Baby G: The Fourth Trimester
In early March my first and only child was born. Our journey began with a stress test. When my doctor told me my amniotic fluid was low she directed me to go to labor and delivery for an induction. After several hours in labor with no further progress, the nurses were unable to track my son’s heartbeat on the monitor. Next thing I know the doctor is coming in to discuss surgery with me. To be honest, some of this has become a blur but there will be a follow up blog to share a bit more of my birth experience and the support system I initially did not want.
Now I’m approximately 2.5 months into my new role as a mom. There are so many topics I want to share in this piece so I’m going to break it down in probably an unorthodox way. Since I’ve had my son it has been a bit challenging to organize my thoughts. Maybe its due to sleep deprivation. Either way, please bear with me.
Life as a New Parent
There have been plenty of 4 am wide-eyed moments. Those few sweet hours when I can choose to go back to sleep, eat first breakfast or write my next piece. Often times I would choose to eat and write because all of me felt famished. Where I once defined myself and my life by the work I did, I now have an entirely new identity to grow into.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging that maternity leave and stay-at-home-mom life is no vacation. My perception was that my baby will be sleeping and I'll have a chance to catch up on all the reading and writing I put off or was unable to complete in the last year. Boy was I wrong. Keeping a little human alive is absolutely nerve-wracking. Especially in those first few days when they are brand new and my body is the sole provider of sustaining their life. Like what the heck?! Eventually we found our groove but I totally lost sleep worrying if he was eating enough let alone excreting the right type of poop. In time, I discovered that reading those books were no longer as important as the daily changes I’d notice in my son. Simple things like watching his eyebrows become more prominent on his face, his eyelashes growing longer and observing his gaze as it follows a toy from left to right. My son is incredibly alert and learning something new every day. Even his cries have evolved. I absolutely adore the way he communicates with me. I think I really began to fall in love with my baby at the two month mark. By now I got the flow down of how to care for him. He is becoming more responsive to me with smiles and sweet coos. My son fascinates me in a way I didn't think possible.
I will also look back at this time and think of all the establishments I used to frequent that no longer suit the needs of my family. Two words: changing station. As a new mom who is eager to maintain the social life she once had, I thought it would be fairly simple to still grab a bite to eat with friends and family. This theory was true until my son leveled-up fairly quick. He went from being a sleeping 3 week old to being a curious 6 week old in no time.
With that said the frequency of diaper blowouts began to increase. Hence my emphasis on changing stations and how few there were in places that I once patronized. For some reason the fact that I was inconvenienced really baffled me. Like how can these delicious restaurants be unaccommodating? So far, we have changed diapers on a bench at Burgers n' Brew and in my car at another restaurant’s parking lot. While on campus at UC Davis I had to change my son on the sink counter. I thought for sure there would be a changing station in the larger stall. To my surprise I was wrong. I mean, why would a college campus have a diaper changing station? Silly me to assume!
I’m certain this will be the first of many “life hacks” that I’ll have to sort out.
Marathon training was a fantastic introduction to sustaining energy as a new parent. I find myself fueling, hydrating and pacing myself for a whole new purpose. My early morning rise is now meant to feed my son as opposed to hitting a trail. Torn between purging my body of all the third trimester junk I couldn't stay away from as well as the post-op meds in my system that caused tremendous swelling, these days I am consuming homemade green smoothies but really wanting pancakes. I also may have cleared two packages of cookies and justified the craving because I was breastfeeding.
Normalize this. Because I'm human and not a machine. I want to live in a society where breasts aren't solely sexualized. I shouldn't have to hide myself when feeding my son in public. My body is producing so much milk. I'm in awe of what our bodies are capable of creating. I think it's a miracle that my body alone can sustain his life.
My new role as a parent has brought my trust issues to light as well. I am learning to trust in my abilities and trust that others will be there to help me if I ask. My need to trust in others became significantly clear to me as I began to recover from surgery. I’ll always remember the remark a nurse made saying that only mothers are required to take care of another human being after having major surgery. I also learned to ask for help. This has become more apparent with my task of securing a daycare provider for my baby.
Through this process of me losing absolute control of my life, I managed to find my way back to Jesus. If I worry about everything and try to do it all on my own I will quickly put myself in a grave. As I grow in my relationship with God, I’m learning that it is okay to come back imperfect, broken and asking for help. I wish I traveled down this path during my pregnancy. I was spiritually and emotionally depleted. But there is one thing I knew and that was I wanted to be better for my son. I want him to have a foundation and a reason to believe there is good in this world. His mother and father are not perfect and will fall short. We understand that we won't be able to do it all and will need help. In late April we devoted our son to the Lord. This world is full of madness and I want to empower my son with knowledge and strength I do not possess. I want him to know kindness and forgiveness. In time he can make his own decisions as to whether or not he wants to further pursue religion. But for now this is what we are working with.
For the first time since 2013, I feel free and alive. All things considered, I have focus and know what I want. I was thrown some unexpected curve balls but I feel better equipped to navigate them. Looking back on the last 17 years of my life, for once, I can say that I'm not chasing a piece of paper, completing a certification, working on a pilot/show, launching the next project, maintaining a relationship or searching for the next job.
I can totally see how new parents fall off the social spectrum for a while.
I have been forced to slow down.
Do I miss certain aspects? Yes.
For now it is what it is. When the time is appropriate all of that experience will come into play.
At the end of the day, as much as I want Baby G to go to bed for the night so we can both rest, I also cannot wait for him to wake up so I can watch him yawn, enjoy snuggle time and do it all over again.
This is hard work but entirely worth the effort.