Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rowan's birthday - Part I

Well, it's taken 2 and a half weeks, but I think I'm finally in some kind of state to update! As per my previous post, we had a little boy, Rowan Clark Katarski at 11:27am on the 2nd of April. Rowan was born at home with no complications, and he's doing so well! Putting on heaps of weight, and he's grown 4cm in 2 weeks.

I wanted to try and get down some of my thoughts from the actual day before the details get too hazy.

The Night Before


Dad came around for a visit on Monday afternoon, and left at about 5pm, which is about the same time Hannah started thinking maybe something was going on. We were at 40+4 by this stage, and we were already starting to think "This is NEVER going to happen!" Such impatience.

The evening went along fairly normally. I made Tuscan meatballs for dinner, gave the house a bit of a vacuum and a mop, then we watched a bit of TV. A few hours into the evening, Hannah was definitely starting to get some proper surges, although they weren't super strong. By 11:00pm we thought we'd jump into bed and get one last proper night's sleep, because we figured the next day was going to be a big one.

We lasted about an hour. By midnight, the surges were pretty real, and Hannah wasn't getting much sleep, so we got back up, popped on some Star Trek: Voyager and tried for a cup of tea. At about this time we hooked up the TENS machine to Hannah's back, and I drew some accupressure points on Hannah's ankles, back, legs, hands and forearms with a fat black texta. This is something we would be very thankful for within a few short hours.

Early Morning


An episode of Star Trek down, and the surges had become regular and a bit stronger. Hannah tried laying over her fitball, or crouching down over the couch, but found it pretty uncomfortable. All of our practise positions had involved Hannah being on all fours or leaning over the ball, but as it turned out, only standing seemed to be comfortable.

This is where the accupressure points came into their own. Even with the Hannah mashing the "BOOST!!!!" button on the TENS machine, nothing worked quite as well to increase comfort during surges as my thumbs on her lower back, just at the base of and either side of her spine. I'd mash on her back, and Hannah would breathe slowly and steadily, and then the surge would pass. I think with all the practise labour surges that had occurred over the previous few weeks, the actual labour surges were familiar in a way. Very not Hollywood - I.e.  none of this "OMG! I think I'm having a contraction!" nonsense you see on the telly.

Episode 3


By the 2nd or 3rd episode of Voyager (the holographic doctor was having hallucinations due to a programming malfunction, very gripping!), there was no mistaking it. This was happening. We were going to meet the Bump on the outside, some time very soon. But how soon? We had absolutely NO idea as to when this was all going to conclude, so we just went one surge at a time. Breathing, accupressure, and lots of fluids. I made sure Hannah was drinking plenty of water and a bit of Gatorade. She wasn't hungry at all, but we'd had a pretty big dinner, so I wasn't too worried.

Timing


We figured we should be timing the surge intervals, so that we knew when to call Laura, our midwife. Hannah had some rad app on her phone which worked out the interval and the averages over a period of time. So with each surge we'd start the timer, then note the interval when we were done.

Speaking of timing... the night went so quickly! The minute or so of the actual surges obviously didn't feel quick, but the rest of the time seemed to fly by. The hours just cranked along: 2am, 3am, 4am. By the time that Tom Paris and Neelix were trapped on an alien planet, the surge interval was at about 4 minutes or so.

Resting


Hannah thought she'd sit down for a rest at about 4am or so (Tom and Neelix made it off the planet), which led to an immediate increase in the interval time. 4 minutes moved to about 5.5/6 minutes. So after half an hour or so of sitting down, Hannah was back on her feet. Immediately, the interval shifted back to around 4 minutes or so.

Missus Update


It's worth mentioning Hannah's disposition by this time. Very, very calm, very positive. We weren't worried about anything. Everything was happening the way it was supposed to, everything was natural. Hannah's body followed its inbuilt programming, and nature took its course. Hannah was able to laugh and smile and chat between surges as though it was just another day. We were both really looking forward to this day for so long, and now it was finally here, we were stoked.

Transition


We hit transition at about 5:30am I think, which is also about the time that the surges shifted to approximately 3 minutes apart. We decided to give it an hour to make sure that labour was well and truly established, continuing at the same pace. More accupressure, more fluids and more Star Trek. (Captain Janeway's holonovel was coming to life all over the ship, pretty spooky!)




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Due!

Today's the "due date" for Bump. Theoretically, Bump should arrive today and start wearing pants. Or  a skirt. Some form of cladding for a tiny bottom. Well, it's looking pretty unlikely! Maybe it'll happen some time on the weekend. Maybe it'll happen in a week! No way of knowing, so we'll just go about our business and wait for Bump to let us know.

I've got 6 weeks off work after Easter, which I'm very much looking forward to. Last day of work today until the middle of May.

I can't believe we've been through 40 weeks. As with these sorts of things, the time has gone simultaneously very quickly and agonisingly slowly. In a way it feels like all the pressure is off now. Now we just carry on and eventually Bump will arrive. But there's no more counting down the days and weeks and months and trimesters. Now we relax, finish off any preparations we decide are necessary, and enjoy some time together with the cats.

Hannah's still feeling great. What an amazing woman! She's given our baby the very, very best possible chance in this world. Super healthy, relaxed, happy. I'm so proud and so very in love. I can't wait for all that comes next! What an amazing woman.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1 Week Out!

We're only a week away from our due date, so any time in the next 2 weeks or so could be go time! I'm not sure I've quite put that together in my head yet... but what better way than to just relax, go with the flow and see what happens! I am starting to get excited, but I guess there's so many hours in a day, it's hard to be fully charged and amped every single minute.

Missus Report


Hannah's still very well. It turns out her platelets are a little low, which is very common during pregnancy, but otherwise she's continuing in the same sort of style as always - rocking out some serious health. Walking has gotten a little slower the last week, as Bump explodes out in front of her like a 50-tonne Soviet surface-to-air missile, and it's a little cramped if we're both in the bathroom at the same time. Also, Bump has really decided to work hard on antenatal yoga poses... every other hour there is an elbow erupting through an armpit or a foot in the pancreas. So other than being massaged from the inside, Hannah's going along fairly fantastically.

There's been a few blood tests of late, related to that platelet count. As soon as her count hits the magic number (or indeed, if the baby comes) Hannah won't need any further tests. So we're talking 1, possibly 2 more tests at the absolute most.

Relaxation


Hannah's been putting in a lot of hypnobirthing relaxation practise over the past weeks, and we've tried to be regular with our partner readings. Just had a great session then, imagining a silver glove of relaxation switching off certain parts of the body. It sounds a bit odd, but it's very effective. To what extent I guess we'll see very soon...

Home


I'm working from home now, which is terrific. Just being here means that whenever the baby is ready, we're ready to go. No need to rush home from work through the maddened panic of rush hour, no crazy car rides involving a cyclist, an elderly lady and a zany European surgeon. Just home-style chillin'. I get a bit of work done, then we can enjoy lunch time together, and I'm already at home the second the work day ends. In reality, these are some of the last few days we'll have as "just us", so it's nice to be able to spend them together. Not just nice, important.

As known as


We've finally got names for both a boy, and a girl. We're keeping the details under wraps for now, but it's a big relief to come to some agreement about a name that we think won't have the child ridiculed or stifle their chances for world renown when they're older. Spencer von Pottybottom Katarski probably wouldn't be terribly useful. Zebulon has finally been taken off the cards, much to my infinite satisfaction.

Hot tub


I did a trial run with the birthing pool out on the deck the other day. It all goes up pretty quickly! Apparently the midwife has a special pump for getting rid of the water afterwards, so she didn't appreciate my suggestion of hooking up our Karcher high-powered water canon and taking that opportunity to wash the car. "Think about what else will be in that pool!" she exclaimed. Good point.

The deck is looking like the business too, unless we have the majority of the labour during the night time. If it's a nice day, we'll be hanging out on the deck, launching a baby out, frightening neighbours with ghoulish cries and trying to convince the police that "Everything is fine, officer! There's just a woman in the garden giving birth..."

Friday, March 8, 2013

New address

To make things a bit easier, this blog is now available at:


The old address (http://paternalaffairs.blogspot.com) will still work, it'll just redirect to this new address.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zeroing In

Less than 4 weeks away from show time, assuming everything happens according to the paperwork... which we're not counting on! Realistically we're preparing ourselves for action any time from about 2 weeks time to whenever. That's a crazy thought... I'll be a Dad some time in the next few weeks.

I've had a couple of "WHOA!" moments in the last couple of weeks. I had a dream that our baby had been born and I was washing their face with a flannel, then another dream where Hannah was just going into a smooth and relaxed labour. Then one night a few weeks ago, I went to sleep at about 10:00pm but woke up half an hour later in a cold sweat..."We're going to have a baby soon!"

I find it really hard to clearly envision life once it's changed. I suppose it's almost impossible to predict really, until you've gone through it yourself. People will happily tell you how much life has changed, but that's THEIR lives changing, not mine. I guess I'll find out in vivid detail within a very short time frame.


Missus Report

The great news is there's very little to report. Hannah is feeling great, and received a 10/10 bill of health in her most recent meeting with our midwife. No vitamin deficiencies, no elevated this or lowered that. No swelling, no major aches or pains (other than tendon related stuff from having to cart a watermelon around in your pants), everything is tip top. She's in a fantastic state of mind at the moment too, and we're both looking forward very much to the big day and beyond.

Fraternal Affairs

I hung out with my brother Brendan and my sister-in-law Hayley the other week in Karratha. Aside from a really great opportunity to hang out with my family, which was awesome, the trip also gave me some excellent insight. Reuben, my less-than-a-couple-of-months-old nephew, and my niece Elora, who is just over 2 are terrific kids. Reuben just chills out his bouncer all day, and Elora is a tiny person with an fully developed personality and more energy than you could ever imagine. Just sitting and observing this family at full speed was such a great learning experience. I got some really good lessons around:
  • Routine - the obvious benefits, as well as what to do when you need to alter it
  • Roles - what Brendan and Hayley were able to do, and who did what
  • Discipline - Elora is gorgeous, but sometimes she's going to get cranky when she's tired, for example. Brendan and Hayley handle it so well, with so much patience. There was rarely a need for any yelling or carrying on
  • Consistency - The kids know exactly what to expect, which I think must make them very happy. Elora has a very clear sense of what she can and can't do, and what's going to happen when. Does she try to push the boundaries some times? Of course she does, she's a kid! But there's a very clear sense of understanding when it comes to the rules, regardless of who she's asking. And a profound sense of respect.
What an amazing family unit they have! Such a tight knit group. Very inspirational. I returned home with so much confidence. And I don't think this all came about by a fluke! I think the consistent, intelligent and patient approach that Brendan and Hayley have taken is absolutely the winning formula, and the reason their kids are so fantastic. They've worked hard, evidenced by the result.

What now?

Over the next couple of weeks, I really want to get a few things accomplished:

  • Start learning baby sign language, which is a simple copy-what-I-do activity designed to associate hand signals with baby needs, such as a sign for "milk" or "nappy" etc. Nothing too alternative, it's just a means by which you can try and interact a bit more intelligently with your bub before they develop speech.
  • Keep practising our hypnobirthing techniques and exercises, such as soft touch massage, affirmations, deep relaxation, anchor association and all the good things we've been doing for a couple of months now.
  • Read up on the various ideologies around helping babies to settle into a routine, especially around sleep. I suspect there won't be a single answer to this, so I want to read up on what people have to say before ignoring it all and coming up with my own awesome methods (like associating bed time with the War of the Worlds soundtrack so I get to crank it up every night)
  • Finish another Jack Reacher novel, before "me time" disappears for a while. I'm up to the 7th one, and they're fantastically mindless and easy to read.
  • Dry run the birthing pool, especially if we keep having these hot days... Hannah's picking it up today! Pool party!!
  • Keep cooking and freezing meals. We grabbed a bar freezer the other day, and have started stacking it full of left over meals, so once we're in "B-Town", we don't need to worry too much about cooking.

Fear Release Follow-Up

Following up from my last post, which was admittedly a long time ago now. I discussed the fear release assignment where we wrote down all the stuff we were crapping our dacks about, and then compared notes. Well, I'm happy to report that this was a fantastic exercise, with a terrific result.

The first thing Hannah and I did was compare our notes, then discussed the items which were the same for both of us. As an example, we discussed options around having to transfer to hospital if the home birth doesn't go as hoped, and what that might mean. Massively helpful. A lot of the fear and anxiety around some of these things was simply a matter of having not discussed it out loud. Once we chatted about it, we discovered we were fine! Logic and reason sprung to the fore, and we nutted out some practical solutions to the issues.

Next up, we discussed the left over things on our lists: concerns that were specific to each of us, and that we didn't share. This was also extremely helpful. I know I had one really major sticking point which I was very concerned about, but Hannah helped me come up with an excellent solution to the issue, which is probably going to have longer lasting value for more than just baby-related concerns. Similarly, I was able to provide a different perspective to some things that Hannah was thinking about.

Lastly, there were a few things left on the list which either or both of us still had some concerns around. So those were the things we took to class with Diana, our hypnobirthing instructor (http://www.hypnobirthperth.com). Diana ran a session which was aimed at taking those things you were still concerned with and creating a means by which to move past them, or to lessen their effects. Admittedly, I fell asleep during the relaxation prior to the hypno session,  but Hannah found it really effective. Hannah has now moved into a state of mind where the problems are just things to not dwell on. She has moved on and it happier, more relaxed and more confident.

Keys to victory!

All was not lost for me though. The simple act of writing down my concerns, and discussing them with Hannah was one of the most therapeutic and beneficial things I have ever done. I wish I had done this when I was struggling daily with anxiety and depression a few years ago. If you only take away one thing from my blog, let it be this: Talk. Talk about everything and anything. If not with your partner, then a friend, someone you trust or even a professional paid to listen. It made such a difference to me, and has really allowed me to get on with being as excited as hell about having our tiny little love on the outside.

Ok!

I'll try and get these updates coming a bit more frequently, as things happen. It'll all get a bit easier in a week or so when things are a bit less crazy at work, and I can remember to write things down as they happen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fear release assignment

Less than 9 weeks away! Whoa, things are snowballing along now! Huzzah!

In general news, Hannah is going fantastically well! Feeling very happy and healthy, and no issues so far, so that's fantastic new. No swollen ankles, no high blood pressure, no cravings for pickles and ice cream (or dirt!!?) at 3am. Everything is going so great, and we're on track for the most amazing birth experience. I'm really, really looking forward to the big day, and Hannah is too, so you can't ask for much more than that.

Coming along nicely!!

As part of our hypnobirthing course, we've been asked to write a list of things that we're still worried about, thinking about, any concerns or issues: emotions, finances, family, health, doubts, life changes, responsibilities, anything at all.

Once we have identified and outlined any existing concerns we might still have, we address the concerns in our sessions, so that we can either move past the fear, or diminish the effects of the concern, so that we're less bothered by it.

My first thought was that seems like an excellent exercise to undertake, irrespective of whether you're having a baby or not! Too often I think we carry stuff around in our heads instead of looking at ways to deal with it.

I've obviously yet to see how effective the session is, but I'm pretty confident. In only 2 classes of hypnobirthing, and a bit of practice, I can already relax much quicker than I've been able to in the past. So that's promising. Our course facilitator is really good, so I'm expecting some positive results. Hannah has been doing her affirmations every day, and is feeling very good about it too.

I figured I might as well share some of the things on my list, for interests sake. I'm not thinking about solution or answers to any of these at this stage. That will happen in due course. This is just a brain dump of things I'll be thinking about in our next class.

Post Natal Depression

Depression and anxiety are two things I'm very familiar with, having dealt with them myself. So it's no surprise that I have the same concern when it comes to Hannah's wellbeing after the birth hormones have disappeared, and we're staring reality in the face. Post natal depression is something to watch out for, and so it makes it onto my list. This isn't a huge concern for me, but worth popping down on my list.

Transfer disappointment

If for any reason we have to transfer off of the home birth program, I think Hannah might be quite disappointed, even though there's nothing that can be done in that situation. We're really keen on a home birth, but there's no guarantees. You can tell yourself that "so long as the baby is ok, we're happy" but the reality is you always have a preference for one thing or the other. So that makes it onto the list.

Complications

An obvious concern for many expecting parents, I would think. Complications during the pregnancy or birth that would adversely affect Hannah and/or the baby. Definitely one for the list.

SIDS

This is always in the back of my mind when we're looking at buying or organising stuff for the baby, so it's obviously something I'm thinking about. Worth bringing up.

Decisions

Come on, everyone is afraid of making the wrong decisions from time to time! This is the sort of stuff like should we or should we not vaccinate our baby, should we do this, should we do that. There's no manual for your own kid, so you have to be Grown Ups and do your research and make the best decision you can... but it's still something that you worry about. I do, anyway.

Work/Life

I really hope I can spend lots of time with Hannah and the baby, around work commitments etc. I have my priorities pretty straight, but it's worth mentioning.

Identity

Am I going to lose my identity when the baby comes along? Experience tells me no, but it's still something I ponder. Will I still be James? What happens to my id? On the list!

Footsteps

I really want to develop my own style of parenting, and not fall into the habits and behaviours that my own parents had. You've heard this one before, people claiming they'll be so different from their parents and then realising that they've turned into their Mother/Father. I'm fairly independently minded, but it's something I watch for. This is like a personal achievement type thing: How do I improve when I do it for myself?

Interference

Given that I'll be at work a lot, I do have a concern that there will be other significant people in the baby's life (besides Hannah) who will get to spend more time during the week with the baby than I will. I don't like the thought of being over ruled, badgered, upstaged or ignored by well-meaning friends and family. Big one for the list.


So that's it for now. It didn't take long to come up with those things, so I'm sure there's probably more stuff if I look long enough and hard enough.

As I said, I'm not necessarily concerned with finding answers straight away, (although I'm sure there'd be people desperate to give me advice!), but more just identifying some of the things that I've thought about or am thinking about. I'll let you all know how the "cleansing" session goes! Let me know if you want to hear any more information about hypnobirthing.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Differences?

It's only started to slowly dawn on me that in about 11 weeks, after this pregnancy business, we're actually going to have a baby. An actual one, just like other people have. We've done so much work on the pregnancy - antenatal classes, research, healthy eating, telling people we're pregnant, getting advice from people we don't want advice from (i.e. anyone) - but the whole goal of the exercise is creating a tiny person who lives with you and is a part of your lives and becomes a surgeon and makes a pile of money and buys Daddy a new surfboard and a Bugatti for Christmas.

With a bit of thought into "after pregnancy", here's a few quick thoughts on how my life might be a bit different (besides the obvious - I know all you naysayers and drama queens are just gagging to tell me I've got no idea and it's all so hard and YOU DON'T GET ANY SLEEP AND YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE BUT YOU CAN'T NEMO, YOU JUST CAN'T! but just try and relax for a minute, will ya?)

- I'm going to get into movies paying "adults at children's prices" which is awesome! Of course, I'll only be allowed to watch movies like Spy Kids 14, Giggle & Hoot Go To White Castle and The Wiggles: Jeff Collects A Pension After Suffering Narcolepsy For Nearly 20 Years.

- There's going to be a lot of poo. Con: stinky. Pro: Unrestricted license for poo jokes!

- Our child will continuously ask us why, until our brains are ready to implode... but on the plus side, I will be the omnipotent being of infinite wisdom and knowledge to our child. (Well, at least until they're 3 or 4 years old)

- Lego. You better believe we're buying all the Lego in every department store in the city. Lego time! Chuck the Xbox in the bin, it's time to construct Hogwarts out of plastic Danish squares! Lego Deathstar anyone?

- Kids love to dress up. Daddy loves to dress up! Match made in heaven.

- Water. Teaching our child to surf and to respect and enjoy the ocean could be one of the most compelling reasons for me to ever have kids. Maybe our kids won't be interested, but if they become as obsessed as we  have, we'll be passing on the infinite joy of feeling a wave's power propel them through a magical medium. Wow, that got a bit blousey... just go back to the poo jokes one.

In all seriousness, I still haven't actually processed the whole thing. I'm not sure you even CAN, until it's actually happened. Having a kid is surely like nothing else, so how do you prepare? I honestly believe that I'm just going to have to do what I do best... and wing it.

Here's a cool tidbit I just discovered: A baby can cry at a volume of up to 97dB... which is approximately the same volume as a Boeing 737 coming into land.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

12 Weeks Out!

Ok, so we're roughly 12 weeks away! Hannah  has 6 weeks of work to go, then she's off for a year. I've got about 10 weeks of work, a work retreat, 2 weeks working from home, and then 6 weeks off. I guess I better get onto booking that all in!

Hannah is doing especially well. The Bump is blasting out like a missile, and has taken to dancing on Hannah's inside bits. I was feeling the baby kick the other day (which usually just feels like a tiny flutter and flick on your palm... almost indiscernible) when suddenly I feel an elbow or an ankle or a unicorn horn or something press against Hannah's belly and run along it... it felt like someone pushing their finger into my palm and tracing along my lifeline. Mind blowing. And, it's fair to say, pretty bloody freaky. There's a little mutant in there, rattling it's bones against my wife's insides! I can imagine Bump's tiny face, a freakish grin etched onto their face, while they freak Daddy out with parlour tricks. "You like that, Dad? Just wait until I jump on Mummy's ovaries again!"

Here's something they don't often mention in these parenting books. Because Han's organs are all being smooshed and compressed by a fat little Bump-bottom, her stomach is somewhere in the vicinity of her right armpit... so when her tummy rumbles, it sounds like the most epic armpit-fart you've ever heard!

Things have slowed down on the purchasing front. Awaiting an order of "all kinds of that stuff" from my sister, we don't really need anything else. Of course we bought about 80,000 nappies (I hear you need about  4000 per day for the first few weeks... basically the boob milk is instantly converted into pumpkin coloured poop and sprayed liberally all over a nappy approximately 18 seconds after changing it) but otherwise we're pretty well done.

My brother and sister in law are expecting their 2nd any day now. By the time we get around to meeting Bump at Easter time, Mum will already have 7 grandchildren, so along with Bump, Mum's got herself a polo team!

Good news (for a change) as far as paternity leave is concerned. As of 1st January, there's something called Dad & Partner Pay, which basically entitles everyone to get minimum wage for 2 weeks after the birth of your child. The important role of fathers and partners is finally being recognised by the Australian government. It's about time, too!