Thursday, November 3, 2016

First Month Reflections

Hello out there!
I am poking my head out from our baby bubble and wanted to catch up a bit.
Big news: Our daughter is one month old today!  This is truly a celebration... we survived our first month as a family of three and wow, what a month it was!
I wanted to talk a little bit about my postpartum experience and share some photos.

Physical Recovery
I have written out a "birth story" but I'm unsure about publishing here.  It's filled with so many mundane details that I won't even pretend to think anyone else but K and I would care about.  But I'm still considering sharing it...Stay tuned.  Anyway, in a nut shell EB's birth was fairly "standard". I did push for 2 hours though.  A couple of things of note that no one had ever mentioned to me:  The epidural can bring on full body shakes.  The whole "afterbirth" part is the grossest thing I've ever experienced.  The first time you try to use the restroom after a vaginal delivery you may feel like you are going to die.  Once home, I felt like I healed relatively quickly.  I relied on our retractable showerhead a lot when bathing.  One terrible side effect for me was a diaper rash of sorts, as I was wearing the hospital issued pads basically around the clock.  Not a fun thing to deal with on top of a newborn.   I will have my 6 week follow up next Monday, hoping for a good report.  

The past month has proven to me that I have never, ever even scratched the surface of true sleep deprivation until now.  I have been operating on an average of 6 broken hours a day which, quite frankly, isn't terrible for newborn life.  I knew I would be tired, but I had no way to know what that would really feel like until experiencing it.  I think we are all so accustomed to getting through a difficult day and being able to crash at night...But having a baby is a never ending 24 hour loop.  Day/Night?  Baby don't care!  In my case, due to breastfeeding and pumping, I have lived on a 2 hour stopwatch:  diaper change, feed, pump, repeat.  Hello, exhaustion.  

I went into breastfeeding with the attitude that I would give it my best shot.  I have no qualms about using formula (I was raised on it myself) but I wanted to atleast try for breastmilk, for the health benefits and also to save some money.  I have heard nothing but struggle stories regarding breastfeeding and I'm here to report: The struggle is real! First for me, it was all about nipple pain.  For the first 2 weeks of EB's life, I nursed on demand using a nipple shield (due to flat nipples).  The pain was so intense- but I had resolved to stick it out through the two week mark, as I'd heard that it only got better from there.  Well, I made it to two weeks and it simply wasn't getting better.  I was holding so much tension in my upper body every time she fed.  One night she pulled off my breast with blood dripping down her chin.  It was so unsettling that right then and there I decided I would be pumping and bottle feeding my breastmilk.  I also want to mention that another factor in my final decision to pump exclusively was due to her not gaining weight very well during her second week and wanting to measure out the ounces.  I met with a lactation consultant to help me with building my supply and ensuring she got enough.  For anyone in Charleston, I would be happy to send you her information, she was great!  I am very happy with my decision and thrilled that, for her first month of life, she has received nothing but my milk.  I am proud of myself and will be sticking with it as long as it works. One day at a time, y'all.

Emotional State
Hmmm, How can I put into words my state of mind over the last month?  It's hard because this whole experience has given new definition to "emotional rollercoaster" for me.  I have become completely connected to this tiny little lady.  It is an overwhelming love, a tremendous responsibility, and unlike anything I've ever known or could imagine.  Hormones were raging the first two weeks and I found myself showering twice daily just so I could be alone and cry.  The tears were not of sadness or happiness but pure hormonal emotion.  I would find myself looking at her crying while thinking "I miss her!"  So yea, it doesn't make any sense and you are basically a big mess.  As a first time mother, I had no idea how much I would question my every move.  I should screenshot my google history so you can get a real vision of what I mean.  I found this piece and it's comments particularly encouraging around week 2.  This first month was absolutely the most challenging time of my life but it's getting better every day and baby girl is really starting to get a little sparkle in her eye, which makes it all worth it one hundred times over.
Ok so now on to the fun part, some pictures!  I initially had 15 photos in this post but narrowed it down to a few faves.   
First family photo:
Home before the hurricane: Daddy's mini me:
 EB's first bath, she seems to really like them.
Happy Halloween from me and my squirmy girl!  And my massive pumpkin. 
 West Ashley Farmer's Market!  This was our first real outing as a family, we had dinner at the Mellow Mushroom afterwards and she slept (like a baby!) the entire time:
And one last snap of our first baby who is adjusting quite well to the new addition:
 I am going to try to get back into a groove of posting our weekly happenings.
These days are precious and I want to do my best to keep a record of them!
Hope you are all well :)

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