Thursday, October 2, 2014

Postpartum Reality {31 Days of Postpartum Health & Healing}

Day 2 of Postpartum Health and Healing.

Let's set the stage and break it down by talking about my own experience, because writing our own stories is cathartic and therapeutic. 

So far my adjustment to Baby #3 has been way more difficult than I ever anticipated.

There seems to be some unspoken pressure coming from somewhere that we need to bounce back from childbirth and resume our former productiveness as quickly as possible. I'm here to be an example of how NOT to bounce back.

I had a great pregnancy and an amazing birth. It was such a beautiful experience. Cue about two weeks in and I was struggling to reconcile how a beautiful, easy birth could still mean I have a high-need baby who has tummy and sleep struggles. First lesson: perfect birth does not equal perfect baby.

My first postpartum experience was taking care of twins and about two weeks of NICU time. Never mind that I had never even taken care of one newborn baby before! So "bouncing back" wasn't even an option - this was a LIFE CHANGE that altered my reality forever. You know how when we're pre-children and we declare, "oh, I'm just going to fit the baby into my schedule and my life. I would never give up the things I love to do just because I have a baby!" {Insert hysterical laugh here} Twins make that statement completely ridiculous and unrealistic, and I got that dialed in pretty quickly.

This second postpartum experience has been extremely humbling in a different way. For some absolutely insane reason, I thought that having only one baby would give me more free time. I mean, what was I thinking? Delusions much? Did I REALIZE that I would have three children three and under? So my expectations for baby #3 already started out way too high, even if it was a subconscious expectation.

I actually told my group of lady friends, "this baby is going to be so easy! It's practically going to raise itself!" I cringe. Bless their hearts for not rubbing it in my face.

I believe this high expectation has contributed significantly to the postpartum depression and anxiety I have been struggling with. I figured that Dylan would be content to be worn in a wrap all day (nope), would nurse like a champ and would pacified easily by the breast (nu-uh) and would nap well (not). For all her sweetness, I feel helpless and I hate to feel that way. She is stretching me to my limits through no fault of her own and while everything looks fine on the outside, I do battle against frustration, anxiety, and panic on a daily basis.

That's why I'm embarking on this series, because I have a ways to go before I feel healed and healthy. Writing helps. Exercise and social outings with girlfriends help. And I need to be OK that I need those things, and be continually thankful that I have a partner who will take hold of the reigns to make sure I'm getting what I need to remain a whole person.

Are you struggling in the postpartum period? Grab a journal or open a Word document and just write. Start a blog called "Why is This So Hard". Pouring it out on paper may not solve any immediate problems but I promise it will help. Bonus points if you get in a good cry, too. 

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