After I shared my first postpartum blog post, I asked you guys to let me know of any questions you wanted me to address in an upcoming blog post. I put the request out on Instagram Stories as well and received so many awesome questions. I ended up compiling them into a list that was very, very long! I didn’t anticipate breaking this Q&A-style post up into two posts but since I’ve been working on answering your questions for a while now, I figured that might be the smart thing to do otherwise I may never actually get this blog post up!
So many of the questions I received were similar so hopefully those of you who submitted a question will find the answer to your question in today’s post or the followup post. I’m doing my best to keep this Q&A as organized as possible and sorted your questions into the following categories:
- Emotional and Physical Recovery
- All About Ryder
- The Two-Kid Transition
I will also be sharing a post dedicated solely to our newborn baby “must haves” since that was, by far, the most common request/question I received.
For today’s post, I’ll be addressing my emotional and physical recovery and all questions related specifically to Ryder!
Also, as you read this post and the future posts about my postpartum journey, please keep in mind that I am simply doing my best to share things from my perspective surrounding my personal experiences. Everyone is so different when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum life, just like our babies are all so different. Some things I say might not appeal or apply to you and that’s tooootally okay!
Emotional and Physical Recovery
- Did you experience any baby blues or postpartum anxiety or depression?
I did not experience any postpartum baby blues or depression after the birth of Chase or Ryder but it’s not something I think anyone should ever feel ashamed of experiencing. I also wouldn’t say I’ve experienced postpartum anxiety but after Chase was born, I feel like I absolutely became a more anxious and worried person in general and this has carried on with Ryder. With both of my boys, I’ve found myself worrying about their health and safety and their future in more intense ways than I ever thought I would before I had children.
- Did you encapsulate your placenta again this time around?
Yes I did! For those of you who may be new to the blog, you may read all about placenta encapsulation and why I chose to do it in this post: Placenta Encapsulation: Why I Did It, How I Did It and Would I Do It Again?
- Was your recovery different or more difficult this time around? How did having an active toddler impact your recovery?
I feel very fortunate to have experienced a pretty easy recovery from a physical standpoint and feel like my recovery after Ryder’s birth was easier than my physical recovery after I had Chase. I had two stitches after a fairly fast labor and was honestly shocked at how quickly I was able to walk around with very little pain or discomfort. A few other random things I noticed from a physical standpoint in the first few weeks postpartum included a very weak core (I did a lot of rolling onto my side to sit/stand up), intense night sweats, headaches and seriously ravenous hunger.
As far as how having an active toddler impacted my recovery, there’s no denying that Chase made it a LOT harder to simply rest when Ryder was sleeping since I still wanted to give Chase attention and make his transition into being a big brother as seamless as possible. After Chase was born, I basically hibernated for months until I was ready to leave the comfort of our home for an extended period of time. This time around that simply wasn’t the case mainly because keeping Chase at home all day sounded terrible (hopefully those with active toddlers feel me on this one!) and I also felt WAY more confident when it came to handling a newborn away from home.
When I thought about juggling two kids in the beginning, I was more than a little intimidated — How will I do nap time? What happens if I need to nurse when Chase is feeling extra needy? — and I feel fortunate that I was able to figure a lot of these things out during the time that my mom stayed with us after Ryder was born. My mom’s help was seriously the biggest gift to me since she stepped in and really helped most with Chase during her stay. With Ryan back at work right after we brought Ryder home from the hospital, help with Chase was exactly what I wanted and needed most so I could do my best to focus on Ryder as we established breastfeeding and tried to get him adjusted to life outside the womb. Also, from an emotional standpoint, sometimes the early days with a newborn can be rather lonely without a ton of adult interaction, so her company was wonderful for me, too.
Now, 11 weeks into life with two kids, there’s truly NO downtime during the day which, if I’m being totally honest, can feel really overwhelming. There’s no sugarcoating it and I always feel behind on work (and on life!) but we’re figuring things out day by day. Sometimes I look back on the day and realize the only thing I really accomplished was being a mom to my two boys and, honestly, that’s enough. I’m trying to remind myself that this phase of life is so short and so fleeting. I’m doing my best to embrace the chaos because I know that one day soon I’ll miss this wonderful insanity. Being a mom to my two boys, even on the hard, overwhelming and crazy days, is truly my favorite thing in the entire world.
- I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences with family staying to help. My mom has generously offered to stay with us for 3 months after our baby is born, but I’m worried that it will be too long, and I will crave family time, but I also don’t know what to expect since it is our first baby! I’m really close with my mom and we don’t have other family in the area, so I know this is a huge gift, I am just nervous to commit to it without really understanding our needs once baby comes.
This is such a good question and so much of my answer depends on your relationship with your mom and her ability to really and truly help. We also do not have family in the area and after Chase and Ryder were both born, my mom came to stay with us for a couple of weeks and it was so, so incredible. To say I am grateful we had her stay with us after our babies were born would be a serious understatement and it’s something I know Ryan would echo as well.
My mom seemed to innately know what we needed and, for the most part, that wasn’t simply holding our baby. Help mostly came in the form of throwing in a load of laundry, preparing a quick meal, encouraging me to shower and take an hour to myself to work on this blog, etc. After Ryder was born, her help looked a lot more like entertaining Chase while I cared for Ryder which was HUGE. I think many new moms are terrible about asking for help (myself absolutely included!) but so many mothers encouraged me to accept help during the postpartum time frame and I am so glad I did.
I say this in one breath but I can absolutely see how having someone stay with you for an extended period of time could add stress to an already stressful time. I think that’s when understanding your relationship with your mom is so important and possibly even discussing what “help” really looks like or means to both of you ahead of time might be beneficial. It can feel uncomfortable to ask for exactly what you need even from your own mother but the ability to do this is so important since everyone’s postpartum needs are different and may even vary from day-to-day. During your mom’s stay, I would just say to be as open and communicative as possible.
Another thing to consider is how you’ll feel about having someone around all the time. I personally really like and value my alone time and my mom is the same way. She’s also pretty independent and during her visits she would still attend Jazzercise classes almost every day and get out and about which I think also helped since it never felt like we were on top of each other for weeks on end. I also kept communication very open with Ryan during this time so we were always on the same page regarding the duration of my mom’s visit.
- Has your pelvic floor recovery been different this time around? Better or worse?
When I was pregnant, I was terrified about the state of my pelvic floor during the postpartum period after Ryder was born. I feel like my pelvic floor muscles were incredibly weak during my pregnancy with Ryder and I figured they would be horrific after another delivery. This is not something I experienced during my pregnancy with Chase but I think the fact that I would honestly pee myself when I’d cough or sneeze during my pregnancy with Ryder can be attributed to weakened pelvic floor muscles that I had after my first pregnancy that never fully recovered.
I’m not sure why or how this is possible but I feel so much better with regard to pelvic floor recovery this time around. That’s not to say things are perfect or back to normal, but I don’t feel like I’m leaking all the time which is such a relief. I am also trying to be smart about my recovery and avoid exercises that stress pelvic floor muscles so I will not be able to speak to whether or not I will be able to do things like tuck jumps without peeing for quite a while!
I’ve also spoken with a physical therapist who basically said that peeing yourself all the time after having a baby, while very common, isn’t something you should have to live with so I am absolutely still considering seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist as I continue to recover.
- Did you notice anything different from the way you felt from an emotional standpoint during your pregnancy and postpartum period with baby number one versus baby number two?
Yes! Honestly, I felt completely different during both pregnancies and even the way I felt after delivering Ryder was different. During my pregnancy with Chase I was incredibly excited but I also experienced a feeling I can only describe as disbelief. I remember feeling like the experience was almost surreal and I had a hard time really picturing our baby or my new role as a mother.
Losing two babies in between my first pregnancy and my fourth pregnancy with Ryder undoubtedly shaped the way I felt during my most recent pregnancy. I was incredibly scared and anxious and almost wanted to distance myself from the pregnancy in the beginning because I was terrified of another missed miscarriage and deeply worried that we would lose another baby. I felt like I was holding my breath for months. I wish I could say I loved my prenatal appointments but I was truly so anxious during every ultrasound and just prayed hard for the day I hoped and prayed would come when I would get to hold our baby in my arms.
On a more positive note, I remember that toward the end of my pregnancy with Ryder, I felt this overwhelming sense of understanding just how much my life was about to change in the most amazing way. I saw my capacity to love and care for a child explode after Chase was born and knowing I was on the brink of holding another baby I was about to fall more and more in love with every day was really incredible. It also seemed to make pregnancy feel more “real” in a sense.
During the postpartum period in the weeks after we brought both Chase and Ryder home, I feel like my emotions were rather similar. I was definitely more emotional and a lot more sensitive than usual after Chase was born and felt the same way after Ryder’s birth. One piece of advice a friend gave to me before Chase was born helped me a lot during both postpartum periods and that was to simply ask yourself if you are tired when you feel overwhelmed, weepy, angry, frustrated, etc. So often my heightened emotions were (and are) intensified by just feeling really, really tired.
- Have you noticed any difference in your body image after baby number two versus baby number one?
I was honestly pretty surprised about how relaxed I felt about my postpartum body after I delivered Chase. I thought I’d be much more focused on losing the weight I gained during pregnancy than I was and it took me a solid nine months to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. (This is not to say I lost the baby weight without any thought or effort but it took me around six months to really feel an itch to put more thought into losing the last 10 pounds or so.) It just wasn’t a priority or a focus for me and now, with two kids in the mix, I’m seeing a similar pattern surface. I undoubtedly feel softer after this pregnancy and notice more cellulite and a squishier belly than I did after my first pregnancy but I’m trying hard to give myself grace.
Stepping away from Instagram (aka the land of perfectly put-together moms and rock-hard abs at 8 weeks postpartum) and reminding myself that everyone’s bodies and postpartum journeys are different is KEY because sometimes I’ll find myself feeling really down when I try to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes and look like a disaster. I’m not going to lie and pretend to be over here absolutely loving every inch of my postpartum body — you better believe I have moments where I cannot help but zero in on my love handles flowing over the sides of my shorts or tops clinging to my midsection in ways they didn’t before — but I have SO MUCH respect for what my body just went through and am so grateful for every last dimple on my butt cheeks right now because I know that they are all part of the big picture that helped me bring the most amazing little life into this world.
One thing that REALLY helps me with my body image right now is prioritizing my workouts. (Notice I did not say “prioritizing weight loss” because these are two VERY different things to me.) Making it to Burn Boot Camp or to the gym several times a week makes me feel strong. It gives me a mental break from motherhood and provides me with more energy throughout the day. Surrounding myself with women who are encouraging and uplifting, especially during this postpartum season, is so pivotal for me from a mental health perspective, too. Sweating, lifting weights and doing something physical and beneficial for my health makes a big, big difference for me and reminds me that being healthy matters much more than the pair of jeans I can’t quite squeeze into just yet.
- What are some of your favorite self-care things to do during the postpartum period?
I actually had three people ask me about self care and it made me think I should probably be thinking more about it! Umm is it silly to say reading? Giving myself permission to unplug at the end of the night and not work or do anything other than curl up in bed with a book feels amazing and is, without a doubt, my favorite form of self care right now.
All About Ryder
- Is Ryder on more or less of a schedule than Chase was as a newborn since you have two kids to worry about this time?
Ryder is on WAAAY less of a schedule than Chase was right now. I was reading all the books about sleep strategies and schedules with Chase at this point and I haven’t done a single thing with Ryder. I think he’s still pretty young to have a legitimate schedule (I believe Chase was around four months when he started having more predictable nap times) so I’m not doing anything other than going with the flow with Ryder at this point.
Ryder is great about napping on the go in my baby carrier or his car seat (he HATES his car seat when he’s awake but when he’s sleepy he will happily snooze away in that thing) but I have NO idea what we’ll do once a predictable nap schedule surfaces. I definitely think quality sleep is important and prioritize sleep with my kids so I’m sure I’ll adopt much more of a schedule when Ryder’s naps become more predictable and he’s less apt to snooze on the go.
- Who do you think Ryder looks like?
Chase! People said Ryder looked like Chase from the beginning and I didn’t see it at first but once Ryder turned 3 weeks old, I began seeing his big brother in him all the time. It’s crazy and so, so cool! I’ve also never really thought Chase or Ryder look like me or Ryan but many, many people say they do which I love. I do think Ryder looks a lot like I did as a baby though — we both had fluffy mohawks and similar facial features.
- Where is Ryder sleeping? How long do you think Ryder will sleep in your room?
Ryder is currently sleeping in a bassinet next to our bed. We have the Chicco LullaGo Portable Bassinet that my friends at Chicco sent our way and it’s great! The bassinet is easy to assemble and simple to break down. We took it with us to Atlanta and loved it for baby travel sleep, too!
As far as how long Ryder will sleep in our room, I’m not sure. We’ll see how things go but I’m thinking we’ll likely keep him in our room for a couple more months and transition him into the crib in his nursery sometime between four and six months old.
- What were some of the other names you considered for Ryder?
As you know, Ryder didn’t have a name for nearly 48 hours! We honestly drove to the hospital without a solid name for a boy or a girl in our minds. Once Ryder was born, we waffled back and forth on a bunch of names but our top two boy names were Ryder and Cade.
My biggest hangup regarding Ryder’s name was the fact that Ryder and Chase are two names on a popular kid’s television show (Paw Patrol) but eventually I just had to let that go because we loved the name and its meaning (“warrior”) so much. At least Paw Patrol is a cute show and the Ryder and Chase characters are buddies! (I’m also seriously banking on the fact that Paw Patrol won’t be around forever.) For those who remember and have asked, YES, Ryder is the name I alluded to in this pregnancy post!
- Now that Ryder is here, I’d love to know more about your thoughts on waiting to find out your baby’s sex. Would you do it again?
I LOVED IT. And that’s a huge understatement! I truly never ever thought I would wait to find out our baby’s sex but it was the best! It was honestly the hardest not finding out up until the 18-week anatomy scan but once we got past that, it was awesome and so fun! Going into labor and still not knowing whether we were about to have a daughter or a son was incredible and kind of crazy. When you finally meet your baby it’s just the best surprise ever!
As far as whether or not we’d do it again, I absolutely would! Ryan, on the other hand, might kill me because he wanted to know the baby’s sex all along with this last pregnancy but I think I could talk him into waiting again should we have more children.
- How do you feel about having two boys?
I LOVE having two boys. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I began to really believe I would be having a second boy. (Maybe Chase’s steadfast assurance that the baby in Mom’s belly was a boy began to rub off on me?) When Ryder arrived, there was no piece of me that was even the slightest bit disappointed that we had another boy and I feel like I had that “I knew it” feeling when he was born. I was absolutely overcome with emotion when Ryder was born and sobbed because he was here and he was perfect.
One thing that has surprised me as a mom of two boys is just how many people have already asked us if we are going to “try for a girl.” If we decide to try for another child we will be trying for another child. I swear to you guys there is zero part of me that feels like I’m missing something by not having a girl. I love my boys and think being a mother to boys is the absolute best.. and that is coming from someone who initially thought she wanted a girl during her first pregnancy.
- How is Sadie doing with Ryder?
Aw Sadie! She is doing well!! Sadie admittedly had a rough adjustment when we brought Chase home from the hospital mainly because she was used to high-pitched voices being used only for her and the floor time that once signaled “go time” for doggie play suddenly often meant baby playtime, too. Plus, Sadie has never understood the concept of personal space and would legitimately sit her butt down on Chase’s belly when he was on the floor without realizing that certain things she could do with me or Ryan weren’t okay to do to a baby.
With Ryder, Sadie didn’t seem nearly as phased and has really rolled with the punches muuuch better. This isn’t to say she’s completely enamored with her two brothers (we still joke that Sadie’s favorite time of day is when the boys go to sleep) but she’s a little champ and doesn’t seem nearly as confused this time around. We really do still try to make it a point to give her lots of attention and cuddles which she soaks right up. She also loves sitting right up against me during my nursing sessions with Ryder which I think is the sweetest!