Mary progress (by )

Mary's doing well. Her blood sugar was a bit low at first, due to some combination of medication Sarah was on before the birth (Metformin, to control gestational diabetes, which acts to reduce blood sugar levels) and a delay in Sarah's breast milk coming through properly, but she got over that fine and was pronounced fit to discharge. She and Sarah are still in the hospital for now, though, as Sarah's quite anemic and gets short of breath very quickly, and she was showing some signs of infection; but they put her on antibiotics, and the infection symptoms are fading away. She's on iron supplements, and is getting stronger every day.

I've been spending most of every day with them, helping Sarah with looking after herself and Mary, and keeping them company. I get to hold Mary lots, which has been particularly fun as she's started being more awake and alert; she spent a lot of time sleeping for the first couple of days, but now she opens her eyes and looks around, turning her head towards voices. Today she took to lifting her head up, although her neck is still quite weak so she can only do this if you're holding her upright to begin with; she now unsteadily holds her head up so she can look around more. The right thing to do to help her brain develop at this stage is to talk to her, so that's what I've been doing... telling her about the pets at home and that sort of thing. I've also been having a go at talking to her in Lojban, as I'd quite like to raise her as Lojban/English bilingual, in order to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis once and for all. I need to to a bit more research on suitable Lojban baby talk, but so far it's been {ko .iu gleki} ("be happy, darling"), {lo vi mamta be do} ("Mummy's here!"), {mi patfu do .iu} ("It's Daddy!"), {.uu .uinaidai} ("Aw, you're sad"), {.uipei} ("Are you happy?"), {.uidai} ("You're happy!"), {fi'i la meris} ("Welcome, Mary"), and so on.

Mary (by )

Yesterday morning, at 9:45am, our second daughter Mary was born by Caesarian section!

The day started early, before 6am, as Sarah had to take pre-operative medication at 6. But we'd packed everything the night before, so there was little more to do than sleepily get ready and get into the car. We left at 7am, still dark and cold; to my initial horror, the road up the hill from the house was frozen and the car slid on the ice... but I took an alternate route, and we get to the hospital and parked in about half an hour. Slightly early, so there was nobody actually in the maternity assessment unit yet, so we sat and waited.

Sarah at 7:30am, with Mary still inside

Just after 8am, Sarah was ushered in, and measurements taken, and she was questioned about allergies and all that sort of stuff by the anesthetist, midwife, and registrar. Then without further ado, up to the theatre suite. I changed into scrubs while they fitted Sarah with a canula, then into the theatre itself where the spinal anesthetic was applied, and Sarah laid down, with me alongside. Once the pain block was confirmed, a sheet went up so we couldn't see the gore. The anesthetist asked Sarah if she'd like to know when they started; she said yes, so he peeked over, and announced that they were already well underway.

After a few moments (9:45am), Mary was lifted up (still attached to the cord) so we could see her over the sheet, and my fear and panic gave way to trembling relief, and Sarah visibly relaxed as well. Then she was whisked away by the midwife for examination and cord removal, while I continued to calm Sarah as they worked to remove the placenta and clean her up.

Mary was brought to us soon, and I held her next to Sarah's head, all tiny and swaddled. Sarah began to feel sick so I took Mary away and rocked her and sang to her, as she was getting hungry (she was turning her head towards me and opening her mouth). Once Sarah was all sewn up and transferred from operating table to a bed, Mary was placed in her arms, and we went through to the recovery room.

Us all in the recovery room, scarecely an hour after the birth

Mary then breastfed, for what seemed like an age, then when she was done I brought her to the midwife to weigh... where it was found that, while being carried, she'd pooed on my hand and the nice surgical scrubs. So I went and changed back into my clothes while she was cleaned up and put into a nappy. Sarah was recovering fine, so with Mary back in her arms, her bed was wheeled up into the Maternity ward, where mother and baby slept.

I got some cuddles:

Daddy cuddles

And Sarah got plenty of cuddles, as Mary alternately slept on her and breastfed:

Mummy cuddles

And then Jean and Sarah's parents arrived. Jean was lovely with Mary - she'd been so looking forward to having a sibling, and the look of delight on her face was something to behold. She cuddled Mary lots:

Big Sis cuddles

Seeing them bonding was particularly special to me, having been a bit of a lonely only child. My daughters have something I never had!

We were amazed by how professionally and carefully everything has been done. The staff at Gloucester Royal Hospital have been excellent to us. But I'll leave it to Sarah to write up her thoughts on that, as she's been the focus of attention!

On fatherhood (by )

The role of the father in pregnancy and childbirth is often misunderstood. It's easy to imagine that we have it easy - the conception is a hard six hours' work, sure, and then after nine months you have an extra mouth to feed; but nothing compared to pregnancy and childbirth, right?

But there's a little more to it than that.

The thing I've found hardest, to be honest, is feeling powerless. I can carry Sarah's bags, and help her get in and out of the car, and so on, but I have to just stand there looking awkward as she winces in pain at every step. It was at its worst in the delivery room, when Jean was being born; I had been keeping myself going with Optimism and Enthusiasm as Sarah's condition declined and the number of tubes and wires connected to her rose, right up to the point when the medical stuff had a worried conversation with each other and started bringing in extra trollies full of equipment. The sight of the "crash cart" laden with defibrillator and its breathing-bag thing with a set of individually wrapped sterile airways, and a cart with surgical instruments, finally brought it home that they were seriously concerned that Sarah's heart would fail under the strain. They told me that if she died, they would try and save the baby. And all I could do was stand and wait and try not to get in the way.

Once Jean was out, it was great - I could hold her, and change nappies, and take the strain off of Sarah whiled looking after her recovery. That was far easier than just having to stand and watch.

Tomorrow at 8am we have to report to the hospital, where Jean's sibling will be extracted by planned Caesarian section. Again, I'm feeling the powerlessness... I'm rushing around getting everything ready, and making Sarah a nice meal of whatever she wants before she has to go on Nil By Mouth in preparation for the surgery, and laying out everything needed for Sarah's parents to look after Jean; ticking the last things off of lists, checking and cross-checking preparations. I'm surrounding myself in hyperactivity, because I know there's not actually all that much more I can do that will actually make a difference.

The Little Book of New Baby Poetry (by )

I have spent this month working on The Little Book of New Baby Poetry - this is a series of poems and songs - some of them are from when Jeany was little and some I've made up specifically for this. It is for Jean it covers everything from Mummy's morning sickness to nappy changing, to boring babies who none the less grow into good friends for older sisters.

I wrote most of the poems at the beginning of the month and have been working on the illustrations for the rest of the month - today Al helped me put it all together - and turn it into a PDF. He then went and got it printed in colour for me at a place called Paper Box in Cheltenham 🙂

I have a bag full of stickers and one of the pages is for Jean's thoughts and poems. Jean loves the Little Books of poetry that I have made her in the past - this is the most 'complete' one and has cost the most! Both in time and money 🙂 I may put the rest of the illustrations up but I need to wash hair and make sure all is packed for tomorrow! I have pre-meds to take at 6 in the morning but hopefully by tomorrow lunch time we will be a family of four 🙂 I plan to give Jean the book and stickers when she comes to see me and the baby tomorrow afternoon!

Here are some photos of the 'book'.

The Little Book of New Baby Poetry Little Book Intro NBP poem and illustration

Glass Bones (by )

This is the other poem - tomorrow I have my pre-opp - Friday I get my baby and then the pain will matter less.

Glass Bones

A glass pelvis
Loose at the seams
My own pain apocolypse
Drenched in crises
Drowning in agonies
Each step a razor blade
Cutting into the fabric of me
Misalined, broken, bent
A pelvic shard
Shatters in muffled screams
Crying in the night
Walking burns
Dwindling the memory
Sensation a shade
Of grey nothing
Dampening thought
Punctured, pierced
By electric blue
Fizzing of the tail bone
A primate with glass bones
Can no longer climb trees
Nor hold onto the top branches
To which they once clung
The fruits of life
Are within those branches
Sitting Pain
Standing PaiN
Sleeping PAiN
Sensation PAIN
Separeted Pelvis
Pubis synthesises
Gurdle stretched and broke
Aches and daggers
Dragging down
Whinning of the glass rim
I do not drink of this misery
Just listen
Pelvis sing
Glass siren lurring
Monsters of the Id
All nasty qualities
Are distorded within

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