Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Magic boobies

For the first time in my life, I have breasts worthy of the title 'hooters'.

They are multifunctional pieces of magic. Let me elaborate on their many miraculous uses:

1. As infant feeders.

I guess this is pretty obvious seeing as I've just had a baby. Breasts are not without their design flaws. Nipples seem to be unnecessarily delicate, for example. Who needs nerve endings anyway? (Sex? what sex?) But really, the positive feedback mechanism - the more they are emptied the more they full up - is nothing short of magical. They belong in fairytales.

2. As alarm clocks.

I always wondered how cows know when it's time to head to the milking shed. Now I know. My boobies swelled up on day 3, a phenomenon known as 'engorgement' (it should have a less ugly name than that). Boobies can learn apparently, and they have learnt my baby's feeding cycle. Now, should she fail to wake less than 3 hourly, my breasts wake me anyway by blowing themselves up like balloons and threatening to burst. Clever boobies.

3. As food catchers.

I know this may not seem like an advantage to you, but I've always wondered what it would be like to have cleavage that attracts food.  It's a novel experience dropping a crumb and watching it gently slide between two twin boulders. By the way, it's a little known scientific fact that being more unco is a side effect of breastfeeding. This is not the only use of enhanced cleavage, by the way - they also function as a receptacle for (tiny) roving hands.

4. As cushions.

Depending on posture, time after feed and swelling, this is either a good idea or bad idea. Why are cushions needed? They can act as baby headrest. Or as extra bolstering for when I suddenly pass out.

5. As decorative accessories.

I've never looked so shapely in a nightie before. The top half, anyway.  Unfortunately the involuting pokey-out belly spoils the effect somewhat. As do the engorged veins on my decotellage (as my husband charmingly points out - see Sex? Who needs sex? note above.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Little fish has arrived!

(warning - slightly gory birth story follows.)

On Saturday night our daughter, Sofia Grace Glucina, was born.  She needed a bit of a push to arrive - after trying the usual spicy foods and hot baths with no result, I was induced at term because I was an older mum. We'd been told the process was usually slow and I wasn't looking forward to a long day or two - but at least we'd been to the DVD shop and taken out 8 DVDs of the 'romance' and 'general nostalgia' variety (Mark assuring me that this was the one time he'd agree to watch "The Notebook" with me. )

We managed one DVD before my contractions started getting really strong - so they had a look, decided to break my waters and sent me off to delivery suite. At this stage I was only 2 cm dilated and at the average rate of progress for first time mums, had about 8 hours to go. The anaesthetist was called to do an epidural - I've witnessed hundreds of births in my job as paediatrician and believe me, you can tell who's had an epidural and who hasn't.

But while waiting for him to come my contractions got even more intense. 35 minutes down the track I suddenly felt a tremendous urge and shouted out, "I want to do a poo!" (It wasn't my most poetic moment.) But it had the desired effect - the midwife dropped everything and couldn't get my legs open fast enough for a check - sure enough, I was fully dilated and the obstetrician was soon on her way. It was too late to have an epidural - so for me, whose birth plan was to be completely medicalised, avoid pain and have drugs all the way, it was 'natural childbirth' time. Ouchies.

"You're going to have your baby really soon now," the midwife said.  I nodded, but even though I pushed when they said, deep down I still didn't believe that someone wouldn't magically intervene and get the baby out for me.  It wasn't until they put the mirror between my legs and I could see the hair on her head appearing as I pushed that I realised that yep, this time there was no shirking - the only person who could push her out was me (well, with quite a lot of encouragement and an episiotomy, it turned out - though by that stage I really didn't care.) And if you're wondering if I pushed like the serene ladies with an epidural, the answer is no - I believe I shouted the place down and made my poor obstetrician deaf in one ear, while Mark (my wingman) soldiered on beside me with the water and the facecloth and the cold water spray. It was weird though. The pushing part didn't hurt, strangely - it was just damn hard work that only I could do.

But less than 12 hours after we'd checked into hospital, I was holding my newborn in my arms. I think my first emotion was disbelief. Even now I'm still getting used to the idea of having a baby, even though it's something I've hoped for and planned all my life.  Now she's here, and the feeling is so different to how I'd imagined it. I thought there'd be ecstasy - but what I have with my daughter and my husband is so much better.  It's the start of a lifetime relationship.  We're a new three. We're a family.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The cheongsam story

I've been meaning to write this story for ages, but underestimated the procrastinating power of a brain steeped in maternal hormones (well that's my line and I'm sticking to it.)

Way back in April, we went out to the French Cafe for Mark's birthday. I was only 6 months pregnant but was already sporting a respectable bump, one that wouldn't fit into most of the 'posh' clothes in my wardrobe. (The French Cafe is one of the most elegant restaurants in Auckland). Then I found my grandma's vintage cheongsam, which she made for herself out of cool retro fabric (well ok, it wasn't retro then - it was the height of fashion) and which has been hanging in my wardrobe waiting for the waist to be taken in. I zipped myself in and admired the view in my mirror - it fit my new curves with a surgical precision.

I arrived at the restaurant feeling ultra chic and sat down at our intimate table opposite my husband, who had shaved for the occasion and therefore was looking particularly hot. We started conversing in the low tones one reserves for such rarefied environments. The waiter glided in with the first course of our degustation menu. It was then that I noticed that the side zip on my grandma's dress was sliding ever-so-subtly southwards. Luckily, the table to my right was unoccupied and the heater was on, meaning I could easily hide the slippage.  I sat up straight and tugged the zip back up.

This started a battle of wills. Each of the nine courses would arrive and be consumed with melting, admiring tenderness by myself and Mark.  (Yes, the food is that good). The zip would sidle south trying not to be noticed; I would, similarly subtly, encourage it north. Unfortunately simple physics was against me. Baby+ food in stomach = bigger waistline, and by course number five the zip simply refused to budge from its position somewhere near my panty line. I grumpily put on my jacket for the remainder of the meal to avoid giving the waiter/other diners an undeserved eyeful. Not that the waiter would have given any sign that he was in the least bothered - it was the French Cafe after all.

Moral of the story? Wear only stretchy things when pregnant. And don't be too vain.