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!

on choosing and planning a homebirth

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i’ve started this post over several times. i keep changing my mind about what i want to say about this life experience.

and i look up at these pictures above and i’m reminded why a home birth was the right choice for us, for this birth:

family.

family-centered care.

what i want to say is that after this experience i feel how much home birth needs to be a viable option for families.

and i don’t want to argue about safety or statistics.  really, i think that’s all bullshit. BIG BULLSHIT. the way i see it, someone figured out long ago that if they kept us fighting about which way of birthing is “safest” then no real work would have to be done to make ALL types of birth safer for mothers and babies.

because as it stands, ALL types of birth in this country, and this world, could be made safer.

there is no right way to do this across the board. these decisions to birth are highly personal. it’s one of the reasons i do the work i do; to help parents achieve the births they desire for their experience and their family.

and now my simple wish is that the only standard across the board was the level of love and care i’ve received during this birth was available and experienced by all. and i don’t believe it has to be achieved only through home birth. i think it can be done through all types of birth. and i see glimmers of hope out there that maybe we’ll get there someday. but, yes, i believe home birth is part of that puzzle for piecing back together our maternal care system as a country.

because y’all, the gift my family has been given from this life experience is astounding. i’m forever changed from this. and i hope it will carry forth with me for all my years, taking the shape of more generous love and kindness for growing families.

please, universe, let me remember this for all of my days.

i look up at these pictures darla helped me draw a day before daphne entered our world and i’m thankful for the opportunity to include my daughter in the birth of her sister in the capacity that we were able to because of midwifery care and home birth. darla sometimes seems like more than a daughter to me. she’s my friend and a partner in some senses and she certainly was for this birth. although there were times that having her with me at appointments was a headache and i swear to the cosmos that she adds about 10 points to my blood pressure reading, i can’t imagine having done this without the high level of involvement on her part.

darla dictated to me how the birth would go down for these drawings: the baby would be born in the birth pool so baby and i would be in there and she and mike would be looking on from either side. she gave mike his correct facial hair and asked if i would help her draw “wild curly hair” on her because she “will probably have to be woken up because the baby will come during the night.”

she was wrong about the birth pool but she was oh-so-right about the wild curly hair. she wasn’t present during the actual birthing. she slept through it somehow but was woken up once daphne finally let out her first real lusty cries about 3 hours later. she ran into the room sleepy-eyed in a whirl of wild and curly golden hair, shyly beaming around the room at the arrival of her sibling.

it was the sweetest moment of my life thus far.

and i realized later that it was that moment that i was looking for from this birth experience. the moment when my oldest baby met my youngest baby in a hazy, golden glow. that moment that was of her choosing, in her own space, in her own skin {literally. she must have unclothed at some point in the night so she and her sister were in naught but their birthday suits upon their first meeting} free from hospital distractions and unfamiliar faces. it was THAT moment i was searching for and didn’t know it until it happened. that moment has planted itself within me and taken deep root. and it wouldn’t have been possible in any other setting than in our own home. and for that i am so grateful. i can’t find any other word for it other than gratitude.

and my husbeau. oh my sweet, beardy husbeau.

i told him i thought i might go into labor later and then he put on bob segar. and then i had my doubts about whether he’d be able to adequately support me through this because…bob segar.

but once my labor really kicked in he knew exactly what to do. he revealed to me later that he didn’t feel like he knew what to do but to me it appeared that he did. he was there with me when i needed him and gave me space when i didn’t. he was my grounding. during the moments that i thought labor was going to carry me away i would look over at him and it would bring me all back to center.

he was able to take care of me in a way that i don’t think would be possible for him in an unfamiliar setting. and he’s taken such good care of us these past few days in our own space. did you know he could make banana pancakes with peanut butter chips? he can. he’s been holding out on me all this time.

but that’s getting into the postpartum period which i wrote a little bit about already and plan on posting more about later…

so, yeah, home birth. this birth was all that i could have hoped for and more. it was the most amazing and wonderful thing that i hope NEVER happens to me again.

well, maybe not never ever again… ;-)

p.s. thanks for reading! please remember that i’m not trying to promote any one method of birthing. i’m only trying to relay my gratitude for this life experience. above all else, i believe in families choosing the way to birth their babies that seems right individually.  for us, for this birth, a birth at home was the absolute right choice.

now go forth and be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

bump day

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i know, you thought bump day updates were over didn’t you?

well, i’m just still very much in love and in like with this midsection that has grown two people now. maybe i’ll just keep bump day up forever…hmmmmm….

no, BUT, maybe this is a start to something along the lines of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. we’ll see.

it’s my first bump day post-birth and things are looking very similar to 5 months pregnant. i don’t really mind carrying around the extra pooch for a bit. i think it would be too much of a change and a loss to go straight back to a pre-baby body. i’d like this little reminder to stick around for a while.

and yes, those are the tops of the adult diapers i’ve been rocking since daphne’s birth. i’m not ashamed to admit that i’ve been quite comfortably not hating this decision. ladies expecting babies, do yourself a favor and just give in to the adult diaper for your initial postpartum period. trust me.