Having a baby is an awesome and miraculous event. For 9 months your body is busy growing a tiny human being in your tummy. And before you know it, your baby emerges into the world, just as perfect as you could have ever imagined. It is pretty amazing.
And with all that awe and wonder, comes hard work and pain. Every moment is absolutely worth it. But as they say, anything worth having, is worth fighting for. And when I say “fighting for” what I mean is trying hard with all your might, not leaving anything behind. This is what motherhood means to me. Especially in those early days.
Giving birth is no joke! Your body has just run the most incredible marathon of your entire life. Imagine what the result of that would be. Fatigue, soreness, frailty. All normal, all ok. Rest is extremely important. The irony is that you are now responsible for a tiny bundle of joy who needs to be fed, diapered and cuddled. So finding the time to rest can be tough at times. Having a team to support you is vital. This is when I really came to appreciate the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child”.
As exhausted as a new mommy and daddy are, you will need help to accomplish even the simplest things. For example, eating. Eating is extremely important. I mean, it always is, but after going through childbirth you need to replenish your body with good, wholesome food. And if you are breastfeeding you need the nutrients even more, because your baby depends on you. So we were extremely grateful that Freddie’s job set up a food tree. Every day one of his co-workers would come by the house at about dinner time and bring delicious, homemade goodness. Not only did it provide us with days of nourishment, but it was a good reminder to actually eat, as sometimes in the fog of new parenthood, this small detail often gets overlooked.
Having an extra pair of hands around the house is helpful too. We were appreciative to have my mom, my dad, Harper’s god parents and friends come stay at different times to pick up wherever we left off. They helped with everything from laundry, to grocery shopping, diapering, you name it. Looking back, I don’t see how we could have done it without them.
And besides the logistics of bringing a new baby home, there are the surprises of your body doing some wacky things. But don’t be alarmed, it’s all normal. For some reason, I don’t remember anyone giving me a heads up on these specific things. So I thought I would pass them along to you. Just in case.
1. Baby Blues: Having a baby is a huge life changing event. It is totally normal to feel overcome with emotion. Not only are you doing your best to take it all in, but your hormones are on a roller coaster ride. So there are times where you find yourself crying for no reason. And that’s ok. However, baby blues only lasts a few weeks. So if your baby blues continues past this point, you may have postpartum depression and should seek a health professional.
2. Postpartum Hair Loss: After minimal shedding during your pregnancy, your hair may begin to fall out in clumps. But don’t worry, you won’t go bald. It took about 6 months of heavy shedding before my hair started to grow back again and I was on my way to my pre-pregnancy thickness. Like everything else that comes along with having a baby, this is hormone related and won’t last forever.
3. Postpartum Incontinence: Don’t be surprised if you experience a little leakage with a sneeze or cough. As embarrassing as this can be, its part of the recovery process of having a baby, especially for those with vaginal births. It will go away over time and can be improved through exercising your pelvic floor.
4. Night Sweats: No matter how cool the room was, or how light my PJs were, I was sweating like crazy. Sometimes I would have to wake up in the middle of the night and change my clothes because I was so soaked. Sounds gross, but this is your body’s way of getting rid of the excess water you retained during pregnancy. It is important for your body to go through this change. And besides, it is only temporary. Look forward to lots of showers, and make sure you keep yourself hydrated.
Although there are many more changes you have to look forward to, these were the ones that affected me the most. Looking back, almost 11 months later, nothing was so hard that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it again. The amazement for me comes from the fact that your body works it all out on its own. You are merely the vessel. So if you can grin and bear it, it will be over before you know it. And your prize, of your little one in your arms, outweighs it all!
Photo taken by Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.