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The birth

9 Sep

IMG_2276We’ve now had 2 weeks of life with little Jack Lee Dowie.  We love that his name means “God is gracious” and have generally found that Jack is, in fact, gracious. He’s so patient with his first time mommy and daddy when we do silly things like putting his clothes on the wrong way or picking him up and moving him around a thousand times!

His birth

Jack was born 2 days before his due date on the 26 August. The doctors had to induce labour because the placenta was overmature. There were signs of placenta calcification from as early as 32 weeks and my doctor did not want to risk leaving him in too long in case the placenta detached during labour. At 8am I was given an IV of Oxytocin and the doctor broke my water. The contractions were mild for most of the day but by 4pm, they were spaced about 5 minutes apart and were very strong. I consider this as the start of my labour. Baden encouraged me by counting the seconds as the contractions passed. The nurse encouraged me to use the gas as it would relax me and the baby would drop lower. At 5pm, they offered me an injection which would calm me down and help me relax through the contractions – it was successful in calming me down but didn’t help to relieve the pain in any way. By 6pm, the contracts were so strong that I asked for epidural but the nurse told me that I was almost there and that I could do it without epidural. Active labour started at around 7pm and at 7.33pm, Jack Dowie was born like a slippery fish out of water at 2.9kg. I feel proud that I managed to have natural labour without epidural.


Baden and I have very different perspectives on the birthing experience. He will describe it as “very hard work” and will remind me that I used words like “horrific” and “horrendous”. He’ll tell you that I panicked and asked for epidural about 3 times. Which is all true. But thank goodness for happy mommy hormones because I, on the other hand will tell you that it was totally manageable, an incredible experience and that I’d do natural again next time. I think I am fortunate that it was a relatively quick labour (around 3 hours) and Jack was small enough to make active labour fast.


The first week home was pretty uncomfortable as I was healing from stitches and bruises but I am happy to report that, after two weeks, most of the discomfort has gone and I have more energy than I’ve had in 9months. The heartburn that plagued me through my pregnancy has gone and I’m managing much more successfully with the Malaysian heat – now that my hot water bottle is out from under my shirt! I was treated to a Malay post-pregnancy massage which worked at getting the organs back to their original places and restoring energy to my body. It definitely worked! I’m almost back to my pre-pregnancy body, although my tummy is a little more floppy than it used to be! And I’m about 2kg heavier than I was pre-pregnancy. I’m convinced that there is an extra 1kg sitting on each of my boobs as the milk flows well.

A healthy boy

Jack was born with 10 fingers and 10 toes. He took to breastfeeding quite quickly (thanks to the lactation nurse who was in the hospital with me) and in 1 week he went from 2.9kg to 3.5kg. In his first week he slept most of the time, waking only for food and nappy changes. We only heard him cry once or twice in the first week. He has become increasingly alert (and vocal!) and can recognize us and stare into our eyes. We are becoming very good nappy changers – sometimes we go through 4 nappies at one change because just when we think it’s all clean, his fountain squirts. We are planning to use cloth nappies permanently in the next few weeks but for now, we use a combination of cloth and disposables. We do want to help save the planet!

Over the last few nights, I’ve been aware of how certain foods I eat can affect his sleep pattern. I once made the mistake of eating curry before feeding him which made him gassy and fussy and then last night I ate a chocolate before bed and believe that the caffeine kept him awake all night. He was wide eyed for hours.  His skin has peeled a little (caused by the dryness of the air outside the watery womb) and he has small white pipples on his cheeks (caused by blocked pores). He also had yellow sticky sleep in his one eye which we managed by gently massaging the top of his nose to open the eye duct. We’re totally in awe of how he can lift his head a little when he’s on his tummy and how strong his arms and legs are already.

The Only concern

Baden and I have different blood types. I’m O- and he’s A+. The baby is O+.  Because my blood type is different to the baby’s there is the possibility that, in future pregnancies, my womb could see a future baby as an allergy and cause miscarriage. The medical term is known as the Rh factor. I needed an antibiotic soon after delivery to prevent this and we needed to feed Jack regularly, every two hours, to ensure he didn’t get jaundice. The nurse even suggested lying him in a sunny part of the house for a few hours each day – which we couldn’t do because it was a cloudy week. Luckily, little Dowie is a hungry eater and jaundice was never a concern.

The bread-winner

Baden is doing incredibly well juggling school life and home life. He only got 3 days paternity leave, all of which we were in the hospital. He started a new school year immediately after Jack was born and is somehow coping to teach some lessons, change some nappies, wash his son and hold Jack until he falls asleep. He’s my hero and I do my best to cover the graveyard nappy shift in the middle of the night so he can get some sleep before heading to work. He has taken to doing the early morning shift just before he leaves for work. I think we make a good team!

The milk-maker

I smell like vomit, wee, breastmilk and baby poop. I’m seriously sleep deprived. At 3 in the morning, I’m irritable when I can’t get Jack back to bed. But he’s just too damn cute to make any of that matter!


An International Baby Shower

3 Jul

There are some advantages to having a baby 9000km from your friends and family. Like you get to avoid unwanton advice, regular and random tummy rubs and the thousand and one horror stories people feel are necessary to share. You also learn about new cultural practices for baby care that you’d never know about back in your own country. But there are loads of disadvantages. You don’t have anyone to cook you dinners; you miss out on all the hand-me-downs; you really have to guess which doctor you want to see since referrals are hard to come by; and you don’t get to have a baby shower. Well, unless you’re me…

A few months ago, my mom had cautioned me not to buy too many baby things until after Baden’s sister, Monica, had come to visit (on her 3 week holiday in Malaysia and Thailand.) “Then you’ll know what you need,” my mom said. But when Monica arrived in Malaysia and unpacked her bag of goodies for us (biltong, biscuits, sweets etc) and handed over 1 bag of wet wipes, I assumed my list of ‘needs’ was as long as ever, and that was that. Baden had made an arrangement to skype with his mom on Sunday evening but I didn’t think much of it since this is fairly regular. After a full and smoky hot day (literally, a rainforest was burnt down in Indonesia and it flooded our coastline with a thick smoky hazy for days!), I took a late afternoon rest and shower and when I came back into the living room it had been decorated with balloons all over, a banner (saying It’s a Boy!), cup decorations, snacks and colourful baby napkins. And a huge pile of presents.

Somehow they had managed to carry an extra bag over from SA to Malaysia carrying all sorts of wonderful gifts. Our baby now has clothes, blankets, toys, shoes, socks, towels, rattles, bedding and…and…and…

The skype audience had prepared their own snacks and drinks on their side of the world and so we had a very unconventional baby shower over skype, where I spent about an hour opening gifts. It was way more than I could have ever expected!

Little Baby Dowie is already so loved! I just hope the doctor is right and ‘he’ really does come out a ‘he’ and not a ‘she’ (you hear stories of this), otherwise our little Baby girl will be wearing blue for the next 2 years! 🙂

Showing off toys

Showing off toys

Opening presents

Opening presents

Party Decorations

Party Decorations

Oriental Balcony - recycle, reuse!

A fine site

The Dowies in Asia

2 travellers and a baby