Postpartum Week 1: Feelings & Updates
(a bit of a long post!)
Our first night home alone (night 2 of baby’s life) was HARD. All the helpful nurses, who miraculously know just how to calm a screaming baby and swaddle perfectly, were suddenly gone. And we were thrown right into parenthood. Apparently night 2 is hard because that’s when the baby starts cluster feeding (basically nursing every 30 minutes) in order to stimulate milk production. Night 2 even has a name… “Night 2 Syndrome”. Why can’t hospitals keep you around until after night 2… ?! We were so tired and frustrated and asking what have we gotten ourselves into.
Fortunately, night 3 was a lot better. 2 hours of sleep at a time is definitely much better than only 1 all night. Each night since then has gotten a little bit better. We’re slowly settling in to our new routine & adjusting to our new sleep schedule. We’re getting just enough to survive. Now that Baby R is a week old, we push her feeding to every 3 hours at night (maaayybee 3.5 if we’re desperate) so we can catch some zzzz’s.
We can’t believe we have a baby!! We’re adjusting and learning how to be parents. The first couple of nights were kinda awkward and our interactions with the baby felt a little unnatural. But we’re slowly finding our groove. We realized we need to learn more lullabies & nursery songs. We keep making up words.
We’re very fortunate to have our families close by. We’ve had family visits almost every day, which has been very nice! We think it’s really helped the both of us during this postpartum period– to have these daily visits. It’s something to look forward to–to have human interaction that isn’t just calming a crying baby. We feel so so so grateful for everyone who has visited, offered a meal, offered to hold the baby for an hour so we can nap, and even just reached out and offered encouraging words.
At 8 days old, Baby R had her first outing! We went out to Jake’s hometown to celebrate his youngest brother’s high school graduation. What a process it was to pack up and leave the house. We had to make sure we had the diaper bag, the pack n’ play, the formula & breast milk, the nipple shield, the pump, and the baby! We’re really happy we made it out to celebrate, but it also just didn’t feel the same. We were preoccupied with the baby the majority of the time and felt it was difficult to meaningfully connect and be a part of the party. We know this is a season and we’re in the middle of a transition, but we came back home feeling just a little off.
As for us, we’re trying to make sure we get some quality time together every day– even if it’s just 5 or 10 or 20 minutes. We’ve started binge watching Breaking Bad. And even though we can’t get through an episode without baby R crying, it has been nice to have that time together. We’re making sure we both feel supported and loved by the other person. And we’re making an active effort to be a team. We’ve had moments, in middle of the night when we’re so dead tired, where we snap at each other. But it doesn’t feel good afterwards. It doesn’t help to keep tabs on how much sleep one person is getting over the other person or to start attacking each other. This is the time for us to be there for one another. And compromising and sacrificing out of love.
Emotionally, she was all over the place those first few days back home. The “baby blues” hit real hard. She’s never cried this much in her life. She cried every time we had a visitor. She cried thinking about how we have a baby now. She cried thinking about how our life is different now. Day 4 was the worst, she basically cried the entire day. Since then, she’s leveled off and has been “emotionally stable” for the most part. She still gets a little sad every now and then thinking about how things will never be the same. But it’s been comforting to know that a lot of new mom’s feel this way. She’s trying to look forward and not “mourn” her old life. It’s an adjustment and we’re sure it’ll just take some time to get used to our new normal.
Breastfeeding is HARD for something that’s supposed to be “natural”! Her milk came in the 2nd or 3rd day and she really had no clue what was happening. She felt her boobs progressively getting harder and harder. Instead of trying to empty out her boobs by breastfeeding or pumping, she decided to take a nap. When she woke up, they were rock hard & SUPER painful. She learned her lesson– do not let boobs engorge to that level. Because her boobs were so engorged, Baby R was having a tough time latching on. And because she was having a hard time latching on, she was crying uncontrollably. And because she was crying uncontrollably, Cindy also started crying (because it was just so frustrating). And there they were… baby R and Cindy both just sitting in their diapers, weeping. It was so frustrating, Cindy seriously considered giving up breastfeeding and just pumping exclusively or formula feeding. We learned that there are such strong opinions when it comes to breastfeeding vs. other methods of feeding. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in it all, which makes the decision seem much more monumental than it really is. After a couple of hard nights, we’ve decided it would be so much less stressful if we didn’t put such an emphasis on HAVING to breastfeed. We decided to try for a month and reevaluate how we feel about it. Once we decided to just go with the flow, we’ve felt much lighter and less pressure. Now that it’s been a little over a week, baby and Cindy are getting better and better at this breastfeeding thing. It’s true what they say, it does take a bit of learning and practice.
That first poo. Cindy’s read all about that first poo, but didn’t quite understand how terrifying it is until she needed to poo. Everything down there seems like it’s about to just rip open and things will fall out. She cried sooo much during her first post baby poo. She even had Jake sit there and hold her hand. Never in a million years did she ever think she’d allow Jake to sit and watch her poo. We’ve reached a whole new level in our relationship lol.
Other bodily updates– Cindy’s body is surprisingly quickly returning back to pre-pregnancy size. The first few days, though, she had a pretty big pooch and felt like her organs were just swishing around in there. Her abs and pelvic floor were so loose, she seriously thought things were going to just start falling. Another body change– she didn’t realize how swollen you can be after delivery and was kind of freaked out by it. She was more swollen post delivery than she was at the end of pregnancy. But her swelling has since gone down. She’s hoping she can start wearing her wedding ring again! Oh how she’s missed her ring. And finally, there’s this thing called “night sweats” that’s pretty common after delivering. For the first couple of nights, Cindy woke up drenched in her own sweat. Pregnancy was no joke. Labor and delivery was no joke. And this postpartum recovery period is no joke.
Jake has been an amazing support. He’s settled in to his new role as dad pretty seamlessly! He soothes the baby (and Cindy) when they cry lol. He listens to Cindy talk about her feelings and lets her know it’s okay to feel the way she does. He helps tidy the house when Cindy’s nursing. We’ve had to supplement feedings with formula because baby isn’t getting enough milk from nursing, and Jake has gotten up every night to make the formula and feed it to the baby. He’s changed 100% of the diapers lol. Oh! He’s gotten peed on 2x already! Jake is super tired— exhausted! He gets frustrated when baby cries, but he’s learning to have patience. He’s loves Baby R so much and has already bonded with her.
We’ve noticed dads are often left out or treated as second class citizens throughout the pregnancy and even into the postpartum period. It’s important to acknowledge that even though the mom has a lot of recovering to do, dad’s are also going through a major life and identity transition. And that can be hard. Dads need love and support too! We’re so grateful to have gotten that support from our family and friends.
Jake has always been pretty good about life transitions. He doesn’t tend to look back and regret or “mourn” what could have been. This whole becoming a parent thing has allowed him to view his relationship with God in a new light. How strange it is to love an annoying crying baby who currently doesn’t return any love.
Baby is getting cuter and cuter every day. She sleeps sooo much! We keep “knocking on wood” every time we tell people how much she sleeps because we don’t want to “jynx” it lol. But she only seems to sleep so soundly when visitors are over. Then, as soon as she leaves, she unleashes her true self and cries.
She had high levels of jaundice and we had to use a UV photo blanket on her for a couple of days. That blanket was so annoying. Because her jaundice levels were so high, we had to go back to the hospital almost every day post-delivery to get her blood work done and have her levels checked. We kept joking how annoying it was because her appointments were during “prime napping hours”. But in all seriousness, we’re glad her levels have started going down.
This first week has simultaneously flown & also dragged by. We’re still processing the fact that we left here without a baby and came back with one! We’re adjusting and growing to love our sweet girl more and more each day!