I am deliriously happy. And yet, at about one day after the birth, I looked over at Mikko, my dear firstborn, and thought of our former sweet grouping of three, and thought, "I've ruined my family."
I felt devastated in that moment. Why had I let down Mikko like that, bringing this interloper into his life?
Is this a kid whose life has been ruined?
I had heard that many parents have trouble seeing their older kid(s) as cute after the newborn comes into their lives. I don't doubt this phenomenon exists, because I experienced this with (no joke) my cat. When Mikko came home, I couldn't look at my cat, previously considered a beauty, without deriding her in my mind, "Ugh, so … hairy."
But I don't (fortunately) feel this disconnect against Mikko (yet). I think some of the problem might be that I think Alrik, while adorable, is still in that lizardy-alien-old-man phase of babyhood. And since I read in Mother Nature that we as humans have an established ambivalence toward fetuses and a tendency to value chubbiness as cuter, I don't feel so bad that I'm not taken with the scrawny newborn stage. After all, Mikko's cheeks? Alrik just hasn't risen to such heights yet…
Who you talking about not being cute?
Alrik has perfected the concerned look.
It's amazing how familiar breastfeeding feels. Oh, I know, I haven't stopped breastfeeding the older one yet, but nursing a newborn is a whole different ballgame. They really do just eat all the time.
Let's just be clear that any postpartum post is going to be TMI, shall we? Because then we can talk lochia.
My midwife recommended staying put in bed for at least a couple weeks after the birth, for healing purposes. I'd had a few stitches, and of course just the normal loss of blood and fluids and muscle tone.
Not my brightest idea, but at about exactly two weeks, we went downtown to celebrate Mikko's birthday. I'd been chafing under the boredom of imposed confinement. But it was a sunny weekend in June, and we live on a beach. Um, yeah. So, for logistical parking- and traffic-related reasons, we ended up walking rather than driving most of the way to the water taxi, and then from the water taxi to the restaurant (of course) and then to the arcade, and then back to the water taxi, and then back to the car. Which, all told, was probably two to three hours of walking. With a baby strapped to me for just the wee bit of an extra challenge. When he began to cry and needed to nurse on our way back, Sam offered to stop at a bench so I could feed him. "No," I said, cradling him into position with one arm and continuing to trudge onward, "if I stop now, I'll never get started again."
In any event, it wasn't my arms that were feeling the burn. It was my decimated pelvis.
But I emerged none the worse for wear except that my blood had soaked through my pants. Not too much, though. I had been afraid to check at the restaurant for fear I was sitting in a great red pool on the bench seat.
Note to any postpartum exercisers: Bring an extra pad along!
The upside, though? The next day, nada. Clean as a whistle. Oh, it came back the day after that, but it was so lovely to have a little lochia break. Apparently I'd shaken out all that was in the canal with all that bouncing around. It's enough to make me want to exercise more.
At a month now, my lochia is pantyliner-light. But still there. I'm so. sick. of it.
I heartily recommend going with cloth pads instead of disposable, and I have a couple reviews coming up of postpartum pads that I've liked. But even so, I can't wait to have a break from wearing them again!
[Update: Here's one of MotherMoonPads. Enter the giveaway by September 28.]
I've discovered the real cure for acne (at least, for me): pregnancy.
My skin was smooth as a baby's for nine glorious months.
Two days after I give birth? Huge zit.
As if I needed proof that (a) acne is hormonal and (b) no, you 35-year-old mother of two, you have not outgrown it.
The good news is, at one month postpartum, my maternity pants are now loose on me. The bad news is my non-maternity pants don't close.
Now I begin to see the wisdom of "transition" wear. Like newborn clothes that will fit for at most a couple months, I questioned the expenditure. But when it's all that fits, it's all that fits.
Here's a visual progression:
The first shot is the day after giving birth. I look easily 6 months pregnant still.
I lost 20 pounds the first week.
The second shot is at 2 weeks postpartum. It was almost more depressing to lose the rounded fake-pregnant look and go into the flabby-tummy look.
The third shot is 3 weeks postpartum, with multiple layers on that are holding some of my flabby tummy in. I still have 20 pounds to lose to be back at my (admittedly high) pre-pregnancy weight.
Not "had" 20 pounds to lose. Have. At three months now, I have lost zero more pounds since that first week. And all my weight seems to have been redistributed, so that nothing fits, not even my image of myself.
I've been feeling kind of sad about that. But look back at that second picture, the one I said was depressing.
See Alrik? See how he's gazing up in adoration at my face? See that life and love that came out of that flabby belly?
I guess that's what we should be concentrating on as mothers, huh?
I have gotten my placenta encapsulated! There was a slight delay because the first person I contacted never called me back, and the idea of doing a lot of research to find someone else right after the birth just didn't pan out. So Sam popped it into the freezer for me for a couple weeks.
Then Heather from Seattle Placenta Encapsulation came to my rescue. She picked up my thawed placenta, cleaned and dehydrated it, and put it into 100+ capsules, which she (and her cutie-patootie of a 2-year-old son) delivered back to my door. The cost was $100, which is a good price for the area.
I'm hoping it's $100 well spent. I already feel like, even if it's a placebo effect, I could use a placebo effect. But I actually do believe, based on other mammals eating their placentas, that there's a value in ingesting it — the rich iron, the regulating hormones. (Here's a little round-up of some research.) Anything to stop me from bursting into tears at the slightest provocation, and to get my anemia under control, yes? I'll let you know how it goes.
The idea of eating internal organs raw or cooked icks me out. I know some people eat part of their placenta as is, or mix it into a smoothie or a lasagna. I just — can't. But with my placenta in capsule form, I've been totally fine with swallowing the pills three times a day. And, hippie-dippie magic or not, I already feel better.
It's fascinating to me how quickly babies learn what they need to to survive, or maybe how they come out knowing it. Alrik latches on like a pro, and he's already got his little passive-aggressive cries down pat. Like, if I'm not around, he'll be crying in earnest, but as soon as I pick him up and start moving him into position, as I'm still getting my shirt arranged he'll change his cry to a half-volume "uhh, uhh, uhh." It's so clearly just to shame me for taking so long, like, "I'm not really that upset anymore, but I'm going to keep announcing my displeasure so you don't forget that I really want to eat."
And then, when all is ready, "ha-rowmp," this hilarious attack-the-boob noise as he lunges for it.
I am so, so proud and happy with myself for having a natural birth, a homebirth, a water birth, and an unassisted birth at that. The last element not planned that way, of course, but it's very empowering now that it's over.
And yet, I keep remembering how very, very uncomfortable I found labor. That stuff … man … it's powerful. It's intense. And I really didn't like it much.
There, I said it.
Even during contractions, I felt like I was somehow letting my blog community down by not feeling ecstatic and instead feeling a little bit scared, somewhat overwhelmed, and a lot wishing for it to just be over already.
So when people have been congratulating me on my birth and asking for my fabulous birth story, I keep thinking in this corner of my mind, Stop, stop, I don't deserve it. Silly, isn't it?
This kid urps so much we should have named him Wyatt.
I had naively thought that burping and burp cloths must have been created by the bottle feeding movement, since Mikko held every ounce of milk he got and instantly turned it into flubber.
Not so with this guy. Is any of it actually staying in to nourish him? I suppose so, since he's gaining weight, but it's mysterious to me how when what seems like the entire contents of his stomach are spewed upon every available surface on a half-hourly basis.
Back to lochia. Oh, come on, you missed it. And stitches, and general genital discomfort.
Just before the birth, we installed bidets on both our toilet seats.
I worried that visitors might think we were snooty, or weird. I don't give a fig now.
These things are awesome.
So long, peri bottle. I have a new lover now.
When Amy was visiting me right before the birth (as in, she left the day I went into labor), she just serendipitously, as it turned out, happened to mention that after her birth she'd had trouble breathing when she stood up. Her diaphragm muscles apparently were being overwhelmed by her drooping belly, and to breathe she had to learn to physically hold her belly up and in.
Her story sounded scary and intense. Whereas when I stood up for the first times after the birth, to use the potty, I just felt a little … off. I remembered what Amy had said and gave it a try, holding my stomach in and up. Wouldn't you know it? I could breathe fully again.
So I present this to you as a great idea to try if you're having trouble when walking in the days after birth. Thanks, Amy!
I had heard that after-pains were worse after subsequent babies — that the more babies, the more it hurts after birth, and the longer it lasts, as your uterus contracts back to its normal size.
Boy howdy, is that right! In the first week, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't still in labor.
It's two months now, and my four-month fallout is starting early. Hair — is — everywhere. In Alrik's diapers (always), clenched in his little clenchy fists, getting stuck in his drool when I foolishly lay him on the carpet for tummy time. (Which I do very infrequently. Too much hair, after all…)
I paste all the strands that come out in the shower onto the bathtub wall so they won't go down the drain, and then sweep them off and into the trash afterward. I keep creepily wanting to show Sam the haul, as if he cares about my follicular anti-achievement.
Yes, that blue envelope is a formula mailing I was wanting to blog about.
But I spent all my energy that day taking a shower.
I really hate typing one-handed, as it turns out. I forgot about that. It's a challenge to keep writing with a newborn always, always in my lap, since I have two choices: (1) typing one-handed, which makes it impossible to keep up with my thoughts, or (2) wrenching my back to lean over to type with both hands. I am heading for a chiro appointment and a massage…
Those fears some mothers have about whether they can love two children? Don't sweat it.
I do love each of them, very much so.
I feel like Alrik's been a part of our family forever. This feels right.