Simon is six weeks old. Not sure how that happened, but we’ve been taking it one day at a time.
Postpartum care has been more difficult this time for me, maybe because I have two kids already or maybe because it was a birth followed directly by the holidays with family in town. It’s been difficult to keep track of everything.
The first week or two after Simon was born I kept myself to the couch and spent all my time nursing, sleeping, and taking my regimen of postpartum supplements. As difficult as it is to sit still for me, my midwife reminded me that I am working on life-long health and healing so she told me to work hard at being “the most bored I’ve ever been in my life.”
As far as my gestational diabetes, Simon’s blood sugar was fine at birth, and I’m finding as long as I eat a diet similar to what I ate while I was pregnant, I feel great. I have a follow up glucose screen scheduled in March.
The uterine contractions while nursing were the most intense cramps I have ever had, worse so this time as it was my third, and I alternated ibuprofen, Tylenol, arnica (for bruising), and After-Ease tincture. Even though I had no tearing or abrasions, the internal bruising from delivering a posterior baby was severe, so the morning after Simon’s birth Thad drove us to Dr. Michelle, the amazing chiropractor, for adjustments. It took about three weeks for my sacrum to stop throbbing. With regular adjustments and careful sitting positions, I did my best to keep myself comfortable, especially with all the nursing.
At her postpartum visit, my doula checked me for diastasis recti, something no one has ever done for me before. It was very weird. I lay down flat on the couch, she put her fingers across my belly, and had me lift only my head to look at my feet. As I did that, she could feel where my abdominal muscles separated – luckily it was only about three fingers wide. She recommended looking up Julie Tupler and her famous Tupler Technique ™ to learn more. After reading their website, I found that the abdominal problems I had after Dash were due to this separation, and I had never known. I bought the DVD, booklet, and splint and started the program this past Sunday. Hopefully, this will encourage healing and prevent any further injury. This is really important for mothers to look for and fix – the separation can cause so many problems with your back and your core, especially if you have had multiple pregnancies. This isn’t generally an area of focus in postpartum care, so it’s extra important for you to educate yourself. In fact, no one has ever brought this up to me before my trainer, with whom I worked during my pregnancy with Simon.
Simon is doing great. He is growing like a weed and by his 11th day had already surpassed his birth weight. Nursing has been the area in which I’ve felt the most comfortable, and I feel that we had a very good rhythm from the get go. Luckily, my milk came in on day 2, and we’ve been going strong ever since.
We decided to do vitamin K drops with Simon, as opposed to our first two where we did the shot. After researching our options this time around we felt the drops would be sufficient. I’m also taking alfalfa, which increases the amount of Vitamin K in my milk which he then gets. The state of Virginia required blood screenings – we never received any results, but from what we’ve been told, no news is good news.
At six weeks, physically I feel pretty good. My bleeding has stopped, started, and stopped again, and I’ve been using it as my measurement for how much I should be doing. With three kids and a household to run, needless to say, there is plenty to do, but luckily my husband has been on paternity leave up to now (yes, I know how lucky I am), so he has been helping tremendously with the older boys and general house chores. In fact, he is transcribing this entry for me as I nurse Simon.
Emotionally, for the first two weeks of Simon’s life I had more intense baby blues than I have had in either of the prior births. I have had an unexpected experience this time, however, with a lot of irrational anxieties and uncontrollable weepiness. At about four weeks postpartum, it occurred to me that I may be experiencing some symptoms of postpartum depression, such as lack of desire to do things that used to make me happy, being anxious and worrisome, trouble sleeping, wanting to be alone, withdrawing from friends, and feeling guilty. Normally, I’m a very social person, but these past few weeks, I’ve found it difficult to see anyone outside my nuclear family, but have been ‘forcing it’ to make sure the boys get some social time. Thad’s sister and her husband were visiting for five weeks throughout this time and I don’t know if that had an impact on me, but I am grateful that they were here to spend time with the boys while I was recovering.
Last year, I attended a conference thrown by Postpartum Virginia on perinatal anxiety disorders at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. I went wearing my hat as the founder of Mothers Healing Together to find ways to help my mothers better, and I never thought I would be sitting here using the things I learned there to help myself instead.
I’ve been trying to do all of the things the experts say to do when battling postpartum depression – extra rest, eating a healthy diet, taking breaks from Simon when needed (his presence, luckily, is not difficult for me like it is for some moms), and frankly, giving myself a break. It’s too easy in these postpartum days to let your hormones drive your thoughts, and I’ve been trying hard to stay rational and objective.
I am planning on going to a Postpartum Virginia support group tomorrow at the hospital to listen to other women’s stories and hopefully better understand what is going on. I had no idea this affects more than 20% of mothers and I hope they are finding the help they need too. Having never battled clinical depression before, this is uncharted territory for me and I keep getting frustrated that I can’t ‘turn off my brain’. Self-talk doesn’t necessarily help, and talking to friends who know me doesn’t help, but hopefully hearing the stories of women who have been in my shoes will. I’ll report back.
So this is where we are. Thad goes back to work full-time on Monday and I am looking forward to getting into a routine with the boys. We are enjoying these last few days of his paternity leave together and hopefully we’ll slide into a nice family routine as we navigate these crazy days with a newborn.