Well, it’s been a busy week. A busy life-changing. So busy, I’m posting this week’s blog two days late.
Why so busy? Well, exactly a week ago, we finally got to meet this little dude:
To say this last week has been one of the hardest in my life is an understatement. Slowly healing from a tough delivery while desperately trying to care for an often fussy newborn has been exhausting and, yes, humbling. There have been sleepless nights. There have been tears. But every day gets a little better. A little easier. A little more self-assured.
What’s been really interesting is how much one week has been able to so strongly reinforce some of my biggest learnings from a whole year of my sabbatical:
Some things are simply out of your control
I’ve written a lot about coping with things that are out of your control. Well, it turns out when it came to hurrying along our little guy’s entrance into the world, I did have a little bit of control, as we ended up scheduling an elective induction. But that is where the control stopped.
At one point, I wasn’t dilating as fast as expected. And throughout most of my labor, we were dealing with issues with regulating the baby’s heart rate. When it came to the actual delivery, we had do a vacuum-assist delivery — turns out our not-so-little guy was 9.5 lbs!
I ended up having some major tearing, leaving me a lot more incapacitated post-delivery than I expected. And my recovery will be a longer road than originally anticipated.
It’s been frustrating having to balance my own healing with caring for a newborn.
But when things are out of your control and don’t go according to plan, the only thing you can do is adapt and pivot.
The plan will change
Ryan and I spent months getting our home and ourselves ready for the baby. We revamped the apartment. We got all of our baby supplies. We took all of the available prenatal classes. We had a plan in place about what the routine would look like when little Artie joined us.
But you know what? Newborns don’t give a fuck about plans.
That carefully planned breastfeeding schedule? Yeah, it’s kind of hard to follow when your baby throws tantrums every time you try to get him to latch.
The fancy bassinet you bought? It ends up going unused for those first few nights when your newborn seems to only be able to sleep when you hold him.
We’ve had to adjust and try new things. And we will no doubt have to continuously change up the plan.
It’s all about prioritizing
As I mentioned above, we’ve had some issues with breastfeeding. It’s been difficult to get Artie into position to breastfeed without him crying his head off.
Any new mom can attest to the fact that everyone will hammer in the idea that “breast is best” and how important it is to breastfeed. You’ll also hear things about holding off on bottle feeding for at least the first couple of weeks in order to avoid nipple confusion.
Yes, all very important. But you know what else is important? Making sure your baby is being fed enough!
This was especially important for Artie because his bilirubin levels were high and the best way to bring those down is to feed and poop them out (yes, you get to hear about poop in this blog).
My original plan was to exclusively breastfeed in the beginning. But at the end of the day, the biggest priority was making sure Artie got the sustenance he needed. So, in the end, we’ve needed to supplement with formula and bottle feed him with pumped breast milk.
And you know what? He’s perfectly healthy, his bilirubin levels got down, and he has even gotten better about latching onto the breast.
The road ahead
Having a baby is really like being pushed into the deep end. Nothing can truly prepare you for the realities. But I’m looking forward to seeing how the experiences, challenges and trials from this crazy adventure will manifest in new skills and perspectives that I can apply to my career exploration.
Beautifully written and mirrors my own experience. I too supplemented with my daughter. She’s now in college at Berkeley. Hugs to you and your hubby and the little one.
What a glorious adventure! You’ve only just begun. Enjoy the misery. (As I write that I remember how I once heard that when you see a paradox you know you’ve hit on a spiritual truth!) Being a parent is learning to lean into the chaos and confusion, and you are doing it beautifully. Cheers!
It was really rough for me as well… lacerations from a vacuum assisted delivery — 9 lbs. 3 oz — and then a baby who wanted to feed the easy way — a bottle — because they kept her in the nursery for one night and bottle fed her. We ended up with jaundice as well, bilirubin tests, etc. She never did latch on… but I pumped for 6 months! And today? She is happy and healthy. So you have learned the most important lesson… every baby is different and they’ll let you know what they want/need! Hugs and Hugs!