To say the past 12 weeks were a blur would be a complete understatement. Other than all things baby, I’ve done a few completely unproductive things like watch ALL 4 ½ seasons of The Walking Dead to get caught up with the rest of the world. P.S. I was so missing out. Of course I did all that while my new best friend and love of my life was sleeping…which she does quite a bit of – the apple doesn’t fall far from the (Mr. P) tree on that one.
From the day Shea was born I only fell more in love with her every day. On the night of December 10th, I’ll never forget she and I smiling back and forth at one another. At 3:30am. I wouldn’t have changed the moment for anything and I tear up just thinking about it. She knows I’m here for her and always will be. At 9 weeks, I already knew that that little girl means more to me than anything or anyone in this world. Mommy instincts are strong!
I have really mixed emotions about going back to work today. I feel overwhelmed, grateful, anxious, excited, sad, happy…all of it. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful life both at home and at work and I pray that my new 32 hour work week enables me to balance family and career – both things that are very important to me, though my family life has a whole new, bigger, more fulfilling meaning (not that you’re not wonderful, husband!!).
While this blog will remain about food, I do plan to chronicle my motherhood journey some. Hopefully you don’t mind. It is all going by so quickly and I already think, “Am I taking enough pictures and videos to capture these precious moments to cherish forever?” One of my biggest regrets to this day was not hiring videography at our wedding. Stupid, stupid, stupid! As much as photos help capture a moment, there’s nothing like video. My favorite thus far is Shea saying “hello” – you really have to watch it to believe it!
Another one of my biggest life regrets to date happened on the day Shea was born. It was in my birth plan to have skin-to-skin and to breastfeed immediately following her delivery. However, after 24 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing, I can look back and honestly say that I remember so very little of those hours and even less of the moment she entered this world. I was delirious with fatigue. I wish I’d have spoken up and demanded the care I wanted and that was in alignment with my birth plan. Having followed up with my OB practice, there was so little done RIGHT the day I delivered. It makes me very regretful to look back and know that I could’ve had a labor and memory of my daughter’s birth that could’ve been so much more enjoyable. But the past is the past, I guess. Most importantly, she is here and healthy and that is all just a memory and experience I can learn and grow from.
When people ask my husband how things are going, he honestly reports “great!”. I have taken to motherhood better than even I could’ve expected. I mean, it’s a huge change! Even my mother shared that she was a little concerned how my career-driven, hockey-playing, blogging, bulldog mommy self would adapt to a little one. My life was jam-packed before a baby, and now? Well, it’s busy! What’s been “easy” about motherhood? Adapting to a new sleep routine. Now, this could change once I’m back in the swing of things at work and my tush spends less time on the couch, but I’ve adapted well to middle of the night feedings and luckily, Shea sleeps pretty well. We’ve been so fortunate as to have MANY nights where she sleeps 8-10 hour stretches and will nurse and sleep an additional 2-3 hours. And she has never, ever been up more than twice in the middle of the night. What new mom can say that?! Thank you, Shea! I’ve also survived my first 12 weeks of motherhood without ever having taken a nap…and she naps 2-3 hours at a time! Instead, I’ve used that time to workout and do other productive…or not so productive things. Like watch The Walking Dead, but I already confessed to that binge.
Mr. P and I agree that other than labor, breastfeeding has been my biggest challenge. In the beginning, my milk was slow to come in and I experienced major, major pain with breastfeeding. I’d love to say it was just “discomfort”, but if I’m being honest, it was PAIN. At one point, about a week into breastfeeding, I cried every time Shea wanted to nurse. I dreaded feeding her. It wasn’t until she was about 6 weeks old that we hit our stride with breastfeeding and I finally felt like we had things down pat. I could say that I actually ENJOYED breastfeeding. Now, I love breastfeeding. I still experience some discomfort, especially on one side (the side that produces 3x as much as the other side – who knew!?), but we’ve had a successful 12 weeks of breastfeeding and even survived one breastfeeding strike after Thanksgiving travel. In returning to work, my plan is to breastfeed in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings and to pump while at work and/or while commuting to/from work. I mean, might as well make use of my 35 minute commute, right?!
Our families, albeit not as close as we’d like, have surrounded us all with love and support. I don’t think they could be more smitten with their granddaughter. This little girl is LOVED. ADORED. CHERISHED. Mr. Prevention and I were banished from our home 6 days after her birth and were sent out for our first date as new parents. We’ve been able to have several more dates since then and even attended my hospital’s holiday party. I’m incredibly grateful to our families for enabling us to have that time as a couple and to maintain some semblance of independence.
I’m grateful too, to Mr. P, for supporting my quick return to both tennis and hockey. I was back on the tennis court 3 weeks post-partum and back on the ice after 5 weeks. Granted, my recovery was smooth, smooth sailing, but I was itching to return to my organized team sports and I’m very glad I did so so soon. While keeping up with some of the activities I love pulls me away from Shea for short periods of time, it’s what makes me…me. And sane. And healthy. And I want to be all of those things for my daughter. I want her to grow up with a mom who is active and healthy and involved.
It took 9 ½ weeks, but Shea and I had a very belated few lazy days at home where we didn’t leave the house. Two consecutive days, in fact. But before then, we had left the house every single day, including the day we brought her home from the hospital. It’s true that most newborns travel well and I enjoyed being out and about with her. I laughed when TheBump.com sent me an update around 6 or 7 weeks post-partum encouraging me to “venture out with the baby if I hadn’t done so already.” Seriously? We’d already taken our first road trip (with the dog!) to Chicago and back while Mr. P traveled for work. We have been girls on the move, no doubt.
In the past 12 weeks, I’ve managed to make more friends in my community than in the 2 ½ years since we moved here. I got involved in a breastfeeding support group and met a new group of mommy friends while shopping with Shea in our little downtown specialty olive oil and vinegar store. I am incredibly thankful for my new friends and the opportunity to get to know them, their little ones, and their husbands. My Friday mornings will no longer be spent cuddled up with friends and babies and a hot cup of coffee chatting over baby topics galore and my Wednesdays will not be spent in a hospital conference room breastfeeding with other new moms. This definitely makes going back to work all the more difficult. The “free time” and flexibility I’ve had these past 12 weeks has not been wasted (I maintain that even watching allllllll those episodes of The Walking Dead was not wasted time!)
I’ve heard parents say that they somewhat “fear” having more than one child because they can’t comprehend how there is enough love in their hearts to love another little person as much as they love their first born. I get that now. I really do. My heart sometimes feels like it could spontaneously combust from the feeling of joy I get when I look at her. But I want nothing more than to have the privilege and opportunity to experience pregnancy, labor, birth, and motherhood all over again. I love being a mom so much that I can’t imagine not having that again…at least once more. 😉 And I’ve felt that way since just a few days after Shea’s birth.
What will I remember most about these past 12 weeks? Pulling her into bed in the mornings with me to breastfeed laying down. Our middle of the night “chats” where she just coos and jabbers on. Being available to breastfeed on demand and her staring at me so intently while she nourishes. I will remember so much. It has been wonderful.
I am trying with every fiber in my being to embark upon this next chapter as something positive, as a natural progression, as growth for both she and I. It will be tough, but we can do it. Seeing her smiley, happy face will just become all the more special and our time together all the more treasured.
Wish me luck in keeping it “together”…a new chapter begins!