The Un-Book Club...

I have tried to form a book club a couple of times, but each time the members couldn't seem to pick a book, or agree on a time to meet.  Recently a friend invited me to go to the library's 'Un-book Club', which was scheduled to meet at a local pub for this month's meeting.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was not surprised that my friend and I were the youngest ones there.  About ten people showed up, and it was a relaxing and quiet atmosphere in the back lounge of the restaurant  The theme for this month was cooking, so it was interesting to see everyone's take on the topic.  Recipe books were brought in for review, fiction books that included recipes were distributed, and critiques on un-related books were also given.  My friend and I were in awe of all these older people with such a passion for reading, and how one woman even had a Book Lover's Diary. We also did some clandestine matchmaking with the token male and one of the ladies.  It really is the perfect place to meet someone!

I've always wanted to be a part of a book club that talked about one specific book, so I'm not sure if this club is the right fit for me.  However, it was great to get some book recommendations and, need I mention, to get out of the house sans bebe.  The next meeting is in January, so I will give it another go.

One of the books I would like to check out next is And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini.  I've read the other two by him, and found them very thought-provoking and intense.  Does anyone have anymore book recommendations?



Adrian's Birth Story: Part Three...

For some reason, bottle-feeding was never an option in my mind, and yet we felt completely frustrated whenever he needed to use the feeding tube.  The second Wednesday after Adrian's birth, the doctors once again said that the moment he starts feeding exclusively orally, that included bottle-feeding, he could go home.  All of a sudden that triggered something for Jake and I.  If he starts to use a bottle whenever he doesn't breast-feed well, we could go home!

All of a sudden the doubts started flooding in, and I was so confused on what to do.  I kept getting mixed advice from hospital staff.  Some people were against the bottle, saying it can lead to nipple confusion, and other people said a baby will suck whatever it's given.  Whatever the case, as long as our baby had to use a feeding tube he had to stay put.

I started feeling selfish, though, and knew that I wanted to bottle-feed him just to get out of there.  That was a rough day, and since Jake wasn't there, I felt like I was needing to make all these decisions by myself.  I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but it felt like it at the time.  I was also dealing with judgment from hospital staff, knowing that some of them weren't approving of what choices we were making.  I started praying that Adrian would just breast-feed exclusively so we wouldn't have to use bottles at all.

We knew that the staff needed to see Adrian eating exclusively orally for 24-48 hours before they'd let him go, so we started keeping track of how many breast or bottle-fed feedings he would have in a row, and we were getting encouraged.

One night I completely slept through Adrian's 3 AM feeding, waking up to a 6AM wake-up call from the nurse.  I scrambled to remember what happened at 3AM, and when I asked the nurse, she said that he didn't wake up and she didn't call me because she wanted us both to rest, so she just fed him through the feeding tube.  I was kind of frustrated--grateful she let me sleep, but frustrated that she didn't call me because my breasts were sore since I hadn't pumped at 3AM.  Not to mention, she hadn't even given him the benefit of the doubt, and had fed him with the tube, which meant we had to start at square one again. 

At his noon feeding, I lost it because the nurse told me she tube-fed him at 10AM because he was fussy and she didn't want to bother me--he was AWAKE and she didn't call me!! I was super frustrated because it seemed like every time we took a step forward there were two steps back.  Also, that's the reason I was there, to feed my son, and it was never her call to assume she was bothering me.  So I lost it,and started crying even more because Adrian wouldn't wake up for his noon feeding (probably because she'd fed him at 10AM!)  The doctor came over and talked with me, saying he would stand by me no matter what option we chose (regarding bottle, breast, or feeding tube).  THEN he offhandedly mentioned that we could get transferred to the Cambridge hospital, and I thought, that was even an option?! Why weren't we informed earlier?! Jake had been driving back and forth from Hamilton all week when we could have been much closer to home.  I jumped at that opportunity and he said he'd see what he could do.

The next morning I was frustrated with the night nurse, AGAIN, because she did something without my permission.  That got old real quick, and I realized that I was going to have to be more firm with my nurses.  Adrian wasn't waking up so we thought we might need the feeding tube, but the poor little guy woke up from the insertion and eventually breast-fed.  I felt like such a failure because he kept crying before nursing.  It was so difficult, and I didn't have the stamina to fight with my baby, especially since all those leads connected to monitors gave us no mobility.

At his 9AM feeding he fought and fought, and we were both getting stressed out so finally I gave him a bottle and we were both much happier.  Everyone kept telling me to do what makes us feel better, and I just couldn't fight with my baby anymore.  It was taking a toll on our relationship.  I wanted Adrian to trust me, and if that meant foregoing breast-feeding for us to be happy and less stressed (for now, while in hospital at least), then so be it.  I wanted to breast-feed but I also wanted to be sane.  I knew that the Lord would work it all out in the end.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we still reeling from a rough Saturday.  We discovered that, if he drank what he needed, then he was on a 3 1/2 hour schedule.  The problem was that he got unsettled during the day.  He hadn't been able to calm down much.  I thought if the nurses called me, I may just have to sit by his crib with a book and just hold him.  He seemed like he just wanted some mama love.  The new nurse wanted to top him up with the feeding tube, but I suggested the bottle instead.  He had had three feedings in a row without the tube, and he was waking up from hunger, which was a good sign. 

That night we got word that a space had opened up at Cambridge Memorial, but at that point he had been doing really well.  We were worried that transferring him might mess up his feeding schedule and that he'd revert to the feeding tube again.  The nurse told us that the situation in Cambridge was even better, that he would be in our room with us.  We jumped on that opportunity, and so around 7pm on Sunday evening my little Adrian was packed up in a portable incubator and transferred to CMH. 

We drove as quickly as we could to meet up with him.  As we entered the hospital, our doubts started mounting.  It felt as empty as a tomb, and we got lost trying to find the paediatric ward.  However, Adrian was crying to eat by the time we got there, and I was so encouraged because he just kept eating and eating as the nurse informed us about hospital protocol and such.  We were so grateful, since he wasn't hooked up to any monitors, and he was right beside us in the bassinette, in our own private room.  That was the first time in two weeks that we had him all to ourselves, but it felt so good to have the independence.  It was also difficult because we didn't really know how to soothe him that well.  The nurses always did that so much better.  He didn't wake up for his 1AM feeding, and I was nervous that the nurse was going to suggest a feeding tube, but she was encouraging, and told me to wait until the next time to try again. 

Things were far more relaxed there than they were in Hamilton, and I was starting to wonder what the big fuss had been about after all.  Why was it that he needed to be hooked up to monitors and be on a strict three hour feeding schedule at one hospital and not another?  I wasn't complaining, but just wary. 

His weight went up on Thanksgiving Monday, and we were pleased and praised God (since he hadn't needed a feeding tube since midnight on Saturday night!).  We were prepared to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital, even though we had been praying for about a week to be discharged so we could see family. 

Around 11:30, the doctor came around, and after lots of questions, examination of Adrian, and a few final checks, he told us he didn't see why Adrian needed to stay, but that we could go home.  We were just floored, and all of a sudden I got nervous, like maybe they didn't know what they were doing, and that they shouldn't be sending us home already.  I mean, we JUST left Hamilton the night before!

But we packed up our stuff and left the hospital feeling so overwhelmed.  We drove straight to Jake's extended family Thanksgiving gathering, without telling a soul, and praised the Lord for such a wonderful Thanksgiving miracle. 

I was in a complete state of disbelief, and was so nervous about doing this on our own.  I mean, for two weeks we were surrounded by nurses and hospital staff giving timely and well-directed advice and help.  But we were so thankful to God for the precious little life we could FINALLY bring home.


Vegan Chocolate Pudding Cake...

Gassy babies aren't fun.  That's why some pediatricians recommend that breast-feeding mothers take a sabbatical from dairy products.  It hasn't been easy for Jake and I to figure out meals without dairy, and it's always the products you don't expect that sneak in those modified milk ingredients.  However, I'm happy to go without dairy if it means a happier baby.

The worst for me has been finding desserts that don't have dairy in them. 

>ice cream?
>that sour cream apple pie tart from the neighbour?

Thankfully, one of my friends sent me a link for this vegan chocolate pudding cake.  It's pretty darn amazing, and you wouldn't even know it was made without dairy!  I must admit, it's nice to be back in the kitchen again :)

Not the best picture, but trust me, your taste buds
 will love you!


Adrian's Birth Story: Part Two...

On Wednesday, the day after he was born, this pediatric resident came to take a look at Adrian.  By the time she left, I was bawling.  She had seemed very unsure of how to hold a baby and looked like she was hurting him as she was examining him.  She later came back with some other people and they also had a look at him.  Then on Thursday they came back to tell us that there were some things they were concerned about, and they wanted to take him to the NICU Level 2 Nursery for further monitoring.  I guess during his check that morning he had choked so badly that they had to suction him.  So they took him away and I bawled.  I had no idea what this meant or what was happening.  Finally we got to go over and see him.  (I am convinced that those walks back and forth from the NICU were what sped up my recovery, even though that first week my abdomen was in pure agony!)  And, you can guess, I bawled once again when we got there because he was stripped down to his diaper in an incubator with all these leads hooked up to him.  The doctor told us there were concerns with lack of weight gain, some respiratory issues, feeding issues, and possible genetic abnormalities.  I was in so much shock, and I just wanted Adrian to know that I loved him no matter what.  Jake was so strong, and asked questions with such a level head.  I was grateful that he was there!  It was hard to leave Adrian in the nursery, but we went back a couple of hours later for a feeding.  I met with the lactation consultant, who was such an encouragement to me.

Thus began the strict 3-hour feeding cycle, and it felt so endless.  I had many highs and lows, and Adrian had some good feeds and bad ones.  On Friday I was discharged from the standard ward, and the doctors visited with us again, saying that he exceeded their expectations with breast-feeding and that he was gaining weight.  His respiratory system was starting to look better, too.  The we saw the geneticist who said that the results for genetics would be back in about 1-2 months.  The doctors said that the only thing keeping him in the hospital was his feedings, and as soon as he could feed exclusively orally he could go home. [At that point he had been using a feeding tube for some of his feedings because he wasn't waking up to eat.]  Because I was breast-feeding, the hospital was able to put us up in a bunk room, which was pure solitude after staying in the ward.  It was a blessing to have the amenities of the hospital's Ronald McDonald room, and I will never undervalue that organization again since we benefited so gratefully from it.  After spending the entire weekend with crazy ups and downs, needing to use the feeding tube on many occasions and observing him a little more closely, I noticed that he looked tired and exhausted.  The LC suggested alternating between the feeding tube and breast-feeding, to see if giving him a break in between makes him more receptive to breast-feeding.

Honestly, I had never felt as discouraged as I did the first few breast-feeding sessions that second week.  He was so hungry, but did not want to breast-feed.  He would rear back his head and cry like I was torturing him.  That's when the LC suggested that he was just weary.  So we waited for the doctors to get in touch and to explain what could be going on.  It was frustrating, but I was happy that Mom was able to stay with me for a few days since Jake had to go back to work.

The whole experience was overwhelming, and possibly the toughest thing I've had to face in life.   But we were so looked after by God, and couldn't dismiss the blessing it was to have a son!  We were so absolutely in love with him, and that's what made us push through the tough moments of each day.  I would do anything for Adrian.  It was hard, though, because I felt so trapped in the hospital.  I was just praying that God would grant me patience as I waited on Him to do His good will in His time.  I just wanted Adrian to be healthy, and I needed to stop placing undue expectations on him for how quickly I thought he should be improving.  I felt rejection from Adrian when he didn't want to breastfeed, and then the frustration ensued as a nurse and I would fight with him to get him to eat.  We were both exhausted.

At that point we were asking the Lord for some improvement so that we could go home on Thanksgiving.  Adrian started to improve later on that week, but I still needed to remember to trust God in His timing. Some of the passages that comforted me were Psalm 139:13-16:
For you formed my inward parts;    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]Wonderful are your works;    my soul knows it very well.15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,    the days that were formed for me,    when as yet there was none of them.
and Psalm 104: 27-30 reminded me that it is the LORD who is in control of everything, not me:
These all look to you,    to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed;    when you take away their breath, they die    and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit,[a] they are created,    and you renew the face of the ground.

Jake was so amazing through it all.  I never knew I could function off so little sleep, and my body was hurting from the section, but Jake was there, steady and supportive.  Whenever I voiced my doubts and fears, he said, "Ashleigh, you are a wonderful mother but a terrible God!"

Although it wasn't ideal, we experienced some of Adrian's firsts in the hospital, including the first time we tried to give him a bath.  We had both watched nurses give him baths previously, so we thought we could do it.  The nurse left us to it, but as soon as his little body started sliding around in the tub we both freaked, and called the nurse back over in panicky voices.  We laughed about it later, but felt like major parent fails at the time!
to be continued....

Love, Ashleigh