New baby...what will I do differently? (Part two)

10:53 PM

I was twenty-two when Robert was born, and even though I'd planned out how I wanted his birth and the first few weeks to be, I was overwhelmed by...well, everything.  Babies are a bit overwhelming, and between feeling nauseous most of the day before my labor started (and therefore eating very little despite my attempts) and the rather large amount of blood I lost after his birth, I wasn't too clearheaded for the first four hours or so.  My husband, who simply doesn't function if he doesn't eat and sleep at regular hours, had been up all night with me on the pizza he ate at dinner and a sandwich around six a.m., and fell asleep about an hour after Robert was born.  Considering how well he'd done during the entirety of my labor, I can't blame him a bit.  That man is the most laid-back and calming presence any woman could have in her life.  

However, between my being out of it mentally and his being completely out of it, that left the question of who was in charge.  My mother, whom I love dearly, is a natural organizer and extremely capable of Getting Everything Done (Correctly)Ô.  It's extremely impressive and very useful most of the time.  In this case, though, it caused things to go a bit awry, because my mother's view of most things childbirth and parenting-related are quite different from mine.  To put it plainly, I had a natural birth at a birth center, and my mother swears by the epidurals she had for both of her daughters' births.  That Robert proceeded to breastfeed for just over three years was a source of contention between us for the last two years of it.  All of this to say, I'm pretty sure that every other member of my family got to spend more time with Robert in his first few hours than I did.  We were skin-to-skin for the first hour, but then David fell asleep and I was drifting and unable to really express anything I wanted or needed.  I did need a nap then, because I hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours, but the way things happened made me feel like I had lost any semblance of control over the situation.

Again, I don't remember much about the immediate aftermath of his birth, because my mind was so fuzzy and everything I'd managed to eat during labor had come back up at some point, but I remember feeling like an event I'd had clear preferences about was being run by everyone but me.  I can't ensure that this time goes perfectly, because nature (and babies) are unpredictable, but I've made plans that should keep it more in line with what I want and need in order to have a good birth experience.

1)  Relax through my birthing time

You know how it is with first-time moms:  the onset of labor is so exciting that sleeping is impossible and you don't feel like it's officially "real" until you're at the hospital or birth center.  Homebirthing moms, I'll admit to some envy here, because North Carolina has made it nearly impossible to have a legal, assisted home birth in most circumstances.  So I'll go to the birth center when it's time, but I'm planning to stay home as long as possible and use my hypnobabies training to relax and let my body do the work.  I'm not going to focus on time passing or anything else that could reduce the effectiveness of my uterine muscles.  Also, I'm going to take advantage of the things that always relax me and make use of them during my birthing time--massage, someone playing with my hair, good music, and yummy foods.

2)  Keep those first few hours to ourselves

I love my family, which is good because I have a lot of them in the area.  My parents and sister, my husband's parents and brother, my grandparents, his grandparents, his godparents, an aunt and uncle and cousins on both adds up quickly, and also makes big family get-togethers rather difficult, because the guest list is immediately at a minimum of twenty people.  And everybody wants to see the baby ASAP.  My husband's parents were out of the country when Robert was born, but even with that, seven people saw and held him within the first four hours, not including my husband and myself.  I want to find a middle ground between keeping her all to ourselves that first day and having a swarm of people waiting in line to hold her, but the details are still muddled.  We'll probably end up letting my parents, grandparents (who will be watching Robert while we're at the birth center), and my sister see the baby that day, and wait on other family members until we're more comfortable and settled.

3) Hire a doula

Last time I didn't have a doula.  I had great confidence in my ability to give birth and my husband's to support me, and although I thought having a doula would be nice, I didn't think it necessary.  This time, we've found a doula we love who does both birth and postpartum, and I know that having her with us will make a huge difference.  Even if it weren't for her deep knowledge of birth and babies and how to support a woman in her birthing time, having a woman with me who will not only support my desires but encourage me and those around me to meet them will help keep me relaxed and focused on giving birth.  No more getting distracted by trying to keep track of everything that's going on around me and making sure that it's all the way I wanted.

4)  Have a real "babymoon"

After Robert was born, my mother came home with us from the birth center and stayed with us for three days, cooking and changing diapers and helping take care of both of us while we got settled.  It definitely made things easier from a practical perspective, but delayed the establishment of the "little family" feeling that we needed to develop, as well as our sense of being able to choose what happened when with our baby.  Nothing actually detrimental to health or love or bonding, just that feeling of your own routines sliding to the side because you're visiting your parents' house for the weekend.  It was good and comforting and familiar, but it wasn't really us, or ours.  

This time we're planning the first month of our time with Robert and our daughter very carefully.  We'll have our doula here several times a week for the first few weeks, and as we need her after that.  My mother will visit and help as well, but mostly for a day at a time, and not staying over every night that she's here, which will give both her and us the downtime that we all need.  

5)  Not let my mother (or anyone else) stress me out

This is our birth, and our baby.  Our family is what matters most, and I'm going to try to keep it that way.  If someone makes me uncomfortable or stressed or even just more exhausted than I already am, I'll find a way to keep them from being a constant presence in our lives during the postpartum period.  I won't worry about having everything the way my mother wants it, unless she's doing it herself.  And most of all, I'll trust my ability to do what's best for my family and my daughter and not let anyone make me second-guess my instincts.

There you go!  If you already have children, what do you wish you had done differently?  If you're currently pregnant or thinking of it, what are you planning to do to make your birthing time special and personal?

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