Not Much Time Left

My return to work date is less than 2 weeks away, and I’m not sure how that happened. Two months sounds like a lot, but indeed, it is not at all when it comes to transitioning to life with a baby. Even at this point, I have not reached a comfortable or familiar pattern. I am constantly torn between wanting to do nothing and everything. After being on two courses of antibiotics, I’m really trying to take it easy, but it’s hard to know how. The more I do, the more overwhelmed I become, but the less I do, the more anxious I become about not doing anything. 

I fluctuate inexplicably between wanting some time to myself without a baby attached to my body for hours a day, and literally not wanting to go downstairs to play piano because I don’t want to be too far from Little V. It makes no fucking sense. Sometimes I crave social interaction, but then the problems and timing associated with feeding, pumping, and changing make me never want to leave the house. Or the bed, for that matter.

Another difficult thing I’ve had to grapple with is how many fuckups there are because I simply know nothing and am completely unprepared. Every time we think we’ve figured something out, it stops working after a couple of days (which apparently is an expected phenomenon). Every time I think I’ve taken all reasonable measures in furtherance of a mess-free feeding or pumping session, some minor disaster occurs and I end up covered in milk, or with a new batch of laundry to do. Every time I make what I believe to be a productive effort to bathe her, trim her nails, or clean up, it seems the effort is undone within a day (crazy how quickly those razor sharp nails grow – they are not kind when she decides to give my nipple a squeeze).

I started elimination communication training with great zeal, but after a week or so, it’s feeling like too much effort for too little gain. I also wonder whether I’m training her or she’s training me. I’ve tried to pay attention to her cues before she goes pee and poo, and don’t feel I’ve made much progress. Apparently, we are both failing at training each other. I know it’s borderline ridiculous to have such expectations at 6 weeks anyway, but I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother at an (in?)opportune time, which has inspired me, but also created a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me not to be lazy about being a parent, especially when I am not working. If I let things slide now, just how indolent will I be when I go back to work in 2 weeks?

As I finished the paragraph above, Little V gave some grunting cues indicating she wanted to poo. I figured I’d finish just the last two sentences, but in the 2 minutes it took me to do so, she had pooped and I missed the opportunity for potty training. Tiger mom would be tsking me.

Husband and I discussed working from home one day a week, but at 2 weeks out from my return to work date, I have not raised this with my boss yet. I’m going to have to bring this up within the next couple of days and I’m not real keen on having this conversation, mostly because I’m quite sure how to approach it. Instead, I’ve asked the office to throw me some work so I can get back into the swing of things, and prove by my actions that I’m fairly efficient and reliable when working from home.

The good part is I am indeed reliable and efficient. The bad part is then I don’t feel I am making the most of maternity leave. Rather than starting the day slowly, listening to some music, reading to Little V, blogging, and practicing a little elimination communication, I set up my laptop work station, put her in a rocker, and plow away at research and memos while peeking on her every once in a while. I’ve tried to type one-handed while feeding her, but that was excruciatingly inefficient.

I have no idea how I am going to return to work in a functional manner, given the current circumstances. I’m sure this is no news to veteran moms, but our morning routine is an unexpectedly time-consuming process alone. Feeding and pumping takes about an hour, and even though I can get myself ready in 15 minutes, I figure even if I skip breakfast, I still have to wake up at an ungodly hour to be able to take her to daycare and arrive at work on time. And I might add that when it comes to babies, she seems relatively easy: she sleeps through noise, she sleeps in long stretches at night, and she does not cry much.

I am constantly wondering how this will all work out logistically. I feel pained at the idea of sending her to daycare already, even though I have an ideal situation when it comes to daycare – she will be taken care of by family. Given my highly fortunate and favorable circumstances, I question how any other mother, perhaps with fussier babies, no family nearby, ever make it out alive.

Little V Makes Her Entrance

Little V was born on September 2, 2017 after 30 hours of labor on Labor Day weekend (ha!). I say 30, which includes only the labor that required concerted physical and mental effort, but I was having contractions since Monday and she wasn’t born until Saturday morning. The total number of hours is only useful for satisfying morbid curiosity.

I noticed a friend on Facebook had a recent home birth. She posted about her 45 hour labor, which she counted from first contraction until delivery. Well, if I did that I could literally claim like 100 hours of labor. In sharing her birth story on Instagram, she was glowingly positive but felt the prolonged labor altered her plans and her mindset such that she felt deprived of the experience of falling in instant love with her son. Apparently other women with negative labor and delivery experiences report feeling similarly robbed, but I’m not the type for falling in love at first sight anyway so I can’t say I relate.

When I left off my last post, I had seen the doc in the morning at 2 cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, and my contractions had started to speed up on Thursday night, probably in part as a result of the membrane sweep. By 11:59 p.m., they started to become seriously painful enough to be the real thing, and we started our Hypnobirthing skills, exercises, meditations, and tools. I felt most of the contractions in my low back/sacral area, which has been a completely new sensation for me, as I’ve never had any significant back pain my entire life! Until contractions started, low back pain was something totally foreign to me, and the sensations of being hammered in the tailbone were quite awful. Husband was totally amazing with pressing on my back at the right times, reminding me to eat, and lightly massaging my back. After about 3 hours, the contractions were coming faster than the 5-1-1 rule, and we went to the the hospital around 3:00 a.m.

The hospital ride was uncomfortable to say the least, and I tried to continue breathing and moving on all fours in the backseat during the 25 minute ride. Unfortunately, when we got to the hospital, we were surprised to find I was still only 2 cm dilated, despite the intensifying contractions and hours of seeming progress. They sent me home, and advised me to try and sleep. I declined Ambien, as at this point, I was tired enough, but my major problem was pain. I have never needed help sleeping, as I am a champion sleeper.

At home, I tried to put my champion sleeping skills to work. I took a couple of Tylenol PM and we “slept” in 5-minute chunks between contractions until the late morning. Husband had equally poor sleep because he was amazing enough to wake up every few minutes to massage my back. Not wanting to risk being sent home from the hospital again, we continued the home labor activities until late afternoon and returned to the hospital around 4:30 p.m.

The good news was by the time we went to the hospital for round two, I was 7 cm dilated. My water had not broken yet and the midwife observed I had a bulging amniotic sac. The bad news was I stayed at 7 cm for literally eight more hours. I think I probably stopped keeping track of the time at this point, as it was too devastating. The midwife explained the bulging sac may be blocking the baby’s head from descending, and suggested the option of breaking the water to allow things to speed up. We considered it and in the mean time, Husband motivated me and walked me around the hall twice, and helped me breathe through some contractions on the birthing ball. There didn’t appear to be much change after these efforts and we decided to go ahead with breaking the water 1-2 hours later. The pace did pick up indeed, along with the severity of contractions.

Yet, the bumps in the road were not over for us. I pushed for 2-3 hours (who’s counting?), in different positions, including squatting, on all fours, on my side, with a squat bar and Rebozo. I ended up pushing the traditional way and could not help but constantly feel like I could not take much more. I found comfort in growling like an animal to control my breath (but my throat hurt the whole next day).

After being encouraged that I was “very close” and just a “few” pushes away (and boy, did I need the motivation at this point!), Baby V was born at 6:00 a.m. Again, I don’t know about “instant love” but it was a very overwhelming, exciting, and incredible feeling when I saw her emerge from my body. I baked a little hooman! Holy shit! As soon as they placed her on my chest, it was just as a friend had told me – all the pain and discomfort leading up to it became negligible.

I previously thought having a whole baby come out of my vagina was going to be the most painful and difficult part, but as it was happening, I observed it mostly felt like an uncomfortable stretching that slightly burned. It was the contractions that continued to be totally killer. Maybe I got lucky and had a baby with a smaller head. I didn’t tear, but had some mild uterine bleeding and received some Pitocin and Cytotec. Afterwards, our nurse, who by now was accustomed to me refusing all kinds of meds, came by to persuade me to take pain medications. To her relief, I did not put up any resistance to a some Ibuprofen.

Honestly, these were some of the most miserable hours of my life, but they were met with great reward. After this experience, I’m also fairly convinced Husband is the best husband in the world.