Everyone talks about the lack of sleep and how time no longer belongs to you once you’ve had your baby. They talk about their birth experience and it usually involves phrases like, “it was awful”, “you better take the epidural” and “breastfeeding is not for me”… But what they don’t seem to elaborate much on is what you (mom) go through during those first two weeks home as you adjust to this new life. And yes, your life as you knew it before will never be the same. No one told me I would be a different person after giving life to our son. So, here’s a bit of my story– candidly told and UNPASTEURIZED.
The day I gave birth, I went in prepared for natural birth, but ended up with a c-section, which, to be completely and perfectly honest, I was hoping for. We all knew our son would be big because of the sonograms and quite frankly, the risks due to his size were quite large when it came to natural birth. It was Hour 14 after getting induced and I was less than 2 cm dilated when my Doctor walked in and said, “we can continue doing this for the next 24 hours or we can have a c-section at 1 PM”… You better believe I didn’t even think twice about it. It was the best and healthiest choice for both our child and me.
One thing no one ever mentioned to me was how difficult and challenging recovery would be after a c-section. I spent four days following Nate’s birth at the hospital, and while I recovered well and steady, it was by no means a walk in the park. The first few days were definitely the hardest. In my personal experience — and I say personal because it might not be the case with everyone— the getting up and sitting down part was truly the most painful. I had to breathe through the pain, which to me felt like I was getting torched from the inside. It was the worst burning feeling I have ever experienced and that’s the only way I can describe what I felt. It was painful to reach for my own son and I had to slowly move around, though I must say, I never crouched over and I always stood up straight from the moment they removed that catheter and told me to get up. I constantly told myself to push past the pain— for him. I grew stronger each day because I knew my son needed me and since I chose to breastfeed, there was really no other way. I had to just take deep breaths and take it slow. The first 48 hours in the hospital were a blur. I didn’t sleep and I vaguely remember friends and family who visited. I was past the point of exhaustion, but somehow I managed to stay awake and enjoy those wonderful first moments with our son as he melted away in my arms during each and every nursing session. It was love at first sight and it was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Both my husband and I were in complete bliss with our newborn son.
Our first week home was challenging as we embraced our new ‘normal’. The days were long and the nights even longer. I breastfed every 1.5 hours around the clock that first week. Sometimes I cried of how tired I felt deep in the night time… A lovely combination of hormones & exhaustion. It wasn’t easy but it got better. We began to figure out what worked for us and what didn’t and also got better acquainted with our cute new roommate. And just like that, we’re at almost two months postpartum and sleep deprivation is a thing of the (not so distant) past. In fact, it is 6:02 AM right now and I am writing this blog post — wide eyed and bushy tailed. I breastfed and put the baby to sleep about an hour ago. I usually take the time after this feeding to organize my “area” (couch) and prepare for the day by sterilizing all of his bottles and pacifiers, bagging up the dirty diapers from the trash, organizing his bedroom and cleaning any dirty dishes that might be left on the sink from the night before. I used to pump at this time but for the measly ounces that come out, I just rather not.
Nate sleeps for about six hours after his last feeding early evening, in which time I also fall asleep (around 8/9 pm). The key is to rest when you can— however way it works for you. In my case, I just go to sleep early and wake up early (or at least that’s how I’d like to see it). During the day, I get things done and while I might sneak in a 2 or 3 hour nap here and there, I am usually always up to something during the day — even if it’s just relaxing while catching up on Netflix shows or writing in my journal.
So, what are some of the things I’ve learned so far?
- Babies don’t care if the fancy new baby rocker you bought matches your living room… They like the bright, distasteful blast of vibrant colors. I recently purchased a $30 Fisher Price bouncer… And believe me when I say, it was the best money I’ve spent so far!
- I have a newfound respect for women who breastfeed. While it has been extremely demanding, I found a rhythm that works for me. I think once you get past the first three weeks, you begin to see the light. I can see how so many women throw in the towel after those first two weeks — because they really test your limits — but I am here to tell you that if you are considering breastfeeding, stick it out. Even if it hurts and even if you are tired to the point of no return, push through the haze and you’ll see it gets better. All you need is some lanolin cream, raw coconut oil and a little bit (or a lot) of patience! And remember, the right latch makes ALL the difference! But if you choose not to, then that’s OKAY too. Remember, what matters is a happy and healthy baby (and mama), despite how you choose to feed him/her. As long as your baby is fed, that is all that matters. Always remember that, momma, for the sake of your sanity. Formula is perfectly fine too if neither breastfeeding/pumping is your thing.
- And speaking of formula— don’t be afraid to supplement with it. I’ve supplemented Nathan with formula since he was born (given his size). I am (currently) breastfeeding him for 30-40 minutes and then giving him 3 oz of Similac Pro-Sensitive formula every 3-4 throughout the day up until his last feeding at night, where he sleeps til around 4 AM— at which time I only breastfeed him until he falls asleep (on the boob) and then I put him back in his bassinet until morning time, where we do it all over again.
- The Haaka is your best friend. I collect more let down milk on this little manual treasure than my Medela pump manages to extract from my boob. I must say, I am no fan of pumping. In fact, I hate it— quite frankly. Somehow, I only manage to collect less than 3 oz when I pump, yet every time I use the Haaka, it’s no less than 2 oz per boob during each nursing session throughout the day. I’ve tried different flange sizes (because I know that makes a world of a difference) and yet, it still isn’t working out wonderfully for me and the pump.
- The pregnancy pillow has been one of the best purchases since my second trimester! I still use it to this day for comfort and when I am nursing Nate on the couch while catching some flicks on tv. I also sleep with it because it helps ease my back pain. My husband loves it too! He steals it from me from time to time!
- Baby acne and clogged tear ducts are perfectly normal and there’s no reason to freak out— in fact, it goes away on its own after a few short weeks.
- Breastmilk cures everything. Face scratch? Put breastmilk over it. Baby acne? Add Breastmilk! It’s like a free miracle cream that comes on demand and you should totally take full advantage of it!!
- Talking/venting with fellow mom friends (rookie or veteran) will be your salvation. I talk to some of my girls at all Godly hours of the night (3 am) while breastfeeding/pumping because we’re awake doing the same thing with our newborns. It’s nice to feel connected and understood. Because honey, the only one who will ever understand what you are going through is a fellow mother. They’ve been there and they feel your struggle. So, talk to your mom friends! They really do lift you up! Shout out to some of my mom friends which I speak to on almost a regular basis (by Instagram/text)— the babymakers, Diana, Karen, Lucia, Lala, Jessie, Kaylee, Gloria Ordaz, Melissa (all three of you), Yaday, Jess, Jennine and all the other beautiful mama’s that have been there for me (and with me) these past few months! What a superb support group! We should really start a Facebook page lol!
- Teamwork makes the dream work! Your husband’s support is KEY. I am so fortunate that Joey has been so hands on with the baby since the day he was born. He’s up with me, he changes him and from time to time, will take him in the morning just so I can get some extra shut eye. He feeds the baby, burps him and rocks him to sleep. But more than anything, he tells me how ‘sexy’ and beautiful I am every single day. He still holds me and cuddles me and we still find time for each other, despite our crazy new schedules (as new parents). So remember to find time for each other. Remember to steal a passionate kiss from time to time and love each other tenderly.
- Mamá, be kind to your changing body. It’s not what it used to be, but look at your beautiful baby and remind yourself how you hosted a human life for 9+ months in your womb. Remember you gave life and just as this little life took his/her sweet time to grow, it will take some time for your body to heal back to its original form (even if it doesn’t really look as tight as it once did). Love yourself always. Love your body and the new curves and lines that adorn every inch of it.
Self Care Reminder: Mommies, don’t forget to take care of yourselves— and I mean that. Remember to eat, drink water and take your supplements. Remember to moisturize your face and wash your hair. Don’t be afraid to ask for help— in fact, I encourage you to do so. Leave the baby at home with your mom or your husband and step out for a couple of hours every now and then. Go get your nails done, grab Starbucks, do groceries, go to Target— whatever makes your soul happy. You will be so wrapped up in your new life as a mother that you will put your needs aside and while it’s normal to do so, always remember to treat yourself from time to time. You deserve it, dammit!
So, mommy-to-be, as you prepare to leave the house for the hospital, take a good look at yourself in the mirror and soak it all in. Soak in the moment and relish in your surroundings because when you come back home with your newborn baby, nothing will ever be the same. You will never be the same. Neither will your clothes after your leaking boobs have a way with them!! You leave your house as just a woman, but you return as a mother… and darling, that is your best and greatest accomplishment yet!
Until next time!
With love (and leaking boobs),
For a list of my newborn favorites & mommy must-have’s, check out my Amazon storefront page: https://www.amazon.com/shop/jadoreliv