Hiya, friends! Long time, no talk. A couple days after my last post in November, we welcomed Griffin into our family! In some ways it feels like that was just yesterday, but in other ways, it feels like a different lifetime. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I wanted to write this ” life update.” I’ve contemplated making it an easy-to-read list and keeping it relatively optimistic, but that just didn’t feel right. The last 3 months have been the hardest months of my life, so I’ve decided to simply share my story and shed light on what postpartum life has been like for me. I’m slowly learning that life is similar for millions of other women after birth, too.
Labor & Delivery
Griffin decided to make his entrance right on his due date (yay!). My water broke at 12:20am, and by 2:00am my contractions were 2 minutes apart! I was able to labor without an epidural and by 5:30am I was ready to push. As he came out, I suffered a 2nd-degree tear which was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.
Everyone says that when you deliver your baby and they set him on your chest, you’re instantly in love and you forget about all the pain you just went through, but that wasn’t the case for me. When they set him on my chest, my thought was, “What IS this slimy thing?” LOL. I knew I was supposed to love him and this little boy was the one kicking me for the past 9 months, but I didn’t quite feel that instant connection which made me feel kind of guilty.
After I was all stitched up, we tried breastfeeding which felt extremely awkward for me. Breasts are so sexualized in today’s society that I had to completely change how I viewed my breasts. They were no longer sexual objects, but the means by which I fed my child. These things which were supposed to stay modestly covered at all times were suddenly out at all times. AND incredibly sore, but more on that later.
Coming Home with Baby
Once we brought Griffin home, Andrew had to take care of all of us – making all our meals, changing all the diapers, and being “on-call” 24/7. Because of my tear, I could barely get up off the couch by myself. In fact, it took about 4 weeks to be able to walk comfortably, and another 3 weeks to walk for longer than 10 minutes.
Here’s one of those first days when I jokingly sent a selfie to a mom friend who had bought me a whole bag of Take 5’s (my favorite!). This was pretty much how I felt (and looked!) all the time.
The Breastfeeding Struggle
I had always told myself that I would try to breastfeed, but if it didn’t work out for me that’s OK, too. During my 3rd trimester, we took a class called The Art of Breastfeeding. We learned how to get a baby to latch properly and how breastfeeding should be an amazing bonding experience with your child. I was led to believe that all babies know how to breastfeed – it’s the most natural thing in the world! If it hurt, it was probably the mom’s fault. When breastfeeding proved incredibly difficult for us, I started to feel like a failure.
I used a nipple shield for the first 6 weeks to help Griffin latch. It helped at the beginning but ended up causing more issues like damage to my nipples and less milk for Griffin. We met with a lactation consultant who helped us latch without the shield. Even so, I was still in quite a bit of pain. I decided to try exclusively pumping my breastmilk and bottle feeding, but then I felt really upset about not breastfeeding. There were no scenarios where I felt like a winner.
I decided to just take a couple days to primarily pump, which gave me a chance to physically heal up. After that, breastfeeding was significantly better. It’s still not the breeze I thought it would be, but I’m finally feeling like it might be plausible to breastfeed for one year.
Starting the Stay at Home Mom Life
Around 6 weeks postpartum Andrew went back to work. Since he had done most of the heavy lifting, I was nervous about being home alone with Griffin. Sometimes when I held him, he would just cry until I gave him to Andrew. Week 6 was incredibly difficult for me, as Griffin cried almost all day every day. I started to regret being a stay-at-home mom, wondering if I should go back to a corporate job and send Griffin to a daycare. He seemed to be more content with anyone besides me. The crying plus a strained breastfeeding relationship caused me to have lots of negative feelings towards being a mom. Unfortunately, it started to bring on some postpartum depression.
I called our pediatrician to discuss his symptoms and we started Griffin on a baby version of Zantac, a reflux medicine. The next day, he was a completely different baby. Calm, and NO crying! Instead of tears of stress, I cried tears of joy.
The Next 7 Weeks
We still have our good days and bad days. I discovered that once we got into a routine, it made a huge difference. Our routine takes most of the guessing out his fussiness and crying, so he’s a much happier baby and I’m a much happier mommy. That being said, staying on our routine is paramount in managing my PPD. When Griffin cries inconsolably for 15+ minutes, it’s a huge trigger for me and throws me off for the next day or two. Thankfully, those days are becoming less and less.
We’re starting to have more fun during the day, especially now that he’s smiling. He loves talking, laying on his changing table, getting his clothes changed, and putting stuff in his mouth. That being said, he still has his fussy days where we have no idea what’s going on. On these days I’m learning to extend myself a lot of grace and remembering that I’m doing my very best. I was chosen to be Griffy’s mommy, and in his eyes, I’m probably super mommy.
I Didn’t Expect…
My postpartum journey has been a roller coaster of emotions, which I simply did not expect.
I didn’t expect motherhood to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, since I’m usually pretty good at the things I set my mind to.
I didn’t expect to lose SO much of my independence by having to breastfeed every 2-4 hours.
I didn’t expect to be having my own meltdowns each night for a few weeks, feeling like I just couldn’t win.
I didn’t expect to stop losing weight after 6 weeks postpartum, with 25+ pounds to go.
I didn’t expect my body to be riddled with so many stretch marks.
I didn’t expect to still be wearing maternity clothes at 13 weeks postpartum because most of my regular clothes still don’t fit.
I didn’t expect to be “that” mom with a crying baby at the grocery store.
I didn’t expect to feel so empty and emotionally drained for months postpartum.
I didn’t expect to miss pre-baby life so much.
I didn’t expect to have to work on our marriage because having a baby changes everything.
I didn’t expect to have to learn how to extend myself so much grace in those moments where it feels like nothing has gone right.
But that being said…
I didn’t expect to get the biggest warm and fuzzies the first time he smiled, and every time since.
I didn’t expect to have SO much more love for my husband after seeing the amazing father he is.
I didn’t expect to feel like such a rock star the first day I didn’t have my own meltdown. Then 2 days, then a week, and so on…
I didn’t expect to miss Griffy so much after I get out of the house for a couple hours.
I didn’t expect to feel overwhelmingly excited to nurse Griffy after he’s been away from me for awhile (despite the lingering pain).
I didn’t expect to feel like superwoman after his 2-month appointment when he gained 2 lbs and grew 2 inches. The doctor was convinced we’d been supplementing with formula!
I didn’t expect to love my little family so darn much, despite this huge emotional roller coaster we’ve been on for the past few months.
I’m slowly starting to feel comfortable and confident in my role as a mother. Now that Griffin is becoming a happier baby, we’ve been able to get out of the house a little bit more. It always feels like a huge success when Griffin and I go out without a meltdown. Some days, I honestly feel like I deserve the biggest damn trophy in the world!
With spring about here and summer around the corner, I’m excited to start getting some new content on Rise and Renovate. I’ve had the chance to spruce up our house with some new spring decor and I can’t wait to show you! Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you get every post straight to your inbox.