A Day in My New Life...

Another title for this post might more aptly be "Keeping it Real"

Almost two weeks into this gig as a Mama of two little girls and reality is hitting hard. Ninety percent of the time all is well, spirits are normal, and our little life plods on. The other 10% is rather ugly. Yes, it's probably partially related to the baby blues, but this new reality is harder than imagined.

Adjustment #1: We have a preemie.
          Having Caroline early was a surprise, but frankly my body is relieved that the pregnancy ended early. The pre-eclampsia was taking a greater toll on me than I realized. The hidden side of giving birth early is that while we initially thought Caroline was a late pre-termer (born at 37 weeks) we're now realizing that my dates were more than likely off. I started having trouble nursing and called my lactation consultant. When Jody, a former NICU nurse, came to evaluate Caroline her trained eye detected a baby born probably closer to 35-36 weeks. This has a whole host of ramifications. The biggest one is that Caroline doesn't have the necessary muscle tone (yet) to nurse. This means that for the next month my primary focus has to be feeding her. 

Right now that means:

  • Pumping 7-8 times a day for 15 minutes. 
  • Then Caroline gets a bottle of milk which takes another 15-20 minutes. 
  • To ensure that Caroline doesn't lose interest in breastfeeding, we comfort nurse twice a day. 
  • To measure what she is getting while at breast we weigh before and after each breastfeeding.
  • Thanks to the pumping fest, I am now on an herbal supplement to help increase and protect my supply.
  • I am also doing Power Pumping. This requires 5 minutes of pumping and then 5 minutes of rest for an hour.
  • Additionally, I apply heat to my breasts 30 minutes ahead of most feedings. 
  • Oh and everything is recorded. That includes what I pump, volume of milk given, volume she consumes, times, weights, type of feeding, and which nipple cream (I'm on two different ones) to help heal  and prevent bacterial growth.
Granted this isn't permanent, but it is incredibly demanding and consumes all of my energy.

Adjustment #2: Recouping after a hemorrhage.
           Thanks to all the pushing on my belly and blood loss, my stomach muscles remain really sore and I'm anemic. This translates into no heavy lifting (sorry Sweet Potato) and less energy for a tired Mama. I am supplementing my diet with an iron tonic, but the doctors tell me not to expect to be back to "normal" for approximately 6 weeks. Not only is there less energy, simple things like walking around the block or climbing the steps too frequently completely drain me. It's almost as though I had a c-section except my scar is internal.

When coupled with the above feeding schedule, my time and energy is totally consumed by Caroline and attempting to recover myself. There isn't bandwidth left for playing with Tabitha, cleaning, or cooking. God bless those that have brought us food and those that have scheduled to drop something off because seriously we wouldn't be eating otherwise. Perhaps the hardest part of all this is that everything looks normal.

To the outside world we're adjusting like any family who has added a newborn to their home. However, the reality I'm living with is one of both profound thanks and deep overwhelm. Thankful that our littlest girl is healthy, growing, and despite the rigorous feeding demands ahead of the preemie curve. Thankful I have such an awesome family who has served us with their time and talents (and food!) Thankful for my lactation consultant who literally kept Caroline from starving. Thankful for friends and a loving husband who take care of Tabitha and other incidentals so I don't overdo myself.

Still this new reality is a hard one to swallow at the moment. In a month's time this may all be a distant memory but right now it feels more like the never ending terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

P.S. This post brought to you curtesy of a power pumping session.

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