Those first few weeks after having a baby are a whirlwind. Emotions, hormones, boobs out and coffee on! There is so much to take in. I am about to go through this all again and I can honestly say I learnt a lot of lessons from last time.
Last time I remember being stuck in my ridiculously cosy armchair (I did not appreciate that armchair enough – it felt like prison to me as I was chained to it but I really should have just worshipped its cosiness), in my little newborn love bubble, trying to focus on establishing feeding but also wanted to appear like I had my shit together. I wanted to be the one to load the dishwasher; I knew how to do it “right”. Ah doing it right…. my poor husband. He would be trying to do the washing for me and take care of things and all I could think about was “they’re not hung up right, they’ll never dry”. I wanted to be that new Mum who knew what she was doing and could handle anything.
I didn’t give myself credit for the fact I was handling horribly painful feeding and adapting to life on sod all sleep. In my stupid sleep deprived state that wasn’t enough. I remember hearing a story from someone, I think it may actually have been a health visitor, and it really stuck in my head. This health visitor had gone to visit a new Mum, on one of those early visits we get; day 3 or day 5, and she knocked on the door and this well put together, nicely dressed woman answered the door. The Health Visitor said she was there to see the name of the lady who’d just given birth and this woman who answered the door replied with a casual “yes that’s me”! Turns out this health visitor was astounded, and looking back I am still not sure why she told me this story. But stupidly, at the time I used it as something to aim for – I wanted to be the new Mum who looked gorgeous and had a pair of jeans on already.
However that was NOT me. I believe on Days 3,4,5 and for a good week after, my outfit of choice was a pair of massive pyjama bottoms worn over my C Section scar (of which I was petrified was going to fall open at any given moment – don’t worry it didn’t) and an old work shirt of my husbands worn open with no bra to give my poor F cups (astonishing size for a small lass like me) some air to them for those moments Josh wasn’t attached to them.
That’s how I answered the door on my day 3 check! I mean, I held the shirt over my modesty when I answered of course – no need to let my 80 year old neighbour get the shock of their life at the sight of my bazzokas. That was the reality of the situation though. And I struggled with that. Half of me was so tired I couldn’t fight it, I couldn’t care less about how I looked. The other half of me just wanted to achieve that goal of being the SuperMum I had ridiculously built up in my head.
I wasted so much time on that desire. I wasted time on wanting to have the washing hung up correctly, I wasted time crying because I couldn’t find a pair of leggings to wear. I wasted time comparing myself to others; friends who I thought were coping superbly and wondering why I wasn’t. Turns out they were on just as much of a learning curve as I was. I just couldn’t see that. Just as I couldn’t see I was actually doing a better job than I realised especially when I relaxed marginally and focused on feeding, cuddles and trying to take it easy. Taking care of myself was the best job I could do surely but I was too caught up in trying to achieve the Insta Mum Wonder Woman goal! I wanted it to appear like I knew exactly what I was doing and that I still had time to casually slick on some mascara.
Looking back now I am almost laughing. What in Gods name was I thinking. I’d just had my first baby, I’d had a 40 hour labour with failed forceps resulting in an emergency C Section, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow, I was doing a great job at feeding, better than I gave myself credit for. Who cares if I couldn’t be the one to empty the dishwasher or feed the cats. I look back now at the fact I went along with inviting one of our groups of friends and their kids all over to ours about two weeks after having Josh and trying to play hostess and I wonder that the fuck I was thinking. Don’t get me wrong, having visitors was lovely but I shouldn’t have been trying to act like the hostess with the mostess, making tea and sausage rolls for everyone. I remember at one point feeling quite sick, partially the recovery and partially feeling completely overwhelmed by the event and going to the back door to get some air; one of my friends little girls came and asked what was wrong and I didn’t know what to say. Because the first few weeks after giving birth, especially that first time, your mind is all over the place.
But now I look back at these moments and I feel like I’ve learnt from them. And this time around I will know how to handle these things, at least a little bit more. I will know it will not make one iota of difference if me, Sam or one of my kind friends or family members empties our dishwasher or feeds the cats. It will make a huge amount of difference however, if I take it easy, rest after the surgery and take my time to establish feeding. It will make a lot of difference because I will be bonding with my new baby, I’ll be taking care of my body so it heals sooner so I can get back to playing with Josh too, and I’ll be being kind to myself when I’m exhausted, hormonal and in a bit of a haze.
Accepting help and accepting the fact that you can’t do everything in those days after having a baby are not signs of weakness! This is not the time to be a hero. It’s a time to be kind to yourself. To reward yourself with a sit down and letting everyone else run around after you. If you want to bring me cake, hoover my lounge, make me tea or take Josh to the park for me then this time, I am all for it. I will simply be appreciative of the support and kindness of those around me.
I won’t be the envisaged “SuperMum” I had in my head last time. I will simply be a super mum just by allowing myself time to heal, emotionally and physically and adjust to life with two babies in my own time.