The fact is, the postpartum period is a happy joyous time. Finally, that sweet baby that you worked so hard to get to the earth is in your arms, and there has never been any sweeter feeling. The thing is, just because you have just experienced something miraculous doesn't mean everything is perfect. The days and weeks and even months after baby comes can be seriously hard.
My first baby was 6 weeks premature. We had no warning, nothing prepared and no idea what it took to be parents. Then, he had colic and acid reflux. We were zombies. No one slept for like four months. I love him with my whole being, he is one of the three biggest blessings that ever happened to me, and he was worth every sleepless night, but those were some of the hardest months of my life.
Going into my second baby I was worried about the postpartum period, so I did everything I possibly could to make the experience easier than the first go around...and it was! Though there are obviously
1) Know what to expect. Do your research on what life is like after baby comes. Maybe this information is common knowledge to everyone else, but here are a few things that I learned.
The pain does not end when you leave the hospital. You really are in "recovery" for 4-6 weeks. If you take it too fast too soon chances are good that you will injure yourself and have to start the healing process over again.
One perk of pregnancy is that at least you don't have to have a period for nine months right? You will have all 9 periods that you missed right in a row after delivery. Disgusting? Yes. True? Unfortunately. (Don't forget to buy pads, you can't use tampons until recovery is over.)
You most likely will not leave the hospital in your pre pregnancy jeans. The baby websites describe it as a "doughy second trimester" body. Woo hoo!
MANY people experience postpartum depression. If you do, there is nothing wrong with you. Talk to your Dr. and do what you need to do to get help if you need it. At the very least, make sure you have someone you can talk to. You will get through it.
2) Prepare everything you can in advance. The first time around I was so focused on Luke and so tired from lack of sleep that I hardly had energy to go to the bathroom let alone cook a meal for myself or my husband. This time around I had a fridge full of slimfast type breakfast shakes, a freezer full of freezer meals (see this post or this one), and a pantry full of easy and healthy snacks like granola bars, beef jerky and dried mangoes.
The first time around we had nothing ready (remember, 6 weeks early). The second time around, the crib was built. Clothes and blankets were washed and in dresser drawers. There were diapers and wipes in the closet. We weren't running wildly to the store every other minute for baby powder, socks or a thermometer.
3) Expect less of yourself after delivery. I know that sounds totally horrible, but hear me out. I am one of those people who is typically go-go-go. When you have a baby the center of your world literally shifts to them. Everything happens on their schedule, not yours. You will finally get an hour to yourself and you have to choose between showering, cleaning your house, and closing your tired eyes. Take a quick shower and a quick nap. It isn't the end of the world if you have to let go of your household chores a little for the first few months.
Set small, realistic goals for yourself. For example, my goals for right after Nora was born were to get dressed and put on makeup, figure out something to eat for dinner (even if I couldn't have it made) and not call the husband to ask him what time he would be home, haha. Now that I am past the 6 week mark these are my new goals: do one household chore a day, get dressed and ready, make dinner, get out of the house more, work out 3x a week. These goals do not mean that is all I do in the day, all it means is that if it is a hard day I don't have to feel bad about only getting the bare minimum accomplished.
Having a new baby is a big adjustment for the whole family, and some days will be wonderful, fun, and productive, others will have you praying for bedtime fifteen minutes after you wake up.
4) Don't be afraid to ask for help. This is a hard one for me. I live far away from family and I have a hard time asking anyone else for help with things that I feel like I should have a handle on, but I'm working on this. There is no shame in needing a break, or even a good cry.
5) Remember, they're only babies once. Babies change so much in their first weeks and months of life. One of the best things about adhering to #3 is that you allow yourself time to be an awestruck admirer of these changes.
I am proud to say that I spent at least an hour of this last week admiring my babies' fingers and toes. I kiss so many cheeks in a day that my lips should be exhausted. I try to make it a priority to have quality one on one time with each of my children each day. So, when Nora's asleep and Luke is playing with his toys, instead of quickly cleaning the bathroom I try to stop what I'm doing and scoop him up to read books. When Luke goes down and I have a precious few hours to work, I make sure to give the princess some cuddle time first. I have never regretted putting them first. The bathrooms always get cleaned and the work gets done...eventually.
Keep in mind, everyone's situation is different. I am definitely not implying that these ideas will fit every situation, but they are just a few things that have helped me this second go around. If anyone else has tips I would love love love for you to share them in the comments. My favorite thing about blogging is learning from your wisdom! Love you all + good luck!
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