Once I had rested a bit after delivering Gracie, it was time to nurse her. My hormones kind of went crazy and I had been so chilled/shaky that both Gracie and I had been covered with blankets. I pulled some of the blankets back only to discover that Gracie had pooped all over me!
On the way to my postpartum room I asked my nurse if there was any way I could get something to drink and asked if there was gatorade. She said no, but there was juice. She also told me there would be a cheese and cracker tray sent up to me. She got me situated in bed and the cheese and crackers arrived. I was so hungry that I dove right in. There were also grapes and two Reeses peanut butter cups. About halfway through I looked down at my hands only to discover that there were remnants of Gracie’s earlier “christening” under my fingernails. At that point getting up was not an option and I had already eaten half of the food…
Gracie was kept under the lamps for a little bit after she was born to help bring her body temp up. I had been moved to my room and was resting. Seth stayed with Gracie for awhile and then came to check on me. About 2 am Gracie came down to our room. We decided to see if Gracie would be more interested in nursing and the nurse assisted me with trying to get Gracie latched on but it was proving to be somewhat frustrating for both of us. The nurse left and said for me to call her if we were still having trouble in a few minutes. Seth had gone to get me some water (I was still super thirsty!) so it was just Gracie and I left to our own devices. Thankfully she got latched on within a couple minutes. It wasn’t a great latch but I didn’t care. I smiled down at my baby, celebrating a small victory.
From early on I was determined for breastfeeding to be successful. After she fed the first time I set an alarm on my phone so that hopefully I could wake her up before she woke up absolutely starving. Before the nurse had left she had told me that she needed to do some kind of check before Gracie ate next, so I just needed to call her before I fed her again. Easy peasy. Well, Gracie woke up screaming far before that alarm went off. She had pooped again and it was everywhere. I was so tired and could hardly stand, but I did stand and attempted to change her diaper while she wriggled around. Seth was trying to help me but we were both so tired that Gracie clearly had the upper hand.
Gracie continued to struggle with keeping her body temp up. When our nurse came to do whatever check it was before she ate Gracie’s temp was down again. The nurse insisted that I do skin to skin with Gracie before feeding her. Gracie was so comfy laying on my chest that the both of us fell asleep until the nurse came back almost an hour later. Mama loved having her baby so close and cuddly.
Babies are supposed to have one wet and one dirty diaper in their first 24 hours. Well, Gracie certainly was pooping a lot but hadn’t a wet diaper when the nurse came to whisk her away for her 24 hour check up. Of course, I was nervous and hoping that everything was ok. When the nurse brought her back to us I asked how she had done and if she had a wet diaper yet. The nurse laughed and said that as soon as the doctor got her diaper off she peed all over and just kept peeing. That’s my girl, waiting until the last minute.
It sounds cliche, but I think every month gets better and better. We started out this month with a trip to the burbs to visit some friends. I was anxious to see how Gracie would do sleeping at someone else’s house…and she took it like a champ! All of the traveling must have worn her little body down though because just a couple days later she ran a low fever for most of the day. I felt terrible for her because it took me literally all day to finally figure out that she had a fever and that was why she was not her normal self. The next morning she woke up and was back to her typical, smiley self.
This month we had the dreaded “2 month shots” as well. Yes, we are a little off on our schedule. Gracie was a trooper and handled the shots quite well. We think she hated being held down more than the shots. Afterwards we went out to eat and she managed to sleep in the car on the way home. As soon as got home she was flipping out though so we gave her some tylenol which helped tremendously. Before I put her down for the night I gave her just a little bit more and she was able to sleep through the night as usual. At her 2 month appointment Grace weighed 12 pounds 4 ounces and was 25 inches long. She is in the 99th percentile for length! In fact, when her doctor came in and saw her length he measured her again just to be sure she was really that long.
This month Gracie started the very annoying habit of scooting around her crib while she sleeps. I would find myself getting up in the night to move her away from the edge so she didn’t hit her head and wake herself up. Fortunately a friend of mine suggested using a sleep sack with her and since then she has not been quite so successful, although on particularly squirmy nights she can still move around the crib quite a bit. She has also rolled from her tummy to her back just once while sleeping. It happened about 6 am last friday. I heard a cry from the nursery that was new to me. I looked on the monitor and she was on her back, looking quite proud of herself. After about thirty minutes she was annoyed that she could not get back to sleep.
Gracie continues to be more and more vocal and interacts with us all the time. She definitely loves her mama. When Seth will give her a bottle her eyes still follow me around the room. We went to church for the first time (other than Christmas Eve) right before she turned 11 weeks old. That same weekend we also spent the night with some friends so it was a full weekend for Baby G. Gracie charmed everyone in the nursery (of course) and her parents enjoyed sitting in church without having to worry about their precious baby. I really love our church’s nursery and feel so blessed to have a safe and caring environment for our baby.
Of course, I can’t talk about leaving my baby without talking about my return to work. On the one hand I am looking forward to having adult time again. Although I am not sure I remember how to carry on conversation with an adult. On the other, I am facing the realization that at least for awhile I won’t be seeing much of my baby simply because by the time we get home she needs to nap, eat, and do down for the night. Seth and I will miss having time in the afternoons with Gracie. However, I know all too soon she will be extending her wake time which makes me happy and sad.
Or rather, back to my job. It’s not as if I haven’t been working the past 12 weeks. Today is the last day of my maternity leave and I am feeling very sad. On monday our family of three will adjust to a new normal and sadly I will be forced to adjust to seeing less of my little girl.
On the one hand I am looking forward to going back. I miss my coworkers and will appreciate the adult interaction. I am interested to hear how some of my clients are doing and of course I am looking forward to seeing the kiddos on my caseload. However, I have done the math and I know that the time I see Gracie will be very limited. I am thankful to work for an agency that is supportive of working moms and I will be able to work from home a day each week. I also know that Gracie will be very well taken care of while I am gone and she will be close by.
If I could go back and do the last 12 weeks again, I think I would tell myself to relax (but what new mom wouldn’t go back and say that to herself?). When Gracie was a month old I went to the office Christmas party and at that point I was so ready to go back to work…taking care of a newborn is exhausting! Now, though, everything is so much fun and she is so much more expressive and learning new things. Just this morning she rolled from her tummy to her back.
I’ve been been forced to slow down and take things a day at a time, an hour at a time. I have had the luxury of getting to spend so much one on one time with my daughter for which I am so grateful. A small part of me wishes I would have done more, but really all that matters is that I took care of Gracie and the time I spent with her. I think if I could go back and do anything differently I probably would have spent less of her wake times doing stuff. Now, it was stuff that needed to get done…like putting her laundry away, but still.
I think one thing that will change for the better at work is that I will be more focused. Not that I wasted my time before, but I just know that I will be wanting to get things done so I can get home to the people that really matter. As much as I love my work kiddos I don’t want to see more of them than I do my very own child. I think I will have better boundaries with my time and when I am with clients I am going to be focused on why I am there, get that done, and just leave. I am not going to listen to the same stories over and over and I will not let them suck me into the drama of their lives.
Also, this snow had better be done because one thing I really looked forward to about leave was not driving in treacherous winter weather.
Unfortunately, my ability to move freely and untethered by monitors didn’t last long. At my next check my blood pressure had gone back up and my doctor was pushing for internal monitoring. Lorrie fought hard for me and was able to persuade my doctor that internal monitoring wasn’t necessary. I still had to stay in bed, but Lorrie had me try a few different positions that would help the baby move into a better position and move labor along. I was beginning to near transition and found it most comfortable to sit on the edge of the bed with Seth providing counter pressure on my knees and Dana providing counter pressure on my lower back.
About 4:30pm I took a bathroom break and then sat against the raised back of the bed. My contractions seemed to space out a little and I was able to rest in between contractions. After a little while I began to get very uncomfortable and again needed to support of Seth and Dana. I was checked periodically and with each check I was progressing, however to me it seemed that time was moving so slowly and I just wanted to be able to push. With Dana’s encouragement I decided to squat through some contractions. After doing this through a few of them I was checked and was nearly 9cm. I decided to squat through a few more even though it was incredibly intense and difficult to hold back the urge to push. I really wanted to meet my baby! After squatting a bit more I decided I was ready to be checked again as the urge to push was so, so strong. I was checked and the nurse said I was still at a 9. Dana told her I was having the urge to push and she said that I shouldn’t because I was going to swell my cervix. She then said to me that she had noticed how I was breathing (long, deep breaths) and suggested I try taking shorter breaths. Had I not been in the middle to some very intense labor I would have told her what I was thinking, which was: This is how I have been managing my pain through nearly 36 hours of labor…I’m not changing it up now! As soon as she left the room, Dana told me to continue to breathe however I wanted.
At this point I was feeling discouraged that I was still not to 10cm and therefore not ready to push. I decided to squat some more and try to wait longer before requesting another check. I really couldn’t bear to ask them to check me just to hear that I was still at a 9. I think it was at this point I voiced thinking I would not be able to do this, and Dana reminded me when you’re at that point it usually means you are almost there. Not long after my check a new round of staff came in as it was 7pm. My doctor also stopped by to see how I was doing. Much to my relief my doctor said that she wanted to check to see how dilated I was. She checked and said that I was almost there and suggested I push through some contractions.
Finally, I thought, now I can do something. What I didn’t prepare for was how exhausted I was and now I had to do the work of pushing. It took me a bit to get the coordination I needed to push, be in a good position, and remember to breathe! I tried using the squat bar through a couple contractions but it was so exhausting. I could hardly hold my body up, let alone push. As I would push I kept thinking about how anxious I was to meet my little girl and desperately wanting to feel the ‘ring of fire’ because then I would know that she was almost here. I also remember wanting to keep pushing even after a contraction had come and gone. I just wanted to be done so badly. The hardest part was making myself rest in between contractions because I just wanted to be pushing. Even while I was pushing I continued to hold onto my comb until Grace was very nearly here. I also remember looking up at my feet at one point and thinking they did not look as swollen as they had earlier in the day.
Apparently (per my doula-I had no sense of time) after an hour and ten minutes of pushing the delivery team was gathered. All I knew is that my doctor was back in the room so that had to be a sign we were getting close. She asked if she could inject some local anesthetic as I was likely going to tear and I agreed. After pushing about 15 more minutes (again, per my doula) my little girl emerged! I remember the nurse telling me to look at her and I leaned up to look but my belly was in the way and it took way too much strength to try to lean up any further. Within seconds Gracie was placed on my chest. My first reaction was that she was so cute in the classic baby way-round head, perfect little nose and chin. I was in love. I also remember being slightly confused because I hadn’t felt the ring of fire. Of course later I realized this was due to the local anesthetic that was administered. Duh. Gracie was very alert as she laid on my chest and I was very thirsty. Dana had a couple gatorades on hand which I downed in a matter of seconds. Seth was by my head and had been feeding me ice chips throughout labor. I know was taking ice chips by the mouthful and couldn’t get enough. Gracie tried holding her head up to look at my face, reached her hands for my face and opened her eyes to look up at me. I was so in love.
The last feeding of the day is, hands down, my favorite feeding of the day. The lights are low and Gracie is generally cuddly. Last night, in particular, was a favorite of mine. Gracie was very sleepy while eating. It seemed like she had finished eating but to be sure I offered her the bottle one more time. Her lips were very contentedly pressed shut as I put the bottle against them. As I pulled the bottle away she opened her mouth in a smile, all the while continuing to sleep. I held her close and whispered a prayer consisting of thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t believe she is mine.
I get nervous when laying Gracie down for a nap just because I am not sure if she will start crying or not as soon as she realizes what is happening. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, like today, this is what happens: I’ve sat and rocked for a minute with her, long enough to see she is ready to start nodding off. She is working hard in her pacifier and with every suckle she seems closer to sleep. I get up and start to lay her down, the pacifier falls out. I keep my hand under her belly and with the other hand I reach to put the pacifier back in her mouth. As I am doing this she is making quiet grunting noises, not in a protest of sleep, but rather because she wants to lay her head down. With the pacifier securely in her mouth, I slide my hand out from under her and her head hits the mattress and her eyes shut, as if she was longing for sleep.