Our Journey with Postpartum
I don't exactly know where to start with this one. As touchy and "controversial" of a topic that pregnancy is, I feel like postpartum is even more so. You go from people fawning over and even praising you for your bump to judging you or mentally critiquing how quickly you "bounce back" or lose the "baby weight". It's a mental game that unfortunately almost all moms go through. The photos below are from our maternity shoot and ironically were sent to us by our awesome photographer Matt the day that we were officially checked in to labor and delivery. I was the person who was worried about the weight gain of pregnancy, not so much physically, but mentally. I'm a numbers person. Not in the math sense, I'm terrible at that as anyone who knows me can attest. But in the fact that I hyper fixate on numbers. Physically I may feel great and think that I look great but if the number on the scale doesn't reflect the one I thought I was in my head, my perception changes. That at least was my mentality all throughout high school, college and years afterward. I don't really struggle with that as much anymore since I would rather be healthy and strong over hitting a socially accepted number. Pregnancy though was an unknown, I was lucky that I didn't gain a ton of weight throughout my pregnancy. When lucky I mean it only in the sense that the physical aspect was easier to handle. I already have a bad back and knees when I'm not pregnant so I was worried how extra weight, especially in my belly would impact my back. Let's just say it wasn't in a good way, thank God for chiropractors.
The photos below are beautiful, and now reflecting back on them I think that I look beautiful. In that belly is my baby girl. It's important to love yourself and your body in any form that it's in. That body created a life. That will forever blow my mind, a body created a body.
It's easier said than done to not compare yourself to others, I'll be the first to say that I am not good at this. Even though that's the case, especially with postpartum bodies I think it's healthy to share your story. If you lose all the weight you gained during your pregnancy "easily" or right away, good for you! If you still weigh more than you did before you had your baby, good for you! You. Made. A. Life. Love that body that did that for you. If you asked me before I got pregnant if I thought I would be the person who lost weight easily after a baby I would have told you no, absolutely not. However, that was my experience, I did lose weight "easily" after Carolynn was born. Numbers-wise I was lower than where I was before I got pregnant pretty quickly. Did I feel healthy? No. Did I like the way my body looked, eh. I was proud of my body, more than ever before, but I felt weak. Washing my hair after having Carolynn my shoulders were on fire, I had no muscle definition or strength anymore.
The photo on the left is from four days before we went to the hospital and ended up getting induced. The photo on the right is the day after Carolynn was born. Crazy. As I'm writing this I'm 10 weeks postpartum. I still have to take Motrin probably at least once a day for pain "down there". I still feel like I'm going to pee my pants if I wait a little too long to make it to the bathroom. And in full transparency, there have been a few times I haven't quite made it. Healing is a journey and it's not one that just stops at 6 or 12 weeks, at least not for everyone, and that's just the physical. The mental aspect of postpartum and healing is a whole separate challenge. I'm thankful that I haven't had it too hard mentally. I've noticed increased anxiety in certain settings, like the fact that it took me 3-weeks to leave the house solo with Carolynn. We went 1 whole mile from the house, down the road to Dunkin' Donuts for a coffee ending with a car wash, but it was a huge mental hurdle to jump. Before Carolynn, I had changed a diaper, taken a baby in and out of a car seat, held them, burped them you name it. Doing it with your own baby, your new baby can still be a scary or anxiety-ridden thing.
When I think about postpartum as a whole it breaks down into three categories for me. The physical healing, the mental changes and the practical things to implement.
Still healing, but feeling healthier day by day.
Overall good, but accepting each "new" thing we do/try may come with heightened anxiety attached to it. And that's ok.
Sign up for Fabletics or something similar - put's no pressure to fit into old clothes and you end up with cute, comfy, and stretchy outfits to wear.
Stock up on the nursing bras, tanks, pads, and icepacks galore. I used waaaay more than I thought I would and for a lot longer than I thought I would need.
Frida Mom Instant Ice Maxi Pads or (if you want a little more bang for your buck) Medline Deluxe Perineal Cold Packs with Adhesive Strip
If you're someone who thrives off structure, download the Baby Tracker App. It's free and allows you to enter in every diaper, wet/dry/dirty/mixed along with sleep/naps, pumping and nursing. It is SO helpful to be able to look at a summary of the day to see if your baby is eating enough, pooping enough, or sleeping enough. We have loved using it, Ryan is able to add to his phone and it syncs to the account so we both have up-to-date information.
Tired of texting groups photos? Download the Family Album App, it is a GAME CHANGER. This app, even in the free version, allows you to load photo/video and have family members create user profiles so they can see any images you load of your little one in real time. We could not recommend this more.
The last thing that has been extremely helpful for me, especially being home solo while Ryan is at work, has been to set myself up for success in the morning by taking 5 minutes to get things prepped. I tidy up the couches, put pillows back into place and clean up her dock-a-tot and blankets. I move the phone charging cord over to where I sit and make sure the extension cord is within reach for my pump (I love the Spectra S2). I set up the burp cloth and any little things I'll need while feeding Carolynn in the morning including her Vitamin-D drops, a Frida nose tool and a book all within my reach. I pick up the kitchen if there's anything that needs to be put away. Doing these small things mentally helps me. I know that in the morning I won't have to juggle getting things set up while holding Carolynn and trying to do Porter's morning routine at the same time. That in itself has been a struggle to learn. Who gets to eat or pee first.... me, Carolynn or Porter. We're all learning patience in this arena haha.
It's difficult, new, challenging and wonderful all at the same time. Looking at her little face makes every single hard aspect worth it.