Our family was recently blessed with the arrival of our third child, a baby girl!
My two older sons were ecstatic to find out they now had a little sister. They were also ecstatic that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I had a challenging pregnancy that kept me from doing a lot of the fun things my boys wanted me to do with them. So once our baby had arrived, they assumed I would be up and ready to go pronto. I kind of thought so too.
But I had forgotten about the postpartum slow-down. Despite having a flawless delivery and getting to leave the hospital just 24 hours later, I was moving pretty slow. I had forgotten just how much change your body goes through after delivering a baby. The crazy hormone crash, physical exhaustion, and mental instability was no joke. Maybe it’s the fact I’m in my mid thirties now, or that this was my third delivery, but everything just seemed to be healing more slowly than with my first two children.
Luckily my boys were off at school during those first few days home and those quiet afternoons were perfect for napping when baby napped. But I was anxious to feel ‘back to normal’. After just two weeks, I had already lost almost all my pregnancy weight. I was eating healthy, successfully nursing, and ready to do all the things! I had a long list in my head of Fall activities with the boys and projects around the house. I was so eager to get going that only 4 days after giving birth, I took the baby grocery shopping with me after her first Pediatrician checkup. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t a smart idea. I remember feeling light-headed when I got done. I noticed that every time I’d push myself to do an activity or outing, it would set me back a couple days on recovering. But this was my third child, I had two other children’s needs to meet! And I had spent the past 9 months saying no to a lot of their requests. That’s 9 months of guilt built up right there. This postpartum slow-down just wasn’t working out for me.
At about two weeks post-partum, I attended a local mom’s group. The speaker that day, ironically, was discussing the pressure our culture puts on women to ‘bounce back’ quickly after child-birth. She mentioned how other cultures, such as in Asia and Latin America, have customs for post-partum women to ‘sitting the month’ or ‘lying in’ anywhere from 30 to 100 days after childbirth. I can’t imagine staying in my house that long with a newborn, but I get the idea of taking care of ourselves and our recovery longer than we think we should.
I was reminded by many friends and my supportive husband, that sometimes it’s just a season of life where we can’t do everything and meet every need, and that’s okay. This was an especially important lesson for me. It was okay for me to send my husband on our son’s first field trip instead of me. It was okay for me to let our kids buy lunch at school for a while because we didn’t have time for a grocery store run. It was okay for me to call my mother in-law and ask her to bring us fruit because we ran out. It was okay for me to say no when too many people wanted to visit. It has also been good for my boys to learn they need to sometimes sacrifice their own wants for the needs of their little sister, or their mom. I’ve also tried to give them more opportunities to help so they feel needed instead of always being the needy ones. They have been such troopers with making this adjustment and I’m beyond proud of how seriously they take their big brother roles.
I might still be impatient for life to speed back up again, but for now I’m trying to enjoy the slow pace. I know all too well that life goes by fast and soon I’ll be running after our new little girl, wishing for the days of sleepy newborn baby snuggles on the couch.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.