Monday, May 10, 2010

Introducing Zoe Dianne Pollock

Zoe arrived last Monday, May 3rd at 12:30pm. Her due date was May 24, so she was 3 weeks early. We had been planning a c section on May 14 if she hadn't come on her own by then, but we had a scare last Monday where she wasn't moving in what was normally her most active time of the day. We went to the hospital where they did a non-stress test to monitor the baby's heart rate and activity, and she was fine, but being pretty quiet. That's normal for her, but given the last baby was stillborn, and how much stress it was causing me worrying about her, the docs asked if I wanted to deliver that day. I was in complete shock, and Andrew and I talked it over, and my OB upgraded his advice to a recommendation to deliver that day. We agreed to it, and asked when they would do it, and they said they had a c section for 1:30pm (it was about 10am), so they could do it immediately before the next person - eep!

We asked if Andrew had time to run home and get the camera, and they asked where we lived, and they said "yes, but hurry" :-) By the time he got back, I was hooked up to IVs, had spoken with anesthesia, and generally been prepped ready to go. Andrew arrived, and soon after I was walking into the OR.

The c section went smoothly, and it really is the most bizarre thing. Having someone inject stuff into your spine is weird to start with, it's kinda painful, but more of a really odd sensation. Andrew just reminded me today that they tasered me to make sure the spinal was working - I'd forgotten about that. Andrew said it really did look like a taser! They started low on my abdomen, and worked their way up until I said OWWWW!!! They decided the spinal had worked fine, and they started.

About 30 minutes later, I was feeling strong pushing and shoving on my belly, and knew they were starting to get Zoe out. I was still feeling shell shocked, and starting to get really nervous too. Andrew let out a huge gasp and had stood up and was taking photos, and I just remember thinking "come on baby, please cry". Seconds later I heard the WAHHHHHH, and was overcome with emotion. Andrew and I were both sobbing, and he got to go and hold Zoe, and give her her first cuddle :-) He brought her up to me, but I was feeling very zonked, and the drape they have up was right under my chin, so I felt too scared to try and hold her. Zoe scored 9 and 9 on her APGAR tests (10 being the highest), so was in perfect health. We had been warned that while she should be fine, being 3 weeks early, and delivered by c section, she may have some minor lung issues (vaginal deliveries assist with pushing fluid and muck out of baby's lungs as they pass through the birth canal)

Andrew and Zoe went off to the Well Baby Nursery where she got weighed, measured and checked in general. She weighed 6lb 7oz, was 19.5 inches long, and had hair on her sweet little head.

They finished putting me back together, and I was moved to the recovery area, where Andrew and Zoe eventually arrived, and I was able to finally hold her, and she had a go at breast feeding.

The next few days in hospital were fairly non-eventful. I recovered from my c section, we had a private room, so Andrew was able to stay through the night which was a huge help, and we started learning how to look after a newborn.

Zoe is a great little baby, she sleeps really well, doesn't really cry, and loves to snuggle :-) Her weight dropped as expected in hospital, and she had a full day of breast feeding, but being so small, it completely wore her out and the next day she refused to breast feed. Her weight had dropped to 5lb 13oz, and they were worried because she was sitting right near the 10% weight loss mark. So we stopped breast feeding and pumped milk and bottle fed that to her to ensure she got all the nutrition she needed without having to expend too much energy.

We have had a couple of weight checks at the pediatricians since coming home on Thursday, and Friday she had lost another 1/2 ounce, Saturday she'd put on 3 ounces, and today she was another 3 ounces up. I'm still predominately pumping and bottle feeding which is nice because Andrew can help feed her, and they can have bonding time - it's about the only time she's really awake! The pediatrician said today they find babies don't start to do really well at breast feeding until they reach 7 lbs. So we'll continue to pump and bottle feed, and try to put her on the breast when she's alert and calm. If she's super sleepy, or worked up she has no interest in boob, but if she's had a really good sleep she does ok.

She is incredibly sweet, and just loves snuggling up with us. She's sleeping in her crib by day, and in a bassinet next to me at night. In the morning, I generally put her in bed with us, and we watch her squirm, and stretch and make funny facial expressions until she wakes up :-) If she's unsettled at night after her feed, I can put her in the crook of my arm in bed, and within minutes she's fast asleep and can be put back in her bassinet.

I've been letting her demand feed the last couple of nights (they wanted us to not let her go more than 3 hours between feeds when she was losing weight), and she generally does 3 1/2 hours between feeds, although last night she had a 4 1/2 hour stretch! That was probably a little long, but she woke up happy and fed really well after it.

We're so in love with this perfect little person in our lives, and are enjoying every moment of parenthood (although the first feed of the night I struggle to wake up, and Andrew generally sleeps through - I would too, except I HAVE to get up to pump as well).

Anyway, here's a couple of photos of our little poppet.

Zoe entering the world


My first cuddle with Zoe

She found her thumb pretty fast

Family photo

Snuggling in the hospital bed

Gangsta baby!

Zoe with her daddy

Morning feed with dad

Peaceful baby :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Time is flying by! I finally did my phlebotomy externship in March, which was 2 days a week for 4 weeks. The externship was at San Francisco General Hospital, and boy did those 4 weeks fly by! I think I was about 28 weeks pregnant when I started, so was pretty tired, and the drive up to SF plus full days of being at the hospital really wore me out. I enjoyed it though, and am glad to be done. I have sent off all my information, so should get my license soon - yay!

I am now 35 weeks pregnant and feeling it. My belly has really grown over the last 2 weeks, and I am feeling more tired now.

I have non-stress tests twice a week where they check the baby's heart rate, movement and monitor for contractions. This little rascal takes forever to pass the tests. They want to see 3 periods of movement where the baby's heart rate increases by 15 BPM for I think 10-15 seconds. This little ones wriggles around, but doesn't get her heart rate up, so I spend an hour in there for each appointment rather than the 20-40 minutes they tell you it should take. A few times she's just slept through the whole thing, with pretty much no movement and just a steady heart rate. She moves plenty when I'm at home, so I'm not too worried. The nurses end up using a "Vibro Acoustic Stimulator" on her, which is the same device people who have larynx problems hold to their voice box to allow them to speak. It makes a sound that wakes up the baby (and essentially gives them a fright), so the heart rate goes up, and they wriggle around plenty. Once she gets buzzed, she wakes up, wriggles around, and passes the test, and it's gotten to the stage now that as soon as they establish her baseline they will just buzz her immediately rather than waiting 45 minutes to decide she's not cooperating AGAIN :) Hopefully this means we'll have a nice, quiet baby on our hands! Either that, or a stubborn one...

At today's obstetrician appointment, the doctor locked in a c section date. I'm hoping for a vaginal birth this time around, but given we can't be sure if the previous stillbirth WAS due to a cord accident, the OB isn't keen to let me go too late. And because I've had a previous c section, they won't induce labour because the risk of a uterine rupture is much higher. So unless she comes on her her own, I'll be delivering by c section on Friday, May 14, at which point I'll be 38 weeks and 4 days. I don't mind it being a bit early. While I would prefer to avoid another c section, my number 1 priority is to deliver a healthy baby, and the sooner the better!

We're keeping our fingers thoroughly crossed that everything goes well!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The quandaries of an animal lover

As I'm sure anyone who reads this blog knows, I am an animal lover. After reading the story of the whale Tilikum killing one of the trainers, I am once again thrown into confusion.

On the one hand I have been to SeaWorld and seen the Shamu show, and loved it. It was so cool. On the other hand, I thought it very sad seeing such huge creatures kept in tanks too small for them. They're not "small", but compared to a life of exploring the ocean, it's small. It doesn't surprise me that such a large whale saw a dangling ponytail and decided to play with it. The whale didn't understand he was killing a trainer - it was just doing what it does.

I love going to zoos and seeing my favourite creatures up close, and being able to interact with them, but it breaks my heart when zoos have no animal conservation plans in place, aren't trying to give back to the animal kingdom, and don't plan enclosures that keep with the natural environment.

I kind of assumed at SeaWorld they used mostly rescue animals and trained them up - in fact I hadn't really thought about it too much. Then I read that Tilikum has fathered 10+ offspring in his time at SeaWorld. Really?? I know that the conservation status of killer whales is considered "data deficient" due to so many unknowns. I am very interested to know if Tilikum's offspring were released into the wild, or kept as show animals. As far as I'm concerned, the only animals that should be bred in captivity are those that are of a Threatened or near threatened conservation status.

The best zoo I have ever been to is Singapore Zoo. It truly is fantastic, and it's also the reason I now don't like going to other zoos - nothing can compare. For a start, they put a lot of effort into conservation initiatives and breeding programs. According to their website "To better meet the healthcare needs of its animals and working towards its aspiration to become a leading global centre of excellence for veterinary healthcare and research, a purpose-built Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre was set up in March 2006."

Walking through Singapore was an amazing experience. All of the enclosures were size and animal appropriate, and each animal had a good write-up of the species, location etc. I've been to some zoos where it will have the name of the animal, and that's it. The other thing I loved was that it was very interactive. A lot of the animals had feeding times, and you could join the Feeding Trails, where a keeper would feed a few different animals in the one area. This is one of the Afternoon Feeding Trail schedules:

Polar Bear
White Rhino
African Lion
Treetops Trail
White Tiger
Pygmy Hippo

So you would just follow the keeper around, and they would do a short feeding of each animal and give detailed information about the animals, and you could ask questions along the way, and I found we learnt so much more about the animals this way. You could pretty much stay with different Feeding Trails all day if you wanted to. That was probably the thing that impressed me most. It was so interactive - not with the animals themselves, although there was plenty of opportunities to feed different animals along the way, but with the keepers, and you could watch all the animals being fed. A fabulous learning experience and gave us a much better appreciation for the animals.

The other zoo I really enjoyed was Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia. Because there was so much space, they had room to create huge spaces for the big animals, where they could graze happily. There were almost no fences as such, just moats, or ditches or whatever was necessary to keep animals in and people out! We hired bikes for the day and got around like that, and it was well and truly worth it to see the big animals in a more natural environment.

On the contrary, I think the worst zoo I have been to was Bronx Zoo in New York. It was about 10 years ago now, and I hated it. Each animal was in a tiny cage. Birds of prey were kept in small cages. Pack animals were on their own. There was no education of the animals themselves. It was packed with people, there was no keepers around, and the zoo seemed more intent on making money through selling hot dogs and merchandise than providing an educational experience. I felt sick after going there. I hope that things have improved there since.

But back to the event that set this off, I've been annoyed reading reports of PETA demanding for the whale's release, and other groups demanding the whale's euthanasia. The whale CANNOT be released, because it's been in captivity too long, and putting him to sleep is also unthinkable - in the wild, killer whales are no threat to humans. WE brought the whale into captivity, WE pay to see him perform, WE make SeaWorld dependent on those shows to make money, so WE the human race are the ones to blame, not the whale.

Busy busy!

The month of February has just flown by! The main things that happened:

  • I had my second trimester echo and also got an EKG due to some palpitations I'd been getting. Everything is looking great, and my heart is holding strong - woo!
  • We spent a fair bit of time just tidying up and organising the house.
  • We went and saw the Cirque du Soleil show Ovo in San Jose, which was fabulous.
  • Work got started on our kitchen remodel. The old kitchen has been ripped out, the walls patched up and repainted, new circuits installed, and recessed lighting installed. The cabinets have arrived, and tomorrow they'll start installing them.
  • Andrew and I went to New York. I stayed for 3 and a bit days, Andrew was there for a week. We had a lovely time walking through Central Park, catching up with friends, and also got to go down to Philadelphia for a day to explore there. We really enjoyed it, and are glad we can cross another city and state off our To Do list :-) Photos are here for Philadelphia, and here for Andrew's snowy days in New York after I left.
All the baby stuff is coming along. I hit my third trimester yesterday, so getting closer and closer to the due date which is exciting. I'm definitely feeling more tired these days, and am starting to get more random aches and pains and little complaints. She's an active little thing though, so it's nice to feel her wriggle around regularly :)

We've bought a crib, and today I bought a stack of gDiapers, which will be a nice alternative to old school cloth, but with the convenience of disposables. I still need to get a glider chair for nursing/soothing, and some decorations for the little one's room. I'll probably get a bunch of these cute animal print cards from Wee Gallery, and maybe some of their wall graphics too. I need to get some curtains for her room, and then I think that's about it, we should be good.

I'd love to get one of these mamaroo bouncers, which look awesome, but are kinda pricey. For the moment I'm just trying to win one :D

Friday, January 29, 2010

Quick update

Just quickly checking while I have laptop access. We had the follow-up fetal MRI last week, and everything looked good - it was all clear - WHEW!!!!! Such a huge relief. I'm not sure if they could tell why it looked weird, I see my obstetrician on Tuesday so will ask him then. All I wanted to know was that everything was fine :)

The moving is going well. We've at the new place since Sunday and it's feeling and looking more like a home now. We still need to get our internet sorted out so we can have MythTV, wireless internet etc., but that should all be set up by Monday hopefully.

We still need to empty our storage area, the last bits and pieces from the kitchen and closet, and a few other random things lying around from the old place, but otherwise we're almost there!

The new house is definitely bigger, the old place seems so small when I go back now! But the extra space and many windows we now have means it's significantly colder! The back yard area is really nice - there's lots of squirrels and birds out there, so I need to get some feeders out so the kitties can watch them :) The cats are settling in ok. Smudge is loving it, she's now back to following me everywhere, exploring everything, and generally seems pretty happy. She also loves the back yard. It's got a high fence, so I'm happy for her to explore out there without worrying she'll escape. Lily is generally staying under the bed during the day, but she's happy enough otherwise - she comes out regularly for pats, cuddles with me at night, and explores mostly at night time. She comes out to eat, drink and use the litter tray, so that's fine. I now have their small cat tree in our bedroom by the glass sliding door to the balcony, so she can sit there and watch the critters which she seems to like.

So generally, all is good :)

Friday, January 08, 2010

20 week ultrasound

We had our 20 week ultrasound and it delivered mixed news. For a start it's a girl, and pretty much everything looks great - yay! There's just one thing that wasn't as it should be. Apparently they normally see something called the "cavum septum pellucidum" by this time in the baby's brain, and they couldn't see it in our little girl :( So it's either there, and for whatever reason it wasn't obvious or not quite developed enough, which is the likely problem and everything is fine, or it isn't there and means there's most likely other problems with the brain. There's no clear data on what this actually means or may mean, and we don't know how many babies at the 20 week ultrasound don't have an obvious cavum septum pellucidum.

I did find this website which gives you a bit of idea though "Individuals with ASP (absent septum pellucidum) may experience vision impairment or blindness. They may also have coordination problems and hormone deficiencies that result in short stature. Intelligence is usually affected and learning disabilities are common."

So I need to get a fetal MRI on January 19 which should confirm whether it is there or not, and if not it should give a clearer picture of what's happening in the brain. We'll also meet with a pediatric neurologist to talk about what it all means.

I had the option of getting an amniocentesis yesterday where they use a long needle to draw out amniotic fluid through my belly and then grow the cells they find and test them for chromosomal abnormalities. There's an ~1 in 400 chance of miscarriage from the procedure itself and when were in the waiting room for the procedure I started doubting whether it was worth it. Results would take 2 weeks anyway, and the MRI will show us if we need to worry in the first place. It didn't seem worth taking the risk of the amnio just to find out IF there was a chromosomal problem. If there was something they could detect, we wouldn't terminate anyway - it's too far along for me to be comfortable with given how strong her movements are now, and it seems to be a problem where the baby would have quality of life even if there was a problem, and that's the main thing to me. So we decided against the amnio, at least for now.

It's been pretty stressful, but that seems to be the way our life goes!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My oh my, it's been a busy couple of weeks. We now have the keys to our new house - yay! There's a few things we want to get done before we move in, and unfortunately that list of things keeps growing, and it's all stuff that should really get done before we move, to the cost is blowing out more as well!

Andrew's been very busy with work, so I've been running around getting quotes from various contractors, organising the new kitchen, and doing other odd jobs that seem to keep coming up.

We spent 5 days in Atlanta with friends for Christmas, which was lovely. The Peikerts used to live a few doors down from us, and moved to Atlanta mid-'09, and they're the closest thing to family over here so it was great to spend a few days just relaxing with them.

Junior seems to be growing well, my belly has really popped out the last couple of weeks, and one of my pairs of jeans that fit fine before I went to Atlanta are suddenly too tight to be done up, so I'm finally having to wear my "Belly Band". I've just started feeling the little one wriggling out a bit more the last couple of days which has been exciting. We had a fetal echo to check junior's heart and everything looks great. We get the big anatomy ultrasound this Thursday coming and we'll find out then whether junior is a Henry or a Henrietta :)

New Years was quiet, Andrew was working until about 8:45pm, and I was exhausted and had a headache that was coming and going the entire day, so we were asleep by midnight! Exciting lives we lead :)

I hope everyone had a happy 2010, and we'll certainly be hoping ours is drama-free!