Baby blues

Just recently I celebrated my oldest’s son 9th birthday. I mean nine years?! I am sure that as long as you are busy time will pass by fairly quickly but when you stop to think about the actual changes within a specific time frame, then is like: “woa, wait what?!” So I was sharing with him the story of the day he was born, I started feeling some kinda of blue. But why? It was a joyous day. Why do I feel this way? Well, let me tell you why.

My experience post labor was not ideal. Many factors came into play which I will share with you. And as much as I love motherhood (add two kiddos to the equation) whenever I think of the days following my first son’s birth, I always feel a bit blue. I don’t know if postpartum depression was part of it. I honestly don’t think so. But maybe as I share this with other mommies out there, it might help someone feel a bit better that is going through this. So nine years ago, that’s when this happened:

It was around 2am when my water bag broke. I followed the instructions given to my at the hospital. Called, spoke to a nurse, and once it was confirmed with them we grabbed our diaper bag and went to the hospital. The first thing when you arrive is a check in the triage room where a nurse confirmed my water had broken so I could be admitted to the hospital. After some paperwork and a few minutes waiting for our room to be prepared, we went into a delivery room where we stayed for about a day. My water bag was broken but I had no contractions. They waited a bit hoping my body would catch up to the water bag news and start the process but I guess my body was too scared to admit it so it played dumb! A few hours later they started injecting small doses of pitocin to get the labor started, but again my body was like “nope, no thank you!” Finally about 8 hours after my water bag broke, the contractions started. They were pretty mild at that point that it wasn’t crazy painful.

I’ll never forget this Filipino nurse that was part of my care team. She comes to me and says: “Mommy, you can get the epidural now. Do you want it?” I wasn’t sure what to do. The idea of a natural birth sounded better to me. I told her that it wasn’t too painful at that point so maybe later. She said to me: “Why wait? This isn’t the 1800’s and there’s no need to feel more pain than you really have to. Women say they want a natural delivery and suffer the pain but is not about being brave but being smart! No need to feel pain if it’s possible”. EXCELLENT point, don’t you think?! I agreed with her. I mean, I had been at the hospital for a while now without pain and the labor wasn’t moving at all. It was so slow, why not? So with my first baby, I had an epidural. Does that make me less of a woman? I don’t think so. Does it make smarter as suggested by the nurse? I don’t think so. It just made that first day at the hospital pain free as I waited for my son’s arrival. To each its own, right? So if you can and want to get an epidural, go for it!

We were getting close to 24 hours since my water broke. I was desperate and mostly hungry! I wasn’t allowed to eat since I got the epidural and to be honest, I thought we would be done way sooner.  So finally the time came for the baby to be born! We had difficulties during delivery because my lil man had his hand positioned in a way that wasn’t allowing him to evacuate naturally if you know what I mean. I was so frustrated, tired and hungry, I actually begged the doctor for a C-section. He said that was the last resort and he needed to try a few other things before opting for it. Not to super worry any preggos out there or go into the TMI category, I can say that another doctor joined him and with a couple of things they had to do, I was able to welcome to this world my first born. My goodness that feeling! I knew the first thing I needed to hear was the baby’s cry once he was out, but that didn’t happened. Like I said there were a bit of complications there but with a pediatrician also there in top of the other doctors and nurses a few seconds later I was able to hear him cry. My goodness that feeling! What a relief! That pregnancy/ delivery complicated part was over. Little did I know the hardest part was just about to start.

Until this point it was just my husband and I. A couple of friends had came to check on me earlier in the day while we were waiting. My friend Elsa was there, waiting outside. Once the baby was born she was able to join us in the room and bless her heart she was feeding me while I was figuring out how to feed the baby, ha! Women multitask, I’ll tell ya. It was round 3am when he was born. Later that morning around 7am, I was taken to my recovery room. This is when things got rough real quick. I guess it was a full moon because the hospital was full. We weren’t able to get a private room. In fact, I was sharing the room with two other moms! I could hear people coming in and out to see the other two mommies. My husband left after I was set up in the room. I wanted to rest as I was not able to sleep all those hours before the delivery but I was too scared to close my eyes and for someone to take my baby without me noticing. I was concerned about my baby’s safety because it was just the two of us in that large hospital and I was too tired.

The first 60 hours or so after his birth we were at the hospital. Those two additional nights, I couldn’t sleep. I was in pain from the delivery and too afraid of someone taking the baby. He was in a little hospital crib next to my bed and the only thing that separated us from the rest of the room was a curtain. Not much protection if you ask me. I know they have this safety thing at the hospital with bands that go on the baby’s arm and leg and matching ones for the parents that have an alarm that goes off if you pass certain point. But that wasn’t enough for me.  Now this might not seem like a huge reason to many but for me it was a big deal. First time mom alone in a hospital with a newborn. I wasn’t at ease.

Now you are probably wondering why it was just me and the husband during this important time? Well, my mom was still in Guatemala and his parents had just moved to Nicaragua. I don’t have sisters. I have brothers, but if my husband wasn’t allowed to stay, I am sure they wouldn’t be allowed either. My best friends were miles apart one in Guatemala and the other in the opposite side of the country. I don’t have any immediate family in the area. The few friends I had were busy with their own lives and I can’t be mad at them for that. I felt lonely. Very lonely. Like ridiculously lonely. When I think back of that day, I feel sad that I was so lonely. I wish we could have had a private room so my husband could stay. Even if he was sleeping in the couch, I would have felt a gazillion times better. I wish that my mom had come to the US sooner. I wish at least one of my best friends was closer. I wish I would have dare to ask any of the friends I made here Cali to please stay with me even if that was too much to ask. But you know life isn’t perfect, and things had to happen the way they did.

I can’t explain why. Whenever I think of this time, I feel blue. My other two experiences were very different. The labor, the delivery, the company. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means saying that I hate the experience of my first son’s birth. What I am saying is that I love that experience even if whenever I think of it my heart turns a bit blue every time. Sometimes we create expectations and when those aren’t met we feel terribly bad. I actually didn’t have any specific expectations for my labor. I just wanted a healthy baby and that is what I had. All the details aren’t perfect but he is. His arrival into my life has changed my world. I am better person because of him. I try to. Maybe as time goes by I will be able to think of this memory and don’t feel sad at all. Only time will say for sure.

 

Life with a baby

Your little bundle of joy arrived! I hope you had a short and smooth labor. Now the dream is a reality. There is this tiny little creature whose entire universe revolves around you. Motherhood is here! Whether this is your first baby or you are an expert, lots of emotions are probably revolving around you. You are excited, and happy, and tired, and you love someone like you’ve never loved before, and you are scared, and you are worried you’ll make a wrong decision, and you are happy again, and worried again, and even more tired than you imagined, and it keeps going on and on… yup, motherhood is here!

The first weeks with your little one are wonderful. It feels like every second is a new milestone and if you are like me, you are probably taking a picture like every other minute! These are the moments to treasure and you want to keep all those memories in a form that is easy to remember, aka pictures. So, if you want to share a thousand pictures a day, then go for it! There are no rules to it, is really up to you if you want to share them or save them for you. And because you are probably super duper tired because, oh well, there’s a baby at home, don’t be surprised  if you are delayed a day or two when you want to share those precious moments. More likely, every time you mean to post pictures your baby will need you, or you have to take that time to do something for yourself instead like grabbing a bite, or taking a shower, or applying makeup on your other eye because it’s been two hours since you started with your other one!

In case you don’t know this yet, you will be tired for many months to follow. Tired. Super tired. Like all the time! Please don’t forget to pay attention to yourself first. We can only care for others when we care for ourselves first. Remember that announcement on the airplane about putting your own oxygen mask first before helping others? It will be hard to put yourself first and your little one after, but you have to do this to be able to take care of him or her. Now, when I say take care of yourself first, I mean eat, sleep, rest as much as you can. Sometime later, and with a good support system at home, you will be able to go get your nails done, or grab a bite with a friend, or do some other activity you enjoy for yourself. The first months are mainly about your real needs and the baby’s needs. I promise you will not die if you don’t get a mani every week for now.

So I was saying, there is a new life who needs you. One of the most important things to always keep in  mind is that all babies are different. Yours might eat every 2 hours and your friend’s every 4; that’s normal. Yours might sleep 2-3 hours at a time and your friend’s sleeps 3-4 hours; that’s normal. Yours might have colic and your friends don’t; that’s normal. Yours might be scared of the vacuum noise and your friend’s isn’t; that’s normal. Don’t feel the need to force your baby to act like your friend’s (I know I keep saying friend’s but it could also be your sister’s or cousin’s or whoever’s) baby. Certain things will be unique to your baby and that is normal. Work with that. There is no point to try to force a baby to be like someone else. Babies get it. They don’t believe in peer pressure. They will be and will do whatever it is that they need to and that is fine! And while you are trying to learn the things that work for your little one, you will more likely receive advise from family and friends telling you what to do or not to do to “fix” your baby… gosh! this is so beyond wrong and don’t worry, I will get to it!

Some of the advise you will receive will be helpful. Some. Most of it will likely not apply to you and your baby and is more than okay to let that slide. For instance, most babies sleep better when swaddled yet not all babies like it. So don’t try to force it in your little one if he or she doesn’t want it. People might feel the urge to remind you that is best for them, that they sleep better, that you will rest more. They might be right if your baby is into swaddling, but if your baby isn’t then try something else. Trust me, is okay to ignore the advise that doesn’t do you or your baby any good. It might have worked for others, but it doesn’t work for you so no need to force it. I know I am paying a lot of attention to the unsolicited advise but new moms project this unseen “give me your advise even though I am not really asking for it” aura which is why you will receive tons of it. Some might help, some might not, you get it, right?

Most people are lucky to have a support system at home at least during the first weeks of a new baby at home. This is great! Accept the help you are offered as much as you can, like on a selfish way. Yup, you heard me right! You will want to do everything or at least witness someone else doing it if you are a scared new mommy but like I said before you need time to rest. Stress is not good for you, the baby or anyone really. Enjoy every moment you can with the baby and when you get a chance take care of yourself. Drink lots of water, you will need it especially if you are breastfeeding. I know is hard but avoid caffeine if you can… I don’t have proof is bad but that’s what doctors recommend given a small amount of it goes to your breastmilk (I don’t have proof of this nor I believe but oh well) and will make your baby fuzzy. Also, you will hear from many people to watch what you eat because some foods make your breastmilk production low or make the baby gassy or colicky. This could be true but there are many  mixed opinions about it so my personal experience was as long as it doesn’t give me or the baby I rash I ate it.

Life with a baby is all kinds of beautiful, and amazing, and tiring, and again AMAZING! There will be great moments, tiring moments, scary moments and unforgettable moments. All is part of the package. Enjoy it all as much as you can. If this is not your first baby and you are a pro (like people call us), do not forget to also make time for your other munchkins. I mean think about it, we all need some mommy time.

Good luck!