Hi there, friends! I cannot even believe that it has been one month since welcoming little Louie into the world. Nothing has ever taken up more space in my heart and, while it’s true what everyone says about the exhaustion, being his Momma is the best thing I’ve ever done and will ever do. I absolutely love motherhood so far and I’m excited to share some of how this last month has gone in today’s post!
Q: Best advice for labor & delivery for a first time mom?
A: Oh gosh. I feel like I have a lot to say but want to keep it simple. Let’s see how I do with keeping it simple, hah:
First, I’d say to welcome the idea that birth doesn’t have to be as scary, as painful or as ‘bad’ as everyone makes it out to be. Often women are so quick to throw up their hands when it comes to what happens during their birth and give their autonomy over to their doctor. Not that doctors should have no say at all so don’t take it to mean that at all. I just mean sometimes, when we don’t know much about a subject, we’re quick to be like ‘well you’re an expert at this … so you tell me what to do’. And, the thing is, often negative birth experiences could have been prevented if the patient understood the situation at hand a little better and could offer a different solution. It should be a team effort so remember, you are smart, you are bright and this is your birth, your baby and your body. Take control of your birth by educating yourself throughout pregnancy on birth [I did the Positive Birth Company’s hypnobirthing course, which was so enlightening and educational] as a way to combat fear and empower yourself to feel confident in advocating for yourself when the time comes to make those big decisions that can be thrown your way in the midst of labor. Talk to your partner about what you’re learning and what you are wanting out of your birth experience so that they can do it for you, if needed, which leads me to …
Second, I’d say … instead of creating a birth ‘plan’ … choose words that you want for your birth to embody. How do you want the overall experience to feel like? For me, I wanted mine to feel positive, peaceful, calm, and empowering. I wish I had focused more on this rather than having a ‘unmedicated water birth’ because, ultimately, birth can be unpredictable and, no matter how it turns out, it can also be positive, peaceful, calm and empowering. I hope that makes sense! So, instead of a set plan on what you do and don’t want, focus on how you want your birth to feel and articulate that to your healthcare team. If you want things to be peaceful and calm … maybe request for the lights to be dim while you’re laboring, request for there to be minimal interruptions with people coming in and out of the room, etc. Everyone’s different so have it look however you want it to look!
Last, but not least, after you give birth … do not forget that YOU matter, too. Everyone is going to be focusing on the baby and that they’re doing ___ after birth. That all may be fine and true but … don’t let anyone minimize or not make much of how YOU feel after birth. Everything you feel after you give birth is valid – whether it’s a light or heavy emotion. I’m really passionate about this because, I didn’t have the experience I hoped for [sometimes that happens, but not always so I’m not saying that to scare anyone; so many women have great experiences] and I would get so frustrated when, after sharing my true feelings about my experience, people would say ‘oh but at least he’s here and he’s doing so well’ … I kept wanting to say … yes, but I’m not well. So, just remember, you matter, too, Mama!
I will be sharing Louie’s birth story soon so stay tuned for more on birth!
Q: How are you recovering?
A: Thanks so much for asking! I’m doing alright! Recovering from a C-section was very eye-opening. It was certainly not an ‘easy’ recovery. Overall, I’m feeling much better now that I’m four weeks postpartum. It’s much easier to get up from laying down as well as do simple things like cough and laugh, which were extremely painful immediately after birth. My incision is healing nicely and my stomach is starting to feel less tender. I can also sleep on my side without needing a pillow under my belly – finally!! I also feel a little more energized although I do allow myself to take it easy during the day still, when needed, even though I am back to work in a small capacity. I’ll be sharing more about items that I found to be really helpful during my recovery immediately after my C-section in an upcoming post so know that that’ll eventually be available to anyone who has a C-section in the future.
Q: Do you have baby blues? And if so, how long have they lasted?
A: Usually, women [can] experience the baby blues in those first few days after baby is born and I’m trying to remember if I did. Those first few days feels like it was ages ago now. I just remember being a little sad and frustrated with breastfeeding as it was extremely painful due to Louie’s tongue tie. I was also a little sad over my birth experience – not how Louie came but how I was ‘cared’ for. Those are the only two things I can think of that made me sad but I do think it was pretty fleeting. I do think overall – mentally – I was in a good space. I was just tired, mostly.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of postpartum?
A: Hmm, gosh – I hate to say that I’ve found a few things to be challenging. Naturally, I’d like to first underline how utterly and completely in love with Louie I am and I wouldn’t change my life and him being in it for anything. This season is just weird, as many of you know. But, even with that said, there are lots of postpartum thoughts that I’ve had that feel really vulnerable to share so, I think I’ll just keep the answer simple and share something that I do feel comfortable sharing. Breastfeeding and pumping are a lot more difficult than I ever realized. My experience has been far from easy and I’ll likely share more eventually but I’ll leave it there for now.
Q: Most surprising feeling / emotion now that you have become a mom?
A: Hmm, gosh … okay, I’ll admit this but I won’t lie – doing so kind of makes me feel like I’m undressing myself in front of you. I’m kind of nervous because I feel a little bad for having this emotion / feeling because I’m so happy to be Louie’s mom as well as proud of what women and their bodies are equipped to do. But, one thing I felt during my immediate postpartum was frustration and almost resentment in how much falls on the woman’s / mom’s shoulders when you have a baby. We’re the ones who have grown the baby for 9/10 months … birthed the baby and in doing so have experienced a million different hormones in order to do so [all of which make you feel crazy] and body changes. We also are the ones who have taken the time to figure out how to take care of this baby and will then, in our most exhausted state, have to figure out breastfeeding and / or pumping, both of which can come with their own challenges [although, not always]. Moreover, you’re also the baby’s manager – the one who knows when they’re uncomfortable and need a diaper change, what time the next feeding is at, and what tube the butt paste is in and what it’s for. While I am incredibly happy to take on this role of ‘Mom’ [WITH ALL THAT COMES WITH IT] … I think I had moments of feeling a little resentful of how easy it is for Dad’s. It’s super easy for them to go back to work, to get a workout in after baby arrives, and to experience the perks of having a baby without a lot of the emotional and physical turmoil that women go through.
In the same breath, I can also say how thankful I am for John and how, without him, I would like have had a much harder time during pregnancy and postpartum. He is an incredible Dad, my biggest cheerleader and supporter, and fiercely loves Louie. I know that it isn’t his fault that he is created differently than me and I am blessed to have someone by my side that uses his strengths to love me and Louie so well not even just in this season but always.
Q: Does he like his bassinet?
A: He does! He seems to really like both of them – the Charlie Crane bassinet, which he sleeps in at night, and the Design Dua one, which he sleeps in during the day for naps, although not exclusively.
Q: What are your favorite items for first 6 weeks?
A: Lucky you! I just put together a list of the ten items that have been our go-to’s during this newborn phase over in THIS blog post from earlier this week. I also included a few bonus products, as well, so be sure to check it out!
John & Fatherhood
Q: How is John doing as a new dad?
A: He is doing SO great! Honestly, he’s taken to fatherhood very naturally. He is a pro nappy [diaper] changer and bottle feeder and it is so obvious that he is just so besotted with Louie! I feel so very lucky to have such a supportive and loving partner to raise Louie with.
Q: How do you and John split caring for Louie?
A: This has changed a bit since John has gone back to work. Thankfully, he’s just in the other room so, if I’m in a bind and really need him for something, he can be available if he isn’t on a call. But, the first two weeks, when he was off work, John took on ALL of the household chores – cleaned, did laundry, did and put away all the dishes, ordered groceries and made all of our meals. He was also my main caregiver after my C-section ensuring I was focusing ONLY on resting, bonding with & nursing Louie, and eating. He helped me in and out of the shower, get dressed and pull up my diapers – hah, these were some really humbling times. He was also my biggest cheerleader and emotional support person. He was so encouraging when breastfeeding was posing to be extremely painful and I didn’t know how to use my pump. He also was there to help split the load of caring for Louie – soothing him when he was fussy, winding him [burping him], changing him, etc. Now that he’s back to work, things are a bit harder. He has little bits of time to give throughout the work day, which we will take and are thankful for, and he mostly fills those with household chores … although now that I’m feeling better, we are splitting those a little more evenly. He also still takes care of the grocery orders and meal prepping. Right now, it’s a massive team effort and I’m so thankful to have such a hardworking and involved partner.
Q: Are you exclusively pumping or nursing and pumping? If so, how are you feeling about that?
A: We haven’t been successful in getting Louie to latch better on the breast post frenectomy so I have been exclusively pumping. While I wanted that breastfeeding experience for us [I’ve always seen breastfeeding as the most beautiful thing and couldn’t wait to breastfeed my children], I didn’t want to put too much pressure on it because I’ve heard about what a challenge it can be. I’ve also heard it’s very easy for some so I knew it was like rolling the dice, you know? I kept an open mind and I am truly okay with the fact that maybe nursing just isn’t going to be in the cards for us. [With all due respect, I appreciate suggestions but would prefer to not receive them at this time. As we all know, breastfeeding is a topic everyone has an opinion on and is quite sensitive for every mother.]
What I didn’t understand or realize was the amount of time that goes into being someone who exclusively pumps. Wow. I mean … wow. It is a labor. of. love ….
…. and I’m struggling to find joy in it, if I’m honest.
I find pumping to be so admirable and a great alternative for those of us who struggle with breastfeeding or who have to return to work & still want to provide breastmilk for their child but, I wasn’t prepared to then also struggle with pumping the way I have. I’m keeping this brief and surface level because it’s such a personal experience and, ultimately, a personal decision and one that has been really heavy on my heart over the past week. I have made a decision about what is best for both Louie, John and myself but it might be something I choose not to touch on for awhile. So, if that’s the case, I hope you understand and respect that choice.
Q: How do you clean/sterilize your breast pump?
A: Because tea is such a big thing here, we have a SMEG kettle, which boils water in 60 seconds. So, when I sterilize everything, once a day, I boil water and put everything into a plastic container, like this, to sit for up to 5 minutes.
We also have extremely hot water that comes out of our tap, so when I wash pump parts after each use, I just use hot water and soap to clean everything. I use these bottle brushes. They’re amazing and get into all the nooks and crannies. I dry everything off with microfiber cloths because they get everything super dry really fast. [NOTE: I don’t use the cloths or the brushes on anything other than pump parts!]
I know there might be contraptions that make sterilizing easier but, honestly, it doesn’t take me that long considering the kettle works so quickly to boil the water. I found these wipes that are very tempting for cleaning after middle of the night pumping sessions as well as these microwavable bags for travel!
Q: What is your updated opinion on the Elvie pump?
A: Overall, I think the Elvie is a great breast pump! Here’s my pro’s and con’s list —
+ portable + allows you to pump on the go
+ only a few parts + easy to clean
+ extremely quiet, great for pumping on zoom calls [just with the camera off]
+ completely hands free
+ a little bulky on me so not as discreet as it promotes itself to be
+ difficult to massage breast tissue around the pump [an issue when I could feel clogged ducts forming]
+ one of mine would leak all over me for seemingly no reason with everything assembled correctly
+ only allows you to express 4oz of milk [was fine for me but could be an issue for women with higher outputs]
+ painful when you first turn it on for about the first minute
I got quite a few messages from those of you with far more knowledge and experience on pumps and pumping re: the Elvie is best used AFTER your have an established milk supply at about 12 weeks post baby. Personally, for my mental health, I could not wait that long to use a portable pump. Plus, I needed to be able to pump while we were out one day so I had to use what I had so that was the start of my love for Elvie. I truly do love the pump but, like all pumps, there are downsides to it.
The other pump I have been using is the Spectra S1 and I think that one has it’s own set of pro’s and con’s so, maybe I’ll do a post comparing and contrasting those for you one day!
Q: Have you managed to get any sort of routine down yet?
A: No, it’s so hard to implement a solid routine with a newborn but, we do follow a rough 3-hour eat / play / sleep routine. I choose a wake time in the morning to wake him up, if he hasn’t already chosen it for me, get him changed, feed him, and then have a small window of play time before laying him down for his first nap until we hit that three hour mark. So, if I wake him at 7:00AM then his next three-hour window, when I wake him up next, is at 10:00AM. Again, it’s a very rough schedule and it’s different everyday – he can be a really inconsistent napper – but, that’s what we’re doing for now. At night, instead of waking him every three hours, we put him down around 10:00PM or 11:00PM and just let him wake us up when he’s hungry.
Q: How are you dealing / adjusting with sleep change?
A: Some days are easier than others! The first week was honestly the hardest. Louie wanted to nurse so frequently and he fussed soooo much more at night during that first week than he has since. I looove sleep and I’m not someone who does well with broken sleep so, I’ve had my struggles but the newborn snuggles have made up for those to be honest. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything!
Q: Have you tried sleep training yet?
A: I have a sleep trainer, Ashley, and am following her advice. It’s definitely not too early to lay a strong foundation for sleep when they’re newborns so I’ve been so thankful for her expertise!
Q: What prenatal vitamins did you take during your pregnancy?
A: I took Ritual vitamins for most of my pregnancy and absolutely loved them. They are made out of completely traceable ingredients and never once made me feel sick. Enjoy 10% off your first three months with code HALEY!
Q: What has been the best part so far? And what are most excited about?
A: There isn’t just one ‘best part’.
+ seeing who Louie looks like
+ seeing John as a Dad
+ nursing him
+ when he calms down when I bring him to my chest or up to my neck
+ baby yawns
I could go on but you get the idea. This season is so special and I am trying to drink up as much of it as possible.
Q: Do you think Louie will have a British or American accent?
A: I definitely think he’ll have a British accent as he’ll be exposed to more British accents than just my one American accent at home. I think you assimilate to what you hear the most.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for new parents?
A: Oh gosh, I truly do not feel like I am seasoned enough to share any tips.
The only one I’d say is one I am trying to embrace myself. It came from my midwife, who came for her last appointment with us yesterday. She said ‘As the parent of Louie, you get to make the decisions that are best for him, you, and John … no one else. And once your decisions are made, stand firm in them and move forward. No one can tell you it was a bad decision because it wasn’t their’s to make.”
As someone who would rather not debate with people, I loved that advice.
Q: How did the boys react to their baby brother?
A: They were very intrigued by him at first. They were so perplexed by what he was but excited about him at the same time. They seem to instinctively know to keep their distance and to be careful around him, which is really sweet. They have recently started to slowly walk up to him and sniff his face or head. We give them a lot of positive reinforcement so they know they are doing a good job being gentle, etc. I have videos – I need to put them together for you guys and share!
Alright, those were all the questions I was able to get to this time. Thank you all for loving Louie with us over the last month. We are so in love with him and can’t wait to see how he develops and grows from here on out. I just hope time slows down because the last month has literally flown by! xo.