Postpartum Survival

Heat has sucked the life out of me
Weather Forecast for Vegas on July 12, 2012Seriously, with record-setting or -breaking highs AND high-lows this week, I haven’t felt like doing much of anything. My brain feels fried, the foot swelling issue has been much, much worse, my back hurts, my joints are all cracking like crazy and belly sweat is just plain gross.

Work has sucked the life out of me
I have a huge project at work. HUGE! And the timeline on that is not working out like I had planned. Thus I feel paralyzed and stressed. I sit at work, staring at my inbox all day hoping to see some kind of promising news coming from our new CMS quickstart team with news that I will actually be able to progress and get things to a point where it will be functional while I’m on maternity leave.

Hubby’s travels sucked the life out of me
My husband was in Chicago for work the first part of this week. So my interpretation of that was, “Okay, I don’t have to make an effort to stay awake now.” So I went to bed really early each night. And extra sleep was probably really good, but there’s something about putting your pajamas on right after work, sitting around alone (at least I had Jade The Boxer) and then going to sleep super early that doesn’t help me feel like I’m a valuable part of society

As you can probably tell, I’m feeling a bit down. Of course, that’s what this whole pregnancy has been… way more down than up. I’m still very concerned about full-blown postpartum depression, since antenatal depression has been very prominent and I’m more at risk for PPD due to my history.

And yet, people have reached out like the topic of postpartum depression is completely foreign to us, like we’ve never even considered that possibility. And when they do, it just kind of annoys me… “Of course I’m aware of that possibility! Don’t you think I stress about that all the time?!” Especially when I don’t think that person can do ANYTHING to help in the event it occurs.

I attended a Postpartum Survival class a while back. The instructor does placenta encapsulation, which I considered very strongly for a while… but then I decided against it because a) it costs money and I’m a cheapskate and b) I can already hear those who are close to me questioning that choice and telling me that’s weird. But the class also introduced some ideas to help make the first few weeks with a new baby more manageable:

  • Hire a landscaper and cleaner for the first 3 months, so you don’t have to think about those things at all.
  • Give yourself the full 4-6 weeks needed for recovery (from a vaginal birth) without putting pressure on yourself.
  • Have a bunch of frozen meals made and ready to get you through the first 2-3 weeks (Dream Dinners type things, not just highly-processed grocery store frozen meals).
  • Make a “New Mama Survival Kit” that includes water bottles, snacks, magazines, books, rags, etc. that are all in a basket or bag next to you, so when you’re sitting in one place with a baby for a long period of time you have things that are right there with you.
  • Create changing/feeding/sleeping stations on both floors of your home.
  • Pre-make cold compresses for tender bits (feminine and nursing pads soaked in water and/or witch hazel kept in the freezer).
  • Use Rescue Remedy or lavender aromatherapy to help reduce stress levels
  • Make a list of your expectations for yourself as a partner and a parent as well as one for your spouse. Have your spouse do the same and compare.

Have I done any of that? No… because that stresses me out too! Plus it just feels like more crap that is piled on MY to-do list. I find pregnancy duties very lopsided, which leads me to think that parenting will be the same thing. And when people tell me things like “you’ll become an over-bearing and controlling crazy like every other mother” or “you’ll never have time for yourself again” – THOSE DO NOT HELP! Why would you tell people that crap? It’s stupid! (There was some article circulating a few months ago about this very conversation, the whole world needs a Communication 101 class, wherein we learn to stop bashing our bodies, bullying others and telling people only about the horrible things that come with common milestones.)

I’ve also been feeling really stressed in regard to food. It all started a few weeks ago when meals were not of my planning, I felt like every meal got progressively more and more out of control in regard to every food rule I have ever created for myself during my eating disorder. And even though I am not as tied to all those rules now, they still pop up in stressful times.

After that I felt like I had very little appetite, the only things I wanted to eat were overnight oats, fruit, smoothies. I sat down with my dietitian and she said that my “cravings” were completely rational. It’s super hot, so why would I want to eat something hot? I have baby limbs poking into all of my digestive organs, it makes sense that my body would crave things that are easier to digest. It’s nice to have a team that can help me work through these things, even if I know the facts deep inside. It’s sometimes hard to fight through the swirling ED thoughts when they get going.

I have 5 more weeks. I can do this. I’m not the first person in the world to ever be pregnant (that’s probably a really good thing, because the human species would have died off pretty fast) and a lot of people have it much worse than me during pregnancy (ever heard of hyperemesis?).

I’m just grumpy. To end this on a happier note, I’ll leave you with this pic of a onesie I got at a baby shower.
Surprise Baby Shower

P.S. – Go Team Challenge Las Vegas! I hope you have a fantastic time at the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon. I sooooo wish I was there. But not in the condition that I am right now, that would just be uncomfortable!


  1. That list? ALL of that would stress me out, too. (Except the multiplechanging stations, that’s really useful) Good Lord, why do these people/books/websites make it sound like a baby renders everyone within 10 feet totally impotent? Having a new baby is an adjustment, yes. But I promise that you’ll still possess the ability to walk into your kitchen to grab an apple if you want a snack. You’ll even be able to put that sleeping baby into a pack & play so you can use your hands for a few minutes!

    • And that response is just one of the many reasons I love you! You’re right, everything makes it seem like you lose a good portion of your abilities. Thank you for that reality check!

  2. The only one of those things that had me nodding my head like a jack-in-the-box was the one that’s probably going to be the hardest for you: give yourself the full 4-6 weeks to recover from a vaginal birth. Seriously, do that. Pretty much everything else will wait. Give yourself permission to rest and recuperate and get to know your baby for that first month or so.

    The rest of it…eh. Do the ones that make sense to you, and wait and see how it goes for the rest. Having multiple changing stations actually makes sense, as Marci mentioned, but that could just be your stocked diaper bag, or a basket with a few diapers, some wipes, and a receiving blanket to use as a pad under the baby. The ones that seemed the most useless to me were the frozen pads (I never needed ice once I was home from the hospital, just ibuprofen) and making a list of expectations for your partner, parents, etc. (because you can just, you know, use your words and say, “Hey, I need a nap, can you please watch the baby for an hour?” and “Bring me a glass of water while I nurse the baby, will you?”)

    • Yeah, the recovery time is going to be hard for me… especially when I feel like so many people are almost DEMANDING that I get back out to running long distances shortly after. But I do like the idea to recuperate as well as getting to know this baby. That’s a nice way to phrase it.

      The list of expectations seemed like a bit much to me as well. (Well, all of it kind of did, but that one in particular!)

      • Anyone who is acting like it’s your duty to get back out and run long distances shortly after the baby is born, you should sweetly and politely tell them to go screw themselves. Okay, not really. 😉 But seriously, having a baby is a MAJOR DEAL, both physically (Did you know that your internal organs all shift around to accommodate your growing uterus, and that it takes a YEAR for them to fully move back to their original places!? I find that amazing and fascinating.) and psychologically. You will get back to running distances when you feel prepared, and you are an experienced runner who knows how to listen to her body, so that’s no big deal.

        I’m thinking of Marci’s comment about how you’ll be able to walk into the kitchen and grab an apple when you need a snack, and laughing a little bit…I remember being kind of floored, after I had Annalie, by the weirdness of how everything was still the same, yet completely changed. Having a baby is such an amazing, trippy experience, especially the first time. I hope you can enjoy that part of it, that the difficult or disappointing parts fade into insignificance beside the moments that blow your mind. 🙂

        • Thank you… It’s reassuring to have others tell me that it is a big deal to have a baby. It feels like a pretty damn big thing to me, so when people tell me stories about so-and-so was running within a week, it frustrates me. And people that tell me to sign up for half marathons in September or October irk me.

          I did not realize that it took so long for organs to re-situate… that is pretty interesting!

  3. Reading this post reminded me of when I was getting married and everyone and their mom wanted to offer two cents. I just wanted to scream, “I’m getting married, not a lobotomy!”. People very rarely had positive uplifting things to say and would always follow up any advice with questions about when we were going to reproduce. It was very important to me that Husband and I got to spend time just the two of us when we got married because we were coming off a long distance relationship and it was like people were just rushing us thru the process. Take the time after your baby comes to recover and when you’re ready, you’ll run again, in your time, no one elses.

    • You’re right… for some reason people feel the need to terrify others when there is a life change approaching. Marriage, babies, etc.
      And I like that reminder, I need to put it on my wall or something: “when you’re ready, you’ll run again, in your time, no one elses.” Brilliant!

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