Over the years, I have shared in a rather raw form about my postpartum journeys, often with the hashtags of #takebackpostpartum or #honestpostpartum.
Here below I offer a smattering of those posts about my 3rd postpartum time collected in one blog post, to paint a portrait of the multifaceted adjustments that a mamababy dyad goes through in the first days and weeks together.
For reference, Walter was born 3.19.2015
I believe the reason the “bump” doesn’t disappear immediately is that newborns like to cuddle it.
April 2, 2015
As I write this I am sinking into my first bath, full of herbal sitz bath my midwives brewed for me, Epsom salts, and essential oils. It feels amazing.
Truth is, though Walt’s birth was smooth and relatively easy, the physical recovery is hard this time around. Every square inch between my belly button and my upper thighs aches internally. I’m stiff. My breasts hurt like mad.
This reinforces how indispensable lots of practical help is after giving birth. My mom was here for 3.5 days, which was enormously helpful, but unlike grandmothers of past generations, she still works more than a full-time job, and it couldn’t be abandoned indefinitely, so we released her yesterday morning, as her job required. Now it’s just the five of us.
And though postpartum self-care feels harder than ever to achieve with baby 3, I am oddly more fiercely committed to it than I have been before! “Take back postpartum” is a great theme for me right now.
These are a few of my other postpartum care items:
1) Beautiful things gifted to me at my mother blessingway
2) Placenta pills
3) Bee Natural salve for cracked nipples
4) Green smoothie lovingly prepared by Tim.
I’m taking the time to document things with the #takebackpostpartum hashtag because I hope it encourages other new mamas, as I have been encouraged by others who have shared in this way. 💐
Some daddy snuggles this afternoon, and the first ones today. Poor Tim has to exert so much energy caring for Hazel and gus, feeding us all, keeping up the household chores, etc., that he isn’t getting much time with his boy.
I got lost this late afternoon in feelings of weariness, annoyance, dread of Tim returning to work and leaving me to juggle three tiny people’s significant needs, and wondering again if this decision to make our family bigger was foolish.
Then I locked myself in my bedroom with Walt, and after his tummy was filled he did THIS 😀. And somehow that sets things in perspective
Our first outing! We travelled across the ally to the Stockbridge Boiler Room (in the bathroom of which this selfie was taken) for an Easter gathering of our church family in the prayer garage. Walt slept the entire time and made funny baby noises in his sleep while i worshipped and caught up with friends and the bigger littles played with other children in the yard under the supervision of their grown-up friends, the interns. Feeling grateful for the community this evening.
Just a little house call from the midwives this morning. Got questions answered about proper latch, bluish feet, helping the bigger littles adjust/cope, umbilical cord care, and more. So grateful for this care and these friends.
We’re not even quite 2 weeks postpartum.
Here’s the honest state of things: my body still aches everywhere, so I’m on ibuprofen around the clock so that I can sleep and tend to the kids. Tim is back to work part-time (grateful it’s not full time quite yet, and that his schedule is so flexible). My hormones are still crazy, resulting in hot flashes and then being so cold. And tears: big fat hormone-induced tears. Walter takes long rests in the Baby K’tan or in someone’s arms, or sometimes on the big bed or in his bassinet. Infant acne is here.
His skin is peeling off and he has lots if eye boogers. I NEED to sleeep or lay down for a while every afternoon (which is hard when the bigger littles don’t sync up on rest time or reject it altogether like today). Tim and I hardly get to talk ever. I am so tired. The biggers are struggling and that comes out in manipulation, sleep-rejection, meltdowns, and begging to be held, among other things.
Funny how I had forgotten most of these postpartum hardships. But I do know this: the intense period of difficult adjustments and transition is fleeting in the grand scheme of things. We have an amazing new person in our family, and once we all adjust we will find so. much. joy. in him as we watch his personhood unfold. We will be okay. We will be better than okay. But if I’m still unshowered and in pajama bottoms and baggy shirts for another week or two (or more?), that will have to be okay.
Sick day. UTI and mastitis. Fever. Terrible headache. Hazel just brought up every vase of flowers she could find in our house (there are lots since Walt’s birth!) “I thought you wanted some flowers on your room, Mama.” I love these little nurturing impulses she some times displays.
An entire day in bed, resting, being prayed over, drinking crazy amounts of water, a few hot showers, being waited on by Tim, applying essential oils hourly, and faithfully administering doses of herbs and natural supplements recommended by my incredible midwife… All this led to a fever back to normal by 11 pm, and a cessation of symptoms related to UTI and mastitis. I am quite encouraged by this, and so grateful for all the avenues of natural healing God has given us in His creation, without the need for antibiotics. But also SO grateful for my kind DO who was on call, ready to call in a prescription for them if needed. And now this morning I am downstairs, having prepared my own breakfast, and am sitting at the table eating it while birds sing outside the window. We aren’t totally out of survival mode yet, and I still need to carefully tend to myself, but there’s hope dawning.
After Walt’s birth, I wanted to make a little visual diary of our postpartumperiod, with honesty about the challenges and an awareness of the beauty. I’ve hoped that this could somehow be a small gift to my community of mamas both “real life” and “virtual”. Maybe it will help one person feel more connected and normal, and also more open to beauty in her ordinary.
Truth is that this has been harder than I expected. Last night, as my headache intensified to the point of laying in bed with fat tears running down my cheeks, as I told Tim I wanted to tear my head off… Then as I took my temperature again to find it steadily rising back up… I felt so defeated! I worked darn hard to get well, invested in a natural protocol to kick the infections (protocols i KNOW work for others), so how could this be?
We decided to call my DO and midwife and after consulting with them, determined it would be wise to begin antibiotic treatment. A trip to a 24-hour pharmacy, and by midnight I’d had my first pill. I choose to accept it with gratitude, as there are times when they are appropriate. And I know how to do the work to repopulate my gut with good bacteria to counteract the widespread wipe-out. It will be okay.
So today I’m taking it slow, trusting Father with my health and Walt’s, nursing lots, trying to drink lots of water, and focusing on the miracle of this tiny life in my arms and against my chest, the boy who is already rewarding me with huge toothless grins, and is such a gift. And now, my two biggers are waking from their naps, so I take my leave.
Babywearing makes me feel beautiful. And strong. I also wore a dress today. Because NONE of my pants fit. None. Except pajamas and leggings (which I wore under the dress). I think the recovery of my pre-pregnancy body may be a bit slower this time around. I’m going to do my best to embrace it. Which means going to a thrift store and finding a few pairs of pants that fit me as I am.
Husband somehow found grace and patience this morning to ride with the early-waking kids even though H kept us up past midnight in her sleep resistance efforts. I was cranky and headachy so he sent me back to bed and then brought me my favorite postpartum brekky in bed: berries and yogurt. And a French press.
The wet spot on my shirt? Baby pee. Happened while he was riding in the Baby K’tan and his diaper leaked. He woke up and wanted to nurse. So I stripped him down and out on a dry diaper. No clothes yet, so here we sit, bare squishy belly against bare squishy belly. I’ll change my shirt later. Enjoying this sweet 4th trimester moment for now.
Walter Solomon is 3.5 weeks old. He’s what they call an “easy baby,” but he doesn’t have much to complain about, I guess. He is almost always in someone’s arms, strapped to mama’s chest (yay babywearing), or pressed up against me in bed all night (yay cosleeping). This intense closeness has been easier to embrace and enjoy this time around than it was with my first baby. Then it was such work to give up personal space and productivity. Now, it has been so long since I’ve had either that there isn’t so much surrendering to do.
It’s so hard to get out of bed when there’s a sweet baby boy nestled into your armpit. Each day, in the early morning hours after his last in-bed nursing, Walt wiggles in close and inserts his head into my pit! 😂 Together we doze (me) or sleep (him) this way until the magic spell is broken by the need to rise and tend to his brother and sister. Note: babies don’t care how long its been since you showered (ahem. 3 days!). They love the way their mama’s smell and find the greatest comfort in it.
Walt had his first-ever bath this afternoon, the way I’ve bathed all my babies – with my legs serving as the infant “bathtub”, so I can keep them close and connected while washing them and pouring water gently over their tiny bodies. He smiled and cooed, and seemed soothed by it. He smells all fresh and frankincense-y now. But the oil buildup on his scalp is extra obvious now. I think I would have needed to spend a lot more time working on it to get if all off, but the water was getting tepid so I didn’t persevere.
The First Week After Birth is a 90-minute workshop (with workbook and link library with bonus resources) designed to help you prepare for an intentional, restorative postpartum.
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