27 July 2015

24 days with téa

It's a girl! I can now admit I secretly hoped for a second girl and was thrilled to have gotten one. My partner and I are hoping our girls will grow up close and potentially interested in many of the same things... And if that doesn't happen, at the very least, we can use the same clothes for our second daughter, and that's great, too.

So, I've been the mother of two girls for twenty-four days now, and it's interesting how different my partner and I are with our second child.

The main lesson we've learned is that newborns aren't that fragile after all, and we're way more relaxed about everything. Nursing is a way better experience now that I know what I'm doing and what to expect. And while the novelty of a new baby isn't the same as it was the first time, my partner and I are both deeply, madly in love with our new little one in the same overwhelming way we were with our first.

My complete labor with my first was forty-four hours, and contractions with my second didn't even start until six hours before she was born. We rushed to the hospital the first time, thinking the baby would come any minute, whereas we took our time, continuing to work on little house projects with our second until three hours before she was born. (It's a good thing we didn't dilly-dally any longer than that, though. We got to the hospital at 10pm, and our daughter was born about 2.5 hours later.)

The birth experiences were totally opposite, too. My first was peaceful, quiet and eternal—instrumental Beatles music played in the background, I didn't make a peep, and there was hardly any "mess." I was given Pitocin and had an epidural, so I felt no pain at all and got to sleep all day and most of the night before my first daughter was born at about 4am. I thought I wanted an unmedicated birth but was very happy with my birth experience even though it was totally different than our plan.

For my second birth, my partner and I didn't even bother with a birth plan. We love and trust our midwife completely (we were lucky enough to have the same midwife deliver both of our babies), and we figured she would help us get our baby out however it needed to get out in the best way possible for everyone.

After having such a peaceful birth with our first, we considered bringing her to the birth of our second, and we only decided not to after being reminded that every birth is different, and it could be traumatic for a 3-year-old if things didn't go quite like the first. So, she went to stay with family, and we were able to focus on getting our new baby into the world with no distractions or worries about our older daughter's well-being.

As it turns out, that was the right decision because my second birth was loud, messy and intense. My water broke all over the floor, I wailed in pain as my body pushed the baby out (seemingly without my consent or control!), and my older daughter would have been traumatized, for sure. After thinking I'd go ahead and get the epidural this time, too, I was so glad I ended up getting my all-natural, unmedicated birth experience after all. (Plus, the anesthesiologist who would have administered the epidural was super unpleasant, saying he didn't have time for my midwife (who'd just arrived) to check me (to see how dilated I was) and storming off, so I also felt he could take his stinky-attitude epidural and shove it.)

But back to the lovey-dovey feelings. My partner and I constantly stare, mesmerized, at the newest member of our little family, trying to guess if she'll look like her sister as we search for differences/similarities, ever fascinated by all of her little facial expressions and newborn movements. We marvel at the tiny details—our first had more hair, and our second has dimples! And again, we become zombies due to the lack of sleep.

Our little Téa is a typical newborn in that she likes to nurse every two hours (or often after just an hour) and doesn't sleep much (especially at night), but she's smiley and seems to have a sweet temperament when she isn't hungry or tired (which, admittedly, is nearly all the time right now). And my partner and I now know have a better sense of how quickly each phase passes.

Everyone tells us to treasure each moment, and we're trying to. It's definitely more challenging when you have a three-year-old to also care for and chase after, and we're consciously trying to not make everything about the baby and to make sure we spend some extra time snuggling and connecting with our older daughter.

Amazingly, almost everyone who has been so kindly showering us with gifts has included something for our older daughter, too. People are so thoughtful—I don't think I would even have thought to give a gift to the older sibling until I had two kids.

Another miracle is that our older daughter is absolutely in love with her little sister, and she's always gentle, careful and loving with her. In contrast to older brothers who try to gouge out their little siblings' eyes (true story), we've been touched to see how sweet and nurturing our daughter is with her baby sister. She even says she wants to marry Téa when they get older. (Cue the Awwws. Or the gagging, depending on your perspective.)

In any case, people are 100% correct. Téa has already grown so much in the three weeks she's been alive on this earth, so we're trying to cherish the moments that are flying by. I've heard these first few weeks post-partum are a sacred window when a new mother can connect with the divine and enter a life-transforming transition period, and I'm definitely hoping for some insight and wisdom as I am still reeling from not being a business owner anymore.

I know I was just thinking short-term when I jokingly told my partner I needed a job title, but I still feel a void when I am asked what I do. Well, I used to own a coffee shop. We even started a coffee roasting company, but I sold that, too. When I told my daughter I gave my shop my to my partner, she said, "Silly mama! Why did you do that? Now you have no shop." She asked if I was going to get a new shop, and I tried to explain that I didn't want a shop anymore because I wanted to spend more time with her and Téa.

Now, I change diapers and feel like a human cow. But I'm also deliriously in love and feel so lucky to be able to spend so much time with my baby without also stressing about running a business on my own. But I also still wonder what I'll do and how I can be a useful and productive human being.

At the very least, my partner and I just hope we'll be able to be loving, patient, empowering parents to both of our girls, and I should recognize that that would already be a colossal accomplishment. Wish us luck...

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