HELLO, SHADEA. Congratulations on HAVING YOUR BABY.
Thanks! CONGRATS TO YOU TOO!
We are now officially mothers, and what an incredible feeling that is! I had a moment the other night, where I said something like “Mama’s right here!” and then realized, WOAH, that’s real now, I’m a mama, I have that title!
I remember having this moment in the hospital where one of the nurses said “mama,” and I looked at my mom thinking, what is what is she asking her, and then realized she was actually talking to me. That was kind of a surreal moment, to say the least.
For sure! I don’t know if you feel the same — but I know Ariadne is a month old tomorrow and that means Roya’s right behind her — and I’d say this entire first month has been pretty surreal? We keep saying, she’s here, she’s OURS, she’s not going anywhere. I think there’s still this lingering feeling that it’s not for real or she’s not ours permanently.
Oh yeah, the feeling of impermanence even though you know this is your kid and the beginning of your family is definitely strange.
So I’m going to jump in and say the thing I think I was most nervous about was really understanding of what it was that baby needed. And not being able to stop her screaming. Which it’s early yet maybe that will happen. *shrugs* But now I’m thinking, no this is just a game of observation and response.
Yeah, that fear of feeling bewildered with a screaming baby.
I think the first couple days were kinda like that, just because it’s your first few days as a mom. But then you learn how to feed, soothe, and comfort her, and you start to have tools in your arsenal.
I think the thing is you can do all this reading and preparation, but it’s like anything else, you have to physically start doing the tasks to get better at them. And then once you have done them a few days, you have a better understanding and it becomes more natural.
Oh yeah you definitely have to learn by doing in this case.
I mean maybe I’m spoiled and Roya honestly didn’t cry very much. It was just crying, let’s feed you and if it doesn’t work then inevitably, it would be changing her diaper and I don’t know — not as daunting as I thought it would be
This was one topic I wanted to mention to you — I know that I was scared before having Ari that I would be really frustrated or annoyed by the demands of parenting. Like I would find the lack of sleep, the interruptions, the nursing inconveniences and I would resent it.
I think it’s really hard to understand when the child isn’t “real” or here yet — I think we can’t understand what it feels like to HAVE that baby — happily, I’ve found that it’s NOT like that at all!! I don’t resent it, I feel very much like I can’t let her down, I WANT to be helping her. If she’s upset, even if it’s just waiting while I changed her diaper, it breaks my heart and I WANT to resolve it ASAP. It’s not a chore or a inconvenience. But I just don’t think we can understand that before baby gets here — everyone says you can’t imagine how you’ll feel once baby is actually here and you really can’t. Everything changes, but not until baby arrives.
I think I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to handle it, that I would get really tired or something really awful would happen.
I think that strangest part is that I don’t feel really that different other than, here’s this baby I take care of during the day.
And I think immediately after having the baby the biggest thing that I felt was just love and appreciation for the other people in my life, for Davis, for my mom, for my close friends, for my grandmother.
I feel that. We had some really incredibly support people who just absolutely humbled me with how far they were willing to go to help us in the first few days and weeks. Like, incredible — when I was recovering from preeclampsia and c-section, people were literally helping me breastfeed and shower because I was so doped up on pain meds and magnesium and I just needed that. I needed someone to move me here or there and physically put me in place, until I was in a better place to function on my own again. And it’s really humbling to see that love being shown so selflessly, to be the recipient of that kind of love.
I think that the other part is about you not wanting to respond to her needs, like I can wait a second, I can do what I’m doing and she’s going to be fine. It’s not going to be the end of the world if she cries a little bit. You can manage the needs that she has without feeling taxed, as long as you just don’t let yourself feel taxed by it.
Some of the best advice I got prior to having baby, and I cannot remember where I heard it — it’s OK to get comfortable before attending to baby. It’s OK to pee first, it’s OK to get a drink of water before you settle into nurse.
Oh yeah, that I think is really sage advice.
I remind myself of that a lot.
It’s not being selfish, it’s making sure that you’re the best self that you can be when attending to your child.
Yes. A couple friends also reminded me — crying is what babies DO. They’re not broken or in pain necessarily — it’s their only way to communicate. At 2 AM when you’re getting ready to nurse and she’s crying, that can be a lifesaving reminder when you hear those wails. Everything is OK, she’s not hurting, she’s just impatient.
Davis said he was really surprised at how he thought he’d be irritated by a crying baby but when it’s your baby it doesn’t bother you. And I think that that’s cliche – so very very cliché but it’s true.
That’s so true! It’s yours, it’s your responsibility and your baby love, and you don’t want her to be unhappy.
So what other challenges or concerns were on your radar and either are or aren’t an issue now? Or that you’ve just worked through…
It’s kind of hard to recall because right now, I’m just focused on what I’m going to do this afternoon whenever she’s sleeping.
I think honestly the biggest thing I was concerned about was what if I have a girl. I didn’t have a name picked out 100%. I have my own anxieties about raising a girl, and so whenever surprise, I had a girl, that was something that I thought I’d be really nervous about. But it’s actually pretty sweet to think about and to think about the future and what it will be like.
Interesting! I really am on the other side of the coin, because I so wanted a girl.
I DO think it’s kinda cool, just from the perspective of you and me, that we both had GIRLS two days apart. It feels like some sort of cool karma, or birthing the second generation of Shadea and Emily.
Oh geez I think maybe that’s the reason why I didn’t want a girl because I know what I was like! LOL!
Haha, true, true. But I also think it’s great that we as empowered, creative women get to try (ha, key word) and raise two empowered, creative girls.
Yes, now I am really excited and slowly embracing letting her wear pink. LOL.
But more honestly, I think I would I am just considering what the world is like and how the world treats girls and knowing how difficult it can be and to explain. Does that make sense?
Me too. It’s definitely daunting to think of the challenges we faced growing up, and then where that will go in the future years, especially with all that’s up for debate in our country and our world right now.
Yeah, I can’t even think about it. I usually love following politics and elections, and I just can’t even make space in my brain right now, because it is really infuriating.
At the end of the day, you know, I’m really just happy that she’s so beautiful and that she’s healthy and that I’m healthy and honestly the experience was really empowering and really beautiful and just a complete and utter trip.
We definitely have different priorities right now. That was a hard lesson for me — I felt so surprisingly decent in the first couple weeks, that (as usual), I tried to over do it. I had to dial it back this last week or two, because I started feeling not so decent, and taking care of ME has to be second priority after taking care of her.
I think yet again I had that inverted from your experience. Davis had two weeks maternity leave whenever we first got home from the hospital. So basically, I had a very relaxed and, you know, supported first couple of weeks, and now he’s gone back to work and I’m trying to overdo it now. Like, “No, Shadea, don’t try to vacuum the whole house.”
Yeah, don’t do that!
Right? I’m crazy.
Yeah, Shaun was home for two weeks too, and him going back was…not scary, but just kinda sad? Those first two weeks were so beautiful as our small family, and even though I felt comfortable taking care of her, I missed the end of that idyllic time.
I consider it a GOOD day if I get to do a quick sweep through the kitchen and the den where we hang out, and just kind of return everything to ground zero before the day gets going again.
Yeah that is a lot to accomplish!
But I also had one day this week when I didn’t do ANYTHING but bounce her on the birth ball and nurse her. She was mad and she needed mama and I knew I just had to do that all day, it was just one of those days.
It’s interesting how you read into what they need, and just that your plans for the afternoon and for the day just get shot, there’s no doing anything else.
Right, like even doing this chat…you are dictating voice to text, I’ve got a sleeping baby next to me that may pull me away at any minute…
And honestly that’s fine. As long as I have a book to read or can make a phone call to talk to someone – it’s feels good.
Yeah, I think the biggest frustration is just HANDS. I NEED MORE HANDS/ARMS. Ha. I’m happy to hold her and snuggle her all day — but you’re so limited with MAX one hand.
Yeah, I mean I think I love carrying her around, I love snuggling with her, but I’m trying to let myself put her down in the bassinet or make use of the swing, and other people hold her when they’re home. It doesn’t really benefit anybody for it to be me all of the time. But at the same time, I get a little crazy inside. Like it’s OK, take a deep breath, someone else holding her is not going to mean something awful is going to happened to her.
Agreed! I had a lot of that anxiety about her safety that seems so irrational when you stop to think about it. Especially in the beginning.
I couldn’t even really sleep even when I COULD sleep — going unconscious meant I couldn’t keep account of her safety and well-being. Even if Shaun had her — I would wake up in a panic worrying about her.
I’m trying really hard to push down paranoia. I think that there’s an evolutionary purpose to that. I think that you know we’re supposed to be afraid and notice things and be aware of them but it’s also not a healthy thing to let take over your mind.
Yes, as time goes on, you see they really are just functioning little humans who just need some extra attention, it’s easier to ignore the paranoia. That paranoia has faded now, some.
I think it comes in waves. Some days, I feel really nonchalant and confident that she was going to be fine and other days I feel like I am the only one that’s capable. Which obviously both are not good to have all the time, either feeling.
I know there are nights I’ve laid in bed and just heard her make a noise, and thought, OH GOD, I need to check on her – and then I remind myself – she’s fine.
YUP. OMG IS SHE BREATHING.
I think it, like anything else with this new mama gig, depends on how well rested you are and how empty your cup is or isn’t. Like EVERYTHING seems harder late at night. I really love nursing and cuddling her, but that late night feeding, the one about 2 or 3 AM — that’s rough. I hate that one. I’m FINE by 6 or 7 AM or whenever we get up next. But that 3 AM feeding, I’m in total grouch mode.
I feel like I’ve actually gotten pretty good at zombie mom mode in the middle of the night. I hear her, I get to her before she starts really crying, we nurse, I change her diaper, she falls asleep and I go back to sleep. It takes between 30 to 45 minutes. And I can usually get right back to sleep but sometimes I look at my phone and then I forget what I’m doing and then she wakes up before I fell in asleep again. And that’s when I screwed myself.
I think you also just totally get used to running on less sleep. We don’t understand how much sleep is a luxury before — and it’s not AGONIZING after baby — it’s just you learn that you CAN function on less sleep when there is a bigger priority.
I actually kind of like it because it feels really manageable in a way that it doesn’t in the day. Like she might get up and she might get fussy and she might be awake and I can’t really interpret what she wants you know?
I think too that I’ve never been one of those people that just loves to sleep. I think there’s some people that really get very very grouchy, my husband included, but there is the level of, you know, I’m OK with this amount of sleep.
I’m ones of those who LOVES my sleep, but I love Ariadne more, so I will get up when she needs me. And as soon as I’m UP with her, I’m fine. In bed, hearing her fuss, I’ll complain a little bit and beg for five more minutes, but once we’re up, I’m happy to soothe her and talk to her.
I think Davis feels bad that he doesn’t get up in the middle of the night anymore because he went back to work.
Yeah, I do that with Shaun too. If he has to work in the morning, I try and let him sleep the night through. But I also hit a REALLY exhausted point the other day, when she’d been cluster feeding every hour or two and I had not slept at all, and got a bit weepy during the day, and he had to remind me – get me up when you need me. Don’t let yourself be alone. Don’t let it get this bad again, I’m here to help.
I think that it’s always asking for help that’s the hardest part for me. But the other day, Davis came home and it was a similar situation. I was just really tired and he looked at me sitting in the chair and said, “You need to lay down and take a nap.” And he took the baby and I slept until 9 o’clock until she needed to eat again and it was awesome.
Yes, exactly. We as mamas have the bulk of the responsibility, especially as nursing mamas. I had that realization on my weepy day — I really am the only one who can feed her. I can’t ever skip a feeding, I HAVE to be there. And it’s not discouraging, but it is kinda daunting.
So that’s why you have to make yourself a priority almost as much as baby.
Oh yeah. Priorities have definitely changed.
My mom came over one night when Shaun was at work, and just watched and snuggled Ari so I could sleep almost three hours, and that was such an incredible gift.
Grandmas are an incredible gift all around. I think it was such an interesting and amazing thing to look at my mom and think about her being a grandmother to my daughter and for the first couple of weeks, I just cried thinking about all of that. Thinking about this chain of women that I was now part of, instead of just the the last link – if that makes sense.
Yes! My mom is just beautiful to watch right now. She’s so happy and she’s so in love with her granddaughter, and it’s just lovely.
Thinking about my grandmothers and thinking about what her grandmothers will beat her and the possibility of being a grandmother myself one day. I’m kind of welling up just considering it right now.
Yes! When my mom came over to help watch her while I slept, I thought, and I will do this for Ariadne one day, maybe.
You get to see why it’s so magical. I think seeing your mother be a grandmother just kinda of creates this softness and love about your own relationship with your mother. Because all the sacrifices and challenges we are handling now — that was them, 29 years ago. And we couldn’t understand that before, but now I think about my mom being with me like I am with Ariadne and it’s so humbling.
But if aside from our husbands helping to take care of the baby what else you feel like is been super useful or helpful to you a while you’ve been home?
Honestly, just enjoying this time. I LOVE not being at work. I love being able to take short trips with her to the coffee house or to visit friends at their houses. I love having that freedom to BE with MY BABY, which still feels so new and magical. Being able to see friends and family and have this bulk of time with my loved ones, which I don’t get normally, but especially this time with my baby AND my loved ones.
I think that part of me really enjoys it but part of me is also tapping my fingers really either anticipating or ready to go back to work. Part of me is maybe just looking at that as the next horizon and trying to plan mentally for it. Not in a paranoid or worrisome kind of way, but really just needing the time and trying to think about what that transition will be like.
I’m trying not to let it overwhelm me in and taking away from enjoying this experience. But I think that there’s part of me that is equating this was what it felt like a little bit whenever I was home and looking for a job. And I definitely did not enjoy “funemployment.”
Yeah, do you feel like it’s your next big project now that birth is over, or do you just want to get back to work? Or both?
I think it’s me thinking of it is my next project. Like this is easy right now and I am enjoying it, but I think being back at work and juggling that and getting out the door in the morning and getting her to day care that’s going to be really hard and that’s when it’s going to feel a lot more like a burden.
How are you feeling about going back to work?
I am honestly not allowing myself to think about it. I’m dreading it, if I’m being honest, and I start to cry (tearing up now) even just thinking about going back. I wish there was a way I could stay home longer. The idea of being gone from her all day for five days a week is heartbreaking to me.
Because it’s not until October and we have plenty of time, and I don’t want to taint this time I DO have by being sad — I’m not thinking about it. I’m sure I will start thinking about it closer to time, but for now, I’m focusing on being at home with my baby while I can be.
Then put it from your mind!
Yep! It’s not a priority right now, so I won’t focus on it.
Do you want to talk at all about what having a baby is like for your marriage and relationship with Davis? I have a couple thoughts on this.
Sure! First – it is the sweetest thing seeing him be a dad. I love hearing him talk to her, making jokes with her already, taking diaper changes to a new level.
“Roya, are there any more poopies I need to be make aware of?”
Someone showed me the video of Shaun holding Ariadne in the nursery for this first time, and that look of holy wonder on his face makes me cry every time I see it. As magical as it is for us to transform into moms, it’s equally magical to watch these boys become fathers and men.
Shaun sings to her SO much, which is totally normal for him but it’s even more precious now. He calls her baby girl, he loves to stroke her little brow or her head and it’s so tender.
I was really pleasantly surprised with how great we did and are doing with the new, new parents phase. You hear a lot of talk about having a new baby puts a strain on a marriage, because you’re sleep deprived with new priorities that maybe aren’t necessarily putting each other first anymore.
But I feel like we did such a good job. Even in that crazy first week — we were so careful to talk positive to each other. “You’re doing a great job,” even when we were both so tired and shellshocked. We still thank each other a lot, even if we’re feeling grumpy. We’re so much a team taking care of her, and that kept everything really positive. Strengthened our marriage instead of straining it.
I think for me it was wrapped up in his help during the labor and delivery; how amazing of a birth partner he was, the cool collectedness, just how intuitive he was with helping me. Which, you know, it’s like the best team building exercise. And I wanted to share this photo I drew as a summary for my experience:
I love that!!
I know. It was so incredible. I remember seeing him exhausted and laying across my lap immediately after the delivery and thinking, “You do really love me that much.”
Shaun remembered every little prep thing I told him. During some painful situations, he’d sit there and remind me “1, 2, 3, 4…relax,” from my Hypnobirthing, and even just hearing that (his commitment and him remembering) touched me even as it helped me.
Like it makes me tear up thinking about it, because I know he was scared and I was scared, and we were trying to wrestle with these big changes, but he was so committed to being a rock of support and doing what I’d asked.
The birth support is really incredible. I know you and I ended up with different experiences, but in each one, that partner support is so beautiful.
Yeah! My experience was, and I feel kind of like a shithead for saying thing, nearly ideal.
You can say. Ha. I’m really glad for you! I hope that for all women, especially my friends.
We were able to stick to the birth plan and the only thing that really surprised me was how long I was in early labor.
But yet the whole experience from start to finish was a really strange mix between physical mental exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
It’s great that you got to experience it how you dreamed of, that makes me so happy for you!
I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to be processing my birth for a long time. It went completely opposite of anything I wished. I still stand by my choices and feel like we handled it SO well considering — but it was scary and we were scared. And I know at one point, I said, “You could take out my birth plan and cross off LITERALLY every. single. thing.” There was not a thing I wanted that I got to do.
I think that you did what you had to do and I think that in some ways you had to display and have more courage that I did. Because of the fact that it was so unexpected and because it wasn’t what you wanted.
Thank you so much for saying that, it is such a balm to hear that. That’s the thing I always say — preeclampsia made it a completely(!) different ballgame. And considering that, we STILL managed to be informed, to examine each decision and talk it over, to really be in as much control as was possible, considering not much was possible.
I think what I want for anyone who has a child is to feel supported and to feel positive about their experience at the end. Natural childbirth is really great because of the ease that your body has in recovery but I don’t think that it necessarily needs to be idealized were to be made into this thing that is a hierarchical or better than. Feel me?
Yes! That’s legitimately one of the things I said when the C-section was becoming more and more of a possibility. As important as a natural birth was to me, I didn’t want to kill myself (metaphorically) just trying to prove a point to myself. Having a joyful, not completely traumatizing experience was more important than sticking to an ideal that was no longer feasible for me.
Because I think that as much as I am really happy I had that experience and I do hope that anyone that wants it can have it, I also realize that it doesn’t really matter. Just like in some ways, it doesn’t really matter if you breastfeed or bottlefeed. Or if you cosleep. Or whatever parenting decision. As long as you love them and try to take care of them as best you can.
Exactly! All I want is for people to know they DO have choices and options, and then make their own decisions.
All right, dear, I’m thinking I’ll need to go here in a few. Any points or closing thoughts?
I think the biggest lesson over and over again has just been to me to ask for support, to take advantage of people wanting to help you. I think that actually getting to the place where you’re vulnerable enough and ready to admit it is what brings you closer to people around you.
Yes. I think that allows US to revel and relish this time so much more, as a positive experience and not as stressful. Humility! Motherhood from pregnancy to birth and beyond, is one big lesson in humility, and just a solid reminder that it does take a villiage.
Indeed! Take courage darlin! You’re doing great.
As are you! Maybe we’ll do another chat in a few months when we’re more seasoned! Love to you and Roya from Ariadne and me!