4 years ago, I was flying high as a new parent. I couldn’t be more alive and in love. All was shiny and right in the world. My wife and I were dealing with the ups and downs of the hormonal fluctuations, yes, even the non-gestational parent/mom/dad, gets hit with this. We were navigating the unexpected, like nursing all night and day, wondering why we ever assembled a crib in a different room, wondering if I should eliminate dairy and gluten to help the little baby out. We did it together, held each other when things were overwhelming and lovingly looked into each other’s eyes when it came together with a sleeping infant between us. And we welcomed guests. We wanted everyone to meet this gem. She was amazing and I didn’t want to keep her hidden from the world! I started to drink coffee which I dubbed, Elixir of the Gods. I ate ungodly amounts of food and drank enough water to satisfy a camel. I was feeling amazing and doing it all. We even hosted mother’s day at our house the day after my 70+ hour labor and homebirth. Why not, I was in love with the world and felt amazing.
Until I didn’t.
As I anticipate this next babe, coming earthside any day now, I feel compelled to write out my post partum wishes.
I want to not rely on caffeine to feel alive.
I want to rely on nourishing and appropriate foods to feel amazing.
I want to avoid a prolapse.
I want my overworked ligaments to be able to do what they do and get back to where they should be, holding up my uterus where it should be.
I don’t want to be on my feet for hours everyday making food, that yes, is still dairy, gluten and meat free.
I don’t want to run from one place to another trying to soothe a baby in a car seat that just wishes it was close to a human body.
I want to avoid a flare up of the very painful and debilitating autoimmune disease that is my reminder to check myself. I call it my gift from my first. But really, it was me that allowed it to take hold. She has nothing to do with my health tailspinning at 14 months postpartum. Hindsight is 20/20. And the lessons learned are priceless.
Basically, I want to heal and bond and just be. With my family.
I want to be okay leaning on others and asking for help.
I don’t know how it’s going to go. I don’t even know what dinner is going to be tonight. I do know this pregnancy, at 37, has felt healthier than the one I had at 32 because of what I learned after the birth of my first. I know that I have an amazing team built up around me that don’t mind my random frantic calls of help or commiseration. I also know that I have some resources and the internet to help me figure out how to have the best start possible in my postpartum period. And boy did I learn a lot. I knew proper healing in the postpartum period was important, but no idea how important.
It’s strange territory. This taking measured time to heal and bond. I anticipate feeling stir crazy and pressure from my own mind to get up and do something. Anything. Clean, cook, go to my daughter’s first dance recital, go to the beach with the family, do the damn laundry. My current job is to run the household, provide balance and support to my hardworking wife, and provide the primary care and ‘education’ of our 4 year old. I also keep a business afloat. It’s my passion and my love and I can’t wait to get back to practicing full time. It’s always close in thought. I love these things. But they can also drain me. They can stress me and they need to take a back seat at the moment. And they need to do it in a culture that has crazy expectations of their mothers. It is seen as normal to have all the visitors after a child is born and serve them tea and cake. It is normal to bond, feed, heal and prepare baby and parent for a return to work as soon as possible. That is insane by the way. It is normal to introduce a 3 day old into society. It is normal to show the world how strong you are and how well everything is going even when you are in a most vulnerable state. Also, insane. But it’s not like this everywhere.
In preparation for this post partum period I’m taking some ideas from other cultures where it’s normal for the birthing parent to lay around, bond and heal for 30-40 days. I’m going to go deeper into this solitude and respect that feeling of wanting to be quiet and heal and close up the gate from heaven to earth, that was just wide wide open. 10 cm seems like an understatement. It actually, physically, takes quite awhile; energetically, maybe longer. This is my wish. I have taken a few measures to attain it. Telling everyone about it is a big one.
I have made a ton of food beforehand. I’m asking others for help with food and hanging out with my 4 year old, and providing body work. We have no parental leave, besides my wife’s built up vacation time, all of 2 weeks a year. We need her to keep going to work as we can’t survive on no income. Or even reduced as she is the sole maker of money here. So, I prepare the best I can. I use the creative juices flowing hot and heavy at the moment to prepare interesting things for big sister. I read and anticipate and wait and hope for the best. And really, if hanging out with our new baby in relative seclusion for a few weeks and focusing on healing my mind and body helps to reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression, menopausal surprises like incontinence or a flare of my existing autoimmune disease, or worse, developing a new AI,, sign me up.
This is what I know, with certainty, it will be different. A new part of the journey. And it starts with that sweet angel coming earthside.
I’ll keep you posted!
Resources to learn more:
My video taking you through things I assembled to have at my bedside, bathroom and kitchen during my postpartum babymoon or lie-in
Natural Health After Birth by Dr. Aviva Romm
Basically my post partum bible
Golden Month: Caring for the World’s Mothers After Childbirth by Jenny Allison
I have not read this! It is written by a fellow acupuncturist. It is a new book and I welcome input from any of you who do.
I have not read this either but it has great reviews
Creating Your Babymoon: A Guide for Healing Postpartum by Stephanie Lynn Tanner
Taking Back Rights of Passage into Motherhood by Stephanie Lynn Tanner
She has also created a course! Lots of great support from this mama. I really recommend reading this.
Physiological Postpartum Care: Remembering Our Global Postpartum Tradition by Rachelle Garcia Saliga CPM
This was written by a fellow ATMAT (Arvigo Technique Mayan Abdominal Therapy) practitioner. Of course, I love reading about the physiology of all the things. A great read.
The Healing Power of Rest: Lying in with your Baby by Megan McCoy Dellecese
Traditional Practices for Healthy Childbearing by Birth Institute
This is a quick write up of some great tips for having a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum period by one of my mentors, Rosita Arvigo