The first rainbow month

Samuel is one month old today.  I intended to write a post called “The First Week” and when I didn’t make that, I thought, okay, “The First 2 Weeks”, and so on… until we are at a month!

I’m a little torn writing this post because I want to just report happy end-of-the-rainbow joys.  And there are those!  But has also been pretty hard.  I read that 70% of women get “baby blues” and something like 10 or 20% go beyond that to have postpartum depression.  Your body goes through crazy hormonal changes after giving birth.  And as reported, you suddenly get a lot less sleep.  And life is drastically different.  In wonderful, magical ways, and also in ways that are also difficult.  I didn’t notice these huge hormonal changes after Luke’s birth because everything was just under the umbrella of grief.  But I have found myself to experience some of the same things after Samuel’s birth, which surprised me.  I had a couple of panic or anxiety attacks the first week.  Once in the hospital where I just couldn’t calm my breathing or stop crying and once at home when Josh woke me from a nap and I just felt panicky and my heart was racing, even though I didn’t know what was wrong.

The first week was the hardest.  I have long desired to breastfeed.  I had pictured it with Luke with feelings of warm fuzzies. I felt tearful during much of the breastfeeding basics class I attended during Luke’s pregnancy because I was just so excited about bonding with my baby in that way.  It was one of the losses I mourned most.  So, naturally, I was excited to do this with Samuel.  But it has been much harder than I anticipated.  I didn’t get to feed him as quickly as all the books say you should after birth, due to the C-section and then an issue with my IV.  So, he was by then too sleepy to really latch properly for much of the hospital stay.  On the first day, his blood sugar was a 47, which is in the normal range but on the lower end (I was told).  One doctor was considering sending him to the special nursery to get fluids through an IV.  This meant they would take him away, which was one of my big fears.  Then another pediatrician came on duty, thought that was overly drastic, and just wanted us to give him some formula.  In comparison, that seemed much better. We agreed to the formula.

That started us on a path of potential nipple confusion/bottle preference, etc., which I am still feeling resentful about. I wish I had been more vocal about my desire to breastfeed and been more forceful about getting to do it within the first hour. But I was just too overwhelmed at the time to think about that. Just getting through the delivery was all I could handle. But, here we are, now on a path of having to supplement with formula every feeding. I keep reading/hearing that supplementing hurts your milk supply, which seems to be true in my case as I don’t seem to have enough yet.

In an effort to continue to improve the breastfeeding, every day 8 times a day, I breastfeed him, then bottle feed him the breast milk I’ve previously pumped, then feed him formula, then pump again. It is a rather lengthy process, lasting from 1 to 2.5 hours altogether with diaper changes and such. When he is supposed to eat every 3 hours (from the start of the last feeding), this doesn’t leave much time in between.

But on the positive, his latch has greatly improved, I’ve gotten better and more comfortable at positioning him, and I’ve decided to ignore some of what I’ve been told about using both hands to hold him firmly in the cross-cradle position to get the  “perfect deep latch” and use the cradle hold whenever I want to, which makes us both more comfortable during the feeding, I think. I’ve also decided to allow myself to shorten the whole process when I need to by offering each breast only once (I was trying to do twice on each always) or taking him off the breast if he is just kinda hanging out there sleepy and not really sucking. So, we’re making some progress.

If it sounds like I’m obsessed with breastfeeding right now, I pretty much am. Sorry if it’s boring. I just want it work so badly. I want all those benefits that it’s supposed to give him. I want it to be much easier. I want to have plenty of milk for him.

So due to these challenges, and the hormones, etc., I have found myself crying and feeling somewhat desperate or overwhlelmed a lot. I don’t want to feel this way, which can lead into also feeling guilty about my feelings. This post from my friend and fellow loss mom Siobhan really helps combat this:

Please don’t think it is all negative. I just want to honestly share the continued struggles. If you friends, so many of whom are expecting rainbow babies, have any of these feelings after your child’s birth, I hope this can help you not feel guilty about it. But I hope you don’t. I wish others just the pure joy of the victory that I was hoping for. I’m confused why God thinks I need to continue to struggle during this joy. What are you trying to teach me, Lord? Please help me to get it so that I can just have some simple happy times for a while.

Today when I took a brief moment outside to just breath and feel the wind, I sent God a simple, repeated prayer, “peace, joy, enough milk”. Those are my desires right now.

I have just felt under a cloud somewhat. Not totally in control of my own feelings. But I have more frequent and longer periods of feeling “normal” and happy as time progresses. Saturday and Sunday were great, today was kind of hard again. I talked to Josh about it today to see if he felt that I need to see someone about possibly being depressed. I have an appointment at my OB next week, but was considering going sooner. He said he thinks once I get back to work (I start back seeing speech clients tomorrow) and get back out in the world and more on a normal schedule, I will feel better. He told me that I am not like him. He said he loves to be holed up in the house, not talking to anyone, while I need to be out and part of the world. I appreciated his faith in me and that he doesn’t think I’m going crazy;)

Above all, I am so thankful for my beautiful, healthy baby. He is so cute and sweet. He makes the cutest noises and makes me laugh with his funny faces, noises and the volume of his poops. Who knew pooping could be so audible?! It kind of sounds like ketchup squirting when it’s almost empty. And it can be LOUD. He has also peed on me, on the wall, on the rocker… and I gasp then laugh every time. He makes these cute little noises kind of like a dolphin or chipmunk. I love them so much. I love his tiny, squishy cheeks and his incredibly soft, warm skin. I love his little perfect lips that he purses often. He is amazing.

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6 thoughts on “The first rainbow month

  1. I’m so happy Samuel is doing well! I hope breastfeeding gets easier for you both. I’m the same way, I’ve dreamed of having that bond and I’d be devastated if it doesn’t go well.
    He’s a cutie! Congrats!!

  2. Being a first time mum to a living child is the hardest thing ever. I was a mess after Blythe, it’s a total life heaval. The only reason I’m coping with Willow is that I’ve been preparing myself for two years lol, and I KNOW it’s going to change. She will sleep, she will eventually be okay with not being held, she will stop eating every 90 minutes… but if you’ve not been through it you don’t know that. Survival mode is perfectly reasonable right now. Husband and I call it baby shock- it’s the look of awestruck, love filled terror on new parents’ faces 🙂

    Hang on in there, I SWEAR it does get better xxx

  3. I didn’t do the actual breastfeeding, of course, but I remember being surprised at how hard it was, and how often the lactation nurse we visited with every few days recommended a new bottle to develop the next skill. It was pretty dizzying, but Zoe learned how to eat and she loves it.

    You’re doing great! Thanks for sharing “both” sides of it. It seems like the win is finished when our rainbow babies appear, but it’s just a different, much better thing to work through. I think we’d all agree that this stress is much better, though (and I know you do, too.)

    Keep it up! Praise the Lord for the gift! This is a fun victory story 🙂

  4. I dont know if you remember me, but I had my rainbow baby Ryder on 8/8! I have really struggled with breastfeeding, so you are not the only one. Also, I was so worried during pregnancy that Ryder wouldnt make it, that I didnt even get to worry about being a new mom. It is so incredibly hard taking care of a newborn! I am right there with you! Also being a ftm its an adjustment from going from no living children to instant mom! I pray it gets easier for both of us.

  5. Congratulations on your sweet little man! I am so happy for you! I had a really tough time after my rainbow was born, and I struggled for a long time. Now, at seven months postpartum, I still feel sad about my little Eliza, but I am so abundantly blessed to have Jaxon that I try to focus on that. Without her, I wouldn’t have him. And so it is as God planned. Much love to you as you navigate these tumultuous seas!

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