Here’s What The First Two Weeks With A Newborn Are Really Like

Sadik Kuzu

Whew! I’m still alive, barely, but things are getting easier and easier as each day passes! I didn’t mean to completely drop off the planet after I shared Adeline’s birth story, but I haven’t had the time or energy to gather my thoughts and sit down and jot down a blog post. It’s amazing how fast these past 2.5 weeks have gone by. It makes me sad, but it also makes me excited because those first two weeks were rough, and I’m not exactly itching to re-live them yet. (Except for her birthday, I’d do that again 1,000 times). But really, all aboard the struggle bus. Oh my goodness, were those 14 days unbelievably tough. It’s very true that no one can ever prepare you for what it’s actually going to be like, and until you experience it on your own, you have no way of understanding.

I had intentions of writing this at the one week mark, and then at the two-week mark, but honestly I’m glad I held off because I finally feel like I’m starting to come out of the fog, and can maybe swim with my head above water for a few minutes. Baby blues are real, and when they hit, they hit hard. I felt like every emotion was flying at me and smacking me in the face, and when I started to cry, I couldn’t stop. Waterfalls. Waterfalls of tears I’m telling you! Every day at the same time, too! So, I held off a few days to be able to take a much clearer look at how it’s really been, and share some brief notes and non-Instagram photos with you on what the first two weeks were really like! Bullet-point style, because I’ve got an adorable ticking time bomb sleeping next to me and she’s due to wake up in T-minus 30 minutes.

Here are my notes, mainly for my own memory. I’m so glad I thought to jot down some of these emotions on my phone at the time! I feel like social media and other blogs make “newborn life” look magical and perfect and blissfully easy, so hopefully sharing my experience openly will help one of you!

Because I pushed so hard for almost 3 hours, I feel like I had a really difficult recovery. Every ounce of my energy and all of my muscles were completely shot, and even just getting out of the hospital bed to walk to the bathroom sometimes required both Adam and the nurse. It was humiliating, humbling, and exhausting to be so dependent on other people for so many days. And, because my downstairs situation was so tender {read: I may as well have just sat on a grenade instead}, it was incredibly painful to get in and out of bed, and walking wasn’t much fun either. My stomach and pelvis area were so weak, and I remember even just walking for a minute or two would take the breath out of me. I cried so many times in the hospital before we left because I felt like I had no idea how hard those first two days would be. Pain meds were a life saver. And, thankfully our nurse was an angel, and Adam was a trooper. Pair the recovery pain with the cluster that was my hormones, the extra sleepiness from breastfeeding for the first time, and putting on a happy face for family and visitors, it was definitely difficult.

The day we left the hospital, I remember feeling so scared. We had been so well cared for in the hospital and I felt so safe, and I felt so confident knowing that if we needed help with Adeline, the nursery was at our fingertips. If we couldn’t get her to calm down, one of the nurses could come in, do their magic swaddle, and voilia, a quiet baby. I was so nervous to come home! I remember trying to put on “real” clothes to ride home in, and just collapsing because I was so tired and I couldn’t stop crying because I was so tired of crying. I was having a meltdown, Adam had a migraine, Adeline wouldn’t stop screaming while we got her ready to go, and it was pouring down rain outside. We finally got everything loaded up, the nurses wheeled me and Adeline out and met Adam at the car, and off we went. WITH A BABY.

When we got home, we had several family members there and a few who came over shortly after, and looking back that was way too overwhelming. I felt like I could barely keep it together and tried so hard to seem happy. All I wanted was to push my hospital call button and have a nurse come take her to the nursery! I was exhausted, trying not to cry again, trying to keep her fed and struggling with figuring out breastfeeding, and trying to rush to let family see her all at the same time. I love having those memories of family meeting her, but looking back, I wouldn’t do that again. Next time I would come home, just the three of us, to an empty and quiet house. My favorite memory though of coming home, was right when we walked in the front door, Adam took her out of the car seat and walked her straight back to the nursery, brought her back and said, “I just wanted to show her her new room.” It was the sweetest thing ever, and it still makes me cry thinking about it. He is the best dad ever.

The first couple days and nights are pretty blurry. I have lots of pictures, but mostly they consisted of trying to figure out breastfeeding, waiting for my milk to come in, staying up all night trying to get her to sleep, and crying a lot in between. My mom came and stayed with us the first full week, and I’m so thankful she did. Several times during those first few nights, especially once Adam went back to work on Monday, she stayed up all night just bouncing and rocking A so I could get just a little bit of sleep! I have the best mom in the world.

Our first trip to the pediatrician was that Monday, at 4 days old. My mom and I thought she was looking much more yellow than when we brought her home, so we decided we should go ahead and take her in to be safe. Adam met us there, and even the drive there was stressful in and of itself. My mom had to drive because I was still doped up on Percocet, and she’d never driven my car before or driven our roads before, so, it was a fun drive. Ha! The Dr. basically said everything looked good, but that he needed to help get the first big meconium poop out of her, and then prick her heel for her bilirubin blood test. I won’t go into details, but I will say that in that tiny room, lots of tears and lots of gross things happened! Thank goodness I had fully stocked the diaper bag because we went through two diapers, two outfits, three blankets, a full sheet of that white paper they put on the exam tables, and a burp cloth. It was a little bit hilarious looking back on it. Long story short, her bilirubin counts were just high enough to warrant a repeat test the following day. So, the next day we brought her back, got her blood drawn again, and luckily found out her levels had decreased, and she was good to go. Side note – a baby getting her heel pricked repeatedly equals a screaming baby and a panicked mother. Also, those two doctor’s appointments wore. me. out.

The next few days consisted of breastfeeding, my milk had come in and engorgement had slowly dwindled, and I was sleeping on occasion. Let’s just talk for a second about my experience beginning breastfeeding. Anyone who ever tells you that it is this magical, beautiful, moment full of butterflies and unicorns is lying. Those first few days breastfeeding were miserable!!!! Yes, I loved the miracle of it all and how sweet it was, but holy cow. It. Was. So. Painful. I had been warned by my doctor that it would be, but I thought maybe she was exaggerating. Nope, nope not at all. Engorged boobs that felt like bowling balls? Check. Nipples that felt like shards of glass every time she latched on? Check. Tenderness that was so bad all I wanted to do was walk around topless and not let ANYTHING touch those things? Check. Cracked and bleeding nipples that made me think maybe I’d actually given birth to a piranha? Check. Stretch marks that make my boobs look like they’ve been through a war zone? Check. It’s real peeps, breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. But, it is good. It is so, so good. It’s an amazing, God-given miracle that we are able to sustain a life with our own body, and provide this perfectly tailored, nutritious meal each time. I’m happy to report that I survived those first two weeks of breastfeeding-nam. It was touch and go, but we did it and we are still trucking right along.

The troubles with breastfeeding don’t just end after you survive the initial struggle. This past week, I experienced my first bout of plugged milk ducts, which led to an almost 100-degree fever for three days, a drastically decreased milk supply, and a grumpy baby who decided she’d forgotten her breastfeeding basics. Great fun. To back up, we went to the Lactation Consultant on Monday, everything was perfectly fine. By that afternoon, I had chills, fever, and felt terrible. Tuesday morning, I woke up with a hot, red splotch on each side, a fever still, and more exhaustion. My doctor eventually called me in an antibiotic to prevent it from turning into full-blown mastitis, but I still felt awful for those three days or so, trying to get those ducts to clear out.

Then, that Thursday on her two week birthday, I took A to have her weight checked to make sure she was back at her birth weight. I thought for sure with all the feeding I’d been doing that she’d be at her birth weight or above. But unfortunately, she wasn’t. She had actually lost an ounce since we’d weighed her on Monday. GAH, cue even more tears. So, the LC had me start a process of nursing, pumping after each feeding, and giving Adeline a bottle of whatever I could pump. I did that all weekend, as much as I possibly could, and when we weighed her this Monday, she was finally back up to her birth weight. I remember feeling SO defeated when I saw that she’d lost weight and hadn’t gained anything. It felt like I hadn’t done enough for her, and that I was failing her. Typical new mom anxiety. But after a few days of getting into a routine and seeing that she’s good now, I know that all that matters is that she’s healthy, gaining weight, and whatever it takes to make that happen is what I’ll do. Everything doesn’t always go according to plan, and breastfeeding isn’t always cut and dry.

Something I also stressed too much about in the beginning was giving her her first paci. I was dead-set on not giving her a paci until after the first two weeks, mainly to help make sure she had established a good latch at first. Well, after a ridiculously tiring Saturday morning of her screaming, me crying, Adam about to go crazy, we finally caved and decided that a paci was probably a good idea! She is so much happier now that she has something to soothe herself with. She seems to calm down the most when she has something to suck on, and the fact that it’s not me is even better! Looking back, I do think it’s silly how stressed I was about giving her a paci, and how much inner anxiety I felt over it. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal, and it ended up being the best choice for our family.

So that’s what the first two weeks were really like, and why I’ve been a little more preoccupied than usual! I don’t want to paint a negative picture, but I also don’t want to act like it’s been easy either! I loved reading other mom’s experiences while I was pregnant, and wished I had read even more to know that everything I felt and experienced was completely normal. It’s been both the best and most rewarding two weeks of my life, as well as the hardest. But, I would do it all again, and I already couldn’t imagine life without my little girl.

Adeline will be THREE WEEKS on Thursday, and I can’t believe how fast it’s already gone by! I’m loving having my little sidekick with me more and more each day, and every day I feel like I’m getting the hang of it just a little bit more. Nights aren’t quite as scary as they were in the beginning, and slowly but surely I feel like I’m getting some sleep. TC mark

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Image Credit: Sadik Kuzu

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