Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Mommy Madness: Our First 3 Weeks At Home (Part 2)

The Emotional Roller Coaster
 This post might be a little "Dear Diary"', but I think it's important to be honest with myself about this transition.  I prepared so much for Stella, did so much research, and had everything ready by the time she arrived.  I was so excited to meet her and fell in love with all her little baby things.  But I never really gave much thought to how HARD being a new mom was going to be.  I knew I would be fine, but I should have been a little more honest with myself from the start.

You see, Mark and I have been frustrated (to put it mildly) with everyone's comments to us about becoming parents.  We are both organized, motivated, and have really enjoyed it being "just the 2 of us".  We stay active and have lots of hobbies.  As soon as I got pregnant the comments started rolling in.  "I can't wait until you have kids"  "You're never going to be able to do that when you have kids"  "Your house will never look like that when you have kids"  Is it just me, or is it sad that people think their life is over when they have kids?  It's just the beginning!  We were just amazed at all the negativity.  But with every comment our desire to keep our own lives while being great parents strengthened.  It can be done.  I've seen stay-at-home moms and working moms balance it all.  You just have to decide what's important to you and get the motivation to work for those things.  However, with that being said, what we had to accept was that this "balance" couldn't start the day we came home from the hospital.  We tried, and it only stressed us out.  What we came to realize is that temporarily dedicating all our time to being parents now will set up the routines and structure we need to keep our own lives in the future.  And we're finally OK with that.  Sure, there's going to be people who say it will never end, that we'll always be slaves to our children.  But we know better.

Stella Anne

My biggest challenge has been my own recovery.  I was amazed at how helpless I was when we got home.  I couldn't even go to the bathroom without help.  If I dropped something, I couldn't bend over to pick it up.  I couldn't even climb into my own bed, let alone drive, tend to my house, or go downstairs.  As someone who doesn't like to sit still, this aggravated me to no end.  Once I got a few items that were necessary to my survival (a grabber stick to pick up dropped items, giant underwear that went over my incision, and a low place to sleep...our couch) I started doing better.  As with any recovery, you learn to adapt and do things differently.  The challenging part was trying to take care of a newborn at the same time, and a giant dog who just couldn't adjust.  Kaiser is slowly getting used to having Stella around, but it took longer than Mark and I expected.  He barked and ran around the house when she made any little peep.  He wanted to lick her face.  He insists on checking the bassinet every 5 minutes to make sure she's in there.  Sadly he spent most of the first few weeks outside and in the basement.  A big adjustment from being my only baby, but he still has a great life.  And he's finally sleeping upstairs again (although he heads downstairs on his own when Stella won't stop crying at night!).  We'll get there.

Adjusting to being a big brother.  Always supervising Stella.

I've cried a lot since we've been home.  Almost every day.  I considered asking my doctor for some happy pills, but I really wanted to try working it out on my own first.  Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter, but those baby blues just won't leave me alone.  It's been freezing outside, so we don't leave the house.  I can't even drive until this weekend.  Stella and I both have stuffy noses  (and I've been having almost daily bloody noses) from being trapped inside for so long.  I have cabin fever.  I even dream about going to Wal Mart...that's when you know it's bad!  My life seems to be an endless cycle:  change diaper, breastfeed, rock the baby, repeat.  Oh, and try to fit a shower in there, which takes forever since I still can barely move.  And I'm doing all this on very little, broken up, sleep.  Such is life as a new mom.  I just have to accept it for now.  And it's getting better.  The tasks are becoming second nature, so they don't take as long.  I have more time to myself.  Once and a while Stella will sleep for a 5 hour chunk at night.  Again, we'll get there.

Breastfeeding is a nightmare.  It is so important to me, so I stick with it, but I have been hit with every challenge possible in this department.  Stella being given a bottle and pacifier in the hospital, a C-section, Stella is a barracuda feeder (once she latches on HELLO PAIN!)...and some other challenges I will keep to myself this time :-)  I tried to go to strictly pumping because I was in so much pain, but that was utterly time consuming.  I called my lactation consultant and she advised me to give myself a few days to heal by pumping and try again.  So I did.  When getting a bottle Stella was so gassy...she doesn't burp she slept terribly throughout the night.  I went back to strictly breastfeeding a few days ago and she'd doing better.  She takes in way less air this way.  I'm just trying to stick it out and waiting for my nipples to toughen up.  Good thing I'm bull-headed and read up on the million advantages to breastfeeding, or I'd have quit 2 weeks ago.  BUT...if you can't breastfeed there's no shame in that.  I keep reminding myself of that should I not be able to stick it out.  I'm giving it at least 6 weeks and then we'll see.  I want what's best for Stella, but a bottle given lovingly is better than breastfeeding at your maximum stress/pain level.  Again, time will tell.

I was also hit with some challenges in the cloth diaper department as well.  We chose to use disposable diapers in the hospital and for the first 2 weeks because of convenience, and then with my C-section I couldn't do laundry for a few weeks.  I hated disposables!  They made her bottom so red and literally STUCK to her skin.  When speaking with my cloth diaper consultant, she said it may be the result of a slight latex allergy.  I couldn't wait to get her into her cloth diapers.  We tried to make the switch about a week ago.  I had ordered a few (7) newborn diapers in two different styles, and the rest were supposed to fit from birth through potty training.  Well, they did fit, but were way too bulky.  When she laid down there was an arch in her back from her butt being so high in the air from the diaper.  And one of the newborn styles (which I had 4 of) leaked up her back every time except the first 2 times I used them.  Of course I jumped the gun and ordered more of that style after the first few times worked, so I have to send those back.  The other newborn style (Blueberry Newborn) work great.  I ordered more of those and received them yesterday.  They are washed and ready to use, so now Stella is OFFICIALLY in cloth diapers full time.  They are very gentle on her skin and keep her dry.  I've also been using my all natural diaper cream on her bottom...looking forward to the rash going away!  So we got there, it just took more work with the diapers than I expected.  I'm glad my husband is more patient than me, he really helped me through the diaper frustration period.

Stella's cloth diapers are the cutest!

Despite all the challenges, all the stress, all the frustration, all the sleepless nights...the love I have for Stella is greater.  There's nothing better that when she actually looks at me, the first time she was comforted by my voice alone, and how warm and snuggly she is wrapped in her towel after bath time (even though her first bath was a disaster and we had no idea what we were doing!).  These little moments get me through all the tough times.  I now know how challenging being a mother actually is, and how rewarding as well.  As I forge through the frustrations and actually get into a routine, I'm looking forward to more "playtime" with Stella.  We've started tummy time, and as she's spending more time awake I can't wait to start reading to her, playing dress up (even though Mark hates that...that's what little girls are for, right?), and just interacting more with her.  She's so much fun.

Dress up time with Stella while Daddy hunts.
I also look forward to going back to taking better care of myself.  In the hopes of healing faster, I have tried to do 1 thing each day that I couldn't do the day before.  Baby steps, but every little bit helps.  I have really, really struggled to eat, which sucks because good nutrition and lots of calories are important for breastfeeding.  I haven't had any problem making milk, but I know I haven't been good to my body.  Sometimes we just need to focus on getting through the day.  But now it's time to start cooking and eating healthy again.  I never thought I'd be excited to get groceries!  Mark is taking me to the spa for my Christmas present, so I sure am looking forward to that!  At my 6 week appointment I hope to get the OK from my doctor to start exercising again...this belly isn't so cute when baby's not in there.  And what I wouldn't give to be able to put on a pair of jeans again!!

What a wild ride this parenting thing is!  And it's only just begun.  So go ahead, tell us our lives are over because we've become parents.  It only strengthens our resolve to prove you wrong.  With the proper motivation and energy, you really can have it all!

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