So here we are… Today was my EDD (Estimated Due Date), a day I’ve been anticipating and talking about for so many months. But rather than becoming the BIG DAY it will just be like any other day, because my little angel was born nine days ago on 11 April 2015. Or actually it won’t, because no day is really going to be “just another day” with my princess.
So how has the first week with Maria been? It is true that becoming a parent involves a steep learning curve, and the first few days I felt quite a lot of self doubt. Why is she crying? Do I not have enough milk for her? Is she feeling cold? Is her tummy upset? At the same time, I felt an incredible love for her from the moment she was there, as well as the desire to keep her as close to me as possible all the time. Ahmed felt the same, and at times we were almost fighting who could hold her!
I also realised that no matter how many books and articles on the Internet you read, once you have a baby you forget about most of the advices and concerns. An example is co-sleeping. We found it worked best for the three of us to have her with us at night. Maria settles much better when she is next to us, and for me it is easier to breastfeed her without having to get up, wear something warm (’cause the weather got very cold this last week!) and feed her. The midwives here support this. As long as you are not obese, not smoking or under drugs or alcohol, it is safe to co-sleep, they say.
That being said, we do try to get her used to sleeping alone. During the day, we have been laying her down on the couch or her bassinet, and slowly she starts to take little naps alone, although there is still no such place as daddy’s or mommy’s chest!
I was aware that after a few days of “babymoon” I could start feeling a little blue. By Wednesday I thought, “Wow, I haven’t felt down at all. Guess this baby blues doesn’t hit me.” Of course I was wrong: On Thursday morning, I woke up from a dream (don’t even remember what it was about) with tears in my eyes. Throughout the day, I felt a little weepy, and like crying for no reason – or just because the whole experience is so overwhelming.
Luckily, we are having a great support team. The two midwives that have been visiting us have been an incredible support with their bits and pieces of advice and reassurance that everything is normal and fine. One of the midwives gave me a dvd about breastfeeding as well as a cream for my sore nipples. I knew breastfeeding is a skill that may take some time to master, but I think I wasn’t really prepared for how challenging it would be in the beginning. Maria seemed to have a great latch, but nevertheless I got very raw nipples within a few days. Perhaps just a couple of bad latches could have caused those blisters, but the result was that breastfeeding was very painful for several days. Luckily, the wounds healed, and I didn’t need to use a nipple shield or express milk to feed Maria, but I wish I had prepared myself better for this. Also, even though feeding is going well, it remains painful the moment she latches on. I heard from many women it takes time for your nipples to develop a callus that will make breastfeeding easier, so we will patiently wait for that.
Another incredible support have been the wives of some of Ahmed’s Saudi friends. They have been cooking us meals worthy of 5-star restaurants! Saudi hospitality is indeed something different! They have also showered Maria with new clothes and other gifts – she is a very spoiled girl already!
During the first week, we have taken Maria outside in a sling several times. The first time I went outside after her birth was surreal! How could the whole world go on as usual while nothing would ever be the same again? I felt so aware of all the noises, smells, and sights. Much more so than Maria, who was deeply asleep on my chest!
Postpartum Back in Shape Update
Those few times we went outside with Maria I realised that my recovery would take a little longer than expected initially. While carrying her, I felt how weak my pelvic muscles had become. I also felt more pain after these walks. The last few days, Ahmed has been carrying her outside and that was much better for me.
The first week following Maria’s birth, I have been sleeping lots. My midwife actually recommended me to lie down as much as possible to speed up my recovery and increase milk production. Apart from the almost daily short walks since about four days after her birth, I haven’t done much to get back in shape. I am quite surprised how quickly my tummy decreases in size; soon I’ll be able to wear my old jeans again! I am curious though if my belly button will ever look like it did before pregnancy.
I have also started to do pelvic floor exercises again. I think this and gentle walking is all I’ll be doing in the weeks to come as well. Perhaps I’ll add in some yoga poses to mix things up a little bit, but I don’t feel ready to plan my workouts throughout the week and stress whether I can manage to do them all. Life at the moment is lived one day at a time, and now is not the time to have a to-do list or make big plans. It’s a refreshing change from how I used to live before Maria was born!