I didn't blog this year. But I tell myself that it's okay, because I was busy working on the greatest project of my life: giving birth to our son. This post is about my journey into parenthood and how I've adjusted to being a working parent. I won't get too gory with the details, but if pregnancy stuff isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip this one - that's okay!
Warning: I'm also disclosing some personal details to help other parents who may be going through the same thing.
My birth story
I'm not going to sugarcoat it - I was physically uncomfortable for most of my pregnancy and my energy was completely drained. The energy that I once had to do anything outside of work was gone. My lunch break would be spent catching a quick nap on the couch, and I would struggle to stay awake past 8pm most nights. Even gaming proved to be challenging, as sitting was challenging. Breathing was challenging.
No one warned me that prenatal vitamins were basically horse pills, and I had to take two of them every single day? Oof.
And I always thought when babies kicked, that it would be a sporadic event that caused some mild discomfort. Instead it felt like an alien was constantly trying to escape my body. And yet, I still loved it.
The only thing that helped distract me from the pain and exhaustion was... work. So I worked. A lot. I picked up as many tickets as I could and even picked up work that was completley out of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, I was so heads down in my work that I didn't realize my due date was creeping up and I had not finished a bunch of things I wanted to do before our child was born.
Oops. Thankfully I had some paid time off stored up and used some of that to get a few things done before my due date.
At my initial checkup, my Ob/gyn discovered I had uterine fibroids that were pretty large and my doctor was concerned about delivering naturally. However I had monthly checkins and went to see a specialist to make sure things were progressing as they should. Thankfully, they were and they were even worried the baby was getting to be too big.
A long labor (40 hours!)
From all the birthing classes I took, YouTube videos I watched, and books I read, I felt like I was prepared for what would happen. I was not.
At 1AM on Monday morning, I had just gotten into bed because I was having killer pregnancy insomnia when I felt something was... different. But I thought maybe it was just indigestion from dinner and I just needed some water. I went into the kitchen, and the pain got worse. I sat down at the island and scrolled through social media to distract myself.
18 hours later... we went to the hospital, and was admitted thankfully. I was so worried we'd be turned away after all that and be told I wasn't dialated enough or they were false contractions.
From there, I continued to labor for another... 20 hours. I was absolutely exhausted and the doctor mentioned I'd need to schedule a C-Section because it just wasn't happening.
I started tearing up because I had been in labor for so long and felt like I was messing up and letting everyone down. I realize this is super irrational but I was just so exhausted and to be told I wouldn't be able push our baby out like I had imagined in my head was upsetting.
Finally after a shift change, a new nurse insisted she had a technique that would work. Welp, she knew what she was doing and a few hours later, I had my baby in my arms! 8lb 14.9oz and 20 inches of pure joy.
We had two scares shortly after our son was born. The first was that he wasn't getting the milk he needed the first two days after he came home. That was absolutely terrifying and I remember shaking and crying with frustration because I just expected to be able to feed my child.
Our pediatrician worked with us and we came up with a plan that had me exclusively pump (EP) and supplement with formula. Thankfully I had a coworker whose wife had gone through an EP journey of her own and she was extremely helpful and gave me some invaluable resources (linked below). With this plan, our son was starting to gain the weight he needed and we felt everything was going to be okay.
Until it wasn't.
Post partum scare
A week after he was born, I felt something was wrong. At midnight, I went to the bathroom and had a graphic scare that I can only describe as a crime scene. I was in a state of extreme denial because I wanted so badly for things to be okay. We had figured out feeding, we were falling into a routine, surely this was nothing to be concerned about.
I googled and browsed the forums, and some women said this was normal. I kept telling myself this was fine and I could just go to the doctor the following morning.
But it was getting worse.
I can't remember what time it was, but at some point, things took a turn for the worst and I felt a significant amount of blood loss where I screamed out for help and told my husband I needed to go to the ER. Thankfully his mother answered her phone and she arrived right when the ambulance did so she could watch the baby.
When I got to the hospital, everyone was acting super calm and not at all worried about what was happening. It wasn't til they started helping me into my hospital gown that they realize the gravity of the situation when they discovered a massive clot almost the size of my placenta had passed. I was bleeding out and they needed to give me a blood transfusion ASAP. From here, things were a little hazy but my husband was by my side the whole time talking to me and keeping me calm. At one point, I passed out, and when I came to, I was tilted upside down because my blood pressure had dropped significantly.
Eventually my blood pressure evened out and I was able to get an emergency procedure called a Dilation and curettage (D&C). After waking up from the anaesthesia, I had to stay at the hospital overnight for observation. This was the first time I was away from our baby, and I was distraught to say the least. But soon I was cleared to go home and I was so happy to be reunited with my family.
It turns out that my fibroids had prevented my uterus from contracting properly which caused the postpartum hemorrhaging.
The first few months
Honestly after a very initial traumatic first week, the next few months were a cake walk in comparison. Yes it was challenging to figure out how to pump enough milk, clean all the parts, and remember to feed ourselves but we powered through. I would say the hardest part was the sleep deprivation. Even though my husband and I took shifts, I was still waking up every 2-3 hours to pump.
Between feeding every 2.5 hours, diaper changes, laundry, bottle washing and sanitizing, pumping, cleaning and sanitizing pump parts, there was honestly not time to do anything else.
Thankfully we had family who live close by and with their help, we got some much needed rest where we could. It was also nice to have someone else hold the baby so we could take a shower or eat a meal.
Helpful links for exclusively pumping
Resources that I swear by that helped me along the way:
Things I wish I had known before becoming a parent
- All pacifiers should be glow in the dark
- Get a bottle warmer where you can easily see how much water is in it
- Buy the extra bottles
- Buy the super large sterilizer
- You can never have too many burp/wash cloths/bandana bibs
- They will just wear onesies, don't buy cute 2/3 piece outfits
- You don't need a bunch of playmats
- A bedside bassinet is worth it, your back will thank you
- Don't buy swaddles until you know what your baby likes
- Don't trust the weight recommendations for diapers
Returning to work
I was a little anxious to return to work because I couldn't remember how to do anything, since I had been so hyperfocused on learning all these new parenting skills, and since I had never really held a baby before not to mention change a diaper. As our baby slowly started having a somewhat normal bedtime routine (we're still working on this), I was able to grab 30 minutes here and there in the evenings to brush up on things with Josh Comeau's Joy of React course.
I wasn't sure how I was going to balance work and raising a child.
I'm typically a workaholic and I knew I wouldn't be able to work as much as I used to. I was also worried that I would be so tired that I wouldn't be able to focus on work. However as we adjusted to daycare and I got more sleep, everything started to fall into place and I was able to get back into the swing of things. My team also lovingly gave me a beast of a welcome back project that I was able to knock out before our recharge days over the holidays which was nice.
On top of coming back six months later, I was returning to a larger new team and a new manager. Thankfully there was a lot of documentation that I could read up on so I didn't feel too lost. I also had a lot of support from my manager and teammates which made the transition a lot easier.
I would say the biggest shift was going from 24/7 attending a small baby who can't sit up, to dropping him off at daycare and feeling like my own person again. I was so torn because while I loved spending every minute of being able to watch him grow, I also needed the time and space to be myself and do the things I love. I'm so grateful that I have a job that allows me to do both.
We had a baby.
- 🎨 Implemented color mod support for design tokens at build time
- 🅰️ Added design-token powered typography for our design system
- 👶 We had our baby!
- 🎙 Recorded 8 episodes for Code & Pixels
- 🎮 Got to Platinum 3 in Overwatch for Support
Next year, I want to focus on my health and wellness. I haven't been able to go back to the gym because of my pumping schedule, but as that journey is winding down, I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine (and shedding some of this baby weight). I also look forward to seeing our son's first birthday and documenting all his milestones along the way.