Turned toward the sun ─

Weeks 6-7 Postpartum Journal

Physically I'm Feeling...

I walked 4 miles to the beach with Harry in the carrier and my back really regretted it. I’m trying to be more aware of my posture because I’m always leaning forward breastfeeding and when he is in the carrier. I’ve been experiencing lower and mid back pain and my tail bone is still hurting from the birth.

I wanted to mention that in the first 2 weeks postpartum I used the Haaka hand pump which was a nice gentle intro to pumping and perfect for pumping colostrum (that golden milk that is filled with nutrients and antibodies!) to save in the freezer for later, and collecting milk that leaked from one side as I was nursing on the other. Now that I’m using a normal pump I notice that sometimes my breasts feel a little sore after, and pumping really does feel like such an unromantic, tedious, and exhausting process. Before having a baby I had no idea how complex breastfeeding and pumping could be. I knew breastfeeding could be difficult and I assumed I might have to pump in order to store milk if I wasn’t going to be home or if I was working but I didn’t know much beyond that. Now I’m learning that there are so many different approaches and uses for pumping… some women don’t pump at all (if they don’t like it, their breasts don’t respond to expressing milk from a pump, or their baby rejects the bottle etc), some women pump everyday - especially if they are back to work, some women pump exclusively if their baby doesn’t take to breastfeeding but they still want to bottle feed their breastmilk. Some women pump to increase milk supply - pumping after each feed to fully empty the breasts and stimulate more production or do “power pumping”. Those are just a few different scenarios and there are many more, and each one can be both beautiful and challenging. How you feed your baby is such a personal choice and sometimes unfortunately we don't get to choose but rather our bodies or our babies decide for us. 

Breastfeeding can feel: like the most profound bonding time, like a heavy responsibility to be baby’s food source, natural, unnatural, primal, painful, meditative, physically taxing, effortless, emotionally draining, blissful, repetitive, calming, like your being held captive (isn’t it always the case that the moment you sit down to nurse you realize you have to go to the bathroom and you need water and food?!) The experience can be both/and...it’s multi-layered and that’s OK.

I want to send love out to any mama on their feeding journey - whether you are using breastmilk alternatives such as formula or donor milk, supplementing, breastfeeding, trying to establish breastfeeding, not able to breastfeed, pumping, or triple feeding - no matter how you feed your baby it is such hard work. In case no one told you today, you’re doing an amazing job!

Emotionally I’ve been feeling…

I had a couple days of feeling overwhelmed and anxious this week. There is a term called 'the invisible load’ of motherhood which refers to the invisible mental load of all the little and big things that you are responsible for as a Mom… this can refer to everything from the daily household tasks like laundry, sterilizing, keeping diapers and wipes stocked, or updating the baby book and taking milestone photos, tummy time and vitamin D drops, pumping or feeding your baby and the list goes on. I listened to a wonderful podcast episode on Holding Space - by registered therapist Dr. Cassidy Freitas in which she and her guest Erica Djossa explore the invisible mental load of Motherhood in the first year with baby. Dr. Cassidy describes it as feeling like a bunch of open tabs on your computer browser - only they are to do's floating around your exhausted baby brain. I feel this load when Harry is napping or asleep at night and I'm met with decision fatigue - how do I make the most of this window of time? I’ve been thinking a lot about our family values and trying to zoom out to think about what is most important, and remind myself of what I want out of this sacred 4th trimester time. I’m still trying to honor the First Forty Days and really soak up every cuddle, and just be present with Harry so I am continuously keeping my expectations of myself in check. Right now accomplishing one thing from my to-do list each day feels good and on the days where that doesn’t happen, I’m trying to embrace that too, because raising a little human is the most important thing I am doing right now. If ever you find yourself questioning what you actually accomplished in your day at home with your baby this an amazing article:

‘What do new mothers do all day?’

Most challenging moment

This week one of our family members was recovering from Covid which was very stressful but fortunately they are doing well now. 

Harry is in a ‘leap’ (wonder weeks app) which is helpful to know and allows me to have a better understanding of what he’s experiencing and where he is at developmentally. One of the signs of the leap is that he is hungry all the time which feels hard to keep up with! I had a very challenging day by myself and my husband has been working nights so between the two of us no sleep is going on in our house at the moment!

I had my first nightmare about Harry. I know this is inevitable as a parent…but it was terrifying! I have also had some scary thoughts this week - particularly when I was running very low on sleep. I was afraid of a scary scenario and my mind would play it out, like if I’m walking down the stairs with him I’m afraid of tripping and then I will imagine falling with him. When I was pregnant I listened to a couple podcast episodes that talked about this and how it it is quite common but many women feel ashamed to talk about it. I’ve found it really helpful to understand why the brain has these thoughts. It makes sense that it is a part of your protective mama bear instincts but it can still feel really scary to have them. Dr. Alyssa Berlin touches on it in this podcast episode with her husband Dr. Elliot Berlin, and she talks about this book Good Moms have scary thoughts. As well as Dr. Cassidy in this podcast episode. For me it helps to acknowledge this anxiety and saying it out loud takes away its power. 

I’m feeling grateful for…

My midwifery care! I had my 6 week midwife appointment and was discharged. My appointment was with my midwife Holly who delivered Harry and we had not seen each other since the night of the birth so it felt amazing to reminisce with her. She could not believe how much Harry had changed since she saw him on day 1! I was sad that my 6 week appointment meant that it was the end of my time being under my midwifery care but I am deeply grateful for their support and care and will never forget their words of encouragement during the birth and my first days as a new mother. Before I left the appointment I went to the bathroom and when I came back Harry was holding Holly's hand just starring into her eyes lovingly. It was a pretty special moment thinking she was one of the first people he ever met.

I'm feeling grateful to be able to see friends despite the covid restrictions of seeing them outdoors! My girlfriend flew into town with her fiancé so we went for a walk down to the beach with them. It felt so nice to briefly be able to celebrate their engagement and introduce them to Harry. We wore masks and distanced but it still felt so special to celebrate the beautiful things that have happened over the last year. We also met friends at a park and their 1 yr old and 5 yr old met harry which was so cute!

On weekends we’ve been cuddling up by the fire and watching movies, I’m grateful for this cosy quiet time.

Self Care…

Sometimes when I'm caring for baby all day I'm so attuned to his needs that I'm removed from my own. Sleep deprivation can add to this, making it more difficult to tap into the mind-body connection and process or make sense of where I’m at. I’ve been trying to consciously check in with myself to see what I need most.

Baths, and walks have felt great.

I got my hair done at a salon for the first time in exactly one year! I pumped milk and my mom looked after Harry at her place which was close to the salon. I fed him right before and then she gave him a bottle and he finished it within the first 30 mins of being with her which I had to laugh at because I knew it meant she would be driving back soon for me to feed him. At this point he can go 3 hours without being fed but I'm still feeding on demand so if he wants to eat more frequently he does! I think the first outing without him would have felt like a big deal anyway but the fact that it's during Covid made it that much more complicated to plan. I would have just brought him into the salon with me, but because of covid I breastfed him in the car with toner on my head haha. He did so great and didn't cry over the 4.5 hrs, he just rooted around when he was hungry and slept in his grandma's arms. It felt fantastic to get my hair done and feel refreshed! I have been so careful with covid that I had not been indoor in a public setting since last march so it felt amazing to talk to strangers and I think I chatted my hair stylists ear off! 

Mama Meals...

I Introduced a cold smoothie bowl and salad this week (up until now I've just been eating warming foods). I've been pre-making my breakfasts (overnight oats with berries, crunchy muesli, a dash of maple syrup and almond milk). My other breakfast go-to (pictured above) is warm oatmeal with coconut yogurt or greek yogurt, flax seeds, hemp seeds, raspberries, and goji berries. Snacks: chia seed pudding with almond milk goji berries, vanilla, cacao powder, maple syrup raspberries.

Beef stew, Salmon bowl with brown rice, spinach and squash, Baked Mac n cheese, beef chili, beans on toast with poached egg. Apples with nut butter, acai bowl, carrot muffins, roast chicken with green beans and sweet potato, crispy chicken with corn on the Cobb and beets, spinach and cheddar omelette, scrambled eggs, muesli with chopped banana, chicken noodle soup, salmon burger, green smoothie, coconut cookies.

Baby Update

Harry is smiling a lot more, it's so rewarding! He's laughing in his sleep which gives me insight into what his laugh will sound like and is just hilarious to watch! He's vocalizing more, making more new sounds like ‘Ga'. Focusing on objects more with his eyes. 

I've been topping him off with a bottle of breastmilk before bed to get him really full and he has been doing a 4 hr sleep stretch which feels like heaven to me. 

We are getting into a more consistent routine! I'm not a very routined person so it is still lose and very much baby led (and constantly evolving) but it feels good to be finding a rhythm in our day. 

Reflections

I’m feeling ready for more socializing. Up until this week I've really enjoyed retreating from the world and having this sacred time with baby and family but now that the weather is starting to get nicer (all the flowers are in bloom!) I'm feeling ready for more. I reached out to my girlfriends to set up some beach walks. I’m someone who thrives off of connecting with my female relationships so I can't wait until we can do more than just distanced walks outdoors.

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