Postpartum Diary: Pamela & Simon @ 6 weeks

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.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 9 Months

It’s hard to believe that Adelyn has now been living outside the womb for longer than she was inside. She’s reaching such a fun age. She’s well beyond the helpless newborn stage, but not yet to the sassy toddler time. She’s in a nice place where her personality is beginning to show and she’s continually learning new things. She has started to army crawl and continues to roll to where she wants to be. She doesn’t like to spend much time sitting. Instead, she will quickly transition to lying down so she can move around. Adelyn has been trying to push up onto her knees, but the bulky cloth diaper has made it difficult for her to completely master crawling on a
ll fours. I’m sure it won’t be much longer now before she figures out it. Though she has taken a liking to standing, so I wonder if perhaps she’ll skip crawling and go straight to walking. This of course has made baby proofing necessary. With Legos and small doll accessories, we’ve been training our older two kids to keep small objects well out of her reach or quarantined in their own rooms.

We introduced solids just before she turned eight months old. We quickly discovered that she did not care to be spoon fed. Instead, she prefers finger foods that she can eat for herself. She already prefers independence. While it does make for messier mealtimes, it is nice that I don’t have to try to feed her and myself at meals. It does mean that I have to be creative in preparing foods so she can eat them. For instance, instead of giving her applesauce, I sauté apples until they were soft enough for her to swallow. One of her favorite meals is what I call an Addie cake. I mix oatmeal, pumpkin, cinnamon and water together and make sort of a pancake that she can feed to herself. She consistently gets one meal of solids a day and sometimes two or three, depending on her napping and whether she is awake when we are eating. She continues to get most of her nutrition from breastfeeding and is still nursing four to five times a day.

 

Much to my surprise, she just had her first cold a few weeks ago. With older siblings, I assumed they would bring home germs and she would be sick sooner than this. Her first cold wasn’t too bad, basically just a stuffy nose, but a week ago she experienced her first fever. It lasted a few days and the poor thing was miserable. Once she finally bounced back and her happy self returned, we realized just how bad she had been feeling. She is typically quick to smile and giggle, but she didn’t feel like doing much of that while she was sick. Thankfully those laughs and grins have returned and she’s once again a baby on a mission to explore the world around her instead of just wanting to cuddle in her mama’s arms.

 

As for me, I’m happy to report that I’m back within a couple pounds of pre-Adelyn weight. It has been a slow, steady and frustrating journey, but I can now see progress. My core has lost a lot of strength and my stomach is not back to where it was before, but I am fitting into old jeans. That’s motivation to keep moving forward. Since I’m breastfeeding, I haven’t been able to jump back to the strenuous workouts that I’d like. I’ve had to pace myself and remind myself that my baby’s nutrition is more important than a number on the scale. Before long, she will be weaned, I will have no more babies to breastfeed and then I can sweat until my heart’s content without worrying about my milk supply. In the meantime, I need to be patient.

 

I recently wrote a blog post about how I have felt since Adelyn was born. I’ve felt as though I have been continually operating at-capacity, that I’ve been much busier than I had anticipated. Of course I knew that babies take time and attention, but so many had told me that transitioning from one to two kids was more difficult than two to three. What I didn’t account for was how much the older two kids’ school and play activities would impact the baby’s and my own schedules. Before Adelyn was born, the only New Year’s resolution I made was to not make any resolutions or set any goals for her first year of life. Instead of putting pressure on myself to achieve something, I needed to take a deep breath and just focus on getting through my first year as a mom of three kids. I thought I was giving myself a bit of a reprieve. I didn’t realize how consumed I’d be by just the daily tasks for diapering, napping, cooking, cleaning, laundering, and don’t forget a bit of time for working also.

 

There have been moments over these last nine months where I have felt overwhelmed by my task list…a list that pales in comparison to what I used to accomplish in a day or a week. In those moments, I have to remind myself that these days aren’t about checking off items. They are about being interruptible enough that the laundry can wait if Adelyn needs a few extra cuddles. Even in those moments when I feel like all I’ve done that day was manage sleep schedules, I must remind myself that these days are fleeting. Soon enough I won’t have a baby to rock or a toddler who wants me to rub her back as she drifts off to sleep. Sure the floors could stand to be mopped, but that can wait because the reality is that babies don’t. After all, we are three-quarters of the way through Adelyn’s babyhood. I don’t want to miss a moment of the last quarter.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 7 months

This weekend, I was with two of my best friends who both had babies around the same time Adelyn was born. One baby is two months older than her and the other is about four months younger. Seeing them once again reminded me of how quickly things change with babies. The older one was so mobile as he crawled around the room. Adelyn is still rolling to where she wants to go. On the other hand, the younger one was so small, still learning to control his head and not quite social. Adelyn has become a bundle of personality. She loves to smile, giggle and jibber jabber. She’s already quite a storyteller. It made me realize just how much Adelyn has changed in her 7 months of life.

 

A few months ago we were struggling with breastfeeding. One month ago we were dealing with some sleep issues. Now, I’m happy to report that both are going quite well. Since her 6-month growth spurt, she has continued to feed like a champ. For the first time, she acts like she actually wants and likes to eat. It’s such a wonderful change. I’m glad we worked through all those fussy feedings earlier on. It was exhausting and frustrating at times, but now things are going well.

 

We have also worked through her sleep issue where she was waking up 45 minutes after going to bed. With my oldest two starting school, I became adamant about getting Adelyn on a more specific sleep schedule. We also worked on letting her self soothe more. Since doing that, she has been sleeping like a champ. She is sleeping for 12-13 hours at night and then napping twice for a total of 3 to 4 hours. We’ve never had a baby sleep so well at this age. As much as I don’t always like being tied to a schedule, the pay off is definitely worth it. Plus, this is only a temporary stage. Soon enough she will be older and not needing naps at all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first two kids it’s that they never stop growing and changing…even if you ask them not to.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 6 Months

Adelyn hit her six-month growth spurt last week and I have to say, it was great. Her growth spurts have been her best feeding times. In those moments, I’m reminded of what good nursers my first two children were. Adelyn ate like a champ and I swear it seemed like we could hear her growing in her sleep.

 

Speaking of sleep, the growth spurt seemed to disrupt her nights. A week later, we are still trying to get things back in order. She has been a champion sleeper from birth, but since the spurt, she has had problems staying asleep at bedtime. She has gotten into the habit of waking about 45 minutes after going to bed. Then sometimes she’ll wake 45 minutes after that. Some nights, it’s as if she thinks that first sleep cycle was just an evening nap and she’ll struggle to get back to sleep for a couple of hours. We’re trying to figure out her schedule and make adjustments to help her get through this hiccup…let’s hope it’s just a short-term hiccup.

 

Along with the growth spurt, she has started rolling around a lot more and is getting close to sitting up by herself. The girl is a wiggler (just as she was in utero), so she’s still getting the hang of balancing and not throwing herself backwards or belly flopping forwards. I know that once she figures out crawling and walking, the girl is going to just take off. Baby proofing will be even more stressful with two other kids in the house, especially since our oldest has just gotten into Legos. Not to mention we might have to put away the dog toys before she mistakes one for a teething toy.

 

She is already a baby on the go. With our first two, we sort of hibernated for the first year of their lives, but we haven’t been able to do that with Adelyn. From soccer games to hiking and a weekend away in Chicago, Adelyn has been a real trooper snoozing in her stroller at the Museum of Science and Industry or catching a short nap in the Ergo as we hiked through the woods. Thankfully she is portable and pretty easy going.

 

I have to say that I’ve gotten more me-time earlier on with this baby than I did with my first two and I’ve been intentional about making that happen. As a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom, I don’t get out of the house (or my workout clothes) on a regular basis. Whether it’s a solo trip to the grocery store or a late night movie with the ladies, I have tried to take time away to refresh and relax for a bit. Yes, even the grocery store can be relaxing. That’s something my pre-mom self never would’ve understood!

 

 

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 5 Months

Adelyn is five months old today and it seems fitting that one of my best friends just had her second baby yesterday. It has gotten me to thinking about how far we’ve come in just a few months. Adelyn has already started rolling over, smiling and giving us the best belly laughs. She can interact with us (to a certain degree) and we can already see her personality coming out. It was only five months ago that she joined us, yet it seems like she has always been a part of the family.

I am happy to report that I’ve continued working at dropping the pregnancy weight and I’m making progress. I’m within seven pounds of my pre-Adelyn weight. I even completed a 5K a couple of weeks ago. I have run several 5Ks over the years, but there was a certain amount of satisfaction that came with crossing the finish line less than five months post-partum.

Nursing has continued to be up and down. As a whole, things are definitely better. She has fallen into somewhat of a routine of nursing five times a day. I still struggle with thinking she should be eating more frequently, as her siblings did. But her growth is still going strong, so she’s definitely getting the nutrition she needs. She does still fuss until letdown happens, which continues to baffle me. When we give her a bottle, we are sure to use the newborn nipples so she doesn’t receive too much gratification from an easy flow. She doesn’t get a bottle too often, so I would think she would be used to the rhythm of our nursing sessions, but she still puts up a fuss until letdown happens. I still have hope that some day she will be an easier baby to nurse. Some day maybe I’ll get to sit through an entire nursing session from start to finish. Maybe someday I can nurse her in public once again.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 4 Months

I’m going to be completely honest: I’m ready to have my body back. I know I talked about this in my last post, but we’re four months out now and I’m ready for all of this weight and softness to be forever gone. A few weeks ago, we had a family picture taken at my niece’s birthday party. I was horrified when I saw it. I still look four to five months pregnant. Mind you, I had a stomach for a few months after having my first two kiddos, but this time around it seems to be more stubborn, lingering longer than before…or longer than I remember. The good news is that I have started watching what I eat more and I’ve started the TurboFire workout series, plus I’ve been targeting my abs with extra crunches and leg lifts. I know with time and hard work, I will see results. I just hope those results come quickly because I’d like to head to the beach soon…or at least have clothes that fit me again.

It is hard to believe that Adelyn is now four months old. This girl has amazed me in several ways. Her sleep is still pretty good overall. I’d say she is sleeping roughly 16 hours a day. This astonishes me since my first child seemed to be awake for 16 hours a day. She has been generous with her smiles and giggles, and she rolled over for the first time just a few days ago. I was surprised not only by how soon she rolled over, but by the fact that she chose to go from her back to her stomach before she mastered rolling over from stomach to back first. From the time she was in utero, she seemed strong and she continues to be that way.

Breastfeeding has continued to be an up and down battle, but I am happy to report that we are falling into a more positive rhythm as of recent. A few weeks ago, I was frustrated and fed up with how difficult she was to feed. I finally packed her up and went to a breastfeeding clinic. By the time I got there, she was extremely hungry, so much so that she was more interested in crying than she was in latching on. Unfortunately the clinic was a bit busy and no consultant could help me until Adelyn had already finished eating (well, first she screamed for a few minutes, disturbing everyone else’s babies, but with some coaxing she finally settled down). When I explained to the consultant that she was fussing and I was having to walk around with her at every feeding, she had no advice for me other than what I had already tried for myself. I went home discouraged. I started reading “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” by Pamela Druckerman and I was inspired when I learned that French babies feed only four times a day by four months of age. I had been trying to get her to eat six or seven times each day. I thought that was what she needed. Her siblings still fed every two to three hours at her age. So, I resolved to back off and watch her cues better.

She has started feeding generally five times a day and it has been going much better. She might fuss some, while she impatiently awaits letdown (especially in the middle of the night), but that fussing is nothing compared to the screaming she did before. We are making progress and I’ve even been able to sit down during a few feedings. I guess my doctor was right; I just needed to back off and let her tell me when she was hungry. My comparing her to her siblings made me think that surely, she had to be hungry more often than she was. Again, she has shown me that just because she is my third child, it doesn’t mean I have everything figured out.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 3 Months

I am now three-months post-partum. In some ways it is sad to think that three months ago, I felt baby kicks and flips from inside the womb for the last time. I have always enjoyed being pregnant and I admit that I do miss it, not enough to have another baby, but it is sad to think that I won’t experience it again. At the same time, three months ago I was waddling my way up the stairs, out-of-breath when I reached the top and longing for the days when I could once again lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement. And so, as my son practiced soccer in the rain the other night, I had a choice to make. I could sit in the warm, dry comfort of the van and read my book. Or, I could grab my running shoes and go for a run. I chose to run.

 

I have also been enjoying sleeping on my stomach once again. At the end of my pregnancy, I was having a hard time finding a comfortable position to sleep. Now I can stretch out however I wish. Of course the amount of time I get to stay in that position depends on Adelyn. Thankfully she is still sleeping well at night. My husband and I are so grateful that our worst sleeper was our first one, when we were six years younger and didn’t have two others to care for after long, rough nights. We have realized that six years makes a big difference when you are a parent. We feel so much older and more tired now.

 

I know that Adelyn was born just three months ago, but I am struggling with the my post-baby body. Thankfully the weight has been coming off. I gained 40 pounds with my pregnancy and now have lost over 25 pounds. I know that’s good and I should be happy with that, but I cannot wait to have all the weight gone. I have been hiding out in sweats and yoga pants. I dread having to make myself presentable for the public. I have a closet full of clothes and only a handful fit. I am too frugal to go out and purchase a lot of clothes when I hopefully won’t be wearing them for too long. I know they say it takes nine months to put on the weight and you should give yourself nine months to take it off, but with swimsuit season rapidly approaching, I am anxious to get back my pre-baby body. Ironically, I wasn’t all that pleased with my pre-baby body, but I would take it without hesitation right now. After all, I don’t really want to sport workout clothes to the beach.