No explanation. Just a moment captured.
Oh my! How has is already been two weeks since Henry was born? Seriously, these last two weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of diaper changes, feedings, and cuddles. David goes back to work on Thursday for a two week project and then will be home again with us for another three weeks. While I am excited to see how Henry and I will do on our own, I am also a little nervous to be just the two of us. David has been such an AMAZING dad. He is quite the baby whisperer and without him I am not sure if Henry and I would have gotten into our breastfeeding, soothing, sleeping routine as quickly as we did. Most of our days are spent in the living room. In our comfy clothes, we spend the morning sipping our coffee and snuggling up to Henry between feedings while watching Live with Kelly and Michael in the background. We try to head out each day for at least one errand/trip. In the first days this would take us a few hours to time the feeding just so with our departure from the house. But yesterday we made it out to the Town Clerk’s Office to collect Henry’s birth certificate and then walked around the mall. It was a triumphant trip which included a public breastfeeding and restroom changing. These silly milestones provided us with some confidence to be “normal” outside of the house. It is amazing how something as simple as using the public restroom changing station can help you feel like, “Yes, I got this!”
We keep wondering what his personality will be like. It is a bit too early to know now but it is clear that he has a calm disposition which keeps evolving each day and he loves loves loves his daddy. Eskimo kisses help lull him to sleep and in the morning he loves cuddling in bed before heading downstairs to face the day. He eats like clockwork right now. Feedings are every 2 hours during the daytime and every 3-4 hours at night. I think he sleeps longer at night because he LOVES to be swaddled. We strap him into his little swaddle straight jacket and he is off to slumber-land. We feel incredibly lucky to have this early baby-generated schedule (though each day I worry that it is going to change!). As we become more adventurous with Henry, I feel as though our lives are settling back into place. I am surprised by how quickly this new little guy has become a seamless part of our existence and rounded out our family. While I am still a bit hesitant to dine out (nights tend to have a little cluster feeding), I am sure we will head out there soon!
As for me, I am feeling great! I was SO afraid it would take me the full 6 weeks postpartum to feel good. By taking it easy, my body has healed and I truly feel like my own self again (though a touch more tired). I have 13 pounds to go before I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight but I am not in a rush to lose it and I just feel completely amazed by my body: What it did during the 9 months of pregnancy, what it did during labor, and how it is recovering at its own pace. Yes, I had a weepy afternoon when I was overly tired last week, but David helped comfort me and usher me to take a much needed nap. His support has really helped make this family transition ideal. In these circumstances, no wonder people get addicted to making babies =)
When I envisioned going into labor the scene was always the middle of the night. At 3:40AM on July 2, I woke up feeling some mild contractions. Immediately excited, I tried to tell myself that this could be a false alarm despite my premonitions of a night like this. It became quite apparent within 15 minutes that this was the long-awaited labor. After a week of walking laps around the park, drinking raspberry leaf tea, and finally even trying a castor oil omelet, the little baby was ready to make his debut. I tried not to wake David right away and tried to lay in bed “asleep” for as along as possible. Obviously labor would be a long process and I wanted to “store up” my energy while I could. By 4:15AM though, any attempt at peacefully reclining in bed was over and David was up and by my side. We drew a tub and I stayed in there with the shower pouring over my back until our doula arrived. Things happened quickly in the beginning and before I knew it David was calling the midwife and we were being told to head to the hospital. This transition from bathtub to car to hospital was very challenging. I wanted to stay in the tub because I felt like I “understood” the contractions that were occurring there. They would come, they would go, they crashed over me like waves and in this new space I felt a homeostasis. But, I knew that staying was not an option as the contractions’ strength increased incrementally. I remember thinking between contractions that perhaps that was it, perhaps there would be no following contractions. Unfortunately, this was not to be true. In the back seat of the car, I begged David to stop driving during a contraction while my mom rubbed my back. My mantra during the labor process was “It’s just a minute.” David and my mom would repeat this line to me throughout the duration of the contraction and I tried to focus on this phrase to get me to the other side. It helped and then it became absolutely essential to each of my contractions.
Once at the hospital, we soon found out that the labor and delivery floor was awash in laboring women. There was no room in the inn for us! Panicked and afraid, I labored in the hallway with David rubbing my back as I leaned over the handrail. This was the moment when I felt my “calm” resolve begin to crumble. How could there be no rooms? We were ushered into a utility-type room to await processing and hopefully to be transferred into a labor room as soon as possible. I don’t know how long we were in there. It was a blur of contractions and being told, “It’s just a minute.” When we arrived finally in our room, it was so hard to sit still as they quickly monitored the baby’s heart rate before letting me up to do whatever internal labor dance would help me through contractions. Somehow despite the overcrowded conditions, we were able to get a room with a jacuzzi bathtub. With the lights turned off, candles lit, and bath drawn, I labored in the water until 10:30AM. It was a wild experience to be in what would otherwise be considered a romantic setting with labor contractions. Between contractions, the warm water would lull me to sleep and I felt my head nod off only to be brought back to reality as the contraction wave started in my back and wrapped around my center. David did his best to keep me calm and focused and poured water over me to help distract and soothe. At the 7 hour mark, I turned to David and said, “I am lucid right now, and I am telling you I am done. I want an epidural please.” I thought I would have been disappointed asking for a medical intervention, but really it was the best decision I made during the labor process. The pain was almost to the brink of unbearable and the thought of laboring on in this fashion left me feeling as though I would not be mentally present for the birth of my baby since my entire mind and body was consumed by the pain of labor. I was proud that I made it through 7 hours but I knew I had reached the limit of my pain.
Once the epidural was administered, I could feel my mind return to me. Calm washed over and I felt truly present in the experience. Our midwife, Tali, closed the shades and set us up for a nice long nap. Knowing I would need my strength for the pushing since I was only half way there, she ensured us that napping would be the best we could do to prepare. The rest of the afternoon we spent in and out of a few naps, chatting together about the wildness of what we were experiencing, and chatting with our medical team. We all shared family stories, jokes, and talked about what the pushing phase would be like. My favorite part of this time was sharing how David and I met, dated, and married. It was so special to be able to go over these happy memories with our midwife and doula before we welcomed our son into our lives and became a trio. Then finally at 7:30PM we were told it was time to start pushing to meet our son. While the epidural still took the pain away the pressure was quite intense. I remember shaking and crying that I could not do it. David held me close the whole time and reassured me that I was doing a great job. With each round of pushing, I would break down into hysterics and hyperventilation. But, with David there helping to catch my breath, I was able to regain control just in time for another push. A little into this part the midwife announced, “I think we will have this baby by 10PM.” I was deliriously excited by this news and looked over to the clock and asked, “Is it 9:45PM?” David had to break the news to me that no in fact it was only 8:45PM. Digging somewhere deep down inside of myself I knew that I could not make it to 10PM and I bore down. David and our Doula coached me, encouraged me, and said that I was making progress. I had to believe them I told myself because otherwise I would not have the stamina to continue. At 8:58PM Henry was born and we met our son. To say this was emotional is an understatement. We had created this little life from scratch and here he was all warm and pink and sweet lying on my stomach as we were encircled in David’s arms. It is by far the most amazing moment of my life. My little family was born that evening and we are so blessed to have one another.
Since Henry was born at 9lbs 12oz, he needed to have his blood sugar monitored during his first hours of life. He was also born with a slight fever so soon after his birth, Henry and David had to go to NICU for some blood work and brief monitoring. Despite these little challenges, I loved the birth of our baby and it was so miraculous to be together as a family. We stayed in the hospital for three nights and finally came home on Saturday. Breastfeeding has its challenges but with the help of my lactation consultant, David, we have problem solved some of the issues and seem to be settling into a nice easy routine with our little one. If this first week home with Henry is any indication of what life will be like with our little boy, we made the best decision ever to become a family. He is so tiny and yet he is so lovable. He is challenging when he is fussy and we don’t know how to comfort him (yet) but he is also the most charming little darling. We will learn so very much from this little man in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. I love him and his daddy so very much and am so happy Henry made me a mommy.
This week has been a bit tough. Yes, I know the old saying, “First babies are late” but still I really did not believe that that would be my reality. I had this gut feeling that despite the odds, I would right now be either sitting in the hospital or at home and I would be a mom. No such luck though. The baby is still tightly swaddled up in the bump with no signs of leaving the nest. So now at 40 weeks going on 41 weeks, I am an emotional roller coaster. Weepy, sleepy, restless, angry, delusional, and anxious are just a few of the primary emotions I sweep through during a day. The main problem though is that I had two due dates. According to my first midwife appointment the baby would be born on June 27. Then there was the first ultrasound which re-dated the baby for June 25. This two day difference doesn’t seem like a lot for the non-pregnant. Yet, it has quite large consequences at this time of the pregnancy. I really hoped that June 25 was our day. It came and went without any exciting movements. Instead I am now three days late from that date. Then again, perhaps the due date was June 27 then I am only one day late. With the July 4 holiday approaching selecting June 27 as “THE” due date is problematic as it puts us with a July 7 induction day. If the baby was in fact due on June 25 then our induction could be next week. See the problem? I could be waiting only a few more days or another 9 days for this baby boy to join us. That is quite a difference!! Yes, my priority is for both baby and I to have a healthy outcome but the great baby wait 2014 is slowly but surely eating away at me. Most of the day I can ignore the heartache but it flares up and in those moments it is hard. I try to stay busy with at least one outing a day but am running out of places nearby to explore (in case my water breaks…although this precaution makes me laugh as nothing is happening). Everyone around me has been super sensitive and loving and supportive and for this I am incredibly appreciative. Obviously this baby will be joining us soon, it’s just a complex emotional time. Keep sending those good vibes this way, they help more than you know!
2 days, or 48 hours, or 2,880 minutes, or 172,800 seconds until I arrive at the baby’s official due date.
The 39 weeks leading to this moment went by in a blink, but these last few hours feel like slow, grinding years.
Everything on the to-do list is complete (seriously, I have no list for the first time in my life!). And, yes, these last quiet hours before the arrival should be relished and cherished as this kind of solitude will probably not be revisited for another let’s say 5 or 10 years! Yet, I feel nothing but restless energy. So many of the mommies I have spoken with describe a similar emotion when it was their time. They shared that now that the finish line is completely in sight the waiting becomes unbearable. When I try to describe this to the non-pregnant around me, they tell me to relax and to rest my aching body. The thing is my body doesn’t ache. I am very lucky that despite my large belly full of baby, I do not have any aches or pains to complain of and could theoretically continue on in this fashion for quite a bit longer. The only “ache” I have is in my emotional center. I am ready to meet this little guy, I am ready to face labor head on, and I am ready to endure the birth process. And this waiting, this daily waiting around, goes against every fiber of my busybody being!
So what happens to one’s mind under these conditions? Delusions start.
Delusion number 1: I am not pregnant. Despite the protruding stomach, I have begun to rationalize that there is not a baby in there after all.
Delusion number 2: If delusion number 1 is not true and I am indeed pregnant, then at this point my body has begun to reabsorb the baby.
Delusion number 3: I don’t look pregnant in the mirror.
Delusion number 4: If I wake up in the morning and have not already started labor than that day is “lost” and won’t turn into a labor day.
Delusion number 5: I will be waiting forever.
Obviously, I know that these thoughts are nothing but frivolous notions that fill the lagging time until the baby’s ultimate arrival but with each passing day they become a little more vivid and I have to check in and remind myself, “Melissa, you know this is just your boredom talking.” To counter the boredom, I have tried to at least venture outside once a day. David doesn’t want us to go too far in case my water breaks but, “See delusion 4,” I sometimes say to him. We have gone on walks in the park, the mall, and the arboretum. We have spent some time shopping around Whole Foods and lounging in our backyard. These have all eased my spirit a bit but inevitably the restlessness returns. I know I am on “his time” and I know the closer we get to the due date the better for the wee man but I also know that this is hard for me and I am trying my best to stay relaxed while I wait incessantly for the inevitable.
It seems like it has been a few months since I could pinpoint a craving. Yes, I am always hungry but I have yet to send David out in the middle of the night to grab me this or that. Nor have I eaten the same meal or snack for multiple days in a row. The first trimester was my craving center. From spicy pad thai to pickles, I needed these items and craved them but rarely did I actually give in to my desires on a daily basis. Instead, I would distract myself with something I hoped would be a healthy alternative and move on.
Unfortunately, 9 months later that early craving bug has kicked back in and this time it doesn’t like to be distracted or denied! Vanilla Milkshakes have become my calling. I think about them probably 90% of the day (especially since I am home from school now and impatiently waiting for this little one). I think about the next one I am going to have, the one that I am currently having, and then ponder which of my milkshakes has been the ultimate shake. While I am a bit worried about the fat and sugar content, my baby brain keeps telling me “Hey it’s calcium.” With about 1 week to go until the little man’s arrival, I am going to give into this craving. How much damage can it do me at this point?? (Yes, I am very skeptical too about this).
Regardless, it seems my baby (and/or just me) is in the need of some TLC that can only come in the form of a vanilla milkshake. Cheers to you baby!
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup of non-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Mix all ingredients into a blender, pour into your favorite glass, and enjoy!