Friday, November 30, 2012

The Fourth Trimester - UGH.

For those of you who don't know, I gave birth to my fourth baby - a little boy - on the 18th of November, so a little under 2 weeks ago.  He is AMAZING!  I mean, seriously, the kid eats, sleeps, and poops like a champ.  I couldn't ask for a better baby.  I've also had an awesome recovery.  MUCH better than with my other 3, I'll tell you that much.  But now, I find myself in the gross in-between phase lovingly referred to as the "Fourth Trimester".  You know, where you look like you're at least 3-4 months pregnant, but you're totally not?  Yeah, that one.  If you don't have your newborn with you at all times, you run the very great risk of being asked how far along you are.  The first three trimesters have their own challenges, but at least you can say "I'm pregnant" and any amount of weight you've gained is totally fine.

I don't know about y'all, but I was not the most weight-conscious or work-out savvy pregnant woman.  In reality, I ate anything and everything I wanted and my only workouts consisted of cleaning the house and chasing my children - which IS a workout, thank-you-very-much.  Because of this, the fourth trimester presents some interesting challenges to me that more health-conscious women would not have to deal with.  Namely, the baby pooch.  Yes, this can be worked on after I get the go ahead from the doctor, but for the next few weeks, there's not a whole lot I can do about it.  Which is SO great, because it's the holiday season which means holiday parties and sad attempts to look nice.  Ugh.  Yup.

The other part that's tough about this fourth trimester is breastfeeding.  I'll admit, I haven't had the best track record with breastfeeding, but I at least tried it with all of my other 3.  I knew that I really wanted to do it with this last baby, and for once in my life, all circumstances seemed lined up so that I could do it successfully.  Let me explain.  With my first, I didn't have a pump that worked and I had to go back to work, so I ended up having to switch to formula.  With my second, I had a pump, but ended up losing my milk supply by 12 weeks, even with fenugreek and other attempts to fix it.  If I could have nursed her in person, I don't think it would have been a problem, but I had to be at work unfortunately.  With my third, I had a 3 year old and a 13 month old, had moved out of state and away from my entire support system, quit my job, and we had sold one of our 2 cars.  To put it simply, I basically lost all of my freedoms and became extremely depressed.  My 13 month old knew the difference between me nursing the baby and giving him a bottle and she SCREAMED bloody murder when I tried to nurse him and not when i gave him a bottle.  Based on my lack of success with pumping the last time, I just decided that I was done for my own sanity and they've all been fine.

But now, I'm home and I'm used to being home.  I'm near family again.  Now, breastfeeding is working much better and doesn't hurt anymore - but my goodness, it did at first.   Like, make me burst out in operatic singing - or just tears - when he latched on.  My favorite was people telling me "Maybe he's not latched on right."  As if that's the only reason breastfeeding might hurt.  No offense, but it's not the first time I've done this.  I know the difference between a correct latch and an incorrect latch.  Just because I wasn't successful at nursing for a full year, I have nursed and know what I'm doing.  My decisions to stop nursing had nothing to do with me not knowing how to do it correctly.  But just to give you a visual, this, in my opinion, is the main reason why breastfeeding hurts at first:

Yeah, that's exactly what you think.  When you nurse, your nipple basically gets pulled down your baby's throat.  Now, do this for 10-30 minutes on each side every 2-3 hours.  Unless you have nipples of steel, this is bound to be uncomfortable and yes, after a couple of days, even painful.  I didn't hurt the first day or so.  It was that in-between phase where he was nursing hard but I hadn't gotten calloused yet.  So yes, it hurt.  So the next time a nursing woman who has just had her baby says breastfeeding hurts, don't jump to the judgment that she's doing it wrong and remember this image in the back of your brain.  Just saying'.

Anway, the transition from pregnancy to new mommy is hard for so many reasons.  All of this is to hopefully show you that what you're going through is probably normal and no, you're not a horrible person for disliking breastfeeding at first or feeling depressed that your maternity pants keep falling down but your fat FAT jeans still don't fit.  This too shall pass.

I just look at this little face:

and it's totally worth everything - and more.  

P.S.  Having been through postpartum depression several times, I know how awful and isolating it is.  If you need help, please don't hesitate to get it - call your doctor, a therapist, or even me if you need to.  I'd love to help.  

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