Friday, March 26, 2021

Two Months: Firsts and Lasts

These days, we often lie in bed at night and marvel at the fact that there is a tiny human in the same room. She has been on this earth for nearly two months now. We roll over and watch her sleep, her big head turned towards us to her left shoulder, one arm straight out, cheeks spilling out of the collar of her onesie, perky lips slightly apart, her tiny chest rising and falling quickly with its rhythmical irregularity that we have become so accustomed to. She might let out a sudden gasp or wheeze, a whimper, a snort. We’ve gotten so used to it that we laugh and put on our earplugs. We feel mostly at ease around her and we trust that she will let us know if she needs anything.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

First Taste of Parenthood

It is through bleary, half-closed eyes and milk-streaked pajamas that I type these words--not to mention, with one hand, because the other is being incapacitated by a 7-pound, 20-inch long baby in the crook of my arm.  My alarm rang fifteen minutes ago, and I don't mean that glib ring tone emanating from the phone on my nightstand.  I am referring to my human alarm swaddled up in the bassinet beside my bed.  I open my eyes and it takes me a moment to register whether I really heard her cry or not, since hearing phantom cries happens almost just as often.  I wait a moment, suspended between my own very shallow sleep cycles, and there it is--a confirmed wail from the bassinet.  I grab my phone and open the Babytracker app.  Last feeding was an hour and 20 minutes ago.  Hmm, sounds a bit early for her to be hungry, but it isn't unprecedented for her to want to eat well before the three-hour mark.  Or maybe her diaper is poopy.  Either way, time to get up and check.  

It's been a daily grind unlike any I've ever felt before.  For the first two weeks, adrenaline was on my side and I never actually felt tired of getting up.  I looked forward to seeing her and feeding her in the middle of the night, and I proudly logged every feeding as a little win.  I would always wake up before the timer for her next feeding, anxious and excited.  Now, at 4 weeks, I feel much more ravaged and I don't always awaken before she does anymore.  The honeymoon phase is realThis is not to say that I love my baby any less after that phase was over.  It's just that it's heavy coming to the realization that I will essentially be a slave to her basic needs for months on end with no breaks.  All of those mental health mantras about putting yourself first and setting boundaries do not feel like they apply when you're the mother of a newborn baby, who is so dependent on you for survival.  But along with that grim realization also comes a beautiful one: becoming a new mom comes with a naturally unconditional love that feels so intense that it both hurts and liberates.  From that sense of commitment rises endurance, patience, and selflessness that I never knew that I possessed.  I have lost some parts of my life that I was proud of, but I have gained new purpose, meaning, and clarity.  I am somebody's creator and I mean the world to her, and that is in itself overwhelming and awesome to know.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Our Daughter is Born

"We are going to offer you an induction," spoke the maternal-fetal medicine specialist at our 38th week growth scan. These words hit me like a ton of bricks. Wes was participating in this appointment via FaceTime from the phone in my hand, which I was about ready to drop. I did not want to believe that our baby was truly at risk for stillbirth if I let her arrive naturally--naturally meaning without the use of synthetic hormones or other invasive procedures to force my body and the baby into labor. I wasn't against medical intervention if I was in control of deciding when to initiate it, but since this recommendation came as a curveball to us, we were definitely not prepared.

The MFM specialist didn't say it then, but when I reviewed his notes after getting home, he had diagnosed us with late onset fetal growth restriction. He told us only that the baby had an abdominal size of under the 10th percentile, and that this was reason to be concerned that she would do better with nourishment outside rather than inside of me.  I knew that we were referred to the MFM department to begin with because the baby was measuring small for most of the pregnancy, but according to the OBGYN at our last appointment, she had caught up and was at 13th percentile. I figured that this final growth scan would just be a safety check, nothing crazy, maybe we'd get some souvenir ultrasound photos to take home as we get pumped for her arrival.  I was confused when the doctor told us that she was not necessarily safe to stay in until 40 weeks.  I always thought that our baby would need all the time she could get inside of me to get catch up on her, inductions are for babies who are overdue, right?  Going back to the doctor's notes, it was indicated that the baby was in the 2nd percentile with her abdominal size, which definitely worried us.  With this more specific information, I accepted the fact that she was not getting what she needed in the womb.  The doctor let us know that if we were willing to have the induction, it would be best to do it the following week on Friday January 29th, citing that 39-week inductions are perfectly safe and in fact reduce the chance of needing a C-section.  We nervously booked the appointment right then and there.  

When I emerged from the hospital building, Wes, who had participated in the appointment via FaceTime, was waiting on the sidewalk and ready to give me a hug. We had to take this in. First, we were shocked that we'd be meeting our baby so much sooner than expected. Her due date was supposedly February 4th. Then, we had to try not to worry about her size for the rest of the days leading up to induction day.  Finally, we had just one week to be sure that everything at home was ready for her, and that we could be mentally prepared by then.  Fortunately, we had been slowly getting things together and cleaning up over the past few months due to the stay-at-home order, so the only thing we really needed to do was to finish the nursery projects and let family, friends, and coworkers know.  We ended up getting excited for the 29th, and Wes pointed out that at least now we had a target date to plan around rather than having to be caught off guard.  I still was disappointed that I would have to be induced and that things couldn't run their course, but I was definitely on board with seeing the baby come out safe and sound.  I marked our Google calendars on January 29th at 3:00 PM as: "The Day that Our Lives Change Forever," for lack of any other words.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Nearing the Finish Line

On this day one year ago, I was in a very dark place.  I had just miscarried what I thought would be our rainbow baby.  A rainbow baby is a joyful term representing a baby who is born after a loss--the rainbow after the storm.  I was honestly not sure if I would ever find the courage to hope for yet another rainbow; the thought of weathering another storm crushed me.  Initially, I wanted to just give up and blame myself.  If I could have told myself back then that in a year's time, I'd be nine months pregnant with a very good chance of giving birth to a healthy baby, I don't think that I would have believed myself.  But now, I am full term, full of excitement, and full of life.  It's surreal and magical.

I see that I had to walk this hard path in order to learn that control is an illusion, but trust is essential in the face of that illusion.  I learned how to hope again after being let down, and how to cope with the ebb and flow of that very fragile hope.  I learned that I can observe, choose, and change my reactions.  Though I have a supportive partner, family, and friends, I learned that I need to take on that responsibility to love and care for myself, by myself.  I tried to be present with pain, fear, and joy without feeling shame.  I have my weak moments, but today I feel strong.

At any point in the next few weeks, I could go into labor, and then the rest is up in the air.  I choose not to see this quickly approaching, unpredictable, wild experience with anxiety, fear, and a need for control.  I will harness the strength, hope, love, and trust that I've been practicing over the past year.  It still takes some courage to muster up these words, but I know that no matter what happens, it will be empowering, all-consuming, and totally worth it.