Two months into a new job. And really loving it.
I haven’t done a mostly picture post in a while, so enjoy.
Two months into a new job. And really loving it.
I haven’t done a mostly picture post in a while, so enjoy.
It all started just one year ago.
February 2, 2017, 1:27 p.m.
I may have said something cute today like, “Where has the time gone?”
But quite honestly, I think we felt every bit of the last 364 days. Between typical newborn stuff, the milk allergy, all that teething, several iterations of Cry-It-Out, several rounds of colds, and one wicked spell of diarrhea, I’m relieved to know that the worst is probably behind us. (Knock on wood.)
From the moment he came home with us, it has felt like our lives have accelerated twofold. No more stopping. It’s more like, Rest, while you move.
A few days ago, when Henry was losing his mind because I put him down and turned away, I asked Doug, “You sure you don’t want another one?”
So happy birthday and thank you for being my Last Little One.
My husband is a bit of jack of all trades. Chef. Carpenter. Handyman. Gardener. Landscaper. Interior Designer. Electrician. Engineer. Maker of sausage, ham, bacon, and goetta.
Last Sunday, when Henry was nine days old, Doug managed to get newborn pictures done. Special thanks to my co-worker, Jeri, who crocheted the beautiful blanket in the pictures.
Henry Jacob Glass
Born February 2, 2017, 1:27 p.m.
8 pounds and 10 ounces, 21 inches
Welcomed by The Glass Family, Doug, Sharon, and big sister, Felicity
Photo credit: Douglas Glass, 2017
But first… Baby pictures.
The Incredible Shrinking Uterus
Is it just me, or is the uterus a fascinating organ?
Right now, mine is in the process of shrinking from the size of a watermelon to the size of an orange.
Compared to Day 3
If you’re wondering just how much work a woman’s body has to do to return to its pre-pregnancy condition, the Alpha Parent’s Postpartum Recovery Timeline is a good reference.
Notes on Recovery
Last Friday and Saturday night, Doug took the night feedings and I was able to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
Seven whole hours both nights.
Now, of course, my body continued to wake up every hour, but I forced myself to go back to sleep. And I succeeded.
With just those two nights of normal sleep, I noticed that my energy during the day doubled. But getting those hours of sleep post-birth is really, really difficult. And if you’re breastfeeding, it’s pretty impossible this early on in the postpartum period, unless you’re one of those blessed women whose milk supply comes in early and strong and you can pump ahead so someone else can do night feedings.
In any case, my recovery for this birth has been much quicker, I think, for a few reasons.
First, I stopped nursing pretty early on. For those of you who are new to this blog, I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage with this birth and have a history of breastfeeding problems and postpartum thyroiditis. All of which worked against my ability to breastfeed this time as well.
Recovery: Tearing vs. No Tearing
Yeah. I gave birth to a baby that was a whole pound heavier this time–without the second-degree tear that I had last time.
What was the difference?
A midwife who did perineal massage during my pushing phase.
Sure, I was still swollen after all was said and done. But there is a world of difference between the pain of being swollen and the pain of being stitched back together.
When you’re swollen, the 800 mg of Motrin mostly numbs the pain. And you can (mostly) sit comfortably. When you’ve got stitches, the last thing you want to do is sit upright. And when you’re trying to nurse, the last thing you want to take away is your ability to sit upright. With my daughter, sitting (no matter how much I propped myself this way or that) hurt like hell. Nevertheless, I nursed. And nursed and nursed. Mostly in the same, single position that was at least bearable. But over time, it was agonizing.
So I’ll take swollen over stitches any day.
So, thanks, midwife.
Recovering from Postpartum Hemorrhage
As I mentioned in previous posts, I was extremely weak from Day 4 to Day 8. The most I could handle was getting out of bed to eat and shower before lying back down again. My body was working overtime to replenish all the lost blood from delivery. I am so thankful for my mother, who watched Henry during the day so I could just eat and sleep. And my amazing friends, Ryan (a.k.a. Bear) and Cate, who brought us dinner two nights in a row. I gobbled up chile verde carnitas and roasted chicken like it was my business. God, that was good.
The good news is that this week is markedly different.
On Day 10, with the help of my mother, I was able to get myself and my two kids to church for our first Sunday back since the birth. Since Doug did the night feedings, I got seven hours of sleep the night before. Thus, I was even able to drive! Woot. And bonus, this baby slept in the Moby wrap for nearly the whole time (save feeding time). Miracle of miracles.
On Day 11, I was able to go for a 23-minute walk. By myself.
You know what feels amazing? Walking without a 41-week-pregnant belly.
On Day 12, I cooked my own eggs and made my own coffee.
Other Changes That I’ve Noticed
The Beginning of Routines
From the pregnant woman’s perspective, I have to tell you, there are not many advantages to going all the way to 41 1/2 weeks.
Your baby comes out more developed.
Which means they can take in more milk in one feeding once their stomachs fill out.
Which means they sleep for longer intervals earlier on.
By the time he was one week old, Henry was regularly eating 3 ounces in each feeding and sleeping for 3-4 hour stretches. With our daughter, it took us three or four weeks to get to this point. (Granted, we’re not dealing (yet) with issues of colic or reflux or other horrible conditions that keep babies awake all hours of the day. My hat is off to you parents who regularly deal with these kinds of pains.)
We have about one or two night feedings right now. And that is totally doable.
And finally, I got this fortune in my fortune cookie over the weekend. I read it when I was in that warm haze of sleep deprivation.
I had to laugh.
My postpartum belly continues to slowly shrink. And if you’re wondering what it looks like to wear cabbage leaves inside of your bra, look no further. A little lumpy, but not too bad. I wore the leaves for two days to relieve the pressure and pain.
Everyone has different sleeping arrangements that work for them. I’m in favor of whatever works for the parents.
Because if the parents have lost their minds, it doesn’t matter whatever positive benefits studies show.
We are following pretty closely to what we did last time. One parent sleeps apart from the baby and gets a full night’s sleep and the other parent sleeps next to the baby in the baby’s room. During the week, Doug gets to sleep in our bedroom without the baby (since he is working full-time.) Then, I take the night watch. During the weekend, I get to sleep in our bedroom and Doug takes the night watch.
I haven’t dreaded being the night watch parent so far. In fact, I think my hormones are demanding it. On Day 4, I thought I could just knock myself out with some Zzquil and sleep for eight hours and be totally caught up on sleep.
My mind had other ideas. It kept playing and replaying images from the birth. Over and over again. And when I wasn’t remembering the visuals, my mind would nurse on the songs on the playlist that accompanied all of the visuals from the birth that will remain with me forever.
Honestly, how could my mind do anything else after experiencing birth?
Birth is such a tremendously life-changing event. In my experience, it far surpasses other milestones like graduations or even my wedding. The only times in my life that approach this level of preoccupation were the times I fell in love. That’s it.
So what does all of this mean?
I basically didn’t fully descend into a deep sleep from birth to Day 5 (February 1st, the last day that I got a full night’s sleep, until February 6th). I “rested.” But during that rest, my senses were amplified. Everything was on high alert. I noticed everything, as if my mind were logging all of the possible noises that could come from my baby and what they meant.
Oh, that snort is okay. He’s fine.
Now, he’s smacking his lips and eating his fingers. He’s hungry.
He’s whimpering. He needs to be held close.
Oh, he startled himself awake when his arms flinched. He needs to be swaddled more tightly.
It’s a little easier this time to understand what the sounds mean because I know a range of possibilities of why babies wake up. But obviously, this is a new baby and this is an entirely new inventory of sounds. It’s taking my mind time to acquire this new language.
From Day 5-7, I was able to establish a passable sleeping pattern for myself. At least, one that steers me off the road to psychosis. I was able to sleep in one-hour increments and still reach a deep enough level of sleep for my body to partially restore itself. During the night, I was even able to dream in one-hour increments between feedings.
Nevertheless, I’m still not close to being able to drive safely. Would you want someone like this on the road?
So, you’re welcome.
This is markedly different from my first child, when I went on a 12-day bender with nearly no sleep at all. Not only did my hormones keep me awake, but so did all of the breastfeeding challenges that grew worse over time and never improved.
So this is what is working for us right now. Me, sleeping on the inflatable mattress in the baby’s room, close enough to calm my mind, but far enough away to still sleep somewhat soundly. Maybe it’s just me, but I actually sleep with earplugs in my ears. That’s how heightened my senses are. I can still hear him through the earplugs when something’s wrong.
Nature. Just wow.
I saw this card one night as I was preparing for the night watch and I had to smile. My friend, Suzy, gave me this card for my birthday last Thanksgiving (yep, same day), and it was such an encouragement. I was 32 weeks pregnant and already feeling massive. Wondering how much larger I was going to be at the end. (Thank God, I don’t have the gift of foresight.)
I think she knew I needed to hear that.
When I see his legs crossed like this, I think, “Oh. That makes sense. Now I understand what I was feeling for the last month.”
Can I just say, this page of the baby book is uniquely challenging. Although, when I posed this challenge to the Facebook hive mind, I got some great ideas for how to inject humor into the bleak and unforgiving reality of the time in which we are living.
My favorite? Use “Donald Trump language” to fill out the whole page.
So that is where we are so far.
And now I’m going to do something daring.
Exhausted. Imperfect, but authentic. Continuously putting faith in the idea that I have all I need, even though I feel short on everything.
There’s a cliche saying that I grew up hearing in the Southern Baptist church. God, I really hated it when people said it. But I cannot deny the truth of it in this moment.
They would say, His grace is sufficient for me.
In other words, Trust that God will give you what you need to pull through.
I’m doing just that.
As can be expected, my ability to write is greatly diminished right now. And that’s totally fine with me. Self-care first. Instead of putting effort into writing, I’d like to just show you around my world in the last five days.
The Last Day of Pregnancy: February 1, 2017, 41 weeks and 3 days
Birth: February 2, 2017, 1:27 p.m.
What’s not in these pictures?
All the people who are supporting me.
My husband, who has spent the last month painting and installing lights and shelving in not one, not two, but three bedrooms.
My mother, who has been watching the baby during the day while I have been sleeping and recovering from the blood loss. (I’ve got the night shift.)
My friends, who brought over bagels and scones and muffins on Day 2 and sat with me. Small reassurances that even though crazy things like birth and recovery happen, life goes on. And it’s all beautiful and holy.
My church, who lifted me with their prayers.
The postpartum period can be incredibly isolating and lonely, but all this help has made it just a little easier.
Last week, I feared that I had just blown by my target weight gain of 40 pounds.
Although I had been gaining about 1 pound per week throughout the last trimester, in the last two weeks, I gained 8 pounds.
But, it turns out, a lot of that was water weight. Now that labor is drawing near and the baby is moving into position, I’ve now shed 6 pounds of that water weight.
My doctor tells me that this is going to be an average-sized baby, right around 7.5 pounds. I believe that.
Now, I’m not much of a selfie person.
Nor am I much of a sharing-pictures-of-my-stomach person.
But this is the last time I’m going to have a baby. And I have a feeling my future self would have wanted me to have pictures.
So here is a synopsis.
It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but this baby is pretty much wrapped around me. It is head-down, butt usually resting on my left side while its feet push out of my right side.
People sometimes ask me if I have a feeling about what this baby is like.
Yes. Yes, I do.
One word: Feisty.