The First Four Weeks of Motherhood – Is This Real Life?

Damn. This is hard. Everyone tells expecting mothers (often in a taunting or demeaning manner) that motherhood is the hardest thing they’ll ever do. And sure, I understood it would be hard. But, damn… this is hard.

I consider the first four weeks of motherhood successful because Grace is still alive. And that’s the ultimate goal right? To keep this totally dependent new life alive. Here’s how I am measuring the first four weeks:

  • 4 emotional breakdowns
  • Over 400 tucks
  • Over 100 pads/panty liners
  • 10 depends
  • 16 pounds of epsom salt
  • Hundreds of diapers (who can count?)
  • 7 packages of wipes
  • Too few hours of sleep
  • Close to 300 times of whipping out the breastarants for feedings

The final round of family left this past Wednesday, and if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have eaten, slept or showered over the last four weeks. Let me tell you what mamahood is like…

Time is no longer a reality. I have zero concept of day, night, Monday or Friday. It doesn’t matter. The only reason to keep track is I have an occasional doctors appointment.

Grace doesn’t like to be put down so I’m still trying to master a one-handed life style. And for those of you reading this that roll IMG_9626your eyes and think I’m spoiling my four-week-old rotten because I’m not letting her “cry it out”… let me drop some knowledge on you… It’s impossible to spoil a four-week-old. Talk to any decent pediatrician and they’ll back me up.  Anyway, back to my one-handed lifestyle – I can’t put her down while I heat up dinner (because making dinner is no longer a reality), or eat dinner. So her clothes are covered in food that I drip all over her. And showering? Only on days when Chris goes into work at 2pm do I shower. And makeup? HA!

I still have yet to recover 100%, so I spend most of my days sitting. Primarily on the couch, but occasionally outside. I’m fairly tired of sitting and can’t wait to walk and run again. Just when I think I could maybe walk about the block, I bounce Grace  around the house to pull her out of a freakout moment and I’m sore again. Ugh.

My house looks like a bomb went off. Seriously. My family cleaned multiple times when they were here and it was wonderful. But now that they’re gone… it’s a disaster. You can’t clean with one hand very well. Also, I said I would never let my house be overtaken with kid crap. Well, I now have receiving blankets strewn across the living room, a play mat, a napper and a swing. I bite my tongue.

IMG_9748Grace hates taking baths. This makes me very sad because I thought this would be one of my favorite things as a mom. But instead, her screaming is mind-numbing, she moves around so much I fear she will drown and she craps in her towel EVERY TIME we take her out.

A few other highlights from the first four weeks – I had an emotional breakdown to a total stranger who came to drop off dinner for our family. I went to bed in the clothes I wore during the day on Wednesday because I was afraid to get out of bed and put Grace down to put my PJ’s on, for fear that I would awaken the beast. No one has seen Grace in my favorite outfit yet because every time she’s in it she craps out of her diaper and up her back before we can leave the house.

So I’m making it seem like I hate motherhood… but this is not the case. I love Grace. And I love being her mom. I have spent most of my days since Grace sitting on the couch, feeding her and staring at her. You would think this would cause time to stand still, but when the sun goes down each day I can’t believe another day has passed. Each day passes and she’s one day older, it’s one day closer to when I have to go back to work and one day closer to when she won’t want me to hold her all the time anymore. And as easy as it is to be frustrated that my hygiene has gone down the tubes, that I have no time to bake or cook, that my house is a mess and that I’m so sleep deprived that I can’t see straight… I am cherishing these moments when my daughter needs me and wants me. Because one day neither will be the case and I’ll look back on this time fondly.

 

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My [Unplanned] Birth Story

Disclaimer: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, maybe you should reconsider reading this. Unless, of course, you want to hear a less-than-perfect birth story to fuel your fear of labor. Then, by all means, read on.

Grace Aline came into the world on April 1 at 10:05 am. She was 6 lbs 12 oz, 20 inches long and literally the most beautiful IMG_9565thing I have ever seen – though I could be biased because I made her. This entrance, however, was not easy on either of us.

March 31 at 4:30 am I had my first contraction. I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing contractions until a few hours in when I Googled “what does a contraction feel like.” Let me tell you what it feels like – the worst menstrual cramp of your life + someone is wringing out your uterus like a wet dish towel. Throughout the day I worked, rested, drank electrolytes and baked brownies, and by 5:30 pm I was no longer able to focus on much of anything. All the while Chris was counting my contractions on his contraction counting phone app and waiting for 3-1-1 (contractions 3 mins long, 1 min apart for 1 hour). This is when we were to call the midwife.

The contractions were never this close, but my water broke at 1:30 am, while I was on the couch. I ran to the bathroom like a raving lunatic screaming that the amniotic fluid is everywhere! Chris assured me that it was not everywhere – just all over me – and called the midwife. We decided to go to the birthing center at this time – to which I rode in the passengers seat backwards, on my knees, hugging the seat and writhing in pain. Very illegal – in case you were wondering. Upon arrival at the birthing center I remember very little except that I was 9 cm dilated. So I thought – Yeah! I’m going to push out a baby in less than an hour! HA! What false expectations. Two hours of pushing later there was no baby, really not even any progress and meconium on the bed.

IMG_9569What I also remember at the birthing center was the loving support of the midwife, Chance, and the nurse who was coaching me, breathing with me and speaking words of encouragement – even when I said I couldn’t do it. The midwife shift change happened just as the meconium was discovered and my favorite midwife, Laura, was the new midwife and encouraged us to consider a transfer for Grace’s safety. So off to the hospital we went (I should mention the hospital is across the street). Chris drove, Laura was in the passengers seat (with three pairs of my underwear that Chris threw in the car in a state of panic) and I was in the back seat on all fours with my head in the car seat screaming. It’s actually fairly hilarious when I think back on it.

At the hospital I was blessed with the most amazing labor and delivery nurse – Yarka. Additionally, my blessings kept coming with an incredible Doula and friend, Lauren, AND my midwife who both stayed for the whole delivery. All three of these women, in conjunction with my husband, spoke words of love and encouragement to me, gave me strength to continue and helped decipher the less-than-caring words of the a-hole doctor who delivered Grace.

The hospital was a total blur, but I can tell you this much – while an epidural was offered and encouraged by the doctor I didn’t take it. The thought of getting a HUGE needle in my back, in conjunction with all the side effects of an epidural for both me and Grace were MUCH more terrifying than continuing on with no drugs. Plus, then I wouldn’t have gotten the self-dubbed title of badass mama. So after 2.5 hours of pushing at the hospital and no baby, but significant progress, we decided on a local anesthetic and a vacuum to assist in getting Grace out.  In case your not familiar with the vacuum, it’s not an electric suction. Instead, it’s a little suction cup that goes on the baby’s head to help guide her out. I still had to do all the pushing work.

So after 5 hours of pushing, 2 catheters, 13 hours with little-to-no food, a hospital transfer and a vacuum – Grace FINALLY came out. Granted, she was covered in poop and had a very pointy head – due to the vacuum – but she was still beautiful. All in all, I’m happy we were transferred to the hospital for several reasons – the biggest being that she would not have been able to come out without a vacuum. Also, the postpartum care I received from the nurses was incredibly helpful, as I had significant tearing and could hardly get out of bed. But, will I go to the Midwifery again for baby #2 (which will be several years down the road)? You bet!