The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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My life has been consumed by bodily fluids.
Labor itself was a pretty leaky affair. There's the water and the bloody aftermath that follows for weeks on end. There was also the rush of vomit which my gallant husband caught in a bed pan with his cat-like reflexes. Now that we're home, I have so many liquids leaking out of me and onto me, it's mind-numbing. There's the milk, the spit up, the diapers, and the occasional squirt in the eye as we fumble around trying to clean under what Will likes to refer to as Charlie's "chandelier" (i.e. the family jewels).
We're still learning the ins and outs of changing a boy. Just when I get Charlie into a dry diaper and clean jammies, I lift him up to find that he's somehow peed down his back in the process. So, I change him again. I lift him up and hear something that resembles Mt. Vesuvius erupting from his behind. I change him again. I nurse him on the right side, and then realize that my left breast has completely soaked both of us. I decide to postpone any further wardrobe changes, which turns out to be a good decision, since when I feed him on the left side, his stomach overflows onto both of us. I change him again. I change myself. If you never hear from me again, it's because I've been buried alive under a pile of laundry.
Then, there are the tears. Tears of joy, sure. And at least one incredibly weepy day with many, many tears brought on by raging hormones, fatigue, frustration, and oh, did I mention the raging hormones? I cried because my mother changed our milk-stained sheets and I was overcome with gratitudeÂ—and a little bit of fear about who in the world would be changing the sheets once my mother left. I had visions of us still sleeping in the same milk-soaked sheets on Charlie's first day of kindergarten. I cried because I looked in the mirror and was horrified to see the deflated, pale, raccoon-eyed remnant of my former self staring back at me. I cried when I stepped onto the scale for the first time a few days after Charlie's birth and saw that I'd lost nine -- NINE -- of the sixty pounds I'd gained (I gained the same 60 with Julia, and lost 35 in the first two days, with the rest coming off effortlessly within a few months. No such luck this time around.) I cry when Charlie cries because he can't latch on: milk floods my breasts, which in turn become these lumpy, rock-hard bricks that he can't get ahold of. I cried the most when I was attempting to nurse Charlie in vain while Julia tried to catch my tears in her upturned palm, saying: "Oh, Mama, don't worry, I'll take care of you."
I have definitely been the biggest crybaby in the house this past week.
The breastfeeding did not get off to a stellar start. After nursing Julia for 16 months, I figured I was a certified pro. But, with Charlie, it's been taking 45 minutes just to get him to latch on, as he screams his head off the entire time and beads of sweat break out on my forehead. Then, there's the excruciating pain when he does latch on. (Think of your nipples being simultaneously cinched in a vice grip and then rubbed over a cheese grater.) My nipples are on fire. Luckily, the hospital sent me home with a prescription for All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) to help heal my already cracked, bleeding nipples, which helps a lot. Still, our house resembled a nudist colony for our first few days at home as I walked around with no shirt on. It hurt to have anything touching my nipplesÂ—even air. I met with three different lactation consultants in the hospital who assured me that I was doing everything correctlyÂ—it's just that I have sensitive nipples (lucky me). I can only get Charlie to latch onto one side, so I'm pumping on the other side. By the time I feed him, change him, pump, store the milk and sterilize the pump parts, two hours have gone by and it's time to feed him again. I literally did nothing else for a 24 hour period this week but nurse and pump.
Things seem to be looking up, though. I took Razormouth Rousmaniere to the pediatrician today for a weight check, and the little guy has gained almost a pound in three days! He is thriving. Despite breastfeeding being such a trial, it's clearly working, and that's a relief.
My cups runneth over.
Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.
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