Joining the World of Motherhood

Audrey in blanket from Meg

I don’t even know where to start talking about the last week and half since my baby girl Audrey was born. I guess I’ll just go stream of consciousness with this post!

I had tried to anticipate what motherhood might be like, but I never realized that it would feel as natural as it does. Obviously I try to live naturally as much as I can, but I thought this transition would be much more difficult. Audrey latched on right away and fed on colostrum for long stretches until my milk came in after just a couple days. My mom arrived from Minnesota the day after she was born and is here for a couple weeks to help out. We came home from the hospital when Audrey was two days old and settled into something of a routine.

Audrey in a sling!

Audrey is an eating, pooping, sleeping machine, so a lot of my time is spent simply bonding with her and tending to her needs. Also, after a physically (not emotionally!) traumatic birth, I am forced to lay low and recover. I am moving around much better than I did at first, but I am now in the phase of recovery where if I stand up for a little longer than I should my nether regions just start throbbing. Hopefully by next week sometime I’ll be ready to sit in a chair, and maybe even take a short walk!

I would like to confirm the advice to new mothers to limit visitors in the first few weeks. Everyone might want to come see the baby, and maybe that’s totally okay with you, but just make sure there are only a couple people at a time and that their visits are brief. With all the hormones gushing through your body and your limited mobility (whether you have a c-section or a vaginal birth, you are going to need some time to recover!), having the added pressure to entertain or having other people holding your baby for hours on end can be very difficult!

When Audrey was four days old just about Luke’s whole family came over. I was concerned that Audrey would get overwhelmed, but luckily she was asleep the whole time… it ended up being me who was overwhelmed. After a few hours of noisiness and activity, I started freaking out a bit. I went in the bedroom and cried so nobody would see me upset, then came back out when I had calmed myself. They had started playing board games and Audrey’s cousins and Godfather were fighting over who would hold her next and I couldn’t hold it in… My sister-in-law saw me crying and it slipped out, “I just want to hold my baby!” She immediately grabbed Audrey away and brought her to me, and while I brought her into the bedroom to nurse she made everyone leave. I felt really bad about the whole thing and didn’t need everyone to leave, I just needed a little time with my baby girl!

So lesson learned: short visits with just a few people (ideally people from whom you are comfortable baby-snatching when you want your kid back!) until your hormones are regulated!

Audrey & Grandma Celia on the ball

A huge blessing this past week has been my mom… having her here has helped me enormously. In the first few days we were back home it hurt just to get up and down so she was bringing me food and drinks and mothering me as I was trying to figure out how to be a mother myself. She’s been taking care of all the stuff I would normally do like laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking, plus some stuff that who knows when I would ever get to! Plus, we discovered something interesting… I spent a lot of time sitting on my exercise ball towards the end of my pregnancy because my tailbone hurt and I was trying to keep my pelvic floor and thighs strong. Apparently Audrey remembers this, so when she is fussy, her grandma will hold her and bounce and it calms her right down!

Audrey & Daddy Luke

Luke has been a wonderful father and husband despite having to go back to work almost immediately. He is just as obsessed with Audrey as I am and is happy to change her and do whatever he can to help. When we were in the hospital he changed all the diapers because it would have taken me just as long to get out of the bed as it would for him to change the diaper! He was also changing the night diapers and I would feed her, but now that I am feeling better I am doing more night diapers since he has to go to work in the morning and needs the sleep. He loves holding Audrey and recognizes all her noises… he’ll bring her to me as soon as she starts asking for booby!

I started pumping to get my milk supply up for when I go back to work, and about once a day Luke offers the bottle to Audrey. She knows what to do with it and will suck on it a little, but definitely not if I am around! We just want to make sure that when she starts daycare she’ll accept a bottle. I am also considering giving her a pacifier. I was going to wait a while longer, but it seems like a lot of the time she just wants “comfort booby” where she’ll just suck for a few minutes to put herself to sleep- she’s not really hungry. One of the big reasons for not introducing a pacifier too soon is to eliminate confusion and establish breastfeeding, but our breastfeeding relationship seems pretty well established and she definitely knows the difference between my breast and the bottle.

Finally, a little about Audrey herself! She is such a sweet, good baby and only fusses if she needs something or is gassy. She gets the hiccups a couple times per day, but breastfeeding gets rid of them right away! I wonder if sucking on a pacifier would have the same effect? When she’s on her tummy, Audrey can push up and hold her head up for a good 5-10 seconds. Also, she can sleep through anything: The Expendables, vacuuming around her, shrieking voices… so glad we don’d have to tiptoe around her!


Link Love

“A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman’s crowning creative experience of a lifetime.”
― John Stevenson

30 Weeks and Disaster

Today I hit 30 weeks of pregnancy, and shit is starting to get real! For my whole life it has been, Yeah, one day I’ll probably have kids. Since Luke and I chose each other, so-to-say, it has been We’ll definitely have kids eventually. The last 7 months it has been, Okay, we’re doing this for real… make a baby, grow a baby…

Now, this baby that I am growing is constantly moving around to remind me that there is actually a tiny person in there- one that I am fully responsible for. As involved as a man can be, in the end it is the pleasure and the burden of the woman to carry and nurture the child during this critical time. In less than three months I will actually be holding this infant in my arms.

It’s actually pretty nerve wracking… life is about to change completely. My life will (and already does in many ways) revolve around a tiny little person. The funny thing is I am not nervous at all for birthing and actually look forward to the experience, but I am a bit terrified to take on the responsibility of being a mother.

I know that I have a stable job, a husband, home, lots of pets and responsibilities, but I still feel like a child. I never felt really ready to take this step, and I am coming to realize that I still don’t. Intellectually I am ready- I have read up and continue to read about and discuss babies and motherhood with others. On paper, I have a pretty good idea of what we are going to do. On the other hand, I don’t know that there’s a way to make myself emotionally prepared for all the changes ahead.

It’s hard for me to sort out and articulate my feelings on this. I am definitely excited about and feel a connection with this baby, but I’m not sure that I feel emotionally ready to meet him or her. Does that make sense?

This might all be churned up because of a stressful week though. A week ago today made 29 weeks, and we hosted a Halloween shindig at our place. It was a fun time, and the baby bump was even out to play!

It was exhausting though, and I somehow managed to stay up until about 3am. The next day, we cleaned up the mess from the party and started preparations for Sandy. A big hurricane was predicted to hit New Jersey, and since we always lose power because we have all kinds of huge trees in our neighborhood, we just expected to lose it again. I got all the laundry done, ran the dishwasher, and cooked up some easy-to-reheat food while Luke wired up the generator and cleaned up the outside stuff so it wouldn’t fly around.

My work got cancelled and the wind picked up throughout the day on Monday. The worst part was supposed to be Monday evening, and nasty it was. We lost power at about 7:30pm, and watched out the window as a huge tree fell down in our yard, taking out the fence. During the course of the storm, two other trees came down in our yard (one taking out some power lines) and the hot tub cover flew across the deck. Our neighborhood suffered from so many trees coming down… they were on top of power lines on every block. A huge tree fell by our neighbor’s house and totaled their car.

By Wednesday I was back to work, but we were without internet- pretty tough to do my job! I ended up being able to create a hotspot with my phone to go the online things I needed to do, but the whole office was pretty empty and there was a lot of work to be done.

On top of all that, there seems to be a bit of a gas crisis in New Jersey. Tons of gas stations are without power, so their pumps are useless. The ones that do have power have cars lined up for miles to fill up their cars and gas tanks, and a lot of these stations have run out of gas because they haven’t been able to get a shipment. Between driving to work and powering generators, a lot of gas is needed and there is just not enough supply to fill the demand. Luckily I filled my car before the storm and don’t drive too much, so my car is okay for now. We are limiting the time that we run the generator to save fuel, and just trying to get more when possible.

It’s just been a stressful week and we don’t expect to get our power back for a while yet, but it could be much worse. This baby is going to come out a trooper, for sure!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom & I have always had a great relationship. I’ve been out of the house since I was 18, but I’ve always known that the door would be open and a bed (laundry machine, refrigerator, glass of wine) would be there for me whenever I came back. Although I know it must have been difficult at times, Mom has been incredibly supportive of all my decisions, including when I got up and moved across the country to be with Luke and start a new job. The distance has been difficult at times, but I am so thankful that we live in the technology age and that my family is only a phone call, email, Skype call, or plane ride away. (And can I say, I am super excited that my Mom is getting an iPhone now too so I can finally text her and picture message bomb her!!!)

I am just starting to learn what being a mother is all about, and how much love and sacrifice it really takes. I always had an idea, but I know that I will only keep learning about this more and more in the years to come.

I want to thank my mom for doing this for me and my siblings, and for extending that love and support out to my husband and baby-on-the-way. I have always loved and admired her, and my appreciation is now stronger than ever!

So thank you, Mom, and have a very happy birthday!!!

Chat With Mom

Yesterday I went on a house cleaning spree. I took the lazy day approach and did a few things at a time, broken up by a phone call or an episode of 30 Rock. During one of these breaks, I called my mom- after trying to reach my parents a few times this week and just getting voicemail, I was pleased to actually get through. We talked about a bunch of different things, but obviously the most relevant here was that we talked about her birth experiences.

I’ve had some weird dreams lately and I told my mom about a dream I had the other day. In the dream I was heavily pregnant and instead of contractions I had gas, and I gave birth in about 20 minutes and it barely hurt at all… I just kind of pooped the baby out 😉

My mom responded, “That’s like how you were born!” Of course I was intrigued and asked for more details. She said that she woke up in the middle of the night with some contractions and thought, I guess I better wake up Tedd! (my dad). She said I was lucky I wasn’t born in the car, because they got to the hospital, she hopped up on the bed, a couple pushes and I was out. I am wondering if she just progressed through a bunch of her labor while she was still asleep!

With all three of us kids (I have an older sister and a younger brother) my mom gave birth vaginally without the use of any drugs or interventions. She was attended by a doctor for both my sister and my birth, then midwives with my brother.

My brother was a big baby- he was 9 1/2 lbs. when he was born. On top of that, he was in a posterior position, making the birth more difficult. The midwives had my mom walk around a lot to keep the labor progressing, and when it came time to give birth, she did so in a squatting position. With his size and fetal position, birthing my brother was likened to giving birth to a 12.5 lb. baby! My mother was able to birth without complications, probably thanks to caring and knowledgable midwives helping her along.

It makes me wonder how a similar difficult birth would be handled in a hospital nowadays? My friend had a normal, albeit long labor, her baby was small, and it was in the anterior position. It should have been a straight-forward birth, but in the hospital she was strapped down, poked and prodded, and consequently her labor progression slowed down. The doctor told her that the baby’s head was slightly to the side, and no matter how hard she pushed, she would never be able to get the baby out… she was then basically forced to give birth by Caesarean.

It makes me wonder what would have happened if the doctor had allowed her to move around during labor, maybe sit on a ball or get in water? If the baby truly was off to the side a little bit like they said, it could have easily slipped back to the correct position for birthing if she was allowed to move around and let gravity do its job of moving the baby down the birth canal. Oh, and she was already 8cm dilated when they told her she would need a c-section.

I’ve read all these stories about how simple and beautiful birth can be and how medicalization has destroyed the natural process, but there’s nothing like hearing the experiences of people close to you.

FEARS: Parenthood

With my “deadline” drawing near, I am trying to figure out what I am the most afraid of because after all, once I am pregnant there’s nothing I can do and I can’t have my wine to relax anymore!

I sat down with Luke and we discussed it a bit… Like I mentioned before, I am afraid of certain life changes and not being able to do what I want anymore. I think it might come down to a fear of parenthood… of being responsible for another life. I am a fairly responsible person, but if I screw up then I am the only person that is hurt. When I become a mother, I have a whole new host of responsibilities, and they all influence the way my child grows up. Like any other parent, I will want the best life possible for my child… a loving family, a good education, good food, etcetera, but I also want to instill in them a sense of humility, thankfulness and respect. I want them to appreciate what a good life they have and want to make the world a better place. To be all the best things that make up Luke and me- without our worst flaws.

I am in no way a perfectionist, but I think that when it comes to parenthood, I am putting pressure on myself to be the perfect parent. I realize right now that it has already started and I’m not even pregnant yet. I’ve already read books and watched videos about pregnancy and birthing to be prepared. I am planning my pregnancy diet to be as healthy as possible for my growing fetus. I am planning a natural drug-free birth because it can benefit a baby in so many ways. I’ve even started researching co-sleeper cribs and planning in my head what we will do when the baby arrives.

All this planning, and I am still scared that I am too selfish to be a good mother, and that I will resent my child because of the change it brings to my life. What if I don’t feel connected to my baby? I have no idea how I will change throughout pregnancy. I know there are all kinds of hormones and that mothers react in all different ways when they first meet their baby… what if I am a bad mom?