Pregnancy and Postpartum Preferences

Pregnancy and Postpartum Preferences

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful. With the exception of killer heartburn that left me in tears some nights, and a very sore back, I can’t complain about much. It was far from magical, and I didn’t feel like a goddess or in touch with my ancestors via the life inside of me, but there are worse ways to spend 40 weeks and three days.

Recovery from Harper’s birth, on the other hand, was less than thrilling. My plans for a drug-free birth were thwarted by a strongly encouraged induction, which led to a caesarean section. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of a c-section, I’ll summarise: I wasn’t able to walk up stairs or lift anything heavier than my daughter for six weeks, spent three weeks unable to sit down or stand up without assistance, became very familiar with a plethora of pain relief tablets, have semi-permanent nerve damage in my bottom, and am have yet to regain total feeling between my bellybutton and pubic bone. Without the grace of God, assistance from my husband, and a two week stay from my mother and aunt, I would have been a hot mess. Thankfully, we all lived.

So! In the vein of my “baby must have” list, I thought I’d share some of my favourite products and tips for surviving pregnancy, and a postpartum/c-section recovery. As before, I’ve included links where possible.

PREGNANCY:

  • SLEEP
    • Get lots of it. During the last trimester, sleep is especially precious due to the physical discomfort (ex: sore back, round ligament pain, insomnia,) that can accompany the process of gestating a human being. If you have the thought that you’ll sleep better once your baby arrives, because you’ll be able to sleep on your stomach and your husband will do some of the nighttime wake-ups, toss it out like a grocery store bag. I’m not saying that life with a newborn has to be horrible, sleep-wise, but bear in mind that labor, delivery, and recovery take a ton of energy, and you’ll likely be shocked at just how knackered you are once bub arrives. It took me roughly eight weeks to start feeling like myself, and at 12 weeks postpartum I still need a nap some days.
  • MIESSENCE BELLY AND BREAST BALM (cost varies depending on membership)
    • Be sure to moisturize your bump, and the rest of your pregnant self. The Belly and Breast Balm from Miessence is a guilt-free option, and is still my full body moisturizer of choice. It’s thick, nourishing, absorbs nicely, and is made from certified organic ingredients. I’m a big fan of Miessence products, and can vouch for the sustainability, ethos, and quality of the company’s leadership and practices.
  • ZANTAC
    • I was 36 weeks pregnant before I discovered that Zantac is not only available in Australia (US brands of medication are rare here- there be no Tylenol,) it’s safe to use while pregnant. In an effort to avoid hyperbole, I’ll say this: it made a world of difference for me, especially in those last few weeks when sleep was elusive (see above). I’m allergic to mint, therefore wasn’t able to take any of the chewable or liquid antacids found in supermarkets, so the only relief I’d had prior to being prescribed Zantac were gulps of almond milk. You’ll obviously need to confer with your midwife, OB, or whomever is overseeing your pregnancy, prior to taking it, but don’t hesitate to ask for something stronger than Gaviscon if needed.

 

POSTPARTUM/C-SECTION RECOVERY

  • REST
    • By “rest,” I mean more than sleep. Following a c-section, you’ll be swept up with all the things that come with a new baby, and may forget that you’ve just had major surgery. The midwives will tell you to get as much rest as you can, to sleep when your child sleeps, and to not do a long list of things that you’ll want/need to do (ex: walking up and down stairs, vacuuming, mopping, lifting anything heavier than your child, bending down to do laundry). Try to take their advice. Lay down, take a nap, read a book, watch a BBC period drama, just relax. The dishes can wait, and you won’t die of shame if your mother in-law sees your dirty floors.
  • LEGGINGS
    • The softer, the better. Mine were from Target. No matter the type of delivery you’ve had, be kind to your belly, and don’t try to fasten jeans around it. If you can’t bear the idea of being seen in leggings, then buy a couple of long tops, and suck it up, Buttercup. Kidding aside, don’t put too much pressure on yourself (figuratively and literally) to “bounce back” to pre-pregnancy shape. If you’re dealing with a c-section scar, be especially attentive to fabrics that rub or feel tight around your lower belly.
  • HUGE UNDERWEAR
    • Inside your soft leggings are your Granny panties. Don’t be ashamed- they’re stupidly comfortable, and are the only real option for housing those gigantic maternity pads that you’ll use for weeks after your little darling arrives. Yay! Again, buy the Target brand to avoid feeling guilty if you need to toss them later. There will be plenty of time for pretty underwear, later.
  • BATISTE DRY SHAMPOO (cost varies, usually cheapest at Priceline)
    • There will come a moment, probably at 2pm on a Thursday, when you realise that you haven’t showered since Tuesday, and you’ve already walked up and down the stairs more than the doctor said you could, so you can’t take one until tomorrow morning. What’s more, the topknot you’re rocking suddenly feels like a greasy mess, which makes you feel like a greasy mess, and wonder if you’ll ever feel like “you” again. Fear not, dry shampoo is here to get you through. A couple of sprays, a quick brush, and you’ll feel just human enough to fold the laundry, wipe down the kitchen benches before they begin sprouting, or just make it until bedtime. Batiste has the nicest scents, and comes in a few sizes, so it gets my vote. I use the “Wild” fragrance, because I do. Quick note: I’ve used the tinted “Brunette” formula in the past, and ended up with colour all over my hands, scalp, and neck. I might just be incredibly inept, but I’d recommend sticking with the non-tinted versions of the product.
  • NUROMOL
    • Following a c-section, you’ll likely leave the hospital with a prescription for Endone (oxycodone,) and the advice to alternate taking Panadol (paracetamol) and Nurofen (ibuprofen) as needed. If at all possible, don’t fill the script, and instead grab a box of Nuromol, which combines Panadol and Nurofen and is a decent pain reliever, even in the early days when your incision is most tender. Once I began to regain sensation below my bellybutton, there were moments when I was certain that my scar had burst. Thankfully, I was just being dramatic. BUT! I unashamedly took Nuromol as often as I was allowed, even setting reminders for the next dose for roughly three weeks.
  • HIGH FIBER DIET
    • This one is simple: don’t eat junk after giving birth, and you won’t feel like death. Avoid simple carbs, or anything that gives you a massive sugar rush, and load up on beans and fresh veggies. Need a snack? Have some air-popped popcorn. Fiber fills you up, sustains healthy blood sugar levels, and helps relieve constipation. Don’t be ashamed- everyone poops, and you’ll need to following surgery.
  • ALL THE SUPPLEMENTS
    • Iron, and Vitamin C, and Magnesium- oh my! In addition to a healthier diet, I took an iron supplement for several weeks following Harper’s birth to help with some moderate anemia. I added vitamin C because it increases iron absorption, and most people are magnesium deficient and could use an extra dose each day. I can’t offer specific brand recommendations, just the general advice to pay attention to what your body is lacking and take whatever steps you feel necessary to make it right.

So, there you have it: my novice recommendations. I hope they’re helpful!

 

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We’re The Cake

We’re The Cake

Several of my good friends are married. At least half of them have one or more children. I’m glad I’m not one of them.

Keep your shorts on, beloved. I love me some babies. They’re a blessing I look forward to, and will enjoy when the Lord says it’s time. But now isn’t that time.

Right now, I’m a wife. And I intend on enjoying this role for long enough to make the transition to “mother” one with a good foundation beneath it. That’s not to say that having a bub a year after your wedding day, or before, is unacceptable; just that it isn’t right for my and Harli’s relationship. Some couples are ready for children immediately. We’ll be married two years in May, and I’m pretty certain we’ll see our fifth anniversary before we become a family of three. That’s ok. My family isn’t anyone else’s family, and what has been perfect for someone else might not be survivable for us.

My husband put it like this: “We’re the cake. Our kids will be the icing.” Our desire is to bring children into a family that is already established, with parents who are dedicated to each other and beyond the hiccups that the first few years of marriage bring. I’m not talking about the “big” stuff, like family dynamics and finances, but the details that arise when you’re learning to live with your partner. Want some fun examples? Here you go.

Harli and I do the dishes differently. By this I really mean that he has the ability to balance every cup, plate, bowl, and wooden spoon we own in our little strainer, while I provide lots of “crashing” noise trying to do the same. Frankly, he just does them better. This wasn’t a major problem, but it’s one that we had to actually work through. Similarly, I clean and tidy regularly, while Harli is content to create piles and wipe out the shower when company comes over. Resolving this isn’t so much a matter of compromise, but communication. “There are scuff marks on the wall. Remove them, please,” works pretty well in this case. Keeping our Shoebox tidy is important, as our space is limited and even a little clutter makes an impact.

Our definitions of “amazing” curry are different. I put in heaps of pumpkin and potato, and Harli prefers apples and onions. We manage.

I love church. Like, actually enjoy sitting in worship and hearing sermons, and belting out familiar songs with my impressive four note range. H has a beautiful voice, and a faith that I am regularly in awe of, but had been to church three times before we got married. I’m quite likely to dive into small groups, Bible studies, and try to find a community. My husband is more of an introvert. This means that our transition to being part of a church family is slower than I prefer, but one that we’re both ok with.

My husband wakes up ready to devour a bear. I can’t stand the thought of eating before 9am.

My point is this: we don’t want to add to our family before we’re secure in who we are as a family. Working out the details of our life are important to us before we have little ones. When kids come before a couple have figured out how to handle weekly errands, laundry, conflicting schedules, and still keep in contact with family, chaos can follow. And, shoot me, but I believe that to be a good mother, I need to be a good wife. Another’s needs have to come before my own. Harli and I love being a couple, and all the things that we have the freedom to enjoy during this time as a family of two: we take off to spend the weekend with friends in Brisbane without notice; planning for trips is limited to how many boxes of cookies we want to take; and I can get away with doing laundry once every four days.

For the last year or so, I’ve been battling the desire to fast forward through this season. To add to our brood so I can know find some worth in the eyes of the dark-haired, big-footed, offspring my husband and I will undoubtedly produce. It’s easy to wait for the future, and not relish the moment (or the year,) and to find worth in titles rather than Christ. I am His before I am Harli’s, just as Harli is a Son of God before he is a Husband. No more for us. This moment is where God has me. I want to take the attitude of “this is what I’m doing today” until He calls me home, instead of “that is what I could/should be doing.”

Babies will come soon enough. Today, I’m a wife, a Daughter of the King, and that friend of yours who lives Down Under.

How Not to Handle Family Stress

How Not to Handle Family Stress

Step 1: Worry that drama is on the horizon.

-Don’t kid yourself- you’re not “mentally preparing” yourself, or “bracing” for possible future discontent. You’ll get exactly what you’re waiting for, and all of your worrying will be little more than wasted time due to the fact that chaos cannot be accurately anticipated.

Step 2. Assume that you’ll be able to ignore/fix/will the problem into submission.

-Avoiding the issue won’t make the stresser calm down, nor will it make the issue go away. You can’t fix the problem on your own; it’ll take two parties to calm this stuff down. And, all that time you may or may not spend practicing your speeches in your head for that moment of glory when you can finally tell world just how strong you are, will go right out the window as the situation is never as neat as it is when you’re doing the dishes and thinking about how much you’re suffering. Take a breath, say a prayer, and talk to your husband (or roommate, friend, sibling- whoever you live with and are close to) before moving forward.

Step 3. Scream at your husband when he doesn’t do what you think he should when it comes to his family.

-Part of marriage is inheriting his family, and you’ll do well to remember that he knows how to handle them better than you do. This is especially true of his parents. Seriously, let him handle it, and support him as the head of your family, even if you think he’s making a mess of it. Encouraging him to be strong in the face of difficulty is different than giving him an emotional “to do” list to remedy the matter.

-It’s also vital to keep the comparisons to your family at a minimum. What’s annoying to you may be outrageous to him, and vice versa.

Step 4. Blab about what’s going on to everyone who will listen.

-No matter how wonderful your friends and family are, be careful to not overshare, as it may come back to bite you in the very near future. While sharing your burdens is important, the line between “sharing” and “gossiping” is very fine, and it’s important not to cross it. I hop this divide far too often when it comes to my family situation, so I say this as a reminder to myself as much as I do to share a bit of wisdom.

Step 5. Continue dwelling on the problem after it’s been fixed.

-Forgive as the Lord forgives us, and move forward. You won’t gain anything by grasping at your pain. Again, I say this from experience; I’ve spent nearly a year upset over a continuing situation that simply has to stop consuming my emotional energy.

Step 6. Think that God isn’t present in the situation.

-I’ll spend my life learning this one: we can’t shut Him out whenever life feels too messy to take to His throne. He is our Comforter, after all. Right? 🙂

Peaceful, chaotic, and a little bit tasty

Peaceful, chaotic, and a little bit tasty

That’s how life has been the lately.

Currently, it’s 11am on a Thursday and I’m laying on my neatly made bed, trying to think of how to describe the events of the last few weeks. Rather than spill out some personal rhetoric, and risk upsetting myself and engaging my inner drama queen, I’m going with a list format.

Ahem. (These are in no particular order. Meh)

1. I’ll be applying for the “big” visa very soon. I planned on having it all ready to send in today, but we’re still waiting on some official letters from our employers and friends. When I was applying for my current visa, I was so stressed about stuff that I could barely function. This time around, I’m trying to remain relaxed and confident. It’s in God’s hands, right? Yea? Yea.

2. My 17 year old sister has been expelled from school, and moved in with her boyfriend. My mom is very upset and hurt, but can’t legally do anything to change situation; the age of consent is 16, so what Shana does is her business. I spent about two hours weeping when I found out, convinced that it’s my fault. To be frank, the whole situation is complete bull. I love my little sister, but she’s making a very bad choice. The light in this event is that it’s bringing my mom back to the Lord’s side, and has engaged some parental feeling (or whatever) in my absent father. It’s a matter of prayer, to say the least.

3. Work has taken a very odd turn. When I first came to work for the company, my team was five very busy people. In the four months I’ve been there, two people have moved, and two have quit. This leaves me. The work load hasn’t really changed, and I’m now trying to train a quite stubborn older woman to do what I think is a very simple job on top of the increased job capacity. To be honest, I don’t know how long I can handle the current situation. I really enjoy my work, but have taken today to recharge. Next week, we’ll have one new person join the staff, so I’ll be taking some time away from my usual work to have a day or so of intense training for both the new girl, and the woman I’m currently training.

4. I haven’t been a very good wife lately. I’m almost always irritable, guilt Harli about things that he already feels bad about, and have more than once spit venom in his direction when he’s ticked me off. I don’t want to hurt him, but sometimes I think I blame him for everything that goes wrong: “If I hadn’t met him, I’d be closer to my mom and Shana wouldn’t be stupid and all of my US debt would be paid off and, and, and…” My Father in Heaven has really convicted me of my manipulative, and unholy, attitude, and reminded me of my role as a wife and helper. It’s nice to settle into that knowledge.

5. We’ve found a church! We’ve been regularly over the last two months, and had coffee with the pastor and his wife last week. Not only does it tick all of my “missional/community/theology” boxes, but my sweet husband is very comfortable there. I can’t wait to be back on Sunday 🙂

6. I’m behind on my Bible reading, have found two new “from scratch” desserts that I love making, and feel radically at peace despite all that’s going on. He is still King, and I can’t do anything to earn His love. (That’s a good thing!)