- Having a baby is emotionally wrenching. I'm shocked with how emotional I've been about the whole process over the last 96 hours. I think I've cried more in the last four days than in the previous four years, and I don't even have to deal with the tsunami of hormones adjusting from being pregnant to producing milk. Most of the tears have been of joy, but I've also had feelings of worry about Zoe's future, concern that she's healthy and is eating enough, questions about if we're letting too many or not enough people hold her, anxiety about her bodily functions, worries that we're not able to love her enough or that we're going to give her bad habits, worries about worrying too much, etc. Now, four days in, I've settled into a state of immense happiness, but it wasn't without plenty of bumps along the way.
- Breastfeeding is difficult. You could even say it sucks (Ba-Dum, Chih. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here for the next 18 years). When babies are born, they don't know how to feed correctly, so you have to practice with them to make sure they've got their lips in the right places. At first, if they're a bit off, they bite down with their gums, which obviously can be painful. Once they've done damage, it's tough for it to heal because they need to keep feeding. It's also tough to get them into the right position so they can latch on and get food without hurting mom so you've got pillows stacked around you trying to support the baby. At the same time, its tough to get them to feed for long enough since they get warm and full and are apt to fall asleep after 5 minutes. In order to get them to stay awake, you've got to poke, prod, pull on, and generally harass them. As a result, it ends up being a two person job (at least). And then once you DO actually get them to feed, they just feed and feed and feed and want it almost every hour. Also, everything hurts.
- Babies eat all the time. They aim for 8-12 feedings per day which means that they're eating around every two hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. Since feedings take around 15 minutes, by the time you've checked their diaper, undressed them (because they stay awake and feed better when they're cold and perturbed), got them down and in the right position, fed them, burped them, and redressed them, the whole process takes a good 30 minutes. That only leaves you 90 minutes to take a nap or do laundry or hold them or play or do whatever else you want/need to do.
- Zoe looks totally unique and beautiful. This is admittedly a weird one to surprise me, but I always kind of thought that other peoples' babies all looked pretty much the same: a little bit alien-y, not very cute, still waiting to develop into a toddler that looks more human. Zoe, however, (and this may be due to my clear bias) was a totally cute and innately human baby from the moment that she was born.
- Babies are really light, and yet holding them makes you really tired and sore. I still don't totally understand how this works because when you pick Zoe up, she's clearly really light, but having someone in your hands all the time and holding her carefully puts strain on your legs, back, shoulders, and arms. And they hurt. (Note: in that last sentence I initially used the pronouns "something" and "it" instead of "someone" and "her." I've still got work to do.)
- I didn't find childbirth disgusting. Objectively, I still think a lot (all) of the process is gross and incredibly painful, but when it's your baby, none of that seems to matter. It's just really cool. (Full disclosure: I didn't have to endure any of the pain of the 22 hours of seemingly terrible labor.)
- We have an amazingly supportive and great group of family and friends. I guess this isn't really a surprise, but it still makes us feel good and deserves mentioning. We feel very lucky and loved.
And now, here are some Easter pictures of Zoe: