I was reminded again yesterday how prevalent the stigma still is around the struggle after a baby is born: baby blues, postpartum depression, onset of anxiety in the postpartum period...
The transition into motherhood is hard. The first child is pretty shocking, even if you have a good support system. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming emotion and experience of holding a helpless newborn, the blood that is dripping out of you for the next few weeks, and then learning to breastfeed on top of all that. It is doable, and people have been doing it for generations, so you know in your head it's possible...but your body is screaming WTF just happened here.
On top of all this, is the pressure from society to pretend that nothing happened. Bounce out of bed with full make-up, pose for some pictures, host everyone who wants to come meet the baby, and fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes by the time the six-week check up comes around or you are a slug who just can't get it together.
As you add Sweet Peas to your family, there is still an adjustment period. The love happens - you will have enough. The adjustment for me was learning how to manage the time and the house with 2+ children. A wise woman once told me, "Lower your expectations every time and you will do great." Another wise woman reminded me, "They are not all two at the same time." More on those topics another day...back to the topic at hand.
An older woman asked me why I write about postpartum so much...her generation just got on with it. She asked me why this was such "a thing" for women of this day and age.
My answer is I DON'T KNOW. Is it the food we are eating that doesn't support the hormonal shift as well as it used to? Is it that we know now that drinking and smoking are not the best stress relievers for mothers of newborns?Is it the pressure of social media to "fakebook" and we are speaking up to say, "not today"? Is is the age of the internet that allows us to gather information and know that we are not alone?
I have no idea. My point today is, it is okay to ask for help if you need it. Maybe you don't need help. Maybe you had a satisfactory birth experience and your support network is amazing and enlightened and you are doing great. Yeah!! Bonus points for you. (and I don't believe you)
There are also GOLD STARS waiting for you if you are able to say two of the hardest words, HELP ME. I just read an affirmation today that really sparked me along with running into some friends who reminded me just how important postpartum care is to families who are struggling:
"It is healthy for me to say what I need and accept help".
When your childbirth educator, doula, midwife or anyone else in your life you cares about you calls you and asks how you are doing, for your own sake, tell us the truth!!
We expect to hear, "I'm fine!" "Things are great!" "All good!"
What we are listening for are the in-betweens: the pauses, the crack in your voice, the tiredness as you speak. We have been there - we know it is hard - we know it's an adjustment, and we want to help you. We will try to find a way to see you if we are concerned. So just make it easier for us to help you - tell us without shame, because we have been there, too.
Please tell the people who ask you and want to be there for you what you need. We will show up and we will support you in any way we can as you make the transition from maiden to mother. It is okay - you are still a great mom.