Our first two children are 17 months apart, but our third is a solid three years younger than the second. This is because we knew we wanted more than one kid, but after having two, we thought long and hard about having a third. Now, after one month, here is this momma’s perspective on the first month as the (now) mother of three.
I wish I could give you a complete snapshot of the chaos that has ensued in my mind and in my house now that baby #3 has arrived. You want to know the truth? I’m honestly not sure which way is up. I’ll be lucky if this blog makes a lick of sense. We are in pure survival mode right now, running the whole household on the bare minimum and calling it good. However, there are three things that have carried me through. But before we run down that path, let me just say that the real fun was in the first four days.
Day 1: Drug-infused euphoria
They put really, really great things into a spinal for a cesarean. I got to ride the jolly juice for about 24 hours, bouncing in and out of sleep and conversation. If there was any downside to my day, it was the itching. If you’ve ever had a cesarean, you know that as the feeling returns, the itching begins. Lord, help us all if we don’t claw the extra pounds off of our bodies that first night.
Day 2: Pain. Lots and lots of pain.
The jolly juices wore off and were replaced by the “normal” pain meds – like taking a water pistol to a house fire. (Full disclosure: I always refuse the narcotics because they make me crazy, and instead I stick with the Motrin 800. Maybe that was my problem all along.)
At this point, the catheter was out, which means I got to inch across the floor the 10 steps to the bathroom, hunched over and breathing like an asthmatic breathing into a paper bag. A nurse “massaged” my uterus at least once every 8 hours. (This is NOT a massage. This is a sucker punch to a swollen uterus to literally see if it bleeds.) Even though this is my third cesarean, it never gets easier.
I worked on things like passing gas, walking the halls and downing tiny cups of cran-grape juice to get things moving. The highlight of day two, and I mean this sincerely, was the shower. For once, the sandpaper hospital washcloths were the scratch to my itch… literally.
Day 3: Going home (praise the LORD!)
Hospital beds are a special form of torture; your butt, which is already a few sizes larger than it was 10 months ago, sinks into this inescapable ravine, undeterred by any adjustments to the tilt of the bed or your body angle. Fortunately, with no complications, I was scheduled to be discharged that day.
When you get discharged, the doctor comes in and says you can go, but then everyone fills out the requisite paperwork. You are fortunate to get out the door within the hour. I felt caged that day and couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Day 4: $#it gets real
I came face to face with my fears of having a third. Everyone was home, I was still in significant pain, my 4.5 year old bossed everyone including me, and my three-year-old just couldn’t deal. With anything. Hormones + newborn + threenager + pain = buckets of tears.
My sanity is easily influenced in this first month.
Adding another human being to any sized family comes with its’ challenges, and month one is likely the hardest for many mommas. I describe it to friends as equal parts beautiful and hard. My saving grace this month, though, has been my lactation specialist, outside help with meals and childcare, and Netflix.
Breastfeeding is a journey best made with a (certified) friend
If you want to breastfeed, I strongly recommend consulting with a lactation specialist before and after giving birth. To me, they are fairy freaking godmothers, heroes, miracle-workers, magicians. Breastfeeding my first child was a disaster because we visited the lactation specialist too late; the second time was better because I demanded to see a lactation specialist before I left the hospital; I got smart with the third and solicited help from a lactation specialist before I even had the baby. Breastfeeding is wonderful and extremely cost-effective, but it does not come naturally and changes with every baby. It’s ultimately a matter of trust: that your body will do what it’s supposed to and that your baby will tell you when he or she is hungry. If you’re a control freak like me, it’s an uncomfortable, yet liberating, new world.
Outside help FTW
All the jazz hands for the week of daycare my two older girls had left before they were home full-time with me and for the friends who have invited them to play. I will always look upon that week with nostalgia – just me and the baby, hubby at work, older girls at daycare. It was a dream, one that ended entirely too soon. Additionally, shout out to the friends who cooked meals for our family. The hubs might literally have starved without this.
Netflix so that we can chill
Netflix. Dear God, thank you. This has saved my sanity on more than one occasion. When the baby wants to cluster feed in the evening, this has kept me sane. When the two older ones have sufficiently smothered me and the baby in kisses, hugs, pokes, and prods, and I think I’m more annoyed than the baby, this has provided a blessed distraction. Survival, people. Survival.
With month one in the books, I’m not sure yet how we are going to navigate this new world. This is hard. Adding a child to the mix of any family brings new challenges, and when hormones are still wildly unpredictable, the outlook feels bleak at times. So here I am, clinging to the hope that this will get better if for no other reason than I insist that it will. Until next month…