Sunday, 16 August 2015

Postpartum recovery the second time around

Chalk and cheese!

The second time round for me was SOOOOO much easier. Two reasons:
1) I had a vaginal birth this time round.
2) I'd done all the hard work - learning to breastfeed, handling a baby, learning their hungry/tired/change me cues the first time.

So, number one. Obviously, I could get up and walk right after the birth (although I chose to spend the day lying on the sofa!). I did require stitches and my midwife left the catheter in for 24 hours, so there was some slight discomfort from the stitches, but nothing compared to major abdominal surgery. Mostly it was just being really careful walking up and down stairs the first few days, and I think a lot of it was just the thought of accidentally tearing a stitch that made me so ginger.

Lochia was pretty much gone to alba within about a week and a half, two weeks. I went through about 4 packs of maternity pads, and then i think a pack of regular ones before switching to pantyliners. From memory I was completely free of them by about 4 weeks postpartum. Compare this to the surgical birth, which took me so much longer to stop bleeding from.

Still pretty tired after giving birth. I had a nap on my midwife's orders most afternoons and that was great. Juggling a newborn and a preschooler was hard work. The newbie, once he got the hang of feeding, was easy. The preschooler needed a lot of interaction and energy which I just didn't have, so we did have a few tantrums in the early weeks until he got used to the new balance.

And, number two. Breastfeeding was almost a breeze after our struggle the first time, where I suffered with sharp intense pain for the first 6-8 weeks. E had a mild tongue tie which we didn't treat, but G did not, and I could really feel the difference. I did get sore nipples, as to be expected (Lansinoh helps) but it was only for a few weeks. Although I did get some blocked ducts this time around also, they had stopped by about 7 weeks and I've been fine ever since (8 months currently). I used the compression massage and heat to get rid of them. It was definitely worth the fight to keep breastfeeding. I had so much support the first time and I sought out help whenever I needed it, and it's made this time round so easy in comparison.

Diastasis - yep, still got it. I don't think I ever will get the belly button back as an innie. I'd been doing the Tupler technique after pregnancy 1 and through pregnancy 2, and have been doing Pilates postpartum this time. Although they've all helped, none of them have closed the gap. At 8 months postpartum, I'm at 2 fingers shallow below the navel, 3 1/2 and shallow-medium at navel, and closed above. Almost exactly what it was at 24 months postpartum with baby 1.

This is my belly 3 weeks postpartum, muscles relaxed and not held in as you can see! It shrank so much more quickly than the first time.

And this is me 8 months postpartum. I'm embarrassed to have to do a selfie style mirror photo, but that's all I could fit in today, in the bathroom trying not to wake my sick baby. I've flipped them all so they're actually showing the correct sides. 9 months postpartum baby 1 is on the left, 8 months baby 2 on the right.

Looking pretty similar to me.

And front view.

And blurry navel comparison; 5 weeks pregnant left, 8 months postpartum right. Room for improvement here.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

More on the return to work

I mentioned last post I was going to start preparing dinners ahead of time. I have managed so far to do that, and it has saved a bit of time. It has meant that while not on the table at 6pm which would be ideal, at least this week E has been eating by 7pm and we've been able to get him through the shower, cleaned teeth and to bed mostly on time.

So what I've done is to meal plan (not unusual for me) but to specifically pick quick to prepare meals, or meals which can be half done in advance, and have chopped all the veggies ahead of time and sealed them in containers in the fridge. One meal this week had a sauce and a marinade, so I was able to actually marinade the meat overnight (and man it tasted good!! - E ate all his dinner that night!). Another I've made the pastry for instead of buying it, and I've had pre cooked chilled rice in the fridge ready for fried rice.

This is my meal plan. Excuse the messiness - at some point I'll do up a template and laminate it so I can write over it with whiteboard marker. It's on the fridge so that we can see it and hubby can choose to cook some days without using the excuse that he didn't know what I had planned (even if it was him that chose the meals that week! hahah)

I didn't take photos of any of the dinners, but I can share some of the recipes with you.
Salmon with Fried Rice (Just panfried the salmon while stir frying the rice)
Spaghetti Bolognese (fairly standard, but the sauce is special)
Stirfried Beef with Kale and Fried Rice
Hainanese Chicken Rice (this is done from a jar mix and the recipe is on the jar)
Roast (pork this week. The secret to good crackling is to score the pork skin with a Stanley knife, pour boiling water over it to separate the cuts, dry and salt as usual, oven at 220C for 20 mins then down to normal temp for a roast (170-190)).

Poor little G has copped two lots of illness in his first few weeks at daycare. Conjunctivitis the second week he was there then Monday morning this week he was very grizzly. I dropped him off and told them he wasn't himself, so they kept a close eye on him and by mid afternoon I got a call telling me he was running a temperature. Hubby picked him up and stayed home with him the next two days, I'm home with him today and thankfully last night the fever broke. He's still very grizzly. We think it's a sore throat, as he cries out when he coughs. This is the hardest part of leaving them in daycare; all the germs they pick up their first 6 months there. Horrible. At least though it's done and over with and they don't get hit hard with bugs when they start school.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Return to work after maternity leave

Ah, the inevitable return to work. I actually started a week early, going in for a few days to do a handover with the girl whose job I'm going to be doing for a year, while she goes on maternity leave. I'm not officially starting until this week. So not only am I going to have to juggle the nighttime routine after work for two children now, but I'm also going into a new job. Funnily enough, after all I've experienced with my two different births and now looking after my two boys, a new job seems so much less daunting than it would have several years ago!

Still, I did struggle with those two days I did last week. With the first day, I finished work at 5 and picked up both kids, but with the extra pickup (2 diff daycares) there was an extra 15 mins of time added on to my journey. Got home after 6, hubby was working that evening and so that left me to settle a tired baby, cook dinner, feed both of them, shower one and bath the other and get the first to bed, breastfeed the second, tell the first off several times for sneaking down the stairs, and get the second to bed, then eat dinner myself. This did not leave much time for anything else before bed and yet I still had nappies to fold, daycare bags to repack, bottles to wash etc plus the usual day's chores that I would normally have done during the day, all crammed into the evening.

I decided I'm going to have to get to work earlier, so I can leave earlier and not be so rushed with the kids' bedtime routines. It was a good idea, and I tried it on my second day, getting to work at 8:30am, but on the return journey there was a breakdown causing heavy traffic on one of the roads I take so it took us an hour and a half to get home. Still that won't be the case every evening so I'll keep preparing everything the night before and get up early so I can make it to work by 8am.

I'm going to try prepping the meals on the weekend, ready for the week ahead. This will mean washing and cutting the veggies and sealing them in containers on the weekend, and getting the next night's meat out of the freezer the night before, so I can start the meal as soon as I've got home. If this helps smooth the evening rush it'll be worth all the preparation.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

7 months old - and a big decision

Clearly I shouldn't have been so smug about his sleeping in my last post; now, at 7 months old, he wakes 3-4 times a night on average. He's still a good day sleeper with 2 naps averaging 2 hours each, and even if he doesn't get that he's still such a happy baby :)

He's started commando crawling. We have to figure out what to do with the power cables that run across the lounge room floor to our laptops. He loves them and pulls himself towards them to attempt to chew on them. E knows G's not supposed to be near them and is a great help in alerting us if we haven't noticed. He also loves tissues and will pull himself across half a room to get to one... which he will then chew and eventually gag on. Lovely. :)

And in about three weeks, G goes to daycare for the first time. We had a real struggle with daycare; I had his name down at the one near my work which E goes to since I was three months pregnant. As of now, we still do not have a place for him there. Luckily the one near home, which E went to for a few months before we got a place at the work one for him, had a full-time babies spot and also had a place two days a week for E (also have had him on the wait list since taking him from full-time to 3 days a week, but no vacancy at the work one). I took them for a booking visit a few weeks ago. E took a little while to warm up, clinging to my leg, but soon warmed up enough to play with some toys. Didn't play with the other children but hopefully he'll settle in quickly when he's there without me. G wan't fazed at all, had a great time playing. My concern with him is taking his bottles, he'll probably be like E was. E refused the bottle his first half day, took a little the second, then drank most the third half day. after that he did a full day and was fine with bottles after that, although still reluctant to take them at home.

We went ahead and started selling clothes that he'd grown out of, right up to 00. So sad. I have been thinking, every time G attains a new milestone, that that is the last time I'll see my own babies achieve that. My whole life I've only wanted two children. I was the oldest of three and really didn't like the family dynamics once the third came along. That could also have been because of the large gap between us all, but whatever the reason it affected me enough that i still don't like the idea of having three children. Four children would be the only feasible number for us because of that (and also just because I like the idea and look of families with four children), but four is a huge mental leap from two. Also, a rather large expense with daycare. Excluding the expense, and the probable lessened likelihood of frequent family holidays, we both like the idea of four children!! So I've stopped selling off clothes, and we need to do a bit of number crunching. We have time yet - we like the 2-3 year age gap and I have to be back at work for 12 months before i'm eligible for the long maternity leave that I've now enjoyed twice. But, not too much time, as I'm approaching 40 (eep!) and we'd like to have both children before i reach that age (because of the increasing risks once the mother reaches and surpasses her 40s).

I also have my wonderful HBAC to thank for this new idea. I doubt I'd be considering more children if G had been born the same way as E. Amusingly enough, my midwife had been asking me each time I saw her at mother's group if we had changed our minds and would be having more. Each time I told her no, but now that we've really thought about it and almost made our definite decision, she's got used to my previous answer and now just says to the other mums, 'Jel's not having any more,' with her resigned look! She may read this; but if not I will look forward to seeing her expression when I ask her to be our midwife again :)

But for now, we really have to look at ways to save. We're considering enrolling E in Kindergarten next year, which will save us at least $40 a week in daycare fees, assuming kindy is 2 days per week and he needs before and after school care at the local daycare, who pick them up from the school. They do say 5 and up however so I need to find out if they also pick up the kindy children who are 3-4 years old. If we cannot get after school care we can't send him to kindy.

While I won't compromise on hiring a private midwife again, this time I'll save money by getting a referral to her by a GP Obstetrician, which means I can then claim part of the fee back from Medicare. I was reluctant to do it last time as I didn't want to appear too much on the radar of the maternity hospital; even though they didn't know I was planning an HBAC I was concerned about anything interfering with my VBAC. Little paranoid in hindsight; but hey I got my HBAC and didn't get hassled by the hospital! Now I have achieved it I am a lot more confident. Even if we have a breech again and have to birth at the hospital I'm a lot more confident; because I know i've birthed a head down baby, then I can birth an upside down one. But hopefully both future babies, and both placentas, will behave and I can have home water births again :)

I would really love to have a photographer present at the birth again too... the pictures we got back from G's birth were just gorgeous and I love looking at them, reliving his birth and seeing what I couldn't see while i was labouring. But that was quite pricy and my little photography business will have to start getting a lot busier before we can afford non-essentials like that.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Starting solids - purees

weaning, purees, baby-led

I had read up on baby-led weaning when E was young, and that's how we started him on solids. It made a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately, and I don't know if it was the method that didn't suit him or if he'd have been fussy if we'd started the traditional way, we didn't have much luck with him eating. He'd happily chew on a bit of apple, but never swallowed much at all, and there wasn't much change with this up until 9 months.

With G, I decided to try purees. I was going to wait until 6 months, but at 5 months he was attempting to grab my fork when he sat on my lap at dinner. One night he lunged forward and managed to hit my plate with his fist! I figured that meant he was definitely ready to start weaning onto solids. (A note for my US readers - weaning in UK and Aus means to start feeding solid foods, not necessarily stopping breastfeeding/formula).

I started off with boiled pumpkin around 5 1/2 months - just a taste. He made the funniest face at the start but I managed to get half a teaspoon or so into him. He's been so easy to feed since (compared with E). He's eaten avocado, sweet potato, chick peas (too lumpy, he didn't like it), mashed baked beans, stewed plum, stewed apple, banana, a tiny bit of curried rice (as it was lumpy I didn't wash to push my luck), Shepherd's Pie, and lentil and bacon soup (the last two blended with a stick blender).

It's been about 3 weeks now and he's got the hang of it, the last two days he's even started opening his mouth for the spoon and lunging towards it. Trouble with the lunging is sometimes the spoon goes too far back and hence the food is too far back, he gags, and if he can't clear it he throws the whole lot back up... milk feed and all :(

We've worked up to about a tablespoon and a half (at 6 months and 1 week) and sometimes lunch of 2 teaspoons, and that's about all I'm willing to do at the moment. I don't want to reduce his demand for milk and therefore my supply.

I plan to introduce lumpy textures, slowly, around 7 months.

The trickiest part of doing this the second time round, is juggling E's dinner, shower and bedtime, G's dinner and bedtime, and me having to cook and usually do all of it by myself, yet still manage to eat my own dinner. I haven't yet managed. On the evenings when hubby is home, I still have to cook, feed & breastfeed G and get up and down getting water/cloth/whatever for E... so I end up with a cold meal and an exercise routine in the middle of it. Hubby won't do it unless I prompt him several times so there's not much point. Will have to try to figure out something that works, and still get them to bed before 8pm to avoid fatigue meltdowns (like the one tonight from E... massive).

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

6 months old!

Wow! So much for getting back into blogging. I can now see why bloggers i'd followed after E was born, after having their second child really slowed down their posts.

So, G is now 6 months old. He's growing up so fast. Three days after his half-birthday, I put him on an unpadded carpeted floor while i put his nappy in the bucket and washed my hands. He sat for a minute or so then fell backwards as he usually does - but this time received a tap to the head from the floor instead of a soft mattress. He was surprised by this but all of a sudden, when i sat him on something softer, he stayed sitting up for quite some time! He clearly had had the skill but found lying down was easier until the tap on the head made him think twice.

Speaking of nappies, our cloth nappies are still going strong on their second child :) I tried him in them at 5 weeks old, but he was leaking through a lot. I figured it was because he was still too small, so back into disposables and I tried again at 7 weeks, and this time was successful. Almost straight away i needed to put him up to the larger insert for the BumGenius, but the newborn insert for the Blueberries was sufficient for quite some time. I changed him to the large insert around 4 months old.  When he was 5 months I had to extend the rise snaps on the Blueberry nappies to the middle setting, but BumGenius lasted another few weeks on the newborn setting.

We're currently using disposables at night as he was leaking right through the bamboo inserts on his night nappies, even with a wool cover. The disposables are only a bit better though, i think i need to get specific night time ones. As he doesn't wake much at night, and will cry if not given his boob straight away, I leave him in the one nappy all night. I don't like to change after a feed as it wakes him right up and then he has trouble settling back to sleep again.

Hubby decided that since I'd had a natural birth this time I didn't need as much help at night, or changing nappies. Somehow that's translated into me doing all the nappies! He'll do one if i ask. G is a MUCH better sleeper than E though - he has woken on average twice a night for the last few months. E was waking 5-8 times at this age.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

4 months postpartum

Yeah... it's been a while! I'm still here, so busy with two kids and trying to get my photography business up and running. But it's all been positive, I've had my first paid clients this year and we've settled into a routine of sorts at home... the kids are doing well together but the house is a mess. Oh well. Still room for improvement.

What there isn't much time for is blogging. I'm hardly reading any blogs, let alone writing, most of my time on my computer is spent either on Facebook or on my business - editing photos or researching props (I photograph newborns so use bowls, fabric backdrops, basket fillers, tiny gorgeous clothes and hats). Today i've finished cutting and sewing 224 yards of tulle for one adult size tutu, and have another 76 yards to go for a baby size one.

Baby is currently asleep but the toddler now wants me to go play Lego with him... I think most of my posts from now on are going to be short. I'm going to start with the first month settling in with two children, because it was trickier and more tiring than i thought.