A travel and lifestyle blog

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Welcoming Emma: My birth story and adjusting from one to two babies

        We welcomed our baby girl Emma Charlotte Beal into the world on March 5, 2019, which was actually on my scheduled c-section date at 39 weeks. My OB doctor and I were pretty open to having a VBAC (Vaginal birth after c-section) but she would only do it if my water broke naturally since I could not be induced. As it would turn out, I never went into labor naturally, so we ended up having the c-section, and to be quit honest, I was actually pretty relieved that Emma didn't come earlier than her due date. I had already felt comfortable and familiar with what the c-section experience looked and felt like. Yet, the c-section itself was just about the only similarity in both of my birth and postpartum experiences. 

     With my first child, the recovery process was quite difficult. I had become septic and my preeclampsia lingered on for months following birth. I didn’t get out of bed for at least a week, I was on all kinds of meds, and I pretty much felt like a train wreck….and to make matters worse, my c-section site had become infected two weeks postpartum. I came pretty close to having to reopen the wound and drain the fluid out. Thankfully though, that didn’t happen. As many new mothers can relate, having to deal with the physical recovery aspects on top of becoming a new parent, which you quickly realize is a huge responsibility with a very steep learning curve, is overwhelming and exhausting. It’s a perfect recipe for postnatal depression. I also learned that I was part of the majority in this feeling of suffering in silence. It felt like an epidemic. So many of my mom friends say they often felt depressed in those first few postpartum months. Maybe it’s because it really does take a village to raise a child, and our culture now doesn't provide the family and community support like it once did. Maybe there is so much pressure now compared to the much more simple times of the generations before us. Many of my new mom friends, including myself, were not nurtured or guided through the experience, which is why I feel that many of us often feel alone, lost, bewildered, overwhelmed, hopeless, sleep deprived and exhausted to name a few. 

     Thankfully, having my second child has been a much more positive experience. Now, with the invaluable and often underestimated experience behind my belt, it has made things so much easier this time around. Just knowing what to do and the milestones that your baby is going to make already keeps me way more relaxed and at ease. I really like to be open and communicate with my new mom friends and really any new moms on the huge adjustment it takes to become a parent. I love being real with them and letting them know my own experience and what has worked for me to cope with one of the biggest changes in life that we will ever make. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the support, nurture and guidance from family that I had expected to get when I was a new mother, and that was okay. I had eventually realized that it didn't make my family bad people. They are still loving and supportive in other ways. Where I unexpectedly did get guidance and support from was friends who already had the experience of motherhood as well as new moms who were going through it with me. Getting out of the house, just going on walks, talking and venting with new and experienced mothers, and just really embracing instead of trying to go against the current of your new life has really helped me. Yes, it’s hard to find time to take even a shower, or clean up one of the billion messes my toddler makes, but if I just look at it in a way were this is really just a fleeting moment, and I concentrate on their beautiful little faces, it really is all worth it. My old life has ended and I  mourn it, but there really is a whole new life that has begun. Yes, its hard and many times annoying, but it is also very beautiful and enriching in ways that your life could never be enriched before you had become a mother.

      I suppose my second time around has also been much easier to adjust to because little Emma seems much more even tempered than Eli was. She was also a very healthy 9 pounds, whereas my first was only around 5 pounds and very colicky, which kept me in anxiety mode for a while. There really are so many variables that go into whether you feel it is a harder experience going from zero to one child versus one to two. My sister always said having her first was a lot easier than having her second. Maybe it was because her second had a more challenging temperament, and logistically it is harder to get two out of the house compared to one. It just takes that much more time and patience. But for me, the life adjustment of becoming a new mother was just simply harder. My husband now has experience behind his belt, and he seemed much more helpful this time around. We new how to work as a team already. My parents and the in-laws seemed to be a little more hands on and helpful to me as well. Maybe they saw that I had a hard time with my first, or maybe they just felt like I would need more help with two, I don't really know. But they seemed much more supportive this time around. I also think that since I didn’t really have any pregnancy or postpartum complications, my recovery felt like a breeze. Within hours after giving birth to Emma, I was up and walking and I just seemed to have more energy with her. Other than those few last weeks of back pain, acid reflux, insomnia, anemia, and just pure misery, the rest of my pregnancy was a breeze. Our little Emma Beal has such a sweet and mellow demeanor, and we feel so blessed that she is a part of our family! She couldn’t be a more perfect addition to the Beal clan.

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