May 1, 2014

soup du jour

Eleanor, our "soup du jour"

The last two months--Eleanor Arden's first two months of life--have felt like both a lifetime and the blink of an eye. It's funny how time can play tricks like that. Since her arrival, our house has felt completely different. In such a good way. She has the sweetest spirit and, cheesy as it is to say, it radiates through the house.

I'm a list person.

Things that surprised me about labor:
- Talk about a time warp.  My contractions began at 5:30AM, and she was born at 4:26PM.  My eleven hour labor seemed to fly by. I expected it to drag and drag, probably because my OB/GYN had told me to prepare for a 24 hour labor as a first time mom. Several times, I would think 15 minutes had passed, and would be shocked to see it had been over an hour.
- As with above, I expected the stages of labor to take longer. My water broke, two hours later I was dilated to 5cm, and one hour later I was dilated to 10cm and ready to push. When the nurse said, "girl, you're complete" I was so surprised. But sooo okay with it.
- I wasn't hungry or thirsty. This was a big shocker. I knew ahead of time that I wouldn't be allowed to eat while in labor--my coworker, who has worked in labor/delivery, had assured me the week before that I wasn't in labor (during one of my many false-hope-"am-I-in-labor?" moments) after watching me pile a plate of mexican buffet for lunch, and insisted that I wouldn't be hungry when it was the real deal. I laughed at her in my mind at the time, thinking it was physically impossible for me to NOT be hungry, but the day was definitely the last thing I wanted; my body had shifted all of it's energy and resources to the task at hand.
-I was freezing. Any time I get IV fluids I start to shiver uncontrollably, and this was no exception. I had imagined the sweaty, hot labor they always show on TV. But I was covered in like six blankets.
- Neal was so calm and collected. It was surprising because on a few occasions when I had some painful braxton hicks the weeks preceding my labor, he would get a bit panicky and gasp, "is this it??!?" But when it was the real deal, he proved to be the Real Deal. He timed my contractions for me, became well acquainted with the monitors and what the nurses were watching for, and my nurse even brought him a diagram of a cervix because he was suddenly fascinated with the whole subject.  He was so mellow and it helped me stay mellow; after I had the epidural (around noon) we both were even able to take a nap.
- I wouldn't change a thing about my labor and delivery; not one thing.  I've said this multiple times since Eleanor was born: I would bear handfuls of children without thinking twice if the labors could be like this one; the first trimester and last few weeks of pregnancy were waaayyyy worse than my delivery.


she's here.


Things that have surprised me about having a newborn:
- I was comfortable holding her from the get go. I have almost zero previous experience with newborns aside from nursing school and have always felt awkward/terrified while holding little babies. But when they placed my sweet girl in my arms, it felt so right, sooo good, and I didn't feel nervous or uncomfortable at all.
- Her cry is cute to me.  I feel self-conscious about it when we're around other people only because I worry about it annoying them or hurting their ears or stressing them out. But when it's just the two of us, sometimes I let her cry for a bit before attempting to soothe her, just to watch her because I think it's cute.
- The things we were repeatedly warned of by veteran parents either haven't been as bad as we pictured, or issues at all. I know we totally lucked out with this kid's sleeping habits, but she has slept soundly for long stretches through the night since she was a few days old. When she was 2 weeks old, we started putting her to bed at 9:30, she wakes up at 3:00 or 4:00 to eat for maybe five minutes, falls right back asleep and doesn't wake again until 6:00 for another quick feeding, and wakes up "for real" at 8:00. Sooo I have been really fortunate to not experience sleep deprivation. She also doesn't cry for long stretches; maybe 45 minutes tops, and even that is pretty rare. Of course some days have been worse than others and there was one horrific night when she was overstimulated and screamed for three hours straight.
- She detests pacifiers and bottles. We are working on the bottle thing, since I am returning to work next week aaaannndd she has to eat somehow. This week she finally took one from Neal, Melia (my cousin, who will be watching Eleanor while I'm at work), and even from me for a bit.
-The obscene amount of laundry I have to do to keep up with this child's "accidents". These occur less often as she gets older, but I think that's only because I'm more careful about fastening diapers the proper way and am lightening fast at catching spit up.

it's hard to take a grumpy girl in a flowery nightgown seriously.
New parent cliches I thought would never apply to me but totally do:
-Neal and I call each other "Mom" and "Dad".  Not all the time, obviously, but a loottt more than I thought we would. Actually, we use "the mama" and "the papa" the most, because we called each other that before I even got pregnant. Weirdos.
-Uncontrollable desire to post baby pics on social media. Sorry.
- I hold my own breath approximately five times each day while I assess her breathing status and have a slight (and sometimes not so slight) panic attack until I see her stomach rise and fall or her eyelids flutter.
- I never want to leave her. The first time I ran to the grocery store down the street and was gone for maybe 10 minutes, I came home bawling. When we put her in her crib at night I get a sad, longing feeling for her, even though she's in the next room. Next going to be really hard. I can't believe my maternity leave is already up.

I'm mean. And am probably giving her a headache.

The best things about this experience thus far:
- Watching Neal become a father. He's even more amazing than I knew he would be.
- Nursing. I didn't think I would even like it, but oh my gosh I love it.
- Being able to console my girl when no one else can.
- Eleanor's...soft/squishy skin, peach fuzz hair, bald spot she's developed from sleeping on her back, chubby thighs, tiny toes, big blue eyes, gummy smile, and painfully adorable voice.

On February 24, 2014, a mother was born. I have never loved doing anything so much in my entire life, and it seems unreal that I get to be one for the rest of it. God knows what He's doing.

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