Sunday, October 20, 2013

this village.

Rowan Sophia
September 25, 2013
8:56 a.m.
6 lbs., 13 oz., 19 3/4"

39 weeks

1 week old!

To invoke a prominent parenting cliche: Yes, it takes a village. And man, did I underestimate my village. I know it's been three and a half weeks since I posted (!!! The babe is almost a month old!), but it's been a tough, tough three and a half weeks. Not survivable without The Village. Like my family, who have swarmed the recovery room, my hospital room, and my living room - somehow without being overbearing or overwhelming, just supportive and full of the best advice. Like my friends, who swing by with thoughtful gifts and ready arms (for Rowan OR for me). Like my colleagues, who inquire after us and make me feel loved and missed. Like my friends who are family...one in particular, who flew in to stay with us for a long weekend and cooked, cleaned, fed, shopped, held, and listened (I am forever in debt). Like the parents from my work who also happen to be physicians - my OB, our pediatrician, even a pediatrician in another clinic who offered major support. Like old friends who connected with me on Facebook and provided the best encouragement, and just when I needed it.

And, of course, my partner. The first two weeks especially, as he thoughtfully narrated the birth to me ("They have her legs out...now her arms...she has brown hair! She's moving and breathing!") - as he kept careful watch over both of his "girls" in the hospital - as he slogged through tube feeding by finger for an hour out of every three hours while I pumped and cried - as he waited on me hand and foot while I swallowed pain meds and cried - as he practically propped his eyelids open with toothpicks so I could sleep and not cry - as he weathered my frantic panicked moments ("Is she too lethargic?" "What do you mean, she has a poor suck?" "I chopped her finger off with the nail clippers!!")...and through it all, he cuddled our baby girl and proclaimed that this was all he had ever wanted. All I could think was, I'm so lucky. I'm so lucky.

Pre-op...26 minutes before she was born, according to the clock.
First picture of my Rowie.
First family picture. Not shown: My earthquake-level tremors, a result of
anxiety and the epidural, which prevented me from holding Rowan for long.

Almost a month later, the physical pain is subsiding. The scar looks great, although I wasn't expected so much numbness at the incision site - or the horrific sensitivity above the incision site. Ouch. The worst is the pinching, stabbing, burning pain above one end of the incision site. It gets really bad if I "overdo" it (hard not to overdo it when there's a newborn to care for), although my big bad ibuprofen pills dull it effectively. And my body is returning to my body, minus the swollen, sore breasts.

Emotionally? It's been a rough ride. Ridiculous postpartum hormones, along with major sleep deprivation (I've still only had a couple of almost-four-hour stretches of sleep - usually it's two hours at a time, if that), combined to create some pretty hardcore ups and downs. Since the downs have subsided almost entirely, I think it's safe to say that my postpartum anxiety and depression would fall more into the "baby blues" category than the "drown everyone in the bathtub" category, but wow, I was not prepared for the severity of my negative emotions. The strongest one was an overriding sense that I'd made an enormous mistake (by having a baby, that is). Sadness and guilt were prominent spokes on that wheel. It didn't help that I felt totally useless for two weeks, laid flat by the C-section and unable to breastfeed effectively due to Rowan's weak suck. J.J. had to feed her by a tube threaded down his finger (and, later, by bottle) while I sat nearby and pumped (thank goodness for amazing friends who bought us a high-quality breast pump a while back), which was...not exactly what I had pictured.

But now? The girl I didn't quite recognize when they debuted her around the surgical curtain? She's the love of my life. I know every inch of her, from her wild Harry Potter hair to the light freckle on her right shin. Her scent makes me swoon. Her little grunts and squeaks, her sleep-smiles and sleep-giggles, her "I'm all right for now, but I'm about to get pissed" call - I live for them. The terror that presided over the first few weeks is ebbing (or maybe I'm just growing accustomed to it). We no longer sleep with all the lights on, and we've left her a couple times with my mother-in-law...but, just the same, I would literally give my life for her. Yeah, it's love, love unlike anything I knew possible.

I don't know how I'd have gotten to this place without The Village. They gifted me with milkshakes and newborn clothes, medical advice and nap opportunities, and love for me and my baby. Watching The Village love on my babe is better than having them love me. I need my own mom in a way I never thought I would; I call on my pediatrician brother more often than my actual pediatrician; I shoot off emails in moments of despair and get almost instant responses; I take to heart the words of fellow parents who tell me things like, "It gets better," and "Whatever decision you make, she'll be okay and we won't judge." In short, so far, it's not what I thought it would be - it's worse, and it's better, and it's nothing like I could have imagined.

Except when it is. Like when we climb into bed at night and J.J. picks out stories to read to her. She drifts off to sleep, and he places her gently in the co-sleeper we borrowed once I realized I couldn't have her sleeping in a different room yet. We snuggle down in our warm bed and read our own books...for about two minutes, until we are fast asleep, too.

Well, I guess that isn't quite what I imagined. It's even better.

Just home from the hospital at three days old. We'll be taking her picture here
weekly - replacing the old pregnancy silhouette pictures! More to come. :)

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