Camilla will be two weeks old tomorrow. I'm feeling wonderful. It's so amazingly nice not to be pregnant anymore. The discomfort and discouragement of pregnancy are fast becoming a distant memory -- not so distant that I'm anxious to have another anytime soon, but distant enough that the prospect doesn't fill me with horror and dread. I'm anxious to start running again -- I haven't run since November -- and I'm feeling extra flabby. I can fit into some of my pants, but only with serious muffin tops going on. I lost 35 lbs last year, gained 30 this pregnancy and lost about 15 with the delivery. So I have 15 lbs to lose to get back to where I was last summer and 40 lbs to my goal weight. I'm hopeful that I can get started on that fairly soon, though if sleep-deprivation interferes, I may have to put off the goals and focus on the basics for a while. So far, I've gotten enough naps that Cami's waking at night hasn't been too tough to handle.
It seems like after every birth, I have to trek a newborn to the hospital lab for bilirubin tests. I've gotten numerous tests in the past, but this was the first time we were low enough that Cami needed lights. A home health company delivered them and we were supposed to keep her on them as much as possible. Luckily, her levels had gone down enough that we were able to take her off them the next day.
Trekking Cami to and from the lab meant I had the following conversation about four times with different strangers:
"Your baby is adorable. How old?"
"Oh, is she your first?" (this is the part where I start smiling to myself)
"No, actually, she's our ninth."
"Wow, really? You don't look old enough to have nine kids."
"Well, I'm thirty-four."
"How old is your oldest?"
"Oh wow . . ." (stranger starts calculating in their head)
"We have one set of twins and the others are between eighteen months and two years apart."
The rest of the conversation concerns how crazy it must be at our house, how unusual it is to have that many kids nowadays, or centers around the ratio of girls to boys.
I have felt very humbled these past few weeks as I've realized how amazingly blessed I have been. My good friend told me I'm "living the dream" and while I'm sure nine kids would be a nightmare to some, to me, it truly is a good dream. I'm not naive -- I know how many things can and do go wrong with birth and children -- so I am extra-aware of the blessing of avoiding all of that.
I've never had a miscarriage. I've never had any pregnancy complications. I've never been on bedrest or had premature delivery.
I've had eight wonderful, relatively-easy deliveries. I've never had labor last longer than six hours. I've never had a C-section. I've never had to push for more than fifteen minutes. And while I've torn nearly every time, it's been fairly easy to heal.
I've never had a colicky or even extra-fussy baby. All of my babies have been pleasant souls easy to soothe. I've seen how frustrating and exhausting it is to have a baby cry for hours at a time, and I'm mindful that once again, I've been blessed.
I've been able to nurse all of my babies with no problems -- I did have mastitis very painfully once and I've dealt with cracked and bleeding nipples a couple of times (especially with the twins), but I've never had latching issues or allergy problems. I've always been able to eat anything I want without it affecting the baby.
I've always bounced back really well from delivery. The last months of pregnancy are so hard on me that by contrast, being a little bit sore and waking at night with a baby is hardly worth groaning about.
I have nine healthy, amazingly perfect children. All of them have the requisite number of fingers and toes and perfectly adorable features. We've never even had a broken arm.
Having said that, however, I should point out that I have experienced plenty of life's problems. I feel miserable for about five months of every pregnancy, three months at the beginning and two months at the end. I've had post-partum depression. We experienced very tight finances for many years. We've been stretched with more to do than time to do it in. None of my babies has slept through the night until they are nine months old, so I've had my share of sleep-deprivation, including that really tough year when my eighth child was born and then didn't sleep for four hours at a time until she was six months old (luckily, I'm not holding it against her). I've had devastating health problems unrelated to childbirth.
But still, I know it is a huge blessing how many problems I haven't experienced, and I'm humbled by it.
I'm getting better as a photographer. I was so thrilled how these pictures turned out this week: