Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beautiful, Messy, Challenging Newborn Days

(Mental picture for you, the reader: I'm sitting at the computer with My Brest Friend (nursing pillow) strapped around my waist. My shirt is off and the flaps on both sides of my nursing bra are open, the better to air my nipples. My tiny newborn lies stretched across the nursing pillow, her mouth working at my right breast as her bottom half lies naked and exposed on top of a clean diaper, the better to cure her diaper rash. A giant, mysterious wet spot dries on the couch. Turns out it was milk that leaked out around my breast pad during my brief nap...)

I am loving every minute with Calliope. I wondered if I would find the newborn period tedious, because my days with well babies in the NICU were boring. But I don't. I am deeply treasuring this time.

Calliope rarely cries (except for during today's photo shoot, when she was just miserable with fatigue). Yes, I know this pleasant personality might change! Hoping for the best. She is bright eyed and beautiful and nearly always content. I feel so lucky!

I was prepared for breastfeeding to be difficult, especially because my sister really struggled with it, not just with her first, but also with her second.

But Calliope latched on easily in the delivery room (assuming the dive-bomb position onto my breast) and has been going strong ever since. I had some nipple pain at first, and engorgement was plenty uncomfortable! But she knows what to do, and now my breasts have softened up considerably, and I see her cheeks growing rounder by the day, so I know she's doing well with nursing. I feel so fortunate! I've been shocked by the pain and difficulty that other women have endured in their attempts to breastfeed.

I also fully expected, or at least feared, postpartum depression. So far, so good on that front as well.

The only difficulty I'm having at this point is physical. I'm shocked by how bad I feel, physically. I don't know if it's influenced by how much blood I lost, or if this is normal, but it's certainly a big surprise to me, either way.

Today I called the midwife because I felt shaky and weaker than I've felt since the first twenty-four hours. It turns out that I was dehydrated, and drinking took the shakiness away. My energy was a little better at first, but our newborn photo shoot (and Calliope's unhappiness during it) left me entirely drained. I got dizzy just standing up with her in the Moby in my bedroom. Later in the afternoon, I was afraid to walk with her to the changing table. Luckily I had a friend with me while my mom went to a show... of course, if she hadn't been there, I might've napped, which would've helped.

My desire to eat continues to be less than it ought to be, and I know that is contributing to my fatigue and weakness as well. I'm wistful, watching Calliope's former home melt away, even while I'm enjoying my newly slender feet. Who knew I had such elegant foot bones???

And I'm sad that I've decided to go "home" with my mother. I want to be here in Brooklyn, getting started on my life together with Calliope, but after today, when I feared I was too weak to even ride in the car with someone else driving... it seems like I don't have a choice.


  1. I'm so glad you decided to go home with your mom, Abby. I know exactly how you feel about wanting to start your own life together with Calliope, as well as the extreme comfort of being in your own home. After my c-section (with extreme blood loss almost needing a hysterectomy ... ugh) I was still loathe to go stay with my parents at their house. I just wanted to be home. I am fortunate that they live only 30 minutes from me and they are both retired, so my mom stayed with me at my home for about 5 weeks straight. But had she not, Abby, I would have never survived. Well ok I would have survived, but it would have been difficult.

    It's hard when you are so used to taking care of everything for yourself and by yourself. But now you have another person to take care of, and look at you nestling full into mommy-bear mode by realizing that for her safety and well-being as well as your own you need to do something you may otherwise not do. Good for you. Let your mother mother you. No matter how much she annoys or drives you BSC, she obviously loves you. These precious weeks with her granddaughter are ones she will also never get back...think of them as a gift to her as well.

    Also know that you life with Calliope started over 10 months ago when you became pregnant with her!!

    Good luck and safe travels!!!

  2. Congratulations on your beautiful little girl!

    I know you don't want to eat - but if you want to keep your milk supply up, you must. Make yourself do it - don't worry about what you're eating right now, just eat what sounds good (or at least not bad) and keep water with you at all times. You'll feel better, really. And try to take at least one nap a day. If you hadn't just had a baby, you'd be expected to be getting tons of rest after what you just went through. Don't neglect yourself out of love for your sweet little girl, she needs you too much!

    I had tons of help my first few months, and like you I didn't really want to have the help, but I wouldn't have made it without it. It's a good thing, to share this time with someone.

  3. That does sound a bit scary about feeling dizzy and shaky. Sounds like you made a good decision about going home with your mom, though I hear it doesn't seem too appealing right now. Do you know about how long you'll stay? Great job on the breast feeding! Would love to see pics of Calliope with her new rounding out cheeks if you get time (no worries if not, I know you have lots going on!). Sending caring thoughts. I'm loving reading about your journey, as I sit here in my third two-week-wait after starting ttc again (this time with a partner).