June - Blissful, Exhausting, Beautiful
I have been behind on posting my dairy entries on here. I am happy to have made time to post today, on national women physician's day. A special shout out to all amazing female physicians - daughters, wives, mothers - who put on many coats including the white coat to add that special and invaluable female intuition to the field of medicine.
The past 8 months have been a series of big life events that have sort of all happened at the same time. It is finally starting to slow down and normalize for us so I am finally getting some time to blog. Lately I have been lumping these monthly diary entries into quarterlies but June 2020 deserves a post of its own, so here we go.
Our first month with Olona was pure bliss. The newborn stage is such a sweet moment of life. It is drenched in so much emotion - so much love, probably the most intense sort of love you can ever feel, intertwined with some anxiety, uncertainty, physical pain from just giving birth, agony from the first few weeks of nursing, and lack of sleep. Yet I look back and it was magical.
June started a bit crazy. My husband Patrick and I had to go close on selling our home less than 24 hours after Olona was born. I snuck out of my hospital room (scared of my nurse finding out) to the parking lot to sign closing documents on the hood of a notary's car. We were also tackling the task of packing up for our move to California, finishing up my last few weeks of residency, and looking forward to starting my new job. Everything in our home felt so temporary, so transitional during these last weeks in Michigan. A significant portion of our belongings were in boxes. It was interesting.
Olona didn't have a nursery. We moved our dresser out of the way to create some space for our bassinet by our bed. Not shown in the picture are the two dressers sandwiched at the foot of our bed. It felt like camping out in a hotel room. We were basically just waiting for her to turn 1 month old before we subjected her to our moving trip.
Feedings. Diaper Changes. Cuddles. Crying. Packing. Quaranting. Waiting.
Breastfeeding was difficult for the first 4 weeks but sticking to it is key. Lactation 'experts'slike to tell you that breastfeeding is painless. Wrong. I am no expert but in my experience, it can be really painful initially, for up to 4-6 weeks. But stick with it. It gets so much easier and painless thereafter. I wrote a post about breastfeeding and you can read it here.
Amidst these busy weeks , we tried to soak in our last summer in Grand Rapids. We visited our favorite beach in Grand Haven.
Taking a baby to the beach can be quite the production. Honestly, you need a lot of stuff but it is totally worth it. I love the beach. It is my happy place so being able to share it with my children is amazing.
Taking a newborn to the beach needs to be done responsibly. Don't go on the hottest day of the year. You need a tent for maximum shade and the baby has to be properly clothed, covered, with breathable fabric. I will post. a list of essentials for beach trop with a baby. I done it enough times to know the essentials.
Tobe loves being a big brother. He adjusted surprising well. There was no jealously. He kept calling her 'cutey-pie'. Seeing them together makes me so proud.
Tobe went through so many changes at this time as well. Schools closing down due to the pandemic meant that he lost physical contact with his friends. Being a very social kid, this was difficult for him. I was afraid that adding on the birth of a sibling would be too much for him but he handled it all well.
A few days after the baby was born, his beloved teacher came to visit us. It was the first time having visitors over since having a baby. As a new mom during a pandemic, I was quite apprehensive of any contact from non immediate families. But I also recognized that my son needed to see his teacher before we left town.
So I decided to compromise on a socially distanced visit. I didn't trust anyone else to enforce the distance so I took him outside to meet his teacher. I coached him to maintain the distance but the moment we saw his teacher, he ran into her arms. It was such a beautiful moment.
He loved and missed her and he needed that has visit from her, that hug for closure before we moved away. She gifted him his favorite school book and we took a long walk in the park. It was amazing watching him interact with his teacher. I watched in awe as she seized every teaching moment effortlessly during her interaction with him. To this day, he often mentions his first teacher. I am sure he will never forget her. I will never forget her.
Olona continued to grow well and strong through these four weeks. We went to all her doctor appointments, she got her immunizations, and very importantly, we got her baptized. My brother Peter and Patrick's sister Candace served as godparents. It was a nice little celebration that happened 4 days before our move. Olona seemed to know that plan and cooperated with us through her birth and everything. By coming 10 days early, she actually got to be exactly 1 month old on the day we moved. Peter was very proud to become a godparent.
Leaving one chapter of life for the next usually has bittersweet moments. The pandemic, in its usual style, dampened many celebrations. Residency graduation was canceled but that did not diminish the joy I felt to be completing residency. I said goodbye to my mentors and friends. I am thankful for the encouraging people I have encountered along the way especially those who helped me overcome the negative individuals I encountered along the way.
A few days before we left town, I picked up my diploma. It was a great day, the culmination of all the hard work of the past 12 years. I wrote about it in this post here.
Such a beautiful, delicate, but short stage of life. In the thick of it it can feel so exhausting but looking back, I miss it so much. Thinking about the newborn period always has me longing for another baby.
My advice to anyone going through the newborn stage, other big life event, or multiple big life events is to take it in moment by moment. It is so easy to get overwhelmed when you start to think about all that is happening. But when you tackle it moment by moment, things fall into place and work themselves out. I often get asked how we managed going through so many big life changes in little time span. My answer is that it just happens. So you live moment by moment, doing our best to soak in what is happening to you today. When you do you best in the immediate task at hand, it all adds up in the bigger picture.
Goodbye Grand Rapids
On June 30, we loaded the last of our belongings into the car and RV and said goodbye to Grand Rapids, ready for our Great American Roadtrip. I have always dreamed of doing across this great country and was so happy to be finally doing it. I did not imagine that I would be doing it with a newborn and 4 year old in tow. It was quite a crazy adventure. I cant wait to tell you all about it in my next blog post.
Sometimes I wonder if there is any point to me writing these blog posts. Last week I got an answer that will always serve as a source of encouragement. Three years ago, I made acquaintance, over instagram, of a young woman who was striving to become an ENT surgeon. She read some of my blog posts and commented that they were encouraging. I was humbled and so happy by her comments. Last week, I found out that she is now in residency training to become an ENT surgeon and she also became a mom recently! She is doing her internship with a new baby, just like I did. Learning this encouraged me to pick up my laptop, to continue writing. Thank you for reading. Hopefully these entries continue to encourage. At the very least it is a therapeutic exercise and a good way to document life for my kids to read someday.