This post is overdue, but we’ve been pretty busy. In a months time, our life has gotten significantly crazier, louder, and more loved-filled than I think we’d planned on. It all started after 45 minutes of sleep on a Tuesday night.
I know pregnant. I was pregnant before this, and even though it was a high-risk pregnancy, I had some idea of what would happen right up until labor. So I knew when I woke up at 2am on 4/29/15 that my water was about to break. I jumped out of bed just in time, just before the gush. After about a half hour of frantic running around, random chores (I had to make the bed!) crying (I was losing my little belly buddy), and saying goodbye to the cat, we were on our way into Boston.
There was no traffic at 2:30am, and we made it in record time. As we crossed the Tobin bridge, the view of the city was spectacular. It was vibrantly illuminated, yet perfectly still. I felt an ominous pull at my heart as a realized we’d be leaving the city forever changed, again.
The valet was not at his post when we reached the hospital, so I walked myself in while Jon parked. I waddled through the revolving doors and checked in, and Jon ran in with our bags less than 5 minutes later. We were wheeled up to Labor and Delivery, and within 10 minutes, what I already knew to be true was confirmed. My water had broken and we were staying. I was dilated to 3cm.
The part that follows is confusing to me, in hindsight. Although I wanted natural childbirth, I was given pitocin to accelerate my labor. I consented, not completely understanding the effect this drug can have. I think it was explained to me, but I wasn’t really listening. I was too excited. An hour later, my labor had kicked into fourth gear. I was laying in bed, experiencing back labor again, and my contractions were magnified from the pitocin.
Thankfully, a 7am shift change brought me an amazing nurse that helped me through the remaining hours of labor. She found out I was on pitocin, asked that it be stopped immediately, and got me out of bed. She coached me through each contraction, suggesting new positions to minimize my pain. At 7cm, I was quickly becoming exhausted. I was working on 45 minutes of sleep, and I felt myself nodding off after each contraction.
I was worried that, after such intense contractions with so little sleep, I would be too exhausted to push my daughter out. I had come so far, I wanted to be sure I could complete what I’d started. I opted for the epidural, and right as it took effect, it was time to push.
An hour later, Gracie Kate Western entered the world. She was vibrant, beautiful, and screaming as if to triumphantly announce her arrival. I had held back tears until that moment, as if to protect myself. Once I learned she was alive, I knew things were different than last time. I cried and held my daughter on my chest for 2 hours, yet somehow, it felt like mere minutes. I couldn’t believe that this was real life.
The past few weeks since birth have been a learning experience for our whole little family. I knew babies were hard work, but until Gracie, I had no concept of what that work actually looked like. Breastfeeding is harder to start than what I realized, and feeding every 2-3 hours leaves little time for much else. Yet, we are all learning, and we are beginning to gel as a family unit.
After a month riddled with tears from both pure happiness and sheer frustration, I am getting more confident as a mom. I’ve been humbled; my life is no longer my own. In the first few days at home, I tried to do everything the same as if always done. Yet, as time passed, I began to understand that it was no longer my schedule. I am on her schedule, and life outside of her has to fit where it can.
We are starting to know her cries, we understand how they are different. I learned that singing to her, even if it’s complete nonsense, calms her during diaper changes. Jon discovered that she likes to be held during squats and other leg exercises. I discovered that she loves her mobile above her crib, even though I don’t think she can see much of it yet.
I am so blessed to have this perfect little being in my life. I couldn’t want anything more. She is the little present that I will spend these next years opening and discovering. I look at her, and I just can’t believe how beautiful she is. I’ve never felt so humble, happy, confused, overwhelmed, overworked, and loved at the same time.