I love my kid and I'm beside myself that she's finally here. Being a mom is the most important gig of my life. This isn't a hard sell, even though I know it sounds somewhat like a disclaimer before I go into the horrors of postpartum life. Hell, maybe it is a disclaimer. But either way, up front, you must know I'm amped to have this little nugget to hug and hold and feed and marvel at. It's worth all of the bullshit that pregnancy holds--from the cankles to the constipation--and beyond. When they set that slippery little being on your chest, it's game over. Instant mom. And, in my case, instant sucker. She can have whatever she wants. I am putty. I am her puppet. Fin.
So, let's cut to the chase about this whole postpartum thing. There are some rough moments. I've decided to be fully transparent with 10 of mine below.
1) While I was pregnant, I had this feeling like the world was happening, but I was not a part of it in any real way. I was on the outside looking in. I didn't belong to anything. I was on my own island. Post-baby, this feeling has heightened. I barely know what day it is half the time. I do my best to stay involved in the conversations of the world around me, but there are moments where I feel truly alone, even with arguably the best partner I could ask for. There are simply facets of pregnancy and postpartum that are just yours to soldier through mentally. On your own. And it can be tough.
2) The gravity of knowing that I am responsible for another human being forever is just. Woah. I really don't want to fuck this up. I can't express how relieved I am to have waited until my late thirties to have my first child. I'm so much less dumb than I was 10 years ago. But still. I hope the good Lord puts a fence between any of my neurosis and my child's well-being, so I don't mess her up with any of my own baggage.
3) There is a part of me that, even though I consciously chose to become a parent, is resentful of what I'll be giving up as far as my freedom is concerned. I am a person who has relished a life of flexibility. Being able to quit jobs. Pick up and move. Hop from city to city to follow my dreams. Get up and go at the drop of a hat. I'm not saying those days are over, but. They probably are, for the most part. I can't just "do me". Everything now is an "us". My love for my new family, however, trumps the possibility of that resentment sticking around for too long. It's more of a fleeting thought when everyone is Snapping the Yeezy fashion show and I'm at home pumping my boobs so I can sleep an extra two hours that day.
4) Being fiercely independent and emotionally void is not an option anymore. I need help. I came to terms with this while pregnant. A Type A woman who cannot physically tie her own fucking shoes--what a nightmare. And now, I'm constantly seeking help for all things newborn. Asking for advice. Googling. Texting friends with babies (these ladies are saving my sanity daily) . Calling my midwives. Emailing my doula. Allowing people to do my dishes. Accepting gifts. It's a new world and It's hard, because something inside of me was always so determined to do it all myself. I didn't want to show vulnerability. I was Superwoman. The time has come where I cannot uphold this farce, and it's humbling, to say the least.
5) My body is not what it was prior. I gained 62 pounds and have lost 30. I'm okay with how I look and feel--after all, anything is better than a human head on your bladder for months on end--but I think I'm mostly filing my body-image anxiety away because I know that now is not the time. Eventually, after more weeks pass and I still don't fit into my pre-prego jeans, I can't promise I'm not going to melt down. Also, I had a natural childbirth, so my nether-regions are not at all how I left them. At three weeks and a couple of days postpartum, things down there are looking up, luckily. But no one talks about the pain or what a woman's vag looks, feels and smells like (yup, I went there) after an entire human comes out of it. At least not publicly. It's all a part of what we have to keep private and figure out ourselves so no one feels uncomfortable about reality. After all, there are many folks who would love to pretend like women's bodies snapback immediately and our vaginas aren't gaping, bloody holes for weeks after giving birth. Cool story bro. I sure do love fiction.
6) I got away with minimal sleep for the first couple of weeks. I was off those hormones and pure adrenaline. By week three, I started getting weird. I'm convinced it was mainly due to sleep deprivation finally catching up to me. I was over-emotional and felt depressed for the first time since giving birth. It was kind of scary, honestly. I snapped out of it quickly, but for about 12 hours, I felt myself sinking into mental quicksand and wondering (to my horror) if that feeling would become my new normal. I truly hope I can keep this vortex of desperation at bay.
7) I don't do as well emotionally when my partner isn't around. Not only does he help me greatly with the baby, I also am not able to go into those zones of my psyche that conjure up fear when he's present. He has a calming energy and always puts me at ease. I do love spending precious moments with my baby alone, but I like it more when he's in the next room versus when he's not home. This is something I will have to get over, but I'm not there yet. I need him. His help. His support. And whenever he can, he delivers. We have our moments like any couple does, but overall I am so grateful to have him has my partner. He's the only person I have ever considered having children with and it's for the reasons I just listed and many more.
8) Tons of anxiety around leaving the house with the baby. Whether on foot in a carrier, in the stroller or in a car seat, I'm always stressed out. Mainly, I just hate when she cries. Some of the cries I can deal with, but there's those couple of cries that hit these pitches that send me into a frenzy. It's biological. As her mom, I am wired to feel uncomfortable when she's that upset. But it's simply the worst feeling ever to have your kid screaming. Particularly while strapped into a car seat or somewhere in public where someone always has an opinion on what your baby must need.
9) I'm going on four weeks of maternity leave, which have just flown right on by. Eventually, I'll be back at work. I know I'll be ready to return to that world by then, but the stress I feel about leaving my child is ever-present. I'm not so concerned with who I'll be leaving her with, as it will likely be either dad or someone we've chosen that we trust. It's just that, well, I'm her mom. I want her with me. I don't want her to forget I'm her mom. Maybe that's ego talking, but parts of me don't want to share her with anyone for so many hours a day. What can I say. I'm a possessive Cancer of the zodiac.
10) I'm breastfeeding exclusively and my goal is to do so for at least six months, but ideally, for an entire year. Wrapping my head around how to do this logistically will be an interesting adventure that will require me lugging a pump around in my bag everywhere in the five boroughs and whipping out my machine wherever I can find an outlet. Part of me looks forward to this. Making others uncomfortable with reality is my new fave hobby.
So, there it is. The official top 10. My baby screamed through most of this, as I held her in one arm and typed with the free hand. Now that I'm done, she's peacefully sleeping of course. Maybe I'll try to sneak in a quick bath.
Our little lady showed up 1/21 at 9:11pm and brought a blizzard in her wake!
I've typed up a bulleted "quick and dirty" version of our birth story that I shared with the members of a class we took during my pregnancy. I've had a few people on social media ask if I'd be posting it online, so I've done so below, if you're so inclined. We had our baby at home with two midwives and a doula.
SIDENOTE: There's been some talk about "over-sharing" on social media pertaining to my tweets and IG posts. For example, I posted a black and white of my placenta on my Instagram feed and there was a sentiment that it was "too far". The whole "don't you want to keep something for yourself?" types can do what they like with their own pregnancy and birth experiences. Posting photos of me laboring doesn't mean I have nothing for myself. I surely do--my baby girl--and I'm with her every second of every day now. She is the best thing to happen to me in this lifetime. The reasoning behind my posts is that I feel what's missing are real conversations around the experiences of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The lack of honest dialogue is isolating for women, dangerous to their health and the health of their children, blatantly rooted in sexism and highly fucking oppressive. Period. So I'm going to do me and hope that it helps other women, because I know that reading chatboards, watching youtube videos and other methods of "over-sharing" online gave me valuable intel and perspective on my life as a new mom. I am thankful for all of the women who post their content online in an effort to both educate others and validate their experiences. It is sorely needed in a world that closets the process and encourages us to have abs three days after delivering an entire human child.
*Wednesday, 1/20, contractions started around 3am with loss of the mucous plug that lasted all day, with bits of the plug/blood every time I went to pee. Contractions about 20 minutes apart. Slept in between them.
*Finally called our doula in around noon on Thursday, 1/21, as contractions were then five to seven minutes apart and we were in need of additional support.
*Midwives showed up in the 2pm hour on Thursday and told me after over 30 hours of early labor that I was only one centimeter dilated. I was so sad. She gave me some herbs to take and we sent her and the doula home, thinking it was going to be awhile.
*About an hour after everyone left, things got aggressive. Heavy contractions, less than five minutes apart. Began releasing some blood type clots while laboring in the tub. Called the doula back.
*Doula arrived and it was clear I was in active labor and transitioning. Started releasing some dark red blood when I got out of the tub. Called the midwives back. It had only been a few hours since they were there, but something was up.
*Midwives arrived and realized I had dilated in those few hours from one centimeter to 10 centimeters! Her head was literally RIGHT THERE! I was ready to get this kiddo out immediately.
*Started pushing...baby's heart rate dropped a little and there was some worry until I switched positions and relieved the pressure on the cord (at least that's what we think was causing the issue). I was a bit scared, but luckily it turned around fast.
*Not long after, little Harp Sisu was born! 7 lbs 9 oz and 20 3/4 inches long.
*Actual pushing was 45 minutes.
*Labor was a total of 42 hours.
*I have no idea when my water broke...maybe in the bath? Maybe a slow leak I didn't notice? Still a mystery.
*Home birth was an amazing experience and I am going to write more in depth about that soon.
First and foremost, I never thought I would be your mom. Or anyone’s mom, for that matter. Therefore, I ask in advance that you bear with me while I figure this whole thing out. It might take me a minute. And by a minute, I mean the rest of my natural human existence.
I’ve lived a long life before you. I’ve seen a lot of things that I never want you to see. I’ve endured losses I’m unprepared for you to experience. I won’t always have the answers, but I am ready to throw myself over you as a shelter and allow you be small and innocent for as many days as I can possibly corral before the world sinks her teeth into you.
This isn’t meant to scare you. The universe is amazing and vast and has much in store for you. I do not want you to be afraid of your own shadow. There will be incredible people and great food and lots of laughs coming your way, I can promise you this.
But there will undoubtedly be sadness and pain and things that cannot be undone, but instead must simply be endured. I am not sure how to navigate these times for you. These experiences are hard for us big people, too, but I know that we will figure it out together.
I apologize in advance for the worry that will surely come along with the joy of all of your inaugural moments. Like when you stand up for the first time on your own, and I will know without a shadow of a doubt that you will quickly fall back down. I will want to save you or make sure you don’t hit your head or startle yourself. There will be times when I’ll be right there to help you up. And still others, where I will have to refrain and let you find your way back to your feet by yourself, as I observe from a distance.
I hope to give you everything I didn’t have, without spoiling you rotten or attempting to run your life. It will be a tightrope I walk to not do too much or give too much or control too much or deny too much. There are so many avenues I could mess things up by way of my own baggage. But I promise to do my very best not to exorcise my demons on you. Instead, I will make valiant attempts to actively learn ways to love and understand like I’ve not known before.
I’d like to say I picked for you an awesome father, but really, he picked me to be your mom. His blind faith in my ability to carry you and raise you up to be a wonderful human being emboldens me with a confidence that is foreign. Every day, I grow more comfortable in this new role, and no matter what life brings, I am supremely certain of the fundamental truth that the both of us will always be here as your foundation. We will love each other and we will love you, infinitely.
Thank you for choosing to come through me into this world. It is truly my privilege.
It took me about six months to get pregnant. We tried for several months, and I’d honestly become fatigued with the process. The waiting. The superfluous tests. The anxiety when I had two separate positives that ended up to be what are called “chemical pregnancies”. I reconciled the fact that maybe I couldn’t conceive and jumped headfirst into a new job.
And, of course, immediately became pregnant.
I spent the first three months at the gig on the verge of vomiting at every turn. My appendage became a carton of saltines. Not personally knowing any of my coworkers was actually a blessing, because they didn’t sniff out my impending fetus. They just thought I really dug empty carbs in a major way. I mean, I do, but. It was overkill.
A friend of mine is currently struggling with conception and has been reading all of my posts on the pregnancy. I’ve spent the majority of the past eight-plus months deep in the snark-zone and generally in a state of tolerant misery. Luckily, she hasn’t been judgey about it, even though she herself hasn’t conceived.
There are times I wonder if I should feel bad about my candid and very public dislike for pregnancy. I’m aware some people cannot conceive, are attempting over and over again and failing, and/or have had truly complicated health issues during their time with child.
As much as I can empathize with other women in that capacity, I still feel obligated to be honest about my experience. Either I was lied to in the past or paid absolutely no attention to what women had to say about the experience of being pregnant. I honestly thought I’d sail right through it. In true Type A fashion, I was arrogant enough to believe I’d overachieve at carrying a fetus, too. Not so much.
I’m tired and huge and every day I step on the scale I weigh more. I ache all over. My ankles have gone AWOL. I hate vegetables, hate working out and hate drinking water. Basically, all of the things that came so easy before in terms of health and self-care are the equivalent of a triathlon in my mind. If I could sit on the couch all day eating peach cobbler and oreos, watching movies from the 80s without consequence, I surely would.
I do not excel at this pregnancy thing. And the worst part about knowing this is that the consequences for sucking at it have a direct impact on a human being that I am suppose to be fucking awesome for.
The universe picks the most poignant ways in which to son the control freaks of the world. But, I digress.
None of my rants, observations and/or self-loathing are meant to deter fellow overachievers from having kids. I’m not subversive to the idea that this process may be easy for some women. For many, I hear it’s a relative breeze. But I’m not one for dotting my i’s with hearts and putting sequins on turds. Overall, this shit sucks.
My advice (especially if you’re over 35) is to wade into the world of fetus-carrying with a realistic expectation of both the physical and mental challenges that await you. It isn’t easy, but after a gander at the Instagram feeds of all my friends with new babies, I can tell it’s well worth it.
1) “Is there a baby in there?”
The cashier at Target stopped dead in his tracks in between bagging my household items to clarify just what exactly was going on in my mid-section. It was the most sincere of questions it seemed, because of the look of bewilderment on his face. Maybe he thought I was a lesbian (stranger things have happened) and had a hard time with the science of it all.
2) “Oh man, you look like you’re about to pop!”
Speaking of science, I feel like the folks who say this line never went to a single biology class. My belly is not a balloon or a container of Jiffy Pop. I am not going to spontaneously combust. And also, I am not "about" to pop. I still have another two months of pregnancy. So if you think I’m huge now, just wait. I’m going to get bigger and I’m going to find you and sit on your head.
3) “Are you sure it’s not twins?”
Are you sure you want to keep asking me questions?
4) “A home birth? That sounds dangerous!"
Everyone has the autonomy to choose their own birth plan and I’ll avoid getting on a soapbox about why I’ve decided to deliver at home. That being said, many of the complications that lead to dangerous situations around birth and delivery have to do with the often-unnecessary interventions that arise during a pregnant mother’s time at the hospital during labor. I don’t expect people to understand the ins and outs of home birth. I’m learning myself. But please, don’t put your fear on me. I have bigger problems to worry about right now. Like filing a police report for my ankles, which have both gone missing.
5) “Do you want to split a dessert?”
Of course I don’t. I want the entire dessert. And, let’s be honest. So do you.
I never thought I’d be a mom. When someone around me would announce their pregnancy in the past, I participated in the social pleasantries of congratulating them, but never had much invested in the idea of what that meant for their bodies, their lives and/or their understanding of themselves as individuals. I didn’t think it through because I couldn’t relate. It’s not that I didn’t care, but I was certainly indifferent around the whole process.
I have four godchildren, and I honestly don’t know why I was chosen for such a task so many times in succession. I think, more than anything, people see me as successful and responsible. They know that if shit hits the fan, I’ll handle their child’s needs the same way I handle my career. Like a motherfucking boss. But that doesn’t make me particularly maternal. It simply means I won’t let their kids starve or fail a spelling test if, God forbid, something were to happen to them.
Then, I met somebody. We fell in love. And it all changed.
He wanted kids, and if I was going to do it, I knew he was the partner I could do it with. Plus, at 37, I needed to get the fertility show on the road. I’m no spring chicken.
So, here we are. I am in my third trimester with about two months to go.
While many women feel the pressure to paint the 10-month process as a) magical or b) beautiful, I’ve found it to be c) none of the above. It’s a total shit show. Not literally, of course. You’re lucky if you can shit at all, thanks to the chronic constipation.
If I had to describe pregnancy in a single word, I’d say it’s humbling. From the nausea to the fatigue to a sobbing public meltdown on the A train to not being able to tie my own shoes, this process has been a doozie for a Type A control freak like myself. I have no ankles. Gone are the days of my defined jawline and cheekbones. I have to pee every time I stand up. My daughter takes great joy in putting her foot in my literal ass, from the inside of my uterus, of course.
I’m not the first woman to go through this and I won’t be the last, but this realization doesn’t make the experience any less challenging on an individual physical or mental level.
My biggest challenge looming over impending motherhood has been the neurosis around my career. I’ve been an over-achiever since birth. A’s on my report cards. Promotions at every job. Always multi-tasking and side-hustling. I grew up in a small town with less-than-ideal circumstances and grinded my way to New York City where I have made something of myself in the concrete jungle.
Work. That’s what I do. Succeed. That’s what I do. I’ve had a job and paid taxes since age 15. I am a lifetime careerist with 15 years in the music business. As much as I’ve tried to shirk the truth over the years, what I do is a huge part of my identity.
And I’m terrified.
I’ve Google searched stuff like “scared to take my maternity leave” and “anxiety about my career while pregnant” and haven’t found anything that succinctly hits the bullseye on how I’m feeling. I have no idea why. I’m either a social pariah, suck at Googling stuff or women simply aren’t being honest about their insecurities publicly around motherhood and career.
Up until now, my job has been my baby. I love my career. I have dumped every ounce of myself into my passion for radio for over 15 years. I’ve lived in six cities and made it to New York City, where I’m flourishing. And now I’m about to give birth to a child.
What if they don’t think I can do my job anymore?
If I’m gone for three months, will I matter when I get back?
If my baby gets sick, will I be looked at as an inconvenience?
I hope they know I'll be pumping breast milk in Studio B.
What if my position gets conveniently eliminated?
All of these thoughts are on a continuous loop inside my head, day in and day out. I want to get off this train, but it’s hard.
While part of this I acknowledge to be my own baggage, a large portion of my fears have been substantiated by actual anecdotes I’ve witnessed firsthand or bi-proxy of friends and colleagues recounting their career nightmares as pregnant and new moms.
The stigmas around mothers carrying their weight in the workplace are real because sexism. New fathers are generally looked at as assets to a company, because now their employer knows they need the gig more than ever before. Not so much for women. There’s a notion that they won’t be as dedicated. They’ll be distracted. Their priorities will shift.
For the record, I have absolutely no reason to believe any of my fears will come to fruition in my current position. In fact, I have felt very supported by my co-workers, my bosses and my company throughout my pregnancy.
But I just can’t shake the anxiety. And I think I know why. It’s something we all must admit is an indoctrinated social norm. Internalized misogyny.
I know. Gross.
I’ve had to unpack a lot of my own bullshit throughout the course of the past seven-and-a-half months, and at the top of the pile lie several key issues. My belief systems around womanhood, feminism, career, and individuality are all in question. I’ve had to confront my previous lack of interest, empathy and compassion for pregnant and new moms in the workplace. I’ve wrangled with my own stereotypes about what women endure when they make the choice to start a family. In essence, much of my own flawed programming has flown in my face and, quite honestly, I am grateful. I needed to be checked in the most intimate way possible: by going through it myself.
I’m a Cancer, so I’m sensitive and empathetic by nature, but I don’t think I was particularly so to pregnant women and new moms until now. My dismissal of the whole idea of motherhood had a lot to do with my own refusal to want to deal with the challenges and vulnerability that inevitably comes along with carrying a human, raising a human and having no idea what will become of that human, no matter how hard you may try. Having seen my own sibling take a wrong path—and eventually die because of it—has a lot to do with my hang-ups. Add to that an absent father and several other experiences I’ll forgo discussing here, I simply wanted nothing to do with motherhood and family.
Yet here I am. It’s funny what unconditional love will bring out in a person.
My story will be different going forward, but certain tenets of it won’t change. My career was my first love. And it still will be. But it won’t be my only. I have a wonderful partner and a little girl on the way, and my heart is full because of the richness of all of these things. They are all now a part of who I am, and I work every day to create the space to accommodate for both the new additions to my life and the old faithful.
All I can hope for is that I will be a better mom, partner and career professional because of every facet of who I am inside of this this new life I am building.
Lastly, I’d like to say sorry for judging you in the past if you were pregnant and drinking coffee while inhaling an industrial-sized bag of gummi bears. I’ve had three cups of joe this week and last night I ingested 10 Oreos.
I never thought I'd be a mom.
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