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Mon, 2008-Apr-14

Deaths in the Family

Two people have died recently in my family. The wife of my half-brother-in-law concluded her long struggle with cancer in Makay a couple of weeks ago. My surviving grandfather died this last week gone.

Jess was a lively woman who became party of my family relatively recently. Her death made it onto Australian Story "It's a beautify day", after her earlier appearance in "Carve their names with pride".

Both were far away. Jess died in Makay, and there was no way Michelle and I could get there in time over the easter long weekend. Our invitation to her never-held 25th birthday party still hangs on our fridge. My grandfather died suddenly in Sydney. Jess had a memorial service in Brisbane. My Pa's choice was to have no memorial, no burial, just a pickup by the local university. That was his way.

Both were amazing people. Both will be missed. I'll remember Pa for telling me that despite wasting away nearly every day at the local RSL, he would never join the RSL itself. He fought beside communists in the war. Despite not being one himself, he could never accept their demonisation by the Returned & Services League in his lifetime. Jess I met on far too few occasions, my thoughts are with those she left behind.

Benjamin

Mon, 2007-Oct-22

Baby Discipline

My daughter is now 19 months old, and well along the path of discipline and good behaviour. I'm sure it won't last past her second birthday, but for the moment she is polite and well-behaved to an angelic degree. My, and my wife's approach to discipline seems to be paying off so far.

0-6 Months

We received a great deal of advice on how to deal with a child in the first six months of their life. Some of this ranged from controlled crying to the occasional good smack. What we ended up doing was much more mundane. I believe that my daughter never had a devious thought up until somewhere around the six month mark. I don't believe she ever tried to manipulate me or my wife during that time.

Up to six months a child isn't very mobile. She doesn't get to do a lot except eat, sleep, and smile. We never let her cry. I believe that at that age every cry is genuine and most need attending to. Genuine cries include:

Hungry, windy, burping, and certain kinds of uncomfortable are easy to deal with. You just attend to your child as quickly as you can. Always let them know you are there and they can be confident in your care. There are obviously times where you do need to put your child in uncomfortable situations. For those I always held my daughter's hand, rubbed her back, spoke soothingly, etc. Your baby can sense your own disquiet and respond in kind. The important thing is to stay calm, and let that calm make its natural way to your child.

The "I'm tired" one also turned out to be surprisingly simple with my daughter: Maintain a routine from birth. For us, it was: Wake up, play/cuddles, nappy, feed, sleep. Repeat the cycle as often as necessary. At birth this is around a three hour cycle. At her present age we have adjusted some of the elements, and now it is about four hours at the start of day plus another cycle for the rest of the day. So long as you have a basic rhythm in place, the exact timing will work itself out between you and your child. Our first was sleeping through the night within weeks of being brought home from hospital. I'm not so naive as claim this will happen again for our second child.

Probably the most important thing we got right in this time was putting her to bed while she was still awake. While this can be difficult for the first few days, she learned to fall asleep herself. This is a skill whose importance is difficult to understate.

Six months and up

Since six months we have been following the same basic strategy: Be attentive and responsive to your child. This is reasonably easy, as she is presently an only child. I can see how this will be difficult later on. We do smack her occasionally on the hand at present when she knows she has done or is doing something naughty. I'm not sure if this has actually been effective at all.

Being attentive and responsive does not mean giving in to her demands, only her needs. I feel it is important as a parent to distinguish between wanting a happy baby and one that is never unhappy. How are you training your child if you pander to every fat crocodile tear? I prefer to train my child to live with the disappointment and move on. You will often have heard me say over the last twelve months: "It's ok to be upset, but when you are finished crying we'll (still do what we were going to do)".

We started to set firm limits on her behaviour around the time she started crawling: She isn't allowed to wander into the kitchen or bathroom. Our approach to enforcing these boundaries has been to use to least amount of physical force necessary to prevent her transgression. For this to work it is helpful to anticipate, rather than respond to them. It is also absolutely essential that any rule with perfect consistency: Don't send your child mixed messages, or any rule becomes a game.

If she looks like she is going to go somewhere she isn't supposed to, I'll gently touch her chest or shoulder from that direction. That's her cue not to proceed. If she doesn't respond to the cue, I'll go verbal: "(full name), we don't go in the kitchen. Do we? (full name)!". If that doesn't work I'll physically restrain her while repeating the warning.

Over time she seems to have realised that we are serious about such things, and even when she was very young she only took a few days to take to these kinds of limits. As her physical capabilities have increased we have added new boundaries, almost all relating in some way to her safety.

When it comes to the real high-wire acts I have taken a slightly different approach. When she is heading into danger I'll say firmly, "Careful.". Rather than trying to enforce the discipline myself I'll try to ensure there is a basic level of safety (nothing she is doing yet will actually kill her), and then let her have more leash than will keep her unhurt.

"Careful. Don't fall down." (falls down) "See, I told you not to fall down. I told you to be careful.". I don't have to dish out punishment in these cases. Nature manages just fine. To round things out, I also use careful when she is heading into other naughty territory. The message I'm trying to send is "I'm responsible and invested in your safety and well-being. When I warn you of a danger, it is because I see something you don't". So far she has been responding very well to this.

Her language skills are advanced at this stage, and one thing my wife has been insisting on is proper manners. You will often hear "More, please" and more recently "More, please, (something she wants)". I think manners are important, not because you can't survive in society with imperfect manners, but because they are a system of rules that if broken don't necessarily put you behind bars for the next 30 years. I feel that it is important for a child to experience the application of this kind of rule system, however arbitrary, in order to prepare them for later life and the systems of rules they will encounter along the way.

Conclusion

I think the main thing in establishing a happy, secure environment for your child is to be embedded in her world and aware of how she is perceiving it. Only then can you help her chart a course through childhood, set appropriate limits, and help her find her place in society. It is important to be able to distinguish between a genuine cry and a tantrum. It is important to be able to foresee danger and conflict. It is important to be ready to help her make the right decision in a difficult situation, just by touching her shoulder at the appropriate time.

How we proceed through the terrible twos is the next challenge, but I hope that the basic points will continue to work: Start with love and care, be aware of what's going on in her world, foresee conflicts and dangers as early as possible, and take the minimum necessary steps to steer her around or through them while also letting her discover her own approach. I hope that as a parent I can live up to this standard.

Benjamin

Fri, 2007-Aug-10

My daughter can count

My daughter unofficially counted to eight (8) today. I say unofficially, because she hasn't repeated herself as yet. She has only repeated counting to six (6).

She is going great guns. She is teething at the moment, so very dribbly. Most of her teeth are through, now, so we are near the end of it. On the whole she is happy, calm, bright, self-confident, well-behaved. We couldn't ask for more. We are currently trying to wean her, which she is also coping with very well.

I tried to list her vocabulary in an email the other week, but I had no hope of developing a complete list. She is coming up with new words all the time. You only have to say a word once is she is ready to repeat it. One of the important words she has come up with since I put this list together is "Genevieve", her own name.

She understands most of what we say. I can tell her to give things to people and she does. She walks unassisted, but is reasonably happy most of the time to hold my hand. She knows that you don't touch things at the shops, because they are not ours. She manages to stay out of the kitchen most of the time, but when she's tired and an adult is in there she can't help but want to come up for a cuddle. She gets stopped by tourists who want to have their photo taken with her (well, it only happened once... but it did happen). She loves her books. She loves bathtime, and really loves her sleep (like her Daddy). She likes to dance and watches rage a fair bit. She cried more than Abby did when Abby fell of the couch the other day. She brings toys to kids at day care who can't walk yet. She doesn't give in to bullys who try to take things from her... and when they really take them or push her over she cries a little too deliberately and pointedly.

She has had another round of immunisations, now. At sixteen (16) months she coped very well, and there were bubbles at the end: Whee!

Benjamin

Sun, 2006-Sep-24

Congratulations Genevieve

You are officially the cutest baby in Wynnum.

Cutest baby in Wynnum

At least, you are the cutest baby in Wynnum who's parents brought them along to the Wynnum Spring Festival Baby Show

Genevieve with her trophies

Genevieve won:

Genevieve's trophies and medals

It is no longer parental bias that she is the most beautiful baby girl around. It is now objective fact. Thanks go to her talented Gran for her hand-made smocked dress which wowed judges and fellow parents alike.

Do you like my dress?

There were a lot of beautiful babies at the contest. The overall winner trophy came down to the wire, with two babies equal on points. Genevive won in a tiebreaker of cuteness.

I know I'm cute

Benjamin

Sat, 2006-Aug-12

Genevieve Alice: Four months, twenty-three days

Genevieve has come a long way since day thirty-seven. She has seen a number of milestones of note. She now wriggles and almost rolls over. She makes wonderful noises which sometimes end up with word-like sounds. She loves playing with her toys, and no longer needs Mummy or Daddy tending constantly to her whims. She loves floor time, and no longer cries when left for more than a few seconds.

Family Portrait

Genevieve is now wearing some size zero clothing. Having started out in the 0000 (four zero) sizes she has managed to grow through most of her 000 and some of her 00 garments. She is looking longer in the face, after a period of only becoming fuller. We are seeing expressions that remind us of our own families.

Pondering dolly toes

My mother is Gran, my father is Granddad. Michelle's mother is Nan, and her step-father is Pop. Everyone seems to be settled into their routines, now. Even Auntie Heather and Uncle Peter seem comfortable with their new status.

Surrounded by toys and love

Genevieve has now seen two rounds of immunisations. The first was at two months, and the second at four months. These are tales worth recounting, as she handled them well. Consider that these immuisations consist of three needles: One in one leg, and two in the other. I was lucky enough to be able to attend both, and held her while Michelle looked on. The first time around she was shocked to recieve the first needle. She didn't know what to think, or how to react. Needle two and needle three came in quick succession. Well, then she knew exactly what to do. Arrrgh!!! She burst into tears. She cried for a minute, and I said "Good work, good job". She looked me in the eye and settled immediately. She was still upset for a while afterwards, and soon went to sleep on my shoulder.

The four month injections were the same as the two-month injections:

That's quite a punch, and this time around she had more stamina. She screamed again, and this time needed quite a bit of settling. Perhaps she was no longer naieve enough to think Daddy knew what was best in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary from her own body. She cried for about five minutes before settling, and again needed a sleep afterwards.

The night of the first set of immunisations was the first night she needed paracetamol. She was pretty upset after the second round also. Both rounds saw her fine and happy by the time morning rolled around.

Serious Thoughts

Genevieve pushed her first tooth though her gumline 2006-07-30 while Michelle was out getting a few things from the shops. Ever since she has been an absolute dream of a child, happy at every opportunity. She woke us up around 04:30 hours this morning practicing her little squeals of delight. She is indeed at a beautiful age.

Testing the new tooth

Genevieve still sleeps through the night. So far so good. We are still using cloth nappies, and we have seen a minimum of nappy rash. Teething is supposed to be really difficult time for rashes, something about acidic poos. We will have to keep a close eye out and keep applying sudocream as appropriate. She has almost grown out of her first set of covers, but her original hemp nappies are still holding up. All in all it has been a good investment. We have probably gone through about four 36-packs of disposables so far during run-out wash-days or simply out and about the town days.

Happy

She continues to have no real naughty streak. When she is really eager for a feed and her routine is out she sometimes fusses and needs verbal correction on the change table... but when she is well-rested and well-fed she is a delight.

Blue Steel

Around the three month mark she learned to say "Hello". We had a great game going on the change table playing "Hello" for a few weeks before she got bored of it and moved onto other less intelligable sounds. She sometimes brings out her Hellos, and my mother saw a good demonstration when we were over for dinner the other night. Although I know she didn't know what Hello meant when she said it, it does feel good to be the father of a child who said their first play word so early ;)

Show-off

Genevieve loves her Mummy and her Daddy at this stage. I play with her during nappy time while her bottom is getting an airing, just before sleep time. When she is really hungry she goes straight to Mum to feed. When she is only moderately so, she'll fixate on me. I have to hide from her so that she doesn't get distracted. Even then, the sound of my voice can set her off. She spends most of her time with Mummy, so both Mother and child welcome the break when Daddy is home.

Benjamin

Tue, 2006-Apr-25

Genevive Alice, Day 37

Five weeks

Do you love Mummy?

Genevieve is now five weeks old. We have put in our claim for the baby bonus, and filled out all of the necessary documentation. We have our family medicare card. Everything seems to be pretty much in order.

Computer literate

Michelle is still on holidays, however I am back at work. I have worked the better part of a week, and mother and child are still coping well. Sometimes it seems that they need to let off a bit of steam by visiting the grandparents' places, but that is to be expected.

Look what came in the mail!

Talking through baby

The new mum is getting used to being called Mummy, and I'm getting used to being called Daddy. This seems to be a natural phenomenon between a couple. It starts out sounding awkward. You say it a few times to each other just to try it on: How are you doing, Mum? What's the story, Dad? Pretty soon it becomes something you do while talking to Baby: Do you want to go to Mummy, now? Is your Daddy a good daddy?

Big Brother

For grandparents it takes a little longer. They have Baby in the room for less of the time, so ours are still getting the hang of each other. It's especially tentative when both sets of grandparents get into the same room. Does Grandpa want a cuddle, now? Is it Grandpa? Granddad Does Granddad want a cuddle? :)

Sexy Daddy

The roles have pretty much sorted themselves out, now. My mother and father are Gran, and Grandad. Michelle's mother and step-father are Nana (sometimes Nan) and Pop. Michelle's maternal grandmother is Great Grandma. I guess I don't know exactly what my maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents will be called. They live further afield and don't get to be called much at all for the moment.

Hrmmph!

Feeding and Sleeping

She is feeding well. We are demand feeding, and she has settled into something of a three hour rythm. She wakes up at a pretty consistent time of a morning. Her first feed is usually 6am, pretty well on the dot. Her last feed of the evening varies from about 21:30 to 23:30.

Daddy, can I -please- go to bed?

I had my own chance to give her a feed the other night. Michelle went out with the girls for a night on the town. She expressed, and I bottle-fed for the night. Two bottles of about 100ml each lasted from 9:30 in the evening until a lateish midnigh bedtime. Bottle one lead to a small spit-up, but we took more breaks during the second feed and were both happy with the results.

Baby zombie

Nappies

We are using cloth nappies for the most part, and they are working out well. Genevieve is yet to have any problems with nappy rash or microbial invasion. We started out with Eenee Designs snibs. This is a nappy cover that passes between the legs, and has ribbons on each side to bind it to Baby. These worked very well initially. With her increasing size and volume of output they seem to be working a little less effectively now. Leakage is the number one issue for nappies, and we're having a little lack of luck all around at the moment. We have moved on to Baby BeeHinds hemp nappies and covers. Leakage is not a huge problem with these nappies, but we probably still get one minor leak per day the way we are currently fitting them. The Huggies disposables are tallying up about about the same leakage rate, so maybe it is just us. We are using some pocket nappies during the daytime as well. These are less bulky than the hemp Baby BeeHinds nappies, but also less absorbant. The disposables are the least bulky and are probably equivalently absorbant to even the hemp.

Eenee Designs Snib

While disposables handle urine just as well as the hemps, hemp is king for handling defication. We have had a number of "blow-outs" with the disposables where high-pressure processed food has forced its way out pretty much every side. The hemp nappies are continuing to hold up well in this regard.

Huggies Disposable

Stuffing and lining are important for all of the cloth nappies. The pocket nappies have their own wool lining, and so far we have found wool to work really well in snibs and hemp nappies also. Hemp is has great absorbancy, so we are using it exclusively for the stuffing. The hemp nappies act naturally as additional stuffing, so that is the reason for their absorbancy. Unfortunately, the whole nappy being absorbant means that baby does have some skin sitting directly against the wet waste. That isn't ideal, but doesn't seem to have caused any problems so far.

Baby BeeHinds Hemp

The other stuffing we have used is the flushable tree-pulp pad from Eenee Designs. These seem to work well enough when our hemp is in the wash. We use their flushable liners when the wool is in the wash, and they also seem to hold up well.

Smiles and Tantrums

Genevieve has been getting visably more aware of her surroundings since around the end of week three. Every day she is looking around more, and seems to be more deliberate in her actions. She is capable of following her mother around the room with her eyes, especially near meal-times. Unfortunately, just as I am returning to work we are seeing some of the big advances come on us incrementally.

More upset than I know how to be

Smiling is one. She has had wind from day one, but we believe her first real smile was on April 21st. She smiled again a few days later. Luckily, I was home for both. She started smiling for real today when we walked her over to Gran and Granddads' place. Nana and Great Grandma came around to look at her, and she smiled over and over. We even caught a few on Gran's camera. A co-worker of mine with four children said that you aren't sure for the first few times, but within a week they are really going for it. The next thing he says is that they'll be laughing and giggling. I'm looking forward to it.

Why can't you just do what I want?

She is also now old enough to start with discipline. Her increasing awareness of her surroundings is leading to an increasing awareness of her actions. The main point of discipline at this stage of life is to control crying and screaming. Crying is like terrorism. It comes about because of real needs, genetic predisposition, and darwanistic anthropology: Whomever gets the attention of the powers that be is the most likely to be one that survives, or the one with the fullest belly.

Oooh, what's that?

Once the crying or the terrorism has raised public awareness and put your issues onto the radar, it is the objective of the authority to bring you back to a social norm. They may try to police the cry. That doesn't work. Why should a child stop crying when their needs have not been met? Eventually the authorities will engage the little terrorist, but just caving into demands leads to more crying. The final phase is to work on positive and negative reinforcement.

Bouncers are for babies!

We don't pick Genevieve up now until she has stopped crying. Once she starts to cry we make sure we are in the room with her and she knows we are here. We make soothing sounds and say things like settle down, stop crying. If she continues to cry we continue with the soothing, but do no pick her up. The moment she settles down she is in our arms, and can cry out any more that she absolutely needs to get out.

Curious George

When she is having "tummy time" and is not yet ready to be picked up we take this down a knotch. We are there and soothing the moment she is quiet, but the moment she starts to scream (there is a difference between vocalise and scream for this discussion) we go back to washing dishes or doing other housework. So far she has seemed to be figuring out quickly that if she wants us to come to her service she has to constrain her tears to a level that alerts us of her need. We'll see how this all goes, but so far so good. She is spending a lot of time looking calm and happy, and she is settling quickly when we come into the room to pick her up from her cot.

Fascinating!

Benjamin

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