Things No One Tells You :: Postpartum

Last week, I provided a list of things no one tells you in relation to pregnancy. I will admit that list isn’t too bad, but it was more of a precursor for this one anyways. Postpartum. The fourth trimester and beyond. The time in your life where you think to yourself “what the fuck is going on?” hourly, if not more. Again, there are tons of lists out there on the world wide web. They claim they will tell you things no one will about delivery and postpartum; again those lists are all the same, and its all in your “What to Expect…” book. Here are the things I wish someone had sat me down, looked me in the eyes and told me.

Things No One Tells You:
  1. Somewhere in the first week you will have a hormone dump. This usually
    Things no one tells
    The calm before the storm

    falls around the 4th night, but can vary person to person. This day is the worst; do not have visitors, do not plan to do anything, have lots of snacks and water ready, and have a helper. This hit me at about 4am on the 4th night, struggling to breastfeed, tired as fuck, clueless, I sat on the couch holding my baby and sobbing. Tyler sat next to me and just said over and over, “I’m so sorry I don’t know how to help you”. The hormone dump is brutal. I suggest writing it on the calendar so that when you think you’ve broken irreparably and you can’t be a mother, you can look at the calendar and go “oh, that’s why this seems so hard”, take a breath, and get through it.

  2. You will sweat. You probably read about this, but what they all fail to
    Things no one tells
    notice how I’m shirtless in nearly every pic? SWEATY MOFO

    convey is HOW MUCH you will sweat. You will wake up and feel like you’re in the Amazon, it will feel like the air is heavy and you might even feel a bit claustrophobic (another reason to avoid a summer birth.) You will wake up in the middle of the night drenched and needing to towel off. The baby will wake you up 30 mintues later, and you’ll need to towel off again. You will feel disgusting. I suggest buying a mattress protector and an extra set of sheets before D-Day, also keep a towel next to the bed, for convenience.

  3. Fluids. SO. MANY. FLUIDS. You will have heard about how milk will just pour out of your (no longer) funbags, about the lochia which can last up to 8 weeks, and I’ve explained the sweat situation already. Let me paint you a picture… You will wake up and feed the baby, feeling disgusting, you will hand the baby over to Dad and go have a shower; so you can feel less swamp monster, and more human. You will save time (and water) and pee in the shower, it is then that you will consider for a moment the absolute leaking mess that you are. Water, tears (the shower is a good place to cry and you’ll cry through many of them), sweat, pee, milk, lochia… You will feel very odd, and then you may even laugh like I did. Because WTF, a woman’s body is totally amazing and fucked up. You will get out and dry off, put your hair into a bun, grab a fresh enormous pad, and feel clean again, for a short time at least. That is your new heaven; feeling clean, a baby who is sleeping peacefully, drinking your coffee and eating your breakfast that your baby daddy made for you. ahhh.
  4. Breastfeeding blows. Yes, its amazing that you can nourish a child with only your tatas, and yes its an intimate time, just you and your little one. But seriously, cut the crap. Its fucking hard work, it can be uncomfortable to the point of torturous, and while there is more support than there has
    Things no one tells
    The day the milk and the hormones dumped. ooof

    been in millenia, there is still not enough. If your nips are sore to the point you are crying or dreading feeding your baby, I highly recommend seeing a lacatation consultant (I actually recommend seeing one even if you aren’t struggling, because there is always room for improvement. They may catch something that isn’t an issue now, but will be in the future). By the time I called Jodi, I had nearly broken my foot kicking the coffee table as Callahan would latch. My nipples were bleeding (which was alarming when Callahan spat up brown fluids) and raw and I hated life. Jodi will know when the next kid is born before any of our family does. If you are set on breastfeeding, spend the money and book with an LC in advance, you won’t regret it.

    1. In addition to breastfeeding being hard, it will KILL your libido- its not the fact you had the baby that kills it, its the breastfeeding (hormones are a mother fucker). And it lasts a LOOOOOONG ass time.
    2. Also, breastfeeding doesn’t ruin your breasts. Pregnancy does. The damage is done long before the milk comes in. Speaking of milk coming in, that is also a brutal day. Hot, sweating, leaking, hard as rocks, baby still doesn’t know what it’s doing… I wish you luck. I ran around like a chiken with my head cut off, my boobs looked like a fembot’s and Callahan wasn’t interested in eating that day to relieve the pressure. It was also the day of the hormone dump, yowza.
  5. Breastfeeding DOES NOT equal weight loss. Yes, it burns extra calories,
    Things no one tells
    Weight/gut still there. Also this was basically my uniform

    but you also have to eat more to sustain your milk. I’m sure there are some lucky bitches out there that swear they lost all the baby weight by breastfeeding, but that wasn’t me, nor was it most of my friends or relatives. I was SOOOO hungry. Given that I didn’t have any real cravings while I was pregnant, I was unprepared for this primal urge to eat. I couldn’t control it, I had to eat. I remember one day, when Tyler left the house for a few hours and I just scrounged food like a freaking raccoon and ate nonstop for 3 hours. I’m not exaggerating.

  6. Your hair will fall out at an alarming rate, you’ve probably heard this before; but it will do this for AGES. Callahan is over a year old and my hair is still falling out like mad. My hair receeded at the temples and I have those lovely little “mom bangs” all around my face. I look like a pubescent lion. No matter how much effort I put in, my hair looks like hell. My lovely friend and hair stylist told me not to wear my hair tight in buns and ponytails; but to braid it. Keep it loose to help with all of this. But its impossible since I can’t do anything other than a ponytail or a bun, and I am so sweaty, the hair HAS to be up.
  7. Joint pain is a bitch. The relaxin hormone is starting to subside, the extra weight, the fatigue, the sitting and feeding baby for hours on end; it adds up. I would wake up in the morning and my feet would hurt to walk, I
    Things no one tells
    so much time on the couch

    would waddle, making quick little steps to avoid putting too much weight (haha) on them. It would take a solid 20 minutes before they stopped hurting. They would ache again if I was sitting for a while. My knees ached, getting off the couch became a struggle. You can also become susceptible to “mother’s wrist” which is caused by putting your wrist at weird angles to hold your baby while feeding or carrying. (Try to support the baby with your arm, leaving your wrist in a neutral position.) I “threw my back out” almost monthly, carrying him, sitting, tight muscles, relaxin, baby seat, strollers, etc… there’s a lot of pressure on your body, pretend you’re still pregnant and get other people to do stuff for you. Take it easy, and go to the RMT and Chiropractor. When you’re cleared for take off, see a trainer that specializes in postpartum fitness.

  8. Loss of bladder control is VERY common, but NOT normal. If you have
    Things no one tells
    hair always up. shirt never on.

    these issues, see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. It will change your life. If you’re a mature woman who’s kids are long grown, they can still help you. I only had 3 appointments and saw a difference in my control and my back problems after the first appointment. Your pelvic floor is the foundation of your body, if there is an issue there, nothing else will be truly fixed despite all your efforts.

I think the thing I was not prepared for (most pissed about) was how long all of these things last. For real, Callahan is over one, I stopped breastfeeding completely 3 months ago, and I still have some of these lingering on! My rings will now go on, but won’t come off. My feet still ache in the morning but not as bad, my joints and back are finally feeling better, my hair still falls out like mad, and the weight is still there, but slowly going away (like molasses uphill in the winter), and I still sweat like a mofo! Although not as bad as the time immediately after birth, but it’s not a cute amount to be sure.

Considering I had a smooth pregnancy, I would say I hated the postpartum feelings more than a third trimester in the summer or actually giving birth. I’ve said it many times since, but those first few weeks were so hard with all of the above, and our difficulty breastfeeding, that I would have given birth 3 times a week for 3 weeks than deal with that again. People focus on what your body is doing during pregnancy, and then they focus on the baby, but what we really need to be talking about is Mom and her body in those postpartum months (and months, and months). Add in any amount of postpartum depression/anxiety/blues/rage (yes, postpartum rage is a thing) and you’ve got quite a hole to climb back out of.

Things no one tells
would do it over again in a heartbeat

So there is my list of things I wish someone would have told me. Try to find the humour in it all. Yell at your tv, or cry in the shower. Ask for help, and more help. You will all survive this and thrive. When people ask you how you’re doing, tell them the truth; no one can help you if you don’t tell them what you need; even if all you want is to stop spewing fluids like a colander.

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Living in a Small Space with a Baby

You may recall from this post, that I was pregnant when Tyler and I sold his apartment. When we realized we couldn’t find a rental within our budget and were waiting for our new home to finish being built, we decided to move into my apartment that we had been previously renting out.

small spaceMy apartment was a 525 square foot studio condo with a Juliet balcony. Yes you read that right. We were going to be bringing our baby home to a tiny studio apartment where the 3 of us and the dog, would live for a year.

Thankfully, our new home was finished 2 months early, so we only had to spent 9 months there! Recently our originally projected possession date passed, and we both agreed one of us would have been murdered by the other if we had to have stayed there the whole time.

The layout was decent, which meant that there was a “bedroom” separate from the livingsmall space room. But it only had 3 walls, no windows, and was obviously, tiny. I created a little space that would be Callahan’s bedroom, about 5×3 sqft right next to the kitchen, and turned the track lighting so that it didn’t spotlight on him. We opted to bring in our big couch, ottoman coffee table (toy storage!) and our king sized bed (which took up most of the bedroom). These things might have taken up a lot of space, but considering how much time is spent on the couch or in bed with a new baby, the comfort factor was worth it.

We brought with us a paired back wardrobe; mine being the easiest to pair back since almost nothing fit anyways and I basically lived in my nursing tank and pjs pants for 6 months. The stroller stayed in the trunk of my car as there was no room for it in the apartment, and all of Tyler’s sports gear stayed in his truck since it stunk.

For our baby shower, we asked for diapers or gift cards instead of baby gear/toys/clothes as we were so limited on space (and had been handed down some excellent quality stuff anyways). We kept all the diapers and wipes in our 3×3 storage locker and brought them up, one pack at a time.

In the end, Callahan hated the baby swing and the baby vibrating/bouncing chair that we borrowed from friends, so that kept the baby gear to a minimum.

Some things we did get to save space were:

Babyletto Origami Mini Crib

You’ve probably seen many posts debating the pros and cons of a mini crib and a regularsmall space size crib. This thing has wheels, which allowed us to move him into/out of the bedroom during naps or when we were ready to go to bed. Otherwise he would have been full-timing it in the kitchen/living room when we were trying to eat and watch TV. Callahan still sleeps in it now, and the only trouble we ever had with it was that it only had 2 levels for the mattress. This meant that when he figured out how to stand at 5 months, we had to create our own middle level or risk putting him in at the bottom level and never being able to reach him. I’m hoping Callahan likes the mini crib long enough that we can avoid buying a toddler bed, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Guzzie + Guss Hanging Perch Chair

small spaceThis highchair saved us a ton of room. The only downside is cleaning it. The material doesn’t wipe clean very easily; but you can take it off and toss it in the wash, where it comes out. We were able to attach this to the island, and just tossed a towel underneath him to prevent spilling on his play area and toys. It also comes with a carrying bag so you could theoretically take it to restaurants with you or traveling, I personally think it doesn’t fold up small enough to warrant the effort.

Skip Hop Explore and More 3 Stage Activity Center

I waited for a Black Friday sale to buy this and it was worth it. It’s overall footprint is a small spacelot smaller than most exersaucers (or “circles of neglect”) and visually it took up a lot less space, and wasn’t blasting your retinas with the full force of the rainbow all the time. Given the fact it was going to be visible at all times, I wanted to make sure it blended in, rather than stood out. Same concept I used for the crib and highchair. Callahan loved this thing, and its now set up as a table and he still plays with it and the toys. But mostly he climbs on it.

There are a few things I would recommend you not do when it comes to living in small spaces with a baby… don’t do it, being the most important piece of advice. But if you don’t have a choice, or you want to save money, people all over the world live in small spaces and make it work.

My first piece of advice would be to make sure the layout is actually functional. Ours was, and we still wanted to kill each other, so imagine what a poorly laid out space would do to your relationship.

Second, become a minimalist. Or at least something very close to it. I regularly went through my closet and Callahan’s, if things didn’t fit they got boxed up in an organized manner and put away (baby stuff) or donated (my stuff). When we were at the store, even the grocery store, if there wasn’t space for it at home, we went without. We completely stopped shopping at Costco while we were there as nothing “Costco-sized” could fit in there.

Third, get ultra organized with your paperwork/bills etc. This is super hard to do on Mom-brain, especially new mom brain, but it must be done. You can not waste space on a junk drawer.

Baby’s don’t need a crap ton of toys. Keep out a few toys for easy access and every few weeks/months swap out the toys with new ones from storage. The best part about a baby’s development (from a minimalist standpoint), is that they will come back to old “baby” toys and start to play with them again in different ways as they learn new skills. So don’t go overboard on the toys!

Same goes for baby clothes… if you have in-suite laundry and only one kid, you can wash everyone’s clothes in one load every other day and be fine. Just because you get food or spit up on their clothes, doesn’t mean they need to be changed. I only changed them for poopocalypses and if there was enough spit up that he smelled like sour milk.

Keesmall spacep on top of the cleaning. A small spaces gets cluttered and dirty really quickly. It’s not even fair to be honest. But the good news is that its really quick to clean a small space. I could have our place looking like a dumpster fire to a show home in an hour, and barely break a sweat. But we kept our “things” to a minimum and everything had a place.

Our time in this apartment was hard as fuck, but I don’t regret it and I love looking back at the pictures and being proud of us for living in a hard space during the hardest time of your life, the newborn stage. We survived; and even though our families don’t believe it, we have less crap and more meaningful things than before.

I followed 600 sqft and a Baby on instagram and read all her posts when we were preparing for living in the condo. I still follow her, and highly recommend it for thoughtful and tested ideas on living a minimalist life with a family in a small space.

Do you have any tips for living a minimalist lifestyle with a family?

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Dog vs Baby: The Eternal Struggle for Your Love

Dog vs Baby
The one and only Rosko

I’ve had my dog for 10 years; Rosko, The Roktopus, Rokko, Roskolini. I’ve taken 2 million pictures of him over that time. I’ve also attempted multiple training methods, all failing miserably. He loves me unconditionally, and I can no longer say I feel the same way.

*Cue angry yelling, I’m a horrible dog-mom insults here*

Go ahead, throw ’em at me.

Many moons ago, people would tell me, “you love your dog now, but just wait until you have a baby”. I would scoff at this and think, how could I ever stop loving this little ball of fluff?!

And then, it happened.

The real baby arrived. Not the furbaby. The real, human, I-made-this-in-my-body-baby. Initially it wasn’t so bad; we were on cloud 9, and Tyler was home for the first 6 weeks, so I had help. I took care of the baby, Tyler took care of me and Rosko (arguably, a more tedious job).

Dog vs Baby
Would NOT go near him.

Rosko did NOT love Callahan. His feelings were instantly apparent. When Rosko greeted us at the door, Callahan screaming in his car seat at Rosko’s level, you could see the butt-puckering moment he knew life had changed. That night was an awful one, with so much crying, and sweating (ok, maybe I was the only one sweating). When we woke up the next day, Rosko looked his 9 years. Up to that point he had always looked like a well maintained Hollywood celebrity. You know the ones that are 60 but look 30? He no longer looked like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, and more like a Lindsay Lohan mugshot. It was astounding.

Rosko spent his time trying to be on me, but not touching Callahan. Since I was breastfeeding Callahan basically 24/7 this was impossible and annoying as shit. Suddenly, I no longer loved my dog. It was like a light switch. It didn’t happen the first day, or even the second. But it seemed like overnight; maybe once the fatigue had built up enough and it was decisive.

Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. My. Way.

Why was he so close to me? Why won’t he stop barking?! Why won’t he stop whining? Why does he need to go outside to pee? Why won’t he just go and sit with Tyler? How can he not figure out the baby is sleeping?!

Dog vs Baby
The first time Rosko voluntarily sat next to Callahan, 1 month.

I wasn’t diagnosed with any form of postpartum depression, but I think I was depressed (related to cabin fever in our tiny condo, winter, being fat, and overwhelmed) and my depression came out as unadulterated rage. I fucking hated that dog. He wasn’t doing anything different than he had in the last 9 years of his life, but I was done. All my frustrations about anything came out and were now about the dog. How can he be this old and this dumb?! How can none of our training ever kicked in?! YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIGURED IT OUT?! WHY WON’T YOU SHUT UP?! JUST GO LIE DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!

Tyler also received some misplaced anger from me too, (WHY ARE YOU CHEWING SO LOUD!?) but nothing to the extreme rage I felt having to deal with Rosko.

The first incident that made me think Rosko had to leave, was when I was trying to take him for a pee. I had strapped Callahan into the baby carrier on my chest and was yelling at the dog to sit still. Instead he was jumping around like a fucking maniac and whining the most annoying high pitch sound you’ve ever heard. I couldn’t see him over Callahan, and was struggling to bend down to him. So I stepped forward, unclear as to Rosko’s location and kicked him, sending him sliding into the leg of the crib.

*I should say here, it was less of a kick, and more like my foot went under his belly and lifted him in a forwards/upwards/stepping motion. There was nothing kicky about it. I would NEVER kick my dog!

His ribs hit the crib, and he let out a little yelp, but he jumped back up and seemed fine. I took him for his pee and brought him back inside. I headed out of the house for a couple hours and when I got back, Rosko would not leave his bed. When I eventually coaxed him out, he moved tenderly, and yelped when I went to pick him up.

Cue hormonal new mother guilt.

I decided to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner the next day so my sisters could give him some lovin’s. I had a feeling he was fine, and was just milking it. When we arrived and I explained what happened, I was ridiculed, read the riot act, villianized. Then Rosko got a piece of turkey (I never give him human food, but I was feeling pretty guilty) and suddenly he perked up. He RAN to some more dropped food…. of course no one saw this. So my sister took him home with her for a week to give us all a break from one another. When she arrived home, he ran up the stairs like a spring chicken. He had been playing all of us. That furry little asshole.

The second and deciding factor was a few weeks later, when after struggling to get Callahan down for a nap (like several hours struggling) Rosko decided to start barking 20 minutes into the nap and wouldn’t stop, of course, waking Callahan. This day almost broke me.

For the next few months, until things started to settle down (uncontrollable rage), Rosko bounced around between my in-law’s, my sister, and my grandparents. Once the snow melted a bit, we brought Rosko back home and other than a couple days here and there (when you can tell he needs the break from Callahan) he’s been at home with us.

Dog vs Baby
Callahan <3 Rosko. Jury’s still out on if Rosko loves him back

I don’t hate my dog, the rage I felt towards him has lessened to a mild irritation that can flare up when he misbehaves. I watch now, as Callahan torments him and they play fight over that disgusting piggy; and my rage subsides more, I like him again. Only because Callahan LOVES him. He still drives me batshit crazy and I can’t guarantee I’ll be getting another dog once he passes. Which is saying something. I love dogs. I’ve always had a dog. I want Callahan and our future kids to grow up with one. But I think, maybe I’ll wait until after I’m done having tiny little babies and the hormonal roller coaster that comes with it.

Dogs are truly amazing. Rosko took the brunt of my anger and emotions, and still loses his mind when he sees me. I screamed at him until I cried, and he took it. Maybe he’s smarter than we think, and he knew it was yelling at him, or yelling at the baby. I’m going to go with that, because the only other option is that he’s dumb as fuck.

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