It's a shame the photo here's a bit blurry but I love it because Natalie's smiling :D I took it the day she got out of hospital. Oh, and her middle name Ayamé means "Iris" in Japanese which blooms in mid-may to June. They're beautiful purple flowers (blog header photo on the pregnancy page are Iris petals) -- purple of all shades being my favourite colour, I thought it was perfect for Natalie's middle name!

This week with Natalie has been amazing. I'm with her alllll the time because I feel like I missed out on so much while she was in hospital and I could only see her for 30mins every day.

She's such an angel. The first night back home with her my mum and I were prepared to hear her cries through the night but she didn't cry ONCE! In fact, I was the one that had to wake her up every 2.5-3hrs because my breasts would get so full of milk and get sore and then start leaking lol. She doesn't even cry when her diapers get dirty. Sigh..such a well-behaved little girl. She also loves her bath but doesn't like being naked after it so I have to be super quick to put on her nappy and her clothes or she starts crying. And when she cries, boy is she LOUD..!! Can safely say she is fully recovered from the stressful birth and is drinking milk like crazy and pooping and peeing lots like a healthy baby should :) In fact I was changing her diapers once and she did a poo which shot onto my face. Only a little bit though, lol! Made me laugh. Her poos don't feel dirty or gross to me..after all she's still only drinking milk and it doesn't smell bad ;)

Mum helps me out SO much...making me breakfast, lunch and dinner, washing Natalie's clothes and dirty cloth nappies, etc. I feel a bit bad so I've started helping around the house lately doing little things like washing dishes and folding laundry. The midwives here say to not do anything for at least a month after you give birth regardless of how well you feel because the more you work your body that first month, the more you'll pay for it come menopause time!! The female body goes through massive changes during pregnancy and after birth both physically and hormonally, that it takes at least a good month for your body to fully recover. So when you stress your body after you give birth, you will pay for it when you go through menopause and your body is going through other crazy hormonal changes. Keep that in mind ladies! I've heard some horror stories of women going through menopause and I definitely don't want to be one of them....!

Well I think I've done well today, wrote 3 blogs and Natalie's still sleeping. I think it's time to go join her for a little nap.

PS - her face is changing every day and I'm starting to see more of Oli in her each day. It's really interesting to see her change and am so blessed to have such a healthy and gorgeous little baby :) <3 <3

So the whole day Sunday I was on bed rest because of how much blood I lost..couldn't even get up to go pee. The hospital room only had 1 other bed which I was grateful for. The woman next to me gave birth about 12hrs after me but unlike me, she was able to see her baby straight away and when I heard her newborn come in and start gurgling and crying and whatnot, the tears just flowed out. I was SO sad and miserable that I couldn't hold Natalie in my arms let alone see her.. I could literally feel the pain of not being able to be with her and I couldn't stop crying until I fell asleep from exhaustion.

The next day, Monday, I was able to take a little trip down to pediatrics to see Natalie with my mum. She was still in the incubator and still looking a bit tired.. We're only allowed 30mins of the day to see our baby while they're in pediatrics which is nothing but I guess it's better than not being able to see them at all. On Tuesday Natalie was doing a lot better and drinking more milk that the doc in charge of her told me if she's doing just as good Wednesday and her blood test results are good, she can come up to be with me. It was the best news ever!!! On Wednesday I woke up so excited and was pumping my breast milk (I finally started milking on Tuesday so started pumping milk every 3hrs to feed Natalie) when the doc came up and told me Natalie had run a fever all night and her blood test results came back showing that she had some type of infection... So she was put back into the incubator and of course, it was impossible for her to come join me. That just did it. I started crying like hell right then and there. I was so excited to see her and be with her and hold her and breast feed her and sleep with her and just like that my excitement was taken away. That day was perhaps the hardest day I had and I couldn't stop crying once again until I fell asleep. I woke up with the puffiest eyes lol. Also going through my mind at this point was guilt and feeling like I didn't do my best when delivering.. I kept thinking "what if I had pushed even harder so Natalie could come out just a little faster?? What if I could breathe just a bit more oxygen so she could get more?? what if what if what if..." and I felt so bad about all of it that at one point I was feeling quite depressed and low.

On Thursday the doc said her blood test results were fine but he wanted to keep an eye on her a bit longer and so she wouldn't be able to leave with me on Friday. Once again that broke my heart, but I didn't cry this time. I felt like there was no point in beating myself up and had to stay strong for Natalie, so I left the hospital after seeing her on Friday and went home. Even at home I was pumping my milk every 3 hours, making sure I woke up during the night to do so as well, and having mum deliver fresh milk to the hospital. She has been such a big help I couldn't have done any of this without her or my sister. I'm so glad I came back to Japan to be with my family for my first baby, I can't imagine what sort of condition I would be in if I was in Australia. Like I mentioned in my earlier blog, it's normal for anyone who has just given birth to stay in hospital for at least a week but I wonder if they would have kept me in hospital that long if I were in Australia? I definitely needed the week to recuperate and have the midwives check on my and make sure everything was okay.

I didn't know anything much about the uterus shrinking back into its original size and how some women feel pain when this happens, plus the bleeding that accompanies it. My sis said it hurt heaps for her but for me it was quite painless which was great because after all that I went through during deliver and the afterbirth I wasn't ready for more pain. They also helped me massage my breasts so that I could start producing milk for Natalie, they made sure my blood pressure was normal and that I didn't run a fever. I also saw my doctor twice where he checked that everything was normal and healing properly down there. It made me feel very well taken care of and confident that I had nothing to worry about and even if I did, they were around 24/7 for me to ask them questions. They fed us traditional Japanese meals three times a day. Rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with miso soup and fish. Only got served meat once and that was chicken in a vegetable soup so it was nice and healthy. They recommend eating white rice over bread because it produces sweeter milk and more fish and vegetables compared to meat. They also say to cut back on greasy food (so obviously no burgers, chips, roasts, steaks, etc.), and also on some fruits, desserts and juice because they're high in sugar and could clog up your breasts as well as make your milk taste pooey. I tasted my own (who wouldn't??) and it was nice and sweet, I'm sure Natalie loves it ;)

All I know is that if and when Oli and I have another baby and I decide to give birth in Australia, I'll know what questions to ask and what sort of hospital to look for. I'll also be cooking a lot more Japanese food when I'm back and eating a lot healthier not only for my sake but for Natalie's. I want to make sure she has a good diet while growing up so she doesn't get addicted to nasty, greasy, unhealthy food.

The photo above is of Natalie on Sunday, May 26, the day before she left hospital :D

SO! I finally have some time to sit down and update my blog. First week after I gave birth was an emotional roller coaster and this week I've just been enjoying spending time with Natalie that I haven't gotten around to sitting down and writing in gory detail about my labor and delivery experience but here it goes...:

At around 10pm Saturday night (May 18) I started getting cramps that felt like period cramps. From the start they were less than 10mins apart which made me believe (or want to believe) that they weren't contractions. Going to those maternity classes made me think that contractions started with them being wiiiddeee apart and they said to call the hospital when they started coming every 10mins, so the fact that mine were already less than 10mins or so apart from the get-go made me think that they weren't contractions. I should have called the hospital then but instead I messaged my sister and told her that my stomach was cramping up and that I would let her know if it became worse. Mum just happened to be away on a business trip for that ONE night. My sis decided she would stay with me for the night just in case it was the real thing. I tried to get some sleep and managed to squeeze in about an hour or so all in all, fading in and out of pain, and going back and forth from the bathroom.

Come 4am my sister woke up to me using the breathing technique I learned in the maternity class and said I should call the hospital. I didn't even realize I was breathing that loud but I guess I was. I called the hospital and told them my situation and the fact that I haven't had a "bloody show" (the release of the mucus plug that's supposed to happen up to a week before delivery where you get mucus-like excretions mixed with blood. It's supposed to be one of the signs that labor is going to happen within a week or so) and that my water hasn't broken yet but I was getting lower abdominal pain less than 10mins apart and wasn't quite sure whether they were contractions or not. The hospital told me to bring my hospital bag and make my way down so they can check and make sure.

my sister and I got to the hospital and the head midwife was on duty so I was super lucky and she saw that I was about 3cm dilated. She told me all the hospital beds were taken so I was sent directly to the delivery room where I was to stay until a bed opened up in the morning. By this time my contractions were pretty strong and every time it came I couldn't move and my breathing would get all shallow. The midwife put on a belt around my belly to monitor Natalie's heart rate and my contractions.

At 546am my water broke. I was just lying on my side when all of a sudden a whole lot of warm liquid just spilled out onto my pants. I was like "omg omgomg my water just broke" to my sister. We pushed the nurse-call button and told the midwife who came in straight away. They changed me into a gown and by this time my contractions were coming every 2mins or so and they were extremely intense. The midwife would help me do my breathing technique while my sister rubbed my back every and boy did the contractions HURT!!!!! It's literally a "contracting" pain where the uterus is pushing the baby down and all the muscles in your abdomen also contract. Your lower back also starts to hurt as the baby moves further down and once your water breaks the contractions get even more intense. I couldn't even talk anymore at this stage and they put an oxygen mask on me. The midwife called the doctors (one male, one female) and they came in to check on Natalie's heart rate and on how much I was dilated. How do they check, you ask?? They put me on my back when I don't have contractions and stick their hand up there. But considering my contractions were coming less than 2mins at this point I sometimes started getting contractions while their hands were up there checking and not only did it hurt like a bitch but it was uncomfortable as hell!!!!

An hour or so after my water broke my uterus and muscles started pushing down on its own and there I was trying NOT to push because I wasn't fully dilated yet (I was about 8cm dilated) and the midwife was telling me I couldn't push just yet. So there I was trying to breathe all the pain out but then couldn't help but push on a few occasions which made me sound like a beast giving birth. This was truly the hardest part, not being able to push when every cell in my body was trying to!! And don't forget about the pain accompanying every contraction. All this time the docs were keeping an eye on Natalie and still sticking their hand inside to check whether I was finally 10cm dilated or not.

Natalie's heart rate seemed to drop quite a bit every time I got contractions which worried the doctors quite a bit. Even though I was trying to breathe in as much oxygen as I could and breathe slow, it didn't seem to be quite enough. At one point one of the docs said that they might have to give me emergency C-section depending on how I went. I kept asking the doctor after they would stick their hand in me whether I could start pushing yet and when they finally gave me the green light, BOY DID I PUSH LIKE A MANIAC!!! I felt like my head was going to explode and my surroundings became all blurry and splotchy because of how hard I was pushing. But let me tell you, the pain wasn't half as bad once I started pushing. In fact I was trying not to lose consciousness from pushing so hard that I barely felt the contraction pain and even when they snipped me down there. Yes, I was snipped...unfortunately.....

At 756am May 19, Sunday, at 38 weeks and 1 day, Natalie finally joined us in this world :D I was so relieved to hear her cry but they took her next door straight away and put her in an incubator. I only saw her for about 10sec before they took her down to pediatrics where they could keep an eye on her and make sure she was okay. She was so pale, not only because she's half white but I think also because she didn't get enough oxygen and looked so weak. It truly broke my heart but at that moment in time I was exhausted myself. My body couldn't keep up with the quick delivery (even though to me it felt like it lasted TOO long) from when my water broke until Natalie was born that my uterus didn't start shrinking back on its own so they had to give me drips for that..and my placenta didn't dislodge from my uterus either so the docs had to take turns shoving their fist up there and literally scoop it out with their hands while massaging stomach from the outside at the same time. I tell you now.. Afterbirth for me was NO easy task. It was so damn uncomfortable and painful at times. I lost over 1L of blood which is heaps and they also had to stitch me back up.

I stayed in the delivery room until after lunch and assumed my sister had gone home but when they finally took me to my hospital bed my sis came in and boy was I relieved to see her face. She truly made me feel at ease and I couldn't thank her enough for being by my side and showing me the ropes. I wish Oli could have been there to see just how much pain I was in and all the hard work I went through to give birth so that he doesn't just take it lightly when I tell him I don't want to have another baby for at least another 2 years. I know a lot of mothers say they forget the pain once they see their baby's face for the first time, but 2 weeks down the road I still remember everything!!! Maybe in 2 years time the memory would have faded and I will be ready to go through it again lol ;)

The photo here is of Natalie only a couple of hours after she was born when she was taken down to pediatrics. One of the doctors was kind enough to take a few photos of her. She's looking a bit pale but healthy otherwise, thank god :D