We survived the first 5 weeks! I feel like so much has changed since my last update 3 weeks ago. I’ve lived a hundred lives…hahah. This post is probably going to be long winded because I’ve been jotting down random thoughts for the past 3 weeks. Bear with me.
Morning is officially my favourite time of the day. I know this sounds strange given that it follows a night of little sleep, but waking up in the morning means one thing: we made it through another night. I’m sure many of you moms can relate to this feeling of relief in the morning. Those overnight hours are zombie-like. But they are also sweet and innocent all at the same time. Even though I’m sleep deprived, sometimes I just cuddle and stare at Adriana while she sleeps at the end of a feed because I know one day I’ll wish I had these moments back. When she is a year old, I know I won’t regret those few extra hours of sleep that I missed out on. Watching her fall asleep in my arms with her head resting on my chest is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. When she’s in my arms I feel like time is frozen and nothing else matters. She sleeps in our room with us right now and I absolutely love having her close by. It’s going to be so hard when we have to transition her to her crib in future months. But I won’t worry about that just yet!
We’ve been feeding on demand since the beginning. Sometimes that means she wants to feed every hour (or less if she is needing her mama more or going through a growth spurt) and sometimes she’ll go a few hours at a time. Every day is different and I’m ok with that. I’m trying to trust my instincts more than anything and let her be my guide. Some days she naps great and other days she goes on a nap strike. There is no pattern to it. I’m just trying to roll with it. She tends to wake up 2-3 times per night to feed. I always feel rough at first, but then I wake up and it’s not so bad. I’m quickly learning that just as you get used to something it changes up again. So who knows what tonight, next week, or next month will bring! We have friends whose 6 week old started a growth spurt and cluster fed every half hour all night long (when he had been on a great schedule prior), so I’m sure we will encounter those changes in patterns too. Just knowing that nothing stays the same has helped me mentally prepare for these changes and go with the flow. We haven’t introduced a bottle yet due to our struggles with breastfeeding, but when we do introduce a bottle we’re going to try out this paced bottle feeding method. It seems like a good way to try to mimic the pace of breastfeeding and also prevent overfeeding. Have any of you tried this before? Our LC really recommended it. I’ll report back after we try it out, but it probably won’t be for a little while yet.
Speaking of breastfeeding, I feel like I could write 10 pages on this topic since the last post! I’m hanging in there, but I have to be honest with you that weeks 3-4 were hella rough (did I just write hella rough? let’s go with it). There were some tears and a lot of pain. The chomping and latching issues took their toll and I started to get vasospasms, blanching, and a ton of burning pain in my breasts on and off all day long. It was excruciating some days just putting on a t-shirt, forget about wearing an actual bra. Our lactation consultant recommended that we check Adriana for a tongue or lip tie (and many of you did too). This is something we talked about during the first week, but we opted to wait and see if we could work out the breastfeeding issues on our own. Well, unfortunately they did not improve even though we were working on it daily. I figured it was worth getting a consult just to rule it out and we did a lot of research on the topic before our appointment.
We were referred to the Newman Clinic in Toronto. The doctor found that Adriana had a tongue tie which did not come as a surprise. This explains, at least partly, why we were having so many feeding issues. We opted to have the tie released and we’ve been working with our LC to re-train her latch. It’s a common assumption that the release will automatically fix the latching/feeding issue, but as we learned you often have to work to re-train the baby how to use their “new” tongue. So the LC came over the next day and showed me an exercise to do with her before each feed. We also had to do stretches 6 times a day (for 10 days or so) on the release area to ensure that it doesn’t re-attach. Initially, I was disappointed because I didn’t notice an improvement with her latch issues after the release, but my LC assured me that it could take some time. Well, after 1.5 weeks I finally noticed an improvement! I am so grateful. I’m not pain free, but it’s definitely gotten much better. I’m hopeful things will continue to improve with time. All we can do is keep working at it and hope for the best. I’ve spoken with a lot of moms and heard from many of you who said the breastfeeding issues eventually worked themselves out and I’m really hoping that is the case with us. I really do enjoy breastfeeding her, despite the challenges we’ve faced.
Anyway, I just wanted to be honest about our experience because I know how alone I felt in the early weeks when we were struggling so much. I remember being at the hospital in our shared room and the woman next to us had a newborn that (seemingly) latched perfectly and fed like a champ. I felt so sad that we couldn’t get Adriana to latch and I wondered what I was doing wrong. Of course at the time, I really had no idea just how many women struggled with breastfeeding. All of the women I’ve talked to in my family have told me about their own struggles, all stories I never heard before opening up about my own experience. Even though I don’t wish breastfeeding issues on anyone, it was comforting to hear that so many women went through similar things. It was like, “Oh that happened to me too!” and “Oh my gosh that’s exactly how I felt for weeks!” Obviously, not everyone struggles with breastfeeding (I’ve heard many positive stories too), but I wish I knew both sides of the coin before I began because I would’ve been more mentally prepared. But that’s just me. And of course, everyone says if it doesn’t work out in the end (and there are tons of reasons why it might not work out) let go of the guilt and just do what you can. I totally agree. Being a mama is hard enough without all the guilt.
Another improvement a couple weeks ago: our lactation consultant showed us how to nurse in the seated up position. Small victories, folks. We tried it during the first week, but it didn’t work out for us and we opted for the side-lying position. Anyway, the seated up position is my new favourite way to feed her now. I was initially trying to sit up super straight (and ended up hunching over) with the Boppy pillow. What was happening was that gravity was pulling her down and we couldn’t get her high enough since she was so small. So the LC showed me how to semi-recline back in our glider chair (I lock it in place at first) and when I recline this gives Adriana a comfortable spot to rest on my body so gravity isn’t pulling her off the boob. I don’t even need the Boppy pillow in this position. I’m not sure if this explanation makes much sense, but it just feels a million times better! The other bonus is that she doesn’t swallow as much air in this position (compared to the side lying position) and her body is on a nice incline which is great for preventing reflux. Two thumbs up for making progress! We’re getting there slowly but surely…
This article gave me hope during week 3 when I was really struggling so I thought I’d pass it along: 24 tips from breastfeeding veterans. I think it goes to show how unique everyone’s situation is. Like anything, take the advice with a grain of salt and do what works for you.
Speaking of growth, our little monkey has gained over 2 pounds since birth and she’s outgrown all of her newborn sized clothing. Our pediatrician says she is gaining weight like a champ. The squishy arms and legs are the best! I folded up some of her outgrown onesies the other week and my eyes got all watery. I felt embarrassed for myself…haha, but I can’t help it.
How am I feeling physically? I’m improving each week, but like I mentioned earlier, the recovery process has been a lot slower than I expected it to be. My doula referred me to a pelvic floor physiotherapist (she recommended going at 4 weeks if I could) so I went in last week. To be honest, I didn’t even know pelvic floor physiotherapists existed, but I am so glad they do. I have to admit, I was super nervous before the appointment since part of it involved an internal exam and I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of someone being up in my business so soon after delivery (hah), but it wasn’t as bad as I thought and I learned so much about pelvic floor health. She said everything is healing great. Now, I feel like I can finally start taking my recovery into my own hands. She also assessed my ab muscles for separation. I have some minor separation near my belly button, but she said it wasn’t bad and should heal up. I’m not to do crunches or planks (or strain the ab muscles when getting up out of a chair/bed, etc) for a couple more months to give it the best chance of healing. She also reminded me to stick with kegels – here is a great video she passed along for tips. The added bonus is that I find the exercise doubles as a relaxation technique due to all the deep breathing. Anyway, I am glad that I went. It definitely made me feel less anxious about it all.
Exercise: Well, formal exercise is not happening and I’m in no rush to start. I did take Adriana on some (slow) walks during the first couple weeks, but things were so up and down during weeks 3+4 I haven’t been able to get out more than a couple times. I have a walk date with a new mom friend I met in our neighbourhood this week though. That should be really nice!
I am giving some thought as to what kind of exercise I’d like to do over the winter months and I keep coming back to some kind of group exercise class. I always love classes and I think it’s good to get out of the house in the dead of winter. The energy and motivation is so inspiring and it’s a great way to meet people. I’m thinking of doing a combo of things…maybe weight training, spinning, yoga/Barre. I think my plan of attack will be changing it up a lot to keep my body guessing. I’ll keep you posted on what I end up doing. On the days when I can’t get out of the house, I’ll probably do some workout videos online (there are so many good ones out there for free, such as on the Fitsugar website). Feel free to let me know what you are enjoying lately. Any new classes or videos to recommend? Hopefully we can inspire each other to stay active during the long winter months! It’s usually when my motivation wanes the most.
Ok, that’s all for now. I’d love to hear from you in the comments – let me know how you are doing, vent, share a story or where you are at currently, anything!