Monthly Archives: July 2011

With Eyes Wide Open


In my last post I mentioned having to get passport photos for Tay’s Belgian passport. We’re visiting my family and friends in Pittsburgh in September and since he came much later than anticipated, we really had to jump on getting his passport application submitted on time so that he could be on our flight in September.

Last Saturday Piet and I loaded Tay into his car seat and went out looking for an open photography place that did passport photos (and preferably American ones as well for when we apply for his American passport). After two closed photo studios outside of town, we drove to the city center, parked and Piet eased Tay from the car and into the Moby Wrap, Piet’s preferred method of transporting his son. Tay loves the Moby too and pretty much almost immediately passes out when he’s in it.
After another couple closed places, we finally found a photo studio open during the weekend and they even did American sized passport photos. We asked if they could do newborn photos and they said yes and produced a little chair that I tried not to scoff at. Not that it was a bad chair, but no 9 day old infant could even dream of supporting itself in that kind of chair. Anyway, Piet removed Tay, stuck him in the chair and held his head up, but Tay, lulled by the Moby, was fast asleep.
The photographer told us his eyes had to be open for the photo.

Easy enough, we figured, since pretty much anytime Tay was removed from human warmth he started crying*, so we sort of dangled him out in front of us and started stroking his cheeks and tickling his feet and jiggling him a bit.

But he stayed totally asleep.

So we put him down on the hard, cool glass display case and tried rubbing his arms and legs and pinching his toes a bit.

Nada. His eyes were pasted shut.

At this point we realized we better let everyone else waiting go before us (amazing how understanding people are when they see a tiny little baby at the center of the chaos) and in the meantime we tried taking Tay up to the bathroom, running some cold water over the crown of his head (twice and yes, we dried it immediately), changing his diaper (he peed all over Piet and the wall without ever waking up) and, well pretty much anything humanely possible that could be done to wake a baby, with the exception of an air horn, but only cause we didn’t have one available.

Still Tay slept on.

Finally, nearly 20 minutes later, Piet had set Tay down and as he was picking him back up Tay opened his eyes. Piet came running, plopped Tay in the baby chair, held his head and the photographer was able to snap off one single shot before Tay’s eyes slid closed and his head dropped forward and back into the land of the hopelessly comatose.

Fortunately for us the photographer was able to use the shot and basically Photoshop everything but the baby out of the picture, leaving us with a functional photo for the passports.

And that’s the story of Tay’s very first passport pictures. I’ve never seen a baby sleep through that much agitation. Just another quality my son already has from his father.


*Fortunately for us he’s been steadily improving with his ability to feel comfortable when not glued to a big person’s chest.

Why You Gotta Make Things So Complicated?


First off, why have I posted no pictures of the newest daydream believer?
Good question.
You may know it already if you follow me on the ol’ FB, but if not, well… breast-feeding started out painful in the hospital, but after we came home on the 13th, feeding Tay from lefty had become excruciating. I was literally sobbing in pain while he ate and Piet sat next to me, whispering how sorry he was that it hurt so badly.
I just assumed the pain was from the cracks that had started appearing on my nipples.

On Saturday I woke up feeling nauseous and very tired, but we had a busy day ahead of us getting, of all things, passport photos of Tay to apply for his Belgian passport before the majority of Gent’s administrative offices closed for the Gentse Feesten. We were out for several hours, did the most walking I’d done since I went into the hospital, and by the time we got home I was feeling even worse. I took an Aleve and a nap and woke up feeling somewhat better. Next we had a visit from one of my colleagues and her boyfriend and afterwards I started shaking.
That’s when I asked for a thermometer and saw my temperature was at about 102°F (about 39°C). I took another Aleve but the fever wouldn’t break so Piet took me to a g.p. that was open on the weekend. At this point I was aching, shaking and had a sore left breast and pain on the right side of my incision, presumably from all the walking.
The practitioner diagnosed me with a infected abcess in my left breast, prescribed Amoxicilan and Tylenol and sent us on our way.

When I woke up the next day I still felt feverish and my incision didn’t feel right. The right side was swollen and red and when I went to shower I caught a wiff of pure nasty coming from the area, despite my daily shower and careful drying.
We had told my in-laws that we’d come to lunch with the baby and my mother. Despite how I felt, I figured it was better to give Piet’s parents some time with the baby and have a nice family meal than to sit home and dwell on being in pain.

So we loaded Tay and my mom in the back and drove to Piet’s parents’ place. By the time we got there and I went to go express some milk for Tay I was shaking again, despite the Tylenol I’d taken before leaving. My fever was back up to 102.6 and I couldn’t really get out of the bed.
I slept through most of the meal and Piet called a doctor to ask if he should take me to the ER since it was Sunday.
The doctor advised against it unless my fever went up any higher and rather said we should go to the gynecologist first thing Monday. Fortunately the gynecologist could take us right away and after looking at the swollen incision, concluded that yes, I definitely had an infection going on.
From what Piet saw, the doctor pretty much pushed on the swelling until the incision opened a bit, took a swab, ordered some blood work and a follow-up appointment on Friday and prescribed me a broad spectrum antibiotic as well as a nurse to come to the house twice daily to clean and dress the incision.

And that’s where I’ve been.

Pretty much immobilized with pain, often dizzy with a fever that has rarely dropped below 100°, regardless of the Aleve and Tylenol I’m taking, and doing my best to involve myself with my 12 day old infant beyond providing him with food.

On the bright side, they say these first couple week are the hardest, so if I’m going through all of this during the hardest weeks, everything afterwards will feel like a party.

The Birth Story


On July 5th I was officially a week past my delivery date.

In Belgium they typically wait 10 days to induce overdue mothers, but my gynecologist, after doing my exam, feeling that I was still only 1 cm dialated and hardly effaced (the exact same as the week before) and seeing that I had lost about 5 pounds that same week, decided to go ahead and schedule me for induction on the evening of July 6.

The point was to induce slowly as it was my first pregnancy and those labors can take much longer, they were trying to keep it as gradual as possible. Piet brought me in at 9 pm and I was given my first pitocin insert around 10 pm. Piet spent the night and woke up around 5 am the next morning. No labor had started, nothing had changed, so I got my second insert, which got things moving fairly quickly after that. Piet went home to shower and do some quick errands and I noticed some definite contractions starting around 6 am. By 7:30 I couldn’t read my book anymore and I was still waiting for Piet to come back, so I called him. Fortunately he had just entered the hospital and was on his way back up to my room.
The contractions escalated quickly after that and I was given an oral tablet to keep the labor going. Pretty soon I was having contractions less than a minute apart and the pain was pretty much beyond what I’d initially thought it would be. The midwife who was checking in on me kind of encouraged an epidural, which I’d hoped to avoid, but eventually I agreed to having one.
Really, the pain got so bad I would just start crying and be pretty much unable to focus at all on breathing, which obviously wouldn’t be productive when it came time to push the baby out, so I said yes to the epidural. Because the contractions had sped up and intensified so much, the decision was that another pill wasn’t neccessary, but once I had the epidural they were going to give me a drip of something to keep the contractions going (epidurals can slow the contractions and since mine had to be induced in the first place…you get where I’m going I guess).

For the epidural to be inserted I had to scoot across the bed, sitting with my back facing the anesthesiologist and hunch over as much as possible, I guess to give the most access to my spine as possible. The midwife was in front of me, basically bracing me and pushing down on my shoulders (cause I really wasn’t able to hunch much over 41 weeks of pregnant belly and boobs that have swollen to an H cup) while also helping me breathe during contractions since I couldn’t move while the needle was being inserted.
So there I was, by that point already stripped down to just a hospital gown and a port in my wrist, the midwife in front of me and the anesthesiologist behind me, reinserting the epidural (I felt the first insertion attempt so she removed it, gave me more anesthetic and tried again) and all of a sudden I got a contraction.
Suddenly fluid started pouring out and no matter how much I tried to stop, it just kept coming.
“Oh no, I’m peeing all over the nurse,” was my first thought, but then I realized my water had actually broken.
At this point, with a tube in my spine, a woman trying to fold me in half, my uterus spasming and what felt like a gallon of liquid spreading out underneath me, I admit, I was unable to come up with the right word for amneotic fluid in Dutch, so I just groaned.
“Are you thirsty?” the midwife asked?
I shook my head and kept repeating, “water, water” trying to think of how to say that my water broke in Dutch until finally Piet said, “Just say it in English.”
So I did, although at that point it really didn’t matter. The epidural was in and I was hooked up to a monitor to measure the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. When the midwife removed the soaked pad from underneath me I noted it was yellow and thought “dammit, I did pee on her.” Until Piet asked about the color and they told us the baby had just pooped in-utero basically, which happens often when a baby goes past 40 weeks.

Anyway, I was hooked up to a monitor and when the epidural took effect the bay’s heartrate dropped down below 100 bpm for a minute or two. They decided to wait for his heartrate to regulate before opening the drip to stimulate contractions. After ten minutes or so they started the drip and his heartrate dropped again so they stopped the drip and we waited.

In the meantime the midwife had checked the state of things and I’d effaced and dilated to 4 centimeters but an hour later when my gynecologist came in to check again, my contractions were still 4 minutes apart and I hadn’t dilated any further. Between the lack of progress and the way the baby had reacted to the epidural and the contraction stimulant, the gynecologist recomended I have a c-section.

I’d gone into this pregnancy hoping to have a natural childbirth. No epidural, if possible, no c-section, if I could help it. Now here I was, overdue, induced, with an epidural and being told I should have a c-section.

I don’t ever do anything in my life the easy way, even if I honestly intend to.

Anyway, within minutes arrangements had been made in a surgery room, two extra midwives had come in, put pressure stocking on my legs, taken the internal sensor off of the baby’s head, hooked up whatever bags I would need dripping through my port, given Piet some scrubs and before I could really wrap my brain around the turn of events I was being whisked off to the operating room.

They moved me over to the operating table and they set up a sheet so I couldn’t see anything below my chest. By the time the oxygen mask was on my face I was as close to an anxiety attack as I’ve been in a long long time, although with my arms strapped down and the majority of my body numb there wasn’t much I could do but cry . Some of the nurses reassured me and then Piet came and sat by my head and stroked my hair while I tried as hard as I could to calm down.

Having a cesaerian section was probably one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

Being able to feel pressure while the noises of cutting and suction eminated from the other side of the sheet made me gag. Knowing what was going on, despite not being able to feel it was still terrifying. Waiting to finally, finally hear my baby crying was torture.
Wanting so badly to see Piet and have him hold my hand through the operation while my arms were strapped down and all I could see where surgical masks was awful.

But then I heard them tell Piet to grab his camera and they told me the baby would be out in just a second and I heard the shutter snap and then our baby crying.

And the tears of angst suddenly morphed into sobs of complete and total relief and joy.
Piet leaned over and whispered that our son was out and healthy. They cleaned him up and Piet brought him over to me to see, although I couldn’t hold him until they’d sewn me up.

At this point the story gets a little fuzzy for me as I began to get feeling back while they were closing me up and the anesthesiologist gave me something and I promptly passed out on the table until they were wheeling me down to recovery.

And that’s how our son was born, on July 7th at 1:04 pm weighing 3.64 kilograms and measuring 50 centimeters. I won’t be using his real name on the blog and I think I’ll call him Tay here, but I’ll be posting a few pictures and maybe you’ll be able to see his real name that way.

I’m Still Here


And still incubating a now fully grown infant who is showing absolutely no interest in coming out.
I keep seeing tiny babies in strollers out on the sidewalk and thinking, “one of those is in me.”
When he moves, which he’s still doing plenty of (which is a very good thing, if not somewhat painful at this point), it’s looking like a scene out of Alien. Last night Piet had his hand on my belly and commented that he was pretty sure he felt a knee sticking out. This was before he started tapping on my belly and chuckling when the baby kicked back in response.

I loved watching my husband’s eyes while he “played” with our son, although I’ll love it even more when I can watch them playing together from across the room or something, rather than serving as the conduit between father and son.

But anyway, while I could, quite literally go into labor at any time, I’m not really feeling any differently. Assuming everything stays the same, I can say that the baby will definitely be born at some point this week. As for when, well, I guess that’ll mostly depend on him.