I was very sad when I realized that the timing of Amelia's exit would mean no Doors Open Ottawa for me this year. But of course the rest of the family had to go!
I was quite excited about Canadian Blood Services but unfortunately they ran out of tour time slots by the time I emailed them. Their email suggested we should go anyway. It'll be family friendly, they said. There will be cookies, they said. So I sent Elizabeth and Matthew off with Grandma and Grandpa, who reported that the cookies were only for those getting their blood taken AND everything was obviously geared for older people. Sigh. Our family is mostly ineligible to donate blood by virtue of having lived in Europe during the 80s. I was hoping that this might be a small opening to show my kids that donating blood is a good thing. Let's just say the demonstration didn't help the cause.
Luckily the Alta Vista Animal Hospital was amazing. The kids came home bubbling over about kittens and animals getting rehab on a water treadmill. They also were given bulldog balloons and a helium balloon "for Amelia".
My dad noted that the inpatient capacity was slightly smaller than CEML (the hospital my folks work at in Angola).
He writes: "But - fully equipped and staffed - the web site says 'Our team is comprised of board certified specialists in the areas of:
Neurology'... A total of 30 doctors and corresponding support teams.
A 24/7 ER 9 (with a doc present). Critical care unit. A lab five times the size of CEML's with a fully automatic blood chem and hematology & c&C. Multiple XRays, Ultrasounds, monitors & infusion pumps all over the place. OR suite of course (some of their ortho plates & screws were on display). Multiple gas anaesthetic machines. A Rehab department including a fancy underwater treadmill. And in the basement - an MRI!!! CEML patients have to travel over 1000 km for an MRI (and they had better be rich and/or very well connected).
There is one area they have that I hope we never have at CEML and that is a Euthanasia suite with private visiting area for those final goodbyes. Pushing the limits even for liberal Canada... Actually not really. Virtually all of their patients are cats and dogs.
That's right - millions of dollars have been and are being spent to provide Ottawa house pets with a level of medical care that 95% of Angolans - or maybe Africans in general can never hope to access. At CEML I doubt we have 1/10 of the resources on a per-'patient' basis. We struggle and beg for a few tens of thousands for a reliable Xray or lab equipment."
Certainly food for thought!
In the afternoon Brendan and the kids visited the Ottawa Fire Service Training Centre. They had fire trucks. They were big. There was a cool roof that you could climb on and a series of tunnels where the fireman could practice being in enclosed spaces but the kids weren't allowed to try that lest the firemen would have to use their skills for real!
Matthew has been having lots of fun playing with Grandma H, though he does want Mommy to "tum too" or to "stay wit me". He's currently big into tying things up - the laundry basket turned into a horse and went neighing up the stairs.
Amelia is spending most of her time sleeping, so Matthew spends quite a lot of time trying to convince us that he should be allowed to wake up "Meelee". Then she could play with him. He is very taken with his baby sister, which is cute and terrifying as his natural exuberance and enthusiasm are not really newborn compatible.
Isabelle is also very interested in Amelia ("Baby! Baby!") but she's much gentler. Xander likes to hold his cousin too but unlike his sister who might be willing to hold Amelia indefinitely, after about thirty seconds he's "all done" and ready to go play.
When I first discovered that I wasn't able to have a midwife this time round, one of my main concerns was whether this meant I'd have to spend more than one night in the hospital. Brendan and I had both very much appreciated being able to go home after only one night with Matthew and were quite aware that this would not have happened without the support of our midwife.
I talked to Dr Gravelle about this at length in advance and she felt it wouldn't be a problem. Of course I was prepared to stay longer in the case of complications but if I was feeling good and baby was healthy, I wanted to go home as soon as possible!
Last time round they were fine with Matthew being discharged when I was ready to leave, but not too happy that I wasn't hanging around. This time, everyone agreed it was fine for me to leave, but they weren't sure about releasing Amelia as protocol called for one more heel prick at 11pm due to the low birth weight and blood sugar concerns.
It turns out that if you want to go home just over 24 hours after a C-section, it helps to be able to point out that you did so last C-section... Not to mention having a mother who is a nurse staying with you!
Since we were not worried about blood sugar and definitely not interested in hanging around until 11 pm in order to fulfill protocol, we made the executive decision to check Amelia out "against medical advice". The pediatrician didn't argue particularly strenuously. We did stay until we got the results of the jaundice test though.
It was really nice to go home and eat supper as a family, and then sleep in my own bed. I was feeling very good and even going up the stairs up to my bedroom wasn't too bad.
Mary and Brendan are thrilled to announce the birth of their daughter Amelia Anne. June 3rd at 11:12 am weighing 2816 grams (6 pounds, 3 ounces) and 48cm long. Mom and baby are both doing well.
Having done this twice before, it's always interesting to compare what's changed since the last time. They still don't tell you when to show up for surgery until between 2 and 4 pm the day before (but I knew in advance because Dr Gravelle thought that was silly and told me), but the pre-op process is more involved and there was more paperwork. Not that this saved the nurse from having to do another thirty to forty minutes worth of paperwork the morning of! I was amused to get one of those blinking "coasters" that you get at some restaurants to tell you when your meal is ready - mine was to let me know the technicians were ready to draw blood...
Surgery was scheduled for 9:50 am and there was very little waiting around. No one bothered with any ultrasounds, though they did put a heart beat monitor on for a while. That was kind of amusing since Amelia kept wiggling out of reach. The resident came in at the end of the previously scheduled surgery to tell us they were running ahead of schedule and that we'd likely be early. But then at the last minute I got bumped for an emergency. Luckily it didn't take long though and we were off to surgery only a little bit behind schedule. I was pleased that the nurse took me seriously for once when I told her how much I hate IVs and that I find the IV BY FAR the most painful part of a C-section. This is still true after number three.
I had a moment of panic when it turned out that there was a different anesthetist from the last two times (perhaps not helped by a conversation last week with my doctor neighbour who had been telling me about how she would never ever get a spinal after seeing some problems in the course of her professional practice) but it went just fine. I did have to pause before getting onto the operating table - both my calf muscles spasmed as I was climbing up - OUCH! No itchy allergic reaction in my face this time as they changed one of the pain meds. They also let me keep my glasses and didn't strap down my arms. They told me that the operating room light was reflective and that I might be able to see the operation in the light. The idea was that I should tell them to change the angle, but I watched most of it instead. It was interesting, but gory.
Amelia was able to nurse right away. Having just stopped nursing Matthew only a month or so ago I actually had colostrum already so that went very smoothly. We were surprised that she had a full head of dark hair - quite unlike her siblings. But other than the hair she looks just like them...
In recovery, I was amused that they used a crazy carpet sled to help move me around while I was unable to move my legs, and then more amused when Grandma H vowed to take one home with her to use in Angola! It was still annoying not to be able to contact anyone from recovery for lack of a communication device. I tried to get Brendan to smuggle the phone in with us but had no luck...
After we finally got out of recovery I was pleased to discover that we had managed to get a private room. It seemed quite a bit smaller than last time - but maybe that was just because the kids are all bigger. That's Brendan's theory anyway... Janice and mom brought along decorations and cake and there was much partying. I dutifully stuck with my liquid diet and later that evening I was glad that I had - I was pretty ill later in the evening. A little gravol fixed me up though.
Amelia weighed just four grams less than Elizabeth. Elizabeth had a moment of feeling displaced "But I was the littlest baby!" but luckily Amelia is also the longest of the three so Elizabeth can still be the littlest, if not the lightest. It turned out that those four grams were important as babies under 2820 grams get a heel prick in order to test their blood sugar every three hours for the first twelve hours, followed by a prick every six hours for a total of thirty-six hours of testing. She tested fine except for the second test which occurred after we let her sleep overlong. I forgot that newborns need to eat every two hours! In any case we weren't worried as she was obviously eating (and producing) like a champ.
Amelia has super strong legs and is all arms and legs that flail wildly. She much prefers her limbs swaddled. She can't lift up her head, which most people wouldn't find surprising, except that Elizabeth and Matthew could so this is a new experience for us. So far she seems to be a contented little soul and her siblings are over the moon to finally be able to cuddle her.
Our chosen bible verse this week is Psalm 139:13-14a.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother\u2019s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."