Motherhood // The Postpartum Post

Hello and happy Friday! Long time no blog!
I had every intention of putting up some additional posts over the past few weeks…but it didn’t end up happening. And you know when you haven’t talked to a friend in awhile and then you sort of start to put off talking to them until you have a big chunk of free time because you know when you finally get them on the phone that it will end up being a super long phone call to catch up on everything? That’s kind of what blogging has been like for me lately. I feel like there are a lot of things on my mind that I’d really like to post about, but most of them seem to be these big topics that aren’t the sort of things that I can just sit down and write a quick post about. (And let’s face it, writing a short post isn’t something I’m all that good at in the first place…) And shockingly, I haven’t had a ton of free time to get on the computer since the baby was born! Crazy, I know 🙂

I am hoping to get back to blogging more consistently this month though because I really do miss it! Plus, I feel like there is a lot to catch you up on! So where to start…well first things first, we just got back from our first little family vacation to San Diego! I’ll be sharing more about our trip soon, but in the meantime, you can see some photos of palm trees and Henry decked out for the sunshine on my Instagram (@inthepinkandgreen). In addition to the post I have planned about our trip, I also have quite a few baby-related posts in the works as well (along with hopefully some recipes and book reviews too!). I’ve got so many things I’m excited to post about, it’s just a matter of finding the time. (I actually have a post I’m planning on writing about that, ha!)

But before I post about anything else, today I wanted to share something that I’ve been meaning to talk about for awhile…what life was like for us in those first few weeks after Henry’s birth. According to Wikipedia (which is obviously the authority for all
things), the postpartum period is technically known as the first six weeks after a
baby is born…and Henry will actually be two months old this weekend! (Ahhhh!) It’s hard to believe that we’re out of that initial new newborn stage, and so I didn’t want to blog about anything else before sharing a little about what that time has been like for us.

Whenever I heard people describe the postpartum period before I had the baby, it sounded a pretty bleak to me because everyone seemed to keep emphasizing the same word…SURVIVAL. I knew that sleepless nights would be a given with a newborn initially, but everyone seemed to go on and on about how crazy your emotions are after the baby is born. I was honestly a little nervous for those first few weeks because I just kept hearing how tough they could be. And everyone was right, those first few weeks are hard. Sometimes really, really hard. With your first baby, everything is new, there is so much adjustment, your emotions are running high, and it all seems really intense. But those first few weeks are also really exciting and surreal too. And I feel like in the midst of trying to just “survive”, you really end up making a lot of really special memories too.

So picking up where my birth story left off…Henry was born on a Monday, and we went home from the hospital on Wednesday. On one hand, I was so ready to go home because I was tired of having people coming in our room at all hours of the day to take vitals and ask questions. But I was also slightly nervous to take this fragile little baby out into the world and try to take care of him on our own! My mom was actually with us the day we came home with the hospital because she stayed with us for awhile after he was born. But when we first got home from the hospital, she told us she’d stay in the car for awhile so we could go in the house as a family of three and have some time alone. Looking back, I really appreciate her doing that because bringing Henry into the house for the first time is definitely one of my favorite memories ever. We found out that the offer we put on our house was accepted the same day I found out I was pregnant, and it all just felt meant to be. In the months leading up to Henry’s birth, we moved in, worked to make it a home, and imagined what it would be like having him here with us. So finally bringing our little baby into our house for the first time was such a sweet, sweet moment. Our Christmas tree was set up and I just remember standing there with Cam looking at Henry and feeling so happy. Knowing that this house is where he’ll grow up and take his first steps, combined with the intense hormones I was feeling just after giving birth, oh man, I just started bawling my eyes out. (It makes me tear up just thinking about it now actually!) And then taking him upstairs to show him his nursery, the nursery we worked so hard on for him, the tears just kept coming. I’m pretty sure Henry slept the entire time, but it was a really special memory.

Sleepy mama and baby on our first day home from the hospital

After going through labor, I kind of felt like I got hit by a truck or something. The first few days home I remember still feeling pretty physically sore, particularly in my hips and tail bone. In the hospital, they’re really good about making sure you take
ibuprofen every few hours…but once you get home and you’re trying to
feed the baby and just get through the day, it’s easy to forget about taking it until you realize you’re feeling sore. Not fun. And on top of that, going to
the bathroom after you’ve just had a 9 1/2 lb baby is a little
traumatizing. Sorry if that’s TMI but it’s true. And then on top of trying to recover from this really physically
grueling experience, trying to learn all these new skills like
breastfeeding and changing diapers felt like a lot all at once and it was overwhelming.

Feeling tired but happy 🙂

Cameron was really amazing though and did so much to take care of me, as well as taking care of things
around the house. He changed diapers, held the baby, and was so sweet and encouraging. He was also really diligent about making sure I had healthy food to eat and was
drinking water regularly (both key for breastfeeding!) which was so helpful. He was just so supportive which made things easier, especially in those tough days in the beginning.

Little Henry boy was only a few days old here 🙂

My mom also stayed with us after Henry was born as well; she was supposed to only be there for a few days but she ended up staying for the first two weeks after he was born because we wanted her to stay. Honestly, before the baby was born, I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about her staying with us for an extended amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and we’re really close…but I also enjoy having my own space and tend to get a little tired of having people at our house for more than a few days. But having a baby is a whole different ball game and it ended up being super helpful to have her here! When a baby is so new, it seems like they need to be held constantly and it was so nice to have an extra person besides Cam and I to hold Henry. My mom was a trooper and would stay up and hold the baby in the middle of the night so that Cameron and I could get some sleep in between feedings which was AWESOME. I feel like this was really our saving grace those first two weeks and the only reason we weren’t completely sleep deprived. Plus, I know it meant a lot to her to be there, especially since this is her first grandchild and I’m so thankful she could be there.

So getting back to little Henry boy…in that week he was born, we took him for his first visit to the pediatrician on that Friday. He was really healthy overall, but he had dipped to 10% below his birth weight. He was about 7% below birth weight when we left the hospital on day 3, so the fact that he was still going down was concerning. Plus, my milk was still not in at that point (this was day 5) and so the pediatrician was a little concerned. He suggested that we see a lactation consultant and supplement with a little formula in the meantime. And thanks to those lovely hormones, I freaked out about it. Before Henry was born, I never understood why people got so concerned when their babies would have minor issues like this. Obviously something like this is not life-threatening and in the scheme of things, it’s really not that big of a deal compared to some issues that people have to deal with. But when it’s your new baby? Even something minor seriously feels like the biggest crisis ever. It’s just crazy how much you love this little person and that tends to cloud your ability to think rationally and calm down in those first few weeks.

Despite that initial bump in the road with his weight, I still felt like I was doing pretty good that first week. I managed to shower a few times, put on clothes (ok, nice sweats) and some of Cam’s family came to visit us and see Henry. Cam’s parents were nice enough to keep Lola for us for awhile after the baby was born, and that was a huge help! They did bring her over to meet Henry that first week, but since she loves being over at their house and gets lots of treats and attention there, it worked out well for her to stay with them for a bit. Plus, it was nice to have a little time to get adjusted to having Henry home without feeling like Lola was being neglected. Anyway, that Saturday after he was born, I was feeling really good and so we put the baby in the car, went to Starbucks (we discovered that places that have a drive-thru become super critical with a newborn!), and my mom and I went to a holiday craft fair here in Portland for an hour or so while Cam waited right outside in the car while Henry slept in his car seat. The next day, we went over to celebrate December birthdays with Cam’s family. Being out and about less than a week after having a baby? I was feeling pretty good!

Henry meeting his cousin Lucas for the first time
Less than a week old and ready to head out on the town…or at least the Starbucks drive-thru 🙂
Our little family 🙂
Henry and Lucas are almost exactly three months apart, I love that they’re so close in age!
There are lots of December birthdays in Cam’s family…including Henry now! 🙂

 When Henry was one week old, we went to go see a lactation consultant to get some help with nursing and I left the appointment feeling really encouraged. However, one thing about those first few weeks is that they’re full of ups and downs. Later on that week, we had Henry’s newborn photos taken. (I love how they turned out and can’t wait to share them soon!) Although the shoot went great, I started feeling really tired and ended up getting a fever later on that day. I thought for sure I was coming down with mastitis and I just felt really crummy. Trying to keep nursing round the clock when you’re feeling bad is pretty awful and combined with the fact that I was still really concerned about Henry’s weight, it was pretty rough. To make things worse, one of the not so pleasant postpartum side effects I was experiencing was intense night sweats and having a fever made it way worse. It ended up that I didn’t get mastitis and started feeling better in a few days, but it made me realize that I needed to just chill out and not try to do too much too soon.

One week old (and before I started feeling like crap)

In those first days, in addition to feeling happy, I also remember feeling a lot of frustration too. I was tired and I was spending so much time nursing the baby that I literally didn’t have any time to do anything else. I tend to be a little bit of a control freak about things and it was definitely challenging for me to realize that I needed to let Cam and my mom do things for me if I was going to keep nursing. There were many days where I would snap at Cam over something small, like him folding towels wrong…and then I would feel really bad about being so mean when he was just trying to help and start crying. Those hormones man, they’re intense! And even though we were on this high from having the baby where you feel like you love each other so much more because you just created this beautiful little person, we were also both sleep deprived and trying to figure out these new roles as parents. There were times we’d lose patience and snap at the other person and just generally be pretty irritable with one another. At the same time, there were so many really special moments too, like Cam and I giving him his first real bath, that were just so happy.

My mom tried to be really encouraging during those first weeks and even though I’d get annoyed at her sometimes, I think having her there constantly reassuring us what a great job we were doing subconciously helped a lot. She went back to Michigan after two weeks, but I think having that extra help in the beginning really made a big difference!

When we took Henry for his two week pediatrician appointment, he had gained weight and the doctor said it looked like he was doing great. I was super happy about that, although I still had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right because he seemed to be hungry all the time. But I kept on nursing and we continued to settle into life as a family of three. Cam took time off when Henry was born, and then since it was the holidays he was able to stay home even longer which was so nice! Christmas was fairly low-key this year since he was just over two weeks old at that point but it was also really special to celebrate as a family of three!

I hate hearing him cry, but I have to admit this picture is a little funny now 🙂
Celebrating Christmas at Cam’s parents’ house…Henry was not into pictures, ha!

 The week after Christmas, I had my three week postpartum check up with the midwife and everything was great. While we were in the office, we decided to pop in and see the lactation consultant and weigh Henry, just to make sure he was still gaining weight like he should be. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. From his two week pediatrician appointment a week prior to us weighing him at three weeks, he had only gained half of the amount of weight he should have. I was so upset at the thought that our sweet little baby had really been hungry this past week and it wasn’t just my imagination. The lactation consultant told us she thought that he had a tongue tie that was preventing him from breastfeeding properly and suggested we see an ENT to have it checked out. I was just feeling extremely frustrated with breastfeeding and concerned that our baby wasn’t getting what he needed. I was nursing and pumping constantly and was just so drained. When we called to try to get in to see the ENT, we were told he didn’t have any appointments until mid-January. I knew I couldn’t keep up with nursing and pumping at the rate I was doing it for a few more weeks and just felt really defeated.

However, a few days later the ENT got back to us that he had a cancellation and we were able to get Henry in the day after New Year’s! It felt like an answer to prayer and seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel. It turned out Henry had a tongue tie and a lip tie, but he had them both corrected with a laser right at that appointment and everything went great. But during this whole time period, I was so concerned about making sure Henry was ok and getting his weight gain back on track that I just felt like I wanted to close off from the world a little bit. I thought by this point I’d be more ready to start having friends come over and see the baby, but I really just wanted our little family of three to hibernate at home and not to have to worry about seeing anyone or doing anything. Even though I knew Henry was going to be just fine, until I knew for sure that things were on track with his weight gain, the thought of socializing with friends just seemed exhausting. (Being able to text with my sister-in-law who had just gone through all the challenges of the newborn stage a few months prior, as well as some of my mama friends, was really helpful though) Cam and I were also still getting used to the fact that sometimes with a baby, we might not even be able to do even simple things like running errands on a given day, and that’s OK. Before Henry, we were fairly go go go, and that doesn’t really work with a newborn who gets fussy sometimes. There were definitely some growing pains getting used to the fact that we need to just go with the flow depending on the baby’s schedule, but we learned to adjust.

At the same time, there were lots of small victories and firsts that felt exciting too. Cam went back to work the Monday after New Year’s after almost a month off and I remember feeling pretty accomplished after making it through that first day home on our own. (Although I was really happy when Cam came home at the end of the day!) I also remember feeling really excited about the first time I successfully got Henry in the wrap while Cam was at work. I walked with him up to the coffee shop by our house and it felt really amazing to feel like I was starting to be able to do things again. That same week we checked Henry’s weight to see if things had improved after having his tongue tie corrected and he had gained quite a bit, which was hugely encouraging!

By the time Henry was one month old, I feel like we had already started to settle into a little bit more of a groove with everything. However, Cam found out he had to do some work travel in mid-January and I was a little uneasy about the thought of being home alone with the baby for an extended period of time when he was still so young…and so thankfully, my mom was able to come back out from Michigan and stay with us again 🙂 At this point, I had really only gone out places with the baby when Cam and I were together. He was the one that always loaded the baby in the car seat and took the car seat in and out of the car and so I was a little nervous about doing all that stuff on my own. But I think having him go out of town and having my mom here during that time when Henry was 5-6 weeks old was actually really good for me in a way. It forced me to get more comfortable with taking the baby places in the car, but it was nice that I didn’t have to do it all by myself. The weather was also really great while my mom was here and so we were able to get out quite a bit which was really good practice for me. Having my mom with me helped me feel more confident about being out with the baby (along with nursing in public!) and it was nice to feel like I could finally get out and do things again!

I promise that all my posts aren’t going to be these epic novels from here on out. It’s just I didn’t want to forget some of these little details about those first few weeks because in a way, they already feel so long ago. It seems like time is flying by now and I swear, some days Henry will be sleeping in my arms and it’s almost like I can see him growing before my eyes. So as challenging as those first few weeks were, I really cherish the time Cam and I were able to spend just starting at this little person we created and soaking it in.

The postpartum period can be tough, but it’s so special too. Although there were times when things seemed overwhelming, nothing compares to the sweetness of a newborn. And you honestly don’t realize how fast that time goes until it’s over and you start packing up those newborn clothes 🙂

I’ll be back next week with more posts and Henry’s two month update!


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