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 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!
+ 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.
+ 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.
+ 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?
Happy Monday everyone!