Monday, January 28, 2013

Turning a Corner

After I wrote the last post, I had a breakthrough moment.

That day, I spent the entire morning trying to get Little Fab to nap. After all, everything I read said that newborns should be sleeping A LOT. However, LF does not sleep A LOT. (Although he has teased us with a few 3 hour stretches in the last few days. Trying not to jinx it.) But, being the rookie I am, I really, really thought that I needed to enforce a nap. I shushed, rocked, fed, changed, and swaddled him. Then, I begged and pleaded with him. Through it all, LF fussed, cried, and generally expressed how pissed off he was at my trying to get him to do something he was not willing to do. By the time my mom arrived at my house (she was here visiting from California for 2 weeks), I was in tears.

"Newborns are supposed to sleep a lot!"
"I should be able to get my son to sleep!"
"I'm a terrible mother!"
"I can't handle this!"
"I haven't slept for a month!"

After calming me down, she gently took LF out of my arms and sent me to take a shower. After sobbing in the shower as well, and reflecting on how many days I had ended up in tears for one reason or another, I decided to actually listen to some of the advice my mom offered.

It sounds so simple when I write it here, but somehow it took all that strife for this to sink in. She said that no matter how much I want LF to be on my schedule, I'm really on his. I can set up conditions for him to sleep: holding him, feeding him, changing him, swaddling him, and providing white noise and a dimly lit room. But, if he doesn't want to sleep, he isn't going to sleep. Spending hours and hours driving myself nuts wasn't worth it, because he still wasn't sleeping and I was a mess. Instead, she said, I need to go with his flow and follow his lead. If he won't sleep, play or put him in the car and go somewhere. She promised I would feel better and things would go more smoothly if I didn't try so hard to impose control on the situation.

Anyone who knows me knows what a difficult pill that was for me to swallow. I crave predictability, routine, and control over my life. I research EVERYTHING. I plan out nearly every move I make in both my personal and professional life in a deliberate manner. This is my go-to coping mechanism. In fact, the hardest part of my adjustment to parenthood has been the unpredictability of each day. Hell, of each hour.

Now, I don't always listen to my mother's advice. I'm sure she would say I poo-poo it often. But, what she said made sense. It dawned on me that maybe part of the point of this whole experience is for me to start letting go of needing so much control and go for the ride a bit.

I won't lie - that scares the shit out of me. But really, I have no choice. I have to change the way I approach my days with LF, or else both of us will be miserable. So, I've made an effort over the last several days to let Little Fab lead. When he's awake, I go with it. When he naps, I usually use the time to be productive, but sometimes rest. (Damn, I wish I could nap during the day.) As a result, I've been crying less, he's been napping a little bit more, and life is generally more pleasant. I've also noticed that I enjoy my time with him more - we do tummy time, "play," and hang out together while we figure each other out. Although he continues to have fussy periods throughout the day and night, I do feel like I know him a little better, which also helps me soothe him.

I've also been considering the name of this blog. I was talking to KG about how I wasn't sure if the name "Waiting for Little Feet" was appropriate anymore, considering we were successful in bringing Little Fab into the world. But, he thought otherwise. He said, "Now it just means something different. Instead of waiting for those feet to arrive, now we are waiting to see what those feet will do." So, the name remains, as will the blog. I'm not sure how the content will evolve. But, this blog was never completely about infertility, nor will it be completely about parenting. It will just be.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Supposed to...

I was inspired by the courage of MissConception and Jen, as well as the encouragement of Cristy to write this post. If you are in a bad place with TTC right now, please skip this entry. I wrote it at a low point and although I have made some breakthroughs since writing it, I feel like I still want to post it. I will follow up with a post about my recent improvement.

I have been living with the words "supposed to" a lot since Little Fab came home. It seems that when you are a new mother, and especially an infertile new mother, there are a lot of "supposed tos." I am supposed to be working towards getting my newborn on a schedule. I'm supposed to have enough breastmilk to feed him. I am supposed to be able to gently rock him to sleep at the first yawn. I have not been able to consistently accomplish any of those things and therefore I'm generally feeling like a failure at all of this. I have this beautiful, happy, healthy baby and I feel like I'm coming apart some days. Not all days, but too many.

I am also supposed to be flooded with joy. I am supposed to have natural instincts about all things newborn. I am supposed to be loving every minute. But I'm not. I'm trying really hard to do all of those things, but I am struggling. I can't seem to let go of what I thought this would all be like, and the reality of how difficult being a new mother is. After all, I tried for over two years to have LF. I should have known what I was getting into right? I should be grateful for every sleepless night and every cry from the crib. So what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I dissolving into tears several times a week?

Mainly I think it comes from being overwhelmed by nearly everything right now. The difficulty I had with breastfeeding (still hanging in there with nursing before every bottle of formula), the lack of any rhyme or reason to LF's voracious appetite (all those rumors about formula babies sleeping more is bullshit in this house), the lack of sleep (this cannot be understated), the lack of quality time with KG or with myself for that matter, and decisions about EVERYTHING (from bottles to parenting philosphies). Did I also mention that I've not yet spent a day completely alone with LF?* The day KG went back to work my parents arrived. How the hell am I going to do everything alone? Why can't I manage to return phone calls and emails? Why can't I figure out how to take a shower every day? But when I really think about it, the feeling that bothers me most is the immense guilt I have about how much I miss being pregnant. It was a perfect, happy time for me, and now it feels a lifetime away.

I've been leaning on my friends (with and without children) a lot lately. Sometimes for advice, sometimes for the feeling of normalcy I get when I am around them. They have been my lifeline and I'm so grateful to all of them for the meals, hugs, and visits. But, as we head into month 2, the visits and calls have slowed, as one would expect. However, my desperation for the connection grows each day.

Before delivery, I had no idea that I would feel like such a failure. Because I can't figure out his eating patterns. Because I can't tell one cry from another very well. Because I can't seem to help him sleep more than a 2 hour stretch at a time. Because I can't decide whether we should be pushing him towards a schedule or just following his lead. Aren't I supposed to know all of these things as his mother?

That isn't to say there aren't moments when I look at LF and am in awe: of how gorgeous he is, how much of a person he looks like already, even at 4 weeks, how fascinated he is with light and patterns. Moments when he sleeps on my chest or stares at my face make me melt. I love this child. I also watch KG with him and am consumed with warmth - KG is madly in love with his son, which makes me fall more madly in love with him. But then I feel even worse, like I'm not authentically feeling what I should for my baby. I worry that I'm letting KG down because I am so needy and emotional these days. I want to be as happy as he is, and I'm just not there yet.

So, it seems like my history of depression and anxiety has reared its ugly head. I knew I was at high risk for PPD but man, I was hoping to dodge the bullet. Therefore, I'm seeking help. I made an appointment with my therapist. I'm reminded by people close to me that I can't be a good mom if I don't take care of myself, mentally and physically. I want to be the mother LF deserves. I want to be the wife KG deserves. I want to feel like myself and enjoy this time, instead of feeling like I need to survive it.

So, right or wrong, that's where I'm at. I'm sure some people reading this will want to flame me for feeling this way when so many are still struggling to have their first baby. Of course, as an infertile, I might have felt the same way before I was actually living this. But, this space is my own to get and give support and it will remain so, even post baby.

*I have since been spending lots of alone time with LF.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Holy Shit. I'm a Mom.

Meet Little Fab...aka My Son

As much as I thought life was nuts before I went into labor on Christmas Eve, I had no idea how crazy it was about to get. Although finishing up at work before my leave was stressful, it seems ridiculous now to call myself "busy" when all I had to do was work. I also had no idea how little I knew about the reality of becoming, then being, a mom. In other words, holy shit my world has been upside down since the day LF were born.

While I have fresh memories, let's recount events. I started having irregular back contractions 2 days before Christmas. These were painful but unpredictable, so we had to wait it out. Unfortunately, by the time they were regular, on Christmas Eve, I was already 2 days sleep deprived! Although I had hoped to avoid an IV, epidural, etc. I knew I needed help in order to make it through delivery. Amazing how quickly a "birth plan" becomes a flexible idea. I ended up with an epidural due to how long I had already been working through the contractions. Honestly, in the middle of labor, I wondered how on earth women make it through med-free deliveries. My hat is 100% off to those who can do it. I learned that I am not one of those women. I mean, I had an epidural and I still felt as though I was never going to make it.

Labor took a long time, and I pushed for almost 3 hours, but LF arrived at 1:29 PM on Christmas Day. He was a hefty 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and 20 inches long. The OB who delivered me was amazing (I like him better than my actual OB!) as were the nurses. He really helped me avoid bad tearing. In the end, only a one degree tear and some minor other ones. Physically, I'm feeling pretty good, other than serious swelling in my feet and legs and some tenderness in the nether regions.

In the hospital, all was well with breastfeeding. But, since coming home, we have had a lot of problems with nursing that made caring for LF really stressful. We aren't 100% sure why, but my milk still has not really come in (10 days later) and my little man quickly let us know that colostrum was NOT going to be enough by about day 3 and a half. He was really frantically hungry and unable to be consoled. We really struggled with what to do, but he lost more than 10% of his body weight and were advised to begin supplementing with formula. For those who instantly are about to criticize our choice, you should have been in our apartment the first three days. He would scream frantically every half hour, despite being nursed as often as he demanded. It was heartbreaking and I began to have a really serious issue with my anxiety. No one could function and even KG started to hit his breaking point.

Now, with nursing, pumping (achingly small amounts) and formula, LF is gaining weight and is MUCH more happy and calm. The last couple of days have been much better. The milk issue is a major disappointment for me and the theories are: PCOS rearing its ugly head, anxiety, some medication I take, and lack of sleep.  I'm still hoping at some point this will happen. But, I'm also coming to terms with letting go of control and understanding this may be a formula fed baby, despite our efforts. It's just frustrating - first with infertility (failure of my ovaries) followed by failure of my boobs.

What's been even more challenging is the adjustment to being a parent. We are totally in love with our baby, but really, no one can prepare you for the changes that come with bringing a newborn home. It's like there is no normal right now, and everything we took for granted (showers, eating and sleeping at the same time as KG, making phone calls, etc.) are all actual goals for the day. I'm not saying I resent any of this. We are exceptionally lucky to be where we are. But, I have found it difficult in these first days to be the glowing picture of motherhood you see on TV. Instead, I relish in the moments when I change out of pjs and into actual clothes for the day.

KG is really good at seeing the big picture: the newborn days are limited. There will be smiles, giggles, fun activities, and much more interaction as LF grows. But, I get a little caught up in the hour-to-hour exhaustion of right now. KG has always been an amazing partner, but he has also quickly turned into an AMAZING father. He has been there for both of us every single second, without fail. He never ceases to amaze me.

I have several posts in mind, including one about the future of this blog, in the works. But, forgive me as I stumble around for a while.

Edited to add: MissConception's post about post partum says a lot of things I feel much more eloquently than I can right now. It's amazing and real.