I was dressing little baby V.
Those toes! That little chin!
Suddenly she caught my attention...
"But you are an experienced mom, you know this so..."
I'm an experienced mom???
I mentally turn around, looking for my mom or older sister in the room. THEY are experienced. ME?? I'm just a hack! I'm just really good at pretending like I know what I am doing while googling the shit out of every little thing that comes up! (A sampling of my google history in the past few days alone: "jaundice at 10 days old" "jaundice when to worry" "baby eye color" "regain birth weight time frame" "estrogen spike post partum" "essential oils for thrush")
I am VERY VERY GOOD at faking it.
But then. Okay, yea, fine. I have been exhausted for ten years now. SERIOUSLY. A DECADE.
That has to count for something right?
Apparently. It makes me "experienced."
Well, this time around at least I decided to do myself right in the two weeks postpartum that are so so freaking important for new moms (especially after having dealt with postpartum depression following Little Green's birth). Two weeks now drawing to a close. SNIFF SNIFF.
So, I thought I would share. For those of you (like my baby sister!) who find yourselves crying postpartum tears into lukewarm coffee in the coming months...
HOW TO POSTARTUM LIKE A PRO
1. Kick the kids out. (Not the baby. The baby needs to stay.) AND anything else stressful...
I honest to God told my children for the first few days. Please, come in. Snuggle. Kiss the baby. Tell me about your day. But I swear if you are coming in here to complain or whine to me about anything...GET OUT. GO ASK DADDY. I DO NOT CARE WHOSE TURN IT IS ON THE IPAD.
Seriously. And it was the best.
Of course, it only lasted for a few days. But those days needed to be warm and fuzzy and nice. You owe it to yourself.
This also goes for work email.
DON'T CHECK IT. I mean seriously. Not at all. Nothing stressful. Turn off the news. Don't look at your bank balance. Don't think about all the millions of little things. Think of your postpartum bedroom - and yes, STAY IN BED - as your little nest, you and baby's cocoon. DO NOT go outside the cocoon. Physically or mentally.
Its super hard for me to do this one. I know what the state of the living room floor looks like right now. And yet. And yet.
Choose not to care.
The news. The bank. The work. The mess.
It will all be there when you reluctantly emerge in just a few short weeks.
In the words of our dear Queen Elsa.
LET IT GO.
2. STAY IN BED.
For a few days at least. Ask your helper to bring you coffee. Lunch. Snacks. Reading material. Water. (Drink water EVERY TIME YOU NURSE)
Dont be ashamed to need this. You and baby do need it.
Those first few days set the tone for your bonding relationship, hold him close, take pictures of his little ears. Cocoon inward, together.
If people want to bring a meal...SAY YES. If they want to stay and do the dishes. SAY YES.
And if you venture out of your cocoon after a few days and life overwhelms you (I cried four times yesterday) retreat back inward.
Today I have blogged. Written some emails. Hugged the kids. Read them some books. And stayed in bed.
3. NURSE. NURSE. NURSE.
I write about nursing here because its what I know. I know many moms who I love and admire who bottle fed for a variety of reasons. But I know breastfeeding, so that is what I write about.
Now that that is out of the way.
Nursing is hard. At first.
Gather up pillows, a full water bottle, and really just work at it. The thing that will happen, at first, is to get engorged. And baby is too tiny to gobble up fast enough, and he chokes, and you are in pain, and then you cry. Dude. Four times I've done this now. And yes. Every time. Here is my advice, for what its worth. DONT try and pump out the excess. This just cues your body to keep making more. Wear a good fitting nursing bra, take a hot shower, let the excess drip out a little. Tough it out, just for a day or two. Then your body will regulate. Baby will figure it out. And it will get easier.
Thrush. Yes. Every time. I have, apparently, just an issue with this. Plus the antibiotics I had to take in labor this time around. (GBS+ SIGH)
Again. Got the creams and etc. But really, it just takes time to get over. (I swear by taking a ton of probiotics and giving dabs to baby before feeding. He is already over it...)
All that to say. This is your time, your window to figure it out. I totally made use of the visiting nurse option and a lactation consultant from the hospital for little man. We had the WORST time figuring it out. Nipple shields and tears and cracks and thrush and everything. It was awful.
Learn the C-hold nursing position. Baby in a football hold, using the opposite arm from the breast you are nursing from, you holding your breast with your hand shaped in a C.
Learn to breastfeed lying down. Baby in the crook of your arm, you lying on your side. Seriously. Figure this out and life just got a TON easier. I religiously sat up to feed with little man for weeks, months. Once little miss came along, the sidelying thing, plus co-sleeping, it just totally changed my postpartum experience!
Don't time out your breastfeeding. Just feed baby on demand.
Did I ever confess to you how I made an EXCEL SPREADSHEET to document feedings (and naps! and poops!) with little man?????
Oh my gosh I totally did.
Feed when baby is hungry. If baby cries but doesnt want to nurse, well, see point four.
4. Learn baby's cues
I saw this thing on Oprah once (on youtube, no I do not watch Oprah. HA.) about baby crying cues. And dammit if they weren't totally totally on point!
Baby crying while making a "Neh, neh, neh" sound = hunger.
Baby crying with grunts at the end = working on a poo.
Baby crying with gurgles = stuck burp
Seriously. Google it. Amazing.
But, your baby will have his own cues. My guy wakes up crying. I pull him to the breast. He pulls back. Oh, yes, you fell asleep nursing. You have a burp stuck! I pull him on top of my belly in a sitting position (I am lying down) and hold his floppy chin in my hand and gently pat his back. Yep. Burp. And I discovered at one point that if you gently massage baby's lower back and they wriggle in discomfort it means they have a stuck burp! Seriously. (FINE, I think dada discovered that one...)
This postpartum time is to discover baby's secrets. Treasure it. USE IT WISELY!
5. Let your body heal.
So, you just went through a lot. Your belly is empty. Your breasts are full. Your shoulders ache. Your hips are slowly coming back together, uterus still contracting.
Its all A LOT.
Go easy on your body.
Some gentle stretches. Some pelvic tilts. Breathe. KEGELS.
That is it.
Some tinctures I like. Valerian. Just a few drops. Takes the edge off for tension headaches, stress. Also Motherwort (helps with general anxiety and postpartum relaxing) and Cramp bark (a must, seriously helps with postpartum cramps, along with a rice sock.) And a few tablets of Arnica to help with muscle aches (they dissolve under your tongue, take every four hours).
Dont think about skinny jeans. Please. For the love of all that is holy. Stay in those yoga pants.
Eat nourishing food. Your baby isnt depending on you from the inside anymore, but he is still depending on you.
Eat lots of chocolate.
6. Emerge with grace...
When it comes time to emerge...do so with grace.
Grace for yourself.
You are going to cry. You are going to feel overwhelmed. Retreat back to the bedroom for a few hours. Nurse and sit on the couch for the afternoon. Let the kids watch too much netflix. You can crack the whip later. Now is not the time.
Now is when you feel tempted. Oh, I can host a playdate! Sure! Oh, lets take the kids to the park, and the library, and out for ice cream! Oh, I can do that meeting sure, I mean, its only three hours right?? Hmmmm.....I wonder if those skinny jeans fit.....
Dont do any of these things!!!
(This is where I am currently at...feeling tempted...so I am preaching to myself...)
Grace for those around you.
So dada is amazing. Kids. Work. Cleaning. Dishes. But so far, upon attempting to emerge from magical Babyland cocoon, I have gone on a rampage of "Look at the floor! The counter is covered with ants! Kids hang up your swimsuits! GIRLS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BEDROOM??"
I did this for several days in a row, upon trying to emerge. Not very graceful toward husband and kids trying to give me and baby this space.
Today I say is a new day. Strong coffee. Kids engaged in activities other than Netflix. Baby and I on the couch, nursing, still in pajamas. Maybe later I'll try him in the wrap for the first time and sort baby clothes. Take the kids for their swim while baby gets some anti-jaundice sunshine.
Today. I postpartum with grace. For me. Dada. Kids. And baby.
But first. More coffee.