LOVING YOURSELF POSTPARTUM

LOVING YOURSELF POSTPARTUM - This Wild Home

So it’s my second time being postpartum and I’ve got to say, I’ve learned a lot on caring for myself, even when it’s hard to.

I’d say the biggest struggle is your postpartum body. It’s in pain, it’s worn, it sags, and it really doesn’t feel like your body will ever look as good as it did before you started having babies.

Basically, to me, going from your pre-baby to post-baby body is like having an attractive, nice boyfriend that you have trouble loving because of all his “flaws” and then breaking up with him to find that, compared to the rest of the dating pool, his flaws weren’t so bad and having to find a way to fall in love with a less attractive, not quite as nice guy.

Maybe it’s a weird analogy. Maybe it sounds really superficial, but that’s how it feels to me. You go through all your teen years, maybe even early adulthood, acknowledging all the flaws in your young, unworn body and it’s not until you take it to hell and back that you finally realize that yes, it can get much worse.

I’m sure this all sounds terrible at a time where appreciating all body types no matter what is a big movement and I think it’s amazing and helps me to feel pretty positive about my body these days… but I also think it’s OK to acknowledge that there are negative things about a postpartum body and it’s OK to grieve your old body and want to do everything you can to feel good in your new one.

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Ranting aside, when I got pregnant the first time around, I in no way prepared for the reality that my body wouldn’t go back to normal for a long time, if ever. I imagined I’d bounce back in a second and my body would be exactly the same. I didn’t prepare for a little pouch of skin that will seemingly never go away. I didn’t prepare for my boobs to sag like they’re 80 years old. I didn’t prepare to have stretch marks everywhere from my stomach to my thighs that will forever look like someone came in and ripped my skin to shreds and glued it back together again.

You just don’t think about all of that when you’re planning on creating a human life. You’re a little more focused on the whole creating a human life part.

But this time, I was prepared. I prepared for the absolute worse and because of that, I was able to go into my postpartum life knowing that I would need to care for myself and love myself no matter what.

LOVING YOURSELF POSTPARTUM

From the actual healing that you need to do physically to the emotional healing of exhaustion, becoming a mother (again, if you already have kids), and losing the body you never fully appreciated. From the day your baby is born, it is so important to remember to care for yourself as much as you can. You have very little control over what your body is doing, what your baby is doing, and how your time is spent so when you get a few moments to take control, it’s extremely valuable and should be used wisely.

  • STOCK UP | Before baby even arrives, make sure you’re all stocked on some basic essentials.

    • Pads - super jumbo ones, just in case.

    • Adult Diapers - seriously are a dream that first week so you can hold in all the stuff you need to use for healing.

    • Hemorrhoid Things - witch hazel pads, a cream, whatever sounds best. But definitely don’t skip on this. I’m embarrassing myself now to save you later.

    • Nipple Cream - if you’re planning on pumping or breastfeeding, this is a real must.

    • Breast Pads - you will leak for a couple of months and these will help you to avoid ruining all of your shirts.

  • TAKE ME TIME | You’d think this would be obvious, but it can be hard to feel like it’s okay to take time to yourself after baby is born. I know I feel guilty sometimes that I don’t want to sit and watch my baby sleep literally all day, but I mean, come on. Babies are cute, but not look-at-them-24/7 cute.

    When you get the chance, take a bath, watch a TV show, write in your journal. Whether you wait for baby to fall asleep or you pass baby off to someone else, make sure you’re getting some good time in.

  • ENGAGE IN RETAIL THERAPY | This is probably weird advice coming from a self-proclaimed minimalist, but I believe there is a time and place for retail therapy and it is when you’re postpartum.
    You’ve just spent the last nine months slowly watching the number of clothes you fit into shrink down to only a select few. You’ve spent at least a month or two with only a handful of things that are actually comfortable to wear, and now you have at least a month (at LEAST) until your body is sort of normalish.

    Girl. Get you some clothes that make you feel good. Just do it. Whether it’s leggings that hold everything in or a shirt that covers you engorged boobs perfectly or the coziest sweater you’ve ever put on your body. Just get something that makes you feel good.

  • INVEST IN YOUR BEAUTY | Sorry if I sound like a shallow broken record, but making yourself look good helps you to feel good. Especially at a time when it’s hard to feel like you look good.
    Schedule an appointment at a salon. Get yourself some masks, cleansers, and moisturizers that make you feel luxurious. Take time every morning to get yourself ready. Like really ready. Like make up, hair done, and a cute outfit ready even if you have no where to go. It gives your day purpose and you confidence.

  • EAT HEALTHY, MOSTLY | It’s really tempting to stick to all freezer meals and take out, but it really doesn’t make you feel good. You’ll feel heavy and drowsy at a time when you already feel sleepy and bulky.
    It’s not easy making food when you’re getting used to a new baby and I’m not saying everything needs to be amazing. But a smoothie here and there or a salad when you feel like it can go a long way to give you an energy boost.

    But also, if you’re like me, you may have felt really guilty anytime you gave into an unhealthy pregnancy craving. But now, besides your breastmilk, there’s no baby to share with your body anymore so definitely indulge in all those yummy treats you didn't have when you were pregnant.

  • GET INTO A ROUTINE | It’s kind of hard at first to make your day normal, but after a few weeks your baby should start to know the difference between night and day, you should be much more confident with feeding, and your baby will naturally start to fall into a rhythm.
    When this happens and you start to feel like things are normal, think about everything that’s important to you to do in a day and start making a routine that includes all of those things.

    For me, I like getting ready. I like making my meals. I like a clean house. I like downtime. So that’s what I focus on in my day. I don’t make perfect meals, I’m not always dressed to the nines, and my house isn’t always spotless, but it’s a start. I do what I can when I can and having it happen around the same time everyday helps with that a lot.

Babies don’t have to take over your life. Your dreams and goals don’t have to change just because you have a baby. You can still be your own person. While there’s a learning curve with getting your life on track after having a baby, the best way to make everyone happy is to make sure you’re doing what you need for you. Right now, baby only needs food, diaper changes, and a safe place to sleep. They need love and attention, but not all of the love and attention we have. Some of that still has to stay with us.

After all, how can we love another if we don’t truly and fully love ourselves?

A MINIMALIST'S NEWBORN CHECKLIST (0-3 MONTHS)

A MINIMALIST'S NEWBORN CHECKLIST (0-3 MONTHS) - This Wild Home

Our days have been crazy over here. Poor Charlie has come into our lives during extreme and frequent transition. I mean, we’re about to move for the second time since we found out I was pregnant with him and both of these moves were unexpected, borderline last minute decisions. That means lots of transitions in short amounts of time all while growing our second son.

So, as it tends to be for any kid after the first, he hasn’t been #1. Not that he’s not a priority. Of course he and Oliver are both #1 on that list. But, unlike his older brother, Charlie has not been the center of my attention and it’s time for me to give him a moment in the spotlight.

While there’s lots of stuff we have left over from Oliver (and our two nephews - we’ve got lots of boys in this family), there’s still a good amount of stuff we’ll need for Charlie. Plus, I don’t want him to fall victim to having 100% hand-me-downs. It’d be nice to at least have a few things that are all his own. So I’m taking the time to make a list of all the necessities for a newborn. From stuff we have to stuff we need to get, these are all the things I remember being most useful my first time around.

A MINIMALIST’S NEWBORN CHECKLIST

Honestly, newborns don’t need much. Mostly they just need food and diapers and a cozy place to sleep. There are many gadgets and things all over the internet that claim to be a must-have for any new human. Honestly, after getting rid of half the stuff we never used with Oliver and taking note of what was truly useful, I’ve found that it’s best to start with the true essentials and go from there. Every kid is different. What Oliver loved and used frequently, Charlie may not bat an eye at.

That’s why, this time around, I’m going to be prepared with all the stuff he really needs and if I feel I want extras along the way, I’ll grab them as I go.

GADGETS

  • CAR SEAT | Of course. You can’t even take the baby home without one! We have Oliver’s old car seat that we’ll be using since he outgrew it very quickly. But, I’d honestly recommend his new car seat if you want to get one that will last you all the way through. It’s good for a 5 lb baby all the way to a 50 lb toddler, so it’ll basically last you through all the years they need a car seat. The only downside to the new one is you can’t take the whole seat out of the car to transport baby which is a little inconvenient when they’re super little and sleepy. The old one, however, clicks in and out of the base making it very easy for transporting a baby, though Oliver grew out of it in a year!

  • SWING | It may seem like a big item for a minimalist’s list, and honestly, I don’t think you NEED to start with this, but it is so handy to help create some kind of nap schedule before you’re ready to put baby in a crib. It’s so cozy and soothing and, at the very least, it gives you a few minutes to be your own person which is very valuable in the newborn days.

  • PUMP | If you’re planning on pumping or you’re a working mom or you just want to have a pump handy, I recommend Medela. I exclusively pumped with Oliver, so I’m a bit of an expert on the subject. I’d love to breastfeed with Charlie, but I know having the pump around, especially after the first month or so, will be really nice so I can at least have the option if I ever want some time by myself or I need to go somewhere without the boys.

CLOTHES

It may seem silly to only have two types of clothes for your baby, but these are really the only things we dressed Oliver in for a while. You don’t need a ton of either thing. But these are really good options for being able to easily dress baby without having to pull clothes over their head or button and unbutton things all dang day.

I’ve intentionally left off socks, gloves, and hats (unless you’re going outdoors in freezing weather. Then definitely bundle that baby!) because it’s impossible to keep them on a baby. Just have blankets handy and make sure most of their clothes have the little hand covers.

  • 3-4 KIMONO BODY SUITS | I love this for day time. It’s cute and simple which makes it perfect for outings and you can keep a swaddle for them so pants aren’t super necessary. My favorite features are the front buttons, which make it so you never have to struggle with pulling a onesie over a brand new baby’s head (which is terrifying and difficult) and the hand flaps or covers, whatever you want to call them. It’s so convenient for during the day when baby is most active so you don’t have to worry about them scratching their little faces (or strangers getting their germs all over their hands).

  • 2-3 DRESSES | Also known as bunting bags. I was hesitant to get a dress for Oliver because, well, he’s a boy. But newborn dresses are for anyone and everyone should have these, especially as PJ’s. The ease of simply lifting the bottom of the dress for those midnight diaper changes you’ll be doing is a life saver. It keeps baby warm because you don’t have to undress them (which is always a plus) and it prevents you from having to unbutton and re-button all the time. Seriously, get your son some dresses and make sure they always wear a dress for bed. At least until they stop waking up for night feedings. I also really love the ones I linked because they have a piece that wraps over baby’s feet which will prevent it from riding up (which is a problem with most newborn stuff that isn’t secured at the bottom).

I’d recommend only getting one or two things in a true newborn size and getting the majority of your clothes in 0-3 month sizes (with one or two 3-6 month). 0-3 month is the most versatile size for small and big babies and you really have no idea what you’re going to have until you have them. If you have a smaller baby, you can always grab more newborn sizes and the 0-3 month will still be useful very soon down the road!

BEDDING

  • BASSINET | Honestly, I didn’t see a need to get a bassinet with the first baby, especially at first when all they really do is lay in one spot or cuddle. I’m mostly getting a bassinet this round because I’m thinking it’ll be really nice to have a portable place for Charlie to lay and sleep where his big brother can’t accidentally trample him, but he can still be apart of the action. Oliver also loves his crib still so I’m not sure when he’ll be ready to hand it over to his little brother. That’s why I’m also going to get a stand for when we transition Charlie to sleeping on his own.

  • SWADDLES | You really don’t need more than 2-3. I liked having one that was always with the car seat, one on the bed, and one for playing. And of course, if one of those got dirty, we still had backup! You don’t need to go crazy on swaddles. Just a few that are nice and soft are good.

  • VELCRO SWADDLE | These things look hilarious. And while your baby may look like a psych patient, I promise they are very cozy. Honestly, from the first night we used these things, Oliver slept.. well.. like a baby! All the way through the night. I never mastered the art of swaddling with an actual blanket. Plus, babies move sporadically when they sleep and it can be the very thing that wakes them up in the night. These little swaddles are so helpful for giving them a snug and secure nights sleep, especially when they start sleeping in their own space.

DIAPERS

I did not and don’t plan on doing reusable diapers. The zero-waster in me hates that, but I’m sorry world and all who inhabit it. I like the ease of throwing away diapers. So, obviously diapers and wipes are things you need. And here are a few little extras.

  • CHANGING MAT | We rarely left the bed when Oliver was born. We just used a little mat to prevent any spillage or surprise attacks from getting on the bed. It’s also great for when you leave the house because it’s super easy to roll or fold. Honesty, I’m thinking about getting rid of our changing station at home all together and just having a changing cart with a few of the essentials because it’s less space and way more convenient.

  • BABY POWDER | I got this at our baby shower and it was an amazing thing to have. To start, all of the ingredients are natural so you don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals on baby. Second, the powder is diaper rash magic. The first diaper rash Oliver had was horrifying. He screamed all night and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong until we found that, TA-DA, his butt was bright red. So we put the powder on him and by the next diaper change, he was all clear.

BATH TIME

As far as where to put baby for the first few months, until he could sit up, I’d either just climb in the bath with Oliver and let him rest in my arms or lap OR lay a hand towel in the bottom of the tub and have him lay in very shallow water (heavily supervised!!). Honestly, he loved the latter around 2 months because he could splash which was lots of fun for him!

  • TOWEL | I have the space towel for Oliver and I love these little things. You really only need one or two because you’ll be doing enough laundry to keep them clean with all the spit up and blowouts newborns like to do.

  • SOAP | Honestly, I’d just make a bubble bath and use a washcloth to wet Oliver’s hair and make sure water was reaching in-between all the baby-chub creases (don’t forget behind the ears. They get really gross back there). The same way I don’t really wash my hair, I don’t make it a priority to get soap directly on my kid’s hair because, well, he’s doing fine without it! I also don’t like the idea of having soap go directly on baby’s sensitive and naturally soft skin. The soapy water is usually enough to get ‘em clean!

  • LOTION | Baby massage time is a really good time for having a little one-on-one interaction with your new one. I love any sleepy time lotion because it’s a good addition to nighttime routines and helps to keep baby’s skin soft and smooth. Since it can tend to become irritated easily, a daily dose of moisturizer is always a good idea.

  • BABY BALM | This baby balm is amazing for those dry patches or cradle cap that baby’s can get. Oliver had a bit of baby eczema and this balm was really great for that (along with this bath treatment which was an actual life saver).

EXTRAS

While not everything listed below is essential, they are all nice to have to help with baby’s development or to just give you a moment of having free hands, put baby down, or have some time alone.

  • PACIFIER | I was very against the idea of pacifiers for some reason, but for a little while, they were super helpful. Sometimes babies just want something to do, so rather than have them mindlessly hanging on your boob all day, a pacifier is a nice alternative. Especially when you want to indulge in a little luxury like eating a meal without holding a baby or taking a shower by yourself. - just make sure you get a clip! It’s a little mortifying when a pacifier hits the ground, especially in public.

  • MAT | So this is technically a blanket, but I think this pattern makes it a good option for a play mat. We have a mud cloth hanging on our wall that Oliver couldn’t take his eyes off of so I like the idea of giving Charlie his very own intricate pattern to look at. Plus, dual purpose is always nice!
    Really, just having a surface for tummy time that is some kind of design is helpful. Something that is interesting for them to look at but still keeps them off the floor. It’s also a good motivator when they’re ready to start rolling over.

  • PLAY GYM | If you choose to opt out of a swing with a mobile, a play gym is actually pretty nice to have. It’s good for giving baby time to play and entertain himself before he can really start moving his body. We also have this chair that has a little mobile on it which is great for when I’m cooking or cleaning and want to bring baby with me, but still need a free hand to focus on what I’m doing.

  • BURP CLOTHS/BIBS | Babies spit up. A lot. Really, stuff that goes in there body quickly leaves it one way or another. Burp cloths should be kept anywhere and everywhere. Really, just a rag will do, or a swaddle. But having one or two actual soft, thick burb cloths is nice for cleaning off baby. Bibs are amazing for protecting their cute clothes and it’s much easier to change a bib than a whole onesie.

  • CARRIER | Something for wearing baby is definitely nice. I didn’t love leaving Oliver in the carseat or a stroller when he was super little. Having him close brought me ease and him comfort. I have a Solly Baby wrap from Ollie’s baby days, but I’ve heard great things about WildBird and I think I may give it a try with Charlie!

  • TOYS | There’s not a ton a newborn is going to play with at first, but you’d be surprised how quickly they start learning and getting into stuff. Having a few rattles or teether type toys on hand to put with them during playtime will help motivate them to explore and entertain themselves.

  • BOOKS | Little plush books for newborns are great. We had one colorful one and one black and white one. Oliver LOVED the black and white one as a newborn. All the interesting shapes and animals made for a great time.

I’m a big planner, so sitting down and thinking of all the things Charlie will need gets me excited about all of those first moments you get with your baby. The newborn stage is tough, but it goes by so quickly. The sweet cuddles and chunky baby legs don’t last forever so enjoy it all while you can and don’t get too caught up in all the stuff.

I’m excited to meet you baby Charlie. I think you’re going to fit in nicely over here.

PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY

PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY - This Wild Home

It’s been interesting being pregnant for the second time. I’m a little more prepared than I was before, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was like the first time around.

I felt like I was one step behind almost every step of the way. While we knew we were emotionally ready to have a baby and fit another person into our little family, we had no idea how much prep really went into simply being pregnant.

Our mentality before I got pregnant was, “We have 9 whole months to save money and get stuff together to be prepared for the baby.” In reality, you and the baby start needing things right away. While sure, the baby isn’t technically here yet, there’s so much to think about prepping for just the pregnancy. You have to figure out how you’re going to handle the days you absolutely cannot work because you’re feeling too sick. We don’t always think about things like the fact that you go to the doctor basically everyday until the baby’s here.

Throughout the whole pregnancy we were learning new things and constantly playing catch up for all the things that came our way.

Whether it was buying clothes to keep up with my rapidly growing body or trying to maintain my ever growing appetite, we had no idea how fast 9 months would really go by or how much really happens in that time.

PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY

Check on your insurance

This was something we did not do. Honestly, I kind of thought that health insurance and maternity insurance were the same.

They are not.

And not every insurance company counts pregnancy as a life event that qualifies you for off-term enrollment or additions to your plan.

Medicaid will take you on anytime of the year, but every state is different with their policies. Some may give you supplemental insurance for your maternity and others will have you either sign onto medicaid 100% or deny you coverage all together.

The point is, you really don’t want to be caught without insurance during your pregnancy. Maternity expenses are plentiful all on their own so definitely look into all of your insurance options when you decide to start trying, not after you’re already pregnant. For some, it may even be worth it to wait for the next enrollment period before committing to pregnancy, as weird as it may sound.

Start saving

Whether your pregnancy is totally covered or not, you never know what’s going to happen. There are so many surprise expenses that can occur when you’re pregnant, whether it be health related or simply just unexpected expenses. Whatever happens, you want to be prepared. When it comes to your baby, there’s no waiting. If you need something, you need it now and you don’t want to be caught off guard if something happens.

Beyond unexpected expenses, you’re going to want help. You’re going to want to be home. Anyone currently in your household will deserve at least a week or two of a break to try and get used to functioning with no sleep. Having a cushion of cash at your disposal for whatever you need will help give you some piece of mind throughout the whole process.

Plan your wardrobe early on

With my first pregnancy, I was constantly trying to find clothes that fit. It wound up eating into some of our savings because, hello, we still have to wear clothes when we’re pregnant.

I was a hot mess of feeling drab and insecure because my body was weird and different and having clothes that sucked because I had to grab whatever I could find to have at least one thing that would cover my belly.

You’re only pregnant for a short amount of time, but it’s suppose to be a really special time. If you pre-plan your wardrobe, you’ll spend less time worrying about how you look and more time thinking about the exciting adventure you’re about to begin.

Get your diet in order

Do it now while you’re just thinking about being pregnant. There are so many reasons why.

  1. You do not want to force down the healthy stuff when you’re in the middle of an intense craving for hamburgers and ice cream.

  2. This docu-series on Netflix suggests that eating healthy in just the first two weeks of your pregnancy can effect your child’s life expectancy and immune system. Since you don’t really know if you’re pregnant or not until about week 4, it’s good to go ahead and eat the green stuff regularly just in case.

  3. Eating healthy foods (for you and your partner) will increase your chances of getting pregnant so when you decide to have it kid, it won’t take so dang long to make it happen.

In general, healthy eating is a good idea. If you’re planning on getting pregnant anytime in the near future, it’s crucial.

Think about timing

While we don’t have a ton of control over when we’ll actually get pregnant, we have at least a little control. I’ve learned through both of my pregnancies that timing is everything.

With my first pregnancy, the timing was magically perfect. It worked out with our family’s schedules so everyone could be there and help/meet the new baby.

With this second one, his timing (okay, our timing) was not as great. We don’t live near any family (again, our fault) and we have no clue how we’re going to be able to time having someone here to be with the first baby while I’m giving birth to the second.

Most of my family is effected by school or have work schedules and other obligations so it’s really just hard to figure out having people in town, paying for hotels, while we wait for this guy to come out whenever he happens to decide to.

So, think about timing and what you’ll need when the baby is born. Will you need family in town to help you? Are there schedules you need to work around in order for everyone to be able to be there? Is your spouse effected by a particular schedule?

All these things are good to think about. Again, it may sound silly to plan your baby around things like school and insurance, but in the long run it’ll really just make your life easier.

Get control of your stress

When it comes to having babies, there’s not a ton you can control. They kind of just get here when they get here and that’s that. But with the little control we do have, it’s important to make sure we are making everything as easy and carefree as possible.

Stress and worry do nothing but harm when it comes to pregnancy. They distract you from what really matters most during that time, you and the baby. They put strain on the two of you and if you can avoid it, try to at all costs.

Make sure your environment and lifestyle are comfortable. That’s not to say that you should necessarily wait for that perfect moment to start having kids. There really isn’t a perfect moment besides knowing you want to have a kid. But there are little things you can do in any situation to calm the stress and add some comfort and ease to your life.

Keep your house a little cleaner, plan ahead, don’t wait to get things figured out and organized. Do what you need to when you need to do it and give yourself breaks as much as you can.

Baby having is hard work, but if you take the time to plan ahead and prepare yourself, that 9 months may not have to fly by in a haze of stress. You may be able to actually sit and enjoy the way things are right now while looking forward to everything that is to come.