4 months postpartum: An update on life, running, and the new normal

It's hard to believe I'm almost four months postpartum already! In a way it seems like forever, but at the same time it flew by in the blink of an eye. B is such a sweet, happy, silly little boy and it's amazing watching him grow. I've never been a baby person (B was the first baby I ever held - seriously), but this little angel melts my heart and I think he's just perfect! While the first few months have been hard, they were nothing like I expected and I think we've adjusted well to life with our new little guy.

On parenthood

I think (so far) we've been lucky with B. He's a pretty easy baby and a fairly good sleeper. He would have slept through the night at five weeks if we had let him (but we woke him up for regular feedings). At twelve weeks, we let him go longer stretches at night and he mostly sleeps through the night at this point, meaning he sleeps between midnight and 5 a.m. I'll take it!

We have some nights where that's not the case, like last Thursday and Friday (right before my first race postpartum), he decided to be a night owl and get up at 3 a.m. and stay up for the day. But overall, he's a good sleeper and I'm hoping we don't hit that four month sleep regression I've heard about.

B loves to go out and about with us. For the first few months, he was content to just chill in his car seat at a restaurant, but now he's so curious about everything that he insists on being taken out of his car seat and sitting on one of our laps during our meals. Then he's laughing and smiling, and smacking his lips at the sight (and smell) of our food. I think he's going to be a good little eater once we start introducing solids to him.

On baby clothes

Seriously. So cute. I can't even handle it. Baby B has way too many clothes, but I can't help myself. Every time I go somewhere that has baby clothes, B gets a new outfit or five. When my mom was visiting the other week, we went shopping and she wanted to buy him some things. She'd hold up an outfit and ask me if I liked it and my response was, "B already has that." After the fourth or fifth time, it started to feel a little ridiculous.

On being a working mom

I went back to work at seven weeks postpartum. And while it was a short leave (since I hadn't been at the company for a year), I was able to work from home up until 13 weeks postpartum. At that point, I started going into the office occasionally. Now, I'm back at the office two days a week and I'll probably hover around that for a while. I'm so thankful for a job that allows me this flexibility. It makes getting work done so much easier because I can sleep a little longer a few days a week and feel less frazzled when I sit down at my desk.

While I would have loved to have a longer leave (like, a year), I'm glad to be working and challenging my brain again. There are days when I wish I could just be a stay-at-home-mom, but I'm not really sure that would be the right choice for me. I still like working and collecting a paycheck. I think  no matter what, I'd always work, if not full-time, then freelance or part-time. But for the foreseeable future, it's full-time and that's okay (unless I win the lottery, in which case, I'd be leaving the corporate life behind the second the check was cashed).

Work itself has been going well and I'm not experiencing much of the "mommy brain" that I've heard about. Which is a good thing because my job requires a highly functioning analytical and creative brain.

On my body

It's pretty much back to regularly scheduled programming around here. I've got about five to seven pounds left to lose and the weight is steadily coming off as I get back into my fitness and nutrition routines.

To be honest, when I look in the mirror, I see zero evidence of pregnancy other than looking less toned, but my body looks pretty much the same otherwise. No stretch marks, no sagging, no belly pooch, no wider hips. Nada. Everything shifted back into place pretty quickly and my muscles are returning. I'm fitting into a lot of my clothes at this point - all of my shirts, many of my pants. There are a few remaining skinniest-of-the-skinny jeans that are still just a little too tight, but I'm sure in a few months I'll be back in those. Pregnancy didn't turn my body into the horror show I feared it would.

At this point, I'm well into the hair shedding process. I've always shed hair pretty badly, so not shedding while I was pregnant was weird and my already thick hair became nearly unmanageable. Now I'm shedding just a little more than normal, but nothing too crazy. I'm just hoping when everything grows back in, it's still got the sort of curly texture I currently have because I've always liked my hair and I'd rather it not change too much.

On breastfeeding

Yeah. I failed at that. My body failed me. And in turn, I failed my son. Without getting too much into it (because that's its own post for another day and I really would like to address it because it probably should be said), I was able to breastfeed for seven weeks, but never exclusively.

My supply was terrible despite near hourly feedings, pumping after each feeding (and barely getting 2 ounces total - often less - in a 24 hour time period), and eating oatmeal, oatmeal, and more oatmeal, and lactation cookies by the dozen (seriously, they are delicious and addictive, but did nothing for my supply).

There was a ton of eating in general since breastfeeding moms are supposed to eat more, but I never felt that ravenous feeling described by so many (probably because things weren't working properly and I wasn't producing milk). All I felt was fat because I'm pretty sure I gained five pounds from all of those cookies, which would have been fine if my body had been functioning properly to nourish my son. But it wasn't.

There were two bouts of mastitis (one so severe I thought I was dying and had a fever of 102 for two days), and then an allergic reaction to the antibiotics that required steroids (both a shot and pills). How's that for sad irony? I had a terrible supply, but the little milk I did have got clogged up and gave me an infection.

There were multiple lactation consultants and support groups, feeding tubes, syringes, crying (both me and Baby B), headaches and heartbreak, and the dreaded F word - formula - because B kept losing weight in spite of all of my efforts. When the pediatrician and every lactation consultant I saw said I needed to keep supplementing with formula, I knew I was in trouble.

The one thing that I didn't think I'd need to worry about (and that I didn't worry about when I was pregnant) was the one thing I ended up being a failure as a mother with. And that's all I'll say on that today because as I said upstream, I want to dedicate a post to my experience at a later time.

On working out

Admittedly, not breastfeeding has made working out easier since I'm not literally tied to a feeding schedule with my son. D can feed him so I can head out for a run or hit a class at the gym. It's still not as easy as heading out for a run whenever I feel like it and I have to plan my workouts a little better now if I want to get them in, which honestly, has helped me work out more frequently than pre-pregnancy. Imagine that - being organized helps me get stuff done. Amazing. (On a related note, I've also been better at blogging - at least on this blog, there's a private family blog out there that I haven't posted on much at all. I'll get to that eventually.)

I've really been focusing on building my core back up. While my abs didn't split, the muscles certainly weakened significantly while I was pregnant. To rebuild those, I've been doing Core Fusion DVDs every morning. They're split into 10 minute segments, which is the perfect length for hectic mornings. So I do one of those 10 minute segments plus 10 minutes on the elliptical and I get a nice 20 minute workout in at least five days a week. And I've seen marked improvements since starting this a few weeks ago.

I'd love to get back to doing classes at Pure Barre and Madabolic, but our schedules don't allow for that on a weekly basis right now. Hopefully eventually I'll be able to do that. But for now, I'm happy to be running again and doing the core work that I've been doing.

On missing my old life

Yes, there are days when this happens. When I'm sitting on my couch after B has gone to bed and D is out at a work event, and I just want to go run an errand or for a run. I miss more Track Tuesdays than I make because of our schedules. Sometimes I miss how easy it was to just get out of the house before B. I just grabbed my purse and left. Now we have to pack a small suitcase every time we go somewhere. Sometimes I miss going to an upscale restaurant at the last minute on a random weeknight. Sometimes I miss the complete freedom I had to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. Sometimes I miss the extra money that now goes to daycare costs (okay yeah, I always miss that).

But all of that just fades into the background now because having B's giggling little face around makes it all okay.

What I miss most is volunteering with animal rescues. Right now, it's a little difficult to do that with an infant. If we were still in Charlotte, it would be easier to still be volunteering because the rescue we worked with had volunteers who helped walk the dogs while I took pictures, but here at the shelter we worked with, it was me and D, and it's just harder to work it out with B now. I'm hoping we can get back to volunteering with a rescue (or run our own?) at some point in the nearish future and that eventually B will join us, but for right now, we're on a break from that.

So that's it. My four month update. Overall, everyone is doing well. B is thriving, we're thriving, our dogs are as happy as ever, and life is good.