Working From Home: Tips For Working With A Newborn

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Many days, this chain of events happens in my house:

I say a prayer thanking God for the chance to work from home. About 30 seconds later, I dream of babysitters and working surrounded by adults.

I have learned, the hard way, many things that may help others working from home with a newborn. Here’s the lowdown:

First of all, everything I am about to say is based on my time working from home while Eva was still in school or spending time with grandma. Once summer break began, things changed significantly. Anyone interested in knowing how we do it with a seven year old and a newborn, let me know in the comments.

The most important thing to remember is what I am about to say, so listen up.

Pretty much everything is a craps shoot until your baby is about six weeks old. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Now that we got that bit of disappointing news out of the way, let me explain and let’s cover some basics. Our pediatrician cited a study as she informed me that newborns on average cry for 50 percent of their awake time every day. EVERY. DAY. Babies do sleep on average 12-20 hours a day at least. But that leaves 6-2 hours of crying. For the first 4-8 weeks, realistically expect to manage to work about an hour a day. I know this sounds extreme, but this is a great time to A.) recover if you had the baby, and B.) SLEEP! Sleep as often as possible. There is an adjustment period; adjust in increments. It will help everyone if you cut yourself some slack, sleep as much as possible, and try to be Super Woman only 50 percent of the time. The rest of time, settle for a Princess Leia level of bad ass-ed-ness, or something like that. Try not to kiss your brother, though, because that’s just weird and wrong.

A newborn’s fussiness reaches its peak around six weeks old. For us, it was like someone flipped a switch at the six week mark and I suddenly had a much happier baby.

For my son, the morning is his happiest, most content time of the day.  As soon as we wake up he eats, I eat, and then I shower. By shower, I mean a super fast 7 minute shower. I sit him in his bouncy seat by a mirror that’s on the bathroom door right inside the bathroom so I can look at him and talk to him randomly to keep us both happy. By the time we are done with these tasks and he has been changed, it’s time for a nap.

Around 8 weeks old, I started rocking him until he was almost asleep and then I would put him in his crib (I suggest using whatever you want him/her to sleep in at night so he/she associates this specific thing with sleep). It was hit and miss for about a week, with him screaming at me when I would set him down. But, once we established this routine, I could start laying him down when he was ready for a nap without rocking him for more than about 2 minutes. You’ll know when you have the best chance of getting him/her to cooperate with this plan of action by two things:
1. His/her body will be very relaxed, still, and eyes will be drifting.
2. You will be able to move around without triggering any movement or increased alertness in baby.
The reason getting your baby to nap independently is important: the less time you spend getting him/her to nap, the more time you have to use both hands to work.
A formula fed baby of average weight will go about 3-4 hours between eating. Breast fed babies go about 2-3 hours. So, once a baby is fed, they usually stay awake for about an hour. That leaves about 1-2 hours before it is time to feed that breast fed baby again, and 2-3 hours before that formula fed baby needs fed again. For babies two months and younger, expect them to only stay awake for an hour straight, max. Then it is nighty night time again.
If you have a baby who is dependent on the binky to sleep, expect that baby to only take cat naps. Plan on baby sleeping for 20 minutes at a time. Baby sleep cycles only last 20-30 minutes. Some babies wake up at the end of each cycle, while others will stay asleep and begin a new cycle. If a sleep cycle is interrupted, expect a very fussy baby who will need help falling back to sleep.
Early evening is a baby’s fussiest time. I don’t know why, it is like Sundowners for infants. For the first 6 weeks, this will be your worst time of day. I know for my son, I could count on him crying and fussing from 5 pm until I put him in his bath at 8 pm. Then I would get a reprieve for about 15-20 minutes before it continues, pausing only during feedings. From about 5-7, plan on not working during this time and take turns cooking if there are two of you.
After the six week mark, my son became more predictable and less fussy in the evening. My little guy now likes to take a nap at 7. I can practically set a clock by it. He gets unreasonably fussy and won’t stop no matter what I do until I cave and rock him to sleep. He will sleep about 45 min.
After his late nap, I give him a bath every single night. I only use soap on him every other day or so to prevent his skin from drying out too much. I am a firm believer in baths. It is so incredibly soothing for babies. We begin this once the cord stump was gone. I know people think it is a bad idea to bathe your baby every day, but really 10 minutes in some warm water is not going to hurt him. At worst, I have to slather some lotion on him (all newborns I have ever met need lots of lotion but it gets better once all the dry skin has sloughed off). After his bath, I use this time to set him in his bouncer or swing next to me and get about 20-30 minutes of work done. I couldn’t do this without a bath. He is so incredibly relaxed.
Once your baby hits about 6 weeks, patterns should start to emerge. You will notice times that he needs to nap longer, eat more frequently, stay awake longer. If you are having trouble figuring out his natural routines, download a baby tracking app. Similac and Gerber both have apps. You can time naps and enter every feeding. After a week, a pattern should emerge that will help you plan your days.
Now that we covered the basics, here are some practical tips:
Prioritize your work. Pick two things every day that MUST get done.
Put your work into two separate lists. One list consists of work that requires two hands. The other list is all work you can do one handed, with a baby that might possibly be screaming in the other arm. Save the one handed tasks for awake times. Use nap times for the two handed tasks.
Plan to work in 20-30 minute increments during nap times. If he/she sleeps longer, then you can keep at it.
Invest in an exercise ball (like the 65cm size) to use in place of a desk chair. My son is very cooperative with one handed work if I am sitting on the ball bouncing slightly. Also, holding him tight against me, belly to chest/belly with a binky in his mouth, his body swaddled, and me bouncing on the ball is sometimes the only way he goes to sleep if we are having an especially bad day (usually a day involving gas bubbles…he has the gas bubbles, not me, ha). He has pretty much given up the binky completely these days, though.
Plan to only get about 3 hours total a day that you can use both hands simultaneously for the first 3-4 months.
Check out the Ingenuity automatic bouncer seat (best part is it was only $40.00 at Target). It is the only bouncer that actually bounces…the rest just vibrate and make noise. Swings are amazing. These handy tools keep him entertained while he is awake as long as I can talk to him and smile at him every couple of minutes.
Don’t forget to try just setting the baby on his/her back in the floor next to you while you work. Sometimes babies just need space and a little freedom to move. It is usually the last thing parents try out of complete frustration only to discover that the baby quits fussy and starts looking around instead.
Talking to him constantly when he is awake and a little fussy usually keeps all-out crying at bay. Work out loud.
For the baby 0-8 weeks, a baby wrap or carrier may be your best bet at keeping the little one happy for about 30 minutes. This could be a great option if you need to make a phone call and keep the baby from screaming. My son really likes his carrier as long as I am moving…a lot. Like outside taking a walk, or in the grocery story shopping type of moving. So, I downloaded an app for my phone to automatically record phone calls. This has eliminated my need to take notes. I schedule my phone calls for times that either I will have someone else on hand who can take a crying baby or when I can strap on the baby carrier and take a walk. Luckily, I live on a relatively quiet street, and I’m in shape enough not to huff and puff while walking and talking.
Word of warning: I find it impossible to focus on the task at hand when my child is screaming in the other room, completely safe and cared for by anyone that isn’t me. I know intellectually that Dad or grandma or my friend is doing everything I would be doing and he is just upset, but I still can’t make my mind shut the sound out. I have quit fighting it and just go get him usually. So, even if you get help a day or two a week or in the evening, be flexible and do what comes natural. It will work out much better for all of you in the end.
If you know another work from home parent with a newborn, band together. Take shifts. Usually both babies won’t be fussy at exactly the same time. Take shifts. At the very least, cooperative working, or working in the same space with your babies, with someone else in the same situation will provide some encouragement and adult conversation for you.
Never underestimate the power of getting some intelligent conversation. Or caffeine. Caffeine is pretty amazing, too.
That’s all I’ve got! Good luck to you working moms!
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We Did The Math

Well, I had an entire post planned. I was going to outline the drop in steel prices and oil prices from last year to this year. I was going to show you how interrelated the two appear. I was going to show how it has personally impacted me and my family.

Screw that. I can’t seem to find the level of rationality needed to calmly discuss such things.

We’re on track to make $19,000 less this year than last. Nineteen GRAND! That’s a LOT of money to us.

Let me break it down a bit. Last year we made $52,000 combined. We didn’t break any records or anything, but we can definitely live on that. So, 52 – 19 = 33.

We’re on track to make $33,000 this year. A family of four. Need I say more? I’m just praying my business picks up or oil prices sky rocket.

Excuse me while I go cry over in the corner.

The Continuance of Lower Gas Prices is Crippling

In January, I outlined how lower gas prices were ruining my life. While this sounds a bit on the dramatic side, I’m only exaggerating with that title by not specifying that lower gas prices are ruining my financial life.

As I discussed before, my husband sells steel for a living. His best customers have always been the people involved in the petroleum industry. Until January of this year, that is. The writing was on the wall for the oil industry in December, 2014, but in January the writing was no longer written–it was chiseled in stone.

Brief history: The U.S. (and Canada, for that matter) had began to ramp up oil production a few years ago in an effort to become less dependent on foreign oil. It also created jobs and had pleasant side effects for people like my husband who was suddenly getting orders for materials needed for this increase. Fracking, although controversial, was also in full swing. Existing oil drilling sites had began expanding in the last couple of years as well. New businesses had opened up in the last few years as well, taking advantage of the favorable market for oil.

Fast forward to January, 2015: OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) decided to increase oil production. This translated to cheaper oil by the barrel, which had consumers in amazement as gas at the pump prices dropped to just under $2.00/gallon.

Everyone was happy with the lower prices–except for anyone dependent on the oil industry for a steady income. At least the laid-off workers didn’t have to pay as much to fill their tanks I guess.

Fast forward to last Friday, June 5th:

OPEC had their semi-annual meeting in Vienna, as per the usual. The members of OPEC looked around at the various oil markets. What did they see?

U.S. production has halted because it doesn’t pay to operate at a loss. Many companies are either already bankrupt or teetering on the edge. Many other companies have laid off everyone except someone to answer the phones. Canada looks very similar.

Russia’s economy has taken a huge hit because it can’t sell the oil it depends on for more than it cost to produce the oil.

What was OPEC’s response? To keep oil production at its current levels.

There will be no relief for any of these nations.

I suppose the upside is the effect it will have on Iran’s oil production and economy. But my melancholy over the effect it is having on our pocketbook far outweighs any happy thoughts I may have about Iran not being able to finance its nuclear program. I seriously have to get more writing gigs, like now.

There is an article on CNN that says it all pretty well. Check it out if you are interested:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/opec-turning-on-the-oil-taps-about-more-than-just-market-share-1.3102795

2 Months Old

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Nothing is quite so nice as holding a napping baby…unless you need to pee, right this second.

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Nothing is quite as adorable as baby smiles…

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even though capturing baby smiles on film can be like trying to catch Big Foot by surprise with a camera.

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My son is now just over 2 months old. He is weighing in just under 12 pounds and is in about the 50th percentile for height and weight. He is gaining around two pounds a month and growing an inch each month as well. His little nogging is measuring in the 30th percentile.

He gives us lots of smiles, and he tries so hard to talk and mimic our mouth movements when we talk to him. He has forgotten how to roll over this week, but he managed to push himself sideways during tummy time yesterday. I think this achievement was fueled by pure rage on his part. He hates tummy time. I don’t hardly make him do it. Instead he sits in a Bumbo type of seat, stands and lays in the floor on his back a lot.

That’s him for now. Every day is a new adventure!

Sleepovers: My Worst Nightmare

Trigger Warning for sexually abused

 

A few days ago, I noticed a conversation on my Facebook news feed. It was among a group of mamas from a rather large Facebook group. The subject of conversation was sleepovers. A article by Dr. James Dobson was referenced in the initiating post by one mama asking the other mamas their opinions. Dr. Dobson outlined his reasons for not allowing sleepovers in his article.

I was simultaneously encouraged, frustrated and angry by the conversation that blossomed in the comments on this post. There were a few women that agreed with Dr. Dobson’s point of view that allowing your child to attend a sleepover is taking quite a risk. Child pornography gets made somehow. Molestation and rape occur somehow. Why not limit the risk of it happening to your child by adding ‘no sleepovers’ to your list next to ‘don’t talk to strangers’?

I’m sure it is obvious I agree with the no-sleepover rule. The only sleepovers my daughter has been allowed to attend without me (when she was in my custody, I should say) have been those with grandparents. I didn’t comment on this post, stating my position and why, because it was becoming apparent that the conversation had devolved into a post that only served to guilt mothers who didn’t agree with the majority.

Many mamas said they had to know the people really well before sending their child on a sleepover. Many others stated that they had thoroughly discussed things like molestation with their children, giving them tips on how to avoid such a thing. Many of these same moms giving tips also subscribed to the theory ‘you can’t watch your children every second of every day or they will never grow up’. Helicopter parenting was also mentioned.

I wanted to shout at all of these moms giving tips to their children on how to avoid getting molested that they don’t get it. These moms just don’t understand.

Is it important to teach a child of a certain age or maturity that such a thing exists in the world? Yes. Is it important to drill into that child that if anything, anything that makes her or him feel uncomfortable happens she should report it immediately to a parent or grandparent? Yes. Extremely. I don’t want my daughter to be victimized at all, but I especially don’t want her to be victimized and then suffer in silence because of intimidation and fear. But are my best efforts in educating her on such a topic going to be enough to prevent molestation?

No. Absolutely not.

I can give her tools so at least maybe she would know what to do next if such a horrible thing happened. But can I reasonably expect her to out-manipulate a seasoned manipulator? That’s the thing some of those mamas seemed to forget. Not only would my daughter most likely be at a size disadvantage, she is also at a mental disadvantage. Someone who has been manipulative and deceptive for more than a moment has more experience at such things than my daughter.

These people that prey on children have honed and perfected their methods, or else they would have already been caught and jailed and put on a list. They specialize in deceiving adults and manipulating children. Am I really going to say that my seven-year-old daughter should or could be able to out smart such a person?  Isn’t that placing blame squarely on every victim who wasn’t able to outsmart their assailant?

I strongly believe in self-determination and that every parent should determine what is best for his or her child independent of my (or anyone else’s) opinion. I’m not advocating every parent must parent MY way. I just wish we, as a society could find a happy medium between helicopter parenting and treating our children as if they are miniature adults.

My child is a child. She has the correct developmental age and maturity of a seven-year-old. But, she is only seven. She is my precious responsibility.

An Open Letter To My Daughter’s Teacher

Tomorrow is the last day of school before summer break begins. I can imagine that the last few weeks of school are rough. The kids are restless and eager for all of the fun, end-of-year activities and then summer. The parents are anxiously awaiting that last test, asking for that last conference to see if little Timmy or Sally will be moving on to the next grade. Your days must be spent corralling and calming children and parents alike.

I wanted to take a moment to talk to you. I wanted you to be able to read this on your time table, though, not mine. This isn’t urgent. Sally will still be headed for the next grade level even if you never read this.

I wanted to say something important, though. I wish it was profound and original. If I were more ingenious, perhaps I could contrive something to accurately convey my feelings. Instead, I’m left with an over-used, often obligatory little sentence as my medium of expression. In this scenario, it isn’t obligatory at all but rather from the heart. So here it is:

Thank you.

I have heard you speak to your student’s family members many times throughout this school year. I have often heard these words from you: “Thank you for entrusting your child to me.”

You have even said those words to me. Those words, backed up by your actions, have prompted this most heartfelt thank you. Those words reassured me that you see my daughter as the precious and vulnerable little individual she is. Those words have reassured me that you understand the potential impact your words and actions can have on my child.

So much of my daughter’s future self will be built upon the foundation that is forming right now. You have made a conscious effort to encourage her to improve the things that needed improving and then to praise her once she has succeeded. You have added some strong, sound bricks to her foundation.

Thank you for giving her praise only where she has earned it. Thank you for showing her that there is always room for improvement. Thank you for giving her goals and allowing her to experience the thrill of meeting those goals.

There are some things that just don’t mean as much coming from mom. Thank you for pointing out her strengths to her. She trusts your opinion to be honest and true; your praise holds high value for her.

Mostly, I just want to say thank you for your heart. Your heart is in everything you do as my daughter’s teacher. I couldn’t possibly ask for anything better than that. My best wishes go to you.

More Eva

Today, Eva had a talent show at school. Her profound talent she wanted to share with the school is hula hooping. More precisely, hula hooping around her neck.

As we were getting ready this morning, she made sure I knew which one of us was to be the star today.

Me: Do you know where any of my hair clips are?
Eva: Mom, you know you’re just coming to watch the show not be in it, right?
Me: Yes, I’m aware.
Eva: So why do you want a hair clip today?
Me: Why would anyone want a hair clip–to put in my hair. I don’t want my hair in my face.
Eva: Then why don’t you wear a ponytail?
Me: Do you know where my clips are or not?
Eva: Nope.

Perfection Personified (or so she thinks)

My wonderful now 7-year-old daughter Eva has made it this far in life without taking any serious hits to her self-esteem. It probably started at birth when she began frequently hearing all her loved ones repeatedly tell her she is so pretty and she is so smart. It has evolved a bit since then.

Around age 5, she was really, truly convinced she was the prettiest and smartest girl in the world. This prompted a change in how we would compliment her. We began saying she was the smartest girl we know. Good self-esteem is one thing, and conceit is quite another. We were trying to avoid conceit.

I’m not sure how well we are doing in that respect.

Last week, on a sunny day in the bank drive-through:

Me: (I hand Eva a sucker) Here, dear. Tell the lady thank you.
Eva: Thank you! Do you think she saw me because of my hair? (Eva has long blond hair)
Me: What about your hair? What do you mean?
Eva: The sun is shining on my hair. I bet my hair reflected it in her face and that’s why she saw me.
Me: What?
Eva: Don’t you know that you can’t look directly at my hair in the sun or it will hurt your eyes because it’s so shiny?
Me: (suppressing laughter) No, I was unaware.

Someone will knock her down a peg or two at some point in life, but I don’t think it has to be me or has to be now.

Postpartum: My Breastfeeding Experience

As I have mentioned before, I’m not a fan of breastfeeding. It wasn’t something that conjured warm, fuzzy feelings for me. My plan was to pump and then bottle feed my son. Feeding directly from the tap (the boobies) was something I was prepared to do long enough to establish my milk supply, but that’s it. I do not have any desire to breastfeed.

That being said, my plans have changed. I still do not remotely enjoy breastfeeding, but I can’t pump enough milk to meet my son’s needs. So, from the tap it shall be!

I will start from the beginning:

In the hospital immediately following my c-section, a nurse helped me breastfeed. I had lots of colostrum and my son was born a pro. He had a perfect latch and the nurses called him ‘Hoover’ because of the strength of his suck. Such a wonderful nickname to make my nipples cringe in anticipation.

My boobs were numb from the c-section anesthesia for the first several feedings. The first feeding, the nurse helped keep my son latched until he fell asleep and wouldn’t continue. That was a 50 minute feeding. The next feeding lasted somewhere around an hour. The next one was around the 40 minute mark, and so things went every couple of hours until the next day. A lactation specialist stopped in to check on us and every nurse I had asked to watch him eat to make sure everything was going well. Each proclaimed his latch to be perfect.

Day 2 of breastfeeding began with bloody nipples followed by scabs and lots of tears. I had zero pain from my c-section at this point. I was only saying yes to pain management drugs because of the agony that came every time my son latched on, or anytime anything touched my nipples or boobs.

By that evening, I was sobbing every time he latched and for the duration of each feeding. If he needed to re-latch during a feeding, I had to employ pain management techniques I had used during labor just to keep going.

The next day, I saw lactation consultant number 2. She also said his latch was perfect. I had her, the house pediatrician, and a nurse all check him for a lip and tongue tie, just in case. Nothing, which was a relief, sort of. I was hoping for a fixable solution to make breastfeeding less painful, but I was also hoping we wouldn’t have to decided whether we would have to have a tie clipped.

After shift change that night, I got to meet a fantastic nurse. She brought me gel soothies for my boobies. She was also a huge source of encouragement. I don’t think I will ever forget her! She was the only nurse to address the obvious pain I was in while breastfeeding.

Around 4 am and another weigh in for my son, she encouraged me to try to let him eat as long as I could stand it. She then gently said that after that, maybe I could think about supplementing just a little to get a break and give him some extra nourishment. My milk had come in, but my son was spending more time screaming than anything else because he just wasn’t getting enough to make his belly happy. She approached it so gently, obviously not wanting to discourage me or undermine my breastfeeding, it made me want to give her a big hug.

Looking back now, I feel so foolish for not bringing up supplementation on my own. I knew we needed it around 4:00 am the previous night, but I wasn’t going to be the one to bring up supplementation. I already felt like I had given in to pain when I got the epidural, and I shouldn’t do it again so early. My baby boy was so unhappy and there was no doubt that his cries were hunger cries. Still, I didn’t ask for a bottle and some formula. The stress and pain of it all was only further compounding the situation. My supply was never going to respond if I didn’t get a bit of peace and sleep, which is why I am so thankful to that nurse for knowing what was needed.

My husband got to feed our son for the very first time on the third night. We limited this feeding to 10 mL, but I think our son could have easily drank all 40 mL of that bottle. We were all very much relieved at the end of those 10 mL. We supplemented a couple more times the next day as well after breastfeeding until I was obviously empty.

We spent one more night in the hospital before heading home. On our last day there, I realized when I went to shower that I had a giant lump in my right arm pit that was painful when pushed on and slightly warm. It was the size of a golf ball.

Oh yay. This should be fun.

I called my nurse. She brought lots of wash cloths to be used as warm compresses. She also demonstrated how I should massage it while breastfeeding to help get things moving. The compresses and massaging didn’t seem to make a difference.

Once we were home, the lump got bigger. I continued to put warm compresses on it and massaged from arm pit to breast while pumping or breastfeeding (which hurt intensely). I also pumped my arm like I was a chicken trying to take flight. The more you flex the muscles in that area the more lymph and such gets circulated. I knew this was all related to my milk coming in, but I was terrified I was going to end up with mastitis.

This is where things get awkward, but bear with me. Not only was my arm pit lumpy, but now my breasts were getting lumpy and I started to feel achy all over. I knew I needed to massage while pumping or breastfeeding to get the lumps out, but it was so painful I couldn’t bring myself to do it with enough pressure to get anywhere. So, my husband came to the rescue. He massaged while I pumped (couldn’t handle the pain combo of breastfeeding AND massage simultaneously). We did this for two whole days, pumping every time after nursing. My lumps all reduced and eventually vanished.

My husband couldn’t let the opportunity pass to make jokes, though, comparing the situation to milking a cow.

Ha ha. I’m laughing on the inside.

My nipples were shedding scabs only to build new ones every time I fed him for the first two weeks. I sobbed every time I fed him. I was still limiting his feedings to 12-20 minutes on each side for the sake of my sanity, which is why I pumped after every feeding.

I was pumping or feeding him every two hours in an effort to increase my supply. I knew the real answer to increasing my supply was to let him nurse as long as he liked as often as he liked, but I just couldn’t do it. Pumping hurt much less, thankfully.

I began taking Fenugreek and trying to drink Milk Maid tea. The tea was about the most disgusting stuff I had ever tried to force down my gullet, and that’s saying something. Did I mention I have been to the Philippines a couple of times and ate tribal cuisine?

OK, I might be exaggerating slightly. I drank the tea for a couple of days. My supply improved around the second week.

I also got a bit of advice from my son’s pediatrician. When I told her I was struggling to produce enough milk but I was pumping or breastfeeding every two hours, she suggested instead that I sleep. She said to get some rest for the next couple of days and she would bet my supply would increase.

She was right.

At the second week mark, my nipples started to toughen up and I began to cry less during feedings. The initial latch was still awful, but it was getting better. By the third week, I was only crying during night feedings. My nipples were much better, but now let down was another issue.

In the hospital when my milk came in, I felt a fiery, stinging sensation in my breasts. This feeling continued to manifest every time I fed my son. It seemed to coincide with let down. The wonderful nurse in the hospital told me it is just something some people experience and there really isn’t anything to be done about it. She also encouraged me by saying that I would probably get used to the sensation and not find it quite so painful after a couple of weeks.

Also with let down came a headache and a super weird sensation that felt like something was being tugged from my shoulder blade area every time my son sucked. The stinging sensation was very intense at each feeding, and my boobs were intensely itchy during each feeding as well.

We are getting close to week 7 now. I’m glad to say I don’t cry anymore now from breastfeeding. My nipples aren’t bloody or scabbed. They are frequently bruised looking, though, and this week my right nipple is tender. I attribute this tenderness to supplementing and bottle feeding less this week and letting him eat a little longer just to make sure my supply stays up. But, everything is manageable these days. The stinging sensation is still there, but it isn’t so overwhelming anymore. I believe I had gotten used to it. The itching still happens when let down initially occurs, but it lessens and disappears.

I am also proud to say that I have managed to get my son down from 40 minutes for each session to 20 minutes or less. He can completely empty both sides so much quicker now which makes such a difference in nipple wear and tear.

If I hadn’t resolved to stick it out for two weeks minimum prior to my son’s birth, I think I would have quit before we hit one week. I would have rather labored all over again than continue to breastfeed, or at least that’s how I felt about it three days in.

Things I learned that might be helpful to others:

1. Bring two of the softest, stretchiest nursing bras you can find.

2. Ask for the lanolin and gel soothies right away; don’t wait until you’re sore. Start using them ASAP.

3. Nipple pain does not necessarily mean a bad latch or a problem.

4. Some people just have extra sensitive nipples. I am one of them.

5. Breast milk really is the best for helping your nipples heal.

6. Babies that drink primarily breast milk have the best smelling poop. Well, I mean their poop doesn’t smell as bad as babies who drink formula only.

7. Most nurses in the hospital are very adamant about you feeding your child every two hours, from start of one feeding to the next. So, like the 50 minute feeding meant I only had about an hour break before I was supposed to feed him again. I adhered to this until our last day. He was much better at eating if I waited for him to be interested.

8. Partner involvement in breastfeeding is such a big deal! I don’t think it gets stressed enough. A shoulder/neck massage from my husband while I was feeding my son (and sobbing) made it so much more bearable. It didn’t really take any of the pain away, but it kept me from feeling alone or ignored. It made me feel like he empathized with my pain, and it made me feel so loved. He would also bring me water and have me drink sips while I was breastfeeding, like holding the straw to my lips even. Or if I was breastfeeding at our meal time, he would feed me bites. His involvement and supplementation saved the day. I don’t know I could have stuck with it without him.

9. Side-lying position while breastfeeding is the best way to breastfeed ever! It was especially nice to use when I was still stuck in bed and my arms weren’t all that reliable yet after my c-section.

10. Breastfeeding isn’t more of a bonding experience for me than bottle feeding.

11. My nipples randomly have insufficient blood flow due to some spasms of the blood vessels. When the blood flow returns, it is enough to make me want to rip them off and stomp on them and light them on fire! And there is no fix for this problem!

12. If the pain hadn’t lessened significantly by the 6 week mark, I would have switched to formula and never looked back. I would have been completely guilt free about that decision. I didn’t want to continue to cringe every time my son wailed out his hungry cry. For the first couple of weeks, I had wanted to hide under a rock every time he was hungry because I knew how much I was about to hurt. Luckily, things did improve for us.

All the moms out there who beat themselves up for not being able to or choosing not to breastfeed for whatever reason–knock it off! My son (breastfed) clings to mom just as much as my daughter did (formula fed). I feel just as much love for both of them. Both are equally healthy (thank you, God!). Being a mom is all about knowing what is best for your child at that moment in time. No book can give you that answer. Hats off to you, Mom, for listening to your mommy brain! 

 

Postpartum: My Physical Experience

Warning: This post is going to be a bit gross and personal as I discuss things like postpartum bleeding. If you aren’t up for that, stop reading now.

My obstetrician lied to me. She was very confident that I would only bleed for two weeks, maximum. I told her about last time with Eva (my 7-year-old daughter); I bled for a full six weeks. She looked at me with one raised eyebrow and then moved on. Well, like I said, she lied.

I bled for a bit over four weeks.

Then I started a period.

Lord, help me.

What happened to my PCOS and all of my really random, spaced out periods? What is this? Does this mean things are working a bit better than before?

Cue unexplained weight gain of 10 pounds in four days.

Whaa? Huh? Color me clueless.

I started pregnancy at 217 lbs. The day before I delivered, I weighed 223.6 lbs. Two weeks postpartum, I was at 208 lbs. So, in fairness to all the women trying to shed baby weight I guess the universe decided I needed those 10 lbs back. 218 lbs now.

Cue a small meltdown. I know, I’m ridiculous.

But the point I was getting to is this:

Could this sudden weight gain be a sign that my PCOS is indeed back in high gear already? Did that period somehow trigger it?

At my six week appointment, my obstetrician didn’t know what to say about the 10 lbs, but she was confident it wasn’t a result of PCOS coming back with a vengeance. At least she has faith things will be better on the PCOS front for a bit. I’m certainly not in the least bit confident. She was also confident that I am probably ovulating all on my own these days for at least the next couple of months (she said 6 months but I hate to be that optimistic).

So what do I do about birth control? Do I even want birth control? I am game for another baby.

Yes, I should probably see a psychiatrist to get my head examined.

I haven’t managed to bring myself to terms with taking any form of birth control that will screw with my hormones. They have been screwed with enough. I also don’t want any sort of device either.

I asked my husband if he would like to get a vasectomy. His response: “Only if they will knock me out completely to do it.”

I explained to him that, sadly, they do not “knock you out” and most of the time they do it in the doctor’s office with some lidocaine. Needless to say, he wasn’t interested in this scenario. He was suddenly completely fine with having another child.

After having to work so hard to conceive this baby, it is so weird talking about ways to PREVENT pregnancy. I just haven’t been able to commit to anything yet. I even have a filled prescription for birth control pills sitting at the pharmacy waiting for pick up. The pills are even free, for crying out loud. I just can’t yet.

Getting back to the point of this post (supposed to be talking about the physical, not the mental), I have had the best c-section recovery ever. I have had very little pain (AH-mazing). I was walking around Costco (giant store), baby strapped into his baby carrier seven days after his birth. And I was fine!

There is no way I could have done that that soon after my c-section with Eva. I think the hard labor we went through made a big difference in recovery for me. I wonder if it doesn’t have something to do with all the extra hormones that were released naturally by my body this time. Last time, I was induced and I never dilated past a four.

I did need frequent naps the first couple of weeks. The more we did, the longer the nap.

As for my recovery from the epidural, things have been much better this time around as well. I haven’t had any severe back pain. No weird numbness or tingling either. I have felt some weakness in my legs on a couple of occasions, but nothing serious.

The bleeding I did for four weeks wasn’t too extreme, either. No large clots, thankfully. I also noticed a direct correlation between bleeding and activity. The more active I was, the more I bled.

For the two weeks my husband was home, I didn’t do anything except take care of the baby and myself. He cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, refilled my ice water a million times and kept Eva entertained and on time for school every morning. I didn’t bleed that heavily at all until he went back to work. Then I wised up and decided the dishes, trash, laundry and dinner could wait on days that things were flowing more intensely.

Now, my main complaint is tired, tense muscles from carrying my now 10 pound baby around day and night.

The gestational diabetes behaved exactly as advertised. It was POOF! gone immediately following delivery. There haven’t been any lasting effects.

As far as recoveries go, I’m doing great! Except for breastfeeding, but that’s a post soon to be written.