Saturday, June 14, 2014

Three Weeks Postpartum

Yesterday Marshall turned three weeks old! We are halfway through what nearly every parent has told us is the hardest part (the first six weeks), and we're surviving. Actually, "surviving" seems a bit harsh--we're doing far better than I expected. Before Marshall came along, I was most nervous about this time, and I felt overwhelmed just at the thought of becoming a parent. Will we know what to do? Will we sleep at all? Will we be living in chaos, just trying to stay afloat?

Turns out Terry had a lot of similar fears. We both pictured some sort of post-apocalyptic war zone in our apartment--an insurmountable pile of dishes in the sink, baby items haphazardly strewn about every room, two unshowered and malnourished parents walking around like zombies. This, my friends, is what we thought parenting would be like.

Um, what made us decide to get pregnant? Apparently we were crazy.

But it turns out we were completely wrong. Thanks to lots of help from friends and family, tons of meals provided for us, and the fact that Terry has four full weeks off work, we've really found this time far more joyful and far less stressful than we originally imagined.

I thought I'd provide just a short update about how we're doing three weeks in, three weeks away from Marshall's birth.

37 weeks pregnant (our last pregnancy photo)

Marshall at one week old

37 weeks

(You'll notice a significant difference in my general appearance...I'm a little tired.)

 I do plan to write out a whole post about labor and delivery, but I'm not quite ready yet. Spoiler alert: everyone came out healthy, but it didn't go anything like we had hoped or planned. I'm still processing the whole thing, but I do hope that sharing Marshall's birth story will benefit other moms and moms-to-be.

Meanwhile, here's what's happening around here.

Our New Routine
Parenthood is exhausting, just like everyone says. Our friends Heidi and Ed (whose little girl is three weeks older than Marshall) told us that they had been warned about how tired they'd be but that they didn't really understand until Kayla was born. I completely agree. People can warn you, and you might even consider yourself "prepared", but I had no way of wrapping my mind around the fact that there's no real way to recover from this type of exhaustion. And I'm lucky! Terry is amazing. Our nightly routine is: I feed Marshall one on side, Terry burps him, Terry changes his diaper, I feed him on the other side, Terry puts him to sleep. Without Terry's help I would be far more exhausted, but it's still about an hour at a time that we're awake each feeding. At this point, Marshall wakes up to eat three or four times each night (between 9 pm and 8 am).

During the day, we try to get up and moving by 8 am so that we can have some sense of a routine. In the mornings, Marshall is most alert, so we like to play, do tummy time, read, sing, dance, and talk. We tend to get three hours between feedings during the early part of the day. In the evenings Marshall is most unpredictable. Sometimes he'll eat for three hours without much of a break; other times he gives us a little nap between meals. We tend to stay close to home in the evenings. He'll go down "for the night" around 9, and we'll get a little mom and dad time before heading to bed.

I'm thrilled to say that nursing is going really well. We've hit some tough spots since Marshall's arrival--a very difficult labor and delivery, a bout of jaundice that sent us back to the hospital for two nights--but thankfully breastfeeding has been a very natural, positive experience. Marshall is gaining weight like a champ. He was 7 pounds, 12 ounces when he was born, and he's close to ten pounds now!

I'm hungry ALL the time from nursing, and I often scrounge for food in the middle of the night between feedings.

My doctor encouraged me to be up and walking as much as I feel comfortable, so we've been extending our walks a little each day. It's not even power walking yet, but I'm getting there. The fresh air and change of scenery (we've walked somewhere different every day) have also been tremendously helpful in keeping me feeling positive amidst all the changes that parenthood brings. Otherwise, I'm avoiding any exercise (I'm not supposed to pick up anything heavier than the baby, so I'm just focusing on walks).

Other Physical Progress
Since I had a C-section (yeah...I'll give all those details in the birth story soon), my movement has been fairly limited, especially the first two weeks. Luckily everything is healing really nicely, and my scar is virtually invisible (my doctor is a brilliant surgeon, so if surgery had to happen I'm glad he was there). I feel the most pain when I try to sit up in bed, but even that is getting better. Marshall likes to "jump" on my belly sometimes, which obviously hurts a bunch, but I keep telling Terry that the pain is nothing compared to the pain of labor (in fact, I never took any pain meds after surgery because my sense of pain was so warped from labor!). I'm thankful that the pain is finally subsiding, though.

Some strange aftermath of surgery: I never get the urge to go to the bathroom anymore (apparently very normal), so I have to just remember to go. Huge difference from pregnancy when I felt the urge even if I didn't have to go! My belly is super soft, and obviously I won't be strengthening it anytime soon. It's sort of odd to have such a different body from pre-pregnancy, but I'm in no rush to get back where I was. I mostly want to make sure I'm getting enough calories to feed Marshall and continue my walks. Also, I'm shockingly relaxed. All of my energy and attention is on my family. If something doesn't get done, I let it roll off my back. I hope I can keep up that attitude for a very long time!

Emotional Temperature
This one is tough to describe. The first two weeks were really rough. I didn't expect it (and people tried to warn me about this one, too!). I cried constantly. And I hate crying in front of other people! I blame a lot of those tears on the fact that I was so upset about how the delivery went, but some of it was just processing all the overwhelming changes we were experiencing and feeling completely terrified of never feeling normal again.

Three weeks in, I'm still a little fragile, but I definitely don't cry every day. I still feel overwhelmed sometimes, especially when I think about Terry going back to work or when I'm extra tired. But overall I know I'm getting better every day, and mostly I just can't believe how lucky we are to have such a healthy, "easy" baby (so far) who makes us laugh and has brought tons of joy in his young life.

The Highlights
My favorite moments of the last three weeks:

  • Terry announcing to me that it's a boy! I had no preference (really!), but I was thrilled!
  • Terry bringing Marshall over to me for the first time (remember when I said I'm not crying every day anymore? Yeah, I just started crying again)
  • On that note, watching Terry become a dad. He is a complete natural and absolutely adorable with Marshall.

  • Holding our little boy for the first time and feeling an overwhelming sense of calm, like holding this baby was exactly what I'd been waiting for my whole life
  • My brother telling me how proud he was of me after the delivery
  • Leaning on my husband nearly every moment of the first two weeks and knowing he'd be there. He never left my side!
  • Seeing our parents become grandparents--they are all overjoyed!
  • All the support and encouragement from our closest friends. I have desperately needed their texts, calls, cards, and e-mails, and I'm so grateful for the love and support.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!


  1. Such a beautiful post, Julie! I also cried a few tears reading your highlights ;) Congrats on your beautiful family! XO

  2. Congratulations to the two of you <3 you are beautiful parents with a beautiful boy!!! And a special happy fathers day to Terry!!! :)

  3. Julie and Terry, congratulations! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Marshall is adorable! Congrats to you and Terry! And thank you for sharing your story. I feel your pain about being an emotional wreck after an unplanned c-section. But either way, pushing or csection, you get your beautiful baby!