Weeks 10-12 Postpartum Journal
I can't believe I’ve reached the end of the fourth trimester. I am so happy that I took these 12 weeks or "the first 40 days" to really cocoon at home with baby as we transitioned into this new family life. It has and continues to be a time of growing pains, learning, healing, bonding, and somehow falling more in love with baby with each passing day. Thank for you for coming along on this journey with me. And thank you for every wonderful comment and DM, it has been such a joy for me to feel connected with expecting and fellow mama’s.
Physically I'm feeling…
I started bleeding again this week for about 5 days and it made me feel a bit defeated in my healing process, as if I was taking steps backwards. I saw my doctor and she examined me and said it was normal post birth bleeding, but it still didn't feel good. I already feel physically depleted just trying to keep up with my caloric and nutritive intake while breastfeeding, and since I had stopped bleeding so early on (at about 2.5 weeks) I thought I was past it.
There were a couple nights of very little sleep as baby was waking with painful gas but overall I have had the most energy I have experienced yet in postpartum and it makes all the difference on an emotional level too. I think I must be getting a bit more sleep (I stopped looking at my phone to check the time during those middle of the night feeds as it wasn't accomplishing anything!) Or maybe I've just gotten used to the sleep deprivation? Whatever it is I'm grateful for this shift! I also haven't had any cramping in weeks. I notice that when I lay flat on my stomach to sleep my lower back still hurts so my physiotherapist suggested placing a flat pillow under my hips and that adjustment really helped.
Emotionally I’m feeling…
Grounded, happy, and grateful. The week had an emotional start but I feel like I set up my weekly schedule with more support so going forward I think it will feel great to have these different outlets and resources each week. I set up an appointment with a therapist who specializes in the postpartum period and we met over zoom which I want to continue on a weekly basis. Even though I was very fortunate to not experience postpartum depression I have still found this time to be a huge life transition and I'm looking forward to having an unbiased sounding board to help work through the challenges that can come with adjusting to life with a newborn.
I also had my weekly meeting with the "Life After Birth" mom support group, a walk with my girlfriend and her baby, and physical therapy which all made me feel so good! It felt amazing to listen to the other moms in the 'life after birth' group and hear similar sentiments and situations echoed with the other women. It really made me feel like I am a part of something, and that community energy is what I've been craving. We were asked to share our 'rose and our thorn' of the week and one woman beautifully shared that she feels as though she is walking through a rose garden right now with so many blessings (roses) and challenges (thorns). Afterward our facilitator commented on how bittersweet motherhood is and that all resonated with me deeply.
There are so many things that are still up in the air for us in terms of where we will be living in 2 months and the next year, so my intention has been to root myself in the present moment with Harry instead of future tripping about things that are out of my control.
On Sunday night when I got Harry ready for bed I put him in a 3-6 month sleeper thinking it would be too big for him (he turns 3 months old tomorrow) and it was already tight on him! Then we were watching a show and Harry was sleeping in his lounger on the couch beside me and I noticed his feet were hanging off the end of his little cot because he has grown so much! It made me so emotional (he used to look so tiny in it) and my eyes started tearing up as I told Greg I just want him to be my little baby forever. Greg came over and hugged me while laughing at me, until I started laughing through my tears. It really does pull at your heartstrings but it's even more reason to soak up this time where he needs me so much and just wants to be held.
Most challenging moment
When I told my husband the news from the doctor that the bleeding is considered ‘normal’ even this long after birth he commented “Oh good!” I explained to him that even though the doctor says its fine it doesn't mean it feels fine or “normal” to me, and he was very supportive. I think sometimes the healing process can feel lonely as you're the only one in the family in it, and you might look just fine on the outside but if you're not feeling fine physically there can be a disconnect, and sometimes you just want to be seen exactly where you are at. I think the doctors exam was also a little traumatic as it was the first exam since birth, and even though mentally I wasn't thinking that, physically I felt it after.
Lately I've caught myself stressing over small things, like keeping the house perfectly neat and organized, not letting laundry pile up etc. I think a part of the reason I place so much value on this is because in some way it gives me the feeling of being in control, and if things look put together then maybe they will give me a sense of feeling put together. But right now when Harry is so young he needs almost all of my attention and sometimes it isn't worth the effort of trying to do two things at once. This quote by Julianne Moore says it all:
"It's not difficult to take care of a child - it's difficult to do anything else while taking care of a child."
So instead of placing this pressure on myself I'm consciously trying not to sweat the small stuff and instead spend my time doing things that really matter with Harry. Then if I find a moment or when my Mom or Greg are home, we can spend a little time catching up on household stuff. The same goes for sticking to a routine...I was just starting to get Harry into an awesome bedtime routine, being asleep by 7:30pm and then he had a few nights where he got upset anytime I put him down. He is going through his 3rd 'leap' right now (in the 'wonder weeks' app I've talked about) and fussiness, wanting to be held, and trouble sleeping are some of the signs. It’s a bit of a dance to balance sticking to a routine and also listening to his cues and going with his flow. This little fussy period will pass and in the mean time I’m just enjoying that he just wants to be kept so close. On Saturday when he didn't want to go down at 7 I just put him in the Solly wrap with his pacifier, and tucked his head under the wrap (which he loves and is a guaranteed place that he falls asleep within seconds) and he slept in it, cuddling me until it was time for me to go to sleep with him. On Sunday he fell asleep next to me in his snuggle me organic lounger on the couch. Whenever I find myself in that mentality where I feel like I'm swimming against the current (in this case, his routine) it's a good time to stop and sometimes re-direct.
Monday feels like a transitional day going from spending the weekend with Greg, having his support, and getting that beautiful quality time together as a family, to then being on my own with Harry. By Tuesday I feel like Harry and I get into our groove with just the two of us (which I also love because it is such special bonding time) its just more full on because this week he doesn't want to be in his bouncer chair or anywhere but his mama's arms. Yes, I have now mastered going to the bathroom with him attached to me and yes its true “alone time” becomes a thing of the past as a mom!
On Sunday we took Harry to the beach that Greg used to play on when he was a little boy. We sat under a gorgeous magnolia tree and had Harry's first picnic. It was such a peaceful day and then as we were about to go for a walk Greg stopped, looked at his ring finger, and realized his wedding band came off as he was applying hand sanitizer. We re-traced our steps and a couple strangers kindly helped us look but after searching and searching we couldn't find it. I got really upset because of the sentimental value it had. I had made a personal inscription with our nicknames and wedding date (which I got WRONG - and he never wanted to fix because it was hilarious and so classic of me). I was just so sad because that ring was with us the day we got married and I thought we'd have it forever. He felt so terrible but we talked about all the things that are more important than the material ring. On our way home we raced to a jewelry store, made it there 10 minutes before it closed and found one that looked almost identical. He's going to get it engraved with the same (incorrect) inscription haha. On reflecting on this day I can’t help but feel like it was meant to happen, and a bit of a metaphor for what happens in marriage. I once heard that in a long marriage you fall in love with the new versions of each other at least 3 different times. As I’ve shared before I feel like after having a baby we are both very different people with different roles, responsibilities and identity’s, and we are in this process of falling in love this these new versions of each other. So a new wedding ring almost feels symbolic of that. Plus it will be a funny story for Harry one day.
Something I’ve loved this week
On Monday my Grandma got to meet Harry! She got vaccinated and was therefor allowed to leave her nursing home and hug us! We live about 10 minutes from the home and have walked passed it so many times dreaming of the day where we would get to see my grandparents (beyond through the glass window). I am so close to my grandma and watching her meet Harry felt like such a blessing. She held him as he gave her tons of smiles. It was one of the happiest moments full circle moments of this year for me.
We’ve had some gorgeous weather so we did tons of walking (my tracker on my phone says I did 12 miles over the weekend)! One day we picked up breakfast to-go from our local coffee shop and ate it at the beach. When we got home sunlight was filling the house so we took some photos of Harry, had a little rest, and then headed back outside again to walk to another beach. The cherry blossoms are in bloom so we took more photos on our walk home and I carried Harry the rest of the way home which was fun for him to be awake and upright taking in the sunset. Greg commented on how he loves the crew we have become with our dog and baby, the 4 of us taking up the whole side walk haha. It feels almost surreal as I've dreamed of having a little family tribe since I met Greg when I was 21, almost 10 years ago!
Another day this week I was walking through a park and I stopped to take a selfie of Harry (lol) and this mom commented on how sweet Harry was and asked how old. We started chatting and she was so lovely, asking me how I was doing with my first baby and we talked about how nice it was to be out enjoying the sun after hiding away with our babies because of Covid. Once again I was pleasantly surprised by how incredibly supportive other moms are. It was so sweet to have a conversation with a complete stranger and feel this instant connection of motherhood - that is something I never expected before becoming a mom.
*My first therapy session
*Life After Birth Support group
*Physiotherapy - we focused on breathing. I've been breathing so shallow lately, I think partly because of my closed posture from breastfeeding. We did some deep breathing exercises to practice before we began working on pelvic floor and deep core.
This week I prioritized rest for my self care. I was asleep by 7 or 8pm which felt so good.
I was talking with my therapist about nap anxiety and how to prioritize competing needs when baby goes down for a nap. How can I most efficiently use that time? Her suggestion was too good not to share...
First prioritize basic self care needs:
- Rest (for me this means even if I can't sleep, get comfortable and rest with a podcast)
- Nourishment - make sure I've eaten and am well hydrated
and if those things are taken care of then...
- Creative projects (if it will give me energy and fill my cup)
and lastly... household chores *this was a game changer because I was prioritizing this first above my own needs.
We also talked about how to incorporate meditation into the day as its not realistic for me to meditate with Harry (aside from when he is breastfeeding). She recommended the book Buddhism for Mothers which I am so excited to start reading. I also recently read Domestic Monastery which is a super quick read or listen on Audible. The book is christian and even though I am not I still appreciated the philosophy of getting closer to your spirituality through the experience and teachings of being a parent.
Salad with salmon, green smoothie, coconut almond cookie, sweet potato hash with scrambled eggs, lactose free cheddar and kale *trying out lactose free diet for 2 weeks to see if it gets with baby's upset tummy. Coconut yogurt with muesli, grapefruit, raspberries and bananas. Apple with almond butter. Sushi, chicken burger with fries. Cashew carrot soup. Oatmeal with coconut yogurt, raspberries, flax seed and hemp seed. Pear, Apples, 'Nomz' coconut energy balls, toasted seaweed (I ate 2 whole bags this week haha). Beef stir fry with ginger, rice, zucchini, and carrots and crispy black sesame seeds. Lots of Kombucha (craving it so much). Tuna tacos, prawns, herb roasted salmon with avocado tomato salad.
Harry is babbling more and louder!
On Friday night I swaddled him and put him to sleep with his pacifier and the sound machine at 7:30 and he slept until 2am - almost 7 hours (record breaking)! Greg and I stayed up and watched a movie and had a drink together, which was nice to have some adult time :)
Harry is standing for longer and longer (while I hold him under his arms). It’s amazing to see how strong his leg muscles are, and to watch his excitement as he moves about. He's been more aware of his hands and sucking on his fists a lot this week. He's able to take the Paci for longer periods of time.
I put more contrast cards up in the bathroom along with the lovery mobile and he sits in his bouncer chair and looks at them while I shower and get ready in the morning.
I've been putting him to sleep swaddled in his bassinet for the first stretch of sleep (7:30-12am) and then nursing him in my bed and having him stay in bed unswaddled the rest of the time. He has almost outgrown his bassinet now so I think by next week he won't fit in it anymore.
This week he’s started really responding to my singing, there have been a few times where it completely consoles him which is so sweet. He loves to sing along with me and when I breastfeed him if I'm humming he will hum along as he nurses which my mom witnessed one day and it just melted both of our hearts.
He’s starting to giggle more! He is also starting to make more smooth noises, follow me with his eyes and head with smooth movements. The doctor said his weight is average and he is a very tall baby (hence the legs hanging over his lounger)!
I’ve been reflecting on how healing is not linear, it is not a straight path, it zigs and zags, but that doesn't mean your not progressing. When I consider that it took my body 40 weeks to grow my baby, it makes sense that at 10 weeks postpartum my body would still be healing. Though pregnancy is a beautiful, natural process, it does not mean the changes that take place are optimal for your body. When else in your life do you gain 25-40 lbs so quickly? When else do your bones and muscles shift and expand to create more room? When else do your hormones increase and decrease so fast? All of these changes can put a lot of stress on your body, and then your body goes through birth which is a whole other set of stressors and in postpartum it shifts again plus you are carrying baby gear and baby 24/7. In those moments where I feel frustrated or even judgmental with expectations around the healing process I try to remind myself of all these changes, and be gentle on my body... afterall it has given me the greatest gift of my life.
I truly cannot believe how fast this time is flying. I have a mug that with the quote "the days are long but the years are short" and even my days feel like they are flying by. I don't know how my baby is already 2.5 months! When I look at him he is still so tiny but he also looks so so so big! Each morning he wakes up he looks a little different, its amazing to see him growing before my eyes. I wish we could freeze time but at the same time, every new day he learns more and I feel so proud and excited.
In one of my 'Life After Birth' group sessions the conversation naturally focused on the theme around going back to work. Some women in the group have older babies (around a year old) which is great to hear the perspectives of women who are further along in their journey's, and there was discussion around the emotions that come up when deciding if, when and how to go back to work (in the U.S its typically much earlier without paid maternity leave which is very different than Canada). This theme brought up some really interested things... the first being that until you actually have your baby you really have no idea of how you will feel about going back to work. You might have some thoughts or preference beforehand but until you actually experience meeting your baby and becoming a mother, there is no guarantee you will feel the same. We also talked about the fact that when you have a baby you can unintentionally be forced into these very traditional roles in your relationship, especially if you are breastfeeding, and/or pumping, as the baby is so mother dependent in the beginning of its life. Of course there are so many exceptions to this, some Dad's are able to stay home, some people are not able to take a maternity leave in which case other childcare providers step in. But basically unless you can clone yourself as a mother, in the beginning it can feel very traditional, which can be a difficult identity shift for many of us when we live in a society that prides itself on independent women having the ability to do it 'all' and be multi-hyphenate Mothers. When we talked about what that really looks like and the sacrifices you have to make - whether you sacrifice and miss out on the time with your baby, or sacrifice your career - either way it can feel like you missing out on something.
Before covid happened I felt like my photography business was just starting to grow organically in Venice. Then during Covid it came to a halt and I did a women's circle facilitator training as well as a counseling program at Cornell University to become a certified counselor while I was pregnant. It felt important for me to get those credentials so that when/if I decide to go back to work I would have something that I could do remotely and from home. Now at 2.5 months postpartum on the one hand I can’t imagine working this early, when my baby and I are so attached at the hip (and boob). Yet in moments I’ve felt some self-imposed pressure creep in. It's such a personal decision but ultimately for me, I think I will never regret the time spent with my baby whereas I think I might regret time away from him any earlier than 6 months. I know it is a luxury to have the option, and I also know my feelings around it might change, so for now I am tuning out the noise of what I think I "should" do, and listening to my heart on what feels right for me and baby.
And that brings me to a close on this postpartum journal series.
Sending so much love to you all.