Although I’ve categorized this blog post as a Raising Dad’s segment, please note how Dan isn’t mentioned as much. Its on purpose. I did the heavy lifting here, and I won’t let him forget it.
Since giving birth, I bring up how I had a natural labor in casual conversations with strangers. I act like I’m the hero this world was waiting for. People say, “there’s no trophy for dealing with the pain…” Yes there is, Joan. It’s called eternal glory and you wouldn’t understand.
I have a lifetime left of unarguable proof that I am the superior partner. Well, as long as Dan never mentions my extreme reaction to LASIK, a small surgery that everyone said was absolutely painless, but I thought would end my life. Still, 10/10 recommend.
After an uneventful hospital stay, Dan and I packed up our tiny stranger and headed home. The first few weeks at home are filled with doting eyes, everyone is telling you, “enjoy those snuggles.” I’d happily give onlookers what they wanted and say “oh isn’t she just perfect?” Meanwhile, Dan and I are standing in the kitchen with a crying baby asking each other, “what have we done?” and I’m texting my mom, “If I leave in the night, don’t come looking. I’ve headed west and I found my old life in a new place.”
Please note, these feelings did not last long and were explained in detail to my midwife. If you experience these feelings after the initial “baby blues” window, I encourage you to speak to a professional.
As nighttime approached, so did our anxiety. What would the night bring? Any ounce of sleep was immediately interrupted by a sudden jolt to the entire body and either Dan or I frantically looking around the bed searching for our swaddled infant. She was sleeping soundly in the bassinet. The second I fell back asleep, it was time for her to eat.
I was breastfeeding and lactation consultants told me not to pump or substitute a feeding with a bottle (just at first), my supply needed to stabilize and the baby might get nipple confusion. I am still puzzled by that logic… newborns don’t know they are a separate human being, they actually think they are still part of their mother. I was somehow convinced my baby wasn’t capable of discerning she was her own self, but she was smart enough to identify a bottle and this would make her ~cOnFuSeD~. If your baby did in fact experience nipple confusion, sorry for my joke. You must have a genius on your hands and God bless you. I wasn’t so lucky. I’d wake up with the baby in the middle of the night and was exhausted. I’d look over at Dan sleeping peacefully and fill with rage. I’d shuffle loudly, turn on the light and remind him in the morning what an ass he was for sleeping and allowing me to breastfeed and he didn’t EVEN try to stop me. He took the outlandish criticism in stride but also tried to join in my misery and say, “I didn’t sleep very well either.” Are you kidding me? I continued to take the middle of the night feedings for leverage. I often remind him, “Dan, remember how much I did when she was a newborn?” It’s called delayed gratification people…and its a life skill.
Every morning the sun would rise, and I’d breathe a sigh of relief. The world was awake, and we made it. Dylan was a fussy newborn and required me to constantly bounce her while sitting on an exercise ball being worn like a baby kangaroo. Dan would come home from work and I’d immediately hand her over and say “she likes to be bounced.” He’d take her and do anything except my suggestion. Good call Dan, your strong man arms and masculine demeanor will likely calm her right down. Did you learn that while reading, The Expectant Father? He would always tell me that he needed to learn his own way. I was anxious and in fight or flight and he was trying to figure out a solution to a problem I had already solved. Watching him guess his way through the first few weeks was hilarious, adorable, and painful. It’d take everything in me to not correct him or make an alternate suggestion.
Days were passing, although in the moment, I was fairly certain time had stopped. We were adjusting, and everyday was getting more enjoyable. The highlight of my week was a Target trip (similar to the entire year ahead of me). I’d slowly stroll the aisles in between feeding sessions looking for hints of the past and when I finally approached checkout,
Cashier: “How are you today?”
Me: “Speaking of natural labors..”
Cashier: “Who’s speaking of labor?”
Me: “Well now that you mention it…”