Hennie James: Two Months


We have a two-month-old! So hard to believe. When I was pregnant I spent so much time daydreaming about what this newborn phase would be like. I imagined long naps together, hours spent cuddling, and sweet moments as a family. The reality has been very different and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wishing this phase away. Everyone keeps telling us to appreciate every second but we feel pretty confident that we won’t miss these days later, no matter how cute and little she may be. That said, she is starting to show signs of change that lead us to hope she will not be a “high needs” baby forever.

Hennie Likes: holding hands, crying, constantly moving, being on the changing table, being next to mama in the Solly wrap, white noise, her green bouncy chair, waking up at 8am, the right boob.

Hennie Dislikes: having clothes put on, drinking from a bottle, being still, being quiet, being in the family heirloom bassinet, being left anywhere without company, being startled, the left boob.

Development: Hen has started to pay a lot of attention to lights, is holding her head up (quite a feat w a noggin this size!), kicking a lot, and looking around (preferably over the shoulder of someone who is bouncing her around the kitchen). She smiles easily but her smiles often morph into cries very quickly. She’s starting to figure out that the sounds she hears are actually coming from her own mouth! She is becoming much more alert and quickly growing out of her NB and 0-3 month clothes and into 3-6 month stuff! We are hoping she will learn to be awake without screaming a little more often, and are looking very much forward to the day when she lets us cuddle her 🙂

Six Weeks Old

Hennie James is six weeks old, which means we’re halfway to a major milestone – the end of the fourth trimester and (hopefully) the end of these colicky days. Having a baby has been a crazy, emotional ride so far but we love seeing Hen become more alert and interactive already.

While Tom was away in Whistler for a work conference, Hen and I stayed at Omie (grandma)’s house for extra help and snuggles. During that week Hennie’s second cousin was born! Hennie and Baby Greyson will be almost exactly a month apart in age and we can’t wait to watch them grow and play together. It has been snowy and cold in Vancouver these past couple weeks (the first time in a long time!) and we are enjoying staying home and staying warm.

Three Weeks with Hen

Little miss Hennie James is three weeks old! Thankfully, the last week was much better than the second – we are sloooowly getting a handle on this kid’s likes and dislikes and feeling a bit more confident in our own abilities to calm her, assess her needs, and basically just survive. Our midwife and paediatrician were happy to see that she continued to gain weight like crazy this week. Hallelujah!

We have been able to get out of the house a little more often, which is nice. I take the baby in the wrap carrier for little walks to coffeeshops, nearby parks and our midwife appointments. We have also ventured further afield to our niece Amelia’s 2nd birthday and to spend a weekend at my moms house. Offers to help us have been coming from all over – friends, family, our lovely doulas – and even though I mostly refuse (I want to get a handle on this on our own first), I have appreciated every single offer. It’s so nice to have a network of people who care enough about you to offer to take your colicky baby for a few hours, even if I suspect that they have no idea what they’re getting into.

November is drawing to a close and the whirlwind of the holiday season (and flu season) is upon us. We will try to stay sane by laying low at home, not making too many social plans, and continuing to attempt to understand this tiny human of ours. Feliz Navidad!

The First Two Weeks

Thought I’d take a moment to write an update on the first two weeks of life with Hennie James – probably a brief update as she is stirring from her short slumber beside me and doesn’t like to give her mama and papa much time to do anything these days 🙂

Our little HenBaby has her daddy’s long limbs and insatiable appetite. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have her daddy’s easy disposition but her mama’s sassy attitude and big voice; Hennie has so far been a difficult, colicky baby. She isn’t soothed easily or for long, she needs to be held almost all the time, and she cries bloody murder from about 11pm to 7am (srsly kid?), as well as sometimes during daytime hours as well. We are experimenting with some gas-relieving tactics, some bouncy chairs and rockers, attempting to get her to come around to a pacifier, and basically trying anything we can think of to see if she likes it. Every day it seems she likes or dislikes something new that used to work and is really keeping us on our toes. Some nights Tom does laps around our kitchen island for 6 hours bouncing and shushing her because she won’t be put down – at least we are meeting the daily step goals on our FitBits!

That said, we know that this crazy newborn phase won’t last forever and are doing our best to adjust and readjust our expectations of parenthood daily while appreciating her short stints of sleepiness. We are staying positive and approaching every day as a team, and trying to give her the coziest, safest environment possible.

Tom is now back to work, some days at home and some days in the downtown office. My goal right now is to get outside at least once every day, whether by myself or with Hennie. We have enjoyed some walks to nearby parks in East Van as well as lots of visits to the corner coffee shop! Thanks, JJBean, for fuelling this mama’s mornings!

Bump Update: Due Date!

How Far Along: 40 freakin’ weeks!

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How I’m Feeling: really good! Too good. Like, am I gonna be pregnant forever or what?

Sleep: same old story – I’m getting 7-8 hours but get up about 4-5 times per night.

Exercise: Daily strolls around the neighbourhood (I stay pretty close to home) and plenty of strolling ’round the kitchen, but that’s it.

Position: baby is locked and loaded in head-down position! Unfortunately she seems to be quite content staying there for the time being. 

Symptoms: nothin’ new! Just over here with my tiny bladder and no patience.

Appreciating: a surprise visit from my mama today – she brought me flowers and took me for lunch because she remembers being due with me in mid-February almost 31 years ago, and how much a surprise flower delivery from my Auntie Cath cheered her impatient spirits. 

Baby Prep: we should probably move that car seat from our front hallway to the car…

Looking Forward To: our first family picture and our one-year wedding anniversary later this month. 

Trimester Overview

Since we’re nearing the end of this little gal’s time in utero I thought I would take a moment to document the journey in terms of the symptoms I experienced. This way if there’s a “next time” (I can hear my mom saying “IF?!” already), I’ll know what to expect from my body without having to read What to Expect.

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At 12 weeks: I thought it was SO obvious that I was pregnant, HA. At 25 weeks: wondering how much bigger I’d get over the next 15 weeks. At 38 weeks: happy to be nearing my due date!

The First Trimester

Throughout the first trimester I worked as a server so I clocked some serious on-my-feet mileage despite experiencing a fatigue like I’ve never known before. This could be due in part to a later discovery that I was very low in iron, or perhaps to the fact that I had given up coffee. I had some mild nausea in the mornings but it was usually abated by eating something good and carb-y, so I happily rekindled an old friendship with bagels that I had broken away from years ago. In fact, the whole first trimester was a time of constant and glorious hunger, usually including 1-2 midnight snacks from my bedside table. Despite this, my weight gain was slight and infrequent. From the very beginning of my pregnancy I suffered my fate as a small-bladdered woman, getting up to pee 2-3 times per night on average.  My must-haves during this time were Cheerios (the fastest breakfast I could muster when I woke up ravenous) and healthy takeout that I didn’t have to cook myself or feel guilty about (I think we kept the Lebanese place around the corner in business). I fell asleep reading Sherlock Holmes stories every single night, usually around 7pm. We bought a pregnancy pillow on sale after hearing what a “must buy” item they are, but it turned out to be a “don’t need” item for me and I still haven’t used it.

The Second Trimester

At the beginning of the second trimester I hung up my serving apron for good after 13 years as a waitress and spent some time off work when the in-laws visited Vancouver from England! My energy returned tenfold and I was able to bake and cook a lot again (no more aversions to raw chicken!) and take myself for daily walks around the seawall, usually 1-4 hours long. I reintroduced my morning iced coffee as well, but went for a half-caff brew instead of full strength. I still woke up 1-2 times per night but started sleeping in a little longer because my body wasn’t waking me up from hunger. I “popped” at 18 weeks, suddenly looking pregnant after seeing no belly for over 4 months, and then rapidly put on weight until around week 28. My must-haves during this time were my two pairs of maternity shorts, Ina May’s “Guide to Childbirth”, and multiple crochet projects. The second trimester was definitely the most comfortable and the sunniest and for both of those reasons it was my favourite! I’ll always look back fondly on those long summer walks around the city, day-dreaming of the babe I was to meet.

The Third Trimester

In the third trimester I started working again, this time from home. The baby’s movements ramped up a lot and made evenings in bed my new favourite time because she was most active then. I started doing prenatal exercise videos in my living room a couple times a week to get some low-impact cardio in and kept walking a lot until week 37 when I slowed down to about a half hour per day. My weight gain slowed down a lot compared to the months previous and I felt relatively comfortable (and super lucky about that!) right up until week 37. I started noticing swollen ankles at week 35 and made an effort to put my feet up for an hour or two during the day. Braxton Hicks contractions started sporadically shortly after 30 weeks and ramped up more and more over time – not feeling painful, just tight. My night time bathroom breaks became more frequent at about 4-5 times/night, or roughly every two hours. I was able to wear a lot of my non-maternity shirts and dresses until about 38 weeks pregnant, when I realized I would likely have to wear the same two sweaters from Tom’s side of the closet for the remainder of my pregnancy. I started feeling very occasional pains halfway through week 37 but at almost 40 weeks still haven’t felt too much to hint that the end is near.

What Surprised Me

I think I’m the most surprised that I enjoyed pregnancy as much as I did because I’ve always thought I wouldn’t, though I’m not sure what I was basing that assumption on. While the list of symptoms in the front of my What to Expect When You’re Expecting book was extensive and frightening, I realized quickly that these are only possible symptoms, and thankfully not every pregnant woman experiences all of them. That said, I was quite surprised by how pregnancy can affect so many other parts of your body that you wouldn’t think would be impacted, like your gums (sensitive!), nails (amazing), and skin (even my moles changed!). The effects of hormones are far-reaching! Speaking of hormones, another surprise is that I haven’t felt at all like the hormonal “crazy” pregnant woman stereotype; while I haven’t been immune to the worries and anxieties of approaching parenthood, I haven’t cried or felt overwhelmed… guess I’m saving that for post-partum.

 

Bump Update

How Far Along: 39 weeks!

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How I’m Feeling: excited, nervous, tired, bored, curious, apprehensive, and a little scared  (somehow all at once). I’m told that most first-time mama’s go past their due date but I’m still hoping to be an exception to the norm. 

Sleep: I’m making it work. 

Exercise: no, thank you!

Position: baby was head down and anterior (facing my spine aka the ideal position for birth) at our ultrasound on Tuesday this week. Fingers crossed that she’s there for good now!

Symptoms: occasional pains that hint at something more sinister, but nothing that makes me feel like this baby is coming anytime soon. 

Appreciating: that being pregnant gave me the experience of knowing what it’s like to have a rock hard stomach for the first time in my life 🙂 

Baby Prep: we’ve done all the prepping and packing that we’re gonna do; we’ve got the basics and will wing the rest of it. Parents have been successfully caring for newborns without all the bells and whistles offered at Babies R Us for thousands of years. 

Looking Forward To: not being in labour limbo anymore! 

Bump Update

How Far Along: 38 weeks!

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How I’m Feeling: most days pretty tired and useless. Also SO curious to know when the baby will arrive. Patience is not a particular strength of mine, and the fact that her arrival could be mere days away or still four whole weeks is a bit agonizing.

Sleep: certainly not the best sleeps I’ve ever had, and my hips ache when I wake up, but it could be worse (and will probably get worse very soon!).

Position: baby is still head down, but I get the feeling she is posterior (aka “sunny side up”) these days so I’m hoping she turns around before d-day so I don’t have a long back labour.

Symptoms: fat ankles, achey hips, inability to fit into clothes I fit into even a week ago, increasing fatigue, and growing listlessness (and excitement, and apprehension). After rejoicing in having no symptoms in my update last week, I certainly feel like I’ve turned a corner into “real” pregnancy now. But since I made it to 38 weeks without a whole lot of trouble I can hardly complain about that!

Appreciating: bedtime – I’m relieved to go to bed every night knowing that I’m a day closer to being back to normal, or whatever our “new normal” is going to look like! At the same time though, I’m also appreciating the kicks and movements and quiet moments with the baby still safe on the inside. 

Prep: spent the week making soups and stews for the freezer that we’ll be able to heat up easily later, and finally got my hospital bag in order. I also cut the tags off the carseat (ha) but it’s still in the apartment rather than in the car. 

Looking Forward To: at this point all I’m ever doing is looking forward to my daughter’s birthday! I’m eager to know how everything will go, anxious to know how I’ll cope with it all, and very, very excited for that moment when we finally get to meet her face to face.

Bump Update

How Far Along: 37 weeks!

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How I’m Feeling: great, actually! No aches, no pains, no twinges. Gonna high five this baby when she comes out (hopefully the trade-off for a great pregnancy isn’t a terrible labour). 

Sleep: sleeping the same as I’ve slept all pregnancy – mostly well, with 3-5 bathroom breaks per night. I fall asleep pretty easily again afterwards though, so it hasn’t made me feel too tired during the day. 

Exercise: I’m not doing any exercise other than my daily walks, and that feels like the right choice for me at this point. 

Position: an ultrasound on Wednesday confirmed what we had already suspected – that the baby is head down and sinking lower all the time. 

Symptoms: lots of movement from the baby, no weight gain for the past month or more, and just feeling big and slightly uncomfortable (as expected!). My back only hurts when I’m sitting in one position for a long time, so I keep moving as much as possible. 

Appreciating: that we’re finally getting super busy at work so I have a lot of projects that will hopefully keep me distracted over the last few weeks and help the time fly by!

Baby Prep: packed the hospital bags for my two babes (BabyProc and Tom), but still have to pack my own. Despite reading blog posts about it and receiving numerous gems of wisdom from family and friends I remain plagued with indecision about what to bring and what to leave behind, so I think my official decision is just to leave it ’til the last minute and pack my bag during early labour. 

Looking Forward To: well obviously we’re always looking forward to meeting this baby, seeing what she  looks like, and putting her in all of her adorable sleepers. But I can’t write that every week, so today I’ll admit that I’m looking forward to doing non-pregnancy stuff, like rolling over in bed with ease, wearing (and shopping for!) non-maternity clothes, and enjoying a nice cider or some rye with my Pops at Christmastime.