So this little nugget arrived in the wee hours of the morning. I try not to call things “the best” because I feel like it minimizes old memories and sets you up to never surpass new ones. But I’m totally fine calling last night the best Saturday night of my life. Honestly. It was perfect and simple.
I was a total grump all day yesterday. Nathan, our oldest, got sent to timeout five times in the span of an hour. After a meatball flew across the dinner table, I excused myself for a much needed mommy break. While I was in the shower my water broke. Eric and I got the house cleaned up and put the boys to bed. My midwife arrived, and what followed was a cherished evening with two of my favorite people. We talked, we laughed, and we told stories until just minutes before Caroline arrived. I felt supported, safe, and loved. It may have taken three births to figure it out, but last night birth was right in every possible way.
This morning I feel blessed to have this little one to cuddle. Blessed that I had such a wonderful birth experience. Blessed that I had such an amazingly wise and kind midwife. Blessed that our journey taught me so much and allowed me to grow in ways that I didn’t even know were possible–and ways that I haven’t yet realized. I’m proud of my body for creating this little person and proud of my mind for allowing me to trust the process and bring her into the world in such a gentle way.
I couldn’t wait to wake Nathan up this morning. When he rolled over around 5:00 AM, I reached down to where he was sleeping beside our bed and gently nudged him. He’s an incredibly light sleeper and woke up immediately.
“Look who’s here,” I said.
“Oh mama, she’s beautiful! Can we keep her forever? Did the placenta come out too?” he asked.
Things like that can come only from the mouth of a three year old.
We went and woke up our younger son, Alex, shortly after. His smiles melted my heart and completed the perfect experience for me.
My mom has been driving all night and is on her way to take care of us all. Right now, I’m cherishing this time as just the five of us. I know I need my mom, and I’m so lucky she’s gifting us her time and energy, but this is the last time it’ll be just our little family for the next month.
Today was a good day. My sister came over to visit and Eric’s dad and stepmom came over. It was a little much, and I wanted my baby back, but how do you tell grandparents that they can’t love on their grandbaby? Maybe if we have another one I’ll figure it out.
Caroline was only seven pounds with a tiny little head. I didn’t tear at all and I feel fantastic. The idea of peeing after childbirth without having to deal with the annoying and painful burning never occurred to me. But I have to say it’s amazing. Although it’s not helping the fact that I know I still need to take it easy.
Caroline was up all night sucking like a champ. I know she’s hungry, and she’s doing all she can to get my milk to come in. I don’t remember experiencing this with my second child, but maybe because Nathan was still nursing when his little brother was born, my breasts were primed and ready? Who knows. She’s working hard though. I’ve spent the day holding her close, skin to skin, and hoping that by later tonight she’ll finally get enough to be satisfied. But I also know that we probably have another long night ahead of us.
Another long night with my ferocious little piranha. But I know it’s all for a reason. I have a certain level of patience and comfort with her that I didn’t have with the first two. I’ve been enjoying our nights together. It’s so quiet and completely ours. I just wish her hungry tummy would get the food I know she wants.
My in-laws took the boys to see Kung Fu Panda tonight. Note: don’t let your in-laws give your two- and three-year-old little boys each a bag of M&Ms and then take them to see a movie about kung fu. I was thankful for the quiet house this afternoon and to get a visit from my wonderful midwife, but I was not prepared at all for the dinner/bedtime routine. My mom is here to help, but it still took an army to get the boys to bed. It’s so nice to have people offer to do nice things like take your kids to the movies, but sometimes it’s OK to add a little direction. As in, “Please avoid the candy next time! Food coloring and chocolate turn my kids into mini terrorists” direction.
This was nap time today. Three sleepless nights are behind us with a million more in front of us. I’m coming down from the birth high, my milk is coming in, and my mom is talking too much. Yep, this is exactly how I remember it—and it sucks.
I may be slowly going crazy while I’m stuck in the house with three kids, my mother, my husband, and my constantly shedding golden retriever, but I keep remembering this Sesame Street record I used to have as a kid. Ernie goes bear hunting and gets to the tall grass. He can’t go “over it,” he can’t go “under it,” he has to go through it.
I’m definitely going through it.
I know from the last two times we’ve been through this routine not to look in the pantry after my mom goes to the store. I know not to ask if the meat we’re eating is organic or what the boys had for lunch. She’s in charge of certain things right now, and I need to be at peace with that. We’re not going to die because the lasagna is made with Prego or because she cut the crusts off the kid’s PB&Js. We’re eating and we’re moving forward. Deep breath.
I know it’s all normal and after a few nights of sleep (or even after a few nights of no sleep) I’ll feel better. But that doesn’t make today any easier.
I woke up ready to embrace the day. I dread the fifth day of the postpartum process from the day I see two lines on the pregnancy test. With my first two kids, the fifth day was by far the worst day. The good news is that for me it normally gets better after day five, and as good ol’ Ernie reminds us, you just gotta get through it.
The boys woke up with colds. They haven’t had a cold since October, but their noses are running like faucets. All they want to do is climb on me and be close to me. So that’s where their snot lands and it also happens to be where their sister is. I think I googled “RSV in newborns” 10 times today.
Caroline had her first doctor’s appointment this morning. I was looking forward to getting out of the house. I was crying before we left the neighborhood because I forgot my toast on the roof of the car. I didn’t cry because I wanted the toast; I cried because I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t want the toast. But then I think I ended up crying because I was actually really hungry. Then I was crying just because I was crying and day five was winning. Damn you, Day Five.
I asked the pediatrician about RSV. She told me that it was the worst year she’s seen in a long time and that she had three babies currently on ventilators. She assured me that eventually they get better, but would my baby get better? Ugh. I respect her honesty, but come on. She told me to make sure the boys washed their hands. Uh, yeah I’ll get right on that.
This afternoon I needed more time out of the house, so Caroline and I went to the Starbucks drive-through and then parked and watched the ducks swim in the strip mall retention pond. My midwife called while I was watching the ducks and told me about some tea that might make me feel better. I wrote it down in case I have another day five in a few years. There were only a handful of hours left in the day, and the caffeine and ducks were helping.
Yes, Day Five won yet again.
Today was better. My hormones are probably exactly what they were yesterday, but because it’s day six instead of day five, today was better. Trust me.
Caroline and I went to Starbucks again, but this time we drove past the ducks and went to the office instead. We didn’t do much but it was nice to run through what will be our normal routine for the foreseeable future.
I’m normally just a little bit of an introvert, but after I have a baby all I want to do is sit in silence and read non-fiction. I don’t even care what it is. Just let me read. If you weren’t at my birth, I’ll chat with you again in two weeks. Someone told me today that I needed to enjoy the days after my birth because they are special and short. I’m not enjoying them. I’m weepy, overwhelmed, tired, and feel like shit. It made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Like I wasn’t loving Caroline enough. I love her. I adore her and I feel like I’m doing things as well as I can be doing them right now. She’s happy and content. What more should I be doing?
Honestly, this week has stretched my limits. There’s not a road map for being the voice of a business when you don’t want to speak. I’ve had to talk to clients, instruct employees, respond to emails, and keep things going on social media. I should have planned better. But there should also be a “don’t speak unless spoken to” rule after a woman has a baby.
Today I put on a black dress, some Spanx, and some heels. Because my mom is a saint, she sat in the car with her iPad and my baby while I went out, drank a glass of wine, and politely dodged requests to share my birth story.
By the end of the night my feet, boobs, and vagina hurt, and I just wanted to snuggle my baby. It wasn’t even close to worth it.
Lesson: no matter the reason, don’t put on Spanx and heels a week after you have a baby. If someone dies, or you must go out, wear black yoga pants and flip flops. People will understand.
Today I sat on the couch and nursed my baby and recovered from the bad Spanx and heels decision. I’ve learned that the best way to counteract a bad decision is with a good one–and today was fabulous.
I finished my fifth book in nine days. Eric went back to work today. My mom and I decided to try to take all of the kids out together to pick up lunch. But then the battery in the van died. While we waited for someone to jump us, the kids climbed all over us, and we laughed until we cried. I’m glad I was with my mom because the laughter part probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Even though she keeps asking me how I’m going to “do it all” when she leaves, and that annoys me, it was nice to have her help today.
Eric and I went out on a date for Valentine’s Day. Caroline slept in the K’tan, and I had a glass of wine and sushi. It felt so nice to be out of the house doing something normal. It felt nice to connect and really see Eric for the first time since Caroline was born.
The boys hung out with mom this morning while Caroline and I snuggled. We went on our daily trip to the Starbucks drive-through, where Allison (aka, my postpartum coffee doula) remembered my Venti water even though I forgot to order it (I must have been focused on the coffee part). We then headed to the office to pretend to work for the afternoon. In reality, we just sat and talked in quiet.
Today Caroline is two months old. Once again, we’re enjoying our cup of afternoon half-caff coffee and hanging at the office. I actually do work at the office now and feel like I’m finally focused and can make some sense out of life and how we’re moving forward. At home, I can’t walk into the laundry room because it’s such a mess, and I haven’t mastered the dinner thing yet…but we’re getting there. There isn’t much sleep happening at night, but I can honestly say I feel great.
I can also honestly say that I hate the first couple of weeks after having a baby.
Here are some tips from the other side…
- Do you. Do what feels right.Listen to your body. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it right or wrong. Yes, I shouldn’t have gone out in heels a week after I had a baby. But if I hadn’t gone, I’d be wondering if I should have. I’m glad I went. But I wouldn’t do it again.
- Be careful with the internet. Especially with looking things up in the middle of the night. Trust your gut. Even with your first baby, you will most likely know what to do. Reading Dr. Sears or Kelly Mom is great, but remember everything is going to feel worse when the sun is down. Try to take a deep breath and wait until daylight to be extreme or obsess over something (because you most likely will.)
- Be real with those around you. It’s OK to tell people that you’re feeling sad or overwhelmed. And it’s also okay to tell people to leave you alone. Find someone who has been through the process and understands it—because it is a process.
- Ask for help. Line up some resources prior to having your baby. I’m a fan of having a midwife who will be there for any postpartum concerns. If that’s not the route you’re taking, make your resource list before your baby is born. Include the local La Leche League contact info and mothering circles or postpartum support groups. If the process feels unrelenting, don’t hesitate to ask for help.