I had a baby. I had a baby! I HAD A BABY! And I love her so goddamn much!
Truthfully, I spent a good part of my life not sure if I’d ever have a child. I had a tough relationship with my parents, and that put me off having kids for a really long time. I was terrified I’d never be able to break the cycle of abuse and figured that the best and only way to ensure that didn’t happen was to not have children at all.
But then I met Bill. He, the army of friends I amassed, time, and lots of therapy helped me figure out how to communicate better and I realized I am not my parents and I could have a child and treat him or her the way I’d always wished I’d been treated.
Bill and I spent years creating an incredible life together. And then we decided it was so damn good we should add a baby. Now we have a beautiful baby girl. And I have been working every single day to make sure that she knows she’s fiercely loved, that the world is hers to conquer if she so pleases, that she doesn’t answer to anyone but herself, and that her happiness is the only thing that matters.
I went into labor on June 27, 2019, after being scheduled for a c-section that night (I was already more than a week overdue). My water broke at around 1:30 a.m., but I wasn’t having any contractions, so I wasn’t convinced I was actually in labor. When Bill found me in the bathroom Googling “water broke no contractions what to do,” he insisted I shower and we go to the hospital. It was the right move! In the shower, my contractions leapt to 4-5 minutes apart.
But we were in for a long labor: 24 hours of it. I spent 23 hours of that actually laboring. I had irregular contractions until about 7 a.m., then the nurses put me on Pitocin to help the labor along. I lasted until about noon before the contractions were so painful I couldn’t handle it and requested an epidural. Can I just say that epidurals are INCREDIBLE? That was pretty much the only reason I survived the next 12ish hours as I absolutely crawled toward labor, hardly making any progress at all, before my doctor declared we’d need to do a c-section at around 12 midnight on June 28. The c-section was intense, as I got a little too much anesthesia and ended up numb from the neck down—but I survived.
Then, at 1:22 a.m., Bill and I said hello to our little Maya Papaya.
Hi, Maya Papaya
Welcoming Maya into the world was completely surreal. It suddenly hit us: we have a baby! There are so many emotions those first few days (joy, excitement, fear, exhaustion), but mostly we were just plain happy. We’d look at this sweet little girl and her tiny fingers and toes and it was impossible not to feel like your heart might just burst. We had only just met her but we already loved her so, so much.
The first few days in the hospital were magical, totally crazy, and went by in a complete blur. It was almost like a fever dream. You’re sleep deprived and then you’re holding a tiny peanut that’s your baby but your body is also recovering and everyone wants to come visit and you’re trying to figure out how to care for this helpless little ball of sunshine that you love a painful amount and it’s a lot.
We were so happy to go home four days later so that we could happily start our new life.
The First Six Weeks
The first few weeks have been beautiful and tough, with every minute feeling like its own kind of adventure. Bill and I are figuring out how to be parents while Maya is figuring out how to be a baby. I’ll say it’s gotten much easier, though each new day brings something a little different. Maya has already taught me that sometimes I just need to roll with it, come what may.
Our first baby, Obi, has been a wonderful big brother to Maya. He’s wildly protective of her, checking on her whenever she makes a noise. (So, he hasn’t been getting much rest either!) When she’s upset, he’ll try to bring her his toy to cheer her up. He’s a good boy!
Challenges and Breastfeeding
There have been a few challenges. Sleep, of course, is one, though we’ve settled into a bit of a pattern now. Maya’s initial slow weight gain was another, though she seems to be growing like a weed now. Breastfeeding has been another.
Breastfeeding is a little tough to talk about because there is so much judgment. The whole ‘breast is best’ mentality in many “mom circles” can be annoying at best and soul crushing at worst. I have always subscribed to the ‘fed is best‘ mentality, AKA do what you gotta do to get your little peanut fed and happy! And I went into my pregnancy thinking I would try breastfeeding but not be upset with myself if it didn’t work out. But the hospital we were in pushed breastfeeding really hard and I’m not immune from the world around me, either; I hear them loud and clear when they tell me to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months to a year.
For me, though breastfeeding logistically has worked out so well (Maya is a natural), my supply has been low from the beginning thanks to my PCOS, so exclusively breastfeeding has never been an option. Despite my casual attitude about breastfeeding going into pregnancy, the self-imposed guilt I’ve felt these last few weeks for combo feeding has been enormous. I have only, just this week, begun to be OK with it. I’m happy to share that after a long few weeks of mental anguish surrounding breastfeeding, I’m finally feeling confident in combo feeding and eager for those tough feelings to soon will be a distant memory.
Support and Sustenance
We’ve had lots of visitors and helpers, and my friends have been incredible by bringing me and Bill meals to help get us through those first couple of weeks. That whole it-takes-a-village thing is never more true than when you’ve had two hours of sleep and you can’t remember the last time you ate!
I’ve kept myself sane in the wee hours of the night by watching Whitney Port’s “I Love My Baby, But…” series on YouTube, and chatting on Reddit/Facebook with a community of women who’ve all had babies in June. On the non-baby-related front, I’ve also been listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast and binge-watching “The Hills” because of course.
However, by far the most important thing that’s kept me sane and happy has been Bill. Before we had Maya, we vowed to continue to prioritize our relationship as best we could. So we are doing our best to make sure the other person feels loved and supported during this crazy time. Bill is the best partner and co-parent I could ever have imagined. He’s so good with Maya and teaches me new things every day. I love watching him be a papa to her and she absolutely lights up whenever he’s around. It’s really magical. He’s also so good to me, not just offering help when he doesn’t have to but taking time to make sure that I’m doing well, too. I’m really lucky.
Six-week-old Maya is eating and sleeping like a champ. She’s playful and even more wiggly than she was when I was pregnant. She can hold her head up on her own. She mostly doesn’t mind tummy time. She likes warm baths. She loves walks and being nestled in a wrap close to our bodies. She’s able to coo. She recognizes her mama and papa. And now she’s smiling. Her smile is the best thing I’ve ever seen. She has already grown so much and part of me wishes I could freeze time and keep her tiny forever while the other part of me can’t wait to watch her grow and learn and take in this world around her.
Welcome to the world, baby girl. There’s so much for you to explore.