It’s been 7 weeks now since baby boy bounced into our lives. 7 weeks of getting to know a new person. 7 weeks of realising we are now a family of 4. 7 weeks of trying to make our first born not feel left out. And 7 weeks of – quite honestly – brutal recovery for me. I can now see the other side of it, given that I am now able to sit without wincing, take a shower without crying, walk around the neighbourhood, give my 5 year old a bath again, and read a book while breastfeeding at the same time. Important goals, people.
The VBAC was great. The physical damage a giant baby did to my nether regions? Not so great. But I’m still here, and each day I return more and more to the land of the living. And most importantly, I would not have made it without the most excellent support and nurturing I received in the past 7 weeks. I am a lucky lucky girl to have these people in my life. People like:
1. Matt. The VBAC experience was intense, exciting, horrifying, electrifying and heart-stopping emotional all at the same time. And Matt was there the entire time, holding my hand and letting me be me. Which is the best thing a partner can do, really – allow the birthing woman to be who she is and not feel badly about the fact that she has a yucky cold washcloth over her face, having a panic attack, and yelling at her midwife not to deny her an epidural all at the same time. Even more important, though, was Matt’s presence these last few weeks. He soldiered on beside me while I cried my way through a post partum infection, depression, and general pain. He never made me feel weak or ridiculous when I needed to cry, and he made my home a place of comfort and safety. This experience has bonded our relationship like nothing else, and I am in awe of his strength and giving nature.
2. My mom. In the weeks right after Henry’s birth, my awesome mom came to my house, slept over, made meals, cleaned the house, did the laundry, brought me food when I couldn’t walk down the stairs, picked up my daughter at school, and generally took care of everything so I could focus on the baby. She also took Henry in the middle of the night at times, so I could get a nap, and was there when my anxiety reared its ugly head. She was, quite honestly, absolutely amazing. I can’t thank her enough for helping my newly expanded family find its way.
3. The midwives. I know I have waxed poetic here before about how great it is to have free access to midwives here in Ontario. Their presence throughout the pregnancy and their helping hands at the birth itself was invaluable. But it was their support in the post partum period where I really saw how lucky I was. They came to my house, for example, when I was having symptoms of a post partum infection. And checked me out in my own bedroom. They were available 24-7 by pager, and many times talked me through the recovery pain. I had one memorable phone conversation with Kay in the bathroom at 11PM one night, as the infection didn’t seem to be going away. I was tired and cranky, and sick of being incapable of living regular life. As always, she talked me down and made me laugh. And for those moments, I am so very very grateful.
4. My friends. Whether it was bringing us food and treats, taking Alice for a playdate, or just plain commiserating on the phone with me, these amazing women got me through. We were astounded by the support we received. People were sweet and loving and just wanted to hold our baby and visit with us. Not only my real-life friends, but my most favourite bloggy friends too. The lovely group of Nadine, Marla, Ann, Jen, Dani, Andrea, and Andrea got me the most beautiful silver bracelet with Alice and Henry’s names engraved on it. And gifted me with it on Mother’s Day, a day when I was at a particular low point. I wear it with pride, and will take a picture and post it here soon so the rest of you can adore it as well.
5. The rest of my family. My sister, who took Alice to her house in the middle of the night when I was moaning in labour pain. My brother and SIL who took Alice to the museum one day so I could get some much needed peace. My other brother, who came to visit that first week and sat in my bedroom with me holding his new nephew. My father, who cleaned up my garden and front yard while I was at the hospital giving birth. So I would come home to a fresh-looking lawn and house. How generous and supportive all of these people are.
6. and finally – my kids. (Plural!) Every day it gets a little easier to maneover life with 2, and I’m starting to be able to relax. They are my greatest gifts, these two. The feisty little girl whose tall leggy body takes up the length of the bathtub now. The girl whose face lit up when she saw I was downstairs again after the first week of being stuck on the 2nd floor. The lovely little spitfire girly who still wants to sit on my lap and rest her head against my own.
And then there is him. He who all these people gathered to meet and hold. He who took his sweet time coming into this world, and then bore his giant body into the room. The sweet little milky-breath boy, who gave me my first smile on Mother’s Day. Whose shy smile breaks into a grin that quickly spreads across his entire face. Whose beautiful newborn-ness had now made two of my friends spontaneously cry real tears in awe. The one who has somehow carved out a new place in my heart I didn’t know existed.
For all of this, I am so grateful. So very grateful.