Pregnancy and pandemic: 3 weeks postpartum

Going into this third week was hard. My incision site stings a bit and my back muscles hurt from holding The Trilogy. I wear her when I can, but it still messes with my back. I cannot wait to see my chiropractor again…whenever that is.

And to top all that off, my county extended its stay home order through May 10th.

I’m losing it, youse. As of today, I have been home for 53 days. The only times I have left have been to go to my doctor and to have a baby. That’s it. I’m going slightly crazy. And trying to navigate all of my feelings, while also fighting through hormonal dips and surges hasn’t been a real picnic.

It’s going to be fine. I know that. Life will return to normal. At some point. Eventually. But what’s driving me nuts right now is attaching dates to things. And expanding orders a couple weeks at a time just as the current set expire. I’d rather the people in charge just be honest. Just tell us you don’t know when the orders will be lifted. That in order to start reopening things all of a certain criteria must be met. Just stop attaching arbitrary timelines to all of this madness.

It’s giving me a false sense of hope and then ripping that away each time. And it’s driving me bonkers. I literally can’t take it anymore. I’d rather they just say we all have to stay home until December 31st and then opening anytime before then is a win. Under promise; over deliver, right?

But 53 days at home has broken me. It’s not that I want to rush out and start shopping or going to restaurants. I’m still going to be cautious. But knowing that I can is a HUGE mental relief. Because right now, I feel trapped with no escape and no end in sight. And that feeling of being trapped is draining. It’s taxing on every level. Physical; mental; emotional. Quarantine fatigue is real and I’m suffering.

I’m also concerned that the longer this stays in effect, the more likely people are going to be to just start ignoring it altogether because they’re exhausted and worn out, too. And that will be a bigger problem in the long run.

But in the midst of all the doom and gloom that I’m feeling, there are positives. One is that the kids are really too young to remember this when they are older. The Sequel will have no memory of spending two months away from his friends and teachers. The Trilogy will never remember how scary her entrance into the world was. and Baby Suddreth, while he asks a lot of questions about what’s going on right now, will likely not remember the madness. If he does have memories from this time, they’ll be memories of spending lots of time with his mom and dad and siblings. It’ll be playing in the sandbox and the bounce house and his swing set. His memories will be bubbles and sidewalk chalk and walks through our neighborhood. As he gets older he might realize that playgrounds aren’t part of his memories. And that every detail of our backyard seems to be ingrained into his memory for some reason. But he won’t realize it’s because he spent every day for months in his yard and at home. He probably won’t even remember why we had to stay home.

At least that’s my hope for him. I hope he just remembers being happy and being together.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 2 weeks postpartum

So we are two weeks into being a family of five and seven weeks into being at home.

Seven.

Weeks.

At. Home.

With toddlers. And now a newborn. It’s been really hard some days. Lesson plans aren’t really being followed and there is far more screen time than I really care for, but right now we are in survival mode and the big humans of Suddreth Manor are being fueled strictly on caffeine and dreams at this point. The only human being who sleeps more than two hours at a time is #TheSequel (🙌🏼 – but also TEACH YOUR BIG BROTHER!). And the wonder idiot dog keeps rolling around in raccoon poop because apparently he isn’t getting enough attention. 😑😑😑😑😑

BUT, it isn’t only crisis management at The Manor. It’s beautiful chaos. Brett takes the boys outside to play as much as possible. The Cozy Cottage arrived and the kids LOVE it – I mean who wouldn’t? It has flower boxes and a doorbell that WORKS! The tree swing is up and the swing set/playhouse was finally delivered and is being put together this week.

The state and county stay at home orders are set to expire Sunday, and while things are definitely far from over, just knowing that people are thinking about how to safely bring some sense of normalcy back to life has been comforting. Soccer and swim classes are trying to figure out how to safely continue to serve the community and The Sequel’s school is preparing their reopening plan.

The last two weeks have been a very different recovery than I had originally expected, but everyone is starting to adjust to having another person living with us. I had my post-op follow up with my doctor today via video conference, which was an interesting patient experience, but I definitely appreciated not having to leave the house yet. The best thing is that I was cleared to start picking up The Sequel again. I didn’t realize how much I missed holding him until I wasn’t allowed. I definitely gave him a big old hug as soon as I could – it was awesome.

Probably the hardest part of the last couple weeks has been clearing events off my calendar. The very hardest one was canceling Baby Suddreth’s birthday party. I might have cried deleting it from my calendar. But, when we are allowed to gather in groups again, I’m throwing him the most ridiculous, over the top, extra, don’t care what it costs, party because he deserves the entire world and it’s not his fault a pandemic is ruining everything.

I’ve noticed that the longer this goes on, the more aware Baby Suddreth is becoming to the fact that nothing is normal. And his conversations are becoming more focused on things we can’t do “because of the germs.” Like, “there’s no baseball or Royals because of the germs, right?” And, “all the stores and swim class and soccer are closed…because of the germs, right?” Or “are the germs gone yet, so we can go to a football game?” He misses his friends and his teacher and as a parent all I want to do is fix everything for him.

So, I’m still working through my emotions of not being able to control any of this and trying to focus on what I can do – which is heal…and love my babies hard.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 1 week postpartum

So, it’s actually closer to two weeks postpartum, but life is a little more hectic the last 11 days so let’s just pretend it’s still a week.

We brought #TheTrilogy home less than 48 hours after delivery which seems insane to me considering her arrival on earth. My recovery is going well though, but I really wish I could help more with the boys; especially #TheSequel. He’s still too little to understand what’s going on and doesn’t get why Mommy can’t scoop him up for snuggles, or put him in his chair for snacks, or get him down when he’s finished. That’s been really hard.

Also not being his bedtime buddy – that’s harder than I thought it would be, too. I’ve put him to bed (nearly) every night of his life and now I can’t even walk up the steps to at least be part of the routine. It’ll get better, I know that. And I’ll heal and be able to go back to picking him up and snuggling him before bed, but I wasn’t ready for recovery to take those things away from me.

But, that’s sort of par for the course these last five to seven weeks. Not a single thing has gone according to plan. Nothing. For a person who schedules, plans and coordinates things for a living, not being able to control the outcome of my own daily existence is maddening. I’d be lying if I said it isn’t affecting me. I’ve cried a lot over the last 11 days.

Today marks day 44 of my quarantine. In case you’re curious, day 42 was my breaking point. It’s the day I cried the most and the hardest at the loss of normalcy. At the loss of physical connection. The loss of control. But I’ve given myself permission to feel all the feelings. To recognize they are valid. But I’ve also given myself permission to not live in those feelings. And to find some peace and comfort in the loneliness of having a newborn that requires 100 percent of your time and attention.

One moment of peace and comfort came just a few days ago as Brett was putting #TheSequel to bed. Every night we sing a bedtime song indicating it’s time to go upstairs for bed. It goes:

Night night Baby (insert baby’s name)

Night night Baby

Night night baby

It’s time to go to bed

I don’t know the tune of the song we use, it’s something we modified from our swim class. If you take lessons through Emler Swim School, it’s their bye bye song for the littlest swimmers. Anyway, we sing that to him so he knows it’s time to go upstairs. And when we start singing it, he waves his little hand and says “bye bye” and walks towards the steps. Wednesday night as he was walking to the stairs I said “good night, buddy; I love you!” And he responded “I love you” and that’s the very first time he’s said that and my hormonal, emotional, quarantine weary mama heart couldn’t handle it and I cried all over #TheTrilogy’s head. Sorry ‘bout that, Sis.

But those are the moments I’m trying to remember. The ones that are surprising and new. The funny ones. The silly moments that make me belly laugh (even though it hurts to do so). #BabySuddreth has been particularly threenagey lately and I know this quarantine is a large reason why, but tonight I played him a video of the Happily Ever After fireworks display from Disney World and he was mesmerized. He shouted excitedly as he saw characters he recognized “MOANA! WRECK IT RALPH! LIGHTNING MCQUEEN!” And he pretended that he was the person making the fireworks appear in the sky. It was magical.

So postpartum life in quarantine isn’t exactly what I had planned, but it’s also creating some pretty incredible moments I might not have gotten otherwise.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 1 week until due date

I’m slightly behind in getting this post out, but it’s for a good reason; baby arrived last week!

Last Tuesday (4/14 – 10 days until due date) I woke up around 3 a.m. with what ultimately ended up being real contractions, but that early in the morning I wasn’t sure. I went back to sleep eventually and started my day of work/wife-ing/momming/schooling. Contractions continued throughout the day, but were inconsistent in frequency and intensity so I kept an eye on them, but kept trucking along.

In the afternoon, I had some calls for work I needed to be on, so I jumped on my two hours of conference calls, and just kept right on working even though I was super uncomfortable. After my last call, I was walking around and realized that the pain was getting much more intense and happening much more frequently. We decided to call my doctor and head to the hospital around 4 o’clock.

The hospital experience was pretty surreal. Everyone was in masks, we were both screened before going back to triage and they had security standing in the lobby. We arrived in triage, they sent my bloodwork back to the lab so we could get my epidural started as quickly as possible and I got changed into my labor gown. They checked me out and confirmed baby was head down, my water was definitely ready to break and I was dilated to 6.5 cm – it was time to have this baby!

The doctor was called, I was moved to my delivery room, I got my epidural and then we waited for the doctor so we could get this show on the road. While we were waiting, baby decided to do some gymnastics – she has been super active my entire pregnancy – and she flipped into a footling breech position, which means she was now feet first instead of head first. That’s a problem for multiple reasons, but it was a bigger problem if my water decided to break right then.

They told me to stay very still to make sure that didn’t happen and called the OR – we were headed back for a c-section; urgently. I was nervous and scared and disappointed because this was not the experience I had planned for, but honestly, these last five weeks haven’t been anything I’ve planned for, so what’s one more curveball in a sea of absurdity, right?

The doctors walked and talked me through everything that was about to happen/was happening and they sent Brett to get geared up so he could join us in the OR; I will be forever thankful he was able to be there with me. About three hours after arriving at the hospital, The Trilogy was born at 7:12 pm weighing 6 lbs 3oz. She was healthy and safe – and that’s all we could really ask for.

We only spent a couple days at the hospital because I wanted to be home with the boys and sleep in my own bed. We got home Thursday afternoon and everyone is slowly settling in to our new life as a family of five. Biggest brother is OBSESSED with his little sister. He gets so excited when she comes into a room. Little big brother mostly likes her, but there is some jealously happening for sure, and he doesn’t understand why I can’t pick him up. That part is hard on both of us.

Not being able to have the experiences I wanted during these last five weeks has been really hard. It seems incredibly unfair and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that was disappointed about the final weeks before The Trilogy arrived. She deserved so much more than we were allowed to give her. And deserves so much more than we can give her now while our stay home orders are extended through part of May. The one saving grace in all of this, especially because of having a c-section, is that Brett’s parents have been able to help us. I’m not sure what life would look like right now if we would have had to figure all of this out, on the fly.

When we were putting our logistics plan together, I never even considered what a c-section plan would look like, because it didn’t cross my mind that I could even need one. The healing process this time around definitely feels a lot harder. And the meds they prescribed me gave me the worst headache, so that was a rough couple of days.

There are a lot of things that didn’t happen with this pregnancy that I will forever be sad about, but at the end of the day, I have a beautiful, healthy, safe baby and that’s the best I could ask for during all of this, pandemic or not.

But missing out on some of the more material elements of pregnancy and delivery (like parties, and pictures, and visitors) almost make me want to try this one more time. Almost.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 3 weeks until due date

This is what life looks like right now.

Toys scattered across every room of the house. The television constantly playing a movie or cartoon. And emotions are running rampant among all members of Suddreth Manor.

The Sequel is cutting four molars at once. And possible going through a growth spurt. Baby Suddreth is getting over an ear infection and is definitely going through a growth spurt. And he’s not sleeping. Or napping. My anxiety about delivery is through the roof and my patience is non-existence. I’m grouchy, moody, hormonal and constantly on edge. Brett is doing his best to stay cool, calm and collect but with this much togetherness for everyone, it’s starting to take a toll even on him. Plus, he isn’t sleeping much either because Baby Suddreth wakes him up every night. Multiple times a night. He’s exhausted. We all are.

As exhausted as I am, I’ve found myself navigating the different stages of grief as I prepare myself to have this baby. I’ve worked through denial and depression (although depression was really anxiety and is sort of an ongoing cycle). But, during the last week I’ve found myself squarely in the Anger stage. I’m furious that I’m not getting the birth experience I want and this baby deserves. I’m angry that I’m going to be stuck at home without access to my support network for actual support. Yes conversations and text messages will be nice, but a text message can’t hold a newborn so I can shower. I’m really mad that my entire maternity leave is likely going to be spent trapped inside, with a newborn, a 1 year old and a 4 year old without the ability to go anywhere or see anyone.

So, if all of you who think you’re too important to follow the rules could just STAY HOME so we can slow this thing down, that’d be great. Because summer is pretty much going to be canceled and it’s all because some people won’t just be adults and listen.

Pregnancy and pandemic: 4 weeks to due date

Last week I wrote about my anxiety and disappointment that the joy and excitement we should all be feeling is being robbed from us amid this pandemic. I spent the two weeks prior to that post being stressed out and anxious. I started working from home before my company suggested it, and then mandated it. I was already limiting my external activities before my county issued a stay at home order for 30 days. That order lifts two days before my due date. I still have no idea what these next four weeks have in store or how much worse things might get.

But, I do know this: we are going to have an incredible story to tell this baby. It isn’t the one she deserves, but it will be uniquely hers.

It will be a story of joy and hope in the midst of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Instead of telling her about all the things that couldn’t or didn’t happen we’ll share with her the amount of people who celebrated her arrival with us via all means of technology available to us.

Our hospital pictures will look very different than her brothers’ do and she won’t have the shot I really wanted – her brothers sitting with me in bed holding their baby sister, but we’ll show her the pictures of her brothers meeting her when we all got home and point out their excited faces.

We’ll talk about the amazing care team we had at the birth center and how they made sure we were well provided for and remained safe and healthy.

We’ll tell her about all the walks we took as a family and point out the same trees and flowers to her that we currently point out to her brothers. We’ll tell her that in the midst of a life we didn’t plan for and aren’t sure how to handle, she brought us a sense of peace and comfort.

No, it isn’t the experience I was hoping to have. It isn’t the experience I was PLANNING to have. The experience I had planned in my head included visitors at the hospital to meet her. It included her brothers coming to meet her and hold her and a group hug with Mom, Dad  and all three kiddos. It included newborn photos that were taken by someone with an infinitely better skillset than I possess.  It included so many seemingly silly and superficial things because this is my last baby. She will always be my last baby and her entry into this world deserves to be so much more beautiful than what I think it will be now.

But, when we tell her her story, it won’t include the disappointment for things that couldn’t happen because of a pandemic. It will include the message that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. That we know there are big things in store for her life – there have to be, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of being born in the middle of a pandemic?!?

My anxiety is still lingering in the background, and it is ready to pounce at the tiniest thing, but as I have been walking through our neighborhood I have been mindful to purposefully see that there is so much life happening around us. All of the trees are budding or in bloom; the forcynthia has bloomed; tulips are coming up.

In the middle of all this chaos, there is the normal, every day cycle of spring. And there are people having babies – like it was any other time. Just like normal. And while everything feels far less than normal, somehow I know everything is going to be alright.