10 Weeks of Love- What I Learned While On Maternity Leave

Almost 2 months later and I’m back!  Thursday was my first day back to work from maternity leave.  For the last 10 weeks, I took advantage of spending every moment with our lil’ munchkin.  So, sorry, (not sorry), I’ve been away for awhile, enjoying snuggles, giggles and that new, fresh, baby smell.

The last 10 weeks have had so many ups and a few downs but I have taken it all in stride with my new life as a mama.  I learned a lot since May 2nd about myself, about my marriage, parenthood and having a newborn that I didn’t realize before.  So I thought I’d take a minute to share some things I found out during these last 74 days.  Let this be advice to mommy-to-be’s and hilarious for the veterans who I’m sure could throw out a quick “I told you so”.

You won’t accomplish your “To-Do List” while on maternity leave.

Silly me.  I had these grandiose plans of all the things I was going to get done as soon as I was on maternity leave.  My house was going to be so cleaned and organized, I was going to make dinner every night and even bake (HA!).  I was going to take the dogs on daily walks and even a brief fleeting vision of a garage sale.

Little did I know while making these plans, Miss Stubborn, (who is still as strong willed out of my womb as she was in), would stay breech and require me to have a C-section and to add to it, she would be arriving 3 weeks early with the last 5 days of pregnancy resulting in bed rest.  Oh and don’t forget that part about HAVING A NEWBORN.  No one tells you, you will literally not have a single ounce of energy to do anything but feed that baby (which that is a whole other issue to be discussed later), shower (if you’re lucky), sleep when the baby sleeps (that’s another joke), and eat (if you remember).

fa71fbc91c783a7901f5eb186c7e8fa4--pregnancy-tips-doulaNeedless to say none of the above tasks listed, happened.  I was extremely blessed that I healed really well and quickly from my C-section so at least I was more mobile than originally planned.  However, I was lucky if we were out of bed by 11am which seemed like a feat after Nora’s schedule of eating and waking up every 2-3 hours.  Then more feeds every 2 hours then before you knew it, it was time to have dinner (we were so grateful to have friends provide us with meals) and then we would start our bedtime routine and start all over the next day!

Looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing.  All those things I wanted to do will get done, just not right now.  I learned spending time and bonding with my baby was far more important than making sure the laundry was put away.

Breastfeeding is hard…like, really hard.

I had heard many people talk about breastfeeding being hard.  Nothing prepared me for this kind of hard.  I had always envisioned the moment she was born, we would do the ever so glorious skin-to-skin time and breastfeed right away.  I quickly learned, just like my pregnancy, things weren’t going to be that easy.

We tried to get her to latch and she just wouldn’t do it.  After multiple attempts, the nurse got a shield and that seemed to do the trick. However, we later learned the shield was the wrong size and I was in SO much pain each time I would attempt to feed her.  During our stay at the hospital, Nora was losing too much weight and exceeded the preferred <10% weight loss.  Our last day at the hospital, her pediatrician recommended I start pumping when we got home and supplement after each feeding.  That did the trick and she gained back all the weight lost and then some within a week!

However, now Nora realized that a bottle was WAY easier than breastfeeding.  When we would feed she would get frustrated and not stay latched, knock the shield off, fall asleep, etc.  It would take us at least an hour for her to finally be full and when she wants to eat every 2-3 hours, by the time I would get done pumping after her eating, I literally was getting 15 minutes of sleep.  It was awful.  There were definitely times I would cry along with her out of frustration and sleep deprivation.

So where are we at now?  Well, mostly pumping and giving her a bottle.  I went to support groups and worked with Lactation Consultants to see if they could help.  Turns out her latch was all sorts of wrong which was causing the pain and her frustration.  We also recently found out she is tongue-tied.  She was checked for a tongue tie in the front but never checked for one towards the back.  After all of our troubles, 3 doctors, 2 lactation consultants and people who thought I was crazy, my motherly intuition told me to ask one more doctor to check just one more time and sure enough she diagnosed it immediately.  This explains her inability to transfer milk in a normal amount of time and also could be the cause of acid reflux, which she also has.  We have an appointment with an ENT next month and hopefully we can take care of it and make it better for her!

Fed-is-best-meme-Fb-chatMy supply dropped significantly during all of this and I have become a “just enougher” where I usually pump just enough for her next feeding.  I wasn’t able to build up a “stash” for when I return to work so we resulted in having to supplement with a special formula for about a week. This allowed me freeze the other half of milk for when I’d return to work.  On top of everything else, we believe she may have a cow protein intolerance (which I found out is completely different than being lactose intolerant) and I am now having to cut out dairy from my diet because it’s effecting her reflux issues. This child better know how much I love her to give up cheese…

In the end, I’ve learned– FED IS BEST.  In two short months, I have already breastfed, pumped and fed my baby a special hypoallergenic formula when I found out my milk was making her sick and guess what? She’s still living, happy and thriving.  To me that’s all that matters.

‘Mom Shaming’ really happens and it sucks. 

Luckily, I haven’t experienced this firsthand but I’m sure I will at some point, which is sad.  I’m a part of a few “mom’s groups” on social media to gather tips and resources for raising my kiddo.  Some of the things I see women saying to each other completely baffles me!  In a group where we are supposed to be building each other up, the opposite is happening.

I had a friend whose daughter also has a cow protein allergy but there is also something specific about her milk that makes her daughter sick.  No matter her diet, her daughter cannot have her milk. She was telling me how she had to go pick up her hypoallergenic formula at a local store and while standing in front of the never-ending wall of formula choices, a lady approached her and said “You know, breast is best! You really shouldn’t be feeding your baby that crap.”

c18ace23dd345ef470dc81b75a8b1f7fUh, excuse me?  My poor friend felt so defeated already knowing her milk was literally making her daughter sick but this woman had no idea that yes, she wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t. My friend who is commonly the shy and reserved type didn’t say anything. She left the store in tears all because this woman felt the need to give her unsolicited opinion.  If I would’ve been there, I promise in all my sleep deprived glory, I would have become a verbal ninja on her behind and set her straight.

With that said, the lesson I learned here is–YOUR BABY, YOUR RULES. Something I’ve always said is just because you wouldn’t do it, doesn’t make it wrong.  There could also be outlying circumstances for the way things are, you don’t know. I also learned we as moms have that intuition or mama bear characteristic when it comes to our kids.  What I think is best for my child, you may not agree with but that is okay because she’s not your child.  There’s a fine line between advice and non-beneficial opinions and ain’t nobody got time for that!

Ask for help.

This has never been my strong suit.  I seriously hate asking for help but I finally broke down and had to do it during these last 10 weeks. Having a C-section meant not being able to do normal things like drive, grocery shop, vacuum, etc. for awhile. For someone who would rather be the person helping someone else and not be the person in need, was hard!

I’m so grateful my mother, step-mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law came over the first week Hubby went back to work. The following weeks other friends and family would come to help or just give us a break and it was amazing. At first, I wasn’t sure why it was necessary but having them there physically and emotionally meant the world to me!

I learned even with Hubby if I need help, just ask.  Anyone who has taken care of a newborn knows emotions can run high.  I had numerous frustrating and defeating moments these last 2 months and would have completely crumbled if he hadn’t rescued me.  Baby blues are a real thing.  When I’m ready to throw in the towel, I realize unless I ask for help, nothing will change and it will just get worse.

 Clichés are true.

Finally, I’ve learned what they say is true- you’ll never experience a love as strong as the one when you have baby.  But I’ve also learned, it may take awhile to fully feel that love.  I joked that when Eleanor was born for the first week or so, I kept waiting for her  parents to come pick her up.  It was so surreal she was actually ours! Don’t get me wrong, the joy I felt the moment she was placed in my arms was overwhelming.  That joy quickly turned into the love that everyone speaks of and it only continues to grow.  Every time she gives me her goofy gummy grin, my heart swells.   The first time she pouted out her bottom lip in protest, I knew I was doomed.  Every little new thing she does, I’m so enamored with her.  She has changed our lives for the better.

—-

 

Baby Update!!

With all that said, things are going great and are only getting better! Miss Eleanor Charlotte is over 11lbs now and close to 23 inches long.  She’s right smack in the middle of all of her percentiles, so exactly where she needs to be!

Aside from her having horrible reflux early on, we believe we are headed in the right direction to getting it fixed.  We have an appointment with an ENT in August to discuss getting her tongue tie fixed which could potentially minimize the reflux. Her medicines have also seemed to start to curb it some as well.

She had ultrasounds done on her hips since she was breech for so long and that came back all normal.  She also had an ultrasound done on the birth mark she has that is on her tail bone to ensure it wasn’t interfering with any vascular areas and her spine.  So far so good on that front and we will continue to monitor it with a dermatologist as she grows!

Our little girl is full of smiles and funny faces and has started becoming more interested in the world around her.  We think our doggies are funny, diaper changes are awful, Dad’s beard is the best and tummy time is torture!  She gets to spend four days a week with her Grandma now while I’m at work. She has a great time and I get cute pictures throughout the day so it’s a win-win!  We couldn’t ask for anything better!!

I had to postpone my return to work by a few days because in the midst of everything my Gallbladder had to be removed.  I had numerous Gallbladder attacks while pregnant with Nora and found out I had gallstones.  It only got worse after she arrived.  The attacks became more frequent and painful and we decided it was time for my gallbladder to be evicted! I’m doing much better now!

My hopes will be to update and document Nora as she grows through my blog but I’m not sure what that will look like yet.  So stay tuned and prepare to be inundated with baby pictures!!!

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Until next time,

J

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