It has been 6 weeks since Jacob joined our family and I felt like it would be a good time to share a pregnancy update. Even though I have given birth already pregnancy takes time to recover from and changes continue to occur both physically and mentally. If you missed the previous posts on this pregnancy you can read them here:
First Few Days- With my 3rd and 4th children I went home a few hours after giving birth. I knew this time however, I would have to stay at the hospital for at least 24 hours but in the end I stayed for almost 48. During labour Jacob began showing a heart arrhythmia and so he had to have an EKG done the day after he was born. The pediatric cardiologist was not comfortable letting us go home and asked us to stay for an additional 24 hours of monitoring. My time in the hospital was crappy to say the least. I had a private room but the place was really old with lots of things like the bed and lights that didn’t work. The room was SO hot and even with a little fan going I was sweating like crazy. The food sucked with little to no fresh fruits or vegetables and the toilet was being held up by an odd contraption. I won’t say how much I paid for the private room but I could have stayed at a very nice hotel for less than what I was charged!
The first night Jacob was spitting up amniotic fluid and choked on it a few times so I had absolutely no sleep. The second night he was so fussy that even with my husband there that night we both got very little sleep. By the time I was able to go home I was utterly exhausted and very sore from sitting in an uncomfortable hospital bed for 2 days. The constant nurses, lab techs, doctor and specialists coming in and out all day and night was super annoying too. (One of the nurses came in at 1am to give me a shot and did it above my bellybutton- a big no-no. I had a massive bruise that took almost 4 weeks to heal from her.) I definitely understand why some women prefer to have homebirths and I wish that I could have had that opportunity.
I told everyone that I planned to spend the first few weeks in bed in order to recover and spend time with my last little one. Ha! That didn’t happen. I had to take baby to the health unit less than 24 hours after getting home to test his bilirubin levels and from that day on I have been to appointments between 3 and 5 days a week. This week I am looking forward to just having 1!
Overall health- This pregnancy was a very difficult one right off the bat and my health has really suffered. Last week I went for an ultrasound of my leg which showed that I still have an extensive DVT. I am continuing on blood thinners for at least another 3 months and seeing a specialist next month. Unfortunately, the medication has some long term negative consequences particularly for the bones and joints so I am hoping I can go off of it after the 3 months. Because of the DVT and the swelling that is still occurring in my leg I have not been able to begin exercising yet. I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight however, it is a very mushy version of myself as I have lost muscle tone in my arms and legs. I am hoping to start going for walks soon and possibly doing some light weight lifting in the next few weeks. I had some tearing when I gave birth and required 2 stitches which healed fairly quickly. A few days after giving birth my hips and pelvis began to hurt quite badly. A few visits to my chiropractor has helped to get things back into alignment and the pain has almost completely gone away. Emotionally, this post-partum period has been rough. With all of the medical concerns for Jacob and I along with 4 other children to care for I have been completely spent. I did notice that my hormone levels seem to be more consistent though. No hot flashes or bad acne this time!
Breastfeeding- I have struggled to breastfeed all of my children as newborns. I shared my experience with Nathan here and Kaitlyn here. This time breastfeeding actually started out better than I had anticipated it would. Jacob latched on shortly after birth and things seemed to be going well. After a week my nipples were sore and had some blistering however, I didn’t have any bleeding which was encouraging. Unfortunately, one night when he was 2 weeks old he suddenly stopped latching on. After lots of tries I would finally be able to get him on however, It was taking 30 minutes just to get him latched on to one side and it was painful. With the hormones flowing and the extended nursing sessions I was a mess. With my two previous children I had the support of midwives who came to my home to help me with breastfeeding. This time though, I learned just how little support there is in my city for new moms who are struggling to breastfeed. I tried a nipple shield, various feeding techniques and lots of skin to skin contact which all seemed to help sometimes but not other times. I finally got into a breastfeeding clinic when he was 3 weeks old and learned that he has a slight posterior tongue tie and a small lip tie. I decided not to clip his tongue at that time though and give it some time before I made a decision. Baby was gaining weight, although a bit slower than doctors like to see. Thankfully just as it started one night over the next week things improved and they have continued to do so. I was able to speak with a Le Leche League member who told me about the ‘flipple’ technique which made a big difference. Jacob is now gaining weight at a steady pace and breastfeeding is much improved. We are still working on the latch a bit but I see a long breastfeeding relationship in our future 🙂
Things I had forgotten- You would think that having 4 children in the span of 6 years that I would very clearly remember what having a newborn was like. Yet, there are a number things that I had completely forgotten about!
#1- The exhaustion. Oh man, nothing I repeat nothing can prepare you for the exhaustion of the first week after giving birth. I thought the little sleep I was having during the end of my pregnancy was rough but it got even worse after giving birth. I am slowly starting to get more sleep but the reality of my life at the moment means early wake-ups and no time for naps.
#2- The upset tummy. I experienced this after having each one of my children. With little time to make food I often ended up grabbing whatever I could shove into my mouth while passing by the kitchen or trying to eat with one hand while nursing the baby. Adding 2 days of hospital food and the normal ‘post-birth tummy issues’ and man, it sucks. A friend brought some snacks over one day and I was so grateful to have something healthy to eat.
#3- That I am ravenously hungry all the time. Day or night I can eat anything and everything I can get my hands on. (Which may explain part of the reason behind #2 above!) Nursing a baby really makes me hungry!
#4- How much babies poop. Sheesh can these little ones really produce a lot of poop and they do it with such force! I am really glad the days that he poops in the cloth diapers because they at least contain it. He had one major blow-out in a disposable diaper last week in his car seat. Thankfully, it was on our way home from family pictures and not to them!
#5- That lanolin stains everything. This one is pretty self-explanatory but it really affected the cloth breast pads that I had and ruined some of my clothes 🙁
#6- How uncomfortable milk let-downs are. I wouldn’t say that they are painful but they really drive me crazy sometimes as my breast feels like it has an itch that can not be satisfied.
#7- How much I love snuggling with babies. Babies are my thing; 100% I love snuggling with them. I love how warm they are, how they do little stretches with closed fists and how their legs stay tucked in when you pick them up. Oh if only I could snuggle in bed with Jacob all day long!
#8- How time goes too fast. It’s a cliche but when you’re in survival mode life just seems to pass you by at lightening speed. At 6 weeks I still have yet to take a one month picture of Jacob. Oops my bad…
It is really interesting to me how much the post-partum period can vary. Even though Jacob is my 5th child many things have been very different this time than with my other children. If I had to sum up the last 6 weeks on a scale of 1 to 10 I would probably give the weeks about a 7. Hormones have a wonderful way of making you ‘forget’ the negatives and remember the cuddly smiling baby 🙂