Archive | June, 2021

Pregnancy #4: 6 Weeks Postpartum

23 Jun

Neola is 6 weeks old today, which means I am 6 weeks postpartum. I’ve posted about my postpartum journeys with each of my other three pregnancies, so no reason to stop now!

Physical Recovery

I didn’t have any tearing or stitches, so no issues there, though I do notice that my tailbone still hurts if I recline on it when I’m slouching.

The afterbirth pains were intense again, and even the maximum dosage of Ibuprofen and Tylenol with Codeine didn’t keep them under control, but heating pads were a lifesaver. The pains lasted for 4-5 days after Neola was born.

My bleeding was never very heavy, but it did last a whole month, which got really old. I took stool softeners for the first couple of weeks, and didn’t have any issues there, thank goodness.

For the first few weeks after birth, I found it taxing to walk around or bend over much, but by about week 4, I felt my stamina and core strength getting better, and now I can walk several miles and be fine.

My ab muscles are non-existent, and I have only done a couple core workouts, so that unfortunately has not gotten much better. I notice this the most when I have to hold Neola for a long period of time — it ends up being really hard on my lower back. I was wondering the other day, “What would it be like to care for a newborn when you’re actually in shape?” I have never had that experience.

But on the whole, I have to say that the physical recovery from birth has been smooth.

Weight / Body Image

I’m about 13 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

This pregnancy has been the slowest and consequently most frustrating recovery in terms of weight loss. I still can’t wear any of my pre-pregnancy pants, even the ones that I bought around this time with my other pregnancies. My body shape stores extra body fat in my stomach, so I can get all of my pre-pregnancy pants on but some I can’t button at all, and the others cause major muffin top action and are frankly just really uncomfortable. I’ve bought a few pairs of pants and shorts trying to find something I can wear right now (so that I can stop wearing my maternity leggings!), but haven’t had much luck. I am planning to go shopping this weekend, though, and hopefully find something. I’m pretty sure this is the result of all that candy I ate during pregnancy (whoops), and maybe age? Let’s go with that.

That said, I am extending grace to myself. My body just created a human being. It’s only been 6 weeks. I know from my previous pregnancies that it takes time to get back in shape, but it will happen eventually. It’s just a season… my LAST postpartum season!

Emotional

Speaking of which, that has been the main thing I’ve reminded myself of during the past six weeks: This is just a season. It’s just a phase. This is the hardest it will ever be [in terms of physical exertion and balancing the needs of four young kids]. It will get better. We will figure out a rhythm. Life will find a new normal, where we feel mostly adjusted. Don’t worry about the things that aren’t getting done right now, or that we don’t have time for. This is just a season.

Both Travis and I have had hours or days when we can’t see the truth in what I wrote above (it doesn’t help that he’s extremely busy and stressed at work right now), but overall we’ve been able to keep these challenges in perspective, and maintain our hope and optimism.

Back when Corbin was born, I really struggled with feeling isolated, like I was always feeding a baby or sleeping while my family hung out without me. I prayed about that a lot before Neola was born, and I think God answered that prayer by making her unwilling/unable to nurse, which forced me to pump and feed her bottles. Bottles meant feeding Neola could be done by anyone, so the girls, Travis, and grandparents have all shared the load. It’s not the answer to prayer that I envisioned, but it has made the issue of feeling isolated from my family non-existent, and for that, I praise the Lord!

I’ve also been reading We Would See Jesus while pumping. I read that book several times back in college and early married life, and it’s been such a good reminder that I have access to Jesus wherever and whenever, that I don’t need to be having a consistent quiet time or praying a certain amount to have a relationship with Him. It’s also been a great reminder that Jesus sacrificed everything for me, not just some things, so I can sacrifice for my kids, trusting that God will not only provide, but bless abundantly.

My biggest challenges with managing four kids on my own while Travis is working have been 1) Corbin and 2) the messes. Corbin is a handful. We are trying really hard to have him watch less iPad, but that means that instead of sitting in one spot, he’s making messes or playing outside only God knows where. He’s hard to keep track of. Even when I take Neola outside to feed her a bottle, Corbin only stays on one side of the house for 5-10 minutes. I think that’s the biggest difference between him and the older girls — they would play in one area for an extended period of time. He is all over the place. Not only that, but he also gets into trouble. He dumped out containers of water in the garage, took off his diaper and pooped (not on purpose, but because he’s not at all potty trained) in the playhouse, rode his bike down the driveway out onto the road by himself several times (good thing our neighborhood is pretty quiet). He often plays with water and soap in the bathrooms, and gets into the girls’ makeup. He brings indoor toys outside. He puts the riding toys in the kiddie pool. He definitely keeps us on our toes!

And then there’s the messes. I have tried and tried to get Emma and Annabelle to pick one mess up before making another, and reminded them while they’re making a mess that they’re going to have to pick all of it back up. But the reality of the situation, I’m realizing, is that their energy to make a mess—I should say “get toys out” or “create imaginary worlds”, because their play is at least always intentional these days—is always going to outstrip their energy to clean it up. And then you add Corbin into the mix… the end result is that there are all manner of toys strewn in every location imaginable. Thankfully our house is tucked in the woods so I don’t feel pressured to have things cleaned up for any neighbors.

I am trying really hard for both my kids’ sake and my own sanity to remind myself that it’s ok for toys to be scattered around. It’s ok if playing hard with things occasionally results in something being destroyed or broken. My kids are making memories and using their imaginations, and not wasting their lives watching a screen all day. I’ve also been tapping into the things I learned in counseling—when I sense I’m starting to get overwhelmed, instead of flying off the handle, I calmly ask the kids to pause what they’re doing and clean up one mess. (Because, I’m realizing, it’s not messes in general that stress me out, it’s when there are messes everywhere.)

And as always, coffee is a lifesaver and consumed in copious amounts. When I am up for the day after too little sleep, a cup of coffee brings me joy and reminds me that it will be ok.

Neola Bethany: 1 Month

14 Jun

Neola is one month old! She was 4 weeks last Wednesday, June 9, and one month on June 12.

Size

Neola just had her well-child check today and she now weighs 10 lbs 11 oz (83%)! She is 21.25 inches long (50%) and her head circumference is 14.75 inches (75%).

She outgrew her newborn sleepers around two weeks, and switched to size 1 diapers at 3.5 weeks (but that was mostly just because we ran out of newborn diapers, and have a ton of size 1!)

She seems to have a longer torso and short legs like Corbin did, because length-wise, she fits just fine in 3-month sleepers, but 3-month pants are too long (and she’s apparently completely average in terms of length!).

Eating

Neola is still drinking bottles of breast milk instead of nursing. During her third week of life, she did nurse a little after a feeding to fall asleep, but in week 4, she wanted nothing to do with nursing. I’m still hopeful she can turn it around as she gets older but who knows.

She eats every 3 hours on average, but has gone 4-5 hours between feedings once a night (and sometimes during the day when I’m busy with the kids and forget to go wake her up).

She has increased her feeding amounts from 1 oz that first week, to 2 oz the second week, to anywhere from 2.5 to 5 oz the third and fourth weeks. Most often, she drinks about 3 oz. We burp her every ounce or two, otherwise she swallows too much air and spits a lot of the milk back up. She has some pretty impressive burps!

I am still pumping, and aiming to do so every 3 hours, but between feeding Neola a bottle, burping her (which sometimes takes a while), changing her diaper and possibly her outfit, and managing the other kids, it sometimes stretches to 4 or 5. The first couple weeks, I was getting 3-5 oz per pumping session, but now I usually get about 3 oz. We are also supplementing with formula as we need to.

Neola makes the funniest sounds when she’s eating — lots of squeaking, groaning, and nose-whistling. She also farts a lot when she first wakes up and gets out of her sleepsack. She’s had two blowouts so far… just today, she had such a blowout that it was literally dripping off the back of her sleeper (and onto my dad’s T-shirt 😬).

Sleeping

Neola still sleeps most of the day, but has periods of time when she’s alert and happy. I haven’t watched the clock at all like I did with her siblings to know how long she stays awake. If she’s been awake for a while and starts getting fussy, then I know it’s time to put her in her sleepsack and get her to sleep. She sometimes wants a pacifier, sometimes not. Sometimes she wants a little snack before going to sleep, sometimes not.

When she’s awake and happy, Neola loves looking around, and doesn’t protest at all really when getting jostled around by her older sisters (who treat her like a living doll). It seems we are constantly telling Emma and Annabelle, “Careful! Sit down with her. No, you may not do x and y with her; you’re just not old enough.”

Sometimes after being awake, Neola is difficult to get back to sleep or won’t let us put her down. She is tricky that way! She’ll fall asleep drinking a bottle and you think you’re golden but just a few minutes later, those little eyes pop open again. Or you’ve been holding her for a while and are confident that she’s pretty out so you put her down, but just 5-10 minutes later, she’s awake again. Or she’s out but gas pains wake her up.

If she keeps waking up when I try to put her down, I put her in the Baby Bjorn. She seems to like it for at least the length of one nap so if I can’t sit and hold her because of needing to help the other kids, then I put her in there. Honestly, if this is as fussy as she gets, she’s a pretty easy baby!

Besides the Baby Bjorn, Neola mostly sleeps in the Rock n Play, but during the day, she also naps in the swing. Overall she’s not a fan of her car seat, and will only sleep in it if she’s asleep when we put her in it.

Development

Neola loves looking around and is a pretty content baby. She has started cooing and smiling a little. She has pretty good neck control for her age, and doesn’t seem to mind tummy time (but we haven’t done a ton of it).