December 2011

After a pretty ideal birth at the Austin Area Birthing Center for Miles, I was a bit nervous about what to expect in Penang at a hospital. An anxiety attack when I visited a friend in the labor ward here added further to my concern. Turned out, it was a wonderful experience, one made by excellent staff and doctor. Here’s how it went down (with a slight warning for medically-graphic content):

I started having painful contractions the day after my due date, 12/26 in the evening after dinner. They weren’t regular or even super painful, just different from the B-H contractions I had been having consistently for weeks. We watched a movie, then went to bed. I was up almost every hour, not in pain, but to pee or roll over. In the morning, I was still feeling something every 15 min or so, but we went on with our plans and got a lot done: walk to the market and back (maybe 2 miles), swim in the pool, I cooked 2 soups for the week, a few hours out running errands, then back to put Miles down for his nap, having but basically ignoring the contractions the whole time. Putting miles to sleep in the afternoon is my job, and while he spent a half an hour climbing into and out of my lap for stories, I was pretty sure labor had started.

After he was asleep, I started timing the contractions. They were consistently 5 min apart for an hour, so we texted Dr Narinder to let him know what was going on, and warned Suzi that we might need her that night. I tried to rest while Tim took Miles out to play. We had dinner, put Miles to bed and tried to enjoy some time together. At this point the contractions were definitely there, and I sent another message to Narinder with an update. Our massage lady came and I enjoyed a half hour foot massage, and Suzi arrived. We got the bag out. By 10pm, I decided to lay down and try to rest, even if sleep was not possible.

By 11, I could no longer take the contractions laying down, a worry since I had to do almost my entire labor with Miles standing up, which was exhausting. I had a snack and tried to drink lots of water. By 12, I was feeling nauseous after each contraction, and making lots of runs to the bathroom. The contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. I started talking about going in, so we called the doctor. He said when we we ready he would come in and we could do an assessment. I wanted to do as much as possible at home, but was still nervous about the hospital logistics, especially the 2 hours they needed to fill the birthing pool if I wanted a water birth. At 1am, we told Suzi we were going, grabbed the bag and started out the door. Unfortunately, I chose this time to finally throw up. Vomiting during contraction equals one forceful expulsion, and luckily I made it to the bathroom. We were in the car in 15 minutes, and luckily didn’t have to worry about traffic. It was extremely hot and muggy after a thunderstorm.

We arrived and walked around the building to find the emergency entrance, or any entrance that wasn’t chained up. There was, as I feared, some confusion at the reception counter while we checked in. I was asked several times how far along I was and offered a wheelchair every time I had a contraction – no! Just let me upstairs! Finally we me it up and into the room with the big inflatable birthing pool. Dr Narinder arrived and I got hooked up to the fetal heart monitor. Baby was doing well and he commented on how my contractions were short (only 20 sec) but very strong. Next for the internal exam. After what happened with Miles, I was prepared to not be dilated at all. What we found: baby very low, fully effaced, 3 cm. with the exception that my water had not broken this time, this is exactly where I was on first exam with Miles! The end of early labor. Time to check in and start filling the tub. 1:45am.

Tim and I spent the next 1.5 hours going to the car, checking in, coming back into the room, all very slowly while stopping every 2-3 minutes for me to handle the contractions, all standing up, leaning on something. I was really tired at this point and made a “joke” to tim that i just wanted an epidural so i could take a nap. He said that was like being in the airport and making a joke that you are a terrorist with a bomb. It was the last time i mentioned drugs. My water broke, then the real fun started. Now this really hurt. I threw up again, causing the dr to get a little concerned – I really don’t think most people puke so much. The pool was almost full and I really wanted to get in. The pain was bad. A exam revealed I was at 7cm-time for the pool! Moving into transition. 3am.

The water was hot but I immediately felt better. Tim was behind me with a wet towel full of ice. Dr Narinder went to get his bathing suit on – I guess he was getting in too! I had about 20 minutes of contractions before I started feeling the urge to push. I loved how the doctor didn’t check just said if I needed to push, go ahead and push a little. I did a little for a few contractions, then Narinder said “that sounds like crowning”. He checked and said, “yup, you’re ready” and got into the pool with me. On to pushing. 3:30am.

I chose to push the baby out while leaning my upper body over the side of the tub and my lower body in the water. 4 contractions and she was out, behind me. Tim announced, “it’s a girl” and we heard a few small sounds while waiting to cut the cord. I got to hold her in the pool for a few moments before getting up and walking to the bed to deliver the placenta. Time of birth: 3:40am, Malaysia time.

All in all a great birth experience. I had no tearing and very little swelling. Hazel came out a little cheese ball, covered in vernix. The apgar score at birth was 8 (she was a bit blue and quiet) and went up to 10 at 5 minutes. She nursed well 10 minutes after birth, and she stayed with us the whole time. I feel so lucky to have had the birth experiences I have. And if you are reading this from Penang, I strongly recommend the services of Dr. Narinder and Island Hospital!


+1 Day (12/26/2011): What do you call this? Is it still the 3rd trimester? Or are we now into the 4th? In any case, still hanging in there. Spent the morning at the beach, and a relaxing afternoon in bed. Miles was trying our patience. What were we thinking again getting another one of these?

+2 Days (12/27/2011): Well, after Miles went to bed last night, I started with a few contractions that had a bit of feeling with them. Maybe every 10-15 minutes. Went to bed at 10pm and woke up almost every hour with a contraction & need to turn over or go to the bathroom. Slept in a bit this morning and ticked off lots on the to-do list, still having contractions, but ignoring them for the most part: walk to the market for weekly fruit/veg/eggs/fish, make food for the week, post office, Little India nuts, car wash & detail, grocery store. At some point in there, around noon, the contractions became regular, more often and more painful. After putting Miles down for a nap at 2, I started timing. They were consistently 5 minutes apart. It’s 7pm and I am still in the same boat: consistently painful-but-tolerable (I can still talk) contractions every 5 minutes. Remembering back, when I was in labor with Miles this stage lasted from 10pm-6pm the next day: 20 hours!!!

We have Suzi coming to spend the night tonight just in case things pick up and we need to head off in the middle of the night. But my fears of a super fast and unexpected delivery seem unfounded. A. I’m overdue, and ready. B. I’ve been having contractions for days. Weeks. C. Not sure when I can consider this labor “started”, but let’s just say it started at 2…I’m already past the point where I was afraid I was going to have the baby out. Now I’m worried it might just peter out, or continue on like this for a couple days. I don’t think we’ll make it to New Year’s in any case. Can’t wait to meet this little one!

By the way, I am communicating with my doctor through text message. I love that. His last one – classic Malaysia “Noted. Tks.”

Coming up next… Birth story!

One task that is much better done naked.  Miles helping me make a chocolate angel food cake.  We had a lot of egg whites left over from Tim’s ‘Nog.

Thirty-Eight Weeks (12/15/2011):  Ten days until my due date!  That is a true countdown.  Things have been going well.  Monday night I had four twingy painful contractions in a row.  It was 7:30pm.  Tim asked if I was in labor, and I couldn’t definitely say no.  What was actually going through my head was: oh man, this is going to hurt!  I forgot about that!  I decided that I was far too tired to go through labor and delivery and I best just go to bed and sleep until something really happens.  I woke up 10 hours later feeling refreshed and things have been fine since then.  Lots and lots and lots of B-H contractions, at least one or two an hour, mostly if I stand after sitting/laying for a while.  I am pretty sure the baby’s butt has been up against my sternum for the last few days, meaning a good position for delivery.  Less pressure on my ribs too, so I suspect there’s been a drop (plus everyone says it looks dropped).  This is my favorite outfit at the moment, substitute any of my sundresses here:

38 Weeks - Bulls Eye!

We’re also going through the motions of second guessing our boy names (I am pretty convinced its a boy), so it’s almost back to the drawing board for those. Frustrating!  Miles has one more day of daycare, then 2 weeks off.  Hmmm, 2 weeks is also the length of Tim’s paternity leave… convenient!  And Christmas coming soon… lots of things to look forward to. 🙂

Thirty-Nine Weeks (12/19/2011): I have approximately 3 things that still fit.  Guess I am paying for refusing to buy any real maternity clothes, they are all just sized up regular stuff from Target and Old Navy and not meant for 39 weeks along.  Oh well.  Still doing good, went in for a scan on Friday and while the placenta is showing maturity (in the form of calcification), there is plenty of water and no rush.  The baby looks good, although pretty scrunched.  The head measured at 93mm, which means I am going to have to go all the way to 10cm to get it out.  I’ve been sleeping well, too well some afternoons, and Miles is learning to chill in his crib, awake.  Good timing!  I was feeling a bit guilty about all my free time while he was in daycare, but it ended quite abruptly – the kindy’s on break for 2 weeks and I am home all day with a 2 yr old!  Very exhausting.  I don’t feel like anything will happen soon, not physically or emotionally.  One thing’s for sure, baby won’t be inside forever.  Excited to meet this little one!

4 days to go (12/21/2011): I was thinking of the prenatal care here, and it has differed considerably from both my first experience in Austin with a birthing center and also from my expectations in a hospital.  Maybe it’s just the doctor (who I LOVE, have I mentioned? 100 times), but in general, I find it relaxed and not over-done.  Sure, the constant ultrasounding seems wasteful, but it’s a tool they have and are used to.  Here’s a comparison:

  • Austin birthing center visit: weight, urine test, Q&A, pulse, BP, measure belly size with tape measure, find baby HB with the doppler
  • Penang hospital visit: weight, urine test, Q&A, Ultrasound (where he checks the size/heartbeat/fluid/etc)
  • Austin specialty tests: Full panel CBC and swab test on entry, glucose uptake test for gestational diabetes, Group B strep
  • Penang specialty tests: Full panel CBC on entry

I was surprised when the doctor didn’t administer any additional tests.  Group B Strep is not common in Asia, so not a concern unless you show signs of infection, and he said that they check the urine for protein and sugars each time and normal results rule out diabetes or preeclampsia (which I guess is why he’s not taking my BP each time?).  One other thing I learned is they do not routinely slab the newborn’s eyes with antibiotic cream to avoid blindness from assumed gonorrhea.  It’s been a different experience overall, and I bet I will have a very different birth story to report as well sometime in the next 2.5 weeks.

Due Date (Christmas 2011): Well, no Christmas present for this year it seems like.  New Year’s call for champagne maybe?  While I have been mentally ready to have the baby for a couple days (it took a really long time to get there), I physically don’t feel overwhelmed at all by this pregnancy. Although I am heavier than I was at at this point with Miles (he was already out, and I weighed in 5 lbs less than I do right now – baby still inside!) and I look pretty massive, I still feel good.  I have to record an unfortunate stretch mark (my first from either pregnancy) – right across my belly button.  Looks like I am ready to crack open like an egg.  Nice.  Not something to complain about, and I do feel vain worrying about it.

Merry Christmas! 40 weeks full term, And some sun from the pool...

Tim starts his official paternity leave on Tuesday.  If no baby by then, I might be sending him off to work, except that Miles will still be on vacation from kindy.  A friend whose second was 10 days late recommended getting fun stuff on the calendar for each day you are late.  I’ll need to work on this list.  On tap for tomorrow: Maybe gelato?

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family all over the world!

Much love,

Tim, Laurel & Miles

This is the month Miles becomes a big brother!  Hope he’s looking forward to it.

  • Helper.  Miles started helping out around the house.  Little things, like setting the table (who taught him where to put the forks and knives?) and actually useful things like picking up after himself.  Never to early to start, and it is really cute.
  • Shoes.  He can put on his own shoes.  This was major, as it’s not the most comfortable thing for me to bend down and put them on for him any more.  The funny thing is, he tries to slide into them from standing, perched on one leg, usually with one hand on the wall.  I suppose this is because he has watched me put on flip flops, and only flip flops for the last 6 months.  Oh, if that boy ever has to wear socks I don’t know what we’ll do.
  • Getting it.  Miles is starting to call us out on some things.  What do you mean I can’t get up?  Mom’s done with her food.  You said 8 hours ago I could have a mini gumdrop if I ate dinner – I remember. Do you?  I need to wear shoes?  Dad’s not wearing shoes.
  • Quickly, quickly.  Miles has a habit of running in circles (literally) when he is excited.  It makes me tired just looking at him.  He did it once in the middle of a mommy-and-me yoga class, and the teacher gave me the most pitying look.  I looked back, “This is why I am tired.”
  • Talk, talk, talking.  And singing.  The things that come out of this boy’s mouth!  We need to watch it.  My favorite are the 4-syllable words, which seem like monumental accomplishments: torta-tilla. ado-tado (avocado). tocto-dido (crocodile). peanut butter (amazingly clear).  The songs? Best one this month was “Ninja Balls” (jingle bells).
  • And sleep.  Thank you, my son.  Long, long naps this month (although not easy to put down for a nap), and easy to bed, waking up happy and playing in the crib until well past 6 (11 hours)!  You know momma needed this.  It may be my last chance to sleep for a long, long time.
  • Plus!  I love the innocence: the way he loves balloons, and gets really excited about Christmas lights and bubbles…no progress at all on potty training, I think we’ll be in stage 1 (which means poops in the pot) for the next couple years…calls for momma a lot, but is comfortable if he knows where I’ve gone, I can leave him for a while (did kindy help this?)…

It would be impressive if my mini gingerbreads were thimble-sized houses, with icing icicles and candy cane arches all in miniature.  But, it’s the week before Christmas and even those of you that are not 39 weeks pregnant with a two year old on break from kindy are a little bit busy.  So, lucky for you, these are easy.  And delicious.  It’s bread, in a mini-muffin form.  And spiced, in a gingerbread way.  But moist, in a don’t-feel-bad-about-eating-a-dozen-they’re-mini-muffins way.

This is a recipe from my food blog friend Anna over at Tallgrass Kitchen.  Her Christmas setting is a little different from ours this year, being in rural Northern Wisconcin as opposed to a highrise on a tropical island, but it seems we enjoy this gingerbread equally this season.

Mini Gingerbreads (from Tallgrass Kitchen)

  • 11 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup molassas
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in 2 T warm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease your mini muffin tin (this recipe makes about 5 dozen mini muffins, I did it in 2 batches).
  2. Melt butter, corn syrup, sugar and spices in a saucepan until melted and combined.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Stir in milk.  Add baking soda and beaten eggs, whisk to combine completely.
  3. Sift flour into a bowl.  Slowly add the mixture from the saucepan, whisking away especially at the beginning to prevent lumps.
  4. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full – these will rise considerably and then lava all over the place if you overfill (see the fourth picture above? Lava-inducing filling.  Note there is no finished product picture.).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.  Do not overcook, they are best a bit sticky.
  5. Cool 10 minutes in the tin, then remove to a plate.  Dust with powdered sugar if you need curb appeal, and enjoy alongside the husband’s homemade eggnog.  Yum.

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