For nine months you are going to doctor appointments monthly, then weekly after you hit 36 weeks. Not only are your doctors heavily watching, but everyone around you is asking how you are feeling. You have the baby and all of a sudden It seems like your body is forgotten. The baby has multiple appointments, and your doctor discharges you from the hospital and says, “Okay, see you at your six-week postpartum appointment!” Your six-week appointment roles around, they talk to you for five minutes, give everything a look and say “okay you’re good to go! See you in a year.”
What do you do now? My body is aching, my tear doesn’t feel fully healed, and I still feel I am recovering. Mentally I am trying to make sense of my new reality. Society makes it seem like you are supposed to bounce back right away. Back to work, back to your old self, back to fit in your clothes. The average person doesn’t “bounce back.” That phrase actually irks me.
What I have learned in the last fifteen weeks is that you need to advocate for yourself. I needed to call my doctor to ask them to write a script for physical therapy, that conversation was never provided. I need to ask my insanely supportive husband when I need a break.
Mentally I feel terrific. We were confined to the house for the first couple of weeks. Aside from leaving for Athena’s appointments in the beginning weeks, we had a lot of visitors. As I slowly started to feel better, we’d go on walks, get coffee and go out to eat. There were days when we would be out, and I’d tell Rhys I hit my limit because I was in too much pain and almost in tears. I tried to keep a positive attitude throughout my pregnancy, and I know that helped my mental state after I had Athena.
Physically is where I really struggled and still am, but getting stronger every day. Eight weeks postpartum, I started noticing new pains. Not just pains from my tear but my low back, knees, and plantar fasciitis. How could this be that all these new-onset pains happen after the world says I am supposed to be recovered? Other moms will tell me, “Oh, those will go away; they did for me!” Here I am seven weeks later, and they haven’t. Yes, they are not as severe, but it’s because I have enlisted the help of professionals.
How I am healing:
In addition, I realize that I have an insane privilege with my maternity leave being six months, health insurance, and income. Not all of the recovery methods are available to everyone, but if they are, take them. Make time for yourself. Find time to heal. It is important.
Pilates: I wanted to find a way to build up my core strength, posture, and center myself. Every week I get stronger. Every week my instructor encourages me to do more. Jumping into a hit class wasn’t and still isn’t something I am ready to do. I am working with an instructor at Club Pilates who specializes in working with postpartum women!
Physical therapy: If you have insurance that covers this don’t think about it; do it. I heard someone say once that pregnancy is like a nine-month athletic event and labor is the Championship. We are working on my pelvic floor, lower back pain, knee pain, and plantar fasciitis. My PT has even discussed massaging my scar for healing purposes. I am just not there yet.
Self Care: One month after Athena was born, I took myself to the spa and got a facial. My hair is cut, my nails have been manicured, and I have had other skincare treatments. I mustn’t lose who I was before becoming a mom. These are all things I enjoy and will continue to do.
Asking for help and communicate how you are feeling: There are still days where I am not feeling my best. I am not the best sleeper and the other day I felt ill. I told Rhys I need one night of uninterrupted sleep. So I slept in the guest bedroom and It helped me to be a better mom and partner. Be vocal with your partner, with your friends or family that you are plan to see. If you aren’t up for visitors tell people.
If you don’t feel like you can do things around the house express that. There were nights in the beginning when I was up for feedings. I would sit down in our glider, feed Athena and then literally wonder “How will I get up?”. Here I am in tears at 3 am climbing onto the floor because it was easier for me to push off the floor than the chair.
I want to start out by saying that everyone’s genetic makeup and bodies are different. We did not have the same body before, during, or after pregnancy. We are not going through the same physical and mental postpartum journey. In the age of social media, it’s hard to not compare literally everything in your life. These are real, untouched, and unfiltered photos. My belly didn’t miraculously go back to normal. I am two pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. When I came home from the hospital I lost twenty-three pounds.
Again as you look through these photos you can see that while my weight was still the same so many other things were happening internally. Your uterus is contracting back into place, you are still full with fluid and you just carried another human for nine months. Your body changes over nine months and more often than not most people don’t go back to the way they were before. For me it’s not about the number on the scale, but how I am feeling. I feel stronger every day and grateful for all my body has gone through.
On June 28th I posted this photo and talked about how I did not want to let the societal pressure change the way I feel throughout my postpartum pregnancy journey. I am proud to say I haven’t. I said “I want to be strong mentally and physically for my daughter and husband.” Mentally I am there. Physically I am still working on that.
Give yourself some grace and remember progress over perfection. That really applies to all facets of life.
Thanks for reading. Thank you for the support and this community. I love going through and sharing this journey with you! I am an open book. Ask me anything.
All my love,