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Blooming Motherhood: Surviving and Growing During Our First Month As Parents

They say that when a baby is born, so is a mother.

It has officially been 4 weeks since we’ve been parents and since we’ve been home with our daughter, Liv Espen. Our journey so far has been difficult, exhausting, and absolutely beautiful. My birth as a mother started long before Liv came in to the world, yet I was born as a mother the day Liv was born in many ways that I’d soon come to learn about.

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I’ve considered writing about our pregnancy and birth journey, and one day I will when I work through some of the scars I have received throughout the process. A broken system that does not stand to serve the people or the common good is a just that: broken. Ant and I have gone through a lot of fighting in the last few months of my pregnancy starting with our baby being breech and working with a system that doesn’t accept that, and ending in a birth completely different from what we had planned for us and our baby. However unplanned, our daughter’s birth was absolutely beautiful and I will never forget the first moment I heard her cry and the moment she went from a concept in my belly to a real, live human being that was here in front of me. What an incredible, tearful, joyful moment.

Long story short, we planned a home birth. My water broke one morning (which, ironically and contrary to popular belief is not how a majority of labors start) and we labored as long as possible at home. Labor went on for over 30 hours, however I never got the urge to push because Liv never fully descended into my pelvis. We made the difficult decision to transfer to the hospital. Liv was born by emergency c-section. When we heard Liv cry for the first time, we were both sobbing. We had a daughter! She was beautiful and amazing, she was here, and we were in love!

IMG_6118From the very beginning, Liv was thriving. She was hungry right away, and latched on like a pro from the moment I held her. She’s breastfed like a champ since then. She was alert, and her nervous system was functioning incredibly. The nurses and doctors at the hospital were stunned at how quickly and how well she gained weight and got rid of the little bit of jaundice she had over the next couple days. My milk kicked in within a day or two, and there was plenty of it. Her system was functioning extremely well for a newborn and part of that was attributed to my long, hard labor at home prior to the unplanned c-section. I was told that the 30 hours that I labored prior to the c-section gave Liv an advantage. The extra hard contractions I experienced that tried to push out my undescended baby stimulated her nervous system and prepared her a little extra for the world. I was glad to hear that my hard work was really worth it in the end. We got to leave the hospital early because I healed at a very quick rate and was able to walk, though carefully, the day after surgery. We had only stayed at the hospital a couple of days. We were so excited to leave the hustle and bustle and finally take our baby home.

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IMG_6355The first couple weeks were amazing. Our midwife came by to check on us and Liv continued to be in incredible health. She slept well, ate well, and was already smiling in her sleep. We cloth diapered, bed-shared, breastfed on cue, did baby wearing and skin to skin. We continue to do all of those. The aftermath of an unplanned c-section was difficult on me because of things I didn’t expect or plan on: I needed help getting up, I could only sleep on my back, and I couldn’t always pick up my baby or fulfill her needs right away due to the healing incision. I wasn’t able to hop out of bed and change her right away when she wet her diaper or pick her up and feed her when she was giving me hungry cues. Propping myself up took time, and I needed help getting up out of bed. I wanted to be there for my baby as I felt I should but found myself needing more support than I had planned and I learned the need to be emotionally gentle with myself at this time because it did no good to be frustrated at unforeseen circumstances.IMG_6562 The last couple of weeks we have dealt with a bit of painful baby gas and she’s had some difficulty sleeping (as well as difficulty getting sleep ourselves), but it seems to be getting better now that we are at the one month mark. Livy continues to be super healthy, yay! We are so very glad that she continues to be doing so well. We are so thankful to have wonderful support from the people that surround us, from our midwife, to our moms who flew up to help us. Livy makes big smiles at us and is starting to make different sounds. She loves breast milk with a passion and we adore snuggling with her at night, as she falls asleep looking up at us with sleepy eyes. It’s really the best.

I find that I rarely have time to hop in the shower or brush my hair, the house is a mess, I’m covered in breast milk all the time (and so is Liv), and we are exhausted from lack of sleep. Some moments I get impatient when Liv is screaming and I have a hard time figuring out what she needs. We don’t sleep much, and eating together is a privilege. Sometimes I feel a little crazy, because I went from having a lot of time on my hands to none. There’s no break, there’s no out, and sometimes crying doesn’t feel better. I have to dig at the bottom of a dry well for more energy, more patience, more empathy, and more centeredness.

But that’s no complaint. Taking care of her is an absolute privilege. She’s a wonderful baby! I’d say that most of the time we are on point with getting her exactly what she is asking for. She isn’t complicated, we’re just new at this. We’ve learned some baby language pre-cry cues from the Dunstan method and they have been amazing. One ‘EH’ sound and I know that Liv needs to be burped. Because of that we have much less crying and much more fulfillment on both ends. Her needs are being met and we feel accomplished with being able to be there for her. She’s growing so fast, it’s hard to believe. I feel like I want to freeze this moment in time. We are so in love with her, and it’s hard to imagine that she will only be this little just once. We are looking forward to all the things that are coming up (crawling, “da-da”, children’s museums, legos) but are also remembering to really stop and cherish these moments now, difficult as they may sometimes be, because they’ll never come again.

We are looking forward to seeing what Livy’s second month will bring! She’s already come to be so much more coordinated and verbal, it’s very exciting to see her bloom before our eyes.

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