There have been so many changes in my life since getting pregnant in August last year–physically, mentally, and emotionally. I think the majority of those changes have taken place since having Andie or at least they seemed to come at me all at once. Anyways, I’ve thought a lot about how different things are and what it means to me; some being great and not so great. I have tried to be as honest as possible on this blog because I know I am not interested in reading someone’s candy-coated story. It isn’t real. I am much more inclined to relate to and believe the story that shares the messy parts in between the genuine awesome ones so here are my Post Partum observations.
Let’s start with the beginning of the post Partum timeline. As a first time mom (FTM), I went into labor & delivery with no reference as to what I might be in for. Sure, I had read my fair share of birth stories and articles but in all reality, nothing can truly prepare you for what you experience in that room. Especially since everyone is different! Just because your friend keeps telling you about her awful 36 hour labor and how “you’ll definitely want the drugs” doesn’t mean you will have that same experience. That has always boggled my mind – you cannot compare your childbirth experience to anyone else’s. You just can’t! I happened to have a very quick labor & delivery without any pain medication (my wish). I was surprised for many reasons. I was surprised at how fast it was (so was my doctor and all the nurses that day as well!), that I didn’t scream through the whole thing like I saw on TV or like the lady down the hall from my room, that I was able to deliver my daughter without pain medication, that I truly felt no pain as soon as Andie was out, and how beautiful that experience truly was. Childbirth changes you–maybe not in the same way for everyone but you are changed forever whatever that happens to mean for you. You can read my birth story here if you’re interested.
I can honestly say I was looking through rose colored glasses when it came to breastfeeding in the beginning. I mean, how hard could it be? You just pop your boob in the kid’s mouth and you’re golden! Wrong. So wrong. There is so much to it that I wasn’t prepared for! For one, I never was seen by a lactation consultant at the hospital (one of two hospital fails during our stay there) so Andie and I were wingin’ it since Day 1. It took a week if not more before I finally got help to get her latch corrected. The latch is everything! Secondly, nipples. Wow. I knew it was going to hurt at first but oh my goodness! My right nipple got so bad (all because her latch wasn’t right in the beginning) that it was bleeding and cracked. I ended up having to quit offering her that side and pump it instead so it could heal. Another aspect that has caught me off guard is how exhausting it has proven to be! New babies need to eat pretty often so my daughter has been attached to me every day every 2 – 3 hours. That part is physically exhausting because A) you’re obviously having to wake up several times through the night and you continue through the day and B) your body is working hard to produce milk so it’s important to realize that you’re also burning calories too! The emotional side of this exhaustion, at least for me, is that many times I literally feel like a cow or factory! It was hard for me in the beginning because everybody was holding the baby and enjoying her and then once she started crying she would be handed to me. It felt like I was only ever seeing my baby upset at first! That passed and I realized how lucky I am that I can do something for my baby no one else can. However, those days I am totally wiped out ( which are many) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished Daniel had boobs!! Haha I mentioned earlier that I had a rough start feeding Andie and now I attribute a lot of that to not getting proper help at the hospital from the first day but I didn’t always feel like that. At the time, I blamed myself and I couldn’t help but feel like I was failing. I’m so thankful that I had lots of support and encouragement at home and from other family members to get me through that time! Currently, Andie and I have breastfeeding down! She does pretty great and the pain is gone aside from some nipple soreness which I think is just from the frequency of feeding. I’m still really awkward with the nursing cover–its just hard to get that thing situated while trying to handle Andie and get her latched on at the same time! As with anything though, practice makes perfect! I have yet to try nursing in public but I’m sure that day will come in due time…
Another little tid bit: I have never been more hungry than I am as someone who breastfeeds! It’s hard to believe that I’m burning all these calories just while sitting there but in all actuality, my body is constantly busy working hard to produce milk to supply the demand! I should totally be drinking more water and eating more than I do but I’m working on it and let’s face it…how hard is it to eat more? Haha.
THE DAY TO DAY
Wow, have my days changed since having a baby!! I went from living each day like I wanted to and now I live each day as it revolves around Andie. It’s a shock going from living selfishly to having to become the most selfless person you’ve ever been the minute your child arrives! One of the questions I find I am asking myself regularly is “Should I sleep or eat/shower/clean/etc?” and sleep almost always wins. Haha I count down the days until Daniel has his days off for the same reasons I always had but now I also can’t wait because that means I will have more help! He works overnight right now so I am caring for her from the evening, through the night and into the afternoon the following day because he has to sleep. When he’s awake and downstairs that’s my chance to shower although admittedly I don’t always take it because I’d rather just stay and hang out with Andie and Daniel before he has to leave for work again! For my sanity, I do take the opportunities he gives me to leave the house even if it’s just to go get milk or something. In one of my previous posts I talked about how Daniel treated me to a pedicure while he watched Andie – that was THE best. If any men happen to be reading this, please offer a break away from the house to your wife or girlfriend–they might not ask for it but they need it! It’s good for us. It’s a chance to recharge and feel like a normal woman free of spit up for a few hours. I still struggle with feeling guilty for leaving the house alone even when I’m just going to Target for errands or whatever and I’m not entirely sure why. Parenting isn’t solely my responsibility–it’s my husband’s too. He also needs to care for our daughter alone because he needs those extra chances to bond with her and become more in tune with her needs and developing personality! I’m so lucky to have such a great partner in Daniel – he truly is a wonderful dad and has stepped up to the plate with no qualms since the day our sweet girl was born. Single moms: I don’t know how you do it but I’m guessing you have some super powers.
Another thing I want to say is, look, babies cry. Just because your baby cries several times a day does not mean he/she is not a happy baby! That’s just what babies do. That’s how they communicate. You’ll often wonder whether your baby cries more than other babies and maybe they do or maybe they don’t; the important thing is that you realize ALL babies cry and ALL babies are different. That mom who makes it seem like her baby never sheds a single tear is probably walking around the house bouncing her baby to soothe him/her during a meltdown. It happens! Let’s not be afraid to say our babies cry–it is not a reflection of your parenting skills or what you did or didn’t eat while you were pregnant.
Also, I am pretty much a pro at eating with one hand and picking things up with my feet. I love being a mom.
It’s no secret that as a pregnant woman your body really goes through the ringer. I mean, we grow a human inside of us…how crazy is that?!?! I had a pretty easy pregnancy–I got nauseous during the first trimester but only threw up one time, I gained just the right amount of weight, no complications at all, it was just easy going besides the typical aches and pains. Not everyone is so lucky but we all work to feel at peace with what out bodies look like during that time and then after the baby comes. I went all the way to about 36 or 37 weeks with no stretch marks before I got some and I was so upset! They aren’t really that bad and I don’t have many of them but hey, no one wants stretch marks. I was, however, pretty worried near the end of my pregnancy that it would be difficult to lose the weight I had gained–28 pounds sounded like a lot!! I was pleasantly surprised a week after having Andie that I had lost 20 of those pounds. After that the rest of the weight came off and at my 6 week post partum appointment I weighed less than I did when I got pregnant! I’m thinking my weight loss had a lot to do with breastfeeding as well as the fact that I just don’t have the time to snack like I used to.
Modesty. It goes right out the window when you have a baby. More people have seen my breasts than I care to count and the same goes for my private parts as well! Most of that happens in the hospital and then afterwards it continues with the breasts because let’s face it, sometimes you are just too tired to care who you are whipping your boob out in front of. haha I suppose a lot of it also has to do with the fact that right when I had Andie, my breasts suddenly became items of utility and more often than not, that’s how I continue to view them.
Another thing I would like to touch on is the importance of taking care of yourself after the baby arrives. It’s hard because all your energy is focused on a little bundle of joy who needs you 100% but taking good care of yourself is essential if you want to care for someone else! The typical recovery time is 6 weeks, which is what I had, and during that time it is so so important to do exactly as the doctor tells you. Really! I listened, I let my husband and other family members do certain things for me, I got rest every chance I could, ate well, and had a fantastic recovery period. Daniel was really great about helping me out during this time to make sure I was recovering the way I should!
I don’t think I truly realized how much I could love someone within just seconds of meeting them until Andie was placed on my chest right after she was delivered. Of course I loved her so much while she was still in my belly but that love multiplies exponentially when you actually see that little person you created face to face. Daniel and I still look at her and say we can’t believe she’s ours. We can’t believe how beautiful she is and that we could make something so precious! I constantly think about her, even when I’m not around her, and I am always thinking about her future. Daniel always tells me that he misses us so much when he’s at work; I think if he could have it his way, he’d never leave (I would be more than okay with that haha)!
I also believe that having Andie has made the love between Daniel and I grow stronger and deeper. There really isn’t anything like seeing your husband love on your baby, especially a baby girl. It’s the sweetest sight and it touches every little inch of my heart. That daddy/daughter relationship is just something extra special and I know this one is going to be a complete Daddy’s Girl–I’m ok with that! We have been together since we were teenagers in high school (we began dating when I was 14! lol) so we have known each other for a long time and have seen each other take on different roles throughout our adult life. Seeing my husband become a father has been one of the greatest blessings and most fun to watch! Getting to see your spouse as a parent lets you see a completely different side of them and I think that has a large part in the strengthening of the relationship because you’re learning so many new things about each other and how to work together in a new way. I’m loving being on this parenting adventure with Daniel!!
So there you have it–my post partum observations! It’s a long one but I think overall this was as important for me to have written out as I felt it was to share. I hope you felt like this was honest – my goal, as previously stated, was to share my observations without all that sugar coating you might find on some other blogs or even just talking to a friend who is too afraid to tell you that, yea, sometimes she struggles. Anyone who tells you everything with a newborn is smooth sailing is lying! Instead, I challenge you to be real about your experiences so that we (new parents) can help lift each other up and hopefully laugh with each other about how exhausted we are or how many times we changed shirts in the span of an hour because a boob leaked or you got spit up on.