My newest son is just over of a month old, you guys!!!
How is time flying so much? I feel like I’ve been stuck in some sort of sleepy time portal where true time just doesn’t exist and each day melts into another. But I don’t mind it so much.
So how am I…
Sleepy 😴 sooo sleepy 😂 but so at peace and genuinely happy. I don’t feel overwhelmed this time around or anxious or sad. I don’t feel isolated or any of the feelings I was anticipating. I just feel—good. 🙏🏽💕 And even though Abram turned 4 weeks the other day and I have only shaved my legs one time since his birth, have only put on makeup once, and my eyebrows look like I stole them off a yeti… I feel really good LOL
I had read a while back about this idea of “lying in” postpartum.
It is actually a tradition that is advocated for and carried out in many cultures. American culture is very different and expects women to spit out babies and be on their feet the next day entertaining, picking up, and pretty much carrying on as though their body, mind, and spirit hasn’t just gone through something truly transformative and honestly, somewhat brutal. And I think this contributes wildly to women’s postpartum anxiety, blues, and depression.
Birth is incredibly beautiful. But whether you have a tough labor or not, birth is rather harsh on the body.
- Your womb is left with a hole the size of the placenta–the temporary organ you grew to nourish your baby — and it takes time for that to heal. To put it into perspective, the placenta is on average the size of a paper plate…so that wound? Also the size of a paper plate.
- It takes time for your hormones to balance.
- It takes time for your milk to come in and then time for it to balance out into the correct amount for your baby (this took me about 10 days of looking like a 90’s pornstar and painful engorgement before they settled down for me) If you do not breastfeed, it still takes time for your breasts to balance back, too.
- It takes time to adjust to the lack of sleep and time to adjust to caring for a baby or two or a few—and yourself. Your baby is learning how to adjust to being earthside as well and that can be overwhelming for them as well. They are learning how to nurse and feed and poop and live in a world that is so new.
- It takes time to adjust to a very welcomed but very different family dynamic (marriage, parenthood, etc.)
Everything is new, everything is delicate. Everything should be treated as such.
American culture I don’t think honors that enough. Other cultures do; however, and I tried things a lot differently this time—actually, I did everything differently— mimicking a lot of what I read about (and encouraged by so many women in my family) and it has made all the difference.
In the Asian culture, women are advised to stay in bed for 40 days. This is considered the “lying in period”
Women come to care for the mother, whose only role is to breastfeed and rest. No one leaves and no one comes in. That means no visitors. They feed the mother warming foods and broths, do not allow cold water— as to not cool the hole left in the mother where the baby once was–and simply ease her into her new transition in a tender and cared for way. In many other cultures, the mother is cared for and has help with the other children, as well as the cleaning, and cooking, so that her only role is to nurture baby and recover–and to leave ample room for mother, baby, husband, and other children to bond.
How beautiful is that?
I know a lot of women who have their mothers come and stay with them temporarily to do those things — cook, clean, keep the household balanced so that the new family can rest and bond. For me, birth is very personal and intimate and there’s very few people I want around me during that time lol The first 10 days I didn’t even wear a shirt at all to deal with engorgement and carried a towel around until my breasts adjusted, and truly the only people I’d want to see me like that besides my husband are my sisters. Bedhead, morning breath, leaky breasts and postpartum pads, it’s not a sight I want just anyone to see and it’s not something I’m prepared to hide so early on 😂 However, one sister lives in Oklahoma and the other has 4 kids who have been passing back stomach bugs and colds and so my husband and I only had each other. And as it turns out, it worked out and we figured out a rhythm. My husband is a rockstar but I knew it was a lot on him but he did so amazing.
My sisters wanted so badly to be there for both he and I to help carry out the mundane tasks during this transition, but since that wasn’t possible, they were able to be there in all the ways I needed when I needed it most.
My oldest sister was at the birthing center with us and followed us home to clean, do laundry, heat up food, play with our son while my husband and I rested with the baby, before quietly exiting. She didn’t have us entertain, she didn’t even ask to hold the baby, she insisted we rest as she cared for everything else, and then she left. She would text me periodically to make sure I was taking care of myself and to give me strict instructions to LET MYSELF HEAL (stay off my feet, permission to put my normal tasks aside, and nurse, rest, and heal) My other sister in Oklahoma couldn’t be there physically, but she and her husband sent me over an entire box of middle-of-the-night breastfeeding snacks (almonds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, coconut butter, flax and sesame chai paleo cookies, paleo coconut cookies, etc.) sent us handwritten mail from her and my niece, and then sent us 4 books to read during this sleepy newborn hazy chapter we’re in. If she couldn’t be there physically, she was at least there in spirit. She would text me incredibly sweet and nurturing messages, pouring love over me daily, praying over me, talking me through the dips of hormones, and making me laugh and cry happy tears. My sister-in-law gifted me the best postpartum undies, a huge pack of disposable ice packs, nursing bras, the softest nursing-friendly night shirt, the coziest slippers I’ve ever put my feet in, and a few other miscellaneous things she no longer needed after the birth of her daughter–all things I used and appreciated so incredibly much. So although my sisters were not there physcially, they each were so there for me, in the exact ways I needed them.
My husband was able to be there physically, serving his family in the most tender way, taking 2 weeks off of work and holding up our family in such an incredible way. He heated the foods I prepared before birth, made breakfast and lunch every day, kept the laundry going, the grocery shopping, played with our son, loved on us and allowed Mommy the time to simply rest and recover with our new bundle.
I had a wonderful birth that I will write about soon, I didn’t hemorrhage like I did the first time (although my body did threaten to,) I didn’t feel like I got hit by a Mac truck, but I did feel incredibly sore in my tummy for longer than I anticipated. I had no tearing, no hemorrhoids this time, no stitches. But I was still achey and weak… I feared hemorrhaging, even after I returned. I had a set of stairs to climb just to enter my building and then 3 flights of stairs to get to my apartment… and then had to climb up and down those 2 days later again for the pediatrician appointment… Let me tell you — something so simple is incredibly tough on our bodies just after birth. Getting to be in my own bed just 7 hours after birthing my son was a blessing. Getting to climb 3 1/2 flights of stairs just 7 hours after birthing my son was not. It made me clot and bleed more and took over 2 weeks before just walking down the hallway didn’t make my uterus feel like it was going to fall out, tugging in a very painful way. That scared me, but I was grateful that I had the support here to heal in a way that didn’t create fear in me or expect more of me than I felt comfortable giving.
My husband took such good care of me and our older son during this time and he encouraged me to take the time to heal. Abram was 3 weeks old before I cooked a dinner (I secretly dreaded this but was able to be preciously distracted with my son strapped to me in the baby carrier, while I listened to a 30 minute vox from my sister filling me in on everything I’ve missed out on her life… and it was really, really nice.) A few days prior, I had started cooking breakfast but would rest directly afterwards and my husband would clean up. I had cooked and frozen almost 3 weeks of dinners, which was a lifesaver and allowed my husband some sort of breathing room when it came to all of the responsibilities, and we both appreciated that. It gave him one less thing to do and ensured that I was eating healthy, nourishing foods to maintain a healthy milk supply, as well as help heal my body. I purposely curated dinners that were high in iron, vitamin C, vitamin K, and other healing and comforting nutrients, and I believe this contributed to my healthy mental state as well. Having my husband still have home cooked meals from his wife I think helped him out during this crazy time as well 😅💕
Another thing I did differently this time was prolong the time before we had visitors.
My husband and I decided before the birth that we wanted one full week before we had anyone come to see us and the baby, so that we could slowly adjust to our new beautiful transition. Last time, I got very overwhelmed with the visitors and phone calls and updates and I knew that this time I did not want to feel that way. I struggled with postpartum anxiety with my first birth, which eventually snowballed into postpartum depression. I knew I needed a much slower introduction into this new wave of motherhood. We honored our decision, and our families and friends graciously respected our boundaries. This made a huge difference in my mental and emotional state. When my in-laws came to visit 9 days postpartum, they stayed at a hotel to give us our space, and it was a gesture that was so appreciated. When my Dad came to visit, he only stayed for 2 hours before leaving, and then we didn’t have another visitor for another week. That visit was for an hour and then we didn’t have anyone else over until my oldest’s 4th birthday party. When my in-laws stayed after the party, my sister-in-law still cared for us by insisting we go to bed early with our newborn, as she and my mother-in-law cleaned up the mess from the party. We cocooned like crazy with each other and it was the most tender way to enter this new chapter.
So my lying-in period didn’t consist of me lying in bed for 40 days per se, but it was pretty close, and it did honor a much more gentle and slower postpartum period.
It involved listening and honoring both my body and my heart’s limits and allowed my family and I to take it very easy. We treated the time as delicately as our newborn.
I know not everyone has the opportunity to experience postpartum this way, but to all the women expecting, whether it is your first baby or 5th, I highly recommend setting plans in place and at least envisioning and discussing with loved ones how you’d like this period to look and feel. Prepping meals to freeze for at least the first week or so, limiting visitors—if that is overwhelming for you— and welcoming the outside world slowly and at your own discretion…, asking for help from those who make you feel really safe and nurtured during your most vulnerable state, and reaching out to those who bring you such emotional comfort…Allow yourself to put the world on pause for just a little moment. I promise that those who love you best will honor that without reservation💕
I didn’t do any of this last time and my mental health suffered tremendously because of that, I didn’t voice my discomforts—physical or emotional— and so couldn’t have them honored, and it was something I feared for the second time around. However, making a plan and voicing that plan and allowing my family and I to do things differently and much more slowly, it has healed me from that first birth and postpartum experience and in turn has me feeling truly prepared this time around for mothering our two sweet blessings and taking on the rest of my responsibilities as mommy and wife. I feel ready and emotionally equipped for this beautiful new transition in my life and it’s all I ever wanted.
For some women, this may sound like literal postpartum jail😂 and that’s okay! Each woman must honor her own heart. But if you’re anything like me, everything aforementioned sounds like postpartum heaven… because for me, it truly was…and I simply hope that this encourages even just one mommy out there to think about these things because it is so important, and way too often inadvertently overlooked. ☺️🙏🏽💕✨
With love, light and so many newborn snuggles,