Some pictures from the last couple of weeks.
I want to thank everyone who left such kind comments and sent loving and sweet notes about the arrival of baby John. We are slowly getting settled. Baby John (what we all seem to call him, like one word) likes to stay awake for long periods of time and just nurse. Right now, that means I'm not getting much else done but that's OK. My job right now is really caring for baby John: "keeping him alive," my husband jokes. He's a healthy babe and everyone is smitten, of course.
Today he is a month old, which of course I can't believe -- but then, I can at the same time.
I'm doing better each day. My c-section recovery has been smooth, though of course I'm not back to "normal" yet. (But I have stopped googling things like "how long does c-section pain last?".) I've been thinking a lot about my experience. I think I had both an advantage and a disadvantage going into my c-section because of my other three unmedicated, midwife-attended births. Because of them, I don't have the feelings of failure or regret that I know some c-section moms experience, not knowing if things could have gone differently ("if only...."). I knew it was so necessary, and I really felt no fear or anxiety about it. 10 days ago I had an incision check with the OB who did my surgery and she said she really admired my composure and grace that morning, faced with a surgical birth that I hadn't expected to have.
On the other hand, because of my three previous births, I do know what I missed, and of course there's disappointment there. It's been hard to express that, and I haven't really wanted to discuss it too much with very many people. I'm pretty private, which may seem surprising since I write in so public a space, but I usually keep my most personal feelings pretty close to my heart and only feel comfortable discussing them with my husband, sister, and a couple of my closest friends. I think sometimes people think I'm distant because of this, but I have learned that I need space during times of stress or transition. Really, I'm pretty at peace with my experience, but I do have a little bit of sorrow, too -- I think just because things went a way I never expected, and thinking about my uterus being cut open kind of makes me sad, especially with my background of natural births. But overall, I do have a lot of acceptance and I think over time the sorrow will fade.
Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I originally started writing here, almost seven years ago, when I had severe postpartum depression. I began writing and taking photos as an outlet, hoping that it would be useful to my recovery process (it was, I think). Several years later, when Fiona was born, I was acutely aware of the possibility of having PPD again. My dear friend Kyrie and I even started a blog specifically about our experiences as PPD survivors with new babies. Things were much better for me after Fiona's birth and despite some blue moments, it went pretty well. This time, because of all the disruption that we experienced, I know that I'm at a greater risk for PPD again, and I'm trying to be very aware of it. One thing you hear people say again and again about PPD is that no one talks about it. My observation is that people do talk about it, but unless you've experienced it, it's easy to sort of gloss over that ("Oh, that sounds tough," and then move on). When you are on the other side, facing emotions and even physical symptoms that you never could have imagined, you wonder, Am I the only one?
Anyway, I'm once again trying to focus on good self care, and a lot of awareness. Though you probably can't always prevent PPD, I do think that self-care is vital, and being very aware can help you catch it much sooner. I'm optimistic, because of the amount of help I've had after this delivery -- particularly with my husband being home right now, and my sister having been very supportive and available, and because I have a number of close friends in the local birth and breastfeeding communities -- that the mostly steady place I'm in right now will continue.
Thank you to all of you who continue to visit me in this space. Your presence and support continues to be a gift!