Monday, August 27, 2012

Life Postpartum

There are so many layers to this new normal, and some of those layers have been easier to accept and manage than others. On one hand, Em feels like she’s been part of our family forever. On the other hand, some aspects of being a new mom have been more difficult for me to accept.

I'm pretty sure she's in the running for cutest baby ever.
One of the big variables when you give birth is how long it will take you to heal and feel, well, like yourself again. I will say it again: I lucked out big time with my labor and delivery. I did have some stitches, and I vigilantly took the painkillers provided to me for about a week and a half. At that point, I started taking less and less, until, by about two weeks, I wasn’t taking anything. This isn’t everyone’s experience, but I felt pretty much like my old self at the two, two-and-a-half week, mark. The bathroom routine was no longer a serious production; I no longer needed painkillers; and I felt ready to start getting active beyond daily walks.

By three weeks, I was ready to give a gym workout and running a shot. Now, I’m not insane, and I wanted to be careful to not to convince myself I was ready when I really wasn’t. My first run was less of a run and more of a walk: 30 minutes walking with a handful of 30 second to 1 minute run intervals. I probably ran for five minutes or less. It felt not quite normal, so I kept it short and easy.

I decided to try again yesterday with a little more structure. This time I did 30 minutes, 2 minutes running/3 minutes walking. It felt way better, and my goal now is to get in three 30-minute cardio sessions this week (probably either walk/runs or the elliptical). I don’t want to jump back in too fast.

"I can fit my fist in my mouth."
 Other things I’ve handled decently well: the lack of sleep. Em has consistently given us at least one four-hour stretch at night. This combined with two other two to three hour stretches, and we can easily string together six to eight hours of nighttime sleep. It’s certainly not ideal, but I think it’s pretty decent for a newborn, and I have surprised myself on how I’ve adapted to this schedule.

Things that have gone less well: breastfeeding. As much as I hate to admit it, I sort of bought into the breast versus bottle hysteria. Now I don’t believe in flaming the fires on mommy message boards or breastfeeding/formula feeding articles. People can do whatever they want. And I totally understand that sometimes formula feeding or supplementing with formala is necessary. But, breastfeeding was the only option for us, and I kind of didn’t understand the people who proclaimed that they just weren’t even going to give it a shot.

Let me say this now: I now completely understand why people choose not to breastfeed. It can be difficult. It can be painful. And, it can make you feel like you are nothing more than milk machine for a baby who is feeding nearly every hour for upwards of 30 minutes. In the three and a half weeks of Em’s life, we’ve dealt with the following: bad latch, cracked nipples, Em not gaining enough weight, supplementing with bottles of pumped milk, blocked ducts, clusterfeeding, and, lastly, mastitis. It has felt like it’s been one breastfeeding challenge after another, and this list doesn’t include the feelings and struggle I’ve felt trying to reconcile and accept the loss of freedom that comes with being your baby’s only food source.
Full disclosure: A lot of times, Em looks like this--on the verge of screaming.
The good news is that we have figured out most of these problems. I am on antibiotics for the mastitis. Em’s latch improved and she started gaining plenty of weight. We no longer need to pump and supplement with bottles. Without a doubt, at almost four weeks, it has gotten easier. But, dealing with nursing fatigue, particularly with a baby who always seems to be feeding or crying to be fed, has been a challenge I did not expect. There have been tears--mine and hers.

I guess that feeling really goes beyond breastfeeding. I know it sounds selfish, but I think as much as I was “prepared” for a baby to change my life in huge ways (and not all amazing/fun ways), accepting the new reality of interdependence has been more difficult than I anticipated. If I didn’t have a supportive partner who pushes me out the door everyday to have some time alone or with a friend, I’m not sure how I would manage.

That said, I love our daughter, and it’s amazing to watch her change every single day. It’s just that there are highs and lows, and I’m not a person who can easily fool myself into believing the lows aren’t there. I know as Em gets older, things will shift and something like balance will return. Even days and weeks at this stage can make a difference. I try to remind myself that she'll only this small for a few short months, and I know there will come a time when I look back and miss this.


heidikins said...

I love your honesty here. Hoping things continue to go smoothly on all fronts!

Also? She's a doll!


RhondaLee Quaresma said...

Your incredible! totally inspired and ready to start my own journey…
she is very cute........