Well, this could get long, so scroll on down if you’re not interested in a novel haha!
Ok, so I was on the fence about having kids at all when Darling Husband & I got engaged. We discussed all of our options (if we would try for our own, how far we would go or not go if we couldn’t get pregnant, how we feel about adopting instead of having our own, etc). We decided to TTC and BAM got pregnant right away. I was not ready for how shocked I would be even though it was completely intentional and planned!
Pregnancy was ok, I didn’t get morning sickness or anything. Towards the end I was swollen, heavy, cumbersome, miserable, and oh yeah EIGHT FRIGGIN DAYS PAST DUE.
L&D was MUUUUUCH better than the horrors I had in my head. I had an intervention-free hospital birth with a midwife, two doulas, and a wonderfully supportive friend as well as Darling Husband. I would not have been able to do it if I didn’t have the love and support around me. It was by FAR the hardest, most physically challenging event of my life. It was very hard work, but very beautiful work too.
So, BabyDane was born on 4/13/13, was 8lbs4oz, and it’s a girl! It was euphoric.
In the hospital we worked on latching and feeding (and a little sleeping when I could). She had a good latch but would fall asleep at the breast all the time. I spent HOURS and HOURS trying to stimulate her into staying awake long enough to complete a single feeding. This continued when we got home. DH went back to work like 3 days later, so my first day home from the hospital I was on my own! Luckily, with such an uncomplicated delivery my recovery was really, really easy.
Those first 2-3 weeks are the absolute hardest. I had no idea what I was doing, she wasn’t eating very well, I wasn’t sleeping because she was always hungry, they can’t sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time. I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and granola bars because I could eat them quickly and with only one hand. It would have been AMAZING to have someone at the house to bring me a glass of water every now and then.
I started pumping because she wasn’t gaining weight like she should be. I’ve been an exclusive pumper for a few months now. I dislike how much time it takes to build and maintain a supply (add to that the setting up of the next day’s bottles, cleaning today’s bottles, the actual pumping, cleaning my pump parts, etc). I do like that Darling Husband can get up with her in the wee hours of the morning or if she wakes in the middle of the night. I work full time, so I would have to be pumping anyway. I like that we can go out on a date and not stress about getting home before she starves to death or my boobies explode -full boobs hurt, by the way. I like knowing exactly how much she’s getting, and her weight gain really picked up speed. She’s 4mo now, and is over 13lbs.
So we are at 4mo now. She smiles at us, giggles and laughs, and is much more interactive. This is fun now. I like that she is a part of her environment now. It still not easy, but it’s so much better than it was at first. We’ve been blessed with a great sleeper. She has been sleeping through the night for a while, and every random night here and there she’ll get up around 3 or 4 to eat. She will go back to sleep though, and stays asleep until after 7 or even 8 sometimes.
Our typical (no waking up overnight) day starts around 6am. I get up and go pump for 30-45 minutes while Darling Husband goes to the gym. She wakes up between 6 and 7. If she’s up before I pump, I take her with me and lay her on my leg and sit on the floor to pump. I like being able to pump before she gets up though. Anyway, by 7am she’s up and eating. She typically stays awake and plays for about an hour after eating, then she starts to get sleepy. We put her down (crib, pack-n-play, swing, or bouncy seat) to take a nap. She will either nap for 30 minutes or a few hours. She gets up, is awake and playful for a while, then she starts to get hungry, we feed her, she plays a while, she starts to get sleepy, she sleeps a while… rinse & repeat.
Our bedtime routine starts around 8pm. She gets a bath (we only use soap every other day so we don’t dry out her skin, but we keep to the routine as best as we can). Then with her sound machine on, in her darkened (but not dark) and otherwise quiet room, we sit in the rocking chair for her last bottle. I read to her, we rock for a bit, we sing a song, she goes in her crib. She sometimes fights sleep, but we soothe her without picking her up (turn on the mobile, rub her belly, hold her hand, sing another song, shush and pat, etc). Typically, she will watch her mobile and drift to sleep on her own very peacefully.
Childcare is a big deal. It’s expensive. Like, cost-prohibitive to use a daycare facility. MIL comes to our house on Tues & Thurs to watch her, and on MWF we take her to an in-home sitter. They stick to her routine pretty well. She’s not on a time schedule exactly, but she follows an easily predictable pattern of wakefullness, eating, and sleeping.
Ummm… what else can I tell you… Oh yea, another really, really difficult thing, for me anyway, is my post-baby body. In March of ’12 I did a marathon. Yes, a full, 26.2 mile grueling test of endurance and sheer will. I am very healthy. I’m very fit. I have a (fairly) clean diet. I gained 50lbs with the pregnancy EVEN THOUGH I went to spin class, zumba, swimming, walking, and continued to eat (sort of) healthy.
I get it, I have a HUMAN growing in there. I’m GOING to gain weight. I’m SUPPOSED to gain weight. No prob. I’m cool with it. I felt… feminine, beautiful, strong.
After the baby, I knew my belly wouldn’t be magically flat again right away. I knew I would look 6 mo pregnant for a while. I’m 4mo pp and still about 20 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. I went from being able to run a sub 25 minute 5k race to barely being able to crank out 2 miles at a 12 minute pace. Things aren’t the same. I’m bigger, I’m less lean. I still have some saggy belly skin, and though the stretch marks have faded to a lighter color, they’re still there. DH still thinks I am pretty and sexy, but it’s going to be hard work for me to see that in myself again. I eat well, I work out, but if I don’t consume enough calories and carbs, my milk supply drops. So, for now, I have to pick between providing breast milk to my baby OR working on the pre-baby body, but not both. And that’s ok, because it’s my choice to make and I’m making the right choice for her and for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that I’m going to embrace these extra pounds and “fat pants” I had to go buy because my ass won’t fit into anything from before the baby other than my sweat pants.
It’s hard for me, as an athlete, to come to terms with my new body. I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. I can say though, that even though my body is not something I recognize, it has been amazing to me, and it helped me grow, carry, and birth my wonderful daughter. To me, that’s beautiful even if it’s a little saggy and heavy. I have a lot of work to do, but every pound and little stretch mark reminds me of how unbelieveably lucky I am to even BE a mom. Holy shit, I’m a MOM. O.O
So, to answer your question, yes it’s hard… the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have the love and support of a wonderful husband and my friends and family and it’s still hard. We go out to dinner, I still see my girlfriends, but not as often and there have certainly been no nights out on the town! In the end though, it’s so completely worth it. She smiles at me every morning, very first thing, and even though I feel like I only just got INTO bed, my eyes are red and tired, my hair is a hot mess, that smile just gets me. Gets me every single time. Every night I kiss her bald little head, tell her I love her, and just take in the moment. She is warm, smells so sweet, and her peaceful sleepy breathing makes all the madness of the day melt away. Hard work it is, being a mom. Hard but so worth it.