The First Two Weeks

Her eyes are finally open!

Josie will be two weeks old tomorrow.  It has been a very blessed and very tiring two weeks.  Some call it a baby moon, but that term doesn’t seem to do justice to just how taxing those first few weeks can be!  It is truly the best kind of exhaustion, but we are all exhausted none-the-less, and now that I have older children, I am realizing that the postpartum time is a true transition for them too.  Two of my children have adjusted to life with Josie with nothing but joy and excitement.  The other two love their little sister but are having a bit of hard time navigating their new roles in our family.  It will take another few weeks, and I know that by February they will all have forgotten what life was like without her.

It’s funny how after delivering 6 babies I am still learning and relearning things about my postpartum self.  I had forgotten how good it feels to not be pregnant.  Those who know me well know that I suffer from great anxiety and even depression when pregnant.  I feel an intense and wonderful transition in my mood within a few hours of childbirth.  It is as if someone is pumping happy drugs into my system, a happiness that I don’t often feel when pregnant.  After my last two deliveries, that feeling of deep joy and peace was masked by postpartum bleeding complications.  This time around I got the right medical attention immediately after childbirth and so the sudden positive emotional change has been wonderful.

I am also relearning that Dad does a tremendous amount of work in the first month.  I am on night duty and nursing duty, but with each subsequent delivery staying off my feet in the first few weeks has become more important.  That means Mr. Red has to deal with all his office responsibilities during the day, and also tend to a great deal of housework, cooking, child care, and cleaning in the morning and evening hours.  He is very tired too, and it is very easy for me to forget his tiredness when the baby awoke 4 times last night.

I am also learning about jaundice in babies that arrive early, about newborn size baby clothes (I’ve never needed or owned clothes of this size before!), and about “block nursing” for women who overproduce milk.  I am relearning how good it feels to get a new pair of running shoes–shoes that will be used for running in one month!  And I am doing all of this learning while holding a sleepy newborn baby in my arms, which is really the best way to learn.

I hope your week is off to a blessed start!

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  • Lucy

    Such a beautiful post, Red. Your openness to the opportunities for learning and growth that this moment in your life is bringing is inspiring.

  • B-mama

    Isn’t it amazing how quickly we forget these lessons, even after learning them so many times and with so many newborns? u00a0I’m fully anticipating this reality… u00a0She sure is a sweet little angel! u00a0Adorable pic.

  • Juris Mater

    Red, I can hear your joy in your words. It’s magnificent! Thanks for another amazing witness to life. You’d expect “this is old news, here we go again” from a 6th time mom. It’s the exact opposite–I seems fresher and newer and happier than it’s ever been. I think part of this is experiencing new life through the eyes of a whole family, including the older siblings.nnOh yeah, and I couldn’t believe the incredible relief not to be pregnant anymore when my most recent baby was born. I think that has gotten more intense every time!

  • Kat

    Red, this picture is truly beautiful – I think that baby Josie has a look all of her own, don’t you? She is very pretty and I’m sure that she is already very loved by all of her siblings.nWhat does the term “block nursing” refer to? I have always overproduced milk and have learned different strategies along the way, but I haven’t heard this term before.u00a0nI remember you telling me at 6 weeks post-partum with your first, that you had just walked 3 miles. At that point I had a 1-week old, and hearing those words come out of your mouth brought me such hope and encouragement. I love that you set these goals for yourself, they are inspiring to the rest of us!nI also like that you recognize all of the hard work that Mr. Red, and all new fathers, need to do. I remember thinking after the birth of my first that I would be terrified to walk out of the hospital as a single mother – it would be a tremendous responsibility and my hat goes off to all of those mothers out there who have walked this road.nGod bless all of you, Red, as you welcome little Josie into your family!

  • Right Said Red

    Kat, the lactation consultant at the hospital talked to me about it after Josie birth because I am a serious overproducer.u00a0 You basically nurse the baby on one side for 3-4 hours, then switch sides.u00a0 So if the baby wants to nurse, you just keep putting them back onto the one side until it is time to switch sides.u00a0 This technique supposedly helps with overproducing/leaking. nnI noticed a serious drop in my milk production after going GF when nursing Claire, and I have heard this from other women as well.u00a0 I have never been sure whether it was the new diet or going 6 days w/o nursing b/c I was so sick.u00a0 This time around, so far I seem to be producing less milk than with my other babies, and I’ll be interested to see if this stays true as time passes.nnAs for Josie’s look, we think she looks a lot like her big brother Charlie, but with a full head of dark hair (Charlie was bald).u00a0 She also shares his disposition as a baby, very mellow and sleepy, which has been a huge blessing!

  • Kat

    Yes, that’s the technique that I used with Caroline and it really helped! It takes your body a couple of days to adjust, but then everything is fine. I think the idea is that by nursing on one side for 3-4 hours, they are assured of getting the hindmilk rather than getting too much foremilk, which can cause upset stomach in the baby. I hope that this works well for you!nYes, I can see now that she does look like Charlie – I think that the dark hair was throwing me off 🙂

  • Amy B

    nnI am sonhappy to hear that you are feeling well. Josephine is one of my favorite names,nand I love the nickname Josie too! nnnnI amnalways interested to hear how other moms deal with the first couple months ofnlife with a newborn. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not like that time atnall, and have struggled with anxiety and depression with both of my kids. Afternthe birth of my last son, Dr. Hilgers prescribed Progesterone injections tonhelp me through, which made an incredible difference in my demeanor and mood. Inoften wish that babies came out 4 months old because it is about that time whennI start to feel “normal” again. nnnnI amnencouraged by your positive attitude and wonder if you (or the other builders)nhave certain things that help you through the difficult time? I always getnnervous about having another baby because I know how difficult that time is fornour family. nnKeep up the great work! She is just beautiful!nnnnP.S. Inlearned this time around that I too over-produce milk and block-feeding did thentrick for me as well! nnnu00a0

  • Anonymous

    I agree with everyone else! The sheer joy in your new little miracle is so beautiful and I love that amidst the exhaustion you can see the contributions your husband and children are making.u00a0nnIf we lived closer I’d lend you all my premie clothes, which my full term babies wear for the first 6 weeks :-)u00a0

  • Anonymous

    Amy, thank you for being so candid and honest. I think everyone reacts differently to pregnancy and postpartum periods. There are definitely builders who struggle much more postpartum than while pregnant. There is no need to be embarrassed about baby blues or PPD. Having help those first weeks/months after baby is born can be very important if you know that is when it will be your roughest time.u00a0nnFor me, the last few weeks of pregnancy are the worst and this time I asked my mom to come in before my due date to help those remaining days when I am ready to go off the deep end….I mean I really lose it! So, I think it is about being honest with those around who want to help or finding the help you need!u00a0

  • I agree that it is so important to be honest about how hard these mothering realities can be! While the post-partum period has not been a challenging for me thus far, both my sister and my mother-in-law really disliked the days when their babies were small. My MIL doesn’t even really like to hold little ones, even after four of her own. At first I took offense to this, but as she shared more about the depression and lack of support from her own mother that she felt when her babies were young, I came to really respect her stance – newborns take her right back to a dark chapter in her life. As for me, it is pregnancy that is so, so challenging – to the point where I dread the thought not of more babies in our family but of all those months of constant morning sickness, depression, etc. So I, too, am relieved when other moms share the truth of their stories – I feel less alone.