The Mom & Me Wardrobe : Cheap Practical Edition

 

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For the first 3 months of her life, my daughter would rarely be seen in pink. No miniature tutus either. No bows, frills, or rainbow sparkles.
Why? Because she was a newborn baby. In about an hour or less, her clothes would just be covered in vomit that I wasn’t able to fully remove–or they were victim to a horrendous blowout where I had to actually throw them away.

What I did use? Socks, plastic-backed bibs…and plain white utilitarian “onesies”–those legless snap-crotch bodysuits. Yes, she could have been mistaken for a boy, but it really didn’t matter because I wasn’t wasting time trying to save a $60 outfit made of fairy dust from the clutches of diarrhea stains. They’re unisex (for those waiting for the gender reveal), they’re easy to remove, they are bleach-able, and baby won’t risk choking on some ribbon that she just yanked off. They’re so cheap they can be discarded guilt-free if they are suddenly poo-covered. Voila, life is simplified by at least an iota.
Heck, you could even decorate them at a baby shower with fabric markers if you want, then save the “artwork” back when baby outgrows it. Orrrr…if you’re not a bleach user, you could get baby heavily patterned and dark-colored clothes, which will also hide stains.
While we’re at it, here are some more practical, inexpensive, and comfortable new-mom clothing items you may find helpful.

For Mom:

  • Yoga pants. Pretty much the same thing as those comfy maternity pants with big stretchy bands around the belly, except half the price and a wide variety of designs. Not sure if these would be good for recovering c-sections or not, but you can always fold the stretchy band down. Get them in black. Really, get EVERYthing in black, for the reason mentioned above–no one will be the wiser on how many different colors of baby food, milk and poo have gotten on your britches.
  • Nursing tank tops with built-in shelf bra
    Rather than trying to wrangle with my itchy nursing bra underneath a regular shirt, I preferred just tucking nursing pads into the shelf bra of a tank top with unclip-able straps. Nursing tanks were comfortable, went with everything, and could be dressed up with a vest, scarf, or a jacket.
  • Button-front nightgowns, AKA “mom pajamas”
    OK, these look like the ones your mom used to wear–extremely modest, over-sized and usually covered in outdated flower print. But they are are SO convenient because you just unbutton the front and remove boob to nurse. And your new udders and hips aren’t going to have any issues fitting into what is basically a really long t-shirt.
  • “Sport bras”
    Yeah, you probably guessed these won’t really be for “sports”. But these babies will stretch to meet your ever-changing boob size, are super-comfortable and wire-free, and are usually able to hold a lot of engorgement weight.
    I like the wide-strap full-coverage cotton ones because they breathe better and I get less sweaty.

For Baby:

  • The “good brand” of diapers
    If you’re still expecting, take advantage of people wanting to give you stuff! For those planning on using disposable diapers, ask for a more expensive brand of diaper in more than one size on your registry, because baby will grow fast. When you buy diapers, you can get the cheap ones and use the expensive ones for overnight, when baby sleeps longer at night than during the day. It really makes the difference between cleaning a 3 AM blowout off of bedding and clothes, or just off of a tiny butt.
  • Second-hand duds
    Infants grow so fast and it’s expensive to buy a whole new wardrobe every 2-3 months. There is no shame in outfitting baby in previously-loved clothes. The very first time they wear something new and it gets washed, it becomes “used” anyway (or will look that way after the first time they become covered in vomit), and many items of clothing available second-hand are in nearly new condition. A good way to save money is to get a lot of clothes in the next couple of sizes up from what baby fits right now, at a consignment or garage sale.
    Sizes are confusing. If you have already had your baby, find more items that fit by bringing a onesie that fits well right now and comparing things with it. Any items a little larger, disregard the size on the tag and treat as the next size up, then make stacks with similar-sized items. I ended with up clothes tagged for 3, 6, and even 9 months, which were all about the same actual size! Then, bag up each stack and label the bags, and keep where you can remember them. When baby outgrows their current duds, you’ll have a whole wardrobe for the next stage all bagged up and ready to rotate into use. Don’t forget to buy future clothing appropriately for the upcoming seasons. I received beautiful “12 month” winter clothing from friends, but thermal footed clothes may not work for a one-year-old who was born in the summer. And finally–enjoy sorting through the adorably tiny socks and jackets!

 

Image by talesin at Morguefile.com

Sensory Issues : 6 Tips For More Comfortable Breastfeeding

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Hoo boy, this one is tough. Breastfeeding felt like a constant assault on my boobs, which is pretty normal for some women, particularly in the beginning. But there were some things that made a big difference in our nursing routine and may help you too:

Nipple shields: If you are very sensitive, you may need nipple shields, which reduce sensory over-stimulation or pain with a thin rubbery piece that baby can latch onto over your nipple. They gave me one at the hospital, and I got another from a lactation peer counselor.

Lanolin: This funny-smelling, natural soothing gel helped prevent cracking from hour-long nursing sessions. I got a couple tubes of it from the hospital after delivery. If you are really brazen like me, you can ask for a tube of it each time you get a new nurse in your room with their shift change, and stash them to take home with you, since lanolin is expensive (hey, you are already paying for your stay!). If you decide to use an electric breast pump, lanolin is an excellent buffer against the plastic nipple shield and the strong suction, and may help create a better seal.

Organic Coconut oil : This considerably better-smelling natural oil is a great moisturizer for your nipples, safe in your baby’s mouth and it may even prevent thrush with its fungicidal properties. A little goes a long way.

Scratching: Babies may be born with practically microscopic fingernails, but they are often razor-sharp already. They can accidentally scratch themselves with them, and scratch you too. You can trim them, carefully, with a tiny baby nail clipper (don’t use the full-size regular clippers, which are too big). The nails grow fast and break easily, so check baby’s fingers daily for raggedy nail edges. Secondly, if you are nursing and those sweet little fingers are like pins and needles on your boobs, you can put a baby mitten or sock on their hand. Make sure it’s not too tight around baby’s wrist and remove it when you’re done.

Tongue-tie: If breastfeeding hurts and it’s NOT getting better, baby is acting like they’re not getting enough but you know you have a decent supply, or when you take baby off breast it looks like your nipple has been squashed and “creased”–please see your pediatrician a.s.a.p. and ask if your baby may have “tongue tie”.
This is so important, as a tongue tie will make baby unable to eat properly, nursing will HURT, and it will be harder for you both to learn to breastfeed right unless it is fixed. It can also cause eventual speech impediments. My wee one’s tongue was attached to her mouth in such a way that it wouldn’t extend past her lips, which made her bite my nipples, and frustrated her. An E.N.T. Doc fixed this easily in a quick-in-office procedure, and nursing became immediately easier.

Lactation Consultants: Breastfeeding may not be automatically natural for you. There are an awful lot of things that play into it–don’t assume it’s your fault if it’s not working. No one knows how to do something without some practice, babies are not all born knowing just how to latch perfectly, and there can be physical challenges that are unavoidable, like tongue tie or inverted nipples. Make sure to get some help if it is uncomfortable for you or your baby. Although we eventually stopped breastfeeding due to several separate issues, I got a lot of helpful advice from WIC Lactation Consultants and from my own mother, who had struggled with some of the same things I did. You may also be able to find a Lactation Consultant through your hospital or pediatrician. But most importantly, don’t worry that you are a “bad mother” if you do determine you can’t breastfeed. Just love that baby and do the best that you are able to for your situation, that is what matters!


Image by andyk at MorgueFile.com

What It’s Like To Be A New Mom…With Asperger’s

 

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My daughter has just been born. I am a mother.

This hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I do what I’ve read I’m supposed to do, and put her tiny, wriggly little body on my chest while she searches for my breast. I’m still in shock from the unbearable pain of delivery. I breathe a sigh of relief when she latches onto me for a few minutes.
Visitors come by and I’m not really ready for them but I likely never will be. I’m still thrilled to introduce them to the new baby.
I stare in awe at my little girl. Did I grow that? I can’t believe it. I thought I was supposed to feel some indescribable motherly bond, but I’m really just exhausted. I ask the nurses how to dim the lights–they are so bright.

My husband and I smile at each other. Our 2-week old little girl is quiet, alert and lovely. I somehow don’t feel like she is mine but I feel fiercely protective of her anyway. I am so paranoid about the rattly, asthmatic sound of her “flappy airway” that it takes two pediatricians and two doctors at a 3 AM E.R. visit to convince me that there indeed really is nothing wrong with her.
I run through the constant cycle of diaper change, feed, burp, sleep and I wait to feel that “bond”. Weeks pass and it never comes. I am in a constant state of pain and exhaustion, and I try not to let it distract me but it does. Breastfeeding is a terrible, painful struggle for us both and my daughter never latches properly, despite numerous experts’ help.

I am defective, I decide. I should never have become a mother because I am not feeling what I should feel for my beautiful daughter. Surely she deserves better than me. I am angry a lot and numb the rest of the time. And I am afraid. Afraid of how I feel when I’m stressed, afraid of her and her piercing cry. I don’t want to soothe her when she is screaming in the nursery because it causes me such intense anxiety that I want to run far, far away while my heart pounds in my ears. I grit my teeth, and I go in. I try to cradle her tense little body, but rocking her doesn’t help, she keeps screaming. I put her back down in her rocking swing. She eventually stops. I feel like I couldn’t calm her because I couldn’t remain calm.

I can’t handle the intensity of my emotions, which run to extremes multiple times a day. I lie awake one day daydreaming about sitting in my running car with the tailpipe blocked–and then I know this is something more than the “baby blues”. I’m eventually prescribed an antidepressant for post-partum depression. I was already naturally prone to depression, as well as anxiety, which I was treating before I was even pregnant.

Just days later, I start to feel a difference. Then for the first time, I feel like a mother. My wee one looks at me and smiles and I catch my breath and my eyes tear up with joy. I didn’t know I could feel this way. She is mine.
It’s been assumed that Aspies don’t feel properly for others. I know they’re wrong because I feel so much for her–too much, on top of my own emotions I feel hers too. I feel her anger when she doesn’t get what she wants right away, her anticipation when she’s getting ready to eat, her happiness when she giggles. I am constantly looking for ways to get her to smile and laugh.

It’s easy to find moms with children on the spectrum, but oddly difficult to find any parents with Asperger’s. I want to reach out and connect with other mothers, and I also want to hide and protect myself. I’m so awkward–I laugh too loud, I interrupt, I get so  nervous. I make tentative friends whom never contact me and I never contact.
I want my daughter to have friends someday, more than I ever had. How can I help her do that, and teach her the “right” way to socialize?

So many thoughts run through my head. What if my baby turns out like me? How do I teach her the skills that I still struggle with?
What is the best way to provide her with the breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact that will help her thrive, when it can be so painful for me? Am I providing her with everything she needs to be happy?
I see my daughter growing every day and I know she will someday soar past where I am able to fly, learn things I was never able to master, learn from me and then teach me.

One day someone asks me how I am enjoying motherhood. I know what they want to hear–a glowing declaration of “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced”. Instead, I shrug my shoulders, make a dorky face and answer, “It depends on the day. And the time of day”. Because I’m nothing if not bluntly honest. Sometimes it IS beautiful and my heart feels like it will burst with pure love for my daughter, and I don’t even know how to contain it. Sometimes it’s the most terrifying experience ever. Sometimes it’s just “blah” and I’m nearly nauseous from the smell of dirty diapers and I’m waiting for bedtime.

But I always love her. It’s like that for moms–Asperger’s or not.


Image © veranuem / The Puzzled Mom

Sensory issues: 8 Ways To Handle Intimacy

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I don’t know every Aspie, but it seems a lot of us struggle with touch in one form or another. And if you struggle with the over-stimulation of touch already as an Aspie, post-partum intimacy is something that may take a little time for you to build back up to. So today, we’ll be discussing that “taboo topic” that is post-baby sex and how to get back into the swing of things. This may be an uncomfortable topic for many women to discuss–but it’s more uncomfortable to NOT discuss it!

Your significant other may want to be intimate again after delivery, but for some of you the sheer thought of it may be as appealing as a root canal, and equally scary. Although it IS possible to get pregnant relatively shortly after you have your baby, nature has basically set your body up to be as unfriendly to sexy time as possible right now. It’s still depleted from pregnancy, and it would be risky for it to start growing another child right away. You may get so little sleep that you don’t feel like it, then you’re constantly being laid on or yanked on, and you may not be making enough of those lovely hormones you need to have your previous libido. Not fair.

Your doctor will likely tell you to wait 4-6 weeks to resume having intercourse. But don’t feel bad if you end up needing a bit longer–it took 9 months to get to this point, it actually takes months to fully recover. Go slowly as you feel like, you delivered a whole human being into the world, and you have every right to wait until you’re ready to be frisky again–or stop if you’re uncomfortable.

When you’re ready to try, here are some suggestions you may find helpful:

Communication
Firstly, make sure to let your other half know exactly what your body has been through, especially if they weren’t in the room with you when you delivered. Did you tear? Do you have healing c-section trauma? Strain some muscles? It helps them be more understanding if they know what you’ve survived, how it feels to you and WHY you’re not feeling up to it–and that you’re not just “rejecting” them. Using illustrative analogies (“Imagine how you would be afraid of friction if your  _____ tore?”) may also help.

Cuddling
This helps nourish the connection you have with your partner, even if you can’t do “the deed” yet. This is a great expression of your continued love for him!

Inspiration
Hey, even if you’re not the romance-novel reading type, have a look at some of those “juicy” books with graphic sex scenes that you may have read as a teen. It could help you get into a mood you thought you’d never have again!

Sleep
I know, you’re not going to get enough. But the best time to try may be when you’ve had as much as you can get. I don’t know about you, but if I am tired enough I will recoil at any kind of touch, even if it’s just an attempt at a gentle hug.

Lube
Teehee!! I feel like a naughty-minded 12-year old again. Use a lot. If you think you’re using enough, use MORE. One which has a cooling/menthol effect may be helpful in numbing any tenderness.

Positioning
Every person is anatomically a little different, so here is an article with some moves to try that may work for your individual post-delivery condition: Best Sex Positions Post-Partum

Scheduling
I know, it sounds about as sexy as making a doctor’s appointment…but scheduling lovemaking can be surprisingly helpful. It gives you and your partner something to look forward to, gives you plenty of chance to get “in the mood”, and ensures that you make time for each other regardless of the crazy schedule right now. Find a day or time that you both agree on, and if it doesn’t work out, have a back-up time/day planned.

Be in the Moment
When your libido is raring to go and you feel ready, take advantage of this! It may happen at an awkward time, but if you want have a go at it, let your partner know!

I’ll re-iterate that you CAN get pregnant as early as a few short weeks post-delivery, and even exclusive breastfeeding is not 100% effective at preventing it. Here is a source which explains it more thoroughly: Natural Child Spacing & Breastfeeding

Also check out this link, which explains when you need to start watching for the return of your period (and using your preferred birth control method).

Have you experienced any intimacy issues post partum, or have some advice for those who do? Let us know with a comment below!


Image by  Prawny on MorgueFile.com

 

Post-Partum Depression: When I Yelled At My Baby

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There I was, 3 weeks after delivery, wondering WHY I just yelled at my baby. Yes, Yelled…at…my…newborn. Like she had any concept of why Mommy was mad?

I was as surprised as she was. The media always portrays such a rosy picture of love and cuddles right after childbirth, but I wish I had known there was no need to feel guilty for not looking like that picture. For a lot of moms post-delivery, it is completely unrealistic, considering what you’ve just been through. Here you just survived delivery, and I say survived because that’s what it is–survival, as women can still actually DIE in childbirth. You’re trying to figure out how to get your wee one “latched” on to your very tender new milk-making boobs. You’re still healing and are likely either in pain or at least uncomfortable from delivery. Your baby needs you constantly whether you’ve had any sleep in the past week or not.

You have No.Idea.What you’re doing.

Then nature decides to laugh in your face and in a cruel stroke of irony, pulls the cushy rug of hormones that you’ve been standing on during your pregnancy, right out from under you. FAST.

What does this do? Estrogen and progesterone, in the appropriate amounts, are hormones which help you “cope” and remain balanced–and also help support the production of serotonin. If you’re a lucky sufferer of PMS before your period, the effects of the hormone crash are similar, on a larger scale. Many, many women experience something called “baby blues”, often starting a few days post-partum. This doesn’t last much longer than a couple of weeks. It causes some sadness, irritability and mood swings, among other unpleasant symptoms. (This helpful resource explains the causes of post-partum mood changes more thoroughly.)

But what if it’s worse than that?

Even weeks after delivery, I feared that I was just “broken” because I wasn’t happy to have this baby and felt immediately angry with her whenever she screamed. I felt she was too much for me to handle, and the sound of her cry affected me like someone had just shocked my heart with a defibrillator. I chalked my insomnia and anxiety up to the sudden change in lifestyle. My poor hubby had to put up with random tantrums and crying jags that I couldn’t explain. And when I realized that I was actually yelling at my baby, in between a couple of bouts of daydreaming about suicide, it was time to get help.

I didn’t have the “baby blues”. I had Post-Partum Depression. I had already suffered from past depressive episodes, and chronic anxiety due to Asperger’s before pregnancy, so I was naturally more prone to PPD.

If you feel any of this sounds similar to you and the “blues” just aren’t going away, especially including any thoughts of violence toward yourself, your baby, or others, get help ASAP.

When I finally realized what I had, I tried a variety of natural treatments, starting with “*Progessence”–an essential oil blend with natural progesterone. I also used an estrogen patch, which did help but I couldn’t continue due to its $150 price tag (!). I also continued to take a prenatal vitamin, as low levels of crucial vitamins can strongly effect mood, and birth plus breastfeeding can drain you of essential nutrients. In my case it still wasn’t quite enough and my OB-GYN prescribed *Lexapro, which slowly made the difference I needed.

I had finally found something that worked, and it was like a veil had been lifted and I could breath again. And most importantly, I started having moments here and there where I felt, overwhelmingly, the love I had yearned to feel for my new baby. Sometimes just her smile could make me tear up with happiness. That hadn’t happened for the first few weeks of her life.

Certain medications can reduce your milk supply, and everyone has a different hormonal makeup and brain chemistry, so I definitely suggest asking your doctor what your options are. Call their office and they should be able to set something up with you as soon as possible.

When you talk to your doc:
Don’t be afraid to describe your symptoms even if they scare you.
You won’t get “hauled away” for admitting feelings of anger or suicidal thoughts. This will help you get an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor has likely heard all of  it before, and is aware this is a temporary state which is treatable.
If you are breastfeeding, there are treatments which are safe for both you and your nursing baby.

And finally, if breastfeeding is contributing to your anxiety (it did mine) or the treatment which works best for you negatively affects your milk supply, your mental health should still take priority over breastfeeding–even if this means you have to stop. I am certainly not discouraging breastfeeding, but if it comes down to that, you and your baby’s happiness is much more important than formula vs. breast milk. Again, consult your doctor if you have questions about this.

Also, please note that a lack of immediate bonding to your baby is quite common–it may not always indicate PPD, and certainly doesn’t make you a bad mother!

If you don’t treat Post-Partum Depression, it CAN get worse and it CAN last for months and months. Letting it go on could result in some serious consequences. You deserve as much support and well-being as you can get right now, because raising a newborn is hard enough without your hormones toying with your head.

If you are in need of support, here is a wonderful resource with a hotline which you can call:1-800-PPDMoms.org
Another for fathers: PPD Resources For Fathers
And I’m always happy to listen and help if I can. If you have questions or just want someone to talk to, you can reach me at:
thepuzzledmom@gmail.com

Looking for more information on Post-Partum changes? These links were very helpful to me.
Ways To Cope With PPD
Women-To-Women: Post Partum Depression
Surviving the Challenges Of Life With A Newborn

Are you on the other side of the valley? What helped your baby blues or PPD? Feel free to comment below!


 

*I have not been paid to promote or advertise Progessence or Lexapro, however I did find them helpful.

Image by grietgriet on MorgueFile.com

Post-Partum Care “Down There”: 5 Ways to Prevent Discomfort

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Why yes, I DID feel weird searching stock photos for pictures of “underwear”…

Pretty much everything in my nether regions HURT for weeks post-partum, which is perfectly normal considering what they went through. But that’s also at least partially avoidable. Some things I prepared for, and some I had to figure out the hard way. Here are some no-holds-barred, extra-descriptive tips:

1. I don’t know if it’s like this for those who didn’t get perineal stitches, but peeing HURTS if you did. Like battery acid. And later while you heal, there will be intense crotch itching that will make you feel like scratching like a shameless ball player in the dugout. Ask your OB/GYN doc about a numbing ointment called Nupercainal (it’s so good, it even deserves to be in bold). It might cost several dollars, but it is worth every penny. Do yourself a favor, get the ointment.

 2. Lean as far forward as possible when you go, gravity will help here to keep stitches dry. You may also get some flushable personal wipes with aloe (probably available at your local grocery supercenter or pharmacy store) to cover the area behind while you lean forward. It helps, trust me.

  3. Stock up on more than one kind of pad. Your post-par “flow” (called “lochia”) is like a HEAVY period that lasts 4-6 weeks. It may vary from day to day after a couple weeks, and you probably won’t want to feel like you’re wearing a diaper all the time when you’re already changing enough diapers as it is. Thin pads with wings and non-plasticky surfaces feel more comfortable and catch everything later on after the flow has lightened up a bit. Oh, and just when you think you’re done, it might come back with a vengance, so be prepared for the possibility of going from paper-thin-origami-folded singles back to industrial diaper pads in one day (and maybe several times).

4.  Painful constipation is common post-partum, ask the hospital if it’s safe for you to take a stool softener and to use it when you go home. Very worth it.

5.  When I was still in the post-partum ward and had that awful first bowel movement after delivery, it helped me to pull up the small bathroom wastebin, put it on its wider flat side and set my feet up on it so they were raised off the floor a few inches–so that it felt like I was almost squatting over the toilet (but still sitting my butt on the seat). You will feel silly but it will help align your colon and make things go smoother…no pun intended. I later purchased a stool which mimics that same squatting position and have used it ever since with no regrets.

How about you, moms? Have any tips for dealing with post-delivery discomfort? Let us know with a comment below!


Image by Melodi2 on Morguefile.com.