Pregnancy is humbling. Labor is really humbling. Living in the postpartum and looking back on my pregnancy and birth is extraordinarily humbling. Many lessons were learned the hard way, but I think that’s the way many have to be learned and earned. Here are some rambling observations that I’m still dissecting:
- Babies change everything.
- Everyone says “You’ll never sleep again!” It’s annoying, but they mean well. They’re also mostly right.
- Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, the baby changes it up. Example:
Monday: (bragging) Babby slept for 4 hours straight last night, then was up for a feeding, then asleep for another 4 hours! Life is good.
Tuesday: Babby slept for 5 hours straight last night, then was up for a feeding, then asleep for another 4-5 hours! Life is blissful.
Wednesday: Babby slept for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT LAST NIGHT, then was up for a feeding because I freaked out that she slept so long and then slept for another 4 hours! Life is blissful. Parenting is easy!
Thursday through End of Time or End of Sudden Growth Spurt, Whichever Comes First: Babby eats every 2 hours, day and night. She is also a catnapper during the day, sleeping in no longer than 1 hour increments sporadically throughout the day. Life is tired. Parenting is coffee.
- Though my experience as a doula was invaluable before I became pregnant myself, I now can’t imagine hiring a doula who hasn’t experienced birth/motherhood personally. I get it now, on a whoooooooole ‘nother level. Not to say that a doula who isn’t a mother herself isn’t worth her salt, just that going through labor and birth yourself gifts you with a magnitude of empathy, compassion, and first-hand experience that completely alters the way one doula-s.
- It took a solid 3 months to begin feeling normal again, or at least to feel comfortable in my new normal. I didn’t even fully stop spotting until Week 13. I still sometimes pee my pants. My maternity jeans are too big, my pre-pregnancy ones are too small; yoga pants are the answer.
- It also took 3 months to remember I have a husband. Our first real conversation happened during Week 12. We now snuggle and laugh and are best friends again… but it took time, and it’s something we actually have to work on and make time for now. It’s harder, but we appreciate each other more now than ever.
- It took 3 months to love my pets again. Oh, my poor sweet babycats. Thank god Steve is a responsible adult, because I forgot to feed them for at least 2 months. They went from being All Important to Total Annoyances for awhile there. I threw around the term streetcats a few too many times. Luckily they still love me and even love the baby who turned their lives upside down.
- Increased breastfeeding retention and quality maternity/paternity leave go hand in hand. Period. I do not believe for one second that I would still be breastfeeding if Steve hadn’t been home for almost 2 months. Paternity/maternity leave in this country is shameful and affects every one of us who have been a child or a parent (see: everyone). Leave needs to be long, it needs to be paid, and it needs to be available to every. parent.
- Now I have All the Motivation, All the Creativity, & All the Great Ideas… and none of the time.
- Key relationships have evolved. Some for the better and some for the worse. Being judged for my birth story and parenting choices does not sit well with me. ALL births are to be respected, no matter what they look like. Fanatics on both sides of the homebirth/hospital birth spectrum would be wise to lead with compassion and not judgement or pity. (The pity is the worst for me… just because I had an induced hospital birth doesn’t mean I was traumatized or fooled into falsely believing my experience was beautiful and powerful, thanks. I could go on and on here… and I will! In a later post).
- The bills just keep coming. One perk of this is that I no longer feel anxiety over money, which used to be my biggest anxiety trigger. Acceptance in these matters is vital to my sanity.
- Breastmilk poop does stink. Maybe not at first, when kiddo is going 3 times a day. But when her Poo Schedule becomes once every couple of days… yeah. It smells. Like cheese. It’s horrible. “Breastmilk poop doesn’t stink” is one of those Whoops! Lies of Ignorance I told when I was doula-ing before becoming a parent myself. Very sorry about this one, guys. Oh, and while I’m at it I need to apologize for “Sleep when the baby sleeps” (really good advice in a perfect world, but not gospel).