this is my postpartum

here we are, week 6 of postpartum life. weeeee!

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so, i decided not to give a run down of each individual picture anymore because i’m lazy and super busy. plus, you all create your own narratives anyway, right? it’s kinda like looking through old photo albums {ps. isn’t it sad that old photo albums is actually an oxymoron now?} and you flip over the pictures but are always disappointed by the vanilla descriptions on the back. they story in your head is always better…

this week wrapped up my official initial postpartum period and i think our lives and the pictures of it reflect that. we’re in full swing and that’s a good thing. from grandma visits, to darla’s first week of school, to hanging with teeny, tiny, best buddies, to website updates, to music festivals downtown…wruckers are simply in full swing. so i think this blog series is officially over with this post.

what can i say about these past 6 weeks? they’ve flown by but seem to have taken their time all in the same moment. life seems incredibly different and oh so rich and full. i feel really excited about the future with this family. i also feel a little scared of this winter…dang farmer’s almanac.

but let’s stay in the pleasant tense.

what i want to say is that i have felt extremely and wonderfully supported for these past 6 weeks. transitioning to a family of four  couldn’t have gone any better and i attribute that to the community that propped us up. i felt i had a well of energy to dip into because love and support came to us in so many directions.

this is what i want for families. it’s what i hope to create with my postpartum work and it’s what i hope to contribute to with friends and family and my communities in the future. it makes such a difference to have the support.

and i mentioned before that my lesson this time around was to let the help in. i welcomed it with open arms this time around, understanding that letting someone help me didn’t mean i couldn’t do this parenting thing on my own; it just meant that i didn’t have to.

so i just want to put a big thank you out there to everyone and to the universe and to most of all my parental units! they are the mvp all-stars of my postpartum and third trimester and life. my family is just so incredibly lucky.

that’s it.

i don’t know what i will have to write about now.

probably just butter. and babies. and big hair. and boots. and birth. always birth.

bump day

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when i look down to see her chubby belly pressed against mine, her rolls alongside mine, it’s nice to know we’re in this together.

today it is occurring to me that these pictures of my motherfigure are so much easier for me to cherish and revere than the figure i see staring back at me in the mirror. is it the mirror then? am i so conditioned to stand in front of that piece of glass and criticize what i see held inside its frame? i found it easy to love my pregnant figure in that mirror. i find it easy to love my postpartum body in these photos.

is it in my mind then and not the mirror at all? the mirror simply makes me confront what is going on in my brain. it makes me take on the years of conditioning and societal pressures of what a female body is supposed to look like. these pictures put a little more distance between my thoughts and my body. the camera objectifies where my mirror subjectifies.

can loving my body and not loving the way it looks coexist or must they exist in a mutually exclusive way?

these fourth trimester pictures have helped me peel back those layers and let those feelings rest close together, similar to the image of my daughter and i above. i am not exactly thrilled with all the sagging and loose skin that is around these days but i love it just the same. maybe i’ll be motivated to get more in shape at a later date. who knows? but currently i love it and don’t like it in the same time.

this is my postpartum

this is
week five of
my postpartum

the winds of change blow fierce around this household and i can’t start with pictures this week because i need to blurt first.

this past week my baby turned a month old. my daughter started kindergarten. my husband trained for a new position at work. i accepted a position with a midwifery practice for childbirth education and to be a referred doula. i switched to almond milk. {jk on that last one}

my head is spinning with all the new that our household is undertaking right now. as mike and i were talking over the weekend about the long hours and grand changes, i confided that i was surprised by how we were “actually not sucking at everything.”  i used those words. my husband sometimes gets my crudest, least eloquent self. lucky dog.

so now i’m questioning my abilities and wondering if i’ll be able to fulfill all the new roles in my life. and then i’m scolding myself for not having confidence and being happy with myself for being bold and courageous with my life. my mind is an exciting place to be at times.

so yeah. that’s what these pictures are about. they are about the new. they are about change. they are about finding balance and time for the necessary in the midst of it all.

we’ll start with our last day of summer break and sending my darling darla off to the world of public education:

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^^^ pool playdate the last day of summer which brings us to… ^^^

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^^^ kindergarten readiness assessment morning ^^^

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 ^^^ does she look ready? ^^^

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^^^ and suddenly i’m the lady packing school lunches ^^^

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^^^ and taking first day of school pictures outside our house ^^^

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^^^ and walking her to school ^^^

and just like that she walked into school and became a kindergartener.  and i walked away with a lot fewer tears than i expected from myself {must mean my placenta pills are working} and… i might have waited until i was out of sight of the school to do a dance down the alleyway.

that is not to say that sending her to school was easy for me. if you’ve been following this blog you know that i had hopes of unschooling and/or homeschooling but this is where we ended up. and i’m thankful. this was the right choice for darla. this was the right choice for my family for this point in time.

so now darla spends her days at school and i spend my days…

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^^^ staring at a beautiful baby. ^^^

and multitasking in a multitude of ways. such as…
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^^^ being a human mattress while trying to write ^^^

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^^^ propping up my baby in piles of laundry ^^^

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^^^ getting yelled at while babywearing and house maintaining. {not really. that’s a yawn.} ^^^

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^^^ and reviewing my lactation materials while lactating ^^^

speaking of lactating, how is breastfeeding going, elaine?

well, i’m so glad you asked. based on my daughter’s weight gain i’d say things are going super. i hope you all like fat babies cause i’m serving them up chunky over here.

but weight gain is not the only thing that matters when it comes to a breastfeeding relationship. i also assess that we’re both pretty satisfied with staying close and attached throughout the day. feeding my baby is still what consumes the majority of my time day and night. and i’m feeling pretty good about that. babywearing allows me to keep her close at all times and to easily nurse her while we’re out and about. i think it’s been easier to accept this second time around that my main job at this stage is sitting down and feeding my babe. that was hard for me the first time, especially in the beginning. i credit my breastfeeding support group with helping me to come around and allow myself to simply relax and rest with my baby while i fed and grew another human. and there are times when it’s still not easy to take a seat and focus on feeding my little girl.

but sometimes…when i’m seated in the right spot…

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i’ll take a look and catch a glimpse of myself nurturing my baby and i’m reminded of how extraordinary this relationship is. and i let all the other to do’s go. and i just sit and feed the baby. and i feel beautiful. i feel maternal.  i feel thankful. i feel accomplished.

and it’s then that i don’t question my abilities and i don’t wonder if i’ll be able to fill my roles. in those moments there is no scolding. and i am happy with myself. in those moments i feel bold and courageous.

it is in those moments that i feel balanced and have found the necessary in the midst of it all.

bump day

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this body grew those perfectly chunky legs and those amazing toes.

maybe i have something to learn from my belly. my belly stretched and made room for new life. it gave up some of its vanity and gave itself over to growing something special. it lost some of its youthfulness and passed it on, sacrificing it to a new generation.

see, i’ve been feeling stretched and strained in these weeks of fresh motherhood. and i have to remember the things my belly taught me. i’m going to stretch for what seems like a very long time, getting filled up with amazing life, all the while wondering if i can take much more. i’m going to love the stretch and be overwhelmed by it at the same time.

and then one day it will be gone. my girls will be gone from my side. by then my whole body may sag at the loss of the life that has passed through me and beyond me.

but my belly will remind me that once all that life was contained inside me. and that makes me feel infinite. 

this is my postpartum

this is
week four of
my postpartum
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i am too tired and busy to put words together coherently now. if this makes no sense it’s because the children have taken over. week 4 was my first week with both my girls under my care for the majority of their hours. husbeau is working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, which means i’m working that too. he and i shared an extended hug the other night and i told him i couldn’t tell if we were still hugging or if we’d just fallen asleep standing up leaning into one another…

this is the story of most of the parenting world, right? stretched to their limits but somehow digging down deep and coming up with more to give.

so yes, darla was back for week four of daphne’s life which means we were back to being on the go and i have once again been relegated to the holder of found items on walks. it’s worked out pretty well but leaves me wondering how this will all shake out when dap jo becomes more than just an accessory to darla’s life. or rather an accessory to me…which leads me to how we got through this first week of single-parenting a 5 1/2 year age gap….

babywearing!

i know, babywearing is one of those things that crunchy communities talk and talk about leaving the rest of you feeling bored out of your mind. but i couldn’t be more thankful that i somehow stumbled upon babywearing in darla’s first weeks. you see, strollers suck for city life. and i have never, ever been strong enough to carry a baby in a car seat carrier. i don’t know how all these tiny women are doing that! being able to wear daphne is the only way i could fathom being able to keep my active older, well, active.

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it allows for naps at the park snuggled with ma and discrete nursing

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which then allows for journaling and listmaking.

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 it allows me to tackle what chores i can.

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 it allows me to keep the little one close for baby gazing.

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more specifically, chunky baby buns gazing. so squishy!

so, maybe you’re wondering how i’m holding up…

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^^^ there you go! ^^^

overall i’m doing great. pretty good. really ok. not that bad. breathing, i think.

ha. i kid. things are what they are and what i have to say is that i’m enjoying this time in life. it’s not exactly great. it’s not exactly bad. it is what it is and that’s somewhere in between. what i want to remember is how overcome i am on a daily basis for how beautiful and filled with love my life is now.  i don’t know, i guess that’s what i see in that woman’s face up there.

when i get extra tired one of my eyes always sags more than the other. we’re sleeping in good chunks but have reached the point in time when too many nights of broken rest are the same as not getting rest at all. so i’m tired and stretched but i still find a raw beauty in all that.

plus my hair is still most excellent. i’m saving up all my postpartum emotions for when my hair starts falling out. waaahhh.

*wish us luck with week five which sees us prepping to send darla to kindergarten. verklempt!*

this is my postpartum

this is
week three of
my postpartum

the house. was. quiet.  the house. was. still. we were all alone. and so peaceful until…

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this past week saw daphne and i wrapped up as a duo by our lonesome during the daytime hours as miss darla was off at grandparent’s camp for the week. so, you might say this week gave me a taste of what most other women experience for their maternity leave. before i get into some of my coping techniques {that’s my fancy way of saying desserts} i wanna put down here a few thoughts about that.

the loneliness is what makes it hard. i am feeling so much for first time parents right now since being whisked back to the place where it is just you taking on the responsibility for a tiny, tiny human all alone for most of the hours of the day. that’s what early motherhood looks like for many women in this country. and it makes me sad because i do not believe we were meant to do this shut up in our houses, isolated in our bedrooms and on our couches. fortunately, i was lucky to have some visitors during day hours and we had visitors in the night-time as well to help me feel like i was still part of the world. but damn, it’s the loneliness that exhausted me more than anything.

overall, i did alright though with the abundant alone time. i was aware that this week alone with my second born was a gift as from here on out it’ll be me juggling two kiddos. but getting through the day without any helpers was a different ball game. it required more planning and more patience, more desserts and yes, incited more crying. see above ^^^

because when mama has to use the bathroom without a helper it means sometimes the baby is going to have to cry. fortunately, this is not as stressful the second time around. it is just an IS.

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i kept a stash of snacks easily accessible for when making meals was not an option

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i watched my favorite movie as a pick-me-up for long hours of cluster feeding

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and paired it with dessert

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i took my human mattress routine out onto the porch sometimes

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and we were all three glad when dad came home in the evenings

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on friday i took daphne to the city market and treated myself to a nice breakfast for making it through the week on our own. it was nice to be around so much bustling life after weeks of stillness in our own home.

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but the majority of my time was still spent snuggled up nursing this one

and that’s as it should be. and i don’t want to complain about an existence that consists of sitting around and cuddling a squishy, beauty baby all day but the reality is that after a while it gets really lonely and boring and hard to meet your own needs. and learning to deal with that is the growth of this phase of parenting. i had to consistently remind myself that this is a brief period of time. i had to remind myself that i don’t need to get other things done right now.  i needed to put those things on the back burner for one more week and focus on what i could get done at the moment. and i feel that worked so much better for me.  i was really focused on getting back into getting shit done when darla was born and i think i missed out on some really important bonding with her.

and i feel really lucky to have this second chance to focus on just my baby. i realize these are problems of privilege. not all moms get the opportunity to just sit around and focus on “momming” for three weeks.

so i’m grateful for the loneliness, and the boredom and the difficulty meeting my needs for that short time. and i hope i’ll keep these feelings with me so i’ll have tool sets for helping mothers who are couch bound and mothers that have to get back on their feet and back to responsibilities asap.

wish us well with week 4!

this is my postpartum

since taking my postpartum doula training i’ve been contemplating how my own postpartum period would shake down. i’m going to be honest and state that i’ve had high hopes for this time period. this is probably my last baby and i feel i didn’t treat my postpartum with darla with the sacredness of which it was worthy. i did the typical first-time-mom thing of trying to prove that i would be good at motherhood by getting up on my feet and back in the game.

well, that didn’t work out so well.

so this time around we’re doing things differently. i’d like to document it for these next 6 weeks, maybe longer, in hopes that it’ll give others some insight i didn’t have for my first go-around. and if no one is in need of insight these posts will just be here for the internet to entomb for-ev-er.

get ready for some cute overload and postpartum tips:

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^^^ life! let’s do this ^^^

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^^^ herbal bath for momma and baby ^^^

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^^^ with big sis’ help ^^^

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^^^ i spend almost the entirety of the day reclining w/ some part of baby daphne all up in my face ^^^

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^^^ sometimes it’s toes ^^^

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^^^ sometimes it’s nose ^^^

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^^^ but more often those toes are peeking out from under a blanket during a nursing ^^^

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^^^ and everyone is tryingt to focus on rest and relaxation…except maybe darla ^^^

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^^^ she keeps herself busy helping to hold and snuggle daphne ^^^

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^^^ and helping the midwife with measurements ^^^

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^^^ and beautifying our space. “one is for you and one is for daphne, mom.” ^^^

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^^^ we’ve been lucky enough to have tons of help in the food department ^^^

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^^^ and both daphne and i are taking most of our meals in bed ^^^

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^^^ along with my placenta capsules! ^^^

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^^^ but most of my time is spent just staring at this lovely little human and snuggling up close…and changing her bountiful diapers. seriously, this girl can poop. ^^^

so, what else do i want to say about this first week of my second daughter’s life? i want to say that this experience feels right. i wanted to be kinder to myself this time around because i wanted to then in turn be able to be kinder to my family. i wanted to sit around and do nothing but mother my new little one. to be able to do that means i had to welcome in the help. i had to welcome in the care. this was something i was not good at the first time around. with darla we had a great network of friends but i think i was still trying to prove that i could do this on my own.

but doing it with help is sooooo much better!!! and we’ve been really blessed to have help coming from many, many directions. really an overabundance of help that leaves me feeling quite unworthy. but i’ll take it. and i hope i’ll let it grow within me and beside me and my family so that i can pass it on in the future.

so the theme of this first week of life was rest and recuperation. and that would be my advice for families desiring a nice start to their postpartum.  just stay in bed. just rest with your babies. gather your tribe around you and welcome in the help, welcome in the care {with appropriate boundaries, of course} and just be. everything else can wait.

and i have to send out thanks to everyone who has dropped off food, my parents, my doula, our midwives, neighbors, family near and far who have helped us out in this first week. and a thank you to my husband and first born. it’s really astounding how much love and generosity we’ve received from you all and i want to tell you you’ve made all the difference in the world to my family and my second experience with motherhood.

sincere thanks and love vibes. wish us well with week two!

around the house

lookin’
around
the house
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i’m looking around at all the fantastic little details of everyday life and thinking that i’mma start this as a new series. these are the details of our household from week to week:

{1} husband’s record reorganization. {2} new green babies. {3} ‘murica. {4} oh hey! welcome to the world little friend. {5} a sweet surprise from grandma. {6} more ridiculous conway in our house. {7} my new official DONA doula badge.

because still life is still life. and sometimes the magic is in the details.

yeah.

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daphne’s home birth: a photo tour

ok, so it’s a dimly lit photo tour. we’ll call it ambiance.  or love aura. whatevs…

i’d like to highlight some of the things i loved about birthing our baby girl at home, in our own bed, with these few snaps from my phone. lucky you, nothing graphic will be shown as i was too busy with the actual birthing. i was able to capture one last maternity shot when labor was just getting started.

there was so much i was thankful for about being in our own space for laboring and birthing. i want to write a little bit more about the experience and process but i think that is for another time.

so we’ll flash forward to the immediate postpartum which, for us, seems to be bursting with benefits:

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^ the first being that we were given time and respect. our space and experience were honored. i have several photos of daphne just looking around the world for the longest time. it was all so peaceful and serene. at least for us. daphne has a bit of a what-the-heck-just-happened-to-me look going on.

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^ all daphne’s measurements and exams were done in our bed, by our side.

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^mike got to be the one to give daphne her first “bath” which was just a washcloth rubdown

and we all got to hang out in various stages of undress holding miss Daphne:

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^and darla held daphne for the first time. darla’s thoughts on the experience: “she doesn’t smell very good.”

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 ^home birth meant my parents could come and be with us and the lack of visiting hours has lead to lots of bonding time for everyone, which works well for our family.

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and mostly we just sit around and stare at daphne josephine, completely comfortable and settled in to her home surroundings from minute one.

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 our home birth = a home filled with love. a birth filled with love.