Thursday, January 24, 2013

Postpartum: Reflections of a New Mommy

**This week's entry is more about the thoughts of a postpartum mom, and less about sweet Jackson. Much more to come on our little man soon as we reflect on his first month of life :)

Love takes on a new form when you're a parent. I've never loved anyone as much as I love and adore my husband, until I met my son. The love I have for Jackson, even as a new parent, is unimaginable. Sometimes I have to stop whatever I'm doing to just stare at him, or hold him close with lots of kisses and whisper to him how much I love him. I'm afraid I'll just squeeze him to death, I love him so much. Seeing Jax's little smiles in his sleep, or more recently, hearing him laugh in his sleep, makes me so excited to spend more time with him.

The flipside of this unconditional, devoted love is the uncontrollable fear I have for Jax. I have this desire to keep him safe, and perfect, and unharmed forever. I know that his heart will be broken, he'll fall and get injured, he'll even feel pain when he doesn't get his way- but for now I just want to keep his life perfect. I worry so much for him, I'm sure part of it is postpartum hormones kicking in. It's such a new sensation to love someone so much- and such a relief. Prior to his birth, I loved little Jackson, but the pregnancy was something that was happening to ME. I felt like any decisions were mine to make, and while factoring in my soon to be child, I was still able to be selfish in my decisions. I even asked a few friends and family members about my feeling of disconnect from him. I was so worried that I wouldn't feel like his mother- because being pregnant I didn't feel like a mom, just a pregnant lady. Now, all of my decisions are based around Jax. When will he need me to be home so he can nurse, what can I eat to make sure he gets nutrients, how I must nap so I can be alert and ready for him in the middle of the night. It's like the center of my universe has totally shifted. I think only fellow moms and dads can understand.

One of my favorite new feelings of love is the deepening of adoration and love for my husband. Watching him be a dad to our son fills my heart with so much joy. I am so grateful to be able to share my life with Dan, but even more grateful that my son has Dan for a daddy- he is so wonderful. And while I'm sure we will make lots of mistakes as parents, I can't wait to see how we grow as parents and partners in marriage. Again, this new found depth of love has a flipside. Seeing Dan as a dad makes me miss his dad even more. I miss Jackson's Grandpa Scot in a way I can't explain. I miss the opportunities Jax would have with Scot. I miss the hugs and kisses and games of catch they would have played. Scot was such a wonderful husband and father, I love seeing him shine through Dan and his siblings. I can't wait to see how he continues to be part of our lives and influence our family, even in his absence. (again- hormones kick in here).

Dec 23 (one month to due date, 9 days to delivery) v. Jan 23
Mama and baby. 22 days old. Jan 23, 2013
I have been blessed with a low maintenance recovery. While I know how amazing it is to have my body bounce back so well, I couldn't help but feel this feeling of betrayal. Dan can vouch for the fact that I was worried that I was recovering too quickly. Within a few days of birth I was back into pre pregnancy clothes, and now I am back to pre pregnancy size, clothes, everything. There is this weird feeling though- this feeling of loss from not being pregnant. Almost like I was robbed of those last few intimate weeks with my little man. Just he and I. Me feeling him move, him growing inside me. Jackson was three weeks early, and healthy and perfect, but by the time his due date rolled around, there is little trace of the fact I was pregnant (except for maybe these porn star quality breastfeeding boobies). Again, I think the hormones are contributing here, but it has been hard to be happy about such a quick recovery. Almost like my body forgot I was even pregnant. Like it never happened. How can that happen? I love my son so much how can my body not remember that? This probably doesn't make any sense- but, figured I'd allow insight into the postpartum brain for a minute.

2 week WBC. Showered and dressed. Jan 15, 2013
Jackson has already had his share of doctor's visits for well baby checks, EKG's, heart murmur check, jaundice, and we even got a referral for a hip 'click'. I have no idea how I will handle his 2 month well baby with immunizations, because I already cry for Jax. At his two week check, a mistake by the tech lead us to believe he wasn't gaining weight properly, despite his amazing breastfeeding. (seriously, my son does all the work on that one- and he is a breastfeeding champ! I am so proud of him). After finding out he wasn't gaining weight, I cried at almost every feeding. I had this helpless feeling thinking he was not growing properly and it was all my fault. We found out the next day that there was a mistake, and he is growing and perfect, but in the mean time I was a wreck on behalf of my son. There was a day that his circumcision was bleeding a little, and I lost it. I couldn't help but cry and worry that I'd done something wrong. (notice a crying trend in this postpartum hormone roller coaster?!) Of course, Jax has been wonderful through everything, and in hindsight, he is still perfect with no problems.

There is something spiritual about being a parent. Jackson's arrival has made me keenly aware of how precious life is, as well as how out of control we are. I don't remember the last time I prayed so frequently. Prayers for his health. Prayers for my husband. Prayers for our family. Prayers for sleep. Prayers for work flexibility. Prayers of thanksgiving. Prayers for strength and guidance as we raise this little baby boy to be an honest, God fearing man. I've never been so aware of my own inadequacy, nor have I ever prayed more for my actions and words to reflect God and not my own sinful nature. Again, I know we will make mistakes as parents, especially when showing grace, mercy and patience to our children- but I am so grateful for parenthood pushing me closer in my relationship with God and my reliance on Him daily.

Dan and I have been told over and over that we're so laid back. We don't think so. But we have tried to welcome any family, friends, and visitors who want to come to the house at any time. Whether for a week, or just for an hour, we've opened our home to anyone who wants to come. I hope this openness continues as our family grows, and that we're able to show our children how to love the people in our lives. Some of our favorite visitors (besides our amazing families- love you mamas!) have been people from our church. Dan and I have been frequenting a church, but have not yet become members. We've visited a Sunday school class twice. TWICE. Upon hearing of Jackson's birth, this class took the initiative to bring us multiple meals a week, pray for us/ with us, and today we even had someone come take baby pictures of Jackson for free! We have been so thankful and so blessed by this body of believers. It has shown us, yet again, God's ability to provide and encourage fellowship with his followers. Yet another reason this whole experience has brought us closer in our walks with Him.

From meals, to family visiting to help us, to work flexibility, we've consistently seen the miracle of God's provision. Matthew 6: 25-34 states that worrying is futile, and that God will provide. This section of scripture has been a consistent theme the past two years for Dan and I. From our families, to finances, to my career, God has continued to faithfully provide all of our needs. We continue to struggle with letting go of the worry, and trusting Him to provide for our family. The most recent example of provision (in addition to the generous meals we've been receiving) has been regarding my career. I applied for a position as adjunct faculty teaching Nutrition next fall at the local college. Last week, I received a phone call that I got the job! Yet again, God has provided for us. Since my current job is allows one full day (or two half days) off each week, I should be able to continue working full time while starting my dream job as an undergraduate nutrition professor. I am so excited, and yet again, I have been pushed in the arms of God with thankfulness for his provision for our family.

Exclusive breastfeeding has been such a blessing, and has been easy when I stay home all day. I have been fearing my return to work and the beginning of pumping since before Jax was born. I am hoping I am able to continue breastfeeding without needing formula supplementation. In preparation, I have been pumping 1-2 times/day to begin a freezer stash. This has helped my pump and I get to know each other (we'll be spending lots of time together very soon) and pumping has also helped keep my milk production high. Being a consultant, I am in a different workplace everyday and have no office in any of the buildings. Returning to work/ pumping will require borrowing an office, or pumping in my car. As my return to work approaches, my anxiety over pumping location/ schedule has increased. In the meantime, I've been able to freeze almost 50 oz in the past week or two, and I average 3-6 oz per session, after nursing. Yay milk machine!

While I am not looking forward to sharing feeding responsibilities with a bottle, I am so grateful for the chance to pump and continue his breastmilk only diet. The healthiest thing I can do for my son right now is breastfeed him, especially considering his premie status- so I plan to pump/ nurse as long as I can, no matter what. As with everything I've said in the past, I could never do this without my husband Dan. His support and encouragement have been the most important, most valuable resource as a new mother.

Breastfeeding must haves:
A few things I've found essential to breastfeeding as a new mom.
Breastfeeding musthaves
1. Breastfeeding station with comfortable chair, dim light for late nights, drink, snack, something to read, boppy and blanket. (blanket comes in handy for a side effect of postpartum I wasn't aware of- fluctuating temperature regulation).
2. Mum to be lotion. This lotion is so moisturizing and silky smooth! I used it all through pregnancy with NO STRETCH MARKS. I bought it at Motherhood Maternity and continue to use it now- especially on my torso. It states it's midwife approved and safe for contact with baby's skin vs. scented/ dyed lotions so common in the market.
3. Watch. A good watch and/or timer has been so helpful to keep track of nursing times. Sometimes Jax is sleepy, and I have to wake him up after 4 hours so that he stays on track for weight gain/ eating. This watch has a digital output, but also has programmable alarms/ timers. This will be handy when we start trying to get him on a schedule before I return to work.
4. New mom journal. This journal was bought at Target. It has a section for when to give shots, when teething occurs, a section for ins/outs, and a section to track sleep. The ins/ outs section allows you to track wet/ dirty diapers, and if bf you can track which side/ how long at each feeding. For formula, you can track time and oz drank. This has been a Godsend- especially when the Dr. started telling me he wasn't gaining weight right (good thing they were wrong). I was able to go back and see exactly how he'd been eating/ pooping/ peeing to see he was getting enough breastmilk in.
5. Another thing (not pictured) is a good breastpump. This is essential for breastfeeding mamas who want to continue when they return to work. I purchased the Medela Pump In Style (tote). We bought it from Bed Bath and and were able to apply a 20% off coupon- the ones that everyone has from the mail. Recently Babies R Us had a breast pump sale. To any mamas considering bf/ pumping: do your research, then look for coupons, sales, and used pumps! Used pumps are a great buy, just make sure to buy your own accessory kit of phlanges, tubing and bottles.

This post has been mostly about new mom life, but I can't help but share more pictures of my little man. Now, blog readers, you can have insight into the workings of my brain, and also the miracle of our son I get to witness everyday. Here's just a few of my favorite pics from the past three weeks:

Jackson first photo. Jan 1, 2013 8:45am
Naptime thinking. Jan 10, 2013
Strike a pose. Jan 12, 2013
More naptime thinking. Jan 13, 2013
Naptime silly faces
Sleepy smiles

1 comment:

  1. Love this! It's so relatable. Make sure you offer pumped milk in bottle early enough. With both of mine I must have waited too long... they refused the bottles! And I suggest letting dad give the bottle while you are completely out of sight! Breast feed babies like there boobs! !