Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuff No One Tells You About Labor, Delivery & the Aftermath of Raising A Newborn.

1) Birthing a child is major trauma to your body.

I delivered Xander at 2pm, got to spend all of 20 minutes -- if that -- with my newborn before they took him away to the nursery - along with my husband.

I was alone, covered in blood from the waist down and had yet to be cleaned and re-dressed after delivery. -- If you opt for an epidural, you have to wait for it to wear off before you can walk (escorted by nurses) to the bathroom for clean up.

Our family and friends started arriving at 4pm.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have opted for everyone to come the next day rather than 2 hours after I delivered. - Not that I'm ungrateful about everyone coming out, but like I said, birthing a human being is some serious trauma to your body.

- We had 11 people in our room at one point (not including Alan & myself) all waiting to see the baby - who wasn't even back from the nursery yet -- and everyone had to be shooed out of the room so the nurses could help me get cleaned up.

Once I was presentable, everyone was allowed back in the room and the passing around of the baby officially began. - But shortly after that, the nursery nurse came in to shoo everyone out - yet again - so I could try to breastfeed since it had been several hours since Xander was born and we literally had no chance to have some one-on-one time.

All in all, it was just a crazy time to have so many visitors on top of being completely exhausted and in so much pain from labor and delivery (I wasn't given any post-delivery pain meds yet).

2) You will get absolutely ZERO rest during your stay at the hospital.

We had hospital staff in and out of our room every couple hours. It was super ridiculous.

3) If you opt to have your baby boy circumcised and you're breastfeeding, DON'T get discouraged when he is completely inconsolable the evening after the procedure.

Xander screamed & cried all night and into the morning. He just could not settle and he refused to nurse from me. - This caused me to worry and stress because I had so many breastfeeding issues with Emily and I didn't want a repeat of that with this baby, plus I was feeling pressured by the evil nursery nurses to be sure he was nursing every 3 hours. He was totally inconsolable and cried so hard that his little voice went hoarse. We got absolutely no sleep that night / morning until the nurses came at 5am to take him for lab work. - But apparently, that is completely normal behavior for a newly circumcised newborn -- which they failed to tell me till the next morning. So don't let those nursery nurses stress you out by coming in every few hours asking how long your baby nursed and if he had any dirty diapers while he's screaming so loudly that you can't hear what they're asking you. - It's their job to ask and chart. Be strong and resist the urge to punch them in the face. I did. Barely.

-- Oh, and the nurses won't OFFER to take your baby for you that last night... But you can most definitely request that they take the baby for a few hours so you can get some rest. I didn't find this out until I was ready to go completely ballistic on my doctor who came in at 5:30am to ask me how that night went.

4) You will cry over anything and everything... for a while.

Xander is a month old and I still find myself crying over the littlest things - though it's not as bad as it was during the first few weeks post-delivery.

Chalk it up to hormones, sleep deprivation and just an overwhelming sense of constant worry about trying to do everything right.

This is my 2nd child and every day I wonder (and worry) about how we're going to make this all work. How I'm going to be able to handle going back to work with TWO kids' schedules to manage now.

I have to constantly remind myself that it WILL get easier. This tiny baby stage goes by super fast (even though it doesn't feel like it right now). The craziness, the sleep-deprivation and the colic will all be over before we know it and we'll find a new sense of "normal" that works specifically for our family.

5) Breastfeeding is SUPER hard!

Despite it being natural and what our bodies are ultimately designed for, nursing an infant isn't easy by any means. For a lot of women, it doesn't come naturally and is super difficult, stressful and exhausting... But NO ONE ever tells you that!

I had major issues with Emily and completely abandoned breastfeeding when she was 8 weeks. But I am super determined to stick with it this time around for Xander (and for our pocketbook -- because formula is STUPID expensive). I'm hoping to do it for a year but at the very least, for 6 months.

Nursing is a serious commitment, especially the first few months, and it's not easy by any means. - You're exhausted, your nipples are sore and your boobs are achey.

Everyone is offering to come "help" with the baby, but the reality of it is they can't really do much. Breastfed babies nurse every 2-3 hours. (There have been days here lately where Xander has nursed almost every hour during his growth spurts.) So even if you opt to introduce bottle feeding before the recommended 4-6 weeks and have someone else do a feeding to give you a "break", guess what, you still have to get up and pump.

Xander is currently going through a colicky phase where most feedings he will eat from me just fine, but for at least one feeding during his colicky spell he will only take a bottle. So every time, I have to hand him off to dad and go spend 10 minutes pumping to ensure that my milk supply won't diminish by him missing a feeding. It's a royal pain to be locked away in your bedroom connected to a pump while your fussy, inconsolable baby is giving your significant other a run for his money and you not being able to help. But it has to be done.

I still worry and stress over my milk supply every day. - And I'm still waiting for the breastfeeding thing to get "easy" -- but I have a feeling it will be another month or so... Especially if Xander's colicky phase doesn't go away sooner rather than later.

It's a constant worry for me. I google stuff every single day... Like what foods to avoid that might contribute to his fussiness / gassiness. I feel guilty if I drink coffee or have a pop and eat junk food.

I find myself stressing over time more now too... Like there's a sense of urgency to get outings done right after he's been fed because that gives us a good 2-3 hours before he'll need to eat again. - And I still have yet to master gracefully (and modestly) breastfeeding in public -- so I try to not have to do it as often as I can.

It's hard... That's all I can say. - But it's best for Xander and ultimately what's best for our family budget right now too. So I'm trying my best to trudge on, despite my wanting to quit every single day and will continue to do little victory dances in my head at every pediatric check up when they tell me how much he weighs and that he's gained a substantial amount of weight since his last appointment.

All that being said, I feel the need to share some of the things I did that have helped me be successful (thus far) at breastfeeding this time around:

* Rent a pump from the hospital for the first 2 weeks -- even if you already have a pump at home. A hospital grade pump is more efficient at emptying your breast than any other pump you can buy at the store and will help jump start your milk supply. (Furthermore, when shopping for a breast pump, always opt for an electric pump rather than a hand-held manual pump -- I speak from experience here. Manual pumping with a newborn baby was insanity.)

* Don't forget to eat! I find that I am hungrier now than I was when I was pregnant. Breastfeeding burns MAJOR calories and you need to nourish your body so you can feed and nourish your baby.

Those first 2 weeks I was so tired, I slept every time the baby would and just wouldn't eat. Big no-no! Enlist help! Have your partner bring you a snack every time you are feeding baby. Prep healthy snacks you can grab before a feeding and easily eat during a feeding for those days your partner has to go into work and you're flying solo with baby.

* Stay hydrated. I drink a TON of water. It's ridiculous. The good thing is you won't have to pee every 3 minutes because your body is absorbing it, plus there's not a baby dancing on your bladder anymore. Try to incorporate juice and milk too -- you need the Calcium and the Vitamin C to stay healthy so you can continue to take care of that little one.

* Keep taking your Pre-Natal Vitamins... I've found that if I take mine with dinner, Xander doesn't have issue with it... But if I take it on an emptier stomach, like before bed, like I did when I was pregnant, feedings were more difficult. Also, a common complaint amongst breastfeeding moms is that iron can cause increased fussiness. I have to agree, as I started a vitamin based anti-depressant with iron and noticed he was super fussy the few days I took it. So ditch the iron supplements unless your doctor tells you to keep taking them.

* I've had the worst luck with washable / reusable nursing pads. I always soak through. I found the disposable nursing pads have worked best for me. They keep you drier too - which means less chance of bacteria & infection. You can buy a box of 100 at Walmart for $12. Either way, which ever ones you choose, change your nursing pads often to reduce your risk of infection -- because mastitis sucks -- again, I speak from experience.

It seems a lot of my friends are expecting their first babies very soon. I hope this helps some of you prep for the reality of becoming parents.

It's not glamorous... It's scary, difficult and very frustrating a lot of the time. I guarantee at some point or another, you'll get angry with your partner, you'll be jealous of the amount of sleep they're getting, you'll feel like you're doing everything, you'll be surrounded by people wanting to help but feel completely alone and you'll most definitely wonder to yourself during those hours of incessant, inconsolable crying from your fussy baby "How in the world did I convince myself that this was a good idea?" - But in those moments, just try to take a deep breath, remind yourself that it DOES get easier, it IS a good idea and it WILL all be SO worth it. Repeating those things every day seems to be working for me.

Much love, Friends. <3 br="">

Photo by Brooke Kelly Photography

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