3 Weeks Postpartum Update

It’s been three weeks since our world grew. THREE WEEKS since Emily Ruth entered our lives. The time is flying yet crawling simultaneously. Looking at her, it feels like she has been in our lives for years.

Motherhood is nothing like I thought it would be- both the good and the bad.

While 99% of the talk of having a baby is exactly that- the baby- the other 1% is just as important to take about. Postpartum recovery is nothing short of amazing and incredibly tiring. The physical and mental hurdles that a mother has to face once her child is born is not something that you can prepare for ahead of time. With raising a child, you can read all of the best books, all of Heidi Murkoff’s What To Expect series. You can take in all of the advice from your mom, mother-in-law, friends, coworkers, and strangers at the Subaru dealership. Raising a baby is something that every mother has done, and every mother will have “the answer”.

When it comes to your own postpartum recovery, no one has “the answer”.

My Postpartum Health

Physically, I feel amazing. I LOOK amazing. My body went through the most amazing journey these past 10 months. It created (with the help of Connor) and grew a HUMAN! A legitimate, tiny version of us. The female body… Growing up I always wondered what my pregnant body would look like. Would my belly be round or hang low? Would I gain a lot of weight in my thighs? Would my feet grow? Well, let me say that before giving birth, I truly never felt more beautiful than I did during pregnancy. I LOVED my belly. I began to appreciate my stretch marks. While I felt like I was going to fall asleep at any moment, and sitting/standing/walking/living made everything hurt, I loved what my body was doing.

After giving birth to our daughter, my perception of my body changed again. Now, 3 weeks PP, I can truly say that I have never been more beautiful than I am now. Yes, my stomach quite literally shrunk down and I weigh less than I did pre-pregnancy. My face is a bit thinner, although it is now graced with tired bags under my eyes. But those aren’t the reasons I love my NEW body.

My stretch marks are beautiful, natural symbols of what my body went through to create our daughter. In my uterus, I grew our child along with her placenta, an organ that my body created to sustain our daughter’s life for the 9.5 months she was inside of me.

My breasts, as HUGE as they are, are currently creating the milk that my daughter will eat and live off of until she can begin eating solid foods. Every 2 hours, my milk “comes in”, pins and needles and all, biologically knowing when it is time to feed our baby girl. One month ago, I was not pleased at the way my breasts looked- they were so different than my pre-pregnancy breasts. But now, I look at them with awe as I watch Emily eat from them 10 times a day.

My c-section scar is the most beautiful mark on my body. It showcases what my body went through to bring Emily into the world. It is healing beautiful and I can’t wait to show it off. My body is beautiful.

I have not yet been cleared to work out. I try to take a long, daily walk with Emily to keep up my physical and mental stamina. I do the laundry, wash the dishes, and tidy up around the house. in 4 weeks, I should be cleared to begin working out, getting myself on a physical journey that will make me feel good inside and out.

My mental postpartum journey hasn’t been as rewarding as my physical one. No one can prepare you for what you feel inside after giving birth. The second Emily was out of me. my extremely elevated hormones plummeted into the basement and deeper. What has been so high during pregnancy to ensure that my daughter was getting what she needed was suddenly gone, and I was the one who had to mentally calibrate that change.

It has NOT been easy. As someone who gets overwhelmed easily, has anxiety especially surrounding major changes (uhh having a baby), and overthinks every little thing that crosses her path, this new chapter in my life has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Lack of sleep aside, it has been difficult to work through my emotions when it comes to dealing with Emily. Yesterday was one of the more difficult days we had. Connor working from home is amazing, but it doesn’t mean he can help all of the time. My frustration levels rise very quickly, especially when I have to race naked down the stairs after just getting out of the shower to retrieve our crying child before she interrupts a work call. The dishes are never done. we had a pile of laundry so high it didn’t fit into 2 baskets. Emily’s clothes haven’t been folded or put away in 2 weeks.

Yes, she is my daughter. Yes, I love her more than anyone and anything in this world. Yes, she annoys the crap out of me and sometimes I just want to yell at her to shut the fuck up (which I did yesterday to no avail). Being a mother is NOT easy. Being a mother to a newborn is even harder. It is the absolute hardest thing I have ever done… but the reward of looking at my daughter with my husband is beyond worth it. All of the times I sit here blaming myself for not being a good mom because I can’t get my daughter to stop crying mean nothing compared to the joy I get while breastfeeding her, or the thought of her in a month from now smiling and laughing at her daddy tickling her little belly.

Postpartum is the fourth trimester of pregnancy, the one that has such a stigma over it that women are afraid to even say the word. It is incredibly difficult to raise a child with NO prior knowledge. It is even more difficult to accept that your life has changed forever. That your relationship with your husband has changed forever. That you will never be doing anything solely for yourself. And that is okay. None of the above has to turn into a bad change. You embrace what has come with this tiny bundle of poop and love and you do what you need to do to ensure that the other areas of your life thrive.

Emily Ruth’s Update

Let’s talk about our little Emily Ruth! It is SO hard to believe that our baby girl has spent three whole weeks on this earth. The time has flown… yet it has also dragged. Anyone else feel that??

Emily is amazing. Watching her grow, seeing her discover new things (as much as a 3 week old baby can discover), seeing the changes in her body and mind already… there is nothing better. She is SO STRONG! She was able to hold her own head/neck up at 1.5 weeks… for real. It was amazing to watch! She bops around, she kicks and grabs our hair. It’s incredible watching her figure out what different parts of her body can do.

The day we brought her home, we noticed physical changes in her- in just the 2 days we had her! In utero, babies absorb a TON of hormones from the mother. I mean, think about it. For 9-10 months, a woman is growing a baby. She has the biggest influx of hormones she will ever have in her life. She doesn’t get her period, meaning that this influx of hormones is stopping her body from doing something it has been doing once a month since she was 13. Her hormones have to sustain this new life that is growing inside of her.

Once the baby is born, the hormones received from the mother begin to expel from that little body in various ways. Emily had what you would call “period-like symptoms” for about a week and a half following her birth. She had discharge from her little tee-tee, both milky-like and bloody. This was a hugeeeee shock to Connor and I, giving her her first at-home bath and seeing this… blob… come out of our daughter’s privates. It is 110% normal in female infants, though, so nothing to worry about!

Way #2 to expel the mothers’ hormones- enlarged breast tissue and leaking from the nipples. Again- SO WEIRD if you haven’t read about it/haven’t had other children. This is most common in females, while male infants may have an enlarged scrotum as they expel their mothers’ hormones. Again, this is completely normal, just a little jarring for first time parents to see.

Way #3, and the most common form of hormones, is baby acne. About a week ago, Emily started developing baby acne on her little forehead. It has since spread down her nose and cheeks, onto her scalp and chest, and the back of her neck. This acne has shown in tiny little red and white bumps and has made her skin very dry. Her face is about 75% cleared up now, with dry and red patches scattered around. Seeing acne in a baby is so strange, as I’m sure it will be when she gets her first pimple during puberty.

The most exciting thing this week- her umbilical cord FINALLY fell off! Our baby girl has a bellybutton at long last ❤

I mean, come ON!!! Look at her little bellybutton! I think she’s gonna gave an outie!

Don’t mind her surrounded by A&D and Pampers

Bath time is still hard. We figured out that rather than be washed with a washcloth, Emily likes when you soap up your own hands and bathe her that way. I think she finds it more soothing. She doesn’t start crying until the last 2 minutes, when we wash her hair. She doesn’t like the water running over her face, us covering her ears, or the cold feeling she gets once the shampoo is rinsed out. Poor baby!

On the plus side, we are LOVING this Fischer-Price 4-in-1 Sling ‘n Seat Tub. Emily doesn’t love it as much, but hopefully when she is able to sit up a little more she will enjoy bath time!

Emily has officially met her entire immediate family. It has been wonderful watching our parents and sisters meet her for the first time. Emily is all of their first grandchildren, which means she gets SPOILED! It’s good for mommy and daddy- we don’t have to spend a dime! Emily will get to grow up knowing my mom, dad. and stepmom, and Connor’s parents. She will ALSO get to grow up knowing her GREAT GRANDPARENTS (my grandparents). That is something that is so rare, I cherish the fact that she gets to know two of the people so close to my heart… and now hers!

We love this little girl. It’s still hard to believe she is only three weeks old. Were have our entire lifetimes with this bundle of joy. I can’t wait to witness her first smile, to hear her laugh, to watch her crawl and walk and live and grow into her own person. Our beautiful baby girl is ours forever and ever.

Next week I will be publishing a blog post highlighting the most useful products I have found for both postpartum recovery and for living with a newborn. Subscribe to 2 Cats and a Bébé to stay up to date on my posts going forward!!

Emily’s Birth Story

One week ago, I gave birth to the most beautiful, most perfect, most incredible little girl. I cannot believe it has already been one week… while Connor can’t believe it’s ONLY been one week.

While we’re all doing great, my physical recovery is moving at the speed of light, and my emotional recovery is slowly on the up and up, Emily’s arrival did not come without a few (thousand) hiccups.

Emily’s arrival into this world began with a very false water break the morning of Sunday, September 27th. Having never gone into labor before, I wasn’t sure if my water slightly broke or if I was just having an increase in discharge. Amniotic fluid is clear/straw colored and has no smell- the stuff leaking out of me was exactly that, but it wasn’t a gush or a trickle. Being 41+1, we didn’t want to risk anything, so we called the Dr., packed up our stuff, and left for the hospital.

We arrived at Norwalk Hospital around 10:00am. Upon arrival, we both got our temperatures taken and were brought into our private Labor and Delivery room. I instantly got COVID-19 tested (negative!) and got blood drawn. I also had my oral temperature taken every hour while there.

I got hooked up to fetal monitoring devices to register Emily’s heart rate and my contractions (if any). I was also given an IV drip for fluids and was given an antibiotic for Group B Strep. Group B Strep is a bacteria that 1 in 4 women have on their genitals. It is not harmful to the mother, but could be harmful if passed to the baby via vaginal birth- the antibiotics prevent that!

Once the doctor arrived, she examined my cervix and checked for any dilation and effacement. The conclusion was: I was STILL, after 4 WEEKS, only 1cm dilated with about 40% effacement. My water had indeed not broken, and I was nowhere near giving birth to our daughter. We talked about our options for delivery, including administering Pitocin to induce contractions, when we began talking about my scoliosis surgery.

I had surgery to correct a 50/50 curve in my back 10 years ago when I was 15. I had Harrington Rods put into my back on either side of my spine to prevent any more curvature. The robs themselves extend from the bottom of my neck to the top of my lumbar- quite a lot of rods! Since I had the surgery 10 years ago, we never discussed how that would affect my future prospects with having children- something that has been on my mind since then.

Regardless of talking about my surgery and rods with my OB, they didn’t seem to understand the severity of them. Because the natural birthing position is on your back, pushing, while curling your back into a C shape (which I cannot do physically), the doctors recommended considering a C-Section. Even if I was given Pitocin, labor may not have started for hours, even days, and could have ended in a C-Section anyway. Connor and I took time alone to discuss this, as it was a complete 180 from my original plan of a natural birth. We agreed that it would be the best thing for me so that I wouldn’t be in pain, wouldn’t risk breaking my tail bone, and wouldn’t be stressed while trying to deliver our baby.

We scheduled the surgery for 1:00pm the next day, September 28th- my own birthday! They gave me all of the pre-op information, including that I needed to stop drinking/eating after midnight, and I needed to prep the surgical area with special sterile wipes.

We were so excited that in 24 hours we would have our little girl!

The next morning at 7:30am I received a phone call from the doctor stating that they had made a scheduling mistake. They scheduled the delivering doctor twice- one for a gynecological surgery on top of my C-Section. This meant that they wouldn’t be able to deliver Emily on the date and time initially promised. We were devastated. We were so looking forward to meeting baby girl. We rescheduled for 7:30am the following morning- September 29th. We were able to enjoy my birthday in peace and quiet, one last day as a family of 2.

Overnight, I went into labor. I didn’t know it was labor at the time! I had intense pelvic pain and pressure and couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit or lay in. These pain periods would come in waves and wouldn’t last a very long time. Around 9:00pm, I noticed that they were coming almost exactly every 20 minutes, and were to the point that I had diarrhea or vomiting with every contraction. And that’s when it hit me… I was in labor.

The contractions were far enough apart where I knew we didn’t need to go to the hospital. especially because we had a scheduled C-Section not 7 hours later. I mustered up enough strength, mentally and physically, and got through them.

We left for the hospital around 4:00am after feeding two very confused kitties. I didn’t need another COVID-19 test, as my first one came back negative. We did a little more bloodwork and got my vitals taken. I didn’t need to be administered penicillin since I was having a C-Section. It was an easy morning so far!

My delivering doctor came in and we spoke about the C-Section, I signed a consent form, and waited to speak to the anesthesiologist about my spinal block. The spinal block was going to be put in place to numb me from below my breasts to the tips of my toes- I wouldn’t feel a thing.

About eight years ago, my maternal aunt was diagnosed with malignant hypothermia. She had an allergic reaction to general anesthesia and was in danger of dying. She had amazing doctors who took care of her and she made it out alright, but this was something so new and unheard of for us that we didn’t know what it meant. It is something that is hereditary, and my mother has yet to get tested, so every step of the way I made sure to note that this was a possibiltiy going into surgery.

Things got delayed a bit since our doctor had another delivery down the hall. While we waited I received antibiotics to ward off any infections from the surgery, for compressions socks on, and threw up a few times due to nerves (pro tip: if your procedure is getting close, don’t ask what time it is. You will get nervous and throw up).

Around 8:15-8:30am, our nurse came in and told us there had been a change of plans. Because of the possible deathly reaction to general anesthesia PLUS the Harrington rods, they moved my surgery to the main hospital OR, rather than the maternity OR.  That’s not bad- except that if I received general anesthesia, Connor wouldn’t have been able to be in the OR with me. I would also be recovering in the main PACU instead of the maternity recovery ward, which meant I wouldn’t see Emily until I was cleared to go back down to my room in Maternity which could have been up to 3 hours. It all depended on how quickly I got feeling back into my legs and how quickly my vitals went back to normal. That was a little uncool and daunting.

We spoke with the head RN about our options and we’re given the thumbs up that no matter what happened, Connor would be with Emily every step of the way. This was the most important for us. I didn’t want our daughter to be without one of us, even if it meant not breastfeeding her until I made it down to the maternity ward.

What was scheduled for 7:30 didn’t end up kicking off until almost 9:00am. It was nerve wracking, waiting, and scary not knowing what the outcome of the spinal/general would be. 

We eventually got up to the OR and Connor headed around the corner to wait for the word on my anesthesia. I was terrified, as I was fully awake and alert heading into the OR… alone… without my husband. Through it all, I was able to receive a very successful spinal block! I was scared shitless, was shaking quite a bit, and ended up crying pretty heavily (from pain/pressure, embarrassment, and utter nerves about the procedure and having a child), but our anesthesiologist was FANTASTIC. He calmed me down, talked to me thru the administration of the anesthesia, snd was truly there for me every step of the way. Our main nurse also allowed me to squeeze the absolute shit out of her hands, and all of the doctors and nurses complimented my tattoos- anything to get my mind off of the pain in the small of my back.

Once laid on the bed, I had a catheter put in, and Connor was brought in the room. They hung up a curtain so we couldn’t see what was going on. We didn’t go south of the wall!

I was completely numb from the underboob down, and was given a nice, heavy dosage of pain meds which made me a little loopy. I was constantly asking if my arms were okay, as I had lost some feeling in them as well. I was also given medication for anxiety and nausea- the two go hand in hand for me. 

Our OB spoke to us through the whole procedure, telling us when I would feel pressure and what they were doing. I honestly couldn’t feel a thing. Not 10 minutes later, our fantastic OB said “There’s her head! Full of hair.” and the PA showed us our baby girl. Connors arm was in the way so I couldn’t really get a good look, but hearing her cry was all I needed to know she was healthy. 

Emily Ruth Whiteley. Born on September 29th, 2020 at 9:49am Norwalk Hospital. 6lbs 15.3 oz, 20 inches long. She is perfect.

Emily Ruth Whiteley. Born on September 29th, 2020 at 9:49am Norwalk Hospital. 6lbs 15.3 oz, 20 inches long. She is perfect.

Fatherhood looks good on you.

The PA called Connor over to the weigh station where he was able to watch her get her weight checked for the first time. After a few minutes, Connor brought her over to me and put her cheek on my cheek. She was the tiniest baby I had ever seen, and so flipping adorable (and that’s not just the pain meds talking). I immediately knew she was 100% her father. 

First time kissing her little cheek!

Connor got whisked away to the recovery room while I remained getting stitched up. Once everything was done and cleaned (only another 20 minutes more) I was brought to the recovery room where I saw Connor. We ended up going to the main OR PACU so that we could be close to the anesthesia desk, but we were out in our own private room. This was a huge advantage because it meant that after 45 min we could meet Emily!

Once she was brought up from L&D, we immediately started skin to skin contact and I breastfed her for the first time. It was the most magical moment- I started crying once she latched on (without a hitch I might add) as did Connor. Watching our daughter feed from my breast is something that will never get old. Until she gets old! It was truly beautiful.

I became nauseous quickly due to excitement and overwhelming emotions, so Emily was brought down to our maternity room with Connor. I stayed to make sure that I could move my legs before we headed down. I also needed to make sure my heart rate was approved since it was pretty high due to anxiety and throwing up. 

I made it down to the maternity ward around 12:30- just under 3 hours after Emily was born.

First time holding her after getting to the maternity ward.

Giving birth was nothing how I imagined it would be- and I would NEVER trade my experience for anything else. I love my daughter. I love my husband. I love what my body did for us. And I cannot wait to see what life has in store for our family of three.

One Week Old!