Disbelief is the first and foremost feeling that has occupied my mind the last few days. I look at Mila, then at Jaxon, then at Mila, then at myself. I simply cannot believe that he and I made this human being, which spent 40 weeks growing inside me, exited through… (okay, enough of that) and now, in her perfect composition, is here. Day 2 of Mila’s life, I spent it crying, I was being hit with a feeling that psychologists would call “bonding or attachment”. Every time I looked at Mila, my eyes would fill with tears of (quite literarily) love. This has been the most instinctive, natural and powerful feeling I have ever felt. Since then, I have been learning how to be a mom and how to care for this tiny being without breaking her. Throughout the past few weeks we have received a lot of beautiful messages congratulating us. Many have come with questions about motherhood and pregnancy, so I decided to write this post in an attempt to answer as many as I can. The answers and opinions below are only based on my experience (which is pretty limited) – keep in mind that pregnancies among different women vary, a lot, same as births and babies.
Is birthing a child super painful? This seems to be one of the most frequently asked question sent my way. After having gone through it without any sort of medication, and without a previous birth under my belt, I can say yes, it is painful – but in a good way. Surprisingly you’ll forget about the pain after a week. If you manage to endure the whole thing without an epidural you’ll quickly realize just how much you can manage and how strong you are. (I am sure that births with epidurals are often as fulfilling for people, it is a personal choice, and again, simply not my experience) I decided not to have any medicine because it increases chances of requiring a c-section, being strapped to a bed and you must be in a hospital, all of which I did not want. I could not imagine managing contractions or transition lying down – so make sure that you voice your desires if birthing in hospital.
Why was my mom not at my birth? I have a wonderful relationship with my mom and I personally asked her not to be at my birth. I did this because I am truly blessed with a very supportive husband, who I knew would give me the comfort and support I needed during the birth. Having only Jaxon there meant that there were very few people in the room, which made going into the “natural state” birth requires much easier. Had I not had Jaxon, surely my mom would have been right next to me – but 1 person (beyond midwives) was my limit. In your birth, you will probably want to be surrounded with as few people as possible, for the birthing process is one were you will need to put all of your energy into yourself and not be concerned about what is going on around you. Something important to consider when deciding who will be at your birth is the person’s confidence in you. Birthing is not easy and in many parts it can even be scary. Invite only those who have the confidence that you can manage and those who understand that their role in the birth is to be supportive and not an advisee.
Lastly, before going into your birth, resolve any fears or concerns you have. These do not necessarily need to be related to the baby or the birth, just general things in life. Reflecting on these fears will prevent them from coming out at your birth, which they surely could. For Jaxon and I, this meant two things. First, talking through fears and scenarios for the actual birth and coming to peace with each possibility. Second, talking about how we would manage our business, before, during and after the birth in a way that would not cripple it and/or stress us during the birth and our first magical days with Mila. These talks and our resolutions were invaluable for clearing my mind going into labor.
Does it hurt? Yes, it does indeed – but only for the first few days until you get latching down (getting the baby to latch right is essential). I imagine that if you get your baby to latch correctly from day 1, your nipples would only be a tiny bit sore for a day or so. It took Mila and I two days to get breast feeding down. During those first 48 hours, 24 were spent under a lot of pain every time she ate. My recommendation to any new mom – watch YouTube videos about latching and practice with your baby (it is well worth your time). Once your baby and you get it down, breastfeeding is one of the most intimate things you’ll share with your baby. Other than being the healthiest food you can give your baby, it helps with a lot of things postpartum, such as shrinking your uterus, weight loss and bonding.
Remember to feed from both breasts and not skip meals, for this can develop into mastitis – not fun.
From what I hear, Jax and I have been blessed with a very peaceful child. Mila’s first night we got scared because she would not wake up to eat. So, we spent two hours trying to entice her into eating. We tried everything from kissing her, to singing, to cold water on her feet. After a long night she finally woke up ate about three tablespoons and went back to sleep. The second night and since then, whenever she complains I feed her and she continues to sleep. The amount of times she wakes up depends a lot on how much she ate during the day. If she is well-fed she will only wake up once and if not, up to three times. For the moment Mila sleeps in our bed in a little co-sleeper we bought (which has been the best purchase ever). Having her so close makes it very easy to feed her, keep an eye on her and cuddle.
During my pregnancy I gained 33 pounds. I started the nine month journey weighing 113 pounds and ended it at 146. By week two postpartum, 23 of those pounds were gone – they simply faded away, between the birth and breastfeeding. For some weird reason I have less fat now than I did before the pregnancy. I have always had a belly, which is now completely gone, my thighs are also thinner and there are no more love handles. So, even though I am 10 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, I feel great. I bet that as I continue to breastfeed and start moving around more, the rest of the weight will come off.
The recommended weight-gain during pregnancy is of 30 – 35 pounds. During my pregnancy, I did not control my eating at all. I would eat whenever hungry – which many times turned out to be 5 times a day. Jax and I are pretty healthy eaters, so my daily meals did not include junk food. As far as cravings, I didn’t really have any. I drank lots of orange juice throughout the pregnancy, that was the closest I got to a real craving.
Parenting and the baby:
There is nothing quite like being a parent. I bet you’ve heard your parents tell you that a million times – well it is true. All of the sudden you have a new top priority, that will indeed overrule any other thing you had – especially if you are the mother and breastfeeding. I will give you only one advice on parenting, listen selectively to all the advice you’ll get and try to follow your instincts as much as possible. No baby is like another baby, so do not assume people are right about what to do with your baby just because they have been parents already. The internet is a great resource to research things you are not too sure about, see a variety of viewpoints, and then do what feels right for you. And remember that the time you dedicate to your newborn now, especially at night will be one of the biggest longterm investments you’ll make in their confidence – you can read more about that here - http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-infants-toddlers/10-tips-night-feedings (askdrsears.com is one of the greatest resources we have found online).
Having a baby so early:
Jax and I decided to have Mila now because we felt ready. We have big plans for the next years of our life and don’t plan to be sedentary for a while. With that in mind, we wanted to make sure our kids would be part of our adventures, after all they are probably the biggest and most important thing we will do. I cannot tell anyone when a good time to have kids is. But I can tell you this, they come and change your life forever, it is a lot of work (and we are only three weeks into it) so you should do it when you feel ready to dedicate a lot of your time to a tiny one, but while you still have the energy.
The photos below start with sunrise during the morning I was laboring and include many parts of the last 2.5 weeks – including great family visits.