I have a feeling that I’ll begin every post this way, but seriously – how has a month after passed since I gave birth to Henry?! He cannot possibly be four weeks old yet! He’s growing up too fast.
You can check out my first post-pregnancy update here – Mind and Body After Baby – Week 1.
Mind After Baby – Month 1
As I wrote about in the Week 1 update, the first seven days of Henry’s life were pretty difficult. I lost my appetite, I was functioning on zero sleep, I had a touch of the baby blues, I was exhausted from delivery. It was rough. At one point during Week 2, I emailed my buddies Jen and Emily a frantic letter begging them to tell me that it would all be okay – I really did feel like I was falling apart and somehow failing Henry. They assured me that it was normal to feel like that and it would be okay. It’s so nice to have fellow moms that you can whine to without fear of judgment.
Since then, things have really turned around! Sure, I’m still extremely tired due to our nursing schedule, but in Henry’s third week of life, I started to feel more competent and confident about parenting. I haven’t cried non-happy tears in two weeks, and I credit a lot of it to the Husband’s support, as well as my decision to encapsulate and ingest my placenta. I really do think it has helped normalize my hormones.
I’ve learned two big lessons in the last month. First of all, just because your kiddo doesn’t follow the textbook example of ‘what a baby should do’ doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong (of course, it could mean something is wrong, but not always!). Henry’s nursing schedule really stressed me out at first because the nurses at the hospital and my breastfeeding books told me he should nurse for longer periods and rest more in between. “But my baby doesn’t DO that!” I thought frantically. Guess what? Babies don’t read the books. Henry is fine. He’s gaining weight, he’s healthy and happy, and we’re in the swing of breastfeeding. I’d glad I sought out an expert opinion (a lactation consultant) and listened to my gut. The experience helped me realize that all babies really are different, and that’s perfectly okay. Breastfeeding has gotten a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. Henry’s feedings are longer, although they are still spaced closely together. We’re still stuck on the nipple shield, and I’d like to get off it, but honestly – we’re probably still using it mostly because I am lazy and don’t want to mess up a good thing.
I also learned an important marriage lesson: do things for each other and for the baby without resentment.
And don’t keep ‘score’ of who does what and when. If your husband asks you to toss his laundry in the wash while he holds the baby, and you roll your eyes and huff and puff while doing it, you might as well have not done the laundry at all. And when you ask him to do something for you, he’ll huff and puff back. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s easier said than done, but just live resentment-free. It’s crazy to say this – because I’m sure a newborn ranks high up there on the stress list – but we’re happier than ever, thanks to this philosophy.
Body After Baby – Month 1
While my mental state has bounced back by leaps and bounds, I can’t say that my body is doing the same thing. Although their bodies didn’t look the same right away, many of my friends shed all their baby weight within the first month. My body did not receive that memo.
I’m not crazy about using weight as the sole measure of fitness (it only tells a fraction of the story) but for these purposes, I think the numbers are illuminating. I don’t own a scale, but thanks to check-ups at the doctor’s, I know that I gained 35 pounds during pregnancy and lost 18 as of one-week post-partum. In the last three weeks, I’ve dropped another 2.5 pounds, which is a healthy weight loss pace under ‘normal’ conditions; I guess I just thought it would happen faster based on my friends’ experiences. I guess everyone really is different – babies and mommas included. Breastfeeding has not been the miracle weight-loss tool that I’ve heard it can be.
I wrote in the Week 1 update that losing the baby weight wasn’t a priority for me, and it’s still not – my fitness goal is to get back to regular exercise because it’s fun and helps keep me sane. Breastfeeding experts say that exercise doesn’t interfere with milk supply but cutting calories can, so if moving my body and eating in accordance with my hunger cues encourages weight loss – great! But if not, the baby weight can continue to stick around. I’m not wild about continuing to wear maternity clothes but Henry’s food is more important.
And – just keepin’ it real – in terms of body image, I wish I could say that I’m 100% accepting of my current state, but I’m probably only 90% accepting. It’s a month out, but I feel like pregnancy is far behind me (a month with a newborn seems like a full year of regular time), and I’m 10% tired of maternity clothes. Pants with buttons would be very nice! I’m not a very patient person, and a lot of the return to fitness is about patience. I’m working on it. Perhaps the 10% non-accepting part is a good thing because it’s a pretty powerful motivator.
On a brighter note, I started to exercise again yesterday (I went for a walk/run), and I was really impressed with how normal my body felt. A few friends have commented that their organs felt all out of place, as if they could feel everything moving around when they ran. I had none of that – everything felt really good. That is a HUGE blessing, I know, and I’m really excited that my body seems to have bounced back so quickly in some key ways. When it comes down to it, I’ll take feeling normal over my normal weight any day of the week. So – once again – everyone is different (apparently, that is the theme of this post!). I think it’s great to talk with friends and read blog posts and forum entries. Sharing our experiences and ups and downs is very important. But more and more, I am discovering you must just wait and see how it is for YOU. Your baby may eat differently than other babies; your body may look and feel differently than your friends’. It’s silly to expect you can or cannot do something just because others could or could not. Just like there is no one type of pregnancy, there’s no one way to recover.
In conclusion, I’ll say this: It is SCARY how much I love my baby. I love the HECK out of the Henry. He is so much fun, sweet, and cute. Even when he cries, I think he’s adorable. I know not everyone loves the newborn stage, but I am obsessed with newborn Henry and wish he could stay little forever!
Over the past month, I really feel like I’ve become a mom, and it’s one of the best feeling in the entire world. Henry is well worth all the mental struggles and physical challenges.
Hehe I love Henry too and he’s not even mine! 😉 I love your outlook on motherhood Caitlin. I imagine I’d be pretty freaked out in the first few weeks too, especially since right now I don’t have to look after anyone but myself. I think you’ve got such a positive attitude about your body returning to its normal size and I know it will happen. You are a huge inspiration to me, and I’m sure I can speak for many of your other readers too. Keep it up! 🙂