Archive for June, 2009

What a busy week!

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

The girls together

Busy has taken on a new meaning with one new baby and a toddler (well in a babywalker) on dialysis. We had appointments every day this week: three visits to the chiropractor, one newborn hearing test, Jasmine’s second MMR, and our monthly dialysis delivery. To say nothing of an endless round of midwife and health visitor home visits, who promise they will come early morning and then don’t and make you stay in all day. We also squeezed in trips to the chemist for hand cream and bandages and the doctors to register Calista.

The weather has been lovely, but it means that we have to do all our dialysis chores in the morning as the flat gets too hot in the afternoon (average temperature 28o c). Calista is settling in nicely and is sleeping five or so hours in the night. Jasmine has been learning how to do stickers in her ‘In the Night Garden’ book (thanks to Auntie Claire and Uncle Iain), and has been applying her new knowledge to peeling stickers off the bus which indicate where people are supposed to put their wheelchairs.

After much research (i.e. stopping strangers in the street), we have decided against a double buggy. They are too heavy, too wide, you can’t go down the tube steps, on the bus, or in a black cab with them, so we have bought a second single buggy and now go everywhere in convoy. We now need a couple of walkie talkies to complete the convoy effect, so we can shout 10-4, 10-4, at each other, or whatever it is you say. Jasmine keeps leaning over to grab the other buggy, causing the wheels to get locked together, so now we have to go in single file. I laughed so hard the other day about being in convoy that I thought Neil was going to cross the road and leave me.

My scar is healing up nicely, and I am walking better thanks to the chiropractor. My legs are now the same length again, which is a good thing. It never occurred to me that I was limping because my right leg was shorter, I thought it was just that I was in pain. Calista’s navel has healed up, and Neil’s wrists are looking a bit better. I have been doing the exit site and injections so the poor man only has to wash his hands in surgical scrub for 15 minutes a day instead of the usual 20 minutes. This week I am going to start doing the machine to give Neil a break.

Family of four

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Our family of four

This evening, we were eating Thorntons Chocolates (thanks Claire and Iain) and there seemed to be half of one on Neil’s t-shirt. I asked what flavour it was. Neil picked it up and said, “Ah it’s the rest of Calista’s umbilical cord.” I am glad that it has finally come off as it has been hanging on by a thread now for a couple of days and I was nervous of knocking it. Neil is now cleaning her navel and can’t decide if it is an innie or an outie.

So the past few days have been a bit hectic but lovely. We came home last Wednesday, 48 hours after the operation. Unfortunately, it was the day of the tube strike and black cabs were very hard to come by. And if you get a private cab you need each child in a car seat. We had Calista in the car seat and Jasmine in the buggy. So, after watching Neil work up a sweat (it was a warm day) running up and down Tottenham Court Road, we abandoned going home and went round to the Grafton Hotel for afternoon tea. It was lovely – sandwiches and cream scones and pots of tea – and best of all when we had finished the staff ran up and down outside and got us a black cab.

My stay at UCH was brilliant. Everyone worked really hard to give me a natural birth. Two hours before I went down to theatre the surgeons came up as I was contracting really hard to see if there was any chance of breaking my waters and inducing me, as they knew how much I wanted to avoid surgery. My cervix still wouldn’t cooperate so surgery it was, but at least when I went down to theatre I knew that we had all tried everything. Everyone was really lovely, even though I kept pestering the anesthesthetist about my blood pressure readings and answering all the questions that the surgeon was asking the medical student (I was lying there like a swot going ‘I know, I know’). Calista cried on coming out immediately which was lovely and very different to Jasmine’s birth as she didn’t cry for a long time and there were a lot more staff needed to work on her before she was whisked away to intensive care. With Calista, Neil got to cut the cord and he carried her into the recovery room with me. Then our doula came in with Jasmine so we got to be our family almost immediately.

The other thing that I found interesting was that there were posters on the wall advising against umbilical cord and blood collection. The Royal College of Obstetrics and The Royal College of Midwives have both said that the risks posed to mother and child during the procedure far outweigh any known benefits, particularly as someone has to come in from the outside. We have asked several surgeons too, who have told us that it is gimmick.

The rest of my stay was just fantastic as the midwives were very kind and sensitive and looked after me really well. It makes me a bit teary to think how lovely they were. With their help and the nursery nurse’s, Calista and I soon got the hang of breastfeeding and luckily, my milk arrived as soon as Calista did. I did do a bit of twisting about though when I was on my own breastfeeding, because of my scar and the pain and gave myself a bit of backache.

After all the drugs wore off my back got worse and by the time I got home I had pins and needles in my lower pelvis everytime I sat down and then my walking got a bit worse and I was a bit worried about it. So, yesterday I went to see a chiropractor who examined me and said that my pelvis is no longer aligned and my right hip is twisted upwards which is causing all the pain. She was very gentle with me because of the scar and started treatment getting it all realigned. I was in agony on the way home but by last night I could walk about normally for the first time in weeks. I am so relieved and am going again tomorrow to continue treatment as it will take a few weeks but we have caught it in time to prevent nerve damage. Thank Goodness. I have a nice icepack to sit on too. Last night though I said to Neil, “Oh no the pins and needles have come back.” And after some discussion Neil realised that I had been sitting on my icepack for an hour which would cause anyone’s bum to go numb. I thought it had only been ten minutes, as time seems to have lost all meaning and I don’t know if it is day or night half the time.

It is funny as up until I did my back in I was very proud of having good pregnancies with no symptoms. But I have learnt my lesson and will no longer be proud as Neil keeps saying to me: “Pride comes before a great big pain up the bum.”

Jasmine and Calista

Jasmine has taken to Calista really well. Most of the time she strokes her head gently. We keep saying ‘Gently, gently’ at her and are wondering if Jasmine thinks that is Calista’s name. And then sometimes Jasmine gets a bit fed up of Calista’s crying. The other day Jasmine put one finger in her ear as Calista was crying loudly during Jasmine’s ‘In the Night Garden’. Today, Jasmine was giving Calista little kisses when I was feeding her and we were all sitting together on the day bed.

The hardest bit is that I can’t pick Jasmine up so when Neil is off doing dialysis I have to make sure she can’t dive off the day bed or that we are all on the floor, which up until now has been hard for me to get up and down without straining myself. I am a bit nervous about the scar which has been weeping and bleeding a bit as it hasn’t closed up properly yet. Neil is bathing it for me with sterile water. We are using whole sachets of sterile water now. First of all we open it to do Jasmine’s exit site, then we clean Calista’s navel, and then we clean my scar. Funny, I don’t know if my scar from Jasmine’s birth was weeping or bleeding as I never looked at it. We were so preoccupied with Jasmine and getting down to the hospital everyday.

We have had lots of midwife visits. One came on Friday and took my stitches out, which was a relief as they were really digging in. And tomorrow we have the health visitor coming round and then on Sunday another midwife. They keep checking my scar and seeing if Calista is ok. So, far she has put on weight twice and was up to 3.86kgs (her birth weight was 3.76kgs) which apparently is unusual for a breastfed baby. Neil and I do think this new baby marlarky is very nice – no mixing of special food, no weighing nappies and babies, no blood pressures or temperatures, or setting up machines. It is great. And Calista is a very cool baby. When she wakes in the night for a feed it is normally after four or five hours, and we have all been napping in the afternoons too so I am not feeling too tired.

So much of what is easy with Calista, like dressing her, changing her nappy, feeding her, just reminds me how tough it has been for Jasmine, and somedays it makes me weepy. Tomorrow when I go to the chiropractor Neil wants me to pump a bit of milk before I go, so that Calista has something whilst I am not here. He is right and I will do it even though I loathe that breast pump in the cupboard because it reminds me of those three tough months at GOSH where I pumped my breasts four times a day in the hospital and at home through all the good times and the bad. Anyway, that was then and this is now.

Poor Neil’s hands and arms have broken out with dialysis and he has cotton gloves which he wears in bed. But they don’t cover his wrists so he has taken to rubbing lanolin – Lansinoh – on his wrists and then bandaging them up during the day. So when he goes outside he gets some funny looks. We also use the Lansinoh for Calista’s nappy rash and my very sore stretch marks. Fantastic.

Calista got nappy rash as the baby doctor at UCH wanted to make sure that she was passing urine so they put a bag on her overnight to see, which irritated her skin. But was worth it, as it was great to see urine in the bag. And as the doctor was very thorough, Calista is also booked in for an ultrasound and to see a consultant to make sure that her kidneys are working as they should. I know this is a good thing but I have a meltdown everytime I think about going to the hospital.

Two fingers

This photo made us laugh. It is obviously what Calista thinks of getting her photo taken and reminded us of the Rangers footballers who got lifetime bans after making the same gesture before the Scottish game against Iceland.

Today, was the first day that I did some dialysis. Jasmine needed her dressing doing and her weekly epotein injection. I did those as it is easier for Neil to hold Jasmine as she is getting quite big now and I haven’t recovered enough yet to wrestle with her. Although, I did manage to hold her down the minute Calista and I came home from hospital as her dressing needed changing.

On Monday we went to Clinic and Jasmine has put on weight and grown in length. She is now 70.3cm long and has moved up to the 2nd centile, which is absolutely fantastic. And tonight she hit the 9kg mark – but a lot of that will be fluid, and her last bag fill. Even so, she seems to have grown a lot and looks quite big – and that is not just because Calista is so small.

It was lovely going down to Clinic as everyone made a lovely fuss of Calista and Jasmine and it was the first time I had been out of the flat really as the midwife said I should take it easy, especially after she found out about our trip to the Grafton Hotel for afternoon tea. Clinic was good and Jasmine is doing well and is nice and stable. Afterwards, we popped up to the ward to see our lovely nurses and show Calista off.

Our bagel stash

Neil has been in charge of food and decided that we should mainly be eating bagels. This is because he went to a lecture last week and we decided that the best thing was that he should take Jasmine, since I can’t lift her. The lecture was due to take place near Brick Lane and the fantastic bagel shop there. Neil just hoped that the other students wouldn’t mind when Jasmine shouted, “Mam”, and “Baba” too much. Luckily, he got there and the lecture was cancelled but he still managed to come home with far too many bagels as he could load the buggy up with them.

Calista has been sleeping in a moses basket but today we have put her in a crib. Our neighbour Sandra has kindly given us it as her baby has grown out of it and so this evening, after much shifting of dialysis boxes and the rest we have put Calista in it. Calista is nicely settled and we have fixed Jasmine’s old mobile over the top and Calista is snuggled down in her new sleeping bag – another gift from her Auntie Claire and Uncle Iggle Piggle. It was very nice and a bit strange to just zip her up and not have to leave half of it open with a catheter hanging out. It is also very strange in the night when I get up to feed her, I can just leave the bedroom with her too. The crib is good as it has bars either side so it is easier to see her from the bed. With the moses basket I had to get up and peer over.

Oh no, Neil has just done himself a mischief doing his manly yoga, guess I won’t need to pump my breasts after all, as he will be coming with me to the chiropractor to get himself sorted.

It is very snug now in our bedroom but I love it. I am loving every minute of our new family of four and am thrilled to have two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband.

Thank you to everyone who has sent us cards and presents and left lovely comments and sent us texts. Thank you for sharing our joy.

Calista Stalker-Firth, 8th June, 4.12pm

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Our new addition Calista

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our daughter Calista by caesarian section on Monday 8th June at 4.12pm. Calista weighed in at 3.76kgs (8lbs 3oz), 54cms (21 inches) long.


Neil: More waiting

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

We are all still waiting for our new baby. Ruth has been having various contractions and pains for days, but nothing that lasts. Apparently rubbing your big toes helps establish labour, at least it is something new to try…

Neil: Still waiting

Friday, June 5th, 2009

We are all still waiting for the new baby to arrive. Ruth is getting to the stage where she will try any of the old-wives-tales. Drinking pineapple juice is the latest. She has been contracting on and off for a whole week!!!! She is in agony from that, and her pulled muscle, and the baby kicking. It has been moving down, but is not coming out. Ruth is a hero! We have been trying to go for long walks, but that is proving problematic, as Ruth can hardly walk at all – someone offered her wheelchair assistance on the tube the other day…

Neil: Ombliboo tombliboo here is my nose

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Jasmine touching her nose

Jasmine has learned the ‘In the Night Garden’ song for the Tombliboos and now touches her nose whenever the music comes on the TV, or when you sing to her, which is very cute. She also reaches out to touch your nose. Thanks to Grandma Stalker and Auntie Billie for the extremely cute dresses, and short and t-shirts!

We have got out Jasmine’s summer dresses, as it has been very hot. Our flat is all on one side and gets the sun all afternoon. We have been trying to do all our dialysis tasks in the morning, as it gets far too hot when we have to shut the windows. I went a bit mad cooking rice at 8 am this morning, before the heat gets up. I have been driving Ruth mad with my dashing about. Thankfully Jasmine is doing well at the moment, no colds or diarrhea, just the usual amount of vomiting.

We are all still waiting for the new baby. Ruth is fed up and can’t walk very far, so we have been getting the bus one stop and sitting on walls a lot. Ruth has spent many hours waiting for checkups at the hospital, and talking about c-sections, then the doctors are surprised when her blood pressure is up! Her blood pressure is fine when not down the hospital.

Jasmine in her summer shorts