As I sit here cradling my eight week old infant and typing this post I smile thinking about all that has happened since he was born. The first few days and weeks after giving birth are such a whirlwind of all things baby that suddenly I look up and almost two months have passed in the blink of an eye. Between the feeding, changing, crying, burping, playing, rocking, cuddling, learning, and occasional sleeping it is no surprise that life can seem very overwhelming at times. Rest assured that it DOES get better with time!
My pregnancy was wonderful right up until the end when the extra weight and false labor really started to take it’s toll. I gained almost 40 pounds during my pregnancy which was mostly all belly and the resultant strain on my back was intense! About three weeks before actually giving birth my contractions started picking up and becoming uncomfortable, however they never progressed into anything substantial enough to be true labor. I was still working and sitting at a desk all day was killer. Yet still I dreamed of that long awaited day when it would finally be time to meet our son.
Finally at forty weeks and two days my water broke at 9:40 PM. My husband and I headed to the hospital and were checked in. Our son was born at 10:59 the next morning after the med-free birth that I so desperately wanted. He was (and is) perfect and thank god for that! The next two days at the hospital are truly a blur as my husband and I were up for a full 38 hours between the day before birth and after labor.
I feel like those first few days you are still running off the adrenaline high of the birth and you literally cannot and do not want to take your eyes off the little bundle of joy that you dreamed about for 9 months in the making. Eventually though your body realizes that it is well and truly gassed out and then comes the crash. At this age and up to three weeks depending on the baby’s status it is important to feed them every 2-3 hours. This also establishes the milk supply that your body will need in the long run. So on top of all of that exhaustion you now have no more than 2-3 hours of unbroken sleep for weeks on end and that is IF your baby will sleep between the feedings or not. In our case he was pretty good about sleeping, however he was extremely cranky while awake. Like purple faced crying inconsolable kind of cranky! This pattern continued until about four weeks old when the blessed day finally arrived that he seemed to come out of the fog. In his waking hours he would have 5-10 minute stretches of what we called “Happy Baby Time”. Since then this has progressed to longer periods that now include cooing, (almost) giggles and big gummy dimply grins (be still my beating heart!). It is was a night and day switch when it happened! If I were to pass on a few points of advise for another mother for that first month they would be:
1.) Be Easy On Yourself – Really though, give yourself a huge pat on the back! You just created, carried, nurtured and birthed a new life in your body! It is the most amazing thing you can do. Not to mention the actual gauntlet of birth and then jumping directly into parenting and nurturing a little baby when your body is still recovering itself. As my husband once told me “You just did something that would make a Navy Seal cry!”…
2.) Give Your Body Time To Heal – It took nine months for your body to get to the point where it is extra weight, stretch marks and all. You will also have some degree of healing to do after labor and delivery depending on your situation. While some are lucky enough to bounce right back after labor (sadly I was not one of them) the rest of us will find our bodies are depleted and exhausted. I would have episodes of shaking and weakness randomly for a couple of weeks after birth. the best thing to do is to make sure you are eating and drinking plenty as well as resting as much as possible. The dishes and laundry can wait (or make a call into someone for help with this!), it is far more important for you to heal and recover. You cannot give your baby your all if your glass if half empty!
3.) This Too Shall Pass – Say it with me now, this too shall pass! Chant it over and over if you need to, sometimes it will be what keeps you sane (kidding!). It is just important to remember whenever your baby or you are having a particularly hard day or moment that things change quickly and it wont be this way forever. Have a good cry if you need to, it’s more than OK!
4.) Don’t Forget Your Significant Other – This may not apply to everyone, but at least in my case this was important for both of us! My husband is a godsend and I am immensely thankful he is so supportive through everything. When you are feeling especially stressed or tired remember that they are likely feeling the same way and you are a team together!
5.) Remain True To You- When you have a baby many time people like to provide a ton of insight as to how your baby should be raised. Remain true to your beliefs. You are baby’s mama and so you know best!
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