The Post Partum Body: Three Months In

I wrote a post (which you can read here) about my first views of my body after having a baby. My first reactions weren’t positive, but I did feel strong. Strong that I had gone through it all and was still standing.

The emotions from the birth are still pretty raw for me, and I have realised over the last few months that it has left me feeling soft, squishy and very vulnerable. And I am not just talking about my abdomen!

My first real challenge to my confidence is fast approaching. Since the birth I have lived in my giant panties, maternity leggings and oversized tops. Practical I have said: easy for whipping the breasts out and the high waists stop the rubbing on my wound.

But I have to acknowledge now that my maternity leggings are just starting to look a bit saggy, and although oversized tops are practical,the one’s I bought in late pregnancy are less ‘oversized’ and more ‘dressed in a bin bag’.

As I said, the test to my confidence is approaching. I am meeting a bunch of retro mummies and their bubbas at the Christmas Markets. This will be the first time I have dressed up since Pippin was born, and the first time I have dressed my new tummy. Scary stuff!

I am still swollen, although it has come down a lot I still have an overhang. I was measuring my waist today for a pair of jeans and my waist is still a whole four inches bigger than it was pre-pregnancy (and yet I weigh less. How does that work?). That made me sad.

What won’t be visible are my stretchmarks, which are fading quite well. My stomach still feels deflated, and there are patches where I have no feeling at all.

I need to not beat myself up, it is still early days in my recovery and to all the people who matter to me I am still me. Plus I really doubt that any of the mummies on Thurs will refuse to associate with me because of my mum tum.

#mumguilt

Honestly I feel like I complain all of the time at the moment. I can feel just a little bit of dread about tomorrow.

My darling husband is on super shitty shifts this week, working from 10am until 9pm, which means I basically get to do all of the difficult bits of the day by myself. It is bloody difficult to juggle a three month old and housework. But then, if you’re reading this you are probably in full agreement and I take my hats of to all the mama’s out there doing this – seriously you are amazing.

I love her more than anything, but it is so difficult to entertain her all day, and don’t even get me started on naps.

I have worked out this little routine though – she will happily watch Strictly Come Dancing for twenty minutes. So, on it goes and I rush round doing washing and putting tea in the slow cooker before she gets fed up. Then I feel sick to the stomach guilty that I am sticking my twelve week old in front of the television. I will win no parenting awards.

I found myself at 2pm sitting and staring at my baby, sat in her bouncer. I was just staring, mouth hanging open, because I had run out of nursery rhymes, funny faces and random crap to say. I had tried rocking her to sleep, nothing.

Then I felt guilty I wasn’t interacting with her and my default is to put her to the breast. Clearly she isn’t being stimulated enough and will have no social skills and an undeveloped brain.

#mumguilt

 

Explaining the Absence

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We spent the first 9 weeks of Pip’s life struggling. Really struggling. She wouldn’t sleep, she struggled to eat, she cried constantly and we could not soothe her. She would ball her fists and scrunch up her legs, and scream. Inconsolably. It was awful. Beyond anything that I could have imagined during the pregnancy.

We were getting no sleep. She would sleep for maybe a couple of hours lying on our chests cause she couldn’t stand to be on her back. But then we couldn’t sleep for fear of her falling off.

Those were long and difficult nights.

I was never daft enough to think that parenting would be easy, and having a newborn was easy. But I never expected it to be that difficult. I sat and cried because she was in pain and I couldn’t help. I couldn’t soothe her and I didn’t know what to do. No, I didn’t think I could do it, I didn’t think I could parent. I asked if we could take her back to the hospital so someone better than me could help her, I asked if I could go back to the hospital so someone could help me.

And that partially explains my absence from the blog because I’ve been struggling with this.

Struggling because my baby ended up in the NICU, struggling to recover from my EMC, struggling to establish breastfeeding after being apart and with a tongue tie, struggling because my baby was in pain and I couldn’t work out why.

We thought it was wind from the tongue tie, we thought it was colic, reflux, we went through the options. We went to the hospital, they thought it was the antibiotics I was taking for Mastitis. The midwife suggested I cut out dairy, the GP thought it was colic and prescribed Infacol, the next thought it was reflux. I then ate a pizza and she had projectile pooping (my daughter, not the GP), so the dairy was cut out again.

Throughout this I had so much support. Not only from the husband and family, but from an amazing community of women, including Amber of Atomic Amber, Kelly of Tootsie’s and more. It does take a village and I’m not sure I could have done it without mine.

It wasn’t until we had a nappy with significant blood in it that the doctors began to think that she did have an allergy.  Now we have measures in place; I’m now on a dairy free, soya free and nut free diet. Unfortunately, that’s quite difficult as a vegetarian who is also gluten free, but we will get there. It’s made such a difference to our lives, and Pippin’s.

She’s a smiley, happy, contented little baby. She can play now, and lie in her cot talking to us, and sleep. We still have bad days, I am still learning what affects her, plus now things are different we are having to learn about each other all over again. Her routines are different, her cries are different, and, now she has had her tongue tie done, the way she feeds is different.

I expected to get back on the horse, so to speak, really quickly after becoming a mum. I was going to take two weeks and then get back into work, I didn’t want to take myself out of the game. I wasn’t realistic, I put too much pressure on. Two weeks post partum I was still on antibiotics from the birth and having a daily injection to prevent blood clots.

I think I thought the first few weeks would be sweetness and light, tiring yes, but an enjoyable time as we settled into being a family of three. In reality we had a week together at home before the husband went back to work, we were sleep deprived and I couldn’t manage to climb into our shower unassisted due to a bloody great hole in my abdomen, even if Pippin had left my breasts alone long enough for me to get one. It has taken some doing to abandon my idea of what this was going to be like, and I am not there yet.

I feel guilty that I haven’t enjoyed it more, haven’t taken more photos. Honestly? I think the first few weeks are about surviving and there’s no shame in that.