Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weeks 5 and 6 Postpartum: Soon To Be Free

These last couple of weeks post pregnancy are the worst.  In a sense one feels as if she should be back to her usual self.  It would be nice to have the household under control again.  Meal planning is in complete chaos partly because there has been no order to how meals were done the last month.  I am so blessed that things like meal train are there.  Thank you to all my friends who brought us a wonderful meal.  It helped the family out so much.  Let's also say that cleaning up the house has been a task to task and day to day experience.  I finally cleaned my kitchen floor for the first time in about five weeks.  Bathrooms are getting cleaned when I cannot stand the sight of them (around every 1 and half to 2 weeks) instead of once a week.  Laundry is a daily task and with double the diapers this has to get done.  I have around two to four loads of laundry of these is always diapers.

Speaking of diapers, having such a big little one has made me think twice about homemade diapers.  If it was not so much fun, I would be frustrated that little Bria has already grown out of all of them in five weeks.  Some of the covers still fit, but lets face it, newborns grow fast.  Now I am trying to find some time to make some new diapers.  Beware that if one starts to make cloth diapers it is way too addictive.  I love picking out the colors and trying to make my own patterns.  You know you have a problem when you are scouting out your house for old fabric and picturing it as a diaper!  It is just so much that is practical and even a form of recycling.  I just love it.  My new diapers will be is fall colors, even though it is almost winter.  I got PUL in burnt orange, moss green, and my favorite plum (for something a bit baby girl).  I am still focused on gender neutral colors because there is that chance we will have another baby.

I still think in terms of what will I need to keep for the the next one--baby that is.  Even though we have five it is hard to imagine no more.  In my mind I have always thought six kids would be perfect, but in reality who gives birth that many times?  Now that I am almost there my thoughts are, what happens when I have six kids.  How are we going to make it with five kids?  God always has a plan and provides for us, but it does not mean that we have everything together.

This had been one of the hardest transitions yet.  It is equivalent to having our first child in a lot of ways.  I feel like our finances are stretched in ways that feel almost impossible (even if it is not true, or maybe is).  Sleep makes no sense anymore.  There needs to be some order to our home but I have not found it yet.  Usually I have figured things out by now.

Why are things so difficult?  For a lot of reasons really.  My husband just changed jobs and it should be good, but it will take some time.  Our house is full of kids...really full.  I wash clothing and I am still figuring out where to put it.  As kids grow out of things I know I need to store a lot of the clothing, but that just takes up more space.  I hate clutter, even if it is useful stuff.  Without the funds to redesign our home, creative solutions to all the mess is a must.  I imagine that will be one of my projects to come.

Now that I have been pregnant five times in seven years it is hard to imagine a world where I am not expecting a new child.  This is the first time I cannot picture what to do next or dream that I could finally have my body back...maybe not exactly how it was, but close to how it was.  What did I look like before anyway?  People in my life now have not known me not pregnant.  Isn't that a crazy thought?  Well my family, but they do not count.  I wonder if I will make it two years or longer this time.  How will I be different as a parent this time around?  I look forward to answering some of these questions in my new blog- The Liberal Arts Housewife.  Hopefully I will start this soon, but we'll see.  I am still getting used to having five kids.  :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Week 4 Postpartum: Nursing With One Breast

I have been able to nurse all of my babies with only one breast.  Learning about the breastfeeding process before attempting it myself helped me through some of the rough patches.  If I had not realized that babies create the milk supply for themselves in the first four weeks of nursing, then I might have given up.  With my first child I was watched very closely.  My baby was 5 lbs 4 oz, so there was concern for his growth right away.  It took about three days for my milk supply to show up even with constant breastfeeding and pumping milk in between feedings.  I felt like a human feeding machine and my life would not be much more than that for a long time. 

During, the many hours I spent pumping milk and feeding, I thought there was something wrong with me and this would never work.  What if I would have to give up breastfeeding?  I really did not want my child to have formula.  Little did I know that a lot of people with little babies, c-section babies, babies struggling with weight gain, and many others find themselves doing exactly what I had to do to feed my child.  Most of them went on to be successful breastfeed babies.  Just because I only have one breast does not mean I would not produce all the milk my baby would need.

What really makes breastfeeding different with one breast?  When the milk comes in if there is any breast tissue left on the mastectomy side, one might start producing milk.  I know because every time I feel the milk let down sensation when I am feeding my baby, I feel it on the side with no breast near my armpit.  With the last three babies I have noticed some milk streaming out of my pores on that side.  I am thankful for not getting an infection, but this has been slightly unpleasant at times.  Since the baby cannot get to the milk I have felt sore and swollen for the first couple of weeks after delivery.  Heat packs and cold cabbage leaves have worked well to get rid of the pain.  In the winter I prefer warm cures.  To make a heat pack one can sew a small square of cloth filled with rice and put it in the microwave.  I have also used a hot water bottle.  All of these things work well.

Another part of only having one breast is feeling really unbalanced by the milk side.  I did not realized I could get a prosthetic, covered by my health insurance, while I am breastfeeding even though I have had reconstructive surgery.  This has really helped me with my last three children.  Instead of gaining one or two cup sizes, my one breast is up three or four ( I have lost track at this point).  All I know is it is hard to not lean to one side causing back pain and making it difficult to keep good posture. 

I would have also loved to know several babies ago that the insurance would also cover the cost of two bras, which in some places, one can even get nursing bras.  This last time around was the first time I found this out.  Not only was I fitted for a great fitting prosthetic, I also was able to get nursing bras.  The lady in the shop will even sew in a pocket int the bra to hold the prosthetic in place.  If you live in the Seattle/ Tacoma area (or even in Olympia) check out Judy's Intimate Apparel.  I have never received such helpful and relevant service.  (They also do just nursing and regular bra fittings too and have a bunch of obscure sizes.) 

Apart from my many struggles with the nursing mastectomy figure, my babies have done really well eating.  I have had children fall off the growth chart, but I think I would have always had children that were smaller than American averages.  The only baby I have struggled to get latching properly is Bria (my 5th child).  It does not matter how many children a person has, breastfeeding can be different with all of them.  After a day of trying to teach her to latch by pulling out our bottom lip a bit or forcing her off the breast and letting her try again, she finally became a pro.  She is still picky about how I hold her during nursing sessions, and I still need some light for night feedings, but we are doing well.  In one month she has gone from 7 lbs 11 oz., to 7 lbs 2oz, gaining all her weight back, and is now 9 lbs. 2 oz.  Great work Bria. 

Even if breastfeeding is pain at first it is worth it.  After about a month, one hardly realizes that it was hard.  I can also say that I have almost forgotten having sore nipples, or the fact the afterbirth pains from having five babies close together were terrible for four days after delivery.  I love being able to supply my baby with all the food she needs and plan on feeding her for as long as she wants to nurse.  I have had a baby nurse as little as eight months (due to a new pregnancy I lost to much weight and was advised to stop nursing) and one that wanted to nurse for two years.  My other two kids nursed for about fourteen months.  Every child is different.  All I know is that Bria and I are enjoying breastfeeding so far and I expect she will for many months to come. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 3 Postpartum: Post Baby Look

The days of wearing pajamas day and night are coming to an end as I am really starting to recover.  Thoughts of leaving the house are actually entering my mind again.  I even made it to church last Sunday.  It is crazy how somebody who really loves to be social can feel so attached to home these days. Now I have to start thinking about what to wear again.  Every woman likes to think she doesn't care and maybe some really do not care, but I have to say I do.  As simple as it sounds I feel better when I take some time to get ready for the day. 

So here I am putting off taking out my regular clothes.  This is the first time I don't really want to know if my jeans fit yet, or if I can pull off wearing a top that does not belong on a pregnant woman.  Unfortunately, I have gotten sick and tired of maternity clothing too.  There are two pairs of jeans that I can wear and not feel like I am still pregnant and the maternity tops are starting to make me feel three to five months pregnant again.  "I have been through this before," I tell myself when I am frustrated with what to wear. 

I wish I could just give birth and not think about the next several months of shedding baby weight, but it is impossible.  After being pregnant several years in a row, I know it important to stay healthy and stay in shape.  My kids are quick on the move and one needs to be capable of running after them. 

The first month after birth I like to think of as the do not stress too much month.  Embrace weeks of rest and when one feels up to it, consider a little bit of walking.  If you are like me, this stage goes on for way too long.  I find myself longing to workout again because when I start to feel better, I want the full use of my stomach muscles back and I want my legs to be strong again.  These are the places that get hit so hard during pregnancy and labor.  Even after preparing my body for several months, there is no way to easily bounce back.  Nine months of pregnancy equals about two years of recovery.  I have never had a full two years of recovery, so maybe I need close to seven years of recovery?  Does it even work that way? 

When I hit the second month I will start using "Post Natal Rescue with Erin O'Brien" and when this starts to be easy around three months out I like to add in "The New York City Ballet Workout."  This is not to much stress on the body and one can skip the floor work and just work on standing moves.  It is great for the stomach muscles and legs.  Then there is more walking a more difficult workouts to tackle.  Maybe even some running when one feels stronger.  I am trying to enjoy the month I am in, but also looking forward to what is ahead.

No matter what the case is, do not get down on the extra chub taking over post baby delivery.  It is normal and I do not know anyone who likes this look.  Clothing will fit again and pj days will end.  Someday I will wear my favorite clothes again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week 2 Postpartum: Lack of Sleep

This has been a full week of sleeping very little at night and trying to catch up with odd naps when my baby is sleeping.  She sleeps great most of the day so I can take a nap in the morning or the afternoon or recently I have just been sleeping in until eight A.M.  There was a time in my life when eight A.M. was actually early for me, but those days were gone after I gave birth to my first child.  So here I am hoping I am averaging about six hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period of time.  I seem to be functioning and not too overly emotional.  Thanks to my loving husband I have been off the hook for most of my motherly duties and I am soaking up a lot of the rest and relaxation still.  He will probably be picking up more work this coming week, but it worked out well have a baby so close to Thanksgiving, so there is even more time to rest.

With all my  great 'free' time, now I use this lightly since I am taking care of an infant around the clock, I keep picturing recipes I want to make and projects I want to work on.  It is like I am back in the second trimester of pregnancy where I need/want to nest as much as possible.  Now that my baby is here and I know she is a girl I want to take care of all the stuff I did not want to do before I knew the gender of my child.  I am caught up in designing headbands and fun girl extras.  My mind is back to pink, it is not difficult to be back to pink since my last baby was a girl too.  I am enjoying gifts people did not want to purchase without knowing the gender of our baby too.

In the back of my mind I know that this first month, recovery month, will be over faster than I can imagine.  Bria is already starting to look less like a newborn and more like a baby everyday.  It is hard for me to admit I need to slow down and just enjoy this time.  This time around my body is forcing me to since I cannot really lift my two year old or even my sixteen month old without feeling some pain afterwards.  Let's face it, we were designed to lift our newborns right after birth.  House work does not seem to be a difficult, but I know I need to wait on many of the tasks I would like to be doing.  If the kitchen floor is not spotless, that is not the end of the world.  If the laundry gets backed up, it bothers me, but not really anyone else.  I like to be ahead of the mess, but that is not as important as I think it is. 

I tell myself this just as much as other people, ENJOY the will not be long before the expectations of motherhood will set in again.  :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week 1 Postpartum: New Life

The first week after having a baby is the work your way back into reality week.  I have been holding my baby for a week now, but I still cannot believe she is no longer in my belly.  I feel like I was pregnant forever and holding her in my arms should be more real, but it is not.  She is beautiful and sweet tempered.  In so many ways I did not know what I was expecting, but she seems to fit what seems natural to me at his point (if that even makes sense).

Nights are long, filled with lots of awake time for baby.  She sleeps though my four other kids crashing around and as soon as it is quite she is alert and ready to go.  I have gotten used to this routine since all of my kids have gone through it.  My husband and I take shifts in the night, but he always makes sure I get as much rest as possible.  I do not know how he has so much energy, but he knows my body is still healing from the birth.

With my first few children it did not seem long before my energy was back up to normal speed.  Maybe it took about ten days.  This time, I am in the middle of that ten day window and feeling wiped.  I have had five babies in seven years and my body is telling me to enjoy the rest for as long as I can.  I am loving taking naps throughout the day and I am thankful my husband can work for home while I recover.  It is fun to have meals presented to me and laundry washed and ready for me to wear.  Mom's do not get this princess treatment everyday.  I am a mom who enjoys serving my family though housework, so I think it has been hard in the past for me to enjoy having my spouse serve me in this way.  He has really been such a blessing this time and know he is working really hard to keep up with everything.

Baths are a great way to get fifteen to thirty minutes alone at this point.  I love my new little one, but let's face it...alone time will always be important and taking a bath forces me to have it.  My baby shower friends made me different scented bath salts, so my routine since the birth has been to pick a scent different scent a day.  It has been so much fun trying them all.  I honestly do not remember the last time I relaxed this much.  When my last child was born I was so focused on being recovered from it all, that I let this time of rest slip away from me.  Take my advice, enjoy resting because motherhood is a lot of work.

As we enter the second week with five kids, ( I still cannot believe it!) I think about the blessing of having such a big family.  My kids are running around playing and taking small breaks to kiss their new sister on the head.  Even my smallest little girl, only sixteen months old, is trying to be my helper by bringing my nursing pillow to me when she sees me feeding the baby.  It is so amazing to see how smoothly the transition is going.  Everyone is so loving.  That is not to say it is always so perfect, but I will take as much of this special time as we can get. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

39 Weeks and 3 Days: Bria's Birth

After the longest pregnancy in my history of pregnancies, Bria was finally ready to appear.  I know for some people it would be a relief to deliver as early as 39 weeks instead of 40 or even 42 weeks.  I have been spoiled to only be pregnant for 38 weeks in the past.  In my own defense, I am small, so delivering small babies has been in my favor.

This pregnancy has been different all around for me.  It was the first time I guessed the gender until I met my baby.  I was measuring giant by 30 weeks instead of small.  I grew out of all my maternity clothing and spent about a week and a half borrowing my husband's clothing.  All I can say is I was humbled by the fact that it does not matter how many times I am pregnant, every single child is different, so every single pregnancy is as well. 

Just when I thought I could not possibly be pregnant anymore my desire to clean the entire house finally kicked in.  It always does somehow, but this time I questioned if it would because I would usually have my home prepared for a birth a week in advance.  This time it was just hours before Bria's arrival.  My husband seemed to start nesting along with me as we finally decided to move our deep freezer out of the kitchen and into the garage.  This triggered the need to mop the kitchen floor and it all began.  Before I knew it I was dusting, cleaning bathrooms, putting our birth sheets on the bed and thinking about filling up our birthing tub.  This was kind of in faith because I was not sure if the mild contractions I was experiencing all day were the real thing yet. 

As we put the kids in bed I could tell something was different about that day.  I had a sense that I was in labor.  It always frustrated me when people would say, "You just know you are in labor," but it is true.  After so many practice contractions I thought it would be hard to "just know."  A few hours passed and things began to pick up.  One thing I have not experienced is a text book contraction pattern.  My contractions tend to be everywhere from three minutes apart to fifteen even near the end of labor.  For me it is all about the intensity.  By the time I would normally be considering going to bed, we were filling up the birth tub and I was getting into it.  Things were still moving along and I began to feel like we should tell our midwife I was in labor.

About two more hours went by before we called and requested the midwife show up at our house.  She lives about a half an hour away so I did not want to wait too long, but I was enjoying the labor being just my husband and I at that point.  She took her time coming over and when she arrived I feared my labor would stop.  This has happened to me in the past and taken a few hours to get going again.  Things did not stop, but my contraction patterned continued to be irregular.  When I was checked for the first time I was already at six centimeters, but I felt like it was all going so slowly this time.  I have also been spoiled with pretty quick labors.  This one was feeling long. (It actually was not very long, maybe 5 hours total). 

I paced around my living room and kitchen, spent time in the shower, napped for about two seconds on the bed before my contractions became more intense.  Now things were really going and I went through a stage of feeling very discouraged.  I just wanted it all to be over.  This contraction business had gone on long enough.  Finally, when things felt unbearable, I got into the birth tub with my husband.  I am so thankful he is willing to be in there with me because his presence really helps me relax through all of the contractions. 

My water broke in the tub, it felt like a balloon burst.  That next contraction was it.  I was on to the pushing phase.  Little did I know that pushing, was really going to mean pushing for me.  In the past, my five pound babies have arrived in about three pushes total.  This baby was bigger.  In fact,  I had to concentrate on controlled pushing.  My body wanted to push as much as possible, but I might have torn badly had I taken this approach.  As my midwife encouraged me to lay my head back and pant I felt a giant head arriving.  This baby would be much bigger than my others.  The body did not feel like a frog coming out of me, I had to push it out little by little.  I felt spent at the end as my midwife placed my beautiful baby girl on my chest. 

It would have been easy to think now I am done, but there was still the placenta to push out.  I had just been watching a video clips about the third stage of labor on  This is an important stage of labor that is often forgotten about.  Maybe I had been watching these clips to prepare myself to push when I really did not want to anymore.  My placenta came out pretty easily in the end, but when I was done, I was really done. 

I had hoped that I would have been able to enjoy this labor a little bit more than I did.  I know that sounds like a crazy comment, but there is something so amazing about labor even in all the pain.  It is a mystery why this pain feels great even when it is the worst it is going to get.  I remember thinking, when I did not want to keep taking on contractions,  I still do not know the gender of my baby.  This was exciting.  I always have looked forward to seeing my baby, but this time it was much more than that.  Who would my baby be?

Her name is Bria Esme Ruybalid and she was born at 5:56 am on November 4, 2011.  She was a very big baby for me, 7 lbs 11 oz and 20 inches long.  Her hair is thick and jet black, her eyes are dark brown, and personality it peaceful.  Even though I felt frustrated about waiting so long to meet her, I would not take back one minute of my pregnancy or labor.  I still cannot believe she is here and I am thankful for each moment we have enjoyed together so far.