6 week post-partum update

With this passing week, the post-partum period is technically over. I’m still not healed all the way from my 2nd degree tear, and mentally I am still in this blurry and delirious state of adjustment to caring for a newborn.  I wonder who decided that post-partum is a 6 week deal… I’m sure some people are back to normal physically and mentally much sooner, and other take longer.

Right now I am walking around the house with the baby in the Bjorn carrier. She doesn’t always like it, but when it works, it works. I used it this morning to make my coffee and breakfast, and now to do some writing. Lifesaver. My arms can only take so much.

I went shopping with the baby this week for some jeans in between maternity and my old size. I was waiting for a long time to get into the accessible fitting room, and it turned out someone from my hypnobirthing class was using it as a nursing room. I wanted to ask her if she wanted to grab a coffee sometime and talk about new mom stuff, but I wussed out. Anyway, I got jeans that fit and they make me feel so much better about myself.

I also tried to go to my first meeting on campus with the baby. My old advisor was giving a presentation. Unfortunately Avery came down with the worst bout of gassiness she has ever had right when the presentation started. I left my diaper bag in the room while I tried to soothe her in the hallway, but she didn’t soothe. She just got more and more upset. Finally someone brought my bag into the hall for me, and I left. I hadn’t been unable to soothe her before then and it was torture. It took hours and every hold/position I could figure out to finally get her to settle, and by then she was overtired and she fussed about that.

Then the following evening we started into The Witching Hour, with inconsolable evening crankies. Thank you to all the bloggers who reached out and gave me tips and assurances. It helps so much to know that other babies do this too.

Here are a couple of pictures from our one month fall photo shoot.

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5 weeks Post-partum update

She smiles at me all the time now. Real smiles. When your baby starts recognizing you and showing you signs that you are doing a good job meeting her needs, it makes any post-partum discomfort or challenges bearable.

Healing

Still healing… There is a spot that still stings when I pee, and I’m still losing stitches. I had a panicked moment when I saw a long white stitch in my sitz bath – our cat was sick and we didn’t know what had caused the fluid in his lungs, and the stitch looked like a lung worm. I thought I had contracted worms from him and panicked that Avery would have worms. Luckily my mom, a veterinarian, was visiting and identified it as a stitch the next day. Panic averted.

I’m finally able to not wear pads anymore. Still haven’t looked at the damage, or touched it. Still afraid to. At my final post-partum midwife appt next week my midwife will check on my healing, and I’m hoping she will tell me it has all gone back to normal so I won’t be afraid to look.

Sleep

I’m starting to settle into a nighttime routine. I can now usually get 3 hour sleep stretches at night, and last night we had our first 4 hour stretch since she was 1 day old. While I used to try side lying nursing in bed during night feeds, I have discovered that nursing is more efficient if we go to our chair in the nursery with dimmed lighting. That way we can both stay awake enough to make sure she gets a full feed, diapers can be changed right there, and she still falls asleep on my chest during burping and transfers well back to the bassinet (thank god!!).

Although I’m getting more sleep at night now, I’m more tired than ever. I’m becoming delirious and having trouble holding a conversation. #momlife.

Daytime naps usually last longest when she is allowed to sleep on me. I should nap when she naps, but I just want to stare at her while she sleeps. Those cuddle naps are my favourite part of the day.

Real Life With a Baby

My 2 year wedding anniversary was yesterday. It was a very unsuccessful attempt at a romantic evening. I grilled super nice steaks that we wouldn’t ordinarily spend the money on, but we ended up taking turns eating and I basically inhaled mine so I could take the fussy baby from my wife before her food got cold. Then the fussiness continued to bedtime and my wife fell asleep while I walked around the house with the baby. We were both too exhausted for any romance anyway, even if the baby had had a low-needs night. My wife did get me a sweet card and a chocolate bar though, and I completely dropped the ball on a card or gift.

4 week post-partum update

Healing

Bits of suture material have been falling out in my underwear and in the shower. I assume the stitches don’t dissolve until the wounds have had enough time to close, so it’s exciting! I’m still bleeding a little though. Just enough to still need pads. I can’t wait to be able to go free as a bird again…

4 weeks after giving birth I have had exactly 8 showers… That’s acceptable for a new mom, right?

Getting Out and About

We met up with a friend in the park and chatted on a park bench while her toddlers played and my little bug cuddled on my chest.

We also did another restaurant outing with our friend with the 6 week old twins. We walked downtown in the rain with both of our umbrellas over the stroller. We were soaked, but little bug was cozy and dry. On the walk home she got hungry and it had stopped raining so I nursed her while we walked. I thought I’d be bashful about public breastfeeding, but luckily I am 100% comfortable whipping her food source out in any environment.

It usually feels risky and unreasonable for us to head out on such expeditions when we are exhausted and the baby is fussing, but once we get out and about it feels really good. Humanizing.

I used the Moby wrap a couple of brief times around the house, but it’s too hot to wear right now. That and she seems a little big already for the newborn hug hold, so I will have to experiment with some other wrap configurations too. Luckily fall weather is right around the corner and it’ll be great for keeping us both warm.

Sleep

Nighttimes have been getting easier!! In her 4th week she has started eating every 2 hours at night now instead of every 1 hour, and she is easier to put to sleep right after eating. I’m sure the whole sleep thing will be a 2 steps forward 1 step back kind of process, but I am relieved that I can get a couple hours of sleep at night now (still not consecutively, but way better than no sleep!)

Link

Biggest Challenges

This week the sleep deprivation hit me. I think the hormones were keeping me alert through the first two weeks, but now I am starting to feel like a zombie. I brew 8 cups of coffee in the mornings with dreams of becoming highly caffeinated, but only get around to drinking half a cup. Avery has been really fussy when we put her in the bassinet this week, and I think it’s due to gassiness. So days and nights now consist of feeding or comfort nursing, burping, trying to put her down and watching her fuss, burping her again, having her fall asleep on me and being unable to get up and do things, and then the cycle starts over. Oh and insert diaper change before AND after each feed, because clean diapers seem to trigger a poop reflex. This is the entirety of my existence 3 weeks post-partum: food source, diaper changer, and sleep aid.

Binge Watching Netflix
For the first two weeks I was too overwhelmed by simply caring for the baby – I didn’t want to be distracted from her by TV. Now I am ready to settle into Netflix shows while she nurses and naps on me all day. This week I watched two TV series… Broadchurch and The Returned. Both sad but super good.

My Milestone Moments

I took the baby grocery shopping by myself. We got a lot of attention from passers-by asking how old and telling me how precious she is. I didn’t even forget anything on my shopping list.

We also went to our favourite pub for a pint (half pint for me). We met our friend there with her 6 week old twins and really felt like we were rocking it as new parents. Gotta do these things while our kids are newborns and just eat and sleep all day still.

All in all I feel a lot closer to my old self again now. My vagina felt a lot better this week (I can sit on hard chairs again and rock the baby without pain), and I started wearing some non-maternity clothes again.

2 week post-partum update

Things are getting easier, slowly, day by day. I still can’t push myself or I end up in considerable discomfort by evening, but if I sit still for most of the day, I generally feel physically well enough to be up half the night with my crying baby, rocking her and bouncing her and getting up and down a bunch of times as I try out different nursing positions. This has been a huge relief compared to the first week post-partum when I felt I couldn’t care for my baby because of my need to heal.

We have a night owl on our hands. She does nothing but eat and sleep all day, and then she wants to be awake and cluster feed all night. Luckily I seem to still be powered by hormones, and the tiredness hasn’t gotten to me too much yet. I try to get at least one day time nap in every day.

My wife went back to work for two days this week, and I was able to spend one of those days alone. It was amazing. As an introvert, I need alone time to recharge my batteries, and I hadn’t had any since before the baby was born. I spent my alone day just hanging out with my newborn and had lots of skin-to-skin naps and nursing.

Milestone Moments

A big milestone for me was showering while home alone with the baby. I put her in a swing just inside the bathroom door and checked on her constantly, but I had a full length shower and even shaved my legs. The sense of independence and capability as a mom made me feel great.

I also took the baby on my first solo outing to the doctor’s office for my blood pressure check. We rocked it. Still haven’t had to do a diaper change while out and about, but I feel I have mastered the car seat.

I have also done a couple loads of laundry and a couple loads of dishes this week. My vagina starts to hurt by the end of these tasks, but it makes me feel good to do something besides feed the baby.

Blood Pressure

My blood pressure is finally under control. I am on meds, but I think my body is finally correcting itself because my BP is starting to go pretty low all of a sudden. Hopefully I won’t need to stay on the meds for long. My doctor said that it can take up to 6 weeks post-partum for gestational hypertension to correct itself naturally.

Birth Registration

Now that we are settled in to our new situation, we have started to look at all of the paperwork we will need to file for Avery’s birth. The promise of changing parentage laws has fallen through, and my wife still needs to adopt our daughter. There is lots of paperwork, lots of confusion, and lots of waiting/processing time ahead of us. It is really bumming us out. We just want to be recognized as a family. I want to be able to register our daughter’s birth with her actual last name, but we have to register her with my last name and change it later because we need the birth registration to be filed before we can file for second parent adoption. Can’t wait for this to be done, several months from now.

1 week Post-Partum Update

The first 2 days home with baby were amazing. I was riding a hormone high, the baby was straightforward to take care of, we slept lots while she slept, and a cocktail of feel-good hormones and pain killers made me feel like I was healing fast.

After that the fatigue and soreness became a little overwhelming. My abdomen has recovered and my uterus is back down to normal size, but the soreness I still have is from the stitches… I had a second degree tear, so the muscle tissue tore as well as the skin. This is making it difficult to sit to nurse and to rock my baby to sleep. I get easily frustrated wishing I could do more – even getting out of bed to get the baby for nightly diaper changes and feeding is painful on the crotch. Standing up from seated with the baby in my arms is a painful challenge. I can’t imagine recovering from a c section…

Post-partum is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions. Having a newborn is simultaneously the most challenging and most amazing thing we have ever done.

My feet and ankles swelled up in the first week post partum, more than they ever did while pregnant. Apparently it’s from having IV fluids during labour. I still can’t get my wedding rings on.

My first pee post-partum was much more traumatic than my first BM because the hospital was threatening a catheter if I didn’t pee by a specific time of day. Luckily, after deep concentration and lots of patience, I got my stream back. Also, stool softeners are a god-sent. After they ran out, the sensation of “pushing” is not something I was ready to experience again quite yet.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has gone as well as I think it can. There have been stressful times and some pain as Avery and I both learn the ropes, but overall we are getting the hang of it with no major problems. I tried different things to deal with the scabbing and raw nipples, and have finally discovered that the Le leche guidelines work best for me: use expressed breast milk on them after feedings and let air dry, and let ’em all hang out in the open air as often as possible. It does feel a bit dehumanizing to walk around the house in a jumbo pad and exposed swollen boobs, but comfort and healing is way more important than feeling fancy in this sensitive time. However, this is another reason to choose your visitors carefully… It sucks to be struggling with breastfeeding and need to air out your nipples when you have a house full of company.

My milk came in 5 days post-partum. Avery went from 8lb 4oz to 7lb 9oz (totally within normal weight loss range) before she started gaining again. 4 days post-partum she fussily and frustrately fed ALL NIGHT LONG. That did the trick to bring in my milk, and she quickly gained 4oz back in a single day.

Visitors

I accurately predicted who would be useful and who wouldn’t be, but in the end I felt I couldn’t say no to family. One family member brought their cat to our house with them for the day (our cats are upset enough right now…) on the same day another family member brought their baby. It was loud and stressful and took a lot out of me. On the flip side, friends came for short, 20 minute intervals, brought food, and left. That has been wonderful.

We found that we didn’t really need help… Between my wife and I, we have had no problem keeping her fed and changed and ourselves fed and showered, and the house cleaned. Those who bring food are very appreciated though. When family has visited they all want to hold the baby and think that will be helpful, like I will need a break. But holding your newborn is not only the best part of caring for her, it’s also really important for bonding, breastfeeding, and baby’s health (skin-to-skin). I tried accepting the offer to pass off the baby so I could take a nap, but I just ended up crying in bed from separation anxiety.

Blood Pressure

It appears as though giving birth was NOT the cure to my high blood pressure. We ended up sitting in a walk-in clinic two nights in a row this week because it was spiking higher than ever before. Sick kids were coughing and sneezing all over the waiting room and I was super upset about it, but I had to feed her and couldn’t leave her at home. My wife walked around outside with her and only came in when she was hungry. I did manage a trip to get blood taken without her. Sitting in medical waiting rooms for hours night after night is not something you want to be doing with a less than a week old baby. I also cannot sit in hard waiting room chairs at the moment, so I did a lot of leaning over the backs of chairs.

I have finally been put on a blood pressure med, but so far it isn’t affecting me at all. We are just trying not to be too stressed about it, because we want to enjoy this time with our daughter. My wife is really concerned though, and this constant reminder that I need to be worried about sudden onset of seizure or stroke is is bringing my mood down. I’m not allowed to be alone with the baby because of the risk. I hate needing to be babysat and just want to be able to enjoy alone time with my baby. When my wife goes back to work on Thursday the babysitting will commence.