My No BS Guide to Having and Recovering from a C-Section

Since having a C-Section 17 months ago, I have had several friends ask me to guide them through what to expect with theirs. I realize that I wish I had know some of these things before going into my C-Section and so I have decided to share.

This is my absolutely no-bullshit guide to having and recovering from a C-Section. Now, mine was planned so the recovery from an emergent C-Section could be different. In fact the truth is each woman’s recovery will be slightly different. I wish I had someone tell me the truth about what to expect- I think it would have prepared me and made my experience a lot less scary and unknown at the time. Here it goes mamas!

Part One: The C-Section, before and after

  1. Belly bandit- wear it as soon as you feel you can. It’s the one single thing I can now swear by about healing and recovering from a C-section. Wear it as much as you can. I didn’t sleep in mine but otherwise I wore it as much as humanly possible!!! It shrunk my uterus down in 1 month to almost it’s normal state and supported my incision area and also my back. It just really holds everything in that otherwise after a C-Section can hurt as you’re tummy is all wobbly and wonky for a while.  This is the one I used. I started with size small and then eventually had to buy the XS because I shrunk so fast but still needed and wanted the support. I saved both as I plan to use them again if/when we get pregnant a second time.
  2. THIS:  Use these strips on your incision as soon as you’re allowed to. They are the most amazing things EVER! I wore them 24/7 (you can wash them when you shower- that’s the only time I wasn’t wearing them)….my scar looks SO good because of these PLUS they protect your scar from underwear, clothes, etc. which can feel pretty icky against it for a while (up to 2 months maybe more).
  3. Compression big panties: I wore these every single day and night and I wore them under the belly bandit. They also help with the swelling and really do help hold things in…They aren’t sexy but none of this is sexy (plus you can’t have sex anyway so just do all you can to get your body put back together and try not to care about what you or your big ass panties look like)! 
  4. Pooping: DO AN ENEMA BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL! If they’ll allow you trust me this is the way to go. Have a nurse give you an enema in the hospital you will be so relieved. Take stool softeners so that you don’t get constipated with the pain meds post C-section. I had to do an enema the first poop after surgery, 3 days later…And on that- that first poop….hang on to your heart: it feels like you are ripping yourself open but you ARE NOT…just remember me telling you this- you are OK…you are not ripping yourself open and are totally okay. You have to poop and once you do it’ll only get easier to do it again. I ended up doing a few enemas post surgery until I was able to go on my own. It won’t hurt you and is the easiest way to get it done. Any pushing hurts deep inside as you’ve been sliced open and are healing.
  5. SLEEP! In order to heal fast, you have to sleep. Sleep as much as you can and let the people around you help you. The worst you can do is over-due it. You will set yourself back  not heal yourself. Tell your husband/partner this: he/she needs to be in charge of stepping up and not letting you over-due. After about 1 week the pain reduces a lot and after the 2nd week so much more  but you have to be careful not to over-due it even though you feel better because for about 6 weeks total you’re still healing and things are still fusing back together. It’s easy to push it but you have to really be on yourself not to. This is extremely tough for those of us who take care of everything and everyone but ourselves so try to use this as practice for asking for help from your support team. Remember- they WANT to help you but you may need to be specific about the kind of help you need and when you need it.
  6. Big pads- you will bleed for weeks. I wore a long heavy over-night pad 24/7. Finally switched to a regular pad at week 5 post partum. Don’t think you can just hang out after taking a shower for 15 mins- you can’t- you’ll bleed. Pad it up!
  7. Make sure to eat high protein as it helps you heal fast.
  8. You may come home swollen from the fluids they pump into you but not to fear- it will go away (you’ll pee it out) with in about 1.5-2.5 weeks or so. I think drinking lots of water/coconut water helps flush and drain it out. You need lots of water anyway to support nursing. It can be scary to see yourself looking so puffy after you get home from the hospital but I promise the swelling goes away and you’ll be able to see what you really look like post baby in about 1.5-3 weeks.
  9. NIGHT TIME HELP: This is KEY! If you can get a night time nurse or Doula (we had a Doula and it saved us) do it! If you can do it for 2 weeks at minimum but ideally would be 1 month. I can’t stress enough how much this helps. It allows you to sleep a little with out worry. Someone skilled and trained is up with your baby or up watching your sleeping baby. They will come get you out of bed to nurse when you are needed (usually every 2-3 hours in the beginning). If you do not sleep, you will not heal and also your milk supply will suffer. You have to sleep. So someone you can rest easy with should be with you at night. This isn’t your mom and it’s not your husband. This really is someone much more skilled to actually do just this. If that person is with your baby trust me you WILL sleep and you will be a better new mommy for it. The reason it’s not your mom or partner is because you still need those people’s support during the day while you heal. You can’t lift anything for a while and barely that sweet new baby so try to set this up BEFORE you have your baby (if you know you’re having a C-Section). If this isn’t an option for you financially or perhaps because you don’t live near family then you need to set a very real schedule with your partner for them to support you in being able to sleep (and then stick to it).
  10. Pain: people do NOT talk about how painful it is to recover from a C-section. I will be honest it’s SO painful. So just know this and it’ll help you not worry that something is wrong. Also, the healing itself can feel very weird. The area of the incision ends up this weird combo of numb and painful to touch. It changes and you may feel some weird tinges of pain (healing pains) on and off. Don’t let them scare you- just expect them. The body is amazing…almost 5 months postpartum my scar wasn’t even close to as wide or scary as it was at even month 2 or 3 and my tummy was back to normal. When you’re freaking about stuff- just don’t. Know that you’ll get back to feeling like yourself and instead focus all your energy on loving your baby because that will take your mind off anything uncomfortable that’s going on (and make it all worth it).

Part Two: Your tummy, your healing

  1.  Tummy Time: One of the hardest things post C-Section is getting the tummy muscles to fuse back into place and start working the way they used to. This is just a game of patience but there are things you can do to help. The Belly Bandit as mentioned above is a must. On top of this I suggest trying to do all things you do being mindful of your core. After you have a baby and while you’re in recovery there’s not much time for working out (plus you aren’t allowed to do much but take walks for a while). So use the walks and even lifting the baby or doing the dishes or laundry as your work outs. Tighten and use your core muscles (which may feel very weird for a while) as your power zone. Do all movements from this power zone (not your butt or your legs). Soon you will just use your core as a habit and you won’t have to think about it all the time. Most important take walks and as you feel better and better take longer, faster walks using your core as the movement force and power zone. The weight will start to fall off. Oh and wear your belly wrap on your walk and as much as you can! Eventually you can start to get back into your normal work outs. I recommend pilates with a trained instructor for good post C-Section healing. Make sure to always tell the instructor you just had a C-Section!
  2. What you eat: In my experience the MOST important component to healing and getting your body to slim down after a baby is what you eat. In the beginning you have to make food choices to support your nursing (if you choose to do this). That means you must eat. This is one of the hardest things to do with a newborn and a C-Section recovery. It might sound nuts but it’s true. First of all, stuff happens like you could have a baby who can’t latch (like we did) and then you end up pumping 8-12x a day. Between the pain of getting in and out of bed or walking around post C-Section and then need to pump then feed the baby I swear I barely had a moment to do one more thing. This is where HELP comes in. My mom was in town to help support us after the baby came and ended up staying longer once we had some postpartum feeding issues and difficulty. She would actually feed me while I was pumping AND also trying to breast feed. If she wasn’t there spoon feeding ME I swear I wouldn’t have been able to eat much in those first couple weeks. If you’re partner is around then they can be this person (my husband wasn’t able to take time off right after the baby was born and had a crazy schedule in fellowship and being on call at the time).
  3. More on what to eat:
    1. High protein (note: eggs are the best fast food while nursing and healing), probiotic yogurt is also really good for you but use full fat if nursing.
    2. Lots of easy greens (kale, spinach, asparagus)
    3. Good fats: Avocado, coconut Milk, coconut oil, olive oil
    4. Fiber: You may be having post C-Section “issues” as I call them and will need extra fiber to help support you. Try lentils, hummus, dates, figs, prunes, apples, pears mixed into your diet to assist your needs.
    5. Good healthy carbs: Try quinoa, brown rice, chickpea flour based pasta, sweet potato or yams but try not to overdo it on the carbs.
    6. Nursing support: Try to eat your carbs in the morning in the form of oatmeal or gluten-free oatmeal. This will help your milk supply but also give you fiber and carbs for the day (add dates, figs, pears, apples here for more fiber support).
    7. Water water water! Drink water all day. If you’re not a water person then add cucumber, lemon, berries, orange slices, etc. to water in a container in the fridge and let it marinate. It’ll be tastier and also add some good things to your diet at the same time.
    8. What you eat after nursing and in order to get your body back to a good space:
      1. Greens! Greens and veggies oh my! Okay so the skinny is this: eat as many greens and veggies as you want! That’s right- you get a free pass on this one. You can fill up on greens and veggies at each meal!
      2. Small amounts of protein you don’t need as much as you think! If you make a fist the amount a protein you actually need per meal is in fact probably 1/2 of that size. So, if you’re doing a lean meat or fish try to portion it out with that in mind. If you’re having a vegetarian meal then the protein may be in the form of lentils or beans of some sort (I do this more than anything else protein wise). I say 1/2 a cup of beans is the portion size per meal depending on the size of the bean…then it may end up being 1 cup.
      3. Eat whole unprocessed foods. Instead of the low or non-fat item (which is filled with carbs and sugar and “filler” opt for something real and whole (and then eat slightly less of it). For example…choose whole organic yogurt, choose a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of sea salt on your salad instead of “fat-free dressing.” Your body will process these things so much better and you will actually be thinner for making these choices.
      4. Cook your own food. If you make your own food then you can control what’s in it. Going out or ordering in here and there is fine but if you can, try to control what REALLY goes into your mouth. I find it helps to make dishes once or twice a week that you can keep in your fridge and grab as needed such as: hummus and organic veggies to dip into it or grab and snack on, Israeli salad (or salads in general), salmon or lean meats to have and grab.
      5. Do not starve yourself. The worst thing you can do when trying to shed baby weight (or any weight) is to starve yourself. You MUST eat. Just eat less and make healthy choices.
      6. Splurging is okay. It’s important to be kind and moderate when on the long road to loosing your baby weight. The reality is you’re going to have days where you want to splurge or you’re out and you want to eat something you have been craving for ages. Eat it. Enjoy it then let it go. Start the next day back on track and don’t sweat it. The reality is that even one splurge meal or even one day a week will not derail your weight loss if you are making healthy choices (most of the time).
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I’ll Always Show Up For You…

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On 8-8-14 at 8:34am, my life changed forever when I heard her cry for the very first time. Welcome to the world, Aviva Zelda Shaftel….you are LOVED. I am your mommy….I will do everything in my power to take care of you, make you feel loved and create a happy, joyful, meaningful life for you…

I’ve been writing this blog for 6 weeks, in my head and in between feedings, diaper changes and occasional random moments of calm. So much has gone on this past 6 weeks that I just can’t figure out where to start or where to end. So, I just wiped the page clean and I’m going heart blazing open, honest, no BS, real talk on this blog right now. Our journey this past few weeks has been just amazing, but it has also been filled with challenges. We are not the first people to have challenges to get through after or around a birth and we won’t be the last. That said, this is my journey and I’m going to share it honestly in the hopes that it will help others.

Aviva’s Birth Story

I’m not going to tell it like the “birth stories” you read all the time…I’m going to skip to the part where the heart bursts open, rips wider than it ever could and where every single instinct that makes you a parent, kicks in like being hit by a train of love, emotion and fierce over-protectiveness like you never thought you could ever feel. Her first cry. The moment I knew our baby was out of my body and in this world with us.

We had a scheduled C-section for 8am on 8-8-14. She was born at 8:34am and that’s where this story begins. I can’t help but cry through this (already) as the emotions I felt that day are still so real and so raw inside me as if I have PTSD or can’t help but relive it every time I think about it. When I heard her cry I was so overwhelmed with joy and relief that I burst into hysterical tears (they had to give me oxygen) as I watched them run her over to my left where all I saw was a bunch of nurses and my husband huddled over her under the light. This is normal and then they’re supposed to bring her to me right away. That didn’t happen. Instead it took longer and more people crowded around her. I asked “Is she ok?” “Is everything okay?” over and over again (our OB was on the other side of the curtain stitching me up)…no one answered and I could tell something was wrong. Finally, my husband came over and brought her to me and had to tell me that she was cut during the C-section but that she was going to be okay. He was amazingly calm for me (although not at all inside). He told me the cut was on the side of her head and it was deep and hit the muscle- that he had inspected it (he’s an Oculoplastic Surgeon) and decided we needed a Pediatric Surgeon to stitch it up so were waiting on him to arrive. They took her back over to the light and away from me. Still, no one said a word to me and instead just kept stitching me up and getting us all ready to move to the recovery room. Three hours later (yes that’s right)…my husband went with the surgeon and held our daughter while her head got stitched up. Eventually, we all were back in the recovery room together.

This is a very brief and very non-emotional depiction of what happened. It was deeper, heavier, way more scary and intense than I can recount right now. Just trust me.

She got cut- should that have happened? NO! Is that common? NO! Did it get handled right with our OB? NO! I could go on. Sigh. No. Just no. (Days later after we were home, my husband reached out surgeon to surgeon, to talk to our OB about what happened and how it was handled. I also spoke with her at my 2 weeks postpartum appointment. We’ll never be okay about what happened but are trying to move past it).

After we got into recovery my blood pressure dropped super low and they had to pump me full of all sorts of stuff and like 10 lbs of fluid. All we could focus on was this little girl and getting her my Colostrum. My milk hadn’t come in yet (very common after a C-section) so my husband helped me hand express the Colostrum into a little cup and then we were syringe feeding it into her tiny little mouth. Our sweet girl was exhausted! She had that trauma to her head on her way into this world and then had to have a surgery right away. By the time she got back to us, she was out cold. It broke our hearts in two. I was laying there with my catheter in and still totally numb from the breast down from my C-Section spinal block. I was also totally wiped out but every ounce of energy I had was being put towards getting this little love fed.

My husband at this point had checked his rage and emotion about what happened to her in order to be calm for me and to just move this thing forward and make sure she was okay. In my own way I did the same thing because there wasn’t time for us to feel our feelings about what happened. We had to check that at the door and walk through into parenting solely focused on Aviva and what her needs were. No time to cry or to scream about it. No time to ride the emotional wave of “you f-cking hurt my baby…” etc. etc. No time and too selfish. This is Aviva’s story now. Check yourself at the door mom and dad. We’ll deal with you and your emotions later.

This is the beginning of the SHOWING UP. In the OR my husband showed up so big for me and then he just went into surgeon mode and made SURE that she got the proper care and insisted on it even when they wanted to just put some surgery tape over her wound. There was even a vein that ran through that gash in her head, which has subsequently reformed around the scar- amazing. Once we got back to the recovery room we both had to show up for Aviva. We did all we could to get her fed. Then we tried to breastfeed. This poor little thing was so exhausted she was just sleeping through it all. And then when it was time to latch on…she couldn’t do it. She never could, actually. So thus began part two of this story…Aviva’s weight loss after birth.

Aviva was born 6lbs 7.7 ounces and 19inches long. She wasn’t able to latch and breastfeed off of me and so we took to manually expressing my milk and then syringe/tube feeding it into her mouth. This process took at least 2 people and one very exhausted little baby girl mouth. She eventually lost 11% of her body weight. We were told on day 2.5 that unless we were able to get that percentage back to a lower amount, we’d have to stay in the hospital. So at this point we’d seen 2 lactation specialists and had been brought a breast pump. I began pumping my milk and then we’d put her on my breast and tube feed her and try to get her to latch. My husband and I were fiercely committed to getting her weight up and thus stayed up for 24 hours pumping, tube feeding, etc. we were even high five-ing at 3am like “Team Aviva! We got this!” No actually, we were just delirious. Eventually between a nurse and a lactation specialist we were urged to give her some formula just to get her over the hump. This was a very hard thing for me to do as I was so committed to breast milk only for my girl. That said that’s my thing and in order to get her to be okay…she needed this and so she got it. My husband was such a voice of reason for me and calmly helped me work through that to make the right choice for Aviva. So between the one dose of formula and all the pumping and syringe/tube feedings together as a team…we were able to get Aviva to only 7% from her 11% loss and thus on day 4, we were allowed to leave the hospital.

Part three of this story is a thank you to the people who showed up for us SO BIG that we can not even imagine having gone through what we did with out their support. My parents and my brother came into town days before Aviva was born. Once we got to see them hours after her birth (and no one told them what happened and they didn’t know we were okay for way longer than it should’ve ever taken for them to be informed-ugh!!!!) they went into super-amazing-power-support mode. They brought us water, healthy food to eat, made sure we had everything we needed (and often we did not- our hospital experience was subpar on many levels). Most important…they were there to emotionally support us. I can not begin to explain this. My emotions were crazy between my horrible pain, hormones, sadness, anger and fear and the stress that occurred around Aviva’s cut and weight loss. I know there were moments where my dad and my husband were alone and he was able to lean on my dad about his feelings dad to dad, and then when I was alone with my mom and just cried my heart out to  her and she was able to support me and comfort me in the most beautiful way. I just can not say thank them enough for those days in the hospital and what they did for us.

On a side note, this is also when my little brother saw my boobs for the first time. We tried hard to keep them out of his sight but when all you’re doing is whipping those things out to try to feed the baby and every other person that comes in is there to help assist this process..well, it’s hard to hide them. After the hospital and back at home it was just like f-it…there they are. He was such a good sport about it. I am certain when he returned to LA he went right to see a therapist and I don’t blame him. Sorry bro but thanks for looking at my eyes. You were an unreal support to us. What brother shows up for 12 days and gives 100% to help his sister and her husband through this process? Mine. This man knows how to show up in life. Proud to be on the other end of this from him and so blessed. 

Part Four of this birth story is about Aviva’s father. In the moments that followed her coming into this world, my husband began showing up for his daughter in the most beautiful way. He was the one who saw her head was bleeding and immediately jumped on it because no one was telling us what had happened. He then made sure she was taken care of because he knew better, medically and because of that- she won’t have a terrible scar on her head for life and was properly treated for what happened to her. He kept his cool the entire time and gave her calm energy and tremendous love even when he was holding her down while she was being stitched up by the Pediatric Surgeon. He then showed up for me in recover for days like a rockstar. I will never forget this moment in the wee hours of the night we stayed up all night together trying to get her fed when he turned to me and said “We will get through this. We’ll get through anything. I love you and I love her and I am committed to you both and we’ll be okay.” He had tears in his eyes while he said that to me (I was 100% crying ugly cry style) and I knew in my heart what I told him- this is what I have always known about you and why I picked you to be my partner and the father of my children.

In the days and weeks that have followed this hospital stay, my husband has done everything in his power to show up for us both. Watching the man you love go to another level of depth of love and care is a truly special experience. I am honored to be partners in life, love and now parenting with this exceptional man. Aviva is so lucky you are her daddy, Sol. As Aviva’s namesake, my Grandfather Abe used to say, “beautiful.” Yep- just like he said it and every single thing we’ve been through- there you go showing up so big, with love- it’s beautiful. Thank you.

On day four we got to take her home and that’s when the real journey began. Supported for over a week by my folks and my brother with us and all the love from family and friends, we felt blessed. My family bought groceries, cooked meals- most of the time mine needed to be hand fed to me while I was working on breast feeding or trying to syringe/tube feed her or pump my milk for her. They did laundry, cleaned up the house, ran errands (my husband had to go back to work right away) and they gifted us a night time Doula who helped from 11pm-7am so that I could try to sleep and heal in between the 2-3 hours I’d be woken up to feed/pump. They went above and beyond for us all day long and into the night for days and days. Showing up with so much love and emotional support. I am certain Aviva felt their energy and love all along the way too. A beautiful thing. She also got LOTS of snuggles, kisses and holding sessions by her Grandparents while they were here and her uncle Jack serenaded her on the guitar too. Once they all left, it was time for my husband and I to “learn our dance” as my mom put it (so spot on). We had only begun the emotional roller coaster that was the first few weeks of Aviva’s life. There’s so much that went on I’d love to write about but for now, I’m going to focus on one piece of it…

Breastfeeding. Or lack there of:

It didn’t matter how many breast feeding books I read. It didn’t matter how in my mind I knew our breast feeding journey would be so beautiful and important. It didn’t matter how much I was committed to breast feeding Aviva before she was born. Once she was born, and didn’t latch on to my breast- none of that mattered. From day one I was committed to doing all I could to get her to breastfeed.  In the last 6 weeks, we have seen a total of 6 lactation consultants between the 4 in the hospital and the 2 we’ve worked with at home. Totaling 6 opinions of what we should try and do. All of which, we have open-heartedly tried. We’ve tried nipple shields and different holding styles and techniques, different pillows for support, pre-pumping, you name it- we’ve probably tried it. In the beginning, I would pump and we’d syringe, tube feed her while attempting breast feeding as well.

Eventually, she lost weight again and wasn’t in a good zone. We ended up needing to rent a scale for the house. We saw her doctor and where put on a plan which we did 100% and it still didn’t get her weight up enough. So then we had to start bottle feeding. It was the only way to get her weight up to a safe place. So then we tried like 4 different bottle systems until we finally found one that didn’t give her gas, that she didn’t gag on and that worked. All the while, still continuing to try to get her on my breast.

Now let me say this to my own credit and I’m going to emotionally pat myself on the back for a moment here…I was recovering from a C-Section which yes, is a major f-cking surgery folks and painful and rough those first 2 weeks-wow, I was emotionally still reeling from her head being sliced open when I was, I was now watching her head wound and caring for that too, I was upset by how poorly my OB handled the entire situation, I was overly exhausted, my hormones were crashing and crazy,the 10 lbs of fluid they pumped into me at the hospital when my blood pressure dropped were still in my body which felt just awful and looked even scarier, I was feeling a million emotions about her not being able to breast feed, worried about her weight and yet STILL…every single time I put her to my breast…I got totally zen-ed out. I KNOW she feels me. I KNOW she feeds off my energy (maybe not my breast but definitely my energy). So I made sure no matter what- if it was morning, noon or 4am, this baby was put on my body with loving, calmness and nothing else. Every single time. I showed up for her. I checked all the above and put it aside and made sure that when she’s on me, or in my arms- she feels peace and love and me showing up for her. I did it in the hospital and I’m still doing it now.

For moms who are experiencing these problems- pat yourself (yeah right now) on the back. This is SO HARD. You feel like a failure. Our society is has made breast feeding seem like the end-all and if you don’t or can’t do it- yeah- you suck as a mom. Or yeah, you’ve failed your child. Okay- first of all, that is NOT true. If you TRY you have succeeded. If your baby can’t latch, that’s not on you! If you can’t pump milk because you don’t have any AND your baby can’t latch…that’s not on you! I’m lucky in that I have a great milk supply and so I am able to be 100% attached to my breast pump day/night in order to feed my baby through a bottle, breast milk…with love. I will do this as long as I can for the time I feel is right and if things change then we’ll roll with that too. I have learned through my own process with breast feeding that there’s so much pressure to be able to do it and if anything we’re a society obsessed with it. It’s not fair to us moms and it’s by the way not cool to judge people about doing it or not- you do not know their journey so you should not judge it.

I’ve had people talk to me who had the easiest time breast feeding and suggested I go read a book…um, I’ve read that book- there’s nothing I am doing or not doing at this point that will change whether she latches or not. She’s too tiny or her jaw is too tight or whatever it is. That doesn’t help me and it doesn’t feel good. I’ve had people suggest I am stressed and that must be the problem. Again- no. I have only showed up 100% calm and loving while breastfeeding this baby who just, simply can’t latch right.  I wish I could tell everyone to ease up on moms. It’s hard enough one thing to deal with, but several and with all this pressure? It’s not fair and it’s not okay. I wish this could change I really do. I’m sharing this to try to do my part to shift things a little. If you’re going through this stuff- honey hold on to your heart…you can only do so much and then you just have to do what YOU feel as the mom, is best for your baby. If it’s pumping your milk and you have milk to pump- do it! If it’s formula and bottles- do that! The baby will thrive if it’s fed and if it’s receiving LOVE. End. Of. Story.

What goes on with pumping and trying to breast feed at the same time:

– ripped up nipples

-clogged milk ducts

-severe breast pain

-severe nipple pain

-your life is no longer your own…it belongs to the pumping schedule, for so long as you choose to pump

-needing to upgrade to a better pump

-investing in every single size of pump accessories as every few days things change or stop working

-trying a million different nipple creams, heat, ice, cabbage on your breasts, massaging your breasts, nipple protectors, nipple shields, nipple pads…

There’s more but these are just a few things. And you know what- ALL WORTH IT! I’m happy as a clam that I am lucky enough to have milk and to be able to pump it and feed our baby. She’s also latching now at times and I continue to work to try to get her on the breast but if it doesn’t happen I’m totally okay with it because I know I tried and she tried and at the end of the day, she’s gaining weight beautifully now and totally thriving!!! As a mom, what more can you ask for?!

Side note: MIND-BODY CONNECTION: The night my milk went away…

The day after my parents left and we were still very much in the thick of the very stressful pumping/tube feeding our baby who had lost weight zone…all of a sudden, a totally sleep deprived, stressed out, pain-ridden me stopped being able to pump out any milk. This went on for hours. In the middle of the night my husband (once again showing up for me) checked to see how much was in the fridge and realized only about an ounce. Instead of telling me this, he came in to the nursery and told me that in the morning (he’d taken off from work that day to be with us- times were TOUGH that week and thank God he was there as I wasn’t even allowed to drive at that time post surgery) if I couldn’t pump milk then we’d go rent the same pump the hospital had (which our Doula had assured us was the best pump if you’re exclusively pumping) and we’d try that and if that didn’t work then we’d get formula and told me over and over again that no matter what he’s there with me and that she’s going to be okay.

This calmed me and I was able to meditate myself to sleep (I meditate all the time and I highly recommend it). In the morning she had that one ounce but my milk wasn’t happening. Off we went the three of us to rent the pump, stop by her doctor to pick up formula samples in case we needed to use them and all sorts of milk supply stuff that our lactation consultant suggested. The love and calm from my husband and from that storage space inside me where I had to go get some from, plus the sleep I finally got, plus the new awesome pump…and poof! We got milk! And not only did we get milk…we got lot’s of it. Only goes to show that your mind and body are SO connected. The moment I calmed inside and believed she’d be okay no matter what…baby got milk. She’s still getting it and we have a whole freezer of extra milk just in case!

Yes this is the longest blog ever and yet I haven’t even scratched the surface of all I wanted to share! I’ll save some of it for another time. For now I just want to say, in all of this the message was clear…life is all about showing up. Love is about showing up. Showing up physically for people, or emotionally, spiritually. Just show up! It serves your heart and the person on the other end.

To the love of my life, Aviva Zelda….I will ALWAYS show up for you. You forever have my all and your daddy’s too. To the people who showed up for us in all the ways you did- there are so many of you, we both want to say thank you. It meant the world to us and always will. Now I have to go show up for Aviva and pump and feed her, change her, rock her and look into those baby blues and tell her mommy loves her. I know she can feel it….

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About her name:

Aviva: She’s named after my dad’s father Abe (Abraham/Avraham). Her name is Hebrew and means springtime, renewal, new life. I had a very special connection with him and when he passed away, years ago, vowed to name my first child after him. Thankfully, my husband also found this beautiful and so we did just that.

Zelda: This was my dad’s mother, Selma’s Hebrew name. Grandma Selma passed away this year while I was pregnant with Aviva. She was so over-joyed and excited about Aviva before she passed at 96. She called all the time to talk about my pregnancy and when she found out it was a girl, was beside herself. That coupled with my grandma’s lifelong commitment to Hadassah it seemed fitting to use her Hebrew name, Zelda, which means happiness.

Aviva is our renewal. She is our springtime, our new life and our happiness.