Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parenting in the Tropics: The First Month With Your Infant

Long before Lucy was born, I promised myself to abstain from consumer overload before our little one arrived.

I tried to keep things basic and simple with Lucy, especially in the first month, when you don’t really need much but full, supple breasts and tender arms.

Below are my first month ‘Must Have’ items for a new baby in the tropics.

1)  Breastfeeding Pillow

      The hospital we used provided us with a breastfeeding pillow for the duration of our stay.  It was amazing!  Lucy and I were able to use it to achieve all sorts of comfortable breastfeeding positions.  It was especially useful with a post-surgical abdomen so sore and tender.  It protected me from little feet and hands jutting out spontaneously!  We were lucky to have received one as a gift from our landlady upon returning home from the hospital.  It continues to be useful every day, allowing me one-handed or even hands-free feeding, giving me a chance to multi-task during Lucy's intense feeding schedule!

   2)   A place to set the baby

      We bought a Snuggle Nest for our little one to sleep in, but she wasn’t a fan, so the snuggle nest has a new home… on the middle of our dining table!  It’s a great spot for her to hang out during the day or take a quick nap in.  Our breastfeeding pillow also doubles as an infant lounger.  Lucy is a huge fan of this spot because it keeps her little body up at an angle.  She isn’t really into being flat on her back.

    3)   Diapers

      We started with disposables until Lucy’s cord fell off, but since then we have made the transition almost completely to cloth.  Whichever way you decide to go, make sure you have a good stock of supplies to get you through the first week or two.  Remember, breastfed babies can go through A LOT of nappies, so be prepared!  They seem to pee or poop every hour or so.  You might want to invest in some good diaper rash cream as well, Lucy needed it while using disposables.  So far we really like Lucas’ Papaw Ointment that a friend brought us from Australia.

     4)   Appropriate clothes and blankets
      Between the sweltering heat outside and the frigid AC temps inside, we have found a balance while dressing Lucy.  Usually at home she rocks a cloth diaper and not much else, but at night in our air-conditioned bedroom, we rely on onsies, peeper suits, and lightweight swaddle blankets.

     5) A baby carrier 

     We were a little over prepared in this department with four different carriers – two slings, an Infantino Sash Mei Tai, and an Ergo carrier.  Fortunatly we had options!  Lucy is not a fan of the sling, and while we have used the Mei Tai a few times, she is just a bit too small for it for now.  The Ergo (with a rolled up blanket in place of the infant insert) has been the real winner during the first month.  We love it!

     6)   A Rocking Chair
     There is no quicker way to calm a crying newborn then warm arms and a little movement.  After a long day of bouncing around the house, mommas got to have a break!  The gentle rocking motion of our rocking chair puts this one out in seconds.  I would recommend a good ole fashioned rocking chair, however I am sure a glider, hammock, infant swing, or bouncy chair would work some magic as well!

   7)   A Bathing Station
    Make sure you have bathing area ready to go.  You’ll need plenty of soft towels and washcloths for the baby as well.  Currently we are using the bathroom sink, but a nice baby tub would do as well!

    8)   Cloth Breast Pads and Edible Organic Nipple Cream
    Without these I’m not sure I would still be breastfeeding.  Those first few days were tough on my extra sensitive nipples, and disposable breast pads added insult to injury by chafing my nipples further.  Thankfully I had invested in Bamboobies – a 6 pack of cloth breast pads and their organic nipple cream.  The best part about the cream is that it is edible for baby, so there is no need to wash off before feedings.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lucy's Birth Story

I started reading birth stories years before actually becoming pregnant.  I was always drawn to home births, water births, and natural birth stories.  After reading each one I would imagine writing my own birth story… so my ideal birth was created:  natural, pain-medication free, empowering, and uplifting. 

After a long road to getting pregnant, I finally found myself 12 weeks along with a little bean that seemed to want to stick around.  I did my research and found a doctor in Ho Chi Minh City willing to try a natural birth (most doctors here push for c-sections) and ordered an array of natural birthing books.  Over the next few months, I drilled Gavin on what to say when medical interventions were suggested, we practiced massage techniques, and pain mediation methods.  Gavin claimed he was going to become the first male doula in Saigon, that’s just how prepared he felt! 

We were excited and anxious to get the show on the road with our mystery baby (as we’d decided to keep the gender unknown) as we reached the 35th week.  At a routine visit to the doctor, we were told that my very large bump was actually getting bigger due to elevated amniotic fluid levels.  They wanted to keep an eye on it and asked us to come in weekly for check-ups.  Each week my bump grew even bigger, and my fluid levels were growing rapidly. 

At 38 weeks we were told we needed to get the baby out of there and encouraged to try natural induction methods.  We created a rigorous routine of raspberry leaf tea, spicy food, (irregular) sex, and nipple stimulation to try and get things moving.  No luck.  Finally at 39 weeks and 5 days, my doctor said the baby had to get out, otherwise delivery wasn’t safe.  I ran the risk of both a prolapsed umbilical cord and placental separation if my waters were to break at home.  Plus with all the additional fluid, the baby was able to move around too freely, changing positions constantly and leaving the little one unable to engage into the correct birthing position. 

After a cervical exam, it was apparent that there was very little chance I would even dilate on my own.  I was massive, tired, and defeated.  We scheduled an induction for the following day.  My doctor warned me that while he was willing to give me two days worth of induction, it might not work. 

Friday morning, April the 4th, we checked in and began 8 hours of a Pitocin drip.  I moved from the bed to the birthing ball, Gavin rubbed my back, and we talked about the baby.  Although I had contractions all day, my cervix never opened.  We spent the night at the hospital in hopes that it might pick up in the night and I might go into labor after all of the medication.  That night I awoke at midnight to sharp contractions.  I finally woke up Gavin at 2am.  We called the midwife to check me at 3.  We honestly thought it had worked… but no dilation, no progress.  I got up and walked the halls for a while, poking my head in the nursery to look at all the babies.  By the time I got back into bed, the contractions had all but stopped. 

We started the second day of induction at 6am.  My doctor let us know that we had a C-section scheduled for 10am if no progress was made.  That morning we didn’t even fight the nurses about the fetal monitoring, I didn’t even bother sitting on the ball, and I don’t even remember feeling a contraction.

I was partly terrified, partly cool and collected, as they shaved me and prepped me for surgery.  I cried.  Gavin, scrubbed up and dressed for the occasion, met me in the O.R. waiting-area.  The doctor told us there was another major surgery going on, so it would be a bit of a wait.  We laughed and talked… still arguing over little boy names! 

Finally they wheeled me into the theater, separating Gavin and I while they prepared me for surgery.  They gave me a spinal epidural.  This was by far the scariest part for me.  I cried on the nurses arm trying to stay as still as possible while it was administered.  Once that started to take effect everything moved very quickly… a sheet went up in front of my head, blocking the view of my body.  Sterile packages of tools were being open and things were being set up.  I looked over at the warming bed where I knew the baby would be placed, realizing that would be a good place to focus my attention.  They set out a pink hat on the table; confusing my addled and drug-fuzzed brain as I didn’t know the gender yet.  I felt a little angry as I was totally convinced our baby was a boy.  How could they dress a baby boy in PINK? 

I felt like I was going to throw up and they placed a small cold sliver dish against my face.  Suddenly Gavin was there.  It really gets hazy at that point.  Gavin said they had pretty much started the incision the moment he stepped into the operating theatre.  He held my hand and lovingly stroked my head and was standing so he could see what was happening on the other side of the sheet. 

There was a surprise when they started to pull the baby out as the little one had flipped breech at some point since our last scan on Thursday.  That was exactly what one of the natural delivery fears had been in the first place. I would have had to have a c-section anyways due to her presentation - even if the induction had worked! 

Our doctor pulled her out feet first and said in Vietnamese that she was in fact a girl!  Gavin clarified in Vietnamese that it was a girl, but got his words mixed up and for a split second or two we remained in the dark until finally it was confirmed in English that we had had a little girl! 

She was whisked over to the warming table and had some suction done.  Gavin was right there, calling her by her name and greeting her.  She made a few little cries.  The nurse wrapped her up and brought her over to me so I could kiss her.  I hardly remember that part of Lucy’s birth - which just kills me.  Pretty soon, Gavin and Lucy were gone and I was alone in the theater for some time being stitched up and put back together.  Then I was whisked off to a two-hour recovery room before I got to properly see my girl.  I asked about her every minute for the two hours until they finally said it was time to go… undoubtedly the longest two hours of my life was spent in that room.

When they wheeled me out to the elevator, Gavin and Lucy were right there waiting for me.  We were pushed up to our room where Lucy was immediately put on my chest for skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding.  She took to it like a champ!  There, in that sterile, whitewashed room, our little family of three got to know each other for the next few days.

 Do I feel “robbed” of my natural birth?  Sort of…  Do I dwell on the events that transpired three weeks ago?  Sometimes.  Was it emotionally traumatic getting an unplanned c-section?  Of course.  Would I do it all over again for Lucy?  In a heartbeat. 

Although Lucy wasn't born the way I had originally expected or hoped, she came in to this world healthy and perfect - which is all that really matters in the end.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ở ĐÂU? presents... Dirty Beaches Live in Saigon!

Our pals over at Ở ĐÂU? + McSorley's + Saigon Outcast are throwing a hell of a show this Saturday night in Saigon with Canadian nowave, synth-sludger Dirty Beaches

With support from local acts:

The Magic Pinions

"With their dreamy instrumentals and epic soundscapes, The Magic Pinions' cinematic sound is the ideal way to kick off the evening."



"Demon Slayer is the creative identity of Dan Nguyen, art director, designer, artist, producer and DJ from Southern California. Under the DMN SLYR moniker, Dan creates electronic music that is innovative, catchy and driving."



300,000VND - General admission
150,000VND - Students (can only be purchased with a valid ID)

350,000VND - General admission
200,000VND - Students

All tickets include free-flow beer from 8-9pm. 

Tickets can currently be purchased from any of the below:

Mayhem Saigon
Broma: Not a Bar
DeciBel Lounge
Saigon Outcast 

For all enquiries please email:


McSorley’s, Ở Đâu? và Saigon Outcast đồng tổ chức show diễn đầu tiên của Dirty Beaches tại Sài Gòn. 

Dirty Beaches là ban nhạc một thành viên thành lập năm 2005 tại Montreal, Canada; tên thật của anh là Alex Zhang Hungtai. Hiện là một trong những nghệ sĩ indie được đánh giá cao trên các diễn đàn âm nhạc nổi tiếng thế giới.

Pha trộn các yếu tố của hip-hop và âm nhạc đương đại trên nền tảng của nhạc rock, đồng thời kết hợp các âm sắc của dòng nhạc lo-fi nhiều cảm xúc, Dirty Beaches tạo ra cho mình một phong cách hoàn toàn mới mẻ và khác biệt, tuy nhiên vẫn phảng phất hơi hướm âm nhạc Bắc Mỹ. 

Trang âm nhạc hàng đầu thế giới Pitchfork miêu tả âm nhạc của Dirty Beaches “vừa gợi cảm theo kiểu ngổ ngáo và bất cần, nhưng lại cũng vừa bảo thủ, và thậm chí hết sức chỉn chu, một sự kết hợp khó có thể tìm thấy ở bất cứ đâu.” 

Với các show diễn đã giành được thành công trên khắp thế giới, chắc chắn show diễn đầu tiên của Dirty Beaches tại Sài Gòn sẽ gây kinh ngạc cho các fan của dòng nhạc indie tại Việt Nam.

**Các ban nhạc hỗ trợ trong đêm diễn**

The Magic Pinions

The Magic Pinions sẽ chơi trước tiên với những bản phối có chút bay bổng và mang đậm màu sắc điện ảnh, lí tưởng để mở màn cho một show diễn có phần ‘xáo động’ về sau.


Demon Slayer là tên gọi khác của Dan Nguyen, một nghệ sĩ tạo hình, nhà sản xuất và DJ đến từ Nam California, Hoa Kì. Dòng nhạc điện tử mà Dan mang lại vô cùng thú vị, ngẫu hứng, khó nắm bắt, và có gì đó hết sức thôi thúc.

**Giá vé**

Mua trước buổi diễn

300,000VND – Vé phổ thông
150,000VND – Vé giành cho sinh viên (vui lòng mang theo thẻ sinh viên để đối chiếu)

Mua tại cửa

350,000VND – Vé phổ thông
200,000VND – Vé giành cho sinh viên (vui lòng mang theo thẻ sinh viên để đối chiếu)

***Mỗi vé bao gồm bạn được uống beer thoải mái từ 8 giờ đến 9 giờ.

Các điểm bán vé:

Mayhem Saigon
Broma: Not a Bar
DeciBel Lounge
Saigon Outcast 

Mọi thắc mắc về thông tin của buổi diễn vui lòng liên hệ:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

She's Here, Let the Good Times Roll

After a very long wait, our little girl is here!  She is the apple of our eye and the sweetest thing we have ever met.  We couldn't be happier!

Lucy Hayes

Can't get enough of that sweet face?  Follow my Tumblr for daily doses of adorableness -