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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Traveling while Breastfeeding vs Formula

There are probably about a billion posts on this, but I figured, why not add mine to the mix? Traveling can be stressful without a baby. Add baby to the mix and boom, more stress. More crap, more sweat, more benefits? Ha, that’s a stretch. But there is a lot of great experiences. One of the most hotly debated experiences of motherhood is: breastfeeding vs formula.

We did a couple mini roadtrips while I was exclusively breastfeeding and they were pretty okay; could have done with less crying to be honest, but what can you do? Literally everything, we tried everything. Anyways, our trip to Crete started with me breastfeeding and mixing in some formula, and ending with him exlusively on formula.

The benefits are obvious for breastfeeding exclusively and traveling:

  1. Less stuff to haul around
  2. Less stuff to clean and sterilze
  3. No need for boiled/bottled water
  4. Antibodies for baby if you pick up something on the journey
traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
There are worse places to breastfeed

I wasn’t stressed out either way, if he wanted to keep breastfeeding that was fine, but I was ready to be done as long as he was. Luckily for us, he took to the forumla right away, and he didn’t have any stomach problems from it, no apparent allergies etc.. Given the time change and fatigue, my boobs packed it in mid trip. I could have forced it, but as I didn’t care, I let them do what they wanted. Plus it was like 40 degrees and I wasn’t interested in having him on my body like that all the time. Can you say sweat city!?

The benefits for traveling with formula were actually pretty good (for me).

  1. I could actually relax on the holiday! Dad could take over some feeds!
  2. He could eat in his stroller, on the couch, or highchair instead of being attached to me in the heat.
  3. I didn’t have to whip my boobs out in unfamiliar places. (Greece is very family friendly, and I doubt I would have encountered any issues if I was breastfeeding in public, but it was just nice to not have to)
  4. I could stop worrying about the sunscreen I was applying to the area and baby’s exposure to it.
  5. Could stop worrying about alcohol completely. (I was never “worried” but now it was a non issue)
  6. If you are driving, you don’t have to stop to breastfeed, you can just pop a bottle in their mouth.
traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
Dad taking a shift as the feedbag

Prior to this trip I had kind of hoped to be able to breastfeed all the way through, just for the lighter bags. In the end I’m really happy with the way it turned out. If I’m traveling while breastfeeding in the future, and it would depend on the baby’s age; I will definitely bring a bottle and a small pack of formula, just in case the milk bags can’t keep up. I would rather enjoy my vacation and give my baby formula, then stress out and start pumping like mad to get things going again.

traveling while breastfeeding vs formula
finally taking some ownership in his own meals

Obviously this is a personal choice and it depends on how mom is feeling and on the baby. For me, breastfeeding wasn’t easy right off the bat, and we had to work hard at it. Eventually we found our groove and we made it to the 9 month mark before adding in formula and switching over.

Once I stopped breastfeeding I felt like a weight had been lifted. I could get help with the feeds and my body started to feel like my own again; the aches and pains associated with postpartum started to slowly fade. And cuddling with him while he eats from his bottle is now my favourite time; especially right before naps and bed. Prior feeds at these times were a chore for me because it was like I was already doing it constantly (given his short attention span and laziness towards eating). Now that I can share the workload throughout the day (or he feeds himself) I can fully enjoy those quiet moments just the two of us.

This isn’t a pro breastfeeding or pro formula post, but a personal experience post. Basically, if you think you can’t travel because you’re using formula or because you’re breastfeeding, stop worrying about it! There will always be a million reasons to not do something (or to do it) but just do what feels right for you. The important thing to remember is that the baby is well fed, regardless of the source, and that Mom is healthy and happy with her decision. Everyone else can fuck off.

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Tiny Apartment Trials

In 2011 I bought a condo in Abbotsford. It was tiny, but it was all I needed. I had the option to go to the one bedroom with the patio; but since it was my first home purchase, the 20,000 extra dollars sounded like a lot. Man, how short sighted I was.

tiny apartment
What my evenings used to look like

It didn’t take long to realize, I should have spent the extra money. But it worked for what I needed. I was a single gal, with my dog and cat, working that shift work life. My Friday and Saturday nights (or Tue & Wed in the real world) were often just me and the animals; watching TV or reading, and eating popcorn and drinking water. I was tired from the shifts (hahaha, hahaha, oh so clueless).

tiny apartment
The Pet Condo

I had a zebra-print rug in the living room, the “bedroom” was a dark purple and had an Ikea chandelier over the bed. The bathroom was decorated with pictures of my shoes, and hair, everywhere. There was a pet condo, as I liked to call it, in the livingroom; the cat’s carrier piled on top of the dog’s crate. Where each night I tucked them in, because I was tired of suffocating in my sleep from the weight of these furry beasts.

The apartment was great until I got a boyfriend, who had a mutual hatred of my pets and a slight allergy to the fat cat. It was also too damn hot in there to have anyone over in the summer. Since the closets were rammed to capacity, it was clear we would not be able to live here together. I switched places with his roommate, and adopted the cat out to a friend.

For the next 2 years, the apartment was a flop house for a number of the rugby guys. Sleeping on the couch and the floor, I can only imagine what horrors those walls witnessed. Eventually my sister and her boyfriend moved in. They were accustomed to tiny living after spending a year in Dublin, in what can basically be summed up as a wet closet. They lived there for 2 years, until I had to toss ’em so my pregnant ass could move back in; dog and husband in tow.

While we were living in the condo, we experienced a great number of funny, weird, stressful, and of course happy moments. The stress of bringing a baby home for the first time is well documented. Bringing him home to such a small place was bound to make things harder. In the end, no matter how short-tempered or irritated we were with each other, both of us just blamed the apartment.

Honestly, we barely had any arguments while we were living there because every time something pissed us off, we would stop and think; “this probably wouldn’t bother me if we were living in a bigger place, fucking apartment”. And that would be the end of that. It got to the point where we were both a little worried that there were real issues that needed to be dealt with and we were just blaming the apartment and not dealing with them. In the end, it really was just the apartment, or we’re too lazy to remember what was bothering us.

The hardest part about the apartment was the fact that Tyler was still working shift work. When he was on nights, I’d have to leave the house with Callahan for a few hours in the afternoon, because Callahan would wake up from his nap and go bananas; yelling, smashing, you name it, all while Tyler was trying to sleep.

tiny apartment
what my evenings looked like with a baby

For the longest time, Callahan went to bed around midnight. Which meant Tyler would go to bed for his early shifts and leave me sitting in the dark on the couch, TV turned way down, cluster-feeding (hell on earth) for 2 hours. This was the hardest time for me; I was tired, I wanted to sleep, and I just wanted Callahan to sleep. Not to mention the absolute nightmare that is cluster-feeding. I’d sit there silently crying some (most) nights praying he’d fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Eventually he became too distracted by the TV or my phone, and I’d be literally sitting in the dark, with my tired thoughts; questioning my instincts, my skills, my decisions. I would sit there hating Tyler and then feeling guilty for it, because I knew he’d rather be at home with the baby than going to work.

Eventually we were able to get Callahan to go to bed at a regular time and that was heaven. In the morning, I’d push our bed to one wall, and roll his crib next to the bed. That way Callahan could nap in the “bedroom” where it was darker. We’d get him to bed and then we’d eat some dinner; in semi darkness, TV down, whispering, usually drinking something alcoholic to celebrate our success. When we wanted to go to bed, we’d get ready as quietly as possible, turn the lights off, move the sound machine to the kitchen, and carefully roll his crib out into the hallway. Then we’d pick it up and carry it to his “bedroom” 3 feet away in the kitchen. A silent fistbump as we got into bed, after successfully not waking him.

tiny apartment
Odd(fluffy)ball neighbours

Apartment living comes with experiencing your oddball neighbours. Once in a while I would be worried we were the oddball neighbours with the dog and baby in the tiny apartment. It wouldn’t take long before someone would reassure me I wasn’t. One day while the fire inspectors were in checking the alarms, our neighbour (who looked like the janitor from Harry Potter) had a sign on his door, “Fire Inspector Cum inside”. Oh boy.

There was another night while we were up late with Callahan; I was standing there, rocking him and looked out the window to see a young Asian couple spray painting their Mustang GT in the parking lot. They were wearing slippers and face masks. What the actual fuck? This car was brand new, and they had masking tape and newspapers all over it. I’m still not sure what it ended up looking like, and question whether they even lived there.

Because there was only one window that opened, we would regularly crash the in-law’s place for dinner; hoping they were making something delicious, like fish, which was a giant NO-NO in our apartment. Our timing was impeccable, arriving right as the table was being set, and Callahan had fallen asleep in the car. Of course this all worked out because my Mother-in-Law cooks as if there are 6 people in the house. Thanks by the way!!

All in all, living small was a good experience, it was difficult, and if you can avoid it I would suggest it, but we learned some valuable things, like:.

  1. We are really good at compartmentalizing our frustration/anger.
  2. Or we’re really good at laying blame elsewhere, hard to say.
  3. We are amazing.
  4. We love our new house.

I realize these aren’t helpful lessons to anyone else, so stay tuned for my next post with tips, tricks, and reviews of baby gear for small living.

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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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