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Navigating Postpartum

Navigating Postpartum

Guest Post written by Brand Ambassador: Randi Wu

As I thought about which topic to write about this month, my heart couldn’t move away from the topic of postpartum care and sharing a little bit of my story for some encouragement.

I definitely don’t know it all, but I want every mama out there (1st timers and every mama in between) to feel so loved and so supported in every season they are walking through. I want to normalize being vulnerable and transparent as we talk about the good, blissful and hard parts of pregnancy and postpartum. I want each of you to know you’re not alone in this season.

Let's be real, the 3 trimesters of pregnancy is a journey in itself…but the 4th trimester is one that isn’t talked about like it should. If I knew what I know now, we as expectant mamas should prepare just as much for our postpartum journey as we do for birth. The physical healing our body needs, navigating breastfeeding, and the emotions we can experience is something I wish I braced harder for.

I am a first time mom to a beautiful 8 month old baby boy named Maverick. Throughout this new season of motherhood I have experienced so many physical + emotional highs and lows.

I feel as if the movies we see have set the standard expectation for what the birthing and the healing process is supposed to look like.  Even moms I have spoken with tip-toe around the raw truth about delivery and postpartum. It’s almost as if the subject matter is being sugarcoated to prevent fear.

But let’s make a change to be vulnerable and transparent. Let’s not be scared to talk about the hard parts too!  We also have to remember that EVERY woman’s birth journey is different because God uniquely designed each of our bodies. No two are the same. 

One thing that gave me peace was remembering: just because that was their experience does NOT mean it will be mine. With that being said, I would love to share bits of my experience and give a little bit of encouragement and wisdom through my story.

Coming home from hospital.
The First Week

You did it! You are a super woman! You will feel a power like you have never experienced and a love that you never knew existed. Your world has just shifted and you’re learning all new things as you step into motherhood.
Whether you delivered vaginally or via cesarean, you mama, have some healing to do. Postpartum can be an overwhelming whirlwind of emotions, pain, pure joy, fear, and even doubt. It is a lot to navigate all at once. 

So please be kind to yourself and go at your own pace. For some, the pain after birth can be overbearing the first week. You will be in lovely fashionable diapers, ice packs, and possibly still feel your uterus contracting as it returns back to it’s pre-baby size. Getting up out of bed can be difficult for a while especially if you experienced tearing or a cesarean, so please be sure to ask for help if you need it! 

I will say, even though I experienced pain, looking at my baby boys face and tending to him, really softened the intensity. My heart was exploding with love for my husband and my son. And I pray that when it’s your time and you look at your sweet little miracle, the intensity of your pain also softens.

You are doing beautifully stepping into motherhood. Just remember, this is all new. You may have moments of doubt. And that is normal. I want to remind you that you are exactly what and WHO your baby needs. You were designed for each other! You are doing incredible.
During your healing journey please remember to give yourself grace, ask for help, go at your own pace, and remember It’s okay to cry and feel every single emotion you’re feeling. It’s a beautiful mess! 

One thing that would always give me peace is telling myself and my son, “We are both learning a lot of firsts together. I am learning how to be a Mama for the first time and you’re learning to be earth-side for the first time. I am so thankful we are in this together.”
Knowing I won’t be perfect, and knowing we both are learning together eased my anxiety and expectations for myself. I hope that can help you too. 

Baby snuggling a swaddle.

Breastfeeding

If you are able to and choose to breastfeed please give yourself grace and patience in this journey. Also know if you discover formula is the best option for your mental health, you are just as powerful as a breastfeeding mama.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t let your method of feeding your baby define you. You are doing such a beautiful job nurturing your babe in all the ways.

For myself, breastfeeding has been such a beautiful experience to be able to bond with Maverick, but if I am being transparent it has not been a walk in the park. It was a full time job all by itself, especially the first 2 months.
There was so much to learn and there were were many days I cried because I was so overwhelmed. I struggled with oversupply and engorgement while also battling a poor latch from Maverick. I thought it was due to me having an inverted nipple (TMI) , but we also discovered that he had a Lip, Tongue and Cheek Tie. So we decided to take him to be assessed.
Our sweet Mav had all three ties released to improve his latch and to prevent issues down the road (Migraines, Speech Impediments, Gaps, and other complications). The release of his ties defiantly improved our breastfeeding experience, but I still struggled.
I was treated for Mastitis 3 times within 4 months. If I wasn’t nursing, I was pumping and I felt like I barely had time to sleep. I was producing so much in the beginning that our freezer had been taken over with milk storage. I felt like we were preparing for an apocalypse.
It was a blessing and a curse because I know some women aren’t able to produce, but this was such an emotional balance and struggle for me. I was ready to give up because I felt like I couldn't keep up.

Not only did I struggle with over supply, I eventually struggled with a huge dip in my supply due to stress after loosing a loved one. I am 8 months in and still struggling with a dip. I have been so grateful I have had just enough for Mav but recently, I have been desperately trying to increase my supply again. These thoughts of feeling like my body is failing me by not producing enough sneak in often. But I know that is the farthest from the truth. I am not a failure. I am enough.

Breastfeeding is HARD. I just want you to know that if you are struggling, you are not alone. If you do want to breastfeed, seek help through a lactation consultant. They have so much wisdom and guidance to give.
And if you are unable to breastfeed or choose that breastfeeding isn’t the best option for you and your family…. Always remember that you are no less of a woman or mom! YOU’RE absolutely amazing!

Do What's Best For Your Family

Not giving in to unsolicited advice is some of the best advice I could give.

There are going to be so many people pouring out their opinions of how you should be doing things or insisting that the right way is their way because it worked for them in the past. Your peers can get passionate about what worked for them, so take each person's input with a grain of salt.

Listen and soak up suggestions that could be best for your family and respectfully disregard the rest. YOU know your baby and their needs. As you are learning how to navigate each other and schedules, know that with time, you will figure it out. Don’t be scared to try new things to find what works for you! 

There will be pressured opinions about anything from baby products to use, diaper brands, proper schedules, what time you “put them to bed”, how you choose to sleep, how you burp them, how you hold them, etc. Everyone will have their own experience and that’s beautiful.
Just make sure you’re staying true to yourself and what is best and safest for your family. Please never do anything just to please those around you. You're the Mama Bear now. Own it! Take charge of the parents you want to be. Your intuition is best.

Uncle and Nephew

Joy Within Grief

One of the last topics I would love to talk about is near impossible to comprehend, but I feel it's important to discuss how to navigate joy within grief as a brand new Mama.

When our son was just 5 weeks old, we unexpectedly lost a huge presence in our lives. My brother in law passed and our whole family’s world got flipped upside down. He was our guy. The Funcle. The Baby whisperer. The best husband, dad, brother, uncle, and friend. 

As I was only 5 weeks into experiencing motherhood and the joy that came with it, and I now needed to learn how to grieve such a huge loss, while also supporting my family and being present as a wife and new mother.

It was a lot to balance, navigate, and process. I struggled with feeling joyful about my beautiful miracle rainbow baby boy while also being painfully sad with the loss of a staple in our family. I felt guilty for feeling the lightest bit of joy, but I knew I couldn’t let that consume me.

To say that my BIL was obsessed with Mav was an understatement. I began having a hard time looking at Maverick’s face because I would be reminded of how much my brother in law loved him. I was reminded that my son would never get to experience who his uncle was. I felt robbed. I was angry. I was devastated and I felt selfish for feeling this because our whole family lost so much. I definitely fell into a deep depression.

Someone told me that God truly has beautiful timing, because as we gained a miracle angel baby on earth, our son gained a guardian angel in heaven to help guide him. It was such a sweet gesture but I was still so angry with the timing of it all. 

I fought hard and tried my best to focus on gratitude in this dark season. Mav brought so much joy and healing during the first weeks without our guy. So I had to hold tight to the happiness and light Maverick shared.

It was confusing to try and compartmentalize all of these emotions. I had to learn how joy and grief could coexist. I am still learning. I didn’t know how to accept this was the new normal for our family. But sitting in gratitude saved me and knowing that there was still light in my life allowed my joy to coexist. In any season you experience grief, new mom or not, take your time. Allow yourself to sit in it to feel every single thing.

Grief and healing is such a process, so know you don’t need to have it all figured out. Know that you can absolutely ask questions, but try and understand there may not always be an answer as to “why”.

I know this was a novel, so thank you for taking your precious time to dive into my experiences. My hope is that you feel seen and that you never feel alone in any season you are walking through. I want to normalize talking about the hard stuff just as much as much as the happy parts.

Disneyland.
I want to leave you with a few affirmations I gained from a sweet little company who creates care packages for mamas, called Sunflower Motherhood. This affirmation card came in my package and I now have it posted on my mirror to read every morning:

“I'm doing the best I can.

The good moments outweigh the hard ones.

I deserve to give myself grace.

Motherhood is challenging for everyone.

I am grateful to be a mama. 

The mistakes help me grow.

I am worthy of the love I receive. 

Taking care of myself is important.

My kid(s) can feel my love every day. 

I am a great mom.”

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