Sunday, May 24, 2009


Today is Mike and I's one year anniversary! I can't believe it's been one year. It feels like it has been longer and way less than that, all at the same time. Either way, it has been wonderful. We've been through so much together and are still going strong. I can't wait for all the things ahead that we'll experience together. Mike's in the kitchen cooking me a special meal while I look after the little man; I've peeked my head in and he seems to be doing well! I feel guilty that I can't do more for him on this day to show him how much I appreciate him and everything he does.

It's so strange to think that this time last year I was putting on a white dress and saying my vows. What a perfect day it was. Everything went off without a hitch.

I love you Mike!

I hear some gurgles from the bassinet...

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I've started a lot of posts, but not posted any of them. Most of them were weepy, boring and not really what I wanted to contribute to cyberspace. Everything is going well. Dare I say I feel used to being a mom now? That would probably be an overstatement. But I love routine, and I've finally fallen into the routine of having a baby. Nothing really bothers me as long as I can predict it and organize my life around it. It's weird really, that I enjoy anything habitual and I am such a disorganized person...anyway, I mostly know when I can fit things in here and there.

Mike goes back to work week after next and I'm terrified of that. It will change my routine, and I'll have to work it out all over again. He has been such an amazing help, holding and playing with Ender when I need to sleep, changing diapers and making dinner when I was completely conked. Of course, I can handle it on my own, but it's the little things: getting the stroller down the stairs by myself, getting him to his ten billion appointments in the next two weeks, and keeping him happy (and myself sane) through the course of the day. I've had people recommend moms groups to me, and I'm not sure how well that will work out. Toronto moms my age are few and far between. Its an expensive city to live in, and people who can afford to have kids in the GTA are usually way older than me and completely removed from my socioeconomic class. I need to find some kind of cool punk-rockity moms group, otherwise I don't' think there's any point of me going and feeling uncomfortable. Of course, that's probably the reason why I have so few friends.

Other news in my life: we're still looking for a house. We're looking at more on Monday, they're actually condo/townhomes in the area we used to live in. It's more downtown than we are now, which would be really nice. I miss living downtown, closer to Queen W. These townhomes are two bedrooms, two bath, two stories and have a rooftop terrace. The condo fees are 150-2oo, which is negligible compared to the going rate everywhere else in the city which is 400-500 per month. For many reasons, I look forward to home ownership. Mostly I want Ender to have a place to call home that we own, be able paint his room, have a dishwasher, and these townhomes would suit that purpose for the next 5 years, maximum, enough for its value to appreciate and let us upgrade to something larger when we needed it.

Also, I NEED to go shopping and SOON. All I have for clothes is two pair of jeans that are too big and a nursing tank top. I bought myself some shirts for postpartum but they're too small and the ones that fit are no good for nursing. It's dismal and depressing. I have prego dresses that fit, but I'm sick to death of them and they're not incredibly summery. I'm still waiting for my tax return to arrive, which will be spent on the following:
1. A pedicure. My feet look terrible, now that I can see them again.
2. A haircut. My hair has returned to normal, and I feel like I can cut it again without ending up with something that looks silly.
3. Sandals. Who wears socks in the summer? Not me.
4. Summery dresses and t-shirts with good boob access
5. A baby carrier. Ender hates his sling. He cries when I put him in it regardless of his mood, so we need to take him to a store and try out a bunch of them. We also need this for our trip to Calgary this summer, as he'll be too small for the umbrella-type strollers which are the only kind you're allowed to take as carry on on the plane.

Phew. Ok, I need to get back to life now. By the way, I am in awe of anyone with more than one kid. How do they do it with time to wash, get dressed and be seen in public??

Also, I haven't started smoking again. I thought I would, but it just didn't happen *shrugs*

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birth Story

Okay, so in all the madness of being a brand spanking new first time mom, I've neglected writing out my birth story. This is no good, as I feel the memory of it slipping away from me already. So here we go.

On Thursday, I had another midwife appointment and had my membranes swept again by Kay. This time it hurt quite a lot, but she said I still wasn't very dilated and that the baby was posterior. His head was pressing on my spine, rather than turned the way it should be for easy passage. This was disappointing, but I was more focused on the fact that I was dismally overdue. That night, my back started to hurt a lot. I got frustrated with that, thinking that there was no progress anyway, that it wasn't labor and that I was just going to be uncomfortable until my induction date, which I had set for the following Wednesday. The back pain continued until Friday, and Mike took me out to Ethiopian food to cheer me up. We ended up going to the restaurant we had our first date in. We sat at the same table (not that difficult, because the restaurant is so small) and were served by the same waitress. It really is the best Ethiopian food in the city, aside from the sentimental connections. But those connections certainly made the meal more special. The waitress/owner commented jokingly that her food would 'make the baby'. I suppose it did.

That night I started having irregular contractions. The back pain would intensify and then ease off. We measured them online with 'contraction master', which Mike found humorous. The contractions surprised me. They didn't feel like I expected them to, and were mostly in my back. Since I had had contractions before that let off when i went to bed, I trucked myself off to sleep. I woke at 1:45 with intense back pain. I woke Mike up and we started timing. I called the midwife and she told me that they weren't long enough, so I should go back to sleep and rest up in case it was the real deal. I tried, but ended up sleeping on the couch, semi-reclined. When I laid down the contractions became intensely painful. I called Kay again in the morning, and she was already at another birth. She stopped by shortly, swept my membranes again, said I was only 2-3cm. She said she would send another midwife, Houley, to monitor me until she was done with the other birth that was in progress.

At 1:00 Houley arrived. Houley was a midwife from Africa who I had heard of but never met. Her English left much to be desired, which frankly stressed me out. I started to moan through the contractions, unable to speak. Houley made me some tea, and gave me some pausatilla, a homeopathic remedy, to hopefully turn the baby. The pain remained mostly in my back, which is referred to as 'back labour' and as far as I understand it, a whole other animal from regular labour. Mike rubbed my back incessantly, patiently holding me when I needed it. We 'slow danced', rocking back and forth for hours. I stared at his eyes through contractions, losing myself in them. You'd think that time measured in four minute increments would go slowly, but it raced by. My contractions were on top of each other, my uterus irritated by where Ender was sitting. They were two at a time sometimes, with double peaks, one minute apart.

Houley was relieved by Kay, who checked me again and said I was 3-4 cm. I had only dilated 1 cm in about 7 hours. I called my mother at some point through all this, and she arrived. She kept the mood light, remembering funny stories from when I was a kid. Her and Kay sat cross legged on the bedroom floor while I sat on the bed with Mike, labouring away. I sat in the bathtub and could feel the head of my future son bulging in my back, literally lifting me from the floor of the tub a little with each contraction. Mike could feel it too, as he rubbed me. Kay could tell I was getting tired, and told me that I should lay down. I got panicky, as this was my most painful position. She insisted it would lengthen the time between contractions, and probably move the baby more efficiently with each contraction, not to mention let me rest a little. I did so for a while, apparently passing out from the pain at one point, but this is what I was told by everyone else.

By midnight or so, I was getting frantic. I was exhausted, in a great deal of pain, and I didn't feel as though I was progressing. I wanted to go to the hospital. While the midwife's measured me as in 'active labour' for 12 hours, I had been in labour in my own mind since Friday. I sat in the bathtub, calling in Mike, my mother and Kay all in one at a time, like a ruined monarch. "You have to take me to the hospital." I said, "Nothings happening!". Mike tried to put me off. He knew how much I wanted a homebirth, but after I begged for a while he relented. Kay wanted to check me again before she transferred me to the hospital, just in case I was more dilated. I wasn't. She agreed now, that the transfer to the hospital was the best choice. I was going to be too exhausted to push soon, and I was still only at 3-4cm.

The car ride was a blur. I refused to wear my seatbelt, rocking my pelvis though contractions. My mother drove slowly down Queen street, and I vaguely recall swearing at the hipsters that blocked the road on the way to St. Joseph's. We got there, and I lumbered my way down the hall to labour and delivery. I didn't know I was capable of it before, but I walked forward through my contractions, silently. I didn't want to disturb any of the truly sick people! Imagine my conscientiousness! My eyes were wide, fixed, and I walked and walked and walked. I got to labour and delivery and let myself moan again. The nurses rallied around me, a transfer of care was given and a shot of morphine dispensed. It didn't make the contractions hurt any less, but it let me focus on resting in between them. By now my moaning had become monotone, repetitive. Women in other rooms laboured as well, moaning almost exactly the same as I. "I can close the door." Kay offered. "No, no, it's fine." I demurred. "She's doing good." Occasionally you'd hear the first cry of a baby. My mom smiled at me. I sat hooked up to monitors, leaning forward and eventually removing them. I couldn't sit still for them to do their work. Kay checked me again and I was 6cm. She told me we could still do it naturally, but I refused. I was so, so, so tired. I needed sleep.

The anesthesiologist, from what I can recall a skinny man with owl glasses who condescendingly asked me if I wanted my epidural now. It was 5 am. The hardest part of the whole labour was probably this, where I was expected to sit perfectly still through my contractions, which were still no more than two or three minutes apart and very lengthy. Mike held my feet as I sat on the side of the bed, rubbing them reassuringly. They finished, and taped up my back. I leaned back and slowly lost the burning, twisting sensation that had been plaguing me for the last two days. I slept. Mike slept on the pullout chair in the room. My mother kept vigil on a small steel stool next to my bed, as though convinced she was the only one monitoring the baby's heartbeat. I told her to go sleep in one of the family waiting rooms, but she refused and stayed with me. Kay went off to sleep in one of the unused hospital rooms.

By 7 in the morning, I was almost ready to push. I felt so much better and more refreshed. I could still feel my contractions through the epidural, it just didn't hurt. Nurses, midwives and obstetricians piled into the room to watch. Babette, my other midwife arrived. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I put my heart and soul into it. Everything I loved and hated and felt ever in my life, I put into pushing. My mother laughed at said she'd never seen me try so hard at anything in my life. Probably true. Kay told me to push three times for each contraction and I always tried for four. At one point, the lack of oxygen made me forget where I was. Why was I pushing? Who were all these people around me yelling for me to keep going, keep trying? I came to my senses with a gasp of air in. Mike was to my right, whispering in my ear. I really mostly listened to him, and blocked everyone else out. In between pushes I rested, smiling ear to ear and giggling like a little kid.

The push that pushed Ender's head out felt amazing, as did the one that pressed the rest of his little body out and into my arms. Mike and I screamed and laughed and cried. He was wet and warm and beautiful. I've never felt such a rush of inhibited joy before in my life. He cried softly at first and gave us a little pout of his lips, drew breath and let out a scream. He started to turn pinkish. They took him away to weigh him and he came in at a whopping 9 pounds 12 ounces. He was healthy and strong. The placenta showed no signs that I was almost two weeks overdue. He had come just when he wanted to, and just when it was right.

And that's the story of how it all happened. Now I can't forget.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A mommy!

Well after a long labour of love, Ender John Daniel Dowdall has arrived. I love him so much and he is absolutely beautiful. I've never experienced the joy that I did the moment he came out and was put on my face. I've never heard those sounds come out of me before, laughing and crying and screaming with happiness.

Now, however, I'm dealing with the baby blues. I'm enjoying myself, but crying all the time at everything. I'm told it won't last long, and when it's over I'll enter the world again. Until then, I'm a little useless to everyone except myself and Ender.

Being a mom is harder than I thought and easier too. More later though.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


11 days overdue.

I'm finally in labour. It's mostly back labour, which is unfortunate. I can kind of feel him grinding on my spine a little with each contraction. Called my mom to let her know what was up, but told her not to hop in the car just yet. The midwife is coming by soon. Contractions hurt at the moment, four minutes apart and one minute long, but are bearable with a tight grip on Mike's hands, breathing and some visualization. I'm so stoked I get to meet my little guy before the end of today.

More later.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pity party

10 days overdue. (I'm going to admit right now, that scares the crap out of me to see written down)

The midwife did another much more successful 'stretch and sweep'. Boy-o-boy did that hurt! Mike held my hand and I had a chance to practice my breathing. She said while she did it, the baby descended some. He was following her fingers! What a strange little chap. Anyway, the result of this was apparently not labour, but spine crushing back pain that has been with me since this all occured. It's really really uncomfortable. I can't help but thinking that feeling this way is supposed to help me cope with the thought of induction. If my back hurts like this much longer, I feel like I'm going to go mad. I can't sleep, sit, lay down or do anything without moving every five minutes. Even the bathtub provides only momentary relief. To add to my pity party, the City of Toronto has decided to rip up my sidewalks. There is nothing more enraging to me than construction workers screaming outside my house at 6:30 in the morning. Why do they scream? I don't get it. The rest of us can talk in normal tones. Is it that much work to walk over to the guy you need to say 'more gravel' to? Apparently so.

As for the induction conversation. My 42 week deadline is the 5th of May. My midwife is willing to let me go past that, but only if I have a scary conversation with an OB about all the risks of it. I was planning on scheduling the induction for May 7th (the Friday, two days later) just in case he decides to come out on his own. The whole 42 week thing seems very arbitrary to me. Some babies just take longer, and it seems like ALL first time moms take longer. At the same time, I'm really torn. I don't want to risk anything with my baby. He's my world and if anything happened to him I would die. So I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Both induction and having a postdates baby have their risks. No matter what I choose I'm going to have the burden of choice and be up late at night worrying about him. Welcome to motherhood, right?

I am just so frustrated right now with my body. Everyone is calling all the time, Mike's on my case about when/how he should schedule work, my mom ditto, even my midwife joked that she is waking up every morning wondering why I haven't called her yet. While I'm sure women who are trying to concieve would call it a stretch, I suddenly have so much more understanding of what kind of frustration that would involve. It seems like such a simple thing that everyone can do. Then your body just decides not to do it. With labour it is decidedly public. I can't make it a quiet little secret that my uterus has decided not to rhythmically contract to the point of pushing this child out.

So here ends the pity party. Blame it on the back pain.