Both mamas are me. The approach that I took with both babies could not have been any more different and I'm ultimately super grateful for all of it.
With my first pregnancy, I was convinced that I could "muscle through it". Despite my doctor's and husband's concerns about my health during the pregnancy, I thought for sure that I could control it. I mean, I did yoga! I practiced Ayurveda! I highly suspected that I was Super Woman and so would be Super Mom in a matter of minutes after my baby's birth.
The reality is, of course, starkly different. I was not responsible with how I managed my high blood pressure and developed severe preeclampsia which required that I get a serious medical intervention: my labor was induced at 36 weeks and I proceeded to have a traumatic birth experience. Fortunately I don't remember much of it but I do remember that it was truly terrible. My baby was taken to the NICU right away and I had to stay in my delivery bed for 24 hours and then in the hospital for another week. I knew that my baby would be ok (mother's instinct is amazing) and expected myself to just return to normal.
After we were released from the hospital we came home to a house that was destined to get cluttered and dirty and to food that needed to be made and sleep that was not going to come easily. And there were no nurses to come check on us like they did in the hospital. When friends and family did come to visit, I was extremely anxious. I felt naked and wanted to hide. My baby was my only reason to live. I got depressed but I couldn't admit it. For a year. Then on my daughter's first birthday I fell apart completely. There was no more ignoring the depression. But since this isn't a post about postpartum depression, I'll just say that I'm super grateful for Western medicine and therapy. And for Josh. I couldn't have gotten though it without him.
When I got pregnant for the second time, I was terrified. What could I do to prevent the depression? I would do literally anything, even if it meant taking medicine and asking for help. I planned on NOT being Super Mom. I planned on resting. I planned on asking for help and then prepared myself to ACCEPT it. I expected it to be hard and meditated on what I could do to soften around the hard parts.
When I was induced with my second baby, I was horrified. Would I have another traumatic experience?? Fortunately, I got off easy with few interventions, no NICU time, and less than a week in the hospital.
We came home and I stayed in bed. I accepted the guilty feeling of other people helping - that was a hard part that required softening. But you know what else I did? I SLEPT. I ATE. I RESTED. I TALKED. I ASKED FOR EXTRA HELP. I said no to invitations. i allowed myself to heal.
And now, 6 months later I am wildly in love with my family but they are not my only reason for living. I don't feel like I have to hide. I rarely cry! I admit that I am still healing. This is the importance of planning for postpartum. When you prioritize the nourishment of a new mama, you nourish her family and the world around her.
It's a huge paradigm shift that needs to happen in our culture. It's not easy to tell people that you, as a new mama, needs as much love and attention as the new baby. It's extremely uncomfortable to ask for help but it's worth it and ultimately makes for stronger mamas and families.
Yoga Teacher. Thinker of things.
Sometimes I just need to empty the contents of my brain into words.