When we think about postpartum.. maybe there’s questions, or maybe you just wonder what it will look like. Some thoughts that came up for me were.. what is post partum depression? How long does it take until I get the hang of this? Wait.. I’m a mom now? When will this child sleep? Why do I feel like I’m losing myself slowly? How do I balance my relationship/friendships, my own self care, and trying to just get laundry done so I’m not scrambling every moment to find a clean blanket or burp cloth. So while you’re bleeding excessively from your vagina..thanks birth. Or needing assistance to just get out of the bed(this is what I experienced as I had gotten a C-section). It’s a journey like no other. Sometimes you lay in bed for days only waking to feed your baby, or yourself. Other times, you’re learning how to swaddle your new bundle so the moro reflex doesn’t wake them.
A typical day for me after leaving the hospital usually consisted of laying in bed. And lots of it! Feeding the baby, burping him, changing diapers, re-swaddling him so he’d stay relaxed and attempting to stay awake while doing so. Then after a bit my fiancé would come help me get up to use the bathroom, or shower. I’d change my gigantic not to glamorous adult diaper, or drink a glass of water. At times he’d help me sit up to eat, or take the IB Profen/arnica I used to help with the pain/healing of my C-section. Some days we’d friends and family over to meet the baby. (This was an interesting experience, because I absolutely love having loved ones around. However, there were certain times when it became overwhelming). Here I was sitting around people who wanted to bring me gifts, watch my baby, and chat with me about my birth and all I could do was day dream about sleep. I was co sleeping, and feeding on demand so my son ate about every 45 minutes. I definitely had to learn my own limits when it came to telling my friends or family when it was time to go. When my baby would nap, I usually would try to as well.
It’s like weeks went on like this. Change his diaper, change mine, drink water, feed my baby, feed myself, shower myself, bathe him, attempt to have adult conversation and interaction, going back to sleep. I can see how someone could find this depressing. The remnants of your get-up-and-go self can be shattered when you’re trying to heal from birth and becoming a new mother. The waves of confusion as you continue to learn these new skills can be challenging. Along with the potential impatience for your body to heal unrealistically overnight. But, I will say that this phase does have an eventual ending. And your sweet newborn is only so tiny, and needy for so long. You are nourishing and watching them grow. You’re growing together. You’re making memories to last a lifetime, and trusting yourself in all new ways to continue being the best mom you can.
Just trying to stay alive, hydrated, and present with my baby was most important to me. So maybe I wasn’t going to the gym, or to work, or to get my toes done with friends, but I was getting enough sleep. I was learning how to sleep in the hours/minutes my baby did in order to fuel my own body with the tools I needed to continue breastfeeding.
How did I do this you ask? Having a support system was absolutely key! If I can leave you with anything about postpartum it’s that you WILL need HELP! And its WONDERFUL and OK to ask for it. You are a new mom trying to keep your new child alive, and well. No one can do that when they’re fully sleep deprived, not eating, or just unable to have moments/naps to themselves. So pump that milk and let your partner, friends, or family take a shot feeding. Eat a solid meal while someone else watches the monitor. Have your own warm bath to pray or meditate. Connect with your friends. ESPECIALLY the ones who are moms too! You could use that acknowledgment that you’ll get through this. You deserve it! What you give to yourself in this time ultimately shines back into the love you can bring your new child.
Starting your new life as a mother can bring up so many different things. Excitement, confusion, awe, anxiety, joy, and exhaustion like you’ve never experienced. But, it will be the most remarkable journey you ever take.