I don’t know about any of you, but I was naive enough to think that after child-birth everything would go back to normal. I could go to beach and swim, exercise, in general would be able to do anything I could do before.
Low and behold, that was not the case. The first two days I felt like I got hit by a truck and when I started to feel better physically, I came down with a child-birth related infection. I am now 4 weeks postpartum and still being reminded of things I can’t or shouldn’t do. I am not complaining – my body created life – in short, a miracle, a beautiful and amazing child that I can’t imagine life without. Recovery time is understandable and necessary. But I am reminded now that in 8 more weeks, I am supposed to return to work. For another 2 weeks, I am still 100% limited on certain activities. At my next doctor’s appointment, they can determine that I still need more time to heal, etc. The gist that I have gotten from mothers – in about 2-3 months things start to feel back to normal but it can continue for as long as a couple of years depending on your unique situation.
The guaranteed maternity leave of employers with 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, the Family Medical Leave Act is 12 weeks. That is, in 12 weeks from your last day at work, you can return and expect to receive the same salary and an equivalent job. During those 12 weeks however, you are not paid and if you are on the company health insurance you have to pay for that out-of-pocket.
We as a nation, as a community, are telling mothers that 1. you can take 12 weeks off, if you are able to forgo your expenses for that time and 2. just when you are starting to feel like you again and starting to get the routine of parenting your child, we are saying, stop all that and go back to work. Now this is only if you are lucky enough to be at a job that is mandated to give you the FMLA. Forget about if you work for a small shop with a few employees. You probably will either lose your job or be forced to deny your child the parenting they should receive.
12 weeks is not enough. A guarantee of your job/salary is not enough. We can and should do better than this.
On July 27th, I gave birth to the love of my life, Halley Rose. Nothing I have learned over the past 25 years could ever prepare me for how much I love and adore her. All I know is that every day I count my blessings that she is happy and healthy – and I pray that I will be able to keep her that way from here on out.
As the first of my core group of friends to have a baby, I had a lot to learn on my own. The last time I really dealt with a baby was when my sister was born 20 years ago and I was 5. So here is some advice from someone just starting out as a mom.
- As a pre-labor prep option, it definitely helps to have pre-made meals in the house. Baked ziti, any kind of casserole, etc. I really didn’t have the energy to do this but if you do or know someone who will make some stuff for you – that’s great and it will make your life easier pp. I personally barely had any energy to even think about food so we ended up ordering in a lot.
- Labor is scary and painful. Hopefully this is not true for you but it definitely was for me. I had planned not to get the epidural and let’s just say – anyone who chooses not to get the epidural should be immediately wheeled to the psych ward. JK! More power to you but it did not work for me. Be open to changing your birth plan if you need to. At the end of the day, your babies health matters more than anything.
- There is a recovery period after labor. I assumed that I would be up and running the next day because I gave birth vaginally – not true. I felt like I was hit by a truck and I learned that for some things, it is worth it to get hit by a truck. Not to mention that you can have some postpartum infections, so if you have a fever/chills go in to your doctor and get that taken care of stat. Unfortunately, I fell into this category. Taking care of you is very important during this time. Your baby needs you so make sure you try to take care of yourself as well. BTW: You can’t have sex or go swimming for 6 weeks – I literally had no clue about this so I was disappointed about no swimming for the rest of the summer, I had an idea about the no sex thing but I didn’t think it was for a whole 6 weeks. #lame.
- You decide when it’s best to bring your baby out. When you get home, half of the people in your lives will expect you to stay in your house for 4 weeks and not come out, the other half will be trying to come over / call / talk to you all the time. Find your balance and don’t worry about everyone else. Everyone will eventually get to see your bundle of joy and if you wanna take the baby out 2 days post delivery – go ahead. I wouldn’t bring them anywhere there would be a lot of children (germs/colds) but do you.
- YOU WILL BE JUDGED. Everyone will try to give you their 2 cents. Take it and then decide later what you want to do with it. Don’t let other people’s remarks bother you because you are doing what you think is best for your child. Everyone has an opinion on parenting and there is no perfect, right course. As long as you are thinking about your babies best interest, you will be fine. Haters gonna hate.
- Breastfeeding is almost impossible for the first five days. If you want to breastfeed (from the breast – not pumping) you are going to have to diligently work at it. The baby will be crying and starving and you will be crying with breast milk leaking all over the place but I swear that in a few days everything will come together. It’s very trying to get through that initial period and postpartum emotions are not helpful but it’s a dance. They are learning and you are learning. The more you work at it, the better you both will get.
- Postpartum emotions are insane. As a husband/wife/fiance/boy or girlfriend/sig. other if you think PMSing is bad, postpartum emotions are 1000x more intense. I do not easily give into my emotions in general but I was hysterically crying just looking at the beautiful/perfect/amazing baby we made. Just let things flow and you will be fine. These should start to get less and less intense over the next couple of weeks and supposedly by 3 weeks pp you are back to normal hormonally. If you are feeling depressed, definitely let someone know as pp depression is not something to make light of.
- It’s important to have your partner around or a significant person who will be in the babies life. We were lucky that B was able to take off for two weeks to be around to help. I honestly don’t think I would have survived without him around. It really made things better and I think it’s great that they are already off to starting a wonderful father/daughter relationship.
- Be prepared to do laundry. Something that is always suggested when attending a baby shower or buying baby gifts is “don’t buy newborn clothing, parents always get too much and they barely wear them before they are the next size”. Expecting an 8 lb baby myself, I was happy that we only received a few outfits in NB. Halley was born about 6 lbs so we really ended up needing some of those outfits and everything I put her in for one reason or another managed to get poo, pee, or spit up on. Don’t buy more clothes, just do the laundry. Save the $$$ for something you really need.
- Enjoy these moments. Don’t stress to much, your baby can feel it. Your baby will never be this tiny again. Take a million pictures, have a million snuggles and really cherish every moment you have with him/her. It will go by so fast. Just like these past two weeks did.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave below.