Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Announcing Towns!

I am officially a mother of two!

(And for those of you who've been following along since the beginning of this blog, when it was just me and my cats and yarn and wine, this is kind of unbelievable.)

Townsend Hall Bartlett was born on May 4, 2011 at 12:12 p.m. He weighed 7 lbs 1 oz and was 20.5" long.

Yes, we decided on Townsend. It was my grandmother's maiden name and my father's middle name, and I think the nickname of Town/Towns is super cute and yet mostly unheard of. Hall is Ish's great-GREAT grandfather's middle name, but he went by Hall. And even though this gives our kid the sort-of name of Town Hall, we're okay with that. Maybe he'll become President someday. (Thanks to West Wing, we already know how good the term "President Bartlett" sounds.)

The birth itself was as smooth as a c-section could possibly be, at least, certainly it was compared to the first time we did this.

And not that I ever, ever, ever doubted scheduling a c-section, but I'm so glad I did. I planned to use the side-hatch originally because Eve was a c-section, and because there was no reason to believe that my body would have a successful "traditional" birth this time. Then when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was a little concerned that this baby would be big. (If you Google GD, you don't have to look far before you find mothers telling horror stories about their big babies and terrifying delivery experiences.)

THEN we found out that this little dude was breech, and that just solidified our decision. By the time we went in for the delivery, they did the final ultrasound and discovered Townsend was no longer breech but entirely transverse -- which is to say, wedged in sideways.

Sidenote: no WONDER I've been so uncomfortable.

Thus, the c-section was a good decision and made everything much less stressful than it would have been. Especially when we learned that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Towns' neck twice. Phew.

So I don't have a lot more to report about the experience. We were in the hospital from Wednesday to Saturday, while our BELOVED nanny and in-laws stayed with Eve.

Frankly, the hardest part of the whole thing was being away from Eve for three days. Ugh.

Not that there weren't smaller challenges/moments of uncomfortability/sleep deprivation/etc. For example, waiting on the operating table for the procedure to begin is much harder when you're starting off well rested and totally unmedicated -- in fact, hyper-alert -- and you find yourself staring at the ceiling, counting the minutes until you can't feel your legs.  (The first time I went through that I was distracted by having been in labor for over 24 hours, and was still having contractions, totally exhausted, starving, and on painkillers.)

Breastfeeding has gone a lot more smoothly this time around, too, since T latched immediately and never seemed to mind chomping away at my pre-milk-producing boobs (unlike Eve who SCREAMED for hours and hours and days and days when I was only producing colostrum for a full WEEK). In fact, he was so persistent that my milk came in on Friday.

Being home with the baby has, thus far, been great. I understand NOW why people (who have more than one child) would say things like "newborns are easy!" when I would talk about being totally scared of Eve. Because newborns are easy...you know, when A) you're not afraid of them and B) you are comparing them to, say, teething toddlers.

I call this photo "Portrait of Paternity Leave."
Note the unshaven face, the worn-in pajamas, the pacifier backwards-in-the-mouth,
the near-shut eyes, and the SportsCenter.

Townsend seems to be a typical newborn, based on all my experience of uh, the one other kid. He hasn't figured out any kind of sleeping/nursing schedule yet: everything is totally unpredictable still. But after the first three days and nights of waking up every hour to eat, he's started sleeping in four-hour jags and everyone is happier for it.

He does prefer to be held. In fact, unless tightly swaddled and clearly SUPER tired, he finds not being held unacceptable. He has a screechy cry that sounds like a pterodactyl and is ridiculously loud, so we choose to hold him as he wishes. Because we are tired and weak and I am in no way exaggerating about the pterodactyl thing.

He does not like his bassinet, either. Which is how we, as the aforementioned tired and weak sort, discovered that he is perfectly calm and happy sleeping in our bed with us, even if unswaddled.

Who is this happy, nursing, baby-wearing, newborns-are-delightful, bed-sharing hippie mother? I DON'T KNOW.

In the meantime, Eve seems to like the baby. HI, BABY! she says in the morning. She brings him diapers and "bo" (pacifier, don't know where "bo" came from), and blankets. She asks where he is when she can't see him. She is gentle with him and likes to point to his ear, eyes, and nose. We are working very, very hard to make it seem like our attention is not divided, and Eve always has the full attention of at least one adult (for the first few weeks, that is).

However. Eve does NOT like that her routine has changed. She does NOT like that Mama and Dada were gone for three days -- she wouldn't let me hug her when I came home from the hospital, but also tried to send our replacement sitter home. (GO! NO! BUH-BYE!) Mostly, though, she REALLY does NOT like the six teeth that are currently jutting their way through her gums. (Timing? Awesome!) They have given my darling daughter an occasional monster of a personality, that rears its cranky, chewing head when you least expect it. This is especially awesome when it coincides with a pterodactyl sighting.

So, well.  While the baby himself doesn't seem to be the root of the problem, we don't have what I would consider a perfectly happy almost-two-year-old at home, either.

Do I look like I was just chewing on the corner of Mama's laptop? BECAUSE I TOTALLY WAS.


Overall, this birth experience -- my second and last, mind you -- has been fantastic from start to finish.

The planned nature of it was surreal, but I felt safe and well taken care of and never had any scare. The actual procedure is a lot easier to withstand when you're well rested and well nourished and your body hasn't been in labor for hours and hours. And while it's still major surgery, I was up and moving and disconnected from all the tubes and wires by Thursday afternoon. (I was even able to shower on Thursday, all by myself!)

And while this may seem like a small point, I'm on a totally different painkiller this time around, and that has made a WORLD of difference. Instead of feeling simultaneously drunk and underwater (the way Vicodin did), I just feel like I'm managing my pain but operating at nearly full capacity mentally.

Add that to the fact that I feel about a thousand times more confident and assured about what to DO with a newborn, and I would say that I have been having a totally enjoyable, happy, loving, awesome time with my new family of four.

Sleep deprivation and all, this? This adding a fourth member to our wacky little clan? This is the best thing I've ever done.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Almost Home

I can't believe we're here already.  I'm scheduled to go to the hospital on Wednesday morning, May 4.

Very recently, my business partner and friend, CityMama, had a son. One of her earliest Facebook updates about the baby included a statement about how cute he is. And I froze.

Newborns are...cute?

In my experience, newborns are terrifying. They are cause for months of anxiety and fear before they even get here, and then they arrive and your fear only intensifies as every moment of every day is filled with the probability that you are doing everything wrong. You know because you went online and asked and the moms confirmed it: your way is stupid and dangerous. And then the books warned you. And the reviews on Amazon. And the horror stories on Babycenter.com.

When I was a new mom, everything was cause for near-crippling anxiety, even though I did my best to stave it off.

You MUST wear your baby because of BONDING except also if you do, your baby will suffocate. You must swaddle but NOT LIKE THAT. You'd better be using organic cotton! Are you sure it's colic and not a deathly allergy? Babies can be allergic to AIR, YOU KNOW. Why aren't you letting her cry it out at three months? You should never let her cry it out before three years! What? Moms who use the cry-it-out method should be arrested! You can't measure how much breastmilk you're providing but it's probably fine but maybe it's not enough and you have to just know because it's instinctive and you are doing great!/ Unless your baby is failing to thrive which totally your fault because you don't know anything.

Like that.

I tried once to write about how my bond with Eve wasn't immediate. I never meant to suggest that I didn't love her, simply that I didn't instantly and without hesitation feel overwhelming, obsessive I-am-in-love-with-her-every-breath love. I felt more like: I had a baby, and now I...have a baby. And she is fascinating and beautiful and I wonder who she is? While I'm figuring it out, I will do everything I can to make her existence wonderful and also not break her.

Over time, I slowly became more confident in my ability as a parent. My fear dissipated as she started growing into being Eve, and I started growing into being Eve's Mom.  Now, I am consciously aware that I once feared I didn't feel enough for her, but I can't remember those days emotionally. I feel all the overwhelming, soul-encompassing, shake-me-to-my-core love for my daughter there is to feel.

The stuff I couldn't quite get to when she was new and I was so scared.

The stuff that, without realizing it, I assumed I'd deprive myself of again.

I assumed I'd be so scared, so worried, so wrought with WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A BABY? anxiety that I'd take months to adjust. I assumed I'd start back at square one: terrified that at any moment, I could do something wrong and the baby would go away.

So when I saw Stefania's update, it was like a slap in the face. A good, great, incredibly needed slap from a mother who didn't fear her child.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that babies are cause for celebration, but that's only seemed true in the greater sense. Yes, bringing life into the world is a miraculous thing, but living with a newborn? That's nothing but fear and judgment, depression and anxiety, feedings and sleep-deprivation, hormones and physical uncomfortability...nothing but struggle for the first three-to-six-to-nine months.

Except what if it's not? What if you shut down the computer and close the books and turn off that voice in your head and remember that it will most likely be just fine?

What if you let go of your fear and you do, actually, trust yourself?

What if, instead of thinking HE IS YAWNING BECAUSE HE'S NOT NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP, you think, "Aww, he's yawning!" 

What if you accept that the hard stuff (because it is hard) is completely outshone by the good stuff?

What if you relish all that is distinct and special about a baby's first few months of life before it's over with? 

What if you actually look forward to bringing a new baby home?

And with that, I'm going to go pack my hospital bag.