Real Talk: Recovering From Birth

The thought of birth and the delivery process is a lot to take in. Your lady bits are going to do something pretty amazing, like pushing out a tiny human being, but in order to do that you’ll be pushing (quite literally) yourself with every fiber of your being leaving your body exhausted, swollen, and in pain. Luckily the care you’ll receive by your doctor(s) and nurses are on point and will make this transition from delivery to recovery much easier.

Me on day 2 after delivery. Exhausted and in pain – but so worth it.

I will preface this post with the fact that there will be pretty gnarly details of birth/recovery but in the efforts to shed light on the things no one told me or talked about in what to expect after you greet your little one.

I also would like to mention that every birthing and recovering experience is different and I am only sharing my own. I had a vaginal delivery, epidural, gave birth in a ‘baby friendly’ hospital, and had an episiotomy. My son had a vacuum assist (which failed) and my entire labor from start to finish was around the 15-16 hour mark with three of those hours just trying to get my large-headed baby to crown. However, despite how your labor and delivery goes, in most cases, women experience similar discomforts during their recovery.

Here are just a few things you may expect…

Right after my epidural kicked in and was able to rest a bit…

IN THE HOSPITAL

Right after delivery the nurses did their tests and footprints and such with Greyson and were eager to get us wheeled up to our room and for us to get settled in. Since I had an epidural walking was going to take some time to regain control of so they kept me in a wheelchair and placed me in my bed. I continued to be hooked up to Pitocin for a few hours (you can see the IV in my arm still) so that my uterus stayed contracted, which helped keep me from hemorrhaging (it’s routine). The nurses would also check on me regularly and push on my stomach to ensure everything was normal and looking/feeling good (even though the last thing I wanted was someone pushing down on me).

Holding my baby mere minutes after birth and settled into our private room.

I was required to have a nurse assist me in using the restroom the first three times before I was allowed to go on my own. Sitting up was painful, trying to get to my feet was painful, walking was difficult, and attempting to sit down on the toilet just to stand back up and make that march back to my bed was daunting. However, over time it got easier – just keep drinking the hospital Big Gulp sized water cup and peeing won’t be as scary.

Your nurses will also show you how to care for the lady bits that just got hit by a Mack truck so don’t hesitate to ask questions. There were a lot of “is this normal?” or “what should I do when…”. Each time they were happy to assist me and walk me through what I would soon be doing on my own in a few days time. My hospital provided ice packs for the first few days then recommended warmth for the rest of my recovery. Be sure to ask your nurse for anything else you may think will help you feel comfortable while at home.

AT HOME

Every labor, delivery, and recovery ranges from woman to woman. However, most women experience similar discomforts after childbirth and here are a few of my favorite items that helped me deal with the pain and soreness.

Stool Softeners: These are largely overlooked and will come in handy especially as your first official poop after baby will be the scariest thought ever and yes, it will be painful. These guys will help not only ease your mind, but you know, your poops too. I would highly recommend these especially if you had an episiotomy. Just breathe through it and I even found comfort in leaning to one side while trying to #2. Also, it will probably take you a few days before you even feel like pooping (ranks under the “it’s normal” since labor slows down your digestive tract).

*Keep in mind the foods you eat too when back at home. Think about eating and drinking foods/beverages that will be easy to digest and expel when the time comes. 

Dermoplast Spray: This was provided by my hospital or at the very least it was stolen from my hospital when I was discharged. Your nurses should help you that first day with your dressings and how to use the bathroom and this spray really helped calm the burning sensation I experienced down there. This also helped me for my perineum and the episiotomy stitches I had during delivery.

Peri Bottle: Again, this is amongst your care package when you leave the hospital and you will use it all the time at home. After birth and during recovery you will not be wiping when going to the bathroom. Instead you’ll fill this bottle with WARM (not hot) water and spray to clean yourself – and it will be the best feeling to hit your lady bits in a while.

*Plus, when you’re done with it – clean it thoroughly – and hold onto it as it can come in handy for pretty much anything you need a squirt bottle for. I use it to keep Greyson’s wipes moistened while in the wipe warmer since I noticed they would dry out if not used right away.

Preparation H Wipes: This may be an optional item, and I’ve seen a lot of people opt for witch hazel instead, but these were also provided for me at my hospital and these PH Wipes have witch hazel on them so win, win. My nurse showed me to use them by laying them on my pads so when I wore my fashionable dressings and sat down there was a cooling feeling and it helped ease the pain.

Always Maxi Pads (overnight w/ wings): My sister recommended these and I am thankful for it because the wings help keep the pads in place and the overnights were thicker so I felt protected. You’ll be bleeding for a fews days if not weeks so it’s important to have a pad that has complete protection against leaks.

*It is a general suggestion to hoard the pads the hospital gives you since they tend to be quite expensive on the outside. So, always assume to take whatever the hospital can give you plenty of and place them in your take-home bag. Nurses also change shift every 8-12 hours so as you get a new nurse ask for more stuff! They pretty much know you’re hoarding them anyways…

Mesh Underwear: These are amazing and there’s a reason they’ve been in use for recovering mothers for centuries. Okay, not centuries but for a pretty long time. You don’t have to worry about messing them (and you will those first few nights) because you can throw them away. You can buy these online but again, ask your nurses for plenty to take home.

*Once you graduate from the mesh underwear I suggest high brief cotton panties (I used Hanes) so that you can still wear your dressings and the feeling of anything high waisted at this point feels like you’re keeping everything tucked in, which is nice too.

Waterproof Pads: These bad boys are for your bed when you first come home. I had them in my hospital room and they came in handy to keep your bed clean from blood or other fluids. I just took mine from the hospital since they changed them out regularly.

Motrin: I took Motrin every 8 hours on the hour due to the soreness and pain I felt after delivery. They kicked in pretty quickly and allowed me to get comfortable enough to sit up, move around, and sleep a little. So, if your nurse asks you your pain level and it’s anything over a 5 I suggest Motrin. Besides, it’s also safe for breastfeeding.

Maternity Leggings: Ladies, don’t be quick to throw those out just yet. Not only do you have a significant bump still, you’ll love these for the first few weeks/months in recovery because they allow you to wear pants and keep everything snug. I lived in mine for many months after.

MORE TIPS

+ Where did I keep all this stuff? I took an old shoebox and filled them with all my necessary items and kept it on the back of the toilet tank. If you have a small table or ledge that is in front of your toilet or at sitting level I recommend putting your dressings there because you’ll be very sore and it’s much easier to reach in front of you versus behind.

+ Also, make your new dressing before sitting down. That way it’s all ready to go when you’re done and you’re not left hovering in pain to set it up.

+ You’ll need privacy during your recovery so I recommend keeping visitors to a minimum and definitely don’t allow family to stay with you during this time. You’re in pain and feel like a stuffed animal for the first few weeks – and then there’s the whole breastfeeding and caring for your newborn thing going on too.

Top Picks: Surviving Newborns  What A Week of Motherhood Has Taught Me

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Making Your Own Baby Food

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

It’s easier than you’d think!

My husband and I both knew pretty early on that when Greyson was ready to begin discovering and eating solid foods we wanted to prepare them ourselves. With the food industry the way it is, leaving foods often unregulated in its preparation, it was important for us that he be introduced to wholesome healthy fruits and veggies versus the store-bought packets or jars.

Now, realistically speaking I was worried that our good intentions would be flanked by having little time to prepare our own baby food considering, you know, taking care of a baby – but thankfully that couldn’t have been further from the truth. All we needed was a few inexpensive materials such as Ziploc baggies, cheap ice cube trays, a blender, and some time carved out for steaming and puree the fruits and vegetables of our choosing.

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

To start making your own baby food, simply pick out your favorite fruits and veggies that you would like to introduce to your baby. Greyson is still in stage 1 of solid foods, which just means he’s limited to simple veggies (orange & green) and fruits that are puréed smooth.

Going to your local farmers market is also a guaranteed way to provide farm fresh produce and veggies for your family and there’s often a wide variety of what’s in season that you can’t find in stores. However, we always shop at Trader Joe’s and I’ve always been happy with their selection of fresh and seasonal produce/veggies.

OUR FAVORITE PUREES:

Peas – Broccoli – Sweet Potato – Butternut Squash – Carrot – Peach
Breakfast Medley: oats (made with breastmilk), blueberries, raspberries, & bananas puréed altogether.

Prepare your foods by steaming them or roasting in the oven. Then, using a blender (or a Nutri-Bullet like me) blend your fruits or veggies until smooth and there’s no chunks. Add water or even breastmilk as needed or until desired consistency is reached.

Using your cheap ice cub trays, spoon into molds until full. (We use these trays from Target for only $1.99). This is about one full serving for baby and is the perfect amount. Pop into the freezer for 2-3 hours so they firm up then place them in a Ziploc or other freezer-safe bags, label, and you’re good to go!

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

When you’re ready to serve simply take out a cube of whatever you’d like to feed to baby and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. I like freezing the foods separately then mix and match once thawed. That way you get more options out of each set of veggies/fruits and you can change it up as often as you’d like or as your baby’s tastes change.

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.
Homemade carrot puree.

We’ve been making our own baby food this way for about two weeks now and it has made introducing new foods to our son so much easier and less of a hassle! I love being able to put just a little effort in the beginning and in the end having enough food to last us a few months by freezing them into the cubes. I also love mixing the different flavors and seeing what Greyson enjoys eating as well as changing it up when he doesn’t seem to like certain flavors (like peas!).

Making your own fresh baby food is inexpensive and super easy! Follow these easy steps and take the guessing out of what you’re feeding to your baby.

Do you have any other baby food suggestions for Greyson and I? What foods does your infant just love to gobble up?

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Precious Moments

Having the opportunity to stay home with my son (hopefully until he begins school) is something I will cherish forever. I am thankful for this time away from work so I can bear witness to how my son will blossom over these next few years. Although some days range from difficult to amazingly easy I know that these days are just a snapshot in time compared to the rest of our lives together and beyond. He has taught me so much even within the four months he’s been home with us. I have found strength where I didn’t know it existed and I am forever grateful for these lessons.

As Greyson continues to grow it’s important for me to capture these moments in photographs so that I will always have a little piece of him as he is little to hold onto. I know he’ll only be this little once and my plan is to document it all – and learn a little photography in the process!

Here are just a few snapshots I took the other day of my little man.

Camera: Canon Rebel XTi

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The Mom Without A Village

When my husband and I first became pregnant with our son we were simply beside ourselves. Just three months prior we were surprised to find out that we were pregnant the first time and unfortunately at 5 weeks I had lost the pregnancy. Then, after some time and the realization that we were ready to make that leap into parenthood we were officially on the path to trying to conceive (TTC to all those baby message board friends). No matter when one loses a pregnancy it takes a hard toll on your mind, body, and soul, and although we weathered that storm I found strength through my faith and marriage, which made us that much more determined to welcome this little baby into our family. Fast forward to today and baby Greyson has enriched our lives in so many ways within the few months he’s been with us.

When deciding to have a baby there’s a lot to consider and spending 9 months to prepare yourself for what life would cease to be like in exchange for a new normal is a lot to take in. For example, we had only been living in CA for about a year and a half before getting pregnant and were enjoying the opportunities to travel, wine taste, and pretty much do all the things we felt like like easily spending a few hundred dollars on ourselves or a good meal out. Not to mention I had started a new job as did my husband and a baby wasn’t so much in the plan. Then as life would have it, one pregnancy test later and we were on the journey that would bring us to where we are today and that’s (still) figuring this whole parenting business out.

All while without a village to rely on. But do we really need one?

A Mom Without A Village

New moms are told from the very beginning by society, and preconceived notions, that they NEED a village in order to raise their children. A notion that equates us to chickens with our heads cut off until an older and wiser adult comes along to guide us into proper parenting. It’s a perception that family and friends should descend upon your home with favors of cleaning, cooking, and watching the baby while you slept. Although we had friendly neighbors to help us with many of those things, my husband and I had to figure out most of those first few weeks and months on our own due to our families living so far away.

Was I sleep deprived and delirious those first few days home with the baby? Yes. Was my husband also attempting to figure this whole newborn thing out with me while continuing to work? Yes. Did we learn to stagger sleep schedules just so one of us could have enough energy to lift just one eyelid to change a diaper at 2am? Without a doubt. But we made it; we survived and I personally feel more accomplished as a new mom that we figured it out on our own not simply because we are super parents or looking for praise but because we had to.

Since becoming a mother for the first time I have found a purpose I never knew before. I have found confidence and unwavering patience due to the struggles I’ve faced on those tough days. I have learned a new role and dynamic within my marriage that wouldn’t have existed should Greyson had not come along. These are the mommy milestones that are overlooked when becoming a new parent – and I can say that I wear it proudly even in the face of not having a traditional village to help guide me.

Philip’s parents had stayed with us from birth up until a few weeks after Greyson came home. They helped (and continue to) financially with all the preparations for baby as well as providing groceries and taking care of our dog while we were at the hospital. I am grateful for them during such a transitional time, but they eventually went home – leaving us to continue figuring this whole parenting thing out ourselves. It continued to be hard, tiring, frustrating, but immensely joyful and exciting all at the same time.

Eventually us mothers must figure this out for ourselves and no amount of assistance can do that for us.

I’m not saying that a new mom should turn down help when it’s offered or available to her – Lord knows I need it from time to time! But, when said new mom lives thousands of miles away from family the responsibility and lessons learned about caring for a newborn far outweigh what she would have learned about herself as a mom if it were done for her. It is my opinion that moms should struggle a bit, as ludicrous as that sounds. Struggling provided me with a newfound sense of confidence and desire to learn the little nuances of my baby – things that only a mom would discover. When that precious baby lands in your arms it’s not as though you just automatically know him or her – it’s a relationship that over time you each learn more and more about. It’s a beautiful thing and parenting is just the same – it’s relational and takes time to figure out.

I’m the mom without a village and it turns out that your village is exactly what you make of it. I understand that I am probably in the minority of women who would rather do things without the help, but I also acknowledge the times when I do need it and have no problems asking for it – knowing that our village has become the few close friends we have out here. I have enjoyed getting to experience the complexities of parenthood rather than my struggles be circumvented by others stepping in. A quote by Linda Wooten puts it best: “being a mother is about learning the strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with the fears you didn’t know existed.” Being a mom is scary, but looking at yourself in the mirror knowing you’re badass for finding your strength outweighs the struggles you may experience – whether you have help or not.

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A Lifestyle Blog By Kelly Daniel