We’ve all heard the stories, nightmares about labor and deliveries, emergency c-sections, pregnancy cravings. But how about what happens after you have the baby? The minute your nurse say’s you’re free to go anytime is the minute the panic sets in, and you don’t want to leave.
When we took a walk to climb into our car and drive away with our baby forever, my emotions were sky-high. It is one of the most unusual and scariest times in your life. These feelings are nothing out of the ordinary, but no one talks about those first few days and weeks of being home with a newborn. What does he sleep in, is the baby cold, how do I burp him, so many doubts, and what-ifs!
What I wish I had known is everything, but that is quite impossible. Ironically I researched the crap out of labor and being pregnant the thought never crossed my mind to think about what comes after all of this! And honestly, some of these things you need to learn on your own and some will be part of my story and not your’s so take them for what you want.
But, I can now say that after going through two weeks of this adventure, I knew I had to write about it. Write it down for all the women who like me had no idea of the storm that was waiting to break. And write it to assure you that you can do it. You will do it. Your doubts will be severe. You will love so fierce it is unlike anything you will comprehend.
And if you need support message me. I am here for you. Here to talk to reassure you that this all is a snippet of time. After the storm, there is a calm that will settle over you and then you will look back and forget all of it ever happened. I told John I couldn’t do it at 2 am the first night we were home, and he grabbed me by my shoulders and said yes you could. You were born to do this Tam. I needed to hear that. Game on!
- When you leave the hospital, you will look six months pregnant. The photo above I took at nine days postpartum. This secret is true for just about everyone who has carried a baby for nine months, and you will hate it. The body took a long time to get this way, so it needs time to undo the house that you so carefully crafted for that sleeping baby. Find loose-fitting clothes, black is a good idea during this time, and know that you have to be kind to your body. I had a tough time dealing with this. I was hoping not to look and feel as pregnant still, but I do. I had quite a few meltdowns post hospital. Managing the incision following my c-section, the blood, the sore chest, and the belly were all a lot to sort through. Every day my stomach looks different, and I know it is just part of the deal. I did not prepare for this enough, my hospital bag filled and ready, but I was not mentally prepared for this phase. I just received these C-Section and Postpartum Recovery Undies and today is the first day I am trying them out. I feel as if I needed time for everything to heal a little more before popping them on but I do like the support and the way they hold everything in nice and tight! My nurse told me to also wait a bit before wearing them and once I was able to remove the bandage and heal a bit the time felt great!
- Breastfeeding is HARD. No breastfeeding is HELL. I think we all see those images at the hospital and online of sweet bald babies curled up gently breastfeeding with mom and think OH! That looks awesome. Breastfeeding is a beast and a hell all on its own. Sure some women are lucky to have the baby latch and start feeding right away, but for most, that’s not the case. Our story was a bit shaky, and I am emotional just writing the words on this screen because the entire process shook me to my core. The first few hours in recovery Leo latched on right away, and he seemed to be doing good. A big healthy baby feeding after two hours of being in the world. We had it made! But, things started to take a rapid turn later that afternoon, and he stopped latching and started losing weight at a fast pace, and I went into panic mode. We tried kangaroo feeding with a tube where we would hold him up to my chest and use a finger in his mouth with a feeding tube filled with donor milk. I was sobbing, and the three days we spent in the hospital were as close to my version of hell as I would ever like to get. I was so panicked when he stopped gaining weight, and I thought it was all my fault. They brought in a pump for me to start trying at three am on our second night in the hospital. I cried the whole way through it. The minute we got home I ditched the syringes and tubes and started pumping every three hours. We had a nurse show up to check on him and me the day after we came back home. I was so worried about him that I failed to recognize I was so engorged she and John spent two hours pushing and pulling on my chest, so I didn’t have to go to the Emergency Room. I stood in the shower sobbing for about thirty minutes. These are the things that go on that most people do not talk about and I wish they would. The reality is my Instagram is a beautifully curated collection of images, and I want it to be that way, but there is a lot that I also want to share so other’s unlike me, can be more prepared. I prayed my heart out about this whole thing. I called the nurse who had been at our house and said I was giving it up. I did not want to spend the next six months stuck in a dark room tied up to a pump and miss seeing my son’s face and hear his little sounds. She said tell John to go and get a nipple shield and see if he latches. My breasts were so full of milk he would not take to them any longer. They felt big and different, and I have an oversupply of milk, so I need to feed him regularly about every two hours otherwise I am sitting tied to my pump. Once my body and he started working together we are now in a rhythm that works. It was a nightmare those first few days. Just thinking about them brings tears streaming down my face. I was dreading our one week check up because of his weight loss, but he is back on track and eating like a champ and gaining weight. I have never doubted myself more. The nipple shield I use is a dream, and I have about six scattered around the house. I wish someone had told me about these those first few days in the hospital. I feel as if that nurse was a godsend. I call her our little angel because she changed our course for the best. Also, this is way too much information, but when I am nursing on one side the other side wants to party as well, so I find that I am soaking a breast pad or Leo with my milk, I had forgotten about the handheld pump I had and let me tell you it is a dream! I pop it on while I am feeding him and it captures up to two or more ounces while I am feeding and all of that would have just gone into a pad and the wash entirely wasted. I write all of this not because I like being so personal but to hopefully help someone else who might be struggling with this very same situation. So a friend or a fellow mom or daughter might hear this and find comfort in the imperfect journey that is breastfeeding.
- You will have the craziest emotions you have ever experienced. I knew this would be an emotional time because I am a sensitive person. I am the girl that cries at the Super Bowl commercials. But having a baby will rock your emotions and send them spiraling into outer space. It is an out of this world feeling. Like you almost feel as if you leave your body and are floating above it. How is this little tiny person that was just hours before nestled so warmly inside of me now lying in my arms? How am I going to protect you, feed you, dress you, change you, and manage everything else on top of it all? You will and somehow the time will fly by and the days and nights will all blend into one, and you will look back on those sleepless two weeks and say out loud, “Wow. We can do this.” I cry every day and multiple times a day; it is normal and okay, do not beat yourself up. Most of the time it is tears of joy and just feeling complete.
- Do whatever makes you feel like you again. I would have moments of just thinking too far ahead, and after a visit to my doctor, she said, “Take it slow. Do whatever you need to do to feel like you again. Get a coffee, get your nails done, take a hot shower, take your time and do whatever it is that makes you feel normal.” There is a lot of talk about depression, and I can see how that can quickly start to creep in and take over, but do not let it. I showered every day even with my c-section, and I put on real clothes and makeup, and it helped more than anything else. I also went to get a blow-out, and it made me feel like someone breathed life inside of me after all we had experienced. I am so grateful for this advice because there is no guilt about feeling good no matter how or when that may come.
- Welcome anyone who wants to help but be cautious about entertaining. My doctor told me to accept family and any help they offer. We could not have managed the last two weeks without them, and I say this with emphasis, take it. I am beyond independent but with my incision bending down was not an option nor was lifting anything over twenty pounds. The dogs would stare at me and the baby crying, and then I was crying, and it was all a mess. My mom stayed to help with everything from laundry; grocery store runs, shopping, helping us figure out what he should wear at night, helping me store my milk, clean all the products (load up on soap all you do is sanitize), cook dinner, it was beyond anything we could have asked for during this time. So put the pride away and allow the help. You will be so happy you did! My doctor also said this is not the time to be entertaining and she was right. A quick visit with people was just too much on both of us. The energy we needed to get through the day was lost in conversation and telling the birth story over and over was just too much for me emotionally. It is hard to say no but trust me there is plenty of time to entertain and introduce baby to the world. You will know when the time is right. We are two weeks in, and I am just now starting to feel up to it but keeping the conversations and time short.
- Set small goals for yourself and baby. I like to do a lot all the time, opening up my emails and trying to get back to regular life was all too much. I told myself over the last few weeks that I was not going to work and soak up this time, and of course, everyone wants something now. My auto-response does not seem to warrant much sympathy either. I had three significant collaborations before we went into labor and all still open-ended. I just felt so guilty not responding and making those negotiations final. I run every part of the blog on my own, so it is up to me to keep it moving and grooving no matter the timing. I took two business calls and hung up in tears feeling overwhelmed and questioning how I was ever going to keep up again. I heard my doctor’s voice ringing loud in my head, “take it hour by hour.” I shut the laptop, and we went for a small outing. Staying close to the house but just thirty minutes of being outside in the fresh outdoors made me feel normal. Set a modest goal for you and the baby and crush it! Our goal is to leave the house once a day. I have yet to go with just Leo; I am unable to drive just again but looking forward to that small hurdle next.
- Amazon is your best friend. I live for Amazon mostly because of the free shipping and the ease of adding items to my cart at every hour of the day and night. Funny how three am seems to be the time I remember that random cleaning product we need and start shopping in the wee hours of the morning. We have probably required at least one thing every day. Sounds crazy to admit to, but we just went through an entire box of newborn diapers and thanks to Amazon the replacements are already on their way to us! I am sharing a few of the items we are very into in clickable images below. Items we could not have lived without over the last few days! Hope this is helpful to all you new or soon to be mommies!
My overall takeaway is giving yourself grace. I am happy to say that this is my word for 2018 and God put it on my heart for a reason. It is the one word that I long to know inside and out, and this season of life feels most appropriate for it.
We decided to start a little YouTube channel where we will upload content about our family. My husband is super talented when it comes to a camera and video making, and he also happens to be hysterical so he will lift your spirits no matter the day. I am popping the link to our birth story here, caution it is emotional and sort of graphic! But feel free to watch and follow along with us if you are up for some fun and what is guaranteed hilarious content!