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Adjusting to Your New Role

No matter if you are entering motherhood at 16, 25, 32, 40+ or somewhere in between, you life will be forever changed once that little boy or girl takes the first breath of air.

I always thought knew my life would be different after becoming a mother. However, until it becomes reality you can only imagine how it will be.

The early weeks are the longest weeks of your life. It seems that the days and nights all mesh together as if you were trapped inside your own version of Groundhog Day. It seems that every day is nothing but the same, but yet it is all brand new.

For my husband, adjust to the role of daddy was pretty easy. He really didn’t have to do much. He hasn’t lost sleep much. Not one damn bit. The man snores like a freight train and has yet to wake up in the middle of the night to change the first diaper. Now, of course I am breastfeeding so that throws a wrench in any midnight bottle feeding episodes.

Speaking of breastfeeding, that is probably the biggest adjustment for me. Exclusively breastfeeding means that I need to be there for my son 100%. In the early weeks, they (you know the lactation experts) advised not to give him a bottle to avoid any confusion between bottle and breast. So anytime Shark Baby was hungry, mama was there. That often meant holding him for hours on end while he cluster fed. Just as soon as I thought I could put him down for 10 minutes and grab a quick shower, he would let out a blood curdling wail and let me know that he didn’t want me to be clean. He wanted milk and he wanted it now. I absolutely love being able to bond with my son and be able to offer him the healthy nourishment for his growth. However, it definitely been an adjustment. I have been able to go from moving freely throughout my day doing my daily tasks when I feel like it and on my own terms.

Now, even the most seemingly mundane task takes forethought. I have always been an independent woman who did what she wanted when she wanted. Now, I have to plan to go pee, plan to go to the grocery store, etc. I am a terrible planner. I always buy the cute yearly agendas with the idea of getting organized and planning my day. It ususally lasts about two weeks and then I forget about it. I am learning that if I am going to survive mommyhood, I am going to have to become a planner. Otherwise, going to the grocery store will become a perfect time for a mini/mega meltdown.  This is something I am working on daily. I am trying to learn his cues to know when it is time to sleep so that I can get my needed tasks accomplished. I am trying to be more prepared going into the store so I can get in and get out quickly. I know when he has had enough (most of the time) to avoid the need to walk out of the store and leave a full cart of groceries in aisle 9.

When SB was 10 weeks old, I returned to work. This has also been a huge adjustment. I had just learned to adjust to being with him 24/7. Now, I was adjusting to being back at work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. He was spending his day in childcare. I was no longer the sole provider of safety and security for him; another person was responsible for making sure he was happy, healthy and had a fully belly. This rocked me to my core. For the first few days, I kept a box of Kleenex close by my desk to catch the inevitable boohoo moments. I am slowly adjusting to the role of balancing motherhood and worker bee. This probably has to be the most emotionally challenging adjustment for me. I want nothing more than to be there for him to see every coo, cry and development. However, I know that I am doing the best thing for my family right now by working and building a nest egg so that we can live not lavishly, but efficiently and comfortably.

Tell me about how you have had to adjust to your new roles as a parent. What were the biggest surprises and changes that you had to make?

Shark Baby’s Birth Story

Shark Boy’s birth was not what I had planned, but it was beautiful in every aspect I could imagine. With his own plan for his grand entrance, I can see that he will be gently redirecting my plans for him when they don’t always align with his.
My due date was June 27 and all of my prenatal visits with the midwifery group had been great. He was growing normally and so was I. The midwifes felt that everything was in line for him to come any time, but they were not pushing me to induce.
About 32 weeks along, I began studying the Hypnobabies program for self-hypnosis in childbirth. I wanted an all natural water birth. (Or water labor, as my hospital recently outlawed the practice of actually delivering in the water. They still allowed labor in the water.) Each night before bed, I put my headphones in and climbed onto the bed to listen to my Hypnobabies track to relax and learn.
Fast forward to June 25th. I was officially on maternity leave and Shark Boy could arrive any day. Throughout my pregnancy I stayed active with yoga and light exercise. Once on leave, I kicked it up a bit to “walk the baby out.” I woke up early and walked 1-2 miles at the nearby elementary school. I was still doing Hypnobabies program and listened to my positive pregnancy affirmations while walking.
On Saturday, June 28th, it was my dad’s birthday. I got up early to walk and enjoyed the brisk walk. I was feeling a bit of discomfort at the end of the walk, but just attributed it to tiredness. Around noon, my husband and I met his dad and step-mother at a baseball game. The weather was muggy, so I stayed in the shade as much as possible. When I got up to walk to the restroom on the other side of the park, I noticed a few sharp pains at the top of my abdomen. I never experienced any Braxton-Hicks contractions during the previous weeks of my pregnancy, so I thought they were finally kicking in. The twinges were VERY mild so I didn’t even think more about it.
We left and at lunch with the in-laws at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards, my husband laid down to take a nap and I told him I was going to drive over to my dad’s to see him for his birthday. I stopped to fill the car up with gas. While there, my back started hurting really bad. I called my dad and apologized for not being able to come see him on his birthday. I told him I needed to go home and take a hot bath to relax my back. He understood.
At home, the bath was completely worthless to me. I couldn’t get the water hot enough to relax me and take my mind of the increasing pain despite lisenteing to my Hypnobabies track. The track is supposed to help keep your mind relaxed and calm, but I could not keep my mind in the deep state of relaxation. My “off switch” (a Hypnobabies technique) was not working.
I woke my husband up and told him that he probably needed to pack his bag because tonight was likely the night. (Yep…he’s that guy). He packed his bag and the car while I sat on my pregnancy ball to relax and labor. He called the midwife for me and she told me to go ahead and head to triage. My contractions were still 7-8 minutes apart at this time, but they were VERY intense now.
I turned on my “Birth Day Affirmations/Active Labor” track on Hypnobabies to get focused on the big event. I did my best to stay in the “off position”, but I was not able to effectively breathe through each pressure wave and stay relaxed. The only pain I had at all was in my lower back. It felt like a menstrual cramp from hell. It was like someone was standing on my lower back every five minutes.
Husband finally got the car loaded and we hit the highway to the hospital. I kept my eyes closed and listened to my affirmations in the car. Again, I tried to stay in the “off” position, but the intense pressure waves kept bringing me back to focus. It was about a 15-minute ride to the hospital that was quite uncomfortable for me. We arrived at the hospital around 8:00 p.m. and found that there was no one in the check-in area. My patience was wearing thin. Luckily, he found a courtesy phone and we were buzzed up to the secured labor and delivery floor.
The triage nurse checked me and I was dilated to 4 cm. She left to call the midwife on call (my favorite one by the way) to find out what to do next. I sat on the bed and my husband tried to put pressure on my back. Nothing was working. I could not get relaxed with Hypnobabies and knew the pain was too intense for me at this point. I told the triage nurse that my birth plan was out the window. Forget it. Give me the damn epidural.
She questioned me because it was in my chart and plan to have a water labor and natural delivery. After another painful wave in my back, I confirmed “YES!! Give it to me please.” The nurse said they were going to admit me and she went to get the Anesthesiologist prepped. She got me to a room and I tried to breathe through the pressure waves, but they were continuing to get worse on my lower back.
After being at the hospital about 45 minutes or so, she checked me again and I was at 6 cm. My water broke when she checked me and about that time the anesthesiologist came in to do his job. But, by God, I swear the man was asking to get punched. I know it was his job, but he asked me the same questions about 10 times before he began. I was beginning to get really stressed out and uncomfortable.
The papers were signed and I sat still long enough to get the epidural. After about 20 minutes, I began to relax and finally feel peace. My nurse had to switch with another nurse at shift change. I began to get a little apprehensive again because I didn’t want to change nurses mid labor. But, I am so glad the new nurse came in because she was amazing. Eva was a gift from heaven.
My midwife finally came in and she checked me. It was now around 9:30 or so and had progress to around 8 cm. During this time, my mom arrived. She lives 45 minutes away and I was worried that she wasn’t going to make it. I wanted her in the room with us and she finally made it. About the same time, my husband’s family arrived. They were not staying in the room. (There were about 10 of them, kids included). We visited with them for a bit and sent them to the waiting room as we got closer to go time.
Around 11:50 p.m., the midwife had me start pushing. I was trying to push this little man out before midnight so he would share his Papaw’s birthday. He was not ready. It took nearly an hour of laboring to get Shark Boy out of the birth canal. At 1:02 a.m. on June 29, 2014 he made his grand entrance into the world. He weighed in at 8 pounds 14.5 oz and 21.5 inches long.

I immediately knew why my plans changed and why I had to push for an hour. His right hand came through the birth canal with him. His hand had been pushing down on my lower back making it that much more difficult to fit through my hips. Had I gone through with natural labor, my midwife said it would have probably been very difficult. With the extra width of his hand and arm coming through the birth canal, Shark Boy caused me to rip and require several stitches down there.
It was not what I had planned, but it was well worth it all.