Thursday, May 18, 2023

Things That Are Different Now

LB was around 4.5 months old here. We love the Copper Pearl burp cloths (also here) and the Crane Baby quilted playmat (affiliate links).

As I mentioned recently on Instagram stories, I’ve finished my maternity leave and am back in the office. I'm also hoping to get back in to blogging, now that I'm a bit more adjusted to being a new parent. And let me just say, it's all been an incredibly wild ride. Among other things, K and I moved out to the NYC-area suburbs a few months earlier than originally planned. We've had tons of help from my in-laws, both with the move and with caring for LB, but it's still been intensely difficult to get everything done. 

For obvious reasons, I'll probably be writing mostly about things related to parenthood and baby care items in the near term. There will be a fair bit about personal finance management too, at times, and some talk about fashion and shopping as well. It’s probably not surprising that my clothing-related needs and preferences have changed significantly, given everything that's new in my life! 

It's been surreal going back to the office, walking to and from the train station, when the last time I was in any of these places was in late November, before LB was born and before my long hospitalization. My life has been completely transformed, in more ways than I can count, but the office and its immediate surroundings are still largely the same. I sort of can't believe I'm no longer living in NYC, and I feel like I never really got to say a proper goodbye to my old life. 

Because of the traumatic circumstances surrounding LB’s birth, in particular the seven extra nights in the hospital, I often find myself disconcerted to be having the sorts of conversations that feel like they belong to someone with a more “typical” postpartum experience. Yes, my family is doing well, LB is growing up so fast, etc. etc. It feels like essentially no one I encounter offline – no one but K, not even our immediate families - can possibly understand what I went through, or acknowledge even a small percentage of what happened. I yearn to talk about it offline, just a little, and in a socially appropriate way, but I don’t think such a way exists. And yes, I’m definitely getting mental health treatment, and have been for a while now. 

I'm not quite ready to write a more in-depth post or two about my experiences with entering parenthood, so for today here's a quick post about some of the near-infinite list of things that are just so different now, in no particular order. Content warning, by the way, for some discussion of health problems and the like. 

I'm on medication for high blood pressure. Some percentage of preeclampsia patients end up with chronic hypertension that lasts longer - sometimes much longer - than six weeks postpartum. Like diabetes, hypertension also runs in my family, so I may have been destined for this eventually, but my relatives who take blood pressure medication typically didn't start until they were much older than I currently am. 

I totally understand now why people would want their pregnancy and birth supervised by a midwife instead of an obstetrician, and outside of a hospital. With all that’s happened, I will never be eligible for any of that with any responsible provider in NYC, and I was also no longer eligible during my pregnancy with LB after the gestational diabetes diagnosis. Nor would I ever seek out such options, given my new medical history. But I do understand. I felt so extraordinarily disempowered by my hospital experience. 

While my OB-GYNs gave me the cautious and conservative type of medical care I wanted, I also felt like they never actually explained anything to me after my pregnancy started turning into a high-risk one. Why did they suggest an induction at 39 weeks before I got my gestational hypertension diagnosis? (Was it because of my diet-controlled gestational diabetes? Or was it for ARRIVE trial-type reasons? I guess by the parameters of the ARRIVE trial, it must be the former, but they never actually told me that.) What are the implications of gestational hypertension? Why is induction at 37 weeks recommended for me? Why am I being kept at the hospital for an extra night (after my blood pressure started rising again following delivery)? Why am I still being kept at the hospital after completing 24 hours on the magnesium drip? 

The things I worry about most as a new parent are different from what I expected. In general, I haven’t felt many of the more stereotypical new mom anxieties. I haven’t found myself worrying much about when to feed, wake windows, the fact that LB is mostly a contact napper during the day, when certain developmental milestones will happen, etc. etc. I didn't even cry about needing to go back to the office for the first time, nor about the fact that I don’t have any work-from-home flexibility during business hours on weekdays. 

Don’t get me wrong, I feel plenty of anxiety and worry about so many things to do with parenting. (Among other things, there are some potential food allergy issues afoot, and that's really stressful.) But I just don’t seem to feel especially sad or worried about a lot of the more typical list of things, at least based on parenting-focused social media. 

I shop super-differently now. Let’s just say I’m enriching Jeff Bezos and the Waltons a lot more than I ever imagined I possibly ever would. Nor can I micromanage my subscriptions anymore. I never used to understand how someone could possibly lose track of being stuck on subscriptions they're not currently using for months and months, failing to cancel them immediately when it makes sense to do so. Now I get it. I have a mile-long to-do list and there’s no way to get to all of it, it’s pretty clear I need to prioritize what’s absolutely necessary. For everything else, I’ll get to it if I can… eventually. 

Clothes and fashion play a different role in my life now. I’ve always favored practicality and comfort to a large extent, but that tendency is now amplified to the extreme. My laundry habits have changed considerably. While I enjoyed spending some of my free time maintaining the fussier items in my wardrobe before LB’s birth, I barely have the time or mental energy anymore to sort out the items that should be line-dried versus going in the dryer, much less to hand-wash anything. 

Please note that this portion of the post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

Obviously, the changes in my life are not limited to the ones I listed above. And to round out this post, here are a few things I wish I knew when I was shopping for baby gear and supplies: (Except that all babies and families are different, so what works for us wouldn’t necessarily work for others, and it’s so hard to know what will work best until one is in the thick of parenting a new baby… Argh.) Huggies over Pampers. A bottle sterilizer without a dry function doesn’t really make for a good time, at least when using bottles that are mostly silicone (we currently use the sterilizer/dryer from Tommee Tippee on Comotomo bottles). Nicer burp cloths may be worth it (we like the Copper Pearl ones). 

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