My Fourth Trimester: Week One
I’ve been sitting down to write out my postpartum journey several times (and I have the drafts to prove it) but today feels like a good day to commit. This is the first morning since giving birth that Phoenix slept through the night (6.5 hours from 12-6:30AM) and I chose to leave him for some alone time. Typically, I go right back to sleep with him and stay in bed until 8:30 or 9.
I feel like I should back it up and kind of give you all a week by week walkthrough of how it’s been for us. I’m going to break it up to share how Phoenix was each week, my breastfeeding each week, and my postpartum healing. Today, I’m focusing on Week One.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that it’s convenient (and fun) for me to make Instagram Stories on a daily basis. I’ve been good about capturing what we’ve been going through on there and sharing it, so feel free to skip this post if it’s too redundant for you. I’m also going to be giving all the details of my postpartum healing, so brothers and dads who aren’t interested, back out now. Otherwise, keep reading!
Immediately following Phoenix’s birth, he was so calm. I’m talking, dreamy-genius-baby calm. The first three nights were rough and he wouldn’t sleep without being held. I was horrified it might be this way forever but on day four we visited our pediatrician for the first time and she recommended swaddling him, which immediately dulled his startle reflex and helped him stay asleep. We tried a Velcro swaddle but he was still way too tiny, so we ended up just cloth swaddling. That first night we tried it, he slept until I woke up every three hours to nurse. Still does!
Phoenix’s birth weight was 7 pounds 1 oz and by day four he dropped to 6 pounds 12 oz, which is normal. They mentioned his red birthmarks on his lip might be something called a hemangioma which could “deform his face”. This one comment really freaked the shit out of me and I walked out of their office sobbing. The shadow pediatrician also responded to my sleeping concerns (about P not being able to sleep without being held) by saying her first death she witnessed in a hospital was an infant to cosleeping. Did I mention I left sobbing? Sobbing.
A huge part about going with an unmedicated homebirth was the immediate postpartum benefit of being in our own house, eating our own food, and sleeping in our own bed. We stayed in our home as much as possible, and my mom stayed with us for the first three days (Fri-Mon). Looking back, having her stay was such a tremendous blessing (hi, Mom if you’re reading this).
On Tuesday, my brother and his girlfriend came up from Austin with their dog to stay for Thanksgiving. They stayed with us the first night of their visit and it was so special. My whole family booked an Airbnb for the holiday and to visit the baby, so it was hard being in recovery mode. Phoenix came 11 days after his due date, and we foresaw him being a bit older when they planned the trip.
Physically, my healing was uncomplicated and great. I was thrilled to be so empty and HUNGRY for the first time in months. I was so proud and in disbelief that my body could give birth. Sure, I was living the peri-bottle life, but my bleeding was minimal (less than a normal period) and I felt good. It was actually really hard to rest, since I felt so so good. I wanted to go visit all my friends and show off my baby! Luckily, I did rest and they came to visit me.
Breastfeeding wasn’t easy, but luckily it wasn’t impossible. My nipples did have a blister on each and latching was horrendously painful after those appeared, even after we got his latch perfect. My milk came in around day three and I sat and nursed him constantly, which I really enjoyed.
Emotionally on the postpartum side of things, first week was so hard for me. It basically had me questioning why we do anything in life if we all just die anyway. Sounds morbid but I couldn’t help but think about how we made this perfect precious baby and he would eventually watch us die and then eventually die as well. How could I have done this? I felt so guilty, like he never had a choice but now he was here and so perfect-beautiful-positively-angelic that I couldn’t help but look at him and cry. When he would get really upset and do a big cry, I would cry too. I would stare at him and think about how he might grow up and hate us, never talk to us or call. What if he moves away? How did my parents do it? How does anyone do it?!!!
It wasn’t always sadness. In fact, mostly I was just overwhelmed with emotion in general. Love, gratitude, disbelief. It was all so much that sometimes it was too much and I would get so anxious. I would cry when he would sleep too long and I would just hold him and tell him I missed him.
I was so emotionally all over the place that I felt every comment anyone made was criticism and that no one had any faith in me. I learned so much ahead of time that I genuinely felt prepared for the baby, and the knowledge was there but it wasn’t always applicable. I felt like everyone expected me to fail. I felt really lonely.
I knew these thoughts and feelings were weird but normal. I could help but it, and I was scared feeling this way would get worse. I was scared I would suffer from postpartum depression. Luckily, spoiler alert for the next post, it was what they call the Baby Blues and it went away by day 10. Whew!
*The blog app isn’t loading my photos, so I’ll upload more to this post soon. Xoxo