As the arrival of Baby #2 nears closer and closer, I can’t help but think of the vast difference in how I’m preparing (or lack thereof) for everything this time around. Of course last time was different; it was my first baby. I did what most soon-to-be moms do and attempted to prepare in every way possible. I read my pregnancy books religiously. There were registries made with products I thoroughly researched and thought I needed. Showers were thrown, a bedroom was renovated, and the bump was meticulously documented every week. Baby finally arrived and I realized no preparing actually prepares you for such a life-changing event.
This time around I still broke out my pregnancy books as soon as I found out the good news. But they sat on my nightstand, unopened, until just recently. I was trying to figure out if I was 6 or 7 months pregnant, something I surely would have known last time. There is no bedroom to renovate because I know she’ll be in our room for at least a month or two. Dare I say they might even share a room eventually? And there are no products to research because we kept everything we knew we would use again. I’ve got a bassinet, a drawer full of onesies, and size 1 diapers on my shopping list. In that respect, I’m ready to go.
But there is one area I’m preparing for that I never really considered last time: ME. I don’t mean the comfortable clothes and nursing bras. I am talking about preparing for the physical and mental exhaustion that I am about to endure – and how I’ll manage it. Last time I naively thought my natural labor would leave me bouncing back in no time. In reality labor left me beyond exhausted. I still had stitches and more swelling than I knew was humanly possible to recover from. I needed a week of solid rest just to begin to recover, but instead I had sleepless nights as I kept a tiny human alive.
So instead of researching the best swaddle wrap, I’ve spent my time reading up on ways to boost my own recovery. The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Hen Ou has been my favorite resource thus far. I’d recommend it for every expectant mom. The book focuses on spending the first forty days postpartum resting and recovering, as has been done in cultures across the world for centuries. Our culture seems to give so much focus to bouncing-back as quickly as possible, something we shouldn’t have to worry about as we adjust to a new life. It has amazing insights, methods and recipes for nourishing mom back to health.
It is time to reclaim the postpartum period and reinstate it to its rightful place as the important conclusion of the childbearing story, something that deserves as much forethought as pregnancy and birth. We must do it for ourselves and for our children, because the way women become mothers profoundly affects the way their children awaken to this world. When you take care of mother, you take care of the child.
I love the perspective that paragraph gives. Focusing on myself shouldn’t be seen as selfish. Instead it’s a way for mom and baby (and the whole household) to flourish. All of that is easier said than done when you’re in the thick of sleepless nights. But at the very least this time around I’ll be more mentally prepared for what is to come. And hopefully I can spend a little more energy caring for myself. I’m sure everyone will benefit as a result.