Thursday, July 28, 2011

Better late than never

I have now been a mom for one month! I still can't believe that I am a mom, yet it is now my biggest and most important role in life, and it is also a role that I love more than I ever would have thought.

My darling daughter was born via a scheduled c-section at the end of June. She was in a breech position and my doctor felt she would move if she wanted to and decided not to try to entice her to turn. As it turns out, the cord was wrapped around her neck, so she was smart enough not to try to turn around inside me.

A scheduled c-section feels somewhat like checking into a hotel. The morning of, hubby and I took the dog for a walk, took some "before" photos, finished packing bags, and called a cab to calmly take us to the hospital.

Knowing I was going to be having major surgery (and be awake through it) AND meeting my daughter in just a few hours was so overwhelming and I tried my best not to let my nerves get the best of me. I'd like to think I handled the whole experience fairly well, even the spinal block which I had been dreading. I managed to convince the anasthesiologist to let my husband be with me while I got the spinal block by telling them I was worried about my anxiety and possibly fainting. All in all, I wasn't the difficult patient I thought I might be - and I am very proud of myself.

My time in the hospital feels like a blur now, and at the time was very surreal - doctors, nurses and administrators coming in and out of my room all day long, new moms and dads wandering the halls like zombies at all hours of the night, and crying babies all around. My memory of those three days is somewhat hazy.

Everyone told me that you lose all modesty at the hospital but I didn't really believe them. I brought my nursing bra, nursing top and nursing cover to the hospital with me thinking I would discretely breastfeed while chatting with visitors. How wrong I was!! By the time I left I was whipping out my boobs in front of anyone and everyone, I didn't care if the man who brought my meals saw my nipples. At one point, my nurse literally milked me like a cow to get less than a teaspoon of colostrum and I just lay back and let her do it. I think my husband thought it was pretty bizarre, and we still laugh about it.

Learning how to breastfeed was quite challenging, but so far has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and been lucky enough to be able to do. I am still in awe that I am able to do it, especially because for so long my body did not do what I thought it should be doing naturally (getting pregnant) and now it finally is.

My milk came in on my first day home from the hospital and boy was that scary! My breasts were huge, hard, and hot. My daughter would not latch because they were so big and tight. I had not been able to hand express milk since I am a bit squeamish about squeezing my breasts, but my darling husband finally just grabbed them and said "I think this is how the nurses did it" and expressed just enough milk to soften my boobs and make it possible for our daughter to eat. I still can't believe how great my hubby has been - the love I see in his eyes for our daughter makes me love him more than I ever thought possible.

When we were leaving the hospital and had our daughter packed into her car seat, I couldn't stop crying. I was crying with joy and disbelief at how lucky we have been to finally be able to have a child. I was crying because I realized how different my life would be if our IVF had not worked. I was crying because my life is now so different, but exactly what I wanted for years. The nurse that discharged me saw me crying and said "oh, it's just the baby blues". I tried to tell her that they were tears of joy, but it didn't seem like she believed me, probably because postpartum depression is very common. There was no way to convince her that I was not sad or scared and there was no way for her to know what we had been through to bring her into the world or what I was feeling at that moment. This seemed like a fitting "end" to that part of my life, because as anyone going through infertility knows, only those who have also experienced it can understand the emotional roller coaster that it takes you on. I still feel the pain of those those in my real life as well as those from this online world who are still struggling with infertility and wish them all the happiness by whatever means.

My daughter is so beautiful she breaks my heart, and was most certainly worth the wait and pain I experienced over the last few years. That life feels so long ago, almost like a dream.