A Reflection on My Hospital Bag 

I realized a while back that I am not really good at writing “how to” or information-based posts, but having just gone through a stay at Labour and Delivery, I thought I’d document which hospital bag items were useful and which were not, for me in an Ontario (Canada) hospital. I know a couple of my blogger friends will be meeting their babes soon, and hope this helps. Also, this’ll be a handy post to look back on when DW is nearing Mochi’s due date.

At 37 weeks, we started packing our hospital bags. I packed for myself and Dumplin’, and DW packed her own bag. Rather than go through everything we packed, I will just include things we actually used and found helpful.

Let me start off with what we received from the hospital. We gave birth in an older Toronto hospital, which apparently was undergoing major cuts in their L&D department. Instead of receiving unlimited supportive consumable items, we had waiting for us in our private room, a bag full of supplies that were supposed to last us the duration of our stay:

– mesh undies, ginormous pads, and thick pads

– some Pampers and Huggies diapers 

– a little tube of Vaseline

– a small sample of baby wipes

– a set of sample baby wash and lotions from Shoppers Drug Mart

– a box of tissues

We were also provided with a bassinet, several cotton baby gowns, and receiving blankets- which were for hospital use only. I know people often take the receiving blankets but we didn’t want to steal from a department that was so good to us and going through financial cutbacks.

Since our stay was a bit longer than the regular vaginal births, we found that we ran out of supplies quickly. So on our second day, DW collected extras from home: baby wipes, diapers, Depends for me, and coconut oil for Dumplin’s dry skin.

Partner’s bag:

DW packed herself an extra change of undergarments and lounging clothes- t-shirts and sweatpants, cozy socks. 

My hospital bag had a lot more stuff:

– 1 change of clothes for me: loose yoga pants (depending on whether you’re having a vag or section birth, you want to b mindful of where the waist of your pants sits. For example, right now I can’t wear any pants that sit low, because of my incision), a t-shirt, underwear and bra, a cozy pair of socks (sufficient) 

– elastic non-slip headbands to keep your hair out of your face (they also helped me look less dishevelled  when we had visitors)

– Crocs were awesome for me. I could wear them even though my feet swelled up unbelievably, and could be worn in the shower if I wanted, and were slip in, so I didn’t have to bend over to do them up

– refillable water bottles and electrolyte drinks (I got really thirsty during the induction); Gatorade type bottles were perfect because I could drink from them lying down and not spill.

– toiletries for both of us (I never ended up showering at the hospital, so toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, and lip balm were sufficient for us)

– lip balm… I repeat… Lip balm! Pack a couple of extras too. 

– face towel (very useful- as during labour and during recovery I felt so nasty (but couldn’t wash my own face) that I asked DW to sponge wash my face for me. It was amazing.

– 2 full outfits for Dumplin’: sleeper, hat, scratch mitts- one in NB size, and the other in 0-3 months size (he ended up being too long for the NB size sleeper, so we’re glad we packed both)

– phone chargers

– battery operated tealights (these were originally packed to establish a nice ambiance for my L&D experience, but ended up being really helpful in recovery because our private room lights were so bright, so it was nice to be able to maintain a dimmer light level when checking on the baby at night and breastfeeding. 

– Fleece blanket to tuck over Dumplin’ in his car seat 

  

Things we had to grab from home:

– travel pillow and fleece blanket for DW (partners can sleep on a pull out chair, but they’re not provided with anything to keep warm or comfortable)

– a mini cooler with food (DW made sandwiches which were handy in the middle of the night when there was no food service. The food kept well because she was continuously replenishing the ice.) Also find out if your ward has a communal fridge. Ours did, so DW also stored meals that my mom had made for us in there and microwaved them when we wanted to eat.

The one item I wish we had packed:

– a light robe or long cardigan (I basically went naked the entire time aside from my sexy mesh underwear + monster pad and hospital gown. I wish I had packed my robe because it would’ve made transitioning to nursing easier, and would’ve protected my modesty a bit when nurses and midwives were popping in and out of my room all of the time. My incision, and catheter made it impossible for me to wear pants.)

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It Wasn’t a Kidney Stone… Dumplin’s Birth Story 

Dumplin’ is sun tanning with my mom right now, so I have a little time to post. 

Today he would’ve been 39 weeks gestation, and I’m sad that I don’t have a bump photo capturing our last moments being physically bound to each other at 38 weeks 2 days. But things kinda happened really quickly…. And unexpectantly.

So you remember that flank pain that confused the bejesus out of all of my health care providers? First we thought back labour, then we thought posterior presentation, then on Wednesday night I thought kidney stone. Well Thursday morning the pain changed from being only at night and only when lying down to pretty much all positions and all the time without a break. I was in such agony that I had DW take me to the hospital, where the L&D OB on call just gave me morphine, did an ultrasound of my kidney, and then sent me home with a prescription for oxycodone and told me to come back if the pain got worse. Overnight the pain continued to be unrelenting, and did get worse. My mom flew in at 7am Friday morning, and I couldn’t drive to pick her up. So she took a cab, and then had a nap at our house until she woke up to me wailing at the top of my lungs and puking all over the top of the toilet… Red from all the Gatorade I had been trying to drink to stay hydrated. 

I asked her to take me to the hospital, where a different OB took a look at the ultrasound results which found that my left kidney was dilated (swollen), and that it suggests that something was occluding (cutting off) it’s drainage- but that there was no identifiable kidney stone. The OB hypothesized that maybe the obstruction was Dumplin’ himself- that he was squishing my ureter and cutting off the drainage from my kidney. She did a vaginal check- I was already quite effaced, and about 2 cm dilated, so she figured that with the pain getting worse, and with Dumplin’ already being term, maybe it was time to do a stretch and sweep and break my water. So I consented, and off we were….

I called DW at work, and she met us at the hospital after grabbing a few things from home. I called her dad and he drove 2 hours to stay at our home with our dogs.

Then over the next 21 hours I was induced to 10cm, while hooked up to an epidural and given occasional shots of some “super strength” anaesthetic not usually given for L&D, but for the most extreme cases of pain. The anasthesiologist said he only gives this med about once a year. “Winner winner chicken dinner” I thought, “Lucky fucking me”.

Then it was 2 hours of pushing, which yielded no progress. Dumplin’ stayed at a station 0 the whole time, despite excellent pushing, so they figured something was wrong with his positioning, and my midwives consulted with the OB about maybe doing a vacuum or forceps delivery. This next OB (there had been 2 already because I had been there so long) did a vaginal exam to see how far up Dumplin’ was and said that he was too far up to get out via forceps or vacuum, and that this would need to be a c-section. Concurrently, Dumplin’s baseline heart rate was climbing, as he was becoming distressed with the pitocin.

So in a matter of minutes, consents were signed, I was moved to the OR, was prepped and strapped to the operating table which always freaks me out because it’s like being strapped to a cross, and I was cut open. 

They didn’t let DW into the OR until they had already started cutting into me, so there were a few minutes where I was alone behind that blue sheet, scared as hell. But then there was a hand holding my right hand, which was strapped down, and I looked over to see my midwife and her consoling eyes. 

Soon, DW was beside me, holding my left hand and then my midwife disappeared to the other side of the blue curtain. 

Within seconds, I heard the OB and nurses exclaim “my goodness it’s gotta be a 10 pounder!”, and tears ran down my face as I heard Dumplin’s first cries. 

The second midwife then appeared, showing me Dumplin’ for a split second, and then asked DW to come with her and the baby. They measured (53cm or 21.5inches long) and weighed (8lbs5.6oz) him, did his APGAR (9/9). DW also got to do skin to skin with him, and they brought him over so I could be cheek to cheek with him as they sewed me up.

In the recovery room, I was allowed to do skin to skin with him and was encouraged to start him latching on. Dumplin’ was a pro! Over the next two hours, we were moved to our private room, where we had a mandatory 48 hour stay. 

More on our stay and my feelings about everything that went down over that period of four days at the hospital in my next post. There’s an adorable screaming baby that beckons…

  

Dumplin’: 38 Weeks Gestation- A Quick Update

Hi Friends. Things continue to be rough, with no end in sight, in the mamaetmaman household. I am finding it difficult to blog for long periods of time due to the ongoing discomfort, but I thought I’d give you an update.

So every night since Sunday night, I’ve been experiencing this excruciating pain originating from my left flank region, which travels down my back and wraps around to the left side of my belly. The pain is dull when it’s not active, but when it is active, it feels like squeezing and stabbing at the same time. The pain becomes active when I lay down- very quickly escalating if I lay on my left side (side of the pain), and flat on my back (it almost feels swollen on that side), and less quickly escalating but still escalating if I lay on my right side. Rarely, the pain becomes active when I’m sitting, and in fact is often alleviated before it becomes very active by sitting up and standing. Once the pain is active, there’s nothing that alleviates it- it just plays out for lengths of time varying from 3-7 minutes. The time in between active sessions varies greatly from 3 minutes to many hours, but more frequent at night because of the laying down aspect.

Now, on Tuesday, the pain was so bad that I decided it was not safe for me to drive to my midwife appointment, so the on-call midwife came over to do an assessment at our home. She checked my cervix for dilation- cervix was still posterior, intact but softened, and opened only to about 1cm. So I wasn’t in active labour. She listened to Dumplin’s heart rate, which was normal. She didnt know what was causing these back contractions, and thought that maybe it was from tight muscles, which made me feel very discouraged and dismissed. I am a chiropractor. I know what a pulled or tight muscle feels like, and this on-and-off intermittent pain pattern doesn’t make sense. She then told me to get some Ibuprofen (and some Rantidine for the stomach effects of Ibuprofen), and proceeded to pack up. 

That same day, I had a massage with a doula/midwife who also assessed me, and thought it could be back labour. She guided me through three contractions as they came on while we were working through some muscles in my back. My muscles weren’t particularly tight, and she felt and saw my uterus contract over Dumplin’ when I was having an active back moment. 

Then I had a chiropractor colleague come over and also assess and treat me. Nothing remarkable about my musculoskeletal system. We also did some induction acupuncture. 

The next couple of days have followed the same kind of pattern: me moaning and crying several times throughout the night due to these back contractions. Me trying different sleeping positions and failing to find one that works, and trying to sleep upright in a chair because it hurts less. Overall cumulative nighttime sleep is about 2 hours. During the day, I am a lot more comfortable because I’m standing and walking, and NOT laying down. I’m even able to go on walks with DW and the dogs. 

On Wednesday I had a repeat ultrasound, and it turns out that Dumplin’s amniotic fluid has increased a bit (which is great), and that he is no longer left-occiput-anterior, but is now exactly occiput posterior or “sunny side up” (which sucks). So I’ve been doing some recommended exercises from Spinning Babies, in hopes of turning him again. 

Last night, night four of no sleep, I fell asleep sitting up in a couch chair, but woke up to a terrible squeezing chest pain and shortness of breath. It scared the bejesus outta me, and made me want to go to the hospital emergency to be checked out. I woke up DW, told her I wanted to go to the ER, and we talked out the different ways that this could play out. We decided that today, we’d get a bean bag chair for me to create into a wedge to help me sleep upright, and if the back and chest pain persisted tomorrow night, that we’d then go to the ER. Why the ER? Because I want some answers. I want to know if these are back contractions, kidney stones, or something else. Having unexplained pain of this calibre is not good for me or for Dumplin’. To be honest, if they offered me a c-section, I’d happily take it right now. To hell with my home birth plan- I’m too tired and out of patience to fight anymore.

So right now, the four days and nights of no sleep and excruciating unexplainable pain has me at my wit’s end. All I want to do at 38 weeks pregnant is lie down and rest, and I can’t even do that. 

Back Labour?

Last night was a sleepless one in the mamaetmaman household. Starting last Tuesday, I noticed a slight tight spot in my left quadratus lumborum muscle during a pregnancy massage I was receiving. Since then, the tightness has morphed into a dull ache in my left lower back for a couple of days, but not constant- it comes and goes. Yesterday during the day, I noticed it linger for 20-30 minutes then go away for a couple of hours, and then start up again for 20-30 minutes, and then go away again. 

But last night- things changed.

Last night, the achy tightening became a searing pain in my left-sided lower back that also reached forward and caused a debilitating squeezing pain in my left belly. Each “contraction” lasted about 4-5 minutes, and then backed off for and irregular period of time- sometimes 9 minutes, sometimes an hour, but mostly in 15 minute intervals. 

I was moaning, wimpering, crying my eyes out. I tried bouncing on my exercise ball, leaning forward on the bed and swaying my hips, squatting, cat-cow on all fours, and DW did some counter-pressure and deep massage on my back and sacrum. The positional changes helped a little bit, but mostly with distracting from the pain. DW’s counter-pressure helped a lot, some of the time. The pain ranged in intensity, but was always between an 7-9/10 on my perceived pain scale. I puked twice from the pain.

We were so tired that I’m between contractions, we’d get back into bed and try to catch some zzz’s. But with 15 minute intervals between contractions, you can imagine how much sleep we really got. 

Also- the contractions are much worse when I’m laying down (on my sides- I don’t lay on my back anymore). When I’m standing, they don’t seem to start. But it’s so hard because I’m so tired from propping myself up and changing positions, that all I want to do is lay down and sleep. 

We finished packing up some last pieces for our hospital bag (mostly clothes because I’m wearing the same 3 Lululemon pants pretty much everyday), and DW has been working on lesson plans to leave for th substitute teachers if she has to take tomorrow off work. 

I’m trying to keep busy by finishing up some items on my “To Do” list. First thing is padsicles. 

It feels like Dumplin’s birth is gonna happen soon. I wasn’t anticipating this back labour though, because at last check, baby boy was left occiput anterior, and not in a typical position to cause back labour. I’ve read that back labour can happen regardless of position though. I’m not sure what to expect of its progression. I’m trying to time the contractions but they’re not showing any progression. I haven’t called the midwives yet because of this. But last night, all the Hypnobirthing breathing and visualizations went out the window, and I was wishing for an epidural. My own moaning and breathing cadence seemed to calm me a bit, but totally freaked DW out because they were sounds of pain. 

Having been sitting up and standing for a while now, I haven’t had any back labour, so who knows where this is going. All I know is that something is happening, and all I wanna do is sleep!

Update on My Mom’s Visit

Thank you so much for all of your comments, suggestions, and advice. I’m usually such a passive person, so it’s hard for me to “impose” on other people, even when it really would make a positive difference for me. But your comments, shared experiences, and advice really gave me the pep talk that I needed.

So I turned to my sister, and we talked out some epidemiology. Basically, if my mom has a cold, she’s contagious for about 5 days after symptoms begin. If she has a flu, it’s about 7 days. Since we don’t know what she has, we figured that she’s contagious for 7 days from the onset of her symptoms. 

My mom became symptomatic on Thursday, so she’d potentially be highly contagious until this coming Thursday. But she’s supposed to arrive tomorrow morning, exposing us to this virus for about four days. 

So then I called my mom.

I asked her how she was feeling, and expressed concern over her being sick and us being immunocompromised. She asked if maybe there was a motel or somewhere she could stay for the first few days until she’s better, and  in a timid little voice, I asked her if maybe she’d be willing to postpone her flight until Friday. [Keep in mind that her even coming to visit me is a BIG DEAL, and in the past has not been the most involved mother.] 

Silence.

Apparently she had already checked in for her flight. 

[Shit.]

So I asked if it would still be possible to cancel her flight and book for Friday instead. I offered to pay any penalty and difference incurred. She said “Okay” and that she’d call me back.

An hour an a half later, she calls me and apparently she was able to cancel her flight and book for Friday. Air Canada charged her $300 for the change. 

[Phew. Thank goodness! $300 is well worth the peace of mind.]

I feel really guilty for asking her to do all of this, especially since apparently she was all packed and ready to go (her flight was supposed to leave late tonight). Plus, she’s jet-lagged and sick. But, I know that she was willing to do all of it because not doing so would put us (and potentially Dumplin’) at risk. 

Now she gets to stay home for a couple of days, and recover in the comfort of her own home- which is what I would prefer if I were feeling as sick as she sounds. 

Phew. Huge weight off my shoulders. Thank you so much for all of your comments. You gave me the balls to put my family first- above my own fear of letting other people down. 

Now to make sure my MIL doesn’t come back sick from her Caribbean cruise in two weeks…..

Seriously! As a bit of a wanderlust myself, I’m jealous of everyone around me travelling! 

Ugh, Another Thing to Worry About?

So my mother is flying in to visit and stay with us tomorrow morning for three weeks. The idea is that she’ll help me with preparing some frozen meals, Traditional Chinese Post-Partum nourishing soups, and maybe even be around for when Dumplin’s born. She leaves on his due date though, because she still works, and this is all the time she could take off.

I have a complex and challenging relationship with my mother, but we won’t get into that today.

Today, we’re gonna talk about something that has kept me up all night, stressed.

So my mother has family in Asia, and she likes to travel, so for the three weeks before coming to visit us, she’s been visiting family in Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Lovely tropical places right? Yeah, except that she got diarrhea in each country, one of which was of an amoebic variety, and now has an unidentified respiratory illness, that has her feeling like crap and coughing like crazy. She’s now been home in Vancouver since yesterday, but did I mention that she arrives here tomorrow morning? 

So this is what stresses me out:

unidentified, respiratory infection from ASIA

– transmission of this virus (most respiratory illnesses are viral) is likely airborne and through respiratory secretions (sneezing/running nose on hands)

– she just got this “cold” so she is not likely on the other side of it yet, so she’s still coming here very sick and likely contagious

DW is almost through her first trimester, and on immunosuppressants 

Dumplin’ could arrive any time and will be living in a house where she’s been coughing and touching things 

– Dumplin’s going to be a vulnerable newborn fresh out of the womb

– I can’t ask her not to come visit

Now, I do plan to breastfeed, so if I’m exposed to her cold before he arrives, hopefully I will develop some immunity to it that I can pass on to him. But being an Asian cold, it’s unlikely to be a strain that I’ve ever been exposed to, and who knows how my body will react to exposure to it.

Now my mom will be fine with washing her hands often and being careful to cover her mouth when she coughs, but I just feel really paranoid about her being sick and being in our house for three weeks when we have a baby on the way. 

Many new moms in my online due date clubs have sent out general “etiquette” to friends and family over who may and may not visit their newborns before their first shots, and people who are sick are definitely at the top of their “no visit” list. Like I said, I can’t turn my mother away, so really, what I need is some reassurance that everything will be okay, and maybe some positive stories about how the magical powers of breast milk will prevent Dumplin’ from getting sick.

Thanks! 

Dumplin’ and Mochi: 37 Weeks and 11.5 Weeks Gestation 

The past couple of days have been a rollercoaster of emotions and excitement. 90% good, 10% not so good. 

Both DW and I had midwife appointments on Tuesday– at different clinics because I couldn’t get in with the midwives in our municipality. 

– my appointment went well. Dumplin’ was measuring 38 weeks, and the midwife mentioned that if he continues to keep measuring so much ahead, that I may need to be induced, but that we’d wait to see what the ultrasound says.

– DW’s appointment was fantastic!! After the typical long history and information gathering, we got to hear Mochi’s heartbeat on the Doppler!!!! Some of you might not think that this is a big deal, but after all of the miscarriages, it’s such amazing reassurance to know that there’s a wee little fetus in there, with a heart that is thumping away.

On Wednesday, we both had ultrasounds, again, in different cities. Mine was in the morning, and went well. It was a biophysical profile and a growth scan, to estimate how big Dumplin’ was at 36 weeks 5 days… And well folks, he’s huge! He’s already just about 8lbs, putting him at the 93rd percentile for weight, and equivalent to 39w4d. I didn’t get the results of his biophysical profile until today… But more on that later. He’s dropped nice and low, so low that the technologist could barely get his head measurements because of it being so low in my pelvis. His face is facing my right hip, his back is on my left side, and his knees and feet are up near my right ribs. Here’s a shot of Dumplin’s chubby face resting on his chubby fist:

  
– Mochi’s ultrasound went well too. He/she is measuring almost a week ahead, has all four limbs, and showed off his/her rolling skills and flailing arms. Mochi’s NT measurement was 1.2mm, and CRL was 5.7cm. I only got to see Mochi at the end of the session, but I could tell it was good news because DW was just beaming! Here’s a photo of Mochi, at 11w3d:

  
And a comparison of Mochi and Dumplin’ at around the same gestational age:

  
Today, I received a stressful phone call from my midwives about Dumplin’s biophysical profile. Apparently his amniotic fluid is really low. The midwife wanted me to do a repeat ultrasound ASAP, and then called me back because she realized my ultrasound was just yesterday, so asked me to repeat it next Wednesday instead. We are at risk of oligohydramnios, which means a consult (and transfer of care) with an OB and early induction. Since Dumplin’ is already 37 weeks, the midwife says he can safely come out anytime now. So now I wait until Wednesday’s ultrasound, and then Thursday for the results. The normal range for amniotic fluid is from 5-25, and mine is at 8. The midwife says if the level goes down at all, then we have a problem. This makes me wonder- if my level seems to be the cut off, why not just arrange for the consult with the OB now? Anyways, I’ve been feeling really sad and worried about Dumplin’. I also feel guilty that my body doesn’t seem to be providing him with an optimal environment right now. This wait is gonna kill me! I guess this partially explains how I’m hiding an 8lb baby in this bump:

  
Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. While I’m excited that we might meet Dumplin’ as soon as the end of next week, I just want what’s best and most safe for our little boy. And keep cheering for Mochi to continue growing and developing into his/her awesome self!

Thanks friends! Love to you all.