What Recovering from Giving Birth is REALLY Like
You want to be able to enjoy every moment, but you are just so tired, and sore, and...
Often, when pregnancy begins we are full of excitement and joy. We welcome the miserable symptoms of nausea or constipation because they mean there is a baby inside us and we are thrilled at the thought. But slowly this view begins to change, and by those last 4 weeks of pregnancy all we can think about is getting that baby out of us. I remember thinking, "I don't care how bad it hurts, I just don't want to be pregnant for one more day!" I reminisced about the energy I used to have, and how easily I was able to do simple things like getting up off the couch, or putting my shoes on. I told my husband over and over, "I can't wait to have this baby so I can feel like myself again, I am so tired of being uncomfortable and exhausted all the time." I firmly believed I would go in to the hospital a miserably huge pregnant person and come out a happy, energetic, non-pregnant person. In fact, I have known many woman who thought this way. We believed that as soon as we got this baby out, we would feel as great as we did before we ever got pregnant. We were in for a huge disappointment.
This is one of the few photos of me with my newborn where my eyes are actually open.
Giving birth is an extremely traumatic experience for a woman's body. Labor, alone, is equivalent to running a marathon. Then add in the stretching, and tearing, along with the amount of blood lost. Any person experiencing this type of trauma would normally be expected to stay in bed resting for days. However, a new mom is experiencing such little sleep during those first few weeks it is a wonder she is even able to function on a basic level, much less recover from such a taxing experience.
Expecting moms, please understand that walking, sitting, and even cleaning off after using the bathroom are going to feel more like a chore then a normal part of everyday life for at least a week or two postpartum. Also, go ahead and accept the fact that, no matter how interrupted your sleep is now from frequent bathroom breaks, Braxton Hicks, baby hiccuping, or just the need to heave your body into a more comfortable position, it is nothing compared to how interrupted it will be once that baby is born.
It is normal to feel exhausted, sore, overwhelmed, forgetful, disorganized, incompetent, emotional, moody, and a nonresponsive participant in most conversations. Don't get down on yourself. Also, don't give up hope that you will make it back to that fun, lovable person you once knew.
A year later...
The Happy Ending
The GREAT news is it doesn't take a year to feel like yourself again. After about four to six weeks your little one will start sleeping longer stretches. First you will notice during they day they are going three hours or so between feedings. Then, at night they will make it four to five hours at a time. It is amazing how good four straight hours of sleep feels when you are used to only two or less. It is around this time you finally start to fully recover from all your body has been through since your baby was conceived. For me, by eight weeks I was feeling really good and by 3 months I was GREAT.
The best advice I was ever given is, "Don't expect too much from yourself the first couple months after having a baby." Give yourself credit for what you have been through. Appreciate your body for how amazing it is. Make sure when your baby is awake you are enjoying him, and once he is asleep, limit the amount of work you allow yourself to do to make sure you get rest in also.
In most of the pictures taken the first six weeks of my son's life I look a little dishevelled and tired. However, anyone looking at those pictures can see how truly happy I am. Motherhood is an amazing journey. It starts off a little rocky, but that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable too.