They say the first 12-13 weeks postpartum make up the “fourth trimester” as the baby is still very much an extension of mom while they adapt to the outside world. So much happens in these weeks in terms of change and development for both the baby and for mom.
It’s hard to sum up our experience in a neat little paragraph about what it’s been like to have a baby, so I’ll break it down into categories. This is more about my experience (versus how the baby has changed) and hopefully it resonates with others!
Sleeping has probably been our biggest challenge. I wouldn’t say Maddie is a terrible sleeper, in fact, she has had some really amazing stretches of sleep. But in the beginning, I struggled a lot with my sleep. During the first few weeks, I think it was a combination of all the hormonal changes coupled with this huge life transition (more on that below) but I really struggled with sleep. I have always been someone that needs pretty perfect conditions in order to get good sleep. It needs to be dark (I really struggle with naps during the day for this reason), I need complete and total silence, and I need to be really relaxed. Having a baby changes almost all of these things! Maddie was pretty noisy in the beginning so I was constantly hearing little sounds and reacting to them. Also, the constant variability of wake up times/ feedings would leave my body totally confused. In the middle of the night she would sometimes be up for an hour plus, and when she would finally get back to sleep then I would be wide awake. I would then just lay there and panic about all the sleep I wasn’t getting. I was also constantly checking on her/ making sure she was okay, not too hot/cold, breathing, etc.
After a few weeks this started to get a lot better. I have adjusted to having a baby in our room with us and now don’t react to every single sound she makes. Plus I think I’m just so tired that I can fall asleep a lot more easily. She has also started doing longer stretches of sleep which is huge for me, because then I can actually get a solid chunk of time asleep versus all of these continual wake ups.
I’ll be honest, breastfeeding has been a challenge and certainly has had its ups and downs. From the beginning when Maddie was born, she has never been a voracious eater. Luckily, I’ve had a great supply so we’ve had no issues there, but sometimes it feels like I’m constantly just trying to get her to eat and she’s just not all that interested.
I ended up going to multiple lactation consultants and we determined that Maddie had both a tongue and lip tie. It wasn’t incredibly severe (they actually identified it in the hospital but told us to wait it out and see if it would become an issue) but around the two month mark it had started causing issues for us.
We ended up getting that resolved but it wasn’t the immediate “night and day” difference that I was hoping. Over the following five weeks we did exercises with her 4-5 times a day and started seeing a chiropractor twice a week. I feel like over the past few weeks we have finally started to make a lot of progress. I wouldn’t say we’re at 100%, but at least 75% better which is a huge improvement. I’m hopeful during the next few months things will continue to get better as well.
Walks have been my main form of exercise during this postpartum period. I try to get out for a walk with the baby and Kenzie every day and this really helps with my mental state getting some sunshine and fresh air. I’ve done a few yoga classes and a couple of at home workouts also, but to be honest I’m usually too tired/ don’t feel in the mood to do anything very consistently. And I’m totally okay with this. This is a short period of my life and I’m just focusing on the baby/ my own health and this is not the time for me to put pressure on myself to do some sort of strict fitness routine.
The first few weeks were really tough for me. The change in hormones, the lack of sleep and the transition to life with a newborn really threw me for a loop. I was so in love/ in awe of the baby but I also felt really panicky sometimes. I think I had a bit of postpartum anxiety/ the baby blues as I would cry every day and I couldn’t really pinpoint why. I particularly struggled with the evening time and the transition from day to night. I would get really anxious about how sleep would go that evening plus I would just start to panic and think of all these terrible scenarios in my head. I constantly felt worried that something was going to happen to the baby. I also spent way too much time on google/ Facebook researching other people’s experiences. This was causing me a lot of stress because there were so many opinions about what was “right” or “wrong” for the baby. I finally stopped following a lot of accounts and realized I needed to trust my own instincts/ get advice from those around me versus constantly searching on the internet. Also, once I started sleeping again I started to feel more like myself (it’s truly amazing what sleep deprivation can do to a person). I now feel back to normal (for the most part) although I think the fact that now I’m a parent I will always have some extra anxiety!
I had been hoping and praying for a baby for a really long time and while I felt like I was totally ready for it, I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared. It is an enormous transition going from a married couple to having a newborn, and also going from being able to do things whenever you would like to now having your entire life being structured around someone else’s schedule. While I wouldn’t change it for anything, as someone who was really independent and used to doing things whenever I wanted, this was a huge shift for me. Once we got a few weeks in, this got a lot better since I could bring Maddie out with me. But for the first few weeks it definitely felt strange being pretty much confined to the house for all hours of the day. Luckily we had tons of friends and family visit during that time which helped a lot. Now, I’m a lot more used to the routine and it feels normal/ natural and I really love the time at home with her, but soon it will all change on me again as I transition back to work.
We’re now at almost the 4 month mark and things have continued to progress in a really positive way. That being said, I know that with every milestone there will be new challenges that we face. But this was an account I wrote right as I was finishing up 12 weeks. As always, thank you for reading and reach out with any questions/ comments! I’m trying to update the blog semi regularly but things are pretty hectic around here, so I can’t quite tell when I’ll be back, but I do have a lot of other posts that I want to get out there regarding preconception, pregnancy and the postpartum period so if you have any specific requests please let me know!