Mother’s Day

This morning I woke around 3am to switch parenting shifts with my husband. 3am is so early. It’s been a full month of waking at that time and going down to the living room and trying to sleep on the couch but really just staring at Penny and wishing she would be more of a quiet sleeper and wondering if she’s still breathing when she actually is a quiet sleeper.

We have been trying to put her in the bassinet more. She is very noisy. Every few minutes or so she squirms and whines and kicks and then falls back asleep. It’s hard to stay in the same room with her and actually get any decent sleep. This morning I threw in the towel after a 4am feed and listening to her whine in the bassinet until 5:30 and pulled her out and laid her on my chest. She sleeps so quietly when she’s being held. Before I would have thought this made me a bad mom, but now I’m seeing that it just makes me a mom. A “tired of waking up at 3am, just want 8 hours, feeling delirious, but so in love with my little peanut” mom.

It is my first Mother’s Day today. Even though I’m tired and my life is so different, I am happy to be her mom. She cant write me a sweet card or make me a gift, but she is such a gift in herself. There were times when I didn’t think being a mom would be an option for me. I had many months of feeling defeated and less of a woman because of a negative pregnancy test. Then one day, after many months of other kinds of tests and procedures, it was positive.

She had her one month appointment the other day. She is in perfect health. Her weight and height are right on track. Despite not really knowing what I was doing, I was doing a good job. As it turns out, no one really knows what they are doing. It is constant trial and error and trying not to feel guilty when you didn’t get it right.

We switched her formula to a soy based type at the suggestion of her doctor. She has been doing really well on it these past few days. Standing in the formula aisle is so overwhelming. There are so many brands and types within those brands, it’s hard to know which one is going to be the right choice to make her strong and healthy and smart. I went with the Target brand. Feelings of mom guilt washed over me. Am I being cheap with the one thing that keeps her alive and gaining weight? Does it have all the same ingredients I don’t understand but seem really important as Enfamil? The can was $15 cheaper than Enfamil. $15 cheaper!!! And it only lasted us less than 4 days. Suddenly the cost savings won me over. Store brand is okay, I keep telling myself. I love her and she’s healthy and doing well on her soy formula and will she really mind that it’s not branded?

Everyday I am in awe of motherhood. Even though most of us are just winging it, we are warriors. We grew a tiny human inside and our bodies provided everything they needed. After 9 months, we gave birth, in one way or another, to that tiny human. Giving birth was the most painful and traumatic thing I’ve ever done. The other day I caught myself thinking that I could do this again, assuming my body would allow it. Then the baby wouldn’t stop crying and I was so tired and I remembered how much the first few weeks sucked.

All moms are warriors. They carried and brought a life into the world. And then they cared for that life, as best they could. They fix booboos, sing made up songs, rock and swaddle like a champ, provide nourishment, and still maintain a social life and clean house (most days).

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the women warriors out there! Whether you are a mom-to-be, a woman trying to become a mom, a mother figure, an adoptive mom, or a birth mom… you are doing great and I am so in awe of you all!

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Motherhood

Penelope Rose was born on April 9th at 7:47pm. I have been her mom for a total of 16 days and it is the most challenging thing I have ever done.

Her birth was extremely difficult. I labored overnight and pushed for 3 hours before it was decided that I needed a c section. I was awake for her birth, but moments later things went wrong. Due to complications, I was quickly put under. Hours later, I woke up in the ICU connected to all kinds of monitors with my daughter nowhere in sight. My uterus had suffered lacerations and I received 2 units of blood and clotting factors. They were able to avoid a hysterectomy and stop the bleeding but my body suffered a lot of trauma.

I didn’t get to meet her until the next day. And it would be days later before I walked or ate anything. I stayed in the hospital for 6 days. I wasn’t able to hold her or change her or feed her for days. I cried a lot from pain and from frustration at what had happened to me. I was constantly woken up by nurses and doctors who changed my ivs, took my vitals, or poked me with needles.

Recovery at home has been extremely difficult as well. I didn’t know how I would get out of bed or off the toilet without the help of hospital bars or nurses. My dad had to raise the couch so I could sit. I was on a cocktail of pain meds, antibiotics, and laxatives. At one point, my skin started to reject the staples at my incision site and they had to be pulled out.

And then there is motherhood itself.

My husband and I sleep in shifts at night. The sleeping person gets the bedroom, and the other person stays in the living room with her. She is particularly fussy at night. I can’t get her to sleep in her bassinet, let alone on her back. She only sleeps on her belly on my chest. During the day she naps in her newborn boppy lounger. Both of these things aren’t recommended or considered particularly safe for sleeping and I worry all the time that I’m doing it wrong but I don’t know how else to soothe her or get her to sleep.

She feeds every 2-3 hours. At night she seems restless for it. During the day, I have to wake her to feed her. She cries when she’s being changed. She poops in her diaper the minute I’ve changed her.

I cry a lot. My hormones are all over the place. I am so thankful for her but I am also so tired and hoping for normalcy. I don’t know why she won’t sleep at night. I’m afraid she will never transition into her bassinet or her crib and that my husband and I will never be in the same room again.

I haven’t been cleared to drive yet and I think that has me stir crazy. I can’t just run to target or out to get food and have a little time for myself. I get about 20 minutes a day in the shower where I am alone. Even then, the dogs sit on the mat outside the shower.

It is so conflicting, being a mom. She is all I ever wanted and I feel guilty about not knowing what to do. I worry I am doing more harm than good by letting her sleep on my chest or on the boppy. Is she safe? Is she happy? Does she know I’m trying my best? Will she be okay? Am I feeding her enough? Too much? Is she cold? Is she hot?… How do other moms do this?

I worry constantly about her. I love her so much my heart aches. But I also crave dinner at El Vez with my girlfriends. My life is never going to be the same. It’s a change I longed for and wanted and chose. But that doesn’t make any of this easier.

I am thankful for my husband. He took care of our daughter and changed her and fed her and held her when I couldn’t in the first few days of her life. He never once complained about helping me at home and drives me to all my appointments. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without him and I am so thankful to have him at home helping me.

I am thankful for formula. Even though I chose ahead of time to formula feed, it has truly been a life saver. I don’t know how I could have recovered in the hospital or at home with my sanity without it. Fed is best. A mother’s sanity is best. Having my husband able to feed her is best.

I am thankful for my family and friends who have been an absolute support system for me. Hours went by while I was in surgery and Matt called those closest to us. I am thankful for everyone who picked up the phone, visited us in the hospital, at home, or otherwise reached out to lend their support and love.

I am thankful for Penelope. I am amazed every time I look at her and all her hair. She is so beautiful. She is healthy. She is my daughter. It has only been 16 days and she has challenged me in so many ways. I find myself wishing for her to be older and sleeping better and in her own room. But I know I should appreciate this tiny fragile stage. I hope I am doing best by her. I hope this feeling of being an emotional ball of frustration, failure, confusion, love, and gratefulness doesn’t make a bad mom.

The Final Days

This last week has been difficult. It’s been my 39th week of pregnancy and I really didn’t think I would make it this far. I thought I would go early, somewhere around 37 weeks. But here I am, a day away from 40 weeks.

My belly is hard and round. It hurts to breathe most days and I can’t bend over. Every day things are difficult; getting off the couch, rolling over in bed, trying to reach down to wipe myself after using the bathroom. I am uncomfortable all the time.

I started maternity leave last week. Work was just too much. I would come home to swollen legs and feet after running around all day grabbing things for clients. I also knew I wanted a few days to do things for myself before the baby comes.

I had some good days of hanging with friends, going for walks, getting my nails done and a hair cut. I feel the need to keep myself busy but there are only so many things I can organize.

I’ve had 3 doctors appointments this week. They’ve been extremely painful. To my disappointment, my body is no where near ready to give birth.

One of them tried something called membrane stripping, which is the process of sweeping away some of the membrane near my cervix to try and encourage labor to start. I wasn’t expecting how painful this would be. I cried in the room, and when I got home.

I’m struggling with the vulnerability of it all. My husband has come with me to every appointment. It was fine at first, but the last few appointments, I just felt so exposed and humiliated. These doctors are shoving their hands into my pelvis and it hurts and I’m scared. I was sweating and when I got up from the table the paper was all ripped and sticking to my butt. I had jelly everywhere. I am trying to clean myself up and not cry more but the whole thing was so embarrassing. I felt upset to have him sitting there watching me. I suppose the worst is yet to come really, but this is new for me and I’ve always been a private person.

For a few different reasons, it was decided that I would be a good candidate for induction. This is a best case scenario for someone like me. I can plan my day, have things organized, even shower and look halfway decent before arriving at the hospital. But as that day nears, I am feeling more and more uncomfortable. I thought having an end in sight would help, but really I’m just sitting around with my giant belly trying to pass the time. I can’t imagine the agony other women feel who don’t go into labor until their 41st or 42nd week.

I hadn’t thought about induction throughout this pregnancy. I figured I would go naturally, but that’s not going to happen for me. Even though the planner in me is happy to have a timeline, I am also nervous about essentially having a baby forced out of me with drugs. I know it’s safe and what’s best, but it can take 24-48 hours to even work and I’ll be checked every few hours. It’s also a possibility that it won’t work, and I could end up needing a c section anyway. If that was the case, I think I would feel frustration at all the time and effort wasted.

This isn’t how I thought any of this would go. From the problems with conception, to the ease of my first two trimesters, and now to be at the end with an induction scheduled…. it has been an incredibly humbling experience. I am so impressed by all the mothers who not only have gone through this once, but then decided to do it again and have more children! It can’t possibly be true that you forget the pain.

Logistically, I am as ready as I can be for this baby to make her debut. Bottles are sanitized, clothes are washed and put away, various changing stations are set up around the house, and friends and family are just a phone call away.

So all I can do is wait some more and try not to panic at what’s to come. I am trying to be strong and brave and not think about the pain. I am trying not to worry about being so exposed and having doctors and nurses on rotating shifts checking me. I am trying to get over the embarrassment of having my husband there through all of it.

I am trying my best.

The Home Stretch

I have officially entered my 9th month of pregnancy, or 36 weeks. It is just a waiting game at this point. I could go into labor any time in the next 4 weeks.

I make check lists in my head of all the things I still need to do: pack a go bag, set up the pack n play, buy formula, sterilize the bottles. I get anxious thinking about it. It would be nice to have an exact date to know when I need to have these things done by. Not knowing if I have a few days or a few weeks is unnerving.

The nursery is done and all the clothes are washed and put away. I don’t know whether she will start out in newborn size or 0-3 month size, so I didn’t want to get a whole lot of either. Seeing all the tiny clothes in the drawers and closet makes me excited. I’m thrilled to be having a girl and I hope my husband is too.

As I’ve said before, I have had a pretty easy pregnancy so far. Recently I have started to become uncomfortable. I get out of breath and have to sit down after doing the smallest tasks. It takes so much longer to clean the house. I have new aches and pains that I can’t quite place what they are. Maybe it’s a contraction or maybe it’s just the baby’s head dropping deeper into my pelvis.

I always thought I would be one of those women who gained 50 lbs with pregnancy because I’ve always struggled with my weight. Somehow, the only weight I’ve gained is exactly how much the baby weighs plus weight of all the extra fluid surrounding her, about 15 lbs total. Everyone tells me how I look the same, how my face hasn’t changed, and how small I’m carrying. I have never been called small before, so I am glowing with delight every time someone tells me how wonderful I look. I feel better in my pregnant body than I ever did in my regular body. It’s almost as if my body pulled all the extra fat from surrounding areas and made it go to where the baby needed it. My belly feels stretched out but I have avoided stretch marks. My belly button has stayed an innie. My rings and shoes and underwear all still fit the same. At least so far.

I made the decision to exclusively formula feed a few weeks ago. I informed my Obgyn and the pediatrician and they are both on board and fully support me. I have been warned that the hospital nurses might give me a hard time and to just prepare myself for a lactation consultant to try and come in my room and be pushy. There are always posters hung about how “breast is best”. But I know what’s best for me is my sanity and knowing my child is being fed. It’s amazing how many people I don’t even know can have such strong opinions about what’s best for me and my baby. But I have the support of my family and friends and doctors, and that’s really all that matters. I have to push the formula shamers away. I don’t feel that I should have to defend or explain my choice.

My parents are coming over this week so I can show them how to take care of the dogs when the big day comes. Thankfully they will be able to stay at the house so the dogs can maintain their routine for a few days. I know Frank will be just fine, but Beans is a little more sensitive. I have a feeling he will just sit on the couch and wait for us to return for days.

We took a tour of the maternity wing the other day. I started to feel emotional toward the end seeing where the baby would be born and where recovery would be. I hope I have a labor as uneventful as this pregnancy. I get scared thinking about the pain and the waiting and the possibility of tearing and the gross stuff no one really talks about.

I hope I am a good mom. I hope some natural instinct in me comes alive. I am not an affectionate person and I worry I am lacking some part of me that goes along with being a good mom. I’m not even that great at talking to other people’s kids. But maybe it’s different when it’s yours. Maybe you just figure it out and hope for the best.

I’m worried but hopeful. I’m ready to start this new life.

The Big 30

A few days ago I entered my 30th week of pregnancy. It’s such a strange feeling. In 10 weeks or less I’m going to become a mom.

So far, I have had a very easy pregnancy. I don’t know if I’m just lucky or that I really don’t find much worth complaining about. I rarely felt sick and thanks to my hypothyroidism, I’ve always felt tired so I can’t really tell what’s pregnant tired or what’s my normal tired.

I sleep with a pregnancy pillow now which I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to sleep without. It helps keeps me on my side and in a comfortable position. My dogs really seem to like it too.

Things are really coming together in the nursery. Curtains and some pictures are hung and the furniture is in place.

The baby really moves a lot now. In your third trimester, you are supposed to count 10 kicks in 2 hours to make sure everything is still okay in there. Most days I count 10 kicks in the first 30 minutes. Now I can feel and see the kicks from the outside which is a bizarre sight.

My doctor appointments are getting closer and closer together. At each one they take my blood pressure and my weight, both of which are always normal. Same with my urine samples and blood tests. The baby’s heartbeat is always strong and regular.

Pretty soon I have to choose a pediatrician and figure out who to call and when for insurance purposes. I’ll get 12 weeks off which doesn’t seem like enough time at all. I keep trying to plan when I’ll start my maternity leave but really I think I’ll just have to play it by ear, which is not something I exceed in.

For the most part, I still don’t really feel any different. Some people tell me how great I look or that I’m glowing. I don’t really know how to respond or what I should be looking or feeling like.

I do still have moments of panic where I text other friends that are moms and ask a string of questions and how they handled things.

Mostly I’m just waiting. The weeks keep slipping by and my belly grows little by little. Things are falling into place.

The Gender Reveal

I was anxious to find out the gender from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Initially, I had hoped for a girl. I thought how fun it would be to dress her up and put bows in her hair. And quite frankly, I was afraid having a boy would mean so many issues down the line that I couldn’t handle.

As the weeks passed however, I was convinced I would be having a boy. All of my friends were having boys, and he would have so many close friends to grow up with. I’ve heard boys are easier and such fun. They like monsters and trucks and sports. Matt could have a little buddy to watch his wrestling shows and football with. My parents already have a granddaughter and my sister-in-law was already expecting a girl three months ahead of me, and I thought how wonderful it would be to have the first grandson for both of our families. I imagined my dad taking him to his first Eagles game in a tiny jersey.

The thought of having a boy brought me so much joy in those first few months. Many of my friends were able to find out the gender with their 12 week blood work appointments. I thought for sure I was going to be able to find out too. But as I sat there with the needle in my arm, the nurse told me that my doctor didn’t order that panel for me. I was disappointed.

A few weeks after at my ob/gyn check up, my doctor told me finding out the gender through blood work was only for high risk pregnancies or women over 35. I was really bummed but still grateful to not be considered high risk. I would have to wait until my 20 week ultrasound to find out the gender.

I waited and waited, rather impatiently all those weeks. And more and more I was convinced I was having a boy. I started referring to the baby as a he and had a a boy’s name picked out.

The morning of my 20 week ultrasound, I was nervous. I felt for sure the technician would tell me it was a boy, but what if it wasn’t? How would I feel? Would I be disappointed? Does that make me a bad future mom?

The baby squirmed and wiggled around the majority of the scan. I had to try laying in different positions in order to get the baby to position right. After about 20 minutes, the technician told us she could tell the sex of the baby. Very clearly on the screen she showed us three small lines – the baby’s labia. We were having a girl. For a moment, I don’t think either of us said anything. Perhaps it was the shock of this intimate image right on the screen, but more so, I didn’t know how to process that fact that it wasn’t a boy.

I didn’t feel disappointment. I felt surprise and confusion and worry. I worried having a girl wouldn’t be as exciting to Matt or my parents or his parents. It took a few days for the news to sink in with me. I had to change what our future was going to look like. I wasn’t sure I wanted more than one child, but now would we want to try for a boy in the future? I didn’t want there to ever be a lack of anything in our lives going forward.

At Thanksgiving, we told our families we were having a girl. To my surprise, they were both still very thrilled and happy. Maybe a girl really was what we needed to complete our little family.

Now that I am days away from my third trimester, I am so excited to be having a little girl. I hope she and Matt will be as close as I am with my dad. I hope Matt protects her but also knows when to let her make mistakes and grow. I hope she knows she is loved and wanted. I hope she dances on Matt’s feet at father-daughter dances. I hope she comes to me with all her worries and fears and concerns and knows I will never judge her or think less of her. I hope she never doubts who she is and knows how proud we are to be her parents.

Even now, before I’ve even met her – I love her and I am proud of her.

 

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The Bump

I wasn’t really sure what to expect about being pregnant. I’ve had friends who complained about it, and others who seemed to simply sail through it with ease. Pregnancy has been pretty great so far, I feel so lucky.

In the first few weeks, I threw up a handful of times at night until switched my prenatal vitamin to a different brand. After that, I only felt nauseous when I didn’t eat enough, which honestly is rarely a problem for me.

I have not achieved a pregnancy glow, instead it is more like pregnancy acne. Some weeks are better than others, but no amount of face washing or scrubbing has cleared my face. And certain acne products are off limits for pregnant ladies, so I am just adjusting to this being my new face.

I feel tired most days, but that’s really no different than how I’ve always felt. My hypothyroidism is closely monitored with bloodwork every few weeks to make sure the dose is still working for me. It’s been increased once so far.

Every time I go for my prenatal checkups, they take my weight and blood pressure and measure my belly and listen to the baby’s heart beat. And all of those things are always normal and right on track. I am still surprised each time.

At my ultrasounds, the baby is always moving around, sometimes being difficult to get clear pictures. But she measures normally and all features and functions are accounted for.

I feel her moving a lot now. It seems like she is always swimming or doing aerobics. At first I wasn’t sure. It was simply a flutter or what felt like a period cramp once in awhile. But as the weeks went on, it became more obvious. It’s a strange feeling really. Not necessarily painful, but a bit of pressure and sometimes the movements keep me up.

More than anything, my bump has grown. Weeks 12-18 I feel like I tried to force my belly to look pregnant. I felt like I had to tell people I was pregnant and not just fat. But somewhere around week 20, it popped as they say. It’s very round and up front. My back has even curved a bit, forcing it out even more. I feel so lucky to have this bump. It has been a very easy pregnancy so far. Perhaps this means I will have a horrible labor. I panicked the other day thinking about leaving the dogs behind when I go into labor and who will feed them and let them out and spend time with them while we are in the hospital. They are my babies too.

People ask me all the time how I’m feeling. And I always feel fine. I don’t really feel any different. Maybe it’s just too soon for back pain and other things worth complaining about. The other day I sneezed and peed. So I guess that was new.

Being pregnant is pretty wonderful. I feel special. I am so in awe of the human body. A tiny cluster of cells formed a beating heart and organs and a whole other human being with finger nails and hair. And every week she gets bigger and bigger. And my organs just shift around in my rib cage to make room for her. It truly is so amazing.

I have maybe 16 weeks left with this pregnancy. And I can’t wait to see how things continue to grow and change. I will try and keep my panic in check about the dogs and finishing the nursery and having all the right items ready to go and financially preparing… is that even a thing that’s possible?

The baby will be born in my husbands off months from work. Which is great for splitting baby duties and having a partner to let me nap and shower. But also scary when I think about how it will be months before any income is coming in for either of us. I suppose this is out of our hands though, and just one of those things people just figure out as they go.

Much of my future is going to be unpredictable now. And I have to learn to take it day by day and not go completely insane trying to plan for it all.