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Fri, 2006-Mar-31

Cyclone Larry (or Genevieve!?!)

Good Omens?

No doubt the gentle reader has heard of Cyclone Larry by this point. Larry started to turn towards the North Queensland coastline on Saturday the 18th of March 2006. Michelle began light contractions. Michelle's contractions moved her steadily towards active labour throughout Sunday, just as Larry edged steadily towards Innisfail. By Monday morning it was on for young and all. Genevieve was working her way into the world, and Larry was leaving a wake of destruction. Coincidence? If you think so, let me give you the final piece of the puzzle: Larry reputedly munched through 90% of australia's banana crop that day. Bananas are a good source of potassium. Babies love bananas. It gives me the willies, how about you?

Wake of destruction

Benjamin

Fri, 2006-Mar-31

Genevieve Alice, day 11

Genevieve is now almost two weeks old and I am sleeping through the night. Michelle gets up for a feed every few hours, but is mastering the art of feeding while lying down and catching a bit of shut-eye. She sleeps well and easily for now, and has started to have some reasonably aware and active times in-between.

Thinking of sleeping

I left off in my last entry at day four. At that stage I had left the house once since Michelle and Genevieve returned home, and that was to get takeaway for the first night's dinner. We have left the house two more times, now. The first was dinner and pictionary with friends. These friends have a new baby of their own, so noone was embarassed when one or both started screaming :)

Sleeping

Pictionary was good, however Michelle and I are not the Pictionary powerhouse team that we are (mostly due to Michelle) at trivial pursuit. In trivial pursuit I take the science questions and Michelle takes everything else but sport. Sport kind of gets lost somewhere between the cracks.

Drifting

That was day six (6), and on day seven (7) we went into town for the one week checkup. The good news is that mother and baby are still doing fine, and it turns out that there is no bad news. Genevieve had put her birth weight back on plus 220g, giving her a mass of 3.4kg.

Pondering existence

When Michelle's milk came in feeds dropped to only five or ten minutes a piece. Now that Genevieve's digestive system has gotten used to the new foodstuff they are back up to around the 45 minute mark and she is sleeping really well.

Bouncer dreaming

We have a bouncer, and her back is starting to become strong enough that she can sit in it without a great deal of supportive padding. It is a useful device. When she is awake between feeds Genevieve likes to be held. This is something that is easy enough to do one handed. A surprising number of chores can be achieved using only the other hand, but there is a limit. Having a bouncer means that both hands can be free. Only a foot is occupied in keeping her comforted.

Bouncer dreaming

I mowed the lawn yesterday. She enjoyed the mower sounds while I was going, and afterwards we had a nice little stroll around the yard. We don't have all that much to show, but she seemed fascinated by our immature macadamia tree and liked the smell of crushed mint leaves.

Bouncer dreaming

The grass had been long for a few weeks. Unfortunately the mower blew a head gasket after its last outing. Our grass is altogether too robust and healthy. A mower's work is never done, and is never easy.

Benjamin

Fri, 2006-Mar-24

Genevieve Alice, day 4

We have had Genevieve home for two nights, now. I am not as sleep-deprived as I thought I would be, and Michelle is also coping well. Genevieve has been reasonable in her demands. She sleeps well at the moment, and has only really cried when she has been hungry or windy.

Fatherhood started to sink in for me on the day after her birth. Her cot had recieved some minor damage while being moved, and I was driving to visit the manufacturers down at Hemant for spare parts. There is no denying her existance and impact when you are picking up parts for the child's bed so that she has somewhere to sleep when she gets home.

Night 1, Day 2

The night before had been busy. After Michelle's long labour most of our immediate family clustered around the hospital bed for about and hour before visiting hours finished. I was in no shape to drive home, so I had to leave with my parents. Michelle was obviously feeling the stress at that point and it helped to have me stay back alone for about twenty minutes for support and make sure the midwives were aware of how she was doing.

Genevieve in birth suite

It got rougher on Michelle when Genevieve didn't feed as well as she had hoped. Our girl has only two things on her mind at the moment, sleeping and eating. It is when they are both on her mind at the same time that both mother and child need a little extra help. Genevive tries to suck but it is all too hard. She tries to sleep but she is just that little bit too hungry. Michell says the staff were helpful in getting a few feeds in before I returned in the morning at around eleven (11:00).

Genevieve in birth suite

Michelle and Genevieve slept through a great deal of day two. Our visitor load was light. We had calls from Michelle's girlfriends Erin and Lindsay. Erin was extremely thoughtful in bringing me a dish of shepard's pie. That got me through lunch and dinner without having to leave Michelle's side. A friend of mine from university and co-worker Julie came along with her husband Steve just in time for the six o'clock feed. This turned out not to be the best time because a quick nappy check as soon as they walked in the door turned into about twenty minutes of mother and father coaxing baby to just fill the nappy up a little more... she pooed like a trooper and couldn't be cleaned up properly until she was completely finished.

Genevieve day two

Day 3

Michelle felt much better after getting some rest. She had started the day feeling like she would put Genevieve in the nursery for much of the next night to get some rest and regain some confidence. She ended up putting her in for a few hours, but she was much more confident about the trip home after she negotiated the rest of the night on her own.

Genevieve's healthy hearing test

Genevieve had her healthy hearing test, which was a pass. We already knew she had keen ears from her earlier reactions to doors closing and to voices. It's good to know that both ears seem to be working well.

Her eyes also seem to be coming into themselves. She seems to be focusing on faces a lot more. It was only around day three that I really saw her outside of wanting a feed and wanting a sleep. She is starting to spend some time just awake, listening, and looking. She is a beautiful child.

Genevieve day three - Hospital

The night went well. Both night two and night three went really well. Michelle has one cracked nipple which she has been treating with a cocoa butter cream, but is still feeding beatifully. Her milk has just started to come in. As a man I feel like I want to take responsibility for Michelle and Genevieve's well being. I want to keep them safe, and most of all I want to keep them well-rested. Breastfeeing is one area where I have to take a back seat and trust my partner to make the bond with her child and to just be ok together. I can't get between them. I can't help out. The best I can do is stand ready to burp the little one and settle her while Mum gets some sleep. Feeding is such as big part of both of their lives at the moment it made me feel a little helpless at first to have to just sit and watch. But the process has been going beautifully. The way Michelle handles Genevieve and the way Genevieve responds to Michelle gives me newfound respect Michelle. She is turning out to be a determined and natural mother.

Genevieve day three - home

Michelle has been finding she gets teary and upset when Genevieve cries. I have found the opposite, actually. When she cries I feel my will to help pick up and I can step up to the plate to settle her. I find myself tearing up whenever she does settle. She is there in my arms or there in her cot and just so peaceful. That's my teary time. In the absence of her really being awake for any period, that's my bonding time.

Benjamin

Tue, 2006-Mar-21

Genevieve Alice Carlyle

We are proud to announce

Proud parents Benjamin Robert and Michelle Anne Carlyle would like to announce the birth of their first child Genevieve Alice, a girl. She was born at 2:45 on Monday the 20th day of March in the year of our lord 2006. Mother and daughter are doing fine. At birth she had a head circumference of 34cm, a length of 54cm, and weighed just over 7 pounds or 3.18kg.

The birth story

The ultrasound lied! At 36 weeks Michelle had an ultrasound that indicated she would have a slightly above average baby if it went to term, which would have been a birth weight of approximately eight pounds (8lb). Luckily for both mother and daughter, either the measurements or the continued growth since then were a little bit off.

Mild to moderate contractions began on Saturday night, and Michelle had a show at half-past midnight on Sunday morning. A show indicates labour is likely to have begun, and is the release of the mucus plug that binds the cervix. Michelle managed to get a little sleep that Saturday night, around four hours. I made sure to sleep in past my usual waking time of six until around nine in the morning.

We spent all of Sunday counting contractions (graphs to follow) until around three o'clock Monday morning. At that stage contractions were still irregular (five minutes, four minutes, three minutes, six minutes) but an hour had gone by with no contraction more than six minutes apart. By the time we had made our way to the hosiptal the birth suites were ready and we had our pick. Monday was a good day to be born. March has been a huge month for the hospital with around two hundred (200) mothers booked in to give birth. When I asked a midwife the previous week about how many births were happening "on the ward" (outside of the six birth suites because they are full) she said that there were about one or two per week. Genevieve managed to find us a nice little window.

At admission Michelle was four centimeters (4cm) dilated and labouring reasonably well. Her contractions were still somewhat irregular, and by eight in the morning (8am) she had reached around five centimeters (5cm). The midwife broke her waters at that examination to try and speed things along.

Michelle was coping well with the pain up to that point, using only a TENS machine and a fit ball to bounce apon. It was around this stage that she moved to using a 50/50 Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen mix during contractions to help her through. This got her through the next few hours. Around nine thirty (9:30am) Michelle asked for an epidural. We had discussed the option beforehand and were aware of the risks. She was exhausted from the hours she had already spent labouring, and couldn't cope with the pain on top of all of that. It turned out to be a great decision. She perked up well and managed to steal a little sleep.

Around midday (12:00pm) on Monday Michelle was around six centimeters (6cm) dilated, and she was started on a hormone drip. The drip was used to keep contractions regular and close together. I don't think she would have made it through without that magic drip to keep things ticking along.

With an epidural in place the foetal monitor is on from start to finish. We noticed a few drops and inconsistencies that were probably mostly related to Michelle shifting positions. The midwife and doctors kept a close eye out and had to adjust the drip several times to ensure adequate progress without too much foetal distress. It did place contractions too close together for a while and the monitor showed the baby's heart rate as being less regular than it had been when the monitor was first used.

By two in the afternoon (2pm) the doctors wanted a more accurate reading of how the baby was faring. The examination technique inserts a tube down the baby's escape hatch, and draws a small amount of blood from the back of the baby's head. This blood is tested for its pH level. If it is off, chances are the baby is not getting enough oxygen.

Not only was our level fine, but the exam showed Michelle was ten cenitmeters (10cm) dilated. Game on! After that it was push, push, push. Faced with a definite goal, Michelle dug deep and found enough left in her to reach it. Her mother joined us for the birth. This stage was a huge novelty for her as she delivered both of her children by ceasarian section. The first time she had reached 6cm dilation just as Michelle had done but after twenty two hours of labour could progress no further. The second intervention was planned.

Well, you know the rest of the story: Apart from the cord being wrapped around her neck (which is pretty normal) everything goes smoothly. She even manages to turn herself around the right way in the birth canal (she had been facing forwards in the last week of pregancy, but babys come out best when they face the back). Baby goes onto mum's boob for good old skin to skin conctact for at least fifty (50) minutes before weighing and measurement. During that time she had one little nibble and one short feed. She was very much awake and looking around. Like the little Lord Jesus, no crying did she make. She was and is beautiful. She has beautiful eyes, a beautiful face, a beautful voice, and I look forward to spending some time with her when she isn't fast asleep :)

Once the measuring was finished it was my turn for a hold. She didn't like the bright lights in the suite, so I took her into a darker corner and rocked her away into sleep. By that time she was well and truly ready for a nap. We left the birth suite a little after six thrity (6:30pm) and were joined by close friends and relatives. Genevieve woke enough to be passed around and have photographs taken. By eight we were too tired to do much else. The vistors left, Genevieve Alice was ready for another feed before bedtime, and I was driven home by my father to get some sleep of my own.

Kudos to Redlands hospital staff for excellent service. We started with Jo as our midwife who settled us in nicely. Jen brought the whole thing home, primarily supported by Kathy as the doctor. The epidural was performed with wonderful technique, and the whole insertion was completed between the space of two contractions.

Benjamin