Parenting’s first casualty – logical thought

The cumulative effect of interrupted sleep is starting to take it’s toll and my brain is really not functioning that well anymore. This means that firstly I can no longer seem to trust myself with admin tasks of any kind. Yesterday I persistently wrote ’28 August’ while labelling all my bottles of breast milk. And while always a believer in lists I can absolutely no longer seem to function without them.

Secondly, I’m committing serious faux pas at every turn. Thank heavens for name badges because I can’t remember the nurses’ names, even though I’ve been getting to know them for days now. Then last night my friend Tash came to visit. I spent half an hour in mental anguish trying to work out if this was the first time I’d seen her since Cameron was born. She, in fact, came to visit me on Monday, but I bored her with all the same stories I tell first time visitors before that sluggish part of my brain finally got through with the message that she’d heard it all before. Darling that she is, she listened with just as much enthusiasm as a first time visitor and didn’t let on that she was probably wondering if I was going mad.

Frustrating as this is, it did lead to lots of laughs last night. I stayed up for the 11pm ‘feed’ (read ‘expressing of milk’). Afterwards Col asked me what time I’d set my alarm for, with the next ‘feed’ at 2am. ’22:45,’ I replied. He looked at me quizzically and said, ‘But babe, you’ve just done the 11 o’clock one.’ I was completely flummoxed and asked in disbelief, ‘Have I?’ When Col realised that I had been genuinely confused we packed out laughing (incidentally a rather painful experience with my stiff tummy muscles). While he’s also sleep deprived at least he is still capable of logical thought so my new strategy is to run every action by him before I do anything!

This absent mindedness is bound to get progressively worse so if your birthday is anytime in the next two months I will most likely forget it and beg forgiveness in advance. And if I make plans with you please remind me on the day or run the serious risk of being stood up!

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Day two update

Author’s note: this post breaks all the rules about the length that a good post should be but I so don’t care!

To start off with an update on both patients: Cameron could not be doing better. He’s really healthy and just completely adorable. We have no concerns about him at the moment other than the standard preemie baby ones (i.e learning to suck and keeping his under-developed immune system safe from infection). What a champion! I’m feeling strong, managing to move around easily and am not in too much pain all things considered.

We’ve had a number of breakthroughs today.
1. I could have a shower (first one since Sunday) and wash my hair. It was heaven!
2. I had an hour of kangaroo care with Cameron (that’s skin to skin care – google it if you want more info). It was so awesome to just to sit and bond with him.
3. I changed my first nappy! (I know I’ve opened myself up to them, but no snide comments please.) It was a really gooey, gross one but I didn’t care in the least. I had been struggling with the fact that I wasn’t learning how to care for him and was just so excited to be able to do something.
4. Cameron and I managed our first breast feed. He took a while to figure out what was expected of him, but got it in the end. The sucking reflex doesn’t fully develop until 37 weeks (he’s 36 today) so it’s hard work for him but we’ll keep practising.
5. Col changed his first nappy! There was no gooey grossness to be seen (snide comments are now welcome.)
6. Col got to hold his baby boy for the first time (this should really be number one but I’m listing them as they happened not in order of mind-blowing marvellousness.) It was the most precious moment to witness. Col’s been incredibly patient but it’s been a long wait for him.
7. Col got an hour of kangaroo care. So much bonding going on – its just brilliant.

We’re working on a day-to-day basis for the next week. I am being discharged tomorrow but Cameron can only go home when he’s established his feeds. The process for this is progressive and depends very much on how he responds so we have no idea how long it will take. If all goes well we’ll be able to take him home early next week. While this is hard, we’ve been separated from him since his birth and that makes it easier. The hospital only allows the mother to lodge (stay over) for the night before the baby is discharged so there is going to be a lot of driving backwards and forwards (and of course I cant drive myself because of the op; logistical challenges loom but we’ll make it work.) We are focusing firmly on positives and are going to try and use the time to recover some strength. For the next two or three days I won’t have to be at the hospital very much, and as much as I want to spend time with our boy, I figure I should try to get some sleep in preparation for when the feeding establishment process gets really hectic.

On Sunday when I was having my ‘I’m having a baby in 2 hours’ freak out, my friend Katy wisely said that God would give me grace to deal with each thing as it came. I’m really finding this to be true. I feel like I’m in some kind of calm bubble. Every now and then something will get through and I’ll have a stressed or tearful moment, but a few reminders of all the positives restores my perspective and sense of peace. This bubble may burst soon (the three day blues are expected tomorrow according to all the books) but I’m appreciating it while I can.

To sum up there are challenges to be dealt with but then our boy arrived a whole month early so there were bound to be. Col and I fall more in love with Cameron every time we see him, are marvelling at his teeny-tinyness and enjoying what interaction we have with him. We are so excited for the day when we can take home and you can come and meet him. In the meantime I’ll post more pics on Facebook.

PS Sorry about any typos. One my brain is turning to goo, and two I’m using my phone to type this which is a touch challenging.

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And now we are three

At 17:25 on 26 August, Cameron Mervyn Rip was born! He arrived a whole month ahead of schedule yet clocked in at 2.6 kilograms. In order to try and process everything that’s happened in the last 48 hours I thought I’d write about it. Plus I am confined to my bed at the moment so there’s not much else I can do.

The story starts on Saturday. Colin and I were at the shops getting the last items we needed for Cameron’s arrival. On the way home I started having contractions and realised the baby was attempting another prison break. So we fetched my bags (a lesson well learnt from last time) and headed for the hospital.

As I was only 35 weeks pregnant they decided to stop the labour with medication. Having been through this process only a month ago Col and I took for granted that it would work. I started popping the pills and the wait began.

Saturday night’s observation showed that the contractions had subsided. I urged Col to go to his golf game the next morning, which he duly did, leaving for Joburg at 6:30. And then at 08:00 the contractions started up again. The doctor decided to give the meds more time to work and told me we’d reassess in the evening. But by 10:30 they had just become more regular. The suppression wasn’t working and our baby was on his way into the world.

Col and I now had some decisions to make. The doctor was happy to let me try for a natural delivery but warned me that I would have an incredibly long and difficult labour because I was only 35 weeks. After giving it some thought I decided not to put my body through a process that it wasn’t ready for and elected to have a caesarean.

And so at 17:00 I went into theatre. I was incredibly nervous – about the procedure but also about what would happen to Cameron once he’d been delivered. Col was my absolute hero and supported me through it like a champion. Initial checks on our boy showed that he was having a bit of trouble breathing but I was allowed to hold him for a minute or two before they took him to the Neo Natal ICU.

Cameron was put on oxygen and had x-rays taken of his lungs which showed that he might have a mild infection. While Col kept an eye on our son I was stitched up, cleaned up and taken to the maternity ward. The next few hours passed in a blur of smiling grandparents but at about 20:30 they wheeled me into ICU so I could see my baby.

I haven’t been able to see him yet this morning but Col checked in on him before he left for work. They haven’t put him on antibiotics which we assume means he doesn’t have an infection. He is also no longer on oxygen so it’s seems he’s doing superbly. Col says he looks like a giant next to all the other preemies!

That’s all the necessary info at this stage I think. Now I’m going to make the most of this down time and have a nap!

Don’t talk to strangers

I’ve been pretty relaxed during my pregnancy in that I’ve been quite happy to play Buddha and let anyone who feels the need give my tummy a rub. I’ve also been pretty good about listening politely to random ladies when they tell me their pregnancy stories. But there was an incident while Col and I were on our babymoon, which I feel took advantage of my open-minded state.

We were in queue at Mr Price buying Col some tracksuit pants. In front of us was a rather scruffy looking fellow with a much neater looking wife and child in tow. After a few minutes this gent turned to Col and said, ‘Dude, you showed your crack to the world when you tried on those pants.’ Col had tried the pants on over his shorts in the aisle, an event clearly witnessed by our queue-friend. He opted for humour in the awkward situation (feeling that perhaps he’d been in the wrong) and made some light-hearted comment. Taking this as an invitation, the bloke then turned to me and said, ‘When are you due?’ ‘End of September,’ said I. ‘What date exactly?’ said he. ‘The twenty-fifth,’ said I (wondering why my previous answer hadn’t sufficed). ‘Are you having a natural birth?’ said he. ‘Yes, I’d like to,’ said I (now feeling he was being a tad over eager).

Feeling a little desperate, I started looking around for an escape. The tills were taking ages to process their customers and the queue behind us had grown substantially in the interim. We were trapped. ‘Are you having the baby in Ballito?’ was the next question launched at us. Col explained that we were just down on holiday. ‘Oh, so I won’t know your doctor then,’ the chap mused. ‘No,’ I replied, with a touch of frost in my voice. ‘What pain relief are you considering?’ he asked next. ‘I haven’t decided yet,’ said I, hoping a vague answer would end the pain of this conversation. ‘Well, you really must remember to have warm bath. It eases the pain of contractions and helps your cervix dilate for the delivery. Oh, and about epidurals …’ At this point Col was muttering, ‘Did this man really just start talking about dilating cervixes?’ while I was glancing at his wife in disbelief hoping she’d stop him. She merely smiled at me encouragingly.

Mercifully a till opened up, and the wanna-be midwife had to move on. Col and I stood in absolute shock while he paid for his items. Once he was safely out the door, we dissolved into hysterical laughter and didn’t recover for hours. It seems one should never outgrow certain childhood lessons, and I’ve been a lot more wary of talking to strangers since!

What’s in a name?

With only a few weeks left before Speckle arrives, the question we are being asked most frequently is ‘Have you decided on a name?’ The answer to this is yes, but before you get excited, I am not going to tell you what it is! That happy announcement will only be made when Speckle’s safely made his way into the world. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, we’ve been pretty open about our journey so far and it’s sort of nice to have a secret for a change. Secondly, my mom changed her mind about my name three days after I was born (I even got cards saying, ‘Welcome to the world Kirin’) and I want to give myself the option of changing my mind when I see our little boy.

So sorry, but you’ll just have to be patient. What I will tell you, however, is a bit about the process we’ve gone through trying to name our son. Let me start off by saying that I got to know an incredibly analytical side to my husband while these discussions were taking place. I adopted a sort of ‘read through the book and see what jumps out at you’ approach, while Col was far more methodical. Potential candidates had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must start with ‘C’ (this because we’ve decided to give Speckle the same initials as Col – CMR).
  • Must be a strong name.
  • Must be a traditional English name.
  • Must not have an Afrikaans equivalent, or the child will spend his life having his name mispronounced as we live in a predominantly Afrikaans city.
  • Must not be the same as anyone who Col went to school with, but whom he did not like.

This last one was by far the hardest to meet as Col went to Pretoria Boys High, meaning there were hundreds of boys in his year. In addition, the irrational side of Col came through here because when I asked why he didn’t like a particular boy, he usually just said, ‘Because.’ Using forceful arguments of association, I managed to get this criteria bumped pretty far down the list (although I think our chosen name does have a previous ‘owner’, but thankfully one who didn’t seem to rub Col up the wrong way).

The name discussions took place way back in May, and the winner was selected before Col left for Scotland in June. As Col and I both tend to be sharers by nature, it’s been tough to keep it under wraps this long so if your innocent query about a name was met with hostility, I do apologise. Put it down to hormones on my part, and fear of my hormones on Col’s!

34 weeks and (thankfully still) counting

It’s been nearly three weeks since Speckle’s prison break attempt, and the lack of blog activity is mainly because I’ve been doing nothing but lying on the couch watching the Olympics (rather sad that’s all over now). I was on medication for 10 days after being discharged from hospital which made me really tired so following the doctor’s orders of resting a lot was initially quite easy. It was when I finished with the meds and some sort of energy returned that I started to take a bit of strain …

I always have a project on the go, and the hardest thing for me in the last few weeks has been trimming down the list of things that I’m currently able to do. For example, I love decorating and had ambitious plans for the nursery but painting and drilling is firmly off the list. However, I’m happy to report that while the actual work has been beyond me, I haven’t had to abandon these plans thanks to my super-star mother-in-law and fantastic father. Laura (my mom-in-law) has been popping past at various odd hours during the week to paint stripes on walls. My dad came down from Tzaneen for four days last weekend and spent all of his time working through a list of tasks I’d given him when he arrived. The cot has been touched up, brackets are on the wall awaiting their newly painted shelves and a dado rail has been installed above the stripes. It’s all looking terribly cheerful and exciting and I’m hoping to put some pics up towards the end of this week. So watch this space!

As for my time, I’ve been developing strategies to cope with the cabin fever. I’m limiting myself to one outing a day, so have had a few successful shopping trips and coffee with my friend Tash in the last week. I built a puzzle ball which was lots of fun and I’ve started a few crafty projects which involve sedately sitting at the table. Overall though I’ve noticed a huge decrease in my energy levels as my belly grows and grows so I’ve been keeping a very low profile.

The only other real challenge at the moment is that my immune system is shot and I haven’t felt really healthy since coming out of hospital. I had laryngitis last week and it’s really hanging around. Being booked off exercise isn’t helping my sense of ill-health, but I’m doing what I can in terms of taking my vitamins, eating chicken soup and keeping hydrated.

To end off this update, anxiety and stress after Speckle’s false alarm had Col and I on the rack for a while, but being two weeks further down the line now has allowed us to relax somewhat. I am 34 weeks now (8 and a half months) so Speckle is due to make his appearance in the next 4-6 weeks. This seems like no time at all and in the last few days excitement has started to creep back in again, which makes a marvellous change I can tell you!

Sparkle and Speckle’s baby shower

When the news first broke that I was pregnant, my friend Karen immediately asked if she could organise my baby shower and I was only too happy to oblige. We had tea a few months back and settled on a date (with my Mom living in Tzaneen keeping such things a surprise borders on impossible) and I left her to it.

The amazing race

When the big day dawned on 7 July, the first surprise was a brown envelope that was delivered to our door. Col and I had a few tasks to get done it seemed as we embarked on a bit of an amazing race. Among others we had to price all the items needed to change a nappy, sample some baby food, come up with a plan of action in the case of a high temperature and drive to KFC for a mini-cone since sleep was allegedly eluding our little baby. It was tons of fun (who doesn’t like ice-cream at 09:30 am) and by the time the last clue led us to Karen’s house I was well into the festive mood.

The big event

Surprise two came with the theme that Karen had chosen – Dr Seuss. I’m going to make a shocking statement here and say that I might just prefer Dr Seuss over Winnie-the-Pooh so it was just awesome! Karen’s attention to detail was phenomenal. I was dressed up ‘Cat-in-the-hat’ style and allowed a brief look at all the delightful treats on offer before being whisked off to say my hellos. There was too much to take in at the time, but I do remember ‘Thing 1’ and ‘Thing 2’ cupcakes, Truffela Tree lollipops and of course the cake. What a work of art! Let me just say that whether Karen intended to or not, she has now given herself the job of making all of Speckle’s birthday cakes for many years to come! (This photo doesn’t really do it justice but it’s the only one I have right now so it will have to do.)

A marathon

The next few hours passed in a blur of games and gifts. The amount of stuff Speckle was spoilt with was absolutely overwhelming! Blankets, clothes, toys, toiletries – you name it, we got it. It took Colin four trips from the car to unload it all when we got home, and it took me hours to sort through and make sense of. Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you to all our friends and family for your insane generosity. (Proper thank you cards are still on my list by the way, but I’m pulling the preggie card and am giving myself another few weeks to get them done.)

A delightful day

Other delights of the day included a photo booth that my friend Lee set up. She’d come to visit me a few weeks before and we’d both been saying how sad we were that the photo booth craze only took off after we got married. I had hours of fun posing for pics and will post some when I get them.

All in all I could not have asked for a better baby shower. Col and I still have a bit to do in terms of sorting and organising before Speckle arrives, but we were given an incredible head start and are so appreciative of all the love and support we’ve been given. Once again – a massive thanks! Our friends and family just rock!