As my maternity leave approaches it’s end, I can’t help but reflect on life postpartum. It was glorious and challenging! The first few weeks were the best. You’re in this insane never ending cycle of feeding, burping and changing the baby. It’s almost like being in a constant dreaming state. Literally didn’t know what day it was. Time was different.
I spent most of my life running around like a crazy person. Never sitting still. I worked three jobs for over a decade. Spent the last four years between the city and upstate. Not once did I slow down. There was something so incredibly great about just being home. Not having to be anywhere but with my baby. Giving him my undivided attention, so he can grow and thrive.
I kept a nursing journal. It was the only way to keep track of his eating. The first 12 weeks of his life felt like the most crucial. I camped out in my living room. I turned our entry way table into a changing station. Placed the rock n play in front of the couch. I had everything I needed in one spot. Overnight TV is garbage btw. I watched reruns of “Sex and the City” every night. There’s my station. Sean stole it from time to time.
At his first visit to the pediatrician he lost a few ounces of weight. I never knew they lose some in the beginning. After that I was determined to nurse him as much as possible. By his one month checkup he had gained three pounds. At his two month he was up three more pounds. Last check he was 13 pounds. He hates the scale. I think it was too cold. LOL.
There was a lot of trial and error with his feeding. He was really gassy in the beginning. Lots of crying. We tried Gripe water, mylicon and Gerber probiotic. I have to say the Mylicon worked the best. Also doing the bicycle with his legs. All suggestions from people on social media. THANK YOU! The biggest change had to happen with my diet. I don’t drink milk but I love cheese. No dairy or tomato sauce. I think they were the culprit of his gas.
He was exclusively breastmilk for the first 6 weeks. With the exception of a few ounces of formula to combat jaundice.
At his two month visit I was expressing the feeling of not being able to keep up with his appetite. I had never heard of cluster feeding. Human instinct is so bizarre. Michael would feed constantly as a way to keep my supply up. His doc suggested giving him some formula before bed and see if it helped him sleep longer. He needed something more to fill his belly. The breastmilk seems to go right through him. We use Similac. We tried different ones but found the ‘gentle comfort” works best. I was also pumping in between feedings. Getting a bra for the breast pump was a game changer. Especially if he wanted to be held while I pumped. Breastfeeding is a labor of love that should be praised and respected.
There was one night I desperately needed water. Breastfeeding will make your mouth feel like the Sahara. The water jug was empty and it was 2am. I didn’t want to wake Sean, so I lifted the five gallon jug myself. NOT SMART! I ended up injuring my sciatic nerve. Literally limped for a month. Listen when they tell you not to lift things. I struggled at first with breastfeeding. I didn’t understand that it takes a few days for the milk to come in. Once it was in, it was full steam ahead. The little coos and smiles melted my heart.
The bath was so scary. Before the belly button falls off we had to do a sponge bath. That wasn’t so bad. His first official bath was not easy. He screamed through the whole thing. I think we used too much soap because his skin peeled after. I had to put non-fragrant lotion on his hands and feet and cover them. Lesson learned.
He loves baths now!!!
Another struggle was sleep. He has inherited my sleep issues. I have insomnia and I wake at every sound. I also sleepwalk. We’ll have to wait and see on that one. He had his days and nights confused for awhile. I’m on week 11 right now and he finally slept 6 hours. In his crib. He slept in the rock n play for the first 6 weeks. Then we eventually moved upstairs. Still in the rock n play. One Friday when Sean got home I said I have to get out. I drove to the nearest Starbucks and got my nails done. I got one call that the baby was screaming but Sean figured it out on his own. It was 7pm. Time for bottle and bed. When I got home he was in the crib sound asleep. Its was his first time. I can forever thank Sean for making the change. I snuck in there every half an hour to make sure he was breathing.
My body was a mess for about two months! Two days after being home I peed my pants. Literally felt warmth running down my leg and realized I had no control. I screamed for Sean and was completely mortified. I called my OBGYN and she said it was completely normal. The incontinence didn’t go away for a bit. At my six week checkup she said things were still healing on the inside. It was so bizarre putting the hospital gown back on. All the birth memories came flooding back. Forceps can do a number. She kept saying she was so sorry for the way it went down. I’m fine I kept saying. I’m already ready to have another. That’s when she said I’d have to wait 6 months to a year to try again. Give my body time to heal. I did get the okay for sex. That is one scary thing. Will it hurt? Can I tear again? Will my vagina feel loose? All these thoughts flood your mind. To be honest sex was the last thing on my mind. Your body is still tired. Your up for hours on end. Who has energy for that. I can say it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I’m pretty sure I held my breath when we started I was so nervous. It was all good.
Two days postpartum and two months!
Sean was off for the first two weeks. It was amazing. Family bonding time. We took a lot of walks.
I took lots of walks. With friends and with Coop and Michael.
We tried the beach for a weekend! Not easy nursing and keeping him out of the sun!! But that sea air knocked him out. It was precious. LOL.
When Sean went back to work it was so quiet. I had to learn how to adjust daily things. For example, going to the bathroom when the baby is crying? Well, I peed holding him. Taking a shower. Well, I wheeled the bassinet into the bathroom. Cutting his nails? NOPE! Wait for Daddy. Too scary.
In the beginning you get a steady stream of visitors! Then it slows down. I’m so thankful to all our friends and family that came by. Everyone brought so many wonderful gifts. Michael is so loved.
I’m most in love with the love he gets from his grandmas! This is the first grandchild for my mother in law Nancy! To see her light up when she sees him is beautiful.
My heart aches at the thought that he won’t get the chance to know his grandpa! Dad would have doted on him and made him laugh. I like to believe he met Michael before he got here. I took him to the cemetery and left them for a bit.
One really amazing thing was having Michael Patrick meet his Great Grandfather. Grandpa Rigothi was almost 104. To see his face light up at meeting him was a wonderful feeling. Just two weeks after meeting him, he passed peacefully. The nurses said he kept saying “Baby” until he passed. <3
Maternity leave. It’s like a timer starts and you begin the race. Navigating becoming a new mother. Growing and changing each day. Watching your baby grow and change. Soaking in all the first time moments. As you approach the end, holding on just a little bit tighter.
Sunday June 10th. My last day. Tomorrow it’s back to work. I’d be lying if I said I was okay. I’ve cried, held him all day and tried my best to not stress the changes approaching. I’m fortunate I love my job. It softens the hurt. Why can’t we all just be millionaires and have the option to spend the first year with our babies?
Each morning we woke up, he grew. Always something new. I’m going to miss nursing him at 5am when everyones asleep and it’s just us. I’m going to miss the bright smile on his face each morning as I look down at him in his crib. I’m quite simply going to miss our time.
No one knows his routine. No one knows what he needs when he cries. No one knows him like I do. But it’s time to let him adjust. Let his Grandmas learn his personality. Let Daddy take over and have faith it all works out.
I laugh when I think about all the times I told Sean I’d be back after 6 weeks. Then I had him and it was 8 weeks. Then I got closer and decided screw it I’m taking a few weeks unpaid. More time with him was worth all the money in the world. I’m happy knowing I’m done by the afternoon and will have my evenings with him. As with any new Mom it’ll be an adjustment going back. Jobs changes over the course of three months. I waited to have kids to focus on my career. I always had this fear of losing my position if I was out too long. I watched it happen to people over the years. Gotta have faith that no matter the outcome, I’ll bounce back. What’s most important is teaching Michael work ethic and passion for what you do.
One thing a lot of women warned me about was Post partum depression. I was super cautious about it. I shared my feelings, called girlfriends in the middle of the night and leaned on my Mom for support. I really didn’t suffer any sadness. There was only one moment I had a really hard cry and of course it was due to my career.
I’ve had to fight and fight and fight since the day I got into radio. For some reason I have never been able to play the game. I just work hard and let my work speak for itself. There’s an award for women in media called the Gracie Awards. You submit yourself or someone does it for you. You submit an essay and ten minute audio clip displaying how you speak to women. I used a clip from an interview with Selena Gomez opening up about going to therapy. Also my pregnancy announcement. My fears of being older and having a safe pregnancy. It’s helped me connect with so many new moms. Our company had us submit the past few years. I was falsely awarded. Got an email saying I was awarded. There was a discrepancy with the name. When I inquired they realized they had made a mistake. To feel excited and then let down was hurtful. It’s hard enough being away from work and having no control over your position. But to receive something to only find out it was a mistake. Ouch. Pushes me to want to work even harder.
When I returned my first day back to work I was instructed that my role had changed and that my two segments had been eliminated. When asked why I was told it wasn’t up for debate and I better damn well figure out if I wanted to stay or go. The days that followed were some of the toughest! I cried, talked to family and ultimately decided I need to provide for my family. I’ll never get over how I was treated but I’ll turn that anger into strength.
Here’s our last picture during a weekday morning. Let just say he’s less than impressed with selfies!!
Celebrating my birthday was the best ending to the greatest twelve weeks of my life.
These two pictures show Instagam life vs. Real life.
To all mommies out there, you’re stronger than you know!!! There will be times you feel immense happiness and times you feel unsure of yourself. It all works out. I promise that first day you come home after work and see the smile on your little ones face you’ll melt.