November 21, 2013

The early days

We survived the first 2 weeks of parenthood. 
And we have relished every moment.
The interesting thing about a home birth is that once everything was cleaned up and our family said their ‘hellos’ to Genevieve, Michael and I were left alone with a new baby. No nursing staff, lactation consultants or a nursery as an option. It was a little daunting at first. And we actually missed the last 4 weeks of our child birthing class because she came early. Of course, this is when early infant care is discussed. My midwife gave us instructions for early care – like taking the baby’s temperature every 2 hours, dosage of ibuprofen for me, and how to care for everything ‘down there’ after needing some minor stitches. I was still in such shock from it all that I just needed sleep. So ‘sleep’ we did. Genevieve did great those first few nights, with 4-hour stretches of sleep. I had to wake her up to make sure she was feeding often. We were so exhausted we slept with the light on the first night and didn't even notice. I would feed, Michael would change diapers. It has slowly became our new normal.

Some of the highlights from the first days:
-Genevieve looks like her momma. I mean it’s sort of alarmingly similar. My baby picture is identical. She has my nose and lips. We are so curious to see what other family members she takes after once she grows out of the infant phase.

-Breastfeeding is both so natural and difficult. I was very blessed to have a baby that latched on from moment one. That aspect of feeding has been a breeze. However, everything else can be so overwhelming. Is she getting enough to eat? What about all the different types of poop and the amount of diapers? One breast is starting to get really hard, is this engorgement? Should I pump to help or will that mess up the milk supply? How do I know when one side is empty, and what if she only feeds for 5 minutes and loses interest? Is my let down really fast because she starts to gag and cough within minutes of eating? Should I try different positions when feeding? I feel a lump, could that be a clogged milk duct? And my goodness, no one told me it would hurt so bad when she latched before my milk came in. Thankfully I have my ‘go-to mommas’ to text all the questions I have, plus my midwife who came for a follow up at 24 hours, 48 hours and 1 week. Things are a lot smoother already. It's amazing how feeding feels so natural so quickly. 

-Sleep deprivation is tough. I am so grateful to have the best partner in the world helping me through this new season. Michael and I are in this together as we try to figure out the best sleeping arrangement, who gets up when with baby to change the diaper, taking shifts to soothe her cries so we both can get a few hours of sleep at a time. We are just doing the best we can. And are now starting to figure out tricks that work for us and Genevieve. For example, she hates being swaddled. She hates lying flat on her back. She would rather be propped up. Most of her cries are gas related and burping her and rubbing her stomach is really helpful.

-We love our “quiet alert” times with Genevieve. Every few hours we get some moments where Genevieve is so alert and just taking in the world around her. We stop everything we are doing to just stare at her and talk to her. It’s amazing how you can stare at a baby for hours on end, getting so excited about every little sound and expression. These are the moments that make the rough nights all worth it.

-I had no idea that every task would take so long with a newborn. I am a list maker and I love to feel like I accomplished something each day. But I've learned that the list must be really short. Making the bed, eating lunch and doing a load of laundry is about all I can get done right now and I've become content with that. It is forcing me to slow down and really spend time with Genevieve. Besides taking Genevieve to visit Michael at work and a midwife follow-up, I have not done any errands by myself. It still feels absolutely daunting to take her out of the house. I love my slow days just the two of us and I am not quite ready to venture out into the world. And honestly, I think this is how it should be. My body is still recovering and my baby is adjusting to this new world. Taking it slow in these early weeks has been wonderful

-It's hard not to be concerned about anything 'unusual' as a first time parent. I have learned that - flaky skin on feet and hands, slightly yellow eyes, purple hands and feet, irregular breathing, yellow, green and orange poop, strange noises, spit-up episodes, and little white bumps are all normal in a newborn. My goodness, there is so much going on with a baby adjusting to the world. I have really tapped into my motherly intuition these last two weeks so I can find peace with all the changes going on. And having my midwife and pediatrician's help and guidance has definitely put my mind at ease. 

-These are 4 things I loved having in my first weeks of motherhood:
1. Earth Momma Angel Baby nipple butter – it was the one thing that kept me from getting cracked and bleeding nipples those first few days. It is lanolin free, all-natural, safe for mom and baby. I highly recommend this product.
2. Earth Momma Angel Baby ‘bottom spray’ – thankfully, I only had a minor first degree tear. My midwife debated whether or not to suture but decided to in the end. A lot happened down there and it can be terribly sore and uncomfortable. This spray has wonderful things like witch hazel, cucumber extract, and lavender oil to soothe and relieve any discomfort.
3. Arnica gel – this is an all-natural muscle relief gel. During labor I used so many muscles. It was the most intense work out of my life. Ask Michael, he can tell you how strong I flexed those muscles during those final contractions as I used his arms for stability. Massaging this gel on my arms, legs and back have really helped my muscles relax.
4. My placenta pills – so I told you I would talk about placenta encapsulation, here we go. There is some debate on how effective the placenta really is for postpartum treatment. Some will say it doesn't have any effect to the recovering mom but I have 5 different mommas who have personal testimony of the benefits to these pills. All it involves is cleaning, pressure cooking and grinding the placenta to a powder and putting it in a capsule, like a vitamin. There is no taste and these pills are a lifesaver! For those who don’t know, the placenta has so many benefits for a new mom. It’s one reason why most mammals eat their placenta after birth. Sorry, I don’t care to take a knife to it but having it as a pill was no big deal at all. Here are some of the benefits:
-During pregnancy your hormones are raging high. In the days after you deliver, your hormones plummet. By taking the pills each day, you lessen that dramatic decrease in hormones. This decrease is thought to cause Postpartum depression. So by taking these pills following birth, you lessen your chance of the ‘baby blues’. Not sure I can confirm this but those who have had postpartum depression and then took these pills in following pregnancies noticed a major difference.
-It also replenishes iron levels.
-It helps reduce bleeding and aids in contracting the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size.
-It increases milk production.
-It also increases energy level.

Around night four I started getting really weepy. Michael was about to go back to work and I was feeling overwhelmed. When the sun starts to go down, I feel anxiety coming on. Nights are just really hard. But Michael says, ‘Must be time for your placenta pills’ and he puts me to bed early. Maybe it’s just the much needed sleep, but either way, after taking the pills I really do feel so much better. It might not be for everyone but it is something I would definitely suggest pregnant mamas look in to.
The first picture is the day I went into labor, the second picture is 2 weeks postpartum. I am so amazed and shocked by the design of a woman's body to change so drastically so fast! Breastfeeding does wonders, that's for sure. I am looking forward to 6 weeks postpartum so I can start some serious workouts. 

Here are some more pictures of our precious baby:
Visiting Daddy at work
First bath
We love our Sakura Bloom sling. Momma can breastfeed and have both hands free. 

It’s amazing that you are actually here. We have to remind ourselves that you aren't going anywhere, that you are ours. Your dad and I spend our early mornings and evenings staring at you. These last 2 weeks still feel like a dream. You are perfect in our eyes and we could never have imagined the depth of love we have for you. The sweet noises you make when feeding or sleeping melt my heart. And watching your dad fall in love with you has been the highlight of parenthood. Thinking about you getting bigger makes me sad but I've learned that you really have to be so intentional about living in the present because I now know that it really does go by fast. So I will simply hold your 7 lb body, smile at your tiny newborn onesies, and soak in this moment. Thank you for being patient with us as we try to interpret your cries and adjust to around the clock feedings and diaper changes. We will never be perfect but we will certainly love you more and more each day. You have made me a mother and I am so honored to step into this role. I love you, my precious girl. 


  1. Love this, especially all the pics!

  2. She is SO BEAUTIFUL. What a lovely smile she has! And yes, I think she looks just like you!

    My friend just started doing placenta encapsulation and also makes a body butter too! It sounds like the best way to go to get those needed hormones!

    You look amazing Merrill, You and Genevieve suit each other so well. I'm excited to watch her grow on your blog! xo, Brittan

  3. She is beautiful! Congrats on your first two weeks :)
    Rachel Kathryn

  4. Merrill, she is perfect!!

    I still sometimes use my leftover Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple Cream as lip balm, and the smell brings back the strongest memories of those first couple of weeks. I was overwhelmed at how many decisions we had to make: this outfit or that, wake him to nurse or let him sleep, use one baby wipe or two, text the midwife or not worry about it.... every minute is something new you have to decide, and in that first month I grew so much in authority.

    You guys are doing a fantastic job with your little lark. :-)