Chase's birth, however, was such a different experience altogether. Every step of the way, we were empowered to make informed decisions. No judgment, and although Augustine would give her opinion if we asked for it, she left the choices up to us - from the big decisions all the way down to little ones. Nothing was assumed. No orders were given. The feeling of mutual respect was an amazing model of care.
Thanks to Augustine's helping me slow down my pushing when I was birthing Chase's head, I had only two small tears - not even enough for stitches, which was a HUGE factor in my quick recovery. I have felt energized and confident from day one.
Being more prepared this time around has also been a help. There were several factors I prepared myself for in advance. When I remember back to those early newborn days of Cole, I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed, emotional, and confused. As prepared as I was for motherhood, I was just as unprepared for the emotional ups and downs (hormones), the isolation, the frustration with breastfeeding, and the overwhelming feeling of having this tiny little person who was completely dependent on me for his every need.
I truly believe our society doesn't prepare mothers enough for "fourth trimester" - post partum. We don't have much help or support from others, unlike France, where there's a program for mamas to have weekly visits from a nurse to help with breastfeeding, cook, do laundry, or simply to talk.
So in the interest of making that crazy transition a little easier, here are some things I did differently this go around:
- Chris and I had many conversations in advance planning out how to handle various tricky new baby situations - who is going to get up at night with the baby, how we were going to handle things if breastfeeding didn't work out, etc. Being prepared in advance has been a huge help, so we don't have those emotion-charged conversations at 3am with a screaming baby.
- I haven't been afraid to ask for help. Not with the baby - this was something I really had a hard time with when Cole was an infant. I didn't want anyone coming over to hold my baby, not even to take a shower or a nap. I wanted to hold and bond and protect my baby. Nope, I desperately needed help with housework and meals, with laundry and vacuuming. One of my dearest friends organized a meal train for us that kept us supplied in meals for two weeks after Chase was born - it was fantastic, so sweet and helpful.
- We limited visitors for the first few weeks after having Chase. Whenever possible after Cole was born, I requested no visitors. I needed some time to get used to our family of three and figure things out without any unwanted advice or intervention. I looked and felt awful and exhausted, and I was (rightly so) more concerned about getting as much sleep as possible, whenever possible, than having to entertain or be around company.
- Freezer meals. I'm so proud of myself for this one. I totally took advantage of our lovely huge freezer in the garage and stocked up on a couple dozen freezer meals - some of them are crock pot meals to defrost and toss in the crock-pot, and others are easy to heat up casseroles. Not only that, but I made sure our pantry was full of easy, healthy snacks (breastfeeding makes you ridiculously hungry), and I froze extra staples like bread and milk so I didn't have to stress about making it to the grocery store with two littles in tow.
- Some special treats for Cole. I wanted to be so respectful for the huge transition this was for him. This needs to be a whole post on its own, but some gifts and one on one time with me have definitely been in order.