For Rachel, Natalie, and China
Congratulations! If you feel like you’ve just been thrown into the deep end without knowing how to swim, don’t worry. So did I.
In fact, until Baby’s grand debut, no amount of nesting, nursery-preparations, prenatal appointments, and childbirth classes could prepare you for that precise moment you become “Mom.”
In the process you might have ripped, torn, screamed, cursed (let’s hope not), wanted to cry “Uncle!”, and even did the unspeakable - pushed so hard that you pooped.
Regardless of the route chosen for delivery - whether Baby came out downstairs or through surgery; with an epidural or sans; mid-wives or doctors and nurses; doulas or your honey that held your hand - you’re a Rockstar. You did it! Something that only you could do. I’m sure it was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. It made you stronger. Better.
Everyone talks about pregnancy and delivery. For whatever reason, there isn’t enough talk about postpartum and how arduous it can be. So, let's talk about it. Here are some things you’ll need to know:
Now that Baby is “out” instead of “in,” things will change - drastically.
It’s going to be hard. Really, really hard. The limits of your own strength, patience, and courage will be tested. If you can’t take it one day at a time, then cut yourself some slack and simply take it one hour at a time! It’s ok. I had to do the same thing.
As you wade through sleep-deprivation and round-the-clock feedings, know that it is completely normal to not feel normal. If you cry when Baby latches on while your uterus shrinks back to the size of your fist... cry over your swollen legs, stretch marks and varicosities... cry as you wake up in the night completely drenched in your own sweat - it’s ok. I cried too.
You might you feel lonely, surrounded by all the family and friends your living room can hold.
You might feel sad, even though it’s supposed to be one of the most joyful times of your life.
You might miss your husband, terribly - and not just for the fact that six weeks is a really, long time. It could also be that he’s “Husband” and “Daddy” now. You’ll have to share him, and you might discover that you aren’t a very good sharer. It’s ok. I learned, and so can you.
You might find yourself disobeying the timeless advice to “sleep when baby sleeps.” I know what you’re thinking, “When exactly then, are the dishes and laundry and floors and surfaces and junk-drawers going to get cleaned?” It’s ok. I thought the same thing and disobeyed the advice too. (But seriously, sleep when baby sleeps!)
If you’re on your third day of the same underwear, t-shirt, and sweatpants…that’s gross! Change them! But, no harsh judgements because I was gross once too.
When you feel like you’re drowning, cling to Psalm 18:16 - “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
Open some windows and let the fresh air in. Play uplifting music. Attempt a shower - even if it means putting Baby in the Rock ’N Play and bringing both into the bathroom with you. Put in your favorite earrings. Put on a splash of mascara. Reheat that cup of coffee - even for the seventh time - and sit and drink it on the back porch. Smile. Breathe.
Eat something - often. You’re going to need extra calories to keep your milk-supply up, so don’t be embarrassed if you feel like you’re a bear coming out of hibernation. Don’t stress about losing that baby weight. It took months for you to gain it. Give yourself some grace to lose it.
Drink water - lots of it. Keep water bottles stocked in every room.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re going to need it. Say, “Yes!” to the ones that are offering to bring you meals, pick something up from the store, and come over and hold Baby so you can take that shower - and actually wash your hair and shave your legs.
If you feel like you’re in over your head and the learning-curve is steep, you’re right. Don’t worry though, God didn’t call you to something bigger than yourself to fail you. He called you to something bigger than yourself to reveal Himself to you. He is the One who “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:9) You can trust Him.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
If you thought that pregnancy was hard, just wait until motherhood reveals itself to you!
When you are afraid, He’ll make you brave.
When you doubt, He’ll grow your faith.
When you are weak, He’ll make you strong.
When you worry, He’ll calm your fears.
Although postpartum is a seasoned and impartial brute, I assure you, God is stronger!
Enjoy the moments that are so fleeting. Remember the way Baby immediately soothed on your chest - fresh from the womb. Run your lips over that silky hair. Study those intricate fingers and toes. Catch that sleepy milk-drunk smile.
You’ll notice that your heart will gush and leak and nearly break from all of the love that churns and swirls inside. It’s perfectly normal as God put that in you. Embrace it. Extend it.
As days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, you’ll realize that somewhere along the way you found the clutch and the gears no longer grind. Once you’ve found the rhythm, instead of seven times, you’ll be heating up your coffee only twice! When that happens, know that you’re doing it once again! You’re rocking this whole “Mom” status.
At every stage, and in every season, you’ll find yourself letting go of something old and grabbing onto something new. I implore you, graciously and eagerly do both well. And if you feel like you’re still in the deep end - learning how to swim - don’t worry. I’m there too.