The first 24 hours

I’m a fourth time mama. My baby was born yesterday morning at 9:03am.

While all babies are different, I thought this might encourage you.

I’ve successfully nursed all three other babies and am starting the nursing with my first right off the bat.

Here’s what I’m dealing with even though I have plenty of experience. My babies are all tongue tied, so until I get that fixed, my nipples are really sore. I know we will face engorgement and an overactive let down.

This has been my most difficult labor and my first traumatic one, so healing will take longer… at last three weeks and up to six weeks. Even though I didn’t need a c section, it will still be long. On top of being sore up top, my bottom half is more sore than it’s every been and I’ve suffered a third degree tear which means my anal sphincter had to be sewn back together… but only superficially. It could be worse. Some women’s entire rectum is torn open. My pubic bone was impacted somehow so I can barely walk… it’s a little better a 18 hours after the birth, but the worst healing day will be tomorrow.

And I see so many moms here asking about cluster feeding. Here’s what my newest baby has done so far… which will show you how nonstop it is on day one while baby is working hard to get the milk to come in… and I already have some milk, but it’s not the big engorgement milk that will hit on day three or four.

Last night I had one three hour stretch of sleep, and a two hour stretch of sleep. I had a nap of one hour today and consider that a major blessing. Otherwise, very very broken sleep that was less than an hour at a time, with much of the night actively nursing.

12:10pm Ibuprofen (take 1 every four hours)

1:45pm nurse left

3:20 pm right nurse and left for an hour

4:30pm right

5:23-5:34pm left

6:47pm 2 ibuprofen

7:37pm and 8:19pm right

8:43pm and 9:32 left

9:45pm right

10:15pm left

11:15pm right

11:45pm left and hiccups

3/28/19

12:05am left

2 ibuprofen

12:23 and 12:37 am left (I SLEPT 3 HOURS)

3:39am right 10 min (1st bm for mom) milk in!

3:53am right football hold 10 min

4:10am left 27 min

4:45am left 15 min

4:49am left

5:24am right then left

6:28 am left (I SLEPT TWO HOURS)

8:30am first pee, 2 ibuprofen

8:35am right 25 min

9am left 30 min

9:30am left 30 min pee diaper

11:30am hair wash

11:30am right then left and sleeping

12pm left, 12:23pm left (I SLEPT 1 hour)

3:09pm right, 2 ibuprofen

3:30pm left

4:30pm right

5pm left

6pm right

So here’s what’s helping me. First of all, my mom and sister are here helping with my three kids. I’m not obligating myself to ANY housework or cooking AT ALL.

My midwife told them I’m to stay in bed a full week… like I’m only allowed to get up to use the restroom.

I sent my husband to work now, and he will take off of work after my sister and mom leave… that buys me three weeks of recovery time, which my body really needs right now.

I’m keeping my bladder empty. I was given a catheter in the hospital, and I get frequent UTIs anyhow, so I also take D-Mannose with cranberry every single morning, along with prenatals, electrolytes, probiotics, chloroxygen, herbalmeucil, and colace. At night I take Dr Schultz formula 1. These are all to keep my stool bearable while I’m healing. I can not afford to mess my stitches up.

I am doing tons of skin to skin… and I sleep with my babies, so the only reason baby cries is from wet diapers, hunger or gas, but never because he feels insecure. So some of those nursing sessions above in the middle of the night, I am able to side-lie and go into a haze of sleepy time even if I’m not sleeping. I’m better at that when I’m on my left side for some reason. I’ve always favored the left side for my babies… I think it has something to do with the way our brains read emotion. It’s processed in right brain, so your perception crosses over to left side (maybe I could explain it better, but it doesn’t really matter).

For nipple care, I’m putting some breastmilk on them and air drying. This is much more healing than lanolin. If you don’t have milk yet you could use coconut oil.

Also staying hydrated is wonderful and necessary. So before my husband goes to work I ask him for that battery of supplements I listed before.

So listen, I know not all moms have this amount of help. And I know many of you struggle with supply.

Here are some tips…

Let down has to do with how relaxed you are. Figure out how to be calm about nursing.

Every time your baby nurses you should drink too.

Keep your bladder empty.

Take a shower or bath when you need it.

Eat lactogenic food (fenugreek tea (“mother’s milk tea), lactation cookies, granola bars…)

Avoid gassy or acidic food if you notice your baby is gassy

Feed on demand

Snack when you’re hungry

Hold your baby as long as you want, skin to skin helps your body produce milk and regulate baby’s temperature too.

Don’t expect milk to really be in until day 3-4… and until then your baby will be fussy and want to stay attached to you because he’s “putting his order in” for milk to come.

If you’re pumping, that’s great, but it’s not a true indicator of how much your baby is pulling out of you. Double pumps do about 80% of what a baby will do.

Nursing is so hard. They call them tough titties for a reason. Get help. Hire a lactation consultant. Get the latch right. Re-latch your baby every time it hurts. You’re both learning the right way to do this.

Kellymom.com is a great website with sound information.

If you need to supplement you could try an SNS (supplemental nursing system) before completely going to a bottle because then baby will still stimulate your supply and not get used to the quick flow of a bottle.

Check out your local Le Leche League group, and check your hospitals and midwifery groups for free breastfeeding support groups. These mom friendships will really help you with much more than only nursing… but also questions about poop, sleep, discipline, weaning, development, and much more.

Babies love to be “on you” and expect to remain near you, especially for the first three months. Try wearing your babies – this is wonderfully freeing, and great help if you have more than one baby. I have five types of carriers and I use them at different stages past even two years old.

Here’s how to decipher newborn language:

“Neh” hunger

“Eh” burp

“Heh” discomfort

“Eair” gas

“Owh” sleepy

Lastly, if you cannot or don’t want to nurse, please toss the guilt aside.

If you don’t have as much help, then pick the things on two ends of the spectrum. Pick the things that stress you the most that you can creatively fix… think outside of the box for them, really work hard on finding these solutions… figure out what you can compromise and tell yourself to be okay with it. Pick the things that help you the most and really prioritize them.

For me, my food standards for my kids disappear. Since I have others caring for them, whatever makes it easy for them is what goes. I buy premade snacks, processed food, and all the things I normally wouldn’t do to make it easy for them. I use Instacart so they no one has to shop or leave to get the food.

My home organization standards fall. I’m not cleaning right now, or doing laundry.

My social requirements disappear. If people are here too long, I politely ask them for privacy to sleep. My sister and mom both suggested I start walking around- I reminded them both what my midwife said, which was three weeks bed rest with the first week only going to the bathroom. Otherwise I’m to stay in bed.

The things I need the most are to heal my undercarriage, to nurse my baby, and to stay nourished and love on this new baby. ALL my energy is going here and no where else. And I have NO guilt or frustration in other places – this is a choice… because I could bend and sway these choices. But I’d pay for it, and so would my new son, so I don’t.

I hope this helps some of you to set some wonderful expectations of yourselves and your babies and your family.

Get strong and stay strong. Some of you have tough families with blurry boundaries. Make decisions that are right for you and don’t feel you need to explain them. At the end of the day, you answer to God, yourself, a significant other (for some), and your baby. No one else has to live with your choices, do they? So be a tough mama, and love strong and love well… this includes loving yourself and finding grace for yourself. This will happen all of motherhood. Grace is a big word that you need to learn to love. Forgiveness is another one. Start with you and let that kind of depth of love permeate to your babies, and you will walk beautifully in motherhood.

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Minicooper 4

Hi little one! I can feel you kick now! So exciting! Mama loves you!

I already dreamt you were a boy! We get an ultrasound Friday to see you again!

Xoxo,

Robyn

Apollo

I let you go Saturday little buddy. It was such a hard decision. I prayed the Lord would just take you in the night. You were my best little companion.

I haven’t let myself cry since Saturday, but I guess it’s time to write about who you were to me.

I got you after my dad died, in the aftermath of the tumult. There there many times I held you and cried. You didn’t know why I was crying but you were just my little snuggler. You helped me welcome all my babies into our family and You loved playing tag with my first cat Willow. Then you welcomed Zappa into your life with ease. You hopped like a bunny as a puppy and I loved your tiny fluffy happy body. You read my moods and fit in perfectly. When I picked you up, you jumped up into my arms. You never took a treat from my hand. I always had to put them on the floor for you to sniff them alone.

I carried you with me everywhere so proud to have you with me.

You loved your toy duck and you were so funny with him Jolie got you another one just like it. You were the most well-behaved dog in your puppy training class. Even the mean dogs liked you.

You didn’t complain about anything except at the end. You must have had back pain and some arthritis. I’m sorry you had any pain at all Apollo. You were a silent sufferer.

You went on all our road trips with Stinky. You didn’t like that we got her at first, but she kept you good company, didn’t she?

You didn’t like dog parks. The dog fights scared you. When you were scared you sat right under me between my feet.

You used to love being groomed. You used to fall asleep as I brushed you.

I miss you a lot, and so do the kids.

Kade says how you were so fluffy. And Micah says he will miss your sweetness.

Love you so much.

A strength and a weakness

I’ve known for about 12 years that our greatest strength is our greatest weakness too.

My firstborn is strong. He has always been strong. His feelings are big, and he carries his intensity on his sleeve. The worst thing you can do for a personality like this is to ask him to hide or tame his big, big feelings. Instead of stuffing our feelings away, we have learned how to use them and articulate them. This word “articulate” is a big word for a little guy who is not even 7 years old. But we were all made differently, and this 6 year old can handle needs these big conversations.

Tonight we went to go get a fish. What an exciting fun thing to do as a family! Getting a pet is always fun! When we got home it was reading time and time for our evening routine. I had told my kids earlier they could have ice cream for dessert, but by the time they remembered, it was almost 10pm. No ice cream is served that late at night in our home.

The tantrum ensued. Stomping feet, crying, slamming fists, and a grunting attitude. My 58 pound son had feelings so big he lost control. We have all been there.

In the midst of the mess, I told him to go try again, to go get his discipline from dad, and gave him a warning about his attitude. We adults do our best not to lose our own tempers. It is uncommon for us to raise our voices in our home. A stern look, a stern voice… yes. But more often, just the issue of some kind of discipline followed by prayer and a discussion about what happened.

Tonight’s discussion was long. He said some things that concerned me. Here’s how I handled it.

I gave him examples of when I’ve felt the same way as him and when my response stank too. I helped him form words about how he felt. I named the behavior that we don’t accept and have him some alternative options he could try in the future: a respectful appeal… something he learned about all last year – he knows what this looks like.

I reminded him that we don’t make decisions about our behavior based on our feelings – we ask the Lord what we should do about things.

I reminded him about the great power the Lord has given him, and how he needs to understand that power.

I told him what it meant to have the heart of a parent, and how that means I feel all his feelings twice as big as he feels them. When a child feels joy, we feel twice as much. When a child feels pain, we feel twice as much.

I counseled him to ask the Lord about his position in the family and what that means about his behavior. He asked the Lord and the Lord told him that his position in the family is to be kind and gentle: this is a reflection of a phrase we often repeat in our home. I told him the special position of a firstborn as the lead child, and the place that holds in a mother’s heart.

We discussed how the attitude of one person impacts the experience of those around him. I used myself as an example.

I enlightened him on the strength of a mother’s love, and that a mother’s love surpasses that of friends and even a child’s desires. We talked about the danger of always giving a child what he wants, and how children have a limited view of what’s right for them. We discussed how many adults have not learned these basic lessons, and so they go on making poor decisions in their lives. We imagined how I would feel and how he would feel if he didn’t know how to make good decisions as an adult and how limited I would be to help him if he didn’t seek council. I allowed him to recall how many times I call my own mother for council and understanding even though I’m an adult. We even talked about how parents are not always around all the time, and how I can no longer ask my dad questions because God took him to heaven. I reasoned with my son, that this is why it’s important to learn as much as possible now.

We discussed the signs of addiction to food, and that food does not control us. And how he will need to make decisions his whole life about how things of this world will not control him, and if he starts to see signs of that control on his life, that it’s a sign to make a change.

I talked with him about the decision set I used to provide him with the right answer. He wanted a detailed understanding. We even discussed negotiation skills, and how good negotiators make reasonable requests. We also discussed how the tantrum changes my decision set and how the tantrum changes my available choices.

I talk often about my duty as a parent to my children. I want them to understand they don’t live under an arbitrary system where we impose rules and boundaries for our convenience and preference alone. Even last night we discussed how God sets the standard and I need to make adjustments based on His standards. Likewise how children need to come into line with their parents, because hopefully their parents are getting their boundaries from the Lord.

We noticed together the ways in which his character is already developing well now even though he’s only six. And how through repentance, he is a real man of valor and victory, and can stand righteous and blameless before the Lord. He tried naming people who didn’t make mistakes. I had to remind him the best people from the Bible were full of mistakes. God loves them because they sought forgiveness and truly desired to be more like God.

He told me he was mad and sad at me. I said, I understood. I told him if he’s still mad at me then he needs to ask the Lord to help him tonight. He asked me to worship God. Since it was 10:30pm by then, I told him I would pray for him instead.

I prayed a prayer that addressed and blessed him in a special way. For the anointing of a firstborn, for supernatural strength for self control. We mentioned things we were grateful for, and prayed for help for hard things we are going through. He learned we have to put our dog to sleep today. It will be a tough weekend for us. We asked the Lord for help.

Today, praise the Lord, we learned about the character traits of determination. Determination is enduring hard things for future achievements. The Lord gave us an object lesson tonight.

The Lord is perfect in His timing.

I feel sad to have to work through something hard like this, but I feel fortunate that now we can use words to help understand each other.

This parenting gig is hard. If we are already having these conversations now, I just wonder what they will be when he is 15 and 16 years old! Or even when he’s working his way through a broken heart. Oh my stars!

The smartest pairing ever

Food is an intrinsic reward, and it doesn’t have to be sweet. Another natural reward is being able to move onto “the next thing”.

I have worked hard this summer on our habits. I think I can confidently say now we’ve built a few, and I thought they might help you in your home.

  • Tidy up before X – children must do a tidy up before moving on to a meal, to the next activity, to outside the house. I have consistently required a tidy up.
  • Morning five – before breakfast, you must floss teeth, brush teeth, wash face, comb hair and make your bed. Even my 3 year old (almost 4) knows this routine now. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it has taken us this long to get to this form of order, especially on the hygiene things. I have insisted on it now.

Now I’ll share some behavioral habits we’ve formed.

  • Mop the floor – if my kids flick food on the floor I clap my hands and celebrate the fact that they have the privilege of mopping that night. Yipppeeee!
  • After a fight, we’re routinely apologizing, naming what we did and asking for forgiveness. But we’ve also added this: “God gave me to you as a brother. My job is to help and protect you, to respect and love you.” We chase that with a “brother hug”. We talk about what should have happened instead of whatever response was given, kind of like having a do-over.

That’s all! I hope that helps you!

These are some of the smartest behavioral triggers you can form in your home for your children!