Thursday, August 29, 2019

How's Mom? A four-month update

My daughter was four months old yesterday, which means this blog is WAY overdue for an update! Since we want to respect our daughter's privacy, this post will focus largely on myself and how I've made the transition to motherhood. However I can share that Katie is very healthy, VERY strong, meeting all her milestones, and charming us every day with her easy temperament and infectious laughter.
As for Mama? I'm doing really good. Not perfect--the headaches I've struggled with for years are back, but right now they seem easier to tame than previously. I can't remember the last time I was in the ER with a migraine. Yet despite having about two difficult headaches a month, my post-pregnancy life has been an improvement in life.

My pregnancy was difficult. Crippling morning sickness for the first half, then extreme fatigue and a VERY low baby made for reduced mobility and high discomfort for the second half, not to mention the month of prodromal labor (while my baby's position was +1! That's VERY low, most babies don't get that low until active labor!)

Postpartum recovery, on the other hand, has been really good. My body is really enjoying the hormones of breastfeeding, and that coupled with a great new chiropractor has resulted in a reduction in my shoulder and head pain. Good nutrition care from my naturopath, good support from my family, enough sleep, and I've been blessed to be able to fully enjoy my baby.

Make no mistake, this would not be the case without my support team. My health issues mean I do not sleep efficiently, and my deafness means that I can't hear Katie when I'm asleep, so my body has so far refused to relax enough to let me sleep when I'm home alone (and yes, we've looked into/tried/eliminated many helpful ideas). My family has arranged for a superb level of accommodation and assistance , and I'm forever indebted to them. They allow me to feel like a super mom!

Going into motherhood, I set my expectations for breastfeeding very low. I knew that this could be the hardest part for sufferers of fibromyalgia pain, and I was prepared to be okay if my body gave out after a month. It definitely was difficult on my body to get through the first month when baby and I were learning everything. However I am super thrilled (and feel tremendously blessed) to mark four months of exclusive breastfeeding as of today! After a lifetime of feeling like my body just was not up to the mark, I am astounded and grateful to have had excellent supply, neither over nor under. Lots of thanks to Mother's Milk tea, lots of oatmeal, and a husband who learned quicker than I did how to execute a perfect latch and became my personal lactation coach those first few weeks. (An involved and educated dad can be SUCH a help!)

We also discovered pretty quickly that doing some pumping was a great stress-buster, as it allows me to sleep through a feeding and lets other family members have a turn bonding during feedings. This isn't a good option for babies who won't take a bottle or suffer from nipple confusion, but somehow we introduced it well enough at the right time and had the right baby and it all worked out.

There have been hiccups, of course, mainly sleeping, colic and allergen issues, but after some trial and error and seeking expert advice we have ironed those out and it makes a huge difference for baby. I cannot recommend highly enough being aware of the effects of food allergies, trying elimination diets, and learning what acid reflux in babies looks like (and how to manage it). Now we're entering the world of nap schedules and teething and a baby who is starting to get mobile...wheeeeee!

Now past the first three months, I'm in the next phase, which is integrating regular life with baby life. I'm learning to balance that desire to do nothing but play with my baby all day with things I need to do for my home, my work, and myself. I'm working on finishing the home organization that a March flood and a month of crippling prodromal labor interrupted. Cooking is happening (I even made a beet and potato pie with a phenomenal new gluten free pastry crust recipe I found), and I'm managing a very low maintenance garden this year. I'm finding times to do some sewing and, yes, even some editing on "The Professor and the Siren." Writing is the most difficult part of all this, because Baby Brain/Mom Brain is real and I'm struggling to hold all the threads of the story in my head at once.