Monday, August 22, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Car ride to the pediatrician, curled up so impossibly small.

Calliope was a half an ounce above her birth weight this morning when we went to see the pediatrician. I could tell that her face was filling out, but it was nice to have it confirmed that all is going well.

Is it strange that even though I'm glad she's doing so well, I'm a bit wistful about her growing? She's so sweet and tiny right now. I'm sad that changes come so fast. I want to -- and indeed I do -- revel in each day. I don't want them to rush by in a blur. Even if I do have another baby eventually, I will never again get to marvel  at the daily miracles each day brings.

She also had an umbilical granuloma, which is when a little piece of the umbilical cord doesn't die off, but keeps growing (happens in 1 in 500 babies). It oozes in a not so pleasant way. It's funny to me that with everything else I've been worrying about, I didn't focus on that. The pediatrician put a little silver nitrate on it and I expect she will be as good as new.

Mom, Calliope, and I did several quick errands after that, with my mom doing all the walking and most of the shopping. I sat in a playground outside the hospital and nursed Calliope and chatted with my medical director, who met us outside. I thought I was doing a good job of nursing nonchalantly and casually... but it was funny to realize afterwards that I had a giant wet spot on the front of my shirt.

After we got back, I politely kicked my mom out and my doula (Chloe) plus her backup (Tymaree), the one that was actually at my delivery, came by for our postpartum visit.

What an intense two hour visit we had. I started to cry as soon as I saw Tymaree.

I have such mixed emotions about my birth. I feel bad that I haven't sat down to write out my birth story yet... I'm scared that it is fading by the day. Indeed, because of the medications I took, lots of details are already so very blurry. Long chunks of time are just sort of missing from the memory vault. And yet what I do remember is so charged.

Let me be clear: I adore my daughter. Already. And I feel like I barely know her. I can't even imagine what it will be like as more facets of her personality emerge.

But let me also be clear about this: I hated labor. And that surprised me. I guess it disappoints me, also.

I thought that since I am strong (or so I thought?), and disciplined, and did my homework (in the form of practicing my Hypnobabies every day), that the birth experience would be tough, and challenging, but manageable.

But it was not. Not by a long shot. And I have all sorts of anger and frustration and sadness and disappointment and guilt about that.

And I don't know where to put all those emotions, because this crazy experience brought me this gorgeous baby, this person who will revolutionize my life (this is the reason for the guilt). And yet... it was a damaging experience, too. At least in the moment. I think that that is changing, and will continue to change with time... but is that a factor of healing, or of simple forgetting?

I feel a need to put things right, somehow, to heal up in this nice and clean way... but I haven't a clue how to do that.


  1. Im thinking of you. Birth even when it goes according to plan (as rare as that is) is major in so many ways. J's birth left me with a lot of those emotions (add to that his size issues) and it took me a little while to be ok. Its hard when you do the right things and everything you should and still it goes its own way.
    I would recommend a support group. Someone you can go to. I want to say ICAN but im not sure if that's the place. Talking it out helps I think. Beyond that, you did do well. You are a strong mama. You may not forget but you will heal.

  2. I think it's normal to feel a mix of emotions and that the amazing, strong love and attachment you feel for your daughter doesn't necessarily wipe out the trauma of her birth. I don't think that's the way emotions work. I am really sorry that the birth experience was not at all what you thought if might be and that it was so disappointing, painful, and even "damaging." I like what Gille said about talking about it with people who "get it" and I do imagine, from what I've heard from other women who have given birth, that the memory of the pain will likely diminish over time. Sending caring thoughts. (she is quite tiny and precious)

  3. Time really does go quickly, especially when they are so little and growing so fast. My little boy isn't even 2 yet and I feel like I'm forgetting what it was like to have a "baby". I did not have a good birth experience, but I didn't really expect to I guess, so it wasn't a let down or anything for me. I did swear I'd never have another baby after everything, and yet here I am trying to figure out when to start trying for number 2... I haven't forgotten, I guess the pain and misery of it just gets diluted with time, or lack of sleep the first two months :)

  4. I totally understand those feelings. The birth of my daughter was nothing, absolutely nothing, like I thought it would be. I'm still struggling with it, but do find it really helpful to talk about it, especially with people who have also had a similar experience.

    The further out I am from her birth, the more at peace I am with it. The first couple of weeks postpartum are really hard emotionally at best, so try to go easy on yourself and how you're feeling. Just keep looking at your beautiful baby girl whenever you need a pick me up!

  5. I think it's healing. Don't beat yourself up about not finding labour easy. I don't think it says anything about your strength or preparedness.

    Try writing the birth story (for yourself not the blog) that might help make things okay.

  6. Labor was rough for me too and I don't think I would have been prepared for just how painful it was. Please don't beat yourself up about it but do try to write it down sooner than later. Calliope is so teeny. I was holding Foxie yesterday and it dawned on me that he is twice his orginal size. With each cute little sound, cuddle, smile and giggle, it will be as if Calliope was always here and always your sweet girl. Hugs from Amy and Zac (Foxie)

    PS - Foxie had a granuloma too. I was surprised at how much the silver nitrate stained his skin around his belly button. Within a week or so, he was all healed and squeaky clean.

  7. Oh! That sweet little foot. I think it's totally normal to feel wistful about her growing. I know I don't want another baby, but I still miss the squishy baby stage. I'm just going to have to satisfy myself by snuggling other peoples babies. (Hint, hint!)

    Hang in there re your birth experience. You are awash in postpartum hormones, and I'm sure you're sleep deprived. Did your doula write up your birth story? Mine took notes, so when she wrote out the account, all the details were accurate (times, what was said, etc). It really helped when I wrote the birth story myself. As for being disappointed in yourself, seriously you should be so proud that you gestated this perfect, healthy, little girl for 41 1/2 weeks! You should be proud about how well breast feeding is going. Many women are still struggling with it or have even given up at this point. You're doing great, Mama! Smooch that precious girl for me. :-)

  8. I'm sorry to hear you had a disappointing birth experience. As you know, I can commiserate fully. Not knowing the details, I'll just say that I'm pretty certain you are very strong and committed and did everything you could to make it go better.

    When I do get around to writing out Carys' birth experience, the theme is about "expectations." I seriously lowered my expectations of what would happen and how it would go (compared to Fiona's birth) and I believe that's a big part of why it was a better experience for me... even though the physical aspect of it was again totally miserable and it ended in a c-section.

    And yes, you've got crazy hormones right now so remind yourself of that. You did good Abby - your gorgeous and healthy girl is testament to that.