Saturday, May 27, 2023

Disappointment and Postpartum

Pumping, a snack, and a baby that wanted to be near mama

This postpartum period with Esther has been really really hard. The added burden of pumping and SNS feeding and breastfeeding training is grueling. I have almost given up several times. I cry at least once a day. I am tired and my self care (showering, eating, brushing my teeth and changing clothes) is a laughable mess. I am trying to create some kind of normal for my two other children but everything is a hot mess. The one person I thought I could count on (my husband) has been extremely unhelpful and frustrating, because if that doesn't describe marriage I don't know what does. Expectations have been unmet and "disappointing" describes my life, marriage and daily mood.. Massive disappointment. I need help and there is no one to help most of the time. This is life. This is the fourth trimester. 

On top of it all my husband was sick last weekend and now my kids are sick. Luckily I and the baby are fine, I think I would fall apart if Esther caught a cold at four weeks old. She's so little. But God is so good.

I have been listening to the Bible in the middle of the night as I feed Esther pumped milk. It takes about 45 minutes to pump and feed her and then try to lay her down while I wash all the bottles/pump parts and set up things for the next 2-3 hours when she will wake up again. It feels dehumanizing not to be able to nourish my own baby with my own body. I have felt so much guilt and anger over it. Sometimes at myself. Sometimes I am frustrated at Esther. It isn't her fault. When that happens I pray earnestly. I pray for her to start nursing more (she's doing 3-4 feeds a day now for 15 minutes which is great! but definitely not enough to stop pumping). I am dealing with massive oversupply issues as she is both breastfeeding and I am pumping. I am trying to cut back tiny bits of pumping and my breasts are rocks and hurt even though I am taking it slow. I try to be grateful I have so much milk. 

Some good news. Esther, at 3 weeks and 5 days old is 8 pounds 2 oz!! She is still smaller than Becky was at birth and definitely tiny. She's wonderful and I love everything about her from her toes to her fuzzy hair and her cuddles. She is a delight to my soul and worth every tear and hard moment and sleepless hour. She's still wearing newborn clothes and newborn diapers. I bought mostly 0-3 month clothes and I can't wait for her to wear my favorites but she is not close to 'aging out' of the newborn stuff. 

I have friends and family that want to come over and help but with everyone isn't working. Hopefully when everyone gets better in a day or two I can get help. We got amazing two weeks of meals and they were delicious and even the kids enjoyed them. I have so many blessings to count. But in the hard moments I forget them all. I pray that God reminds me of the good when I am at my lowest. 

Health wise my health is...up and down. I just got over pica--that went away in my third week postpartum. I have a postpartum rash, I am still bleeding (but not much) and I am having some joint pain which has been difficult to deal with while trying to breastfeed, SNS feed, pump, cook and hold a baby. I am trying to remember to take some supplements and drink water and that is about all I can do right now.

My husband goes back to work Tuesday and perhaps this will help instigate a return to "normalcy" whatever that is going to look like...with Esther and our family. 

The kids have both a ballet performance and a piano recital next month AND I signed them up for a week of swim lessons (before I had Esther) because I definitely didn't understand how hard this was going to be. Would appreciate prayers that I can make these things happen with grace and peace and a joyful heart.  

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Esther Rose is One Week Old (and mini birth story)

Esther Rose was born at 38 weeks and 1 day weighing 7 pounds 6oz after four hours of labor. I am at peace with her birth! I had so much guilt with my first two births, first because I used an epidural with Reuben I struggled a long time with not feeling like I was 'good enough' because I couldn't 'handle the pain'. Then I had a natural birth with Becky but I felt so stressed and awkward about how much I freaked out and screamed and cried during transition and pushing. I still feel embarrassed and uncomfortable about how I 'wasn't able to stay in control'. 

I didn't fully realize how much trauma and guilt I actually carried from my first two births until I got pregnant again.

So, I had a lot of fears about birth going into Esther's... but God was there. I had another very quick labor (four hours) and I chose to get an epidural after my contractions were too close together and making me start to freak out again (I was at 8 cm so I was so close!!). I am allowing zero guilt into this birth story. Yes it is true I wanted to try for a natural birth but it is also okay to get an epidural. She is here and that is what matters. But boy was it fast!! My doula was amazing (though maybe shocked I got an epidural after I talked for months about how I didn't want one??) and I couldn't have done it without her SERIOUSLY. My mom was there and my husband and it was just everything I could have wanted. Literally the birth of my dreams where I finally learned to let go of what I expected and just roll with what was happening and make choices as it came. Ten out of ten stars! ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

a few hours after birth

Besides the horrible afterbirth contractions and having to wait awhile to walk due to the epidural, birth and recovery have been very smooth. We were able to take her home after 24 hours, and the only issue I could see is that she was having a lot of trouble latching and breastfeeding, but I didn't worry much about it because I have nursed two babies and they always figured it out. Two days later I could tell something was terribly wrong. She seemed like she was latching, but she wasn't pooping at all and barely making any pee. We saw a lactation consultant on the fourth day to find out she wasn't transferring milk (hardly at all) and was severely dehydrated and underweight. 

I cried. I felt like such a failure! It was so hard to hear she was basically slowly dying and I didn't know. I had a gut instinct that something was wrong but I couldn't tell what it was. At the lactation office I pumped and fed her about 3 oz and she sucked it up like a sponge and gained .4 oz of weight by the next day! She is doing well, but her poor sleep deprived mama feels a load of guilt over it. I knew I could make milk and it never occurred to me that breastfeeding really is a two way relationship. I was lucky that my first two (even if they had tongue/lip ties) took to it like champs. And I am glad Esther is okay but that was scary.

feeding Esther with a syringe

Pumping is no joke. It takes way longer to pump and feed her in the night! I miss the times with my others where I would literally just stick them to my chest and go back to sleep. Now it takes about an hour to warm her milk, feed her (we are using an SNS system on my finger now instead of syringes) and then pump to make sure I keep up my milk supply. I never knew! It is so worth it to see her happy and gaining. She has another weight check tomorrow and a bilirubin check. 

I love her so much! After having a 10 pound baby boy and an 8 pound baby girl two years later, a little 7 pounder (she's under 7 pounds now so not back at birth weight yet) feels so tiny. She's so little! I didn't buy many newborn clothes since I assumed I would have another big baby. Becky wore newborn clothes for two weeks and Reuben went straight into 0-3 months! She will be in newborn clothes for quite awhile I think.

So thats the story of Esther Rose for now. She's here, we are all tired, we love her, she's perfect, and I am so glad. God has been ever present throughout her birth and life so far and I see the glory, the mercy and the love of the Father every day as I parent her.