Let’s get real. All those visions you had in your head about being a mom or dad have most likely vanished. Mine did – within two weeks of having my beautiful baby. By then, I was so exhausted that all I could think about was getting some uninterrupted sleep. Even having a shower was something that became unimportant during those bleak days of no real sleep.
When we don’t rest enough, we change and become a different person. One unable to cope with even the simplest of tasks. This does pass, but unless you have experienced it, you cannot understand it. Those around you tell you things like this and you laugh it off, because if it is going to be that bad, why are you doing it?
Our brains are magical things! We simply cannot comprehend the magnitude of ‘awful’ that is about to happen. The pain of childbirth is unimaginable and once it starts, there is no stopping it. But lookie here…..when my child is a few months old, I start thinking that I would like to do this again. WHY? We just forget, or block out, that intense pain that is the body’s way of working that new human into the world. While suffering that pain, the body is doing all sorts of other things to ensure that your recovery will be quick so that you are capable of looking after this new soul. And you are.
In spite of becoming a person incapable of doing more than grabbing a banana to eat, your focus is all on the well-being of that new soul. Our bodies and brains instinctively move into survival mode while we try to adjust to the new situation. And we cope.
Here is some practical advice for that awful period before your life settles into a routine in which YOU get what you need:
- Prepare meals to freeze in advance – or have money available and take-out menus pinned to the fridge door! If you are lucky enough to have someone volunteering to bring meals to you for a month after the birth, yay! Take advantage. Don’t be shy to accept help.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. This is not a time to catch up on the chores you think you should be doing. NO! Sleep when your baby sleeps as often as you can. A person so tired that they cannot function is of no value to anyone, let alone a new born baby.
- Don’t allow your partner to get away with not helping. Sleep while your baby is sleeping and let them do the chores. It’s time for them to ‘partner-up’. It is nonsense that they go off to work and then come home and expect everything to be as it was before the baby was born. NO! NO! NO! Hopefully this has changed in the years since I had my baby, because my partner expected his life to continue as it had before the baby was born.
- Communication is key. You HAVE to tell your partner how you are feeling. This is a time for you to go against your instincts and to be selfish, even more so if you are breast feeding.
Birthing a baby is a common thing, women do it every day. But it is like having major surgery. You may be released from the hospital but you need six weeks to recover. Take the time to be selfish. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Eat foods packed with vitamins and you will find that things start to get easier. You will find that you can enjoy your beautiful baby and the new dimension it brings to your relationships.