Two Babies, Two Different Pregnancy, Birth and Post-Partum Experiences

Our little baby is one week old today.  I can’t get over how different things have felt this time around.  My experience with son, who is now 23 months old, was very different.  Different pregnancy, different birth, different post-partum experience.

Pregnancy

Big Brother: I felt amazing throughout.  I did yoga, I felt connected to the little baby growing in my belly, and I felt very emotional about the whole experience (in a good way).   I was obsessed with reading every pregnancy book I came across.  I had very little morning sickness – I felt good as long as I had food in my belly. I had clear aversions (yogurt, hummus, cakes and pastries) and clear cravings (grapefruit and eggs).  I felt beautiful, healthy, and full of energy – despite some sleepless nights. I did have about a month where I experienced extreme pain in my butt.  Like up at night crying kind of pain.  I didn’t get any stretch marks and my belly never really got that big – I think the biggest I measured was 35 (not good seeing as your fundal measurements should coincide with the weeks – and if they don’t they should at least progress, which it didn’t).

Little Sister: I did not enjoy being pregnant with her.  I felt tired all the time, I felt frumpy, and I was very sore. I wasn’t interested in reading any of my pregnancy books. I had awful morning sickness and keeping food in my belly did not help.  Nothing really helped.  I didn’t have any cravings.  I didn’t even enjoy food all that much.  I had a bit of the same butt pain, but I realized early on that the more I moved/exercised, the more I aggravated it.  So I didn’t do any exercises – at all.  And I for sure gained more weight, though I never weighed my self.  But I could feel it.  I didn’t get any stretch marks and my belly was bigger – which I was happy about.  I was measuring bang on for this little one.  All in all, there was simply no magic in this one and I couldn’t wait for this pregnancy to end.

Birth

Big Brother: His birth was amazing.  It was calm, it came on gradually and I felt very little pain.  It started with mild backache at 11pm which turned into contractions.  At 2 am I took a shower and zoned out, staring at the water droplets on the wall and just let each contraction flow over me.  I woke my husband up at 6 am and we headed to the birth centre at 8 am. I was 6 cm dilated and got right into the tub.  He was born into my arms in the water at 10:30.  He had some issues with his lungs so they took him right away and I shakily made my way out of the tub.  I was so cold, I couldnt’ stop shaking and my blood pressure dropped significantly.  They passed him back to me and I held him while they stitched me up (three small stitches).  Four hours later we were home in bed.

Little Sister: Hers was a little more primal.  It came on very quickly, no backache, just right to the contractions.  It started at 2 am and I woke my husband up at 3 am, knowing that this one could come quickly.  We called the midwives right away and told them we wanted to go to the birth centre, but I couldn’t get ahold of my sister to come watch our son, so we decided to stick with the home birth plan.  Three midwives – two I had never met – came to the house at 4:15 am.  My dog went crazy, barking and barking, and they made a lot of commotion setting every thing up.  It was not relaxing.  I spent the whole time feeling uncomfortable in our living room and the contractions picked up so quickly, the TENS machine wasn’t doing it for me.  I wanted her out so I tried pushing before I felt the urge.  Obviously no go.  I made my way upstairs (crawling naked, writhing through the pain) to get in the shower.  The second the water hit my back my water broke and two pushes later my baby girl was in my arms.  She had her cord wrapped all around her (like, multiple times) but that wasn’t a problem.  My husband then came into the bathroom with our son and I felt so relieved that it was over.  I had no tearing (yes!) and my vitals were all great.  She was doing incredibly well and the midwives hung out downstairs while we snuggled in bed.

Post-Partum

Big Brother: Right after he was born I felt shell shocked.  I didn’t recognize my eyes when I looked in the mirror and I felt really shook up.  It really hurt to pee (stitches) and I was very shaky, physically, for well over two weeks.  I had the worst hemorrhoids and I felt like my insides were going to fall out of me (tmi, sorry).  Even though I had a great birth experience, I had trouble processing it.  He had a lot of issues in that first week – jaundiced, lethargic, wouldn’t latch, wasn’t peeing or pooping as much as he should be and all that left me incredibly anxious.  I couldn’t sleep.  I lost my appetite.  I cried a lot. I was so consumed with a worry that didn’t go away until about three months in.

Little Sister: I can’t get over how great I feel.  My physical recovery has been extremely easy. Everything is pretty much back to normal down there and besides being tired I’m feeling really good.  Happy.  I was only weepy and emotional one day – the day my milk came in, and other than that things just feel really normal. She is an amazing breastfeeder – latched right after birth and stayed on the breast for over an hour.  She continues to nurse beautifully and she even sleeps on her own – without me needing to check on her every five minutes!

In the end..

We don’t get to chose our pregnancies, birth stories, babies temperaments, or hormonal reactions after we give birth – but we do get to chose how to feel about them.  And I’m done feeling negatively about the first few months of my sons life.  Yes, it was hard.  Yes, it was scary. But he’s amazing and always has been.  And I do wish things had gone differently with my daughters birth, but it brought me her and she’s incredible.

So all I’m choosing to feel is happy and forever grateful for these two perfect beings who I get to call mine.

 

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

2016 was an interesting year.  Last year at this time I was still on maternity leave and my husband was off work and we were enjoying the time we had with our son.  In March I went back to work and I faced a huge disappointment upon my return (my mat leave replacement was awarded my job..a job that I created and asked our VP to make permanent) – so yeah, that was really shitty.  But it all worked out because the job that I did end up going back to was kind of perfect.  I was able to work from home a lot, I initiated a ton of projects, and I loved my team.  And I was making more money.  So it all worked out in the end.  And then in April I got pregnant after only trying for a few months which was pretty awesome.  But then we all got really really sick.  And unfortunately, that stomach bug turned sinus infection was not the end of me feeling ill – the nausea with this pregnancy was way worse than it was with my son and I was sick pretty much all summer and when it did finally lift I found I never really got my energy back.   I went home in October to visit my dieing uncle,  who sadly passed away a few days before Christmas.   My husband got a great job about a month ago.  We’ve put our son in daycare (not awesome, not awful) and I’ve been able to come to terms with the idea of him not being here for the first few months.

Which brings me to 2017.

First off, we’ll be welcoming our daughter to the world this year, so that’s pretty huge.  And I can’t think of a better way to start the year than to be off work, taking the time to think about and plan for our baby girl.  My mat leave officially begins January 3rd, but I’ve been off since the 24th for the Christmas break. My son is going to be with me for Mondays and Tuesdays and then I have the rest of the week to myself.  So for the month of January I plan to do a lot of nesting, relaxing, and preparing for this little one.  I still think she’s going to be early – I’m thinking I won’t go past 38 weeks, but we’ll see!  My number one focus in 2017 is going to be my babies, but I don’t want to lose myself again.  I don’t want postpartum anxiety to cripple me.  I don’t want to get overwhelmed and feel isolated. I don’t want to feel angry and resentful towards my husband. So in 2017 I plan to take care of myself.  To sleep.  To meditate. To ask for help. To PAY for help!  To get out and do things for myself.  Because I need that.  I want to be able to enjoy my maternity leave to the fullest and appreciate every stage in both of my kids lives – no matter how challenging.  And if I’m feeling burnt out or stretched too thin, I know I won’t be able to.  So this will also be the year of throwing money at our problems.  And speaking of money, I want to take some time towards the end of the year to re-evaluate my career.  Perhaps it will mean a new job at the same company, or a complete change.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even just decide to take a bit of a step back for a bit and just go back part time.  Lots of time to decide.

Well, it’s now 10:20 pm and I’m exhausted so I’m going to call it a night.  What can I say, the days of countdowns at midnight are behind me, at least for a little while.

Happy new year everyone!!

A Little Magic

When I was pregnant with my son I was prone to some very weepy episodes.  I cried while writing him letters, I cried whenever I watched a birth, and I cried just thinking about him.

I haven’t felt the same way with this one.  It bothered me at first because I felt that the magic just wasn’t there.  Like I wasn’t emotionally connecting to this little one growing in my belly.  I’ve been so caught up with everything, and thinking/worrying about the post partum stage that I haven’t really had a chance to think about how amazing and beautiful being pregnant can be.

Well, I think I’m making up for lost time today.

I am a huge weepy mess today!  At my midwives office they have a wall of baby picture and I had to fight back tears just looking at all those tiny little faces.  When I got home I put on an episode of Jane the Virgin and in this one she has her baby and I was on the couch balling my eyes out.

And you know, it felt really good to feel a little of that magic.

In my belly right now is my daughter, a perfect little girl who I am going to love for the rest of my life.  I feel really lucky right now and so blessed and I just can’t wait to meet her.

One Year Maternity Leave – Too Long, Too Short, or Just Right?

My sister-in-law went back to work last week after being on maternity leave for just over eight months.  We live in Canada and are incredibly fortunate to get a whole year and she chose to cut it short and return to work early.

I understand her reasons for wanting to do this.  This has been a hard year for her. She was home with her 3 year old and newborn and it was seriously burning her out.  Her three year old is a handful!

So even though I understand, I feel kind of sad for her.  I feel like if she had just kept her three year old in daycare, even just a few days a week, she would have had a very different experience.

But maybe not.

I do know one thing, now that she’s back at work she’s a hell of a lot happier.  She’s more balanced and I even noticed she has more patience with her children.

For some women, working actually makes them better moms.

I think I’m one of those women too.

Having said that, I can’t wait to start my maternity leave!  The year that I got with my son was amazing – after the first three months – and it got even better around the nine month mark.  But by the one year mark, I was ready to go back to work.  Though I would not have wanted him to be in daycare – he was still so little!  So we were really lucky that my husband was then able to be home with him for an additional 10 months.

This is my last week and then I’m off until February 1st 2018 – and not a day sooner!  I may even take more time.  We’ll see how I feel.

My son will be in daycare for three days a week while I’m off.  To me, it wasn’t even a question.  I am going to really enjoy my two days with him, and I’m also going to really enjoy my three days of just me and my little baby girl.

GAH I get to meet my baby girl so soon!!!!!

Exciting Stuff Coming Up

I am so excited. My maternity leave starts in less than two weeks (WHATTTT!?) and on my last day of work I’m giving myself a special treat.

I have not been away from my son for a night since he was born.  He’s almost two, so I think it’s time!  My husband has been encouraging me to take a night away as he’s had a few and he raves about how amazing it is to sleep in.  So I’ve booked myself a night in a fancy hotel!

It’s going to be so great.  I work a half day on the 23rd and then I’m going to go with my son and husband to a hotel that is actually just down the street. We’re going to go swimming in the pool and then order room service for dinner.  My husband is then going to take my son home and I am going to enjoy my night off.

My plan is to lay in the king size bed watching tv and eating icecream.  I hope to sleep until at least 9, order breakfast in, and bask in luxury of not having to get out of bed.  If I have time I’ll then go for another swim (can’t wait to swim!  Swimming while pregnant feels so good!) and then my husband will come collect me at around noon.

I’m not due until January 31st (though I’m convinced she’s going to come early) so I’m actually going to have a bit of time before she comes.  We’re still keeping our son in daycare three times a week, so I’ll have a chance to rest and get stuff done.  I’m going to get a massage, get my hair cut, do lots of nesting, and cross a bunch of stuff off my to do list.  I can’t wait!!

A Rough Night

The other night my 21 month old son woke up crying.  I usually give him 10 minutes before I consider going in and 99% of the time he falls back asleep within minutes.

That night was the 1%.  I felt the pull to him after only 7 minutes and so I went in.

He was sitting upright in his crib very sleepily and I immediately regretted my decision.  I could tell he wanted to fall back asleep.

I picked him up and gave him lots of cuddles.  He rested his sweet head against my shoulder and within minutes I could tell he was fast asleep.  I slowly got up from the chair and lowered him back into his crib only for him to sit right up.  Then stand up.  I told him, I love you, go back to sleep, and left the room.

And he cried.  He cried and he cried and he cried.  I knew nothing was wrong and that he was so tired.  He would fall asleep eventually. I gave him 20 minutes before I went in again.

In those 20 minutes I felt many things.  Anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, more anger, and even more guilt.  My husband was fast asleep downstairs and I was brought back to those awful awful days when my son would not let me put him down but he wouldn’t co-sleep anymore and I was exhausted, alone, angry and sad.  I felt it all again and my thoughts went to the baby growing in my belly and I thought: I can’t do this again.  How am I going to do this again!!??

I took a few deep breaths and went  back into his room, picked him up, cuddled him and again he fell asleep. Tears fell down my cheeks as I let the frustration drain out of me.  I dreaded laying him back down, I just knew he’d cry again.  And he did.  So I went into our room, grabbed a blanket and a pillow and lay down on the floor next to his crib.  I’ve never done that before. I felt like he just needed comfort.  It’s been a rough week – first week at daycare and all, and I wanted him to know that I was there.

So there I was, 31 weeks pregnant, laying on my son’s floor.  For 30 minutes I listened to him chatter, cry, chatter some more, jump, cry again, and chatter some more.  Finally I said, I can’t do this anymore.  My hips ached and he was obviously not going to fall asleep with me in the room.

I picked him up, sang him his bedtime song, told him I loved him and said goodnight.  I laid him in his crib for the fourth time that night and closed the door behind me.  He didn’t settle for another 30 minutes and I just kept telling myself, I did everything I could.

But did I?

I hate these situations.  I never feel like I did enough (maybe I should have just played with him until he was super sleepy).  I question my instincts (I shouldn’t have gone in in the first place, I made matters worse).  I get angry with my husband (why do I have to be the one up with him, feeling these things).  I get frustrated with myself (I need to be better at controlling my emotions). And most of all, I just feel so sad.

I’m so scared to go through all that again with a newborn.  We’ve been so lucky to have our son sleep through the night pretty consistently from 10 months on, but those months leading up were fucking hard.  And that night I was reminded of it all.  I don’t know if I can do this again.

Wine and Gratitude: Getting Through the Tough Days

I wrote yesterday (the other day? ) about getting ready for labour, but really what’s top of my mind these days is the fact that we’re going to have two kids under two.

I’m seriously struggling with the one right now.  How are we going to do this?

My son, although amazing and I love him and blah blah blah, has been really fucking hard lately.  He has been sucking every bit of energy and patience I have these days and I’m exhausted.

And I can’t even drink.

I can’t wait to drink again.

How do stay at home parents with tantrum throwing toddlers, biting, strong willed toddlers do it? How they not lose their shit and end up just crying in a corner on these tough days?

They must drink.

And then I think about what it’s going to be like with two. Oh god.  I’m honestly scared right now.

I suppose when the baby comes my cup won’t be quite so full.  I’m on about 17 deadlines at work today and have been putting in extra hours after we put him down for the night. Not to mention the not so fun pregnancy symptoms –  insomnia, indigestion, heightened irritability (hormonal? lack of sleep? stress?), and I’m stuffed up all the time it’s so freaking annoying.  Oh and my pelvis this time feels like it’s just going to crack in half any day.  Lovely, I know. And our house is a fucking mess.

So yeah, I’ve got a lot going on and I gotta say, I’m ready for this shitty day to be done.

I put him down about half an hour ago and now, instead of dwelling on all this, I’m going to try to turn my day and my negative thoughts around.  Because I really so am excited to meet our baby girl.  Terrified too, sure, but I know she’s going to bring so much love into our home just as my son did.

And for that I am so grateful.

In fact, I have so much to be grateful for.  And it’s so important for me to remember these things on tough days – venting helps too, wine would help more, but gratitude probably helps the most.

So today I am grateful for the beautiful fall weather we’re having, a flexible work schedule, my husband for being so amazing with our son, my sons laughter (he has the best laugh), my dog for helping clean up all the food my son throws on the floor, a full fridge, clean water, and hot showers – which I’m going to go indulge in right now.

I feel better already.