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A Reflection of The Newborn Phase: Adjusting to It All

So I went for my first run jog bouncy speed-walk with Ava in the jogging stroller.

It was a rude awakening.

I felt like I had a black hole was where my lower abdominals should have been.

My butt jiggled...out of control.

My legs burned. Probably because of poor form since I could hardly pick my feet up.

It got me thinking...when was the last time I went for a jog??

Probably about this time last year.

Well that certainly doesn't help.

Although I wouldn't exactly call my "run" a success, I know its a step in the right direction. I feel like 10 weeks after your belly is cut open and then you drop 40 pounds, being able to get out and jog at all is a pretty big deal.

As "not fun" as these walk/runs are, I know it will always make me feel better and help me stay active and restore function to my muscles. Plus, Ava is usually content and drifts off to sleep, allowing me to have a much needed mental break. Fresh air and exercise really is the best medicine! And it got me reflecting on these last 11ish weeks.

Birth is such a miraculous thing!

And then you come home with your newborn.

That is miraculous as well...miraculous in that you live to tell about it!!

Tell me how I had an emergency c-section and I only spent 48 hours in the hospital...and I didn't even get offered a wheelchair to the car!! (We loved the labor and delivery staff...the mother and baby nurses? Not so much.)

Walking was an interesting feeling. No more baby in my belly, but in her place was a giant basketball of jello. I felt like a stomping giant, unsure of how to move this new baby less body. It was like someone had taken gravity and rotated it a few degrees. 

So I guess it makes sense that running feels very odd right now. 

I'm just thankful that I have the energy to run at all! I'm getting around 8 hours total of sleep at night, so that's great! But with her short naps and inability to stay awake for more than 1.5 hours at a time, my fuel tank gets emptied quickly!

Here's what a day looked like in that first week (now that I have brainpower, time, and ability to reflect on it):

Feed your baby, which may or may not include any of the following:

-trying to figure out how to sit so little floppy baby can latch best
-use both hands for proper baby/breast positioning 
-look at the clock and record the time and which side baby is eating on
-help baby relatch
-adjust baby so she's not putting pressure on your incision; possibly switch to a different hold (cradle, football)
-wake baby after she falls asleep while eating (tickling toes, rustle the head, undress baby, change diaper, wet washcloth on the back)
-record end time for first side
-burp little floppy baby
-help baby latch on the second side
-adjust baby so you are comfortable 
-potentially wake baby again...
-record end time for that side 
-burp floppy baby again
-apply nipple cream
-put nursing pads in your bra
...and 45 minutes later, you're done feeding your baby! And that's only the first thing you've done since you have been home!!

And you get to do it again in another hour or so. (Round the clock, for the first 2-4 weeks.)

I spent so much time feeding her, and then holding her while she slept that I was barely getting off the couch during the day.

Except to pee. I was so filled with fluids from 9 months of 64 ounces of water a day, plus all the IV fluids from delivery, that I was leaking fluids everywhere. Ok, that sounds gross, but it is true! Going to the bathroom, sweating...those fluids were finding their way out of my body so fast that I'm pretty sure that the first 10-15 pounds I lost was strictly water weight! The first phase of recovery was so sweaty! One day I woke up and felt like I had just broken a week-long fever. And that was the end of the excessive urination and sweating. But I was also so thirsty...all the time...but mainly when I would feed Ava. It was like a reflex - milk lets down, insane thirst sets in! I learned to keep a bottle of water next to me while I nursed. Along with my nipple cream, cooling gel nursing pads (SUCH a lifesaver!!!), regular nursing pads, chapstick, and my collection of medication (percocet, motrin, colace, simethicone, vitamins).

I was also super gassy. During a c-section, your abdomen is cut open and your insides are exposed to air. Once you are closed up, a lot of air is trapped inside. I had pains in my back and shoulder - the nurse said it was pain from trapped gas! Some gets absorbed into the body and exits like you normally pass gas, and the rest migrates up your body, causing pain. So crazy! So I was on simethicone to help with that. So I was passing gas. all. the. time.

It was ridiculous. I was glad for the privacy after we got home - I needed it to walk around in my underwear, go unshowered, have my boobs out, and FART. I felt like a real beauty queen!

Speaking of may as well buy underwear like 4 sizes up from your normal size. I didn't realize how much I had swelled in my last few weeks of pregnancy. My weight gain had plateaued, but I'm pretty sure I was retaining water. After I showered for the first time after delivery, I noticed stretch marks on my sides. Where did those come from?? I'm pretty sure I got them from the last few hours before Ava was delivered...I definitely didn't have them the last time I showered! I'm thinking the IV fluids were enough to stretch my skin over the edge. 

I took some mesh underwear from the hospital and continued to wear those for the first week at home. Then I tried to put on the underwear I bought for postpartum...and they were too small!!! Kind of depressing. So buy them wayyy up there. The looser, the more comfortable, especially for c-section recoveries! But here's what got me're gonna laugh...


That's right, I said it. And I wore them proudly. 

The husband texted me while he was out getting groceries and jokingly asked if I wanted some. I texted back "YES!!!!!!" and he asked if I was serious! I was so serious.

They were a perfect solution! Elastic everywhere, nice and large, went WAY over my incision so there was no rubbing, perfectly absorbent (and no leaking to worry about), and disposable! Best decision ever. 

So between keeping track of what Ava needed, and keeping track of my healing and taking meds on time, I had to remember to eat. There literally wasn't time for me to think about it. I am so so so thankful I had the freezer meals...I'm not sure how we would have survived without them!!

As soon as Ava was asleep, I could choose between one of three things to do. Eat, shower, or sleep. 

I usually picked eat. I had to make that a priority to make sure Ava got what she needed.

I was sleeping on the couch for the first couple of nights since it reclined and that worked best for my incision. But I really wanted to be in bed, so I took a few minutes each night to climb the stairs and get in bed. I had to do everything super slow, and I had to have help. Each time Ava woke up, Chris had to help me out of bed. Fortunately, by the time he had to go back to work (10 days after her birth) I was able to get my elbow underneath me and roll to my side and then I could get out of bed by myself.

I became so tired I usually had no idea what day of the week it was. I remember wanting to start pumping, but each time I would go to do it I would just stare at the unassembled pump and parts and I would end up walking away because I had zero energy or focus or brainpower to figure it out. Thankfully the husband figured it all out for me and even washed the parts and stored the milk after I was done. (It was a great way for him to help!!)

So many nights I would wake up in the dark in the recliner in her room, my chin had fallen to my chest, and Ava was peacefully sleeping in my arms. I couldn't get up to lay her down before I fell asleep too. So I spent a lot of hours in that chair. There were a few weeks where she would only sleep for that long while being held. I'm so glad we are past that! It was rough to not be able to get good sleep in a bed. Ava gradually slept for longer stretches at night, and was getting better at being able to sleep in the rock and play next to the bed. When I'd get her to bed at night (anywhere between 9:30 and 11) it was like a mad dash for me to hurry up and sleep. I usually managed to shower before her bedtime, but I didn't have much time between her feedings. Ava never really has been a long napper - unless she is being held. So her feedings come around very quickly!

Ava slept in the room with us for the first few weeks. It's wake up at every rustle of the blanket and every audible sound that escapes from their mouth, no matter how quiet! She was swaddled, and the combination of her moving her arms and sliding down in the rock and play made her blankets come up onto her face, which made me so nervous. Of course, I would wake up at her movements, so her face was never covered without me waking up and noticing, but it was really bugging me. I knew I needed to get more uninterrupted sleep, and she needed to lay flat to prevent the blankets from creeping up her face. So I knew it was time for her to sleep in her crib. We started having her take naps in her crib so I could practice getting used to her sleeping in another room and to see what I could hear and see over the baby monitor. A day or two later I was ready for her to transition to the crib at night! Things went well - I didn't get a whole lot of sleep the first night because my eyes would flash open to check the monitor a lot. And I went to her as soon as she stirred. I later learned that I needed to wait until she was for sure awake and moving around - she wound up falling asleep while I was trying to nurse her if I didn't. 

Me waiting longer and longer to go to her when she woke up (she didn't cry when she woke in the night) was the best thing I taught myself to do...this led to her only waking twice to eat...and now she only wakes once at night...and now she has been consistently falling asleep between 9 and 9:45 and won't wake to eat until 5!!! So awesome!! But it took her about 9 or 10 weeks to get to that point. And that brings me to her dinky little naps...I'm hoping that here in a few weeks she will do better at taking longer naps! She currently naps for only 30-45 minutes, tops, no matter where she's sleeping (except for daddy's chest - she could sleep all day there!). So...she has to be napped about 6 times a day and eats every 2 hours. Kind of exhausting! But, she sleeps through the I'm trying not to complain!!

It feels nice to be able to have reached a point where I can really enjoy having a baby to care for, instead of being super exhausted, stressed, scared, and worried. My emotions didn't settle down for several weeks. I felt like I had fully recovered at 4 weeks - my emotions were more in check and I noticed a sudden improvement in incision and belly tenderness. I was feeling more normal! 

Some days are definitely still stressful, still scary, and still make me tired, but those feelings are less dominant now. I can feel I am much more relaxed. The first week or so I would feel really anxious and tearful every evening between 7 and 9. It was like clockwork. I couldn't seem to shake it. I think everything was just so overwhelming and my hormones were trying to get back to normal and that was how it all worked out. Here's my tip for that: go outside. Regardless of the weather - even if it means opening the garage door and standing in the garage to catch a breeze...even if your baby is crying in your arms...just do it. Fresh air is good for the both of you. And remember, a week from now things will be much different, and probably for the better. And it is SO normal to feel so not normal! Be sure to reach out to people to help, even if it's just someone to cry your hormones out to! I was taken aback at how everyone talks about how hard it is to have a newborn, but once it is you going through it, it seems so much harder and confusing and scary. There were nights where I was in the midst of my tearful hours and I literally didn't know what to do for my baby or for myself. I am glad for Facebook - I was able to reach out to mommies for help and advice whose phone numbers I didn't have.

So in summary, to prepare for a new baby and postpartum-ness, here's what you really need:

-Depends. Just go get them. You'll be surprised that you will want to wear them.

-Cooling gel nursing pads. They help take the sting away. Buy a couple of boxes.

-Freezer meals!!! Or schedule people to bring you dinner. And lunch. And snacks.

-NIPPLE CREAM. I used motherlove because it's organic, but I'm sure any kind will do.

-Lots of toilet paper and tissues. You will use the crap out of both. (no pun intended...because you will be constipated, haha)

-A basket next to you at all times for water, meds, nursing accessories, and a little notebook and pen to track feedings and your medications. I went old-school - I preferred this over using an app so the husband could write things down too. That was another one of his jobs in that first week or two - he kept me on track with my medications and wrote down her feedings and diapers.

-Someone to clean up your house. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have help with this - it was beginning to bother me how dirty the house was getting, but cleaning was nowhere on my list of priorities. It was so nice to have that off my mind when family and friends would voluntarily clean!!

...and don't worry too much about painkillers and breastfeeding. I was on a morphine drip for about 36 hours and I was also on Percocet for about 2 weeks. I was worried about the affects it might have on Ava, but I quickly rationalized with myself: if I am in pain and am not recovering well, I cannot be helpful to anyone. I needed to be comfortable in order to be a good mommy. And that was that.


And there's probably more things about those first few exhausting, joyous, confusing weeks that I've already forgotten. 

Like backaches from the shifted weight of carrying baby in your belly to carrying baby in your arms. :)

Til next time!!


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