I cannot believe I’m already one month postpartum, Elora has been in our lives for one whole month already. Wild. So, one month postpartum, how am I really doing? Here is my holding-nothing-back one month postpartum update.
One Month Postpartum Update
This may come as a surprise (it did to me) but I am actually feeling really good. I feel guilty saying that because I know first hand how hard the fourth trimester can be, I’ve been there myself with my previous two experiences. Having experienced both PPA and PPD with my first two (first was an emergency c-section and colicky newborn, second was born sleeping), I know just how low you can feel. I was honestly terrified to be postpartum again, at one point during Elora’s pregnancy I sent my husband an article about how to notice signs of severe postpartum depression because I was so scared of having it again and what it might make me do.
That’s why I am so surprised to be actually ok, better than ok, mentally. Yes, I did a ton of work on myself during this past year since losing Liam, I played an active role in seeking help (therapy/psychiatry) and I had an amazing support system that helped me set up proper care during pregnancy and for the postpartum period before we got there. Another huge factor is that Elora is a chill baby — completely opposite from my first, Luca, who cried more hours in the day than not. The colic drove me mad. And Elora’s birth was not an emergency, it was gentle and beautiful and exactly what we had planned, that definitely played a role in my mental state for afterwards.
If you haven’t yet, check out my other recent posts, don’t worry I’ll wait for you to come back here 😉
Things No One Tells You About Postpartum
Tips for Breastfeeding After a C-Section
Postpartum Update: The Emotions of a Pregnancy and Birth After Loss
Pregnancy after loss is complicated. I feel like it’s easy to look in from the outside and think, “Oh she must be SO happy/SO grateful/SO excited to be pregnant again.” And yes of course you are those things, but the difference is that after loss those feelings also have counterparts. Happiness AND fear. Hope AND worry. Gratitude AND caution. Joy AND terror. Love AND guilt. They come flooding in all at once and for some (me), there is no relief from it.
Pregnancy after loss was like holding my breath for 9 months, waiting for the floor to drop out at any moment. I couldn’t speak in absolutes, I couldn’t plan for the future, I did not buy Elora a single thing nor create a nursery for her, my mom had to get things ready the week before I delivered because I was still in denial she would actually come home with us up until the last day. And I was terrified I wouldn’t love her. I mean I loved her, I spoke to her every day of the pregnancy but I was so worried my feelings for Liam would and my grief would block me from truly connecting to her.
And then she was born and it was like a wave of relief washed over me when I heard her cries. Her birth was gentle and beautiful and everything I had imagined. I’m not going to call it redemption and I’m not going to call her a rainbow because I feel like that betrays Liam. I love him as I love my two living children and I don’t want to refer to him as a dark time. I do like to think he had a hand in sending Elora to us, with all her chill and calm, and I know that means he wants us to be ok.
Postpartum Update: Mom Guilt
I feel grateful but also guilty to be doing so well mentally and emotionally. I know how difficult the fourth trimester can be and I know how guilty that can make you feel. On top of that I also feel guilt that Liam isn’t here and that I am so in love with this new baby, almost like I’m betraying him by loving his sister (which sounds crazy typing it out, I know). But why wasn’t it him? Why did he have to die? I LOVE Elora but I ask myself why not Liam? And I’m learning to be ok with all of those emotions, to be gentle with myself. I can love Luca and Elora and still wish I had Liam in my arms too. I can feel grateful and joyful for all three of my babies and what they’ve given me and I can still feel pain that one is missing.
I’ve learned that my heart is big enough for all my babies, one doesn’t cancel out the other, and I’m certainly not “healed” because Elora is here. I’m feeling good because I dealt with and deal with my emotions head on. Healing is a constant, it’s a journey not a finish line.
This past year, with the help of my therapist, I learned to face my emotions as they came, not ignore them. You start to heal by facing those hard emotions. Losing my son and going through the trauma that came with it threw me into a depression. Grief became a way of life for me and I didn’t think I was going to make it out alive. It felt like my rock bottom and I was there for a while. It took a shit ton of work, it was not easy, but I learned how to receive the emotions, face them, acknowledge them and then let them go and I truly think that helped me get into a healthy mindset for when my daughter arrived this October (almost one year to the day after losing Liam).
Postpartum Update: How is Luca and How is the Transition from One to Two?
Another mom guilt factor has been rearing it’s head in regards to Luca, my first born. I’m feeling so many things — happy for him that he has a sibling, excited to see their relationship grow, guilty that I’ve so deeply rocked his world, guilty that I can’t physically play with him or pick him up right now while I’m recovering. The moms I’ve spoke. To validate these feelings for me which I’m grateful for and they also calmed my fears before Elora was born when I was so scared how different things would be for all of us. I’ll never forget one of my friends saying, “It’s scary now and that’s ok, it will all make sense when you see your babies together.” And if that wasn’t the truth! I’m so thankful she said that to me.
But I will say currently the hardest part of postpartum for me is Luca adjusting and really our entire family adjusting to this new dynamic. A newborn will throw everything for a loop, all routines, all schedules, it’s hard to get even the most basic household tasks done.
It’s hard I’m not going to lie, the adjustment period has been hard on all of us. Luca is doing well as far as loving the baby, I mean he LOVES her and it’s the most adorable thing. He calls her my baby and is constantly wanting to help with her and hold her and love on her. I have to stop him sometimes bc the love gets a little too aggressive haha. But his meltdowns are happening more often and they are more intense (over literally things that make no sense!). So I feel like that’s his way of being like hey my world is rocked, what’s happening!? And it’s hard but I do my best to make sure he feels loved, even in his meltdowns (especially in his meltdowns) and that we make time for just him. Giving him tasks to help with the baby also seems to be a good thing, he likes the responsibility and the inclusion! But it’s definitely hard when I’m nursing or soothing the baby and he needs me, we’re still working on that! But seriously the pure love he has for his sister melts me and truly makes it all make sense.
Postpartum Update: The Emotional Rollercoaster & Getting Help
Back to emotions. I have a completely different perspective now, losing a baby will do that to you, but that’s not to say I’m not feeling any sadness with my newborn. I still have moments of “what am I doing?” Or “I wasn’t cut out for this,” or “Take the baby I can’t do this,” not to mention worrying about her wellbeing. But I step away physically for a minute, breathe my oils in deep, receive those emotions, acknowledge them and then let them go. This is what works for me, it’s ok if you need more or less help than that.
Postpartum is a fluid time and things are always changing, hormones physically are out of whack and you may feel insane bliss one minute and extreme sadness the next. It’s normal but it doesn’t mean there’s no help or that you have to hide it.
It takes courage to speak up about feeling like shit, believe me I know. The last thing I wanted to do was tell anyone I was feeling depressed (with my first). But truly you must speak up, even if it’s just to a friend. I wish there was more postpartum care for moms. I wish there was an option for in-home visits to check up on moms, I wish all doctors asked more questions and really heard us when we tell them we don’t feel right.
Postpartum with Luca I expressed some concerns about depression to my doctor and she literally said to me, “You don’t look like mom with PPD, you’re dressed nicely, showered, you even did your makeup.” It made me feel crazy and ashamed. I don’t know how but I’m so thankful I had enough courage to ask to see a different doctor, but what about the moms that don’t?
Reactions like that can be super harmful but please know there IS help and you are NOT crazy. I know how exhausting it is to advocate for yourself and it’s not fair we have to do this but until postpartum care improves we have to speak up for ourselves, keep advocating for yourself because THAT is the strong thing to do.
Postpartum Update: Physical Recovery After C-Section
Ok, on to how I’m doing physically. Elora’s birth was a planned c-section (for many reasons I won’t get into here) so I did not go into labor. This recovery, compared to my emergency c-section recovery after 36h of labor is like night and day. I am healing faster and I just feel better all around. I am still sore in my abdomen, kind of above the incision and below the bellybutton, but I can now squat down to pick things up (as opposed to bending) and I can go up and down stairs totally fine. During the first three weeks though I was feeling ok and able to do more things, if I did too much my body told me. My bleeding would become a lot heavier when I did too much physically so I forced myself to slow down. Two more weeks until I can drive and try to lift my son (2.5y old, 30lb. toddler), my core is feeling stronger but I still don’t want to jeopardize my internal healing by doing too much too soon.
My outer incision was glued shut so I have scabbing but then a layer of clear glue that is still very much there, no idea what kind of glue! This is what I had with my first though and it healed great so I was pleased to have it again. I forget when the glue and scabs begin to fall off but again, no rush, I want to heal to the best of my ability. It is still tender and sore and numb but only to the touch (the first two weeks I have to take Motrin on and off for the pain because it was more prevalent, especially when sitting down and getting up and gas pains made it worse — your body is regulating after surgery and birth so your bowels are all messed up). I am still slightly swollen just above the incision as well and I think that’s from the internal incisions and stitches which are still healing.
Aside from the c-section stuff I still have that squishy/empty feeling in my abdomen, because of the incisions it feels weird to cough, sneeze, laugh or yell still (but not painful anymore thank god, the first two weeks I couldn’t do any of those things because I felt like I would split open). Bleeding is subsiding now too which is awesome, feels good not to wear a diaper all day! And I am now about 10lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight (I’m doing nothing actively to make this happen though trust me, it’s annoying but it’s my genetics). My milk has also finally regulated, went through a week or so of oversupply but luckily I handled it (didn’t over-pump) and now it’s totally good, still leaking here and there but what is postpartum without leaky boobs!? My nipples also only hurt for a couple days this time around, with my first that lasted a few weeks so I feel you guys with the cracked and bleeding nips!!
The baby is doing well, she nurses like a champ, she’s gaining weight well and she sleeps. Like ACTUALLY sleeps. Again which is wild to me because my first did not sleep, he was in so much discomfort always and it was hell for all of us. Looking back on it he definitely had acid reflux or some other gastric problem, but I really thought people were lying when they said their babies slept, now I know it’s true. Elora gives us 5 hour stretches sometimes and I’m like what is life!? There is something huge to be said for getting enough sleep while recovering from birth, it’s an absolute game changer for physical healing and for feeling like a human too.
I have more to share but I will save it for my next post, Postpartum Must Haves for the New Mom, stay tune for that! Thank you for reading my one month postpartum update, I know I got kind of rambly in here, but it’s therapeutic for me to write and you never know who your story can help. Keep sharing my friends❤️ xo, christine
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