love letter to my body: post partum and proud

Dear body,
here we are again, it’s time for me to take a good look at how I love you and need to learn to love you more. the last time we spoke I realized I could fall in love with and trust you to deliver a baby into the world, and I was right.

there is only one word to describe how I truly feel about you at this point; PROUD. it’s so difficult to express what we experienced through our labor of love for Xander to be born, but you and I both know that you were absolutely incredible.  I’m so sorry I ever doubted you and stayed up at night praying you would not disappoint me, I should have known that part of your design was to bring life into the world.  even when we began the (quick!) adventure of laboring through the night, you took control and dealt with the pain in a remarkable way. just when i started to allow fear to take over and think that I couldn’t take the pain any longer, I was pleasantly surprised to know that you had done all the work that we needed to do, and you were ready. you knew just how to deliver my baby so gently and safely. you stretched to your limits and gave him a peaceful entry to his new life outside of my womb, and you didn’t even require an IV for extra support! I am so proud of you for giving me the gift of labor and delivery that I had been praying for. when I see Xander, I am reminded on how miraculous you are for creating a part of me and a part of the man my heart loves. we are amazed by the way you knit together and sustained such a tiny human being. you are my favorite artist.

i am still learning to coexist and love you in a new way, just one week and one day after you proved all my doubts and fears to be wrong. I trust you, you really do know exactly what you’re doing and what Xander and i both need. those itty bitty stretch marks that appeared only after your hard work of labor? Go ahead and wear them proud, you deserve them as a badge of honor. the extra pounds you are still carrying? Go ahead and keep them for as long as you need, you are in fact still recovering while at the same time still sustaining my babies life each and every day through the milk, warmth and comfort you naturally provide. ill promise not to get trapped into giving you a timeline of when i think they should be gone. i see now that you deserve the extra support for caring for an infant 24 hours everyday. there is much else that truly matters to me now.

although your eyes have never been held open for as many hours as they have in the past week, but each day you welcome the sight of my baby with a new ability to keep smiling. yes i’ve already had days that i wish we could just get up and go without being too sore or over tired from a simple trip to the grocery store, but then im reminded by your subtle clues that you have done me so well.  you deserve as much rest as you need for a full recovery. im done pushing you past your limits. i promise to renew my gentle spirit each day, for your sake.

when I look at you in the mirror I now see your strength, your faithfulness and your incredible capacity to love beyond measure. for that, I owe it to you to love in return, to love you deeply and to be gentle to you as you continue to know exactly what to do. for all of this I am thankful, and I am proud. you have amazed me more in the past eight days of our knowing each other than ever before. I hope I never forget the pride I have for you right now. even when I don’t think you know what to do on your own, please prove me wrong, yet again.

I finally love you, dear body of mine.

Xander: our labor of love

Over Labor Day weekend my husband and i slept in way too late, ate way too much yummy food and watched an ungodly amount of Lost on Netflix all weekend long. It was incredible. With both of our busy schedules we hadnt had a weekend with no plans but to relax in far too long, and we needed it. We both finished work on Saturday and devoted the rest of the weekend to just be together and wait for our baby. Sunday and Monday were probably the laziest days of our lives, and it felt glorious. Monday felt no different than the day before, we visited with good friends, watched some TV on our cozy couch and put together the baby swing (finally). That afternoon a dear friend, who is a massage therapist, said she had an opening if I wanted to come by and see if my body might respond to pressure points to start labor, or just to simply help me relax and get a good nights sleep. I didnt want to get my hopes up, but i decided it would be a good idea. The massage was heavenly of course, and afterwards I had an overwhelming feeling like I needed to get my hair trimmed. Im not one to fuss over my hair, since really I don’t have much of it anymore, but I thought that maybe a trim would be nice in case I had the baby over the next week and it got to be in my way or grow too thick. After my haircut Patrick and I made dinner and resumed watching Lost, we were very determined to finish the entire last season before baby arrived.

I bounced on my birthing ball throughout the season finale of Lost and counted my contractions which were three minutes apart but not painful. I figured that if they continued this way over the next two hours of the episode I should call my midwife, but I was nervous it would be a false alarm. When the show ended (and we were done commenting on how awful of an ending it was and dissected every meaning of the closing) I told Patrick “it’s time to go” and he was shocked but went along with my decision. We closed up the house and joked around as we drove to the hospital at about 9pm. When we got checked out I was only a little bit more dilated than i had been the weeks leading up to this point, and Patrick was sure that we would be going home in the next couple hours without our baby. We walked the halls and I continued to laugh between the contractions, but we were both getting tired and agreed that my body was probably just practicing the real deal again, we wanted to go home. The nurses in triage couldnt decided what to do with us, and kept us waiting until about 1:30AM until my midwife arrived and said we should be admitted and get this baby born….excuse me what? Apparently my contractions had suddenly become off the charts and my body was doing the real deal…I was suddenly in labor and she didn’t want to risk us going home and not making it back.

I was excited and nervous, but we were both tired and kind of felt like it was a joke. I wouldnt describe my contractions as painful, it wasnt as dramatic as I thought it would be at all. First thing I decided to do was to jump into the amazing jacuzzi tub at 2AM in the birth center and see if I could relax before my labor started to progress….but instead my body relaxed so much that my contractions suddenly, almost instantly increased to something I had never felt before. I stayed in the tub for almost two hours, I was scared that if I got out I wouldnt know how to work through them or relax in my breaks. The nurses kept telling me how great I was managing and how they were pretty certain that we’d meet our baby by lunch time and definitely by dinner time.
When I got out of the jacuzzi tub i was more dilated, but 100% effaced, so now all my body had to do was continue to dilate and he’d be in my arms! He was already positioned so low that the nurses thought this was a sign he’d arrived by lunch time. Little did I know that I would rapidly go through transition labor and be fully dilated only a couple hours later. Working through the contractions was something that Patrick and I learned together, and he responded so well to what I needed. At one point i may or may not have bitten him, but he forgave me. He may or may not have said “you’re okay, just breath” a couple hundred times before I gave him a look that told him he didnt switch it up i would bite him again. He then began to tell me how proud of me he was and how amazing I was doing, and i started to believe him, i was really doing this! the staff at the birthing center left us to labor as i felt comfortable, which i found to be out of bed and swaying from side to side to breath through each contraction. As i began to go through transition (without knowing it) i couldnt catch my breath and i started to cry. i asked Patrick if he would think i was weak if i decided to receive medication even though we had planned on a natural birth, he got teary  eyed and said “you ARE doing this! i could never do what you are doing and i support you. we asked for something to take off the edge, but i was already fully dilated and the baby was ready to meet us, it was way too late for any medication. i did it!

At that point I couldn’t believe that I had made it this far and it was time to push….my mind started to tell me I couldn’t do it, that I didn’t know how. It seemed like I had just figured out how to make it through contractions, I had a mini panic attack. our midwife, nurses and Patrick surrounded me on the King sized bed and talked me through the next contraction and push, reminding me that my body was ready and I was made to birth my baby! Patrick sat to the left of me on the bed with his arm around the back of my head, with every push i grabbed his arm and pulled….he told me afterwards he was slightly nervous I would pull his arm out of socket, opps! our midwife sat at the end of the bed, calm and encouraging me with every push. I closed my eyes and tried to tell my mind I could do this and it would soon be over. With about ten intense pushes and some mighty birthing warrior screams my baby was placed on my arms. The moment that he was born i finally opened my eyes and felt no pain, but like I was watching a movie of a birth. All the hormones rushed through my body and the first thing I said when he was placed on my chest was “I can’t believe I did it!” It was surreal. Patrick kissed me, we both cried and he cut the cord. Our baby was here, we called him Xander Alan. And he was born before breakfast weighing 8 lbs 6 oz, 21 inches long. oh how we love him!

 

(Xander means “defender of men”, pronounced as a “z”. Alan is in honor of his two grandfathers, ones first name and the others middle name.)