Nov 25, 2012

Writing From the Trenches..

     When my sister-in-law commented on my previous blog post, she mentioned I was blogging through the postpartum trenches.  How perfectly, perfectly accurate. I am most certainly in the trenches and I didn’t even know they existed, people.  If you need a good laugh, please check out the misconceptions I had about the postpartum days.

1) If you have a natural delivery, there is no recovery.  You simply get out of bed, shower, and then take care of your baby.  In your pre-pregnancy jeans.  Yes, I actually, literally believed this.  I was completely unprepared for not being able to walk on my own, being in a lot of pain from tearing/stitches, needing help in the shower, and the like. 

2) Breastfeeding is natural and easily established.  Well, breastfeeding is definitely natural.  And painful.  And frustrating.  And messy.  And you may need the help of a lactation consultant and be taught how to hand express. And you might cry when you find out your son has a bad latch, a tight upper-lip frenulum, and a tongue tie.  Then you might have to do deep breathing exercises to stay relaxed during nursing.

3) Postpartum hormones flood you with joy and love for your new baby.  There is A LOT of joy and love, I promise.  What I didn’t expect was the other side of those hormones. My tear ducts have had a good workout.  Feeling overwhelmed, incompetent, exhausted, physically sick and sad came along for the ride too. And I’ve learned that all those emotions are worse in the middle of the night.  One night I wanted to walk out the front door and never return {Except I would have had too, needing relief from painful, engorged breasts}. Another night I was convinced I was in a nightmare and I cried begging Marcus to wake me up from this bad dream.  Those feelings are scary, no fun and rob some of the joy of the first couple days.

4) You will enjoy being taken care of and focusing on your baby. Oh my goodness the guilt. I am so good at feeling guilty these past couple days. Guilt from watching my mom & husband work their tails off bringing me food, doing laundry, helping me go to the bathroom…just serving me and baby.  Guilt from ‘missing’ Thanksgiving. I ached to be watching the Macy’s Day Parade and being at my in-laws. Instead I practiced my nursing skills in bed and started crying during dinner when my baby fussed.  I also felt/feel guilty for not being able to handle visitors as much as I wanted too. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

5.) Your recovery will be the same as your friends. I often took meals to friends after they had their babies. And I always thought they looked and sounded great and completely recovered. So I agonized that something was wrong with me and I was not recovering.  Never mind that I visited them normally about a week after the birth, I wanted to be at that stage of recovery immediately.  I was not giving myself any grace.


     So friends, those are my trenches. They are not deep or dangerous, mostly just ridiculously high expectations I had set for myself.  And way too much comparing myself to what I perceived other’s postpartum days to be like.

     Postpartum is not all trenches, though.  Those joy and love hormones?!  I’ve got them too!! I am completely in awe of my son.  He is so sweet and loving and I melt every time he looks in my eyes.  Sometimes his gaze seems to whisper…I love you, Mama. You are doing just fine. I trust you…  And their are no words for the surge of love I feel for my husband. From his incredible support through labor & delivery to his the way he looks at his little boy. From the diaper changing duty to the encouragement he provides me. He has truly slipped effortlessly into his vocation and I am so thankful.  Another huge joy for me has been the incredible support of my family.  After giving birth, I looked at my mom in a completely new light.  I’ve always known she was selfless, but she truly opened her home and her heart and hardworking hands to see my little man enter the world. I’ll always have an amazing example of motherhood from her.  My older sister Mindy, in her 3rd trimester, has worked tirelessly to ease this time for me too. Whether she is reminding me I’ll feel better every day, calling/arranging/scheduling lactation consultation help or convincing me to put cabbage leaves on my engorged breasts, she is always ready to pitch in.  Kathleen has cooked around the clock, keeping my ravenous nursing self full.  My brothers & dad have been more than ready to hold a baby so Marcus & I can catch some shut eye here and there.  My mother-in-law sent the CUTEST fire truck flower arrangement and just showered me with love and encouragement. My sister-in-laws have been chock full of good advice for recovery  and nephew-gushing.  I have felt the prayers of so many friends and family. 

     Graces have abounded. In sweet visits from the midwifes, help from lactation consultants on Thanksgiving day, stitches from a trusted Dr. in the office rather than the ER, a baby with a calm and quiet disposition {for now!}, a walk on a beautiful fall day, a phone call from my big brother, a safe & uncomplicated delivery, the warmth of my mom’s home, Thanksgiving food and the Crucifix that hangs near the bed…reminding me of the love God has for me and the ultimate gift of self.

     Every day gets better. We are blessed over here.

 James Patrick Croft 068 James Patrick Croft 071

James Patrick, you are entirely worth EVERY moment of these postpartum days.


Jiza @ The Real JZ said...

Oh, Laura! I wish I could be there to give you a hug, but I am SO GLAD that you have a super awesome support system. I clearly remember those first weeks with Sonny, but at the same time I don't b/c I was on complete survival mode. You are beautiful and lovely and I know you are going to be a fantastic and loving mother! That little boy is so blessed to have you as his mommy!

Jiza @ The Real JZ said...

I'm sorry... I had to look at your photos again. He is just too precious, Laura! Too too precious! Well done, Mama!

Cat said...

Yes, the trenches. Mine lasted a while, probably too long. But I am so glad that you have the support you do and that you are in love with that baby boy. It gets better. You know this, but sometimes it's just hard to see. Also, stop feeling guilty! Right now is the time for others to serve you so that you can serve your baby well.

All that said, he is gorgeous. And I especially love that picture of you and him!


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