life

Welcome to Parenthood!

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sondra houghton photography

 

I walk out of the master bathroom, in a diaper, with milk streaming out of both of my breasts. My husband rushes and grabs the baby from my mom. I sit on the bed and nurse my son on the right while my husband starts the breast pump on the left. This is parenthood. This is Day 3.

Day 1

With every ounce of strength in me I push a baby’s head out of my body and the rest of him follows, at 12:32 am on February 4th. He cries immediately in spite of the meconium that came out when my water broke. I thank God for that. My child is healthy and surprisingly large. The baby nurse checks his blood sugar as soon as she can.

For the next hour and a half I shake uncontrollably while a very stressed-looking resident doctor stitches me up and repeatedly comments on how terrible the laceration is. I didn’t have an epidural so she’s ineffectively using lidocaine. The child is finally weighed in at 10 pounds! I pass out in the bathroom due to blood loss.

During the day my husband feeds me my meals while I nurse or hold the baby. I still feel light-headed and drowsy and keep falling asleep. Later I receive two blood transfusions. I watch the SuperBowl while my husband sleeps. I wake him up for the half time show, but he falls asleep again.

Day 3

We are ready to leave but have to wait for the pediatrician to come perform the circumcision. Yesterday pediatricians seemed to be coming by every 20 minutes, but today the nurse has to call for one. My husband and I have discussed this choice for months, but the decision came down to last night when I called my brother to help me be rational. I cried when they took my son and I cry when they bring him back but he is happier than when he left.

We finally head home at 2:00.

Day 4

I don’t fall asleep until 7 am because we can’t get the baby situated in the bassinet. Despite the fact I know the womb is very different from this environment, it’s a complete surprise to me baby might not be totally comfortable on his own in a bassinet.

Day 5

I feel overwhelmed. Having a newborn hasn’t been challenging with my mom and my husband at home, but being so broken down has been hard. I had looked forward to giving birth because I assumed my pregnancy problems would go away since, you know, I wouldn’t be pregnant. I am disappointed to find my hands are still swollen, my carpal tunnel is worse, my pelvis still hurts, it’s still hard to stand up, and apparently I’m still snoring. On top of that, 10-pound babies don’t simply exit the body without leaving a mark. I’ve got stitches for days… and hemorrhoids. Where a week ago I was beautiful and interesting, heavily pregnant, today I am deflated and not at all vibrant. And my white baby looks nothing like me. I have the baby blues.

In the evening I feel a sharp pain as I sit. I start to cry out of frustration and ask my husband to go to the bedroom with me, away from my mom. I cry and explain all the aforementioned grievances, and I tell my husband I miss him because we are only Mommy and Daddy right now. And my mom has been here for 10 days. I miss snuggling on the couch. I miss cuddling in bed. I miss joking around, and obviously having sex. Instead, I’m wearing an actual diaper, and I’m afraid things won’t go back. My husband is, for maybe the first time, incredibly sympathetic. He validates my feeling and makes the right faces and sounds to soothe me. He suggests I need to be patient and volunteers to help me take the multiple prescriptions I was sent home with. And through logic he assures me things will “go back” after the wounds have healed.

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Day 6

After fearfully co-sleeping for the last 3 nights, we have the baby snoozing peacefully in a swaddle suit in the rock n’ play, for the win.

Day 7

If I ever get breast implants, they will be the size of these beautiful, currently engorged breasts. I’ve been an A all my life.

Day 9

My baby makes me feel sad. I feel guilty for creating a child and giving him a womb, then ripping him from it to deal with us and all this gravity and time nonsense. I’m sad I don’t feel as attached as I expected. I question if I really needed to have a child. My husband says he was in love right when baby was born. He doesn’t understand why I have these feelings. I acknowledge these thoughts are irrational…

Day 10

I can’t imagine someone else caring for my child full-time and at this point it won’t happen. I learn that childcare on the Army post won’t be available until August. I return to work in May. I should start my search off Post, but I’m unmotivated because I don’t want to think about working again. If my work performance was mediocre before, look out!

Day 11

I need a break from breastfeeding! I’m tired of my bra being wet all the time. This little nursing pad does not help. The baby eats almost every hour. This is too much!

Day 12

My mom knocks on our door at 7 am, waking me up to take her to the airport. I am surprised I have slept so late and realize the baby didn’t wake up for my turn to feed. On the way, I tell my mom not to cry and the sensation will probably pass. I am sad too.

Later, Spencer and I take our baby for his two-week check-up. He weighs 10 pounds and 12 ounces. The doctor tells me our baby’s stomach should hold about an ounce and a half of fluid. Our son drank a 4-ounce bottle last night so my husband and I smirk at each other.

The baby fusses the entire day, presumably because he misses my mom.

Day 13

Spencer returns from the airport with his mother. She is instantly in love.

Day 15

My baby doesn’t make me feel sad anymore. I love being the one to breastfeed him. I love when he sucks feverishly. I love the sounds he makes as he gulps and sighs with his eyes half-closed from pleasure. It gives me heart eyes. I think about how I made him and how he has laid claim to my breasts, which were made for him.

Day 16

My husband is stressed. He isn’t sleeping well since he is alert if our son is making any level of noise. He has taken on a lot. He has a lot of responsibilities with a newborn, an impaired spouse, and loads of laundry; he hasn’t been alone in weeks, American ice skaters keep falling during their Olympic events, and he hasn’t had sex in a month. I shouldn’t be surprised he is edgy.

Day 18

I am in love with my baby.

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Day 20

My mother-in-law cries as she leaves. I’m sad too. I’m sad everyone has to miss large chunks of our son growing up. We want go home this summer but I don’t know if I will have enough vacation days to make the trip. I think about and don’t think about when Spencer leaves for the field or something and I have to take care of the baby myself.

Day 22

This is the first day of our last week of Spencer’s leave: 2 weeks for paternity, and 2 weeks of post-deployment. We are excited to be alone and be parents on our own.

Our son refuses to rest in the Rock n’ Play. We decide to co-sleep. Here we go again…

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