Two Months of Parenthood

Our little man is 2 months old, and to be honest- I kind of feel like we're being cheated.

When you're clearly pregnant and out in public spaces people are drawn to you and insist on sharing their expertise and advice. Everyone has an opinion on what to buy, how to handle certain situations, and what you should expect from your child.

I assumed, based on the advice of so many good-intentioned strangers and parenting blogs, that babies came cookie-cutter with the same developmental milestones and issues.

Honestly, I was led to believe that this would be a lot more difficult than it has been. I'm sure for many it is a huge challenge, and I'm extremely grateful that we're all healthy and our circumstances are favourable. But, where's the always crying and constantly pooping child that causes sleep-deprivation? I haven't met him yet.

He's kind of a dream. Admittedly the first week was an adjustment, to say the least, because despite all the advice (warranted or not) you can't entirely prepare for the arrival of a newborn. But we quickly found our rhythm and each subsequent week has been easier and more enjoyable.

For nearly all of the past 2 months he has slept peacefully at night, waking briefly to nurse or a diaper change, and fussing quietly only if we're both sleeping too hard to notice his first waking moments. We all go to bed together, co-sleeping comfortably, and wake when he decides it's time. So from roughly 9:30 or 10:00pm until between 5:30 through 8:30am he somehow knows it's bedtime.

It may be coincidence but he also stayed more still in utero when I was laying down and it was dark, but he kicked and danced when I was on the move. I made a point when pregnant to prompt him every night when I went to bed that it was time to sleep. My husband thought I was nuts, but hey, something clicked.

When he's upset he fusses and makes adorable gurgling sounds, but rarely cries for more than a few minutes and if he's unhappy it's for one of three obvious reasons: he needs food, changing, or to move around and get out of his current position with a change of scenery.

He's very good at communicating his needs, and we're very receptive to his cues. I know all could change quickly and for the worse, but for now we are very satisfied and grateful parents of a calm, smart, healthy baby.

Postpartum Self-Care and Sacrifices

The human body is incredible. For almost 10 months I expanded and grew outward from the midsection, ballooning up like a beach ball and stretching the limits of my already stretchy yoga pants.

Every day I slathered my growing belly in pure shea butter, shaved until I could no longer see nor reach my legs, and actually did more to my hair than throw together a wet messy bun on top of my head.

When the king wants to picnic in the park, we abide and spend the afternoon in the park.

When the king wants to picnic in the park, we abide and spend the afternoon in the park.

7 weeks postpartum and I do the bare minimum to take care of myself aesthetically. All showers are rushed, and I haven't touched the hair dryer in months because using it drowns out any audible indication that the baby may need something. But the shea butter worked wonders as I haven't a single stretch mark, even if I do still sport my linea nigra and sunken belly button with pride.

Meals are no longer prepared with love, only in haste. But they are often prepared in-advance, so I have always have a healthy snack, leftovers, or a smoothie available when cooking isn't an option. Which is often.

When I do have hot food I consume it quickly and before anything else, otherwise I may not get the chance to eat it even semi-warm. I have drank more cold tea and coffee in the past few weeks than ever before. I've also mastered the skill of eating ambidextrously, while preventing crumbs from disappearing into the baby's neck folds if we happen to be feeding simultaneously.

Today's wardrobe consists of low-cut tops in patterns that cover spit-up, since every couple of hours I have our tiny human attached to my bosom and, well, it isn't always quick or appropriate enough to completely remove one's shirt. My new mommy-style is labeled as "convenient" for the sake of breastfeeding.

Going out in public is a matter of adding another layer over that low-cut shirt so the top layer can be pulled up and the bottom layer down to create a semi-modest "boob accessible" window. That technique along with button-downs have been big in my own personal fashion repertoire.

Someone cooperating for a few mins. while I sat on the bike.

Someone cooperating for a few mins. while I sat on the bike.

And while I managed to workout yesterday, having waited the recommended 6-weeks postpartum that the average body requires to recover, it was a drawn-out process of putting the baby down and picking him up several times, plus a feeding in between, and minimal stretching to end it.

The weights I worked out with were even less than what I used when I was 40 weeks plus a few days pregnant because all I carry around now is a 12 lb baby and a diaper bag. But, some progress is better than giving in to my mind's suggestion of "watching Netflix and cuddling on the couch with the baby" as an alternative to exercising. Though that suggestion sometimes prevails, and that's okay.

All-in-all my body is a different version of what it was formerly. My self-care practices are modified daily depending on how much time little one sleeps peacefully in his swing or play mat while I attempt to make the most of my spare moment by prioritizing my needs properly.

My basic necessities of nourishment, cleanliness, or movement are strategically taken care of second to our dear baby's, and I happily put his needs before my own.

My Labour and Birth Experience

Two weeks ago today our little one finally joined us. 11 days over his estimated due date on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 7:23am, his fast and furious natural birth took place at a hospital attended by our midwife and the occasional nurse.

Labour started late in the evening of Monday, June 27 after he allowed us one hour of sleep before contractions started amping up. The big day we'd been waiting for since finding out we were pregnant early on during our Thailand trip was nearly here.

Labouring at Home

The contractions hit me subtly at first. All afternoon I'd felt a consistent dull aching after a midwife visit where she determined I was in a very favourable position for labour.

I will forever be an advocate for the various means of preparation I took during the third trimester that helped our labour progress so fast- from eating 6-10 Medjool Dates, drinking several cups of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, taking Evening Primrose Oil, Acupuncture, and keeping up my workouts (plenty o' squats, especially) until over 40 weeks pregnant. With labour lasting roughly 8 hours, I can safely say these things are not just old wives tales and were easy to incorporate.

At 10:00pm we went to bed and the slowly building waves were gentle and manageable enough to breath, speak, and even lay down throughout. From 20-30 second moments of thinking "holy shit, what's my body doing?" they grew within the hour into lengthier waves with intense peaks of pain that caused me to throw up frequently. Yep, I probably threw up about a dozen times in the 6 hours I was in labour prior to pushing.

After nearly an hour of these somewhat manageable waves, movement became necessary. I swayed side to side, from leg to leg, while resting my upper body either on the bathroom counter or the bed. Each one came more quickly than the last and put more pressure around my midsection.

As the pressure continued to increase I doubted my ability to go through with a natural birth- but had to remind myself that I'd done my research, read some great books (the favourite being Ina May Gaskin's 'Guide to Childbirth'), had advice from my mentor (a yoga teacher extraordinaire and dear friend Joy), and determination to see the baby earthside while fully aware during each moment of the experience. Plus, I'm extremely fucking stubborn!

My husband tried to soothe me in every way possible, and I could do little but tune out all external stimulation and moan, yell, and breathe through the sensations. Despite my begging him to call the midwife several times throughout the night, he abided by the 3-1-1 contraction rule and held off on making the call too soon. Something I despised at the time, but afterwards appreciated since I wanted to labour in the comfort of our home first.

When contractions lasted roughly a minute with less than 3 spare minutes between each to lay down on the bed, try to rest, and preserve my energy, my husband called the midwife. She made her way over to our house and by 2:30am determined I was 6cm dilated and fully effaced, so off we went to the hospital.

Labouring at the Hospital

Between arriving at the hospital and the sun coming up I laboured in the tub in our private room. The warm water felt so good to rest in, and as each contraction hit I felt the smallest bit of relief leaning forward with my stomach immersed in the bath water as my husband kept a cold cloth on the back of my neck. I continued to vomit as things intensified, but replenished in between with plenty of water and coconut water (hydrating electrolytes FTW!).

By 5:00am I had dilated to a full 10cm as the contractions increased until I felt an immense pressure below. The midwife said the baby's head made its way down, fully engaged, and it was time to push. Actually, her way of putting it was to see if the pressure was on my rectum (yes, it definitely was) and then to push "as if I were taking the biggest poop of my life." They really don't explain it like that in any birth you've seen on TV or the movies! Nice visual... But, it's all the same area I suppose.

Pushing

I had zero idea how to push during birth. Even when I finally got the hang of "pushing" after trying various positions, I opted for the traditional place in my back with the bed raised so I was leaning forward, and the entire process took ages.

Even with how quickly labour progressed, pushing took a quarter of the time.

For two hours I slowly found my pushing groove, while we threw on some background noise in the ways of Explosions in the Sky during labour, then Incubus during the pushing phase in order to great our little one with the same soundtrack that helped my husband and I bond during our early dating days.

As uncomfortable (nay, excruciating) as it was to have his head crown, and feel that "ring of fire" (who knew a term could be so fitting?) the most uncomfortable part was feeling baby frantically kicking upwards toward my stomach in an attempt to assist himself out. The midwife setup a mirror as we watched his head come out... very slowly. It helped to see the progress in action, as there were times where I was feeling hopeless, thinking I wasn't getting anywhere with the amount of effort I was putting in and wondering when the midwife would give up and suggest an alternative means of bringing him out.

The last few pushes were the most intense and challenging sensation I will ever know. When they asked me to give them two solid pushes, I opted to give them at least five in a row- it felt like the right moment to bring his head down passed my pelvis and out. As it finally did, his body followed immediately... No slowly easing out a shoulder here or there. His big noggin made enough space to accommodate the rest of him.

Turns out our baby had one of the biggest heads they'd delivered in some time. No fucking wonder it took two hours! 37.5 cm of beautiful baby skull.

As soon as he hit the cool air he was wailing and moving around. The attending nurse did his Apgar test- scoring him a solid 9 out of 10- wiped him down, weighed him and put him directly onto my chest for some bare skin-to-skin contact to help adjust his body temperature and transfer some good bacteria from me to he.

We spent the afternoon in our room with multiple nurses roaming in and out, and our midwife let us decide whether we wanted to stay there overnight or to head home. We opted to head home that evening to try and get a comfortable night's sleep, and we were out the door by 8:00pm that same night.

Having our baby finally there with us was surreal. Here was this living, breathing thing that up until that morning was still a goal we'd been working towards for nearly a year.

Everything slowed down, nothing else mattered, and our lives had changed for the better.

Still Pregnant

40 weeks down, with mere days to go.

I'm going to miss being pregnant. Probably because I can control everything that happens to our baby in this state. I can take care of him by simply taking care of myself.

That will all change very soon. Though I am looking forward to being less physically challenged once again, being able to bend over and twist with ease, sleep on my stomach and back, and to split the work of caring for a newborn with a supportive husband at my side.

I'm curious to find out what our tiny human's personality will be like. In utero he's very active, with strong movements, and responds brilliantly to my touch and our voices. He entertains me constantly.

I'll miss feeling his hiccups, rolling and spinning techniques, big feet digging into my sides, though, not so much his head pressing into my pelvic floor and bladder! I'll miss placing my hand along one side of my belly and soon after feeling a tiny foot slowly slide across the surface of my stomach and plant itself firmly beneath my palm.

Because I refuse to hold back on sharing my pregnancy experience for your sake- I'll warn you now that the following will be considered way TMI for most. You've been warned!

My cervical ripening techniques are going splendidly. These things say little as to when labour will commence, but if the goal is to get to 10cm dilated in order to have baby march out of my uterus and into our arms, then I'm happy to already be sitting pretty at nearly the half-way mark. Three-cheers for successful Acupuncture, red raspberry leaf tea, Evening Primrose Oil and medjool dates!

That concludes the TMI portion of this post.

For the past couple of days I've been having frequent one-sided conversations with him, prompting him with what's to come, letting him know to rest now for his challenging journey earthside, and that we'll be here to take care of him once he's with us. It's a good pre-game check-in that will hopefully encourage him to take the plunge sooner rather than later!

We're ready when he is.