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
- I am jiggly. Nothing to be done about that.
- I’ve lost about 15 pounds so far. 30 pounds to go.
- When I stand on one leg, I no longer feel like I’m going to fall through my hips.
- I have successfully trained myself to sleep in small chunks around the clock. I sleep about 3-4 hours at night, 1 hour between 1 and 3 p.m., and 1 hour between 7 and 9 p.m.
- When I do lie down to sleep, I can actually reach a deep sleep every time now. Before, I would lie there and agonize that my mind wouldn’t spin down. I was on high alert to all the new sounds of my baby. But now that I’ve acquired this new language of sounds, my mind is letting go when I need to sleep and allowing me to sleep more soundly. Now, when I wake up from these bursts of sleep, I have a feeling of restoration. That is worth its weight in gold.
- I’ve decreased to two doses of 800 mg Motrin per day, instead of three doses.
- My face has finally lost its super-puffiness. My thighs and legs, not so much yet.
- My lower back doesn’t seize up in spasms if I sit the wrong way. This happened a lot during the first three days post-birth.
- My night-time leg cramps are starting to go away.
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.