#1 It hurts to move.
Yes, you just experienced the worst pain of your life (yay for epidural!). Therefore, the recovery out of that is also painful. I only had a vaginal birth so I can’t speak to the pain and recovery of C-Sections, but neither is pleasant. I found that it hurt to move, and that many things hurt. It hurts to poop (yay stool softeners), your hoo-ha hurts (mystery…why on earth would it hurt there??), your boob hurts from nursing (yay lannolin) and from not nursing (boo engorgement), it hurts to walk (I was so slow walking into the hospital for my daughter’s 2-day appointment…). And guess what: this is all normal! I also got hemorrhoids (luckily they went away but they were AWFUL) and my PUPPS didn’t go away until about a week after delivery (so itchyyyyy).
I searched things on google and pinterest all night while breastfeeding my daughter, for about a week, until I figured out that a lot of things are normal. The general consensus seemed to be “if a problem persists past the 6-week mark then its a problem.” This was reassuring but in a sad way; all the pain and weird symptoms were normal and experienced by many women following childbirth, which just plain sucks. Because all of this is normal, though…(see next point)
#2 Help is awesome
Accept help that is offered. When I was pregnant, I wanted to be super mama and do everything myself. I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I could do it and didn’t need help. And yes, you can, but here’s the thing – you don’t have to. To be your best version of yourself, that can take the best care of your baby, you need to let people help you. It was so nice to be able to use the bathroom, take a shower, nap when the baby naps, etc., and know that my husband and/or mother-in-law were taking care of food, my house, my baby, and me. I am so thankful for all the time and love they poured on us in those first few months. To go along with that…
#3 Thankfulness and simultaneous resentment is a thing
The first few days following birth, I experienced Baby Blues (if you are feeling depressed and negative a few weeks after birth, go see your doctor concerning postpartum depression. It affects so many women and it’s okay to seek help about it. No shame mama – you’re amazing!). If my daughter was not in my arms or next to me in her bassinet I was so sad. I wanted her to bond with her daddy and I wanted to share her with visitors, but I couldn’t help missing her when she wasn’t touching me. We had been connected for nine months; it’s hard to go through a sudden disconnection when you have been literally pouring everything into this baby.
I was also very thankful that I had my husband and mother-in-law helping me take care of the baby. If she needed a diaper change, or to be burped, it was helpful that they were there so I did not have to get up; or if I needed to use the bathroom and/or shower (these things took forever and yes, sometimes I cleaned up after using the toilet by rinsing in the shower).
So it’s okay to just ride the hormones for a bit, be thankful and when you feel resentment, know that your baby is yours and will return to your arms, and that you are navigating to a new normal. If the emotional road to the new normal is a bit rocky, it’s okay; have grace for yourself. Your body, mind, emotions, hormones, everything is changing around super fast to adjust to your new baby outside of your womb, and you need to have understanding for yourself during the transition.
#4 Baby is Worth it
Everyone warned us about the lack of sleep (which is SO REAL) but I wasn’t prepared to blow it off so easily. I thought I would have to remind myself “It’s worth it, we chose to have a baby, baby needs me, it’s only for a time, this too shall pass,” etc but I very rarely resented my daughter. Being tired, sleep-deprived, and grumpy were all difficult realities of life but one look at her and it changed to “of course I’ll do this for her” because of that overwhelming love. When she wouldn’t sleep except in my arms, it was hard to accept that this was my new normal, but I also loved feeling her breathe, knowing that I brought comfort and stability to her and she wanted to be with me, even if it got a tad difficult. This goes back to accepting help, though, because no way can you stay awake and hold baby for 24 hours, 7 days a week.
#5 It WILL get better
During those long days and nights (especially at 3am) it seems like your baby may never learn to sleep, or stop crying, or latch correctly…but it will pass, mama. Now, 11 months later, I can see how true it is that it flies by. The individual days, nights, and weeks can crawl by sometimes, but the months fly by, and I’m sure the years will also. Truly treasure each moment, spend that extra time holding your baby, just looking at her little face, watching him breathe, because soon you will be chasing them around the house. I tried to treasure each moment, and I still feel like it flew by.