Sirena’s first days of life
A few hours after Sirena was born, we made the trip upstairs to the Family Recovery Room to spend the next two nights getting to know our baby and preparing to go home as new parents. Over the course of the next 48 hours we spent a lot of time visiting with the family that was in town, trying to get as much sleep as possible which proved to be almost impossible with the constant feeding, changing of diapers (which Kevin did completely while in the hospital, I didn’t have to change a diaper until we got home!), and the constant interruption by nurses and doctors coming in to check in on us, and just being in complete and total awe of the little lady we had created.
My first experience in a wheelchair and I couldn’t have asked for a better chair mate!
Skin-to-skin with mama
Hanging out with mom and dad (and Uncle Derek who came for a surprise visit!)
Sirena was surrounded by lots of loving family members who couldn’t wait to get their paws on her–she was rarely laying down in the bassinet but instead almost always in someone’s arms!
Proud first-time grandma
Kevin and his mom (I love this picture!)
Such a happy Grandpa!
Enjoying time with Grandpa George and showing off those expressive little hands
Getting the special treatment by Aunt Jessie
Uncle Derek made a surprise visit to the hospital on the afternoon of the day she was born–someone knocked on the door and, thinking it was another nurse checking in on us, I told them to “come in” and I was speechless when I saw Derek walk in the door! Turns out he happened to have an ultimate frisbee tournament in Santa Cruz that weekend so made the drive up to visit with us for a couple of hours before going back. It was so wonderful having him there to meet his first niece!
Sirena actually had to have a minor medical procedure done while still at the hospital–I was experiencing a lot of pain while breastfeeding and the nurses who observed me just said that Sirena had a strong latch but that eventually it’d get better. When I began bleeding and the pain, in fact, did not stop we asked to meet with a Lactation Consultant to see if she could help. She first observed Sirena nurse and then took a look inside her mouth and said that she believed her frenulum (the membrane that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth) was shorter than usual which did not allow her to breastfeed very efficiently. She told us about the simple procedure of cutting the frenulum and after we said it would interest us she had the attending pediatrician come to our room to check her out. The doctor agreed that cutting the frenulum would be beneficial and gave us the consent forms for the procedure. It was surreal having to read through medical paperwork and sign off on something for another human and not myself. Once the paperwork was signed and the doctor was getting ready I was overcome with some pretty intense emotions–whenever I had heard moms say that they couldn’t stand seeing their child get a shot I really couldn’t understand why something like that could be so dramatic, and yet here I was with a one day old baby who was going to get a very minor medical procedure done and I was overcome with sadness and I began to cry. I felt so bad for this little person and I couldn’t help feeling guilty, questioning our decision to do this if it was only for a selfish reason (so that I wouldn’t be in pain while breastfeeding). I couldn’t stand to watch the 2-second procedure and felt awful when I heard her little cry after it was done. Luckily her cries only lasted for 30 seconds and she barely bled at all but it was the first time I truly understood those other moms and the overwhelming feelings of wanting to protect my baby from any little harm.
The hospital commissioned a photography company to drop by to meet with the new families to take baby’s first photos–although we didn’t order any from the company we did take advantage of the trance-like state the photographer put Sirena in so that I could snap a few posed newborn photos of our own!
Our itty bitty model
Sirena’s first glamor shot
Daddy and Sirena
Our last night at the hospital we got the extra special treatment with a meal fit for a royal family. Kevin and I had placed our order the previous day so were looking forward to the dinner but when another huge tray showed up covered with five servings of desserts and Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider we were blown away–they not only prepared dessert for Kevin and me but for my mom, her boyfriend Steve, and my sister Jessie who happened to be visiting during that time as well!
The feast (with the guest of honor)!
And here’s a short video of the three of us hanging out in the hospital together
Life with a newborn
Bringing Sirena home
On Monday morning after meeting with countless medical professionals and attending the hospital discharge class it was finally time to go home. I hadn’t set foot outside of the recovery room for 48 hours so it was strange not only to be going home with a new sidekick but also just to be outside of those four walls in general! The weather had changed dramatically that day–it had rained early that morning and it was so windy, it reminded us of some tropical location. She couldn’t have asked for more dramatic coming-home weather!
Proud new daddy
Soothing herself on mom’s finger for her first ever car ride…she was a total champ!
We were both excited and anxious about Sirena’s and Lola’s first encounter. Lola had been without mom and dad for three days so we decided to leave Sirena out in the hallway with my mom while Kevin and I went into the apartment to greet our overly-excited pup. It was so apparent she missed us a ton while we were gone and it was so great getting to see her again! After a few minutes it was time for the long-awaited first meeting: here’s a short video of the two of them being introduced! Lola was extremely curious about the new little person (if she even recognized that Sirena was a little human) and just wanted to sniffsniffsniff her. We had to tell her to “leave it” when she started getting a little too carried away with wanting to give her kisses but overall Lola did great at their first meeting!
Her first week
Sirena’s first week at home was a whirlwind. Kevin and I were busy trying to figure out this whole newborn thing and getting used to our new sleep schedule. We had the company of my mom and Steve for a couple of days at home which was nice to have some companionship and some extra hands to hold her while we tried to get things taken care of.
The only thing we had to do that week was go to our first doctor’s appointment with a Lactation Consultant on the day after we got home from the hospital. The LC we met with was fantastic and gave me a lot of support and an extra boost of confidence. Sirena at first weighed in at 7 lbs, 7 oz and after nursing her for 20 minutes she was weighed again and gained almost an entire ounce! The LC scheduled us for another appointment the following week and said that it was her hope that Sirena gain at least 4 oz within the week.
Here are some snapshots from her first week at home:
So itty bitty in her car seat!
My Aunt Tina bought Sirena a cute little Minnie Mouse outfit and a ton of Disney dolls so we wanted to take advantage and take a cute photo reminiscent of E.T.:
Let’s play “Where’s Sirena?”
Napping with Dad (check out the arm positions for both of them…)
Kevin and I made sure to get out of the house as much as possible to enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine instead of being cooped up in the house all day long. Our first excursion when she was five days old was to Piedmont Park for a nice walk with Lola–while pregnant with Sirena I would take Lola here just about once a week so it was crazy being there with a little baby in tow!
Kevin and his girls
Lola checking out the munchkin Dad was carrying around
Her second week
We kept ourselves pretty busy her second week with visitors (Carleigh, Terri & Scott, and Darinee & Harrison came by for visits), a doctor’s appointment, a postpartum doula appointment, and excursions around town.
The doctor’s appointment we had was with the same Lactation Consultant we had seen the week prior–the first thing she did was weigh Sirena and when she found out she weighed 8 lbs, 4 oz (up 13 oz from the week before) the LC said, “Good job, mama! That’s all I needed to know, you’re doing a great job and you can go home now!” It seems that Sirena and I are a pretty good team when it comes to this breastfeeding business. 🙂
One of the days that week we took a nice long walk to the Lake Merritt farmer’s market. Since dogs aren’t allowed in the market I sat in the shade with our girls while Kevin went around to get some food–there was a man with his one year old daughter who stopped by to see the little baby in the stroller, he asked me how old she was and when I told him 7 days old he said, “You gave birth a week ago?!” 😉
On the walk home we stopped by the lake to take some photos…
Lola checking in on her sister
Kevin and his three girls
And here are some random photos from the week…
Little Buddha baby (check out those legs!)
She’s such a GRUMP when she wakes up! We love it.
A visit from Auntie Carleigh (who is expecting two boys in a few months, Sirena’s future buddies!)
At the Oakland Rose Garden
Trying out Dad’s shades
And a little bit about postpartum recovery
With all of the preparation I did for the birth itself I wasn’t quite prepared for the moments and the days after the birth. Other than a co-worker telling me about her own experience the two days in the hospital after her daughter was born, no one really talked to me about the recovery so I thought I’d mention it briefly here.
Like I mentioned in my previous post with her birth story, the moment she was placed on my chest was incredible. She was so warm and so big and so unbelievably cute and I just could not believe that she was real and that she actually came out of me. I was very much focused on her little face and her huge presence but something else was demanding my focus: being stitched up by the doctor. Turns out I had a second degree tear (which is pretty typical for a woman’s first vaginal delivery) and because I didn’t have an epidural, even though she applied a local anesthetic I was still very aware of the sensations of the stitching while it was happening. It actually took around 30 minutes for the doctor to finish and it was a lot more painful and uncomfortable than I could have imagined. Even though I was in quite a bit of pain, during this time I was very much focused on Sirena and I actually gave her the nickname “Honey bear” to comfort her when she would cry or whimper. I had never thought of that nickname prior to this experience so I consider it extremely special for the two of us and I find myself calling her that now when she’s in the most distress.
Another thing I hadn’t really expected was when I went to use the restroom for the first time about an hour after she was born, Kevin accompanied me and when I got up I told him I was feeling dizzy and placed my arms around his neck and the next thing I knew I woke up on the bathroom floor with a nurse looking over me. I had fainted because I had lost so much blood (not any more than expected for a vaginal birth but way more than I had ever lost before!) and thank goodness Kevin was there to help lay me on the floor so I didn’t hit my head. From then on I had to wear a “Fall Risk” bracelet on my wrist and the nurses were extra cautious of me getting up for any reason. I also had a hard time urinating and ended up having to get a catheter put in for an entire evening–the worst part about this was that the nurse couldn’t put it in so had to ask the head nurse to come in and help her and she also had a hard time putting it in so for about 30 minutes total I had two nurses pricking me in a very sensitive area which I had definitely not anticipated. Once the catheter was in I felt a huge relief so it was definitely worth it but it was a very trying time while they were putting it in.
More than anything, what I had the hardest time with in terms of recovery was the fact that I was so extremely weak. I had never even broken a bone before so being in a hospital and actually having to recover and needing nurses to take care of me was very difficult for me. I couldn’t do a lot of things for myself and I had a hard time letting go and being okay with nurses helping me with some very personal and uncomfortable things like assisting me in the restroom, emptying the catheter, etc. I now have so much more respect for nurses and all they have to do for their patients having been one myself! The first two weeks at home were pretty rough with my recovery as well but each day I would feel more and more normal and now that we’re almost one month from her birthday I am feeling about 95% back to normal.
The “baby blues”
Yup, I experienced them. I struggled with deciding whether or not to include anything about this on the blog but I decided to be honest and share my experience because it seems that it isn’t always talked about and I want other new moms who have experienced them or women who may experience them in the future know that they’re not alone.
The first two weeks were…rough. Adjusting to life with a newborn was not easy in the slightest, just like everyone had said (but I didn’t truly understand until I was living it!)
Lack of sleep + constant discomfort/pain from recovery + feeding Sirena every 1-3 hours all day long + crazy postpartum hormones = a not-always-happy mama. I had a hard time accepting the fact that the independence I had once enjoyed every day was now completely gone. When Sirena was hungry (like I said, every 1-3 hours all day long), I was needed right this instant. Sleep was constantly being interrupted by a need to breastfeed and/or change a diaper–she’d wake up 2-3 times during the night and be awake for at least one hour at a time. Our daily schedule was completely flipped on its head and we weren’t getting out of the house and seeing the light of day until around 2pm each day. My body was no longer my own (not just in terms of breastfeeding but with the recovery too) and I just didn’t feel normal anymore.
All of these things added up to make me feel, in a word, drained. Even though I genuinely enjoyed so many moments with my new little family there were many moments when I felt inadequate for not knowing what to do at all times, I felt selfish for wanting more sleep and wanting to not breastfeed and wanting my old life back, and more than anything, I felt guilty for having these feelings. I have wanted to be a mom for a long time–I am great with kids and had expected mamahood to be something I would be a natural at. So when my first two weeks as a mom turned out to be extremely difficult, I began feeling like maybe I wasn’t cut out for being a mom after all and that was the worst feeling to have.
So what helped me snap out of this? First of all, Kevin was amazing throughout this experience. He allowed me to crycrycry it out, he was extremely supportive and was constantly telling me that I was, in fact, doing a good job and that it was okay and normal for me to feel the way I was feeling, and he would do his best to take her so that I could get a 2-3 hour nap in every day. Getting out of the house at least once a day to enjoy the sunshine and some fresh air has done wonders as well–I can’t imagine what kind of a wreck I would have been if I was cooped up in our apartment every single day. And lastly, I had to constantly remind myself even during the crying fits and the discomfort and the sleeplessness that I had wanted and dreamed about having Sirena for so many years and that I needed to appreciate the little life that I was fortunate enough to spend my days with, even during the rough patches.
Each day has honestly gotten better and better and even though we’re now approaching her one month birthday and I’m still exhausted, even though I still question whether or not I know what the heck I’m doing, and even though I still cry at the drop of a dime, I know that this is all temporary and that this will all be over before we know it so I strive to enjoy each and every moment I have with her as much as possible.
Our little burrito