Thank you to everyone who commented or sent me an email asking how things were going. I've been meaning to come here and update...but...you know...babies.
Okay, so my daughter was born on September 16th and it was CRAZY. First, my mom flew in for the birth on Sunday night (c-section was scheduled for Tuesday morning). She flew in and as we started talking in the car, I realized she sounded sick. I, of course, grilled her with questions but she assured me that she just had allergies.
But then we took her temperature and she was running a fever.
There are only three things they don't allow in ORs - people who are sick, cotton candy, and Rubik's cubes. I think. I'm not sure about the last two. But I'm definitely sure on the first one. So I FREAKED out. I mean, I was so incredibly worried. I knew I was going to have a baby by myself, but I didn't know I was going to HAVE the baby by myself.
What's more, this whole motherhood thing was so odd because I was 99.999999% sure that either I was going to die or the baby was going to die. I know. It's so weird and freaky. But I was sure of it which meant that I was panicked that my daughter was going to be born in a hospital, I was going to die, and she was going to be a tiny orphan in a hospital where no one cared.
So Monday, I talked my younger sister into flying up here for the birth and she did. She flew in Tuesday morning, took a cab from the airport to the hospital, and then we met and had a baby.
The spinal didn't take on the first try and it was surreal being told that they would likely have to me under to have the baby. I thought 'this is it. This is where I die.' The next spinal took and as they were starting to tug on me to get her out, I turned to my little sister, made eye contact, and said firmly, "Remember to follow her." Because again, I was sure I was going to die and I wanted my sister to stay with the baby no matter what was going on with me.
Only I didn't die. And this squealing, beautifully pink baby came out of me and when she was placed on top of me she stopped crying. She waited until then to open up her eyes for the first time and I swear, it was one of the most magical moments of my life.
And my daughter? She's a lazy eater. Not like me. I'm lazy AND an eater. But she must've inherited her eating preferences from the sperm donor because she wouldn't latch. I had to feed her via a syringe at first and then via a bottle. Oh, and all of that had to come from donated breastmilk because she was too tiny to nurse so my milk had a hard time coming in.
But then my milk came in and we went home. My mother was quarantined to the house and was thrilled to finally see her grand daughter.
And then I fell into a pretty dark place. I was riddled with anxiety and had some serious depression. This little baby was depending on me for everything and I would have panic episodes because I looked down at her and felt NOTHING. I mean, I loved her...but that's mostly because I knew I should.
It was awful.
I was delirious from the lack of sleep. I had to do what's called 'triple feeding' which is where I nursed her, then fed her a bottle from a previous pumping session, then put her down, and then pumped some more for the next feeding session. I had to do that at least every 3 hours from start to start....so I'd get about 45 minutes of sleep every three hours. It was AWFUL.
I lived to see the sun rise because I knew I had made it another day and I concentrated on just making it until the next sunrise.
My sister stayed for a week and then flew home and my mom stayed for two weeks and then she flew home.
But I kept going and she eventually started to gain weight. I went to breastfeeding support groups and we had regular weight checks with the pediatrician.
She ended up having colic and acid reflux but we figured it out with the third medicine we tried. Then we found out that she had a lip tie and a partial tongue tie. So those were severed.
|8 weeks old just before the tongue and lip tie removal|
And now? She's great. She's still breastfed and I'm thrilled that I've made it six months (okay, she'll be six months next week but hey, I'm remaining positive). We started adding in baby food over this past weekend (I made sweet potato puree and she loved it!) and I'm looking into this thing called "baby led weaning" which is basically where babies eat whole foods from the start. The theory is that doing it this way helps the baby learn full and hunger cues better...and I'm all for her not having to struggle with weight/food issues if at all possible. So I'm taking a course about that in a few weeks and I'm hopeful that I can figure it out and it works. Until then, she's eating some purees because she seems to be hungrier than what she used to be.
The questions I get often:
What's her name? Ellison Grace Not Kennedy :)
Why'd you name her that? Because I liked the name Ellison (I read it for the first time on a baby forum when I was 12 weeks pregnant and I really liked it. My family pretty much exclusively calls her Ellie because they don't like the name Ellison and that's okay with me. My name means "graceful" (which, incidentally, is how I know God has a sense of humor) and I liked the idea of her always having a part of me with her.
Have you lost weight? Yes. I lost all the pregnancy weight during the first three weeks postpartum. I have lost a total of 5 pounds in the subsequent months. (boo)
What is it like being a sole parent? Hard. Really, really, really hard. See the above question as to why I haven't made much progress on the weight thing. Seriously, I think half of this battle is just giving up and succumbing to the fact that you're going to be exhausted the rest of your life.
Is she a good eater? Yes.
Is she a good sleeper? Sometimes. It depends on the week. Right now she usually sleeps 7 hours at her longest stretch.
Does she look like you? It depends on who you ask. Some people say yes. I think it's the blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. The odd thing is that I dye my hair red. But my nana was a redhead... Her face shape is exactly like my paternal grandfather. And if you've read this blog for years, a) thank you! and b) you might remember that he and I didn't have the best relationship. But it's hard to have such dislike in your heart for someone that your daughter takes so much after.
It's like when my dad saw her for the first time - for her baptism. He was in my house for about 6 hours before he was finally peer pressured into holding her. Seeing him hold her and trying so hard healed something in me. I saw him trying to be a better person for my daughter and I saw him struggling to do it. And all of the sudden his issues with me seemed more forgivable because I could see them from a different place.
Did she scratch herself? Okay. In fairness, it wouldn't occur to you to ask me that question because you haven't seen a picture of her. But she has a red birthmark in the center of her forehead - it just appeared when she was around 6 weeks old. My pediatrician says that it should fade by around a year and that it's very common. But I get this question all. the. time.
I love my daughter. She's rolling both ways, laughing, drooling over everything, and starting to show signs of her stubborn nature. Her eyes light up when she sees me and it's the best feeling in the world when I go to get her after she's woken up and she's wiggling in anticipation of being picked up by me.
She is everything good about me and I know that I'll do my best to be the mom she needs.
But oh, how it is isolating. I rush to drop her off at day care, rush to work, work 8 hours straight, rush to pick her up from day care, rush home, nurse her, play for about 30 minutes, put her to bed, and then drag out my laptop to work some more. I have two full time jobs and the pressure and weight of that is so hard to shoulder. Am I doing a good job? Well, I'm trying. And I think that matters more than anything else.
I'd love to date. I'd love to have a more complete family...because anyone who says they want to do this by themselves if full of poop. No one actually wants to be a sole parent. No one. But this choice was the better option for me versus never having a child at all. I hope to date soon and I hope that a great spouse and father come into our lives. Until then, we're just doing the best we can.
So that's it. That's my life in a nutshell.
I hope you all are well. Thank you for all of the support! I'll update again when I'm able.
Hugs to you! <3