Thursday, April 30, 2015

Little Harriet Rose

It took us a while but little girl is called Harriet Rose. We don't know what exactly she'll go by (so many nickname possibilities and also she may end up going by Rose), but we think it's the name that suits her best.

This morning the hospital photographer stopped by for a little while and took some snapshots of little one. She got some good ones! She is so tiny! I think we will have some shopping to do as she is going to be absolutely swimming in most of her clothes! 

Little Ms. Poppet: April 28th, 7:33am

Little Ms. Poppet is here! Born on Tuesday, April 28th at 7:33am. It was a very eventful birth but thus far she is doing brilliantly. It was VERY unexpected and very, very fast. I had been feeling truly dreadful all weekend. I missed a couple of fun events on Saturday with good friends of ours, and while it was a busy few days, I simply felt awful. On Sunday my lovely friend Amy came to visit with an incredibly gooey, yummy chocolate cake. Ayala joined us and we had a super, very impromptu social afternoon. Amy's sweet girls joined us (as did Ayala's little boy for a bit) and the children had a really great time playing, watching the turkeys, and eating cake!

Another sleepless night on Sunday night and I spent most of Monday at appointments (ultrasound looked good), working from home, and feeling generally horrific. I met Rich for lunch and then picked up the boys. We were very thankfully having someone help clean the house, so I took the children to Target so as not to get in anyone's way. Again I felt truly dreadful. Horrible cramping, braxton hicks non stop, and general rubishness. I called my Dr's office on the way home, as I was that uncomfortable, and they told me to head in to make sure I wasn't leaking fluid, etc.

One last selfie os me and the boys in Target!

I arrived at L&D, with my uterus being even more irritable than usual. Having not slept in many, many nights I was ready for them to knock me out. They did suggest a sleeping med, which I declined, and the Dr. told me to reduce my hours at work as general busyness and stress seemed to be making the pre labor that much worse. Indeed it's been quite debilitating.

I returned home around 9pm, went to bed, and got out my computer and made some contingency plans with my students about the coming week. I felt as ahead as I could be and around 11:30 I went to sleep... until cramping woke me up at 12:15. I lay in bed listening to my audiobook for another 90 minutes, feeling a bit frustrated that sleep was not in my future, and by 2am I had had enough and ran myself a bath. An hour and a quarter later I dragged myself out, noting that perhaps I was seeing evidence of some bloody show. But being so bleary eyed I got back into my pajamas and headed back to bed and listened to more of my audible book.

Around 4am I noticed that the cramping was feeling more rhythmic and at 5 I decided to time it, as they were also a bit more painful. I got into the shower because I was beginning to feel worried that this might be it. I woke up Rich and told him that things seemed different and that I could be almost in labour. I called Deb's office and a few minutes she called back. I had two - what I now know were true contractions - on the phone to her - and instead of being around every 5 minutes as I had reported, she said that they were around 2 mins apart! On that note she told me to come in... and I asked, rather naively, "do you think I'll have time to get the boys ready for school and nanny drop-off?' Not wanting to alarm me she said, 'if you leave now you should avoid having a baby in the car'!

Bless our wonderful neighbor, Shannon, who I called immediately - around 5:40am - as she came over just before 6am to take care of the boys and drop them off at their respective destinations.  On our way out of the door, Rich asked if he had time for a shower... I indicated that we did not have time! He also asked if we should head up Route One. I suggested that we spend the dollar, and we took the highway.

I will say that contractions in the car are just the absolute pits. There's nothing you can do, other than hope they don't speed up or become more intense. Thankfully traffic was quiet and we made it to Portland fairly quickly. There was no way I could walk from the car park so Rich dropped me off at the main entrance and I made my way into the building before a contraction of epic proportions left me a little stranded in the main foyer.

A very random visitor to the hospital ran for a wheelchair and pushed me at a very fast pace to L&D. It was a bit of a farce, with lots of comedic moments... The kind man dropped me off at the security point where you sign in to get to the labour ward. He called up for someone to get me as I couldn't walk up. After 5 minutes I was still sat there having contractions and I could see the security man becoming more and more alarmed! Eventually someone came to collect me and Rich soon appeared there, too. It was becoming very clear that things were intense so I scribbled my name on various papers, and they led me into the triage room. I popped up on my little birthing skirt (and it was clear that I was not at the birthing center as the nurses thought I was a little crackers), and the contractions were both intensifying and getting even closer together.

They got an IV into my arm before another contraction hit and they were able to check my progress: 6cm. It was a bit after 7am by this point. I begged them to run water into the tub in whichever room I was going to be transferred into, and whilst the triage nurse didn't seem to be terribly helpful (and honestly not especially respectful of what we wanted) I did manage to walk down the hallway to the new room, stopping along the way for contractions which were becoming unbelievably intense and frequent. By the time we were there someone was running the water for the tub, but it was very apparent that no one thought I'd have time to use it. Indeed the contractions were so close together I was literally having them every few seconds. Absolutely no relief.

Deb wasn't there yet, and I had a horrible fear that this could go on for another couple of hours - which truly would have been intolerable. But being only 6cms I thought I had a long way to go. Just when I thought I couldn't go on, I felt a strong urge to push.. and Deb walked in. I was crouching on the floor in the grips of another contraction, and they tried to get me onto the bed to check my progress again. I just about managed it, then sank back on to my knees leaning over the couch. Deb said very sternly that I had to get onto the bed as the NICU team were there and having a slippery baby on the floor might not have gone over terribly well.

At this point, there are a hundred people in the room. Every time someone comes in they try, very kindly, to rub my back... which felt horrendous. I started to feel very emotional and started to cry, but I have a vague memory of saying that I wasn't sad, and I also thought that I must be going through transition.

Onto the bed I managed to go, and in two to three pushes out she came.

I was honestly and truly in a state of shock. I had gone from 6cms to her being there in less than 30 minutes. Pushing was a complete breeze, in comparison with the boys, but it truly felt completely irreal. I think I kept asking, 'what on earth just happened?' 'I'm in shock'...  I had come in at 7am and she was born at 7:33am!

I was so glad for Deb, as the NICU team wanted to whisk her away to check her but baby girl came out looking great, very pink, with a very loud set of lungs. The first thing I noticed was the shock of near black hair. What a lovely girl.

Our first snuggle.

And then she was taken by the NICU team... :( All looked good. 6 pounds 12oz, 20 inches long.

And then more cuddle time before being taken to the recovery floor.

Sweet girl.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring is sort of here.

It's been another busy week. Raf was on spring break and with Mollie, our nanny out of town, it was even busier as I also headed into the final couple of weeks of classes, and being so pregnant I'm really trying to get ahead in case baby girl puts in appearance. 

On the Friday the boys accompanied me to see Dr. Deb, and they were very helpful! (They also came yesterday, and were once again very good boys).

And on the same date, the 17th, Chaz turned 2 and a half! We had a cake celebration - though it was truly a disaster of a cake as I had to bake it quickly before the boys returned from swimming and it was a little (a lot!) under baked. Still, even if I couldn't get it out of the mould it did taste delicious. 

For most of Spring break Raf was at swim camp with his chums Nico and Enzo. He met some new friends, including a little boy called Max, who he really liked. On the Monday, though, Raf, Charlie and I headed for a play date with one of Raf's best kindergarten friends, Gideon. His mum is lovely and Gideon has a little sister who is absolutely adorable. The four of them had such a brilliant time, and as we left Raf revealed that he was very keen on Violet! I think he has a little crush. He said to Charlie, "I have a new girlfriend". Charlie responded, "no, she's my girlfriend". Oh dear. 

Raf had a fabulous time at swim camp. I think next time we'll put Charlie in to see if he's ready. His friend Enzo was there and did the entire program.

We have been enjoying the slightly warmer temps too. Up until last week there was snow still on the ground. Indeed our back garden was completely covered until the week before Raf's holiday.

Snow-castles and hopscotch. It's been a while since we saw our driveway.

It's been a very, very late start to spring... but fun with our neighbours in their sandpit.

Look, no socks! This was actually Charlie's first time forward facing in my car. He really liked it. I've had to change things around to fit the baby seat in (so far very unsuccessfully... ).

And before break, with the warmer temps, Charlie and I picked up Raf from school but stayed an hour or so to play in the play ground. Raf had a 'date' with his 'girlfriend' Nyah (yes, another one, and this deserves a post of its own). Rich met us there as I had to go to work afterward, but it was lovely soaking up the sun.

It was also a busy week getting the house ready. It still isn't. The boys and I popped to the shops to pick up even more paint. We still need someone to help us paint the staircase walls as they're too high, as well as our bedroom which also has high ceilings.  I managed, though, to paint the remainder of downstairs, though I need to touch up everywhere. 

Still need to get the doggies hair cut, but Sammy is looking sweet even if there's no point washing any cushions until they've been groomed. We'll get to that at some point.

Earth Day

I was in the adjoining room as the boys took a bath on the morning of Earth Day.

Raf: it's earth day. It's a special day about the earth.
Charlie: I know. It's special.
Raf: what are you gong to do about earth day?
Charlie: it's about poop.
Rafi: it's not about poop, Charles. It's about the 'Earth is Good'. What are you going to do... pick up some grass...?

Then they started talking about which train set they wanted.

Funny boys.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week in the Poppet household. I have ceased researching 'stenosis of the pulmonary valve' and feel much better because of it! (Surprise, surprise). Last week's scan looked good, aside form the stenosis, and this morning, at the crack of dawn (7am!) I had this week's scan. Baby girl is very, very low making it difficult to see her sweet face, and she was also lying in a funny position which made it difficult for the sonographer to get a good picture of her heart. That said, again she looked great - passing her biophysical in just a minute or so. She's right at the 50th percentile mark for estimated weight (6 pounds 12oz), with a big tummy and and very normal sized everything else.

I've also seen Deb twice now, and both times things have looked good. Blood pressure is great, weight gain is fine, and so forth. Mind you, I did have to take both boys to Portland with me on Friday as Raf's spring break began and our nanny is out of town (terrible timing all around!).  So up we went, the boys with their Dr's kits and lots of trains, and they were actually really good boys. This past Friday my fundal height has decreased quite significantly (measuring 34 weeks rather than 37) so I was a little concerned. Deb called me that evening to say that I should monitor any potential amniotic fluid leak, just in case that was why I was measuring so small. I felt quite good and didn't worry too much about it.

Saturday, however, I think I must have overdone it because contractions were very intense, and on top of some of other symptoms things felt very off. I called the on call Dr. and they directed me to the labour and delivery ward where they monitored me for a few hours - into the wee hours of Sunday morning. She seemed fine, though, and I got home to Charlie who was ordering Rich out of the bed back into Raf's bunk bed.

It's great to be considered full term - albeit early term, but I am hoping, hoping that she stays put until at least her due date. I really do need to get through the semester. I've almost marked 120 long essays this past two weeks, I've just written my final, and the class have presentations next week (the final week of classes). I need to get my grades submitted and then she's free to arrive! If she comes sooner I'll still have to get everything finished, as I really don't want to impose more work on my long suffering colleagues who covered my classes for 3 weeks.

I went back last week and it was good to see my students, though honestly utterly exhausting and stressful contending with a few problems that arose because of my abscence. I have horrible, horrible pregnancy insomnia so, last night for example, was up with a sad Charlie until 10:30, slept between 11-2:30, but getting up 4-5 times to pee (no exaggeration) and then couldn't get back to sleep after my loo break at 2:30am. I started to doze off right as I needed to get up to get ready to head to Portland for my ultrasound before teaching. I did head home immediately after class to work on papers and my final, but I'm supposed to be going back in this evening to an awards' ceremony both to see my students and because I've been nominated for teacher of the year, which of course I won't win - but it's nice to show up as it's quite an honour to be considered.

All in all, though I haven't mentioned the disastrous state of our house(!), we're slowly getting ready. Raf, especially, is beyond excited to meet his sister, and even the lukewarm Charlie is seemingly happier about having a sister....! That said, he's all very into 'mummy', right now, so we'll see how this all pans out.

Not long to go! This week I'll be 38 weeks and when I spoke to Deb she said she'd prefer for me to have the baby closer to 40 weeks as opposed to 41-42, so we'll see how that goes. I'll be very happy to hit 40 weeks! Poor Rich is looking at the trifecta - my birthday, mother's day, and the birth of baby girl!!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Brief Update

A little Ms. Poppet update. I will admit that it's been an abysmal week. I have literally researched my way into a nervous breakdown. I saw Deb on Friday, who has taken over my OB care, which was so helpful. First I had to pick up my records from my midwives and I felt very, very sad as I did so, but Deb is phenomenal, as is her staff who are always so nice to me and so welcoming. All my stats looks great: blood pressure, weight gain, tummy measuring just a little bit behind, etc., and Deb was pretty reassuring. I then spoke with the cardiologist and he outlined what would be involved at Maine Med (a NICU attending, a pediatric cardiologist near by or there depending on immediate availability), mentioned links to certain genetic syndromes (gah), and left me feeling rather anxious. The next morning I emailed with a sonographer friend of mine who then managed to talk me down... and then I put a research embargo on myself, and that has helped no end.

I was dreading my scan today as I was worried they'd pick up new issues and find new areas of concern on my scan. Thankfully everything looked great - except the stenosis, of course - but I left feeling somewhat relieved that nothing new had emerged. Just a few weeks to go - in fact I suppose it could be any day now. I'm back into the classroom tomorrow and honestly, while I'll love seeing my students, I'm feeling nervous about how I'll get through the coming weeks with the level of busyness. We'll see how it goes!

The Music Boys

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Little Ms. Poppet Update

Things have been going fairly well (not counting sickness, preterm labor, etc!) with the little baby girl. A couple of weeks ago I had a worrisome scan which showed a possible issue with the aortic root (an issue Charlie has - though they don't think it's anything alarming for him). I had a real echocardiogram and everything looked super. At my weekly scan on Monday I heard more alarming news; this time the concern was about the pulmonary valve which showed some signs of stenosis (narrowing, which means that blood pumping to the pulmonary artery is comprised). Yesterday I saw a fetal/pediatric cardiologist for another echo and sadly the diagnosis was confirmed.

The good news is that the cardiologist (who was super) was able to rule out that this was likely critical or severe. Blood IS flowing, and it's not flowing too quickly (apparently good signs). What is impossible to determine at this stage is whether it's moderate or mild. If it's the latter then things should be straightforward and it may not even need treating. If it's moderate then I think it's a wait and see situation.

When Charlie was 10 days old he was hospitalized for a rapid heart rate, which is how we discovered his enlarged aortic root. They did think this was a random finding, something that he may grow out of. But now we have two different valve issues on two siblings and there is a good chance that there is something genetic underlying it all. We're having Raf screened in a couple of weeks to see if he has  any structural issues going on, and then Rich and I need to be screened.

I'm very close to being 36 weeks pregnant and we learned that I'd also have to change providers and deliver at the big tertiary hospital which has a level 3 NICU. Obviously the most important thing is the safe arrival of the baby, but I am extremely disappointed to have to leave the midwifery group and the lovely birthing center where we'd planned another water birth, to have a more managed birth at the other (thought fabulous) hospital. It's a very different set-up, with residents and medical students, and is simply set up to cope with higher risk babies (which this baby now is). We're in fact super lucky to have such a great hospital close by, which is home to a pretty amazing NICU.

The other good news is that Deb, our family Dr., who also delivered Raf, has kindly agreed to take over my OB care. She spoke to the perinatologist and he didn't feel as though a high risk OB needed to oversee the actual delivery.

Anyway, very stressful and very disappointing. We're hoping that Raf's screening is clear and that there is nothing more sinister underlying these heart problems.

Easter, 2015

We had a really lovely Easter. Raf was as excited as you can be about it, and indeed he's talked about little else lately! He made some cards for the Easter Bunny - one from him and Charlie and another from his sister. 

He asked if the Easter Bunny would bring a little bunny for his sister...!

On the saturday the boys and I started to make the Easter cake. We've also been looking forward to this cake making all week! The boys would suddenly out of no where, grab our hands and in a circle jump up and down singing, 'we're going to make a cake, we're going to make a cake...' And then Raf assigned everyone jobs.

They did a very nice job sharing duties once the big day came...

And they very much enjoyed licking the bowl for a quick taste.

They were exceedingly lucky to have quite a bit left over to mop up.

In the morning we put them in the bath so we could quickly go and lay a trail of eggs. The snow has been horrendous this year so there is still plenty on the ground. So instead of heading to our usual spot we had to be a bit inventive...

And the Easter Bunny actually left their baskets inside for a change! Each boy got a little train and a few odds and ends. They were over the moon! Raf has a new engine, Duck.

And Charlie received the much coveted Bertie the Bus.

There were lots of bunny themed things in their tins. Soft bunny, sweetie bunnies, etc.


Even their little sister received a little something.

All the boys, including Rich, received an Easter shirt, which they were all very excited about. Charlie really likes a collar and is quite particular sometimes about what he wants to wear.

We enjoyed a nice tofurky lunch.

And after a long lie-down, I came downstairs to help the boys finish off the cake decorations.

No such thing as too many sprinkles.

Ta da!

And just when you couldn't have been more sugared up, it was bedtime and stories with new Easter books.

A really lovely Easter with the favourites.