The First Two Nights
I'd like to say that the struggles we had in the first two nights were due in large part to our tumultuous discharge process, but I know that really the things I experienced were normal. Every mommy experiences them on some level. I won't bore you with the details of the fiasco that was our discharge, but suffice to say that we weren't released from the hospital until nearly 11:00 PM and therefor there was NO way we were going to be able to even *try* to let brand new baby Greysen wind down before it was time to bed down. I thought I was prepared for the no sleeping. I was not. This kid has a pair of lungs on him! I swear he screamed through the entire night the first night and 85% of the second. It was like he was the most pleasant and placid baby when the sun was up, and then as soon as it was officially night time, he turned into exorcist baby. Thank the Lord for my mother who came in and out of our room throughout both nights to help rock and soothe him, change diapers, and wipe tears...off MY face. I felt like the worst mother in the world because I didn't know how to make him stop crying. I held him, I patted him, I changed his diaper, I *tried* to feed him, I scratched his back, I sang to him, I shushed him, etc. NOTHING worked. And so I cried...A LOT. Inconsolable tears, feeling like a failure, feeling like I was so far out of my league. I kept saying, "I don't know how to fix it!" while I sobbed. I was hormonal, I was exhausted, and I was in pain. I refused to take the percocet that my doctor prescribed me because it zonks me out. I was terrified that I wouldn't wake up if he started choking or gasping for air if I was doped on percocet. But the 800 mg of Ibuprofen I was taking was barely taking the edge off the pain. More on that shortly. Bottom line is that the first two nights were possibly the longest and most difficult 48 hours of my life. I never lost love for my sweet baby, but man was I frustrated. Where had my sweet little snoozing bundle gone? I was left with this angry little baby siren who could not be soothed between the hours of midnight and 8:00 AM. Oh man, was I at a loss...
My Poor Lady Bits
Boys...avert your eyes if your squeamish. It's about to get real. I had a normal vaginal delivery with Greysen. I only pushed for about 10-12 minutes total! But I did have a second degree tear (which I *think* means that my skin down there tore more than a centimeter, but the muscle stayed intact). I say I *think* because I refuse to pull out a hand mirror and look for myself. If it looks half as horrible as it felt, I never want to see it again! I was not adequately prepared for this aspect. Within hours of delivery once my epidural had worn off (which it was mostly gone by the time I began pushing anyway), I was in pain. My sweet labor nurse helped me to the bathroom from the delivery bed and I swear it felt like I'd been riding a horse for 3 weeks straight. She taught me how to care for myself and how to build my, as I like to refer to it, "lady diaper cocktail". Witch hazel pads, cortisone cream, a Neosporin type ointment with a numbing element in it, and a good generous spritz of Dermoplast (oh how I love that stuff...it's been my life saver...). All of which has to be built onto the biggest maxi pad I've ever seen in my life. Like seriously, the diapers we are putting on Greysen right now aren't as big as these things. And Kicha had me layering two of them together inside my super sexy mesh hospital panties (another thing I was insanely grateful for). So I got all set up and then got back in bed to snuggle my munchkin until they brought the wheelchair to take me to recovery. I've never been so scared to sit on a flat surface in my life. Oh yeah...nobody really prepared me for the hemorrhoid situation either. I had never had them before so I didn't know what they really were. But I definitely know now! Best I can describe the experience of those glorious little things is that when you sit down it feels like someone whooped your butt with a spiked club. Ouch! Not to mention, every single move I made made me feel like my nether regions were going to explode. Literally. And from that point until about 2-3 days ago, my lady bits felt like ground beef. Like I had literally been beat with a cat of nine tails between my legs. That made getting up and down with Greysen all day and night a superhuman feat. Even just sitting up in bed was excruciating. Jonathan had to help pull me up, prop me up, stand me up, etc. I winced in pain every time I sat down or stood up. Pain meds only just barely took the edge off the pain. I learned the hard way too that I might not regain the sensation of needing to go to the bathroom for a while, but if I didn't go regularly my uterus and my bladder would "be at odds" and simply going to the bathroom would be excruciating. I just hurt. All the time. Which made the things that were difficult with Greysen even more difficult since I was basically immobile. It took superhuman strength to muscle through the pain and care for my new baby...
Let's Be Honest About Breastfeeding
Alright girls, let's get real here. Before giving birth I had read every article I could get my hands on about nursing. I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding cover to cover. I was as prepared as I possibly could have been before Greysen got here. Which was honestly...NOT AT ALL! Most literature on breastfeeding paints this picture: You will give birth and within minutes your new baby will be searching for your nipple. He/She will latch on and it will be the most beautiful, natural bonding experience between you and your baby. After that, just continue bringing baby to your breast as often as they want to nurse in order to establish good habits. Now if you're a woman whose experience was like this, man am I jealous! Mine, and I'm certain the majority of others, was a completely different experience. Yes, within a few hours of birth, Greysen was giving me hunger cues. He was sticking his tongue out and trying to suck his hands. So I nervously offered him my breast. Yep...he immediately started searching for the nipple. And guess what?? Two weeks later, HE'S STILL SEARCHING! :) It gets a little better every day, but man THIS has been the postpartum experience I was least prepared for. I have cried more times than I can count because he was screaming and couldn't find my nipple to latch. And when he miraculously did latch, he would spit it right out and scream. He would (and still does) reach up to the top of my breast and drag his little fist down trying desperately to get milk to come out. But even now today, there's not much there. Yes, he's still tiny and doesn't need much to satisfy his tiny little tummy, but my little dude was HUNGRY. I had been completely scared away from offering him a pacifier or formula because of "nipple confusion" and worry that he would "prefer" the formula or the faster flow of a bottle over my breast and would therefor refuse my breast eventually. So the first night, though my mom and mother in law both tried to convince me to give him a half ounce of formula just to satiate his hunger, I refused because I felt like giving in to the formula made me a bad mom, a failure, and a quitter. The second night, after wrestling with him for literally 24 hours trying to get him to nurse long enough to get enough colostrum out of my breast, I "gave in" and fed that poor baby a half ounce of formula. And guess what?? He took it, sighed a sigh of relief, and fell peacefully asleep in my arms. And I cried. Because THEN I felt like a horrible mother because I felt like I'd been starving him. His poor tummy was empty! So I say that to say this: FEED YOUR BABY. Don't let any book or any person tell you that feeding your baby formula while you're trying to get into a rhythm of breastfeeding is "tapping out". Guess what?? Greysen still knows where "the good stuff" comes from. Even though I am still supplementing with formula at each feeding until I'm producing enough milk to satisfy him, he still eats a little from the bottle and then insists on nursing. He "dolphin dives" over my shoulder looking for my breast. And the little trooper works and works at it. I'm so proud of him for that. And it's only been within the last 48 hours that he's even been successful at latching to my breast at each feeding. That is a miracle that can only be contributed to the prayers of some sweet girlfriends who I went to in tears when things just weren't working. It's tough not to take it personally when your baby screams at your breast while you try to stuff your nipple in their searching mouth and they keep spitting it out. Incredibly frustrating...
How I Surived
As difficult as these two weeks have been, I would gladly relive them over and over. Why? Because Greysen is beyond worth it. When he does drift off to sleep at night (which, by the way, he is sleeping for 3 hour stretches at a time at night now!), I can't quit staring at his perfect peaceful face. I'm healed up almost completely, but when I look at my body in the mirror I am reminded of the 37+ weeks that he lived inside me so cozy and warm, and I'm once again awed by what my own body was able to do. I keep plugging away at this nursing thing because when he *does* latch, it's a giant victory. And I feel incredible because I know he's learning how to get what he needs from me, and I feel accomplished because I'm able to offer it to him. It's the understatement of the century to say that mothering is the most difficult yet rewarding thing in the world. It's completely true. You will never feel more frustrated in your life while simultaneously feeling like you would give your right arm for this tiny baby screaming at 3:00 AM. Motherhood is empowering at the same time that you feel weaker and more lost than you've ever felt. It's unique to motherhood. But with each passing day I get stronger, Greysen gets more advanced, and we get closer and closer to "getting it". No doubt there will be challenges through the rest of my career as a mother, but for now, we count the tiny successes, make note of them, and try to replicate them as frequently as possible.
Newborn Baby Must Haves
Finally I wanted to share a few items that, in retrospect, I would not have been able to survive without (click the names for a link to the item):
I had a Boppy pillow, but me and Greysen just couldn't connect with it. The MyBrestFriend pillow was a lifesaver that my mother went out and bought me on Day 2 at home.
Greysen refuses to sleep in anything else. He naps in it and he sleeps in it at night. He also gets his nightly baby massage in it. He LOVES it! And therefor so do Mommy and Daddy...
We went through two other types of bottles before zeroing in on these. Honestly, Greysen's latch to my breast improved tremendously after we introduced these bottles. The flow out of the Breast Shaped Nipples is SUPER slow and mimics my breast. The switching back and forth that he does during feedings is no big deal because of the miracle that is these bottles and nipples
Every baby is different, but MY baby refuses all pacifiers but these bad boys. We stocked up on them the other day because they are the only ones he will take and he is able to keep them in his mouth easily even without a lot of control over his hands...
Greysen does not deal well with dirty or wet diapers. As soon as he's wet or poopy he wants it off his bottom. The wipes warmer makes it less of a shock to his tushy when we change him, not to mention it makes getting stuck on poop off his bottom MUCH easier!
Not for the reason you would think! I don't like them for breast pads because they leave fuzz on my nipple. But they work GREAT to shield us from sprinkles while diaper changing! I use one every time I change Greysen's diaper. If he has a peepee accident while I'm changing him, those breast pads soak it all up!
So there ya have it. The dirty truth. Don't get me wrong, as difficult as it's been, I am deliriously happy and content. I LOVE my Greysen, I've been in awe of the Daddy transformation that has happened in my husband, and I'm grateful every moment for the miracle that is my son. If you're the type that is a champion for breastfeeding and your fingers are hovering over the keyboard itching to give me advice or scold me for the formula or the pacifier, let me save you the time. Greysen is happy and healthy and we are getting it little by little and we ARE going to master the art of breastfeeding in our own way and in our own time. We are finding our own rhythm and that's what it's all about! If you're a new mommy or an expecting mommy, feel free to message me and ask me questions or look for solidarity. You know I'll be honest with you! ;)