Today I am very happy to introduce a guest post from my friend and former colleague Felicia. As she was navigating her pregnancy in Brooklyn I was able to observe from afar, thank god for IG. I told her that if she ever felt the desire to 'write it out' either pre or post baby I would be happy to share this space with her.
Almost three weeks ago now, she welcomed her little boy Kai and with the craziness of new motherhood she took me up on my offer. I am so impressed and proud of her for jumping in at two weeks a madre, to share her experience so far. Reading her words brought me back to the early days and even made me a tad weepy. Read on for her take on the first week as a new mom and the way she is honoring a long held Chinese tradition in her own way.
The First Month
By Felicia Zhang
In Chinese culture, there’s a tradition called “sitting the month” where the new mom recovers from the birth with the help of her family. While I plan on following none of the rules of this tradition, I am fortunate to have my mom and my husband Vadim at home with me for a month after I give birth to help us recover, grow, and bond as a new family of three. Week by week, I recorded my learnings for the first month.
Week 1: Survival
It is the happiest of times, it is the darkest of times. Nothing can describe the emotions I felt when Kai was born. Seeing him – which also meant labor was over – was incomparable. I didn’t care anymore about the pain I had been in, or even what happened to me, as long as he was here and healthy. The first hour with him and Vadim in our delivery room was pure magic.
Then the painkillers wear off and I am taken to a closet-sized shared recovery room because it’s NYC and only Beyonce can get a private room. My body is in total pain. Because of additional post-partum complications, I had limited mobility after the birth, needing the nurses to help me with everything from going to the bathroom to picking up the baby. While that level of support is nice (although somewhat embarrassing), after a day of this in a stuffy shared closet, I am so ready to go home, even though I’m terrified that I can’t really move and have no idea what I’m doing.
The tensions and emotions only escalate once I’m home. Breastfeeding – which the nurses had helped me with – becomes painful and difficult. Kai, despite being at my breast for hours a day, isn’t having any wet diapers. My mom very sensibly suggests that I supplement whatever I’m breastfeeding with formula to make sure Kai is properly fed, and I have several meltdowns in a row, forgetting that she’s my mother and wants the best for me like I do for Kai.
All the feelings of inadequacy, fear and stress come rolling in. It is at this point that my family, friends and my pediatrician save me. Having family/friends reach out, being able to hear about their experiences, knowing that it’s OK and NORMAL for it to be this difficult saved me emotionally. Having a thoughtful, practical and compassionate pediatrician tell me that the most important thing is that the baby is fed saved me intellectually. And having Amazon Prime Now at my fingertips to be able to get what I needed to feel better actually saved me physically. I realize that this is indeed going to be the most difficult thing I’ve done, but that Kai and I are lucky to be able to have a team of people who care and can help us, and the path forward starts to look a little more doable.
Thank you so much Felicia for sharing, looking forward to hearing how the completion of your sitting month goes. You are doing amazing & I look forward to more pics of baby Kai.
*image via beautiful hello blog by Nguyen Thanh Binh