Today I wanted to share some updates about life with a newborn, the birth process and general thoughts. I promise that this won’t turn into a mommy blog by the way – there are so many superior ones out there with great material! So please indulge me as I promise it won’t be very often….here are some of my thoughts and discoveries, good and bad, that I can share after the arrival of baby.
I wasn’t prepared for the physical recovery after childbirth. When I was pregnant, especially in the third trimester, I really looked forward to the day that baby popped out. I thought that I would feel so much better at that point, more free and light. I didn’t really think about how I might feel during or after labor…except that I thought I “might” try to go without an epidural (spoiler: I went through 9 hours of painful labor before yelling for the drugs. It was like hell and heaven.).
What I didn’t realize was that I would feel pretty bad after giving birth too…like really bad, especially for the first week or two. I popped out a seven pound, nine ounce boy…yet when I left the hospital, I had only lost four pounds? WHAT? The first time I looked in a mirror I couldn’t really recognize myself…my face was swollen, and one of my eyes had a bunch of burst blood vessels because I had pushed so hard. I felt like I had been beat up. That, combined with the craziness of a new baby, really threw me for a while. I wish I had known more about what to expect after childbirth, so I would have been more mentally prepared. It wouldn’t have seemed so scary or been such a shock.
It’s crazy that the United States has no federally mandated maternity leave. It’s a shame on so many different levels. You can read this article about the topic (or at least look at the graphs) via NPR that explains more. If you’re international, I’d love to hear how maternity/paternity leave works where you live.
One’s choice of romantic life partner should ideally be thoroughly vetted before children. This maxim should be obvious, but unfortunately I don’t see it being put into practice as much as it should. I’ve been annoying all my single friends be repeating over and over again- “Make sure you really, really love the person before you marry them. Seriously! SERIOUSLY!!!”
“Yes yes, we know,” they all say. But I didn’t know. I had no idea how much the arrival of a baby could truly test a relationship. I feel so lucky that I married Mr. Feather because he’s been a wonderful father and partner.
I don’t think everybody should or needs to have children. I was wondering if after giving birth I’d become one of those people who go around proclaiming that the true meaning of life simply cannot be fathomed without children. Do any of you watch Seinfeld? “Elaine…move to Long Island and have a baby already!!”. Anyway.
I have quite a few friends who’ve made the decision not to have children. Because they’re wonderful, intelligent, kind people, I believe that they would make excellent parents and their lives would be full if they had children. But their lives are full as they are, just with different choices. Having a baby has been a unique, amazing and fulfilling experience. But I believe that there are just as wonderful experiences out there that don’t involve children. For me, looking down at baby Feather reminded me of watching the sunset while in South Africa. A slow feeling of utter contentment and satisfaction that I wished I could keep with me forever.
I’m happy to suffer and do things I never thought I’d be willing to before. If you read my travel posts, you can probably tell that I like to travel efficiently. No checked baggage, ever. Global Entry all the way. I get all my stuff ready as soon as the plane is taxiing to the gate, so I can be positioned to be one of the first off the plane, and avoid long queues. Any and all lines at an airport are to be avoided like the plague by preparing beforehand, combined with super fast walking. I like a super streamlined, as-quick-as-possible experience.
So I have to admit that I was freaking out a bit while pregnant, about how we were going to travel with a newborn. It just seemed like so much trouble and hassle. I actually felt quite annoyed! But since having baby Feather, I realize that while travel is going to be a big pain..it’s worth it. I’m looking forward to showing him the world. And I find myself being totally willing and happy to do all kinds of inconvenient things that would have been unfathomable before…like yes, waiting for checked baggage. And enduring long immigration/customs lines! I’ll still be annoyed I’m sure…but like I said, worth it 100%. It’s just what you have to do.
Having a baby makes almost everything better. Sorry to end on a sappy note, but it’s true. I appreciate sleep more. I appreciate being able to go out for a bowl of pho with my best friend. I’ve reconnected with people who I hadn’t spoken to in years, who took the occasion to reach out. I appreciate my mom (oh so much). I love my husband. I miss my dad. I think about my life before, and it now seems like it was so fun and carefree and wonderful. Some of the aspects that made my life great before, have lessened now (like my freedom to travel). But of course, I’ve gained a lot too. If it makes any sense at all, having a baby has made both my life before, and after baby, better.