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Baby Story: Surviving the First Month

September 06, 2019

I had a baby 6 weeks ago, on the 23rd of July 2019.
We named her Ana Sofi (I am wisdom).

People always say that the fourth trimester is the hardest phase. I wasn't fully prepared for this phase - it was definitely not as easy as the months during my pregnancy. Although I finally got my body back and it slowly starting to feel like myself, the emotional and physical changes after the pregnancy phase was a bit tough on me.

Let me share some of it with you :
  1. The Pain & Exhaustion - My body was really weak in the first few weeks, even by the second week I still have to be aware of all my movements. My back was in a lot of pain after the delivery and even though 5 weeks passed and all my stitches were healing well, my back was still in pain (I can't sit properly and I had limited movements). I only took a 4-days confinement massage sessions, and I don't think it was enough (added extra massage session).  
    • What you can do : Get a 5 / 7 days confinement massage sessions, get help from your mom / sister / hire confinement lady in the first + second week after the delivery, ask your husband to take a full week off to help around (you will need the help and moral support). 
  2. The Jaundice Phase - Sofi got jaundice on the first day but nobody told us about how to get better from jaundice right-away, that she needed to drink a lot of milk and the more she pee/poo, the faster she will heal from jaundice. We thought she was an easy baby because she slept through most of the time (we found out later that it was one of the symptom), so we didn't wake her up during the first few days. Later when her jaundice spiked, Sofi was admitted, got blue-screened for the whole day, I tried to fed her my milk (and it wasn't enough). We got the hang of it after a week, we had to monitor her poo + pee, forced feed her every 2 hours, and went to the clinic to get it checked every few days. After 2 weeks of the routine, she was finally discharged. It was a tough phase for a person healing from delivering a baby.  
    • What you can do : You need to start milking up at least a week before the delivery, get milk supplements / booster. Pump it out and keep in your fridge so you can feed your baby first thing after the delivery. Don't wait because it might take days after the delivery for some people and babies with jaundice need milk every 2 hours.
  3. The Milk Issue - in order to reduce jaundice level in babies, babies need to drink a LOT of their mommies' milk and for some of new mommies, milk production takes some time. I had that problem, my milk wasn't enough and Sofi needs my milk to get better. What she had wasn't enough, so the first few days we had to combine with milk formula to cater to her every 2 hours feeding time. It was such a difficult time for me, because I felt like I wasn't enough for her that I can't even feed her. I was stressed out and exhausted, on the verge of crying all the time :F 
    • What you can do : Get supplement or milk booster : kurma, milk, halba, brown rice, horlicks, honey, etc. I tried the hot halba + honey (and it worked), now I also take milk supplement (MaMom) so I can get ahead of Sofi's need. I got myself an electric pump and pump out my milk every 3 hours to activate the milk production.
  4. The Breast Engorgement Phase - I wanted to produce milk as much and as soon as possible so we tried one of the nurse's tips : drink a mixture of hot halba + honey. A day after 2 drinks of the mixture, I woke up with a prickling pain all over my body, my mom in law said it was because of the milk accumulation and if I didn't treat it soon, it will caught on with fever (and we were avoiding that). Thank God my confinement lady was scheduled that day, and so I had the most worst breast massage session (because of the pain) but she taught me a great way to do breast massage myself to avoid future engorgement. I will never forget this lesson. 
    • What you can do : I don't want anyone in the world to ever have to experience this to know the seriousness of breast engorgement. Breast engorgement will happen to you if you keep the milk for long - so we need to avoid this. Just let your baby drink it up and don't forget to religiously pump it all out every few hours. Learn breast massage to let the milk out and on emergency cases when breast engorgement happened to you, please call in the professionals to help you out. In my case, here's a number : Kak Effa, Opah Heritage : 017 272 7278.
  5. The Sleepless Night - I thought we were ready for this. No. Sleepless nights meant waking up at random hours when your baby cries or when it is time for you to feed your baby (jaundice babies need milk every 2 hours). So the random hours were the tough part, sometimes every few hours, sometimes every hour, and sometimes even minutes right after we closed our eyes. There is no planning here, we weren't getting proper sleep for weeks now.
    • What you can do : Take turn, do it together with your husband. You are in this together. 
  6. The Postpartum Depression Scare - it was tough on me. I kept on getting anxious, my hormones weren't stable yet, I cried almost every day during the first 2 weeks. It was too much. I was constantly afraid of making mistakes, anxious every time I hear her cry, still in a lot of pain, I felt weak and helpless, I miss my husband so much - even though he was with me on the first week, I felt so far from him, I didn't feel like myself, I didn't feel connected with Sofi, everything felt wrong. I kept on repeating the past over and over again, and I shared all this with Af. Every time I talk about it, I cried. When I pumped my milk, I cried. Af was really worried with my condition - but we talked about postpartum depression or baby blues before and usually it will end in 2-3 weeks. I also shared + whined to my sister and Tasya (she just had a baby few months back). By the end of the 3rd week, I felt okay :F
    • What you can do : Share with your partner, or your close friends. In my case, I shared my whines and cries with my sister and my best friend Tasya (she just had a baby few months back and she survived the fourth trimester without whining to me). Without them, I don't know how I can survive this phase. Af also seen me cry the most during this 2 weeks - and I almost never cried in front of him in our 4-years of marriage :F
  7. The Postpartum Hives - This was weird. I got an allergic reaction for 3 days, and it was really bad (it attacked my whole body : lower body, upper body, head, face, back, lips). Everything went red, super itchy, and hot. Like huge maps all over my body. Nothing worked, I just had to stop myself from touching it and I can't even sleep at night. 
    • What you can do : Please please please avoid stress. It takes a toll on your body. 
  8. The Colic - Be ready for a colic phase. It is a tough phase, for the baby, for you as parents because your baby will cry and cry for hours. Nothing seems right and they will look uncomfortable and in pain. She cried, I cried T^T This is a normal phase for newborn (0-3 months), so be patient and try to avoid it at any cost. 
    • What you can do : Burp your baby after every feeding, bicycle leg exercise before feeding, essential oil massages to avoid gas. Every burp matters, invest your time in those small exercises and massages to avoid this awful situation. 
  9. The Awkward Public Breast Feeding - I hate it. It is so public and Sofi is crying :F
    • What you can do : Buy a nursing cover and practice. Try it while standing up, try it while sitting down, practice latching the baby under the cover, during stressful moments when your baby is crying like crazy. If lucky, go and find nursing room.

If I don't push myself to write all this down, I'll probably forget this after several years. But I don't want to forget this phase, I want to remember and remind myself (so I'll consider if I want to keep making babies) :D Surviving the first month for new parents is tough, depressing and super stressful, but you'll adapt and it will be over soon.

May the force be with you.