Friday, January 6, 2017

The 6 Week Wait

**This post was written over a year ago, shortly after our daughter passed during my postpartum period. I realized I never shared I decided to share it today! I hope it helps anyone who is dealing with the recent loss of a pregnancy and child. **

Those who have tried to conceive or struggled to conceive know the 2 week wait all too well, but the 6 week wait is rarely mentioned. Maybe it is because the 6 week wait occurs at a time when most new mothers are too busy to notice. They are busy taking care of the new life they brought into this world. They are busy with feedings, changing diapers, and falling madly in love over and over again as they get to know the quirks of their new little best friend.

For babyloss moms, the 6 weeks following childbirth is anything but fun and exciting. Not only are we coping with the loss of our child, but we are coping with the constant changes our bodies are facing as they transition from new mommy to their pre-pregnancy state. From hormones to postpartum bleeding, to producing breastmilk and adjusting to your new mom body - it is a lot to handle on top of the grief. When a new mom of a living child is going through the 6 week wait, I assume they are anxious to lose the baby weight and see those stretch marks disappear. For a babyloss mom, the experience is very different.

For the first week after giving birth to Penelope, I woke up every morning thinking I was still pregnant. Life told me otherwise, but my body wasn't ready to let go. In addition, there was no little newborn laying in the bassinet next to my bed to remind that I was no longer pregnant. Every time I would think I was pregnant, I would have to remind myself that I wasn't and relive the experience of losing my daughter all over again.

The first week was the worst because I also still looked pregnant. Not that I felt like going out in public, but if I did, I feared people would ask me when I was due. Then I would have to explain that I actually just had a baby, but she is no longer with us. Luckily no one had the opportunity to ask me that question.

When it comes to stretch marks and the beautiful linea nigra down the center of my belly, a little part of me cries as I see these marks starting to fade. I want to hold on to those marks because they are the traces of evidence and proof that a life did exist inside my womb. They are reminders to me and to the world that Penelope was born, I am a mom, and it all wasn't just a dream.

One thing that is rarely talked about is the postpartum healing process. Most women who have living babies are not trying to conceive right away so their body has the proper time to heal. As soon as we lost Penelope, I wanted to try to conceive again as I know the joy from having another child may be the only thing that can help fill this void in my heart. Little did I know, it will take a while before it is safe for my body to carry another baby because I had just carried Penelope to term. My body needs time to restore the nutrients that were lost in supporting Penelope, as well as my uterus needs time to return to its normal size and to heal. Since I live a heathy lifestyle and supplement, our doctor said we could try again in 3 months. It will be at least 6 months until I can do IVF again.

Although I am almost there, I have not hit the 6 week postpartum mark yet. I cannot wait until that time so I can exercise, swim, and do more things that will help me cope with emotions of Penelope's passing. In the meantime, I look at these 6 weeks as time of complete grieving. It is a time where I can allow myself to be completely submerged in my grief because that is the only way I know I will get through this.

I try to do as much as I can in these 6 weeks to help me heal. I get a lot of rest. I also have been back to my acupuncturist, my chiropractor, and my nutritionist to make sure my body is still healthy despite my heart being broken. I go for gentle walks almost everyday to ease my mind and to keep my body busy. I also am fortunate this happened in the summer because I am able to sit outside in the sun and get some vitamin D...I couldn't imagine if this happened in the winter.

I also try to focus on my nutrition a lot. The first week after Penelope was born, we were fortunate enough to have family and friends bring us meals because we could hardly function. After a week of not cooking, I knew I needed to get to the grocery store and get back into the swing of things for me and my husbands health. I try to cook meals with a lot of nutrition to help my body heal quicker.

Here are a few things that I did that I feel will help my body heal physically:
- Try to relax and sleep as much as possible
- Eat clean, nutritious (organic) meals
- Avoid gluten and refined sugar
- Continue taking prenatal supplements
- Take fermented cod liver oil ( a superfood that helps with everything including fertility)
- Drink a lot of water - I get about 80-100 oz a day
- Wear a belly binder (I used a Belly Bandit) to help uterus return to normal size
-  Try to make a green smoothie for one meal a day - I usually make mine for breakfast
- See a chiropractor as your body may need adjusting after going through labor
- Get a massage (I waited until 4 weeks postpartum to get one)
- Pumping my breastmilk
- Spend time in the sun

Healing is an emotional and physical process. Please take all the time you need before returning to your regular activities. Just like healing from a surgery or an accident, you do not want to push to hard and set yourself back, especially emotionally.

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