Postpartum Thoughts: The First Two Weeks

August 3, 2011

Soon I will sit down to write Meredith’s birth story, but it was such an overwhelming experience that it might take me awhile. In the meantime, I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about what I’ve been going through in these first two weeks of motherhood, so I wanted to get some of them out while they’re fresh on my mind.

>I didn’t expect to be so emotional about everything! I suppose it’s not a surprise considering the state of my hormones and the fact that I’ve just experienced the biggest life change ever, and yet I was still caught off guard. It started the night before we left the hospital. David was asleep and it was just me and Meredith up for most of the night. She wouldn’t let me sleep for long, and every time I dozed off I had a nightmare. I would wake up crying and couldn’t stop. The next day when we left I was sobbing, and this continued on and off for the next few days. On the drive home I had visions of terrible things happening to her. I wasn’t afraid to be at home, but I was sad to leave the whole birth experience behind. I had been anticipating it for so long, and then it was over. Not to mention it didn’t go at all as I had hoped it would. I liked the attention and the help I received in the hospital. I liked seeing my doctor every day. I liked the visitors. I liked ordering my food. And I was already sad about Meredith growing up and changing – still am. Two weeks later and I’m still emotional, although I don’t cry as much. My husband thinks I seem sad, but I’m not.

>My body. I knew I would probably have some loose belly skin or flab where there wasn’t any before, but I didn’t know I would still look six months pregnant. Thankfully my stomach has continued to shrink day by day and now my pooch isn’t too big. Right now I’m about fifteen pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight and I hope it’ll continue to go down a bit. The area around my belly button is pretty hideous right now with the stretch marks and linea negra. For the first few days after the birth I was more swollen all over than I ever had been, but that’s all subsided now. (Although I still can’t fit my wedding ring over my knuckle. Sadness.) So far I’m still experiencing some carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s definitely better, but my fingers are still numb and tingly. If this doesn’t go away at some point I’ll have to see a specialist about it, but I think it might just need more time. I did have a C-section so I had a significant amount of pain at the incision site, and although I’ve gotten myself off the pain meds it’s still tender and sensitive. It’s so weird to look at myself in the mirror now; I can’t believe it’s me. I feel self-conscious sometimes about the way I look, but I try to cut myself some slack and allow myself to heal.

>Breastfeeding is an adventure! I didn’t get to nurse Meredith for an hour or so after she was born, but thankfully my hospital is extremely pro-breastfeeding and everything was done in order to make that a success for us. So far I can’t complain too much, as Meredith latches great and is gaining weight like a champ. It doesn’t hurt like I thought it would, and I only had a couple of days where I even needed to use the Lanolin ointment. So all of that is great, but we don’t have any kind of routine or pattern. Every day and night is different, and I can’t seem to figure her out. I’m trying to feed her on demand, and in general she seems to nurse 10-15 minutes at a time every single hour. This is getting tough because it means she’s basically attached to me at all times. Today she started to spit up quite a bit, so I think she might be nursing for comfort. So far she won’t accept a pacifier, but we’re going to keep trying. She has to go to daycare in a couple months and will need to be soothed by something other than me!

>So far this is kind of how our time is spent. I head to bed later than usual, anywhere from 9 to 11 p.m. For the first half of the night Meredith nurses every hour or two in short increments. Sometimes I can sleep in between, sometimes not. I try to put her in her Rock and Play Sleeper at my bedside, and usually she lets me until early in the morning when she just wants to sleep on my chest. David wakes up for work around 7:30, and we stay in bed resting until around 9. I nurse her in the rocking chair in the nursery and read, then I shower while she sits in her sleeper. We nurse again and then I finally make it out to the kitchen to eat around 10 or 11. For the rest of the day I will watch TV, do things around the house, or read. Sometimes I sit on the couch, sometimes I lounge in bed, sometimes I’m up and around. There are lots of nursing breaks, and many days my mom comes over to help. David comes home from work around 5 p.m. and he’ll get me anything I need and we hope that Meredith will let him hold her for awhile. Usually we watch a movie or TV show before bed.

>Being on maternity leave is weird. I feel this strange sadness like the world is going on without me, and I actually miss my coworkers and my job somewhat. It leads to some isolation and restlessness, but it helps to have little outings every so often. I so wish that I could take walks around the neighborhood, but the heat wave prevents that. David and I went for a walk around the mall over the weekend, and my mom took me to get my nails done. Those were good things. I like having visitors, but too many is overwhelming. I also love being able to take my time doing everything during the day. Taking care of a newborn is definitely work and not exactly relaxing, but I feel honored to be the one doing it. Sometimes I feel like I could just stare at Meredith all day long and be happy.

Posted in: motherhood

Comments on Postpartum Thoughts: The First Two Weeks

  1. 1

    From Johanna @ These Prices:

    You’re doing great! I’m so glad she’s nursing so well, and it’s so great that you’re feeding her on demand. Way to go, mama! Don’t worry about a routine or pattern right now. She’s still so new. I didn’t nurse, of course, but have you tried the side position? I always read that was a great way to get some rest for you too.

  2. 2

    From Emily:

    Wow! I have so much to say that I keep erasing what I typed. But this really brings me back to having Elijah. I wanted to stay at the hospital too and the birth was so different than I expected and I thought I was going to look a little less pregnant than I did after I had him and I felt isolated and he was basically attached to me the whole day (it seemed). It sounds like you are doing great, though. Also, even after almost two yeas, you STILL feel like staring at them forever. I love you, Kathleen!

  3. 3

    From Audrey:

    Glad to hear everything seems to be going well and very typical of a breast fed baby. Theron was a frequent eater, I found it best to be a nuisance to him while feeding to have him eat more at one sitting thus spreading out the nursing more. The emotions you describe are much the same for everyone who I know that has given birth including myself. Thanks for the updates and pictures, we are so happy for you. I always recommend the 5 S’s as described in The Happiest Baby on the Block. Worked miracle for us and has also been helpful with several other babies in my life.

  4. 4

    From Kelly Glass:

    You bring back so many memories of my first birth. Missing the hospital staff and the weird post partum body. So many things no one thinks to prepare you for!

    And I planned to write my birth story for all of my children. But it was such an emotionally complex experience, I never could get around to putting it into words. I always wish I had sooner bc I know there are special details I’ve forgotten. But I could never figure out how to tell it.

    You’ll figure it all out! You’ll feel normal again. And sometimes you can reduce the comfort nursing by distraction. Walk outside and talk about the wind (really only possible at night these days!), vacuum, listen to the shower running. Not as easy when you’re sleepy, but maybe good for reducing the 24hour boob buffet during the day. You’re good at this Mommy stuff!

  5. 5

    From Misti:

    Wow, she looks like her daddy in this picture :0)

    You’re doing everything right momma! You’ll get that routine down in no time, just keep working on it because it really DOES help everyone. Don’t even think about being hard on yourself for your appearance!!! YOU JUST HAD A BABY! I am confident that you will be back to the “old” you in no time. I cannot wait to see this beautiful baby girl in person…soon, and hug her momma!

    Love you guys and miss y’all…LOTS!!!

  6. 6

    From Becca:

    Your post is really similar to the way I felt after Cora was born, being anxious and feeling like the world is passing me by. I hated feeling that way. But I loved that time looking back despite being a mess. So easy with one (hahaha, if I only knew!) but emotionally it was the most challenging birth/transition with my first baby.

    Other than obsessive thoughts about the birth, etc, I most enjoyed being in the nursery together – me reading a (terrible) novel while Cora nursed or napped. Such vivid memories!

    It has only taken 5 years for me to embrace being a bit more jiggly after baby. :) I think I like my body. :) but not in pictures. Haha!

    So glad y’all are doing well!

  7. 7

    From Becky:

    Thanks for being so honest about everything! I think a lot of the misperception about becoming a parent is everything is happy and wonderful and then if you feel sad people think something is wrong, when in fact (from what I hear – no experience yet!) that’s totally normal!

    Meredith is gorgeous! Hope she gets into a little bit more of a routine soon!

  8. 8

    From jessica STRUBLE v.:

    kathleen…..i just wanted to start off by saying, it sounds like ur doing a great job. i completely hear what ur going thru about ur body changing..i never thought that my body would be so crazy after having my first one. no one tells u about the ‘gloureous AFTER’ givin birth. it does take time..and eventually will go down…just keep reminding urself that it took u 9 mths to get the way…so 2 dont put pressure on ur self. its cool ur hubby and mom are helping out…i always said that i didnt want the ‘help’ after my first..thought i could do everything myself and hated when ppl would offer to ‘help’. i guess i felt like ppl didnt think i could handle being a mom by myself..and i remember feeling that everyone was out to get me. im telling u now…EXCEPT all the help u can..its a very overwhelming event and in time u will get used to it. its all worth it when u see ur child smile at u…even though it seems like the no sleep and crying never goes away. as for the breastfeeding. with my 1st i was all for it,,,the pros seemed to outweigh the cons. when i had jake..he was put in an incubater type thing for 3 days for jaundice..i couldnt breastfeed him right after birth so it made it a lot harder when i finally got too. with both i got depressed bc i felt like when i got home that i was ALWAYS in my room breastfeedin the kids. i felt alone a lot..cause everyone was out there havin a great normal day and i was stuck half naked with sore boobs all day. it gets better, even though right now its crazy. ull be a great mom and give it time and it will be a piece of cake. except help and lil outings without the baby..that will help u keep sain!!

  9. 9

    From Tabaitha:

    You are doing a great job! It can be a bit overwhelming and with the added hormone’s it can seem even more overwhelming. I’m glad that you have wonderful people in your life to help and support your new family. I made the mistake of looking in the mirrow a few hours after delivering Mason and I was in pure shock. While I’m not a fan of the stretch marks that appeared after delivery, I would take them anyday because it’s a constant reminder that God allowed me to give birth to my beautiful children. Someone once told me after delivering my first that each day gets easier. Sure the trials will be different, but you will get more comfortable with your new normal.

  10. 10

    From Jennifer O @ Lit Endeavors:

    First, a big congratulations! Your baby is lovely and has already grown so much!

    Second, having a baby is difficulty enough without breastfeeding. It’s a wonderful choice, and believe me, there is a significant difference in health. My first two children were bottle fed and were often sick with ear infections, croup, and colds. My third and fourth were breastfed and they literally never needed to see their pediatrician (besides check ups). Breastfeeding is extremely time consuming, but there are so many rewards. AS another reader posted, the side position may be one you might want to consider.

    When my breastfed daughters were newborns, I was feeding them nearly hourly. Eventually feedings get spaced out, but I’m sure you’re concerned since you have daycare to consider. Things will fall into place, but in the meantime you need to be sure to make time for yourself. Isolation is never a good thing.

  11. 11

    From Kit:

    Aw, new momma. You have joined the ranks!

    The first few weeks of having a baby are so very wonderous, taxing, tiring and beautiful. I would say to you these things:
    1. Breastfeeding: go with the flow and dont over analyze things. My baby was attached to my boob far more than I personally expected. Go to a La Leche League meeting to get out of the house and commiserate with other nee mommas with young baby’s!
    2. Your body: have patience. Dont look so closesly at yourself. The next few weeks/months there will be even more change to be had! If anything, take pride in your body for making/nourishing a beautiful baby.
    ((hugs)). Being a new momma is such a different pace and rhythym to living life.

  12. 12

    From Nora:

    Considering I’ve never had a child, to an outsider it sounds and looks like you’re doing really well with everything. I’m pretty sure I’d be a hot mess with constant messy and dirty hair, tears streaming all over my face and much more. From what I hear/understand from other moms this sounds to be on par for the first few weeks and I’m sure a routine will flesh itself out eventually. Thinking of you bunches these days!


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