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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pospartum Recovery & Struggles

      When I delivered my little bundle of joy, I sustained some tearing of skin and a small amount of muscle.  Immediately following the delivery I was pretty swollen in that area.  All of this provided for an interesting recovery.  I took Arnica tablets for the swelling and Ibuprofen for the pain.  I spent the first week resigned to my bed, other than my trips to the bathroom, which were quite unpleasant.  My midwife's assistant made up some Comfrey tea, which was mixed in equal parts with water and used with my Peri bottle.  Standing was awful and I didn't for the first day (I crawled to the bathroom and back).  When I finally did stand, all of the organs and innards that had been shoved up by my growing baby and her placenta, slowly made their way down and that was certainly uncomfortable and cause me to have shortness of breath.  Not to mention the strain it put "down there".  I would walk around a bit for as long as I could last and then get back into bed.  For the first week the only nurturing I was able to give to my little daughter was breastfeeding and occasionally, I would even just hold her for holding her sake.  It was slightly depressing, but I knew that there wasn't anything I could do since I needed to make sure I was healing properly.  Luckily, I have an amazing support team.  Ty took off a week from work and did a wonderful job with her and I loved seeing him interact with Anna.  The co-sleeper was put on his side of the bed and he sacrificed sleep to make sure she was okay and woke me when she needed to eat.  My mom spent two weeks with us while I recuperated and she was amazing to have around.  Holding Anna when needed (or even not, she loves this baby :) ), fixing meals, cleaning, doing laundry.  She even sacrificed a few nights to watch our little girl so we (mostly Ty) could get some sleep.

      Before Anna arrived, I think I assumed my mom would only need to be here for a week and then we could give it a go on our own.  However, my recovery was a little more complicated.  Some of the swelling I was experiencing was not going away and I was still having a difficult time doing much.  Sitting up was painful and I could only stand for so long before that hurt too much and I'd have to go back to laying down.  I loved having my mom here for the extra time, but I hated the reason for it.  After some thought, I decided to use Tucks pads since I had read and heard from many other women how much they LOVED them during their recovery.  Now with my own experience under my belt, I will be making sure I have a good stock beforehand.  This helped in lowering the swelling, but by my 1 week appointment, it was still there and I was using a pillow to sit on, when I did sit.  Ginger made the suggestion of pricking the area and releasing the swelling.  I was up for trying anything at that point so we went ahead and almost immediately the swelling started to go down.  However, it didn't vanish completely and I continued to use the Tucks pads until it did.  At two and half weeks I think I was finally able to move around "normally" and sufficiently enough to get things done without needing a break after a short while.  I'm still waiting on the stitches in my muscle to dissolve and have been taking sitz baths to help that along.  (Yes, mom you were right.)

      The other struggle I've had to deal with is breastfeeding.  I'm a strong advocate that breast milk is the best thing for babies.  So when I had to make the decision to let my baby have formula because she wasn't getting enough from me, I felt defeated.  I didn't even really realize that she wasn't getting enough from me until about a week ago.  All I understood from her cries was that she was still hungry after nursing for an hour or more.  My wonderful sister-in-law Celia let us have some of her frozen milk until my milk came in at first.  This came in handy almost immediately.  When Anna would scream for more food, we were left bewildered and relented into giving her formula and were grateful for Celia's milk to supplement with when needed.  The day after my mom went home, I had a two hour nursing session with Anna latching off and on.  I was frustrated with her, frustrated with myself, and all I could do was cry.  I no longer had my mom there and Ty was now back to work so I was on my own taking care of our baby.  I felt like nothing I did for my little girl was good enough.  Breastfeeding no longer seemed as appealing as it had before and I couldn't wait until it was over.

      The next day was Saturday and we could see that we were almost out of Celia's milk.  She offered us an open invitation to have more when we needed for as long as she could afford.  Bless her heart.  I will forever love her for helping us feed our Anna and I'm so grateful to have her as a sister.  Ty asked me if we needed to get more and I said yes, but that if he was going, I was going with him because I didn't want to be left alone for that long since I was still recovering.  So Sunday afternoon we headed to Othello and I was actually glad for the chance to get out of the house.  Other than our short trip to see Ginger for our 1 week appointment, I hadn't been out of the house, or even really seen outside, let alone make an hour long drive.  Not too long after we arrived, it was time for me to feed Anna.  This provided Ty's parents, as well as Nathan and Celia, an opportunity to see our struggle to keep her happily fed.  My mother-in-law, Cheryl, and Celia could sense my frustration and unhappiness and talked to me letting me know I was a good mother and that I was making good decisions for Anna.  I sobbed finally letting out my emotions that I had been bottling.  After some muscle testing from Rex, I felt better, though still frustrated with my situation.  Celia let me try her electric breast pump, but it didn't seem to work for me.  I had brought the hand pump we had purchased and I was able to get 2.5 oz. pumped after several hours since feeding Anna. Turns out the silicone massage cushion with petals is what makes the difference for me. This confirmed that I had a low milk supply and was why she wasn't getting full after nursing for so long.

      So, our chosen course has been this:  I pump every 2.5 hours, Anna eats a little more than every 2 hours getting whatever I've pumped, supplemented with formula and/or Celia's milk while we can.  We brought the issue up with my midwife and she gave me homeopathic drops to take twice a day to increase my supply.  I think they have been helping as I used to get only an ounce every 2 - 2.5 hours and I'm now up to 1.5 or a little more.  When I can remember I'm also drinking Mother's Milk tea and want to try a recipe for Lactation Boosting Cookies.  I will never turn down a recipe for cookies and if these can help me boost my milk supply then we are in business.  I'm still hoping to come back to breastfeeding.  I know it will prove to be difficult now that she's been using a bottle, but I have a plan of action for that as well so we'll see how it goes.  For now, I'm happy that my daughter is now well fed and almost back up to (if not already) her birth weight and is happy.  That's all a mother can ask for.


  1. Jenny! I feel you sweety. Breast feeding is very painful for me. I went in yesterday to see my OB because I have been feeling very overwhelmed, anxious and in pain! I swear, every time Lyndi latches on I almost pass out. Know that you aren't alone and that no matter what ends up happening (nursing-wise) you're doing your best for the baby, and she will forever be grateful to have such a wonderful mama that loves her. :)

  2. Jenny, there are SO many things about your experience I can relate to. I am so sorry this has been hard. Just know that many of us have been through a hard time with a recovery and especially with breastfeeding, and things do get better, and whatever decisions you make for yourself and your daughter are wonderful and everything will be just fine. Recovering from labor can be incredibly painful. I also had massive swelling from labor and couldn't walk for a long time after my c-section. Even if I had only labor I would have had the crazy swelling. It's wild what labor can do to a lady and her lady parts!! I'm glad you had family to help you. It sure is scary when you're on your own at first. You can do it! And breastfeeding is an incredibly complicated thing with so much emotion attached to it. Bottles are a great option and it sounds like you guys have a good plan. You're an awesome mom and you're doing an amazing job.

  3. Jenny.. You are such a good mom! You have done all you can possibly do for that precious little girl. Keep up the good work! I had issues getting my first two to breastfeed. They wouldn't latch and it was a nightmare. Every feeding ended up in me and the baby both bawling and it just ended up such a fight every single time. I had to back down from the idea and go with formula. I cried and cried and felt defeated just as you said you feel. It's so hard feeling like you aren't doing what is best for your baby. Both of my older girls are very healthy. They did get whatever I could pump for the first month and then formula to supplement that. This is my first baby that breastfeeding is actually working out. Try not to feel bad, I think every mom goes thru this at some point (or at least most moms). You aren't alone!

  4. Oh honey... I felt like I was reading my own diary through most if this!! I tried so hard to breastfeed McKayla, and she too wasn't getting enough in the end. I visited with a lactation specialist, used a pump, and still she needed supplementation. Honestly, I was almost relieved after starting formula because she slept more than 2-3 hours at a time, and was content as ever! I knew right then, that her body getting more was the best choice for her. Please know that your decisions and values are spot on, and you're already doing an amazing job. I hope after reading these comments you know how we can relate, and that we support you in your struggle with love and understanding. Xoxo

  5. I hope you know how much I love you. You are a wonderful mother, and I know you are doing your best. Anna is so lucky to have you.

    And, seeing the support you have (just reading the above comments) made me cry. Truly, you are cherished. We all think you are the greatest :)

  6. Oh Jenny. I am just getting caught up on all your goings on since the birth- so FIRST: Congrats! Second: I am so impressed with all your planning. THIRD: Any child who has a mother as intentional as you is SO so blessed. Even if everything doesn't work according to plan- at least you had one! And new ones coming by the sound of it. FOURTH: Breast may be best, but it does NOT a good mother make. I read that somewhere and thought it was perfect. You are CLEARLY a wonderful mother. I am so excited for you, and especially for Anna!


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