Well, again, it’s been weeks and weeks since my last update. Crazy how the time flies!
So, first of all, Liam turned two over a month ago! My little baby is now a two-year-old! Boy oh boy do I love that kid. He’s just the sweetest thing, and we’ve had such a great two years with him. He’s still a very snuggly guy and likes pinching our elbows (and my flabby belly!) as a sort of comfort thing while he’s snuggling with us or laying down to take his nap. So, he’s still pretty snuggly overall, but he’s also turning into a bigger boy who doesn’t want his mom kissing and hugging him all the time. Boo for me! Now sometimes he pushes me away, or if I kiss him and he didn’t want me to, he’ll wipe it off rather emphatically. Sigh. I knew it would happen eventually, but it’s kind of bittersweet, him starting to outgrow all my mushy mommy loving! I guess I just have to tell myself it’s better than him growing up to be a big mama’s’ boy, haha! On the flip side, I was just thinking that a few times recently, he’s given me a hug and sort of stroked my cheek very gently, like I do to him a lot. I saw him do the same to Richie today too. It was such a loving gesture!
He’s talking more and more, still just words, but slowly but surely, he’s figuring out the whole language thing. Just the other day, he finally referred to me as ‘mama’! It was a major breakthrough and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. For ages he’s just called both Richie and I ‘dada’, but two or three days ago he was pointing to a photo of Richie and called him ‘dada’ and a photo of me and said ‘mama’! Yippee! I have finally had a name/title bestowed upon me!
Liam is still being a great big brother. Any time he sees Fred’s pacifier/soother laying around, he picks it up and tries to give it to him or wants us to give it to Fred. He gives him hugs and kisses, touches his face or head very gently and will sort of snuggle up next to him for a minute and say hi to him. It’s adorable. I hope they’ll be great buddies with each other when Fred ‘grows up’. It is such a heart warming thing to see Liam being so kind to little Fred. It’s the best.
Liam is currently glued to Richie pretty much any time that Richie is home. Boy does he love his ‘dada’! Since Richie’s been home all this week for Kurban Bayram, I have actually started missing Liam and feeling like I’ve hardly had any real time with him, apart from giving him some of his meals. Today was great though because I put Liam down for his nap and got to snuggle with him and after lunch I took him up to the playground for a bit, and we got to hang out for a while in his room even while I was holding Fred. It was lovely for me, feeling like I got to ‘reconnect’ with him a bit. Now that Fred’s a bit older, I’ve decided we have to make more of an effort to get Liam out to play just about any day the weather is good. The last couple months have been tough for him, I’m sure, with all the changes, and he’s been cooped up in the apartment too much. I was so happy today watching him have fun at the playground. He loves climbing up the stairs and going down the big twisty slide, exploring everything and going up and down on the see-saw. There were some very nice bigger boys (maybe 9/10 years old?) at the playground today and they were talking to him and going down the slide with him. It is such a nice feeling to see other children being so kind to your own kid and feeling like he’s being validated by those other kids, if you know what I mean. It’s just really heart warming to see him so excited to play with the big boys and he was just cracking up laughing with one of the kids in particular. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but Turkish kids are so amazingly kind to younger kids. I’ve especially noticed it with boys here. I really hope we can teach our boys to be as kind and thoughtful with other younger kids when they themselves are big boys. It’s just so lovely to see and it’s one of the cultural things I absolutely love here in Turkey.
Hm, what else. Well, we’ve started having story time in the evening before bed, which has been great. I’d been relying on films a bit too much in the evening, especially when adjusting to taking care of Liam and Fred on my own in the evenings when Richie’s at work and dealing with dinner and bedtime, etc. But Liam recently got some lovely books from both of his grandmothers, so it’s been a good excuse to start reading before bed instead of watching movies. So far, sometimes Liam lays down to listen, but sometimes he’s in the room, but bouncing around or playing with toys during the story. But that’s okay; at least we’re all together interacting and not staring at a TV screen. And quite unexpectedly, Fred LOVES story time. My mom sent over some Dr Seuss books for Liam’s birthday and they have quite boldly coloured pictures, some even with the black, white and red that small babies are said to like best, and Fred will just lay there and look at the pictures for ages, his eyes wide, kicking his legs and looking all intense and excited about it. It’s so cute! I really never thought a 2-month-old baby would be so into story time!
Well, anyway, I’m sure there’s more to tell, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. I’m too tired to post photos tonight, but hopefully I’ll get some up tomorrow.
I honestly don’t know exactly when this birth story begins, because it seemed like I was potentially in labour for weeks with all the Braxton-Hicks contractions I was having. The due date was for roughly 30th July, but from very early that month I was having contractions, sometimes regular and uncomfortable enough that I was sure ‘it’ must be happening, but then… nothing. But it was a good thing labour didn’t kick off early because first our doctor was away on holiday in mid-July, and then our doula was away for a number of days for a work thing the last week of July, so it was best that the baby stayed put until our ‘birth team’ was all back in Istanbul!
Anyway, I suppose Saturday, 3 August, is a reasonable place to start. I’d been having particularly strong contractions for the previous few days, and had a doctor’s appointment that day. I was sure she was going to tell me I was a few centimetres dilated and was going to go into labour any second! However, I was only 1 cm dilated and it seemed that nothing much was happening. I was a bit deflated. She told me to just relax and that maybe I was just a bit too anxious about when the baby would come, which was true. Not in a fearful way, but in a ‘hurry up!’ kind of way, I was anxious. I felt ready to get things underway, ready for the whole labour experience, and feeling all the contractions every day, I was thinking to myself, ‘is it happening now?! what about now? okay, what about NOW!?’ and yet, another day would pass and still no baby! The doctor also gave me some special herbal tea that is meant to help get labour started and told me that usually it has an effect in a few days at most. I also mentioned that I was a bit anxious about waiting because three out of our four babysitters would have left Istanbul for holidays by the coming Wednesday (the 7th), and I was worried what we’d do and how things would work out with just one friend left available to babysit. We briefly discussed the option of me having labour induced after the weekend if nothing happened in the meantime, and I said I’d discuss it with Richie. So me, my little bag of magical midwife tea and my disappointment went home and I rang our doula Saylan to give her the update.
That afternoon Şaylan came over to try some natural ways to help labour start and we discussed the idea of having labour induced at the hospital, and then decided it was better to just relax and let the baby decide when to come to avoid the possible problems of artificially inducing labour. A big thing for me was just dealing with my anxiety about the timing of things with babysitters and what exactly was going to happen if most of our babysitters were out of Istanbul when labour started. We discussed the option of Richie staying home with Liam if we had no other option and no one was available to babysit. Şaylan would be with me at the hospital, so it wouldn’t be like I’d be alone if Richie had to be with Liam. At first I was a bit sad about the idea of Richie not being in the hospital with me for the whole experience, but at the same time, I felt better just accepting that possibility and knowing that everything would work out fine, and even if Richie wasn’t at the hospital for the birth, we’d have the rest of forever to all be together as a family and it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
After discussing all this, Şaylan did some massage, acupressure and aromatherapy stuff and, whether or not it actually had any effect on when labour started, it completely relaxed me and helped me really change my perspective on things. I started thinking of a line from a song by the Books- ‘you’re something that the whole world is doing’- which for me meant that I am just one person going through this experience that so many others have gone through, are going through, or will be going through. This moment in time is important for us and our small circle of family and friends, but in the grand scheme of things, me, my baby, whether I went into labour today, tomorrow, a few days from now… it somehow felt insignificant, but in a comforting and liberating way. I just felt relaxed and a part of the whole amazing living process, and knew that things would take care of themselves and the baby would come whenever he was ready.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning… Richie, Liam and I had a lovely breakfast in Besiktaş with our friend Marijke. After parting ways with Marijke, the three of us headed for home and Liam’s nap. On the walk back to our apartment, I got a text from the doctor asking me to come in that afternoon for a regular check-up. So, after a sweaty walk up our hill, a cold shower and a very brief rest, I headed out for the Asian side of the city to her office. As we talked, she said she could tell that I was more relaxed this time, and I told her I had decided to just let things be and not worry so much. When she examined me, I was 2 cm dilated and she said she thought things would begin sometime in the next 24 hours, but also reminded me not to think too much about it! I took the ferry back to Besiktaş , and walked part of the way home because I needed to get some chicken for our dinner that night. I was feeling contractions all during the walk home and a cramp-type feeling that was pretty uncomfortable. I’d been having so many contractions FOREVER that I didn’t want to think too much about it, but these contractions felt a bit different and reminded me a bit of the feeling I had just before going into labour with Liam.
I took a taxi up our hill and then hung out with Liam a bit, and as I was growing increasingly uncomfortable, Richie volunteered to make dinner while I gave him instructions. Contractions were continuing, and they were strong enough that I had to stop what I was doing while they were happening, but in between I felt pretty normal. I was getting a bit suspicious that this was the real thing, but still didn’t want to get my hopes up. We sat down to dinner, Richie gave Liam his evening bath and put him to bed and I took a long shower. We decided to ring Amanda, our last remaining babysitter, and Şaylan, to warn them both that I might actually be in labour. We both pottered around the flat a bit, making sure everything was packed, organizing Liam’s food for the next day and instructions, tidying the kitchen, getting all the last-minute stuff ready. Then Richie and I rang our parents to tell them things were starting and then rang Amanda to ask her to come over.
Richie and I left the flat at about 11:30pm to go to Şaylan’s apartment, which was on the Asian side of the city, not far from the hospital. I tried to stay comfortable in the back seat, reaching around the front seat to hold onto Richie and squeeze his arm during contractions. I actually enjoyed the drive over the bridge across the Bosphorus and the amazing night-time view of Istanbul, which was a bit unusual because I have quite a fear of bridges!
Şaylan’s apartment was so lovely and relaxing. We all chatted a bit and ate some cookies. Then I took a shower, Richie decided to get some sleep in the guest room to save up his energy for later on, and then I rested on the couch, sleeping in between contractions while Şaylan massaged my back. Şaylan talked to Dr Gülnihal to tell her how things were going, and then timed my contractions for a while so she could report back to the doctor. They were feeling pretty strong by now, were about 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart. The doctor then wanted me to go to the hospital to check how dilated I was and to have an NST test. We were going to head back to Şaylan’s if things hadn’t progressed very far.
Basically, as soon as I stood up to head out the door to the hospital, the contractions felt like they were right on top of each other. I had about five just getting off the couch and going to the bathroom and putting my sandals on! We took a short taxi ride to the hospital and the taxi driver was very considerate and drove slowly so the journey wouldn’t be too bumpy and uncomfortable. Şaylan and I walked into the hospital and headed for the maternity floor and I was seriously having almost constant contractions. I was still able to make some jokes in between at this point. I remember saying something about how I was ‘running’ down the hall (in reference to how nurses always seem in a hurry and when you’re having constant contractions, hurrying isn’t really an option and I was actually walking at a snails pace and stopping every few steps to have more contraction!) Well, I had my examination, which I hated, my water broke, and I was 6 cm dilated. I had a big sobbing cry at this point, due to the discomfort of the examination, the intensity of everything, and I’m sure a few wily hormones contributed as well, but I recovered! So, Şaylan called Richie to tell him he better head over to the hospital and bring our stuff, and then she rang Dr Gülnihal to let her know our status.
Really, it gets a bit hazy for me at this point, because obviously things got pretty intense and also because everything happened so freaking fast! Richie says that by the time he got to the hospital, at about 3:45am, it was only about an hour and fifteen minutes until the baby was born! After my examination, I had to lay down for an NST test. I absolutely hated laying on my back when I was pregnant and I REALLY HATED IT when I was in labour! I honestly don’t know how so many women have gone through labour in this position. I think I would absolutely have died! Then, back in our labouring room, Şaylan helped me take a warm shower, which was so refreshing and relaxing. Richie arrived at this point and went to fill out some paperwork. I put on an ugly hospital gown and I think at this point I settled into position kneeling on the floor while resting my upper body on the couch in our room. Şaylan told me at some point that Dr Gülnihal had arrived although I don’t think I responded and only a small portion of my brain registered the information. Dr Gülnihal examined me again and told me that the baby would be coming soon, although I decided not to think too much about that because I didn’t know if that meant in 15 minutes or an hour or 2 hours, etc. After a little while I got a bit of the urge to push and the doctor decided it was time for us to move to the delivery room. I absolutely could not get up though. I was kneeling on all fours and contractions felt almost constant, so moving from that relatively comfortable position to standing up was more than I was physically able for. I think Şaylan actually asked Dr. Gülnihal if it was possible to jut stay there, but the answer was a definite ‘no’, so we had to go. I gave it a shot but just could not get myself up off the floor, so eventually, Şaylan and Richie each took me under the arms and hoisted me up and into a wheelchair to get me to the delivery room.
A birthing stool was set up for me and, again with a bit of help, I settled in, leaning back on Richie who was sitting behind me for support. I won’t lie; it was painful and intense, but it was also fast! There was lots of squeezing of Şaylan and Richie’s hands, there was definitely some roaring and cursing, and out came little Fred! I was so much more aware of everything during this phase of Fred’s birth, whereas with Liam, I was so out of it by that point, I barely knew he was out until Richie told me and they put him on my chest! I must have been pushing for less than an hour with Fred and because of my position, I could actually see him right away. The doctor put him right on my chest and Şaylan tried to help me get him to nurse right away, but he was too busy shouting to latch on. But it was amazing to hold him right away, all noisy and tiny and wiggly. I really couldn’t believe the entire labour and delivery was already over and he was there in my arms! It was just so so different from my first experience.
I think this labour felt harder in a way because it was so much faster near the end, and it was just so intense. And maybe because I actually had energy and wasn’t so exhausted and out of it, I really felt everything more, was aware of what I was experiencing, and will remember it all a bit clearer. I am really happy about the preparation we did before the birth, such as practising the massage techniques, and I had a much better idea this time of things to try to cope with contractions – different positions and movements, etc. It was also fantastic not to be at the hospital so long, because I think being at home and then at Şaylan’s helped me stay much more relaxed so that things could flow along at their own pace without all the annoying poking and prodding and interrupting that seems to go on the entire time you’re at the hospital. I’m happy I ate a real meal early in labour, that I got extra rest/sleep at Şaylan’s before we headed to the hospital, and that I took those few showers to help me stay relaxed and refreshed. I’m thrilled I had the same great doctor and such a fantastic doula, and extra especially, my amazing husband there to support me so much before the birth and, of course, at the birth! And last, but not least, I’m so glad we got to welcome our strong, healthy, wonderful little Frederick into the world!
Well, as of yesterday, Fred is three weeks old. He’s enjoying looking around more, perched up on our shoulders and he is really looking at us now, lots of eye contact and that sort of thing. It’s cute. He’s got some strong legs too! Of course, I was aware of this when he was kicking me in the guts with his powerful ninja kicks all through the pregnancy, but he’s still at it… now he just kicks me from the outside! My mornings (after Richie leaves for work) are spent almost continuously holding him, and mostly bouncing him in my arms while I sit on our pilates ball. Best baby-bouncer ever, and a good replacement for a rocking chair too! He’s been taking a nice long nap right about the time when Liam takes his nap, so that’s awesome! Usually Richie lays down with Liam is his room and Fred and I sleep in our room, and it’s great. Of course, there’s a good chance that I have just jinxed things by typing those last two sentences, but oh well. He’s also falling asleep right around the time that Liam goes to bed for the night and then is in night-sleep mode (obviously interrupted a few times for feedings/diaper changes in the middle of the night). Really, for three weeks in, things are going pretty well schedule-wise. Who knows if we’ll continue to be lucky, but a girl can hope anyway! He sleeps at night swaddled in his Woombie, and that’s been working well. That’s pretty much the only time he’s wearing anything, since it’s so freaking hot still! I’m really looking forward to autumn weather so I can actually put some clothes on the boy! He’s got so many adorable things to wear and it’s just too hot to put anything on him! Anyway, that’s Fred at three weeks!
And here’s a really short video, with a cameo appearance by Liam as he is pretending to drink a cup of coffee.
Well, we survived week 1 of Richie being back to work! There were some mental moments, but we did it! And as a reward, we had an absolutely lovely Sunday. Richie was off work the entire day and we took Fred out on his first recreational outing (he’d been out and about for his and my doctor’s visits, but those don’t quite count). We set out just after 9 am (to avoid the crazy heat and sun!) and headed for one of our many local playgrounds. The one we went to is nice and shady, so it was perfect for a little baby. It was also the first time Liam’s been to a playground for ages, and I was so so happy watching him play and have a good time. He was up the stairs and down the slide over and over again and he seemed just delighted to be out. Fred did not enjoy the buggy ride to the playground, but once we got there, he was fine. He had a bit of a feed, looked around a bit, and then slept most of the time. It felt great to be outside and there was just a bit of a refreshing breeze, and it was shady and not so hot… basically, it was perfect. We all took naps when we got home too, which were much needed, and that was pretty freaking great too! I think Fred and I must have slept for nearly 3 hours back in our room, nice and cool with the fan on. Ah, it was lovely.
Today Richie was back to work, but with a slightly lighter schedule than last week, so the day felt really relaxing. I got Fred in his wrap this morning so I could have some breakfast and a cup of tea (essentials so I don’t turn into a walking zombie), and then later Fred chilled out on Liam’s big bed looking at a book and I actually got to read and play with Liam for a bit. He invented this little ‘game’ of pretending to eat the food or food looking objects he sees in the pictures in his books. Today there was a picture of some cupcakes on one page, so he wanted me to scoop them up with his play fork and feed them to him. Then he went over to his little potty in his room and pretended to spit it out. This was repeated about one million times. Then he found a page with a picture of the sea with fish and seaweed and such things, so he would point out different things for me to scoop up and feed him, especially the colourful seaweed. Again, this was repeated about a million times. But it’s cute to see his imagination developing and I enjoy his creativity! It just felt so good to spend some time focusing almost completely on Liam for at least a few minutes.
Anyway, it’s getting late and I still have to shower and hang up some laundry! Time just goes too quickly and Fred fell asleep a bit later than he has been, so my ‘freetime’ has been cut a bit short tonight. I better be sensible and get to bed soon!
Well, Fred is two weeks old today! Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo to post, but then again, he looks pretty much the same as he did in the previous two posts, so there you go.
Richie started back at work this week, but not full time thankfully! I’m glad he has the schedule he does, which means he takes care of Liam first thing in the morning so I can get a bit of extra sleep with Fred, and then he’s home for a number of hours in the middle of the day, so we have lunch together and get a bunch of things taken care of, like Liam’s bath, a bit of dish washing, cooking, etc. Just the essentials at this point, but I really don’t know how I’d do it if Richie wasn’t here!
So, I have some time with my two boys in the morning and in the evening, and it’s been interesting. Talk about a learning curve! Yesterday Fred seemed to be cranky all morning and I could hardly put him down for a second, but luckily Liam was in a pretty good mood and was happy playing by himself. And then last night was nice and smooth, Fred fell asleep in my lap and Liam went to bed very easily. Today was the reverse. Morning went much better, but evening was a bit messy. I did have my first Moby wrap victory today, which made me really happy! It was a bit cooler this morning, so I decided to give it a shot on my own and managed to get Fred in there comfortably on the second try. He was probably in there for 20 or 30 minutes, which meant that I could actually DO SOMETHING! Liam and I danced to Bob Marley, I got to feed myself breakfast and give Liam a late morning snack, and I even got to make a much needed cup of tea! And Fred just had a nice snooze and it was all snuggly and wonderful. I’m so excited for the weather to cool down more in general and I want to have him in the wrap ALL THE TIME! It feels so nice to have him close, and it feels amazing to be able to actually do a few things while holding him! It made such a difference even just to have that peaceful half hour this morning and get those very small things done. I tried to put him in it again this evening so I could throw together a bit of dinner for Liam, but I wasn’t so successful. Fred was already a bit fussy and he just didn’t take too kindly to me trying to get him in there. Plus I suppose it was a bit hot still, so maybe that was part of it. Anyway, I think I’ll stick to putting him in the wrap when he’s already peaceful for now, until I’m really used to the whole thing.
Anyway, the evening was a bit mental with a fussy Fred, and it made me feel like I could really do with at least two more arms. Trying to juggle a discontented newborn while feeding Liam was a bit tricky, but we managed. I was feeling a bit frazzled getting things ready for Liam to go to bed, but in the end, we managed it and I suppose at this point, that’s the main thing. It wasn’t very gracefully done, and we skipped brushing Liam’s teeth, but oh well. I know it’ll get easier and at the moment I have to just take every minutely small victory I can get and feel good about all the things that go right instead of setting my expectations too high. Also, I know that many a person has had more than one child to look after and somehow managed to survive, so I shall take comfort in that!
Well, I’m still working on writing Fred’s birth story, in case you’re wondering. But in the meantime, I wanted to write a little update. We’ve all had a really great week and a half of life as a family of four. Richie’s been home from work, so it’s made the transition go very smoothly. Richie’s spent most of his time with Liam and I’ve spent most of my time with Fred. Liam is handling everything really well, has been in great form and is as cute and lovely as ever. Fred is adorable and squirmy and does his job as a baby very well, i.e. he eats and poops and sleeps and snuggles. I know some people find the newborn phase a bit dull, because newborns obviously don’t really do much or interact a whole lot, but I love the snuggliness of it all! It’s fun to just have a tiny baby to hold and kiss and look at all the time!
So far he’s pretty peaceful and sleepy during the day, and nights have gone smoothly. Usually I wake him up still after he’s slept a few hours to nurse him, and sometimes he wakes up on his own to feed. It’s obviously not a regular thing yet, but there’s a sort of loose order to the night time waking-feeding thing, so that’s good. He had his one-week appointment on Wednesday, and he’s already gained back his birth weight, plus 200 grams! I’m not really surprised because my milk came in really quickly and he eats like it’s nobody’s business! I think the only unpleasant thing is that it’s so freaking hot and humid now, sometimes it does make it a bit difficult to be holding a baby all the time and sometimes I just think Fred is too hot! But we’re just staying pretty inactive, sitting in front of the fan lots and trying to stay as cool as possible.
Well, that’s about it for now, but here are a couple of videos of the boys!