In an ideal (super mom) world, the birth of our baby boy would have lead to a steady stream of blog posts, starting with a fancy birth announcement (that all the websites told us to get ready before the birth of the baby), and ending oh I don’t know, sometime around his leaving for college. Instead, our little bundle is on the verge of his half-birthday and this stupor mom hasn’t even mustered up a photo slideshow to post here.
I guess that whilst staring down maternity leave I had the delusion many FTM’s (translation for those not constantly surfing mommy forums: first time moms) probably have: “hello to you, all the time I’ve always wanted to achieve all the things I’ve always wanted to achieve.” I mean, yeah, I knew there’d be this little human that would require a chunk of my time, but I hear they sleep all day, and “all day” is exactly how much time I need for all of those to-dos. Then of course reality (a baby bomb) hit and the to-do list remains untouched and this blog glaringly empty.
Little dude is now well beyond two tiny feet out of his 4th trimester, I am back to work (and he into daycare) and life tumbles on around us as we follow along. So, away we go with my introspective retrospective.
Lucas is one-of-a-kind and amazing and a blessing and all of those things people say he’d be. But, getting him here was the total pits. All birth stories, great or small, quick or lengthy, pain-full or pain-free start with a plan gone to shit. When baby T didn’t arrive on or around his due date of April 7, doc wanted to induce me and I was completely crestfallen. But, I reluctantly went along with the plan and on induction-Eve, April 13th, Mike and I buzzed around the house cleaning up (last chance for chores before baby takes over!) Just as I was firing up the vacuum, my water broke (or I peed my pants, it was a toss-up at first) and the clock started ticking on our little guy’s impending arrival.
Bird’s eye view: I was in labor for 2 days before Lucas Wright entered the world on April 15 at 9:09pm.
Gnats eye view: Though my water broke, no other action really happened for me, so I ultimately was induced anyway. When that didn’t progress me far enough, and with a rising fever affecting both me and baby boy, doc opted for C-Section and Lucas had his first birthday party a mere 20 minutes later.
Mike’s eye view (buyer beware): In our birthing classes we learned how labor would be a long, slow process, and that we should labor at home with music and a bath, while Mike rubbed my lower back and I sucked on popsicles. Once at the hospital, we could expect long walks through the hallways or bouncing on a yoga ball to our calming music playlist.
In reality, I was strapped to a machine from the word “go” with both a fetal and a mama monitor, and as time went on I got even more tethers. Walking the hall would’ve entailed a bucket under me and a gang of residents along side me to carry all my cables and monitors. I never saw a yoga ball and the only time I sat on something outside of the hospital bed was when the nurse suggested I try the rocking chair – an uncomfortable failure that led to me standing over it (leaning over it, and also…totally over it). I put off the epidural as long as possible, trying some alternative methods, but when I finally broke down (because, seriously, how long will this go on?) I still had to ring the drug dude back at some point because “oh hey, still feeling the pain here, folks.” I don’t remember a single relaxing zen-like moment, and I got poked, prodded and violated so many different times in so many different ways, I left the hospital no longer squeamish about needles. I would have welcomed a simple poke to the arm if they would just quit going elbow deep up my hoo-ha.
In the aforementioned birthing class, when we got the portion covering induction and C-Section, I doodled on my handouts… Not interested in those! Turns out this was the most realistic portion of the class (for me, and for like a third of women giving birth) and I should have been tuned-in, because two days into an induction I didn’t want, I had to have a C-Section I didn’t want.
I’ve heard it a dozen times: “your healthy baby arrived safely into the world so what more could you ask?” While well-meaning comments for sure, a hormonal post-surgery, post-trauma mama bristles at that nonchalant outlook. If I had written this blog a few months ago (you know, when I started to write it), I would have had even more to say about how difficult it is to grieve the birth you wanted, about how it can feel like a real failure to spend 48 hours struggling for something your body just won’t cooperate with. I felt strongly not just that my body had let me down, but that I had somehow failed. I felt as if I were broken, unable to achieve what so many other women can and have.
On top of it, Lucas has eczema and a dairy/soy protein intolerance – both things I blamed most surely on his C-Section birth and the fact that he’d had to have antibiotics for his first few days on the planet because of the fever we both had. I spent some time dwelling on that. But, with more miles of time spread behind me and between me and our baby’s arrival, the feelings of failure and inadequacy have faded slightly. I expect that there will be so many new ways to feel inadequate as Lucas grows and changes.
Like every new parent before us, after a few nurse-aided nights in the hospital we were released to care for our new bundle on our own. During those early weeks Lucas and I cried in tandem. Since it was our first go at this whole baby thing, it is hard for me to say what was normal newborn stuff and what wasn’t, but we had some rough times. Had I archived my Google search history, you’d see a long long list of baby-raising inquires resembling this: “what to do when baby won’t sleep,” “is green poo normal,” “feed baby one side or both sides?” “how long should 1 mo old nap,” “baby crying at breast,” “baby sleeping while eating,” “newborn won’t stop crying,” “can I give newborn gas drops,” “baby hates sleep,” “2 mo old routine?” “what is a normal amount of crying for an infant?” “baby always pees on me,” “butt rash won’t go away,” “when will c-section pain end,” “stabbing pains after c-section,”and on and on. I read all the Google things, mostly in the middle of the night, mostly leading to conflicting advice, and most of which gave me nothing much but an illusion of a little bit of control during those blurry-eyed months. I was a mama in pain, with a fussy baby, and out of control emotions of sadness, frustration, anger (mostly towards all of those well-meaning moms who lent me advice like “just put him in a swing!” which seriously, never f-ing worked) and resentment towards the hubs who (according to post-partum me) got to resume normal life while I mucked along. It is not all adorable photo-ops.
Lucas and I were both insufferable. But, we eventually climbed out of the dark cave we were in, and just as he got super cool (though always super cute), my maternity leave was up and we said goodbye to our little daily routine (“routine” used loosely), and Lucas is building a new routine (again, used so very loosely) at daycare. We are living our new normal. And as life marches on, I hope to retain snapshots of all those simple but precious moments. The first night in the hospital, when I couldn’t get myself out of bed and couldn’t reach Mike to get his attention – wanting him to come check on our new bundle and make sure he was breathing. The late night feedings, just me and him most times – feeling so exhausted yet not wanting to put him down. The way he’d put his tiny hands in front of his face while he fed, or the smirks he makes when he is falling asleep. First baths. That he would get the hiccups often and for long bouts. How after being swaddled all night, his perfect arms would unfurl into a stretch when unleashed. Tiny outfits. Walks with the stroller. Day naps together. The first coos, sighs and chatter- the sweetest noises an ear could hear. That toothless smile. Studying his face while he observes things around him, or a book in front of him, or his first look at a cartoon (Garfield), mouth agape. Accidentally catching his first time rolling over on video and how it brought tears to my eyes for some crazy reason. Our little escape artist, breaking out of his swaddle every night. So many things I am already forgetting. Watching Mike with him, and seeing my parents as grandparents. Seeing how he’s changed us all.
The most commonly asked question of this new mom is (besides, “how you sleeping?!”) is “Is it what you expected?” So I’ve said it a million times over: I never expected to love him so much. Mike and I didn’t know if we even wanted kids for a while, and what if he arrived and we found out we really didn’t want kids? Turns out that pendulum swings way to the other side, and we couldn’t possibly want him any more or love him any harder. The biggest hidden secret of bringing a baby into the world, often unspoken by all mamas out there, is the ridiculously overwhelming instalove. It is withheld probably only because it’s impossible to explain – this uberjoy brought on by a tiny human that you’ve known for only a few seconds, days, week and months. I loved him from the second I saw his tiny purple body, and I will love to continue to re-see this world through his curious eyes.
So all of these words can really be boiled down to this simple fact: birthing was hard, and recovering was hard, and learning how to do this whole thing is hard… but loving is easy.
A very belated welcome to this world, Lucas Wright Trosien!