Getting my Heart Ready for Baby #2

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yesterday, I bought a container of heavy cream that expires just before my baby is due.  That was a reality check!  He's coming!

Where to even begin?  This pregnancy has whizzed by so fast.  The middle of next month is my "guess date" and I am finally finding time to prepare for baby's arrival.  When I was pregnant with Sisi, preparing for baby was synonomous with preparing for childbirth. I took long baths, meditated, did my prenatal yoga faithfully, and read stacks of books on natural labor. It also meant nesting in a strictly physical sense- freezing meals, cleaning the house, preparing the nursery.  I gave little thought to preparing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for my life to be turned upside down (in a good way, in hindsight). Boy was I shocked when my very smooth pregnancy and childbirth led to the utter chaos of the newborn months.

I'm not so naive anymore.  I have an idea of what to expect, although I'm also expecting that I'll need to throw those expectations out the window. Baby #2 will be his own little man.  He might be the opposite of Sisi in so many ways. One thing I know for sure is that I will grow to love him fiercely, and that all the craziness will one day become my new normal.  Even if I have trouble bonding in the beginning, even if I get PPD like I did before, I will one day be ok.  That's really reassuring.

So how am I preparing this time?  I'm still doing all those little nesting rituals because they are important for stress relief, but I'm also trying to pay attention to the physical, psycho-emotional, and spiritual aspects of bringing a new life into the world.

Physical:  I feel strong and energetic, even though sometimes I wake at 4 or 5 am with back pain, unable to go back to sleep.  On those days, I sip some tea in the dark and head to 6:30 am yoga class. I'm spoiling myself a bit more with this pregnancy, indulging in prenantal massage every 2 weeks (so so awesome) and  frequent chiropractic appointments to straighten me out.  Since Sisi broke her arm a few months ago, I've had to lift and carry her much more than is wise, and I'm paying for it big time with tweaked nerves and muscles.  Baby is breech at this point, possibly due to all the assymetrical lifting I'm doing.  Thankfully, Sisi's cast came off today and I can enforce a strict no lift policy from this point on.

I'm not really afraid of the pain of childbirth this time around.  I've been through one home birth and a pretty rough miscarriage, so I know what to expect. I can expect a crazy amount of pain, but also have learned some tricks and strategies for coping. I also know the kind of environment I need for labor- quiet, calm, dark.  After Sisi was born, I was upset at myself for not letting Joe soothe me and take a more active role, but I realize now that I was totally overwhelmed, and it's my normal reaction to want to close my eyes and zone out.  Sisi is the same way.  When her arm was broken before the pain meds, she wanted the room quiet and didn't want anyone to talk to her.  As soon as the meds kicked in, she was more willing to be cuddled or entertained.  Like mother like daughter!

I'm actually dreading the aftercare (midwifes hands up my uterus, the stitching up, etc.)  more than the birth!  I also remember that it hurt to pass the placenta, but I was high on happy hormones so I coped well.

Right now baby is breech, which is a little worrisome at almost 34 weeks.  But my midwife and chiropractor have assured me that he still has time and space to move. If baby stays head up, I will have to come up with a plan B, find a doctor and a hospital and maybe have a totally different birth than I'm hoping for.   I will not dwell on that until I have to.  I have every reason to trust baby and trust gravity.

In the last two weeks, I've spent time with 5 of my girlfriends who have newborns and infants. Watching them breastfeed, change diapers and soothe their crying babies brought back vivid sense memories.  The zombie sleepless feeling, the bliss of holding a sleeping baby, the awkwardness (and suffocation?) of breastfeeding in public under a nursing cover.  It's been almost 4 years since Sisi was born, but it's all coming back to me.  I'm expecting the newborn phase to be messy and sticky and tiring, so at least I'm being realistic.

Psycho-emotional:  My therapist gave me a reality check the other day.  She said that I need to chill out.  I need to hire a maid instead of scrub the floors by hand.  I need to let Joe tuck Sisi in so I can meditate in the bubble bath.  I have to let the rest of my family take care of all the holiday plans.  I might not even have time to buy Christmas presents or cook a paleo Thanksgiving, and that has to be alright. I HAVE to get comfortable with accepting help NOW, or I will not be able to do so when the baby is born.   I feel like I've come so far with the whole perfectionism thing (it's why I'm in therapy in the first place), but apparently, it's my default mode when I go through major life changes.My performance-based attitude combined with wacky hormones is the recipe for post-partum depression.  This is the reason why I made that Pre-pregnancy contract with myself before we even starting trying. My therapist said there are 3 options:  1) get help wherever needed 2) let go of the housework and be ok with chaos or 3) try to do it all myself and get depressed again.

Spiritually:  Sisi is starting to ask more about God, and I love this aspect of parenting. What a responsibility I have to not only share my faith to my kids through words, but most importantly through my example.  Living out the faith that I proclaim every single day, in the happy and hard times.  At night when I can't sleep, I hold my belly and pray for this little child I have yet to meet.  I know that I love him, but it's a little hard for me to bond with him in utero (even harder after the disappointment of my previous miscarriage) so praying for him helps to remind me that he is already a person, and is precious in God's sight. I also pray that this time I will be quicker to see the huge blessing that parenting is; that I'd see the big picture, especially during the first few months when every single day seems like an eternity.  It really does fly by.  Just look at what a beautiful little girl Sisi has become!

To all you mamas, how did you prepare for Baby's arrival?

All photos taken at Lake Tahoe by the talented Whitby B Photography.

P.S. This post is all about me, but I'll probably write a follow-up on how I'm preparing Sisi for the arrival of her little bro.