28 Jul Life Lately: 6 Weeks Postpartum, what went wrong?
I haven’t written a life lately post in what feels like forever, mostly because I am so scared of my thoughts coming across as a whine or a cry for attention, but at the same time I am reminded that my blog is very much my own space and when life throws me under the bus, I find my strength through my words.
So… where do I even begin?
Well, let’s start where I left off. After giving birth, D collected me from the hospital, dropped me and our newborn at home and rushed through to the dentist to have his surgery. As I mentioned in my birth story, his jaw was separating from his skull and they needed to fix it before it got any worse, as once it completely detaches, nothing can be done. Thankfully, his jaw wasn’t as bad as everyone suspected, and they were able to take a mould for a custom bite plate to be made. The bite plate will not fix the problem, but it will prevent it from getting any worse. This does mean that he needs to wear a bite plate as much as possible. For the first 3 weeks, he was in a ridiculous amount of pain. This still remains a concern, but for now, D seems to be managing.
My dad arrived late, the night that we brought home Eli. He also brought my sister and her friend, who happened to have the flu. Now, I know every mom ever is already shaking their head, knowing how I freaked out about having a house full of flu-bugs when I have a new baby. I ended up locking myself in the bedroom for the entire weekend, but my dad did just spend 12-hours in the car with a girl who has the flu, and he went on to spend the entire weekend playing with Axl, who soon picked up the flu, passed it to D and before long we all had the flu. 6 weeks later, Axl and I are STILL not better. Some days are worse than others, but for the most part we have really bad phlegm and a runny nose.
D suffers from chronic dry eye. When he was 21, he had eye laser surgery as even with glasses, he struggled to see. It was so bad that when he drove home from the surgery, he peeped through the cotton wool to see what his vision was like and was shocked to learn that stop signs actually read “STOP”. Anyway, this has resulted in chronic dry eye. His eye specialist has literally had him on every eye-drop imaginable and still, nothing helps. He was due for a check-up the following week, where the specialist recommended a supplement be taken. At the time, we were purchasing at least 2 bottles of eye-drops a week so we were pretty much open to trying anything! While there, D mentioned to the specialist about the infection that he had in his testicles and the specialist actually mentioned that his roommate in med-school was in his final year and contracted the same infection, causing him to drop out because the pain was so bad. Hectic stuff! Anyway, the supplement miraculously helped D’s chronic dry eye which after years of facing, he is most impressed with.
After giving birth, things just didn’t feel right. I don’t really know how to explain it, but with Axl, I remember going shopping on our way from the hospital. With Eli, I just wanted to be in bed. I wanted to be left alone, to feed, to bond, to be with my family. But also, because my body didn’t feel the same. I couldn’t be at the mall for longer than 30 minutes before wanting to fall to my knees from the pain and even if I did manage the mall, I’d get home and that night be paralyzed by the pain. My pelvis would click and grind whenever I got out the car or from bed. So, turns out that I had some sort of birth injury – there’s nothing that can be done, just resting, special care when I move and I guess “taking it slow.” I hate that phrase SO, SO much! Six weeks on, and there’s a bit of relief. There are times that it still clicks or grinds, but I manage the pain a lot better now.
About a week after coming home, I started experiencing blinding migraines and neck ache. I couldn’t actually look down, which made me fear meningitis. It lasted all of 4 weeks, but finally seems to be a little better – the stiff neck, that is. I still experience daily headaches at around the same time each day. It can be due to any number of things, from lack of sleep, stress or even the way I feed Eli.
I was 3 weeks post-partum when I was due to go back to work. Anxiety had settled in as I had learnt that there were a few changes since I had gone on leave. I am still trying to adjust to the new industry, let alone the new role, so of course, I got panicked. It’s now 3 weeks since my return and I still don’t feel like things are the way that they were when I left. I guess you can say that I am struggling – perhaps I can draw it up to being a combination of so many changes in a short time, my post-pregnancy hormones overwhelming me and new mom tiredness, but often, I feel like I don’t quite know my place within the company and it makes me feel weird.
I started to notice that Eli really struggled after feeds. He was in so much pain and nothing I would do seemed to help him burp. With a little bit of Google, I realized that he suffers with pretty bad reflux but that by sitting up when I feed, and burping him immediately afterwards, seemed to help. I burp him by lying him on my chest, or bouncing him on my leg. Since figuring this out, he seems to be doing much better – sure, I sometimes forget to sit up in the middle of the night, because I am half asleep, but mostly, we seem to be managing.
While all of this was happening, my sister-in-law was scheduled for a big surgery. Ashleigh, as you know, suffers from a very rare illness called FMD. When I say rare, I actually mean that Ashleigh’s body is the one that you see in text books. She has really shitty veins! The way that D explains it, is that her veins turn into muscle and can no longer pump blood to her organs. She has had two major surgeries in the US because our SA doctors don’t understand her illness. She is living in the UK now and her condition had gotten to the stage where another surgery was unavoidable. Of course, as luck would have it, she had just about every bad reaction to the testing phase and basically went into cardiac arrest (she didn’t – her BP just showed signs of it), and even had to do the surgery without sedation.
If there is ever someone who continues to leave me speechless with her bravery, it is Ashleigh. I don’t actually know how she deals with all her health stuff while juggling a high-powered job, a relationship and just being a general bad ass. Her surgery meant that my mother-in-law left for a month, to be there with Ash. She ended up leaving 2 days after I got home from hospital, so she didn’t even get that much time to spend with Eli.
We still don’t quite know if the surgery was a success as it will take some time. For now, she is okay. She is still healing up and taking things slow, but she is back at work and owning life. I love that about her – I love that nothing stops her!
Somewhere else, my best friend is facing health challenges of her own. I never feel comfortable talking about what she is going through because that’s her story and it has been quite personal, whereas Ashleigh’s story is shared with our community to fundraise and raise awareness surrounding FMD. But what I will say is that I have never hated doctors who I have never met, quite like I do right now. Again, I have no idea how Lydia continues with everything going on around her, but somehow, she puts on her super hero cape each day and kicks ass.
I guess that’s another thing; I am surrounded by these women who are freaks of nature. And no, I am not speaking about their health – I am speaking about their inability to give up. They somehow manage to keep playing, no matter the cards that they’re dealt. So, when I think about it, I sort of feel like why the hell am I feeling so overwhelmed, when I am going through nothing in comparison. Does that make sense?
Okay, so then we have this week…
This week can actually just go straight to hell.
On Friday, D needed to go for another trip to the dentist. (Boy, I need you to stop going to the damn dentist, so that I can actually go myself and have these holes filled in!) While we were there, we asked her to take a look at Axl’s teeth as we had noticed a mark on his front tooth. We have become somewhat paranoid about his teeth as he refuses to let me brush them.
This is a huge understatement, but trying to brush Axl’s teeth requires both D and I; Darren holds Axl’s hands and feet so he can’t hit or kick, while I hold his head still, and brush his teeth. It literally takes him about 20 minutes to calm down after brushing them, needless to say, it is a battle. The dentist basically said that parents need to pick their battles, and this is a battle we have to fight – we have to hold him down each morning and night, to brush his teeth as the potential damage to his teeth will outweigh the emotional damage. On the same day, D’s infection in his testicles recurred making him almost emotional.
On Saturday, we celebrated D’s birthday with his family at a local kid-friendly coffee shop. It was cold but it was great company and we all had a good time. Later that night, we received a call from D’s oldest sister, Chels, saying that their 94-year old gran, had called their mom to ask her to take her to hospital. However, when they got to the house, their gran didn’t want to go to hospital and just asked to go to bed. The next morning, Chelsea popped in to see how her gran was doing and alerted us that she was calling an ambulance. As it turns out, gran has gotten so old and frail that her back is basically crumbling. She is bedridden and in hospital. By Sunday night, the doctors had called our family and told us that we should use this time to prepare ourselves for the worst and to say our goodbyes while she is still well enough to know who we are. It was a traumatic weekend, especially for D who felt weighed down by his grandfather’s passing exactly 26 years ago, to the day.
On Monday, we had decided that we would take the doctor’s advice and head to the hospital. But before doing so, we had to take Axl to the doctor. Over the weekend, we had noticed he had some swelling in his genitals, and considering D’s history – we didn’t want to chance anything. I went blank when I heard the words, “surgery” come from the doctor’s mouth. In short, Axl either has a hernia or a hydrocele (a sack of fluid). The doctor has advised we leave it for 2-3 weeks and if the swelling hasn’t gone down, we need to bring him back and he is likely to end up needing surgery. It’s been 4 days, and it still hasn’t gone down – I am freaking out. I have managed to deal with everybody else’s medical issues, but this is my baby!
After the doctor’s trip, I had to pull myself together for our hospital visit. D went in first, while I sat with the boys, before his gran asked to see me. I was almost surprised by the request – I had every intention of going in, but it seemed special to be asked to come in.
I guess this is where I add that I am privileged. I have never had to deal with death. The closest I have come is when I was 4; my great granny passed away from diabetes. She was a really miserable lady, but she adored me and whenever someone would visit her, she wouldn’t talk to them unless they brought me along. I would sit by her bed side, and sing her and the lady next to her, Ruth, songs. She loved that. When she passed – I remember feeling sad because of the way it broke my oups, but I don’t remember being directly affected. I saw her pain, I saw her lose both legs and I realized, even back then, that it wasn’t a way to live.
But now I am older, and while yes, there is a practical side to me where D and I both acknowledge that gran has lived longer than most people can dream of, there is still the flip side. The side where I watch the people around me crumble at her loss.
The whole ride there, I thought of what my mom would do. My mom has this crazy compassion. The sort of compassion that will see her going to the lady in the hospital bed next to me, to apologize for her loss and giving her a hug before buying her dinner because no one visited her or brought her food. My mom would remind me that my bullies probably had stories of their own, that the reason for them acting out was because they probably had problems at home. She taught me to sympathise when I was fuelled by anger and hurt – she was a voice of reason, and right now, I needed to channel her.
And that’s what I did. I walked down that corridor, noticing how every nurse would look down when I looked at them. Almost knowing that this story has a sad ending. I felt the stinging in my eyeballs, when I saw her lying in the bed. What a woman. What a great woman. I am so honoured to know her, to have heard her stories, to have shared her joys for the last 5 years. I stood at her bed side, while trying to remember what my mom would do, before holding out my hand, to hold hers. We made small talk, before I pulled out my phone to show her pictures of the boys. She saw them just the week before, but her memory has gotten worse in recent months. Before I left, I asked her if I could pray for her. Her whole face lit up as she said yes please.
I don’t know hey. My grandparents are ministers; I grew up in the church and praying for others had always been the norm. But I have never done it aloud – this is something my grandparents do. And I just kept thinking, WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU EVEN SAY!? The last few years, my relationship with my faith has been rocky but in the last year, I have found such comfort in it again. And in that moment, I wanted to wrap her up in the same comfort that my faith provides me. I hope that I managed that – even through my shaken words.
Tuesday morning came, and D’s mild stomach ache from Sunday had become unbearable, so we had a slow start to the day. Until D spotted lice in Axl’s hair. Lice, guys! Are you friggen’ kidding? Turns out that Darren also had lice which prompted a quick strip down to shave his hair completely off, before having to hold Axl while we shaved him. I guess that this moment is the straw that truly broke me – I fought back the tears as I shaved away the gorgeous curls I have fought so long to keep. I felt like in that moment, life was just having a fat laugh at me, reminding me that even the simplest joys like my son’s gorgeous curls are not for certain.
Pause. I know how dramatic that sounds but everything in the last six weeks boiled up to that moment, and while my son sobbed and begged for us to stop cutting his hair, I felt myself sobbing too. Yes, my son looks cute AF. In fact, I even see a little bit of my own genes in him. But that doesn’t make this any less shit – I realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is so small.
Wednesday came along, and D’s stomach aches persisted until Thursday, when we found ourselves back in the waiting rooms of the doctor’s – our second home. They seem to think that it is referred pain and he has a pinched nerve in his back. Due to all the meds he has taken this year, he has become resistant to anti-inflammatories, so they straight out gave him morphine tablets. So, while I type this, he is trying to finish a client’s work while tripping out – I literally just heard him not be able to finish a sentence to his intern because he forgot what he was saying.
Today, It also marked 6 weeks since welcoming Eli, so of course, we needed to get his vaccine. Listen, why is it so damn hard to get the vaccine done, privately? WHY!? I had phoned around and the quotes varied between R1500 – R2100. My last call happened to be the Clicks where I took Axl for his vaccines. When I asked the sister for the prices, she said, “but aren’t you on medical aid?” So, I explained that I wasn’t which is why I was calling her for the pricing. After saying it was definitely over R1000 but that she wasn’t sure exactly, she said that Helping Hands (an NGO) covers the full fee on Thursday between 1-4pm.
So, off we go to Clicks. Only, when we arrive, she explains that nope, she was wrong, Helping Hands covers the R105 consult fee but that I’d have to pay the R1500. So, I was like, cool – do it. She then asks me at least 6 times whether I am clear that I need to pay that amount of money, each time I say yes… I don’t feel that this is up for discussion as I’d rather go without food than have my kid die from Polio. She then gives me the receipt to go pay at the till, D makes his way to the till, while I stay in the room, and she says.. oh! She doesn’t have stock of the oral drops, I need to go to the government clinic for that. Uhm, what? So, I must queue at the government clinic where everything (including the vaccine) is free, for oral drops that you don’t have any stock of, AFTER paying R1500 for the vaccine that I could get for free all at the same time? Yeh, no. Not happening.
I ended up calling a bunch of other pharmacies, eventually we just had it done at the same doctor that we were at, for D’s stomach. They were so helpful and really good!
By the end of today, I just felt deflated and as we drove home, the ugly cries began. It was our 4th year wedding anniversary and much like the rest of this year, we have spent it in doctor’s rooms. We came home, and my laptop wouldn’t charge, making it tough to get work done – just everything seems like it has to be a darn struggle and quite frankly, I am tired of it.
I like to end these things on a more positive note, so I am going to also share the bunch of good that has happened.
In the midst of all this crap, Lydia noticed it and asked me to log into her website and do some changes. I love her so darn much and appreciate how she knows I need a challenge to relight my fire. I have taught myself everything that I know about SEO and get really excited when I discover new things. Lydia fuels that excitement by hiring me to look after her blog and in the last year, I have managed to get her blog to rank on the first page of Google. Something that I can’t even do with my own blog (hahahha!)
She then went and raved about my services on a local Facebook group and before I knew it, I had signed 3 of my own SEO clients, and 2 of them needed website redesigns too. I had over 35 requests for pricing and info, with a bunch of them saying that they were just waiting for the funds to become available. It was such a wow moment! Last week, I worked on my first client’s profile and gave her some feedback, her response was so flippen amazing that I’d love to sign like another 100 SEO clients and just focus on that. Some people drink wine, I sit SEOing websites to destress. LOL!
As for this little space; my blog. You know, I have done some great things on this blog – I am so proud because everything that you see is me; all of me. I sit up until 3am working on things that you would never notice like SEO, emailing brands, or reworking old blog posts so that they aren’t totally embarrassing. But a lot has become clear to me lately. Often, I overcomplicate this hobby of mine; I take it too seriously.
I miss the days of Blogspot, where I could write like 6 reviews in a day and not worry about perfectly styled photos, or SEO. I remember a defining point when I read a blog post that said no one reads reviews and we should be putting a spin on reviews, so I did. I have tried not doing single-product reviews for a good few months, exhausting myself to put a spin on everything. And last week, I just thought F*** It!
I read an old blog post and could almost taste the excitement of that naïve, young blogger and I craved it. So, I threw away all my rules; I scrapped my content plan and I just wrote. I wrote words that made me happy and I loved it. Yes, my blog has been really focused on reviews lately, but I trial a lot of products and sometimes, I just want to share them with you.
I also did something I never thought I’d do, I ended a sponsorship with a brand. I reviewed my partnership with them and when I thought it over carefully, I realized that they were undervaluing me and I just thought, nah, not anymore. I also feel somewhat despondent to the Meet the #Momboss series – I still love the concept and really wanted to promote local brands but I am realizing that a lot of brands just expect you to feature them. They don’t value the time I put in to editing each post, to putting their info in the directory, to finding photos, linking them, etc. etc. etc. And then their post goes live, and at least 80% of them can’t even be bothered to say thank you. Bear in mind that I don’t ask for anything in return; no compensation, no product. So, I am just trying to figure out whether it is worth it anymore.
As for my first 6 weeks, as being a new mom again, that’s actually been the easiest part of all. I really don’t want to jinx it, but Eli has been so easy! He sleeps well, he eats really well, he loves his baths, he doesn’t need to be held to fall asleep. I actually can feed him, burp him and put him in his chair and he will dose off. He doesn’t even seem bothered if I give him expressed milk in a bottle instead of a boob, he just gobbles it up. He loves his dummy and has to have a taglet when he sleeps. But man alive, I am in love. He can give me a little smirk and my heart instantly pumps custard. Having his tiny body curled up next to me brings me the greatest sense of peace. I just lie there listening to his tiny snores and am just smitten.
How does your heart actually manage such an intense love for both of your children? How does it stretch so far? How is love so easily redefined once you have children?
Axl is also doing really great. I have been meaning to write a blog post about what happened when I stopped comparing my son to everybody else, but the short of it is that I have always made that mistake and since doing so, I have enjoyed him and his quirks SO much more.
Axl is easily the most tech-savy child that you will come across. At the age of 3, he can navigate any cellphone, open up YouTube and find his favourite toy review videos. He also knows how to navigate the app store, download games, and within minutes, can play them. (He currently holds the high score for Temple Run and beats D and I, over and over again). It is because of this that we have all our app stores set to only show age-appropriate content and the same goes for YouTube and Netflix. He also knows how to navigate to his own Netflix profile and pick a show. Most recently, he has figured out the computer and has learnt how to log into his dad’s Steam account and to my amusement, launches Rocket League or DotA 2. D actually wants to build him his own PC for Christmas because the two of them have started fighting over the PC.
Most people will roll their eyes at this and say that it can’t be good. But understand that I am 23-years old; my life is run on tech. His dad used to game professionally and still has a strong love for online gaming while also being a full-time web designer, and I blog and write content. I also don’t see tech becoming irrelevant any time soon, so perhaps his love for it so early on will benefit him in the long run.
Axl enjoys puzzles – the first time. Thereafter, they bore him. I spent about R1,500 – R2,000 on educational toys and by the end of the month, all of them were boring. He figures things out so quickly, that he cannot remain stimulated and then becomes bored and acts out. I have noticed this with his games too, which is why he started figuring out how to download games for himself.
He has always been quiet and not one to speak. This is where I fell short as a mom. I would compare him to friends who have kids, who talk none stop, while he mumbles a few words at a time and then think that there is something wrong with him. Now that I have given him the chance, the kid is a non-stop talking machine and sometimes I wish that I had embraced the quieter days. ?
Axl is also really sporty. He gets that from his dad. He has been dribbling a ball since his first birthday (I actually have a video of it!). Nowadays, he loves throwing and catching balls – and man, he is accurate. We will set up a target and the kid will always hit it, it’s incredible! He loves running laps, climbing everything and anything and jumping. I wish I had a quarter of his energy.
Since Eli has been born, I have been a little less helicopter mom and have been letting Axl go out with family more often. It’s less to do with Eli and more to do with the fact that Axl can communicate with people and with us when he is unhappy. Some days I will ask if he wants to go out with family and he will say no, he wants to be at home. Other days, he can’t get dressed quick enough.
Everyone keeps asking about how he took to Eli and honestly, it is so underwhelming that I have barely spoken about it. Axl does that though. All the big things in our life, I over prepare for trying to ensure that he will adjust better to the change, and when it happens he barely notices. For instance, when we moved houses, he stayed with his aunt for the day. I left everything packed, but ensured that his room was unpacked so that he would feel comfortable. He walked in, saw his dogs and was like, “cool, we live here now. “And, that was it.
With Eli, I went into the house, called him out to the car, showed him the newborn baby in his carseat. Axl asked me to bring him in, he looked at Eli and then asked me for his nuggets. That was it. He will sometimes help me out by bringing me Eli’s nappies, creams or Lulla Doll. He also likes watching while I bath Eli. But every now and then, he does something so thoughtful that I think wow, I raised this kid. Like, we can be sitting in the lounge and he will disappear and come back with Eli’s blanket, because it is cold. Or he will be curled up with a blanket next to me, and pull the corner over Eli. When Eli cries, and I am not in the room, he will say, “Shhh, baby Eli, mommy is coming now.” Yes, he calls Eli, “Baby Eli.” We recently bought him 2 Star Wars plushies and out of his own, he decided that one was Eli’s. That really took me by surprise as they were toys that he had been wanting for over a year, and here he was, sharing them with his little brother. He also likes to share his Hot Wheels with Eli.
I love this place that he is in. He is independent, full of attitude and snark but also so loving and cute. I love the innocent boyish charm and how it is almost like he can’t stop himself from climbing on everything, how he must break dance after every 3rd step we take and how he dishes it back to his dad. As much as I cringe, I find it so hilarious how he farts in his dad’s face before running off laughing because the day before, his dad threatened to do it to him. He is going to grow up to be fierce; he challenges us and out-trolls us, and I couldn’t be more proud.
So, despite all the shitty circumstances that currently surround us, I have a lot of good too. I am grateful for that, I am grateful for my boys, D and my wonderful friends. I am sorry that today I failed at being the strong and adaptable person I strive to be. I am sorry that today I broke a little, instead of bending. Tomorrow, I will do better. But for now, I sleep.