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A word about postpartum, and also everything else:
If we want anything in life to improve- we have to change something.
We can’t go about doing our daily Selfless Hero Mom thing and expect postpartum to breeze by. It’s not that way, the baby season. It’s a solid kick in the backside. And we can't do what we did last postpartum and expect better- not gonna happen.
Instead we make a plan, and we stick- as closely as we can, to the plan. In so doing we let all other plans (finishing the nursery, teaching the three year old the capitals of all the states, getting our belly back back to something not resembling perfectly risen bread dough)—all of these take the backseat to THE MAIN PLAN: keep momma healthy. Because no joke, if momma ain't healthy, nobody’s got anything they need. And every postpartum comes with things we could never plan for.
So here are the rules, momma warrior. If you want an amazing postpartum, start with these unbreakables, and expand from there.
1. Get help
And let people help you. You need people who will come to your home, wash and fold your underthings and clean your toilets and make tea while you nurse baby. Your mom, sister-friends, a doula or mothers helper. People from the local church, your book club, or your moms group. Recruit friends on Facebook, for the love.
We always say "I can't find anyone" and what we mean is "I can't ask anyone". It feels too hard, too awkward, to vulnerable. And it is.
But you are a warrior momma. And you want an amazing postpartum. Not only that: you believe in changing the conversation around postpartum so that when your tiny girl child grows up and births, she won't have to feel isolated and exhausted trying to do it all. You give other women permission to do the same when YOU have the courage to ask for what you need, invite and allow help, and let people see your mess.
And when you're out of these weeds and it's another moms turn-you'll return the favor.
2. Don't help
The only person you help is the baby- and your kids if no one else can. Otherwise- if someone needs a meal or a volunteer or a ride or—NOPE. It’s not you. Not for a solid six months, probably longer.
3. Gather your tribe
For comfort, camaraderie, all of the above- gather the women can see you in your milk-stained tshirt, greasy hair and streaked mascara and there is NO SHAME ANYWHERE. Schedule time with a girlfriend at least weekly.
4. Acknowledge where you are
5. Give yourself all the grace in the entire universe.
There are about seven thousand ways for a new mom to feel like she's failing...and 6,997 of them are lies. You're not failing, momma. You are doing a brilliant amazing job, and this really is just as insanely hard as it feels. You're climbing Mount Everest here. Allow yourself and your family what you need to thrive where you are, no guilt.
6. Do what makes you happy.
Get takeout. Massages. Your favorite ice cream. A daily hour-long shower. Time A-L-O-N-E. A flattering post-baby outfit. Make room in the day and in your finances to keep you healthy and happy. You're not being indulgent, you are making sure that this season is a positive experience for everyone in your household, and a strong foundation for a lifetime of confident mothering. You need stuff right now- and that is perfectly OK.
7. Get rest
Rest as in sleep. Rest as in life philosophy. This is the season of rest (except it's not unless you actually sit down sometimes.). And because babies take up SO MUCH OF ALL THE TIME, even if you make this your actual seasonal mantra and live by it, you will still barely be scraping by with juuuust enough rest. PAY FOR NAPS. I kid you not. Hire a sitter and go to sleep. It just matters, momma. When you don’t rest the whole world spins off it’s axis. Make it the priority.
We're not talking about the baby or the nursery or the parenting style or any of the millions of other things we're sold. Prepare for you- for your health, wellness, healing, and rest. This is the one season in life where you will need to be cared for. It's not actually possible to stress this enough. Know what recharges you and make a solid plan to get some of that every single week throughout postpartum. Let nothing short of a true emergency interfere with these plans.
You are a hero already but if you actually try to be one here and just "deal with it" you are asking for breakdown. Line up a postpartum doula, a laundry service, a grocery delivery service, a weekend away, any and all of the above. Make a bold move- do something big and intentional to prepare for your personal wellness after baby.
Just in case you're wondering-- no, husband cannot do it all. Ok, technically if you have a martyr for a husband he can, but I recommend this plan only if you love household strife and tension. Because truth: Even if you do get all the help and stock your freezer full of ready-made meals and get all set up, your husband will still be kicking butt helping out, because there is just that much to do in the newborn season. Times ten if you have other kids. Plan for this, precious woman.
If you stick to these rules for postpartum, it will alter the course of your mothering life. Not exaggerating. A truly peaceful postpartum is transformative enough that's it's absolutely worth doing what it takes to have one.
Ok. Time to stop reading and start changing something- every small step is a step in the right direction. And action is the key to success.
You've got this, momma.