Each postpartum journey is different. Every baby is its own unique soul. The (m)other is also in a different spot mentally, physically, and emotionally after each birth. I thought I understood this as I prepared myself and my family for our second child. But I was not prepared. I was not prepared for the heavy emotional labor of my second child. I was not prepared to be needed so much.
My first child was very (well still is) independent. They loved sleeping. They preferred that I not hold them all the time. They only wanted to snuggle on their terms. My second child is the exact opposite. This child needs to be near me at all times. This child prefers that I hold or carry them, always. This child is so loud. This child knows how to cry and does so with such force and passion. And for the first few weeks of life, this child would only sleep when they were on me.
A few months into my postpartum journey the pandemic hit and we were in lock-down mode. Just as I was getting ready to "get back out there" I was forced to stay in. I started to see and feel signs of postpartum depression, OCD, anxiety, and rage. Postpartum rage was new to me and it scared the shit out of me when it would happen. I was touched-out, drained, and a walking zombie just going through the motions. Through previous battles with perinatal mood disorders, and my experience as a postpartum doula, I knew I needed to take action before things spiraled further.
I began to go on daily, morning walks. I needed to get out of my head, so I began to journal and meditate. I also had SEVERAL good cries. Ultimately I recognized that I was not taking care of myself. I did not allow myself to take any breaks from my children nor did I ask for help. I was lost, alone, and scared. I was not giving myself permission to live a life beyond my children, as (m)others so often do.
It has taken me a moment to find my (m)otherhood "groove" with baby number two. Staying sane is a daily practice. A huge key to staying sane is giving yourself permission to do these three things below.
Give yourself permission to put yourself first.
Seriously. Read this again. PUT YOURSELF FIRST. If you're not healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally, this is not going to work. Take care of yourself first so you can take care of the others around you.
Give yourself permission to take a break.
We all need alone time! We all need time to reconnect with ourselves. There are no breaks with (m)otherhood. You are on 24/7. Taking time to be alone, away from your littles is huge! I know this part is hard right now, considering we are in the middle of a pandemic. Give yourself a “spa” day at home. Get outside and go for a walk. Take a drive. Do something where you are alone and getting a break. Small, daily actions of self-care are life-changing.
Give yourself permission to ask for help.
It is okay to ask for help, even if you do not know what you need. Don't be ashamed. Don't be afraid. You do not have to do it all.
Practicing the list above is a daily challenge for me. Honestly, I probably wrote this as a reminder to myself. A reminder that it is okay to not be the perfect parent. It is okay to be upset and sad. It is okay to ask for help and take breaks. It is okay to lean on your support circle.
In order to be there for my family, I have to give myself permission to live a life beyond my children. I have to put myself first. I have to take breaks and I have to ask for help.
If you or someone you know needs help during their postpartum transition, please connect with me. We are not meant to do this alone.
Image of me and my newborn, 4 days postpartum.