Parenting is exciting, but it can be quite a challenge. Join Rashard and Claudette as they discuss life as new parents and check out some photos from their photoshoot with the amazing, extraordinary, Roman.
Reichr0: What was your first thought immediately following Roman’s birth?
Claudette: My mind was really blank. I couldn’t think…my mind was just really blank. I was just like, ‘What the heck…Oh my God. I have a baby now.’
When he came out I didn’t even know for sure. Everybody was like, ‘One more push’ and he flew out, but I didn’t know, so I asked everyone ‘Did I do it? Is it done?’ haha.
Rashard: It was a moment that I can’t really explain. I was over-struck with emotion. Before, we thought it was going to be nothing; just thought it was going to be another day, another dollar.
But right when he came out I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do.
Words can’t even explain when I cut the umbilical cord and everything. I really couldn’t believe it.
Was the experience painful? And Rashard, did you experience her [Claudette’s] pain while she gave birth?
Claudette: When I first got to the hospital after my water broke, I didn’t feel anything. It was actually hours that I didn’t feel anything. The doctors told me I was having contractions every ten minutes and I didn’t feel a thing. But later in the night, around 9pm on the 14th of December, the pain kicked in.
I had contractions every 2 minutes that were very painful. When the pain first started they gave me an epidural and that really helped. The first medication was good, but it only lasted for 10 minutes and it made me feel really loopy, plus the contractions made it worse. But going back to when I got the epidural, I had to move around a little for it to kick in but I eventually felt fine and went to sleep.
Then at 3 am on the 15th of December, I had contractions again. I got really scared this time but somehow managed to fall asleep a second time. And then, around 5 am, the doctor came in and told me it was time to push so I started freaking out and asked my mom to come. She got to the hospital right in time.
Pushing was really a relief because once it was time to push, the contractions were strong but the pushing helped me not feel anything surprisingly.
Rashard: When she first came home and told me her water broke I said ‘Cool, the time has come.’ But I did start feeling her pain, in a different way though. I knew that since she was supposed to walk across the stage (graduate) the day she gave birth, I wouldn’t hear the last of it. Her water broke on Thursday (the 14th) and the graduation was on Friday (the 15th). So, when Roman gets older I know she’s going to say ‘I sacrificed my graduation for you.’
But when we got to the hospital I was excited. I was ready for it to happen. As time went on though, and I saw her in pain, I started to worry myself. It was already a lot going on with the meds and epidural, and the process of finding the epidural, it was a nerve-wrecking situation.
Just seeing them hook her up like a test-dummy, and me personally having no confidence in the doctors just had me worried. I know they’re professional but I also know anyone is capable of messing up. I was nervous but I just made sure that she was cool. She was going through a lot of pain so I felt the pain; I felt it in my blood pressure, haha.
How different has parenting been from the first week vs third month?
Claudette: It’s been so different. So many up’s and downs.
Rashard: It’s been a roller coaster, haha.
Claudette: Really! The second night with Roman was literally the worst night. It was so horrible because I was trying to breastfeed and it was really difficult. He wasn’t getting what he wanted so he was really angry and I was getting frustrated because I was really tired and breastfeeding is really painful.
And this was my struggle for the first week. Honestly, it was such a shock.
When we got home it was strictly business. Feeding him, taking care of him. But family and friends were there so the difficulties didn’t kick in that quick. Plus, my mom was really helpful. She took off two weeks of work, cooked me breakfast and everything, haha. And Rashard changed the diapers. I slept a lot and Rashard took care of everything in the middle of the night. But when they were at work it was my time and I was just nervous. It was really hard.
Now, in the third month, he’s a lot better. It’s a much more joyous experience. Breast-feeding isn’t as hard now since I pump. I’m not as stressed as I once was. He’s a nice baby, I just had to get used to him and get to know him a little bit. He may scream but he’s not an OC screamer (she says jokingly).
Rashard: First, let’s give Claudette a round-of-applause; the real Super-Mom. She is the backbone in this, holds everything together.
But the first couple of days were #amazement. Overtime though, Claudette’s stresses only stressed me out. I just remained as encouraging as possible because I know I can’t do some things, like produce milk. But as days go by, every minute and hour we have more knowledge about parenting.
It started off a little rocky, especially since Claudette didn’t have much milk. But as time went on, we learned that she had to stay hydrated to produce more milk. So, after the first couple of days, we learned that and were on board. The boat started floating.
She’s strong though. I know it’s depressing if she’s here all day. You got to know your child too. You got to know what makes them smile and what turns the smile upside down. You also have to know how to react. Observe and react.
But overtime the hardest part is waking up. Sometimes he just wakes up then goes back to sleep, but it all depends on him. It’s getting better though, smooth sailing. We’re still waiting on it to get smoother but at this point it’s just a part of our lives.
Longest day as a parent?
Claudette: I don’t think it’s been any specific day, but the longest and hardest period of time were those first few days.
The hospital wasn’t real. It was like a dream. After getting home and having no doctors, and having to produce milk on my own, etc., it was so hard. It was actually the most difficult thing in the world.
Rashard: That’s easy. The first week was a resort. I thought it’d be easy; just celebrating his life and the holidays for the rest of the year.
But after the resort week, one night I kept trying to put his [Roman’s] pacifier in his mouth and his jaws were too weak to hold it in so he’d spit it out every 20 seconds. That night I was up until the sun came up. It was a whole business day.
How different is life now?
Claudette: Its super-duper different. Not only because I have a baby at home but also because I can’t even…I just want to sleep. I don’t want to have to wake up and pump. I just want to sleep…but I know there’s no such thing as solid sleep anymore.
I also have to watch what I eat because I know he can be affected by it. In the beginning, I ate a lot of oatmeal which is good for developing breast milk, but I was drinking cows-milk, which isn’t that good for babies.
So, I started to add new things into my diet and took things out. I realized he’s been calmer now so I think it’s because of the diet change. I drink a lot of water now. I still eat ice cream sometimes, but for the most part, I took cows-milk out my diet so that my breastmilk is suitable for him.
We have to make sure though, that he’s always good. Everything we do now is very calculated, from making sure I have enough breastmilk when we go out, to making sure that we’re using the right laundry detergent.
Rashard: Life’s way different, bruh. Life’s way different.
All I have to say is you have to watch how you move. Some people move sloppy, some move smooth. Sometimes you look in the mirror and question a lot; you question yourself. But then I look at him and bone-up. I have to make sacrifices for him.
I know it hurts at the moment, but I know that I will always have to make sacrifices now. I will have to sacrifice a lot. I have to get these old bad habits out of my body and I can’t crash. Luckily, I have family and a big support system, but I can’t depend on too much from them forever either.
What’s Roman’s First Birthday plans?
Claudette: Alright, SO! Since his name is Roman I have a theme in mind for everyone to dress up like Roman Gods and Goddesses and Roman can dress up like a soldier, like the 300 characters. Rashard thinks I’m doing too much though, haha.
Rashard: He’s doing whatever I’m trying to do (said with a very stern face).
When is Roman #2 going to be waking you out of sleep?
Rashard & Claudette (collectively): No time Soon!
Claudette: Yes, Roman #2, who we hope is a girl, will definitely be no time soon. But a disclaimer for younger girls expecting to have a baby, or who is a very new mom as well:
I know it’s a lot of younger girls out here that are going through what I went through, or what I’m going through now, and Rashard likes to say I had postpartum depression, and I don’t even want to claim that, but I know people suffer with things like that.
If you’re feeling any kind of sensitivity after having your baby, go and take a survey. Having a baby is hard emotionally, and I feel like I slightly missed out on those first few weeks because of so many different challenging feelings and emotions.
So, I just want to make sure young mothers know and are aware, because it does get hard.