My birth story and finding calm as a new mom

My birth story and finding calm as a new mom

I wasn’t sure how to start this post, so I’ll just come out with it- we had our baby bee! She is snuggly, smells delicious, and hearts milk. And it all seems like it happened so fast! It’s like Dr. P and I talked about getting pregnant, got pregnant, and then boom! Baby.

Ok, not really, right???

I didn’t looove being pregnant. But after she was born, it’s peculiar how the memory of discomfort diminishes- an evolutionary imperative I imagine? As the birth gets farther and farther away, that pain is also starting to fade- a very good thing!

And so it seems, that time flies by.

She is 7 weeks and is measuring in the 97th percentile for length. She’s already securely in 3-month onesies! She probably has my tall genes which means she’ll tower of the boys in school and wear size 11 shoes when she’s eleven.

Yoooou’re welcome, baby bee.

How adorable is this baby?

This motherhood thing is pretty bangin’. I have some days where I’m bleary-eyed and sleep deprived, and one day in particular I had to repeat out loud, “Don’t throw the baby. Don’t kick the dog” as a kind of meditation, but mostly, Dr. P and I are doing really well.

It helps that we’re totally in love with her. She also does great in public which is good for my sanity! I can take her to coffee shops and such without much fear of chastisement.

We are focusing on staying calm (ok, aiming for and achieving aren’t always the same thing), because I’ve read that babies pick up on their mother’s stress and heart rhythms, and it affects them in turn. So I’ve been doing my best to emanate chill, hoping it will transfer to the baby bee.

Dr. P and I want to incorporate parenthood into our life without having to cut out too much so since about the second week we’ve accepted social invitations and gone to dinner, happy hour, or shopping with baby bee in tow. Is this the best idea? Unsure, but it works for us!

There is also a lot of couch sitting and feeding, though, and I had time to re-watch the entire series of Game of Thrones.

(I love you, by the way, King Snow.)

I know not all babies are as easy to cart along as ours is, but shhhh- I have a secret weapon. I always pump first and bring the bottle along before I leave.

Game. Changer.

Not having to sit somewhere and breastfeed makes an outing much less stressful- and she calms down right away. You know what else is a game changer? She smiled this week! And not a second too late! Certainly helps the whole “I will emanate calmness” thing when your baby isn’t just glaring and mean muggin’ you.

Baltimore
Baby bee on a weekend trip to Baltimore.

So our birth story is a long one. I’ll sum it up.

We wanted a natural birth. We delivered at Georgetown which has an older population of mothers so a higher cesarean section rate, according to our doc. He also said that 90% of women get an epidural. For many reasons, I didn’t want to use Pitocin or get an epidural if I could avoid it so doc advised we wait until we are 6 centimeters to come in to the hospital.

Now, Dr. P delivered a few babies in med school, but there was no need for him to be searching around and trying to determine how dilated I was! I decided we would go in when the pain was so intense that it was unlikely I wasn’t heavily dilated. Contractions started Monday night, continued Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning at 8 am, we were en route to the hospital. My sister was also with us. She drove all night from Ohio. When we made it to the hospital, all three of us had been up basically all night. Not the best laid plan!

By the time we got checked in and settled, we were 5 cm dilated. Between 8 am and 4 pm, Dr. P and my sister were instrumental in helping me deal with the pain of natural delivery. What priceless doulas! We had a couple bubble baths, used the exercise ball, they helped me breathe through the pain, and I tried to relax with visualizations.

I read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth about a woman who delivered several babies naturally, and she always pictured the her contractions were like waves flowing in from the ocean. This worked in the beginning, but by 4 pm, my water broke. It really was like the scene with Miranda from Sex and the City when hers gushes all over the hospital floor and onto Carrie Bradshaw’s Manolos. I was walking around the room, tottering really, and whoosh! This is when the serious work started, because after this geyser, the pain was much more intense and visualizing was no longer as effective.

My sister and husband’s support became paramount in helping me deal with the pain.

By 7:30 pm, we were able to start pushing, but the baby bee was stubborn. Four hours later, and she still wasn’t low enough. The attending wanted us to consider a C section which we wanted to avoid if at all possible. It was around midnight when Dr. P suggested I get an epidural to allow for some rest and to help me push. If we could get her a bit lower, they could use a vacuum to assist. I was exhausted, and my pushing was no longer productive because of the pain. So I agreed.

I could have kissed the anesthesiologists!

Three hours later, at 3 am in the morning, our baby bee was born. It took a whole team of doctors, a super supportive husband and sister, about 17 juice boxes, three residents, three fabulous nurses, and a vacuum.

When they laid her on my chest, Dr. P, who had been in “help the wife count during pushes” mode for eight hours, was suddenly brought to tears. Reaching down, I grabbed her little booty and held her close with Dr. P looking down at me.

It was one of the best moments of my life.

We brought her home the next night, and we’ve been partying here since. She is my priority, but as I always do, I am aiming for balance. I know that 15% of moms suffer from post-partem depression and 80% experience some level of the baby blues, and there have been moments when I’ve struggled with this new identity as a mom, but overall, I feel happy and excited about this turn of a page, our new chapter, the end of an era…

As part of this change, I resigned last week from my full-time position as a nutrition diabetes educator in an outpatient clinic to stay home with the baby bee. This was a terribly difficult decision as I loved my job, but it was the best decision for our family. I started a part-time private practice, and this will help me to stay engaged and up to date.

I’m going to try to get up early, before the creature stirs, so I can blog more too.

writing area
Mornings.

God bless baby monitors.

I’m learning that balance, which I’ve written about in a  general sense before, is probably the key to successful motherhood. I don’t know how I’m doing so far. I haven’t accidently killed the baby yet, though, and I’m feeling warm and excited about being a mom so until proven otherwise, I think I’m doing fairly well.

Here are some things that are helping me find balance so far:

  1. Dr. P and I continue to go out to dinner, watch movies together, and hang out with friends. He is being supportive, helping with the feedings and planning logistics of outings. Yea, dad! If your husband doesn’t help, I suggest some medieval torture, bribery, mob influence or some other effective method of encouragement. Because it is worth it to have a helpful partner!
  2. I started exercising (lightly) at 4 weeks post-partem. Nothing intense- no gym yet. I was just cleared for running and lifting last week so anticipating more time to devote to that, but I did start doing yoga, Tracy Anderson videos, and bodyweight exercises at home. It is hard to find time in between crying and feeding, but if I put her down in the living room while I exercise, it works well!
  3. I’m making eating healthy a priority which is helping my body return to normal. I’m also breast feeding which is increasing the rate of uterine shrinking. Returning to pre-baby body is a goal that keeps me motivated and eases feelings of sadness about some strange body changes (yes, they will happen after pregnancy!) as I see results.
  4. One word- mascara! Getting dressed and dolled up daily helps my daughter not think I’m a creature of the forest because of funky smells or unkempt hair. So I aim for a shower at least, a bit of makeup if I can, and possibly a cute outfit on occasion. My girlfriend brought over a ginormous bag of super stylin’ clothes the other night that fit my post-baby body since I can’t slip into most of my clothes yet- eliciting help from girlfriends on how to maneuver in your new size is never a bad idea. Bonus: she is way more stylish than me so I feel like I did Stitch Fix or something!
  5. Which leads me to… the importance of girl time. THIS IS VITAL. I have sweet girlfriends who don’t mind if I bring the baby bee for hang out time, and I’ve been catching up with my out of town best friends often. Soul food if there ever was. I’ve also found mommy groups to get lunch, coffee, and go on walks with while Dr. P is at work. These groups are indispensable too, because I don’t want to bore my other close friends with tales of poor latching or sleep schedules! Mommy groups allow me to voice any concerns, no matter how banal, and they will be received with exuberant discussion and humorous comparisons.
  6. I’m still focusing on learning and working while breast feeding or during nap time. I’ve been reading during feeds, writing during naps, and generally trying to have a purpose outside of baby care. This doesn’t always work, and I’m still learning a good schedule, but I have a book and my laptop by the couch in case I can steal a few minutes here and there.
  7. Lastly, also while baby bee naps, I’ve been on mission to minimize the house so I can spend as little time as possible moving forward on house maintenance. Since I’m home more now, I needed my environment to be organized and clean because looking at a disaster all day would increase frenetic energy in general. Some people are blissfully unimpacted by their surroundings. I wish I could be like that! I finally finished this week, and I was able to get up and write yesterday for the first time since the birth. Feeling less held down by my to-do list of household chores frees up mental energy.

One thing we haven’t attempted yet, which would help with balance, is to find a babysitter. My family isn’t in the DC area and Dr.P’s isn’t immediately close either. With baby bee being so young, we’ll likely wait on this for awhile. I’ve heard the NextDoor app is a very good place to start looking.

Reader Q & A: When did you first feel comfortable getting a sitter for your little one?

Xoxo

Joanna

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4 thoughts on “My birth story and finding calm as a new mom”

  • Bravo! Beautifully written. It has been amazing to see you take to motherhood at what appears to be effortlessly. Baby bee is the cutest, sweetest baby and she definitely has her Mom (and Dad’s) calm energy 💗 Keep up the amazing work 😘

  • Always love reading your posts, so witty and thoughtful. The world has so much to learn from you, and you write with such positive energy, always providing a boost to anyone’s day. I passed along your blog to a close relative who is pregnant (and also happens to like food:). Thanks for sharing your story! Shana tova to you and the family!

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