I’m a mom of two. I’m a mom of two…
Maybe if I keep writing it out, I’ll believe it a little more!
I have grown more in this past January alone than I think I did all of 2019.
Becoming a mother stretched me physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, — all the “-ally” words really — the first time around. Now, with Baby #2, I’ve experienced that stretching again. It’s been both familiar + brand new all at the same time.
Here’s what I mean:
I’m no stranger to the change in sleep with a newborn in the house. It’s familiar. But, yes, it’s still stretching me — physically + emotionally — especially because the one with the most sleep changes has been our 2.5 year old toddler!
The postpartum healing — the bleeding, cramping, soreness, wearing an adult diaper, etc. — was all expected after the familiar go-around. Much of it felt just the same, too. But there was a uniqueness all it’s own. Like the post-birth uterus cramping after Baby #2… I had been warned, and in my refusal to succumb to the “birth war stories” thing, I shrugged it off as just another misery-loves-company complaint for the masses…
Yeah, I was wrong to shrug that one off.
Holy. Cannoli. Those. Cramps. Are. No. Joke. The. Second. Time. Around.
To my expectant moms — buy yourself a heated throw blanket for afterwards right now. Not the most organic solution, but it is THE solution.
Anyways… back to the update!
The First Moments Postpartum
We had an incredible home birth to welcome our second baby. Labor progressed quickly + so efficiently that I didn’t get a break the entire time. Once birth started, it was GO TIME.
We called the midwives around 10:50 PM to share my water had broken + we were holding our son, KJ, by 2:50 AM. Four hours all said + done!
I say “we” because my husband was just as much a part of this birth as I was. You can read more about his role in KJ’s home birth story here. When he writes his daddy version, I’ll try to remember to tag it here!
Since birth had gone so quickly in the middle of the night, all of the big sibling home birth prep we had done for our 2.5 year old daughter wasn’t put into play. She slept through the whole birth!
That actually ended up being exactly what we needed, because a few hours after KJ’s birth, he was still breathing a little faster than average + we decided to take him to the hospital just to be sure all was fine. All was fine.
30-Hours in a Hospital
The hospital was the last place we expected to be after having a HOME birth. And I want to highly stress that we did not go to the hospital because of the home birth.
We went to the hospital as a separate event for good measure. Turned out, KJ just needed some extra time to get his breathing in-order: a normal post-birth experience called Transient Trachypnea of the Newborn (TTN).
Our overnight hospital stay was just to completely rule out any other possibility of anything other than “KJ just being KJ” as the reason for his interesting breathing pattern.
And, boy, did they rule out any other possibility. I was even tested for HIV!
Even though all was as great as it could’ve been from a health perspective, it doesn’t take away from the emotional experience of seeing your newborn there.
And, since I’m all about being organic here — the honest truth is that it was an absolute mind f*ck.
You can read more about what I learned from our home birthing hospital experience + what I want hospital staff to know about home birthing here.
After about 30-hours in-hospital (including an overnight stay for me + KJ for monitoring), we went home to introduce Big Sister to her highly anticipated little brother.
Home Sweet Home
Kensie was in awe of KJ. She held KJ for a little before bringing out the birthday cake she had made for him while we were at the hospital.
When she started singing “Happy Birthday” I thought my heart was going to explode. We were exhausted + still coming down from the shock of having to go to the hospital, but “HAPPY” was an understatement.
We were so happy to be home.
The days that followed were dotted with follow-up doctors appointments outside the home + the standard midwifery follow-ups at home for 1 day, 3 days, and 1 week postpartum.
I wore actual Depends adult diapers for the better part of 2 weeks. I can’t advocate for them over the mesh underwear/pad situation enough. I’ve tried both. Go for gold + wear the diapers. Trust me.
I didn’t tear during birth at all, so my physical recovery was pretty straightforward. Just lots of water, heat, homeopathies (like the Arnica Montana + AfterEase mentioned above) + rest time.
When we went to the hospital, I refused to leave KJ’s side, so I was sitting in hard chairs, walking way more than I ever should have been + sleeping/nursing in awkward positions.
All of that extra rough activity on top of having just given birth a few hours prior had made my overall body much more sore than it would’ve ever been otherwise.
When I got home, the magnitude of that soreness hit me. It was like I was finally able to feel for myself when I knew for sure KJ was 100% fine + home for good. This first postpartum week was lots of waddling + asking Kev for full body rubs between him lifting me in + out of bathtub epsom salt soaks.
We committed to as much bed time as possible. Lots of naps, snuggles + reading as a family so that I didn’t have FOMO + was still keeping my feet up.
Before the baby was born, we had let our extended families know that we would be waiting until at least a week postpartum before extending invites to the house to meet the baby. This was at our midwives’ recommendation + what we felt was best for us had the birth gone according to plan.
Even with that head’s up, and even in spite of our unplanned hospital visit, we got some disgruntled comments about others’ unmet expectations.
It is totally fair for people to not love our postpartum plans. We get that. It’s not the norm (and neither is how we’ve chosen to birth). But it’s been so interesting to see how many people think that we’ve made our postpartum plans about them.
They’re meant for the immediate family under our roof to all recover as quickly + safely as possible. That’s it. Full stop.
Emotionally, that has probably been our biggest disappointment. That we tried to get ahead of disappointing others — trying to mitigate expectations while meeting our family health needs — and then still getting grief for it anyways.
The hospital visit + the subsequent appointments didn’t leave me much time to feel the expected “baby blues”. We were just in “survival mode”, so to speak.
I did have a good cry with my midwife, Emily, recounting the full hospital visit story.
I think this is a HUGELY underrated part of home birthing with a midwife.
Emily had been at my home birth, waited with us the few hours after birth to help us make the decision to bring KJ for a hospital check-up, and then she stayed with us until all other decisions were made at the hospital.
Then, a day or two later, she was back in my living room talking through the events with me.
Just because our hospital visit had a happy ending doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t traumatic.
Emily was supporting both me + Kev emotionally every step of the way — even texting us in-between the in-person visits.
What doctor does that? What nurse does that?
Today, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a consistent caretaker for the parents in a standard birthing professional. I hope that’s something that we can all advocate change towards in the future. That support was critical to our mental health moving into the postpartum month ahead.
We had prepared for the worst + hoped for the best when it came to Big Sister Kensie’s long-term reaction to the baby addition.
We have gotten the best!
Right from the start, Kensie has been the most natural nurturer. She is so helpful, sweet + gentle with KJ. I’d love to take credit for having taught her how to do that, but I think it’s innately her. She is always thinking about others.
Kensie just takes it upon herself to refill my water bottle at the fridge + bring it to me in bed. She is especially curious about why I’m suddenly wearing diapers — even reassuring me “it’s okay, mom, accidents happen!” when she busts open the bathroom door to catch a view of me changing out of my Depends.
Hey, it’s not the most “beautiful” image but it’s just what happens. It’s organic!
The more KJ “wakes up”, the more Kensie realizes that my attention is divided.
When Kev + I help Kensie find the words she’s looking for, instead of just insisting that she “use her words” in the moments of frustration, we find we all understand each other better.
But, for the most part, we’ve been ahead of the attention-seeking tantrums expected at this age.
To get ahead of tantrums, I pick one intentional activity to do with Kensie alone everyday at minimum. Ideally, we try for something in the morning + something at night. Today, that looks like reading early morning stories in bed + painting our nails pink in the afternoon.
As a family, we have playtime on the floor every late afternoon + eat every meal together as a family, too.
Having those anchors throughout our days has given Kensie some predictability around the ever-changing needs of newborn KJ. To be honest, they’ve helped us adults way more than we expected, too!
More of the same! Bedsharing, breastfeeding, bowel movements, boundaries + big sister quality time. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I am spending my small windows of personal time working on my business + feeling doubly fulfilled between motherhood + the mentally-stimulating entrepreneurship work.
I’m reminded why it’s so important for moms to have access to smart, like-minded girlfriends + a separate passion that can coexist with raising a family.
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Having Kev home for his full 8-week paternity leave time this time around is making a world of difference. We are loving having everyone together + feel bonded so much faster because of all of the time spent in our baby bubble. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
KJ’s personality is coming through. After these first few weeks of “dating our baby”, we’re seeing that he is just a happy, go-with-the-flow little gentleman. Even when I indulged in some Trader Joe’s Mac ‘n Cheese that gave him a huge stomachache for a few hours 😢 he was still a really sweet, agreeable baby.
He’s at the point now where he knows when he’s being held by mom + when he’s not. I love that he seeks me out. There is no greater feeling.
And he just started to do real smiles. I am an absolute PUDDLE looking at this miniature version of Kev. I’m biased, but he is such a cute little baby.
He’s super tall + has already grown out of most of his 0-3 month clothes. Part of me is so proud he’s growing so well + then part of me feels like I’ve missed out on all of the cute little boy newborn outfits!
Emotionally, I have been avoiding writing his hospital visit story because I just am so happy now that I don’t want to revisit the stress + worry from earlier. I just want to stay present.
Even then, as I dance with KJ + sing to him at night, I am having flash-forwards to dancing with him on his future wedding day (if that’s what he wants!). I promise myself everyday to stay so grateful for the time I have with my little ones. It’s all so fleeting.
Postpartum Favorites – Month 1
As we’re getting into a good rhythm as a family, here are some things I have appreciated the most postpartum:
- That my mother-in-law had sent up a fresh new wardrobe for our toddler. I never had to think about putting together outfits or trying to find unstained play clothes for Kensie to wear before KJ’s appointments. So grateful for that part of my brain power being made available for other things!
- That my dad invited my older dog, Bruin, to have an extended stay at my parents’ house. He LOVES to go there for a break from all of the chaos at our house, and I feel like he’s getting the attention he deserves (even though I’m sad it’s not from me!).
- That my mom curated a bag of new Big Sister toys + crafts for us to pull from in the first 3 weeks. We were able to sit + rest a lot more throughout the day with the novelty of newness entertaining Kensie over us having to be imaginative with her current stuff. Again, any brain power conserved just helps!
- Having a 5-minute skincare routine that makes me feel pampered + refreshed, even when I’m in milk-covered pajamas. I severely underestimated how much of a mental shift clean skin can give me, regardless of whether I have the time for a full shower or not.
- Double-layering sheets on the bed between a waterproof mattress sheet. If anything spills or leaks, I just pull off the top layer with the waterproof sheet to reveal a fresh set of sheets underneath. 🙌🏼
What else do you want to know about this postpartum month?
Ask quickly in the comments before this all goes by too fast + my memory fades! 🙃