Why I Should Have Prioritzed Post Partum Self Care
I don’t often talk about motherhood here. The reason being that when I began this blog I needed to create something that was just my own. My son was two years old and had just weaned. I was sick, depressed and thoroughly run ragged. I had lost my identity. Two years of being his primary source of food, comfort and care giving had been really hard on me. I had forgotten how to care for myself in the process. I spent those years in a fog. I think the term MOMBIE was thrown around (mom + zombie). Once he began to sleep the night and be more independent of me, I took that freedom and ran with it. It was the begining of my healing journey. But I should not have waited so long.
Jack’s been the picture of health (knock on wood), the kid has never had as much as an infection, or any need for prescription medication. The opposite of me as a baby. I attribute this to nursing him for so long and exposing him to the world at a young age. I don’t regret my decision to nurse him for two years, but I know I could not do it again. I went slightly mad. Jack was a huge baby, at 10lb 5oz and 23 ¼ inches long he required constant nourishment. CONSTANT. *
*Hats off to single mamas, mamas who adopt, mamas who have babies with special needs, you are stronger women than me*
Who knows if my milk was thin, or he has issues sucking… it’s too late to figure out now…. One thing is for sure… he sucked the life out of me. This isn’t an anti-nursing rant. However I will say there should have been some balance. Looking back now at every time my husband tried to help, and Jack would cry and he would just bring me the baby like my boobs were the cure-all… well… they became just that. Jack’s cure-all. I don’t think that was healthy for me…. Or him?
What About My Needs?
I needed to sleep. I needed to take a shower alone. Wear earrings and do my hair. I needed to go out for lunch with some friends- without kids. I needed time, just small pockets- but time to be just me. A human being in this world that has opinions and energy and spark. Instead I let myself dull away… for two years. The same ratty yoga pants and shirt with spit up. I called it the mom blob look.
I’m not talking about bouncing back. Fuck bouncing back; I was digging myself a hole. His birth was very traumatic for my body. I lost a lot of blood. I couldn’t stand for more than 5 minutes a time for weeks. Going to the bathroom was what nightmares are made of. I literally ate, slept, ate, cried. Wash rinse, repeat.
Note, I was already gluten and dairy free at this point. I wasn’t full blown paleo but my midwife friends told me to avoid foods that could cause little man distress. But I still ate a ton of crap. I cooked a lot of gluten free pasta. I ate a lot of Indian takeout. ALL THE SUGAR. My hidradenitis spiraled out of control.
In retrospect the fog was partly autoimmune brain fog. I was eating A LOT of nightshades, which I know now make me flare big time. My post-partum period was a rollercoaster. My mood was all over the place. My weight yo-yo’d drastically, but bigger picture kept climbing, I gained3 35lbs in those two years. My hidradenitis suppurativa (my autoimmune skin condition) spread to under my breasts. So not only was I nursing the giant baby all day but I had painful boils under my breasts that would seep and bleed and hurt like hell. Yes, it was just as miserable as it sounds. And BTW… no one posts pictures, or even status updates about this stuff. So don’t go comparing your situation to the next persons, especially via what they post on social media. Every mom I talk to, EVERY MOM has had, or often has those SEND HELP moments.
I truly wish I had made my health a priority sooner. I kept putting everything off until I weaned him. Big mistake. I think I would have enjoyed him as a baby so much more had I not been in pain all the time. I was dedicated, almost to a fault. His cries caused me physical pain and anxiety. I was neurotic about sticking to my plan of co-sleeping the first 6 months, not using a pacifier to not hinder nursing (yeah, shot myself in the foot with that one). Jack NEVER took a bottle. Not once. Ever. In two years. Which meant I couldn’t leave him with anyone, ever. What the hell was I thinking?
I don’t think I was thinking clearly. I clung to these ideas of what I should be doing, instead of what I really should have been doing which was the damn Autoimmune Protocol. My leaky gut was wreaking havoc and my pain and inflammation was keeping me from being the happy mama I wanted to be.
This isn’t a bashing nursing post, I am glad I nursed him because I THINK, so far so good, that he got spared the autoimmune issues that run in my family. But taking care of him so well should not have come at the expense of my own health.
I WISH I WOULD HAVE:
-Meal planning, freezing meals before baby. Somehow I thought, oh! I love to cook, I can do it. Laughable.
– Reaching out for help when I needed it. Not just to mommy and me groups, but to a therapist. I definitely had post-partum depression.
– I wish I had known about the autoimmune protocol, I didn’t find out till after Jack was 2!
-Taken a yoga, Pilates or some sort of gentle physical activity at some point in those two years. Because walking with the stroller is a crapshoot and some days it’s the worst.
-I wish I wasn’t so scared of everything. I scrutinized every poop (omg we talked about poop so much). Every noise. Every cry was “something was wrong” Geeze I was ssooo clueless. The anxiety!!!!
– I wish I had expected more of Justin. He wasn’t absent, but sort of took care of the house and walking the dog and bringing me water instead of taking an active role with Jack until about 18 mos. I needed to communicate my expectations better.
Now if you’re in the trenches and can’t see a way out. It’s okay. This isn’t a “what you should do” kind of article. In hindsight everything is 20/20. I’m just sharing my mistakes so you can learn from them. But the most important takeaway is that even if you can’t find a way out of you hole right now, KNOW that it will not last forever. That baby WILL sleep onE day. You will feel LIKE YOU one day. Even if it takes 2 or 3 years. When you get the chance, when you can take a breather, get a minute, TAKE IT. The dishes can wait. The floor doesn’t have to be clean. Your sanity, your wellbeing IS A PRIORITY. Take the nap.
Then before you know it, you’re kiddo will be in kindergarten, day care, with grandma or a nanny and you will have time to do the things you want to do. That’s okay. We don’t need to be their sole care giver. It really does take a village. We are their mamas, we will always be a constant in their lives,but we don’t have to do it alone. You are a smart, funny, beautiful soul and you deserve to be happy.
AIP Bloggers with Babies, even if you don’t have autoimmune issues, these woman managed to manage their autoimmune conditions throught pregnancy and motherhood and that takes balance and skills!!!