What A Week of Motherhood Has Taught Me

You guys, I’ve made it almost two weeks with my little man and have survived to tell my tale. Now, understanding two weeks is just a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the lifetime I have with Greyson, to me at this moment getting this far is an achievement. Motherhood has always been in the life plan – I had always dreamed of becoming a mom and find it to be the most fulfilling and purposeful role. To have made this living, breathing, thinking, and growing life from just cells into the little being I hold in my arms each night is such a powerful feeling. To know that the love my husband and I share has come together to create him – I’m just in awe once again of God’s work and his blessings on our family.

Two weeks seems to have gone by in a flash - but that may be due to the sleep deprivation - but I have found myself having learned so much within these last 14 days. There’s no true handbook on becoming a mom because every baby is different and there’s a reason Mother Nature has equipped us with instinct that just comes naturally. With that being said, there are a few things that I’ve learned within these last two weeks that have helped me recover and get back to feeling like myself.

Two weeks seems to have gone by in a flash – but that may be due to the sleep deprivation – but I have found myself having learned so much within these last 11 days. There’s no true handbook on becoming a mom because every baby is different and there’s a reason Mother Nature has equipped us with instinct that just comes naturally. With that being said, there are a few things that I’ve learned within these last two weeks that have helped me recover and get back to feeling like myself.

RECOVERY (vaginal birth)

+ Recovery of your lady parts are going to take some time (about 2 weeks to start feeling semi-normal again) so don’t rush this process. Your body just underwent A LOT of stress and it’s best to take it easy.

+ Gravity will not be your friend for the first few days after birth. Laying down and trying to get up to pee will feel like your insides will fall out between your legs. I found it to be helpful to scoot to the edge of the bed and stick your butt out as you slide forward to stand up. That seemed to take the initial pressure off and made standing a little more bearable.

+ You will be given a squirt bottle to use when you use the restroom and you’ll pat dry before changing your pad. Warm water is your friend and be sure to fill your bottle before sitting down. Take this and everything else they give you while in the hospital home to make recovery that much easier. Make a little command center for all of your dressing needs so it’s easily within reach.

+ Go for walks or otherwise get out of the house. My doctor told me, “You’re not an invalid. Get up and move around – don’t feel like you have to stay indoors.” and I’ve been living to that comment every day since returning home. I’ve managed, even after a day at home, to get up and walk around our courtyard – using our stroller like a walker. It was a little uncomfortable and I moved slow, but it was something. Each day following I continued this both with and without baby and now I am going on longer walks without pain. Walking does wonders for your recovering body and consider it a nice break from caring for baby. My husband and I’s first “date” since bringing home baby was walking along the promenade along Ventura Beach – it was so nice to have that quiet adult time just the two of us.

+ PUPPPs is a skin rash that can develop later in pregnancy or after delivery. Not everyone gets it, but it is quite the annoying lesser-known symptom of pregnancy/childbirth. I started noticing itchy red bumps beginning on my stretch marks along my lower abdomen. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it got worse right after I delivered. The rash started to spread along my arms, sides, legs, butt, and tops of my feet. I tried to stop the itching with cold compresses, but nothing seemed to work. My doctor recommended Cortizone 10 or Benadryl to help with the itching…but still nothing worked. Then, my husband came home with Lubriderm lotion and I began using that to help keep my skin moisturized – success! Somehow the Lubriderm was making my rash slowly disappear and today I am almost fully recovered. Another plus is that I noticed it made my stretch marks lighter and less noticeable too!

EMOTIONS

+ It goes without saying that you’ll be emotional after birth. Again, your body just did something pretty awesome, but you’ve got all kinds of hormones rushing through you. Don’t be surprised if you’re elated one second, annoyed another, and worried the next. It all comes with the territory. BUT – if you feel like you’re depressed or have a lack of interest in caring for your baby please tell your nurses/doctor immediately. There’s no shame in this ladies – just be sure to tell your doctor everything you’re feeling.

+ Make sure you have uninterrupted time with your baby once you get home. You’ll have friends and family itching to come and visit you and your little guy/gal. This is when your spouse/partner should act as the bodyguard and respectfully tell them they’ll have to wait. I recommend a couple weeks before having family visit so you’re sure to have that initial bonding time, but it also gives you the chance to get into your mothering groove. Having people visit too soon is stressful and causes unnecessary emotional breakdowns (just saying).

BREASTFEEDING & BOTTLES

+ I am exclusively breastfeeding at the moment and only pumping on rare occasions so my husband can help feed. Our pediatrician says that’s okay as long as I am primarily nursing since babies can get a bit lazy latching on if they’re bottle fed too much (which I started to notice while the in-laws were visiting and wanting to feed him) within the first few weeks. So, if you want your baby to be a good eater, stick to nursing. However, don’t feel judged if you want to pump and have someone else feed for a moment. You’re entitled to a little break.

We Love: Joovy Boob Baby Bottle (5 oz – glass)

+ Nursing pads are a must because once your milk comes in you will leak. Even though I’m a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) now, I use nursing pads because without fail I find myself leaking throughout the day or after showers. They’re a good investment. So is nipple cream because cracking and bleeding is a thing and it will happen.

+ Nursing is going to suck (no pun intended) for the first few days and become less painful as you continue to do it. Stick with it, ladies! It’s going to be painful and your little one will soon learn a good latch and before you know it you’ll be feeding like a pro without the uncomfortableness that comes along with it. Also, switch up your feedings to use both breasts – this helps milk production, trying different nursing positions for you and baby, helps round out his/her little noggin, and puts less stress on one breast.

PACIFIERS

+ We use one and even our pediatrician says there’s nothing wrong with using a pacifier. Again, it’s all about not completely relying on one method just like the debate between breast vs. bottle. Some babies find comfort in sucking and our little Greyson is one of them. Instead of always offering him the breast (when I know he’s not hungry) I give him his pacifier and he’s just as content as can be. Once he’s calmed down or has fallen asleep I take the pacifier away. If he’s able to calm himself without needing the pacifier then we don’t offer it – easy peasy.

We Love: Nuk Pacifiers (0-6 mo)
*The pacifier we use was actually a free sample when I made a purchase from Motherhood Maternity! 

+ Listen to your pediatrician and not everyone else – including family. Yes, your own mother, aunt, or sister may have opinions about the best mothering practices, but nothing beats the medical professional you’re paying to give you sound advice and guidance in regards to your baby – oh, and who sees hundreds of babies monthly. What was common practice in the 80s may have changed since then so any questions you may have, direct them to your doctor and be good about sifting through the advice from others and online.

THE CORD

+ Your baby’s umbilical cord will eventually fall off (ours did just the other day!) and the current advice from our nurses at the hospital as well as our doctor is to just leave it alone. Don’t get it wet, don’t use anything on or around it – just let it be. Eventually it will dry up and just pop off!

+ No one told us it was going to SMELL SO BADLY. Go figure – it’s skin that’s dying and drying up. But, don’t be surprised if your little one’s belly button takes on a particular smell right before it falls off. This is all normal – but, if you notice redness or anything that your instinct tells you may not be normal just give your doctor a call.

SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT AT 2 WEEKS

Do we have a miracle baby? Quite possibly. But, I believe that although Greyson is a pretty awesome baby that isn’t too needy, it’s all about reading his cues that will get him sleeping through the night. When we first got home we were those typical new parents: up all night, frustrated and sleep deprived, confused about what he needed, trying tirelessly to hit all the major reasons he would be crying. The first and second nights home were probably the hardest for us and we got zero sleep.

I took to Facebook to see if I could gather any useful advice from my friends and family who have/had babies (I know I broke my own rule) out of desperation and knowing nights like that couldn’t continue. Luckily, most of the advice I received was actually very helpful and something I’ll pass on:

Time. It just takes time for parents and baby to learn and grow with each other and establish nighttime routines.

It was reassuring to know that it wasn’t because we weren’t doing the right things or that I have somehow failed as a new mom because I couldn’t get my baby to sleep for longer than 5 minutes at 2am. It takes time for any new mom/parent(s) to get into their groove and learn their babies like the backs of their hands. However, if you’re looking for some helpful tips that may work with your newborn, here is what works for us:

+ Diaper first. Always check and start your nightly routine with a fresh diaper (thanks mom for that advice!) before feeding. Feeding is what will put your baby to sleep so don’t interrupt this by changing the diaper after they’re all nice and cozy.

+ Feed using blankets and keeping them close to you. Warmth along with a full tummy is a recipe for sleep. Their closeness to you afterwards is comforting to them and not to mention a great bonding moment for the two of you. Burping is imperative once your milk comes in because nothing is more uncomfortable for your baby than gas they can’t relieve. Make sure to get a good burp out of them before putting them down.

+ Master the swaddle. Once you do that sleep for you and your baby will come much easier. The tighter the better because you want to recreate as much comfort they experienced in the womb as possible and swaddling helps achieve this. Greyson loves to be swaddled tight, so after we feed I swaddle him up and spend a few minutes rocking him or placing him on my chest. This is also when I introduce the pacifier if he needs just a little comfort from sucking to drift him off to sleep. Don’t forget to try a cap on their head at night for extra warmth.

+ Place them in their crib/bassinet and use a sound machine if necessary. A dear, dear friend is letting us borrow her bedside bassinet, which comes with a sound machine (we love the heartbeat sound). Having that has been such a help because he seems to really enjoy it. Another thing I’ve noticed about Greyson is that he loves being on our chests, so to help create that comforting feeling once he’s in his bed is by placing a second blanket just tucked around his chest and feet. I believe it makes him feel secure, warm, and tucked in.

Just by following these few steps each night we’ve been able to put him to bed and he’s sleeping in about 4-5 hour increments, which has both my husband and I jumping for joy and managing a good night’s rest. Again, this is what has been working for me and I realize that as he continues to grow, his needs will change and I’ll have to adapt my game plan. Welcome to motherhood, Kelly!

Do you have any advice for new moms or tips/tricks for the first few weeks at home? Share in the comments!

Before I head out here are a few photos I snapped of baby Greyson using my iPhone for our birth announcements (post to come!) using Tiny Prints. Is it possible to fall more in love with him than I already am?

Swaddle Blanket: Scoutmob, Onesie: Carters

Swaddle Blanket: HowjoyfulShop
also featured on Scoutmob

 Swaddle Blanket: Scoutmob, Onesie: Carters

Happy Monday everyone!

We Had A Baby! Introducing Greyson James

I sit here today with my heart having immeasurably grown with the birth of our son, Greyson James. He arrived into our lives on March 10th at 4:22pm after more than 15 hours of labor. To say that his delivery was long, tiring, and painful is an extreme understatement. Even with an epidural. However, I wouldn’t trade this transformative experience for anything in the world. Greyson has undeniably changed me in ways I can hardly begin to describe – it’s an emotion that doesn’t quite have a definition and I think all mothers can relate to it. I’ve found myself, overnight, having been thrust into a new role and know that this little person will forever change me, my husband, and our lives forever. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Read all about the birth story of our son Greyson James!

Our Birth Story

March 7th seemed to have come and gone and there I sat, with my husband, at our doctors office waiting for our weekly appointment – now being two days past due. At that moment I was ready to begin what I had to in order to get labor going and I am so thankful to my doctor who kept my/and baby’s well being in mind while giving me the opportunity to augment labor, but in a natural way without inducing. At our appointment we discussed a procedure called ‘stripping of membranes,’ which is fancy for my doctor inserting his finger in my cervix and moving the membranes (prostaglandins) around, which would trigger my body to begin labor contractions. This process can take multiple tries before labor actually begins and my doctor called it when I asked him what our plan would be if nothing happened. He told me he thought I’d respond well and that the next time I’d see him was at the hospital – and that’s just what happened.

That evening around midnight I awoke to some cramping, like menstrual cramps but heavier. Before I knew it I found myself having to breathe through each cramp and that’s when I figured this was the beginning of early labor. With each passing hour the cramps felt more like contractions as they were increasing in pain and occurring more frequently. My husband was an amazing coach and partner through this whole process. He was right there with me – breathing, massaging my lower back/pelvis, and encouraging me through each contraction. Using my Baby Center app I timed each contraction and after a few hours I noticed that they were getting closer and closer together. I labored as much as I could at home – eating in between as much as I could knowing I wouldn’t get a meal until after I delivered.

After I couldn’t take much more on my own (and dreaming of that epidural) I told my husband that I wanted to go ahead and go to the hospital – that at the very worst they would send me home. It was around 4:40am that we grabbed our hospital bags (because Daddy needs one too!) and were on our way. After checking in we were directed to triage where I would give a urine sample, change into a hospital gown, and be hooked up to a fetal and contraction monitor. With me being dilated 3cm and increasing contractions, my doctor had me immediately admitted and was quickly transferred to a labor/delivery room and was once again hooked up to these monitors and got comfortable (aka as comfortable as one in labor can be).

Read all about the birth story of our son Greyson James!

After what felt like 30-40 minutes my doctor arrived and told me that he was going to break my water and insert my catheter, but before he does I was going to get my epidural. I swear that word was music to my ears! I had to wait just a few moments longer before the anesthesiologist arrived to begin. Even though I couldn’t wait for the pain to subside, I was very nervous about having a hollow needle being inserted into my spinal space. My nurse was amazing and I found her to be very encouraging, especially during this part of labor. She held me as I had to sit hunched over, which by the way is very uncomfortable not only for a woman who is 9 months pregnant (bending over isn’t a thing), and amidst intense contractions at the same time. He finally had it inserted, but it didn’t take. I still felt everything and when I heard him mention that there was an issue with its placement I immediately started to cry for my fear of having to deliver naturally

After my husband talked with him about what had happened he decided that he would try to insert it again and thank goodness this one was done right. My legs and feet began to slowly feel heavy and the contraction pain was lessening by the minute. Before I knew it the epidural took full effect and finally, for the first time in hours, I could relax and take a break. My doctor came back in to break my water and inserted the catheter and from there it was just a waiting game as my body took over to reach those glorious 10cm. During that time I was able to rest, my husband watched his favorite trashy daytime tv show (Maury), and my mother-in-law and close friend/mom-figure napped and read to pass the time. I was beginning to feel very hungry, but alas I was only allowed ice chips and some chicken broth to sip on.

Read all about the birth story of our son Greyson James!

After some time my nurse came in and told me they were going to begin me on Pitocin, which would speed up my labor. As I was laying there I noticed that I was beginning to have sensations of contractions but only on my left side. Needless to say I was beginning to become nervous (again) because as the Pitocin continued, the more I would feel these contractions as they increased in intensity. I tried changing sides to see if my positioning was the reason my epidural wasn’t working, but nothing seemed to dull the pain. Luckily, my nurse called in another anesthesiologist and he was pure magic in my eyes. He altered my epidural and all of a sudden I began to feel less and less of the pain.

Labor surprisingly didn’t seem like it took very long – although 15 hours later it was time for me to begin pushing. I had reached a full 10cm and although I was ready to deliver my son, I became emotional and nervous about what this moment meant. My dear friend prayed over me alongside my husband and mother-in-law for calmed nerves and reminder that all is in His hands and this child to be delivered to us was in His plan. Surprisingly once I was able to begin pushing I found my inner-zone and felt as though we were progressing well in getting baby Greyson to drop. However, that was a fleeting thought as hour after hour passed and I felt as though we were no closer to him crowning than when we began. I became extremely frustrated with myself because although the epidural dulled my sensation to push, I could tell which pushes were good and which ones weren’t. Holding your breath and bearing down for 10 seconds three times during a contraction is no easy feat. After three hours of this, describing how tired I was is an understatement.

Read all about the birth story of our son Greyson James!

Each contraction that passed, each push I gave, I was beginning to regain sensation. What I didn’t know at the time (my husband later told me) was that my nurse was upping my Pitocin after each contraction. On one hand this helped me be able to focus my pushing, but on the other I was obviously beginning to feel EVERYTHING and that was, in fact, not in my birth plan. The pressure of this baby on my pelvis and pure exhaustion in full swing, I so badly wanted to give up. I cried, hyperventilated, and doubted how I could ever do this. In those moments I was so grateful to have my husband by my side and reminding me of how this baby will change our lives, encouraged me to keep going, and cracking a joke here and there in hopes to lighten my mood. Eventually it was time for my doctor to make his debut as baby Greyson was soon crowning.

I was equal parts relieved to see my doctor and nervous only because I knew that with our baby crowning labor would soon be over and I will finally be able to hold my baby boy, but I also knew that this was where the real work was to begin if I were going to cross the finish line in one piece. What I have always loved about my doctor is that he’s a straight shooter. No beating around the bush or sugarcoating the situation. He told me I have a large baby and that to deliver him I would need to push with every fiber of my being. That this was completely on me. No pressure, right? Now that we were so close, and with the help (and motivation of pain) of having sensation back and the urge to push, I continued to bear down with everything I had left in me.

Read all about the birth story of our son Greyson James!

What seemed like hours later and the use of a vacuum to assist (which kept popping off), Greyson James made his grand entrance into the world and into my arms on March 10th at 4:22 pm. He measured at 9 pounds 3 ounces and 20 1/2 inches. Giving birth to my son has forever changed me in ways that I am only still putting together in my mind. Not only am I a mother now, but my heart dwells on the outside of me – a vulnerability I felt only with my husband. Now that has changed too. My son has also changed the woman that I am. I see myself stronger than I once did with the stretch marks to prove it. Every day I am blessed to wake up ad be witness to what my husband and I created out of love. This little man will forever have my heart and I cannot wait for the adventure that still lies ahead.

Read all about the birth story of our son Greyson James!

Post-Pregnancy Recommendations For New Moms:

+ Schedule something just for you weeks out from your delivery date. I had scheduled my first hair color and cut since becoming pregnant and it was so nice, even 5 days after giving birth, to feel pretty and get my hair done.

+ Invest in nursing camis from Target and stick with maternity leggings. I am in LOVE with Target’s nursing camisoles because they’re comfortable and make me feel all tucked in. And hang on to those maternity leggings because they’ll be the most comfortable things to wear as you heal down there. It doesn’t put too much pressure on your belly and cotton pants keeps everything breathing.

+ Also invest in a belly band to help with your post-baby body. I ordered the Belly Bandit and I can’t wait to start using it to help give me my shape back and relieve the pressure on my abdomen when getting up and moving around (gravity will not be your friend the first few days after delivery).

+ Go for a walk every day. Yes…every day. If possible, get out of the house and do a little lap around your neighborhood using your stroller as a walker. The fresh air and sunshine will help with the emotions that you’ll feel after giving birth.

+ Stock up like a mini-hospital/pharmacy. Right when you get home have a loved one make a store run for you which includes but are not limited to: maxi pads (for when the ones you hoard from the hospital run out), stool softeners (because pooping will be a scary thought), Motrin (for the pain your lady bits will feel, especially going to the bathroom), and Preparation H wipes for cooling said lady bits.

A Side Effect I Didn’t Expect:

PUPPPs. Have you heard of it? Probably not…and that’s okay I didn’t either until I researched the huge itchy, bumpy rash that formed during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and continued to get worse after delivery. PUPPPs stands for: pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy and it is a harmless rash that just itches like crazy and spreads from your stretch marks to pretty much all over your body except for the soles of your feet and face. No one quite knows why this rash forms, but not all women will suffer from it…however, I was not spared. If you too find yourself suffering and just waiting it out like me to subside, here are a few remedies I’ve found to be helpful:

+ Lubriderm lotion I have found works more than Cortizone 10, however I still use both. Lather up all day to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated, this helps with the itching.

+ Take warm, not hot, showers. Then, lather up with Lubriderm.

+ Wear cotton and breathable clothing. I have also found long sleeves (for if your rash spreads to your arms like mine did) and leggings to be helpful in keeping me from scratching.

+ And then there’s just try to not scratch. It’s hard because there’s nothing more satisfying than itching that scratch, but we all know skin rashes get worse and take longer to heal when we scratch them.