Here are the unspoken of truths around my childbirth and postpartum experience, with a glistening of hope for new (and new again) moms
I write this blog post as I walk on the treadmill at 5:32 a.m. I feel conflicted because part of me wants to only focus on my walk and another part of me knows pairing these two actions will be more productive — helping me “kill two birds with one stone” (gosh, the idioms we use are sick).
Anyway, I decided to pair my morning reflections with my treadmill walk to not only be more productive but feel good about my day. I have a lot of thoughts or “streams of consciousness” while I workout that are never capitalized on.
Back to the story…
So I woke up and as I sat down and realized over and over again that it was five o’clock in the morning and the rest of my house is asleep, I realized, there are women everywhere having babies or recovering from having babies.
That feeling after you have a baby…many say is easily forgotten postpartum but I disagree. Sure you forget the height of the pain and discomfort but I’ll never forget the sense of loneliness I felt, being awake in that hospital room, with the earth shattering screams of hungry newborn (even with my husband there, and awake with me).
I was one of those lonely hospitalized (new again) moms just five and a half months ago and now, here I am, on a treadmill.
That time that seemed to have slowed, months ago, was a mix of intense excitement, anxiety, and fear of what would come next and if I’d be ready for what the next chapter would entail.
A friend of mine just gave birth yesterday and while I’m happy for her, I’m emotional about it because I remember my own journey giving birth and the postpartum journey that came after holding our son. Mixed emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I was elated to see him and experience that deep love all over again, but I missed our older boys. I missed the comfort of our home and I missed (never thought I’d say this), pregnancy sleep.
Which leads me to the point of this whole thing — while I was excited to no longer be pregnant and uncomfortable and joyous about meeting our little one, I was fearful of how a new baby might change my life as a wife and mom to our older two boys.
I think the unspoken truth of the postpartum experience is that it is an incredibly lonely and simultaneously beautiful time. Giving birth is such an intimate and personal experience between a mother and her baby and it creates an unshakeable bond — but it does come at a price.
As most mothers can relate, you feel this mixed bag of emotions where you love your new baby but you also miss your spouse, miss your other children (if this isn’t your first), you miss your sleep and you miss all the dreams deferred by this new responsibility.
My children are one of my biggest accomplishments and greatest blessings, but I would be doing a disservice to mothers everywhere if I didn’t share the real experience many women face postpartum. If you’re reading this and you recently gave birth, I’m 5 1/2 months postpartum and I want you to know that it’s a beautiful and complicated mixed bag of emotions and that’s okay. Feel all the things you need to feel? Take breaks where you can and know that everything does start to balance out. You will begin feeling more like yourself and you will get more rest…eventually.
Don’t forget (for the mamas out there) to eat, ask for help, cry when you need to, and let the baby cry a little if it gets to be too much — they are more resilient than we think. Congratulations on your new bundle and remember your feels are valid.
For spouses, family, friends, and caregivers, be there for her and give more grace than you think you need to. Much of the next 9-12 months will be a blur for a new (or new again) mother. She needs you there. She needs you available. She needs you listening and reading between the lines. Be there for her, and here’s how:
1. Every woman is different so ask her how you can best support her and listen & implement
2. Never forget — many times partners and caregivers (close friends and family) assume that because time has passed, a new mother is “good,” and no longer needs the same attention she received during pregnancy or childbirth. Most medical professionals agree that the postpartum period can last up to 12 months after giving birth, don’t forget this and keep offering support even if she seems like “she’s got it.”
3. I know it’s crazy with a newborn but try to give her the gift of fun. Even if you can’t leave the house right away, schedule a fun movie night or at home dinner and don’t get upset if it doesn’t go as expected because of baby interruptions or emotional outbursts. New moms (even the most seasoned) need something to break up the monotony of caring for their infant. Create a routine of fun.
4. Last but not least… share responsibilities. My husband and I have an entire video on this concept here on our YouTube channel. It’s so important for partners to share responsibilities. It comes with growing pains and I’m not gonna lie, arguments at first, but it does get better and you do find your operating rhythm and grow closer through it.
Alright, before this becomes a novel, I want you to know that I’m here for you and I am cheering you on. Postpartum can literally be a blur but five and a half months postpartum was the sweet spot during my first pregnancy and it’s proving the same this time around. It’s different for every woman but I do believe that having community helps us all along the way. In the lonely moments, remember that it won’t be this hard forever and you are loved.
Feel free to reach out to me anytime over on Instagram (DM me) and I’m happy to provide you with extra support, giggles and help along the way. 🤎
You’ve got this mama,