Things have been very quiet on the blog and social media front for a very important reason, on the 2nd August we welcomed the newest addition to our family Arthur Thomas James. The last month of pregnancy I actually found very tiring, mostly because sleep was almost impossible due to being so huge, and the pressure it puts on all your joints. PLUS the last month of pregnancy actually felt very busy – everyone is checking in with you, you are getting all your last minute items together and you also spend most of the day time napping (well I did!).
Even though I was convinced our little Mister was going to come early he was, in fact, overdue by 3 days. As it got closer and closer to his due date, it became more and more apparent that I would not go into labour naturally and we opted for an elective cesarean. I had tried not to have too many expectations when it came to my delivery, as I knew that Mother Nature can be unpredictable, but I never fully prepared myself for the fact that I might not be able to deliver naturally. I had prepared myself on how to work through my contractions, but in the end I never felt a contraction.
Regardless, my experience was such a positive one – the process was so peaceful and I am thankful to have had such a calm birth. I was still able to see my son born into the world thanks to the family centered approach to my cesarean and had him placed almost immediately on my chest. Even though my delivery didn’t go as I had imagined, I am so thankful for the experience and to have my gorgeous healthy boy arrive safe and sound.
The first few weeks of being parents were hard… my hormones were on high, combined with lack of sleep, and the fact that I was recovering from surgery really put a lot of pressure on my emotional health. I am sure I am not alone when I admit to crying to myself while nursing a small infant who refuses to sleep in the middle of the night. Don’t get me wrong, my husband was and is an AMAZING support but we were both exhausted. Our savior came in the form of Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block – I had read many people quoting his book and the 5 S’s all over the internet and I have to admit watching the corresponding DVD really saved our sanity and our sleep. Understanding how to calm and sooth our little man really is the gift that keeps giving, via the DVD we were able to better understand his needs and wants allowing us to give him and us a better routine.
Recovering from the cesarean has actually gone very smoothly and I felt almost back to normal after 2 weeks and needed to remind myself to still be careful and remember I had just had major surgery. The downside of having a cesarean was that I am unable to drive for 6 weeks, so I have felt a bit house-bound and less independent.
I am not sure if these things – lack of sleep, hormones and recovering from surgery – combined with cracked, bleeding nipples and mastitis but we soon discovered that my milk production was low. I felt like a failure, not only could I not deliver naturally, but now it appeared that I wouldn’t be able to exclusively breastfeed as I had hoped. There is a lot of negativity online around formula feeding, even the formula itself has a disclaimer that breastfeeding is best, but to make sure my little man was fed I had no choice, we had to supplement feed.
There is a light at the end of the “coming home from hospital” tunnel. There is nothing I hated more while I was pregnant than people tagging me in memes about lack of sleep or your house becoming a mess or how a child will ultimately change your life. It is not like I am unaware of these possible facts, but it annoyed me that people found humor in it all, when in reality it is all too real for new parents. I was so fortunate to have SOOOOOOOO much support around me through family and friends. When times were tough and things didn’t go as you had hoped, having someone tell you it is okay made everything more manageable. To be reminded that a fed baby is the most important thing really was what I needed to hear to instill the fact that I was doing the right thing. After going for our weekly weight in, and after losing weight in his first two weeks, to be told that he had put on half a kilo assured us we were on the right path.
Also, did I mention I am stubborn. I have not given up on working on my milk supply. I am on medication to help increase my milk flow as well as eating bucket loads of lactations cookies, taking fenugreek supplements, drinking my weight in Mother’s Milk tea and pumping religiously. Making sure Arthur gets as much goodness from me as I can is important to “me”, especially in these early weeks. I will admit I have no idea what the future holds but for now we are making it work for us.
The Final Word
We did it – We navigated our way through the first month! The thing that comes to mind to explain being a first time Mum was talking to my younger sister who said “I probably won’t babysit until he is a little older because I have no experience with babies”, to which I replied “NEITHER DO I”. I think all new parents go into caring for a child with the same vague ideas on parenthood… plus google searches and their midwives on speed dial. The truth is we just need to do what we can to make sure that the precious miracle we created is loved and nurtured… and that is the true gauge of success!