Life as a New Mom

A first-time mom adjusting to her new everything

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That’s how many minutes are in 363 days.  It’s how many minutes it took for my mother to die, me to have a baby, and my father to die.  In a way, I really appreciate that my parents were apart less than a year.  But in others, the entire situation feels incredibly unfair.

The reason I haven’t posted in a while is because I had the baby Dec. 4, after jackrabbiting through labor in just under 8 hours, including a 2.5 hour nap and 2.5 hours of pushing, and a near miss on getting an epidural.  Overall, I guess I was pretty lucky to have such a short labor.

They kept me 3 days in the hospital, where I learned that feeding the Bobblehead needs to happen without a blanket or he’ll just sleep, and showed my dad his grandson via video conference since he wasn’t coming down until January 10th.  I was discharged the 6th, went to our first pediatrician appointment the morning of the 7th, and at 3:30 in the afternoon I got the phone call telling me the police found my daddy dead in his home, of sudden but natural causes.  He was 61, and died 3 days before the first anniversary of my mama’s death.

So, at 4 days postpartum and being home just over 24 hours, we loaded the car with clothes, gear, baby, and dog, and drove 9 hours from the Carolinas to Ohio.  As executor, I had to be the one to do everything.  In the past week, I’ve cleared out his apartment, started insurance claims, begun probate, and had his funeral.  We’re going to try to go home Tuesday or Wednesday next week.  Today my son is 11 days old, and lived at home about 28 hours.

I don’t know what life will hold after we get back; there has been no chance to just bond as a family or establish a regular schedule.  I hope it’s easier once all the estate business ends and I have nothing I must do except care for Bobblehead.  Maybe it won’t be.  All I know is it’s amazing what you can do physically, mentally, and emotionally when you have no choice.


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A family dynamic

Sandy’s questions, over at The Reluctant Entertainer were so good I ended up writing a massive comment and thought I’d write a post as well.
This is the first year my husband and I will have some external motivation to develop our own family dynamic.  With the holidays coming up, this affects our ability to entertain guests or travel to our extended families as guests.  Baby is the entire reason we now have the motivation to strike out on our own and find a new rhythm for our holidays.

Previously, we had a routine that worked for us as a couple, since we had no children and could easily travel with the dog for the 8 hours one-way it took to get home to our families for Christmas and Thanksgiving.  They had, of course, fallen into the rhythm of hosting these holidays, and it was always expected that we would be there at one family’s celebration (or both, in the case of Christmas).  It was complicated because my husband’s parents are divorced, so there were essentially 3 sets to see.  But we never saw the need to rock the boat, and the one year we offered to host Thanksgiving, people said they would come and we were alone after everyone decided it was inconvenient to drive to us.

This year, the question of their convenience doesn’t matter to us as a family as much.  We do want to see them, of course, but at the same time we emphatically do not want to travel with a newborn for that period of time.  It provided a great opportunity to sit down as a couple and discuss what mattered most to each of us and reach a compromise.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel closest to my husband when we resolve issues like this together.  It brings us an additional degree of intimacy, because we’ve proven to each other that we can open up about our feelings, good and bad, and be safe with each other.

So we talked.  About how he wants to involve his family, and I want to establish ourselves as a family first, with our own traditions.  How I was afraid of traveling that long with an infant, and disrupting any forming routines.  How I was concerned about the immune system that wouldn’t be fully established.  How we both deeply want to share our family with our extended families during the holidays, and how our family is now ourselves and Baby.  We talked and talked, and came to the conclusion that we could manage about 2-3 people at a time, not staying with us at the house, for long weekends.  We’ll offer each couple or person a weekend, invite them to stay for 3 or 4 days, and if they can’t come we’ll do our best to make it work with them, but our schedule will be our top priority.  And we’re not inviting anyone for the weekend of Thanksgiving, or for Christmas Eve/Day.  Those are for us, our first opportunity to share the best of our childhoods with Baby, and once we figure out what we want, next year we can discuss with our extended families what we would like to see happen (and compromise again!).

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Failing my one job

I had my ultrasound appointment at the high-risk practice earlier this week.  They confirmed there is a cyst there, and they believe it’s on the spleen.  I go back in 4 weeks to see if it grew, shrank, or stayed the same.  At this point, the doctor tells me it’s small and doesn’t concern her because it’s below the diaphragm and there is excellent blood flow to all the surrounding organs, with fetal weight in the 43rd percentile.  All that is good, but I still have one overwhelming feeling.

I’ve failed my one job before this baby is born, and that is to gestate a healthy fetus.
Is that unreasonable?  Probably.  Have I done my best? Yes.  Does that make me feel any better?  No, not at all.

And yesterday, I find out that my husband has told his family about this, right before we’re due to go visit and before I was ready to say anything to our families.  It’s easy to be anonymous, and not have to face the people you’ve told; it’s not easy when I’ll have 3 days of them in front of me, wondering what is the problem/solution/how I am.  I suppose it’s nice to have people that care enough to be concerned, but I don’t feel like discussing this with anyone, or accepting sympathies.  And honestly?  I’m mad at the person my husband told, because THAT person is the one who went and told everyone else.  It wasn’t that person’s news to tell, and I feel my parental boundaries being stepped over.  It’s a shame my husband doesn’t feel that way.

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Temporary Insanity is a TOTALLY valid defense for my behavior!

I’ve dealt with a lot of guilt, off and on, lately  – normally it comes about 16 hours after I react or overreact to some stimulus in a way I know my mama taught me was inappropriate.  There are honestly times when I wonder how old I really am, and why I think I can act decades younger…

I tried talking to my husband Friday about how concerned I was for our upcoming trip, how I didn’t want to be the center of attention, how I wanted to talk with the people we’re visiting about things other than my pregnancy.  I did make it clear I don’t mind a few questions, like “how are you doing”, “how far are you”, or other neutral statements.  The problem is that I do not often get neutral statements.  At work I get told constantly how small I am, where am I putting the baby, am I sure, and while I think they’re well-meaning, the bottom line is that those comments are rude and hurtful.  I also get stories of how horrible things will be, and the last thing I need is horror stories of birth, babies, or turning into Driving Miss Daisy.

Some of the people we’re visiting have a history of wanting to always talk about the bad.  It happened when my mom was dying: always wanting to talk about how unfair it was because she was so nice, how hard it is, how rotten she must feel, and on and on for hours.  So maybe I’m a little sensitive to things that could be considered rude questions.

My husband’s response: suck it up and you’d better be nice because if we don’t want to alienate people then sometimes we have to just deal with things we don’t like.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was hoping for a promise of defense, or running interference of some sort.  I just felt incredibly let down, and it’s affected my mood this whole weekend, as I try not to sulk like a 4-year-old because honestly?  It wasn’t that big of a deal.