Hey, they said labor was hard…nothing and I mean absolutely nothing could have prepared me for my postpartum experience. Even endless hours of reading books and articles on other women’s experiences. Reading it is all one thing but experiencing it for yourself is a whole other playing field. In the end, pregnancy is not glamorous by any means..but once again kudos to the women who actually enjoy it. For me it was just something I had to push through until we got the final product. I was prepared to a certain degree for postpartum but I was so focused on just getting through my pregnancy I made the mistake of underestimating certain things.
Along with a crappy pregnancy my postpartum experience seemed to go hand in hand. You are not prepared for how sore you’re going to be..I mean like for two weeks I could hardly get up, the idea of going to the bathroom was dreadful, and Justin had to take on a lot of things like diaper changes because I just couldn’t move around easily. On top of that I had second degree tearing, which is normal for most first time moms, but my stitches got infected maybe a week after the birth. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. I also got blessed with a urinary tract infection (because they needed to catheter me like 3 times after the birth to help me go to bathroom due to how swollen I was) AND hemorrhoids from the pushing. So lets just say “down there” really wasn’t too happy.
For me the worst part of my postpartum experience was being so sore and dealing with all those little health problems AND taking care of a newborn at the same time. With a baby you are mostly sitting or laying down most of the time with them, and my keister just wasn’t having it. After sitting for hours at a time my ass was throbbing. Oh and to make the situation even better you are running on maybe 3 hours of sleep and you have a screaming newborn in your arms who you are still trying to figure out.
I felt a little overwhelmed because I was a new mom with literally no baby experience except for what I read online or in books. I didn’t have younger siblings and I didn’t baby sit infants when I was younger. It was completely new to me. The first two weeks were the hardest by far. Cedar didn’t like sleeping on her back at all so she wouldn’t sleep in a crib or bassinet. This meant she was co-sleeping with us, which made me super nervous at first, or she was sleeping in her Fisher Price Rock n’ Play. She was also one of those babies that just hates to be swaddled, so this made soothing her a little harder as well. In an ideal world you can just swaddle a newborn and stick them in their bassinet and go off and enjoy a few hours of sleep…sorry! Doesn’t happen that way..and any parents that bring their baby home from the hospital with that expectation is in for a serious wake up call.
Another thing that was a wake up call was breastfeeding. I was SO DETERMINED to make it happen. I was thinking “it’s totally a mind over matter thing, I got this!” Well honestly my motivation was there to push through it but one thing I didn’t plan for was my milk supply, which was seriously slacking for how much she actually ate. I didn’t buy any formula pre-baby because in my mind “breast is best”. Well when you are in the hospital and your baby is screaming like a banshee because they are hungry and you are only producing a tiny bit of colostrum, I caved. I was bawling my eyes out because I knew she was hungry but I felt like I just couldn’t satisfy her. I know, I know…”Haleigh they only need a bit of colostrum to get them by until your milk comes in!” Well you try sitting there with your baby in your arms just screaming for hours. Also when my milk did actually come in I was barely producing any…maybe an ounce between both breasts when I would pump and as a newborn she was actually crushing about 3 oz in a feeding which really surprised me. Even now, 5 weeks later, after pumping sessions and giving her the breast before I even try to bottle feed her I am still only producing about 1-2 oz at a time. Now that shes older she crushing 4-5 oz in a feeding. I even resorted to milk teas and tinctures, eating foods that boost milk supply, etc. Nothing seemed to be efficient enough. So now we are supplementing with formula and I am freely giving her the breast whenever she wants it and pumping on the side. In the end you just need to do what works best for you even if it’s not what you had planned. Now my baby is happy, content, and gaining weight just as she should be, all while still getting what nutrients she needs from me and being full.
So far I have not dealt with PPD (postpartum depression). Yes, in the last month I have cried way more than I usually do, but I know its just hormones. The first two weeks I was crying about everything..even when I was happy. I’d just look at her and I would cry, but since then the rushing emotions have slowly diminished and I find the only time that I get emotional is when I didn’t have a good sleep the night before or I’m sleep deprived. When I am actually well rested it feels so much easier to take the day on and whatever obstacles the little babe throws my way. Having Justin here for the month helped so much!!! I can’t stress enough that I wouldn’t have been able to do this without him. I have a whole new appreciation for single moms. With having him at home I was able to maybe get a solid 4-6 hours of sleep on some days or even something as simple as having a bath for half an hour. Self care is so important and its SO easy to forget to take care of yourself when you are caring for a tiny human. I would forget to eat, or drink for hours at a time at first.
Honestly if I were to give any new moms advice it would be to trust your instincts. It really does come very naturally, even if you are totally lost when it comes to babies. You find ways to make it work when it comes to eating, napping, and showering (eventually). Some other advice? POSTPARTUM PREP, seriously…make the padsciles ahead of time, buy a bunch of black underwear and maxi pads, don’t underestimate how efficient nursing shirts and nursing bras are, make sure you have Tylenol or Advil handy, and for heavens sake go in there with an open mind and realize there are things that worked for others but might not work for you. Every baby is different. Don’t write off formula right away and exclusively try to breast feed (ladies, there is no such thing as nipple confusion so don’t worry!). Also stock up on quick meals and snacks, cause when you are starving after not eating for 6 hours and you have a baby that refuses to be put down you can’t exactly make that nice steak dinner you planned yet alone make a sandwich. My last piece of advice I learned myself is to accept help when you need it but also take peoples advice with a grain of salt. Everyone these days thinks that because they have had a baby they are the know-all, be-all parent. Do what works for you and your family.
When they say “it gets easier” its true. My girl is almost 6 weeks old now and I am JUST starting to be able to decipher her cries and understand her cues. We are also just starting to get into a (somewhat) schedule with sleeping and eating. It changes slightly from day to day depending but usually I can anticipate when she will generally want a bottle or have a nap. It all takes time and the understanding that you guys are not only figuring each other out but your little babes are figuring out the world as well. The first month flew by and she has already changed so much since we brought her home!! They literally look like they are bigger everyday so I am just trying to soak it all in and appreciate it while it lasts. Eventually she will running around yelling “NO” every 5 minutes instead of sleeping peacefully on my chest like the little angel she is.