When you're a first time mom, you get time to heal and cherish the snuggles and relax and nap and "get back on your feet".
When you're experiencing postpartum recovery with a toddler, it's kind of eat or be eaten. There is almost no time to nap, or sit still or heal. You just have to do it.
Because of that, I am grateful for a few fabulous products that helped push me along the way and heal much more quickly than I imagined I would.
1) Earth Angel Mama Baby: Mama Bottom Balm
2) Peri bottle in every bathroom
Having a toddler and a newborn, you have to keep an eye on both all the time because toddlers love to try and "help". My toddler wanted to "help" a few days in by climbing into the Rock N Play and snuggling the newborn when I was microwaving his lunch for THIRTY SECONDS. That's how long it took. Thirty seconds. You can't take your eyes off either for even that long (which is exhausting). That said, you can't just have all of your postpartum healing items in one bathroom either because if you did, you'd have to bring the whole family into the bathroom with you every time. It's best to have every bathroom set up with your postpartum necessities so wherever you are, you can stop, drop (your pants) and roll with the urge to do your business and tidy up your underthings. That means a peri bottle in every bathroom - DO NOT FORGET THE PERI BOTTLE! It is essential because you can't wipe. You must spray.
You can ask for extras in the hospital or order a multipack like this from Amazon. The choice is yours, but don't leave home without one either. While you're at it - ask for like a hundred extra mesh undies too. Those are the bomb. NO LAUNDRY!
3) Kotex Overnight Maxi Pads
Do you know what is worse than having stitches in your hoo-hoo? Having stitches that catch, drag and pull on your maxi pad on your hoo-hoo. Always brand maxi pads are the most irritating material and tugged on my stitches. Hello, that is absolutely horrendously painful. I just found Kotex this week and I am a convert. I will never go back to Always. Kotex is much softer, more absorbent and does NOT catch on my stitches. Total win.
4) Handheld snacks
This can be left for your own interpretation but I bought granola bars, NutriGrain bars and 100 calorie packs of almonds before I delivered and they've been amazing. I don't always have a chance to sit down and eat "real" food or meals because I am always chasing one or nursing the other. Individually wrapped snacks are helping me keep my calorie intake up as well as my energy. I load my diaper bag with them too so I always have something to eat on the go.
5) All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO)
This is something you need a Rx for and it isn't cheap...and not all pharmacies make it. While you are still in the hospital, ask your OB or midwife to send a prescription in for it - your lactation consultant will know the correct way to write the prescription if your OB doesn't so have the two of them chat it out. This ointment is a Godsend because it prevents infection from the open sores you may get from early nursing days.
I nursed LW for a year and went through the ringer, but that doesn't mean that Mo came out and I immediately remembered how to properly latch a newborn to my breast. Quite the opposite, actually! He nursed well and willingly from the start but I didn't realize I allowed him to have a lazy latch so I was blistering by hour 23 of his life. Having the APNO to apply after every nursing session while my open sores heal gives me the confidence to know I am as protected as can be from infection.
6) A good support system
Nothing can *really* prepare you for childbirth. Whether it's your first or your seventh, having a strong support system in place will help you tremendously.
Something not many people know about me is that with LW, I suffered from PPD. I denied it until he was about 6 months old, at which point acceptance was all I needed. Once I accepted that I had a problem and something was not right, things clicked and started to steer back towards normal.
I specifically remember driving to the hospital for my first visit to breastfeeding support group and listening to LW scream in the back seat. He was ten days old. I was crying all the time. He was crying all the time. We didn't know how to do right by one another and every second seemed to be a never-ending loop of frustration to me. He didn't sleep the way I expected. He didn't nurse the way I expected...and instead of realizing it's okay to be different I got frustrated with what I thought was expected. I remember driving on the highway that day and crying. I cried and told him if he didn't behave I would leave him at the hospital for some mom who wanted him.
If you feel this way about your baby, you need help. Don't deny it. Don't hide it (like I did) and don't be ashamed of it (guilty, again). Hormones are big and powerful things, especially after experiencing something as grand as childbirth.
I am thankful to report that this time around I have no symptoms of PPD. I am completely obsessed and in love with Mo in every possible way and I can hardly stand to leave the room when he is in it. I like to think I just have it together this time, but the truth is, I have an incredible support system. I have more group text threads than I can count of other moms simply asking, "Hey! How is it going today?" and checking in on me every day. Talk about feeling loved!
They say raising children takes a village. While you may not *see* a village around me, there is one tucked neatly in my iPhone and they are the reason my head is on straight this go around. I wouldn't be the mom I am without the love and support from my peers. I love you, ladies!!! You know who you are <3