We're a few days shy of one month in to TJ's first month of life and I'm finally finishing my first postpartum blog entry. Rather than make one REALLY long post covering the past month (and sparing many of you details about which you could probably care less, namely birthing details), I wanted to share the "Cliffnotes" version of our experiences. I think I will have more blogging success these days but shorter but more frequent posts, so here goes...
My due date was Monday, April 7. I had my 40-week appointment that day, and I measured only 1cm dilated, 50% effaced. My doc scheduled me to be induced on the following Monday (4/15), so I left assuming we wouldn't have a baby that week. So, I went about life as usual that week. I went to work, I went to the gym, ran errands, etc. By that Wednesday (4/9), I was SO tired of being met with "OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!" everywhere I went, especially work and the gym. I'm not sure why my colleagues were so shocked to see me around, teaching is not an especially physical job, in fact it's quite sedentary 90% of the time. Wednesday morning, I decided I was going to try EVERY old wives' tale to get labor rolling: I bought triple lemon cupcakes and fresh pineapple from Fresh Market, I ate the hottest hot sauce on my egg whites for breakfast that I could stand, I scrubbed our hardwood floors on my hands and knees, and I worked out on the stair master AND walked the hills in my neighborhood. Well, something in that litany of actives must have worked, because that evening as I was working with a personal training client, my water broke. THANK GOD, I thought, I'm going to have a baby tonight!!!! Boy was I mistaken. The picture above is from OB-triage when we were admitted and confirmed that my water had indeed broken... my face was not quite this fresh 24+ hours later when TJ actually did arrive.
Here's where I'm going to skip to the nuts and bolts of TJ's birth, because it is quite a long story, but I had to be induced anyway. Trying to be a badass, I waited almost five hours before I opted for the epidural. Trust me, no one awards you a trophy or medal for waiting for drugs, and if you ask my opinion, I would say get the drugs if you have to be induced!!! Holy shit. My definition of pain is forever changed. Someone warned me about back labor... and likened it to several bones breaking at once. Well, I've been fortunate to have only broken a finger and a small bone in my wrist, and back labor was 1043598202 times more painful than THOSE broken bones. Drugs = good.
The epidural was administered around 5am on Thursday (4/10). Bless his heart, my 'favorite' doctor came in on his day off to try and help delivery the baby. He showed up around 10am, I think, and I was still not in active labor. Finally by around 3:30pm, I was ready to go. Unfortunately, this was his day off, so he had to leave by 4:30 to pick up his son from school with no backup care (even if this wasn't true, I don't fault him for leaving. He came in on his day off just for me... what a guy!!!). Well, I pushed for four hours. Apparently this is considered excessively long by most folks, especially when I learn that many c-sections are started after as little as two hours of pushing (I and some in the medical community have thoughts on this but will save for another blog post or personal response if you want to know my thoughts privately). Creeping on the end of that fourth hour, other options were being thrown out like suction... which I wanted to avoid but was willing to entertain before the c-section. My primary motivation other than avoiding the knife, however, was my AMAZING nurse Mandy. Mandy's shift had started that Thursday morning when I was waiting to begin active labor and continued through 95% of my pushing attempts. We had a lot in common and really bonded, plus she was/is a fantastic nurse, so I really wanted her to be there for TJ's birth... he just wasn't coming out. Well, Mandy's shift ended right around 4th hour of pushing, so she was going to have to leave as I continued to push. Knowing she may not be there, I thought ok, I have been pushing for FOUR F*CKING HOURS, if I can't do it now, they may as well cut me open because it ain't happening. I felt like every blood vessel in my face was bursting, but I made one last attempt at a major push, and he came halfway out. Praise. Jesus. At that point the nurse working the next shift was there and someone in the room ran to grab the doctor because THE BABY WAS COMING! The next push he was out and I was a sloppy mess of sweat and tears. I had requested to hold him immediately skin-to-skin, so I got to hold him right away. Whether or not this has aided in my breastfeeding attempts, I don't know, some schools of thought say it can help, but we elected to do this and it was crazy amazing. Of course he was removed soon afterwards for essential cleaning and other in-room measurements, but I really enjoyed getting to hold him immediately after birth. Once he was cleaned up, we snapped a quick pic of our little man (above left, duh).
I am reserving some info for a post I will entitle "what they don't tell you about labor/delivery" that will cover other fun facts like tearing, "lady pain", and other facts you should know before you give birth. This extends into coming home and the joys of trying to navigate caring for an infant while not losing your shit, literally. What makes coming home fabulous and less difficult is a supportive and involved spouse/friend. Tyler was SO great our first week home, and we really worked well as a team. Also I had asked that we not have any overnight guests the first week so we could bond as a family, and this was such a special (and quiet) time for us. It was shock enough to have the baby here, trying to keep him alive, let alone feeling like we needed to entertain and dine guests. Sure, close friends and family wouldn't expect this from us, but the "hostess" in me can't just let people stay here and fend for themselves. Of course at this point when sleep is hit or miss, overnight guests can stay here at their own risk knowing food is scarce and the house isn't clean, but early on we both felt strongly that we have alone time and it was such a wonderful memorable time I'm very glad we made this choice.
Fast forward to ONE MONTH with Mr. TJ and life is great. We are so SO blessed to have had breastfeeding success from Day 1, so we are feeding and pumping rockstars. As I briefly mentioned above, nighttime sleep is a challenge but this definition is relative I have found. After scouring the myriad mommy blogs during our 2am feedings, 2-4 hours of consecutive sleep is considered miraculous by some, so I shouldn't complain about this type of schedule (which is how long TJ typically sleeps in one sitting at night). He is, thankfully, starting to align with some semblance of a schedule, so at least I am able to predict/plan feedings and activities based on this rough outline of a timeline. I'm working hard to make sure wake time is exciting, stimulating, and fun (as much "fun" as an infant can have...) so that sleep time is super boring and lame and encourages, well, sleep: lights out, minimal talking/interaction, etc. Wake-time is getting really fun for me now that he's more alert, interested in a few select toys (namely this mirror!) and loves to sit up in the Boppy so he can watch what's going on around him. He has really amazing head control and leg strength for such a small human :)
My Postpartum Progress
I'm going to save the "big reveal" for six weeks postpartum after I have my official check-in with my doc (plus it will give me two more weeks of breastfeeding/workouts to make progress) but I will say breastfeeding is amazing. It is amazing for all the reasons you will read that it's amazing, and it's easily my favorite part of mommy hood thus far. Other than a GREAT bonding activity with your baby, HELLO weight loss! Granted, I did start slow jogging/walking two miles (one of my mommy chat groups calls it "wogging" haha... accurate moniker here) at Day 10 postpartum, but that maybe burns 200 calories? I won't say yet how much weight I've lost, but it certainly cannot be attributed math-wise with jogging two miles a day.
I have two benchmark numbers for progress tracking: how much I weighed at my first OB-appointment (8 weeks) and how much I weighed two weeks before our Ironman. There's about a 7-lb difference between the two numbers. Without giving much away... well I can't say much without giving the numbers away and I want to wait until six weeks to share, so I will just reiterate that breastfeeding is obviously just as good for me as it is for TJ :)
**Disclaimer: if you're not sure what level of physical activity you can do (or when), check with your healthcare provider first. Many things can happen as a result of delivery that would preclude you from doing certain things other than simply do daily living activities, so listen to your body and check with your doc or consulting healthcare person before you start back with workouts.** As for MY workouts, yes I started "wogging" 10 days out. I started back with core and bodyweight exercises (home-based) at the same time. At Week 3, I started back with lower-intensity barbell and dumbbell resistance training at my husband's physical therapy clinic. I could opt to go to the gym, but right now I only get about a solid hour before TJ is either sleepy, hungry, or has a dirty diaper, and going to "our" gym will equate to working out for about 10 minutes; the rest will be showing TJ to everyone and talking... which will be great, but I'm focused on hitting the first weight benchmark by six weeks, so basically I don't want to "fart around' at the gym when I go to the gym. By going to Tyler's clinic, I can workout and not be interrupted. This is also the benefit of a home workout but, well, I spend PLENTY of time at home these days. It's nice to have a change of scenery for a short burst of time each day.
Well this "short" blog post turned out to be pretty long, but little man is starting to stir so it's go-time for me. All for now... and in honor of the approaching Mother's Day, cheers to my fellow mommy friends, this is hard work (but so worth it!). Kudos to you and all you do, it's a lot! :)