It’s time for a 6 week postpartum check-in (mainly for my own well-being). It’s kind of crazy to think that it’s been six weeks since Arbor was born. I still feel random kicks in my deflated belly and often forget she’s here if I’m not in the same room as her. Then again, it is hard to miss the sound of her cries from the other room. Life is certainly crazier than ever with some days feeling dark and blurry. I know sometime soon I will look back at my fourth trimester and be proud for keeping my chin up.
Women spend so much time being pregnant compared to the short amount of time it takes to actually birth the baby. We’re watched closely by doctors throughout our pregnancy and once we’ve delivered, our doctors set us free. I’m thankful my practice offers a virtual two week check-in. I was able to talk a little bit about my postpartum emotions, which prepared me for my six week check-up.
The 6 Week Postpartum Check-Up
At my six week postpartum check-up I was surprised at how in depth my midwife went in terms of how I am feeling. Truthfully, I’m not feeling so great. After two UTIs and a round of mastitis within the first four postpartum weeks, my body is still recovering. I certainly don’t feel as strong or energetic as I thought I would six weeks after having a baby.Some days my body hurts so much from exhaustion that I wonder, “Do I have Covid or am I just tired?” I’m hoping to feel stronger in the coming weeks though.
After a brief exam of my lower region, the midwife reports I am not healing properly. I will be using an estrogen cream to help the area where I tore heal appropriately. Apparently breastfeeding Moms lack the essential hormones for healing sometimes! With that being said, I have not been cleared to exercise (or have sex) until I’m checked again at my follow-up appointment in two weeks.
How is breastfeeding?
One of my most asked questions on social media is – Are you breastfeeding? The answer is yes – for now. As long as Arbor will thrive on breastmilk then I will continue to breastfeed. However, we suspect she has a dairy allergy, so I am not eating it with the hope it calms her colic-y moments.
I had Mastitis during the first few weeks of my fourth trimester and possibly have it again. My milk supply is abundant, so it was inevitable the first time. However if I do have it again, its probably because I’ve been tired, stressed, and Arbor doesn’t empty my breasts at all feedings. Thankfully, she eats very quickly and efficiently, so she is thriving (according to the pediatrician).
Notes about my last time breastfeeding: I breastfed both Annabelle and Ailey a few months past their first birthdays. Neither of them enjoyed a bottle even though Annabelle had to take one at daycare. The girls were both allergic to dairy as infants, so I followed a dairy free diet while breastfeeding.
How are YOU?
Before I get into the not-so-pleasant stuff, I want to say this: I am so happy Arbor is here. The love I feel for her is immeasurable and infinite. Despite some anxiety and depression, I am truly overjoyed with the new addition to our family.
Arbor has started smiling this week, which helps A LOT since I am having a tough time figuring out the other stuff. The newborn stage is hard for everyone because we don’t know why the baby is crying. Newborns require a lot of Mom’s attention, too, so I am very rarely alone or able to reset. I know things get easier when her digestive system settles and she figures out day/night routines. But for now… here is what’s going on…
The Fourth Trimester
There is something to be said about theThe Fourth Trimester for women. The first 12 weeks after having a baby is a time of great emotional and physical change. While my body is slowly going back to what it used to be, my mind is headed elsewhere.
There are days I catch sight of myself in the mirror and barely recognize the woman looking back. She has tired eyes, pale skin, and often looks like she is wearing a fake smile. As a Mom of two older girls, it is my duty to be positive and upbeat as much as I can for their sake. The reality is I’m irritable, moody, and often fighting the urge to retreat into myself. Sometimes I even feel withdrawn and detached from situations.
If you follow me on social media, I think I have made it pretty evident I’m struggling on an emotional level. I’ve been very open about my fluctuating feelings of sadness/stress/anxiety/frustration. When I stop to evaluate my mental health, I can’t help but remember how my postpartum depression and anxiety felt like before.
So, where do I go from here? I thank the sweet little baby every day for making me her Mom. And then I consciously check-in with myself and my emotions. Thanks to weekly therapy sessions, I’m hyper aware of the fact I am not feeling like my normal self 24/7. Per my midwife’s recommendation, I’ll be discussing treatment and possibly medication with my therapist later this week.My midwife also recommends I find ways to rest MORE and worry about life later. She says my lack of sleep is the number one contributing factor to the decline of my emotional wellbeing, followed by fluctuating hormones.
In my heart I know I will feel like myself again soon. There is a light at the end of the newborn stage where your baby feels like YOUR baby (and not a stranger in your arms). There is SO much more I could say about how I’m feeling, but part of me wants to keep it to myself. For now, I need to give myself some grace and figure out the best way to take care of myself.