Friday, March 8, 2013

41 Weeks (and a day): The Aftermath

I'm in a new mom time warp. Two weeks and a day have passed already since my baby girl came out, and I have no clue how. I'm constantly asking what time and what day it is. It's apparently impossible for me to keep track while in the never-ending short cycles of breastfeeding, pumping, burping, and changing diapers. Newborns don't sleep in long stretches, which means I don't either. The first few days back home were really challenging because I was pretty beat up from labor & delivery, and recovering from something like that usually requires a lot of sleep, and I wasn't getting any. But thanks to my husband, who at some point took over the few critical night hours, and my baby who has no trouble going between bottles and breasts, I've had a chance to recuperate. No more sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time, which now is considered a luxury, but I was never expecting anything more. And I'm happy to oblige as a new mom to a beautiful, healthy baby.


I've always wanted to exclusively breastfeed. In preparation, I did my readings and went to classes while still pregnant. But I didn't have any expectations in terms of what will happen because I've seen numerous moms struggle through it; I knew it didn't happen easily for everyone. I was mentally prepared to supplement with formula if my body didn't cooperate. Even when the lactation consultant at the hospital checked out my breasts and enthusiastically said the words, "You're made for breastfeeding," I was skeptical because I was still only producing colostrum, and my milk was yet to come in.

Then the day I arrived home, I started experiencing the MIRACLE of a new mom's body. It's so fascinating to me how this transition happens. The engorgement, the pain, the latching, and the bonding - they're all happening. I didn't expect the initial engorgement to hurt so much, but I was happy to feel the pain that screamed 'MILK!' My girl is also latching on really well, and her cheeks have gotten fuller. My baby is growing!

I was introduced to pumping at the hospital when the lactation consultant came by. It helps to regulate milk supply and also helps to have backup for times mommy's away. I hadn't bought a pump for myself yet, and it felt overwhelming to pick one from so many choices. Thank goodness my sister and her husband were here to help with the breastfeeding/pumping transition, getting us the pump they recommend, sterilizing all the bottles, and setting us up and guiding us through the feeding/pumping routine. 


Having to feed the baby every 1-3 hours is exhausting as I've been told. There is no real time for rest, and sleep is elusive. But I have been absolutely loving this unavoidable, frequent skin to skin time with my baby. She looks up at me with her amazing newborn eyes, and I can't help but to marvel at her every single time. This is nothing new. Everyone knows about childbirth and breastfeeding, yet experiencing it firsthand feels like it's something I've never known. Watching my own little baby feeding on my breasts just seems crazy. Right after delivery, when my hormones were 'out of control,' I held her and sobbed in pure bliss - I couldn't believe how happy I felt. Going through this initial phase of motherhood has been such an incredible high for me so far. 


Once I gave birth, my body stopped producing as much heat as when I was pregnant, making me really cold at all times. Our heater is on at about 5 degrees higher in temperature than usual, and I'm always wearing extra layers of clothing, sipping on hot drinks. I actually started crying in my half-asleep state at one point because my husband turned down our bedroom heater, and I felt so cold but had no strength to do anything about it. I was also in pain, and the shivering didn't help. It took us a few days to register that my needs have drastically changed from pregnant and sick to postpartum and recovering. 

At two weeks, my body doesn't hurt as much. Much of the swelling has subsided, and the muscle pain from laboring is gone - no more ibuprofen needed. And I've managed to sneak in a 4 hour nap somewhere - thanks husband! - which I think was vital in feeling revitalized. Fortunately, I haven't felt any signs of postpartum depression. All I feel is enormous gratitude. 


I'm about 20 lbs lighter than when I went into labor two weeks ago. My belly is shrinking on a daily basis, which is really fascinating to watch. Losing all the pregnancy weight will probably take some time, but that's just fine with me. I'm too busy being amazed at all the crazy changes this body of mine has gone through to produce another human being and is still going through to nurture my baby girl - all with so little sleep. I feel like a rockstar. :)

PHOTO of my sweet family:

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