May I introduce to you the Haitian Highlander: Ruben MacDonald Shearer
At 11:42 a.m. May 3rd, 2007 I delivered by planned cesearean, my liitle boy, Ruben: 6 pounds and 12 oz. He is named for my older brother who died 10 years ago and his middle name is Andy's mother's maiden name.
I could be wrong, but I believe that my baby bear is the first of his kind here: half Haitian/half Scottish.
Ruben came out very pink and screaming--obviously pissed at being stripped away from his dark, warm, wet home of 38 weeks. He cried for a solid 10 mins. And thank God--not one red hair strand in sight!
Although I was pretty out of it due to the spinal injection, I did cry a little when I thought that my mom wasn't there to experience the impossible: me becoming a mother.
As you all know, I had many fears about becoming a mother...and although I did mention a few in my last post, trust me, there were plenty more. Many of you have sent me support through the blog comments and through private email correspondence and I thank you for them all. They all have kept me strong and provided more confidence.
But I will tell you that one of biggest concerns was my fear that I might not feel a connection with him.
I do. He is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I can't believe he came from me.
He's healthy, if often grumpy with a continual frown, and very hairy.
Now, Andy and I set about to do our best with parenting and raising another human being to hopefully, be a happy, contributing member of society.
Everything is new and everything is a learning process. Even bathing him was a lesson.
One of the wonderful things about giving birth in the UK is that you depend more on midwives than the OB/GYN. Even better, after we left Dundee, I checked into our local hospital in Perth where I could recover and slowly get my head around motherhood and how to take care of a newborn. I was allowed to stay for several days and had the midwives at call at any moment, day or night.
In particular, the midwives were very much on hand for helping new mothers learn how to breastfeed.
Ok, let me tell you...breastfeeding is nothing like those bogus pictures you see--with the mother looking down at her child in her arms, smiling happily as the baby suckles and gazes at his/her mother.
My lord, the amount of pain was unbearable in the beginning. Every time I had to put my darling boy to my breast, it felt like razorblades. I sobbed and shook all over struggling to hold on so he could eat. I started thinking maybe it was just best to do formula feeding but I inevitably felt guilty--esp. with the pressure to breastfeed coming from books, doctors, midwives, websites.
So I was flooded with guilty feelings that I was being too selfish and not thinking in the best interest of my child.
I stuck it out. I'm still sticking it out. It's not like razorblades but it's far from enjoyable. Breastfeeding has me starving much of the time and all of a sudden I have a sweet tooth! But they do say that breastfeeding does help you lose weight and by the third week after Ruben's delivery, I was back in my old jeans.
Now that I have a baby and all these ovewhelming responsibilities for another human being--I completely understand how women slip into post-partum depression. Everyone makes the arrival of your first baby the most amazing, joyous experience. And it is...however, there's a lot more to it than that. It's all so overwhelming: the confusion; the fears; the secret feelings of guilt--all that married physical exhaustion while recovering from delivery.
With a baby attached to my breast so many times a day every day--my sexuality wanes quickly. Personally, I can't imagine my breasts as anything but a milk factory these days. I hope this changes soon.
While we have been beseiged with lovely gifts, cards, and calls of congratulations, some of my friends have noted, after seeing Ruben's first pics, that he was extraordinarily "fair". To be honest, he did look quite white.
But he is half black and Haitian at that...so my boy is getting darker with every passing day!
So, it's been a month since my baby bear has arrived. He's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I can stare at him for hours. He's very serious much of the time--studying everything within 8 inches of his brown eyes and constantly frowning. And damn, if he isn't an active baby! We're in serious trouble,here. I wish my boy would sleep more.
While the feeding and the changes are constant, day and night, with little sleep in between, every day with Ruben is always a new experience. Much of the time, I'm damn near in a panic about something because I know NOTHING because none of it is instinctual--except the drive to have him survive and be happy.
Honestly, the only reason I could possibly keep going without ending up depressed or in a soft cell, restrained, is that I luckily have Andy with me much of the time helping me 50/50.
If only he could breastfeed too...
Ok...gotta run! His majesty calls and I have no idea what he wants. But I'll hold him, soothe him, talk to him, feed him, change him, rock him until one of those choices puts him to sleep.
He's just damn lucky he's the most precious thing in the world to me.