Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May 31, 2006 - Sinking deeper into mommyhood...

With each passing day, I'm more and more Mommy.  Spit-up on my pajamas, the scent of rubbing alcohol on my hands, the distinct pleasure in giving my baby a bath (and laughing as she tries to balance herself with my assistance in the bathtub)... concern for her newborn acne (which is supposed to clear up on its own)... asking myself why she cries for milk every hour now instead of every 3 or 4... how the lack of sleep doesn't seem to enervate me...

It's strange, but these are things that I would not be willing to put myself through except for my own child.  I guess it's nature's way of hardwiring, making sure that my child survives, making sure there's someone to care for her in the cruel world. 

Then again, I just take one look at her gorgeous face.  That's enough of a reason for me to keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

May 30, 2006 - Alone Time

Almost 1:30 in the morning... husband and daughter are fast asleep... this is my time to be alone.

For as long as I can remember, I LOVED the late nights/early mornings I would spend by myself.  Be it with my nose in a good book, yarn wrapped around my fingers, or tapping away at my computer.  This was the quiet time that I would spend without having to converse... or interact... or think about anyone else but me.  I know it sounds selfish, but this is what keeps me from going insane.  My career requires me to be constantly surrounded by people, so I fight for time without anyone around.

I know that I should rest (I received this admonition from a friend not too long ago), now that there's a baby in the picture.  Having said that however, even a few minutes of "me time" is healthy.  The first few days with the baby, we were constantly surrounded by nurses, visitors, more nurses, my mother (who drove me to tears and near insanity during our hospital stay), doctors, etc.  Once we got home, it was Rob and me, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The littlest thing would irritate me (he left expressed breast milk out of the fridge... twice... and those few ounces were difficult to get), to the point that he'd get the silent treatment and a dirty look.  Or I'd hide in the bathroom and clean just to avoid getting really angry.  And you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Alone time... when the only voice you hear is your own... is absolutely necessary.  It's that time that readies me for when I have to be with people again.

Friday, May 26, 2006

May 26, 2006 - More on Breastfeeding

It's been one week and three days since Nicole was born... one week and three days since I attempted breastfeeding... nearly one week after my emotional breakdown at 3 AM from the pain of a recovering episiotomy, painful nipples, and the frustration at not being able to get the breastfeeding right.  Talk about pain that curls your toes... sore nipples... pain that just wouldn't go away.  I came so close to feeding my baby formula full time, but after much encouragement and research, I kept at it, and so far we're doing beautifully.

The La Leche League website was one that I visited to find some advice on breastfeeding, as well as Googled many others.  I also emailed girlfriends for how they were able to do it, and I received plenty of practical hints.  Here therefore is an amalgamation of what I've gathered from them.

1.  RELAX.  You don't want to be anxious or tense beforehand.  Close your eyes, take deep breaths, put your feet up... if you need to, transport yourself to a more zen place.  Nursing or pumping will be much, much easier.  Keep all distractions at bay (turn off the TV, play some relaxing music), as it may affect your milk flow.

2.  BE PATIENT.  Latching on or learning how to pump doesn't come easily, as natural as it's supposed to be.  The techniques take much patience (I learned this the hard way).  It's very easy to go head first into frustration and disappointment, but I was told to hang on.  So I did.  Now it's almost funny whenever Nicole latches on (she has as much to learn as I do, and she's a quick learner).  It gets easier with each time.  And she nurses 8-12 times a day (and I pump a few times in between nursings).

3.  OPEN WIDE.  I mean the baby!  If she sucks on only the nipple, you're in for monumental, toe-curling, non-stop cursing at the world pain.  Not discomfort... PAIN!!!  She has to open her mouth wide, allowing much of the aureole to be suckled on.  Her chin should be pressed against the breast, the lower lip not pursed, but out.  It's not supposed to hurt.

4.  DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS.  Have a big glass of water on standby to sip on as you're nursing.  You need fluids to make fluids.  One friend advised me to drink something warm every time I nurse to make the milk flow freely.  Another recommended a half bottle a day of Cerveza Negra.  A universal recommendation: malunggay pills.  I swear by them, as well as malunggay leaves in tinola or munggo.

5.  TUMMY TO TUMMY!  Learn how to properly position the baby in relation to your body... let's say she'll nurse on your right breast.  Her left arm should embrace you, under your right arm.  Support her body with your left hand and arm, and present the breast with your right.  Bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby.  Right now, it's hilarious over here trying to get the timing right.  Nicole is one squirmy little mogwai, her arms flailing everywhere.  But she does know how to latch on now, her mouth open wide, ready to receive.  And boy, she is a vacuum.

6.  LANOLIN.  This has been my boobie-saver.  After each nursing or pumping, wash your hands well.  Hand express a little breast milk and rub all over the nipple and aureole.  Allow to air dry.  Afterwards, apply a little lanolin ointment.  It keeps me soft and protects me from cracking and soreness.

7.  HOLD THE SOAP!  When cleaning the breasts, soap isn't necessary, as well as lotions and creams.  Soap can dry the skin, and you wanna keep those aureoles moisturized.

That's all I can think of right now... I wonder what would happen if 'Day decided to breastfeed... Caramel Macchiatto, anyone?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

May 25, 2005 - Hard drive update

Remember my f-d up hard drive?  Well, ALL the data from it has been recovered.  Xyon Systems and Services ROCKS!!!  And delivered to my doorstep too (I guess my having just had a baby was reason enough for the owner to make the trip). 

Thank goodness I didn't send my drive away to the US for service.  Data recovery there is just way too expensive.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

May 24, 2006 - A breast pump that works

Gentlemen, please don't try this.  Ever.  Unless of course you're just a glutton for punishment.

Introducing the Avent ISIS manual breast pump.  I asked a girlfriend of mine to buy this on my behalf, as I was having trouble with the first pump I bought, the Medela Mini Electric Plus.  You'd think that the manual wouldn't perform as well as the electric, but in this case, the manual wins.  And wins with flying colors.

I first tried using this in the hospital, but for some reason I couldn't get suction.  I then took another chance, and purchased this for when I travel or need to relieve engorgement (oh man, the milk is really coming in now) in a small, noiseless, easy to operate package.  I assembled it according to the enclosed manual, and voila!  I was able to pump out more milk today with this pump than I ever did with the electric pump in the same time frame, and now there's enough milk in the fridge for when I decide to make lakwatsa or sleep a few extra hours while either Rob or the yaya feeds her.  For the last 2 days, Nicole has been on breast milk exclusively, and that makes me feel at peace.  It's good to know that I'm now able to provide her with what she needs.

The first week is over... friends of ours have said that the first 12 weeks are tough, and that once we weather that, we're good.  Here's to 11 more weeks then of toughing it out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

May 23, 2006 - The First Week

Nicole is 1 week old today!!!

Okay, to continue my breastfeeding journal... hey, I'd better have an outlet through which I can vent out my frustrations with the process of getting to the point of comfort and painless feeding.  Right now, I'm not there yet, but I am a very patient woman.

I've gotten tons of advice from my girlfriends and relatives who have gone through this before, and knowing that I'm not alone is more than helpful... it's half the battle.  A little knowledge went a long way: a warm cloth over the breast to aid with engorgement, a little expressed breast milk can heal sore nipples (I put some lanolin ointment in addition to that), different holds, waiting for a wide mouth for a proper latch, staying relaxed while breastfeeding... all that and more. 

My friends have all said, things will get easier.  They're getting easier already.  I'm not one to shirk from a challenge, and this is definitely one that will be conquered.  Amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

May 23, 2006 - Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......

She's fast asleep after being breastfed (the latch is getting better... I guess at this point I just have to let my nipples "mature").  More like comatose.  Such a difference from her first night at home, but I'm sure there will be more sleepless nights to come.  I'm just enjoying each peaceful evening whenever I can have them.

Nicole is the cutest baby.  I was telling Rob tonight that before you have your own baby, all babies are beautiful and cute, but once you have your own, no one else's compares.  I guess that's parenthood, and we are loving it!  So far. 

She's too cute... we might have to send her to a convent until she's 35.  What do you think?

(Oh, the ear piercing poll... Rob and I have decided to let her choose when her ears will be pierced.  She can also have the responsibility of taking care of things herself.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

May 21, 2006 - Post All-Nighter

Now how can you resist that, in spite of a rough night?

May 21, 2006 - Ahhhhhhhhh.......

She's fast asleep after a couple of good burps.  Thank God.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

May 21, 2006 - Our first all-nighter

Rob is now fast asleep while I'm awake at 5:46 am hand expressing breast milk.  My breast pump for some reason isn't working as well as I would have liked, which is a shame.  I'm engorged up the wazoo, and am desperate for relief (if you have any advice to share, kindly send it my way).

Nicole cried... and cried... and cried.  This little girl has a healthy (very!) set of lungs, which made us feel really helpless.  One theory is that she may not be digesting my breast milk very well (I had pizza and CPK's bbq chicken salad which has cheese in it).  The dairy in my last meal may be the culprit (Rob's lactose intolerant, so I'm thinking Nicole may have gotten that from him).  So I'm going to eliminate the dairy from my diet in the hopes that she'll be able to tolerate my milk.  That's really the way we want to go.  Tonight though we had to do formula, for reasons of digestion and that she hasn't been able to latch on very well at all.  My nipples are sore and really painful (so much so that I've been unable to wear anything from the waist up the whole night).  I've put some lanolin on them for relief, and I think it's working.

Okay, she's crying again... gotta see what's up.

May 20, 2006 - May I COLOSTRUM you?


Tonight was the first night that my breasts were truly operational.  The fleshy part of my breasts felt more and more like there were silicon implants in there... one press and a thick, butter-creamy liquid came out of me.  Out of curiosity I tasted it, and it's so sweet!  Yes!  I can feed the world (and her name is Nicole)!

Just thought I'd share my amazement at nature and what it can do.  Awesome.  Very awesome.

May 19, 2006 - My First Tanning Bed

I'm trying to just see the humor in all this...

Anyway, we were supposed to bring Nic home on Thursday, but it's now coming up to Saturday morning and we're still in the hospital.  Nic's pediatrician looked in on her Thursday morning, and along with the residents who were making rounds with him, observed that she had a slightly yellow tinge on her.  He said it was starvation jaundice, which is when her body is destroying the blood cells that she no longer needs, now that she's out of the womb.  The result is bilirubin, which is giving her that slightly yellow tint.  It's benign, nothing of consequence, but just to be on the safe side, she's now undergoing phototherapy to get the bilirubin out of her system.  The bilirubin count at the moment is 12, and she needs to get it down to 10.

So us new parents have had an emotional few days, crying far more than we ever did together... but the rational side of me knows that she's going to be fine, and that we're just following the doctor's orders. 

She's also had blood drawn more times in the last few days than I've had in the last three months.  Newborn screening and the bilirubin testing.  She has one more blood test (hopefully) to take (again for bilirubin testing) before she can go home. 

I need a drink and a good laugh.

I'm hoping we can take her home tomorrow... it's enough going through sleepless nights figuring her out without having to go through anything more.  Please say a prayer that the phototherapy works and that she'll be able to spend the weekend in her own bed.

On a side note, thanks, 'Day for the boob tools.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May 17, 2006 - Welcome, Little Angel!

Nicole Beverly Chien, born on May 16, 2006, weighing in at 6 lbs., 10 ozs., and measuring 19 inches.  She's a cutie, with pink cheeks and a sweet disposition.  But we may have to reassess that in 24-48 hours.  I'm still in the hospital... just a little past 5 am, blogging.  Nicole is fast asleep.

To be quite honest, the process of birthing wasn't as traumatic as I thought, nor as stressful, I'll have to admit.

From the onset of the first contraction at 11:53 pm on Monday, I had a feeling this was not going to be a dry run.  I called my doctor at 12:30 am, and then again one hour later, and we all agreed to meet up at the hospital.  I had my contractions more and more regularly (Rob timed everything), and up until around 4:30, I was able to tolerate the discomfort.  By around 5 am, that discomfort turned to pain, and I had to hold (more like mangle) Rob's hand with each contraction and breathe deeply.  When my doctor saw that I was in pain, she asked if I wanted my epidural already, since the anesthesiologist that she liked had just arrived and would be ready to give that to me.  From the Triage Room, I was then moved to Birthing Room 3, where I had a few more contractions before Dr. Gui (okay, he's AWESOME!!!) came in to prepare me for my epidural.  Once the last contraction had passed, I was put into position, shaped like a C with my back to the edge of the bed.  At 6:15, the epidural catheter was in and I was in a goooooooood place.  I was texting people, keeping everyone abreast of what was going on.  The next contraction came and went, and I didn't feel a thing.  Except for one episode where I started to see stars because my blood pressure dropped (I had to be given a drug to raise my pressure again), life was fantastic.  Ah, back to normalcy.  I was able to grab an hour's worth of sleep while holding Rob's hand as he lay his head on a pillow by my legs.  I would need the rest for the hard work that was to come.

At around 11-something (I wasn't looking at the clock, but our birthing video had the Mavericks-Spurs game score on... I'll have to check that) I was fully dilated, and with each contraction I was instructed to push.  My singing support was going to come in handy!  I was told to take a deep breath, hold, and push.  Man, my head felt like it was about to explode!  But with each push, Nicole came further down the birth canal, closer to the bigger world.  Rob caught the whole thing on video (but from a very discreet angle).

Closer and closer to her popping out, her head would be crowning, but she wouldn't pop.  My doctor had to, unfortunately, cut my perineum just enough for her to squeeze through.  I had no idea she did that.  Again, I had an awesome anesthesiologist.  My pediatrician (as in, MY pediatrician who's now Nicole's) was there as well, one of the biggest cheerleaders in the room.  One more big push, everyone said... two nurses on my belly ready to bear down on me, to aid my pushing the baby out.  And push we all did, and then, after much pushing from my and the nurses, out she popped!  12:12 pm, Spurs and Mavs were tied at 96-96.  I could feel her body slipping out of me quickly, but no pain.  Once she was out, she cried SOOOOOOOOOO LOUD!!!  Lungs were working!  And at first sight, I fell in love, she was the most gorgeous thing I'd ever seen.  Measurements were then taken of her, footprints for the official documents and her baby book were stamped, and she was brought to the huggery to be cleaned up.  I stayed in the delivery room an extra couple of hours for the doctor to clean up my insides of blood clots and remains of membrane from my water bag, and stitch me up where I was cut.  After the doctor left, Rob and I started making phone calls to family in the US to deliver the news.  At a little past 2:30, we headed upstairs to our private room.  The baby was clean, dry and sound asleep.  At last, we could settle in.

Now it's time for me to get some sleep... I was able to get a few hours of rest earlier tonight... was trying to breastfeed but haven't been very successful (not to worry, I'm giving myself time before I throw in the towel).  I should be able to express soon.  Maybe in a few days, I'll be able to give my milk away.  I'll be able to feed the world!

5:30 am, May 17.  Time for this mommy to call it a night.  Nicole's still sleeping peacefully... I'd better take advantage of that.

Monday, May 15, 2006

May 15, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

Both Rob and I had a craving today for our favorite dish at a local Korean restaurant, but unfortunately it was closed.  I guess my "pregnancy cravings" are under control.  No having to get up at 2 AM for pickles and ice cream (not that we ever did that).

The baby's still moving and active, which is a good sign.  We also have "Bloody Show, Part Deux" going on, but my doctor's telling me to watch for contractions and pain.  Well, as far as that's concerned, I'm just feeling more pressure headed south, but nothing I'd call painful.  I've never done this before, so who knows.  Maybe I'll get a major backache in the middle of the night or early tomorrow morning.  Statistically (according to a website I checked out... can't remember which), Tuesday is the day that most babies are born.  And tomorrow's Tuesday.  Perhaps that'll be my lucky day.

I'm feeling more fatigue now as the days pass... I've been tired and sleepy more and more, hence the need for my afternoon naps.  If anything, the baby's absence means that I can actually store up on sleep before she arrives, because once she does, I'll never know the meaning of that again.  Sleep?  Wat's dat?

My due date is this Friday, May 19.  Here's hoping she's here before then.  If not, then we wait one more week, at which point we'll get her out whether she likes it or not.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

May 14, 2006 - Anime to the Max


Last night I got to see Voltes V Evolution (why Evolution, I have no idea... it's the exact same cartoon from the 70's).  More than anything, I was curious... curious to see if the new dubbed version in Tagalog (let me preface this by saying that anime in Tagalog has always made me feel a bit weird) would live up to my expectations.  And, with perhaps one or two exceptions, it did.  I was generally impressed with the voice actors that Hero TV picked to play the beloved and reviled characters, so I know that I'll be staying tuned to see how the rest of the episodes turn out.

Although Voltes V is my ultimate favorite anime, there are other series that deserve serious praise for their imagination, drama and animation technique.  Series like Witch Hunter Robin, Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Detective Conan, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex... plus classics like Mazinger Z and Daimos.  I got 2 sets of DVDs of Mazinger not too long ago, one for myself and another for my brother. 

I'm sure that if I stayed tuned long enough to Animax or Hero TV, I'll find even more cartoons to fall in love with.  I wonder now if the little one will appreciate that type of entertainment as much as I do, or go in a different direction altogether.  Maybe she'll just think her mom is weird.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

May 13, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

It's the weekend... and nothing's happened yet, which I'm actually happy about.  There's a storm right now, and I don't know that I'd wish to give birth in the midst of this.  It might impede our progress to the hospital.  Then again, we do have an SUV.  We'll be able to brave the floodwaters and debris that will undoubtedly be littering the roadways.

The village where we live is already showing signs of the strong winds and heavy rains that pummelled us last night.  Tree limbs, leaves, miscellaneous pieces of trash strewn on the streets... maintenance men in yellow raincoats hustling to clean things up... some houses with electricity, some without (like ours this morning... the power came back at around 1 pm).  I guess it's all part and parcel of living in Manila.  We ate breakfast out today and strolled in the mall until we felt it was time to go home.  I then changed back into my pajamas and settled in for a nice nap.  I'd better store up on my sleep; once Nicole arrives, I'll never know what that is again.

Rob's a few feet away, nursing an old whiplash injury and playing a video game.  I'm here watching the wind whip the leaves around and blogging, after a bowl of hot oatmeal and a glass of milk.  Voltes V Evolution is out on TV tonight... I definitely want to watch it, if only to support my friends who are part of it. 

Friday, May 12, 2006

May 12, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

39 weeks... 39 friggin' weeks...

Yeah, definitely worse than Christmas.

It's a beautifully rainy day (I don't know if I prefer the rain to the sunshine... I guess it all depends on my mood and what I'm in the mood for) and I'm enjoying the effects of my regular 2-hour foot massage.  I had myself a leg cramp today, one that I wasn't prepared for.  It woke me up early this morning, and I didn't know what to do.  So, I breathed.  I set my leg gently on the bed, closed my eyes, and breathed deeply.  After a bit, the cramp left my leg.  After a few minutes, I went right back to sleep.  Nice.

Right now as I sit at my computer, the baby's moving (I don't know if it has to do with the fact that the Black Eyes Peas' latest album is playing), stealthy and slow.  Thank goodness that she hasn't kicked me in the ribs or caused me any major distress.  She'll have plenty of time to do that when she's a teenager.  Oh, God help us...

May 11, 2006 - The Blessed Mani-Pedi

Today, I found the time to get done what I haven't had the time lately to do: a French manicure-pedicure at my favorite nail salon.  I had the afternoon all to myself, so I thought to go in (while keeping my fingers crossed that the salon wouldn't be too busy) and have an afternoon of indulgent pampering.  My feet were soaked in warm blue water that made my tootsies feel really good, and my hands were filed, nipped and taken care of.  I do vaguely remember falling asleep in the chair as my feet were being massaged, while old standards were playing on the speakers.

I wanted to have this afternoon to myself because I know very soon, opportunities like this won't come easily or often.  The spur-of-the moment things that I could do before (like leave the house at the last minute to go where I wanted to... visit a friend, have lunch, shop, or just plain hang out) will now have to be planned at least a day in advance.  The daily lunches with my husband will have to take place at home now and not at one of our favorite restaurants because I won't be able to leave the baby for an hour.  Or so I think.  I know of one mommy that refused a wedding invitation in Mexico because she can't leave the baby for even a few days.  Her husband will have to attend the affair solo.

Motherhood is going to change my life, all for the better.  Right now, I still feel like myself, only with a bump that makes me look like I swallowed a basketball.  Nothing feels different (save for the physical changes where EVERYTHING just isn't the same), nothing feels special.  Not yet.  I know though that once I lay my eyes on my baby, everything that I know myself to be will have to be examined and rethought.  How I plan for my and my family's life to be might have to be looked at again and again, constantly being amended to fit how we are at that moment.  Long-term goals may have to be restructured to fit our particular situation.

I need to talk to my parent-friends about how their lives changed.  All they tell me is that it changes, but they don't tell me how.

Perhaps I'll have to go through it all myself to find out, and it's a mystery that will unfold over the duration of my life.  I just hope I don't screw things up... or worse, her.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

May 10, 2006 - Another Pregnancy Blog

Okay, here's the latest on the baby's arrival (or non-arrival)...

First, we did a scan of the baby to check fluid levels, and we were able to see her chubby, squishy face.  It's the absolute cutest face I've ever seen.  What a pair of lips on her!  She still looks pretty calm, and I'm hoping she stays in that zen state of mind.  We're all going to need to be.  After that, the doctor did some poking around, and she said that my cervix has made some progress!  Yahoo!  It's now in mid-posterior.  She'd like for it to be a bit lower, more anterior (meaning the opening faces the front), and thinner.  As it is now, it's still quite thick.  If labor began now, we'd be in for a long and painful ride.  Having said that, I'm now 1 cm dilated, which is a good sign.  She asked me then if I could feel how low the baby is, and I said kind of, but I don't feel any contractions whatsoever.  She followed that by asking if I ever had dysmenorrhea or painful cramps when my period came, and I answered no.  The only thing I get during my time of month is lower back pain, which is fortunate, because it doesn't debilitate me when I have to do a show.

We asked tons of questions today, and got a lot of answers, things that informed us of how to conduct ourselves when the big day arrives.  My doctor thinks that my husband will be in a more anxious state than I will be... I'm a pretty cool customer.  Plus my mom will -- as she always does when I'm going into a state of physical distress -- probably lose her cool and panic.  So that means that I'll have to be a zen one.  That's fine, I'm used to it.

Well, from the looks of things, I'll say that she'll be out in a week.  I'll keep the updates coming until such time that I have to be admitted and checked-in.

May 10, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

I'm just sitting here late at night surfing the net and reading the blogs of friends.  I'm especially envious at their pictures taken on a recent sortie in Boracay.  (Note to self: GO THERE!)

Anyway, I was up late night reading on pain management during labor and the non-medical things I can do in order to stay focused and relaxed.  Listening to music was one of them, and this particular website's recommendations were Enya's Paint The Sky With Stars and Kenny Loggins' Return to Pooh Corner.  I gave each of them a quick listen and put them on my iPod.  That little white piece of plastic is going to be my salvation during the many hours that I will be spending writhing in pain.  Oh, I must also remember to bring speakers and headphones, in case I want to listen to stuff while Rob's asleep in the hospital room.

I know that my threshold for pain is quite high (try performing with a sprained ankle while wearing 3 inch heels on an inclined stage set to the union-allowable maximum), but I've been often told that the pain of childbirth is unlike any other.  A valuable piece of advice: "Don't be a hero, get the epidural."  Oh, worry not, I fully intend to.

We didn't take Lamaze or Bradley Method classes; we heard stories of women who, even after taking the courses, opted for the epidural anyway (or, because of medical emergencies, had to have emergency C-sections performed).  So we skipped them.  All of them.  I instead opted to swim at home or walk in the mall.  I still go on an occasional stroll, in the hope that the gravity will somewhat bring the little one down enough to begin the process of labor.  Then again, she seems to be holding on tight.  I guess all we can do is wait.

At the end of this week, I'll be at 39 weeks.  I think she's ripe enough!

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

May 09, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

No... no sign of the baby. 

Didn't do a whole lot today, just tried a new restaurant today, had a meeting, bought an ink cartridge for my printer and came home.  Tomorrow we're due for another visit with my Ob-Gyn... *sigh*  I want this baby out soon!

Sunday, May 7, 2006

May 07, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

Oh goodness... this waiting game is starting to make me weary.

She's not here yet.

May 07, 2006 - Going back to work...

I was just sitting up in bed knitting a few rows of the baby's blanket (I have a LOT of rows left... chances are it won't be finished by the time she arrives, but that's okay... she won't be able to use it right away anyway), and the thought of returning to work came into my mind.  According to one singer (and mom of 2), 4-6 months is a good ballpark.  According to another, 6-9 months is her recommendation.  Worst case scenario is that I have a C-section performed, which will push back my recovery to 9 months from the date of birth.  Holy crap.

I don't think I've ever gone without singing for that long, and I don't know that I will look upon the time away from work with much joy and positive anticipation.  Singing is something that I've done my whole life.  I can't remember a time when it wasn't a part of it.  Be it on stage or off, this is something I love to do, something that always came easily for me, something that didn't take a huge amount of effort.  That is, until I got pregnant.

In my first trimester, I encountered quite a bit of difficulty corrdinating my abdominal core (the center of my singing) with my vocals.  At one concert, a song that I usually didn't have trouble with, all of a sudden threatened to shut my voice down for the rest of the night.  This was something that never happened to me, and I was starting to feel the anxiety and the stress.  Was I going to make it through this night?  I tried to appease myself and everyone else around me (including my very panicky mother) that I would be fine for the second half of the show.  Thankfully, things went on uneventfully.  But the thought still lingered in my head... what if this happens again?  Carnegie Hall was but weeks away.

Thankfully, that concert went splendidly, and I had very little to worry about.

But now on to my current problem.  What's going to happen after I give birth?  What sort of havoc will the physical and hormonal changes wreak on my body?  How will that affect my singing?  How soon will I be able to accept work?  How long will it take to get my body back into fighting and singing shape?  Right now, in my 9th month of pregnancy, singing isn't too difficult.  One song, two songs... not a problem.  But once my belly is emptied of its living and breathing contents, what then?

I know, I know, it's way too early to stress myself out over this.  I know people whose singing has vastly improved since they had their children.  I have friends who have returned successfully to work after childbirth.  I'll be just fine.  I just have to take it easy, let my body recover, take care of my little one and allow time and a slow easing-back into things.  Must let nature take its course. 

Speaking of nature, I'd like for it to take its course soon, as far as this baby's birthdate is concerned.  I'd like to get back to walking without groin pain.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

May 07, 2006 - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........

My hard drive has been replaced... Seagate 100GB 7200rpm.  All is now right with the world.  A few of the screws were a little too tightly wound, but it was nothing a little elbow grease (courtesy of the husband) couldn't fix.  Amazing what a pair of strong hands can do. 

Nope, no sign of the little one.  I'm thinking the bloody show was just that: a show.  I texted my doctor and updated her on how I was feeling and what was going on with my body, as well as expressed my impatience that she hasn't yet appeared.  Her reply: your daughter's already teaching you the first lesson in parenting: BE PATIENT.  It's something I will have to keep in mind for the rest of my natural life.

I did a few things today: organized a photo album for my mother (I now need to caption it for her), took care of my laptop's malaise, and got pampered by a 2-hour Thai foot reflexology massage and a pedicure.  I'm trying not to think about (or lose patience with) Nicole's no-show.  After all, my due date isn't until May 19.  Maybe she's waiting until then, or even after, to emerge.  It would be nice though if she decided to appear just in time for Mother's Day (May 14).  That would be totally lovely.

Friday, May 5, 2006

May 05, 2006 - Oases of Peace

As I near my delivery date, I try to find ways to bring peace and harmony into my life.  In this harried and crazy hustle-and-bustle world, it's not always easy to do.  We are constantly bombarded by sensory overload from everywhere, which makes it difficult to center oneself and be in that zen place where all is quiet.  However, there are such things as oases of peace: people, places and things that bring us back to where we can take a deep, relaxing breath, and realize that everything is all right.

1.  The bedroom - we made the decision to not have a television in the room, in order for us to foster a more peaceful sleeping environment.  It seems to be working.  I have to say that there are times that I do miss reaching for the remote and turning the TV on to either cartoons or a good movie at 3 AM, but it's truly something I can do without.  Soft sheets, calming scents and good lighting are key to a great sleep experience.

2.  The beach - I'm not a huge beach bum, to be honest... some aspects of it can be quite irritating (like finding cigarette butts or empty beer bottles in the sand, or oneself downwind of the stench of fresh pee... how disrespectful!), but the sound of the waves lapping up on to the shore, the sand between my toes, a fun ride on a boogie board, falling asleep under the sun, or watching a breathtaking sunset while sipping on an ice cold drink.  It's something I'd love to share with my daughter when she's old enough to appreciate it.

3.  Loved ones (the PEACEFUL ones!) - friends, lovers, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents.  Sometimes all it takes is one look from one of them to say, "it's all right."  I treasure those that do provide me with the comfort that everything will be okay, and am flattered when I'm told I do the same.  I try to stay away from too much drama and discord, that when either one enters my life, I take pains to stay away from it until cooler heads prevail.  Life's too short to stress out.  I'd like to think I've outgrown looking for problems where they don't exist.

4.  A good romance novel - Like Water For Chocolate is probably the last romance I indulged in, and I LOVED IT!!!  I found myself taken for an amazing ride by the protagonists of the story, not to mention in the delicious dishes that served as the background for their love affair.  How a dish with rose petal sauce could cause one character to burn with the heat of a thousand passion-filled nights.  Incredible!

5.  Chill-out music - I have quite a few pieces of music on my now dead hard drive.  Classical, jazz, some new age, soul... just songs that put me in a much better mood the moment they start playing.  Speaking of which, I'd better get that data off of my hard drive before I go insane!  (Update: so far, the data recovery company has given me the news that my pictures have been recovered... haven't heard anything about the music though.)

6.  Prayer - one of my favorite places is an empty church.  No parking problems, no long communion queues, no rush to leave.  I try to find the most deserted part of the church, settle in an empty pew (either sitting or kneeling) and pray, pouring out whatever's going on in my heart at that moment.  Prayer precedes every show I do, whether alone or in a group, and it immediately centers all of us and bonds us all as a team.

7.  Late nights at home - between 12 MN and 5 AM is my favorite time of the day.  No activity... no phone calls... no demands... just me and whatever tickles my fancy, whether it's a book, needlework, a movie on HBO, surfing the internet, or just daydreaming.

8.  Daydreams - it's an indulgence I allow myself... to be transported to another place or another time and let my imagination run free.  It is in my mind that I have no limits or boundaries.  I can be completely liberated to think about anything.

9.  Knitting - sounds like something only grandmothers do, but it's meditative and quiet activity.  I was once described as having "itchy fingers", meaning that I loved anything that had to do with keeping my hands busy, be it assembling a LEGO set or a model car, playing the piano, crocheting, needlepoint, fixing something in the house, whatever.  Sometimes my hands were a force for good; at others, a force for destruction.  Now, I'd like to think they're a force for creation.

10.  A fantastic massage - it's been a long while since I've been able to indulge in a full body massage the way I like it: strong and deep.  But lately I've been enjoying Thai foot massages at least once a week during my pregnancy, and it's been a wonderful treat.  Two hours.  Halfway through poking at my left foot, I'm fast asleep and off to another world. 

11.  Driving - let me be more specific: driving on a long stretch of east coast highway, surrounded by tall evergreens in the afternoon, almost amber sunlight.  Nothing but me and the music off my iPod, a tall glass of iced coffee (and perhaps a snack) and the road.

12.  Blogging - or writing long email... or putting an entry in my journal... anything that purges me of stress and anxiety.  I'm not the screaming kind of girl; I'd much rather find a more peaceful means of exorcising whatever darkness or demons haunt me from time to time.

There you have it!  My own little pieces of heaven on earth that bring me calm.  What are yours?

(entry amended May 8, 2006.)

May 05, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

Yeah, I'm still pregnant.  No sign of the baby yet, folks.  Stay tuned.

As a precaution (and as common sense dictates) I'm staying in the area near our home and close to the hospital, just in case things begin to happen.  I don't want to be caught somewhere far, far away when I get contractions or my water breaks.  That would not be cool.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

May 04, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

Today, Rob and I registered with Stemcord ( to bank Nicole's cord blood... after hearing a lot about stem cell research and the possibilities of what stem cells can do for one's recovery from a blood borne illness, it was something we felt strongly about doing.  Rob has a predisposition for cancer (both his grandfather and uncle passed away from it), so just in case our daughter -- God forbid -- needs stem cells, she'll have her own.  It'll be a 100% match to her body... no chance of rejection.  It's one less thing for us as parents to stress out about.

Speaking of Nicole, there's still no sign of her.  Cervix plug is gone... I see no sign of it now, and still she's not coming out.  According to my doctor, it could mean a few days to a week, or even two.  All bets are off at this point!!!  Until that first contraction, it's anybody's guess.  Oh the waiting game should be fun!

Oh, to those who have singer-friends that have had children, kindly pose this question on my behalf: how long must one wait after giving birth to sing (as in a full concert lasting about 2 hours)?  One teacher of mine said to give myself a couple of months and let nature take its course, as my hormones will be out of whack and my body in recovery.  She herself hasn't had children naturally, but a good friend of hers who is a singer that has given birth to children said to wait. 

That's about all from here... will keep you all posted as to this little one's arrival.

May 03, 2006 - Pregnancy Blog

I had a great day.

After having lunch with my husband we headed to the hospital to pre-register and reserve our room. I have to say, that is one nice hospital. A friend told me of its contingency plan, that if it wasn't a success as a hospital, it would be turned into a hotel. I think it was built with that in mind; some of the rooms are nicer than a few hotel rooms I've seen! We were taken on a guided tour of the rooms we were interested in, and we settled on a nice suite. It has enough room for visitors, a sofa bed and a DVD player. Sweet!

Afterwards, I dropped Rob off and spent some time with another friend who was doing a coaching session in his office building. At about 3 I had to leave in order to meet another friend for afternoon tea and a little walkabout. On that walk I found orthopedic pacifiers, two cute baby outfits, some perfume and a blender. I went home after that... my footsies were tired.

I don't have that much time left, as my days as a pregnant woman are numbered, so I'm trying to take advantage of how ever many days I've been given. Once the little one arrives, Rob and I can momentarily say goodbye to our freedom, all in the name of our beautiful baby.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

May 02, 2006 - Argh!!!!!!!!!!!! and Pregnancy Blog

My hard drive died.

It's happened before... the freeze, the spinning sounds, the stall, and finally the braking crunch. Ouch! Thankfully I was able to get a copy of Mac OS X to install on my firewire iPod (thank goodness I didn't give it away!). So now I'm running everything off of that until I can get my hard drive's data recovered and the drive itself replaced. I'm thinking of getting a 100 Gig hard drive to replace this one with... I may have a friend bring it home from the States. Hmmm... I'd better warn her and get her permission first; she's already bringing home a ton of baby stuff for me!

As for my pregnancy, I have a feeling I don't have much more left. My cervical plug was expelled today in a mess of brown discharge, which sent me to my doctor's clinic to make sure things were fine. According to her my cervix is very soft, but still quite high. However, the baby's head has dropped further, so I have a feeling I have no more than a week left before she pops out. Then again, I could be totally wrong.

We have packed our stuff for the hospital in anticipation of the big day: clothes (for me and the baby), pajamas, ablutions, etc. Our cameras are being charged right now as well. So we wait. Our wait, it seems, won't be too long now.