Monday, October 15, 2018

This Postpartum Life

Just over seven weeks ago, I gave birth to my second child. In less than a week, we'll hit the "two month" mark, so I've been looking back over his short life, thinking about postpartum. This period is full of joys and struggles-not only is there the massive adjustment to life with a newborn and a completely different family dynamic, but there's also the physical recovery and emotional craziness to deal with. I do think that this postpartum has been easier than when I had my firstborn, since I had an idea of what to expect based on past experience. Yet, this time has still held challenges, a prominent one being balance.

This was 4 or 5 days after birth, on the morning when my little guy decided
not to "go down for the night" until 6 a.m. after we prayed the Angelus. 

I've been feeling a little bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other. 

After giving birth, I felt awesome. However, I recalled that with my firstborn, I felt great and would overdo things-so keeping this fact at the forefront of my mind, I decided that I would be better this time! And I first. Since my husband's grandma was visiting, I took things very slowly (partially because she had no shame in telling me to go sit down, which was very good of her to do). But after about a week, I was done. I took both the boys with me as I enjoyed a long walk in the neighborhood, and then realized that oops! I overdid it. The next day, I walked into the kitchen (for the first time in several days) and thought, that floor looks a little dirty. So...I got down and mopped it. Again, I reprimanded myself, and for the next several days did a really good job sitting on the couch, trying to not do much as I felt the sore after-effects of my exuberance. 
Grocery shopping without kids!!! So energizing.
Back and forth, this entire postpartum, I've been struggling to find the balance. On one hand, I get really stir-crazy if I'm sitting around for a while. And, if I feel really, really good and energized, I want to do things! On the other hand, I love how in different countries, it is widely recognized that giving birth is an incredible feat, and women are expected to not do much for at least the first month. I've been talking with different friends of mine about this lately, and a lot of them have been echoing my struggle. It's a balance. 

And I struggle to find that balance; to even know what I want. 

I think it's really cool that different traditions exist like "the churching of women." Yet, while one of my friends spoke highly of her experience with this tradition, I really liked going to Mass just a few days after birth, to give thanksgiving and receive the Eucharist, and I can't imagine not going to Mass during the forty days after birth. 

I think it'd be great to create a culture that is more understanding, where women are expected to "take it easy" after giving birth. At the same time, though, how would this cultural standard be created without hampering the style and energy of women who feel really great after birth? 

I think it's really cool that there's discussion about the "fourth trimester" for babies, and it makes me wonder how long "postpartum" lasts-does that extend for a full three months after birth, or is it shorter? Or is it longer? And when is it appropriate to jump back into "normal life" after giving birth? 

It's not all been struggle, though. Postpartum has included fun things like
my husband and I buying unhealthy food and trying to determine which 
is more delicious (for the record, bagel bites won in this competition). 

I knew (from my prior experience) that part of what helps my mental recovery is to jump  back into normal life-to an extent. With my firstborn, what helped pull me out of the feeling that I was drowning and overwhelmed was to get back into something of a routine. So yes, while one of the owners at the coffee shop expressed some surprise, I was back here just a few weeks after giving birth, baby in tow. However, we've still been taking life kind of slowly. At about 4 weeks postpartum, we had 2ish weeks that were dedicated to being at home as both the boys and myself recovered from the hand, foot, & mouth virus. Since then, we've gotten back into more of a "normal" schedule with some days of outings, and I've honestly been impressed/shocked at how many things we can do in a day on such little sleep. 

Bright and early at the coffee shop!

I guess all of this is to say that I have no idea what I'm doing. There have been difficult moments, but there have been a lot of beautiful days. It's amazing how there can be a span of 30 minutes or a couple hours or half a day where the kids are screaming and I'm tired and struggling to take care of everyone, but then it can all turn around and I'm suddenly shocked by the peaceful silence of naptime or a happy playtime. It's a blessed, messy life, and I'm so grateful for it. 

And on the bright side, new liquor law in Oklahoma recently took effect, so now it's legal and possible to buy wine when the kids and I make our weekly grocery trip. Thank you, Jesus ;) 

Little guy at 5 weeks old!

On a completely unrelated note, have y'all been watching Repent & Submit? It's the show that Tommy Tighe (the Catholic Hipster!) and Steve the Missionary are doing, and it's great (I watched an episode at 3 a.m. when my newborn was nursing, and I was quite entertained and amused). As someone who has argued with others over which saint is "better" or has strong about a number of random Catholic issues, I'm feel like I'm watching kindred spirits onscreen. 


  1. I love the 5 week old picture!!! Baby is so cute!! Here, it's very much the culture and expectation that you won't see mom or baby for a month after birth, and I tried to hold onto that as much as I could because I needed it...I wish logistics would have let me have more time. I think I wrote about going out to the grocery store to get baby's passport photo ten days after he was born and I felt like I was dying, in so much pain and really too weak for either the walk or the car ride, but I couldn't let Angel take the baby by himself, and an old lady stopped to scold me roundly for being out so soon after birth. Trust me, I did not want to be there. can't live in this country without a visa and he can't get a visa if he doesn't have a there we were. I remember being so so happy the first time I went out and took a walk outdoors with my family and was able to enjoy it and felt healthy again...sometime between 1-2 months. I think I have never been more grateful for my health than I have been ever since Cyrus was about 6 weeks old! ha!

  2. You are radiant, AnneMarie!! Love this honest update and beautiful pictures! <3