Its not even fully into day 2 yet because she was born so early in the morning.
Her hair. Its the best. Its the softest thing on the planet. It is silky and thick and is still covered in crusty bits from birth. She still smells like birth. I spend our time nursing by gently picking the bits out of her hair and fluffing it up. I think I will sponge bath her today to wipe off the last remnants of birth.
I cant sleep at night because I am running over her birth in my head. Little parts here and there. I revisit them and run them over and over, trying to recall the feelings and the emotions and the sounds.
I am making a conscious effort to carve out time away from everything else to just bond with her. There’s a hundred million tiny distractions each day, each moment, and this is my last baby. This is the last time I will have someone this tiny in my arms and i dont want to miss it. Its a bit shaky to build a strong bond while being interrupted all the time. I am giving myself extra moments to just be with her – smell her, stare at her, smooth her downy baby hair on her cheeks and arms and back. I am also making efforts to ensure that jim gets this time as well. Last night I told him to sit with her while I put the girls to bed. They were talking about cats when I came back again.
I am also making a conscious effort to take care of myself much better this time. I cannot afford to go through depression. My family cannot afford to have me go through a depression. Taking care of myself means eating and drinking regularly, taking help when its offered and asking for help when I need it. It means listening to my body and going to bed when it tels me. It means saying “no, but thank you” to invites for going out or for play dates for the girls. Its simple things like making time for actually getting dressed in clean clothes, showering, brushing my teeth and changing my pad when I go pee. Like not walking too far and continuing to move slowly. I caught sight of my vagina yesterday – it is swollen and very purple and sore. My midwife asked me today “how does your vulva and vagina feel?” And I looked at her and plainly said “like a human came through it.”
Taking care of myself means making a snack for the girls and letting them watch another episode of ponies and shutting myself in my room for half an hour to lay down and do nothing. But taking care of myself also means still loading the dishwasher, still getting the laundry done and keeping the table and counters and floors clear, because chaos will make me feel overwhelmed and trapped and I need to avoid that.
Thalia has a belly full of mucous to clear out. She doesn’t really have an appetite yet. Babies that slingshot out don’t get the “big squeeze” that clears their systems of fluids and discharge just before birth. At three in the morning, I have a hard time remembering that its okay if she’s not feeling hungry yet. That its okay if she goes a long stretch without nursing, and that she DOES ask to nurse and we will get good at nursing and I need to trust her and myself. In the daylight I know all those things. When I’m the only one awake in the middle of the night, it is easy to get anxious in the dark and loose some faith. In the day, I trust that she will soon cough it all up and clear her system of mucous and then we can really work on a strong nursing relationship, once she’s ready. I know all the stats and the info and I parrot the research to calm other moms in this situation. But when its you, with your day old newborn and your nipples are burning because she can’t get her positioning right, its all suddenly different.
My mom came last night to pick up the girls and take them for a sleepover. This is amazing. It is perfect. It gives me time to just sit around naked, dripping milk, and fall madly in love with her. We needed that quiet time without the constant interruptions of regular chaotic life.
Last night me and jim went on a walk. I am slow and still sore, but the night was cool and I tucked her into my blue bird sling and she passed out and we went up the street for ice cream. It was also the first time we actually got to spend time together with the chaos of life constantly interrupting us. The girl behind the counter asked how new she was, and we told her that we were here monday and that the chocolate gelato induces labor.
She is perfect. Everything about her. She has such long delicate toes, such long hair, such a skinny bum with a dimple right at the top. Her eyes are dark, dark gray. I cannot believe that this person -all of her – was tucked up tight inside me. That feels completely absurd. But her movements are familiar – she stretches her feet out and nothing is different except my ribs aren’t there any longer. I solved the mystery of her full-body shuddering that I used to feel. She does it in her sleep, deep in a dream. Must be a little neurological hiccup of a still developing brain.
Jim has been so good about picking up the slack. He’s not really pleased about having to go to work still instead of getting to cuddle a delicious, sleepy baby at home all day like I get to. I make a point of buying him time to bond with her. He pulls his shirt off so they can be touching skin-to-skin and he stares at her and his voice changes when he speaks to her. He needs that bonding time too. he generally falls asleep with her on his chest.
I am going to shower today when jim gets home and then I am going to wash the last crusty bits of birth out of her hair. We are going out tonight to a casual gathering of doulas who are all considering coming together in one big group and pulling all our skills and resources into one cooperative team. The usual advice for new parents is stay home, clear your calendar and just bunk down for a week. I know I can’t do that, I would go crazy. First off, my home is small and its full of screaming, naked children and all their toys. Its hot, its crowded and its often loud. there’s not a lot of bright sunlight, and there’s not a lot of places to go to get a quiet break. I need to get out of there sometimes.