This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.
Samantha was premature, and the rule of thumb we were taught was to wait until she reached her due date to take her out. That meant that Lent, for me, was spent at home. She was born at the beginning of Lent, six weeks early. So her time of isolation was pretty much for the duration of the Lenten season.
I didn’t mind. I’m a natural introvert, plus I was exhausted. Having a newborn is a kind of tired that cannot be described, only experienced. I’m not sure if my experience was the same as others, or a bit worse because I had been on bed rest for so long beforehand. I wasn’t even used to standing much, let alone walking.
Besides adjusting to life with a baby, a body needs to heal from giving birth. When I had Jonah (stillborn), I went through labor and delivery. He was tiny, but it was still LABOR. It’s no joke. With Samantha, I didn’t go through that process. Instead, a surgical procedure that seemed like the blink of an eye produced a baby through an incision. What I found in comparing the two is that recovering from a C-section is much more intense, but soooo much easier for giving birth. Not that many of us are given much of a choice.
Oh, I know there’s birthing plans and celebrities that schedule their cesareans. But let’s be real about this: stuff happens. Plans change. If the health/life/whatever of mom or baby is at risk, the pre-determined stuff is chucked out the window in favor of what’s best at the time. I imagine most labor-and-delivery nurses and OBGYN’s find birthing plans to be adorable attempts by mothers-to-be to exert control over a situation where you aren’t in control.
I never even put together a birth plan. I hadn’t packed a bag for the hospital. I hadn’t even done my pre-registration there yet! But my body had other ideas, so the plans were made for me.
Then we brought this tiny little girl home, and once again, we were NOT in control. I had other moms telling me to get on a schedule (um, what?). I was instructed by someone (doctor? lactation nurse? IDK) to pump after every time I nursed, so I did. For the first two weeks, I didn’t change a single diaper – Travis did every. single. one. She originally slept in her cradle on my side of the bed, but we quickly found that if I wanted to get any sleep, she had to be on his side. I was waking up to every noise she’d make, whether or not she was actually awake or needing something. Our new “routine” at night involved falling into bed, waking to her crying, him changing her diaper and handing her off to me. Then I would take her in the living room and nurse while watching television or a movie of some sort. I’d bring her back and pump while he double-checked the diaper and settled her back into the cradle. This routine was repeated every one to four hours, depending on her.
During the day, I was mostly planted on the couch, alternating between nursing and napping, with occasional moments of feeding myself. Our poor dog was sorely neglected. I had zero energy for attending to him, taking him for walks, and I couldn’t figure out how to do that and bring the baby (and the idea of even stepping out the front door momentarily without her terrified me). I finally started to settle her into her cradle and carried the baby monitor with me while I took the dog outside. Poor Frodo…
Next post coming tomorrow.