Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Back in Dublin and MIL update

I flew back with Martina on Sunday, Oliver didn't even blink when I left (I told him I was going home to pick up dad so we could all come back together) and so far the reports from Italy is that he's having a blast.
Life with just one child is soooooo easy it's unbelievable, we seem to have lots of time to do things (and cuddles wohoohhoo!!) and yes of course we look forward to be 4 again but we are enjoying this break too. Martina is still not sleeping, but as of last sunday I definitely stopped breastfeeding (I was only doing the falling asleep feed for the last while). So her routine (buuhahahhh) is that she has a bottle going to bed and then we let her sleep (if she is in the mood to do so) till she wakes for the night bottle around 1 or 2 and we don't feed her anymore till morning (and she is not that hungry at that time either). Last night I slept with earplugs and at the other side of the bed, Mike looked after her for the night and was exhausted this morning...well, what can I say, I have been doing it for the last 7 and half months, welcome to my world! Our plan of sleep training her this week have gone down the drain, I am so overwhelmed with work between scripts to correct, a paper I'd like to submit, a review I have to do and two projects to write by the end of January, I just cannot face nights of endless crying. So i don't know, we'll just put up with it and hope for some change soon.

I wanted to write an update on MIL. Things took a turn a couple of weeks back and she was in so much pain. They decided they had to do more surgery and amputate above the knee. This was the proverbial straw...she has been very very down since, we asked for the hospital to arrange a councillor as she is definitely not coping with the new situation. Mike was telling me that yesterday she was saying things like "life is not worth living anymore" and I don't think she ever ever said those words, despite all the things she has gone through in life. This evening she seemed a bit better and was talking even on her phone (she was hardly talking to anyone for the last few days), so hopefully she can find some new strength. Please if you can keep he in your thoughts it would be much appreciated. We are living on monday to go to Italy and I know Mike has a heavy heart...

Friday, December 6, 2013

From Italy, with love

I flew with the children to Italy on Tuesday and I'll stay for almost two weeks. I have to say the flights were much better than I thought. Oliver was on his best behaviour and Martina slept a bit on both legs of the journey. We stopped over in Frankfurt for just over an hour and we manage to all go to the toilet with no accidents. For Oliver was a big adventure, he was mamma's helper and really made me proud. On the fully booked Dublin-Frankfurt flight, the flight attendant near the end realised I was travelling on my own (I had a very nice and helpful German lady sitting beside me) and commented on how calm I was and was I used to it. I said no, first time on my own with two and thought about saying something like "it's the happy pill that keeps me sane" but then again, what if she didn't think I was joking and really thought I was high on something? So I didn't say it. But I was incredibly calm.

On thing that made the journey that bit more challenging was that I was on day 2 of my period so I was very self conscious. I was also loaded as a Sherpa and briefly contemplated wearing Martina only to be thankful I didn't as I really had too many bits and pieces and the stroller was our little mule. Oliver used the toilet 3 times on the plane including a poo about 30 minutes before landing which meant the "go back to your seat" sign lit up almost as soon as Oliver sat on the loo (can you imagine the amount of time I said "don't touch that it's dirty!!!"). Anyway, we got to Bologna safe and sound and I realised how much my son has grown in the last 4 months. This journey was unthinkable only in the summer.

The first night here, Martina slept seven hours straight. That almost never happens. Of course the next night she was up every hour or so... Go figure. One other important think is that I decided to fully wean Martina. My boobs are sore again, and I have had enough of this. I feel like a champ for having lasted so long with so many problems and I'm hoping this will give us at home a bit more exchange-ability at night time. To those of you who still believe there is "a method" that works with every child please keep it to yourself. In my experience is the child that has a method, either it agrees with yours or it doesn't. The child will sleep eventually, but you have little to do with when that will happen. I too had a child who slept through very early and now I have another one who would need to be sedated to do the same. Daytime sleeps are textbook, nights are a beast of their own. Ah well.

I leave you with some love, chat soon!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

7 months update

Today Martina is 7 month old! The major thing she has achieved is sitting up on her own! She still needs help to get to the sitting position but other than that she is fairly stable.

For the last four nights her sleep has been much better. All of a sudden she only wakes up twice a night. This would have happened in the past but only for two nights in a row at the most, so I wasn't really keeping my hopes up this time, but for now it seems she is on a good stretch. She wakes around 11 pm (give or take 30 minutes) and drains her bottle. The she wakes around 4 (give or take 30 minutes) for another feed and then she is settled till 7-7.30! Wohoo I'm optimistic we'll soon be able to move her into her room. We have not done this yet because her room is attached to Oliver's and while he sleeps soundly, her crying will definitely wake him up with a shared wall. I'm planning to do it the week I'm back from Italy just before Christmas, Oliver will stay back with my parents till we all get back together on the 23rd. Did I tell you already about our plans? I'll fly solo with the two children on the 3rd of December (and there is no direct flight, have to stop over in Hamburg..) then Martina and I will come back to Dublin for a week and then Mike will fly back to Italy with us on the 23rd. The whole family will come back to Dublin on the 7th of January. Wow, even writing it down is tiring! Let's hope Oliver will be on his best behaviour on the first leg of the journey.

Martina eats happily practically everything she is given, I will stop pureeing her food and just mash it to introduce texture. I don't think it'll be a problem given how she chews pasta!

Mike brought her to the 7 month check up on wednesday and she is 8 kg and 68.5 cm long! She is a long baby and is flying through her clothes.

Have you guys watched Breaking Bad? I had totally missed out and going though the series now. Love it!! Jesse is my latest celebrity crush...what can I tell you...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sleep, Love and Pray

This has to be the longest I have not blogged without the excuse of being on holidays. So I have adapted the famous book title to my own needs for a bullet point update.

Sleep. Not. Happening. I can feel I am at the end of my rope here, getting up at 6.30 with a full day of teaching, labs, meetings, research etc AFTER waking up 3-4-5 times a night will eventually take its toll. not every night. Some nights Martina will wake twice at the most. There is NO PATTERN. Last saturday night she woke every hour starting at 4am. Two nights ago she woke at 4 for a feed and then slept till 7.30. Her days are great, she is bubbly, happy and sleeps two/three naps no problem, of appropriate length. At least now for the last while she wakes at night but does not stay awake long at all. I know she will grow out of it eventually, it's not knowing when that will happen that is a killer.

Love. I love my family so much, I love what we have become and how we are growing together. I love watching the children interact, Oliver loves Martina and she thinks he is the most entertaining thing alive.He can do no wrong to her, even when I think he is a bit rough, she laughs her head off and wants more. He speaks to her in Italian most of the time, maybe because I of course do the same and he must think that is the only language she knows! And Oliver is really so sweet and I love how fascinated he is by all the things around him. Did I tell you that one day in the car he asked me "Mamma, where do the clouds go?" and he is fully bilingual, mixing and matching phrases at times and really trying hard to remember new long and difficult words.

At the beginning of November a little imaginary elf called Lenny joined our house. I want to make this a tradition for the time leading up to Christmas, when Santa sends his helpers to check on the children and their behaviour. Our Lenny is a nice, not scary looking elf, that eats coco pops and has a book to keep notes. He will at times be a bit naughty and perhaps tie a not in the leg of Oliver's pj, or put a sock in the sleeve of his jacket! But he can also be very good and rewarding if Oliver has been particularly good and on a couple of nights he put a small chocolate square on Oliver's pillow! We have a picture of him on our fridge door.

Pray. If you have followed my blog for a while you know that this year has been particularly tough for Mike's family. First a cousin of his passed away suddenly around March. Then another cousin was diagnosed with lung and liver cancer (thankfully she is in remission which is some miracle), then his mam was in and out of hospital all summer with some sort of an infection which did not seem to ever go away. More recently an uncle (the father of the cousin that passed away) had some major surgery and went into cardiac arrest. They had to shock him 6 times to bring him back. He has turned a corner and on his way to recovery. Finally, Mike's mam is back in hospital as of last friday. I wrote about her here and here and unfortunately she is going to loose her second leg. More clots have formed and there is nothing more that can be done. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. They will try and save the knee, however I can't imagine how she will manage. She never really walked again even with the one prosthesis, so with two it will be just plain impossible. As the news came through yesterday that this was the course of action, we rushed to the hospital, only to find a very happy and positive mother-in-law, looking forward to be done with the pain and joking how she will in fact be able to fly again and go on holidays (she couldn't fly anymore since her circulation in the remaining leg was still so compromised). If you ever think your situation is bad and don't think you can cope, I will happily pass on her phone number, she is out of this world. We know her GP totally screwed up when she went to him with pains in her leg last week and he dismissed her after feeling her calf and saying there was nothing to worry about. He didn't check for pulse, just sent her on her way. The day after she decided to come up to Dublin and get herself checked in. It was too late. There is apparently an 8 hours window where clots could have been resolved with heparin drips and she missed it. If it was me, I would be on to a lawyer and sue the GP. Nope, not MIL. She said she was certainly disappointed with his care and she will change doctor. No point in fussing over what has been done, the outcome won't change. I wish I had her attitude. Please spare some thoughts and prayers as she faces this new challenge.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

6 months old

Little Martina is not so little anymore and turned 6 months old yesterday!

Almost sitting up unaided she is a very active girl let me tell you. Our nanny is brilliant and I am really relaxed when Martina is with her. Though I leave very early in the morning, Mike tells me that she is arriving always a few minutes early, and when I go back home in the afternoon I get a full report of the day. She is sleeping quite well during the day and for the last three nights we have seen an improvement too! She is eating all that's given to her and she is still very happy to breast feed a few times a day/night.
Tomorrow is friday already and my first week in work has literally flown by. At this rate I'm afraid that if I close my eyes for two minutes I'll miss Christmas! One week down and 5 to go, I think the major difficulty I have is that my brain is not fully in gear yet (or I'm having early onset of dementia!) so I have to dedicate a little longer to review lecture material before going into a class and given that I teach 3 classes at different levels in different days and with complete different curriculum, I appreciate the quiet time in the morning before anyone comes into work.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to work

I'm in my office. It was still dark when I left the house, raining miserably, children both asleep. I have been awake since 3.30am, Martina woke for her feed and took one hour and fifteen minutes to get her back to sleep. Meanwhile, Oliver also woke and paid us a visit. He had not had enough to eat at dinner (ahh the muffins at 5pm weren't a great idea) and so was hungry. Mike looked after him and relocated to his bedroom at about 5.30. I was still awake though feeling the sleepiness slowly taking over...about 30 minutes before the alarm was due to go off. And then I was up. And everyone still asleep. It's hard thinking I'm not there and Martina will definitely have woken up by now and no morning cuddle with mamma.
I know many of my American friends and working moms would have gone back months ago, I didn't find it this hard with Oliver, but Martina is so much younger.
I will be home by 4pm. Not long.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hometown favorites, a tale of two cities

I have been approached by Kendra to write a piece together about our two hometowns, Chicago and Bologna. I amazingly found some time to do it, so I hope you enjoy reading it!


While I have always loved to travel, there is no question what city has the number one place in my heart: Chicago. My hometown, Chicago, is known for being one of the best cities in the country. With a plethora of shopping centers, history, restaurants, sports teams, and more, Chicago certainly has something to offer everyone. As you read this article, you'll learn more about Chicago and what makes it so attractive.

While big chains like Macy’s and Nordstrom are great, I love the independent shops in Chicago as well. One of my favorites is the Cerato Boutique. On Southport Avenue, it boasts being the original Chicago Boutique, and not just a boutique in Chicago. I come here when I am looking for the perfect outfit, and there is something for women of every style in this amazing store.

The Navy Pier
One of Chicago's most famous landmarks is the Navy Pier. This pier runs over 3,000 feet long and dates back to the early 20th-century. Navy Pier is one of my favorite weekend spots, and my kids love to enjoy rides on the 150-foot tall Ferris wheel. Regardless of your age, the Navy Pier offers something for everyone, including scenic parks, souvenir shops, restaurants, and more. The miniature golf course here is one of my kids’ favorites as well!

The big city lights have always put a twinkle in my eye, as the skyline in Chicago is truly remarkable. Whether I am admiring it when leaving a fun pizza dinner with my family or driving into the city early in the morning as the sun is rising, it is really beautiful. If you are ever visiting Chicago, use a site like gogobot to find a great list of hotels in the city. Do yourself a favor and check out where the hotel is located, so you can really enjoy the city.

Fine Dining
One of my favorite places to eat in Chicago is Café Ba-Ba-Reeba! Famous for their Spanish tapas and paella, this is a fun place to come with the whole family, or a group of friends. With tapas dining, you can all order a few small plates and pass them around, trying a little bit of everything! Located in Lincoln Park, it is a beautiful area to enjoy a meal in. Tapas dining is always so much fun, as you always end up enjoying something new and different.

There's no denying how appealing Chicago is. Whether you go to shop, sightsee, or eat, you'll certainly enjoy a memorable vacation.


Even though for the last 12 years I lived in Dublin, I am originally from Bologna, a town in the north of Italy, with hills to the south and flat land in all other directions. As you land in Bologna in the summer, the haze typical of a hot place will surround you and the smell of my hometown hugs me as I step down onto the tarmac. It makes my heart smile. While I grew up in the suburbs, my parent relocate to the city centre and now when I visit I have absolutely everything at my doorstep.

The city center
Almost unique to Bologna are the porticoes that allow for comfortable shopping no matter the weather. The streets radiate from the main square (Piazza Maggiore) in all directions and the typical red bricks of the ancient building, the medieval towers and monuments could be out of a history book. Then of course many shops of all kind bring you back to the modern era…

The two towers
There are two towers in the city center, Asinelli and Garisenda both leaning and one almost twice the eighth of the other, a memento of two rival families of the XII century who challenged each other in building the tallest tower. You can climb up 498 steps to the top of the Asinelli (the tallest) to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city and its red roofs.

The University
Bologna is famous around the World for hosting the most ancient university still in existence. Unlike many modern universities, with a proper perimeter which defines a campus, here the various departments are part of the city center. Picturesque buildings hosts the faculties of Law and Arts as well as Science. Bologna is kept young by the students that every year arrive here to study.

The food
How not to mention the fine food you can enjoy here. Bologna is strangely known for “Spaghetti Bolognese” which I actually never had in my life and I do not know any one but tourists who claim this is in fact a traditional dish. It is not, no one would eat spaghetti with mince meat sauce, and you won’t have to search to hard to find a traditional trattoria in the city, there are so many and for all kind of pockets, and you cannot be wrong if you enter somewhere that doesn’t show a menu in English!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Normality? ...what was that again?

Another week gone. A lot happening. Like I got my period as predicted. This adds headaches from hell to exhaustion and I'm not a pretty sight let me tell you. Remember that routine I thought I had and posted last week. Forget it. I won't even bother writing down where we are at, let me just tell you it doesn't look I'll be having a night of uninterrupted sleep anytime soon. But look, she is healthy, growing well and a very happy baby, I know it's a phase and it will eventually pass, I am so blessed I would not want to go back to sleeping with no baby, so bring it on. I'm hooked on coffee and try my best to function during the day to do all I have to do work-related for deadlines which are happening before I even go back but that's just the way it is.
I have to submit exam questions, reports and budgets. Martina's sleeping times are like time-bombs for which you don't see the timer so next week I'm actually going to ask the nanny to come over for a few hours and see if I can get some of those things finished. It sucks I have to pay her even before my maternity leave ends but she has to get to know Martina anyway so instead of having her over the following week when my parents are also visiting, we'll do it a little sooner.

In other news, this Sunday we are christening Martina, friends are going to stay with us and we go a cake specially decorated with one of Oliver's favourite characters for the occasion, here's a sneaky preview!

The lady that did it for us is an amazing artist and while our cake is pretty simple, the details are perfect, down to the eye-shadow on the little princess and the teddy! Just look at the image of the real character from Tony Ross:

Also both the cake and the icing are delicious (not always the case) so I'm looking forward to eating it tomorrow! Martina will be wearing a family gown which is I think about 2 generations old and belonged to Mike's mam, so that will be nice. Will post some pics of course.

Oh, I want to invest on a nanny cam which I can look at remotely on my phone for example, unfortunately I fell back in a bit of anxiety about SIDS so our monitor is back in function. I was so proud of myself for not having had the need use it, but than a bad news from a cyber friend threw me back in the loop...what can I do, just have to keep telling me I'm doing all I can to keep her safe and I feel a wireless cam will prevent me from going up and down the stairs every 10 minutes (and check on her when I'm in work). Spam me with suggestions if you have any!

Love to all

Friday, September 27, 2013

5 months old, sleep, and weaning

Martina was 5 months old on tuesday and I only got to post about it now. She is doing very well, rolling over, chatting to herself and doing her best to sit up unaided (not there yet!). Today we had our second round of jabs, I am keeping them a bit more spread out than the recommended two months, but we believe vaccines save lives so we do them all.
Her sleeping is significantly better, I think trying to stick to a (EASY) routine helps me as much as her and I think we are in a transition phase from 3 to 2 naps (just when I was getting comfortable with the 3 naps gig) so at the moment it goes like this:

Wakes happily at 7am and breastfeed
Nap at 9 am for about 45 minutes but on good days is 1 our and 15 minutes
Eats at 11.30  solids, we are still on the root veg mostly, standard fruits, yoghurts
Nap at 12.30 and this one varies depending on the length of her morning nap, if the morning is short this one can be 2 hours.
Eats at 3.30 milk, I was breastfeeding her till two days ago and as of yesterday I introduced a bottle at this time as she is mostly chewing at my nipples and I'm back in pain
Cat nap (or not) around 5pm for about 30 min
Eats at 6.30 solids, mostly cereals of some kind (rice, tapioca, millet) and a bit of cheese
Bedtime routine starts around 7.30 with a bath, cuddles and breastfeeding to sleep.
Dream feed a bottle around 11 pm.

So the days I have them sorted, according to some suggestions I got on the babywhisperer forum, I should stretch the awake time to 3 hours and move to 2 naps a day which should be longer.
The nights are mostly good, she wakes once for breastfeeding at 4.37 (exactly!) but some are totally out ow whack and I don't know what I do differently. Only two nights ago she woke at 10.30, 2, 4.37, 6.10...and those nights are hard. Interestingly it is quite obvious when a night is going to be rough, it starts at bedtime and she seems to be in a very light sleep when I put her down, and wakes shortly afterwards and then keep waking. Anyway I can handle a couple of bad nights a week when I go back to work, hopefully no more than a couple!

In the process of going back to work I have started weaning her from the breast too as I mentioned, I kind of need my body back, I've been a little more than an amoeba since she is born, no sex drive whatsoever and my poor husband is very understanding of course but at the moment I can't tolerate much a suggestive caress, let alone touching my boobs...I think my period won't be far away, I have had ovulatory cramps and classic signs, so I'm hoping that my hormones are also resettling and I'll get some mojo back. With Oliver this...dryness...didn't really happen, I think it was due to the fact that I didn't breastfeed. Any of you guys in the same boat?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy birthday to me and various updates

It's my birthday! 39!! Can you believe it? I feel 25 inside though, long may it last. This year Mike not only remembered promptly my birthday but he had a fabulous present ready, a Nespresso Coffee Machine which I opened this morning and fits perfectly on our kitchen counter!

I really like it and was often looking at them in the shop. I liked them even better when I learnt that the coffee capsules are fully recycled and some of the machine are even made with them, so my Eco-side was satisfied it was ok to own one and Mike remembered and got it for me! It will take some time now to explore all the flavours and decide which to get and stock up, it will be fun!

The day was good and uneventful, and we managed to have the children in bed and asleep reasonably early to enjoy some cake and wine. To many more years!

Only 5 weeks till I'm going back to work.....tick tock....tick tock...not a nice feeling I'm afraid, but at least it seems we have the nanny sorted out, so that is a relief. Unfortunately with my kind of work it's not like I can just show up and do something, so I have already to submit exam questions for the Winter examinations...deadline 4th of October and I have not even looked at the slides I'll be teaching yet. This weekend I promise.

Martina is 21 weeks old today and she is comfortably wearing 6-9 month clothing. How is that even possible? My little baby is growing so fast I'm afraid to look the other way and she's walking. Or talking. On a few occasions I actually thought she said "ma ma". Scary! But she is working with me into establishing some sort of routine. We are probably 10 days into Tracy Hogg EASY routine and I am happy to report day time naps are pretty much sorted, she sleeps in her cot, takes only minutes to settle and even though the first morning nap is short (40 minutes) she can sleep for 1.5 hours after lunch (although she still wakes after 45 minutes but I have managed to re-settle her for the last two days very easily. Nights are still a hit and miss, but I am positive we will see an improvement soon. I believe her main problem is that she has a very very light sleep (or a bionic ear) and the minimal noise will make her stir and subsequently wake. I'll have to help her on that too, but one thing at the time. She is my super cutie and cuddly baby, I love her intense look. She gets easily bored with toys unless she is looking at Oliver playing, she loves listening to a conversation, I seriously think she is going to be a challenge as she grows up, and a heartbreaker!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back from Italy, 20 weeks old, Tracy Hogg

We are back! Flying with the children is fine, so much so that I'm going to go solo with them in December when I'll be off work! And that flight will actually be 2 as I have to go through Hamburg...let's hope for the best.

Our time in Italy was great, Oliver slept with no problems thankfully which made his mood and overall enjoyment of the weather superb.

Clarissa, Oliver and Martina

Martina on the other hand...does not sleep through the night at all, wakes generally between 11.30 and 1 am, then again around 4 and then at 6...not good. At least I now have her in bed by 8.30-9.00 consistently which is something. During the day she can somewhat successfully fall asleep in the stroller (morning and lunchtime) but she cries. I can count on one hand the times that she just fell asleep on her own without crying. It's hard. I'm resisting latching her on during the day for naps (but still do at night time) or we'll never come out of that and I'm going back to work in 6 short weeks...She still cat-naps but I'm working on it, mostly because I know she is not well rested after only 40 minutes.
An update on the tongue-tie. My friend the surgeon doesn't think she has it at all, and when in Italy my parents insisted we brought the children to a peady there (you know...the best in the city, yadayadayada) as Martina was still coughing and my dad was convinced Oliver's knees were converging too much. I want to add that I believed Oliver's legs were physiological and that Martina's chest was clear as we had them both already checked out. Just in case you think we are careless parents too.... Of course we were told by the super paedy exaclty the same things we knew already and he confirmed too that Martina has no tongue tie that can affect bfeeding. In the last few days I have started feeding her again without the shields but being consistent with putting on the lanolin and so far so good. She has also started solids very slowly at lunch time which means we skip a feed and all seems to be going well. She is 20 weeks old today and she is rolling over (back to front and occasionally the other way around too), weighed in at 6.2kg at 19 weeks and is 63 cm long. Very sturdy, I can believe she is "only" 20 weeks old and she looks about 6 month old for alertness and interaction.

 At the table with papà last night

"Reading" a soft book in her bouncer this morning

As of yesterday I have started applying the Tracy Hogg method for Martina's daytime far Martina is winning...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A holiday, a nanny and a bit of a routine

We are going back to Italy on thursday for a couple of weeks, I really look forward to it but Mike's mam is in the hospital (again) and it's always worrying being away when she is not well. Hopefully she will recover soon, she has been having recurrent infections for the last few weeks and every time it is a big blow to her health. They don't seem to find a therapy that gives her time to recover and as soon as she is back home, she has to go right back in. Please spare a thought for her.

As time is flying by so quickly this time, I realised that I don't want Martina to go to the creche in November, she will be still small I feel and if we can find a way to keep her at home for a little longer it would be better. So in the space of a night I thought of a plan. I have to go back to work in the middle of October for the second half of the teaching semester (6 weeks) but then I can take my annual leave which will bridge me to Christmas holiday and teaching term doesn't start till the third week in January. If we could get a nanny short term for those 6 weeks then Martina would actually get 3 more months at home and we can probably manage to delay her going to the creche till the beginning of February. Well, one of the girls who was working in Oliver's room and for whom I had great respect, quitted a few months ago as she is studying for an MSc in education (and wasn't really getting on well with the manager) so I manage to get in touch with her and she was delighted to work for us! We have not discussed details yet because she went to Greece for a month and we all be back early September for a proper plan. I really hope it works out, she is quite local to where we live and always gave me the impression she loved her job and was very grounded. So fingers crossed! It will be a bit of stretch economically to be honest, but it's for a short time and we have some savings.

As for Martina's routine, so far I have been working on her sleep (no matter where or how it happens) and I now manage to have her in her bed asleep by 9.30 pm. Then she usually wakes around 1.30 am, nurses 10 minutes and is asleep again for a variable time which is longer if she is in my bed. So that's where she stays. Then I try to have her nap in the morning, after lunch and again late afternoon, but she is a cat napper and sleeps for 45 minutes top (on two occasions she slept for 2 hours at lunch time). And Mina is right, no point in stressing about how she will do once in the creche or with the nanny, she will adjust of course so I'm not stressing over it, just trying to organise the day a bit. Now she has a cold/cough combo which is making her miserable, poor baby.
I'm still breastfeeding her, in fact at some point last week she ditched the shield! Happily feeding without them...till my nipples were in bits again...unbelievable...I got a lactation consultant in on friday and she thought Martina may have a tongue tie and I got a referral to have it release. But then I mulled it over and I don't actually think that's true, or not severe enough that snipping it will have any effect, and my friend the paediatric surgeon will come to the house tomorrow to have a look at her himself (he doesn't believe she has it at all in fact) and then decide what to do if anything at all. I'm back on the lanolin and shields and within a few days I was  pain free again, so we keep going till it lasts I suppose. She is 17 weeks today!

Oliver is back to being the sweetest boy I knew, he's now going to bed with no issues, in fact quite happy, kisses Martina good night and sweet dreams (in Italian!) and tells her he's going to bed too! A good night sleep works wonders for him (and anyone in fact) so now his days are happier and much more enjoyable for all involved. Long may it last.

I will check on you my friends, I'll be back early September, be good!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sleeping and other routines

We have none with Martina. It's very strange for me, I am not a first time mom, I know routine is good and I do believe in routine. With Oliver we had a routine of some sort from about 6 weeks on. With Martina every day is a surprise. She is definitely using the breast for comfort as well as for feeding, she has to be nursing to fall asleep 90% of the time (the other 9% we are on the move, other in the car or in the ergo, and the 1% miraculously she may fall asleep in her swing), this of course means that I'm the only one who can do it. At night, if she is in her cot (after falling asleep with me somewhere else) she can wake after a couple of hours, nurse for 5-10 min just to fall asleep again, back in her cot and start over. If she is in the bed with us she will go longer stretches, even 4 or 5 hours. I don't mind her being in our bed, in fact I quite like it, but we didn't do it with Oliver thinking it was best for all of us to have our own space and now I think poor Oliver missed out on the best cuddle ever for a baby...Martina wakes up not because she's hungry, before going down for the night I give her a 6oz bottle of hungry baby formula and it's the same as when she is just nursing from me. Because it is so confusing to know when she is hungry from when she is tired (both require nursing) we are all over the place all day long, with very short naps, no long naps at all, feeding a bit only to fall asleep etc. She also caught a chesty cough from Oliver which doesn't help. Now, I don't know what to do, suddenly October seems very close and I'll be going back to work (which strangely this time I don't actually look forward to), shall I impose a routine? She seems so frightened when I let her cry a bit to see if she falls asleep in her bed and clings on to me for dear life when I pick her up, it breaks my heart!! The only book I have on babies from the last time, which I didn't buy but was given to me, is the Gina Ford one and to be honest I find it hard to believe that at 3 and half month you should let a baby cry when it's obvious they need you. Maybe I should read the Baby Whisperer? My bible book for toddlers actually says that babies must be followed in their lead up to even 9 month as any form of training before hand is too much for most of them and every baby is different.

Now, on Oliver's bed time routine which was back to Hell, we enforced a bit of tough love and we are back on track, he is now asleep by 9 most of the time and sleeps till 7.30 which is huge! We had got to the point where he would not sleep till 10.30 (crying the house down) and up before 7 with no naps during the day. It was awful. Of course he was tired and it was a vicious cycle which was triggering tantrums during the day like they were going out of fashion. Even tantrums seems a bit more contained though occasionally we have to threaten him with a slap (and this is sufficient to at least make him stop shouting), I know, not best educational method but we all have to survive in a very sleep deprived household...

And finally I'm back to feeling well, the final results were of a sub-acute UTI, probably caused by dehydration which I promptly tackled with forcing myself to drink plenty. No more nausea thankfully and I no longer think those awful thoughts.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What is wrong

Before going full on with scans and specialists (which are being arranged nonetheless) I went back to my GP on tuesday as she had asked me to let her know how things were. I wasn't feeling really any better, nausea on and off, I started keeping a diary so I knew at times I was feeling fine and at times I wasn't. I also had occasional pain on my left hand side, nothing major, more of a nagging feeling which was only exacerbating my anxiety. She visited me again, asked a bit more about symptoms etc. and did a quick urine stick test. Well, it came back with very high white blood cells and a little bit of blood too. A UTI!! Without the classic acute presentation. She said it can be that it presents with an overall feeling of queasiness. So off the urine went to be tested properly and I went in the following morning for a blood test screening for kidney, liver and thyroid function as well as full blood count and other inflammatory values. I rang my doctor friend and let him know the progress, his wife, also a consultant, works in the hospital were the blood and urine were analysed and he said she would find out for me the results asap. This morning he called me with the good news that bloods came back absolutely normal but that the lab confirmed high levels of white blood cells in the urine (no traces of blood). They are culturing them now and we'll know in a couple of days if anything grows and what can we do to treat it.
I feel relieved to say the least. Of course I started immediately all the home remedies (drinking plenty and taking cranberry juice) and hopefully I'll start feeling better even before the cultures come back. I'm also glad that it wasn't just in my head to be honest.

Interestingly, I read today that oxytocin normally associated with pleasure and released during breastfeeding, has been found in some cases to be linked with worsening anxiety which appears to be my case... ah well. I have to get back into meditation but it's not easy when things are tough.

A post for another time but our bedtime routine is back to Hell zone  which is very stressfull...

Thank you so much for bearing with me. Will update with next results.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Three month check and other craziness

Martina was 3 months old yesterday and in an amazing promptness the district nurse came over today for her check up. She is doing great, weight 3.35 kg, 59cm and right around the 50% growth chart. I wasn't worried one bit, she can lift her head easily when on her tummy, smiles, cooes, follows you with her eyes etc. She feeds well, I cannot say we have a schedule because we don't, nights are ok most of the time when she wakes up once for feeding and then goes back to sleep. During the day she is happy if she is held...which has my back in bits and mostly I can't do much at all. She may sleep for a whole 10 minutes if I put her down (asleep) in her swing chair and we have to start over. This is not ideal of course, but what can I do? She is looking more and more like her brother, have a look at this two pics, Oliver was 3 months and 3 weeks old, and below is Martina just the other day! I love that pic of Martina, looks to me like one of those ads for baby food or something.

Here is Martina and Oliver together

They make my heart smile!

And now for your joy, here are some of the craziness on my part. Remember I have convinced myself that I have some terminal disease but that I was working on snapping out of it and see if my symptoms would just go away? Well, not so easy. I went eventually to the doctor last tuesday, feeling half silly and completely well at that point. Explained I have been having this upset stomach for about ten days now and that I was worried I may have stomach cancer...she laughed it off, visited me, and said it was probably a bit of extra acidity and had I changed anything in my diet. I had actually, I started back drinking coffee (espresso) after lunch after years of not doing so and to improve my milk supply I was also taking every day an herbal mix definitely overdoing the doses and simmering times. she said to stop and see how I felt. I felt better for a couple of days and then the nagging sensation was back on sunday. It's on and off, I constantly think about it with all the dark thoughts that come with it. Of course it doesn't have to be stomach cancer, can be pancreas too or my head they are all deadly anyway so no real difference. And today I caved in. I called a friend of mine who is a doctor working in a hospital here and explained all that I have just told you. I said I wanted a scan or I would just go crazy with fear. He of course reassured me as he said it's much more likely anxiety and post-natal hormones but also said he will organise a letter for me so that I can go to one of the local centres and get it done. So there you have it, I'm a classic hypochondriac. Let's just hope we will be able to laugh about this in a short while.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good news on the family front

I really thought this news deserved to be blogged about. You may remember that a short while ago one of Mike's cousins was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs that had spread to the liver. Getting updates on how she was doing was a bit difficult because as I'm sure you can imagine her family was devastated and it's not easy to call and ask. I manage to get in touch via messages on FB with another cousin whose parents are in closer contact with her and she had told me that the latest news was bleak, a consultant had told the girl and her mom that the prognosis was very poor and spared no details...Then she was admitted to hospital about 10 days ago as she caught an infection and was in isolation. This meant that she could not go in for a scan and the second cycle of treatment till she was stabilised. Anyway, yesterday the news spread like fire that her scan was as close to a miracle as it comes, lungs were clear and the liver almost clear!! We are all thrilled, of course we know that this is a small victory in a long battle, but I don't think anyone, including the doctors, were expecting such a result. I texted her immediately and she was really upbeat and positive she can win this battle, going into the next round of chemo knowing it's working is just that much easier.
Thank you for your positive thoughts, I was telling her there was a big underground network supporting her that she didn't even know about!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bits and bobs

I don't know what I do all day, it doesn't seem like I do much at all, but days are going by so quickly I can't believe we are nearly in the middle of July.

Anyway, one thing I wanted to tell you is that I got the promotion in work!! This was most surprising, not because I didn't think I deserved it, but for the number of applicants (about 150) and the number of places available (35) in the whole college. My Head of School called me when I was on holiday, I have to admit, when I saw his name on my screen, I thought some tragedy had happened in the lab in my absence! So it was great news and while I'm truly happy, it's a bit difficult to celebrate when several of my colleagues did not get it, I'm keeping it low key but in fairness I got many emails of congrats from friends and colleagues.

Ireland is enjoying a fabulous summer so far, sunny days and warm temperatures are putting everyone in a great mood, I think the last time we had such a stretch of good days was 2006, hopefully it'll last a bit longer.

My friend the Ultimate Vet Hero is here visiting her in laws and we got to spend some time together which was really nice and hopefully we'll get to enjoy a spa day before she goes back to Cali next week. Thinking that last year I was just on my way back after a month in the States is strange, feels like a lifetime ago. Would love to go back soon.

Despite the weather, emotionally I'm having a bit of a hard time...I'm in another spell of severe hypochondria where I think I have something incurable and I'll die soon...and what makes me anxious is that if that was going to happen my children will not remember me. How sad is that? Anyway, I'm trying my best to snap out of this and not going to the doctor to require a total body scan (which he'll probably pretend to write down while referring me to a mental hospital instead). I have to get out more and talk to people, isolation is not good at all.

Everything else is good, children are thriving, Oliver has calmed down a lot since we are back, Martina got her first multiple vaccination and did very well, no major fussiness afterwards. This weekend we are going to call a babysitter (Oliver's carer from the creche) for the first time ever so that Mike and I (and Martina) can have some time for ourselves. I'm still breastfeeding a gazillion of times a day, at night she takes a bottle, my aim is to get to 3 months and then maybe introduce another bottle in the middle of the day. Like we did with Oliver, I'm planning to introduce solids around four months, maybe when we are in Italy at the end of August. Also I can't remember if I mentioned it already, but since we are back Oliver doesn't have his ciuccio (pacifier) anymore at night which was the only time he was still taking it! Basically he forgot it in Italy and we didn't give him the spare one and after a couple of nights he stopped looking for it! He's growing so fast!

Right so, bye to all till the next time.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Holiday report, tantrums and other tricks

Hello, hello, hello, we are back. Oliver, Martina and me extended our stay in Italy of an extra couple of weeks while Mike came back to Dublin, overall we had a great time. We came back yesterday an my mom came too to help with the plane trip so we have her here till saturday which is fab!
Here are some pics:
Martina (left) and Clarissa (right) asleep with their lovely reusable nappies!

Martina with half a smile

Oliver and Martina

Oliver with my mom cutting the dough for "crescentine"

I hope I'll be able to post more pics of better quality once Mike and my sister will download them from their cameras, we have some lovely shots of the children.

Clarissa was lovely, so much bigger than Martina and only 6 weeks between the two of them, but it was amazing to see how they quickly started to recognise each other and smile to one another! Often we would change them together in a small room which my mom had set up like a professional nursery, there were even two very comfy armchairs for feeding time (by pure coincidence!) and they would touch eachother's heads! So cute!
One thing that happened was that due to the heat my milk supply dipped a bit initially and I had to up the formula for the night bottle, plus the hillside fresh air and excitement had Martina a bit more hungry. Well, my sister had milk to feed the village and so she was happy to nurse Martina in the evening so I didn't have to give her the bottle at all! She said that her sucking was so much gentler than Clarissa and maybe not as stimulating for my supply to increase. So the two cousins now have this extra connection too. It was a lovely thing. I started taking a herbal mix made specifically for breastfeeding with the classic ingredients and eventually we went back to our usual routine and now Martina only takes 90ml (3oz) in the evening to get a bit of longer stretch through the night.
Her sleeping is great and I hope it will last as long as possible. I take her into the bed with me when she stirs around 5am and she goes back to sleep till 6.30 most mornings. It is the sweetest thing to have her in my arms as we both  snuggles in under the sheets! She is the easiest baby I could imagine.

Oliver on the other hand...while he certainly had a fabulous time with nonno and nonna, he was also much more aware that Marina spended a lot of time in my arms...and this was not good. I started noticing that his kisses and hugs to Martina were just a little less gentle and clear signs of jealousy quickly appeared (one night he said to me he wanted Martina's milk...) and my adorable toddler would have outburst of rage to the point of stripping himself down screaming as if he was possessed if I told him he couldn't do something...and it could go on and on and on...There was no talking him down, no cuddles, no gentle approach that would work, and after a while even if you were to give in and let him do what he so badly wanted it wasn't sufficient to snap him out of such a state. I think he was on time out a few times a day at one point. This happened when Mike had gone back and I was on my own to try and discipline him. He would slap, bite, kick...the works. I admit I lost my cool a couple of times with major disapproval of my mother who is strongly against slaps etc. And I never did more than a tap on his bum to try and reground him. It was tough. One evening, in a calm moment, I asked Oliver what could we do to help him when he was feeling so angry (he did say he was angry) and he said I had to bite him (SHOCK SHOCK SHOCK), he even offered me his little arm! What?? I had very limited internet access but I managed to read a bit on how other mamas would deal with this (which I knew was totally normal etc, but this didn't help when I was trying to deal with an uncontrollable toddler who wanted to climb up a ladder while breastfeeding the little one) and one thing I embraced was this mama's tip which was to tell the child "we don't slap/hit/kick we only hug and kiss" and it was a definite turning point. Also I remembered I had the ebook on my phone which was fab when we were dealing with sleeping issues last year so I could read the chapter on "tantrums and other tricks" which was great help. Anyway, while I was a bit more in control, I have to say I was looking forward to being back home so that he would go back to the creche...
Thankfully he slept very well this time and my parents had his travel cot in their room, so I never had to worry when he was getting up at the crack of dawn!

I have a few other news but this post is already very long so I'll leave it till the next time, stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Italy here we come

We are off tomorrow and it will be interesting travelling with two little ones! I don't foresee any problem, we are veterans by now and Martina is easily transported at this young age. We celebrated 7 weeks yesterday and I brought her in for a weight check which was great with just a few grams shy of 4kg, breast-feeding must be working so!

We are back in 10 days, I'm not sure how much internet access I will have (we are staying in the holiday place in the countryside) but I'll do my best to check in on my cyber-friends.
Love to all

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summertime bulletpoints

  • Things are good. Martina was six weeks on tuesday and thriving. She had a bit of bowel strike but I'm happy to report she made up for it today...bath was needed! Apparently pretty normal around the 6 weeks mark. She is still sleeping well and Mike has moved back into our bedroom which is lovely.
  • My nipples are now back to normal thankfully, I will never underestimate how delicate they are. Martina is feeding well but still needs the nipple shields, I suspect they will be our companions for the rest of the journey.
  • I finally stopped bleeding, though occasionally the CM is a bit tinted but I guess this is major achievement. It took over five weeks this time.
  • We have been blessed with wonderful weather for the last few days (and in Ireland you cherish every single sunny day you get) so we have been out and about, sporting summer outfits of a bit more girly style, she loves being carried around in the sling and I'm happy to oblige.
  • Almost time for our trip to Italy! We leave on the 13th and I'm really looking forward to it, mostly to pack in some delicious food as the weather has been lovely here too. Can't wait to meet my niece and take loads of pictures of the three cousins together.
  • Oliver has been good most of the time, but occasionally he's very challenging and while he listens to Mike, he completely ignores me which is very frustrating...I know it will pass, but it's hard.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Your heart just gets bigger

Isn't this a lovely phrase? This is what my Swiss colleague (also father of two) said to me the other day to describe the feeling when baby number two comes along. Your heart is so full of love, it's unimaginable that more love can be accommodated for another child. And then magically it happens. This thing amazes me to be honest.

Anyway, let's update you all a bit on Martina and Oliver and family matters in general.
Martina had yesterday her 6 weeks check with the paedy (at about 5w2d, but still) and she is doing great. She is putting on about 100-120 grams per week which is good, she is smiling occasionally already which is early and definitely earlier than Oliver did it, and she is tracking you or anyone since about she was one week old which is a record! She never had the wandering eye like Oliver had, she can focus very well and moves her head both sides with no preference really. She is also very long having to wear 3 month size clothing already, but she is skinny! Any time I change her nappy, I have this impression that she looks like one of those baby dolls, so perfect.
She feeds from me (yesterday I had a very bad episode of a bleeding nipple and got quite lightheaded when I saw it...) but I definitely have to take better care of my breasts as the use of nipple shields STILL require a proper latching or you'll suffer! She also takes a little bit of formula as her last meal around 11.30pm and then she .... sleeps... (sssshhhh don't say it out loud) till about 5.30 or 6 am. I am blessed.
Funny story. On sunday it was Mike's niece first communion. When she saw me breastfeeding Martina, she had no idea what I was doing! Meaning that she didn't know babies can be fed directly from mothers...I was very much shocked to be honest, alright her mom never bf, nor did her grandmother but it's biology people! Surely she studied it in school? Anyway, I'm glad I enlightened her.

Oliver is still extremely sweet, loves his "baby nister" (he can't seem to be able to pronounce "sister", so after starting off with baby brother, then baby mister, we are now at baby nister) but we are not sure what is going on with him, we think possibly teething as he has his classic teething cough and occasionally he's in very bad form. My little chicken...hopefully he'll get better soon. When he comes home from the creche, the first thing he tells me is "No accidents mamma!" referring to his ability to use the toilet! He said to a stranger also in a shopping centre yesterday, he doesn't know what not to share yet...

Everything else is going well, I am loosing my pregnancy weight (not that fast mind you!) and I'm out and about with Martina. I bought myself an Ergo baby carrier yesterday in organic cotton which is fab! Here's a pic of Oliver trying it out

And I also brought Martina to meet the Favourite Doctor at the clinic last monday! She loved meeting her and of course asked me when I was going to be back for another round...ah well, that's another day discussion I suppose.

I think that's about it for now, I'm off to the clinic again to donate some left over meds (I have a full bag which I am sure someone can use) and then to buy some apparently miraculous breast compresses for cracked nipples...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

One month

One month old, growing up is tiring!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time is flying

Martina  is 3 weeks and 2 days old but it feels like yesterday she was just born...yet it's as if I've known her forever, I can tell when she is crying why she is crying (no more the gazillion hypotheses  of the random kind) I'm so much more relaxed I can hardly recognise myself. I don't wish the time away and in fact I'm cherishing every moment of this new-born stage. I remember when people were telling me with Oliver the usual "Ohhhh enjoy it, this time goes by so quickly!", I was thinking 'Really? Do you swear it goes by quickly? It feels like an age already'...I was in such different place then and I'm trying not to feel guilty about how I felt at the time (it's not like I had a choice of course). I remember looking forward to going back to work about a month into motherhood, days were dragging on, a lot of time in my hands but couldn't plan a full day, I couldn't really understand other moms dreading the thought of going back to work, how could they cope all day with a baby who does very little? And Oliver was very easy, not demanding at all, once he was fed. I suppose it was also a different time of the year, January, freezing cold, with snow like Ireland never saw before, short and dark days. Now it's spring, albeit still an Irish spring, but it seems to contribute to my positivity. Martina is still very easy, in fact she is great, even though I feed her on demand and my nipples are sore and cracked despite the shields, I would't want anyone else to take it from me. I still bleed on and off (apparently normal when breasfeeding) but it means I never know if not having bled for a couple of days is indicative of dryness or not. I feel I'm in full mommy-mode which was not the case with Oliver were I was more like...a basket case to tell you the truth, but I can only see it now that I know it can be different and wonderful.

The nights are only ours, Mike has moved to Oliver's room during the week and I just have her. For a few nights she only anted to sleep cuddled beside me. After fighting this for a while (I'm not much for co-sleeping, but just because I worry I'll roll over her etc, so I'm actually not sleeping at all!) I gave in and snuggled her beside me. Her smell is wonderful and my heart melts away. Oliver comes in to the bedroom in the morning with Mike to use our bathroom and he is such a big boy, he's very quiet if he thinks we are still sleeping and doesn't jump on the bed or anything, but if I call him, his eyes lit up and comes into the bed, wants to hold Martina and he's so gentle and sweet, you should see him.

If I'm not feeding Martina I always spend time with Oliver when he goes to bed. I love our time together, he loves it too. Story time, cuddling time, resting time (for me). It's as if I rediscovered him in the new vest of big brother who says "Mamma, Martina is crying, she's hungry".

I'm sure it's normal but my sex-drive is below zero at the moment, and while I miss Mike that way, I'm just in a different dimension, a deep sense of contentment which seems to last forever and I am sure I never felt this way before.

My mom left today after almost 4 weeks. My dad came up on tuesday to meet the new grandchild and returned home with mom. They have been great, nothing like the last time they were over, I deeply miss them now and I wish we were closer, though I don't want to move back to Italy and they'll never move here, so this is our reality...

As of the last couple of days Martina has a sore tummy in the evening, I think it may be that I've eaten chocolate, though I don't know, hopefully it'll pass soon as it's heartbreaking seeing her in pain.

Love to all.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How it is going at home

Certainly having a toddler also makes a significant difference....Mike is great and is definitely in charge of Oliver, and my mom keeps us fed and allows us that bit more rest, but I am tired. More than I remember being with Oliver. I suppose the major news is that I manage to breastfeed Martina almost all the time, which means we have absolutely no did I manage? Well, I found these nipple shields that totally do the trick even though they should be used as a temporary the moment Martina doesn't latch on at all without them, no matter what I try, so it'll have to do for now. Still I don't know if she's feeding enough as she is waking up very often and at night she takes a couple of bottles too (we need to survive too!). I'm delighted that our milk of choice (Hipp organic) is also doing a new-born version which wasn't available when Oliver was born. Mind you, I'm not obsessing about breastfeeding this time, I actually don't find it particularly rewarding, I don't have all those marvellous sensations people talk about, but I don believe whatever I can give her will do her good.

Martina is a very sweet baby, she requires quite a lot of physical contact which I don't remember being the cas with Oliver, she needs to be held tight to fall asleep, and she loves being beside me in the bed. We don't co-sleep though, I put her in the crib once she's asleep, though at night the temptation of just staying under the duvet with her is huge.
Oliver seems to have adjusted very well, his toilet training is perfect, we have no accidents and we have seen no regression. He is a bit more whining but he is also a two year old!

I'm posting here avery cute pic of Martina taken the other day when we were about to go out the other day, she is adorable in our eyes!

Emotionally I'm doing much better also, no major crying (of mine!) and settling into the new routine is getting easier, though not perfect just yet. I also don't have this time the claustrophobic feeling of being at home with a newborn and no interaction with the adult/working world, in fact I'm quite content to be at home with Martina and I'm loving our time together.

We have also booked our first trip to Italy for June, after my 6 week check with Dr. W (scheduled for the 7th of June) and ouch it's expensive to fly a family of four!! First reality check and serious evaluation when thinking of baby number three...

Better go now as the little one is hungry (again!)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How it all went

Thank you thank you for your lovely comments! I'm sorry Mike didn't get to post further updates as he promised so now that I have some time I'm going to do it myself!

The c-section: I went to the hospital early with mom, while Mike was taking care of Oliver and bringing him to the creche. I was checked in and I knew there were 4 sections scheduled that morning but I thought I would have been last. That was not the case! Mike wasn't anywhere near the hospital when the nurse said "I can bring you up to the theatre now..." or dear...I tried to call Mike on his cell which wasn't under coverage (he was just parking) then texted him and went up with mom to the prep room. Mike called a few minutes later, he had parked and forgot the phone in the car, run back, saw the txt and panicked! He was running to the hospital at that very moment! He made it in the end, I thought it was actually quite funny, didn't get distressed and was very focussed on meeting the baby, hoping she would be healthy and that all will be just fine.
The c-section was a breeze, very calm and relaxed unlike of course my previous experience...Dr. W is truly wonderful. He went through the previous scar commenting how low it was (he said about 2cm lower than normal...odd as he did it!). As he pulled the baby out and above the curtain for me to see, he said "You are having a little lady!" what a surprise! She looked beautiful, wasn't crying (but she was obviously breathing) and just had this curious look...amazing. He then chatted away to me while baby was being checked by the paediatrician, saying it wasn't an easy delivery due to the position of the incision but they managed nonetheless. I think they had to use a forceps as our little girl had some bruising on her left eye and forehead.
Of course we had no name at all...or actually, we had her third name, Phoenix as per our tradition, but that wasn't enough! We had thought in the previous pregnancy that if it was a girl we would have called her Erin, but to me she just didn't look like an Erin and the name (while I absolutely love it) didn't seem to fit as her first name...Erin would be her second name so. It took us a couple of days before settling on Martina. I love Martina. She is the sweetest thing. I thought Oliver was an easy baby, but Martina tops it without a doubt. She is content all the time, cries if she's hungry, that's all.

Oliver: Oliver came to the hospital with Mike the day after Martina was born, I had a nice private room and thankfully visitors (though restricted to immediate family) were allowed. We took the approach of not making a fuss about the baby (she wasn't named at that stage) and just focussed on him till he took an interest in the baby (she was in the plastic transparent cot) and we followed his lead. He asked to touch the baby and we had no problem with it, then I asked him if he wanted to hold her and he was beside himself with happiness. This is one of the best pics of that day...look at his face! Very proud big brother!

Now that we are home, he is still very sweet, though we try and dedicate as much time to him as possible and this is made easy by Martina who is no fuss at all. Martina is in our room but in her cot and this doesn't seem to be a problem for him. He doesn't wake up at night when we are feeding her or changing her nappy etc which is great, but he is waking up very early and coming to the bed which is a killer as I may just have gone back to sleep after the feed...So the plan is that Mike is going to take care of him once he's up in the morning, hopefully he'll settle back into his normal sleeping pattern soon.

Martina: She is adorable. The feeding is a bit of a problem as like Oliver, she doesn't latch on...and this time I have a bit more milk, not much mind you (wishfully thinking it can still get better) but I do have it. And she is voracious. So I am back in the trenches of pumping, feeding her my milk, trying to latch her on with any device invented, giving her an additional bottle and settling her back in her cot (which is literally just putting her back down). In total this takes me over one hour. I can already tell we will be doing elimination communication with her very easily...she is very easy to read and already last night I got her to poo in the loo (well the sink effectively, sorry TMI!). She doesn't have a feeding pattern yet, can sleep between 2 to 4/5 hours and unfortunately for the moment the longest stretches are during the day! But I can't really complain. Having a toddler to mind though seriously adds to the fatigue and I can't thank my mom and Mike enough for ebing so helpful.

Emotions: It's definitely much better than the first time. Of course I didn't have a traumatic experience this time and I was nearly at the of the pregnancy. I did enjoy the pregnancy, can perfectly remember everything about it (you may remember after Oliver was born I had a total black out on the pregnancy experience) and loved Martina exactly like I love Oliver from the minute I saw her. I am also not worried about SIDS as much as I was with Oliver. All this helps. But of course there is a "but". I am addicted to hospitals and medical environments. Though I again went home after 3 days of hospital stay rather than the recommended 5 (once again I had no real need for pain management, felt well and up and about very quickly), I am mourning the fact that this is likely my last pregnancy ever, I won't get to interact with Dr. W anymore (you know the way your OB feels to you as the person that makes your longed for miracle a reality, brings the baby into the World and hands it to you, to me he has very much a god-like status), I won't get to experience one of the happiest things in my life which is the birth of a healthy baby. Then I think maybe just maybe we could have a third one, we still have 4 blasts after all...and then I think how difficult it would be not only economically but also practically to have three children...and then I think how people do manage and so on. So I don't know. Maybe this door is still open but it has to be for the right reasons while at the moment it seems to be for the egotistic wrong ones.

Well if you read this far, thank you, I'm going to try and pump some more!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

She's here!

Yes - a girl!  We haven't settled on a name yet, so she's still Phoenix for the moment.  At one stage I thought I was going to miss the birth (eh?) - (Mike writing this, not Francesca) - I had just parked the car in a long-stay car park some distance from the hospital, thinking we'd be waiting for hours before being called to theater, when I got a text from Fran saying she was going in.  It was like something from a bad Hugh Grant movie - I sprinted to the hospital, dramatically ran in the front door, and demanded to see my wife who was right now giving birth.  I'm sure they've seen it all before.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand.  Phoenix was delivered by c-section at 10:26am, and Francesca is now feeling much better (having had nausea for a lot of the afternoon).  She was 3.045kg (6lb 11oz) at birth.  Here's a picture of both of them having a nap (Phoenix is the one on the right):

Phoenix seems quite happy to be with us - she just wanted to sleep for most of the day after her rude awakening this morning.  Here are a couple of closer-up snaps (including some rarely-seen open eye shots):

Oliver was happy to scroll through lots of photos of Phoenix ("Baby!") on my phone as I collected him from the creche, but we'll really get an idea of what he thinks of this new addition to our family when I bring him to the hospital for a visit tomorrow (hopefully).
More updates tomorrow (hopefully).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

39 weeks and the last belly pic!

Wow things are happening. Yesterday OB visit was good in so far as placenta, baby size, heartbeat, blood-flow in the cord, fluids etc. Then the internal check verdict was that my cervix has no intention of cooperating and is shut, long and posterior. Thanks cervix! So we have a scheduled c-section for....drum roll please....tuesday!! I'll go in early in the morning and then depending on emergencies and theatre availability I'll meet Phoenix sometime during the day... I'm excited, a bit worried about Oliver's reaction, sad that these are my very last days of ever being pregnant (at least I enjoyed it this time!) and happy it's not looking like there's going to be a panic like we had when Oliver arrived. I just took what I think it's going to be the last belly pic ever...

In keep with our style, we have no name selected, we think we are going to use Phoenix as a third name like we used Elvis for Oliver (surely Phoenix is suitable for both boys and girls, right?) and I have no idea as to whether it's going to be a boy or a girl. It'll be a total surprise!
My mam is arriving in a few hours, it will be lovely to have her over and I have no doubt she will be great help. 
Oliver has started waking up quite early in the morning recently (say before 6am) and then shows up to our bed and comes in for a cuddle...if we are lucky he sleeps a bit more, but normally not. For the last few nights he also woke up crying around 1am. I'm not sure what to think other than he's sensing something is going on and he is a bit distressed by it. We got presents "from the baby" to him, apparently there are mixed feelings out there as to what is the best thing to do to try and minimise the jealousy...some say it's the bigger child who should have a present for the baby not the other way around. We'll have a present from Oliver to baby too just to be on the safe side...but to be honest I think it will make very little difference. At the moment Oliver is very fascinated by babies and loves watching youtube clips, but when we will have one here to stay I'm not sure he'll be so happy!

In any case, I hope I will be able to update on tuesday or at least Mike may do it, positive thoughts that all will be well are much appreciated!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The kitchen project

Here it is finally! I know you have been holding your breath to see it! Have a look at the various stages, it was a very small job, but it made a huge difference in the space we now have available!


the extra unit is in and the mw has been relocated

Mike is tiling (thankfully we had left over tiles)

Tiles are ready to be grouted and dinner was getting ready too

Grout is done and wall behing the mw has been painted

Mike has fitted the undercounter lights, the mw and he is darkening the new granite top

Here it is in all its beauty!

Next project...changing the house front door...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

OB visit, 38 weeks and a plan!

Another week has passed with nothing much to report and yesterday I had another check with the doctor. Everything looks still good and Phoenix is growing which is great news. Dr. W has guessed a weight of about 3kg should he be born in the next few days. He'll see me again next friday (if nothing happens before then) and then we have to make some decisions. He suggested to give me an internal and we can have an idea about the cervix. If it's favourable, soft, maybe a bit dilated already, short etc, he could break my waters and hope for labour to start. If not then it'll be a c-section. If the cervix is unfavourable then there is no point in trying anything to bring along spontaneous labour and we'll just plan a c-section. So here we are, not long till we meet Phoenix! Very exciting yet seems so unreal still...
Today I'm 38 weeks and feeling well, but definitely I'm also feeling the weight! I seem to be sleeping a bit better which is great and the nose is also behaving not giving me much trouble. I have officially finished work on friday but to be honest the idea of being home alone is not that appealing to me...Mike works in the same college as me, so I think I'll go in with him and hang around the least I will be among people! I am very happy as I managed to do all the things I wanted to do before the baby came so there is nothing pressing that could cause stress.

In other news, we got yet another terrible news in Mike's family. One of his cousins, 32 year old girl, got diagnosed with lung and liver cancer...I found this absolutely shocking and terrifying, she never smoked, is a lawyer and very healthy overall. We don't know much details, but she will be starting chemo on monday. I read a bit about lung cancer and was very surprised to read that while 80% of that type of cancer is smoke related, 20% isn't smoke related and very common in young, otherwise healthy females... it apparently kills more that ovarian and breast cancers combined. Mike is going to visit her this weekend (she is in a hospital in our city) but the prognosis is not good as far as I can tell. And then of course I got frightened by the fact that I have also had this odd cough for months now which I blamed on the continuous colds Oliver brought home and awful weather. It is much better now but my hypochondria has undoubtedly kicked in. Anyway, if you can spare a thought for this young girl it will be much appreciated.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

37 weeks, new record!

I'm 37 weeks today, and I'm one day over the length of Oliver's pregnancy! At the appointment yesterday Dr. W took a first measure of the abdominal circumference, and didn't look too good, I think it was measuring something just short of 35 weeks...he commented on the fact that like the last time this baby is smallish but kept going on to look at the spine, at the fluids (which look still good) and the placenta which is a smooth as a peach this time around! We got to see Phoenix practicing breathing (I had forgotten they do this) and Dr. W said it was a very healthy sign. Then went back to the baby's belly and said this was a better angle for measuring it and gave it another go. The circle expanded and expanded to measure over 36 weeks!! Dr. W was absolutely delighted, said "I think this baby is actually bigger than we think s/he is!" and so was very happy to give me an appointment in a week time. He would like to give Nature a chance to do her job and let me go into labour spontaneously, but doesn't want to risk anything either, hence the close monitoring. I asked him how far in advance do we have to decide if we want to schedule a C-section (we still won't exceed 40 weeks gestation even if all is well) and he said no time at all, that we could decide to do it tomorrow or in case of need we could have walked across the corridor and do it there and then! So we have no date yet but I'm really pleased for now all looks as it should be. With Oliver I had gone into the hospital as I thought my waters were leaking, but then it wasn't ever clear if it was the case or not given that IUGR had set in and nobody cared about the waters. I now think I really was leaking because this time I definitely don't feel that wet and it's more normal discharge.

In Oliver news, the potty training at home is a great success I have to say, we may have the odd accident if he's distracted looking at a book or at Peppa Pig in tv, but in the creche is a different story. The first day it was super, only minor accidents due to the fact that he didn't seat properly on the toilet (he wanted to do it by himself!) and so he wetted his pants a bit, but from the second day onwards it was a disaster, there was an average of 4 accidents a day! The carers are great, kept saying it's very normal, not too many children are toilet trained in that room and so maybe Oliver isn't too bothered yet but he will get better. They don't want him back in nappies. On friday it was a better day, Rebecca (one of the girls) brought him to the toilet often, he peed a couple of times in the toilet and had still a few accidents. When we picked him up we actually witnessed about 3 accidents in the space of 15 minutes!! Here how it goes: he wets himself a bit, you bring him to the toilet, he says "Finished!!" you put new pants on and by the time you pull them up he pees a bit more! Mike was doing all the changing, we picked him up early after the OB visit and wanted to go for an ice-cream, till at one point I took over and told Oliver to sit on the loo and let me hear the noise the pee makes...and so he did!! Last pair of dry pants went on and we managed to have our ice-cream and get home without further accidents! Today was a breeze (so far anyway) but we prompt him very often and I don't take no for an answer. That's all folks for now, I leave you with a new belly pic, does it look to you the belly has dropped a bit since last week? I had a couple of days with strong back pain and a million BHs...