The first six weeks after birth

You know how people always say that nothing prepares you for having children except for having a child? People seem to move through levels of tending to a plant, then having a pet or pets. I personally had three cats and a step child from the age of two years old and still this saying rings true – nothing prepares you for what someone relying on you 24 hours a day really means until you have a helpless infant who does just that.

During my pregnancy there was so much emphasis on the pregnancy and what was coming, the expansion of my body that was housing my son’s beating heart and the various stages of sickness, tiredness and food aversion. When the focus wasn’t on the process, it was on the delivery; the birth plan, the breathing, the initial skin to skin. There was no preparation for the healing, the bonding, the sleep deprivation or the mere overwhelming fact that your life now revolved instantaneously around protecting your newborn.

Most women have quite an exhausting labour that goes on for hours followed by the enormous feat of delivering a child and then they are thrown head first into a new world where your hormones are balancing and you are trying to figure out the differences in cries and squeaks.

This was our first six weeks…
Week One

I originally had the idea to precook meals and freeze them before the baby’s arrival but due to being let down by a friend we only ordered the new fridge when I was 37 weeks pregnant – this was a non issue as it was due to arrive when I was 39 weeks pregnant and my midwife had pretty much set me up to expect to be late. I wasn’t and he was born at 38 weeks and 3 days so we lived on takeaways everyday for the first week and I have no shame.

Visitors in the first week – don’t be brave, I was and it was too much. Most of it is a blur and me feeling the need to apologise for my lack of get and go – which is stupid.

Hubby pretty much took over the first week while I focused on figuring out how to sit without being in pain! This was great because he had that bonding time while I focused on recovery. I was always going to express breast milk so hubby and I could equally feed but unfortunately I had a bully of a midwife tend to us the day after our son was born and she made me feel really inadequate and tried to force me to breastfeed to the point that she stripped my son and shoved him onto my nipple. Needless to say, I was so panicked that when we got home I gave him formula because my colostrum just wasn’t sufficient, we ultimately alternated between the two. DON’T LET ANYBODY TELL YOU HOW TO FEED YOUR BABY.

I decided to open my laptop and do some work on day 3. Too soon. Day 3 was also the day the baby blues or some form of them hit and I was left feeling deflated and questioning my capability as a mother.

Little man’s cord stump fell off on day 4! Hooray!

The cats were amazing and integrated with the newest bald member of the family seamlessly, crying and all.
Week Two

We left the house! and promised this would be a bi-daily expectation at least. We set goals for walking and started by walking to the end of the street – very challenging with healing stitches.

Fresh meals were cooked by hubby every night – a success we felt.

My stitches got infected and the last week of recovery seemed to come undone as I struggled through every movement. The doctor prescribed antibiotics over the phone and I willed them to work faster.

Little man’s passport photos were taken this week and he was registered at the doctors with his full name which seemed to make his existence more tangible.

What we believed to be baby blues evaporates towards the end of the week.

After the antibiotics had run their course and I had thanked the pope for lavender oil which I swilled in every bath, the midwife signed us off out of their care. Also, little man had his hearing test and hubby’s paternity leave came to an end…which at the time was terrifying, how would I cope without him?
Week Three

Still expressing and supplementing with formula. Entirely healed physically, stomach muscles knitted back together and stomach has shrunk almost fully. Kegels are saving my life right now.

Forcing myself to take the baby out everyday and we are going to the shops and for walks. I’ve managed to cook every night and showered everyday.

I’m not sleeping when baby sleeps – this seems impossible because I have laundry, cleaning, cooking or work to do.

I ordered a travel changing mat because everywhere we go has hard surfaces – didn’t know this was a thing and feel proud for figuring it out. I consider a baby group and then decide against it.

We’re finding a rhythm in terms of routine but I’m still feeling a bit off and I can’t place it.

Baby and I survive our first week without hubby!
Week Four

Baby gets weighed and is a whole pound above birth weight – they pat me on the back and tell me I’m doing something right but then I get judged by the breastfeeding support lady because I’m expressing and not letting my child latch. I’m only expressing 40% of his daily feeds and I do everything they say and nothing increases my supply – I’m so disappointed.

Baby gets conjunctivitis and cleaning his crusty eye multiple times a day makes my heart sore that he’s uncomfortable. He also gets a snotty nose and so we introduce saline solution and use a nasal aspirator – he screams blue murder every time we do it but he can breath so we reckon the good outweighs the bad.

I finally start milestone photos! I build a makeshift studio in the baby’s room using a duvet and sheet. The photos could almost pass as professional (I think).
Week Five

I have an emotional wobble and doubt my abilities again. I research postpartum depression like a mad women and reflect on all the symptoms. This roller coaster is really doing my head in!

I’m walking more now and feeling stronger. We have our first papoose trip and I manage to go shopping effectively with baby snug against my chest.

We have our first inconvenient sickness as little man decides to be sick as I strap him into his car seat on our way out. I’m just relieved it didn’t happen as we reached our destination and count myself lucky really.

I want to get him a tummy time support cushion which hubby says we don’t need (he was probably right) but it’s cute and has rattles on it so we buy it.

The cat’s routine is still in place and we don’t shut our bedroom door and two out of three sleep in our room. No one has tried to get into baby’s Moses basket since he has actively claimed it (before he was born, they loved it).

After five weeks of expressing after every feed and not producing enough while steadily getting more frustrated – I give up. It’s devastating and I feel like a failure. I don’t experience any pain or leak, Google says my supply didn’t engage properly – this makes me feel a bit better.
Week Six

I go for my six week check up with the GP. She asks me if I’m okay and doesn’t check over my baby like she should. I leave feeling let down and unsupported but I am back on contraception.

We stock up on the next nappy size because the time is edging every closer that the wee man won’t fit in size 1’s anymore! We have been noting his bowel movements and are really proud of him when we notice the pattern emerging – who knew things like this could be so important?

I buy more clothes for the next size up – even though he’s miles from it.

We are on the same wake up schedule every night (roughly) – down at 11 pm, up at 3 am, down at 4 am, up at 7 am. Hubby and I split the wake ups.

We have our first take away in 5 weeks.

I start gentle yoga at home which I alternate with our walks down the canal.

WE GET OUR FIRST SMILE and just like Pringles, once he popped he couldn’t stop – which is awesome because he smiles constantly and it makes everything easier.

Our youngest cat walks on the baby and nuzzles him which we need to watch out for.

I figure out that it’s okay to had bad days, it doesn’t make me a bad mom. I read articles and blogs that tell me about the first three months of the baby’s life being the fourth trimester and this somehow helps me stop setting such ridiculous expectations on my body and mind.

Wins so far for me…

  1. I have showered and gotten dressed everyday since he was born (even if I don’t go anywhere and even if this only happens at 3pm)
  2. I have left the house at least every other day
  3. I’ve managed to work everyday – even if its just the priority emails
  4. I feel like I have stabilised emotionally and hormonally

Wins so far for baby…

  1. I smile
  2. I kick my legs a lot
  3. I recognise mom and dad
  4. I slept for 5 hours straight!

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