It’s hard to believe it has been over a month since our daughter arrived safe and sound into my arms and furthermore, into the comfort of my heart and soul. There is part of me that’s under the assumption its merely a dream. A dream that I’ll wake up shortly from and find my belly is swollen with babe, I begin my daily struggle of finding shoes that will fit my swollen feet, have a complain about having cankles when being told to elevate my feet and asking the ever burning (pun intended) questions of “when is my heart burn going to stop”.
All the while wondering: how will I adjust to motherhood once again, will my mental health be okay this timeand how will Blake handle being a big brother?
Like any expecting second time parent, I struggled with the concept of adapting from 1 to 2 children and while it’s been a somewhat easy transition (I write this while in the honeymoon phase), there has also been a few hiccups in the road. While this post may not be to everyone’s taste or cup of tea, I really wanted to emphasise the importance of realizing it is not easy as you’d expect. As a majority of mamas’ feel like they’ve got to be superwoman with an extremely clean household; all the while having their mental health/emotions in check and sometimes, it’s almost impossible to have every duck in a line.
Plus, I’ve recently found the postpartum period is considered a taboo subject and challenges experienced are not spoken about. Speaking of which, one thing that has been the most challenging this time round is my breastfeeding journey with Baby O’Chunky.
While I should mention every pregnancy and baby is completely different from the next one, the difficulties I faced the first couple of weeks this time round were different to anything I’d experienced with Blake. With Blake, I had woken up from surgery with my milk supply already in force and breastfeeding was difficult to say the least as Blake was premature. As for Baby O’Chunky, not only was she closer to full term but also, I believe she had a better understanding of how to suckle from the breast.
Although I did struggle with my milk supply this time round as it had a different opinion and it took close to a week before coming in completely. Once again, I struggled with the engorgement and trying to find relief. Having been blessed and cursed with a natural oversupply, the combination of demand feeding Baby O’ and pumping were a great reliever at the beginning. I soon changed my method when I was scolded by a midwife and informed, I should only be hand expressing, wearing a tight bra and genuinely forgetting I had breasts as it was the only way my breasts would fix the engorgement.
The thought of wearing a tight bra was unappealing and something from the 80’s, I listened to the expert (even though my Gibbs gut was telling me this was information was incorrect and barbaric) and started getting hot and cold flushes at night within 48 hours of taking the advice on board. I remember experiencing hot flushes after having had Blake and merely put my elevated temperature down to my postpartum hormones regulating themselves back to normal.
A day or two of this, I noticed a lump in my breast on the way to my parents and by the time I arrived, the lump was now rock hard and extended the entire length of my right breast and was in my armpit as well. That evening was spent pumping on and off and massaging for hours on end when I noticed my milk supply within my right breast had dropped significantly, my pain was now unmanageable and I now had flu-like symptoms. I made my decision to go to the hospital when standing in a boiling hot shower and finding no relief at all, I asked my sister to take me to local hospital and it was there, I was soon be a doctor. Who kindly diagnosed me with mastitis that required immediate IV (intravenous) antibiotics and overnight stay in hospital. After asking a nurse how mastitis was caused and being informed it’s caused when the breast tissue isn’t completely emptied after breastfeeding and leads to inflammation of breast tissue.
This in turn, can be also caused by infection and symptoms include breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness in the surrounding breast tissues, fever above 38.3 degrees C (101 degrees F), flu-like symptoms (similar to Influenza A symptoms) and decreased milk supply in the particular breast. At the time of being diagnosed, there was a part of me thinking it was incorrect as I had never experienced mastitis prior and I didn’t have it. Even though I was in a ton of pain, the chills were literally multiplying by the second and yet, I was sweating profusely and I had a large red pattern on my breast.
It soon became apparent I had mastitis when I wasn’t able to lift my arm properly without it hurting, a feeling of being stabbed repeatedly in the tissue was enough to make my eyes water and my sleep dwindling as it was difficult to sleep on that side. Luckily, I live in the 21st century where I have the ability to access medical help in a developed country and as such, are able to have antibiotics that don’t allow me to have reactions to them and have a healthy outcome.
After staying in hospital for a day and two and being discharged with oral antibiotics, I was still able to continue onwards with our breastfeeding journey. Though there were several moments of wondering if I would have to stop this particular period, when it was mentioned by several medically trained experts and each time, I stated “no”. My response was a mixture of pure stubbornness because I wasn’t ready to end our feeding journey when it had only just began and I wanted the best for my daughter; but also, it was the fact I was deliberately choosing to be obtuse in the situation. Apart from this moment in time and mastitis causing me to fear my child not thriving, things have been pretty good thus far.
I believe it’s due to a mixture of a few things such as taking each day as they come and go. Our family have become professionals when it comes to managing and coping with Blake’s varying emotions when it comes to adjusting to brotherhood, which is completely and utterly normal. Though we did experienced a diplomatic situation when Blake decided to hit Seven (our cat) in the head when his emotions become too much one evening, a few days into realising that Baby O’ was here to stay permanently and my attention was now being split.
As for myself, I feel like I’m skating through life quickly and smoothly as if I’m a professional ice skater who is aiming for gold and at the same time, I’m wondering how I’m able to keep two children alive and myself at the end of the day. Either way, I’m reminding myself to take it easy and be kind to myself. Unlike my last postpartum with Blake, I’m taking it physically easier on this time and I think it’s due to not putting peer-pressure on myself to ‘bounce back’.
This was something I struggled both mentally and physically with Blake as I felt immensely pressured by society to regain my body, appear a certain way and when I wasn’t complying with demands, I was remined of what a failure my body was because I had had ‘an easy way out’ when it came to having a baby. It also didn’t help that I was struggling with my identity as a woman, career woman and now a mother and I didn’t know where I belonged. This time, I’ve identified and discovered who I am as a woman, have been able to accomplish some rather satisfying goals as a career woman (hello Seniority!) and I’m comfortable with my body.
As such, I may have completely and somewhat deliberately forgotten about the major abdominal surgery I’d just had when trying on my pre-pregnancy jeans for the first time in 9 months, three weeks after having Baby O’Chunky. Guaranteed I zipped them up with one incredibly smooth move and I proceeded to jig on the spot because I realised I wasn’t going to have to wear jeggings all winter long as I could fit my jeans and I was feeling amazed at how awesome my body was. It was only then did I realise shortly afterwards how completely and utterly different my births and recoveries were for both babies.
With Blake, I experienced pre-term labour for close to 3 weeks prior to being induced and then going through actual labour for 26+ hours prior to having my emergency caesarean for various reasons. Afterwards, I struggled to walk a few metres the day of his birth without having to pause every few seconds while grimacing and holding onto my abdomen. Even though it would’ve been an easy 30 second walk for anyone else, it took me close to 10 minutes to walk the distance.
It would take me months to gather the courage to go for a ‘mild hike’ (aka up a hill), and confidence and determination to go outside and show off my postpartum body. Merely for the fact, I still had my baby belly nearly 9 months after having Blake, I had muscle separation in my abdomen which I didn’t know how to treat, my body hadn’t clearly ‘bounced back’ as what is required in today’s mainstream media and I was still yet to fit properly into my jeans because I now sported a caesarean pooch.
This time round, my labour with Baby O’Chunky followed in similar footsteps as what I experienced with Blake and after my second caesarean, I made a vow to myself that I would be kinder and more lovingly towards my body. This meant, I wouldn’t put unlimited expectations upon myself to make my body physically attractive to someone else’s ego. Because I knew internally that while it would make them somewhat happy, it meant I would be physically and mentally unhappy with my own body and self-worth.
As a result, I’m liking the fact my stomach is still a little jiggly 6 weeks into my postpartum phase because it means that there’s still evidence of having recently given birth. My stretchmarks are still present as ever on my stomach because they’re itchy and it means they’re healing internally; alongside the muscles, tissues and fibrous material that was cut to bring my baby into the world.
I was able to fit into my jeans once again because I put it down to having a completely different birth experience with Baby O’Chunky and my body has reacted positively towards it. Plus, I’m having to be active to keep with the daily demands of my toddler and newborn; so therefore, I really don’t have the time to sleep during the day like I did with Blake. Plus, I’m one of those women who have an ‘all baby’ pregnancy and loose my pregnancy weight when baby is born.
With every positive aspect, there will always be a negative to balance out the equation.
Mine is that our days seem to be flying by!
There is a very large and selfish part of me that wants time to slow down by a lot. Not only does it seem to be gallivanting away but there’s a part of me that is aware there will be come a time where I’ll blink and have 2 grown up children. Also, I’m struggling to deal with the concept of Baby O’ being 6 weeks already and her 1st birthday is somewhat around the corner and I’ll be having to experience the same emotions as I did when Blake turned 1.
Plus, it’s the factor of having to return to work that is daunting as I’m not ready, just yet.
As to the other part of me that is curious as to what type of characteristics Baby O will have and if there will be a small slither of her father in her (at this stage, she’s 100% all me!). This side is wondering what the future will entail for us as a family, solid unit and parents. So much so, Mr. Darcy and I are both curious as to whether our learning curve will continue as parents since we’re juggling the balancing act of toddlerhood and now, newborn-hood and sleep deprivation.
So far, we’ve been able to survive the transition from 1 to 2 kids somewhat smoothly and only now, has there only been a hiccup in the road. Due to becoming physically run down and a cold snap coming up from Antarctica, I’ve developed a little head cold/allergies and have been battling my body as its been trying to have multiple asthma attacks. But like the Registered Nurse (yours truly) has prescribed, I stayed in bed for a few days and marinated within my blanket comfort and have started feeling a little better.
On the other hand, Mr. Darcy has been enjoying his bonding time with Blake as they’ve been going to the park almost on a daily or second daily basis. Not only does it allow Blake to blow off some steam while getting some fresh air, Mr. Darcy is able to be some sex magnet as he is often the only dad present in amongst a group of women. But it also allows for me to have some wind down time and be able to do the things I need to do. Like have a shower and wash my hair after some ungodly time, throw on a load of washing, attempt to have a warm hot chocolate and eat something.
This bonding time between Mr. Darcy and our children is something been actively encouraged from the background as it is something we both wishes we had growing up. It is also something we both discussed prior to having children and have wanted to change about our future. I know these little outings have helped considerably with Blake and Mr. Darcy’s confidence within themselves and when talking to others.
When Mr. Darcy and myself haven’t been at the park with Blake and breathing in the fresh salty air, the past 6 weeks have also been spent coincide with Lois and Red dropping by under the pretext of seeing Mr. Darcy and myself. When really, we know they’ve come to see the grandchildren and have plenty of hugs and kisses from them. As well as baby coos and snuggles. Not that I don’t blame them. We’ve also had Kaffy came to stay a few nights as I was feeling a little melancholy, needed an adult to talk too and I missed my sister as there’s only so much ecstatic screaming when the Twirlywoos appear on the screen that I can handle.
This time together has been incredibly nice and something I will take granted for because I’m going to be a little selfish. I think this is all that I’ve got time for as Baby O’ is making it known that it is time for a quick snack break, and I’ve got a hot (yes, hot!) coffee waiting next to me and I’m going to drink it while I’ve got the chance.
Lastly, if anyone had any advice on living with a 2 year and a newborn than I’m all ears. Please leave a message down below and I look forward to reading them and responding.