Well, I was looking for a sign, and today it showed up.
I've been throwing around the idea of the Austin Half Marathon in my head now, since the weekend we moved here. But, I'm scared. There, of course, are a million reasons to be scared. A dozen more reasons to just say no. Here are a few:
I've never done a half marathon before.
I don't have the time to train.
I don't have a running stroller.
Could I even run/train with a baby in tow?
My knees aren't great.
It's too hot to train.
Training is too big of a commitment. Where will I find the time?
I hate running. Well, atleast I don't love it.
I'm still waking up with a baby 2x a night, where will I find the energy?!
It's 13.1 miles!!!!
But today I saw the sign. From September 5-8th 100% of registration costs and fees are being donated to Hurricane Relief in Texas. How could I pass that up? Even if I don't do the marathon, my $95 went straight to the gulf... (jk jk I signed up, I'll follow through!!!).
Race Day is Sunday, February 18th. I figure I have a good amount of time to prepare. But, prepare, I must. Now 6 1/2 postpartum I am not in good shape. Skinny, yes (thanks breastfeeding), but strong? NO. Weak weak weak (except my mom, guns, thanks little healthy growing Analise!). That is what I need to build. My strength, my stamina, my health.
So, here we go. What are your best tips for a first time half marathoner? Share with me your advice, training plans, and support!!
PS, Thanks for the push, Kevin :) I appreciate all your support now and that you'll give me in the coming months! I can do this!
Since I last wrote, we moved, we've settled, we've been through a hurricane and now our next major homeowner headache (uninsured and reckless driver plowing down our fence)... and all of this and more is why I'm finally sitting down - to pause, count my blessings, and say thank you. And then repeat this over and over again. Because sometimes I move even too fast for myself.
Two weeks ago was before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Two weeks ago I started getting restless, so I reached out to a former colleague, started job hunting and even applied to a job. Then Harvey hit. And we went into a bit of a panic at home (drainage issues thinking the house would potentially flood or take on a bit of water) - maybe silly, but we've never seen so much rain and also had never seen so much pooling in a yard! It all turned out fine, and we are grateful for all we have, and praying and sending love (and donations) to those whose homes and lives were turned upside-down from the storm.
Harvey felt like a wake up call, however, a reason to pause and rethink my restlessness. Am I really ready to go back to work full time, meaning put Analise in daycare at this moment? I realized quickly the answer to that is no. No, not yet for us. She is 6 months old and growing so well, but she still can't roll and she can only sit up on her own for 2 minutes at a time. She's pretty immobile and helpless, so I'm not ready to leave her in the care of someone else. I'm also still breastfeeding and absolutely loving it. When I went back to work last time and had to pump three times a day it was horrible, for both me and Analise. She refused the bottle and my milk supply dropped and it felt awful. I want to be here, with her, providing the love, attention and all the nutrients to her. Because we as a family can do this right now and we are so lucky to have this option, I want to make the most of it.
Then there's the feeling of restlessness. Am I really restless because I want to go back to a job, or am I just not putting my energy into the right things?... There it is. I do indeed want to stay at home right now with this sweet little Ana of mine. But, in order to make it work for me, I need to put more order and purpose to my days- maybe even some more planning, activities and organization. Potentially a part time job for now, something I can do from home while she naps and in the evenings. I also need to focus some more on me, my health, my mind (and as cheesy as it might sound) my soul.
As a new stay at home mom, I need to find my rhythm. Starting small, I'm working on better morning routines- up earlier, walks daily and healthy breakfast for both me and Analise (and Louie of course). Then either with the 2 hour morning nap or 2 hour afternoon naps I'll be incorporating a bit more yoga (meaning some, since I've been skimping), meditation, and reading. Small home projects, cleaning, cooking - all of that to fill in the gaps. Keeping busy for a purpose is what I need to focus on right now because home is where I ultimately want and feel the need to be right now. Perhaps a part time or consulting job will find its place into my life and routine soon, and that would be perfect.
Thanks for bearing with me as a just let out that little stream of consciousness that has been bouncing around in my brain waves. I'm still figuring this all out and processing by writing it out is helping. Right now isn't the time for me to go back to work full time- right now I'm taking the time to Pause, Take Stock, Say Thank You and Repeat.
This is a note of deep gratitude and love to the one who makes it all possible. I wouldn't be half the mom I am without my wonderful life partner, my husband Kevin.
This week was a big week for us. We packed up a moving truck, I had my last day at work (for the foreseeable future) and we're setting out for the next adventure in the coming days. Reflecting now, I too often think from a self-centered perspective, especially through transitional periods. I think about how I feel, how I am doing. But I also need to take a step back and think about my other half- how he is doing. These are huge changes for all of us. And moreover, I need to take the time to acknowledge how all of these things around us are happening because of all the work, time he has put into setting it all into motion. And how it comes from a place of love.
I am so grateful for you Kevin. You took paternity leave to bond with our little girl- taking a step back from your career wasn't easy. Then we add on our sweet little Ana who hates the bottle, and you put up with some tough days like a pro. You took on the great challenge of buying us our first home through this crazy period, the mounds of paperwork, phone calls, research - all of it. The bits of help I put in are nothing compared to what you've done. And next week when we use our keys to open the door, it will all be thanks to you. And then there's the move- packing up the truck, driving the car and doggie cross country- all so babe and I can be more comfortable and even get time with more family in Michigan.
Everything you have done and do for our family comes from a place of love. Your love language is clearer to me these days than it has ever been. You love in all the countless ways you take care of us all- me, Analise, pup Louie- and all of our other family members as well. The time you spend and share with your family, the love you give. These are all gifts of love you give us. We are all better off in so many ways for you and your gifts of love.
All of my love and deepest gratitude to you, my teammate forever.
3 weeks in... and I barely have time for anything- but I'm making it "work."
Going back to work has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. (Except teaching high school students math, that was REALLY hard- shout out to any of you reading this!).
Going back has been a challenge for many reasons:
Thankfully, my wonderful husband took his wonderful paternity leave and has been getting his fair share of bonding time. And, I feel okay leaving her, because I'm leaving her with her wonderful loving daddy- nothing to worry about, just missing them both!
The first few weeks bottle feeding was a challenge, but now that feels behind us and they are in the flow (literally and figuratively- building their relationship and having a blast. Of course, daddy is happy- but he's also tired. He actually said this was harder than work ever was (tell me about it, babe!). Raising our little girl is SO tiring, but SO amazing.
Today I am FINALLY able to write because I took an extended weekend. It's been wonderful and necessary. I only wish I had 3 or 4 day weekends every week!
This weekend we traveled down to LA to visit all of Kevin's extended family and we had a blast- but it was such a whirlwind. We stayed in our favorite AirBnB (see this amazing victorian home in Echo Park- my old hood!), visited with great friends on Friday night, and visited with the family on Saturday. It was a wonderful but short trip, I'm so happy Analise was able to see her familia in Los Angeles... next up Michigan (mid-late July!). As I've shared before, it is hard to live far from family with a baby... but I'm so happy traveling is easy these days and well worth it. Road trips, plane rides- we make them work :)
Back to work tomorrow- and babe is waking up now... so back to life...
Final note, again I must stress as I have in previous posts- we are SOOOO lucky to have paid leave in California- and even luckier to have a great paid paternity leave for Kevin. I feel challenged going back to work after 13 weeks (10 paid) but our family is far more privileged than most in this country. HUGE props to all the women and men who go back to work sooner, because you have to for your family. And final note: America, we can do better for our families.
Okay, that's that.
I am beautiful. I am strong. I am a great mom.
This was the affirmation shared with us at Saturday's stroller strides class. We were challenged from the very beginning of class to name why we are a great mom. (My answer: because I breastfeed on demand). As moms it is hard for us to sometimes give ourselves the true love and credit we deserve. (Note: I am only 11 1/2 weeks into the motherhood journey.) But already it's been so easy for me to feel overwhelmed and feel like I'm not "doing this right." But, upon stepping back, I know I'm doing exactly what I am supposed to do- I'm loving her and doing the best I can, day after day. And if I want my daughter to feel confident, powerful and beautiful- to know that she is already and always enough- I need to feel the same way about myself and live from that feeling everyday.
So begins my reflection on my first Mother's Day weekend.
It was a beautiful weekend here in the Bay, with the sun shining, with my supportive husband, cutie pie Baby Analise, and also one of my dearest friends in from out of town staying with us.
We spent wonderful time together, loving on our little one, eating good meals, discussing our life - our blessings and our challenges. I was gifted nice things- most notably my husband got up early with Ana so I could sleep in until 8:30! And then he took over fully for the morning to get in a solo workout! That, plus a beautifully framed family pic, some new treats and an amazing brunch with champagne and I felt beyond spoiled. Plus, a hike later with my hubs, babe, pup and mother-in-law - the day was perfect 👌🏼.
Now being a mom myself, I realize how significant this day is- not to really celebrate, persay- but more to reflect and hold space for gratitude. I am blessed to have a loving and supportive mom myself. I am blessed and overjoyed to have been given the gift of motherhood at this time. I am beyond grateful for a husband who supports me as a wife and mommy and for one who loves his little girl more than anything. This day, Mother's Day, is really becoming more like Thanksgiving to me.
Thank you sweet Analise Lucille, for joining our family and choosing me to be your perfectly imperfect mommy.
Thank you to my mom, who raised me up, gave me more than I could have ever asked for, supports all of my life decisions wholeheartedly, cares deeply for not only me, but my growing family, and also for being such a strong, smart and fun-loving woman and role model.
Thank you to my grandmothers, who made all of us possible. For loving us always and forever.
Thank you to my mother-in-law who treats me as one of her own, like I was always a part of the family. And for supporting our little growing family always with generosity and love.
And thank you to all of the amazing women in my life, my dear friends and family members, whether or not you have given birth- you are motherly to me- in your care, connection and love that you have shared with me over the years.
Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunties, Cousins, Sisters, Girlfriends - Thank You ❤️ Thank You ❤️ Thank You ❤️
My maternity leave is quickly fading (4 weeks left) and I didn't do half of what I hoped to do. Instead of the book reading, journaling, and yoga practice I intended to do every day, I caught up on sleep, drank coffee, did laundry, pumped and survived. Oh, and also I got to cuddle this beautiful little babe every single day.
The reality is, even if I didn't "accomplish" what I hoped to accomplish, I have been immensely lucky to have this time. And I haven't taken it for granted. No one should take this time for granted, not only because you get to spend some of the most important times with your child, but also because unfortunately so many women across the country do not get this opportunity of paid leave.
As a family, we're so lucky to have this opportunity- California has a solid paid family leave policy, my work has a decent leave policy, and Kevin's has an even better paid leave policy. After my 12 weeks (10 paid at 95% of my salary), Kevin will take 12 more (on top of the 3 he has already taken, and at 100% of his pay). Although I wish I could continue to take more time off of work, I will reluctantly head back at the beginning of June and let Kevin take over baby duties full time. I'm also so happy for him to get this amazing bonding time with Analise- it will be great for both of them!
But since we have only 4 weeks left, I am making some serious goals to accomplish between now and the day I return to work. Some of these goals are baby-related and some of them are mama (self-care) related, but all of them should enhance the next 4 weeks and help me make the most of this time. And if anyone out there is reading this, feel free to hold me accountable and ask me how it's going over the next four weeks!
1. Get down on the floor with Analise everyday
2. 10 minutes of yoga and/or stretching everyday
3. Complete through month 3 of her baby book
4. Get to stroller strides once a week - workout & community-building!
5. Aim for 10,000 steps everyday (hoppin back on the fitbit train)
6. Take a shower every day (haha- this is harder than it sounds!)
One more month to go- logging off now to make the most of it!
On Friday, Analise will be six weeks old. For me, that's six weeks of sleep deprivation, six weeks of watching this little human grow before my eyes, and six weeks of falling more in love with her every minute of everyday.
Six weeks : 42 days : 1008 hours : 60,480 seconds. And it has flown. Does time speed up when you become a parent? Sure seems so to me. While I'm eager for things like her first real sustained smiles and hearing her coo and babble, I desperately want time to slow down.
The last thing I want to think about is going back to work and leaving this little sweet thing every day, but I know it's inevitable. I just have to focus on the moment and enjoy every one of these 60,480 seconds I have left.
We're still figuring eachother out, I think, and I want to take the next 6 weeks to understand as much of her little personality and dispositions as possible. I'm starting to pick up on a few patterns- such as her waking up every hour and a half between 12:30am and 7am (ugh!) - mainly for soothing and assurance. She doesn't necessarily want to eat, but rather, to be held and cuddled. I usually feed her too because it soothes her back to sleep. But as soon as I lay her in the bassinet again, she starts fussing and crying out. Sometimes I can calm her with my voice alone, but usually I have to lay a hand or two on her chest and a rub on her belly also helps.
She is still nursing around twelve times a day (or more)- I'm not sure how to lessen this, as it seems she is hungry a lot. I love nursing and connecting with her in this way, but every two hours (or sometimes more often) is tiring and also makes it challenging to do other things like get out of the house- my timing has to be perfect. Luckily, I'm getting better at nursing in public and also feeling totally confident nursing in front of most anyone. It's completely natural and if someone else has a problem with it, that's none of my business- they can deal with it :) I hope eventually we can move to nursing every 3-4 hours, and hopefully soon. It might help if she ate longer than 7 minutes at a time (that's about her average), but normally she falls asleep. I try to encourage her to continue on the other side, but it usually doesn't work. This girl loves to sleep. And she loves to decide when she wants to eat and when she is finished.
Her most alert and awake periods tend to be in the afternoon, around 1pm, 4pm, and 8-10pm. We have a lot of fun during those brief periods and I try to get a lot of chatting, singing and engagement in that time. The late period is the best because Kevin is home from work to connect and play with her. We've also started a new evening routine of bath (every other night), reading books and cuddling. It's the best. Right after this routine of bath, books, nursing- she tends to get the longest sleep stretch- normally 2 hours but once we even got 3 hours!
Along with my baby goals for the next 6 weeks, I have 6 weeks to focus mentally and physically on myself before I go back to work full time and I have a few goals I hope to accomplish. First, I want to get back into some sort of a modified workout routine. Besides walking, I have done zero physical activity for six weeks now, and it's starting to drive me nuts. I know it's been good for me to rest, relax and get into a routine with baby- but I miss good physical activity. I want to move slowly into it, but get back up to my usual activity within the next three months. Next Wednesday I have my 6 week post partum checkup and I hope to get full clearance from my doctor to workout! I FINALLY feel like my 10 stitches are fully healed - wooo!!! And in addition to strengthening my arms, abs, etc, I want to work on my pelvic floor (bladder control is not easy, people, I will never take it for granted again!). Speaking of abs, I'm still freaked out by the fear of diastasis recti (look it up...not fun!) - so I want to workout with an instructor or trainer or two for extra guidance and support to get started.
My other personal goal is to work on my mental well-being and centeredness. I'm going to focus on this through yoga, meditation and a new book I've had on the shelf ready to read, "The Conscious Parent." I'll be sharing some excerpts and reflections especially on this work in the coming weeks.
Thank you all for following along with our journey! Here are some photos below of the past week weeks. You can expect many more in the weeks to come :)
The postpartum period is indeed an emotional time. I often have days where I cry with joy just looking at Ana's little hands or while reading her a story about hugs (true story :) ). And in the same day, I can be brought to tears while thinking of most of my family and friends who live across the country from where we are. They are missing so much. Her cheeks have filled out, her hair is growing longer, and she's already grown out of the N diaper size.
Thank goodness for ease of travel these days- she's already been able to meet my mom, dad and sister (Grandma Voepel, Grandpa Mike and Aunt Sarah and Uncle Derek)- all who have visited in her first 3 weeks of life! And we're looking forward to at least two more visits, Sarah and Derek coming back in April and my mom and Alan returning in May. Also, we hope to make it back to Michigan this Summer, to introduce her to more extended family and also hopefully many of my best friends.
Here are some great memories from these wonderful early visits:
We're immensely lucky to live so close to Kevin's family, who provide a lot of support and love always, especially during this time- when Analise is so little and I am not yet fully recovered. I can't thank them enough, especially Kevin's mom, who help with everything from bringing over coffee and bagels to walking to the dog for us.
But having them so close doesn't make me miss my family any less. Some days I think it makes me miss them more. And my friends, some that go back to elementary school, many of them are having kids these days too- and some days all I want is to be able to drive over to their house and introduce our kids, talk about all the crazy things going on with my body and share our amazing adventures in parenting together.
But, we chose to be here - where the sun shines and the grass is (almost) always green, where we can go on hikes year-round and where there are great and even greater career opportunities. And we love it. I've loved our life, our movement and our adventures we have always taken together- New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Redwood City---- and so on (for now)! We are a young growing family making our way in the world and I love everything about it- even the challenges and emotional toll it can sometimes take.
And so what will I do to ensure Analise can stay close and connected to family and friends that are far away? Weekly facetime calls with my mom and dad. Adding daily photos and videos to the shared picture folder my sister created. Cuddling with her in the blanket that grandma made. Emailing photos to great-grandparents. Calling friends as much as possible. And visiting and opening our doors to visitors. I know for sure that people can be very close even though they are far in distance. From the time my cousin and best friend, Christa, moved away from Michigan to Florida when I was so young- we found plenty of ways to stay extremely connected and close to this day. I hope for Ana to have close and loving relationships with all of her family.
I am so grateful for family & friends near and far and grateful for the opportunity to raise Analise to have the love of all these people, everywhere.
Today is Ana's 15th day of life - everything is still new to her and it's amazing to just watch her adjust to the world outside of the womb. What's also still amazing to me is that based on her due date she was still supposed to be growing inside of me for at least one more week! It was just weeks ago that I felt her hiccups every evening inside of my belly- and now, here we are watching her out in the world, eyes wide and full of wonder and seemingly unaware or simply just unbothered by her own hiccups.
Being a newborn and being that she was over 3 weeks early, she is still sleeping a majority of the day, but a majority of that sleeping time is "active sleep" where she grunts, smacks her lips, and flails around- maybe we should have called her Little Baby Goat instead of Little Baby Bear.
She's still only fitting into her little newborn diapers and onsies, but we're not sure how long that will last. We knew she had definitely been gaining weight (based on how she nurses and goes through diapers!) and we found out yesterday at her 2-week doctor appointment that she had indeed surpassed her birthweight- coming in at a whopping 6lbs 10.5oz! She also grew in length almost an inch from birth and her head is growing (yay brainy chica!).
We are so proud of her health and growth and I am so lucky that breast feeding has come pretty easy for us both, thus far. I know that it can be a challenge, so we're happy to have it down pretty well. She eats around 12-15 times a day - still falling asleep sometimes during nursing - but our goal thus far has just been to pack on the pounds. Now that we've accomplished that goal, we'll be working on starting to build routines, more playtime before and after daytime feedings to spread them out and get more consistently longer feedings in. I'm so happy that our pediatrician is also fantastic and has been not only answering all our questions- but also suggesting new things to try such as this routine building and other small tips and tricks. She demonstrates and teaches us during the appointments, too, which has been really informative and makes the appointments less like a chore and actually more fun and engaging!
Time has been flying and I hope to keep up to date on our blog, especially to share things with family and friends who aren't nearby. Today we were lucky to have our friends over this morning for a visit- and this afternoon we're headed to spend some time with more family and friends in Oakland! I'll share pictures from all of our visitors and Ana's new found friends very soon!!
Birth stories are extremely personal. Some mothers choose to share them and others do not. Whether or not a woman decides to share her personal birth story is completely her decision and hers alone.
Our birth experience (as most I'm sure) did not go exactly as planned, not that we had it planned out exactly, but I had some ideas of how I hoped it would go. Much of the birth experience was worrying and stressful as complications arose and we were induced early (because of Cholestasis, as explained in my last blog post), plus the long labor of ups and downs. We're now only one week out from our induction date and five days past the date of delivery. Though the birth process was stressful and challenging, bringing Analise into the world was the most joyful and thrilling experience of my life, and my husband's as well, and I'd like to share some of it- but save some details that are extremely personal and not necessary to share. Sharing our story here has several purposes, first of which is processing and outlet for me personally- as I am very early in recovery and go through many ups and downs of emotions about my current stages of recovery. And secondary, maybe sharing our story will be nice for those of you who know us and even those of you who don't, to increase understanding, compassion and connection.
After sharing our story, I'm going to share a few pieces of advice for those of you who are going to visit a new mom, baby or family who have recently given birth. Take it or leave it, there are a few "must dos" and "absolutely do nots" that I will suggest, due to my recent personal experience. Finally, at the end you'll find many of our first pictures- the real, unedited beauty that is the birth of our first beautiful baby, Analise Lucille.
The birth of Analise
If you read my last post, you know that on Saturday, February 18th I was officially diagnosed with Cholestasis of pregnancy, and told by my doctor that I needed to be induced the following Wednesday, February 22nd (our due date was March 20th). This was extremely stressful, but two things ended up being wonderful about it: first, we had four days to prepare before heading to the hospital and second, my mom was able to fly out to California to provide additional support and help us through the first few days of Analise's life.
As we drove to the hospital on Wednesday morning, Kevin and I were both extremely nervous, we had a good breakfast of eggs and toast but I was regretting that decision as my stomach flipped and turned. I had an idea of what to expect as the beginning of induction (thanks to our impeccably timed Sunday birth class previously planned) but after the start, we had no idea what or how everything would occur.
My doctor met us at Stanford and we began in a small intake room at 8:30am, where she checked my cervix- an extremely uncomfortable process. At 36 weeks, as expected, I was not dilated at all. She explained at that point that we would be taken to the labor room, where we would stay until the birth of our baby girl. The nurses would start induction with the first drug, Cervadil, and depending on my progress, we would add Pitocin and proceed from there. The process could be long, she said. In fact, she wouldn't be surprised if we delivered on Friday afternoon (this was told to us on Wednesday morning).
The labor room was nice and roomy, private and comfortable (as far as hospital rooms go) - and every single nurse and doctor we saw provided fantastic care. I was put on IV fluids pretty quickly, and the Cervadil was inserted at 11:15am, and so the "labor" began. The next 42 hours included a lot of waiting, a lot of pain, a lot of stress, and a lot of relief - many highs and lows- and not just for me. My wonderfully amazing husband Kevin was the best birth partner and advocate I could ever imagine. He asked all the best questions, kept me distracted with good music and even a movie or two, massaged and held me during the pain, told me over and over how great I was doing and how strong I was, and he and cried tears of joy along side me as we welcomed Analise into the world.
The long and short of it is, the Cervadil started my contractions swiftly and strongly. By 4pm I was contracting every 2 minutes for 30 seconds each. It was extremely painful and difficult and I couldn't imagine going through this for days, since our doctor said we might not deliver until Friday. I opted for an epidural because I wanted to be calm and feel less pain- by 8pm I had the epidural in my spine (after multiple failed attempts) and I felt no pain- but I also was weirded out by not feeling my legs at all. Even though sSanford uses a low dose of medicines in the epidural, it was still too high for me. I asked to have the medicine cut down, and they did in half, which kept my pain down but left me feeling immense relief (to the point of barely feeling contractions). The other side effect of the epidural was insane itchiness- way worse than my Cholestasis, and all over my body. But the itch was better than the pain. Finally, besides the numbness and itchiness, my blood pressure dropped every time the drug was automatically administered. I can't remember when they began the Pitocin, but when they started that drip, the baby had very scary side effects- her heart rate would drop. At that point the nurse would come in and give me oxygen and lower the Pitocin. When I was given the oxygen mask I was told to "take deep breaths, the oxygen is going straight to the baby." It was scary and relieving at the same time, knowing she was in distress but knowing I had all the help and support for her that could be provided.
Clearly, both my body and our little baby's body are very sensitive to drugs. Although they can administer up to a level of 30, they kept my Pitocin very, very low- bouncing around from 1 to 2 to 5 and only 8 at the highest. The drop in heart rate was the scariest part of the labor process- and it happened too often. Kevin probably had it worse in stress than I did, because he could easily see the monitors and would catch when her heart rate was down immediately. If the nurse didn't come in fast enough anytime the baby's heart rate dropped or my blood pressure dropped, Kevin would call them in immediately. His strength and calm through the entire stay at the hospital was extremely reassuring.
By Thursday evening, our doctor was back in and out of the room and telling us she thought we would deliver over the night or early in the morning, and she was spot on. By 3:30am I was fully dialated and my water had broke on its own. After the cascading of interventions I had gone through thus far, I was relieved that the doctor wouldn't have to break my water. Baby was ready!
Our doctor arrived at 4am and said it was time to get started with pushing. Then next 39 minutes were so challenging, scary and stressful as the baby's heart rate continued to drop, and then near the end speed up and stay way too high. I even had to push when I wasn't contracting because we were in a rush to get the baby out immediately. Sparing the full details here, Analise came into the world at 4:39am- and there was a "bigger birthday party" as the NICU team arrived to check her immediately, rather than put her directly on me. We were so blessed that she was extremely healthy and could stay with us. When the NICU doctor asked if I wanted her placed on my chest, I was crying so much by that point, but I was able to say "please!"- and there she stayed, skin to skin with me for the next 90 minutes - she got out all her beautiful clearing cries, and had her first two feedings. Kevin and I embraced and cried and loved on her - our beautiful, beautiful princess Analise Lucille.
Aside from my immense gratitude to Kevin. I have my mother and mother in law to thank for the support they provided popping in and out of the hospital. The doctors and nurses all provided top notch care and attention. And so many of you have provided love, thoughts and prayers from near and afar- all which helped our family through the most challenging yet best time of our lives.
Advice for visiting a new mom
Again, this advice is from my own personal experience. Take it or leave it. But, if you don't have experience with birth yourself, I think it can be particularly challenging to know how to support a new mom- what to say, what not to say, what to ask or especially what not to ask.
First, there are many things a new mom is going through after giving birth- her body, heart and soul has just been through one of the toughest things it will ever go through- and she is in major recovery mode. Here are some things you might keep in mind if you're going to visit a new baby and new mom. During birth, a women's body is going through an insane and amazing transformation- her pelvic structure is changed, her ligaments stretch- everything is literally shifted around. It's likely that she will have trauma or tearing during birth, which will require stitches and major recovery (ice packs, swelling, etc). The uterus is shrinking down majorly after labor to get back to it's normal size- which means huge cramping and pain for days. The uterus is also shedding its lining, mainly leftovers of placenta- which means a lot of blood and clots and discomfort for days or weeks post labor. Her body has worked harder than it ever has and thus muscles are probably also very sore and fatigued. Finally, after birth, women experience a range of emotions as hormones are still surging through the body. This can make her feel anything from extreme joy and elation, confidence, strength, to sadness, fear and weakness (at least, I've felt all of these and more).
What not to say or ask:
Things you can (and probably should) say:
That's my two cents, take it or leave it. But I can tell you I've heard some of the former (do nots) already (less than a week after Analise's birth), and it's been frustrating. I never have corrected or stood up to say "no thank you" or "that's not a very appropriate thing to say/ask" - even though I wanted to. I politely changed the subject or tried to laugh it off... when inside it made me so uncomfortable - and I SHOULD NOT be made to feel uncomfortable. By sharing this I hope someone will read it and it could help them prepare to better support their friends or family members who have recently given birth - and, candidly, prevent them from sticking their foot in their mouth (aka being an a$$). :)
Here are some very special and unedited photos of the most difficult and wonderful experience of our lives: