Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I Learned My First Month as a Mom

Yep, my son will be a month-old tomorrow. It is unbelievable how much he has already grown and how much he and I have learned together. I am in awe of my little man. One month seemed pretty far off when we brought him home the first day. But, the time has flown by; it has been an amazing, yet challenging first month. Here is what I have learned in my first month:

1. Sleep? What is Sleep?
They tell you that you will be tired, fatigued and exhausted the first few weeks. Those wise people who write books and teach classes aren't kidding. When your baby arrives home, he has his days and nights all mixed up, you are trying to figure out how to take care of a new human being, and he is trying to figure out what it means to be a human being. Sleep does not come easy. You get sleep when you can...and in the first week, that means you may choose between grabbing a bite or grabbing a nap. Thank goodness the baby is starting to get day and night straightened out so we are getting a lot more sleep during the evening. I think we should be right on schedule when I go back to work (I am crossing my fingers right now and doing a small prayer that this is our reality).

Sidenote: Babies have day and night mixed up because of a woman's activity while the baby is in the womb. During the day, we move around and so the baby sleeps, lulled by the movement. During the evening, we rest and so the baby starts moving about. The baby keeps the same schedule when he or she is out of the womb.

2. The Crying Game
I don't mean that quirky film. I am talking about the game that the baby plays with us everyday called, "Guess Why I'm Crying." Is it a bowel movement? Does he want to be held? Is he hungry? Is he overtired? I believe we finally have cracked the code, but sometimes the baby will throw new curve balls our way. It feels a bit like a heroes know, the one that Joseph Campbell talked about in his mythology book. Everyday, a new challenge is given to us in order to unlock the next path of our journey with our little one. The reward...a smile, a coo, a sleeping child in my arms. I had a dream one evening of the baby standing by a bridge, asking me, "What is your quest?" I woke up before he asked me about the velocity of a swallow.

3. Fairy Milkmother
Every breastfeeding gal should have a fairy milkmother, aka a lactation consultant. Without mine, I am pretty sure I would have been in a crying pile on my living room floor, feeding my baby formula, having given up on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding may be natural and rewarding, but boy...when you are new to the concept, it is pretty complex. I had so many questions and unknowns to face the first two weeks...and I read books and took classes beforehand. Happily, breastfeeding is going great and our little boy is growing stupendously. I am so glad I stuck with it; for him and for me.

4. NASCAR Pit-Style Diaper Changes
They are possible. My husband and I have mastered the pit-style diaper change for those late night wet diapers. We are fast and light-fingered so we don't wake up our sweet sleeping child. We are thinking about timing our team take on diaper-changing to see what our personal best may be. And, yes, we do give each other a high five when we have completed a successful pit. You would too.

5. Bellagio Water Show
It is true what they say about baby boys and their talent for creating their own water show when you change their diaper. Just when you think you have mastered the diaper change and you will never get sprayed in the stomach or hand again...the baby proves you wrong. We are slowly mastering the art of squelching a Bellagio-style water show in the nursery. It is just another part of the heroes journey discussed above. And, really...every single time, it makes me laugh, especially when my son looks so proud of himself afterward.

6. Amazed
I am amazed everyday by the wonder that is my son. Watching him mimick a smile, holding his head up, listening to him make new sounds, seeing him grow, having him hold my finger with his little hand. He is a miracle. I enjoy every moment with him...exhausted or well-rested. I love being a mom. And, I never knew I would feel this way.

I look forward to the next month, the next day and the next minute with joy and anticipation. We have embarked on a new journey and I am so very blessed that this new journey includes our son.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Enjoying Today and Tomorrow

We decided that breastfeeding our son was the best decision we could make. Outside of the health benefits of breastfeeding, there is an unexpected benefit of time bonding with my little boy. It is a special time we have together. And, lately, when I look at him, I begin to think about so many things.

I think about the places he will go, the wonders we will show him in this world. I think about taking him to my favorite museums. I ponder camping, Disneyland and the beach. I get excited about traveling to our favorite places in the world - riding an elephant in Thailand, snorkeling in Hawaii, seeing the Sydney Opera House, eating gelato in Italy, meeting family in Switzerland, being in awe at the Louvre.

I think about the things he will do. I imagine his first finger painting or his first time strumming the strings of a guitar. I think about taking him to his first music concert. And, I daydream about all of the books he will read, discovering new worlds. I get giddy about sharing with him my favorite movies. My mind quickly jumps from things he will do as a young child to what he will do when he is a young man. I see him going to a university, pursuing his dream for a career that makes him happy and perhaps also makes this world a better place.

After all of this dreaming and thinking...I look down at his sweet two-week-old face and I pull myself back. My daydreaming is wonderful and it makes me look forward to the future with my son, but it is this day, this very second that I want to enjoy - the small smile on his face, the sigh he gives just before he falls asleep, the intense look his blue eyes give me as I talk to him.

It is a delicate balance, but I want to be a mom who looks to the future with anticipation, while also embracing every sweet moment right now. I want to enjoy today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

He's Arrived!

I know this is a very late blog post. I have been in sleep-deprived baby bliss for the last two weeks; two weeks today to be exact. My son turned two weeks old today and it is still unbelievable to me that this little boy is in my life.

After nine months of a happy pregnancy and the wonder of another life growing and thriving inside me, it all came to a crescendo on my due date. September 18 at 8:15 a.m. my water broke while I telecommuted in my home office (I was trying to get some things done before my weekly doctor's appointment that was scheduled for 9:50 a.m. that morning).

"Ryan, I think my water broke!" I yelled from the living room. My husband came racing in from the other room.

"Honey, stand on the tile. You are getting amniotic fluid all over the carpet."


Suitcase, pillow and cord blood kit...they were all loaded into the car and we were off to the hospital. Along the way, we let my parents know that we were having the baby today and I chatted with my best friend (everyone calls their best friend on the way to the hospital, right?).

Triage confirmed that my water did indeed break. And, they sent me to labor and delivery. I was already dilated four had been confirmed at my doctor's appointment the week before. So, when they called my physician to let her know that I was here, she let told them to put me on pitocin.

At 12:10 p.m. I was put on an IV of pitocin to get contractions going. My family and my pastor came to the hospital to start labor off with a prayer and loads of love. This is what we had been preparing for, Ryan and I. We had everything we needed for a natural childbirth-- relaxation exercises, music, breathing.

Good thing we were flexible.

The idea of natural childbirth quickly came to a halt when the pitocin kicked in. My contractions came fast and strong. There was no time to focus on a beach scene in my head in order to go someplace away from the pain. In two and a half hours, I dilated from four centimeters to eight centimeters...and I was experiencing the worst kind of pain. Wrenching and excruciating, every contraction shot down my legs. My husband would try to prepare me for each contraction by having me begin to breathe just before it would hit (he was watching it all on a monitor). It got to the point...I didn't want to know.

"I want a epidural! I can't take the pain anymore."

I was in tears and no amount of breathing or relaxing music was going to put me out of my misery.

In about 20 minutes, the doctor came and gave me the epidural. And, all of my pain was taken away. I was in a happy, magical place. Ryan watched in awe as some of the biggest contractions hit the monitor and I didn't feel a thing. I was relaxed and feeling really good. I was so glad I went to the epidural class so that I woud feel comfortable with this option. This was great!

It was only a couple of hours and I was fully dilated to ten centimeters. Two hours of pushing, with the doctor arriving around an hour in...and my little boy was born. It was 7:23 p.m. in the evening and we met our son for the first time. A perfect son who had a full head of hair, weighed seven pounds nine ounces and measured 20.5 inches long.

The feeling of holding him close the first time -- amazing! I had a miracle laying in my arms. The little one who had been inside my belly this whole time was now flesh and bone, blood and breath. While I was in awe, it also felt so natural. He was meant to be here with Ryan and I. He was meant to be close to me.

Two weeks later and the awe of that moment in the delivery room still hasn't left me. I look at his beautiful blue eyes and that little expressive face...amazing! This is my son. This is my little boy with whom we will share new adventures. It is certainly bliss to be a mom. He has arrived!