What Postpartum Life Is REALLY Like

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I am honored to have written a piece for the Fit4Mom Blog about what postpartum life is REEEAAALLY like! You can read the full post here.

Now for an excerpt:

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had many preconceived notions about “postpartum life.” 

 

I had a vague idea about how life would change. But I intended to work the baby into MY life.

 

I knew I’d be tired, but there was no way I could even begin to comprehend what exactly I was in store for. I knew my body would probably be a little different. But if you work hard enough, I thought, your body didn’t have to change just because you were a mom.

 

Secretly, somewhat smugly, I judged moms that I saw juggling screaming, misbehaved children. MY kids would be well-behaved little adults...They wouldn’t eat junk food. They wouldn’t watch tv! I knew a bit about postpartum depression. I knew breastfeeding was hard for some. But these seemed like distant impossibilities. I was a happy, sound-minded person - I wouldn’t be sad! Especially not with a cute, fun little baby to play with! I was going to breastfeed.

 

No question about it!

 

Looking back now, almost two years later, pregnant with my second child, I realize how naive I was…how my world was about to be rocked in a way I never expected. The truth is this: having a baby is really and truly the most incredible, beautiful, wonderful, happiest thing in the world. I feel so blessed to have my son, to have been able to birth him, and to be able to raise him. But here is another truth: having a baby changes everything…

 

EVERYTHING.

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What has your postpartum experience been like? I'd love it if you'd share!

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Mommy Monday: Pregnancy & Postpartum Q&A, Part 1

Sweatshirt: ILY Couture

Yes, it's Wednesday...not Monday - I know, I know. First off, let me apologize that this post took SO LONG for me to get up! I'm sure any other mama will understand how it can be challenging to find the time to brush your hair every day, let alone write blog posts consistently...but regardless, I feel bad. I miss blogging regularly, and I'm working really hard to get back into the swing of things. But the truth is, this little man has taken over my life and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Jammies: Kickee Pants

So, if for a bit my posts are inconsistent, or even a little baby-heavy, please hang in there with me. I PROMISE I'm still here and I'm working hard to get back to a regular posting schedule. :)

Alright, without further ado, here is my pregnancy/postpartum/new mom Q&A! I'll do a few of these because I got SOOO many questions. Here is part 1.

You all sent over some GREAT questions. I told you nothing was off limits or too personal, and boy I got some tough questions! I'm excited to answer them, so let's get to it!

*Also, if you are a guy, or if you just aren't interested in reading some TMI stuff, then you best turn away now! :)*

How did you handle the daily anxieties of having a not so smooth pregnancy?

Meditation was HUGE for me during my pregnancy. I would meditate twice a day, and I would spend A LOT of time in prayer every day as well. Praying and meditating REALLY got me through all of the fear and stress and worry and frustration of being on bedrest and of my situation.

What pregnancy symptom surprised you the most?

EXHAUSTION!! I was blown away by the utter and overwhelming exhaustion that I experienced, particularly in the first trimester. Bloody noses were a surprise too.

I'm scared of childbirth and of tearing! How was your experience with this?

Believe me, I was SO SO SO SO SO scared of child birth. The thought of tearing freaked me out SO badly. I seriously had anxiety about the entire thing. I had an epidural (BEST THING EVER - I napped while in labor!) so I didn't feel a thing. Seriously, labor and delivery didn't even hurt at all for me. I HIGHLY recommend epidurals. If you choose to go natural, more power to you! That takes a lot of will power! But for me, not having any pain was just a huge blessing!! So, my point is, that I didn't even notice that I tore a bit. I had a 2nd degree tear which is the most common degree of tear. It's not a big deal and I got a few stitches which fell out on their own within a few weeks. It was REALLY sore and stung for weeks after giving birth, but healed up totally fine and was not a big deal. Now, I hear that some women tear REALLY badly - but luckily that was not my experience.

What has been the biggest challenge physically for recovery?

I have Diastasis Recti which is ab separation. Mine is so minor - less than a finger tip. But, that means that, while I got the ok to start working out again, I have to hold off on doing any ab work until my abs have come all the way back together. My doctor said that should be in about another month or so. It's been hard to not be able to do ab exercises because I'm really eager to get my core toned up.

Another huge challenge physically for recovery was just the bleeding and pain for the first six weeks or so postpartum. Basically, your whole uterus has to heal and empty itself of all of the fluid and everything as it shrinks back down to it's pre-pregnancy size. So, there is a lot of bleeding, a lot of discharge known as lochia, and a lot of pain, burning, itching, and stinging as things heal.

What are your postpartum must-haves?

Listen carefully... STOCK UP ON THESE THINGS:

~Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads

~Sitz Bath Spray

~Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray

~Colace

~Bio-Oil

~Peribottle (They should send you home from the hospital with one of these, but if for some reason they don't, GET ONE NOW!!!)

~Jumbo pads. Or adult diapers. The bigger the better. :p

How do you balance breastfeeding and working out?

I breastfed for the first two months, and during that time I wasn't cleared yet to work out at that point, so I didn't really have to deal with this. My breastfeeding and working out only over lapped for a week or two, and I wasn't really doing anything strenuous at that point. But, I've read that breastfeeding before working out, or pumping right after working out and discarding the pumped breast milk can help if a baby doesn't like the taste.

I would love to know the diet you are eating while breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding I didn't follow a particular diet - I mostly just focused on eating healthy foods and avoiding alcohol (but I don't really ever drink anyways so that wasn't very hard!!).

Once in college a professor told us after you have a baby you never feel quite like yourself or the same ever again. That always stuck with me as odd. Surely you feel different, but never the same again? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

I definitely still feel like myself after having a baby. It's not so much a matter of not feeling like myself, it's just that my LIFE and circumstances and body have drastically changed forever. THAT is the challenging and scary and disconcerting bit. I feel like the same person who has just been through something life altering: something scary and wonderful and absolutely incredible. And now I am someone's mother and that is my life now - me, Anna, the same person I have always been, just with a whole new view on life. And one that I am SO thankful for and excited about!

Maybe that doesn't make any sense. I'm not sure I articulated my thoughts very clearly there. Bottom line - I feel like me, but my life is different. My day to day activities have changed completely. My body is different. It's been a big adjustment, but I am loving my new life and I feel like the very best me, like my purpose in life is being fulfilled! :) And I am starting to figure out how to fit the things I love doing back into my new life (like blogging... ;), as well as enjoying the new things that I love doing, such as playing with my son and cuddling with him and caring for him night and day.

Alright, that is all I have time for right now. But at least I got some of the questions answered, FINALLY, right?? I'll do Part 2 sometime in the near future. As always, continue to send me any questions you may have and I promise I'll get around to answering them!

xo, Anna

 

 

Mommy Monday: 6 Things Every First Time Mom Should Know

Becoming a first time mom is simultaneously the most wonderful and the most overwhelming experience. No matter how often you hear "everything will be different", there is no way to prepare yourself for what life as a new mom is like. You just can't understand it until you're in it. Life with a new baby is hard. It's also magical and wonderful and the most beautiful thing in the world.

James is seven weeks old now (CRAZY!)! He is just the sweetest, best little boy. His smile is my favorite thing ever and he is such a joy! :) I had my postpartum doctor's appointment last Friday and I am completely healed up and good to go! I got the OK to start working out again, but was told to hold off on ab exercises for a bit longer until my ab muscles are fully back together. They are about a fingertip separated still, which is normal. It is recommended that women wait six months after giving birth to do ab work, as doing it too soon can prevent the ab muscles from coming back together. EEK! No thank you! I would like my ab muscles to re-join, please! Ab work can wait!

Anyways, I did my first postpartum workout Friday evening and it felt AMAZING! I had refrained from exercising (aside from walking) before I got cleared by my doctor because, to me, the risks of working out too soon after giving birth were just too great (I will do a blog post about these risks in the near future because I feel like they are not talked about enough!!). I also have been going on runs every day which has felt so great as well!! I am unbelievably happy to be able to exercise again. I'm sore and I love it!

Over the past seven weeks I've learned SO much about myself, my body, babies, and about becoming a mom. And I know I still have A LOT to learn!! Being a new mom is hard. Don't get me wrong, it's the best thing I've ever done and I'm truly loving every minute of it. But it is HARD. Here are some things I think that every first time mom should know:

1. You will be sleep deprived. Yes, you've heard this many times. But nothing can prepare you for the absolute lack of sleep. Newborns have to eat every 2-3 hours. But do not expect your newborn to sleep 2-3 hours at a time during the night. 2-3 hour stretches are the most incredible thing when they happen, so enjoy them! James has gotten to the point where he only wakes up twice during the night (usually) and it is so so nice. You will be woken up frequently, and you will probably be awake for anywhere from a half hour to 2+ hours trying to feed, change, and comfort your little one (who will probably be screaming or crying the whole time). You will be tired and exhausted, but your body will adapt. And it gets better. It does, I promise! So hang in there! :) The first 2-3 weeks are the hardest!

2. Your body will be different. Again, you've heard this before and it seems like a totally obvious statement. But I didn't really grasp how true this was. After your baby is born, you will look 6+ months pregnant for a few days, and after that your uterus will take time to go from the size of a watermelon to it's normal size (a pear). Your tummy will be poochy, and you may still be swollen for awhile. Everything will be squishy. You may have stretch marks. I do...SURPRISE! Mine weren't visible until after my baby was born...such a cruel joke! haha I have some pretty intense ones all around my belly button. At first I had a VERY VERY hard time with this. I was very depressed about my stretch marks and felt pretty darn unattractive what with the poochy tummy and squishiness. Add in all of the out-of-whack hormones and lack of sleep... and, well, it was very hard for awhile. But as the weeks have gone by, my tummy has become less and less poochy. I'm sleeping a tiny bit more. And I'm coming to terms with my stretch marks. Remember that MOST women get stretch marks, and they are from the fact that you carried your sweet baby. :) Be patient with your body. It's done an incredible thing and it needs time to recover and heal. You will learn to love your new body. Give it time.

3. You will love your new baby more than you thought was possible. Again, you've heard this before. But trust me, you don't understand...you will LOVE your baby... like a whole new kind of love. It's like that baby is your little person and you just will think he or she is the most amazing, perfect, sweetest human being on the planet. You'll be fiercely protective and you'll want nothing more than for that baby to be happy and healthy. When your baby cries, it will break your heart. When he or she smiles at you for the first time, it will make you melt and feel like the most important, amazing person ever. That little human is EVERYTHING.

4. Your time wont be your own any more...at least at first. And that's OK. Nothing can prepare you for how much time newborns take up. They require constant attention and care. Diapers need to be changed, babies need to be fed, bottles and binkys and clothes need to be washed, and sometimes (most of the time) your baby will just want to be held. At first, this can be overwhelming. You'll wonder how you are supposed to do this and how you are supposed to get anything else done besides caring for your baby. But as time goes by, you'll get the hang of it. You'll get a system and a schedule down. You'll get more proficient at feeding and changing your baby. You'll learn to take advantage of 10 minute naps and moments of quiet. And you'll realize that this phase of constantly needing you is fleeting and it is the most precious time ever. Cherish it. You'll have time for yourself again soon.

5. Breastfeeding is hard. Wait wait wait...it's such a natural thing, how hard can it be, right? But it can be very very challenging, both physically and mentally. Trouble with latching, cracked nipples, inadequate supply, the baby falling asleep while eating before getting his or her fill and then waking up ravenous and angry, the amount of time it takes to nurse a baby (think 20+ minutes for a feeding)... these are just some of the things that you may come up against when trying to breastfeed. If you have trouble breastfeeding, IT'S OK. If you decide not to breastfeed, IT'S OK. If you decide to formula feed, IT'S OK. If you decide to do a combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding....IT IS OK. You do whatever works for you and your baby. As long as your baby is getting fed and is growing and healthy, you do whatever is best for YOU and YOUR baby. Don't let anyone shame you or guilt you. You are doing the very best you can. It is ok. :)

6. It's ok to feel overwhelmed. The truth of the matter is, that becoming a first time mom is overwhelming. It's overwhelmingly wonderful, overwhelmingly different, overwhelmingly hard, and overwhelmingly rewarding. When you have your first child, you are thrust into this crazy new world. Your life is turned upside down and spun around a few times and when you finally are able to look around again, everything is different. Life will never be the same. It will be better. Don't worry if you feel completely overwhelmed or in over your head at times (or most of the time!). That's normal. You will figure things out. Your baby will start sleeping more. You wont always know why your baby is crying - sometimes there legitimately is not a reason (look up PURPLE Crying!). Don't stress too much! Stay calm - calm parents have calm babies, as my dad always says. :) Babies are mysterious little things, and every baby is different...but over time you will start to figure out YOUR baby. You'll begin to learn your baby's different cries and what they mean. Hang in there. Sometimes you will mourn your old self - your old body, your freedom, etc...that's normal too. It will take time to adjust to your new life. No matter how much you love your baby, it will still be hard at times. And the important thing to know is that it is normal to feel overwhelmed, or out of control, or even sad. Don't be afraid to ask for help or to talk about how you are feeling. Even writing about your feelings can help. Remember that it WILL get better. You can do this, mama!! :)

Bottom line, being a new mom is THE VERY BEST!! I am loving it so so much. Every day gets better and better and more wonderful, and I love James more every single day, which is crazy because... how can I possibly love him more than I already do?? I love motherhood, but it is definitely challenging. Which is why I wanted to write this. Because new moms need to know that it is HARD at times, but it does get better and easier and it is SO worth it. It's normal to feel all of the things that you are feeling. You just keep doing the best you can and stay strong and reach out to people when you need to!

What tips do you other mamas have for first time moms? If you are a new mom or a soon to be new mom, what questions do you have? Feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to!

xo, Anna

 

 

 

One Week

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Our baby boy was born on July 23rd - one week ago ALREADY! I'm going to do a Mommy Monday post telling our whole birth story, etc... But for now, here are some newborn photos that Ben and I took at the park yesterday! I can't believe how quickly the time is flying by already! It seems like just yesterday we were in the hospital, holding him for the first time. Ben and I are so smitten and madly in love with this little baby. Parenthood is hard and wonderful and the best thing in the entire world and we are loving every single minute of it! He is just the sweetest thing and I can't believe he's really ours. <3

xo, Anna