Very long post, people! (I haven't proof read this post or Myra's birth story post, so hopefully it all makes sense. Eventually I'll come back and proof them, but for now I just want to hit Publish!) I keep meaning to write a post with all the fun info about how our first days as parents are going, so here it is. I'm typing this on my iPad and may just publish it from here then add photos later. It's easier to get the photos added correctly from a computer. (I finished typing on the computer, so throughout the post you'll see updates since I originally started writing all of this. I'll still add photos later! Don't worry, no photos under the "breastfeeding" section.) This is a LONG post-I tried to write out every little thing I could remember. I know some day when I look back, these days will all be a blur.
If you're stumbling across this post long after the fact, you can read Myra's entire birth story here.
I'm not really sure how to go about sharing the details of everything, so I think I'll just break it down into categories.
I really feel great considering what my body has been through! The first two days in the hospital was when I had the most bleeding, but it was honestly way less than I expected, I've had heavy periods worse than that. I'm still bleeding a little, but very little. I had a second degree vaginal tear during delivery (so I have stitches) but that hurt less than expected. My stitches sporadically get very itchy, part of healing I know, but not fun! It was sore getting in and out of bed at first, but that has gotten much easier. I still have to sit down gently, but it's very manageable. I was a big fan of the ice packs they gave me for the first day or two! They gave me some Tucks witch hazel pads, too, but I don't really notice a big difference with or without them so I haven't been using them. For pain I have just been taking Motrin. At the hospital I staggered the Motrin with Tylenol, but haven't kept that up since coming home. My back hurts some-I think because I wound up standing so funny when I was pregnant I have to re learn how to stand like a normal person. I didn't end up with any hemorrhoids-hooray! I have heard a lot of stories about the first postpartum bowel movement and was pretty nervous for that. I asked my doctor how long it can take and she said up to a week after delivery. Well, I got the urge to go the night we came home from the hospital and I was terrified! I thought no way...I still have a lot going on down there and panicked about my stitches ripping open or something wild like that. I'm happy to report all went just fine and I seem to be back to normal in that department, too, phew!! I'm generally colder than usual, could be all the extra water I've been drinking, hormones, lots of things. I sweat pretty hard core when sleeping. A friend warned me about this, it's not even that I'm hot, just a hormone thing. I'm actually walking on the treadmill with Rowdy while writing this, just walking a little slower than usual. I promised myself I would post a photo of my postpartum non-baby belly no matter what it looked like and I must say, I'm thoroughly impressed. I'll get a photo tomorrow and post it, but I really have no complaints. The general rule is it goes back to about a 6 month pregnant belly right away then shrinks down from there. That's probably pretty accurate for me, but I think it's even smaller than that by now. I'm definitely still in maternity pants, haven't even tried my regular jeans yet, but I'm feeling very good about the belly situation thus far.
Overall, Myra is a healthy girl. Babies lose some weight after birth then gain it back fairly quickly-her weight loss was within normal range at the hospital. She was 7 pounds 11 ounces when she was born, 7 pounds 8 ounces on day two, 7 pounds 4 ounces on day 3, 7 pounds 5 ounces on day 4, 7 pounds 9 ounces on day 7 and 7 pounds 10 ounces today, so just about back to birth weight. She passes her first hearing screen in one ear, but not the other, so they re checked her later and she passed both ears. At first her bilirubin level (jaundice) was "high-intermediate" so they had to do blood work. That came back as "low-intermediate" so we just had to keep an eye on her, nothing concerning. We had some issues with breast feeding (see below) and that's what helps flush out the jaundice, so we've really had to focus on that. The nurses said babies with her amount of jaundice often peak at about day four and that's how it seemed with her, but when we went to our lactation follow up appointment yesterday it had gone up a little, so they had to do blood work. The blood work came back the same as the forehead scan, so we had to go back today for another follow up check. It went up a little bit again, so more blood work (the same result again) so we have another follow up check on Thursday. So far, we don't need to treat her for it, just keep an eye on it (treatment would be the little baby tanning bed things with the blue lights). The pediatrician pointed out that her feet curve inward just a bit. He said it's common for babies because of how bunched up they get in the womb. We just have to bend/push them outward every so often and he said it shouldn't be an issue at all. Otherwise, her pediatrician checks were great.
Myra sleeps a lot! The first two nights we took advantage of the hospital nursery and let her sleep there. They would bring her to our room when she needed to eat. The whole labor/delivery process is exhausting and overwhelming and sleeping in a hospital is bad enough as is, we were grateful to get some kind of a little bit decent sleep. So many people said they wished they had used the nursery-we didn't feel guilty about it. We have to wake her up to eat and struggle to keep her awake while nursing (more below), but I guess I'm not complaining. It makes it pretty exciting when she does open her eyes. As for us, it seems like it's getting better, but we're still not getting a ton of sleep. She has to eat so frequently that by the time we're all done with one feeding it's two hours til the next one-or less! So, we try to sneak in some sleep (or at least rest), but it's a far cry from anything normal. (Since I started writing this on Sunday night, this situation has greatly improved!) We both keep reminding ourselves we'll miss these days at some point even if we're exhausted so we just enjoy all the snuggles we can! Trevor and I have very good unspoken teamwork which is a huge help. He'll change a diaper and I'll get an outfit ready...I'll let him sleep while I get laundry done...he'll let me take a nap and the kitchen will be clean when I wake up, you get the point. Basically, we sleep when we can, or at least relax, but it's nothing substantial at all. Note: we're still not getting a ton of sleep, especially me with nursing at night, but this has definitely improved in the last few days (see breastfeeding section below).
Babies are supposed to poop and pee certain amounts each day in the first week to show they're getting enough food. She's right on track with those goals, exceeds them usually. We are using cloth diapers and loving it! Trevor is totally on board and honestly better at some of the folds than I am! It only makes sense to use cloth wipes with the cloth diapers, and that's going great, too. I will post a very detailed cloth diaper post eventually, once we have more time to try some of the bigger sizes we have. We got a lot of "good luck with that," "we'll see how long that lasts" type comments when we told people about the cloth diapers and I, quite frankly, started getting annoyed with it. It's really not a big deal, it's not gross (not any more so than changing a disposable diaper, still messing with poop, plus many cloth diaper users have never had even one poop blow out), and it's our kid so what's it to everyone else what we put on her butt? I know we haven't been doing it long, but I've already been doing the laundry and I think it's going to continue to go well. Like I said, more on that in another post.
This part is going to talk about breasts, nipples, and all things breast feeding, consider yourself warned. For moms who plan to breast feed, the nurses encourage nursing within the first two hours, preferably one. So, pretty shortly after giving birth we gave it a shot. The nurses are wonderful with helping since I really had no idea what I was doing. We tried a couple different holds, but it kept feeling like Myra was pinching my nipples-OUCH! That's a sign of a bad latch so we'd change something with positioning and try again, but ultimately decided to take a break and try again later. We struggled with getting a good latch and keeping Myra awake (seriously struggled, we'd change her diaper then keep her naked, Trevor and a nurse would poke/tickle her, we'd be loud and yell at her, make weird noises, etc. and she just would not stay awake to eat). After 24 hours without a solid feeding, they had me supplement her meals with my own colostrum (that's what you have before your milk actually comes in). So, we'd try to feed then I would pump and we would finger feed that to her (let her suck on a finger and put a tube next to our finger and feed the pumped colostrum that way). I kept working with the postpartum nurses and the lactation nurses on nursing, but we had to keep up the supplementing to make sure she was getting enough to eat while we figured out nursing. By "figure out nursing" I mean many stressful and painful hours of trying to get her to eat that resulted in sore, cracked, a little bloody, raw nipples. So, I couldn't really tell if we were actually making progress on the latch because after all that it was going to hurt no matter what. Pumping felt better, but it still hurt and the goal was to breastfeed so we kept at it. I was using lanolin cream and hydragel cooling breast pads to deal with the damage, but it still hurt. The nurses came for every feeding to coach us through it and give tips/help try different things which was great. I was nervous for how it would go once we left the hospital and I had to just keep at it, but we had already scheduled a follow up lactation appointment for the next day so we (Trevor was still very involved in the exhausting nursing process) just had to get through one night at home. At that appointment, we made good progress working on different positions and how to get her latched properly, but we still had to supplement through the weekend then come back on Monday for another follow up. When we came back on Monday, we had a pretty good weekend, Trevor still had to get up to help keep her awake, but we were seeing improvement for sure. She was latching better, still took some decent effort, but better. Babies that small are supposed to eat every 2-3 hours and we could not get her to wake up so it ended up being more like every 4 hours. I was still nursing then pumping and while I was pumping, Trevor would finger feed the milk from previous pumpings. I have been keeping track of feedings and how much she was getting via finger feeding (thank you, Similac iPhone app) and showed the lactation nurse at our appointment yesterday. At the appointments they weigh Myra with a very accurate scale before and after she eats and can actually tell how many ounces/grams she's getting in a feeding. The nurse did the math on her feedings plus the supplement and concluded that, since my milk had come in over the weekend, she was getting way more food than she needed and just plain wasn't hungry when the 3 hour mark came around. So, thankfully, she had us stop the supplementing (as long as she was nursing long enough) as of yesterday and come back today for another check in. Also at yesterday's appointment, we focused a lot on positioning-where to hold her and put my hands to get her going, how to sit and get relaxed without letting her lose her latch, etc. and it went VERY well. After our appointment yesterday, I was able to nurse by myself (no help from Trevor!), be comfortable while nursing, actually have a free hand to grab my glass of water or scratch my nose, and twice I even got up and walked around while nursing (briefly, but still, that was huge!). I still have to pump after nursing so I don't have overflow leading to clogged milk ducts or something, but I'm weaning myself off those. The first step of that was to cut out on of the middle of the night post-nursing pumpings, hooray! That plus not needing to supplement/finger feed after nursing is a huge time saver. I wasn't sure if they would have me nurse at today's appointment or just weigh her, but I was prepared to nurse in public somewhere and wasn't terrified to do it! (The timing of the appointment + drive time to/from meant I wouldn't be able to wait until getting back home to nurse again, but they did have me do it during my appointment to keep working on things.) They also got me a compounded prescription (pharmacists personally made concoction, basically) for an ointment that, by the sounds of it, is magical. I just picked it up today and started using it this afternoon so we'll see how it goes to help these sore nips heal. We're doing so much better with nursing, but it's hard for them to really heal when Myra keeps using them to eat. I asked how long we have to feed every 2-3 hours and the nurse said once baby is back to her birth weight we can typically do one 4 hour stretch a day as long as we still try to get at least 8 feedings in throughout the day, most moms start with making that 4 hour stretch a middle of the night one-sounds awesome to me, we're almost there! Here's my two cents on nursing: I have heard a million times that it can be difficult at first, painful, frustrating, stressful, exhausting, etc. and to be patient, don't give up, take advantage of the lactation consultants and hospital staff, etc. but I never really knew what that meant. Sure, nursing can be "difficult" at first because you've never done it, but what does that really mean? Well, I figured it out. And HOLY COW-I really figured out what "take advantage of the lactation nurses" means. I used to think "well yeah, but what can they really do about it??" and now I totally know. They have been so patient, helpful and encouraging this whole time I'm not totally sure if I love them more or the anesthesiologist ;) So, my magical words of wisdom are exactly what I always heard but never understood: be patient, don't give up, use whatever resources you have and have faith that you can do it! It's seriously exciting the progress we make each day. Trevor is so proud of both of us every time he comes to check on us-he can tell how much progress we've made and can see how much more relaxed I am and how much better Myra is feeding.
My hormones and mood:
Honestly I'm exhausted with writing this haha. I have really felt pretty darn good this whole time. Tired, but good, and even the tired is getting a little better. Today I heard a handful of songs on the radio throughout all of our driving to Mankato/home and I'd say a good 1/3-1/2 of them made me cry, and not just a little cry, sobbing hot mess cry. They were happy tears, but tears nonetheless. For example, the song that made me think of little Baby Gibbs during my whole pregnancy, Ho Hey by the Lumineers, came on the radio and I just melted thinking about Myra and how she is finally here! I heard Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and started crying again thinking about how we will help Myra grow up to be accepting of anyone and everyone regardless of differences. I heard two Kenny Chesney songs in a row (my college buddies played lots of Kenny Chesney while hanging out and at parties) and I thought about how much seriously awesome fun we had in college and how things have changed since then, but I wouldn't trade this for anything. Knee Deep by the Zac Brown Band came on which reminded me of one of the times I picked Trevor up at Fort McCoy to bring him home for a few days before he left for Kuwait for good. And I can't remember the name of the Black Eyed Peas song that played, but it reminded me of mine and Trevor's trip to Palm Springs right before he left for Kuwait because it was on the radio CONSTANTLY and I got weepy thinking about everything we've been through since then and how grateful I am for where we are right now. Anyway, you definitely get the point. Lots of hormone stuff going on today, but luckily it's all happy tears, no baby blues or anything like that.
Conclusion? We both LOVE being parents. We love parenting with each other and we love Myra to pieces. Even at frustrating times (nursing struggles, Trevor getting pooped on 3 times during one diaper change last night, etc.) we just look at her sweet little face and melt. I can't wait to teach her things and watch her grow, but want to keep her tiny at the same time. Unreal how much all of this can really change your perspective on so many things-and yes, I hated hearing that before I was a parent, too, but it's true.