most of the baby showers I’ve attended in Canada have been laid-back, men-welcome affairs – and I was totally blown away with what the hostesses had prepared. For starters, the venue was awesome. Agaligo is a Victorian-style mansion with a variety of different party appropriate spaces. I was so excited to discover that the room we were in was decorated in perfect, delicate taste, EXCEPT for the dead fox in a glass case on the wall. Oh Thailand. You make me so happy.

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Jessika and I discuss the decor: “What kind of stupid fox gets itself caught in Bangkok?” “I know, right?!?”

Once I managed to heave myself back into an upright position, it was time for the party games to start. I had never even conceived (haha) of most of the games the hostesses had planned, and their attention to detail was mind-boggling. As someone who struggles with details on a daily basis (ie: remembering to wear shoes), it would never occur to me to create an anatomically correct paper uterus and a bunch of sperm with faces for a game of “pin the sperm on the uterus.” Well, maybe the idea would occur to me, but the execution would be sadly lacking, and I definitely would not have remembered to offer appropriate prizes.

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First, all the guests placed their “sperm” in the uterus…

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Then, Therese and I were spun around, and had to place our “egg” in the uterus (or was this the point where Kim was guiding me through contractions? I forget…)

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And voila! Leah and I had a baby together! She won a vase of fresh flowers, and I won… a baby.

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The female anatomy is still very confusing to Ellen.

But the games didn’t stop there: attendees also got to create collages of what my and Therese’s babies will look like, using headshots of us and our respective husbands.

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Lisa came up with a real gem.

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Oh well. At least she’s in head down position.

And then it was time to guess how big Therese and I measured around the middle. I tried not to be too offended when some guesses were off by a foot or more (and not in my favour).

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Rina is also very pregnant, though, so she took pity on me.

We also got to partake in a baby bottle chugging competition. It was fun until I realized that a little creature is going to be chugging on a certain part of my anatomy in a few weeks. Not so amusing after that…

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Rina and Sarah demonstrate their best latching faces.

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And Sarah’s competitive spirit and perfect latch win the prize. Ellen is still finding the female anatomy quite confusing.

A bunch of us lived in an apartment building last year called “Big Tree,” and until we delivered the goods, both Therese and I fielded many, many requests for a “Big Tree Baby.” So the hostesses thought it would be appropriate to create a piece of nursery art for each of us that included a “big tree.” No offence to the building, but the artwork is much, much cuter than that sewage-scented apartment ever was.

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First, she’s the perfect pregnant prototype, and now, she has a cute piece of baby art. Therese is one happy, happy camper.

Our friends also wrote messages on a bunch of diapers for those wonderful, highly-anticipated, middle-of-the-night diaper-changing sessions. Hopefully, having a little light reading material in the wee hours will wake me up enough that I don’t drop Bannock.

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Adorable Vera and dirty diapers are such a visual oxymoron.

Our friends gave us a bunch of really thoughtful gifts. I’m not going to showcase them all here, but I had to share this li’l number: crocodiles’n’ babies might be my new favourite combination.

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I did not know such epicness existed, but Katherine managed to find it.

A huge thank-you to Beth, Kim, and Keeley for planning such a great celebration. Having a baby in a different country can feel a bit crazy at times, and feeling so much support from our Bangkok community was huge for both me and Therese.

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The love in our hearts for you three is even bigger than our bellies.

And one last photo to conclude: I love a prego line-up, and this was the first time that all 5 of my pregnant friends in Bangkok were in the same room as me. Asia is severely under-populated, so we all decided to do our bit…

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Nicole – 37 weeks, Rina – 36.5 weeks, Ruth – 35 weeks, Kelley – 27 weeks, Therese – 23 weeks, Lip – 23 weeks (please don’t give me any prego rage if I got your due date wrong!!)

Hosers’n’Tots

This past weekend was basically split into three equal parts: the first involved an abundance of testosterone and hosers, and the second involved an abundance of estrogen/progesterone/prolactin/insertyourfavouritefemalehormonehere and babies. During the third part, we were basically comatose, which is always a good time but difficult to describe, so we’ll just leave that part out.

Part 1: Samut Prakan’s finest attraction: Taco Lake

This blog may have somehow given you the impression that T-bone likes doing Stoopid Schtuff on a regular basis. You would not be wrong (for further evidence, see this post or this post or this post or this post). In fact, I strongly suspect that this is why he married me, but I digress. T-bone’s favourite Stoopid place to go in the Bangkok area is Taco Lake. When I first heard of it, I started dreaming of Mexican food, but sadly, Taco Lake doesn’t appear to have anything to do with its tortilla wrapped namesake. Rather, it is all about wakeboarding.

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T-bone is also All. About. Wakeboarding.

The lake has a bizarre/ingenious rope system that runs a bit like a t-bar at a ski hill. Wakeboarders wait on the edge of the dock until their rope is pulled, and if they can manage to hang on, they can ride around the lake until they either fall off or give up.

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The pulley system that miraculously keeps on pulling.

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Lining up for their turn (and not at all weirded out that a pregnant farang is taking their picture).

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T-bone in his element.

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Not sure if this one was a “give up” or a “fall off”

Every time Todd comes home from Taco Lake, he has a limp in his step and a gleam in his eye, and I can tell that he is already dreaming of his next trip. We have agreed that after Bannock is born, he will be responsible for all care-giving/breastfeeding duties (only fair since I am incubating her), so he decided he’d better fit in one more wakeboarding session while the gettin’ is good. Stoopid Schtuff is the most fun when done with Stoopid People friends, and it didn’t take much for Todd to convince his entire math department to join him.

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The hoser math department. Motto: We dig numbers’n’neon.

Part 2: Bobbleheads galore

After Taco Lake, Saturday was a bit of a shock to the system. In the morning, BAMBI, Bangkok’s biggest mothers and babies group, put on a massive garage sale of baby/kid stuff. Partly because baby gear is so expensive in Bangkok (crazy import taxes), and partly because my deeply entrenched value system tells me to “never buy anything new if you can buy it used and never buy anything used if you can find it in a back alley/dumpster,” I knew this was a sale I needed to hit up. Todd had to supervise Saturday detention, so other than the two dozen friends I bumped into and the ten million members of the general public at the sale, I was utterly alone.

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This is only a small corner of the sale: I couldn’t fit the whole scene in the frame.

Clearly, this was the place to be for anyone in Bangkok who has ever spawned, is preparing to spawn, or thinks that they may spawn at any point in the near or distant future. Honestly, it was all a bit terrifying. I had a few items that I was searching for, and I ended up finding those, plus a few things that I forgot I needed. Most of my purchases have names that are neither English nor any other identifiable language: ie: “Boppy” “Bumbo,” etc. This is why parents end up speaking gibberish to their babies. After 1.5 hours of the feeding frenzy, I called it a day, because I needed to make myself semi-presentable for the second baby-centred item on the agenda: my friend Nicole’s baby shower.

Nicole used to be a teacher at our school, and is the mother of a two-year old. She is one of the first people I went to for advice after I found out I was expecting. Turns out that she was/is too, and depending on when they decide to make their grand entrance, our daughters will be born just a few weeks apart. That’s where the similarities end, though, because she is a stylish belly dancer who wears clothes and makeup that actually coordinate.

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The lovely mother/mother-to-be

I dig mini men, but I have to say that baby girls are way more fun to shop for. Nicole’s baby received the usual explosion of pink frills, with a bit of purple thrown in to mix things up. I didn’t even attempt to be original with my gift: my cute reflex has officially overridden my gag reflex these days. It was an adorable afternoon.

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The four pregnant peeps at Nicole’s shower. From L-R: 36 weeks, 34 weeks, 32 weeks, 21 weeks. Note how we have all succumbed to the allure of “sensible shoes.”

On Sunday, we went to church. The rest of the day is extremely hazy – I think it involved McDonalds and a gory action movie, but I can’t be sure…