Wow, I must say that the more kids you have, the faster the postpartum period seems to race by. Some days, I can’t quite believe that I already have a 6-week old baby. I will do an update on Baby Grady soon, but wanted to recap my first 6 weeks postpartum first.
If you missed Grady’s birth story, you can read it here.
In all honesty, the newborn days have been a bit of a breeze. After all, this is my fourth time around so I have a pretty good handle on what to do with a tiny baby. And even when I don’t, I also know that babies are very resilient! The only difficult part of caring for a newborn is being thrown back into the sleep deprivation cycle. But based on prior experience, the body adapts and I know that one day you will sleep again (eventually).
Currently, Grady goes to bed when I go to bed and wakes up twice at night to eat. He has had exactly two nights when he woke up once in the middle of the night and once at 6 a.m. and it was amazing to get a decent night’s sleep. I personally think my big boy is afraid he will lose weight if he doesn’t eat constantly. His first stretch of sleep is his best, and he can go anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 hours before waking to eat. After that first stretch, he’s usually up 3 hours later.
Three vs. Four Kids
I would still argue that the hardest part of having a new baby is continuing to parent your older children. Your older kids are the ones going through new stages that you have to learn how to parent through whereas you’re already familiar with the newborn stage. So the hardest part of my days is handling my older kids when they have hard days.
The school routine has been good for my boys and grounded them a bit during this season, but my tiny girl has been all over the place lately and shown big emotions. Not only is there a new baby in the house (who has replaced her title as baby), but she’s also sleeping in a room with her big brothers (which means she wakes up earlier) and we’re still in the process of weaning her from thumb sucking. AND she’s a 3.5 year old girl. So all those things wrapped up together have made for a few trying weeks with tears, tantrums and sassiness. But I’m am slowly, very slowly, learning how to parent my tiny girl and meet her in the middle by following through with discipline but also extending her grace as needed. It’s been a roller coaster these past few weeks, but I keep telling myself we have to be getting over the biggest hump soon.
Now that we have four kids, we are doubled-up man-to-man defense. Typically, my husband will take my two boys (ages 6 and 5) and I will take Scarlett and Grady if we end up going out and about. It has worked well so far because my big boys are so active and it’s hard for the rest of us to keep up in the stroller or while I’m babywearing Grady. During my first couple weeks postpartum, as I was attempting to rest more often, my husband would also take my boys out to expend energy–riding bikes, hiking, swimming, etc.
Grady is a big eater. And by that, I mean that he never goes a three-hour stretch without eating except for during the night. And I’m totally ok with that as I nurse on demand. Big boy is officially 13 pounds at 6 weeks and wears 6 months onesies, which give him a little room to grow but I just couldn’t stuff him into three month clothes anymore.
Since this is my fourth baby to nurse, breastfeeding has been a breeze except for one little hiccup. I got mastitis for the first time ever when he turned 4 weeks old. Thankfully, my mother-in-law happened to be visiting for a few days and was a huge help as I tried to slow down and rest for two days. Unfortunately, I had to go on antibiotics for 10 days, and I think it upset Grady’s stomach a little. To help counteract the medicine, I took probiotics, drank kombucha and ate yogurt.
Around the 4 week mark, Grady’s newborn acne cleared up, but a rash popped up all over his face, neck and upper chest. I wondered about a heat rash, but that just didn’t make sense for a newborn. Then I considered that it may be an allergy. So I have since cut out dairy from my diet to see if that will help. I’ve heard it takes two weeks for dairy to get completely out of our system, and we’re not quite to 14 days but it seems to me like his skin has already improved some. The idea of allergies makes me a little nervous because of Beau’s diagnosis, but I’m hoping Grady simply has some sort of dairy intolerance that he will outgrow in a few months (which seems to be very common with nursing babies).
I do miss my cheese, but overall going dairy free isn’t a big deal since I have so much knowledge of dealing with allergies from Beau. Most of the meals I cook are dairy free, but I’ve always added cheese on top. I really miss feta in my salads though. I tried goat cheese because I’ve had great restaurant salads with goat cheese. Unfortunately, it was way too gamey. So for now, I just skip any kind of cheese in my salads. For my coffee, I either use coconut cream or just tried out Nutpods creamer and really like it because it’s unsweetened and I can add my sugar of choice if I want. I have also tried the Califia Farms creamer but prefer Nutpods because I can choose my level of sweetness.
Physical and Mental Recovery
Physically and mentally, my last month of pregnancy was hard. Not only was I dealing with nerve pain, but my patience with my kids was shot. So after Grady’s birth, I was basically on cloud nine to no longer be pregnant. Despite postpartum recovery, I was just beyond happy to be on the other side of things and have a baby in my arms. I have been fortunate to never experience postpartum depression, but I know it is very common. After my first baby, I learned what to do for myself to make postpartum recovery better (read that post) and I’ve stuck with those tactics each pregnancy and it has served me well.
Physically, I had another great labor and no tearing or stitches, which makes recovery a little faster. The hardest part for me was trying to rest when I have three older kids who still aren’t independent and need my help. Thankfully, both sets of grandparents stepped in to help those first couple weeks.
I started doing stroller walks at three weeks postpartum and had planned to go back to the gym at 4 weeks until I was struck by mastitis. So I ended up going about 4.5 weeks postpartum for my first light workout and it was amazing. Physically, my core is so weak. But I loved breathing heavy and having the physical and mental outlet.
My gym doesn’t offer childcare until babies are three months old, so I have 6 more weeks to go with Grady. Just this week, I was also informed that you’re not allowed to bring your baby out into the gym area even in a stroller. Oops! But the manager said he would allow me to come any time before 9 a.m. because it is less crowded. I’m totally fine with morning workouts so this will not be an issue for me. Besides light Crossfit-style workouts, I’m also starting to every so slowly rebuild strength with lifting weights. I had to give up many posterior chain movements while pregnant because of my history with sciatica while pregnant. I’m also stopping by the free Stroller Moms class at our church here and there. Obviously, kids of all ages are welcome and it’s nice to be in an environment where all the moms there “get it” if your baby starts fussing or a toddler spills a snack on the floor. Just this week I did my first run and jumping jacks as part of a workout. My body was a bit shocked the first round, but after that it (aka my pelvic floor) adapted and it was great to do some movements that I haven’t been able to do for months.
At my 6-week postpartum appointment this week, I got the all clear to resume working out. And thank goodness since I had already started back. According to their scale (since we don’t own one), I’m still 3 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight. I’d like to think that it’s been redistributed to my current well endowment, but even I know that’s not the case.
My clothes mostly fit but my body is still adjusting. My mid section is softer and still slightly thicker, my booty flatter, my core weaker and my hips wider. I will eventually return to my old self but it may take months. At this point, I’m trying to make sure I eat enough to keep up my milk supply and also stay active but not work out so hard that I’m exhausted. It’s all a balancing act.
Overall, the female body is just so amazing, and I realize that now more than ever.