This is postpartum.

It’s making the final push and finally seeing your newborn. It’s that breathless questioning, “Is she okay? Is she breathing? Does she seem healthy?”

It’s holding your little one in your arms for the first time, feeling her skin against yours, feeling her breathe with you. It’s that first latch of breastfeeding, wondering if you’re doing it right, wondering if she’s going to know how to nurse or if you’ll need help. It’s the most intense pride when she gets it right. Handing your little one to your husband and seeing him cry with joy.

The pain of being stitched up after a tear, but barely noticing because you’re so enthralled with this new tiny human.

It’s feeling shaky and needing help to stand because labor was so much… well, work. Then hunger because you haven’t eaten a real meal in 2 days and now your little one needs a meal… from you. Needing help to sit up in bed, using your arms to pull yourself up because your abdomen is so weak and sore. Taking that first shower and, yes, going to the bathroom the first time and being so afraid it’ll tear the stitches.

It’s the fear and anxiety of putting this little one in her carseat for the first time, and driving away from the hospital. You’re on edge with every passing car, and your husband, the normally calm driver, honks the horn at another car for the first time ever because he is, too.

It’s no sleep because between nursing and checking to make sure she’s breathing… warm enough… not too warm… you’re awake every 30 minutes.

It’s learning to rely on family, friends, and your husband and learning to “sleep when she sleeps.” It’s sometimes feeling judged, needing to remind yourself that their advice is well-intentioned and out of love. It’s learning to rely on your instincts as a parent, learning what works for you and your family and your child.

Later, it’s taking this little one out in public and feeling emotional with every person looking at you, thinking they’re judging you for bringing her out of the house “so early.” It’s actually getting that comment from a stranger and feeling torn between wanting to slap her and cry.

It’s crying, a lot. Crying when you’re worried she’s not eating enough, crying with joy because she gained enough weight at the first doctor appointment, crying with pride when she lifts her head in tummy time. And it’s laughing, a lot. Laughing when she “smiles” but it’s actually a toot. Laughing when you’re changing her and she wasn’t done yet and poop goes EVERYWHERE.

THIS is postpartum.

It’s slowly starting to move again, beginning with walking, but even that feels like your stitches are coming apart. It’s being able to walk a little further each day, then feeling less and less like you’re going to pee with every cough, sneeze, and laugh. It’s getting “cleared” at 6 weeks but not really knowing what that means…

PSA: peeing when you sneeze, laugh, cough, run, jump — it’s common, but not normal! Go see a pelvic floor physical therapist!

It’s thinking you’ve got this breastfeeding thing down and then your child gets teeth and makes you bleed. It’s crying because you want to continue nursing but you’re scared. It’s crying with joy when you realize you got over the fear and she learned not to bite anymore.

It’s looking at your body and seeing all the changes — stretch marks, sagging skin, wider hips, one breast larger than the other, dark circles under your eyes — and seeing the beauty in this different body.

Seeing the strength that grew and birthed and feeds another human every day.

This is postpartum.


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