Postpartum: This I Know For Sure

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Here’s what I know: postpartum is this rollercoaster of chaos; one moment, you feel like you could fly and then the next, it’s nothing but tears, doubt, and frustration.

One week ago, our family went from three to four, and our world exploded with more love than we could imagine. As I sit here, snuggled with our newest addition, I cannot help but think that so much has changed in the last seven days. There are few things I know for certain, but here’s what I know for sure.

I know my body held, nurtured, and loved this child for nine months. This pregnancy was completely different than my first, and if I’m being honest? It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; I didn’t glow as I did with my first-and that is okay. Postpartum, there is squish where it wasn’t before, scars from my PUPPS rash that will likely fade with time, but the stretch marks are there forever. My hair, while luscious during pregnancy, is definitely going through it, too (and that in itself is a conversation for another day).

I know that fed is best. Yes, the World Health Organization said what it said. I saw it, rolled my eyes, and moved on. Yes, people like to tout breastfeeding as this gold standard, but I’m going to be real here. There are no gold stars and no stickers for breastfeeding. We formula-fed our first. We are mixed feeding (pumped breastmilk and formula) with this child. Is your child fed? Then that is all that matters. When there is a never-ending formula shortage, pressures from society to put baby to breast, and this internal struggle to simply do what is best for baby AND you? Feed your baby. End of discussion. Making sure your baby is fed and that you are in a good place mentally while navigating your new self is how you get the so-called gold star.

I know that I will likely have to go on anxiety medication again. I had postpartum anxiety with my first that went undiagnosed for the first year. It was played off as more of a somatic issue, ranging from just nerves from being in my last semester of school to digestive issues. Looking back? It reared its head three weeks postpartum, in the middle of the night when all I could think about was a series of ‘what-ifs.’ This time around, I can recognize these things and am able to not only manage better but also have a frank conversation with my doctor about going on medications. I am a better mom when I am taking care of myself.

I know that it takes time to adjust. Going from double coverage (shout out to Jake, my husband, for the football analogy) to man-coverage (again, thanks, Jake) has been a learning curve, especially when neither of us is getting the same sleep we were. My emotions are all over the place, mainly due to the postpartum hormonal shift. Our firstborn is adjusting also, not only to his new baby sister being home but to sharing his parents too. His routine is disrupted, and as many of us know, toddlers thrive with routines.

I know that this, too shall pass. The sheer exhaustion will pass. The feeling that I still, even with this being our second child, have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. My husband and I are finding small ways to stay connected, making sure we both get something to eat, taking turns feeding our baby, and constantly checking in with each other. Postpartum is often called the “fourth trimester,” and for a good reason.

All this to say that there is one thing I know for  certain:

Motherhood is a hurricane of chaos wrapped in the tender hugs of children sprinkled with the smells of a newborn babe, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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