I had a baby. I had a baby! I HAD A BABY! And I love her so goddamn much!
(Edit as of Sept. 12, 2020: All photos of Maya have been removed from this blog due to ongoing privacy issues with my estranged mother.)
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.
I’m so happy Bill and I made that decision because now we have a beautiful baby girl. And I have been working every single day to make sure that she knows she’s loved fiercely, 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 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.
Plus, Obi has been an amazing big brother! He is so protective of her, watching out for her every time she cries or makes a squeak, and can’t wait till she can play. (He already brings her his toys when she’s upset.)
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 around breastfeeding. The whole ‘breast is best’ mentality in the mom community can be annoying at best and completely 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! 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 breastfeed. I went into my pregnancy thinking I would try breastfeeding but not be upset with myself if it didn’t work out.
Here’s the shitty part: breastfeeding has totally worked out, Maya is a natural, but my supply has been low from the beginning as I have PCOS, so exclusively breastfeeding just wasn’t an option. The tremendous self-imposed guilt I’ve felt these last few weeks for combo feeding has been enormous.
However, most of that seemed to fade away this week and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because we’ve settled into a bit of a routine or maybe it’s just because I am learning to be kinder to myself, but as long as Maya is happy and healthy, I am happy and trying not to beat myself up over things out of my control. I’ve finally begun to let go of some of that guilt and just enjoy the ride!
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 create and experience things.
Welcome to the world, baby girl. There’s so much for you to explore.