I had a really fascinating conversation with some friends prompted by this article, highlighting that the benefits of breastfeeding have been overstated.
File Under: The Best Thing My Big Brother Ever Taught Me*: The Postgram App
From the link:
With this app, i can grab any picture on my phone or in Instagram and send it as a postcard. You enter in a message and an address and it gets sent automatically. Viola.
Considering that I can almost correctly use the word literally when I say “literally every picture of my child has been taken on an iPhone”, this app is GREAT for pushing out those pics to grandparents and great grandparents who want to see them (and, I suppose it could go without saying, are not on Snapchat)
Also of note in the above link is a reminder that my grandmother is a total badass; my brother takes a moment to reference the time a talent scout saw her walking in NYC and recruited her to be in a national GNC commercial at age 92.
So! Baby is just over 8 weeks old, and I am back at work. Sure, more time off would have been welcome, but I moved in to the “unpaid leave” portion of FMLA, and with both of us at home it started to feel a little decadent and slightly lazy to be at home when being at home means no money is coming in. And that’s ok. Even a week ago I would not have been ready to return, and I’m not saying I was jumping up and down to end our lovely family maternity leave routine- in fact, I’m quite sad about it, really – , but it’s ok. It’s the life we’ve built, and it requires me to work, and happily for everyone involved, I really like what I do, so “requires me to work” does not feel like a hardship. In fact, I had fun on my first day back, which is a nice validation that I’m still in the right job for me.
(Granted, the second day back has a little bit of a “Wait, but I went to work YESTERDAY” feel to it, so the end of next week I’ll probably be near comatose with the reality that, yes, work is, like, you know, a DAILY thing we do and not a nice interruption to reality.)
ANYHOO, in the interest of documenting what these first few days are like – I’m sure I’ll forget, and I know I’ll want to remember- here’s how the second day back to work routine shook out. I do not think this is sustainable, but it’s what we’ve got:
Hey, look: a baby:
So here’s the thing about newborn sleep: I don’t like being woken up in the middle of the night, when one should be swaddled in a down comforter and sleeping uninterruptedly for 8 hours, but sometimes when I walk in her room and lift her screaming tense little body into my arms I feel this almost instant relaxation in her, this immediate sense that all is ok; “oh” she seems to say. “Oh, I’m going to be ok, you’re here. “
If this ever goes away- the feeling that just my presence is enough to calm her- don’t tell me. For now, I’m her person, and she’s my baby, and sometimes, it feels like magic, it really does.
Of course, there are those times- like say HYPOTHETICALLY- when nothing calms her and she just screams and screams and I’m on like two stretches of 45 minutes sleep and I feel myself getting stupider by the minute- oh, here’s a fun example: I was at my friend Jess’s house and I saw a
children’s book named Ispy on the table in front of the couch where I was sitting. I was there for about three hours, and in the back of my mind, I was thinking “oh, I’ve never heard of that book.” It was only before I was about to leave that I fully saw it and realized: “oh. I Spy. The book is I Spy”
(oh oh AND as ANOTHER example of how sleep deprivation is getting to me: whenever Reagan is screaming I call her my “little baby dragon”, because her red face and flailing limbs make her seem like she’s a little pterodactyl.
It took me 6 weeks to realize: dinosaurs and dragons: two different things)
Anyway, what? Oh right: for all that it’s magic, for all that, really, this is the hardest but also the best thing I’ve ever done with my life, I feel like I’m in a state of suspended animation, holding my breath, waiting for reality to resume. Almost every morning Mike takes Moose on a field trip to get us coffee (the coffee shop gives moose cookies. We appreciate that) and we sit in bed with the baby and snuggle and watch HGTV and drink our coffee and it’s really just terribly wonderful. But in the back of my mind it looms: work, schedules, my life. We’ve been in a bubble and it’s about to burst.
When I first became a stepmother, my mom told me: “The two things a child needs is to feel safe, and to feel loved, in that order. Everything else is just bonus.” It was great advice, and in the time period before I really knew my stepdaughter (meaning – before I knew what the hell I was doing), it was a great default: make sure she knows shes safe, make sure she knows she’s loved. And, sure enough, as our relationship formed and got stronger, everything else – the bonus- came with it, but having those two cues to start with were enormously helpful to me.
Anyway, I was thinking about this on Saturday, when I heard a THUD behind me and looked over to see my five day old daughter lying face down on the ground between the ottoman in the chair, a position she apparently hurled herself to in a fit Wanting Food And Not Getting It Quick Enough.
Back to the basics, it appears. Sorry, little girl. We’ll try to keep ya safer than that.
Oh, so: I had a baby last week. Finally, and also, already? The cliff notes birth story is: my water starting leaking around 3am Monday, and I was having moderate 15 minute apart contractions. By 5am, those contractions were 3 minutes apart, and while I’d kind of anticipated a long early labor at home, the quickness of the contractions was freaking me out, plus the broken water thing, and we decided to head into the hospital.
Long story extremely short: She wasn’t born until 4:48am Tuesday. It was … a long day. I had been extremely loath to verbalize any kind of birth plan outside of “I plan to see how it goes”, because I didn’t want to be disappointed in things not going how they wanted, and while I’m not disappointed, I do feel kind of disconnected to her birth. I don’t feel that at any point there was any way it could have gone differently; I was on pitocin for 16 hours and at no point did I think there was a better course of action there, (like, what I am going to do? Will myself to dilate quicker?), but the amount of meds I was on- the meds I agreed to and still feel were necessary- made me feel extremely stoned and out of it, and I found myself in a haze throughout the day. When my daughter landed on my chest, I couldn’t really reconcile that she was here, that this is the person we’d been waiting for. It was an extremely jarring moment, but then, I suppose birth in general is extremely jarring.
I will say that while I tended to not care if I had a c-section or not — meaning, if my doc had said “hey, lady, the only way this is going down with a happy ending is via c-section” – that would have been fine, because, again, what are you going to do? Will yourself into a different reality? – I found myself in retrospect extremely surprised no one mentioned a c-section at, especially considering the time lapse between water breaking and baby emerging. My doctor told me later that she probably would have recommended a section if the baby’s heart was showing signs of distress, but apparently my little girl was content to stick it out, so we did. And here we are.
Here’s what’s crazy: I look back on pictures from her birthday (6 days ago), or even just yesterday, and I recognize her immediately. When she first landed on my chest, she felt like a stranger to me, but now I feel like I’ve known her forever.
Reagan Mary Teubner, born December 3rd — her great-grandmother’s birthday. We’re so happy, you guys. Sleep deprived, a little shell shocked, but so happy.
I was reading some pregnancy book and found the following statistic:
“You are almost 100% likely to have your baby by the time you are 42 weeks pregnant”
Ok. You guys. Just. I mean. We live in a SOCIETY, right? With LOGIC and REASON, yes?
No doctor in North America is likely to let you go past 42 weeks pregnant. You will almost CERTAINLY be induced by 41w5d if you are receiving standard pre-natal care in North America. That is just is how THEY DO.
So NO KIDDING you’re 100% likely to have your baby by 42 weeks. THEY WON’T LET YOU NOT. This is not proper application of statistics, in fact, this is why people HATE statistics, because when you abuse LOGIC AND REASON like this, you end up with MEANINGLESS CONCLUSIONS. You can’t just mess with numbers like that and SAY stuff. God. Telling someone they will have their baby by 42 weeks is a completely and utterly meaningless data point, and does nothing to help someone understand, in an informed fashion, when her baby will actually arrive. So, in conclusion, shut up.
This post has been brought to you by week 38.
Mike and I were talking about back when we first met, and how that was kind of the beginning of our mutual triathlon careers (he’d been in it for awhile, but was training for his first Ironman when we started dating; I had heart surgery around the same time and picked up swimming and cycling as recovery stuff and well, if you run, swim, and bike, and date a triathlete, well…)
Anyway, in the middle of this reminiscing (“God, we were in great shape back in the day”) (“Also, 7 years younger”), I commented (whined) something related to the concept of being pregnant forever, and how I know that’s not technically possible, but it just feels like every day now- literally, every single DAY – is harder than the last, and things are deteriorating quicker than they have been. I have been completely spared most pregnancy indignities, but within the last week they’re all rushing at me – swollen feet, hands. Inability to sleep. I’m in full on waddle mode, and while I’d been doing extremely well dressing professionally at work, I’m now in the “look, at least I’m wearing clothes, OK?” zone. (Come at me bro. Seriously.)
Mike mentioned it must feel like mile 22 of an Ironman race – you are really, really so close to done, except that last four miles seems almost insurmountable. And: YES. I’m so close to done, you guys. So close. But I cannot imagine actually making it one more day, let alone like TEN more days.
Pregnancy as an Ironman is actually a metaphor that works quite well:
The Swim Start: Right before the swim start is amazing. You’re there on the beach, with 2500 other fools, jittery with excitement, with all the possibilities of a good day in front of you. You can’t do too much to control how the day goes down, but you’ve done the prep, and you’re about to get your chance to try. Getting to the swim start may have felt like it took forever, but you’re there now, and it’s your turn, and you can’t wait.
The Swim (2.4 miles/ 12 weeks): The start is rough. The 2500 people who were your closest friends 30 seconds before the start are now your mortal enemies as you all jockey for position in the water. You hope you don’t take an elbow or a foot to the nose or head, you hope you aren’t one of those people that randomly comes down with water induced vertigo, effectively ending your race before it even starts. You have moments – many of them, probably – where you’re swimming along and everything feels awesome because swimming is awesome, and you start thinking “hell yeah, this is happening. I am doing a fucking Ironman, y’all”. And then you get to a turnaround and you crash into 2500 other people and the water swirls and things feel out of control and you feel terrible and you hate everything, but no worries: eventually you find clear water and starts to feel manageable again.
T1/ Bike Out (5minutes-ISH / 13 week ultrasound): You made it through the swim. Maybe it was awesome, maybe it was terrible, depends on who you are and a lot of things you can’t control, but either way you’re 1/3 done and it feels good. Sure, there were probably moments where the whole thing seemed like a terrible idea but they were next to moments when the whole thing seemed like an awesome idea, and either way it doesn’t matter, because you did it, and it’s time to hit the hills.
The Bike (112 miles/ 2nd trimester): Oh, things are great. Really totally awesome. You love your bike. You love riding on pretty roads. You get into a groove and it’s like “Oh yeah, I know how to do this, let’s ride”. There are moments of discomfort, but that’s how it goes with cycling and you hopefully have decent enough gear to mitigate it. Modesty starts to go out the window but you’re still pretty sure you can make it through without publicly peeing yourself. Nutrition can make or break how you feel, but again, hopefully you’re doing it right. Things can still go wrong here to derail your day – you can blow a tire, a spoke, crash – some things will just set you back and make it harder day, some things will end the day altogether – but you can’t do too much about it, so you just keep cruising, hoping that your training and planning will you get you through. Near the end, you’re feeling it – 90 miles is a long way to ride and at that point you still have over an hour of cycling left – but you’re ok. You’re doing this.
T2/Run Out (5 minutes-ISH/ Start of the third tri): You made it. You’re off your bike, you’re throwing your running shoes on. At this point, there is very little that will stop you from finishing this race. So many things outside your control on the swim and the bike, but when it’s just you and your feet, there’s not a ton that can stop you. Sure, it can be hard – you could get cramps or blisters or whatever and have to walk the whole thing – but even if it’s not ideal, the odds of you finishing the day as an Ironman are higher than they’ve been at any other point. You can think to yourself “Oh, thank God, all I have to do is run a marathon”, which under normal circumstances is a complete preposterous thought, but after the morning you’ve just had, it makes total sense. All you have to do is keep moving, and the odds of success are really high.
The Run (26.2 miles/ third trimester): This is not the most comfortable you’ve ever been in your life. If this were a training run, you’d bail and go grab a sandwich, but as it is, at this stage, the only way out is through, so you keep moving forward. Food is kind of a crapshoot at this point, so you just eat whatever you think will make you feel the least bad. You might get into a zone, but your body feels heavy and while this type of movement isn’t new to you, you find yourself having to adapt your gait and your attitude to account for the new aches and pains you’re carrying. Parts of this run will feel great, parts will be all about “ok, just get to that next tree (tonight’s Unisom), and then reassess. Your race could still end at this point, but it’s highly unlikely, would be quite tragic, and you know if you just keep your wits about your, you’re almost done.
Mile 23 – 26.2 (Full term, still pregnant): You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me with this. You’ve come this far and you’re still not done. Everything is terrible. Your feet hurt your hips hurt you’ve never felt less like yourself and you have no idea why or how you’re going to find the motivation to keep moving, except for the knowledge that even if you quit the race you still need to somehow make your way back to the finish line, so you might as well run there. It’s only 3ish miles, 30 minutes, maybe less, out of an amazingly long day, but those three miles may actually be too much. You’re getting stupider and the littlest aches and pains that you never would have noticed before are now the only thing you can think about. Everyone is telling you that you look great and while you know they’re lying, you’ll take it anyway.
The finish line (Labor and Delivery): It’s there. You just have to keep moving. The final sprint hurts like hell but you’re excited and in the moment you can almost confuse pain with euphoria. And then you’re done. All that work, all that uncertainty, and you fucking did it. You’re an Ironman. You look like hell, your body is destroyed in ways you’re a little frightened to think too closely about, but it doesn’t really seem to matter, does it?