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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Postpartum Ain't Easy

I'd be lying if I said things have been wonderful since Emily entered the world.  While she is a little piece of sunshine I have had one heck of a postpartum time.  Sure, every new mother lacks sleep and is hit with a hormonal ball of emotions that leaves even the strongest momma finds herself falling apart.  But... I've had an exceptional last few weeks and here's why...

First of all I have to mention PUPPPs.  Its about as far from a cute and fluffy dog that you can get.  What PUPPPs is is a horrible, unexplainable rash that usually appears in the third trimester for some women.  The rash itches horribly... I mean HORRIBLY and spreads over a large portion of the body.  Usually it disappears as soon as one gives birth, however in rare cases it persists.  In even rarer cases it appears after birth... which was my case.  

Hours after Emily was born I noticed a couple of red dots on my stomach, right near my belly button, but paid little attention to them.  After all, I had a brand new baby to dote over.  Then I came home from the hospital and the little red dots became a few more dots and those dots started to itch.  Before I knew it I was unable to sleep and covered with a rash all over my calves, thighs, hips, and stomach.  As I dealt with the horrors of learning and getting used to breast feeding I was simultaneously burning with a horrible itching sensation.  After stumbling through a late night feeding and finally getting the baby to sleep I would then be unable to sleep myself thanks to the incessant itching. 

I was miserable.

My doctor prescribed me a steroid lotion that was utterly ineffective.  Mild relief was achieved by slathering the rash with an unscented oatmeal lotion about every twenty minutes.  My skin had never been more moisturized, but I had never been more miserable.  Researching online Finally, after copious amounts of research online in hopes of trying to figure out how long the rash would subsist (which there was no answer for after pregnancy) I discovered that many people had touted dandelion root as a cure.  

Thank goodness I live in a state with an abundant amount of herbal and natural food stores.  I went to the nearest health store and of course they had plenty of dandelion root in stock. The woman who found it for me actually knew of it as a remedy for PUPPPs.  As soon as I came home I took a pill.  The next day the rash started to go away.  Five days later its completely gone.  

I was in heaven and thought I could finally enjoy Emily.  Just as the rash had healed I was finally getting the hang of breast feeding.  Smooth sailing, I though, until she inexplicably developed an intense fussiness, especially when feeding, that was leaving me exhausted and wanting to cry.  

Again...  I was miserable.

The poor baby was spitting up more and more, sometimes five times a feeding.  Feeding her was taking longer and longer, sometimes almost two exhausting hours and just as she would settle she would want to start all over again with another two hour feeding.  While she nursed she would scream and cry in agony.  Her belly would bloat up.  It was clear she was in pain.  I was in tears.  Nothing would console her.  Was it colic?  Was it reflux?  I had no idea... 

I spent hours researching her behavior online and talking to countless friends.  All the literature and advice pointed to one thing... GERD.  After another week of her continued miserably long feedings, constant crying, continuous unhappiness, and sleep deprived nights I decided to visit the pediatrician.  I'd already tried everything I could think of... eliminating foods from my diet, different positions for feedings, and countless other non-pharmacological methods to try and eliminate variables to her behavior.  After a laying out the story to the pediatrician he informed me that she did indeed meet all the criteria for a GERD diagnosis.  The solution?  Medication.   My poor peanut.

Now I am beginning a Zantac regimen with her that I am praying will make her feel better, thus leading to a happy baby and a happy mom.  Nothing is worse than having an unhappy peanut and not being able to fix it...


Emily, finding her thumb.

The funny thing, when I was in the hospital the pediatrician came in to see Emily and check her over the day she was born.  He raved how perfect she was and how lucky I was after such an uneventful pregnancy and birth to be blessed with a wonderful baby like her.  I joked...  "I am waiting for the hitch.  Nothing goes so well without a hitch..."   Well,  my words are apparently very true! 

14 comments:

Debbi at Photos and Facets said...

Oh so sorry Jen! She is just such a beautiful little bundle. Everything will balance out and be wonderful. Getting the worst over now is better than having things dangle ahead. Maybe the dandelion root wasn't setting well with her. :(

Keep pluggin'mom. You are a GREAT mother and she is blessed to have you.

AmyBean said...

I'm sorry you're having such a rough time, Jen. Try to keep your chin up. This too shall pass, even though right now I know it feels like there's no end in sight to the struggles.

I don't know all of what Emily's symptoms are, so I'm just throwing this out there as a possibility, but are you sure it's not a simple oversupply? I'm sure that you've looked into all the possibilities, and I don't want you to think I'm diminishing anything you're dealing with, because I'm not. I only mention it because I initially thought that my oldest had GERD symptoms which appeared at around 3 or 4 weeks, but it turned out it was oversupply mimicking the symptoms of GERD. It's an easy thing to fix if that is the problem, and I'd be happy to help you figure out if that's what's going on. And if it is truly GERD, that is common enough now that her doctor should be able to help her be comfortable. Try not to worry, mama. Everything will be fine, and this will soon be a distant memory.

troze said...

Hi Jen,

I got two great pieces of wisdom when I had my first child and I will share them with you now.

1. The first 6 weeks or so are surreal. And isolating. Especially with your first. Everything is upside down, you are healing, taking care of someone you don't even know, and things are just crazy. It does get better. She will hit her milestones and with each one she'll give you just a little more space to perfect this mama thing.

2. Have enough clothing for everyone in your house so that you can go for a month without worrying about laundry :-) Lots of undies and socks... Especially when you go back to work. Laundry can be a real drain.

My little Tinker Belle was colicy (sp?). Anyway, we kept her upright and we marched. And marched and marched. I lost the baby weight in 3 weeks - I've never lost weight so easily in my life! I bought a wedge that I put under her crib sheet so that when she was in her crib (at least before she wriggled around and stuff) she'd be a little upright which also seemed to help her sleep. It was foam and at the thick end only about 2 inches thick. You can buy foam and fashion it yourself from JoAnn fabrics if you don't live near The House of Foam.

Also, thinking about it now, I recall that music helped. I would turn the music up and gently dance around the darkened kitchen to whatever I was in the mood for - Bruce Springstien, Los Loney Boys, Mark Knopfler - whatever... The musical choice was a sanity thing for me.

Its hard. Really hard. Follow your instincts and reach out. You are awesome.

kittyhere said...

I am glad you found a solution to your rash (and that you didn't have to dig the dandelion roots from your lawn.)

Poor Em, I hope the meds help her GERD.

Noticed your new side pictures. Very nice.

ain't for city gals said...

Did it start when you started taking the dandelion root...I assume you take that orally?..my mother who raised nine kids always said "It doesn't hurt to give them a bottle every other time"...I know you don't want to but...a hungry baby is a cranky baby. My sister had twins and they cried and fussed always...she just wasn't giving enough for two babies...she took my mom's advice and every other time would switch with them...made all the difference in the world. Just a thought...I would rather try that than meds right away...breast feeding is harder than what they say it is for some....good luck.

T Lee said...

every mother experiences challenges never seen ahead of time. how can anyone know what will happen once the baby exits the womb and enters the world? the world is a tough place to survive and thrive in...at least i think so. i also thought the dandelion root may have upset her, but i had a baby with "silent reflux" and it went undiagnosed for a YEAR!! (read no sleep over three hours at a time for a YEAR and my resulting sleep disorder!) zantac definetly made a significant difference and i am sure if GERD was the issue that you are seeing results from using the zantac. you sure did have plenty of challenges, but as i knew all along...you have perservered and not given up in the least!! i also agree that a bottle sometimes is perfectly great!! as for me and breastfeeding...my body was not into it. the longest i made it breasfeeding was with my little buddy, mr. silent reflux, and that was 3 months! gotta just roll with it and also be OK with it...whatever it is!! and YES!! have tons of clothes so you can not do laundry ALL THE TIME! (one more little thing...get one of those little laundry zip up bags with the holes in to wash baby socks in...they won't disappear into your washer that way!)

omgoodness...had to add this...my word verification was MOOSPEE...bahahahahahahaha!

SarahinSC said...

Those first several months are so hard! No one talks about it though when you're pregnant. It's exhausting work! My youngest was a near constant crier for the first almost two years of his life. There were many times I just wanted to give up and didn't think I could take another moment of his misery (and thus, mine). BUT....he's eight now and the biggest joy in the world! Nothing was ever "wrong" with him as a baby, he just wasn't happy to be in this world. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. It's ok to lay her down and go to another room to breathe deeply or leave her alone with your husband. If I could do one thing over with Ryan's infancy, I would have introduced a bottle early on so I could have a break. I nursed two babies for a year each and they never would take a bottle because I was so insistent that I would only nurse them. I wish I hadn't been so stubborn!

Anonymous said...

I hope you both feel better soon!
On that note - I hate when people push the bottle on a nursing Mom.
Nurse your baby and know YOU CAN DO IT!

americanhoneyphotography.com said...

Oh Jen I'm so sorry you and little Emily are having such a rough time! My youngest daughter had reflux and severe colic. I nursed through it even though the pediatrician pushed trying several different formulas! It does get better and nursing ended up being the best thing for her! You just have to make sure you aren't eating anything that could cause more issues for her! Thinking of you and praying all gets better soon!!! :) ~Amanda

AJ said...

If it isn't one thing, it's another. I agree with you about "the hitch". We discovered growth spurts, diaper rash and acid reflux all in the same night after endless, unconsolable crying :)

It sounds like Emily has smart, loving parents. As my own mom keeps reminding me "Even though every day brings new challenges, you know yourself and your baby best." We're just ahead of you (our little one is 5 weeks today), but I'm finding more and more that my instincts are right.

You've both already pulled through an earthquake and a hurricane! :)

Mel said...

Oh how awful. My friend had PUPPPS with her last pregnancy and she said it was horrible, and like you could not find relief. And nothing is as disheartening as a baby in pain and not knowing what to do. It seems like with my first baby I had my Pediatrician on speed dial. I hope she gets feeling better soon. And hopefully when she does you can get a little break. Your emotional and mental state is just as important as hers. Let her and Shawn have a little Father/Daughter bonding time. And you should go take a long shower, shave your legs (I know I always struggle getting that done right after a baby), and maybe even polish your toes. Or even just one. It's amazing what a pick-me-up that can be.

Jacki said...

Aw Jen, I'm sorry the transition from pregnant to newborn has been so rough on you and Emily! It sounds like you guys are headed in the right direction, and I hope she is feeling better soon! You are doing great.

Karen said...

My daughter (21 years ago) had the same issues and I was finally told to switch her from breastfeeding to a formula called Isomil. Once I did that, her digestive issues settled down. I also started feeding her very formula-diluted baby cereal at about 12 weeks - just a few teaspoons at a feeding, and that helped also.

Never heard of that rash!

A New England Life said...

I've never heard of PUPPPS either, but it sounds just miserable. A new mom needs her sleep!

So sorry to hear about little Emily. Goodness knows every baby is different. Jen, if all of us moms could wrap our arms around you, you know we would. People can give you all the advice in the world, but in the end, you are the mom (a smart one at that), and you and the pediatrician will figure out what is right for you, your husband, and Emily.

Being a new mother is all consuming.

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