I have a secret…

Well I guess it’s not a huge secret now that I’m writing about it on the internet ( but who knows how many people actually read this). The reason it’s a secret is that I’ve been told that this is a taboo topic amongst parents,  So here it is….

…..Arya has been sleeping through the night for the past month!

Yes, she is only 10 weeks old.

No, haven’t been doing some sort of torturous sleep training- or any type of sleep training.

No, this didn’t result from my amazing parenting skills-she just naturally sleeps for long stretches.

Yes, I have been loosely following the advice from ” the Happiest Baby on the Block” and I swear by this swaddle but generally I think I just got lucky.

I’m thinking maybe the people in my family are just good sleepers. My mom was insistent that both my sister and I slept through the night as infants. I thought she was exaggerating because this couldn’t possibly be true. Also, when I told my sister about it she told me that my nephew also slept through the night as a newborn.

I get why I shouldn’t be rubbing this in the face of all of my other parent-friends.  Sleep deprivation sucks and is arguably the hardest part of parenting.  But, I still want to shout it from the rooftops.  So, I’ve been confiding in my non-parent friends to get it out of my system.  But even when I tell them I find myself qualifying it with “well she is doing this for now but who knows what will happen in the future..”  I do this because I feel a bit ashamed for talking about it-which is ridiculous.

I think this “shame” comes from a conversation I had with the doctor who did Arya’s two month check-up (he was filling in for our regular pediatrician).  I told him about her sleep because I was happy but also because I wanted to gauge how normal this was and the chances that this would continue.  After giving me his opinion (you never know) he said twice “don’t brag about it.” I thought maybe he was joking but he didn’t say this with a smile-just very matter of fact.  So thanks for raining on our parade Mr. buzzkill pediatrician!

And, here are a few baby pictures because why not?

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The First Month

I was worried about feeling alone and not having enough help but between my family ( my sister and dad were here a week and my mom a month!) and the amazing number of friends coming by-i felt so loved and supported.  As you can imagine, the first few weeks was a blur of sleep deprivation and figuring things out.  Due to Arya’s tiny size, I was breastfeeding and supplementing with formula every 2-3 hours and pumping 6 times every 24 hours.  I was beyond exhausted. Also, it was painful to abide by her doctor’s instructions to wake Arya to eat but she needed the calories.  On top of this, I was having a hard time getting the hang of breastfeeding.  Arya seemed super frustrated every time and she would just conk out after a minute or two.

Despite all of this hard work, she lost almost a pound by her first checkup. The pediatrician asked me to increase the feedings even more and she immediately brought us to a lactation consultant.  They assured me that my milk would come in soon because ( at that point) I was only producing a tiny amount.  The nurses encouraged me to increase her formula and gave me reassurances that should would be fine.

Unfortunately, my milk never really came in.  After pumping 6 times a day, I was only producing about 1-2 ounces- but Arya needed about 15-20 to continue growing. It was so frustrating and was breaking my heart.  I was so excited to breastfeed and accepting that it wasn’t working out was bringing me to tears. A friend of mine offered me pumped milk and to occasionally breastfeed her for me and I became irrationally upset. Not at her ( she was trying to help) but the thought of someone else having the bond of breastfeeding that I was unable to have just killed me. I did happily accept the frozen breast milk and feel really lucky to have an awesome friend willing to share it.

After a month with no increase in my supply, I made the decision to throw in the towel ( or the breast pump). It was tough at first but soon I felt so much better. And my amazing girl is healthy and growing! She gained almost a pound at her next checkup.

While I feel exponentially blessed that my mom came to help us for a month, I was worried it might cause more stress. Shockingly, we got along incredibly well. With no prodding, she took care of all the cleaning and cooking so I could take care of Arya. She also would take her in the morning so I could get a few hours of sleep which helped me feel a little less crazy from sleep deprivation. We had a few small hiccups ( she has very traditional views on what girls should wear and thinks you can ” spoil ” a newborn). But generally, the focus was on the baby and not on my various shortcomings, so we got along great for the most part. Also I think it set her at ease to witness the immense amount of support I have from my community here. I seriously didn’t want her to go home. If you had told me this a year ago, I would never have believed it but the baby really did transform our relationship. We talk nearly every day now.

One of my favorite mom moments happened when I was driving her to the airport. She said ” I have to tell you something..” I immediately thought her cancer had come back or something equally horrible. Then she blurted out ” I secretly baptized Arya while you and dad were at Target!” She then went on to explain that she tried to bring holy water with her but that her church was out. But the nuns told her she could use regular water instead. I guess she did it in the sink. She said it made her feel better because she truly believes unbaptized babies go to hell.

I think she thought I would be mad but I thought it was hilarious. I laughed so hard I was crying. Such a classic mom move.

Here are some pictures from Arya’s first month:

Arya’s Birth Story

My sister got here two days before my scheduled c section and we spent the day before getting last minute things done. I also had an amazing massage. It felt important to eat some ” last” meals out so we went out to brunch and dinner.  Then we took some last bump photos:

 

When I went to bed it dawned on me that I was having a baby by having an awake surgery. So I would be conscious while they were cutting me open and pulling my organs aside. Oh and the whole meeting my daughter thing. I didn’t sleep much and jumped out of bed when my alarm went off at 5:30 AM and took a shower.

The hospital in Oakland had told me to call before coming in because they may need to delay my c section in case there was an emergency.  At 6 I sleepily called labor and delivery and told them I was scheduled to be in at 7AM for a scheduled c-section.  The woman responded “ummm yeah you can’t come in yet-i’m pretty sure this isn’t happening today.  We are really busy..maybe Monday..?”  (it was Friday)  She said it like I was re-scheduling an oil change with absolutely no acknowledgment about how this may be upsetting to me.  When I replied that this date was pushed up significantly due to being at risk for uterine rupture due to a surgery and preeclampsia she replied..” you have preeclampsia?.. let me call you back..”

About 30 minutes later she called back and just said “yeah.. we can’t do it today-sorry.”  She didn’t mention consulting with anyone about all of my risk factors and she seemed very annoyed when I asked to speak to someone else.  A few minutes later I spoke to the nurse manager who was equally (if not more) annoyed by my questions and concerns.  She just said: ” don’t you have some fibroids?” and I explained that they had been removed during a surgery on my uterus which is why I was having an early c-section.  She also seemed unconcerned about the preeclampsia and again never mentioned looking at my chart or doing any type of evaluation of whether this delay would be ok.  I told her I was surprised they were casually rescheduling given the preinatalogist’s insistence I have the baby today.  I also asked if I should eat.  She said she would ask someone.  A few minutes later she told me to eat but I decided not to because it was unclear what was going on and I didn’t want to ruin my chances of having a c-section today.

My sister was equally livid and insisted I call them back but I decided to wait because talking to the nurses was making me really anxious.  Then I checked my blood pressure and it was crazy high at 200/110. Previously I had been told to call immediately if it ever went over 160/90.  This had resulted in me spending a few hours on monitors at labor and delivery several times the previous week.  I called them back and they told me to come in.  It seemed I had finally forced them to care about me and the baby’s well-being.

When we showed up the unit was packed and crazy busy. As if on cue, a screaming woman was wheeled past us and it all felt very Grey’s Anatomy. The triage nurse ( who I had spoken to on the phone) looked unimpressed. She informed us they had nowhere to put me. She also mentioned that ” this is why I told you not to come in” and snarkily asked if my blood pressure had increased after they told me my c section was postponed. She didn’t take my blood pressure and sent us to the visitors waiting room.

We were in the waiting room for a long time. I was starving and nervous and my sister did her best to distract me. My friend also stopped by with her one year old. At one point a man who had been watching his friend’s two year old just walked away leaving the little girl behind. The girl started crying and we told security who went looking for the man. When he came back he was surprised that everyone was so upset. This was ridiculous but at least it provided some good distraction. After a few hours my sister went and yelled at the nurse manager. A few minutes later I was taken to a room for monitoring.

The triage nurse apologized through gritted teeth. My blood pressure was finally taken and it was within normal range. The baby’s heartbeat was perfect. Although this was good news, my heart sunk a bit because I knew this meant they would be sending me home. The surgeon who was supposed to be doing my c section came to see me and I was finally reassured that the baby would be ok if we waited a few days to take her out. This was seven hours after I was told the c section was postponed. She rolled her eyes when I told her the nurse on the phone didn’t know I had preeclampsia and I felt vindicated. Then she asked if I wanted to have the baby today. When I said I really did, she assured me they would find another hospital for me to go to. ( my HMO has a large network of hospitals). About 30 minutes later I was told I could have my c section at the hospital in San Francisco and I happily agreed.

The vibe at the hospital in San Francisco was a huge contrast to the one in Oakland.  Things were calm, they were actually ready for me, and I was put in a room right away to prep me for the surgery.  I started to get really nervous so my sister pulled out her I-Pad and put on the Great British Bake Off.  This helped a lot but my heart was beating out of my chest when they came to bring me to the operating room.

They had me sit on the operating table for the epidural.  One of nurses held my shoulders and looked into my eyes while making small talk to ensure I didn’t move while they were putting a needle into my spine.  When they were done, they laid me down on the table and realized I couldn’t feel my legs.  The anesthesiologist started poking me to make sure it worked and kept asking me if I was feeling something sharp or just pressure.  I started to panic because I was petrified of giving the wrong answer.  When I started to really freak out, I told them I thought I was having a panic attack and I think they gave me a sedative because I was much calmer by the time my sister came in.

She held my hand and tried to distract me from the fact that my body was being cut open on the other side of the blue sheet draped across my middle.  All of a sudden I heard loud cries and I was completely overwhelmed and started crying.  A few minutes later they handed Arya to me and she was amazing.  I was really overwhelmed and welcomed her to the world through tears.  I couldn’t (can’t) believe I was finally a mom to this tiny person.  I didn’t know what to say so I just told her “hello you!” and examined her tiny nose and her hair.

Then I started to feel a lot of pressure and pain so I handed her to my sister.  When I complained out loud someone stupidly said ” it’s because we have your uterus out and we are stitching it up.”  Umm WTF?  So now I think of my uterus on a metal table every time I think of Arya’s birth.

I feel like I didn’t really get a chance to really take her in until I held her in the recovery room. We immediately did skin to skin and my friend helped her get latched on.  I was amazed that she knew what to do and it felt  amazing to be producing something that would make her healthy and strong.

The next few days at the hospital were a blur.  I could barely move without extreme pain so it was great to have the nurses hand her to me for feedings and to change her diapers.  The best part was just holding her skin to skin and snuggling.  I will also never forget introducing her to my parents for the first time.  On the way out my sister and my parents were bickering about something silly.  My dad told Arya: ” You don’t get to choose us but these crazy people are your family.”  This made us all laugh.

What I honestly remember most about this time was being scared that I didn’t feel the completely intense love for Arya that everyone talks about.  Not to say I didn’t love her (and wow would this love develop by leaps and bounds) but this was clouded by the terrifying worry of being responsible to take care of a tiny person…and I would be doing it solo. This caused me to be petrified to bring her home because this would mark the true start of this long journey.  I remember looking at her and thinking “I’m all this beautiful girl has so I have to get it together.”  Luckily I had enormous support from friends and family to lean on so I put her in her adorable monster pjs and off we went.