I was listening to a podcast on my morning walk with Lewis, and the person talking described holding their baby for the first time as their heart exploded. I had heard that before giving birth, and fully expected that to be the case for me, but my heart kind of did the opposite.
There were a lot of factors that led me to have post-partum depression. A stressful birthing situation in a hospital in a foreign country, where it’s easy to question the medical practices, with a baby who didn’t seem to fit into my expectations or any of the baby advice books, far away from family and mourning the loss of my previous life, oh and hormones. To not want to be with your new little baby is horrible and heartbreaking. Then on top of that, comes the shame and guilt that you have this beautiful baby and you aren’t happy when there are thousands of women who want a baby or have lost a baby. I felt like I couldn’t do it, and I wanted my old life back. I remember vividly sitting in my bed sobbing and actually screaming, “I can’t do this. I can’t feed him again! I don’t want to feed him!” I hate that memory. I still wish I could go back and change those months.
But as I walked through, those painful weeks, I was encountering the faithfulness of God in so many ways: connections with counselors, emails and calls from a high school friend who was walking with me, provision for my father-in-law to come, and the steadfast love of Travis. Everyday there was some way that God was whispering to me, “I’m still here in this with you.” But it was still so hard, and I wanted to know when I would feel heart exploding love for my son.
I was reminded of the heart exploding love tonight when I was singing him his goodnight song and he reached down to hold my finger, when I made him laugh really hard, when he couldn’t pick up his avocado because it was too slippery, when he concentrated on his toy with his little tongue out, and my heart swelled with love for my little boy. I remembered wondering if I would ever feel this way about him. At the time, it felt like I never would, but joy comes in the morning (my morning was just a couple of months away).
Football is important to our family (at least we hope Lewis will be included). It’s something we like to do together, and now that we live overseas it’s something we like to do with our expat community. We have Monday Night Football at our house using the NFL GamePass. It lets us watch the games after the fact, and the best part it’s without commercials. This year Travis put together a schedule, and I had to be sure it didn’t favor his Green Bay Packers too much.
On the days that our Monday Night Football get togethers don’t include Green Bay, this is how Travis and the NFL team up together to watch his games. Steps 1- 5 are followed regardless of who we are watching on Monday.
Step 1: Purchase the NFL GamePass.
Step 2: Make sure your colleagues know not to say anything about the game. This is something that needs to be set up at the beginning of the year. This also includes me (I’m impatient) because I look up the scores.
Step 3: Turn off the internet on your phone the night before so you don’t get any updates or just don’t look at your phone.
Step 4: Stay off all social media and internet sites that would potentially tell you anything about the score.
Step 5: Watch the football game that’s on the schedule and turn off the TV if they give Green Bay updates.
Step 6: Wake up at 4:00 am in order to watch the Green Bay game, so that you don’t have to wait until Tuesday night to watch and find out the score.
Step 7: Come and tell me all about the game when I wake up in the morning (mostly things I know because I already read about the game!)
*Travis is mourning the loss of Aaron Rodgers and actually just watched highlights this morning. Poor guy.
Lewis is 6 months old and full of life. Here are some things he currently loves and pictures to prove it.
- To smile. He gives his smiles to anyone who gives him some attention.
- To eat. We started him on solids. He is adorable, but messy!
- To read. He has three favorite books: The Dinosaur Stampede, First Noises, and Sounds.
- His buckets. These are his favorite toy and he loves to chase them all around the floor. Not crawling, more like a modified army crawl.
- To put things in his mouth. Anything and everything.
- To knock down towers. Build a tower and he will come!
- To watch TV. We don’t let him watch TV, but whenever we put something on he will sit and watch (mostly sports).
- Ibu Neneng- She’s our helper and Lewis loves her. She does a great job and he is always happy to see her and play with her!
- To go on walks. Our neighborhood is a great place to go on walks, and we take one every morning. He takes it all in and smiles at the people on the road.
- Mom and Dad. To see him smile when we come in the room is the best thing ever. Sometimes we’ll sit out on our “porch” waiting for Travis to get home and Lewis will bounce up and down when he sees his Dad.
- This is a bonus- it includes all the things he likes, but shouldn’t like cords, trash cans, plugs, fans, etc, which means my job is saying no and moving him away.
Things he doesn’t like as much: mango (too slippery), naps (too much to see), his car seat (don’t restrain me), being away from mom or dad (i love them too much), getting his pjs on (please don’t put me to sleep), and the blender (too loud).
I love teaching. I love to think about it, talk about it, read about it, etc. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I didn’t really think about what I would do, but then came the day that our contract forms showed up, and Travis and I had to decide. I put it off until the last possible day, knowing that checking and signing not teaching would mean I would be losing (for a time) an important part of me. At first, it was a really hard transition. I went from having my days super scheduled by a bell to having a non-existent schedule determined by a crying baby. I went from my brain working in the present (this current lesson) and the future (the next lesson) and future, future (the next week’s lesson) to my brain not working! I went from a class full of talkative, communicative 4th graders to a newborn baby who could only cry. I found myself resentful of Travis whose life went on like “normal”. I was mourning knowing what I was doing to feeling at a total loss. But I turned a corner with his first laughs and smiles.
I realize I had morphed into Mom when I started enjoying my days. Seeing him smile real big when I walk in the room, learning to do some many new things, reading, feeding, and just being with him have become a joy to me. I’m realizing what a gift it is for me to be able to stay home with him.
But Mrs. Julian isn’t gone. I still think about education a lot through my reading and discussions with Travis. I am going to be able to help with some research stuff for the school. We’ll see what the future holds for Mrs. Julian, but for now I’m Mom, which is perfectly fine with me (on most days!)
We learned something about Lewis through the birth process…he doesn’t like change and was trying to prologue it as much as possible (I’m projecting my own emotions on him!) His birth on Sunday actually started on Friday night.
Friday night- I was at 41 weeks and had done everything that was suggested to get the birth process to start: yoga, pineapple, walking, etc. We went to the doctor that night and because I hadn’t eaten anything in a while the stress tests showed his heart rate was higher. The doctor proceeded to tell us that she wanted to do a C-section right then, but I didn’t really want to do that. She gave me some oxygen and an IV, ate something, and we had another stress test. The heart rate was better, but the doctor still wanted to get the show on the road, so she set up my induction for 10:00 the next day.
Saturday- We got everything, cleaned the house, and had a restful morning in preparation for the day. We got to the hospital and waited, story of this baby . After waiting, I got the first IV bag of picotin at 12:00, and the process started, but not really. After the second bag of picotin, still nothing. No pain, no contractions, no nothing. 18 hours later…The nurse told me that she wanted me to fast (the warning bells of a C-section went off in my head). This set me off on an emotional roller coaster ride of how the way I wanted it to go was not happening. I called my mom multiple times as I was trying to get my head wrapped around what was happening. Eventually, we decided to ask the doctor for one more bag, but we had to wait until Sunday morning for a reply.
Sunday- The doctor came and said she wanted to do a C-section. I asked her if she would let me do another bag of picotin, just to see if we could still do it naturally. She gave me a worse case scenario just to tell me about some of the risks. After talking to a doctor friend in the States, we decided to try one more bag. I would come to regret this later (not really, but yes!) We had about 6 t0 8 hours to have the baby. Travis and I walked around a courtyard and nothing was really happening for the first 4 hours and then bam! The contractions hit, and I wanted to die. I have never felt that much pain, and it didn’t stop. I was dilated at 4 cm at 1:47 pm, and at 3:35 pm I held our sweet boy in my arms. In that short amount of time, I was not dignified and did not manage the pain well. I screamed and yelled and wished I had just gone with the C-section. Travis on the other hand is my hero. He was calm, and he helped me all the way through it.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday- We recovered in the hospital and enjoyed getting to know our baby boy. The school community was awesome and brought us food. We finally got home at 4:00 pm on Wednesday after being in the hospital for 100+ hours.
Throughout the whole process, Hani (our IT guys wife and awesome person) was helping us with Indonesian and the hospital. She was so great. We are indebted to her. Also the people that were praying for us all over the world. We had people on almost every continent praying for us, and we felt it. God gave me a peace that I did know I would have (not during the contractions) during every twist and turn this delivery took. We are so happy to be home and have this little man in our lives.
March 10th is my official due date and the question on our minds is are we ready. We’ve read the books and blogs (I’ve read a few more than Travis), gone to our doctors appointments, taken maternity pictures, wrote lessons plans, had baby showers and decorated the nursery (pictures below), but are we ready? I’ve decided that no, we are not ready, but are prepared and as ready as we’ll ever be. I’m pretty sure no one can truly be ready for something so life changing.
One thing I’m definitely not ready for is the whole labor and delivery part. Every blog or book that I read mentioned that it is different for everyone, so…I know I can expect pain. I’ve decided to treat the contractions like a super intense part of a workout, where I look at the clock and can’t wait until it’s over, but I get through it. The problem is though that in a workout I can stop if I have to, labor and delivery not so much. Thankful for friends I’ve been able to talk to and all the millions of women who have proven that you can survive and that the whole thing is worth. And as I getting bigger and bigger and more uncomfortable, I am more ready to face the actual birth. Also, we went to the import store to buy fun snacks for labor and delivery, and snacks/food is always something to look forward to!
So here’s to the calm before the storm and the waiting…I seriously can’t wait until our crib has a little Lewis in it, and I get to use the rocking chair for something other then when I can’t sleep at night.