Pregnancy had taken such a toll on me that I thought somehow after my baby was born I would jump out of bed, go eat sushi and have several glasses of wine. Cute. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom unassisted for several hours, and my first meal was a cold sandwich. When I finally got home and took a sip of wine, I knew I wasn’t ready to drink again. That was the least of my worries, though. I thought I was prepared to deal with postpartum, but I wasn’t. The first two weeks were pure survival mode. Here is what I learned:
Accepting help is not easy
Although I had family staying with me and willing to help, it was really hard to enjoy their assistance. It’s not that I didn’t want it or needed it – there was the problem of figuring out and then conveying what I needed. So basically they helped me with food and laundry, but because they wanted to do it “right” (by right they mean the way I usually do things), I ended up having to come up with enough mental and physical energy to explain to them how I did things / just do it myself. Saying it doesn’t matter, “as long as it’s done it’s perfect” did not work for them. Which brings me to my next point.
No one can grocery shop like you
I never thought I’d say that, but I’m beyond thankful Walmart exists. Doing groceries on my phone and having someone just pick it up saved me again and again. I tried everything under the sun, sent photos of what I wanted, explained the exact location on the shelves, barcode, description – and still, I’d get three types of ice cream instead of pistachio gelato. When I went to TJ’s for the first time after the baby was born, it was magical! Even though it was for just three things and I was worried about my son the whole time.
Frozen meals are life
As part of preparing for postpartum, I did a freezer full of meals. My list: curry, chicken soup, lentils, and BREAKFAST BURRITOS. If you are pregnant, here is the most important take away: make some breakfast burritos for yourself. I was hungry at random times and eating fruits and nuts was not going to cut it… breakfast burritos saved me.
Water, so much water
A lot of things that I would need postpartum were not on my radar. I had no idea I would feel like the Sahara desert inside each time I had to breastfeed. I only had a 16 oz bottle that was widely inadequate for the task at hand. So I ordered a 64oz bottle and a 30oz cup with a straw and handle. I fill both, refill my cup as needed from the bottle and refill both just once a day, instead of twenty times a day.
Nursing clothes will be needed
I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had this illusion that I would be able to find clothes after the baby was born, depending on what I needed. It was hard to try on clothes when I was pregnant and I didn’t know how my body was going to change after birth. Jump to my sleep-deprived self with a tiny newborn and only one robe that fits me after birth. So I had to resort to 3 AM shopping-while-you-are-nursing to be able to be minimally dressed. What I learned is that there are a lot of clothes that are forgiving and will accommodate a changing body – I should have looked for those and used them for pregnancy and postpartum.
Get a sleep mask – or two
In the hospital and later at home having a nice sleeping mask was wonderful. Whenever I had a tiny break and could close my eyes for even 30 minutes, it didn’t matter what time it was, I would put my mask on and instantly fall asleep. With all the natural interruptions from being in the hospital and then home with a newborn, this meant a tiny getaway wherever I was. This is the one I have and love. It’s contoured so it doesn’t put pressure on your eyelids, there is no velcro or clasps, just a comfortable elastic that can be adjusted like a bra strap.
Rest means rest
Although I read everywhere that for 6 weeks at least I would have to rest as much as possible, it didn’t quite compute in my head just the extend of this rest. Small things felt like chores and I was much more tired than I had imagined I would be. Pain and discomfort took the whole 6 weeks to subside. Now at 9 weeks if I go for a long walk carrying my 12lbs baby, I feel destroyed for at least a whole day after.