Today’s post is a conglomeration of thoughts and photos from the last few weeks since giving birth to Vivian. Uninterrupted time is hard to come by, and oh how I’ve missed the routines of my regular blogging schedule. That’s not to say I haven’t been drafting and writing in my mind, but I’ve had very little time to sit down and compose coherent thoughts and upload pictures to share. And although I feel a persistent pull to write, I also realize that my time is truly about RIGHT NOW and that I can forever WRITE LATER when life settles into a more predictable routine. I’m a bag of emotions ranging from utter happiness to exhaustion to the occasional weepy-eyed moment depending on the time of day. Most importantly, I am enjoying, but we are also adjusting in all the normal and expected ways a family adjusts to the addition of a new, tiny, and wonderful presence in life.
Or Vivi… or Viv… or baby sister… or little sister… or sissy… or tiny lady… or if you are Lance, “Vibian” and sometimes just “Vib” will do.
These early days are fleeting, and we’re relishing in newborn baby snuggles, constant nursing sessions, big brother moments, and getting to know our baby girl.
I still marvel and smile each time I look at her and think of her birthday. Over the course of a 20-hour period before her arrival I labored at home, then at the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, but only to be eventually sent back home after not progressing. I labored some more at home until my water broke around 3 p.m. on January 27, 2013. Back to the hospital once more – this time to welcome Vivian less than three hours after arriving for the second time that day. Looking back I could not have had a more wonderful birth experience, despite the early disappointment and frustration over getting sent back home. Jan & I read quite a bit about the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, and although I had an open mind for whatever type of birth was best for baby and me, I am happy I was able to successfully give birth to Vivian via a natural, drug free birth.
Once my water broke, I spent about an hour and a half breathing and relaxing (key to the Bradley Method) through each contraction as they strengthened and came closer together. I went from 5 cm, to 7 cm, to 10 cm pretty quickly, though not without pain. Unending support from Jan and a strong will to endure and feel every contraction the way nature intended kept me calm and grounded throughout the remainder of the day. When it was time to push, I had a difficult time finding my rhythm at first, but once I got the hang of it I was able to power through until Vivian made her debut at 6:18 p.m. that Sunday evening. Hearing her cries and feeling the warmth and weight of her body on my chest for the first time as I melted into the hospital bed in a relieved, blissful state of contentment is something I will never forget. I was able to nurse her right away, which was also important to me.
My final say on natural childbirth?
For one, contractions and pushing are two very different types of pain. I moaned and groaned my way through the contractions and yelled (yes, yelled) and grunted my way through the pushing. Although the pushing is more intense, I’d have to say the contractions were harder to endure. I think by the time I got to the pushing I was so numb to the pain, and that much closer to giving birth that it didn’t seem as hard – once I got my coordination down that is. I definitely struggled in the whole pushing arena at first. I wish I had read more about breathing and pushing techniques, but that is neither here nor there.
At the end of the day, the way I felt after giving birth via a natural, drug free birth was worth every moan, groan, yell, and grunt. I seriously felt great right afterward and had a very easy recovery. Major plus!! Of course, the biggest plus of all was taking home a healthy baby girl.
Since our homecoming as a family of four we’ve been stockpiling joyful moments together. I’ve spent a fair amount of time at home learning to meet the demands of two small children – Vivian with round the clock feedings, diaper changes, and sleep cycles; Lance with adjusting to shared attention, big brother identity, and continued everyday assistance with meals, potty, playtime, and stories.
We’ve managed a few family outings…
And we’ve documented a few “first’s”…
The joy is plentiful around here, but it has not come without challenges. I often feel tired, and actually just recovered from a violent bought of some sort of stomach virus that plagued me early Sunday morning and left me fatigued and weak for the rest of the day. Thankfully, Jan was home and whatever type of bug it was didn’t last too long. I am enjoying some peaceful, quiet time now to sit here and write, but it is not completely without worry. I have two kids now. Double the joy. Double the worry. Lance is going through some typical “new baby” adjustments – uncharacteristic behavior (i.e. acting out), occasional potty regression, and clingy to Mommy. To top it off, he’s also been plagued with a nasty cough and runny nose that won’t seem go away, and of course, as luck would have it, Jan got sick. Having a baby is change for everyone in the family, and I am hopeful these minor concerns and pesky sicknesses disappear in the coming weeks as we continue to adjust and get more rest. Our family is forever changed for the better with Vivian’s arrival, but it is not always sunsets and ice cream.
One thing is for sure though, Lance loves his baby sister. Despite any negative outward appearances with regard to his behavior or health since her birth, he is so sweet when it comes to Vivian. Always, asking “Where’s Vibian?” and “Can I hug her?” or “I just gave her a gentle kiss!” or “Hi Vib!” During the first week home we asked him at dinner who Vivian’s Mommy was and he looked around for a minute, gave us a puzzled expression, and simply said, “I don’t know.” It’s a lot to take in for a two-year old and each time I find myself losing patience, I have to remind myself, he’s two. He’s two.
A major blessing during this time of joy and challenge has been receiving meals from friends on various days throughout the week. My friend Carrie set up a meal train for us before Vivian was born so friends who asked could sign up to bring us a meal and visit with Vivian. Not having to think about cooking dinner a few nights out of the week and being able to serve and/or freeze leftovers has been a Godsend. Thank you to all my wonderful friends for keeping us fed and nourished with love!
We’re three weeks and two days in with our new bundle of joy, and each day is truly better than the last. I’ve learned that two kids crying at the same time is hard to bear, that two kids sleeping at the same time is an accomplishment, that it IS possible to nurse a newborn and wipe a toddler’s butt a the same time, that ordering baby girl shoes from Amazon during a 4 am nursing session from my iPhone can happen, and that lost sleep in no way overshadows what we’ve gained in new love. I’ve learned to give myself a break over a broken favorite plate this week, and last week for dumping a bag of Hershey kisses into my water glass that was next to the bowl intended. I’ve learned to grieve the loss of my special one-on-one time with Lance every moment of every day and welcome new special moments with Vivian in the same breath… to begin the process of balancing two children with two different needs. I’ve learned the joys of being a mother of two… two tiny hands to hold… to tiny hearts to love… two tiny kids to protect. I’ve learned that run-on sentences and any grammatical mistakes in this post aren’t the end of the world and that if I don’t hit “publish” soon, another three weeks and two days will fly by. Because that’s just how fast these early days go.
In the coming weeks, I look forward to more outings (church? a restaurant? first road trip?! some exercise?), watching Vivian’s personality emerge, fostering Lance’s new world with tender care, nurturing a brother/sister relationship, embracing our family of four dynamic, and welcoming more visitors. My mom was here the week Vivian was born. Since then Pop and Grammy visited, and most recently, Rachel and Fiona. We look forward to introducing her to more family in friends in the days to come.
For right now though, I think I might just have time for some ice cream before one last bedtime nursing session with Vivian.
The Banter Lady