Nobody really tells you just how hard nursing and pumping can be. The only negative thing I was told was your nipples will hurt if you don't use lanolin cream and if you don't pump frequently you'll become engorged. I thought - I got this! That's it? Doesn't sound worse than pushing out an 8lb 10oz baby - and I'd do anything for him. So there I was so hopeful and excited to bond with my baby and be able to give him everything he needed. Sounded like a picture perfect disney movie moment. HA! If only I knew what I would have actually experienced. I'm very hesitant to share my experience because of those Karen's out in the world who would say I didn't try hard enough - but I'll take one for the team, so buckle up because this is no disney movie!
After my son, AY, was cleaned off the nurse asked me how I plan to feed my baby. Without hesitation and probably a little too animated I responded "I'LL BE EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFEEDING!" - okay Rachel, simmer down! - A nurse helped me figure out how to get AY to latch and he was sucking or doing something... I wasn't really sure but I was so happy that whatever was happening I was feeding my baby with the best thing on the planet for him. That first night - I felt like an 18 wheeler hit me at full speed. My epidural didn't work and I labored on all fours. Every single muscle in my body ached and I couldn't understand why in the moment I thought it was a brilliant idea to go on all fours! With my body feeling that way - my eyes felt heavier than they ever have. Ironically in that moment, with all that pain, I was the happiest I have ever been in my life at that point. Then AY started crying. Why was he crying? I picked him up, rocked him, was holding him and dozing off, then tried feeding him - he kept screaming and wouldn't latch. I rang for the nurse frantically - probably pressed the button 25 times - and finally a nurse came in with a lactation consultant. They gave me some pointers on how to get him to latch. "Hold his head and neck like this." "He won't latch when he's this worked up - you need to calm him down first. Try rocking him like this." The nurse calmed him down and got him latch. I stared down at him with awe hoping he'll never been that unhappy in my arms again.
NOBODY in the hospital told me how often you need to nurse if you're exclusively breastfeeding. NOBODY told me how often I would need to pump either. I told every nurse I had that I was exclusively breastfeeding and I guess I spoke a different language because not a single one helped me achieve that goal. I was clueless and they had no patience helping me understand what my Son needed from me while I spent 48 hours under their care. The first night they said they need to take AY to run some tests, give him a bath, and weigh/measure him. "Okay! Sure" "Get some rest momma, he'll be back to feed soon." - que the voice from spongebob - FOUR HOURS LATER they brought AY back to me. He was screaming so loud. "He's ready to feed." I didn't think anything of it at the time - but at 4 weeks when I took a newborn class - I learned that crying is the LAST sign a baby resorts to when trying to say they are hungry or tired. The second night they took AY for 5 hours and then brought him back to me. He was calm and sleepy and I wondered when he would be hungry for me to nurse him next. Only on the second night did they bring me in a Pump after I asked them when I'm supposed to start pumping. "Pump for 10 minutes each day twice a day" I thought it would be a piece of cake! That's all? I can do that!
We left the hospital and when I say that first night home was straight out of a horror movie - it was! At first it was so sweet - AY was sleepy and cuddly and I was in seventh heaven. Then when the clock struck 10 the crying began. I rocked him, put a pacifier in his mouth, tried to get him to breastfeed. Nothing was working. AY kept latching and unlatching - he was miserable. Mo and I were fighting from the stress, exhaustion and feeling like we were really in over our heads. What did our baby need and why don't we know what it is? Finally at two in the morning, in pain from hearing AY scream a high pitched and scream for hours Mo turned to me and said "Rachel - I think he's hungry... maybe we should try to give him formula- we have some samples that were sent in the mail..." Without hesitation this dark possessed voice left my body as my head turned slowly towards Mo and I said... more like barked... "HE'S NOT HUNGRY. I KNOW MY BABY. IF HE WAS HUNGRY HE'D LATCH WHEN I TRIED TO BREASTFEED HIM! WE ARE NOTTT FORMULLAAA FEEDING." Mo replied with a firm "I'm giving him a bottle - you need to calm down. If you're right and he's not hungry, he won't take it." I gave Mo a less than subtle death stare as he brought the bottle to AY's mouth thinking "Ha! AY won't take it. He isn't hungry." then within 20 seconds the entire 2oz sample bottle was gone. AY wasn't hungry... AY was starving. I have never felt like a worse human being than in that moment. My entire world felt like it was crumbling. Can I really do this? How can I ever be a good Mom to him if I can't even realize he's hungry?" What an emotionally and physically exhausting night!
The next day one of my greatest baby gifts arrived - a baby nurse 24/7 for one week. She was there to help me rest and teach me how to care for my new baby. My nurse asked me how I plan to feed my baby and I told her I want to exclusively breastfeed but AY wasn't latching well and my supply wasn't in, so We are supplementing with formula. I was advised to pump for 25-30 minutes 3x a day - 6am, 4pm, and 10pm to help my supply come in. Take hot showers, massage your breasts often and make sure you do not get engorged. Each time I would pump I only got 1ml of milk, if i got anything at all. I started eating lactation cookies, chugging water, gatorade, Mother's Milk tea, and making sure I ate well during the day and got enough rest. I was told not to bring AY to my breast until my supply came in - so I listened... I didn't know any better. Nothing was changing and then on night 6 AY wouldn't even latch onto a bottle. Our baby nurse stayed up all night with him feeding him by pouring drop my drop into his mouth with a spoon. I then remembered a very close friend warning me of tongue and lip ties when I was pregnant - having either can cause latching issues. We took AY to the pediatrician and immediately she said he has a tongue tie and may also have a lip tie. Our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric dentist in our area and it ended up being that AY had a tongue and double lip tie. We had them clipped on scene and immediately by his next feeding his latch was so much better!
The latching issue may have been fixed but we had another issue to try to overcome - AY was super used to bottle feeding and his formula. I met with a lactation consultant at two weeks postpartum and she told me that all the advice I was given was wrong and that is why my milk supply was 1ml to nothing. I was advised to first bring AY to my breast every feeding to start with and once he seems fussy - I should give him 10 sips of formula to calm him and go back to my breast. I was so determined to breastfeed so I got home from a walk and said to our baby nurse "Stop! Don't give him a bottle. I'm going to try to nurse." Knowing how AY has responded to it in the past, I saw her concern with my plan. In the end, I'm his mother but her job is to make sure my baby is happy, healthy & taken care of for that week. I sat down, got ready to nurse and brought AY to my breast... immediately AY starts crying. "WAHH WAHH WAHHH." Kicking, screaming, actively pushing me away from him. With each passing moment his body got more red and hot from the screaming. My heart broke more and more with every cry. All choked up and fighting back tears so he wouldn't notice my pain I kept saying "Don't worry. Please latch. You'll feel better once you start feeding. Please latch... Please." After a good 10 minutes of trying - I needed to stop. My son was in so much discomfort and I was easily able to fix it if I just gave him a bottle. If he was able to speak he for sure would have been saying "I don't want that for dinner! I want what you usually make!!! I'm already soo hungry, Mom! Please stop trying to force me to eat this!" My baby nurse came over and took him from me and immediately AY calmed down. That was so heartbreaking. Trying to nurse was causing us both to experience so much stress, my baby couldn't even be comforted by me.
I was at such a loss. I didn't know what to do - but with many people screaming "breast is best" in my ear I couldn't let myself "quit." I wanted to be a good Mom. The lactation consultant I was first meeting with told me to power pump if AY is unhappy at the breast and takes a bottle better. That meant pumping for 10 mins on and 10 off for an hour straight. I took a shower, massaged the girls and set myself up in bed with my pump, water, and a relaxing meditation. I refused to look at the pump for the first 10 min and by the second shift I had 2 oz. I was so excited I was actually producing milk - I sent a picture to my best friends and Mo immediately!! I ran out to my baby nurse and screamed "THEY WORK!!!! I'M MAKING MILK, BABY!!!!!" and ran back into my room to finish pumping. I made 4 oz total and I thought "amazing!!! this is it. It can only be uphill from here." I told our baby nurse by the next feeding I want AY to have my breastmilk in a bottle. I was so exhausted but so excited that I went to feed him. He was hungry and I was so eager to feed him my liquid gold. I brought the bottle to his mouth, his took two sips and "WAHHHH WAHHHHH WAHHHHHHHH" screaming on the top of his lungs. I was so confused. "Isn't he hungry? why won't he eat?" my baby nurse looked at me and said "Rachel, don't kill me, but I think that I should prep an ounce of the formula to see if he'll take that. He could be very used to that already." I thought "Hey! what can we lose by trying? He probably isn't hungry." I gave AY a bottle filled with formula and he started chugging it. My baby nurse said "do the good 'ole bait and switch!" so we gave him a little formula and quickly swapped it for my bottle of breastmilk. We thought we finally got him to take it. Three sips in "WAHHH WAHHHH WAHHHHH". I finished feeding him after that with the bottle of formula. The whole time I kept wondering why my baby was rejecting me and when the feeding finished I went to my room, curled up in my bed and started crying. Mo bravely asked what's wrong and for about 45 minutes I explained to him that I really don't know what to do. I pump but nothing comes out. Then when something finally comes out AY doesn't want any of it. So why am I driving myself crazy trying to make it happen? We called a family friend and she eased my heartache by telling me I'm a great Mom whether or not I feed my baby formula or breastmilk. It's about the bonding during the feeding. The way I look down at him, talk to him, cuddle him and love him with each feeding that's important - not the content in the bottle. It's the feeding environment I create for him and if he feels loved, safe, happy and fed then I'm doing my job. I took a sigh of relief and told my baby nurse to wake me throughout the night so I can feed AY at every feeding. I wanted to bond with him and let him know I'm not there to bring him stress.
You would think by then - 9 days Postpartum I would have stopped trying to produce breast milk. Nah - I'm as stubborn as they come. I kept on pumping - but not nearly as much as I was supposed to. My goal was to get my milk supply in so maybe if I add a little more each day to AY's bottle he will get used to the taste and eventually only take breast milk. I took alfalfa sprout supplements, chugged water, Mother's Milk Tea, Gatorade, Body Armour, had two different lactation cookies/bars, ate oats and greens - nothing. I was producing 1ml again - if anything came out at all. This lasted until about 7 weeks postpartum. I kind of had one foot in the door of still trying and one foot in the door of leaving it behind. I was scared to give up. Was I quitting? Was I trying hard enough for AY? Why did I keep hearing the voices of all the people telling me "breast is best" or the person's voice repeating over and over again in my ear what they told me by AY's Bris - circumcision - "It's not the hard to nurse or give your baby breastmilk. You need to bring them to your breast every 1.5-2 hours. Forget about sleeping - if that's your concern you're being selfish. That's the one thing you need to do for your child! If you aren't doing it, you aren't trying hard enough and if that's the case you're not being a good Mother to your son." I politely responded "I really am trying, but nothing is working. We didn't have an easy start." "Try harder. Giving up isn't an option. Breast milk is the only good and healthy thing for your baby." My heart shattered. I wanted to go home and just ignore everyone. I didn't want another person to ask me how my son is being fed. Normally I would have very loudly defended myself, but I was sleep deprived, emotionally exhausted from my experience so far, and so deeply confused by this person's behavior I just smiled and said "Thank you for coming to my Simcha, I'm so happy you were able to come." I don't lie - In fact, I'm usually so very blunt I could kill with words. I fake smiled and lied through my teeth. When I came home, I handed AY off to my baby nurse and went into the shower to contemplate my efforts as a mother thus far and to sob in peace where nobody can hear me - but also, everyone could hear me because we live in a one bedroom apartment.
By seven weeks postpartum I was thinking of just stopping. I wasn't producing any milk - literally 3 drops if I was lucky. I dwindled down from my awesome 1ml. Was this even worth my time? Do I even have enough time to bottle feed AY formula, work so hard to pump when nothing comes out, and when can I take care of our apartment and myself? I spoke to Mo about it and He was so supportive. "Do you think I should stop pumping? Nothing is coming out and I don't know how to build my supply. I've tried everything and I really feel if I was properly educated before I gave birth or at the Hospital AY would have nursed and my supply would have picked up." "I think you tried your hardest with this and AY knows you love him. You can always try again with the next kid." You would think with that supportive response a weight would be lifted off my shoulders but I of course started sobbing. Mo tried to console me and while I was telling him I was fine I began to message Tamari from @onewiththepump on Instagram. I told her I was approaching 8 weeks postpartum and wanted to know if it was too late for me to get a milk supply in. Tamari gave me hope and we planned to have a consultation. Many of you may think I'm crazy for still trying at this point and that might be true because looking back on this experience I can't believe myself either.
Eight weeks postpartum, 11:30am consultation with Tamari. I got all prepared and gave Tamari a short synopsis of this experience so she could understand where I was at. Tamari told me that first she will tell me EVERYTHING I will need to do/know to make exclusively pumping at this point postpartum happen. Tamari first let me know that this whole time I was using the wrong flange size which means my pumps weren't ever able to properly pull out any milk. By 2-4 weeks from that consult if I really followed the plan she would make for me. Tamari also gave me a heads up that it would be extremely time consuming, hard, and can take a a huge toll on my mental health. After I hear all of it, I can decide if it's something I want to try out. Tamari, the first person on my journey who is a professional in the field of anything liquid gold, stressed how important it is for me to put my mental health first. "Rachel, you need to understand that BOTH your baby and your Husband would rather YOU over your breastmilk." Up until that point nobody had said that to me. Nobody told me that if it cost my mental health, liquid gold isn't worth the price. I felt like I was an inadequate mother up until that point. Not only did Tamari give me hope I can produce breast milk if I was able to follow her instructions without it impacting my mental health, but she gave me peace of heart in mind if all of this at eight weeks postpartum was too much.
We ended our session and I was determined that I can do this. Tamari ended off telling me to discuss the schedule and idea with my Husband and let her know what we both think. I began pumping right when we hung up. I tried to schedule my pumping around when AY would eat/take a nap. The first day I missed my early evening pumping session. Bathtime was hectic! I let Tamari know and she said as long as I get in all the other sessions, I should be okay. The 2am pump session is what I was dreading. I knew AY would wake up around then for a bottle anyway, so I didn't set an alarm. Mo and I agreed that I would pump while he fed AY and then we can all get back to bed ASAP. It was 5:00am when I heard "WAHH WAHHH WAHHH". I looked at the clock immediately panicked. "I MISSED ANOTHER PUMPING SESSION!!!" I immediately grabbed my pumps and got to work. I set my 35 minute timer and sat there watching Mo feed AY. Fifteen minutes into that pumping session AY was about to be finished eating and I lost all my patience to sit there hooked up to my pump at that hour. I turned to AY who looked so happy, content, satiated and peaceful and said "AY are you happy?? Good! Because if you're happy, I'm happy. I'm retiring the girls. I'm putting down the pump because ain't nobody have the time or patience for this sh*t anymore!" I unhooked myself - plopped myself back down on my pillow and for the first time since AY was born I knew both feet were in the door of leaving nursing and pumping behind and I couldn't be happier about it. Tamari kept me in check with my ultimate goal - being able to be a present, loving and good Mom to AY. She really didn't have to but before stepping into her role as a Lactation Counselor, she stepped into her humanity. That act right there of putting a Momma's mental health first when everyone else was putting the liquid gold first saved me from a complete mental breakdown. Tamari taught me that liquid gold may be the best because its made to cater to our babies needs as they grow and it's "free", but if it's costs your mental health to get it - it's NOT worth the price.
Now AY is 2.5 weeks old taking about 5oz of formula at each feeding. He's gaining weight beautifully and keeping to a pretty great schedule with eating/sleeping. I'm very happy and content with my decision. I'm planning on trying again with my next baby - G-d willing, when the time is right! I feel like after this experience Mo and I are both so much more educated and aware of what needs to be done for me to exclusively nurse, nurse + pump or exclusively pump. However, it takes two to tango and if it causes my baby stress I'm not here for it! I cannot express to you how freeing and good it felt to wash all my pumping parts, grab all the pumping bras, collect all the nursing accessories and pack them away for next time!
To all you ladies out there who also had the worst experience ever trying to nurse/pump- I see you! To all the ladies trying so hard to validate that FED IS BEST - I hear you. To all the different types of Momma's who thought it would be easy and natural because not enough people discuss how it's hard and grueling - I feel for you & I'm here to change that!
I'm currently eight weeks postpartum and trying to remember what the end of my pregnancy was like while my son, AY, is on my lap crying. My head is spinning trying to remember all the details, so bare with me while I try my best to recount the end of my pregnancy for you all.
Weeks 27-40 were rough. I was getting bigger and bigger and my anxiety for labor and delivery was growing day by day too. It was really hard being pregnant during a pandemic and many aspects of my third trimester were pretty traumatic for me. I never really had time to properly digest what I experienced so writing about this might be very cathartic or traumatic all over again! We'll go into more detail soon but my Husband is an essential worker who needs to travel for business... during a pandemic... can I get an A-N-X-I-E-T-Y!!!! I also ended up getting sick with Covid and needed to be in the Hospital ALONE for three days. Let's hear it again! A-N-X-I-E-T-Y!!!! Then there is that very real fear of labor and delivery that was constantly growing as we got closer to my due date. All the 'what if' statements and worst case scenarios were swirling through my head daily. I also did a really dumb thing and read bad birthing stories to "prepare myself" for what can happen. Don't do that. Seriously, NEVER do that.
The third trimester was the hardest on me physically. I think it really is the hardest on anyone. You can't see your feet anymore, you're constantly looking for the bathroom because baby is squishing your bladder and you can't get off the couch or out of bed without feeling completely winded. I couldn't sleep enough because of acid reflux or my baby kicking into my ribs all through the night. And all I kept on hearing from my doctor was "keep on moving! Stay active! It's good for you and your baby." I moved as often as my body let me... but it was so hard!!
Emotionally I was all over the place. My Husband, Mo, was travelling for work for 8 weeks straight. He was gone for 3/7 days it was very hard. Being pregnant during a pandemic where everyone is told to stay put - I had a lot of anxiety about any of us getting sick. My Hospital told me that if Mo tested positive when we arrived, he would need to leave and I'd have to give birth alone. That thought haunted me the entire duration of my pandemic pregnancy. I'd stay awake at night panicking that I'd experience that alone and I wondered how I would possibly survive that. We compromised that Mo would stop travelling when I was 8 months along so we can 1. spend as much time together 1:1 before the baby arrived 2. Limit exposure to covid long enough before my due date so Mo would god willing be in the clear 3. Just in case I gave birth early, because it can happen and you never know! Then at 9 months at 1:30am after Mo finished travelling for work I suddenly had the worst chills of my life. Two days before that I felt very fatigued and thought nothing of it. I'm 9 months pregnant, thinking of moving makes me feel fatigued. In the morning I started having an intense cough and was very nauseous. I visited my OB to check on my baby and everything was fine! When I got home, and hour later, I felt those chills again and like I had no energy left in my body. I went to take my temperature and it was 100.2 degrees F. My OB told me to meet him at the ER immediately so we can monitor the baby and in triage my temperature already went up to 101.5. They sent me to an isolated bed in the ER because I was pregnant and they ran a bunch of tests, chest X-ray, flu test, ran my urine & blood. Everything came back all clear. The only thing wrong was that my heart rate and temperature were high and my OB wanted my baby monitored until they regulated. So they decided to admit me, and to figure out where I'd be placed during a pandemic they gave me a covid test. After waiting for the results for 3.5 hours, I got woken up at 3:36am to the news that my test came back positive. When I went into the ER they told Mo he had to leave and I finally got to see him again three days later. I can talk about my full experience with covid while pregnant in a different post, it would be too long for now.
It's very important to take calcium supplements during pregnancy because your baby pretty muchs sucks up your whole supply. That can result in weak bones and teeth. For me, I had weakened teeth. On shabbos I took a bite into a piece of Pesach cake I was craving - it was september - and my tooth that had a crown on it broke off at the gum. Yes, both the tooth and the crown on top of it. The remainder of the tooth was so sensitive. I couldn't eat anything hot or cold for three days until the rest of the tooth was extracted. When I a dentist who would see me on such short notice I booked my appointment immediately. I probably should have read up on some google reviews first because the office had no air conditioning when it was 80 degrees F out. They had 2 windows open, a packed waiting room - during a pandemic - and conveniently each person waiting, 10 of us, all had appointments for 2:00pm with the same dentist. I was furious and mostly because I was 9 months pregnant, overheating in a packed waiting room and the receptionist wouldn't let me sit in the back where the air was blasting. I got a little snappy with her and said she'd be to blame if soon paramedics are peeling me off the waiting room floor. Then she finally decided there was room for me in the back! Ha! That's rich. The procedure went terribly too - I mean my tooth is out, so the game plan was executed well, but Redheads don't respond well to anesthetics - I'm not making this up! They had to give me three local numbing shots and I still felt the entire procedure. I would have had them put me under for it, but being 9 months pregnant left me without that option. The funny thing is, after experiencing all the insane things I did in my third trimester, I might be crazy enough to say it was better than the first. Being nauseous is the worst feeling ever.
Another anxiety provoking thing was when my Husband was travelling for work - every worst case scenario circled through my mind daily. "What if I slipped in the shower and was knocked unconscious and nobody found me until three days later?" or the moments when it is so windy out that heavy things on your balcony are taking flight and your Husband is mid-flight on his way home? I don't think I breathed for a solid 90 minutes. And that time I was home alone and there was such a hurricane and our windows were shaking. The psychopath that I am packed up a weeks worth of clothing, my pregnancy pillow, two blankets, my album of sonogram pictures, a doppler to hear my baby's heartbeat, my laptop, a few books, and the scrapbook I was making for our baby and headed to my childhood home because I was terrified the wind would blow our windows in. Mind you, on my way I stopped at the gas station to buy a lot of crispy m&m's, twizzlers, and ice cream - just incase i craved anything and couldn't leave to get it.
The end of my third trimester was a nice balance of excitement and panic. Organization and complete chaos. I packed my bags for the hospital mid 8th month and kept unpacking and repacking it a thousand more times until it was actually time to go to the hospital. I did A LOT of walking, bouncing on my birthing ball, squatting, curb walking, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, eating pineapple and spicy foods. Not a single trick in the book helped get our Baby out by his due date. He finally made his debut at 40 weeks and 3 days!
Well, AY just got up from his nap - I'll come back on here soon to share how labor & delivery went! Based on how my pregnancy went, you can assume that it was eventful too!
As I sit here on my couch, eating pizza and binge watching Riverdale I am simultaneously sitting in shock that my second trimester has ended. These past three months flew by! I can happily say that my second trimmest was better than my first. By better I mean that I didn’t suffer from all day long morning sickness. However, I did experience other unpleasant symptoms that took its place. This trimester overall may have been better, but don’t be fooled, it came with its ups and downs. Physical changes on my body, changes and fluctuations with my mental and emotional health, and overall changes that come with preparing for a baby.
Have I ever been insecure about my body? YES! It happens to be that I was finally starting to reach a confident place again before I got pregnant. I was working out more intensely and saw my body finally toning up after birth control added some extra cushion. Do not mistake me wanting to tone up MY body for being body exclusive… I truly believe all woman of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. I personally felt my best, healthiest and most confident when I got engaged/before I started birth control. Once I was finally hitting goals with my personal trainer, Abby - @abbswithabsfitness, I got pregnant! When I started working out with her I told her she will not see me pregnant before I hit my goal with her… well, that plan changed! The start of my second trimester had me feeling SO insecure. The extra hormones circulating my body were visibly adding more cushion but at the start of this trimester until I would say midway through, I hadn’t started showing. An employee in my Husband’s office approached me during this time and said “Girl, are you tryna gain weight?” “No… not really.” “Oh… well you’re looking heavier”. I knew I was pregnant, she did not. Regardless if a woman is pregnant or not I think I can say most of us wouldn’t want to hear that. That when the insecurities started really creeping up. Halfway through the trimester I popped and had a little belly and with each passing week my bump has only been getting bigger. I have felt more confident since the middle of my second trimester. I personally don’t see a ‘glow’ or feel one but I have started to appreciate just how magnificent a woman’s body is. During this trimester my doctor told me I gained pretty much the maximum I should to be considered a healthy amount & instructed me to drink more water, eat better, and get moving! That didn’t boost my confidence but I chose to not let it get me too down. I will try my best and hopefully it will all workout! Afterall, whenever I have hormones added into my system I gain weight. I feel like they’re almost chanting inside me “Gain more weight! Gain more weight!”. I can’t complain too much though, I’m very grateful that both My baby and Myself are healthy – nothing beats that!
Aside from expanding, I have experienced other physical changes and symptoms. Some I have accepted gracefully and others I will occasionally catch myself thinking about sporting a ‘stink face’. Acid reflux is my newest enemy! I have medication to help make it less intense but when I forget to take it before eating WOAH! I feel like there is a fire burning my insides from my belly button up to my ears. I also experience spontaneous leg cramping which will have me wake up screaming bloody murder some nights… sorry Mo! Most nights though I really don’t get enough sleep due to kicks to my rib cage, restless legs, back pain, acid reflux and the sensation of my arms going numb atter 7 minutes of laying on my side. I know, I sound like a dream! To help me get more comfortable I sleep in a pillow fortress… I’m not kidding. Each time I have to get up to pee in the middle of the night I pretty much climb the mount Everest of pillows. I have two normal pillows…. a 12 inch back wedge pillow to help with reflux, a C shaped pregnancy pillow AND a U shaped pregnancy pillow. Is there such thing as becoming a crazy pillow lady? If not, there should be!
Emotionally I’ve simply been overwhelmed! I’m an anxious person and change is NOT my friend. Mind you, after a change occurs and I am experiencing the beauty of that change, I love it! The unknown of the outcome beforehand and stretching past my comfort zone can have me feeling paralyzed. Toward the end of my second trimester I started to realize just how soon I was going to have my baby, god willing, in my arms. My mind exploded at the idea. What do I do with a tiny human? The hospital will actually let us leave with our baby and trust us to take care of it? Why do they believe I can? I don’t believe I can! I panicked and with that panic came a lot of tears. Besides for the dynamic change in my family going from two to three, there are smaller changes that also have a huge impact. We changed our car from my beloved Jeep Wrangler to a Family friendly Honda Pilot. As fun as my Jeep was, I know it’s not a passenger friendly car and the thought of putting my baby in the back seat of such an aggressively rocky ride made me choose to give it up. Logically it was the best decision to make, but it was still SO hard. I already had to change the ways I eat, exercise and approach self-care – nothing crazy, basic changes when you become pregnant. Now I had to give up my car and suddenly I felt like there were so many more adventure on the horizon that my Jeep needed to take us on and felt deeply sad when the decision was finalized. Then I started looking around my one bedroom apartment and realized that one day we’ll grow out of it, which is wonderful!!!, but I love my apartment so much and the thought of leaving this comfortable space we created makes my heart ache. There are many moments where I feel so excited and happy about becoming a first time mom. I’m over joyed to share the experience of parenthood with my best friend. We both love feeling our baby’s kicks and more subtle movements and seeing the pictures after our routine appointments. Somedays the whole starting parenthood idea slips our mind and other days it slams into us like an 18 wheeler truck on the freeway. Navigating my mental and emotional health during this time has been challenging but I’m so grateful for my therapist because she really keeps me accountable and in tune with my feelings which has helped immensely.
I still have not warmed up to the idea of pregnancy as a whole. I’d do it again, but it isn’t the most wonderful experience in the world. I’d do it again because well… babies… they’re pretty cute! As I get closer and closer to the big day I am 100% freaking out at the idea of labor. I’m just getting used to the baby being inside me part and thinking of how a baby can possibly make its way outside me… simply said disgusts me and has me cringing for days. I know it possible… I know babies are born every single day but you cannot convince me labor and delivery is beautiful. It sounds traumatic to me. I am VERY excited to hold my little one for the first time but every moment from when labor starts until my baby is in my arms I cannot think about for too long. I just focus on the adorable little face from my sonograms and picture holding my baby to get past my fears. Good news: I’ll have to face those fears soon and might get over them. Bad news: I’ll have to face those fears soon and might not get over them!
Stay tuned for the third and final trimester! It will be over pretty soon… and I’m sure, just like the previous two, it won’t be boring!
Motherhood is around the corner for me and as I was making my Baby Registry I found myself overwhelmed by the checklist of items we ‘need’. Being that I am currently living in a one bedroom apartment I’m trying to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of cute baby items and purchasing or putting items on my registry that we really don’t need… or worse, items that wont last us a long time. So I reached out to my awesome and super reliable Insta with some questions and they did not disappoint!! I’ll be sharing all the recommended items for Baby and Mom’s Post Partum care below. In a different post I will create a hospital-Qwsx t3 packing list for Mom, Baby & Dad. Enjoy!
Must Have Baby Items:
Here is a link for most of these items:
Must Have Postpartum Care Items:
What a journey this has been... so far! I’m currently in my 24th week of pregnancy which places me in month 6. Before I start even describing my first trimester I have to preface whatever I say with the following:
Pregnancy comes with A LOT of unknown. Especially if you’re experiencing your first pregnancy, which I am. I don’t think that any book, insta mom-blogger page, or app could have properly prepared ME for what my experience would be like. Keep in mind, with all of this being new and unknown, the world was going through a pandemic. For me, the unknown puts my anxiety in high gear. So whatever normal anxiety I would have experience just from being pregnant was heightened because the whole world was in chaos.
Now let’s get to the good stuff... and by good I mean the most dreadful first few months of 2020. I found out I was pregnant on January 31st, 2020. It was a Thursday and as I was ending my work day I was struck my this intense feeling of nausea I’ve never experienced before. My boss told me my face looked green. I felt green too. When I feel nauseous my entire world starts falling apart. I start hyperventilating because I might throw up- which is the worst possible thing in the world- I get all hot and flushed. I feel like I have one foot in the depths of hell and one foot in a freezer. Everything feels wrong. I sat at my desk and sipped on some cold water before heading home. I lived 8 minutes from my office at the time and I drive a Jeep Wrangler. In those 8 minutes I promise the road was bumpier than any other day and I was crying out to god from the depths of my soul to forgive my sins - this was enough torture. I walked through my apartment and when I walked in I got a whiff of fried chicken fingers and immediately needed to eat them all. I don’t know about you, but when I’m normally nauseous I cannot smell, look or see anything. I knew something was off when I couldn’t resist eating chicken of all things when I was nauseous. At 11:30pm I went to the bathroom and performed the coolest Magic trick out there. I peed on a stick and at 11:35pm two pink lines appeared. I stared at those lines in shock for about 10 minutes. Then after having my own “OMG. oh my god. OHH. MYYY. GAWDDD.” moment I brought that stick out to the living room and showed my Husband. It took Mo about 10 seconds of staring at it to register that We were pregnant and when he realized he couldn’t stop cheering!
I had a grace period for about 3-4 weeks. Two of those weeks I didn’t know I was pregnant yet. The last week I only had the symptoms of my entire chest being sore like never before. After the first 3-4 weeks past by I got slammed with exhaustion that felt like I was carrying a ton of bricks on my back. Then suddenly around week 6 We added on the nausea.
I don’t know why but my body felt the need to not let it go once the afternoon hit. My body didn’t know the term “morning sickness” my body decided to sign up for a subscription of “all day every single day” nausea.
For the next 3 months you wouldn’t find me at work. You would barely see me in a grocery store. You wouldn’t see me working out anymore. Family and friends hardly saw me. I only existed hunched over our toilet, laying on the bathroom floor crying that this needs to end, sleeping on the couch most nights (bc I have a fear that I’ll have to vomit and won’t make it in time and will accidentally vomit on Mo- also I know that this probably isn’t logical thinking), and laying on the floor of our dining room. All I could stomach eating was saltines, salty pretzels, sour candy chews, lemon wedges and pizza bagels. All I drank pretty much for 3 months was 95% ginger ale and 5% water.
Emotionally I was a horror story. I cried over everything. An Uber driver asked me how my day was after work and I just started sobbing and didn’t stop the whole way home. I cried because my pizza bagels were so good. I cried because I was nausea. I cried because I was happy. I cried when I saw a cute video. If someone texted me “Hi” or “thinking about you” I. LOST. IT. I mostly cried because I couldn’t control crying and was crying about things I didn’t want to cry about. Whatever years I spend harboring my feelings or keeping things to myself - I made up for it all in 3 months.
When I was finally feeling more like myself physically I was ready to go back to work and Covid-19 broke out. We were all told to stay home. My doctor told me it’s very new and I shouldn’t go out or see people. I was ready to go out and be human again. I was excited to socialize and work!!! Man plans, god laughs.
Mentally at this point I was spiraling. The hormones flooding my system never helped me. Not on birth control and not from being pregnant. My anxiety was higher and more debilitating that ever before and I felt depression creeping up on me. The issue with that was any form of self care or stress relief I practiced before this time, I couldn’t because I was either pregnant or Covid-19 placed even more restrictions. I am so happy to be pregnant and was during this time despite all these side effects. Feeling anxious or depressed and also feeling grateful and happy was so conflicting for me. You also begin to see your body change and nothing feels worse than when you’re in the in between stages or showing. It’s like growing your hair out from a Pixie or Bob haircut. There are a few inches between hair lengths and styles that just put you in a bad place.
The first trimester was my own personal hell. I was SO happy but it felt so distant from me. I felt like it was buried under all the gross & distasteful symptoms, body changes, and mood swings. I have to say that at 24 weeks I am in a whole different place and feeling more myself. As much as I can feel myself, never did this growing a human thing before. It’s been exciting and scary getting to know my body and myself as a pregnant woman. I think all the changes and the way the body works to create a child are fascinating as well as gross. It’s truly a miracle and has me awe-struck but I simultaneously feel we can do without a lot of the side effects and strange changes. That’s just me though, some woman LOVE pregnancy. ALL. OF. PREGNANCY. I am simply not that kinda Gal. I just keep my focus on the cute sonogram pictures and imagining holding our baby for the first time. That seems to help make this all a little more tolerable!