Penny Adventures

Getting aquainted with the piano.



How every morning starts – time with Smoke.  Sometimes it’s cuddles and rubs, other times they just like to watch the world go by.  These two are becoming quite close, and it’s adorable to watch.  Smoke tolerates Penny grabbing and twisting his fur, and he even brings her toys so she can chew on them.  These two understand each other.


We have discovered a tremendous variety of peekaboo games – it is easily her favourite thing these days.


Sitting up milestone achieved!  She can’t yet figure out how to get in this position, but she can stay in it for a long time now.  She enjoys playing with her toys sitting up – the new angle gives her many more options.



Facetime me with Uncle Pauly!  Penny loves technology – especially because it connects her with awesome people who make fun faces for her.


Some of the most precious times for me are when I have Penny in the carrier and we go for long walk stogether.  I love feeling so close to her and getting to experience her curiosity in the world up close. She’s so fascinated by everything new she learns about – her head flips side to side as she tries to take in the sights and sounds all at once.   The time in the carrier also reminds me of the way it felt when I carried her inside me.  It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the point where she’ll have been out in the world as long as she was inside of me.  It’s hard to remember the time before she was part of my life.  {thank you Jenna for the Tula recommendation!  This carrier is tremendously comfy}



Army crawling and playing in the living room, aka playroom.  She’s a determined little one and when she something across the room catches her eye, she will get to it with a series of wiggles, rolls and army crawls.


Learning to eat with daddy.  Of course most of the food is everywhere BUT her mouth!



Her big bright smiles when she first wakes up from naps are one of my favourite parts of the day.



Now that spring is here at last we’ve been going to the parks frequently.  I feel so fortunate that there are two fantastic playgrounds just a short walk away along the riverside trail.  Penny loves the swings – especially when she goes fast.  She giggles at the feel of the wind through her hair.



Between story time at the library, Mother Goose program at the retirement home, play dates with girlfriends and their babies, daily walks, time with family, and the day to day necessities, life with Penny is busy!  And beautiful ☺️










Penny’s Personality is starting to shine

It’s been too long since I’ve done an update, and it was tricky choosing the photos for this post – way too many.  Note to self: update more often.

I remember when I was studying psychology, one of the things I most looked forward to with regards to motherhood was getting to witness my baby’s personality take shape before my eyes.  I have always been fascinated by human behaviour and getting to witness the development of a new human is truly as good as it gets from an observational point of view in my opinion.  I am savouring this time with our little one, as she discovers the world and embraces it with such curiosity and wonder.

At 5.5 months, little Penny is making it very clear what she likes and doesn’t like.  There is such a joyful spirit within her.


She absolutely loves playing on the floor, and squeals with glee when we flutter a blanket above her.



She is loving her kitties.  Every morning starts by giving Smoke and Peanut rubs.  She is learning to be “gentle” and not yank their fur.  The cats are missing the attention they got when they were the only ‘babies’ in the house, so they tolerate some grabbing.


Penny loves to cozy up with a soft blanket, especially when mommy reads her stories.  We read together every day – with the hope of instilling the love of literature that we have.  I’ve started taking her to Babytime at the library and she really enjoys the songs and stories and seeing the other babies.


Her most favourite thing by far is practicing her rolling skills.  Her one leg always has a pointed toe – she’s a bit of a dainty girl.


She loves to see herself in the mirror, smiling and laughing at herself.  We’ve been working on sitting up.  Her balance is still a bit unstable, but she’s getting there.


Though you can’t tell from her expression, she loves walks in the stroller (especially now that she’s forward facing!) and visits with grandma and grandpa.  We get outside almost every day and are so happy to have the riverside trail so close.



Daddy plays with her with such enthusiasm and she just absolutely adores their time together.  It’s amazing having him work from home because he can take short breaks during the day from work to be with her.  A lot of dads don’t get a lot of time with their babies during the day when babies tend to be the most playful.  We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity for extra moments together as a family.


Penny loves visits with friends, especially the baby ones.


She enjoyed showing Scott her rolling prowess – even rolled right into him a couple times.  He showed her his moves in the pool, which he finessed in Mexico over the holidays.  At the time of these photos, she was almost 5 months and he was almost 6 months and this was the first time they actually noticed each other.



And here they are at the end of November – amazing how much they grow and develop in only six weeks.



Over the last few days, we have started teaching her about solid food.  She’s still a little unsure about the whole experience.


She’s showing her independent side – she definitely prefers to control the spoon herself, though it’s pretty messy.IMG_6264

She’s really not sure what to think of this baby cereal business. 


She’s growing extremely quickly.  She’s already outgrown her playmat and I teared up when I packed it up – her very first toys! … She giggles when we cuddle at bedtime and I never have known such intense joy as that which I feel when I hear her laughter.  I’m looking forward to continuing to watch her grow and develop, and doing my best to enjoy every moment.


Baby’s First Christmas

I thought I’d just share some bullet points of the highs and lows of our first Christmas as a family of three.


  • First giggles – playing with “Uncle” Sam.  Penny just loves getting bounced, jiggled and tickled.
  • Visit from Uncle Jason all the way from the Cayman Islands.
  • Loves the new robot toy and the yellow sensory ball with many nubs to chew and suck on!  At four months, everything goes in the mouth.
  • Spending time with the whole family on Christmas Day.  And mom loved the fact that the family did all the cooking this year – made it easier to focus on the baby and her multitude of needs.
  • Lunch out at Earls on New Years Eve day – Penny loved watching all of the people walk by and smiling at them.
  • The waiting room at Public Health – Penny was chatting up a storm at all of the other babies and kids.


  • Vacillating between sleeping long stretches (4-6 hours) and waking every hour and a half – keeping a tired mommy on her toes and never able to plan much.
  • Teething pains have begun, as has the drool rash on her cheeks.
  • Discovering her voice is both a high and a lo – she makes the sweetest coos and sounds, but lately she’s started to shriek this ear piercing yowl that makes our ears buzz.  She’s not in distress, just seeming to be experimenting with her voice.  Here’s hoping that this is just a very short phase!
  • The 4-month vaccinations – Penny did not enjoy getting poked, and was tremendously fussy in the days following the vaccines.

Here are some photos from our holidays:

Meeting Santa – baby was lucky enough to get a private audience with the big guy on their first meeting!


Spending time with friends at Mom and Dad’s Christmas Party:




Christmas Eve morning – loving the new hat knitted by a neighbour:


Opening gifts on Christmas Eve with mom and dad:





Our little clan: family photo


Christmas with mom’s family:


Walk with mom and dad on a sunny Christmas morning – our new Christmas morning tradition:



Christmas Day dinner with both families – time with grandparents, auntie and cousin:23954258191_d071d869a9_o






At 4 months old, Christmas for Penny has been all about starring at the Christmas tree and lights, meeting Santa, and having a great time with family playing with her.  It’s all a bit of a sensory blur I’m sure.  Next year, she’ll be able to help unwrapping!

The Birth Story

Over the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about Penny’s birth story.  Christmas is approaching and this time last year is when we announced to our families that I was pregnant.  We were all holding our breath a little bit because I was still raw from the grief from the miscarriage I had experienced in November.  I think I bought at least 6 pregnancy tests because it just seemed too good to be true that I was pregnant again so quickly.  It seems like such a distant memory now.


I recently found a group on Facebook of women who also had the HELLP Syndrome, a rare complication of Pre Eclampsia that crept in at the end of my pregnancy.  It has been powerful reading these women’s stories and reflecting on the fact that both Penny and I were far luckier than I’d initially realized.  It’s also been difficult coming to terms with the idea that if I want to have another child my risk of getting HELLP again, or having other complications, is a reality.  I have shared various pieces of the birth story, but I wanted to take the time to put all of the pieces together in one place, as part of my own healing and processing.  This is a very personal post, but I am the kind of person that has always been an open book, and I think being more open about our experiences is an important aspect of processing, and also connecting with one another.  I think too often when it comes to pregnancy and babies, there is this portrayal by some (and exaggerated hugely in movies and commercials, etc) that everything is just so perfect and magical and easy.  Reality for so many women is that it just isn’t. And that’s okay.  We are all traveling on different paths and have different lessons to learn.  We are not alone as there are so many others who are also struggling.

HELLP Syndrome was named by Dr. Louis Weinstein in 1982 (coincidentally the year that I was born) after its characteristics:
H (hemolysis – break down of red blood cells)
EL (elevated liver enzymes)
LP (low platelet count)
It occurs in an estimated 0.5% – 0.9% of pregnancies.
The global mortality rate of HELLP syndrome moms has been reported to be as high as 25%. There is high risk to the baby’s life as well – abruption of the placenta (placenta prematurely separating from the uterus), placental failure with intrauterine asphyxia (fetus not getting enough oxygen), and extreme prematurity.

Here is my HELLP story…
I had a difficult pregnancy, both physically and emotionally.  After suffering a miscarriage, this pregnancy was so fragile to me. I was so incredibly nervous the whole time along.  I had thought that after certain milestones, it would get easier and I would stop worrying, but those milestones came and went, and I kept being worried (the magical “12 weeks”, hearing baby’s heartbeat, the 20 week anatomy ultrasound, the due date of the loss I had, the point where I could feel movement)… People didn’t seem to understand this anxiety either.  They just kept saying “everything will be fine”.  So I tried to hide it.  But at night when I was relaxing for bed I would place my hands to my belly filled with such nervous energy until I felt some kicks or movement.  I obsessively read about each week of pregnancy learning everything I possibly could and comparing my own physical symptoms to the norm.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that something would go wrong.  I kept trying though because  every ultrasound was normal, lab work was normal, and I was having all of the normal pregnancy symptoms.


Physically, I was quite nauseous early on – generally in the evenings. I threw up a number of times, and just felt generally quite lethargic. As the weeks and months went on and my belly grew, I started to have heartburn that was rather intense, often waking me up at night.  Then came the swelling in my feet and hands.  Around week 35 of my pregnancy the swelling in my feet and hands got quite severe.  My blood pressure was up, though below the requirement for a Pre Eclampsia diagnosis. My urine was checked and there was a bit of protein, but again, not enough for a Pre Eclampsia diagnosis.  Around week 38 as my blood pressure crept up a bit higher, my midwife and I discussed the possibility of consulting with an OB, but we felt because I was so far along in my pregnancy, and my lab work was still relatively normal that it made sense to wait a bit and see what my body would do.  I had my plans for a natural birth and wanted to avoid induction if I could.  It was also the heat of the summer and I was still working full time so she suggested I try to take it easy, put my feet up as much as possible.  Most of what I was experiencing were “normal” pregnancy symptoms.  But my BP just kept creeping up day by day, and I started having terrible back pain that was way worse at night.  I started to think maybe I was having contractions so I started timing them but there was no pattern. I was getting next to no sleep between the back pain, heartburn and frequent peeing, which was leaving me utterly exhausted wondering how I would get through the work of labour when the time came.


My Midwife ordered blood work and a non-stress test (to check for fetal distress) every three days.  Every time the baby was fine.  Despite this, I felt concerned that something wasn’t right – I got a heartbeat monitor app for my phone and every night checked on her – each time I stopped breathing because I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to find a heartbeat.  But every time she was ticking away just fine.  She was strong and calm, despite the fact that my body was failing us both.  I started having lose stools, more back pain, my swelling got worse and the baby started to drop.  My Midwife said labour was just around the corner.  So I stopped work a day earlier than planned, packed my hospital bag and parked myself on the sofa, ready to count contractions.

When I went for my next NST the morning of August 27th I felt horrible.  I had been up all night with the intense back pain that Tylenol was no longer touching – I thought to myself if this is what contraction pains are like there’s no chance I’ll be able to handle birth without medication.  I was nauseous, having green loose stools, and knew in my heart something was really wrong when I vomitted from the pain at 2 a.m.  I told my husband that morning I thought I was dying.  Told him I didn’t care what they had to do, I wanted them to get my baby out however they had to.  I let go of the idea of natural birth.  When we got to the hospital and the nurse ran the NST baby was still doing just fine, to my surprise.  My BP was a bit higher than it had been.  But the nurse had thought they’d be sending us home again to wait some more, she said she didn’t think it would be long before labour started – said she could tell from looking at me.  I felt relief.  Until a few moments later when my blood work came through.  Then time seemed to stop and everything went ridiculously fast.  My blood platelets had dropped dangerously low and my liver was in process of failing.  The nurse explained to me that both the baby and my lives were in grave danger.  Before she had even finished explaining what was happening, she had me in a wheelchair and I was rushed to meet with an OB.  On the way, I asked her if I would still be able to labour in a tub.  The nurse looked at me with sad eyes and shook her head.  I was confused – I had thought wheeling me off meant I was going to be induced.  My Midwife arrived very quickly and together she and the OB explained the situation.  I cried when I realized what they were telling me: emergency c-section was happening immediately.  No natural birth.  Not even a vaginal birth.  I couldn’t even be awake because I had to be put under general anesthetic due to my platelets being so low.  Then the worst part: my husband couldn’t even be in the room during surgery.  It broke my heart to realize that our baby would enter the world in the arms of strangers.  That my life and my baby’s life were on the line and my husband couldn’t be there to hold my hand.  The OB was incredibly compassionate and kind in that moment when the tears were pouring down my cheeks.  He slowed down his medical speak and sat down beside me.  He told me with such determination that he wanted to give me my beautiful baby girl.  Told me he knows this isn’t what I’d planned for.  Told me it’s okay to feel sad, and that he was sorry this was happening.  But that this was a life or death situation.  And we needed to get the baby out as soon as possible.  I was rushed into surgery in a room full of people in gowns and masks who were talking way too fast.  A very kind British nurse held my hand, and reassured me that everything would be ok and I’d soon get to meet my baby girl, as they intubated me, inserted a catheter and put me under…

I was held in the recovery room for three hours because my blood pressure was very high post op and they wanted to monitor me due to risk of seizures.  Those were the longest three hours of my life.  Luckily my Midwife stayed with me during the c-section and immediately took the baby for skin to skin time with my husband.

Photo credit to Nicole from Harmony Midwives


Photo credit to Nicole from Harmony Midwives.

I felt for quite some time that I’d missed out on important bonding time.  I felt sad and disconnected from my baby for a while.  And was frustrated in the early weeks when she was upset and only my husband could calm her and I couldn’t.  I felt like such a failure as a mother.  I remember when I finally came to after the surgery and the nurse was telling me about my IV meds, and explaining the button to control the dose, I was floored that I was put on medications I would have never consented to.  But there was no choice, they were necessary.  I felt like my rights were taken away completely.  I was a patient… And had never been one before at all ever.  I have spent my career advocating for patients and trying to bring personhood to the medical model.  It was a lot to come to terms with and there was very little time to process any of it as suddenly there was a baby in my arms who needed me.


The days we spent in the hospital were challenging. I always thought everything motherhood related would just come instinctually.  It never occurred to me that breastfeeding was a skill that both Penny and I would need to learn.  Luckily the Lactation Consultant at the hospital and my Midwife were a tremendous help.  My blood pressure remained high so they kept us several days and that was stressful and frustrating because we were in a shared room and it was impossible to get any sleep whatsoever.  Both Sebastian and I were anxious, exhausted and just wanted to get home.

What a journey it has been.  I am so hopelessly in love and delighted with the gifts I have: my little baby’s life, my life, and my incredible husband, who through all of this I have fallen in love with all over again.

It has all been a lot to process.  I found talking to my midwife about the experience really helpful.  She helped me to put it into words what I was feeling.  I cannot say enough good things about midwifery care.  The Midwife got to the hospital within five minutes of the blood work results coming in.  She stayed with me during surgery, made sure Penny got to Sebastian right afterwards, and took photos for us.  The Midwife was also an ENORMOUS support in the days following in terms of help with breastfeeding, emotional support and just helping us to understand everything.  The home visits were by far the most positive experience with the health care system I have ever experienced.  She answered all of the questions we had – and as first time parents we had a LOT of them.  She took her time and even though I knew she was very busy, I never felt that she was rushed.  Because my blood pressure remained quite high postpartum, we had some extra home visits, and I also unfortunately ended up readmitted to the hospital 24 hours after I had been discharged.  Luckily, thanks to my Midwife’s advocacy efforts, we avoided the emergency room and they admitted us right away to a single room on the maternity floor, where I was able to keep the baby with me so that breastfeeding wasn’t interrupted by the hospitalization.

Jenn, one of our two fantastic Midwives from Harmony Midwives in New Westminster weighs the baby with this fantastic scale
Jenn, one of our two fantastic Midwives weighs the baby with this fantastic scale

Two months after the birth, when I was enjoying all of the amazing moments with baby Penny, the Midwife emailed me photos from the birth that she’d taken.  I had expected her to take a few cozy shots of my husband and the baby… But I quickly realized she had also taken photos of everything during the c-section.  Seeing those photos brought all the trauma back and I burst out in tears.  It was hard to see my baby being weighed on a cold metal scale with just a piece of paper under her, screaming and crying intensely, knowing that I wasn’t there to hold her and comfort her afterwards.  Seeing all of the blood, all of the medical equipment and all of the gloved medical professionals in the room… It was entirely different from the natural birth I had planned and prepared for.  I wanted a calm space, time in a tub, minimal medical interventions…I had imagined in my mind for a long time that moment immediately after birth of cuddling my baby in my arms.  Seeing how different it was upset me all over again.  But in hindsight, I am glad for those photos because shedding those tears helped me to grieve.  I didn’t know I still had grieving to do, but clearly I did…

Penny just moments after she was born.
Moments after she was born. Photo credit to Nicole from Harmony Midwives.
Photo credit to Nicole from Harmony Midwives.

I have learned that it is okay to cry and feel upset that your experience wasn’t what you wanted it to be.  Many people say “the baby is healthy and you’re okay and that’s all that matters”.  Those kind of comments really trivialize the experience.  Yes, those facts are true.  But the reality is that the trauma from the experience is very real, and although grateful that there wasn’t a worse outcome, it is normal to be upset by what happened.  We all have visions of what our birth journey will be like and we hold on to those visions for many many years.  I’ve known since I was a young child that I wanted to be a mom.  When we actually get there and the experience is entirely different from that what we’d expected it’s natural to feel disappointed, frustrated, gipped and sad… It is also heavy to experience a brush with death, and this has made me reevaluate a lot of things in my life.  These are feelings that I’m still processing and coming to terms with.  I’m also at a stage in life when many of my friends are also having babies, and it’s sometimes hard to hear about their experiences.  But I also have discovered in being open about what I’ve been through, many of the people in my life have opened up to me about their own tragedies and struggles – pregnancy losses, challenges with infertility, illness through pregnancy… I feel so honoured that they have shared with me what they have been through, and shared pieces of their wisdom.  We can all lean on one another through the hardships in our lives, this is what friendship is about.

Baby Penny came into my life August 27th a happy and calm baby, despite the disturbing conditions of her birth.  She is my rainbow baby after my miscarriage.  She also happened to arrive in the midst of the worst windstorm the lower mainland has had in many decades.  Power was out everywhere and there was absolute chaos.  I will never forgot coming home from hospital five days after her birth to no power at our condo.  The parkade was pitch black and we carried Penny in her car seat up the stairs in total darkness by the light of our iPhones.

My calm little angel taught me peace within catastrophe, helped me find an immense amount of patience deep within me through her purple crying phase, and is teaching me to play the most important role of my life – motherhood.  Thank you for reading our story.