The first month . . .

by Mexigarian on May 17, 2015

Where to begin? I can’t believe it’s been over two months since my little Evangeline came into Eric’s and my life.

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Before her birth, I had planned on doing a weekly update about life with a newborn. I figured I could do all things while she was sleeping. Little did I know how naive I was. I’m not sure if all new parents go through it, I’m sure most do, but the first month is basically survival mode and I got by only with the help of Eric and my familia.

I think now I am actually getting the hang of being a care giver and mother to an infant. There are days where I wonder if this is really my life and I wouldn’t trade all her smiles and coos for the world. Bu there are days where I want to run away, screaming, to be free of the heavy darkness that I felt entrapping me and not look back. But I don’t do that. Because I can’t do that to my husband and and I can’t do that to my baby. And I can’t do that to myself. Yes, I felt like running away. Many times during the first month of my baby’s life. I admit it. I feel guilty over it, but it’s just a fact of the turmoil of emotions I went through. Giving birth is easy in comparison to caring for the baby. Running a marathon, the mental, physical and emotional aspects of it, all seem to be a piece of cake when faced off against the wild emotions of the first month with a newborn. 

It’s not easy. That’s for sure.

But it’s so much better than the first month. People are right when they say it gets better. Most say 6 weeks is when things turn a corner. For me it was about 8 weeks.

It’s true when they say hormones are flying wild after giving birth. I barely recognized myself. I felt an enormous intensity of love for the little being that entered my world but I also felt an equally, if not stronger sense of fear and unrelenting worry. I was scared. So damn scared of accidentally hurting her. Every time I held her or tried to get her to nurse I worried I was holding her incorrectly, twisted something out of place, not feeding her enough. Why aren’t my boobs working? Why can’t she latch correctly?  Is that a fever? What is so damn wrong with me that I can’t figure out the needs of my baby? Why do I feel so trapped?

All those questions and so much more whirled through and I did not expect the intensity of it all.

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It didn’t help that once we left the hospital, I started feeling a bad cramp in my left leg. It started small but got progressively worse. Massaging it wouldn’t help, heat packs did little and I began to worry I didn’t walk around enough in the hospital. What was to be our first night home as a family was spent several frustrating hours at urgent care then the ER to get an ultrasound to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot, which runs in my family. My doctors office was closed to we had to go elsewhere to get it checked out. Evie  was barely 3 days old and she’s pent a lot of time in the car seat while my parents watched her in the car as my husband drove us around to get answers. I got non because urgent care didn’t have an ultrasound tech available (closed for the night) and the ER I went to was just horrible.

Eventually we went to my parents house where I pretty much just collapsed from the pain, stress, worry, and over all exhaustion of my lack of sleep while in the maternity unit. I kept apologizing over and over again to my family. To my husband, to my daughter. I was such a mess.  Eric told me to stop apologizing and talked me down from my mental emotional ledge and fortunately we got an ultrasound the next day at my doctors office, that showed no clot but it was just a severely strained calf.

It was huge relief to hear that, though I was to hobble around for a good two and a half weeks afterwards. Add a week and a half long cold on top of my fragile mental, physical and emotional state of being while I was caring for a newborn with a banshee wail that would last for what seemed like hours, and I was pushed to the limits of my sleep deprived sanity. Hence the ugly run on sentence.

Through it all, Evie took up my entire focus. I stopped worrying about myself and put everything into her. I was worried, trying to bring her back up to her birth weight, but I felt like a failure when I had to start using a bottle so soon with her. I was already using a nipple shield to help with breastfeeding, and was determined not to use formula so I obsessed with getting whatever extra milk I could out of my boobs when she wasn’t attached them. The darkness crept in ever more as I wondered why I wasn’t enough to feed my baby.

Even though I had family around me, I felt very alone. While they could come and go as they pleased, I was attached to my baby. I was her source of comfort and food for pretty much 24/7. I was there to serve her every waking need and it was up to me to figure out the riddles of her crying. Sometimes I’d get it right. Food? Check. Diaper change? Okay. Burped? Yes. And there where many a moment where I couldn’t determine what she was crying about. Too many dark hours where I felt like I was drowning in my own tears along with hers since I didn’t know how to comfort my own child.

I felt helpless. A failure at motherhood only days in. I would cry along with her, frustration eating at me, threatening to boil over in a scream or wail of anger and fear of my own. And when Eric would take her and manage to soothe her where I couldn’t, I felt completely and utterly gutted. I knew he had his rough nights with her too (he takes care of her in evening and early night so I could get some sleep before the witching hours after midnight), but I felt as if she were purposefully testing my ability to be her mother and by the despair I felt, I wasn’t going to get a passing grade. What was so wrong with me that my daughter didn’t seem happy around me?

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Soul crushing. It’s damn soul crushing when you think that you’re not enough for your child.

I didn’t trust my decisions around her. I would second guess anything that I thought would come naturally to me. I had always been a hard decision maker, but for the life of me I couldn’t even decide whether I wanted orange juice or water when asked. Even though I loved her with such a fierce insanity and would destroy anyone or anything that would mean her harm, I felt hopeless in my abilities to care for her. I would cry. Constantly. I tried to hide it, ashamed that I was so weak, but the tears didn’t stop.

The feelings were slightly muted by my families help, but when my little sister went back home, my older sister had her own baby and my mom’s focus was split between us, and Eric went back to work where it was just me. Me and Evangeline, the feelings would ride me all day and through the night. The only peace I had was in the few hours of tangled sleep I could get.

At some point, in the midst of some tears, I remember messaging my friend Josana, who had been through the trenches of being a  first time mom a few years ago and was surprised at her response. She had felt similar as well. She went through the darkness I felt smothering me. She gave me advice, told me I would get through it and be stronger on the other side. I just had to take it one hour at a time. One day at a time. To let Evie go in a safe place, and step away for a few moments so I could release the pain I was in. Whether it be mental, emotional, physical, to just step away and deal with myself.

I did.

It took me a while come to terms with my feelings and listen to the positive words Eric was constantly trying to support me with. I wasn’t a failure.  As much as I felt like I was failing her for stepping away while she was in the care of her dad or my sister or mom, it began to dawn on me that I needed those moments. I realized I needed those moments to recharge. To gain a mental clarity, to soothe my soul, even just for 5 minutes.

And with it I began to really enjoy being with my daughter. Sure, we have our ups and downs, good and bad days (in the middle of a bad stretch right now, she’s sick), but the breathers I take help me get through the hard moments. She’s sleeping longer through the night and the little coos and smiles that spread across her face in those early morning hours that only I see, those that are meant for me, is worth it.

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All worth it!!

I’ve learned that every new parent goes through some sort of trial and tribulation the first month and a half. And many new moms go through the darkness like I did. I don’t know if knowing about it beforehand would have prepared me for it,  because we all react differently, but at least I wouldn’t have felt as alone, isolated in my dark world of despair. That it wasn’t just me having these thoughts.

I’m not alone. You’re not alone. And having those feelings of guilt, insurmountable worry, and wondering if you were meant to be a mom are normal (or so it seems). But don’t go through it alone. Reach out and talk. You’d be a surprised at how many new parents feel some form of fear, weight of second guessing, what have you when it comes to being with their baby. Talking about it helps. Whether with a friend, a loved one, a fellow new parent or even a therapist. Don’t suffer alone.

Parenthood isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. Oh heck no. And I’m just over two months in, but it gets easier. Slowly but surely, day by day it gets better. Even when she screams for an hour straight with that beautiful banshee wail that can pierce eardrums, and you’re  at  your wits end on trying to fix them (and panic begins to bubble in you) take a breather, gather yourself and trust your instincts.

It gets better.

Love the time you’re with them and love the time you are away.

And when I do go to the store on my own, I enjoy the moment away from her, and no longer want to run away, but look forward to getting back to my little girl and holding her in my arms.

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Note: I had been writing up this post when Colleen’s post from The Lunchbox Diaries came across my feed. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do. I was nodding my head in tears because I knew exactly what she meant. I lived it. I breathed it. I went through it. Even if you didn’t have the same feelings the first month or don’t think you will, any new mom or mom to be should read and know, you are not alone.

{ 2 comments }

Evie’s Birth Story

by Mexigarian on April 16, 2015

It’s been a while since I posted. As per usual. You know how it is, you get busy with one thing or another, promising yourself to sit down and blog, carve out that special time. As I have discovered, it’s kind of hard to do now a days. Why? Well, I’m either 45+ weeks pregnant now or I gave birth over a month ago. The latter definitely happened.

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I see the last time I posted I was 35 weeks pregnant. And then bloop, I fell off the face of the blogging universe. Long story short on the last portion of my pregnancy:

Everything was going fine and dandy until I went in for my 35 week appt and found out baby was breech AND I had low amniotic fluid. Danger zone is 5. I was sliding down into the 6’s. I was put on modified bed rest (I could still do job interviews, yoga etc) as long as I didn’t over exert myself but increase the level of fluid. I drank 200+ ounces a day for the remainder of my pregnancy.

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Following week, my fluid levels had increased but baby still breech and I was beginning to show signs of early stages of gestational hypertension. My doctor had me monitor my BP for a while, and during that time I had prenatal chiropractor work done to help turn the baby (I also did spinning babies techniques, inversions, and moxibustion). By week 38 I was on strict bedrest (high blood pressure that would spike whenever I was on my feet) so no more exercise or inversions. At my 38 week appt, my doctor told me she wanted the baby out as soon as I hit the 39 week mark.

Luckily, baby was doing great on the non stress tests but my body was not dealing with the final leg of the pregnancy all too well. In order to get me better she wanted the baby out. I was against a c section, but it looked like I wouldn’t have a choice if baby was still breech and if the attempt to turn her externally failed. Final ultrasound check showed good fluid levels and a head down baby!

I was set to be induced March 9. Low and behold the original due date of my little girl.

I was hoping to avoid being induced and had been having early labor signs for a while, period like cramping, lower back ache and was doing what I could to help encourage my body to progress (bouncing on ball, eating pineapple and spicy food, etc), which was hard to do because my blood pressure would rise, my head would pound and I’d get dizzy anytime I wasn’t sitting or lying down.

I thought for sure things were raring to go Thursday night as the cramping (I thought were contractions) had gotten stronger, buuuuut by Friday morning they had mellowed out so nope. It wasn’t until Sunday night that things felt differently. The cramps returned and they were getting harder and lasting longer. I went to the rest room around midnight and noticed the bloody show/mucous plug loss. It didn’t mean I was going to go into full labor anytime soon, but I knew my body was at least heading in the right direction. At 3:30 am we got the phone call from the hospital to come in for inducement. Yes, you read that right 3:30 am.

I showered, quickly ate a small breakfast and off Eric and I went. The car ride over was fine, though the cramps were intensifying to something more than I had ever felt before. I felt pretty good though and walked into labor and delivery to settle into our room. I was immediately started on Pitocin and IV fluids and hooked up to the monitors. I could walk around if I wanted and even got to roll around on a birthing ball, but for the most part I laid in bed resting and focusing on breathing through the contractions.

Eric’s mom arrived at the hospital and we chit chatted a little before she went to the waiting area to chill and let me relax. My parents arrived soon after and came in and out of the room throughout the day.

For the first half of the labor I felt strong managed through the contractions, but come noon, my blood pressure was flaring high again and by 2 I knew I needed the epidural. Neither Eric nor my nurses told me to get it. They knew I wanted to go as long as I could with out it and never pressured me. It was my decision to make, knowing that it would help ease my pain and lower my BP. When I gave the word, my nurse practically tackled the anesthesiologist for me. I was crying when they prepped me for the epidural, not from the pain, but more from the mental weakness I felt. I have nothing against anyone who choses epidurals, but for me, in that moment, for my own mental being, I felt defeated and weak. I was frustrated that my body wouldn’t let me be well and just delivery without medications, so I cried out my anger and disappointment in myself during those moments. Soon after, once the epidural kicked in, I felt better and knew I made the right choice. My choice. I could still move my legs, but didn’t dare try to walk, but managed to roll around in bed without help.

Soon after, my nurse said she was going to check me and as she approached, my water broke with a loud pop! It was funny how loud it was, like a party popper on New Years. My nurse checked me and I was 5 cm dilated. She told me to get some rest, but to call them if I felt any lower body pressure. I tried to finish watching Monsters University but dozed off for a bit. The new nurse shift came in, along with a student to help and observe (I said okay for her to stay for the birth if it happened within their shift), to make sure my monitors were working properly and I asked for one more hour for rest.

Less than an hour later I paged the nurse saying I felt pressure. The nurse went to check and then gave me a look/smile and said “I believe I see the head.”

Why hello. Really? You sure?

She checked again and confirmed it was the head. She paged for my OB and asked me to do a practice push. I did and she immediately told me to stop because baby was ready to come. It was amazing to see how fast things got put in motion. Within minutes, the room was prepped, Eric had called my parents (they had gone home earlier) and ran out to his mother and brother to let them know and my OB arrived. They asked if I wanted a mirror and I was like ‘sure, what the hell’.  I did several more practice pushes until my OB told me to really get going and I did. I had to remind myself to breathe as I tucked my head and tried to watch at the same time. It was surreal.

She began her way into the world. Eric stayed by my side and my doctor told me to stop once again, to slow me down because she didn’t want me to tear (I eventually did, 1 degree, but nothing major) She gave the go ahead again and soon after felt the pressure that had knotted up in the front of my body, release  and I heard someone say “her eyes are wide open!” and she was out.

I has asked for immediate skin to skin but they couldn’t bring her to my chest because the chord was too short. We waited a few minutes until the chord slowed its pulse and Eric cut it. Only then she was placed on my chest. She laid there while my OB stitched me up and the placenta was delivered and the main nurse checked Evangeline out while she laid on me. I couldn’t see her face, her head was tucked up high under my chin, and asked Eric to take a picture of her so I can see her. He showed me and I saw her big beautiful blue eyes and I was lost.

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Evangeline was born 6:54pm March 9 2015 weight 7lbs 7 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

I was flying high afterwards. We got to do skin to skin for a while, she nursed a little and she got an 8 and then a 9 on her APGAR score. Soon after little Evie was taken to the table at the end of my bed to be looked over more for weight, height, etc. with Eric by her side the entire time. He eventually called the family in. My Dad said hello to her and stood by my side as the grandma’s got to meet her. They stayed for maybe 20 minutes and left before I was transferred to recovery room.

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My daughters birth didn’t go exactly has I had envisioned during pregnancy. I had been dreaming of a medication free, no interventions labor. It didn’t happen that way, and I’m okay with it. The end game is to deliver a happy and healthy baby and that’s what happened. My experience with the labor was very positive and taught me many things about letting go, accepting situations and working through them. It was such an eye opening process, one I am extremely grateful for being able to do. We got our child and love her to bits. It’s insane how much so.

{ 4 comments }

Pregnancy Week 35

02.12.2015

Holy cow. It’s been a while since I last posted. Time has gone by so fast and now I’m closing in on 40 weeks. Aaaaah! Between baby showers, family issues, looking for a new job and just plain existing, I haven’t had the chance to post. That and I’ve been lazy. I wake up with […]

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Pregnancy Week 29+30

01.09.2015

Hey! Hope the 1st week of the the New Year is treating you all well. I still can’t believe we are in 2015 and closing in on the middle of January. Gah! Thinking about everything that needs to be done before the baby gets here wears me out. Get the nursery cleaned, set up nursery, […]

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2015 Goals

01.06.2015

Holy Moly. Can you believe that it’s already 2015? I surely can’t. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that another year has come and gone. With it some goals that went unachieved and others that were halted. I look around the blog community and see people posting their goals for the New […]

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Life update + Pregnancy Week 27/28

12.24.2014

Again, another two weeks between posts. It’s actually been pretty crazy over here. Between work, Christmas shopping and family stuff it’s been pretty busy. We got our tree My father was in the hospital for about a week so that was very stressful and scary for us. He had been acting a lil odd at […]

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Hit the 26 week mark + Gender Reveal

12.08.2014

I sit down at the computer with the intention to write a blog post on lunch break or at home on the couch, but things just keep getting in the way. Even though we are no longer manufacturing at work, we still have a lot of old paper work to get through, by which I […]

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Life and Pregnancy Update post

11.18.2014

So it’s been a while since my last post. As it seems to be the norm around here. Life got crazy busy in October (as it usually does) and I was so wiped out from the events I did, I just went into a state of hibernation. I’ve only worked on one painting since October […]

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Changes

09.24.2014

The season of change is upon us. It’s fall people. It feels like fall. Cool chilly mornings, a little bit of heat during the day and gentle winds in the foothills swirling leaves all over our driveway in the evening. Eric is actually considering putting away the AC unit and getting the firewood ready. I’m […]

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My last long run. . .

09.05.2014

Well. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Last time I posted was waaaaaay back in July and I was still training for SFM. For those that follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you know that I did not run the marathon. Nor either of the halves. Let’s rewind a bit. The last major run I […]

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