Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Other Side of the Tunnel

I feel like a different person now.

I feel like an actual human!!

I think the real turning point was right at the start of the fourth week, right as I was posting my last post. 

Ava doesn't wake up as often at night. She will go 4-6 hour stretches between feedings.Of course that doesn't mean that's the number of hours I'm sleeping because time between feedings starts from when the feeding starts, not when she's done, so part of that time I'm changing her, nursing her, and then rocking her back to sleep. But at least I get to sleep in bed! That has made ALL the difference. Before she got good at sleeping in her rock and play next to the bed, I had to sleep while holding her in the recliner. All I wanted to do was lay down flat. For awhile I had to put a pillow under my feet in bed because it pulled too much on my incision. Then that got better and I was gradually able to sleep on my side with the help of my pregnancy pillow for support. 

TMI alert: I also feel more normal because things are back to normal "down there". I didn't have too much heavy bleeding because with a c section you get suctioned out a bit before they close you up. Who enjoys bleeding for a whole month...and using pads the size of boats?! 

Ava and I are in the zone with breastfeeding. She gets the latch right 99% of the time. Everything has healed up and there's finally no more pain! We really rounded the corner when I realized we had the most success while in the recliner in her room. On the couch I'm thinking she wasn't getting propped up high enough, causing her to have a poor latch. I think she recognizes when we go upstairs in her room - her breathing quickens and she will often smile while I'm getting things ready! I'm getting in a routine with pumping so we have a stash in the freezer. 

I feel like things in the house have a nice rhythm now! I am sorta trying to get her on a schedule by following the eat-play-sleep rhythm. And it's working! She's not as tricky to get to sleep because of the routine and she's starting to know the swaddle means nap time! She's beginning to show signs that she can put herself to sleep without constant rocking. She's been changing so fast in these last 10 days or so!

My incision does not hurt anymore! It was almost as if I woke up one day and it didn't bother me. It's still tender if it's pressed on, but at least I can finally prop Ava up in my lap to hold her and burp her. I'm hoping that soon I can wear regular waistband bottoms on my hips. I don't have many wardrobe options that mind my incision AND are breastfeeding friendly. I am still sporting a little more than half of my tapes - only a few have come off the incision so I can peel them off. 

I'm boxing up my maternity clothes. Such a weird feeling...I truly enjoyed pregnancy and I'm finding I'm kinda bummed it's over! Although it is nice to see and reach my toes again, to put my wedding ring back on (it's gonna be snug getting it back off!), and to fit in more than just my one pair of flip flops!

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I started this post like a week or two ago. And I haven't even been able to get back to it until now! I'm happy to report that I'm feeling really good, and despite the jiggly absence of my lower abs, I pretty much feel like I never had a csection at all! I gained 47 pounds during my pregnancy, and I've lost 40 pounds in 7 weeks!! However, I only fit in two pairs of my jeans, so I clearly have some work to do! I am anxious for this weather to cool it's jets so Ava and I can get to walking!

Until next time!

(Whenever that may be!)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Reality of Being A New Mom

This is gonna be a great post - I can feel it already.

All done during middle of the night feedings while barely conscious, typing with one hand via my app on my phone. 

I hope you will accept my misspellings, grammatical errors, and lack of formatting in this post. 

Because honestly, I'm so sleep deprived that I don't really care about much these days!

I thought I googled a lot of things before becoming a new mommy. Now I think I look up at least one or two things each day, anything from "low-grade fevers during c section recoveries" to "how to survive the newborn stage". What's funny about that last one is that I've asked my mommy friends when this uber stressful stage gets better, and none of them can remember!! They literally don't recall how hard the first several weeks are. It's like it vanished from their brain. 

On one hand, it makes sense because half the time I'm so tired I really don't remember things from 2 hours ago. On the other hand, that's really depressing that your brain has to block out the first few weeks of your child's life! My husband and I have talked about this and we agree: the ability for your brain to forget is the only way families end up with  the desire to have more children. Because right now, things are still very challenging and just the thought of having another baby literally makes me speechless. Like I can't even think of a word. I'm too exhausted. 

Don't mistake my exhausted complaining for me not being happy to have our baby - that is NOT the case at all. Happiness simply ebbs and flows right now. Some days are good, and some are not so good. 

It also gives me hope, hope that I am getting closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, that this really challenging newborn phase is almost over. 

Everyone says parenting is the hardest thing you will do, and that your whole world will be upside down when your little baby arrives. 

I believed every person who told us that. It's just so hard to adjust!

It's hard to adjust to being sliced open to deliver your baby. I obviously don't know what it's like to deliver vaginally, but I am NOT a fan of the c section route. Recovery takes so long, and no one really told us what was "normal" for a c section recovery. So I feel like I google everything! I've never had so many questions in my life!

Oh yes, and while you recover from major surgery, go ahead and adjust to breastfeeding. This keeps your baby alive. I was told in the hospital that Ava had a good latch. So I assumed we were doing it right. Well 2 weeks later, soreness told me I wasn't. Ugh. It's hard to get the hang of it! It was so hard to keep nursing her through the blinding pain. (But things are much better now!)

All though my c section recovery has been pretty good, it still sucks. There are still many ways I cannot hold my baby because my incision is still tender. I can't lift her in the car seat or drive anywhere. I have become a prisoner in my own house! But it's so hard to find a good time to leave with her nursing every 1.5-2 hours. Oh, and she's not a fan of the car seat yet. So that's fun. 

Just yesterday. I let myself sneeze for the first time. It took 4 weeks for that to happen. My belly was just a bit tender. 

I can't wait to not have to wear these granny panties anymore! I'm hoping my incision continues to heal well and waistbands won't be an issue. I can only wear pants that go above my belly button, or loose-waisted maternity bottoms. It's so hard to feel normal...because my new normal is not my old normal. So nothing feels normal! I'm in this inbetween phase where almost everyday is a new adjustment. 

Fortunately, at 4 weeks, our baby no longer seems like such a stranger to us. We recognize her needs more easily and while we are FAR from a schedule, we have some little patterns and routines established. 

I think the worst is behind me with breastfeeding. Fortunately I have a good supply, and I've figured out my baby gets the latch right every time when I sit and feed her in her rocking chair in her room. Kind of a pain, but it sure beats the pain from a bad latch while we lounge on the couch! So less convenient, but it's worth it!

I would like to give a big shout out to the sun. Yes, the sun. Without it rising every day, I would not be able to snap out of my zombie brain. Sunlight is the only way I can start my day. Things are going too well right now for me to add caffeine to the mix...I'd rather be tired than have a fussy baby!

It has taken 4 weeks for me to feel like things are sort of under control.

That's 28 days of frustration, tears, and some days what felt like utter chaos. For any newer first-time moms out there, hang in there! It does get better! And don't fall prey to all that cutsie Facebook crap where all that new parents post are happy posts and photos of them and their new babies. Trust me...behind closed doors, things ain't so peachy!! I had to remind myself of this after seeing so many people having such an "easy time" with their newborns AND their other children...making me feel like a total failure as a mom for not being able to get my crap together as fast as others with babies younger than mine all while caring for their other kids!

I feel like I finally have some days where I'm not in some sort of discomfort. I was able to come off my pain meds pretty easily after the first week and I was off them completely after 2 weeks. Ish. I can't really remember now. From back aches to low-grade fevers to all sorts of breastfeeding pains to headaches from severe lack of sleep...it's not fun to not feel good for weeks. 

This whole experience is so surreal. You spend the entire pregnancy imagining what the first few weeks wil be like. You think you know. And then they hand you your baby at the hospital and send you home after 2 days and you're supposed to know what to do. 

It was an indescribable feeling when they handed me my baby. I did not witness her being born; I was intubated and fully unconscious. My husband wasn't allowed in the OR, so he didn't witness the birth, either. Then they bring you this baby and tell you it's yours...although I knew the moment I laid eyes on her she was ours. 

She's a little beauty! She has changed so fast! We are still anxious to see what color her eyes will be (we are suspecting blue) and learned that her hair curls when wet. She doesn't cry a whole lot, except when she's in her car seat. And she'll fuss a bit in the evenings. She loves to hold her head up and prefers to be held in a sitting up position when awake. She loves to kick her legs and stretch out when laying down. 

She's not really a fan of her swing yet, but she loves to lay in her play gym. She'll take short naps swaddled in her crib, but sleeps best on someone's chest. She will go anywhere from 3-5 hours between feedings at night, but she has to be held to stay asleep during the last part, so very broken sleep for mommy! We spend many nights in the rocking chair. 

We finally got a referral for her to get a renal ultrasound done to look at her kidney. She will be seen at Vanderbilt Children's Hosptal in Nashville. 

I have a one month old! I have survived a month. I hear things get better between 6-8 weeks and even better at 12 weeks when they are done with the "fourth trimester". Looking forward to enjoying this baby some more!