We are so lucky.
Our son, Soren, is now three weeks old. It simultaneously feels as if he’s been here forever, and also that he is this amazing and magical new creature of a human who can’t possibly be with us on this earth for real and forever.
I don’t want to minimize the very real difficulties of labor and delivery and life with a newborn, but so far (knocking crazily on wood as I say this) the start of his life feels charmed — it’s all gone as smoothly as I think it possibly could have. The contrast with our first pregnancy is jarring, but having had that experience where everything went wrong has paved the way for me to appreciate how very right everything has gone so far this time around.
I hope I’ll find time to write up my birth story on the blog eventually, but the short version is that a membrane sweep sent me into labor the day before I was scheduled to be induced, and Soren was born the next day. Since my water had broken and since I was positive for Group B Strep, they did have to augment my labor with Pitocin, but everything progressed smoothly despite the intervention. Eventually I opted for an epidural, which is a decision I was immediately happy with, and after an hour and a half of pushing and some quick suctioning to get rid of his meconium-laced fluid, Soren was in my arms (while I sobbed tears of joy and relief). I had two second-degree tears, which were stitched up quickly, and I was up and walking around only a few hours later. Soren’s heart rate never faltered, he was born alert and latched on to my breast like it was the most natural thing in the world (and he’s hardly been off since!). My milk was a bit slow coming in, but a few days later he was pooping and peeing like crazy and he’s been gaining almost a pound a week since then.
Amazingly, the recovery from this full-term delivery has been easier than the recovery from the delivery of my daughter at 4.5 months. Two days after delivering my daughter I tried to go walking with my husband and our dog, and I was so dizzy that I had to sit by the side of the road until he could come pick me up in the car. Two days after delivering our son, we all went for a long walk and it felt so good to stretch my legs. I couldn’t believe it at first, but then I realized that last time around I didn’t know it yet, but I was dealing with both hemorrhaging from a retained placenta and a raging infection, not to mention the emotional impact of the loss of our daughter, whereas this time around everything was healthy and normal. I didn’t even worry about whether or not I was healing normally, because I already knew what abnormal healing felt like. This just felt a thousand times better. And let me tell you, engorgement is SO much easier to deal with, both physically and emotionally, when you have an adorable baby to feed. It wasn’t as painful and didn’t last as long, and I LOVE knowing that I am providing nourishment for my son — it made the (milder) soreness totally worthwhile. Knowing how amazing I felt compared to the first time around — again, both physically and emotionally — just sent me into an emotional high those first few days after his birth. Having a supportive husband and mom around helped too. We decided that having three adults to care for one newborn was just about the right ratio!
And I know that putting this in writing is probably going to jinx me forever, but… I’m pretty sure we won the easy baby lottery. No newborn is truly easy to live with, but we seem to have gotten it about as easy as it gets. Sure, he fusses occasionally, but we can always calm him down with some combination of the 5 S’s (swaddling, swaying, shushing, sucking, side-lying). And while we’ve had a few tough nights here and there, most of the time he sleeps in two- to four-hour chunks at night, and will wake for a diaper change and feed and then go straight back to sleep. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop — I’m convinced that there’s going to be some disaster, or he’ll get sick before six weeks and need a spinal tap and be up crying all night, or that he’s sleeping too much and it’s a sign of developmental delays to come, or he’ll suddenly get colicky in week four and we’ll be miserable for the next couple of months. I guess this is just the beginning of a lifetime of parenting worries. But in the meantime, I will enjoy this magical baby that we have been given!
After she went home, my mom commented to me about how healing it was for her to see everything going so well with my delivery and postpartum recovery. She felt like it was healing for her as well as for me, since her experience giving birth and caring for me in the first weeks was also extremely difficult — she wound up with an emergency C-section, and I was colicky, and my dad was not supportive. She’s seen a lot of deliveries since then in her work as a women’s health nurse practitioner, but it’s different when it’s your daughter, and when you stick around after the birth is over. She said that watching me going through a healthy and normal delivery and recovery, and caring for a healthy newborn with a supportive partner showed her just how good things could be — how right it was possible for everything to go. After being with me for the horrible end of my first pregnancy, she said it was so wonderful to see things finally going right and well and to see me finally getting to be a mother to a living baby as I’ve wanted to do for so long. It really has been amazing, and I feel so extremely fortunate to be here at last.
This isn’t the end of our story. I know there will be challenges ahead with Soren, and I know there will be challenges as we start to work towards conceiving our next baby (we very much want a younger sibling for Soren). But these early days have been so very beautiful — yes, sleep deprived, and yes, full of the exquisite boredom and dull busy-ness of caring for a newborn… but also astonishing and full of truly momentous love and the incredible process of watching our son’s life unfold. I feel that I will never tire of kissing his soft cheeks and watching his enormous blue eyes take in the world.
We are so very lucky.