Saturday, December 26, 2009
The first week
Ah, is he beautiful. And amazing. And perfect.
He is such a calm little baby. He entirely despises diaper changes and doesn't mind letting the whole neighbourhood know, but otherwise he's content to sleep, eat, and be cuddled. I love watching his facial expressions as he sleeps. A mother could get lost in all this newborn cuteness.
I am being thoroughly spoiled by my MIL, who refuses to allow me to so much as wash a spoon, much less do anything else. I am so grateful for her help, and it has been wonderful to enjoy a real babymoon with this sweet little guy. Jacob is loving having her here as well, as she has been spending the better part of each day keeping him occupied with various activities - lots of walks, playing at the park, trips to the pool, baking, crafting, and endless reading.
My perfectionist side is starting to come out, though, which yesterday left me sitting on the couch wringing my hands in anticipation as everyone else prepared to leave the house for a little while. I had visions of sweeping the floors, vacuuming the rugs, cleaning the cat litter, scrubbing down the bathroom, starting a load of laundry, tidying things up a bit - so, in other words, nothing much. But alas, just before MIL stepped out the door, she reminded me that I wasn't to do a thing besides sit and read a book. Then she made me promise. Drats, foiled again.
Not that I'm actually complaining! Just laughing at myself, really. It has been an adjustment for me both to allow someone else to care for me this way and to accept that not everything has to be done just so! I'm finding it to be an unexpected lesson in letting go - of my pride, of my need for control, of my reluctance to allow others to minister to me.
I am grateful that things are going smoothly so far. My milk has come in and we've had no problems with nursing. His latch is great. He sleeps well, either in someone's arms or swaddled on the bed. He lasted about five minutes in his bassinet the first night before I scooped him up and brought him to bed with us, where he's been ever since. I remember the weeks of insisting on a bassinet for our first child, which left me utterly exhausted. Switching to full-time co-sleeping made such a difference - I may as well learn from the experience. I love snuggling with him at night, and those early morning hours when our older boy joins us in bed are especially precious.
I am still trying to process his fast and furious birth. Intense is the best word I can come up with. I feel like I didn't really have a labour - just a few strong contractions that didn't even really feel like contractions, followed by three more contractions that broke my water, delivered the head, and delivered the rest of the baby. I wonder if the reason I didn't recognize the contractions for what they were was because my entire labour with our older child was back labour.
In addition to having "missed out on" labour, I feel like I didn't really have a homebirth, either. Yes, I delivered at home, but there was no choice in the matter - I'd have delivered there even if I'd been planning to give birth in a hospital. Paramedics and firefighters came. My midwife wasn't there until after the placenta was delivered. All of the supplies I'd bought for a homebirth were left unused, and all of my plans for labour were left undone (because there was no real "labour" to begin with). The cord was clamped and cut earlier than it would have been otherwise. Much of the painful wrestling over various decisions pre-birth proved unnecessary - I had agreed to abx since I was GBS+, and I had declined oxytocin for third stage management, but there was no time or need for either of them regardless of the final decision I had arrived at.
When I compare it to my last birth - 10 hours start to finish, half at home and half in the hospital, all back labour, pushing for half an hour or less while in bed on my back with a room full of people - I'm not sure which I prefer. There were things I was glad to do without, like the room full of people, the prolonged pushing, and the horribly inefficient position in which I pushed. But at least I had a labour. I had time to settle in, to get focused, to eagerly anticipate the coming delivery, to mentally prepare. There was no time for that with this labour, no buildup, no control. Just surrender.
There were so many unmet expectations and just as many moments of relief. Nothing happened the way I imagined it would, and I'm still processing that shift in reality.
Considering all the lessons I've learned since conceiving this child - lessons in surrender, humility, expectations, love, and more - I have a feeling this little child is going to teach me a great deal.