During the early stages of parenthood, when your realizing during those late late night scream awakenings that shit hit the fan, and perhaps in some very brief and rare moments wondering why you even chose to be a parent (which is totally normal at the beginning by the way so stop judging), you start developing the need to know when things will get easier. When will life become normal again, when will you stop feeling like a zombie, and when will this parenting experience become enjoyable. I know I did, for days… hoping to get a slight glimpse into what the future might look like when my baby would be able to sit, stand, or walk. Or even perhaps cook ME dinner (looking a little too far into the future). Those early days as a new first time parent are completely brutal, but you need to remember that they are suppose to be, and for a damn good reason.
Why do you feel the way you do.
Birthing a human is meant to break you, both physically and spiritually. It is suppose to make you re-evaluate your life, re-define its purpose, re-examine your direction, and re-establish yourself as the new version of you. A version of you that no longer things “I” first, but rather … us (family). I think of it as zeroing in your perspective on life, since from the moment I gave birth, nothing was ever the same. The way I felt just about everything, was changed fundamentally forever.
Things that once meant the world to me, did not mater anymore, and what once didn’t seem important, meant everything to me now. Before giving birth, or rather being pregnant, what mattered to me most was my job. I am one of those lucky people who simply loves her work. It is not necessarily what I do (as I am sort of a jack of all trades master of none), but who I do it for. My boss and the leadership team I work for are those special, hard to find types of people that give you the freedom to become the best version of yourself you can be, and that… is all you can ask for professionally speaking. To me it was never about the title that I hold, but rather the work I did, all while uncovering or strengthening my creative talents, that made me feel successful in my career. Even up until the day of being induced into labor, I though that I would want to get back to work right in the first week of post-partum (crazy right?). But the second I locked eyes with my little girl, that was it. I didn’t want to do anything else but continue to stare at those gorgeous big blue eyes. That change in my feelings was quite a surprise to me. An incredibly good one to say the least.
On the other hand, what once didn’t matter as much to me and now is everything, is the relationship I have with my mother. During my 40 something hour of labour, I realized what tremendous sacrifices women make for their children. In order for this tiny little life to begin, my body needed to be ripped apart, and it felt exactly like that. Every day since, when I kiss my little girl, when I look at her, when I bathe her, change her or make her laugh, I know that my mother did the same for me. Being a mother made me rediscover a part of our relationship I never knew was there. A relationship without which right now I would be half the mother I am becoming.
The other thing that changes, which is quite obvious, is your body. This phenomena is still very tough for me to absorb fully. Areas that once were made of pure muscle, now were taken over by pure giggle with no muscle in sight. The once considered tight and tanned, youthful skin, now is see through pale, loose, and stretched mark filled in new places. Places I don’t recognize. The uneven but cute, once tiny with a whole closed filled of shoes feet, now are still uneven, but in some places wider now, and in others elongated, now only fitting into flip flops two sizes bigger than once before. The extra pounds and extra cushion all over the body is definitely something that makes us redefine our perspective on our physical looks and sexual appeal.
My point here is that, all of these rediscoveries are taking place simultaneously within you, shortly after giving birth. It is very normal to feel overwhelmed, and then feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed shortly there after because “this is suppose to be a beautiful experience” (as everyone pressures you to think). This transitionary period will make you miss a feeling of norm. It will make you crave something that is known to you, as all things are now new and in an undiscovered territory. As this is a journey most moms will probably take, here is how I have and am still getting through it:
1. Understand that the old you… is gone.
Gone, and never coming back. Giving birth created a new version of you, and regardless of how you might feel in that moment you first look into the mirror after giving birth, I guarantee you that it is a significantly better, more power human version of you that you will learn to love deeper than ever before. It might take time, but it will happen. This is a good thing. You will become stronger in ways you never knew you could, and more beautiful than ever. After all, you truly are a super human now. Do realize that there will be a mourning period you will go through here. For some it may be more difficult than others, but what got me through it (and still does everyday), is honesty. Being honest about how I feel, and what I like and what I don’t like about this transition, this experience and this new me. My feelings evolved everyday, and everyday I wasn’t afraid to be honest about them. I wasn’t afraid to say, “f*&@ this sucks.”, and I wasn’t afraid to say that I am sad, or in pain, or lonely or super frigging happy and crying tears of joy at times. Which leads perfectly into my next tip…
2. Talk about your feelings, openly.
Not only is it crucial to be honest about what it is you feel, but it is equally as crucial to talk about it openly. You don’t have to talk to every single person, or a therapist, but do speak with those you trust and can confide in. For me it is my husband, my soulmate and partner in crime. Even though we have only known each other for a very short amount of time before we decided to get married and have kids (or rather have kids and get married), Ive never been able to speak with anyone as openly as I can with him. I love sitting down with him, whenever a few second of free time presents itself, and just debrief one another, in a way that feels more like opening up your souls and letting the other one check in on it. Going through this journey of parenthood, motherhood and the unspoken shithood that is basically the dark bridge between the two, is just tough, no matter how strong you might be. You may choose to put on a different face out to the world, showcasing only the good (which is completely fine), but DO make sure to talk, vent, cry and just let out the raw emotion inside of you to someone behind closed doors. Or, choose to be open about it like me, in an effort to empower others to do the same. In my opinion, your mental heath is crucial, at all time.. as your mind is the CEO of your own body.
3. Find humor… in everything.
Getting through the see of feelings during the first few months, will definitely make you crazy at some point or another. So much to digest, get used to and understand, that finding a second to breathe will be hard. It is during those moments, those really difficult moments where you know you have to keep going forward, as there is simply no other options, where humor will be your best friend. So try to laugh, make jokes and focus on the things that make you happy, regardless of how small they might seem now.
Luckily for me, I did marry a frigging comedian. We laugh hard and laugh often. Usually I laugh at him, but at times we have a pretty solid laugh at my expense. I recall right after giving birth, we were visited by my parents and his mom, and while they both were looking and loving at our freshly born daughter, me and husband decided to sneak out and grab a juice box. We get up, close the door to the room behind us, look at each other and in the same exact moment say to one another out-loud … “Ruuuuuuuun!” We laughed so hard, I almost peed… which at that point, would be considered a minor occurrence after what had just transpired down there.
4. Acknowledge that you do not know anything, and be ok with it too.
We actually prepped for parenthood and delivery quite a bit. So when the day came, we though we were ready for whatever may come. The delivery itself was faaaaaaar from what we both expected, but now looking back on it, it accomplished exactly what we wanted, and it does not matter how we got there. Our daughter was born healthy and perfect in every single way. Now, AFTER delivery, as much as we though we were ready…. we actually didn’t know s&#^. I realized that very early on. Every little thing that my daughter would do or didn’t do, I would research and try to find reasoning behind. I was so petrified of doing something wrong or not doing something enough that I was stressing myself out. I finally at some point early on realized that nothing I read will helps me be a better parent. What will help me is getting over my fears and anxieties. What will help me is understating that I am 100%, perfectly in sync with my baby. Knowing that she came from me, and I understand her needs better than any exert out there. So I acknowledged that I truly don’t know anything about parenting, motherhood and the likes. But I do know my daughter as she is a part of me.
5. Know that EVERYTHING will end, and when it does you will miss it.
In those very hard moments shortly after delivery, moments which make you cry from emotion, physical pain and a million other things, it may seem that seconds feel like hours, and hours feel like weeks. It is a period of time when your little one is fully dependent on you for everything, and if you are breastfeeding, you might feel that your child own your body now. It feels like there is no end is sight, and you are stuck in the last set of your 2 hour, Friday night workout, soooo ready to get on with the weekend. Yet you do wake up every day and every night 4/5 times at first, you change all of the diapers, sooth to the best of your ability of all of the cries. You take a million pictures. You observe the milestones, big and small. You take them to all of their doctor appointment. Change the clothes after every spit up. You gently file the nails every other day, and give a bath ever night at the same time, doing the same exact routine. You feed them every few hours, and at times every hour when they are having acid reflux. You make them chamomile teas to sooth their tummies that is just the right temperature. You dance with them on your arms for hours. Take them for daily walks. You put them down for naps about 4/5 every day. You slowly get into a rhythm of things. You even at some point somehow squeeze in a hair did, or maybe get your nails done. Then you have to get back to work, only a short 12 weeks after giving birth to your little one. Before you know it, 13 weeks have gone by. You still keep doing all those things you have been doing but something is very different now. You start feeling a strange sense of balance. A sense of calm, tranquility, even peace seems to be reentering your new life. And as soon as you get a slight chance to breath and your heart is beating steady, you wish you could do it all over again. You wish you could relive those painful moments, those moments that make you weak, physically and emotionally. Those raw moments that define the person you now are, and the child you are raising.
You know that there is going to be a million of moments ahead of you that you will cherish, and as each one passes you by, you wish you had the power to freeze time. The first few months of our daughters life went by too quickly. Throughout most of that time, we were both in shock, as most first time parents probably are. But now, just 13 weeks later and what feel likes “over the hump”, we have entered the phase of “a family life”. A life in which she learns how to grab things, in which she laughs, enjoys tummy time, loves her baths, and wants to put everything in her mouth. So enjoy every moment, and take it for what it is. The tough, the easy, the in-between, whatever it is.. it is just a single moment, and in the next it will be gone. Know that nothing lasts forever, and whatever moment you are in right now, is the only moment like this you will ever experience in your life. Embrace it.
And there it is folks…
It is not science, it is not a professional opinion by any means, and it is not for everyone. The 5 tips above are just simple ways that helped and continue to help me feel like a human being again. They are what I use to find some sort of norm in the crazy that is Post-Partum. I hope they will do something for you too.
Thanks for reading! #strongerthanyouthink