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    First Month of Motherhood: My Experience

    Today is a special day. As I sit holding my newborn in my arms I reflect on this motherhood journey and the ups and downs of my first month postpartum. I am a first time momma and I can’t believe it’s been one month today that I brought a beautiful baby girl into this world.

    Each morning I stare at her soft perfect skin and think to myself that she’s a blank canvas full of potential and endless possibilities- so pure and so new. The world is her oyster. I daydream about all the beauty we will show her and all the adventures we will go on as she grows yet on the other hand I want to stop time and keep her in my arms protecting her from any pain and discomfort. The feelings of happiness, fear and joy were so intense that I cried daily. I was overwhelmed by my emotions the first two weeks after giving birth.

    The postpartum journey is bittersweet as I am so in awe of this little human my husband and I have created yet my body and hormones were wreaking havoc on me as well . This can make it hard to the sweet fleeting moments with your newborn and the emotional roller coaster that mothers talk about is real. My body ached, I was sleep deprived, I was bleeding and had a new found appreciation for mesh undies. I was adjusting to my new body that’s now showcasing a squishy belly. I was introduced to horrid hemorrhoids and learning to breast feed and get a good latch was not an easy task in the beginning. It also didn’t help that I was sensitive to anything anyone told me. The first two weeks postpartum I also felt an odd emptiness, a sadness that I could no longer protect my baby in my belly and feel her daily kicks and the anticipation of her birth which seems silly but it’s how I felt at that moment in time. 

    The Postpartum period and the baby blues brings the unexpected. I read so many books and blogs before giving birth but nothing prepares you for those first few weeks except love, support and encouraging words  from family and friends. I realized my baby and I had to learn about each other. I needed to learn her crying cues and I had adjust to my new role as a momma while my body healed and hormones leveled out. I was fortunate enough to have my mom stay with me the first two weeks and having that support was essential. I recommend that all new mothers put together a support system for the first couple weeks as you heal and find your new way of life as a momma.

    The saying it takes a village brings own a whole new meaning to me now. My dear mother gave me good advice during her stay when I was feeling overwhelmed and said, "honey your job right now is to love and nurture your baby and yourself, nothing else." Once I processed those words of wisdom a weight lifted off my shoulders and I realized that was all that mattered and the cleaning, cooking, unfinished projects and emails could wait. 

    Today one month postpartum I feel strong and accomplished as a new momma, not every day is perfect I still struggle but love and nurturing my baby is a true gift and each day I learn new things about my baby girl and myself. Cheers to all the new mothers out there. Stay strong and confident in your instincts and may you find strength in yourself and all those around you during this postpartum transition and the sweet journey of motherhood.

     

    -Christine Rapley, @c.rara22

    The First Two Weeks Are The Hardest

    Breastfeeding didn’t start out how I had dreamed & hoped for... We ended up finger feeding my expressed milk for the first 2 1/2 weeks! Yes, my hubby & I almost went crazy. It was so incredibly hard!

    It’s amazing to me how shamed I felt in the hospital & the assumptions the nurses & LC “specialist” made about me as my son & I struggled to get our breastfeeding journey started. The biggest assumption being that I was going to starve my son if he wouldn’t breastfeed. (While I was hand expressing & feeding him by spoon sometimes & through a syringe with my finger acting as the “nipple”

    other times) He was getting plenty of nourishment based on his diapers & all the glucose test came back amazing!  No one was any help to me there. All they wanted me to do was use a nipple shield & move on. I refused which made them upset with me. I knew that something else was going on with my sweet baby boy & the nipple shield wasn’t going to fix it. They wouldn’t listen.

    When we finally got discharged from the hospital we went to the LC (lactation consultant) I had been working with pre-birth (a wonderful woman at the birth center I intended to give birth at but had to transfer away from during active labor due to my sons dropping heart rate) & she diagnosed my son with a potential lip & tongue tie. She recommended a pediatric dentist which we got into as soon as we could. She also said his pallet was really high. My son was 8 days old when we found out he had a third degree lip tie (out of four degrees. The fourth being the worse possible) & a posterior tongue tie. That is what had us on our difficult journey from the beginning. We had both revised that day. At 10 days old we got him to a chiropractor that specializes in children. She was able to help us with his high pallet alone with several other parts of his little body that where not in the correct place. (neck, cranials, hips) A week after the revision my son latched & we haven’t looked back since.

    I believe that chiropractic care also helped us immensely & he is still under monthly chiropractic care to maintain as he grows! If we had just done what the hospital wanted & hadn’t gotten another opinion my son & I wouldn’t have a breastfeeding relationship today just over 5 months later! He also would very likely have speech issues & eating issues as he got older based on the information I was given my our pediatric dentist. The past 4 1/2 month of exclusively breastfeeding have been the most amazing gift! 

    If your struggling in your breastfeeding journey it’s okay! Keep pressing on & find people who are great supporters & encourages. For us that made ALL the difference! ❤️️

    -Emily Smart, @guidedlight_motherhood

    Just Because It's Natural, It Does NOT Mean It's Easy

    I’m currently a mother of two little boys under the age of two. As if that weren’t enough of an adventure, I also decided that I wanted to take on breastfeeding with my second. I would like to mention that I was THAT naive mother that never took any breastfeeding classes, never talked to a lactation consultant outside of the hospital, and assumed my maternal instinct would just takeover and the magic of boob nourishment would just happen. NEWS FLASH: I was wrong! Just because it’s “natural”...does NOT mean it’s easy. I supplemented coming home from the hospital due to jaundice levels (nothing serious), but also because I hadn’t fully convinced myself that breastfeeding was something I wanted to do. My first baby was formula fed, so I knew what the “other end” of the feeding spectrum looked like. During the first few days of waiting for my milk to come in, I felt comfort in knowing I could easily make a bottle and everything would be fine. AND THEN IT HAPPENED...my milk arrived, my boobs grew twice their size, my shirt was constantly covered in milk stains, and it seemed like my baby was ALWAYS attached to my boob.

    After about two weeks of fumbling with bruised nipples, warm/cold compresses, pumping, nursing, latch trial and error, and a bottomless pit of an infant, I decided it was time to ASK FOR HELP. I made a plea for help through my IG stories and within an hour, had over 30 MESSAGES from moms offering advice and product recommendations! I immediately felt encouraged and wanted to continue to fight through the first stage of breastfeeding. While I continued practicing the art of breastfeeding, I did supplement one bottle a day. I did this to ensure he was getting SOMETHING since nursing him didn’t give much detail as to how much he was consuming! For that first month, my nipples hurt, I found out my baby had a lip tie, and I (like most mothers) had to constantly remind myself to drink enough water! LOL...I was a hot mess: walking around in my fiancé’s boxers, no bra, with a baby in one hand, and a lactation bar in the other. I was CONSTANTLY washing those dang pieces to my breast pump and I hate washing dishes. 

    After that first month, I decided to GO OUTSIDE. I packed the boys up and ventured out of the house to run errands. This was the first time I would have to potentially feed my baby in public. I will never forget the turning point of my breastfeeding journey...I was grocery shopping with both my boys and OF COURSE right in the middle of our trip the baby starts screaming of hunger. I had no pumped bottle, my nursing cover was in the car, my cart was half full of groceries, and as I stood in the middle of the toothpaste aisle full of nerves and confusion, I made a choice. I whipped my boob out and fed my baby. I have never felt more powerful! My baby needed me; he needed my body. As I fed my baby, picked out the toothpaste I needed, and continued our shopping trip...that was the moment I knew: I AM CAPABLE! I can do this. I CAN do this!

    After that I stopped giving him formula. I realized I was using formula as a safety net, and was therefore dependent on it. For every bottle I gave him, I was taking away from what my body was already going to give him whether I saw it or not. My baby boy is now 3.5 months old and while that isn’t a very long time, I am so proud of myself! The temptation of being able to just made a formula bottle and “keep it moving” still exists, but as I see my baby grow because of the nourishment I am able to provide, I continue! 

    I had a miscarriage before giving birth to my first son. His birth felt like an accomplishment that my body WAS CAPABLE of creating and giving birth to a baby. With my first I put breastfeeding on the back burner because him being earth side was more important to me. When I found out I was pregnant with my second I felt confident in my body’s ability to create life, so I could put my energy into the next step: breastfeeding! I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I keep breastfeeding, and the only real reason I continue is to prove to myself that I CAN. It’s also more convenient financially, if we are being honest. 

    This has been such a crazy, incredible, cool, confusing adventure and I am excited to see where it takes us...and for how long. If I could offer any advice to mothers who are new to breastfeeding, it would be this:

    “YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Ask for help. Surround yourself with PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND. You are capable, but even more than that...YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE. Even if your breastfeeding journey only lasts a week, be proud of yourself! Breastfeeding is not for everyone, but eating is. As long as you love and care for your baby, how they are nourished becomes secondary...you are still an amazing mother and powerful woman!”

    -Lauren Miller, @inthemuddleofmitchells