Thought I'd let you all know that I'm a graduate now.
I became a Mama to DonnaLucia S----- D----- on September 14th. She is a delight!
I just.....there aren't words. I just love her so much.
The birth was not a good experience. I ended up with a c-section, and not for lack of a stellar effort on the part of my midwife to try and give me the natural birth I wanted.....and not for lack of effort on my part either! I'm told I pushed nonstop for almost six hours, without ever experiencing even one second of relief, even between contractions. The baby was placing constant pressure on my bulging disc at L5-S1. Apparently, the pain was so extraordinary that my brain just blocked out the entire experience altogether: I have no memory at all of my 16 hour labor, and -- due to exhaustion -- can recall only fuzzy snippets of the birth itself. I wasn't even able to keep my eyes open when my daughter was first brought to me to kiss and admire. I couldn't stay awake to even look at my newborn daughter.
Then in post-op my head, then my shoulders, then my arms, hands and fingers, and then my torso started jerking and thrashing around uncontrollably. It was terrifying! It took quite a while for staff to figure out that I was reacting to the anti-nausea drug that was administered before I went into the OR. Already completely exhausted, I spent nearly three hours with my head and upper body thrashing around in repeated, non-stop spasms. And I wasn't able to hold my newborn daughter.
After a consult with a neurologist, valium was prescribed as the remedy to the apparent drug reaction. After the valium was administered through the IV line, it was only a matter of seconds really before all of the spastic craziness finally started to abate. What a relief!! I was finally able to hold DonnaLucia. But because of the drug, I wasn't able to immediately nurse my newborn daughter.
Once we made it up to our hospital room, DP and I spent a couple of hours snuggling our baby girl and celebrating and picture-taking with family. But by the time everyone left and the nurses prepared me for bed, I had been awake and/or laboring and/or in pain and/or convulsing for over 36 hours. Same went for DP (well except for the laboring/pain/convulsing part....but he was still exhausted). We decided it just wasn't safe to have DonnaLucia room-in with us, because we might not hear her if she cried. And I wasn't allowed to nurse her anyway because of the valium, so she spent her first night in the nursery (where they gave her formula that she apparently threw up all over the place
). Through her first night in the world, I wasn't able to hold and cuddle my newborn daughter.
Then, in the first 6 weeks after her birth, I stumbled along the edge of some scary Depression, all an extension of my experience during the pregnancy.
I still can't really talk about that; my current sense of wellness is just so fragile.
I have a beautiful, strong, healthy baby girl. She's always so alert and relaxed. So much like her Daddy that way. She's just so content to be up and facing the world and looking around, taking it all in. And then when it is time to sleep, she sleeps deeply and soundly and hardly fusses at all. She is seriously an amazing sleeper! (The Universe must have thought it owed me one after a pregnancy plagued by major depression, anxiety, and grief, all followed by an awful birth experience and frightening post-partum.) Breastfeeding is going great too, and DonnaLucia is turning into quite the little Chunky Monkey. I feel so humbled and honored that I get to be the source of nourishment to this amazing little person.
I am so thankful. So thankful.
My daughter's birth story -- and the story of my birth as a mother -- is bookended by loss. It was only 18 days after my mom died that I found out I was pregnant. And this past Saturday, exactly 18 days after I finally and suddenly started to feel well and whole and happy and possibly even capable of motherhood, my NaNa died. My mother was 71 when she died after suffering for nearly a decade from Alzheimer's Disease. The illness stole so much of her memory that her body forgot how to live. My NaNa was 100 years, 1 month, 1 week, and 2 days old when she died. And she was sharp as a tack until almost right to the very end, when she died essentially of old age. The world is incomprehensible to me sometimes.
But all this loss, it only accentuates how grateful I am. So grateful that I knew those women, that I loved them and, especially, that I was loved by them. And so grateful that I know this new woman in my life, that I get to love her, and that by experiencing this sort of love -- in all of its fierce, animal intensity....in its seeming boundlessness -- I get to know how much those older women actually loved me. And I am so, so grateful. So thankful.
Despite the heartache of loss, it will be a good Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving, too.