Baby Girl hit her two week birthday two days ago and I’ve been wanting to journal or blog or document her first two weeks somehow, but things have been moving so quickly I haven’t had the chance.
I can’t believe that two weeks ago I was still pregnant. Two weeks ago we were still waiting. Two weeks ago we had never met her.
I can’t believe how much better my body feels today that it did two weeks ago. Sure, I’m still sore and I can still feel it when I’ve tried to accomplish too much, but two weeks ago it really didn’t feel like I’d be healing this quickly.
She came into our lives so quickly. We spent all that time waiting and we went from zero to sixty in seconds. Suddenly she had been born, and they put her on my chest and I was a mom. That night in the hospital Joe and I both tried to get some sleep but there was this baby, new to the world and probably confused and terrified, and I couldn’t get out of bed to get her out of her bassinet, and nurses were coming in to check on us every few hours, and before we knew it we were leaving the hospital with our baby.
At one point, sitting in the backseat and looking at her in her car seat, I said to Joe: “Dude, we have a BABY.”
We had 10 and a half month to prepare and it still came as a complete shock.
Now it’s two weeks later and she fits right in to our lives. It’s still hard, remembering everything she needs and making sure she gets it, still trying to feed myself and get enough sleep. We’ve had a few episodes of her just crying and crying and neither of us being able to figure out what was wrong, but now I’ve got a list of things to try to soothe her. On her third day of life she had to go back to the hospital and have a blood test
At the beginning of this week I noticed that she’s started to look like a real person instead of just a baby. She has started making noise in her sleep and when I watch her face it looks as though she’s having the most vivid dreams, going at a mile a minute.
She’s smiled at me, and some people would say it’s just gas, but it happens often enough and in certain situations that I believe she’s smiling. She’s even laughed. She sneezes just like we do (Joe and I both sneeze in twos or threes, never just once). She clasps her hands and sucks her thumbs. When she’s done with a bottle she uses her tongue to push it out of her mouth. I know she can only see about a foot in front of her face, but she stares up at lights and at faces and just seems fascinated. Everyone who sees her says she looks older and more mature than her age. (And we, of course, think she’s a genius).
I like watching her when she’s with her daddy or her grandma, but I miss her big eyes (of still indeterminate colour, sometimes blue, grey, green, brown) staring up at me. Sometimes I just stare at her, watching her facial expressions and laughing.
There are times, in the middle of the night when I just don’t want to get out of bed, but once I do, and we’re in her glider with some music playing and her finishing her bottle and calming down to get back to sleep I don’t mind so much anymore, because she needs me.
On her third day of life we had to go back to the hospital for a blood test, and while she was lying on the little table, wearing only a diaper, having a little needle stuck into her little arms, she reached up and grabbed my finger and held on and I just started crying because she needed me.
We’ve had our struggles – our first visit to CHEO much earlier than I would have liked, struggles with breastfeeding that I’m still not comfortable talking about, a few hours of inconsolable crying here and there, and the postpartum depression that I had so feared rearing it’s ugly head, but in the end I think I’ve figured out that when she needs me, I will be there for her, because that’s my job, and I’ve always been good at doing my job no matter what else is going on in my life.
In terms of successes these first two weeks: I’ve cut her fingernails twice without chopping off any fingers; she’s had two baths with no screaming and no mishaps; I’ve figured out various ways to calm her crying; we’ve ventured out of the house with her a few times, including several good trips out for meals with no crying; she is now one pound over her birth weight and eating well; and the Senators have not lost a game since she’s been alive, which her Daddy seems to think has something to do with her.
All in all, we’re happy:
I love my baby. She is only two weeks old and it feels like she’s been here forever and I can’t believe that only two weeks ago I was pregnant.
I dote on her. We spend our days and nights together with me feeding her and changing her and rocking her. When she cries I figure out how to comfort her. When she sleeps the smallest noises can wake me and take me to her crib checking to make sure she’s not waking up, needing something from me.
She is my little girl and there’s nothing like her big, bright eyes staring up into mine. I love stroking her cheeks and her soft hair, trying to comfort her the way mother used to comfort me.
But the title of Mom still sounds completely foreign to me.
I’m her mother, I know that I am, but I don’t feel like a mother. I do all the things that mothers do and everyone around me keeps telling me I’m doing well. My instincts and intuition are there and I generally know what she needs, but I guess I am, as usual, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
At some point I feel this little period of good baby and good instincts is going to end and I will spend days crying over a crying baby wondering how I was ever allowed to take this on. At some point being with her and being responsible for her is going to push me over the edge and everything is going to change.
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew almost right away that I wanted to try and find a midwife rather than an OB – assuming that I didn’t have any risk factors. There were a few reasons I made that decision, but also made the decision to have a hospital birth rather than a home birth (and it was a good thing I did).
As it turned out, an OB became a major part of my birth story and something I will always remember about that day was the mild tension between the midwives, the nurses and the OB. Obviously, they all do things differently, and throughout my care there was a lot of “oh, you do it that way?”
I mentioned this to Joe the next day and he said he had noticed it too, though he had specifically not mentioned it because he didn’t want to bring it to my attention.
I have to say that I was happy with my care through my pregnancy (if somewhat annoyed at times), and I was also very happy with the way I was treated by the nursing staff and the OB, as well as his student. The tension about the way they worked and their various efforts to teach each other served mostly as amusement during a very long, hard day.
One of my favourite memories will be the nurse that came in to help the anesthesiologist when I got the epidural. Her name was Jackie and she was efficient. Stern with everyone in the room, she completely took charge when she came in. She was demanding of the midwives (and kind of rude) but she was there to get the job done, and that she did. She explained what I needed to do and what was going to happen and then she stood with me and keep me calm through the procedure (which happened over two contractions during which I couldn’t move). It was fascinating watching her be so quick with everyone else and so caring with me.
We first met the OB in the morning when he consulted with the midwives and approved their plan for induction. He was very pleasant and informative and I liked him right away, though I didn’t expect to see him again. When he came in to see me in the afternoon when the midwives started noticing a dip in the baby’s heart rate, he was again polite and informative. And when he came back in the evening it was strange. At that point they knew something was wrong, but they also knew I was very close to delivery. The midwives were working with me to have as little intervention as possible, and the OB was supportive of this, commenting several times on how close she was to being born, but also letting me know that if it wasn’t soon then there would be help.
In a way it was reassuring knowing that I had both sides fighting it out. I knew that the midwives wouldn’t have allowed the OB to come in with forceps unless they felt strongly enough that it was necessary for the baby, and I knew that the OB had skills the midwives didn’t have for getting her out as quickly and safely as possible.
I guess having both teams in the room leaves me with the general sensation that everything happened the way it needed to, which is rather nice.
A birth story, for my own memory and maybe eventually hers:
I made my best effort not to make any plans for Baby Girl’s arrival, but as the day went along things came into play that I hadn’t even considered considering. I suppose I should have started thinking about all these things as we went over our due date, and over our revised due date and ended up looking at induction at 42 weeks.
I went off work at the end of November partly because I was exhausted and struggling and I fully expected her to come early. And then our first due date came and went, but she had been in the right percentiles for that date the whole time and our midwives had told us that our second ultrasound was the better one for dating. And then we started approaching induction based on that date and we revised to try and avoid it. I wasn’t too concerned because we had two ultrasounds that indicated December 29 and I wanted to avoid an induction. I had always expected to go into labour naturally.
And then we hit 42 weeks and my body was still showing no signs of movement and we went into the hospital and I got my first dose of Cervadil, and they hooked me up to a monitor and it showed I was having some contractions that I just wasn’t feeling, and all of a sudden there was light at the end of the tunnel. The Cervadil started working, and we went home and waited for me to go into active labour. Twelve hours later, that hadn’t happened and we went back to the hospital for a second dose. And then we went home, and I went through the night having contractions about once an hour and barely sleeping and knowing full well that I wasn’t really progressing.
And so we ended up at the hospital again on Wednesday morning, looking at either another dose of Cervadil, or an IV of pitocin. Pitocin was one of the things I had wanted to avoid all along, but faced with going home for another 12 hours and ended up more exhausted and stuck in the same place, we discussed it and decided to get admitted to the hospital and go for it. We discussed it with our midwives, met the OB who agreed with their recommendation, and got admitted and all hooked up. And soon thereafter I started having the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life.
When active labour started, the contractions had me shaking, feeling as though I was going to throw up and pass out. The first one completely threw me off my game and my immediate thought was that I wasn’t going to be able to go through another one like it. I couldn’t stand on two legs when it was over, Joe had to hold me up. I was so exhausted and so terrified of each contraction as it came that I started a discussion with Joe about an epidural – something I had never completely ruled out, not knowing what the pain would be like, but something I had planned on avoiding. After several more contractions and discussions with my husband and my midwives – second guessing myself all along the way – I asked for the anesthesiologist.
About an hour later, lying in bed, feeling much more relaxed and much more comfortable, I turned to Joe and told him that I knew it was the right decision. There was no way, as far as I’m concerned, I could have gotten through the rest of the day and pushed her out if I hadn’t gotten some rest. When the pressure started as she gotten ready to make her way into the world, I knew that a day of painful contractions, followed by the contractions that would have gone along with that pressure would have been too much for me.
But the pressure started to build, and I felt it get stronger and stronger with each contraction, I thought she might be ready to go sooner than we expected. And the midwife checked and was shocked at just how low the baby was – they told me that I would be ready to start pushing in about an hour.
And then they started to notice dips in her heart rate.
Apparently, it’s normal to see a baby’s heart rate dip during a contraction and there are no concerns as long as it comes back up. Our baby was experiencing this, but after her heart rate came back up, it would go back down again. This was a concern, as was the meconium they had seen in my fluids. They called in the OB.
He was a very nice doctor who we had seen twice already that day and had been very pleasant and reassuring. This time, he came in, talked to the midwives, looked at the readout of the baby’s heart rate and informed us that it was his opinion that this baby needed to be born sooner rather than later. I would start pushing and he would be back to help if she wasn’t out soon.
Forceps was a word I certainly hadn’t expected to hear in the delivery room.
I started pushing right away and within a few contractions, the OB was back in the room. Suddenly I was flat on my back, my legs stuck in two holders on either side of the table, and the room full of people. We had gone from two midwives to a room full of two midwives, an OB, his two students, two nurses and the two respiratory therapists that would check the baby as soon as she was born.
On top of the potential that the baby had meconium in her lungs (which she did, but no significant amount), the OB had suspected and suspected correctly that the dip in her heart rate was being caused by the cord around her neck. It was wrapped twice. In the middle of a push he told everyone to stop, including me and unwrapped her poor little neck.
And then she was whisked across the room and I was left on a table, crying, unable to see anything or hear much of what was going on. The OB explained to Joe what they were doing and why she wasn’t crying, but all I heard was his student calling over to him that I was bleeding.
So I started crying because I had no idea what else to do. I was scared for her and for me, and I couldn’t hear what was going on and I couldn’t see her or hear her and I couldn’t move. All I could hear was Joe telling me he was so proud of me and me wondering why because I had failed at just about everything I could think of.
And then there was a baby on my chest and she was fine, perfectly fine.
Every few days I go to bed thinking that I’m starting to feel things moving along and there’s a good chance I’ll wake up in labour and every time I have been wrong. Every few days someone else in my life makes a prediction and they continue to be wrong, and at this point I am just waiting for next week when my midwife will induce me.
And even though I’ve been fairly easy going concerning labour through this whole thing, basically assuming that she’ll come however she wants to come whenever she wants to come, I always assumed that I would go into labour naturally. Now, starting to talk seriously about different forms of induction, I feel like a huge failure. Of all the struggles I’ve had with this pregnancy I’m now starting to get worn down. Every time I think I feel something or see some sign I have turned out to be wrong and now I have no confidence left in myself and my ability to read my body.
I don’t remember ever being this frustrated.
There are so many things I wish I had thought of before now, things I would have done differently if I had known I would still be pregnant heading into the second week of January. Mainly, I know now that I could have stayed at work longer so I wouldn’t have to be wondering how we’re going to deal with me going back to work before her first birthday.
There’s an irony in the fact that stress is one of the things that can delay the onset of labour and that I’m supposed to be relaxing, because every day I go without going into labour the more stressed I feel and the more all the little things start getting to me.
It doesn’t help that sleep is getting harder to come by. Yesterday I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and all I could think was that this whole experience was designed to drive me crazy.
About a month ago, we went to Joe’s company Christmas party. It was a nice party, great food and really interesting to meet all the new people he’s working with now (who seemed like my kind of people). At the party, we sat with a couple who is also expecting their first child, which is what we ended up talking about for the majority of the evening. The woman was a few months behind me in her pregnancy and had a lot of questions.
(Something that I realized when we went to our prenatal class, was that I have done more research into this whole pregnancy thing than a lot of women. The doula teaching our class brought up a lot of things that I had heard of before and the other couples in the class had no idea what she was talking about. Whether this has anything to do with the fact that when she asked what books people were reading all of them said What to Expect When You’re Expecting and nothing else, I will not judge).
It was a strange evening for me at that Christmas party, because I’m still not all the way through this thing, and there are certainly a lot of things I don’t know – things I never had to deal with (although, some things I do know about because I expected to have to deal with them, like gestational diabetes).
Looking back over my pregnancy I have really learned two things, one that I would share with others who are getting themselves into this situation, and one that I will take with me when this is all over:
1) Don’t tell people your due date
Due dates are lies. I was already about six months along when my midwife just happened to mention that you can expect to give birth sometime in the three weeks on either side of your due date. The problem with my pregnancy is that I had two due dates, based on different ultrasounds. Having discussed it with one of the midwives we were dealing with, we were told that the second ultrasound was more reliable and we should focus on a December 21 due date, now that I’m well past that one, we’re using the December 29 due as a base so I (hopefully) won’t have to be induced.
The problem is, we told people the baby was due December 21, and now they all want to know why the baby isn’t here yet. (Based on that date, an OB would have induced me yesterday).
Knowing what I know now, I would have told people that I was due “in late December” rather than giving them a real date to focus on. If I had told people just late December, then I probably would have focused less on the actual due date – which I always knew didn’t really mean anything.
2) I have been buying my clothes too big.
I have always known that I’m not anything near a fashionista. I try to look put together, but usually I manage to spill something or miss an element or I’m wearing something that doesn’t fit quite right and spend the day adjusting. I would like to go back to work after my year of maternity leave looking like an adult and dressing like someone who works in a real, grown-up office.
One of the things that I learned as my belly started to grow and I could still fit into almost all of the tops I already owned, is that I buy my clothes too big.
I have been watching What Not To Wear for a few years now, and it occurs to me that as I start rebuilding my wardrobe to fit my post-pregnancy body maybe I should do as Stacey and Clinton say, and start focusing on great pieces that I feel good in, and tailoring my clothes to fit my actual shape.
I want to be a good example for my daughter, and I think being comfortable and well put-together is part of that.
So, now I have a bit of time to figure out how to break out of my uniform of dress pants, white tee-shirt, sweater vest and Converse, while still keeping my comfort and my own style.