Monday, May 12, 2014

Progress report, 9 days in

I started writing this post on Saturday morning, and I'm just finally getting it up today. I guess it goes without saying that blogging will be pretty sporadic for the next little while! Thanks for your patience, and I'll write as often as I can.

First, thank you all so much for your lovely comments on the last two posts. Frank and I read every one and we are so grateful to receive your prayers and good wishes!

What a weird time this past week 9 days has been. I feel like I'm in this strange alternate reality. I'm so sleepy yet so happy. Having a newborn is so much harder than we ever could have expected, and yet so much more amazing too. Frank and I made a pact before we left the hospital that we wouldn't judge the other for anything we do or say as we adjust to our new life, and I'm so glad we did, because there have been moments when I've said the baby was annoying when he wouldn't stop crying, and things like that. Mostly though I'm so much more in love than I imagined. Even the middle-of-the-night feedings can be joyful, in a way, because I get to hold him and snuggle him, and deep in my heart I never want to put down that precious little body. Just this morning I was singing him lullabies to help him fall asleep and I began to bawl my eyes out thinking about how quickly he's going to grow up. Postpartum brain, right here!

Speaking of postpartum brain, I think I might need to start writing down some of the stuff I've been saying lately instead of Frank, because it's been hilarious in my sleep-deprived state. Yesterday we spent the day with my family, and in the afternoon, my little siblings were playing a geography quiz game and they asked me, "What's the longest river in South America?" In my former life I knew the answer to that blindfolded, but yesterday, I responded with complete confidence, "The Nile." When they started to laugh, I wracked my brain and tried again, "No, I know! Rio de Janeiro!" More laughter. Finally I thought really hard and correctly guessed "The Amazon." Yikes. They teased me all night for that.

We came home from the hospital on Tuesday, after being there since the previous Friday morning. Quite a long stay at the Baby Resort! I sat in the front seat instead of next to Frankie for the drive home, and I was proud of my independence, but the truth is I never could have done it if we didn't have a mirror in the back of the car that allows us to see everything Frankie is doing in the rearview mirror. I loved taking advantage of all the resources in the hospital—mostly asking the nurses a million questions and meeting with the lactation consultant three times. I'm starting to think that maybe all first-time moms should plan a hospital rather than home birth, simply because it's so helpful to have all those knowledgeable people around to help you transition into parenthood. We really enjoyed our stay there, minus the lack of a comfortable place for Frank to sleep—after 4 nights on a reclining chair, he was happy to finally come home!

Frankie on his way home
Last week I was lucky enough to have Frank home with me, and we mostly watched a ton of movies while I tried to get used to breastfeeding (still a major work in progress). We're on a fun Cary Grant kick. On Thursday morning, our pastor came over to bring me Communion and give me Anointing of the Sick. I'd never received that sacrament before and I was a little overly excited to bring my tally of sacraments received up to 6 out of 7, which is all the sacraments I can possibly receive; in fact, I didn't stop bragging about it all day. Super mature over here. Other than that I was confined to the house, recovering from the surgery, and kind of bored.

Friday was our big day "out and about." Frankie had his first pediatrician appointment at 10 am, and I had a check-up at 1:30 pm, so Frank and I made a day of it and went shopping at Old Navy, got drinks at Caribou Coffee, and had lunch at Flat Top Grill between the appointments. It was absolutely the best. Miraculously, Frankie slept through the whole thing. I kept saying, "I feel like a real person again!!!" If anyone is free during the day and wants to hang out, seriously, let me know. I'm looking for chances to get out of the house some more before cabin fever sets in for real.

In other news, I've been trying to decide whether or not to write and publish Frankie's birth story. On the one hand, I love birth stories and I always thought I would share mine. But you see, my birth story with Frankie was such a difficult experience. I would honestly use the word traumatic to describe it. I still believe that childbirth can and should be a positive and empowering experience, and that's how I hope my future births will be, so I seriously question whether it's right to put out a story that is so negative. At the same time, it IS what happened to me, and maybe sharing it and talking about it would be therapeutic. So I'll keep thinking about it and try to decide what to do.

Our first Mother's Day went really well. Frank and I went to Mass with my family at the church where we got married. Such a special place for our baby to go to Mass for the first time. I spent most of Mass nursing him in the back of the church—actually, in the same "bride's room" where I waited before my wedding, because it has comfy couches and I could still hear everything that was going on. It was so cool to think about how things have come full circle in the last year.

Spending yesterday with my family was so great. My siblings and parents held Frankie pretty much every second of the day when he wasn't eating. They changed his diaper and burped him and got him to go to sleep, and having so many extra hands was the greatest thing. I kept saying, "This is why I  moved back to Chicago." I knew having all that help would be a lifesaver once I had kids. We all went out to brunch and then went walking in this nice garden, and it was another one of those "I feel like a real person" days. I hope those get more frequent!

Well, that's about all I can think of for now, except that I'm still in shock over how NOTHING can prepare you for the way you feel about your baby. Wow, the feelings that hit you. I would describe it as "intense heart-exploding love." I especially love discovering little similarities between my son and Frank—like how they both had/have giant newborn feet, and how they both sleep the same way. It's darling. I dreamed of being a mother all my life, and somehow despite being tired and overwhelmed a lot of the time, I find if even more amazing than I expected.

This is the picture that I think sums up my Frankie. He's a real little trouble-maker:

But we sure do love him.

Now if someone can tell me when I'm going to start feeling like a normal person again, and when nursing is going to stop being so painful, I would certainly appreciate that.


  1. Oh my... SO adorable. That last picture just melts my heart (well, all of them do). Looks like he's plotting something. ;) So so so so happy for you all.

  2. He sure is a real cutie pie. You take care of yourself too Tess. So glad you are enjoying your new role.

  3. Regardless of whether you choose to share it or not, I think you should definitely write down your birth story. It helped immensely when I was processing Claire's traumatic birth.

    I also think there's value in sharing your story here. Most birth stories you read on Catholic mom blogs are overwhelmingly positive. But being open to life isn't always sunshine and rainbows, you know? It's helpful to see both sides. And it could allow you to bond with other moms who had a similar experience, which can also be really helpful for processing/healing.

    In regards to the c-section, I bet you will feel pretty much completely better by the time Frankie is a month old. Nursing and sleep deprivation, well, that all depends on your mischievous little guy there!

  4. Oh my goodness gracious!!! He is adorable! And you look AMAZING! Love the purple dress! I was talking to a friend of mine and I was complaining that I don't know if I'll ever get the extra weight off in time for the next baby... she said it took her about a year of not being pregnant before she completely felt her normal self again... It took about 4 weeks for me to stop feeling so painful during breastfeeding... I thought it would never end! But it does and then you forget all about the pain from before... Your family is beautiful and I can't wait to see you again and meet both Franks someday! :) God bless!

  5. Oh, Tess, these pictures! <3 <3 <3 Little Frankie (I just wrote "Franklie"... some odd combination of "Frankie" and "Frankly"?) is so precious and you look GREAT! I'm so looking forward to reading more about your little family and hope to see you again and meet both Franks soon!

  6. Such a sweetheart. You're doing a great job, lady! And in answer to one of your questions, you NEVER feel like a normal person again. Your heart is always walking outside of your chest in the form of your child. :)

    p.s. I'm so sorry you had a traumatic labor/delivery! That makes me so sad to hear, but you know what? Your birth experience is yours and Frankie's- even if it was painful, terrible, etc., at the end of the day, it brought you your son and that is so beautiful. I hope you don't take that the wrong way- I'm certainly not trying to diminish or pass over your valid feelings about birth. But I just want you to know that, as with 99.9% of things related to bearing and rearing children, there is no one "right" way to have a beautiful or special birth. Peace to you and your lovely family!

  7. First of all, Frankie is adorable. I can't help but smile when I look at his pictures and my daughters, who are baby crazy these days, are in love with that little face.

    Second of all, parenthood is hard. SO hard. And the newborn stage is by far the hardest. Training little ones in the way they should go is never easy but.....the day-to-day struggle to meet Frankie's needs and balance those with YOUR needs will get easier in time.

    I don't know if you are interested, or if this is the worst time to even offer since you have a brand new baby, but I wrote a book a few years ago. I intended it to be primarily a pro-life novel but have gotten a lot of feedback about it speaking to the beauty and struggle of motherhood and about the mother's invaluable role in her children's lives. I would love to send you a Kindle copy as a welcome-to-motherhood gift if you are interested. Let me know.

    And hang in there- you're doing fine and Frankie loves you unconditionally already.

    1. Kari, I would LOVE to read it! Please shoot me an email!

  8. I love the second photo of Frankie - he has the sweetest eyes.

    Much love,

  9. What a darling!! ♥♥♥

    Here's my thought on your birth story: first, I think it's awesome that you're taking other moms into consideration when making your decision. *hugs* I'm sure you had a few of the typical first-time-mom experiences of other women launching into detailed descriptions of how horrible their labors were... while you sat there trying not to let fear take you over and dominate your expectations for birth. It's a tough spot to be in when you're trying to go into the brand-new experience of birth with an attitude of peace and relaxation.

    BUT... you should write your birth story if that's what YOU want to do. You're a writer. If things go against my hopes and dreams come birth-time in August, I'll be writing about it somewhere, whether on my blog or in a private journal. It's how I process and heal. It makes me sad when I encounter mothers who are struggling to process their births and feel that they can't talk about it because it sounds "ungrateful." The whole "you got a healthy baby in the end and that's ALL the matters." Mothers matter too... they matter to the babies. It's like Mary and Jesus: they're wrapped up in one another. When moms feel like they have to stuff their feelings about the hardship and disappointment of a birth, I just feel like that's asking for post-partum depression, and that's not good for anyone, least of all the babies. Mothers are an essential part of the birth process, and they shouldn't feel like they're being dismissed because in the end the baby was healthy.

    So if YOU want to do it, you should.

    And there's a huuuuuuuge difference between sharing your story on your blog for your sake and for those who choose to read, and cornering some poor wide-eyed first-time-mom at a baby shower to force scare-stories on her, you know? :)


  10. I agree with the comments above: at the very least you should take time to write the story out in a journal. I'm sure it'll help you process all your thoughts! And I know that all of us readers love your honesty. Maybe just prefix the story with a "don't read this if you don't want a rainbows and butterflies account of childbirth in your head". :p Also: wow! That's great that you've been up and about so much! I'm sorry the breastfeeding is going painfully. :( I always thought it was a downhill battle after the first day: color me forewarned. Anyway, hopefully we'll be able to get together soon! At the very least, at least I'll see you on Sunday at the bridal shower! AND you'll get to meet Viktorija and Monika!!! xox

  11. Give yourself at least 3 months! For me this is when I started to feel like a normal person again and when breastfeeding finally started to be easier. Around then is also when the baby begins to do some of the work while BF :)
    Congratulations!! He is so darling! Remember to take all the help you are offered and sleep when he sleeps...you never know what night might be a little rough/he'll want to party at 3am.
    Oh! And my birth story was exactly not what I hoped for. I also ended up C-sec. I decided to post because it's still our story, I don't want to forget anything, and I think it's helpful to know that not every birth feels perfect and lovely. C-section is a major surgery, hope you can get some rest and heal well!!

  12. Congratulations! What a little cutie pie your Frankie is.
    I love your heartfelt honesty here about all the different thoughts and emotions going on at once as you make this big life transition. Definitely keep track of goofy things you say - my family keeps a "quote board" of silly stuff like that and it's so fun to look back on it.

  13. What a handsome boy! I admire all of your outings. I was terrified to leave the house when Simon was a newborn. Even going to Mass was an ordeal for me.
    Every day starts to feel a bit better

  14. Ah, when will you feel like a normal person again? (Um, never?) Seriously, it took me about a year. When will nursing get better? It might not. My son and I never got along with nursing. I eventually pumped and bottle fed him, because nursing was awful. I hated it, even when I had lactation coaches and extra help, etc. It never jived with us. I let go of the dream of nursing for a full year . . . at four months. I was back at work, and pumping got harder and harder to do. And you know what? Formula turned out to not be as evil and horrible as the lactation coaches all said it would be. It was fine for us, and it was the right decision especially since my son got TEETH at four months. That ended that.

    As for your birth story, if you are willing to share it, I think it would be helpful to add to the body of knowledge for women. I fully expected to have a totally natural childbirth (complete with my husband floating next to me in the birthing tub), and it was the opposite. It was long, and involved some nasty fights with some midwives and the OB who finally told us what the midwives refused to--that the baby was showing signs of distress.

    I understand that hearing traumatic birth stories can be unappealing for some women. I really didn't want to hear the horror stories when I was pregnant. But I should have, because I went in thinking I was going to have a perfectly straightforward birth. When in fact, I had the Intervention Olympics, as one friend put it. I think women need to know that Things Can Happen during your birth. And, just as important, they need to know that We Can Survive Those Things. I did. You did. Other women need to hear that.

    Just my two cents. You look beautiful, postpartum, and I'm so jealous you got to receive the Sacrament of Annointing! What a great thing to do for a new mom.

  15. Frankie is so cute! I honestly have no idea when you start to feel like a normal person again. I think I've resigned myself to the fact that ever since having a baby, my "new" normal is different and ever-changing just as quickly as the baby changes! However, I will say that once I lost all the pregnancy weight and could fit in old clothes that helped (which obviously varies a LOT for everyone). :) And every time I get to go somewhere without our son in tow I'm very confused/disoriented, but I think it's good for my sense of "normalcy." I need to figure out a way to do that more often, really.