Post-Partum Update: The First Two Weeks

Hi, friends! Sorry I disappeared there for a bit, but with a newborn to care for, blogging is a bit less of a priority at the moment. As she gets bigger and we can go longer stretches between feedings, I hope to get back on a more regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. But for now, I’ll just be popping in where I can. As promised, I will be doing regular(ish) updates on how I’m healing and adapting post-baby. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Physical Stuff
My delivery was fairly straightforward, and I only had minor tearing, so physically I’ve been feeling remarkably good. I’m honestly WAY less sore than I expected to be. There’s also been a lot less bleeding than I anticipated, which is a nice surprise. I’ve been feeling so good, in fact, that it’s easy to forget the grueling physical trial I just went through and overdo it. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to take it easy and rest.

For the first 5 or 6 days, my feet and ankles were still VERY swollen from being pumped full of IV fluids during labor. Thankfully, they’re now back to normal, but it was a very uncomfortable few days, and even my Crocs were too tight!

My pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel is slowly improving. I’m honestly disappointed with how numb my fingers still are. I really had hoped that having the baby would bring immediate relief, but not so much. Still, some improvement is better than none. But my fingers are also still just swollen enough that I haven’t been able to get my rings back on, which makes me sad.

I made the mistake of hopping on the bathroom scale at 5 days postpartum and seeing that I’d only lost 6 of the 30 pounds I gained. My immediate reaction was shock and disbelief. Seriously? After getting the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid out I only lost 6 freaking pounds?? And then I gave myself a strong reality check. Five days postpartum is nothing. I have all the time in the world to lose baby weight, and that’s so not my focus right now. I REALLY don’t want to obsess over numbers, and it’s way too early to worry about that anyway, so I’m planning to avoid the scale entirely until I’m at least 6 weeks out, and go from there.

Breastfeeding
I am so, so happy to report that breastfeeding seems to be going well. We are blessed in that the Mother-Baby nurses at UVM Medical Center are all well-versed in breastfeeding, and we saw not one, but TWO lactation consultants while we were at the hospital. We also had a follow up home visit on our first Sunday at home and Vera was already up from her birth weight, which is fairly rare; breastfed babies usually lose weight in the first week or so while mom and baby figure stuff out.

I was very sore the first few days, but once my milk came in it got much better. Vera has a good latch and good suck and I have an abundant supply, so it’s going as well as it possibly could. It’s endlessly amazing to me that my body can produce food for my baby! As a very well-endowed woman, I’ve always had such mixed feelings about my breasts, and it’s so nice to feel like they have a purpose other than as sexual objects.

Also, I have already become pretty fearless about pulling out a breast and feeding wherever and whenever necessary, which is pretty freeing. If I can BF in front of my dad and father in law, I can do it anywhere, haha! The process of giving birth really broke down the remainder of my modesty, which as a theatre person, was pretty low to begin with!

Emotional Stuff
Thankfully, my emotions/hormones haven’t been running too, too wild. The first few nights home from the hospital were very difficult. I basically went without more than an hour or two of sleep per night from Monday through Friday, and between the hormones and exhaustion, I had a couple of small meltdowns. Thankfully, Ben has the patience and calm of a saint, so he was able to continue caring for Vera while I pulled my stuff together.

I’m definitely more prone to crying now than I was during pregnancy. I played Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)” for Vera before going to bed recently and I started to cry thinking about how I used to listen to that song with my parents when I was little. Also, we’ve been watching season six of Game of Thrones, and I’m finding I’m a lot less tolerant of violence than I used to be, particularly when children are involved. I spent a lot of time with my eyes averted from the screen.

Relationship Stuff
Bringing a baby into a relationship will undeniably change things, and I think most expecting parents worry about how things will be between them once the baby arrives. Ben and I weren’t worried at all, and so far, we’re proving ourselves right.

If anything, we have become infinitely more appreciative of each other since bringing Vera home. Every day, multiple times a day, we verbally express our love and appreciation for each other. Ben is an amazing partner and dad. He does the majority of diaper changes, and is a swaddling champ. He has taken over a lot of the household stuff so that I can sit and rest and feed the baby as needed.

Watching him interact with our baby girl with so much love, kindness, and patience is almost overwhelming sometimes. I feel so lucky to have him for a partner and co-parent.

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Kitties
I was very curious/nervous about how the kitties would react when we brought Vera home. Before leaving the hospital, we had my in-laws drop off the hat Vera wore immediately after she was born, so that they could smell her scent and get used to it a bit.

Thus far, the cats have been cautiously curious about her, Rocket more so than Creemee. Rocket spends a lot of time sleeping by my side when I’m nursing or cuddling Vera, and will stare intently at us and meow if she starts crying. He also will sleep by my feet at night. Creemee will approach her bassinet and sniff her, but has taken to sleeping outside our bedroom. I think she finds the constant up and down at night with feeding and changing disruptive.

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Miscellaneous
My sister helped organize a Meal Train website for us, so we’ve been receiving semi-regular deliveries of delicious food from friends and family. This is a HUGE help, as Vera is still very needy, and naps infinitely better while being held, so it can be difficult for one or both of us to get in the kitchen and make food. To say that we are grateful for our wonderful support network would be an understatement. We are also incredibly lucky to have my in-laws living only 15 or so minutes away. They’ve stopped by several times with food, drinks, and gifts for Vera, including a set of Beatrix Potter books, which we LOVE!

Care to share any quick and easy recipes for busy new parents?

 

40 Week Pregnancy Update

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Well, I honestly never expected to be writing this post. Despite knowing full well that most first-time moms deliver well past their due date, I assumed I’d have a baby by now! As I publish this week 40 recap, I’m already at 41 weeks pregnant (I’ve been publishing these posts as a retrospective once the week has finished)!

As Tom Petty said, “The waaaaaiiting is the hardest part.” For the most part, I think we’re doing a good job of staying busy and not just twiddling our thumbs waiting for me to go into labor, but it’s difficult not to think about it pretty much all the time. It doesn’t help that family and friends call and text daily to check in on Babywatch 2018. I know everyone is excited, but it’s like, come on guys, you’d know if something was happening; I’d tell you, and this isn’t helping my anxiety over not knowing when labor will start.

Continuing from last week’s theme, we’re keeping the house ship shape, cooking, baking, and staying busy. We remembered to pick up fish food and filters for the fish tank, picked up Rocket’s prescription food, bought (used) sun hats for Baby Girl, and dropped off our water test (which thankfully came back positive!). We had dinner at the Farmer’s Market, had a full moon “Baby Come Out!” bonfire and party, went swimming and went to a one year old’s birthday party. I also went to yoga and the chiropractor, and we had our 40 week prenatal appointment.

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Still no dilation or contractions, so we talked about next steps. We tentatively scheduled an induction for July 6, which would be 2 days before I hit 42 weeks. There is a possible nurse’s strike due to start sometime in early- to mid-July, so my midwifery team wanted to get us in before that might affect us. **Full disclosure, Ben and I both support this nurse’s strike, the timing is just scary for us. Hence scheduling our induction a bit early. 

We also scheduled some 41 week tests to check up on baby and make sure she’s OK in there until we reach induction or natural labor. They’ll do a non-stress test to check her heart rate and movements, and an ultrasound to double-check fluid levels and make sure the placenta is hanging in there. There was a time when I was staunchly anti-induction, but at this point I’m so ready to meet this baby and not be pregnant anymore that I don’t really care how it happens. Being induced would put an end to the uncertainty and the waiting, so if that’s how it goes, so be it.

On the “let’s get this baby out” front, I’ve been bouncing around on an exercise ball frequently, taking lots of walks, eating lots of spicy foods, and spending time in a forward-lying position as much as possible because our midwives think Baby Girl is currently sunny-side up (face front), which is not an ideal birth position. Thankfully, she’s head down and moving into my pelvis, but ideally she would rotate prior to birth. I’ve been doing lots of cat/cow breathing and leaning forward on my exercise ball.

Any predictions for delivery date? Maybe we should start a pool…

39 Week Pregnancy Update

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It’s so strange; I had a feeling all along that I would go into labor early, and yet here I am hanging out at 39+ weeks with no baby! I know a lot of first-time moms go late, but for whatever reason, I assumed I would go early. Still though, I’m not complaining. I’ve had two glorious, work- and baby-free weeks to run errands, do fun stuff, and relax. God only knows when I’ll have down time like this again, so I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’ve also been sleeping pretty well, so hopefully I’ll be well-rested whenever labor kicks in.

We’re trying to keep the house as clean and well-stocked as possible in the event that Baby Girl makes sudden moves. Ben made four loaves of bread, and I made a few crockpot freezer meals. I even remembered to special order Rocket’s prescription food, which was almost gone, and stock up on kitty litter and other grocery basics. The co-op in Burlington offers an extra 10% off bulk foods on Thursdays, so I grabbed a ton of rice, spices, grits, and popcorn (one of my favorite snacks that I’ve eaten SO MUCH during pregnancy).

Ben finished the school year this week, so we are both officially in “waiting for baby” mode. It feels kind of like we’re on vacation. We’re spending tons of time together, doing lots of stuff around the house and generally having as much fun as we can while living under the shadow of impending and unknown baby arrival. We are only meal planning and grocery shopping a few days at a time, rather than a full week, because we don’t want to have a fridge full of perishables if we end up stuck at the hospital for more than a few days. And I’ve started loading my hospital bags into the car whenever we’re going to be away from home for a bit, cause you just never know!

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Trying to walk baby out

We had some lovely visits with friends this week. I feel super spoiled that my friends Lizzie and Megan drove all the way out to the boonies to spend time with us on Thursday. Lizzie brought her adorable dog Nora, and we hung out for a while, basking in the sun in our yard. On Friday we had lunch at Burger Barn with our friend Merlin (yes, that’s his REAL name!), which is always a treat. Merlin is currently a stay-at-home house husband, so I’m sure he and I will be spending lots of time together once Baby Girl is born. And Ben’s older sister and her boyfriend were up from DC for the weekend, so we got to spend some time with family as well. It’s been great to have quality time with people, as I know that the first few weeks with out little one will be hectic.

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The Nutty Goat: caramelized onions, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and bacon

Do you ever buy bulk foods? Such a great deal!

 

38 Week Pregnancy Update

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This was my first week out of work and waiting for baby. It’s incredibly surreal to be expecting this big, life-changing event, but to have no idea when it’s actually going to happen! I mean, I know they won’t let me go past 42 weeks gestation, so she’ll be here in a month or less, but still. It could literally be ANY moment between now and then. I could go into labor first thing in the morning or the middle of the night or while I’m at yoga class. Or I might go all the way to 42 weeks and have to be induced. It’s so wild!

At this point, I’m more than ready for her to make her appearance. In the last week, I’ve gotten a lot more uncomfortable. I’m still not having any Braxton-Hicks contractions, but I just feel off. Eating often makes me feel nauseated or overly full (or both!), but I’m hungry all damn day. I actually woke up at 3 am one day this week, had a bowl of cereal, and went back to bed! I have also had some brief twinges of pain down low in my belly, which is indicative that she’s moving down into my pelvis to prepare for labor and delivery. While the wrist brace is helping me with carpal tunnel symptoms, the belly is a lot bigger and more unwieldy, so it’s hard to move around and find a comfortable position to sleep in.

We met our new pediatrician on Monday, which was great. We picked the pediatric office that Ben used to go to when he was little, and Dr. Monahan is one of the most popular docs in the practice. After our meeting, I can see why people like her so much. She was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to. She immediately felt like someone I would feel comfortable asking anything and everything related to my child’s health, which is invaluable for nervous first-time parents like us. And she was wearing Wonder Woman earrings, which just made me like her more!

Since I’m not at work, I have been nesting like a mo-fo. I’ve been making huge, detailed to-do lists each day and actually doing a fairly decent job of getting stuff done. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t spend 8 hours a day at the office! So far I’ve done some curtain shopping, hung said curtains, gone for lots of walks, made lots of phone calls, had some friend time, and done lots of fiddly little projects I’ve been putting off for ages. I know that my time for productivity will be coming to an end very soon, so I’m trying to make the most of what I’ve got. Of course, I’m also 38+ weeks pregnant, so there’s been plenty of time on the couch with my feet up too! Skyrim has been back in my life lately, and I’m pretty happy about it 🙂

We went to a concert on Thursday night, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I stayed out way past my bedtime, and it was totally worth it. We saw Sturgill Simpson as part of the Ben and Jerry’s Concerts on the Green series at Shelburne Museum. Ben LOVES Sturgill, so I got the tickets as an early birthday present way back in the early spring. Ever since I bought them, I’ve been praying that Baby Girl would stay in long enough for us to get to the show, and she happily obliged! Ben confessed to me after the concert that he was sort of hoping that I would go into labor while we were there, which had also been on my mind! But no, Baby Girl seems to be quite happy in utero for the time being.

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Sadly, my Group B Strep test came back positive, meaning I will need IV antibiotics during labor and delivery. While this is certainly not ideal, I know that there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it, so I’ve decided to just accept it and move on. It shouldn’t impact my mobility, and it will also mean that I’m just that much more ready if there are additional concerns or complications as labor progresses. The only real bummer is that if my water breaks before labor truly begins, I HAVE to go to the hospital to begin IV antibiotics; I won’t be able to labor at home at all.

Mamas and preggos, how did/do you deal with the waiting game?

Things I’m Looking Forward to After the Baby Comes (That Have NOTHING to Do With the Baby)

Now before you get all uppity with me over the title, please recognize that OBVIOUSLY there’s a ton of stuff about having a baby that I’m looking forward to. If that weren’t the case, why the hell would I be bothering to have one? I think it goes without saying that I’m looking forward to all things baby after she’s born. But this post isn’t about those things. It’s about things that have NOTHING to do with having a baby, and EVERYTHING to do with no longer being pregnant.

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Enjoying A Nice, Frosty, Adult Beverage
The hot, summery weather we’ve been having lately has got me jonesing hard for a nice hoppy beer, or a tall gin and tonic. While I have had occasional sips of beer or wine throughout the third trimester (you can keep your judgement to yourself on this, thankyouverymuch), I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage since mid-October. I am by no means a heavy drinker, but I miss unwinding with a beer after a long day. I am very much looking forward to sitting in our yard this summer with my husband and baby, and enjoying a well-deserved cocktail.

Being Able to Feel My Fingertips
Ever since about week 32, I have been experiencing pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, which seriously just blows. I can’t feel the fingertips of 8 out of 10 fingers, and haven’t been able to for weeks. My hands are weak and sometimes painful, so simple things like opening a bottle of seltzer or holding a frying pan are difficult. And my hands can go completely numb at the drop of a hat, particularly during the night while I’m sleeping. Fine motor skills are not my forte right now. It will be nice to deliver the baby and (theoretically, hopefully) have my circulation go back to normal.

Wearing My Rings
Around the time the carpal tunnel kicked in, mild hand swelling also kicked in. By itself, it probably wouldn’t have been enough for me to stop wearing my rings, but combined with the carpal tunnel, having anything on my fingers was just plain uncomfortable. Not having my wedding rings is bad enough, but my other two rings, from my mom and grandmother, also have extreme sentimental value, and it feels strange and wrong not to have them on.

Getting Up Without Making Animal Noises
In late pregnancy, the belly has become rather unwieldy. My center of gravity is off, and I’m heavier than I usually am, so getting up from sitting or lying down has become a lot more difficult, and involves a lot more grunting than I’m comfortable with. I definitely have to roll onto my side when getting up off the couch, and getting out of bed is kind of an ordeal. It will be nice to have my body as my own again.

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Oysters
I know a lot of pregnant women are very distressed by the lack of sushi in their lives, but sushi isn’t something we eat all that often. What we do love, however, are oysters. While we aren’t the type of people who just go out and drop boatloads of money on oysters regularly, they are one of our favorite “special” foods. They are a prized appetizer if we go out for a nice meal, and there are several eateries near us that offer special happy hour $1 oysters that we love to take advantage of. But noooo, no raw fish for preggo. Ben and various family members have had oysters several times throughout my pregnancy (our anniversary dinner, for example), and I’ve just had to grin and bear it. But soon I will be able to consume all of the still-living molluscs I desire. And I can’t wait.

Exercise
As I’ve already said in my pregnancy body image post, I’m not looking to immediately jump right back into a high-intensity exercise routine. Getting my body “back” isn’t a super high priority for me. But spending time outside and moving my body IS. I know that getting some exercise again will only benefit me mentally and physically. Right now, even walking too much or too fast can be very uncomfortable, but I’m confident that once this baby is out and I’m cleared to work out again, it will feel so good to get back to “normal” activities like walking, hiking, and short runs.

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“Risky” Activities
For the duration of pregnancy, women are advised to avoid any activity that might cause harm to the developing fetus. I’m not exactly a thrill-seeker, but there are definitely things Ben and I like to do that have been back-burnered by the whole pregnancy thing. A few activities that immediately spring to mind are riding a bike (I probably could still do it safely, but the thought of falling or crashing makes me hesitant), slack-lining, and cross-country or downhill skiing. Obviously, we’re not gonna be skiing during the summer, but I missed out on a lot of gorgeous powder days this past winter, and I will be happy not to have to miss out this coming year.

I could list a million more TMI things like sex and bodily functions, but I think I’ll leave it there. Suffice to say, in addition to being excited to have a new baby, I’m really excited NOT to be pregnant anymore.

Mamas (and Daddies!), what were you most excited for related to no longer being pregnant?

37 Week Pregnancy Update

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37 weeks pregnant. We have arrived at that magical point in time where, if I went into labor right now, there would be no attempt to slow or stop it; they would just let baby come. This is all kinds of exciting! Not that I’m wishing time away (it’s going quickly enough on it’s own!), but I’m just so damn excited to meet this kid I can’t help but want her to come sooner. And as I’ve said, I’m feeling very little anxiety or fear over labor and delivery, so whenever it happens is good with me!

We are also now at the point where I have weekly prenatal appointments. This week’s was a bit of a doozy, as it involved an internal exam (never fun) and a swab for Group B Strep. This is a bacteria that many adult women carry in their systems which is mostly harmless for them, but which can infect the baby as it passes through the birth canal and potentially cause problems. Moms who test positive for Group B Strep have to have a constant antibiotic IV drip during labor and delivery, so I’m hoping and praying that I DON’T have the bacteria cause I really don’t want to be continuously hooked up to an IV. Send some good vibes my way for this one!

This was my final week at work, which was of course bittersweet. This job was the second-longest I’ve stayed anywhere in my working career, and I will miss my colleagues and the office culture something fierce. I’ve never worked at a company that valued its employees so highly, and really took the work hard/play hard mentality to heart. I also feel really bad for leaving because I don’t really feel like my replacement is up to snuff, and it sort of seems like I’m leaving my team in the lurch. I know that’s not my fault and not my problem, but it’s still hard.

Preparations are mostly complete at this point. The only nagging thing is getting the car seat installed, but we should be able to get that done this week. Otherwise, hospital bags are packed and waiting by the front door. Her room is mostly a room and less of a storage space. Laundry is done and put away. Diapers and wipes stand at the ready. Of course, there are still a few other little things I’d like to get done (still don’t have curtains or a bookshelf), but they aren’t necessary things. For the first several months she’ll be sleeping in a bassinet in our room anyway, so having a complete and “perfect” nursery just isn’t a top priority for me.

I’m really hoping that I end up having some time to myself before Baby Girl decides to come. I know the general wisdom is that first-time moms go late, but you just never know. She’s still riding really high in my belly and my cervix was still closed up tight at this week’s appointment so I think I’ve got a wait ahead of me, but I don’t want to make any assumptions. My plan for these next two weeks (or however long I get!) is to fill the time with fun stuff I may not get to do for a while. I have a list of friends I want to spend time with, I’d love to get a pedicure, go to yoga as much as possible, and have a date night or two with Ben. I also plan to focus on alone time, as I know it’s one thing that’s about to become pretty scarce. Maybe a solo trip to the movies?

In other news, I finally broke down and bought an ambidextrous wrist brace. The carpal tunnel symptoms were getting so bad, particularly at night, that I pretty much wasn’t sleeping. I was reluctant to spend $30 on a piece of foam and fabric this late in the game, but one of the girls in my yoga class told me it had helped her immensely, and with the ambidextrous brace, I can alternate which wrist I wear it on and get maximum benefit with minimum cost. I am happy to report that since I started wearing the brace at night, I’ve been sleeping SO MUCH BETTER. I’m just pissed that I didn’t get one sooner and save myself a lot of sleepless nights. Oh well. Live and learn.

Mamas, did you take any time for yourself before baby came? What did you do?

36 Week Pregnancy Update

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Well, this week was MUCH more humane on the work front. Thanks to Memorial Day and some full and partial vacation days, I basically only worked two full days this week. It was a much-needed break, wherein I continued to get shit done. I did LOTS of laundry (cloth diapers need to be washed multiple times before first use in order to achieve maximum absorbency), made more chicken stock to go in the freezer for future use, shopped for curtains for baby’s room, and generally continued “nesting.”

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It’s funny, nesting is startlingly similar to “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” For instance, on Tuesday I went to start a batch of chicken stock, but noticed that the stove top was dirty. I figured I could just give it a quick wipe down, but realized that in order to really get it clean, I needed to take up the burner elements and drip pans. And then I realized that the drip pans were filthy, so I put them in the sink to soak in vinegar and water so I could scrub them. And then I realized that the areas underneath the drip pans were also dirty, so I pulled up the entire stove top to clean underneath. An hour later I had a sparkling clean stove but hadn’t even started my chicken stock yet. *facepalm*

We had our final childbirth education class on Monday, which included a hospital tour. I am SO GLAD to have gotten this done, as it was the final piece in the “What the heck do we do when I go into labor” puzzle. Knowing where to park, where to check in, and what the L&D and recovery rooms look like is such a relief for this Type-A lady. There are so many unknowns going into childbirth that every scrap of information I get makes me feel more confident and less anxious.

Even though I am now pretty much full term and Baby Girl could conceivably come any time, I feel very little anxiety or fear. If anything, each passing week just makes me more and more excited to meet this little person. We’ve prepared ourselves as well as we can and now we just want to start being parents. Plus, this whole pregnancy thing is getting old. Especially with the epic acid reflux I developed at the end of this week. I’m definitely not thinking “Dear god, get this baby outta me,” but it would be nice to be able to feel my fingertips again, or to get up from sitting without grunting.

Mamas/fellow pregnant ladies–did you have bad acid reflux? What did you do for it?