The Truth: POSTPARTUM
Women are amazing.
I sit here on the other side of maxi pad life at about 7.9 weeks postpartum (PP) from the arrival of our second daughter, and holy shit.
That's how I feel. Like holy shit. Holy because I created a human, I am loving the eff out of her and feeding her to grow all while somehow still making time to dance with our 2 year old when Phil Collins sings that 'You'll Be in My Heart' song and I cry while dancing. And shit because I am so tired y'all and I'm in that weird phase where NOTHING fits me and I shower but don't really look like I showered or something and well, almost no deodorant can stand up to postpartum body odor so I do smell like shit often.
See, holy shit.
I have to tell you something I think is so damn funny. There was actually a moment in time around week 3 in my PP journey where I literally felt time rewind. If you don't know, I have braces. Well, invisalign but they really are NOT that invisible, so braces. I was wearing a huge pad because what the hell, all the organic ones only come in ginormous (and ladies, you must go organic, must). And my face was breaking out due to hormones. And my sweet husband was patiently waiting for sex approval after six weeks, so I was a prude (major prude) all over again.
So here I am at age 34 and rewinding in time to literally age 14 with braces, a pad, acne and a boyfriend waiting for his girlfriend to finally put out.
Life is a f*cking trip.
And I laughed at the realization because in that moment in time, I had to.
My postpartum journey is very different from the experience with my first child, thankfully. With our sweet Evergreen girl, I was laid up on a couch for 30ish straight days rebuilding my blood supply and recovering from a PPH (postpartum hemorrhage).
With Nora, I am hiking more of a mental mountain than physical. I wake up every single day in fear, in comparison and on Google. Three things I highly DO NOT recommend to all my postpartum Mamas.
I am in (deep, deep) fear that I will hemorrhage again or that something is definitely wrong. I am looking for it all to go wrong and I call my doctors every three days. No joke. Dear Partners in Women's Health, thank you for answering the phone every time and calling me back every time.
I am in comparison because that Mama is already out hiking on instagram with her two kids and we delivered a week apart, or my Mama was already back at it in her pre-pregnancy jeans after like a week (I remember!) or my friend said she had a clot that she passed and what if I have one too that I still have to pass? Hello mind games.
And I am freaking out because Google says that most women stop bleeding after 10-12 days and well, I am on day 27. Or Google says that most bleeding happens when you add in movement but I haven't left this bed because I am trying to be someone how knows how to rest and I am going crazy. And Google says your placenta pills may or may not be great, we have no idea. And Google says that you could have an infection, do you smell anything? Seriously self, put the phone/computer down right now.
I know what you are thinking. Professional help might not have been a bad idea.
And I know what else you might be thinking, hey Jacki, aren't you some style of life coach and don't you have tools for this?
And I know what some of you Mamas are thinking, "BEEN THERE" in our own ways. Or maybe not, maybe you are all bliss and happiness and holy hell, I am happy for you.
For me, that was my journey. All those emotions up there. Every day.
I had that mental mountain to climb. Truth is, my arch nemesis was the maxi pad. I could literally make a comic strip out of it, Postpartum Mom fights MaxiPad Monster and it could be a 6 week series with war against the pad industry, war against the Super, the Normal or the Light, battling when the sticker thing gets stuck to your leg or worse pubic hair, battling how much trash you have to take out and how annoying that there is a mixture of your own diapers and your children's!
The maxi pad meant so many things for me. It symbolized that I am still healing physically. It symbolized that there could be trouble because blood. It symbolized annoyance because truthfully I hate wearing underwear and pads really gross me out. It symbolized slow which made me feel competitive with myself in the yucky way.
And in writing that, all those symbols were made up in my mind. Because when I let it, the maxi pad also symbolized that I was healing my way right on time. It symbolized that I had done something beyond my reach, stretched beyond what I knew possible (and what my uterus thought possible) and with that is always a moment to mend, grieve the past and create a new way of being. It symbolized discomfort and asked me daily how I would manage that (as you read up there, I mismanaged it often....). It symbolized slow, which is absolutely necessary in balance of life, just like nature. It symbolized asking for help, which I am still working on moment to moment. And it symbolized change, beautiful messy insane change.
The mind games.
And I am on the other side because I sit here commando. Yep, no underwear. That is right, people. I am pad free and I hike too now and well, my pre-preggo jeans do not fit at all and that is totally okay.
And in that range of emotions, the darkness and the light, I have evolved yet again to a new, different version of myself.
And I write this to share with you that Mothers right after birth are going through some major shift. The hormones are alive and well (and they make you sweat), the mental journey of meeting not only your sweet baby on this Earth AND also the new parts of yourself is crazy, and the healing journey from any which way you brought that child to the light is absolutely award worthy, like I think we should all get medals ... and free coffee and front row parking spots at Target.
And I write this to share with you the humble pie I consume every single day as a human, Mama, wife, sister, daughter, best friend, coach and all the labels. Because we are all out there doing the best we can eating our own versions of humble pies. And the people that were nice to me out on the streets when I went to lunch the first time, my family that flew in and sent the sweetest gifts and messages (like a new camping tent for Evi, a handmade blanket for Nora, a giftcard to do whatever I want with, a VenMo cash bump to order in food, all the things), any human that told me I looked great (even when I know they could smell me) and that my baby was so sweet, and the woman that shared with me that she was still bleeding too on an instagram chat at 7 weeks, they all saved me and were like a helping hand up my own mental mountain of recovery.
And the truth is, I could not have done it without them.
I write this to share my own experiences because in my Google search, I found like three real words on postpartum. THREE?!
I write this to remind us all to reach out and connect.
To be nicer. I mean it, way way way nicer.
And even if someone smells or hasn't showered in a few-ish days or has bags under their eyes that almost reach their ginormous breasts, tell them they look great. Just lie.