Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Postpartum Body

As I noted a few times before giving birth, especially when I was crazy hormonal and anxious in the last few weeks, I was a little concerned about my postpartum body.

What would I look like? Would I ever get my body back? How would I live with stretch marks? Gah.

While it has only been 7 weeks and I have a long way to go, here are my thoughts so far.

Let's start at the beginning.

Above all else, my biggest fear in giving birth and recovering was tearing. I was sure that would be the worst.thing.ever and that I would feel it specifically during delivery. Welp, if you read the birth story you already know, I tore a teeny bit when my body decided to keep pushing my baby's shoulders out with no effort from me. I did get stitches and guess what? I didn't even know I had torn until they told me they were going to need to give me a few.

Afterward in the hospital, I was sore, but not unbearably so. The ice packs that they make to put in the huge mesh panties you have heard about everywhere were awesome for that. Once we came home, I followed the advice of many moms before me and lined my underwear with Tuck's pads. Great idea. I was also totally afraid of going to the bathroom for the first few times after giving birth, but that was mostly making a mountain out of a mole hill too. Trust. Use the squirt bottle of water and all will be well.

I would say the soreness lasted for a few days, but was mostly gone within the first week. And now, everything is totally healed and awesome. I even finally got up the guts to check out the situation down there with a hand mirror, and I look totally the same as before baby. Yay! (TMI? hey now, I have always been honest on this here blog).

Shortly after that, the bleeding stopped as well. I know some women have bleeding for much longer, but I was lucky enough to have it stop pretty much within the first two weeks following delivery. I don't know if that's because I bled so much in the hospital or what, but I was glad to see it go!

When I came home from the hospital I expected to look about 6 months pregnant still, since that what others had told me. I thought I looked smaller than that! (Thankfully. Though, I was ginormous at 6 mos preggo.) I may have weighed the same, ha, but I felt smaller. Mainly, I was just excited to see my ankles back to normal size! Looking back now, even when I thought I wasn't that puffy, I totally was. Yeesh.

Throughout the last few weeks, my belly has been going back down, which is great, though things are not quite back to normal. When I look at myself in the mirror with no clothes on I think, "Hey, not bad!" But when I have clothes's a different story. Things just don't fit right quite yet. I am still in the in between stage where my pre-pregnancy clothes go on and button, but they don't look all that great. Thank goodness it's summer so I can rock some dresses!

My husband bought me a treadmill for my birthday - which I totally wanted and asked for, so don't go hating on him - but I haven't been able to use it yet since I don't want it set up in the middle of the living room for the Sip and See. After Saturday though, it will take up residence in our living room for a while so I can get rocking on my fitness! In the meantime we have been enjoying walking Ev around the neighborhood in the evenings, doing round the clock breastfeeding and all this doing-everything -while-carrying-baby has to be helping as well, right?

All in all, I will say that I feel totally back to normal, even though I don't quite look it yet. (The bags under the eyes don't help either!) But, I know I will get there, and I think and hope how happy I am being a mommy shines through all of it in the meantime. That is definitely my main focus these days.

Plus, I have an adorable new companion accompanying me everywhere! Ev definitely gains me some cuteness points!

Evelyn is 7 weeks, 2 days old

...and I happily haven't weighed myself since Ev was born.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Birth of Evelyn Rae: Epilogue

{Part Four}
{Part Five}
{Part Six}
**Note: The entire birth story has been added as a tabbed page on the blog. It's long, but that way my husband, who hasn't read the story or looked at the photos yet (slacker) can read it all at once. Or you can too, if you want to. ;) **

Shortly after Evelyn was delivered and we were cuddling with her, my sister in law went out to notify the parents!

During this time I got to do some fun other things like deliver the placenta, get a tiny stitch for my tiny tear (Yup I tore a little bit thanks to those dang shoulders coming out on their own), and chat with the nurses about bleeding, etc. 

When she got back in the room she was able to take some photos of our private time with our new precious bundle. One of the greatest things about the midwifery is their practice of leaving you alone for an hour post birth, to just bond with your baby.

Most of this time was spent breastfeeding...that's right! We were already breastfeeding! I was really unsure and uncertain of how well breastfeeding was going to go. I knew I desperately wanted it to go well, but that newborns are all over the place on their ability to latch right away, etc. 

So far, Evelyn and I have been REALLY lucky on that journey. She was over a week late of course, so it helped that she had a nice big mouth to get a full latch right off the bat. I will post more about our breastfeeding journey a while later.

We were so lucky to spend some of her really alert time all together as a family with no interruptions or distractions!

In seemingly no time at all the nurses were back to weigh and measure the babe, and to check on me. While her daddy took her to do some fun stuff, I got to experience the joy of "fundal massage" aka where the older nurse punches me in the gut.

I was bleeding more than they wanted me to be, even after my little baby was doing such a great job of contracting my uterus via breastfeeding. Somewhere in the discussion (I wasn't paying attention as I was too distracted by how much my baby weighed, etc.) it was decided that Blair should come back in to make sure all the placenta had come out after all, etc. It all sounded very serious, but I was on a post birth high and could have cared less. Until Blair had to do a rough internal exam that is. Then I cared a whole lot, because that shizz hurt worse than birthing the baby just had. Youch. 

After that, they let me breastfeed some more and ultimately decided to get me on a pitocin drip to help with the bleeding. Since Evelyn was already here, I wasn't worried about drugs at that point. Eventually, the bleeding subsided, and in the mean time I got to cuddle my baby some more and enjoy the genius idea of vaginal ice packs. They were AWESOME. I thought it would be weird and uncomfortable when they brought me the first one - but it was amazing. Best invention ever.

Since I was taking a little longer than originally anticipated to be done with all that, the nurse kept A distracted by helping him give Evelyn her first bath.

She was pretty fed up after that and was ready to come back to cuddle.

Soon after they had done all the measuring, etc. My mother in law came in to meet her new grand baby! She has been a nurse for many years, and so she did her own exam to make sure Evelyn was a-ok.

We then let the aunties have some cuddle time too, while my MIL and A ran off to grab us some sandwiches - I was starving.

After we ate the worst (but tasted the best ever) subs in the world, it was nap time for baby.

...and for daddy.

Hey, he had a long day too, right? This was the time that they told me I should go ahead and nap too, but I was way too amped still. I just laid there and cuddled with my family and felt like the luckiest person on the face of the planet.

While they took me off to go to the bathroom... (who knew that they would be so concerned about your ability to go to the bathroom after giving birth? Not me. Quick side story - I just didn't have to go. I dunno why, but I didn't. So, when the nurses asked I just said nope don't have to - 6 hours later one of them finally told me they would have to catheterize me if I didn't go. I jumped up and went right then and there - no one told me there was a timeline!) ... Daddy took the opportunity to get some skin to skin contact in with the babe.

After another hour or two of quiet cuddle time, they came in to do the footprints.

Shortly after, my sister and sister-in-law left us to our new little bundle. We had some other friends come to visit and bring us dinner (sushi! Yes!) and we drifted off for our first night with baby. We left the hospital the next afternoon and started the new chapter of our lives.

We've never been happier.

Evelyn is 7 weeks, 1 day old

...and whew. This took forever to tell!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earth Shaking

In case you haven't heard, the East Coast experienced an earthquake today! Miss Evelyn slept through the whole thing, along with the dog, and I was pretty darn grateful.

We had a rough and fussy morning for some reason (someone told me that this is normal around 6 weeks?), but after waking up post earthquake, my girl has been all smiles.

Our whole world has been a little shaken up this week anyways, as it is our first week of staying at home! A headed to his new assignment yesterday, and is learning the ropes there, while Ev and I try to figure out this whole domestic goddess thing.

So far it is going well, though it is a little weird just having wide open time. I think I am going to try to get some sort of schedule going for the day/week by dividing some tasks into zones for the house. As I develop the plan this week, I will let you all know how it goes.

Oh, and blogging time will be included in the schedule! I have so many posting ideas rattling around in my head that I need to get out!

Evelyn Rae is 6 weeks and 1 day old

...and we may get to experience her first hurricane this week too! Yahtzee!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Birth of Evelyn Rae: Part Six

{Part Four}
{Part Five}
*Note: the alternative title to this post is "The one where you know I really wanted this to be honest because I have never posted such unflattering photos of myself on the internet before."*
Once Nell gave me the go ahead to push, I found a new energy - this was it! I was going to meet my baby! And soon, if I had anything to say about it.

I began pushing sort of feeling out how to push, more than anything else. A lot of people say that pushing sort of feels like having to go to the bathroom, but I don't think so. It felt, well, for lack of a better explanation, like pushing something through your vagina.

Sounds simple enough, eh? Ha. Nevermind that that something is the size of a small human. Because, it is.

But, all in all, I liked pushing much better than the rest of labor. I finally felt like I was able to do something with the contractions and the pain, rather than just let them wash over me. I knew going into it that some women felt the exact same way, but I wasn't sure how I would feel.

Blair gave me the simplest of instructions - "Push toward that pressure that you feel in your bottom." Well, that made sense. And there it was. I was pushing. 

The other thing that I liked about pushing, was that there were again noticeable breaks in between contractions. In between, I was able to sort of rest, and even joke with my labor team. Especially once I knew that I was making progress.

During my entire pregnancy (and well before whenever we talked about having kids) A was certain he would be staying up beside my head during labor. The funny thing was, once things got started he was totally into it. He even traded places with my sister to get a better view of all that was happening. In fact, he got a little overzealous at one point and was holding my leg even higher than was needed so that he could see everything a little better.

Thankfully, a midwife's gentle hand patted his and he got the hint to lower my leg a bit.


Blair gave me such great support throughout all of labor, but especially during the actual delivery. She was completley encouraging and kept complimenting my pushing (and holding - as in I was able to keep a lot of the progress I was making) abilities.

You sure know how to get results from a Type A people pleaser, ma'am.

At one point, right before crowning, the pressure got so intense that I said, "I seriously feel like my butt is going to explode!" {Everyone is so eloquent during labor} That pressure is right.there on your perineum and it is intense.

Well, my whole team got a good chuckle from that one, and Blair just said, "I know sweetie, and someday when we all get to Heaven, we are going to call a meeting with God and make him explain what the heck that was all about."

I love midwives.

My husband, sister and sister-in-law were really the most supportive people to have had in that room. They were cheerleaders through the whole process, but especially at the end. They were all totally into all that was going on, and kept me aprised and energized through pushing. It was hard not to feed off their energy. Especially once they could see things happening.

I had pushed for a while without them being able to see progress, but after the first time that they saw the baby's head, it felt like everything happened so quickly. There was such a rush of raw emotion in that room, it was overwhelming.

They kept telling me what they could see, which was a little hard for me, since I couldn't see what they were seeing. I knew if I wanted to see my baby, I just needed to be in the zone and get this thing done. I focused in and pushed for all I was worth.

To tell you the truth I don't even remember the "ring of fire" all that well. I noted it when I felt it, and slowed down my pushing as we had been instructed and as I had run through in my head in childbirth classes. We had done the in and out and in and out of the head originally crowning and Blair told me exactly when to slow down with the ears of the baby emerging.

And then, like that, her head was out! Everyone got so excited, but I just kept breathing and waited for the next contraction. I didn't feel like I could let myself get excited just yet. I knew that the baby's head would turn for the delivery of the shoulders and then I would need to push again, so when A exclaimed, "The head is turning!" I knew I needed to be ready. I was so in the zone, that I just had a sort of visual checklist in my mind. Head? Check. Rotating? Check. Next are the shoulders, ease them out slowly so as not to tear.

Well, I certainly tried to push slowly. I began to push lightly and breathe the shoulders out, just the way that we were taught in class, but my body had other ideas. Blair even said, "Ok Courtney, stop pushing!" and all I could say was, "That isn't me!" The contractions were pushing her out all on their own with no effort from me.

And then, all of a sudden at 1:18 pm, she was here.

They lifted her toward me and I was the first to see that she was, in fact, a she. I tearfully and laughingly said, "It's a girl!" at the same time as my husband and sister. I cannot even explain the rush of emotions in that instant. It really was as if the entire world was standing still.

Those moments still bring tears to my eyes. I remember hearing that little wail, and Blair lying her on my chest and thinking, "It was real! There really was a little person inside of me! I can't believe I did it!" I held her to me and laughed and cried and said, "Hello, Evelyn".

We both laughed and cried and checked her over. She was perfect.

As the nurses strapped A's bracelet on to match ours, I just kept laughing and crying. I was so overcome by emotions and hormones and the post birth high that I couldn't contain my joy. We said a thousand "I love you's" to each other and to our new daughter, and life had never been sweeter.

Evelyn Rae is five weeks old

...and I think I am going to have to post an epilogue to this's not over just yet.