Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Postpartum Body and Mind

I think it is important to pick up my story shortly after I left off - the delivery room minutes after Baby Vegas was whisked away to the warmer to be cleaned and measured.  I don't think I could properly explain how different I feel after this pregnancy and delivery if I didn't describe my journey post-birth day.  Warning: A few medical details.  Nothing gory, but I do discuss boob-milk.  Your call.


I watched them take Baby Vegas over to the warmer after Hubs cut the cord and the nurse encouraged him to whisper to the baby his full name for the first time, which I thought was kind of sweet.  Then came the hard part where I had to watch everyone coo over the baby while I got fixed up.  My doctor was very efficient and spent a good half-hour putting everything back in its place, and she let me know that the "damage" was not nearly as bad as last time so hopefully I would feel much better faster.  I had figured as much because she had taken much more care with me during labor, encouraging me to take it easy and not rush the baby out.

Watching Hubs and the grandmas hover around the baby while I was being worked on was so hard.  I wanted to grab him out of the warmer and snuggle him more... drink in the first moments of being his mommy.  But another part of me was terrified that during these first moments they would discover something wrong with him they'd missed in all the ultrasounds and tests.  My anxiety was through the roof and I just wanted to hear that everything was going to be fine.  My angel of a nurse stayed with me and kept talking me through the tears and encouraging me the entire time.  I could not have gotten through that first hour without her support.  It was a totally different than the support than Hubs was giving - but he wasn't actually capable of showing me that support.  I wanted that medical opinion, that voice of someone who had delivered dozens of healthy babies assuring me that this was no different than any other delivery and baby.  So even though Hubs would try to come over and reassure me, I kept shooing him back over to the baby and asking the nurse more questions.  I would assume that my nurse's support was something like what a doula or midwife would give, and it makes me want to look into that for future labors - I can't count on being that lucky twice!!

Eventually I got our baby back, and my family and friends all left for the night (err... early morning). I guess sometime during my labor the entire post-partum wing had filled up with mommies and babies, and we got shuffled to the overflow wing.  Worst. Room. Ever.  Instead of the lovely couches and rockers they'd showed us on the tour, we were shoved into a tiny closet of a room with an armchair that had seen better days and a few crappy chairs.  My nurses call button did not connect to the L&D nurse's station because I was in the men's surgery wing, and so it took forever and a phone call for me to even see a nurse.  It was a miserable little room, and poor Hubs woke up in the middle of the night and his back was so contorted from sleeping on the armchair bed that he couldn't even walk.  So here I was, less than 12 hours after giving birth and squeezing over on my bed to make room for Hubby to lay down next to me so he could get a little sleep.  Yeah, someone inform him of how many points I should have earned for THAT one!

We kept the baby in the room with us because I was determined to try breastfeeding.  I wasn't getting him to latch and the lactation consultants weren't at the hospital, so it was really frustrating.  Baby Vegas was so frantic when he'd try to attach that it was alarming to watch, and made me feel like he was starving (Yes, I know he wasn't, but it made me stressed out]. [Sidenote: That is still how he is before he eats, it is just part of his personality.]  We got a pump at the hospital and I decided I would exclusively pump like I had with Little Man.  A little more work, but still the same good antibodies in the boob-juice which is all I cared about.

You're allowed 48 hours after delivery in the hospital per insurance reasons, but by the end of the day we realized that we needed to get home to a real bed and also our Little Man.  So we checked out early and we were home when Baby Vegas was a mere 30 hours old.  We scored 3 packs of diapers, 20 bottles of formula, breast pump supplies, and a couple shirts for the little guy.  Then I got a ton of supplies for aftercare, my favorite being the icy pads - such a lifesaver.  Basically anything not nailed down in the room came home too... seriously, we were a little bitter.

When I got home I felt like I had this huge burst of energy, and was able to walk around and clean up and unpack a little.  Hubs' family came over and we all toasted with champagne (glorious!).  Everything was peachy, til I was late with a dose of my ibuprofen and I thought I would die.  The pain and the cold shakes were awful reminders that I had a baby less than 48 hours ago, and needed to slow down!!  Other than that one bad incident though, I was able to pretty much function as normal. I took medicine for the first week or two very regularly, and then tapered it off.

Pumping went well at first.  I was taking fenugreek, which is an herbal supplement that increases your milk supply.  It really helped me produce plenty of milk, but after three weeks of constant pain from rock-hard engorged breasts and clogged milk ducts I just had to stop taking it.  Pumping round the clock and being in so much boob-pain wasn't working for me.  So one night I skipped a dose, and it was like I had shut off a faucet - I went from getting 12+ ounces at a time to getting less than 2 ounces after a half an hour of pumping.  I was so disappointed that I couldn't maintain a supply on my own, but after several days of trying to bring it back up I decided it was time to stop pumping.  Of course, then my one boob decided it was time to leak constantly for a full day.  I put cabbage leaves on it (weird, I know) and it stopped leaking pretty shortly after that.  Between the daily pumping and what I had saved up in the freezer, we made it to 4 weeks before we switched to formula.  Considering that I'd really only (mentally) committed to 6 weeks, I was alright with the outcome.

As of 5.5 weeks postpartum, I feel like I am at around 95% now, but it really only took me til 3.5 weeks or so to get to this point.  Compared to Little Man's birth, I felt like I was Superwoman being able to walk around and function so well so quickly.  I am already down most of the pregnancy weight, I have only 3 pounds to go.  I have three stretch marks on my belly which I am curious to watch fade since they are fairly obvious from the front.  The only really lingering issues that actually bug me are that I wake up every night so sweaty and gross, which I've never done in my life.  I am really hoping that my hormones settle down soon so that stops happening.  And then secondly I still probably couldn't ride a bike or a horse or a shark... because after a long day of walking around or hiking through the woods I still get twinges of pain.  So there ya go - that's what its like over here in my body today.  Check back soon for a one-month update on Baby Vegas - hopefully I'll finish it before his 2 month birthday!!


  1. Umm...I was able to ride a shark two hours after giving birth what's your excuse?!