I've been a mom to a newborn (vs. mom to a baby in belly, which is still a mom) for a little over 5 weeks now. This is a summary of how it's going so far...
Physical Recovery: As I mentioned several times on the blog, I had a bit of a rough physical recovery. I had a bad tear, plus a case of either mastitis or a bacteria infection or possibly both. I finished my antibiotics last Monday, so I'm just praying at this point that the 104 fever does not return! Overall, I'm doing a lot better though. I can pretty much walk normally and I only struggle when I'm sitting for way too long or sitting on a super hard chair. I returned to yoga yesterday and I felt great the whole class. The fever has not been back since the antibiotics and the bacteria was gone from my blood at last check. Fingers crossed this remains! Also, on a less serious note, I continued to be itchy for about 2 weeks after delivery (much less than while pregnant but still there), that seems to also be gone. Wahoo!
Emotional Recovery: The morning after I gave birth to Max, I woke up with silent tears running down my cheeks because I was in so much physical pain. But I am happy to report that my emotional meltdowns have been few (they have happened though) despite the hormonal shift and sleep deprivation, two things that usually lead to making me a bit of a mess. In fact, I have felt quite stable since giving birth and I am very thankful for that. I guess the best way to sum up how I feel is that 85% of the time, I feel great about being a mom and having an adorable baby. I enjoy the cuddles. I am impressed by how much we are still able to do even with a baby (while knowing all these restaurant visits will not last, ha ha). I enjoy talking to Max, giving him kisses, listening to the cute sounds he makes, and reading books to him. 85% of the time, I feel so happy that this is where my life is right now. But, there are times when I feel tremendously overwhelmed. There are times when I want nothing more than to go sleep for 8 hours, not wake up to feed him, not wake up to pump. There are times when it's time to feed him that I think "ALREADY?!" along with a big fat sigh that all I do is feed this child. Last week I posted the following on Facebook: "Full disclosure: it's not all sunshine, rainbows, and wine tastings. It's 2 am, I'm tired and covered in spit up. I don't want to "enjoy these moments" or hear that I'll never sleep again (that much is clear.) What I really want is to be rich enough to hire a night nurse." That about sums up how I feel in those moments.
Breastfeeding: I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding, and it's not mostly love, it's mostly hate. I knew breastfeeding would be hard, it's been hard for basically all my friends. I also know how good it is for Max, so in my mind, it was never a choice to not even try. I'm not crazy about it: Max has had formula a few times during all of my health issues and guess what? he is fine. I have said from the beginning, I am not against giving up on breastfeeding at some point. I know I will never last a year. But for now I'm doing it. I knew it would be hard, but I think I misunderstood what exactly would be hard. Yes, it's physically hard but I've been lucky that with the nipple shield, Max latches. But what is really hard for me is the fact that it NEVER, ever ENDS. I spend over 8 hours a day feeding this child, and it's not a nice 9-5 job, it's a never ending 24 hour a day battle. Max eats every 3 hours on a good day. It takes him about an hour to eat, which means that I really only have a two hour "break" of not feeding him, sometimes less when you factor in burping after, diaper changes etc. This means I literally have not slept more than 1.5-2 hours in the last month. It means I can't leave Max for more than that time either (except when I was in the hospital dealing with my own health issues). Most of the time it's okay, but sometimes, I really just want to throw a bottle at someone else and say I GIVE UP. Eric does give Max a bottle of pumped milk, usually at the 7pm feeding, but since I still have to waste time gathering all the pumping crap, pumping and then washing all the stuff, it's hardly a joyful break. Sometimes I feel like the only quality time I spend with Max is when he is attached to my boob. Sometimes I feed Max for an hour and he wakes up an hour later screaming to eat. Sometimes I want to scream back: I GIVE UP. But I haven't…. yet.
Maternity Leave: I'm taking 12 weeks off from work to hang out with Max :) Not surprisingly, I am not really cut out to be a Stay At Home Mom. I love being able to spend this quality time with Max. Plus, I can't even imagine trying to deal with kindergarten children right now when I'm really just not getting enough sleep. But I also struggle with the structure of the day, being home a lot and being by myself a lot. I only have one other friend who is also on maternity leave, most of my friends and family are at work during work hours, like I normally would be. My mom has basically been my saving grace as far as entertaining me during the day and helping me around the house so I'm not spending the day in a messy house and feeling like absolutely nothing is accomplished. I'll probably have more to say about this later, since Eric has been home a lot of the time so far and that obviously makes things a lot more fun.
Support: As I write all of this, joys and complaints, I am fully aware that I am incredibly lucky as a mom. I have been overwhelmed with help and support for the past month. Eric, not surprisingly, is a completely hands on Dad. He and Max are already best buds and I can count on him to take good care of Max, do a million diaper changes, cook dinner, shovel the driveway (a MILLION times) and keep me sane throughout. Beyond our little family, Max's grandparents are also too good to be true. My mom has been at my house almost daily helping to clean and organize, bringing me food and keeping me company when Eric is at work. Both sets of grandparents give us much needed breaks when they come over and give Max all the attention he will ever need and they have even babysat when we have had three date nights. Max is completely loved and spoiled by his aunts and uncles, who have also provided him with attention, presents and of course Caroline has provided us with priceless photos of this important time in Max's life. It goes without saying that our friends and other family members have also given us support and gifts and more support. Not one second has passed on this journey that I have not felt loved and supported by all these wonderful people in our lives. Max is lucky, we are lucky.
Photos from The Boss Baby by Maria Frazee :)