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Life Through Claire’s Eyes: Month 5 – 6

I started off this month by trying solids. I’ve seen Mom and Dad eating so many meals together, it’s nice to be included now. In fact, solid food, even plain tofu or lentils, nearly rivals my obsession with the breastaurant.  And I still get to show who’s in charge by sometimes deciding not to eat!

Mom seems happy because she says I’m gaining weight. I think they care mostly because they want me to sleep better. I gave them a taste of a good sleep once or twice but have recently been up quite a bit at night. I mean come on, life is too much fun to spend it sleeping.

I’m demonstrating my personality through my voice even more, and I have a lot to say. Mom & Dad appreciate I’m not as screechy as last month, unless I’m really tired. I don’t like when we go out to restaurants because I never get solids from there. It’s not fair. So that’s definitely a good time to start screeching.

I’ve started taking control on my playmat too. Mom wanted me to have “tummy time” but for a couple of weeks I didn’t want to do that, so I’d immediately roll onto my back. Now I’ve changed my mind (a girl can do that you know) and I almost always roll onto my stomach. It’s good to feel in control.

Finally, my new love is the swing at the park.  I need to be pushed high enough, or it’s kind of lame and I get cranky.  Another new activity is massage. Mom had someone come to the house and show her how to do it properly. It’s wonderfully relaxing.

Videos:

Loving to Laugh, even at Cranky Bedtime

First Bites of Solid Food

Chatty McGee

Photos:

First taste of solids: bison!

First taste of solids: bison!

What the $%*# was that?

What the $%*# was that?

First day volunteering (with Seva); just chillin'

First day volunteering (with Seva); just chillin’

Wanna hang out?

Wanna hang out?

The mad scientist dancing with her Dad

The mad scientist dancing with her Dad

Goodbye baby bathtub, hello big tub!

Goodbye baby bathtub, hello big tub!

Baby-led weaning = food everywhere except the mouth.

Baby-led weaning = food everywhere except the mouth.

Braving Vancouver rains to do the Walk for Reconciliation

Braving Vancouver rains to do the Walk for Reconciliation

Nothing like lentils and tomato on a plane.

Nothing like lentils and tomato on a plane.

The swing is the best. The higher the better!

The swing is the best. The higher the better!

Snuggles with Auntie Laura

Snuggles with Auntie Laura

Non grand-papa, it's time to ROCK

Non grand-papa, it’s time to ROCK

My finger is so tasty (as is my fist, my foot…and everything else.)

My finger is so tasty (as is my fist, my foot…and everything else.)

The center of attention…just the way I like it!

The center of attention…just the way I like it!

I've had enough of the paparazzi

I’ve had enough of the paparazzi

Tu m'as manqué grand-maman!

Tu m’as manqué grand-maman!

Still using the toilet…some of the time.

Still using the toilet…some of the time.

I say "I love you" by pulling hair,

I say “I love you” by pulling hair,

...and by grabbing anything in sight,

…and by grabbing anything in sight,

…even if that means someone loses her glasses,

…even if that means someone loses her glasses,

…sorry Auntie Laura!

…sorry Auntie Laura!

Miluju tě, prababička!

Miluju tě, prababička!

Life Through Claire’s Eyes: Month 4 – 5

During this month, a few things have changed. I’m giving Mom and Dad a bit more sleep because they’re  leaving me alone for a few minutes if it isn’t time to get up. It took them this long but they finally realize I don’t always need them when I cry. So, I’m getting up 2-3 times at night for half an hour at the breastaurant; they seem a bit happier now, especially Mom. Although that doesn’t really apply when we go away. They’ve taken me to two weddings (Ucluelet & Qualicum), a camping trip on the Sunshine Coast, and to the four-day national Ultimate championships. When I’m away from home, they need to know who’s in charge, so I’m up every hour or two at night.

I’ve also decided to voice my opinion more. Often that means even more laughs and giggles, which everyone seems to love. It also means I like to talk and sometimes that makes people frown, perhaps because of the high pitch I’ve chosen. Once Mom and I had to leave baby group because I was talking way louder than the presenter. Hey, I just want to be involved. Is that too much to ask?

Although I can roll over, my preference is to shimmy around in circles. Sometimes I make it halfway across the room. The tummy time mat is cool and all, but the faux wood floor is even more exciting! I also love to put my fists and feet in my mouth. They are particularly delicious, so I try to put all four in at once. Mom and Dad also like to throw me in the air like a bird, which might be the most fun thing ever.

Oh, I almost forgot: I really like Mommy’s guitar playing, but she tries to play these “songs”, which I don’t like as much as what she calls “tuning” and “warming up”. To each her own I guess!

Video:

Jumping in a very jolly way

Pictures:

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Full of Pride!

Rubbing shoulders with our Mayor, Gregor!

Rubbing shoulders with our Mayor, Gregor!

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“This hat makes my head look small.”

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Sun’s out, bums out!

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First steps in the Pacific

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“You were right, it’s not too cold.”

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First wedding & first swanky hotel.

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Naked airplane

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“Now that’s a tree!”

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“I’ll be taller than you one day, shrub.”

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Cheering on a Vancouver Ultimate team called “Stache”

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“Yes, may I help you?”

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“First camping trip, and I don’t plan on sleeping!”

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Check out my new digs!

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New camping buddies

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No touching!

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Ok fine, just a little kiss.

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“Wanna trade?”

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Mom puts me down here for tummy time…

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…but I really want to go over there.

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“Seriously Mom, get a set of weights.”

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Feet & hands are so delicious.

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“Careful, I only do open-mouth kisses.” 

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“I’m also good at groping faces.”

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“Sweater weather already?”

Life Through Claire’s Eyes: Month 3 – 4

I think Mom has hit a wall this month. She seems very tired. I notice it because sometimes in the middle of the night, Dad comes in with a bottle of pumped milk instead of Mom. I have done a couple of longer stretches at night, but I’m still mostly sleeping for two-hour intervals. My bed has moved from the bassinet in Mom and Dad’s room to a crib in the room next door. It’s fun to have so much space. I take advantage while I sleep, and turn myself around 180 degrees. I also like the crib a little better because Mom and Dad are no longer next to me, making noises while they sleep. Still, as I pointed out earlier, I continue to wake up often.

I still hate my stroller, so I almost always sleep in the Beco carrier for daytime naps. It’s a win-win. I’m getting my sleep, and Mom gets creative when trying to do things while I’m attached to her stomach. It’s just like the good old days when I was in the womb! She has started trying to give me naps by doing doing a reading and singing routine, then quietly putting me down into the crib. Nice try Mom. It hasn’t worked much. As I said, sleeping on Mom is so much more comfy. Sometimes I tease her by appearing asleep when she puts me down, only to wake up a few minutes later. A baby needs her entertainment!

Speaking of entertainment, there’s not much to report this month. I have learned to roll from my back to my side, and I’ve given the jolly jumper a try, but that’s it. I am getting older and bigger so I’m sure there is a lot more fun ahead!

Videos:

First Moments in the Jolly Jumper

Crying & Fussing gets me a Later Bedtime

Pictures:

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I’m on a boat!

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Thanks for forgetting my sun hat Mom 😦 The stroller sun shade is not nearly as cool.

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First time in real wilderness – bewildering!

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Like my flower hat?

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After the first (& one of the only) nights I slept for 6 hours straight. I think Mommy loved me just a little bit more this morning.

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Selfie with Daddy on the plane.

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Daddy’s colleagues are so friendly.

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The stroller, this is awesome…

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…for about five minutes, ten tops.

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I had to hold on tight – Grandpa had some crazy dance moves.

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Pulling out my best flirting- tickling the ears.

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…but maybe I need to go older to get the attention I deserve.

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My hand is seriously delicious.

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Mom & Dad’s first dinner out without me (but I only let it last from 5pm-6:30pm…they still need to know who’s boss!)

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I’ve started rolling from my back to my side…when there’s something worth checkin’ out!

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I’m serious about all my teething toys.

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Rockin’ out on the ukulele with Auntie Justine.

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Don’t mess with me when I’m jolly jumping.

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Pull your finger?

So much nicer to do my "business" on the toilet than in the diaper (and Mom agrees).

So much nicer to do my “business” on the toilet than in the diaper (and Mom agrees).

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Swimming at the pool is old hat now. Next up, the butterfly!

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Life Through Claire’s Eyes: Month 2 – 3

Around the time I turned two months old, Mom found out about “diaper-free baby” or “elimination communication”. It means Mom and Dad give me an opportunity to do my “business” on the toilet, rather than in my diaper. I like it. Who wants to poo (or pee) in the diaper if you don’t have to? I don’t like all of Mom and Dad’s ideas, but this one is good.

In the ever-popular eating department, Mom is getting very tired of my frequent and long feeding sessions. So, while my Grand-Maman and Grand-Papa were in town visiting, Mom and Dad began an eat-play-sleep routine with feeds every three hours. A lot of babies do well with it, but I must tell you, I was not buying it. I want to eat every one to two hours. End of discussion. They managed to get me used to the soother, but it’s no replacement for my milk fix. Still, I think my parents appreciate another option for soothing other than either the breastaurant, rocking, shushing, or swaying.

I’ve started to enjoy pulling apart my swaddling blanket, so Mom and Dad have switched to using the sleep sack. I can tolerate it, but it’s not very soothing. So my parents gave in, and now let me sleep on my tummy. The doctor says it’s not “recommended” but they are exhausted, and they know I’m going to be fine. I have pretty good neck strength, and I much prefer sleeping like this. I’m glad they finally figured out what I want. I’ll still sleep for two hour stretches at most, but it’s an improvement. They also put a fan in my room…apparently it makes sleeping less risky too (as long as you don’t believe in “fan death.”)

In the entertainment department, there are a few things I’ve really started to enjoy. Although there’s no sign of any incoming teeth, I have been drooling a lot. I drool so much that Mom puts a bib on me so I don’t soak my clothes. Drooling is quite satisfying. I also love to look in the mirror. There is always a cute baby looking back at me!  A few days before I turned three months old I started laughing. The world is pretty humorous and I enjoy being able to laugh about it.

Video:

First Swim at the Pool   

Some First Laughs    

Pictures:

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No, my eyes are not too big for my head.

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With Grand-Maman & Grand-Papa visiting, I get unending attention.

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That sounds very disturbing. Thank you for covering my ears.

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First swim at the pool; not sure about this yet…

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Thanks for the sweet ride Dad.

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You think you can drool? Check this out!

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Playtime is great…

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…but when I get tired, Mom & Dad grab the soother.

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What are you up to? What is this patty cake you speak of?

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I don’t want to miss a thing…but I’m SO tired!

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You were right Grand-Maman, this story is pretty interesting.

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Like my new duck fuzz hair? I’ve been growing it myself.

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Hey, as long as I’m fed, Mom can be pretty fun.

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Who wouldn’t love the bath with all this attention?

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Grand-Maman and Grand-Papa gave us a visit we’ll never forget.

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Sun hat, why?

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It’s for my own good? OK, good point. I’ll stop complaining.

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Happy Father’s Day! Mom wrapped me up with a bow just for you.

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Who knew? I am pretty cute.

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Diaper-free playtime…can be dangerous.

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After one of my epic nights. I think Mom’s a little tired.

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Auntie Joce, how did you get inside this computer? Blows my mind.

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Learning to grab toys is serious business!

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My first mugshot – for my passport.

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Grandpa’s amazed at my old-man hairline.

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I’m all for sun protection but Dad, I think your hat’s a little big.

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For once I’m sleeping and Mom’s ready to party.

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I’m on the edge of my seat – I hope Boston didn’t win the Stanley Cup!

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Hey good lookin’!

SCBP Babies

With some old friends I’ve known since the womb…I have my eye on two potential boys here.

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Just chillin’ on the bumbo.

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Eating my carrier strap & exploring on the bus…so much to do!

With Grandpa on my first plane ride. This is really exciting...

With Grandpa on my first plane ride (going to Bella Coola). This is really exciting…

...but as we start to land, my ears hurt and I need the soother and some snuggles.

…but as we start to land, my ears hurt. I need the soother and some snuggles.

Life through Claire’s Eyes: Month 1 – 2

The highlight this month, probably for Mom more than me, is that I got a break from the breastaurant,  and had what I’ll call “take out” instead (pumped breastmilk from a bottle, that Dad gave me). It’s different than the breastaurant, but I still like it. Milk is milk and they call me a milkaholic, so how can I be picky? I think Mom likes it because she gets a break once a day to go throw the frisbee or run errands. Otherwise my feeding is still pretty steady, every one to two hours. I enjoy consistency.

In sleeping news, my schedule is still more eating than sleeping. Mom and Dad have found a way to get me to sleep during the day. It’s not the traditional stroller, it’s almost never the swing, and it’s definitely not the car seat; that thing makes me scream. It’s the Beco carrier. That thing is irresistible. I can sometimes sleep for two hours or more in there!

In other news, by around five weeks, I started holding my head up pretty consistently. At around the same time, I realized that smiling is another exciting thing to do, though you may be surprised at what amuses me. The blinds, the warning label in my stroller, the fish on my swing… I find many things amusing, but rarely Mom or Dad, much to their disappointment. I guess it’s because I’m looking at them constantly, and there’s nothing new to see. Oh, and I’ve started losing a lot of my hair. Now my hairline resembles my Dad’s. I hope that changes in time. We’ll see.

Video:

Burping Time

Pictures:

You call THAT music?!

You call THAT music?!

Who needs toys? This is a really interesting warning label.

Who needs toys? This is a really interesting warning label.

No need for a watch dog...

No need for a watch dog…

…when you have a baby security guard like me at home :)

…when you have a baby security guard like me at home 🙂

Hmmm, this is annoying, I can't visit the breastaurant facing this way!

Hmmm, this is annoying, I can’t visit the breastaurant facing this way!

I'm getting worried Daddy has too much screen time. What do you think?

I’m getting worried Daddy has too much screen time. What do you think?

Sleeping on Grandpa at one of my first professional Ultimate games. Not so exciting for me yet...

Sleeping on Grandpa at one of my first professional Ultimate games. Not so exciting for me yet…

Sumo wrestling? Ya, I can do that.

Sumo wrestling? Ya, I can do that.

The only time in the day I'll give in and sleep: in the Beco carrier.

The only time during the day I’ll give in and sleep: in the Beco carrier.

This new book makes tummy time so much more interesting.

This new book makes tummy time so much more interesting.

Mommy gets out to visit with friends. I think it helps keep her sane with my marathon feedings.

Mommy gets out to visit friends. I think it keep her sane during my marathon feedings.

Daddy is very interesting...

Daddy is very interesting…

…but the restaurant's ceiling is even more interesting.

…but the restaurant’s ceiling is even more interesting.

No, I haven't heard the results of the BC election yet. Do tell.

No, I haven’t heard the results of the BC election yet. Do tell.

Really?! That's very disappointing. But aren't you impressed I can hold my own head up at 6 weeks?

Really?! That’s very disappointing. But aren’t you impressed I can hold my own head up at 6 weeks?

First time on a ferry; it's quite overwhelming!

First time on a ferry; it’s quite overwhelming!

My first trip to Grandpa's in Lantzville.

My first trip to Grandpa’s in Lantzville.

Oh is that the sun rising outside? All of a sudden I'm getting quite sleepy...

Oh is that the sun rising outside? All of a sudden I’m getting quite sleepy…

Giving Grandpa some nice smiles.

Giving Grandpa some nice smiles.

Sure, I can talk now. I'm just getting my nails done, you? Yeah, it's definitely a tough life.

Sure, I can talk now. I’m just getting my nails done, you? Yeah, it’s definitely a tough life.

I'm not so sure about this "car seat".

I’m not so sure about this “car seat”.

Monkeying around for the camera already!

Monkeying around for the camera already!

Oma, you're nearly 100 years older than me? OK, maybe you could teach me a thing or two.

Oma, you’re nearly 100 years older? Maybe you can teach me a thing or two.

I don't want to miss a thing so I sleep with one eye open. Either that, or my eyeballs are too big for my eyelids.

I don’t want to miss a thing so I sleep with one eye open. Either that, or my eyeballs are too big for my eyelids.

Mommy & Daddy want me to smile for them but the ceiling, the blinds, starfish & seahorse are my best friends.

Mommy & Daddy want me to smile for them but the ceiling, the blinds, starfish & seahorse are my best friends.

Why am I the only one with ears on my hood? And what's so great about this "Ultimate" I see Mommy and Daddy playing?

Why am I the only one with ears on my hood? And what’s so great about this “Ultimate” I see Mommy and Daddy playing?

"Super baby" at tummy time!

“Super baby” at tummy time!

Visiting at Mommy's work is terribly exciting. We stopped coming here when I made my move on April 1st.

Visiting Mommy’s work is terribly exciting; it’s my first trip outside the belly!

My second ferry ride; old hat now.

My second ferry ride; old hat now.

Sometimes I get tired of looking cute.

Sometimes I get tired of looking cute.

Life Through Claire’s Eyes: Birth – Month 1

As you may have read in my birth story, I entered the world a little unconventionally, bum first. Since then, I decided to continue being a little unconventional, at least in the digestive department. I only have a poo in my diaper once or twice a week. Apparently most newborns do this kind of business multiple times a day. I don’t know why that is. It’s way too messy. Anyway, this worried my parents and, get this: they even photographed it to show a nurse to see if it was normal! I think they were also worried about the poo deficit because I didn’t gain weight as rapidly as some. But come on, I insist on eating every one to two hours, and for thirty to ninety minutes at a time. I know I’m a slow eater, but surely no one should be concerned about whether I was well fed!

In sleeping-related news, Mom and Dad usually swaddle me to help me sleep, but I don’t know why they make all that effort. I don’t like it unless they wrap me loosely. And really then, what’s the point?! I think they did it because they wanted me to forget they weren’t cuddling me anymore, but I’m much smarter than that. I like my one to two-hour cat naps (especially at night), followed by a good nurse and snuggle. I get nice and drunk on milk after my breastaurant visits, but don’t let that sight fool you. It may seem like I’m ready for a long rest, but it’s all an illusion. My parents were advised I shouldn’t sleep on their stomach (while on the couch) because I could slip off and get squished, but that’s the cosiest place to be. I was persistent enough with my short napping that they gave in. If they really want me to sleep for more than one or two hours, that’s the only way it will happen!

Videos:

Claire’s breech legs (day 2)

Calling the “Breastaurant” (week 2)

Dancing & up all night (week 3)

Alert at night & sneezing (week 4)

Photos:

Minutes after being born, Claire's already playing around!

Minutes after being born, Claire’s already playing around!

Her little "breech legs"

Her little “breech legs”

It's comfy in Dad's arms.

It’s comfy in Dad’s arms.

Mom & Dad are so excited to meet me!

Mom & Dad are so excited to meet me!

Thank you so much to everyone involved in our care. You were all amazing!

Out of the hospital and at home with Mom & Dad.

Hellloooo world!

Hellloooo world!

I know I'm cute, that's why Mom & Dad don't mind the sleep deprivation.

I know I’m cute, that’s why Mom & Dad don’t mind the sleep deprivation.

First bath!

First bath!

Dad & I have the same hairline ;)

Dad & I have the same hairline 😉

They call me a milkaholic; I can't imagine why.

They call me a milkaholic; I can’t imagine why.

I'm definitely most awake at night...not so great for Mom & Dad...

I’m definitely most awake at night…not so great for Mom & Dad…

Serious tummy time with Daddy.

Serious tummy time with Daddy.

The milk is coming soon, I know it!

The milk is coming soon, I know it!

Thanks for the fix Mom!

Thanks for the fix Mom!

Sleeping on Dad is one of my favourite things to do!

Sleeping on Dad is one of my favourite things to do!

Ahh, the swing- Mom & Dad's saving grace when I won't settle.

Ahh, the swing- Mom & Dad’s saving grace when I won’t settle.

Daddy trying to help me get rid of my gas. I think it helps Mom & Dad more than me because I get pretty cranky when I'm gassy!

Daddy trying to help me get rid of my gas. I think it helps Mom & Dad more than me because I get pretty cranky when I’m gassy!

Dad reading me my first book in French. I find it a little dull but that's probably because I'm only 2 weeks old!

Dad reading me my first book in French. I find it a little dull but that’s probably because I’m only 2 weeks old!

I love tummy time (but sometimes I fall asleep...which kind of defeats the purpose.)

I love tummy time (but sometimes I fall asleep…which kind of defeats the purpose.)

Daddy taking me for a walk down our blossom-lined street to try and settle me...

Daddy taking me for a walk down our blossom-lined street to try and settle me…

…but as you can see here, it didn't work this time. Good try though Dad!

…but as you can see here, it didn’t work this time. Good try though Dad!

My first time in a restaurant; ironically (& thankfully) I slept through the whole dinner & didn't cry until we were on the bus home.

My first time in a restaurant; ironically (& thankfully) I slept through the whole dinner & didn’t cry until we were on the bus home.

Mmm, fingers are delicious!

Mmm, fingers are delicious!

My favourite sleeping position: satisfied and drunk on milk...for at least 20 minutes anyway!

My favourite sleeping position: satisfied and drunk on milk…for at least 20 minutes anyway!

Family shot on our street.

Family shot on our street.

Hey Dad, where's my beer?

Hey Dad, where’s my beer?

First trip to our neighbourhood park. I'm not ready for the monkey bars just yet. Although Mom & Dad often think I'm being a monkey!

First trip to our neighbourhood park. I’m not ready for the monkey bars just yet. Although Mom & Dad often think I’m being a monkey!

I wonder if there's breastmilk in Daddy's ear? I'm going to check and find out.

I wonder if there’s breastmilk in Daddy’s ear? I’m going to check and find out.

So peaceful…so rare these days!

So peaceful…so rare these days!

I love the new carrier!

I love the new carrier!

Going for a walk with Dad.

Going for a walk with Dad.

The blossoms on our street are awesome!

The blossoms on our street are awesome!

Party time in the vibrating chair; keeps me entertained while Mommy's in the shower.

Party time in the vibrating chair; keeps me entertained while Mommy’s in the shower.

The hairdrier: making diaper changing a "breeze" instead of a fight!

The hairdrier: making diaper changing a “breeze” instead of a fight!

Seriously, the hairdrier is amazing!

Seriously, the hairdrier is amazing!

Already hitting on the boys!

Already hitting on the boys!

Claire seems to be giving someone the finger in our perinatal group class.

Claire seems to be giving someone the finger in our perinatal group class.

Time for bed? I don't think so!

Time for bed? I don’t think so!

All my milk drinking and now I can fit into the cloth diapers...not sure if that's a reward or not!

Thanks to all my milk drinking, now I can fit into the cloth diapers…not sure if that’s a reward or not!

I'm one month old and I can read already...well sort of ;)

Look at me, one month old & I’m reading…sort of 😉

Claire’s Birth Story

It Begins

2:00AM, Sunday March 31, 2013

It was the middle of the night, and Nicole woke me up to tell me that she had just had her third bowel movement in 20 minutes. Something was moving. I asked Nicole if she was having any “pressure waves” – our word for contractions. She replied that she was now feeling Braxton Hicks contractions coupled with cramping, but they didn’t feel like pressure waves. (Braxton Hicks contractions are normal, sporadic uterine contractions that are also known as “practice contractions.” Nic had been feeling them for months.) In my sleepy haze, I wanted to believe that the birthing time had not yet begun, but I decided to start timing these “Braxton Hicks cramps” nonetheless. The Braxton Hicks cramps (BHCs) were about 7 and 15 minutes apart. Nicole pooped three more times, making six within an hour. All of these were solid, real poops, she assured me. By 4:00AM, the bowel movements had stopped, and the BHCs were coming less frequently. I didn’t think it was worth calling the hospital, so we went back to sleep.

7:15AM, Sunday

Our alarm jolted us awake only a few hours later. We had planned a day trip to Nanaimo for Easter. Although Nicole was almost 39 weeks (8 and ¾ months) pregnant, we had felt that a trip to Nanaimo via seaplane was feasible. It was also sentimentally important. Kathryn (Marty’s partner) had been in palliative care at Nanaimo Hospital for several weeks, Justine (Nicole’s youngest sister) would be back home, celebrating her 25th birthday, and Marty (Nicole’s dad) would be cooking an Easter turkey for lunch. The seaplane would fly only a few hundred feet in the air, the trip would take 15 minutes, and it was a safe and efficient way for Nicole to travel. As we walked to the Skytrain station at 7:30, Nicole phoned the midwives at South Community Birth Program (SCBP) to check in. Our doctor had already approved our trip, and the midwife on call cleared us for the short flight, despite the recent BHCs. She understood the importance of this trip to the family, and reassured us that the baby could be born at Nanaimo hospital, if necessary.

Little baby seemed to like the flight…no contractions in the air!

Nanaimo-venture! We landed at 9:00AM, and began our whistle-stop tour. We picked up Justine’s birthday cake and visited Kathryn at the hospital. Marty and I played Goaltimate while Nicole and Justine tossed the frisbee.  The girls headed home early to finish the last minute lunch prep. We had a terrific Easter/birthday meal at Marty’s. I picked stinging nettles to make into pesto. Finally, we headed back to the hospital and had an Easter egg hunt in Kathryn’s room, before catching the 5:30 seaplane back to Vancouver. All the while, Nicole quietly weathered the Braxton-Hicks cramping.

Who says you have to be a kid to have an easter egg hunt? This one was in Kathryn's hospital room!

Who says you have to be a kid to have an easter egg hunt?

Back in Vancouver

It was a beautiful, sunny day full of blossoms during our adventures!

It was a beautiful, sunny day full of blossoms during our adventures!

By the time we arrived home, it was 6:00PM and Nicole’s BHCs were becoming more frequent. We had dinner plans at a friends’ place, so we headed out on our bikes for the 15 minute ride. Nicole reported that her BHCs were getting stronger, but they didn’t prevent her from riding. At the BBQ, our friend Lindsay suggested that Nicole should consider timing these “BHCs”, or whatever they were,  which I did, for the first time since 4:00AM. They were coming five to fifteen minutes apart, and we remained uncertain as to what this implied. Should we go home and start getting ready for the hospital, or stay for one more beer? The reader will probably guess where each one of us stood on the question. Eventually, I accepted that this baby was probably on its way, and we should head home. Our friends Jonny and Larissa offered many times to drive us, but the ride back would be downhill and easy. I think we were both also in denial, not believing that our lil’ Hermit was coming already, and fearful that we were not yet prepared. Back home, I unaccountably decided to make pesto. Lots of pesto. All of it from stinging nettles I had picked the weekend before, and in Nanaimo that same day.

Making nettle pesto...

Making nettle pesto…

Nicole supported the idea as a quick task, but after an hour and a half, she had lost patience. Finally around 11:30, with the cooking and packing complete, and our midwife confirming we should come to the hospital, I called a cab. It was 11:37PM.

In between pressure waves, James wanted one last photo of the belly!

In between pressure waves, James wanted one last photo of the belly!

Driving to BC Womens, we found Vancouver’s streets empty.  The cabbie had known as soon as Nicole sat in the back seat that a baby was coming, and to our surprise, this wasn’t new to him.  So much for our assumption that while Nicole put on headphones and turned her mental “lightswitch” off during pressure waves, we would be incognito. At the Hospital While I paid the cabbie and grabbed our stuff, Nicole pressed the hospital after hours buzzer to be let in. Unfortunately, this was followed immediately by a pressure wave, so she was doubled over and unable to respond when the security guard answered the call.  The pressure wave passed and she was able to communicate to the confused guard that she was in labour, and we were finally admitted. After we finished the hospital paperwork, our fabulous SCBP midwife-on-call (Lena) checked Nicole’s progress. She was already at 4-5 cm – halfway to pushing! This confirmed that our progress on the Boulevard of Breech Delivery was under way.

Our baby's breech position.

Our baby’s breech position.

If we wanted to achieve a vaginal birth, Nic had to meet many time-sensitive milestones. She had to dilate about 1 cm per hour, and once she reached 10 cm, she only had one hour to push. We would also be forced to move to the delivery operating room before pushing, in case an emergency caesarean was necessary. Nicole knew what she was getting herself into, and, thanks to months of natural birth preparation (Hypnobabies), she was ready. During her appointment three days earlier at the Best Birth Clinic, Dr. Whitehill told her she was a candidate for a vaginal breech delivery, so we were hopeful for a natural birth. When Nic had asked about delivering without an epidural, the clinicians told her this would be cruel and unusual punishment, but Nicole hoped to prove them wrong. Around midnight, our doula Yvette arrived on a wave of energy and enthusiasm. As a Hypnobabies instructor herself, she knew all the birth-management tools we had spent weeks practising. As the next pressure wave built up, Nicole turned her “lightswitch” off, swayed her hips to focus, and Yvetted jumped into action. Her support proved crucial during our adventure.

James supporting my belly during a pressure wave as I swayed my hips.

James supporting my belly during a pressure wave as I swayed my hips.

The waves were coming more quickly now, and were lasting longer. All around Nicole, health care workers were buzzing. One nurse connected Nicole to an IV and the anesthesiologist inserted a needle in her spine for the epidural, if she needed it. Throughout the poking and prodding, Nic tried to stay focused on the pressure waves. She would stand and hold onto my shoulders during each one. Between waves, she swayed her hips, and we danced to our bachata and salsa music. Eventually, the obstetrician-on-call arrived. OB: “So you want to have a vaginal breech delivery?” Nicole: “Yes.” “You’re sure you want to go through with this? You don’t want to have a caesarean?” “Yes, I’m sure. “Ok, if that’s what you want to do, here is how it’s going to work: you’ll be pushing and delivering in the operating room, in case we need to do an emergency c-section. You will have to lie on your back, and hold your breath for each push. You’ll also be in stirrups.” Nicole had never heard these last three conditions before, and her mood changed. We showed him our Hypnobabies birth techniques sheet, and he replied indignantly that these would not be possible if he was to deliver our baby. Nicole began to have doubts about a natural birth. It was now about 1:00AM.

Awaiting the tap for the epidural.

Awaiting the tap for the epidural.

Nicole kept laboring until about 3:30, but she had only dilated to 5-6 cm. In order to speed things up, her delivery team decided to break her waters. The effect was immediate: the pressure waves started coming fast and furious, and much stronger than before. So strong that she could no longer hold herself up during a wave, and had to lean on me for support. By 7:00AM, Nic was at 10 cm, and the pushing waves were starting.  The doctors asked her not to push, and instead focus on breathing to bring the baby lower into the pelvis. Time to Push! By 7:45, the nurse finally gave us the green light to move to the OR, and Nicole practically started running, her IV pole in tow. As I gathered our things, I heard the nurse plead with Nic to slow down and let her catch up! Over a dozen doctors, residents, and nurses poured into the OR. All met the same sight: Nicole on her hands and knees, on the floor next to the bed, letting her pushing waves ease the baby out.

In the OR: the only time Nicole was grateful to have an IV, because it was something to hold onto during the pressure waves.

In the OR: the only time Nicole was grateful to have an IV; it was something to hold onto during the pressure waves.

She was still on all fours when a nurse announced that the obstetrician’s shift had just ended, and our new OB would now be Dr. Rosengarten.  Nic was in the middle of a pressure wave, and let out a scream of relief. We had met Dr. Rosengarten at an appointment a few weeks earlier, and adored him immediately. Mark Rosengarten was the best there was; we later found out his secret nickname was “birth ninja”, because of his incredible skills. In this one moment, all the doubt and fear that had built up with our previous obstetrician was replaced by the realization that Nicole could do this. To make the point, when Rosengarten arrived in the OR a few minutes later, he held up a surgical mask and asked his team: “Are we going to need these? Nah, I didn’t think so.” He threw the mask to the floor, effectively announcing that this delivery would not require surgery. Rosengarten gently coaxed Nicole onto the operating table, and onto her back. He showed Nicole how to hold her legs to her chest, with nurses supporting her. The baby’s bum was just about to appear. Then, the anesthesiologist arrived It turns out that the top doc in an OR is the anesthesiologist. He turned to Rosengarten, and told him that although Nicole might not want an epidural, he needed to connect it immediately, just in case. Rosengarten responded that the epidural would not be necessary. Surprised, the anesthesiologist shot back that if he did not connect it now, it would be too late to use it later. Rosengarten replied that the baby was coming now, and Nicole (who didn’t want an epidural anyway) would not need it. With that, the anesthesiologist left the room.

Time to push!

Time to push!

The bum started to appear. Deep purplish-red, it would emerge briefly, only to retreat after each contraction. Slowly, over the course of several pushing waves, Nicole eased the bum out. Then, the legs, folded in a pike position against the chest, came out one by one. Two more big pushes brought out the mid-section, up to the shoulders. Rosengarten turned the baby clockwise to get the first shoulder out, then counter clockwise for the other. Only the head remained when suddenly, the pushing waves stopped. This is the greatest concern with breech deliveries. In a normal delivery, the largest body part (the head) exits first, and the rest of the body slips easily out. When the baby is upside down, the cervix senses that the birth is finished after the body is out, and it begins to contract while the head is still inside. Nic could no longer feel anything below her waist, and accused the doctors of giving her an epidural! They assured her that the epidural tube was not connected, and told her she had to trigger another pushing wave. They told me to kiss Nicole, to try and help the process, because kissing can promote the release of oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions.  And so, with about a dozen people around the operating table, I started making out with my wife. I told her it reminded me of our wedding ceremony. The kissing helped, but it wasn’t enough, so the doctors told me to start massaging Nicole’s nipples. I obliged, but Nicole quickly interrupted our smooching session. “Don’t massage on top of the gown”, she insisted, “put your hand under it!” A few moments later, a slow pushing wave began. Nicole buckled down, held her breath, hollered, and pushed harder than ever before. She pushed so hard that we later noticed burst capillaries around her neck and face, and a minor hemorrhage in her eyes. The nurses held her legs down, while the doctor used forceps and a hand to get around the baby’s head. In the final moments, a small episiotomy allowed the head to move, and it made a popping sound as it emerged with the cord and a lot of water. The doctors cut the cord and rushed the baby to the pediatrics table to administer oxygen, a normal procedure for a breech vaginal delivery. A few moments later, we heard the first cry, and, soon after, found out our little hermit was a she. With his hands now free, Dr. Rosengarten grabbed our camera and starting taking pictures.

It's a girl!

It’s a girl!

After about 5 minutes, the pediatricians gave the green light that her breathing, heartbeat, and blood oxygen levels were normal. Our SCBP doctor Kiran brought our little baby girl back to Nicole, and we named her Claire.

Claire's little breech legs

Claire’s little breech legs.

Comfy in Dad's arms.

Comfy in Dad’s arms.

One happy family!

One happy family!