I bet we kinda all were. And not because we didn't mean well!
I couldn't wait to use my new sling. I couldn't wait to show my baby off to people. I couldn't wait to put her in a miniature pair of baby jeans (cringe!). And so I did all those things. And I felt like shit.
I just don't think there is a better way to say it than that.
I remember coming home from going out for the afternoon with Hero at 7 days postpartum. After we got back to our tiny apartment I came down with a fever. I was probably wearing the cutest non-comfortable outfit I could squeeze into. I probably didn't think that 7 days after giving birth required anything of me other than "getting back to normal." Life went on, and I urged it faster. In fact, that's the way I parented, too. Smile, laugh, roll over, sit, crawl, walk, run, milestone, milestone, grow, grow, grow.
When I think back on my postpartum times (for the most part) I remember being exhausted, being emotional, being upset at Kirby for not doing enough, feeling fragile, feeling sad, and feeling weak. And then I got pregnant with Peter... And by the time I had him, I had interacted with enough wise mothers who had screwed up enough to know better and they told me what to do and I listened. After five babies I could finally say I did it right. I'm not saying you have to do it like me. Maybe you've already got your postpartum flow down and you need no such advice. In that case, a w e s o m e.
But if you are struggling or feeling like postpartum life is the worst and like you don't know what you should or shouldn't be doing then let this be the advice for you. Maybe you will even nail it on the first try. It's the easiest and harrrrrdest thing to do after you have a baby. (And it's only one line of advice long).
Stay in bed for as long as humanly possible.
Stay in bed.
Don't put your baby in the sling, don't go hang out with people, don't go out to lunch and get fevers. Just stay in bed. When I get stir crazy you know what I do? I go to the couch. Party time.
And this isn't because I'm recovering from major surgery or suffering from a third degree tear or anything. It's for two simple reasons: 1. I just had a baby 2. I need it.
And sometimes it's super duper hard to give ourselves what we need.
Now I realize that some moms can just go, and they are happier that way! I get that. But it took me too long to realize that that's not me. And I don't want you to spend too much time thinking that should be you if it isn't. Don't spend four days, don't spend four weeks, and certainly don't spend 4 entire babies feeling like a shell of a person trying to figure it out (moi -_-).
I am lucky, lucky enough to have a husband that can generally take a week off work after we have a new baby. Not everyone can do that and I wish it were longer but I am grateful for what we get. Since Peter's birth we developed an agreement- I take care of the baby (from bed), and you take care of every other thing. Of course the kids come in and cuddle up and we spend a really lovely amount of time together, bonding and recovering and adjusting as a family. But when I've had enough I don't hesitate to send them packing (w/ luv). I kiss them all and send them off and shut the door and power down. And it's theeeee best.
Dads: DO IT. And don't make her ask. Just do it. Don't act stressed out or exhausted because it will make her feel super guilty and then she'll get out of bed and try and take over. I know you probably are (stressed, exhausted, etc.), but just take this one for the team. It's good for you. Here is an easy script for you to refer to in the future:
"Hey ______. I'm taking care of everything so I don't want you to stress. I want you to lay in this bed with our new baby and relax. I love you. You need this. I'm taking care of everything else, ok? And we are all doing great. Everyone is fine. Holler for me when you want something to eat. I'm locking the door so the kids won't bug you. Here is a cup of tea and an iPad."
And here is why you need this... yes because your body is healing, yes because you're bleeding and achy and recovering from an array of possible injuries to your everything. But also because you are going back to life soon. You and your sweet new baby are going back. At some point, a day or two or a week or 6, your husband or your helper or whoever is there to keep you locked in your room is going to leave for the day or for the night. And you are going to have to walk out of that den of bliss and face the life that is yours. And maybe if you have a lot of kids like me, your new baby will be passed around from lap to lap to bouncer to swing to lap and it will be real, real hard to get back to the days of just you two in bed with no one else around. I know this isn't gospel- but I know it's what I need. And I regret not doing it sooner, I really do.
I look at that one week postpartum as a little sacred space that I will never get back. It's a space where, for the most part, it's just that brand new baby and me. And I'm selfish about it. And not sorry. Life will keep plummeting forward rapidly and I won't ever stop it. But I can have a week with a floppy new baby on my chest in my bed and I'll take it. And I'll protect it.
AND IF THAT DOESNT TUG AT YOU MOTHERLY HEARTSTRINGS KNOW THIS... (super practical advice I got from my midwife with Peter)
When you have a baby you are recovering from an injury that is deeply internal. Your blood needs to stay concentrated there to bring essential nutrients to heal your organs and make you strong again. When you get up and walk around, your blood abandons your core and flows into your extremities, which can massively prolong your recovery. Stay rested and keep yourself down as much as you can. Just think of your organs! They need you!
**(resting, thinking of my organs, etc.)**
Maybe this isn't going to be your style, but hear me when I say you need as much chill as you can get and you can't feel bad for it. Your body did a huge thing and your heart just got cracked wide, wide open. Feed yourself all the rest and newborn snuggles and Netflix binging and chocolate you can handle. Take a nap, take a bath, day drink. Life will come rushing back and your baby will suddenly be six weeks old and you'll be wishing for a week in bed alone with him. And you won't be wishing for a floppy baby in baby jeans at a busy restaurant at a week postpartum... trying to be normal... with a fever. You'll never, ever wish for that.