When you are up at 3 A.M. with your baby who won’t sleep…

…its a good time to re-write the lyrics to the B-52’s “Loveshack.” (Don’t judge me I was sleep deprived)

If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says
Fifteen miles to the, baby shack!

baby shack yeah-ah

I’m headin’ down the Nimitz freeway
Lookin’ for the baby getaway
Headed for the baby getaway, 
I got me a stroller at the Toys R Us sale,
And we’re headin’ on down to the baby shack
I got me a trike, it seats about twenty
So hurry up and bring your juicebox money

The baby shack is a little old place where
Arya gets together…
with all the other ba-bies…
Baby shack baby

Baby shack, baby, baby shack
Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Sign says, woo, nobody drools
The club rules, at the baby shack
Well it’s set way back in the middle of a field
Just a funky old shack and Arya’s gotta get back
Glitter on the changing pad
Glitter on the height chair… oh yeah
Glitter on the carpet
Glitter on the bouncy chair..yeah

The baby shack is a little old place where
Arya gets together…
with all the other babies
Baby shack baby

Baby shack, baby, baby shack
Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Huggin’ and a-kissin’, dancin’ and a-snuggling’
Wearin’ only diapers ’cause it’s hot as an oven
The whole shack shimmies
Yeah the whole shack shimmies
The whole shack shimmies when every baby’s movin’ around
And around and around and around
Every baby’s wigglin’, every babies cruisin’ baby
Sleepy babies linin’ up outside just to go down
Every baby’s wigglin’, every babies cruisin’ baby
Funky little shack
Funky little shack

Hop in my stroller, it’s as big as a whale
And it’s about to set sail
I got me a trike, it seats about twenty,

so come on and bring your jukebox money
The baby shack is a little old place where

Arya gets together…

with all the other ba-bies…

Baby shack baby

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

 

Bang bang bang on the door baby!
Knock a little louder baby!
Bang bang bang on the door baby!
I can’t hear you
Bang bang bang on the door baby!
Knock a little louder sugar!
Bang bang bang on the door baby!
I can’t hear you

Bang bang bang on the door baby, knock a little louder
Bang bang on the door baby, bang bang!
On the door baby, bang bang!
On the door, bang bang!
On the door baby, bang bang!

You smell what..?

Somebody…. pooped!
Busted!

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Baby shack, baby, baby shack

Sort of settling in

Almost everyone I see asks me how I feel being back to work and I’m finding it hard to answer.  I’m so so proud I’m making this work and it seems do-able.   And if I’m being honest, Arya being such a chill and easy baby is probably 95% of why this feels so manageable.  She still mostly sleeps through the night so I’m getting about 7 hours of sleep a night, she goes to bed around 7-7:30 so I have a few hours at night to myself, she is perfectly content hanging out with most people, and she is able to entertain herself for decent stretches of time.  And yes, I am fully aware of how lucky I am and I tell Arya every day how grateful I am for her.

But I have a constant fear of money hanging over me.  We are just barely squeaking by.  We are completely living check to check and we would be completely screwed if I were to ever lose my job (or our rent controlled apartment).  Not only is this terrifying but it also makes me so angry.  I’m an attorney and I make almost six figures.  And while this pales in comparison to what many of my classmates (who chose much more lucrative legal careers) it shouldn’t be this hard..right?  So fuck capitalism and can we please get universal free childcare, healthcare, and education already?

On a very unrelated note, I had the weirdest interaction with Arya’s daycare yesterday.  When I dropped her off she was wearing a onesie and baby leg warmers.  The outfit looked a lot like this:

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One of the teachers was like: “look at you today!”  I assumed she thought the outfit was cute.  Later, when I picked Arya up the same teacher was like: “today we called her sexy girl!.”  Um what?  I didn’t ask her to elaborate and just responded “oh haha.”  I’m thinking she thought the legwarmers looked like women’s thigh high stockings or something.  It was so weird and a bit gross and I know this wouldn’t have happened if she was a boy.  Can you please not sexualize my six month old?

Despite the weirdness, I decided not to say anything.  I have been super, duper happy with how they are taking care of Arya and she is so happy when I drop her off and pick her up.  I  have to pick and choose my battles and this just isn’t worth it.  But WTF?

So Grateful.

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This outfit isn’t particularly cute ( and Arya spit up on it) but it made me really emotional to see her in it this morning. It’s the outfit I bought while I was doing IVF and didn’t know whether it would work. Everyone tells you not to do this but I needed to do something hopeful after 2 years of surgeries, appointments, giving myself hundreds of injections in my belly, and spending tons of $$$$. I bought this when I had just transferred my one “ good” embryo- whittled down from 35 others with genetic abnormalities. This was my only shot and I wanted a baby more than anything. When I brought this outfit home I remember looking at it and not being able to imagine I would ever have a baby to wear it. I stuffed it deep inside a drawer thinking it would make it even harder when the embryo transfer didn’t work.

And now I have this amazing tiny human and I can’t even express how grateful I am for her and her loud belly laughs and smiles.

Diblings!

Arya has four siblings that I know of. The sperm bank I used has their own sibling registry and I finally got around to registering us. Three of the babies are boy triplets. I really hope that the parents of these kids want to connect. I write a message a few weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back yet. But the messages are housed on a private bulletin board that doesn’t give notifications that someone has posted. So, I’m hoping they will still contact me.

Also, I talked to Arya’s daycare and she starts September 1st. This made me a lot sadder than I expected to be. I always predicted I would be super ready to go back to work but I wish I had six more months. I’m also having strong urges to have another baby. ( more on that later).

Figuring out what hands are for

Scheming for world domination?

The Bay Area in June.

New Mexico!

I’m so so blessed to be on maternity leave for six months so I decided to take a small vacation while I have the time. My friend and I had been talking about going to Santa Fe to see the Meow Wolf exhibit so I convinced her to take a week off to explore Northern New Mexico with me and Arya. Luckily, she loves babies, so unlike most people she was excited about traveling with a three month old.

It’s shocking how much crap you need to travel with an infant. I was adamant that we would be bringing our beloved rock and play along- because Arya sleeps so well in it. After several foiled attempts at ordering one delivered to the local Target so we could use it for a week and then return it ( sorry not sorry ) I realized I could take it apart and put it in the suitcase. In the end we had one huge suitcase, one small suitcase, the stroller/car seat, and a diaper bag. Not too bad but it sure looks like a lot more when all together:

We stayed at an air bnb with a nice but very strange couple. The husband told my friend that he is 400 years old from not drinking flouride ( ummm..).

We spent the first day at Meow Wolf and it far exceeded our expectations! It’s very hard to describe but basically, it’s an all immersive art exhibit with a sci-fi backstory. The exhibit has several different ” worlds” and is a collaboration of tons of artists and it is constantly changing. I can’t recommend it enough. We stayed for four hours but could have happily spent another day. When Arya was actually awake, she loved looking at everything.

The next day we hiked around Bandelier National Monument where you can hike around and explore well preserved pueblos in this beautiful canyon. People thought we were crazy hiking in the desert with a three month old but she did great.

The next day was my 40th birthday! We are tons of great food and I got a massage. We splurged on a fancy dinner but our much less expensive breakfast was the big highlight- blue corn cakes with mole, syrup, and red chile sauces:

I thought I would be more freaked out about turning 40 but I feel pretty great about it. The issue that would give me the most pause when getting older was always my worry about running out of time to have a baby. I also have an awesome community of friends, my relationship with my family has never been better, I have a good career and I’ve certainly taken advantage of my first 40 years by living life by my own rules and traveling extensively. So yeah 40 is feeling pretty good!

We also spent some time in Taos where I saw an old friend ( who is also a single mom), saw some absolutely spectacular nature, and ate our way through Northern New Mexico. I’m already daydreaming about taking Arya on our next adventure.

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.