Wow – I can’t believe that Riese is already 2 weeks old today! (If you missed it, check out Riese’s C section birth story – I added some additional details to the post yesterday, too… there are so many things that I wanted to get down now while I still remember them!)
We’ve been home from the hospital for a week and a half now and on any given day I cry at least once about how she’s going to grow up so quickly and not be tiny and cuddly anymore – and then in the next minute I’m crying because this stage is hard and overwhelming and feels like it will last forever. And then, I have times where I feel like my normal, much less emotional self, too, and where I feel like we’re doing pretty well at this whole parenthood thing. I’m realizing from talking to friends that this emotional whiplash is very normal for new moms – and that it’s okay to have conflicting feelings like this. It’s a wonderful and very special time and I’m doing my best to be in the moment and enjoy it while it lasts, but it’s also hard and tiring. So much has changed, after all!
I’m insanely grateful that I have Matt home with me for 6 more weeks – the fact that he was able to take a full 2 months of paid paternity leave is incredible. I seriously cannot imagine how I would do this by myself all day if he were going back to work on Monday… I know that 1 to 2 weeks off (or even less) is much more standard for men and it just does not seem like enough! I’m so glad we have some extra time for Matt to bond with Riese and for our little family to adjust to our new normal. It has also been really helpful for me to keep up a tiny bit of work (which was the whole reason he got 8 weeks – he was able to claim primary caregiver since I’m self-employed and don’t get any paid leave of my own) – don’t worry, I’m not overdoing it, but writing these blog posts and staying up on emails has helped me to feel a little more like “myself” – and writing things down is a good way for me to process them! I’m glad we’ll have these posts to look back on later when this time is a distant memory and the details have all started to fade.
We spent the first 3 and a half days of Riese’s life at the hospital! Especially for the first couple days this was so necessary because I was completely helpless basically – I couldn’t get out of bed until my legs were no longer numb at all, obviously, which took until about the middle of the night on the first night we were there. And then for the next day or two I needed a lot of help to get up and move around (and to go to the bathroom once they took my catheter out). They would have me sit up on the edge of the bed reeeeeally slowly because it often made me super nauseous to sit up, and my incision was really tender when I tried to stand. I think the nausea was due to the morphine they had in my IV during the surgery – and then also due to the percocet I was taking post-delivery. I ended up having them switch me just to the high dose motrin because being nauseated was not ideal, obviously, and the percocet really didn’t agree with me.
The first night nurse we had at the hospital was my favorite, probably because she was the one who helped me when I was a total mess – it was so weird to be completely dependent but she didn’t make me feel embarrassed at all, even as she was changing my catheter bag or swapping out the pad I was sitting on (and bleeding all over).
A tip for those of you who will be staying at the hospital in the future, either for baby-related reasons or otherwise: bring Christmas lights! Our doula brought these for us and Matt strung them up in both our pre-operation room and our post-delivery room where we were for the rest of the stay. It was so nice to have the soft twinkling light vs. the full on bright florescent overhead lighting, especially in the middle of the night.
Being in the hospital was nice because we had lots of help and people checking on us, but it was also hard because we had so many people checking on us! It felt like people were in and out every few minutes, although everyone we encountered was really lovely and helpful so it was hard to complain. I encourage those of you who are expecting to take advantage of all the resources at your disposal while in the hospital post-delivery. On nights 2 and 3 we took advantage of the nursery option and sent Riese there for 3 hours so we could get a little bit of sleep – basically the only sleep we got. The first night we sent her I felt so guilty and sad that I started crying. It was so hard to let them wheel her out of the room – I remember saying to Matt “We’ve never been away from each other before!” in between tears. But, it was definitely a good call – even a few hours of uninterrupted sleep was really crucial, because when she was in the room we were both pretty much awake (or very lightly dozing) the whole time, and we knew once we got back home there would be no more night nurses waiting to take care of our baby in the middle of the night! (If only, right?!)
I think the most helpful part of the hospital stay, besides obviously the hands-on assistance from the nurses as I was recovering from surgery and needing physical help to take care of myself, was the lactation consultants! We had 3 lactation consultants come by – one each day – and each of them was really helpful. As I mentioned in Riese’s birth story, our doula had us start working on breastfeeding and getting Riese to latch immediately after surgery, which was awesome because I really think it helped stimulate milk production ASAP. Having the lactation consultants around in the days that followed was amazing, though, because Riese was such an eager feeder (and I had no idea what I was doing solo) that she would often latch on quickly and too shallow, which resulted in a lot of pain for me. We were able to figure out better positioning with the LC’s help which was great – and they also gave me some gel pads to soothe my nipples in the meantime. I wore those nonstop anytime I wasn’t feeding her until just a couple days ago, and I have more to use later just in case. Sidenote – a nursing nightgown was amazing for the hospital so I wasn’t wearing their awkward robe with the butt flap open anymore, and also so I had some support for my breasts and structure that could hold the gel pads in there. It was basically the only thing in my hospital bag I actually used, besides my toiletries and the going home outfits (for me and Riese)!
By the time Monday rolled around, after 3 nights in the hospital, Matt and I were nervous to leave but also very ready to get back to our own space – and to have more than one room to work with! It was time to go home. The days that have followed have been a blur, and most of my time has been spent like this:
As you can see, our dog Freyja has been keeping me company while I feed Riese – and so has our cat Zara! When we got home, Zara noticed we had someone new with us right away and was VERY curious and pretty wary. She kind of followed us around (nearby but not TOO close) for the whole first day, and then eventually moved on to giving Riese cautious smells. She now seems pretty okay with the situation if a bit annoyed that she’s getting less play time. 🙂 You can see her supervising the action (far right) along with Freyja in the photo below!
We left Freyja at my parent’s house on Thanksgiving and they kept her while we were in the hospital, and then for the first few days we were home just so we could get our bearings. We sent them home with various blankets and outfits Riese had worn so Freyja could smell them and get used to her scent. She has done well since coming home – Matt met her outside on her arrival and immediately took her on a run to get out energy before she met the baby. She has been curious but gentle with Riese – she likes sniffing her and tries to lick her when she cries, which is cute. 🙂 At first I think the crying and squeaks (babies are so loud!) made her nervous but she seems to be used to it now!
As for how I’m doing physically post C-section surgery, I’m getting better by the day. At first it was really hard because I wasn’t able to get up/carry the baby around much on my own, so Matt had to be up with me pretty much all the time to help carry Riese to/from me for feedings, and to change her. For the first 5 nights, this meant that both of us were basically getting no sleep and up all night with her. Since I’m feeling stronger and able to handle a few hours solo with Riese now, we have now started doing shifts. Riese will cry unless someone is holding her – she won’t sleep in her bassinet or stay in any of the baby swings/rockers for more than a few minutes, which is tough. So, Matt and I will alternate during the evening – one of us will take her for 2 to 4 hours while the other sleeps, then we’ll switch. The timing depends on her – if Matt has her and she gets really fussy and seems like she wants to eat, he’ll wake me. If she’s snoozing happily, he’ll let her go a little longer. My shift lengths are usually 3 or 4 hours, depending on the feeding timing – I try to pass her off to Matt right after I feed her to buy myself some extra time (and to make sure she’s snoozy for him)!
This is working for now, and is way better than both of us just being up all the time, but obviously we are hopeful we can get her to the point where she will snooze on her own a bit so all of us can sleep at the same time! Any tips?! For now, I’m just writing blog posts at 3 a.m. while she snoozes in my lap. 🙂
I will leave you with a few things that have helped me a lot right now:
- Showering every single day. This is CRUCIAL to feeling like a human, and I also put on cozy but presentable clothes that I can leave the house in/have visitors see me in and not feel like a hot mess. I’ve basically been living in maternity leggings and nursing tanks.
- Having presentable hair. Some of you have commented on Instagram about my hair being curled/done – I only wash my hair twice a week when I’m not working out/getting sweaty, so on the day I wash it I let it air dry and then spend 5 minutes to quickly curl it. It makes me feel better to not look like a mess, and I don’t have to do it again for a few days!
- Getting fresh air once per day in the form of a walk. At first, I was only able to make it a block or so, but now we are up to about a slow mile. Some days we use the stroller and other days I try wearing Riese in a wrap (I’m experimenting with different ones and will report back on my faves), although the wraps are better for shorter walks right now as I’m still working on healing and she’s a bit heavy. 🙂 The weather has been LOVELY here since we got home, although I believe it’s turning a bit now as a cold front moves in. Bummer!
Things I need to work on are: staying on top of my hunger. It’s hard when Riese is crying and hungry because I’ll put her needs above mine and then get too hungry and then I’m much more likely to have a meltdown myself. I need to make sure to always have lots of snacks around! I’ll share more about what we’ve been eating since coming home soon. Stay tuned, and have a great weekend!