Lindsay Sledge

a blog about life with Micah, Denver, Everett, and Presley the dog

Month: December 2016

Breathing Again

Where to begin? I had an easy pregnancy. Apart from a brief hospital stay during the third trimester when my dog pulled me over, I loved being pregnant. I was able to eat whatever I wanted, exercise each day, and I only suffered from minor symptoms such as swelling, heartburn, and a metallic taste in my mouth. My blood pressure was lower than ever, my weight gain was steady and within the recommended limit, and I had flawless skin for the first time in my post-preteen life. Labor was also relatively easy. I had no idea I was having contractions until about six hours before my son was born, and I was only in significant pain for about two hours, during transition and pushing. This is when things changed.

My son entered this world with force. Nearly nine pounds of baby came out fast and face up, and I paid the price with third degree tearing. I had no idea how severe the tearing was until I was stitched up, laying in the hospital bed, and wondering why it hurt so much to move. I was in pain when I nursed, I was in pain when I changed positions laying down, and I was in pain when I walked. Because I’m normally an active person, I overdid it when I got home from the hospital. My family has a history of easy recoveries from labor and delivery, and I thought that I was being a hypochondriac, complaining about pain that wasn’t there. I ended up with two rounds of Mastitis, which often happens to moms who are overexerting themselves, and at six weeks postpartum, I had to have tissue burned off my birthing area because it didn’t heal correctly.

Along with pain from the delivery and Mastitis, my son is a handful. He was colicky for the first three months. When I wasn’t nursing him, I was bouncing him from room to room, for hours each day, trying to keep him from crying. So many people would ask me why I was so tired. Don’t I nap when my son is napping? Isn’t maternity leave the best? My neighbor even asked why I didn’t help my husband with yard work and suggested I pick up a rake for the leaves in the yard. These comments made me feel self-conscious. I felt like I kept shouting, “MY BABY ONLY TAKES 30 MINUTE NAPS AND IS ONLY HAPPY WHEN HE’S BOUNCING.” Sadly, I don’t think people believed me. Nor did they understand the toll the physical exertion was taking, particularly considering that my husband only had two weeks of leave/vacation and is gone from 8am-6pm each day. The few people who did come over to help had trouble getting my son to calm down enough so that I could nap. Consequently, I spent the first three months of my son’s life in a state of panic, bouncing nearly constantly, trying to console a crying baby, and reinjuring myself over and over since I rarely had time to be still. My days were filled with extreme highs and lows since I was amazed at the privilege of being a mom to a healthy baby boy and also overwhelmed at my inability to calm him during his freak outs.

At ten weeks postpartum, a smiling son emerged. The colic disappeared and was replaced with laughs and giggles that melt this mama’s heart. I love that when I greet Denver each morning, he gives me a mean cheese. I love that in the evenings, he sits in his high chair and laughs hysterically while my husband and I make goofy faces. Life is much easier, but my son still only takes 30 minute naps, and he’s more energetic than ever. I spend the eight hours my son is not napping helping him stand, singing to him while he bounces, walking him around the house, and changing activities every 20 minutes to prevent fussiness. I am still exhausted.

I recently went back to work. I am planning to stay at home with Denver while he’s little, but my employer required me to work two weeks before transitioning to a full-time mom. My own mom is amazing and offered to stay in Nashville during the two weeks of work to take care of Denver. She is a mom to four daughters, and I figured that taking care of Denver would be a breeze for her. My mom loves my son so much, and she is incredible at playing with him and caring for him each day. She even helped Denver overcome his bottle strike. Astoundingly, though, six days into watching my son, she said the best thing I could ever hear: “Your son is high maintenance.” Seriously, she said I should quote her in this blog. She said she’d never have believed the bizarre napping habits or constant attention required each day unless she had experienced them herself.

Do you know what it feels like to finally have someone empathize and see things from your perspective?! It feels like breathing again.

I wish I knew four months ago what I know now. Moms know their bodies and their babies better than anyone else. If you feel like your body is not yet recovered from labor and delivery, it probably isn’t. Don’t compare yourself to other moms, particularly moms who didn’t tear during delivery. Though you didn’t have a C-section, third degree tearing is severe and requires rest. Are you depressed? Maybe. But maybe you’re just plain tired and in need of sleep. If you think you have a difficult baby, you probably do. I’ve spent months feeling inadequate, wondering why I have such a hard time calming my child, wondering if I am the problem. My daily highs and lows are directly related to my son’s ratio of happy to fussy. So many people, with good intentions, have suggested I start anti-depressants or find refreshing activities to do in my free time or simply nap more. These suggestions are unhelpful. If I could nap more, I would. If I had free time, I would take a jog. And if I was jogging, I probably wouldn’t seem so depressed. Rather than a barrage of suggestions about what I should be doing to improve my quality of life, what I’ve needed is someone to listen when I complain, take my son for the afternoon so I can sit in silence, or simply someone to say that I’m doing a great job and this too shall pass.

And pass it shall. Just like babies grow out of colic around three months, I’ve heard that babies become much more self-sufficient at six months when they begin eating solids, sitting up on their own, crawling, and playing independently. Many cat nappers also learn to connect their sleep cycles and take one to two hour naps each day. Please God let this be my son. In the meantime, I will rejoice in the knowledge that I am not failing as a mom. My recovery is simply taking longer than anticipated, and my son is simply a bit more of a handful than expected. What a joy, though, to raise such a spirited young man. What a privilege to carry him safely for nine months. What a relief to know that the last four months have been the most physically and emotionally challenging of my life, but I’m still breathing.

With love,

Lindsay

Four Month Letter To Denver

Dear Denver,

Happy 4 months, little dude. This has been a big month for you. Where to begin? For starters, you learned how to roll over. It was amazing! For an entire week, nearly every time I’d put you on your play mat for tummy time, you’d roll over! It was hilarious because you always looked confused after you landed on your back. See below for a video of your first roll:

 

Lately you won’t roll from your tummy to your back very often, but you will roll from your back to your side. I think you’ll put all the steps together soon, and I can’t wait to watch!

You are so talkative now. Not only do you have very loud conversations where you kick your legs to show off, but you also have very quiet conversations, particularly during nursing. You take a break, look at me, and let out little coos. Seriously, these moments warm my heart. Also, your favorite word is “stinky,” and it makes you laugh when I say it. Check out this video:

 

Sometime during the middle of the month, you went through a major growth spurt. There were all these adorable sports onesies that fit perfectly one day, and the next day when I dressed you, it looked like you were sporting a v-neck since the onesies were too short. Thank goodness Nanny and Pappy bought you some winter clothes sized 6-9 months. You’d be walking around naked if not for their generosity. 😉

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Bear overalls from Nanny

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Sweats from Pappy

Since you’re likely to play sports in the future, I’m taking every opportunity to introduce you to some of the greats. This month you met Tennessee Titan, Jurrell Casey! He was incredibly friendly, and when he held you, I couldn’t help but laugh at the size difference.

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Meeting Jurrell Casey

Sleep is the biggest story this month. Right around 3 months, you slept THROUGH THE NIGHT twice. You were still in the bassinet in our bedroom, and it was shocking. Daddy and I ridiculously tried to move you to the crib around this time, and you were not a happy camper, waking up every two hours all night long. Consequently, we gave up and moved you back to the bassinet. Unfortunately, after the growth spurt, you officially outgrew the bassinet and started unswaddling yourself and waking up every few hours all night long. While Daddy can sleep through the squirming, I cannot. So near the end of the month, after being so tired I literally felt sick, Daddy and I moved you to the crib, unswaddled. This was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, and I am still astounded. We placed you in your crib, and you were upset on and off for two hours, from 7-9pm. Daddy would check on you and comfort you, and finally you dozed off. You woke up once to eat, around 12:30am, and then you slept until 7am! This was not a fluke either. You are consistently sleeping peacefully from 7:30pm until 7:00am, waking only once to nurse. Praise God! I am so proud of you, thankful that we are all getting rest, and relieved at how easily you transitioned from bassinet to crib. Clearly you just needed more room to stretch out at night.

Aunt Lo came to visit for Thanksgiving, and we all loved her company. She calls you her little buddy and snatches you up every chance she gets. You think her funny faces are hilarious, and you enjoy sitting in her lap and sneaking glances at the tv. While in town, she helped decorate for Christmas and tried to work through your bottle strike. That’s right, little dude, your personality is much more vibrant now, and you’ve decided that there are things you like and don’t like. You drank a bottle perfectly from week 1 and have now decided it’s the enemy. I bought you a new bottle, left the room while Daddy tried to feed you, tried to feed you myself, and you still refuse to happily take a bottle. The minute you see one, you throw a tantrum, tears and all, for 30 minutes or so. This has been super stressful because you and I are currently together 24/7. Hopefully you’ll change your mind soon, though, or else we’re gong to start bottle boot camp until you get back on track.

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Chillin with Aunt Lo

On a sappy mama note, this month it hit me that you are not going to be little for much longer. The newborn stage seems to be over. You play with toys now, sit up with very little help, and no longer need to be bounced to sleep. I sneak into your room during naps to hold you, and I watch videos of your laughs in the evenings after you’ve gone to sleep. You’ve grown so much since Daddy and I brought you home from the hospital, and I am amazed at all the changes over the last 4 months.

Carseat on the way home from the hospital

Carseat on the way home from the hospital

Carseat at 4 months

Carseat at 4 months

It’s now Christmastime, a beautiful season to celebrate the birth of Jesus. As I hold you in my arms, I am more thankful than ever for God’s gift to the world. Thank you, Denver, for being such a tangible reminder of God’s goodness and love each day.

Happy 4 months!

With love,

Mama

 

 

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