I am so excited to be working with the staff from This Mama Wines to share with you some of their stories.  Courtney was kind enough to write about her birth and postpartum.

Tell us a little about your birth:

My first birth, of my daughter who will be 6 this year, is one I remember like it was yesterday. People say you forget. But, I do not believe you do–at least not in my case. I carried to term and she was induced two days past arrival date. Things were initially smooth–I opted for an epidural, was given benadryl proactively for the allergic reaction and then slept through most of the labor. When it was determined that my daughter was facing up instead of down, things became interesting. It was explained that we would proceed with back labor since she could not be turned. Active labor was painful, I did not want forceps or a vacuum (based on my birth plan), but there was no option. The vacuum had to be used twice and I cried. The pain lingered well after she was born, I needed stitches and the start of my postpartum recovery was challenging. I was not prepared to be able to take care of my body after the trauma it went through.

What do you wish you would have known about postpartum?

I wish I would have had a better understanding of what the body can experience after birth and the magnitude of managing self-care (mental and physical) and the baby. Even though I went to a birthing class, there was not much postpartum information discussed–except for the “baby blues” which was important. Not until I perused my discharge papers did the reality set in and I had no clue as to how to handle everything on the physical level. A sitz bath? Perianal care? Hemorrhoids? Anal fissures? There was so much to learn about my body, while I needed to learn how to take care of a newborn. On top of the fact that the “baby blues” are oh so real…and, maybe just a tad bit underplayed when it was first described to me.

I would have loved to hear from my mother, or any other mother figure that the pain is okay. The physical pain is natural. The mental pain is natural. It can all be overwhelming at times, but that is okay.

I wish I understood that my experience was okay and that I should not feel bad for not being able to jump right up and take care of my family as I was accustomed.

I wish I understood that the body takes time to heal and that everyone’s healing process is different.

What was your biggest challenge during the postpartum period? My biggest challenge was trying to find the balance–the right way to manage my emotions and my life. I have always been a planner and routines make me comfortable. I am that person that loves lists. I had to learn that a baby changes the rules a bit.

What was your greatest triumph during the postpartum period? My greatest triumph was being able to express when I was at my lowest point and that I needed someone else to take care of the baby. The thoughts I had scared me. I was able to seek out my husband to let him know that my mind was not in the best place to take care of our daughter. I still cringe when I think about how my mind shifted to a place of hatred–for her, for my husband, for everything that had become of my life.

What advice can you give to Pregnant Mamas as they prepare for postpartum?

If you don’t have a parenting partner (spouse, lover, best friend, mother, etc), find one. Find someone that you can lean on because there will be times that you need some time for yourself to recoup.

What do you wish you would have known about breastfeeding?

I wish I had known that stress impacts your milk production. It is extremely valuable to have a place of comfort to unwind and just focus on yourself and the baby.

What was your biggest challenge with breastfeeding?

My greatest challenge with breastfeeding was my obsession with tracking everything–writing down each side for feedings, time, amount (when I started pumping). My obsession got in the way of just having the bonding time.

What was your greatest triumph from breastfeeding?

My greatest triumph was that I was able to breastfeed as long as I felt comfortable and did not allow others’ opinions (why would you stop? you need to breastfeed longer. Your baby will be healthier if you do…) to get in my way.

What advice can you give to Pregnant Mamas as they prepare to feed their babies?

Breastfeeding is not for everyone and that is okay. Let your body guide you and not others. Each experience is different. Your job is to love–to provide shelter, clothing and nourishment–your child in order for your child to survive. With my second child, my body did not produce enough milk to breastfeed solely. I had to learn that his survival was most important, whether the milk came from me or a can.

Courtney is a mom of two, wife, and teaching artist. She is always looking for ways to stretch a dollar. Courtney lives for a great deal and cries over a missed one! Besides the thrill of thrifting and couponing, she spends spare time dabbling in sewing and exploring various crafts.

Courtney currently resides in Maryland and has taught in Washington, DC. for the last 16 years. She is also the Content Strategist for This Mama Wines.

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