Eleanor Noelle – A birth story

Labour for Eleanor started much like labour for Claire. My water broke.  Apparently this doesn’t happen often (labour starting with water breaking), I read somewhere that this only happens 3% of the time. In any case, it happened to me twice.

My water broke at 7:30 a.m. on May 18th, two days after Claire’s second birthday.  My father and step-mother were in town staying with us to help me with my last weeks of pregnancy and to be here for the birth.  We gave Claire breakfast while I had mild contractions consistently three minutes apart.  My father walked her to daycare after I hugged her tight.  The mood was happy and calm.  Contractions kept coming and I called my midwife, who told me to meet her at the hospital. Perhaps, like me, she sensed that things would happen quickly.

Francis, my step-mother and I got to the hospital at around 9:30. We went to our room and opened the curtains and windows. It was a lovely, hot and sunny spring day.  I sat on a yoga ball while we listened to the news.  My step-mother went to the coffee shop to get the midwives some coffee and muffins and an egg sandwhich for me; I was starving!  I was trying to get Francis to hook up his phone to the hospital wifi so we could get some music on Songza but the wifi was terrible, so we just kept listening to the news.

Contractions continued to be regular and to increase in strength. I ‘slow-danced’ with Francis to get through them. When it was getting hard to stand through them I got in the whirlpool tub.  I don’t really remember the time, but it must have been 11ish.  I was in the tub for an hour, which is where I went through transition.  I remember saying, “No no no no” through the contraction; like I didn’t want them to happen to me. I’m pretty sure I asked for an epidural but Francis deflected my request and kept me calm.

It got a point where I didn’t think I could make it through one more contraction, so I called my midwife over and demanded an epi. She nodded, said OK, and told me to get out of the tub onto the bed so she could check me (and obviously I needed to be out of the tub to get an epi).  So it was around noon, and I got onto the bed but the contractions were so strong that I couldn’t get comfortable in any position. I needed help to move; it was all pretty intense.

And then, I felt my body start to push.  I lost my cool then; screaming that I couldn’t do this, I didn’t want to feel her head coming out, that I wanted them to cut her out so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain anymore.  My midwife, knowing that I needed to stay calm for the pushing, grabbed my head, looked right into my eyes and said, “Isabelle, you can do this. You ARE doing this.  You need to calm down and breathe.”  And so, I did.  I calmed down, and in three pushes, Eleanor was born.

It was 12:35 p.m.


It had been my intention to give birth naturally, without an epidural.  My midwife told me that my labour and delivery were pretty texbook; transition being the most intense.  The time when it all gets crazy.  Looking back, I’m amazed that I was able to do it.  And, as with Claire, no tearing or stitches.  A pretty lovely birth.   Looking back, I remember laughter and sunshine. I remember clinging to Francis when I was pushing; my head buried in his chest. Hanging on him for dear life.


She was 7 lbs 16 oz (just shy of 8 lbs) of perfection.  Her eyes very blue and she had red hair (still does).  She didn’t cry; just looked around calmly.  We were able to go home at 3 p.m., to wait for Claire to come home from daycare to meet her sister.

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I smile whenever I think of that day.  All the love, all the sunshine, all the happiness of that day come back to me in a rush, and I smile.


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Has it been nine months already?

I guess it has!  Time to dust off this little blog and get started again.

Eleanor Noelle was born on May 18th, 2012, and at the time I decided to stop blogging so that I could enjoy my Parental Leave with her knowing that it would end too soon (tomorrow!), that I wouldn’t get the 16 months I had with Claire and that I needed to savour the time with her.

As the final month of my leave wrapped up, Eleanor was in daycare part-time so that she could adjust gently to being away from me, which left me time to do all the thing.  You know, the million things that need to get done around the house.

You see, Eleanor is a different child than Claire (obviously).  Claire could have cared less if I was around but Eleanor is gentler. Softer in nature. A little more clingy and changes have to happen very gradually for her.  We went to the Dominican Republic over Christmas and she is STILL adjusting.  Which is why daycare has to happen slowly and gently.

I have to admit that I’ve loved having a baby who doesn’t mind being cuddled all of the time. It’s been a wonderful change.

Claire is still crazy, wild, amazing.  She still has a constant black eye because she thinks she can fly off furniture and play structures.  She is indescribably Claire.

And, so here we go again.


Filed under Claire, Musings, Parenthood

Swoon-worthy kitchen

Saw this on my feed this morning from the kitchn and pretty much died and went to heaven.  This is the most beautiful kitchen I’ve ever seen…

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Slowly, but surely

It seems like every weekend since we’ve been back from China is filled with chores to ‘set up’ the house. Still.  After 10 months. Francis and I are getting so sick of it, but this is one of the downsides of our jobs.  We both work and don’t have time to unpack and sort out a house in a decent amount of time.  Our employer gives us four days (*snort*) to unpack before we have to be at our desks and working (and this includes travel time from old destination to new destination), and while this may be enough time for a single person to unpack a one-bedroom apartment, it’s not nearly enough time for a family to unpack and to make a house a home.

Lately, though, I see the end is in sight.   I have time while Claire is sleeping to sort through the stuff that I shoved under the bathroom sink when the movers were unpacking, we have time to actually decide where to hang all our artwork and pictures.  Maybe next weekend we’ll finally get to buying some houseplants.

It’s frustrating that it’s taken so long, especially for someone like me who likes things just so.   And I won’t lie, the thought of this being my life; packing and unpacking every couple of years, makes me somewhat depressed and anxious.

For now, though, the end is near. The last load of stuff to be dropped off to the Salvation Army is in the car.  Things are mostly in order.

Okay little baby.  You can be born at any time now.  We’re ready.

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Filed under Dislocated Family

Pizza in a hurry

One of the staples that I always keep in the freezer is a four-cheese pizza.  No fancy brand or anything, just a plain ol’ frozen cheese pizza.  Why? Because it makes dinner in a hurry easy with a little help.

On Saturday I added prosciutto, rocket and Cambazola cheese to it after it came out of the oven, and it was delish.  Other times I add feta, roasted red peppers (from a jar), and marinated artichokes.   Tonight, since I have leftover steak in the fridge, I’ll add steak slices mixed with a little BBQ sauce and some fried onions.

I’ve even done this when people have stopped by unexpectedly for a visit and everyone raves.  Sure, I’d love to have the time to make my own pizza dough, but seriously.  I’m nine months pregnant and have a toddler to look after.  Realistically, I won’t have time to make homemade pizza dough for the next 16 years.

At least this makes me feel like I’m providing something healthy and interesting for dinner, rather than just mac and cheese. Again.

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Francis and I don’t really celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, but we can certainly put on a good ol’ fashioned egg hunt!

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Food Talk

Can we talk about doughnuts for a minutes? Because, well, what’s not to like about doughnuts?  In Canada, most of us are familiar with the Tim Hortons-style franchise doughnuts, but if you live in Ottawa I have something to share with you.

Please take some time (soon!) to visit SuzyQ Doughnuts on Wellington Street.  Why? Because they make the most amazing doughnuts I have ever tasted in my entire life.

Francis, Claire and I went over the Easter long weekend and sampled the Salted Caramel, the Coconut and Kafir Lime… oh, and a bunch of others that I can’t remember because eating them put me in a state of nirvana.

Go! And go now!  (Oh, and right next door is a taco stand with some pretty fine fish tacos… that is, if you have any room left after having eaten yourself full of doughnuts.)

SuzyQ Doughnuts, 991 Wellington Street W, Ottawa


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Filed under Delicious, Food, Ottawa, Places