Two Weeks Postpartum With #2
I wrote previously about the end of pregnancy alongside raising Bodie. Birth on the other side of those forty weeks was straightforward. The prominent fear I had in the last stretch was about not properly being able to communicate to Bodie that he would be waking to Dan and I away and news of his baby sister. We got lucky and I went into a routine doctor’s appointment where they told me those weren’t false labor pains stopping me in my tracks that afternoon. Our doc gave me the green light to meet Dan at home two blocks away and say goodnight to Bodie.
The other lingering fear had been that I wasn’t as prepared this time around - that I hadn’t spent the same amount of energy getting my body into shape for labor. But as soon as labor began I felt cloaked with calm and confidence knowing just how natural and fleeting the process is. I was more prepared than I knew possible.
That brings me to postpartum. In between feedings and cuddles with the kids, I’ve been jotting down observations on this period following Lyla’s birth in comparison to returning home three years ago with Bodie.
The Hospital Stay -
I know some friends were eager to leave the hospital, especially the second time around when they had a little one waiting at home. Because Bodie was able to visit each day and was upbeat in my parents’ care, I felt comfortable staying the full time and if I’m being honest, enjoying it. I felt like I’d given Bodie two and a half years and it was only fair to take the two and a half days to bask in our newest baby.
Coming Home -
This was probably the most emotional piece. Bodie was thrilled to see us when he got home from preschool at noon and the afternoon the four of us felt like magic. Closing in on the evening as Bodie and I both started to tire, things began to venture off the rails. Bodie wanted me to come to put him down just as Lyla latched on to a boob. Cut to Bodie telling me he wanted to live with Amma and Papa (sophisticated two and a half-year-old right?) and me crying into his shoulder. This was my first awakening to the waves. I’ve since realized the emotional ripples may come and go for a long time and to know that they aren’t a sign of huge tumult but just normal adjustments for all parties. I try not to internalize it too much and to remember it’s a healthy process.
My first experience postpartum, I felt like a queen (a very sore, exhausted queen). I had my husbands’ full attention, even down there where I needed an extra hand in caring for stitches and such. This time, we’d been there done that and recovery felt almost routine as opposed to emotional so Dan’s attention rightfully was focused on Bodie and Lyla and even though that’s the biggest help, I did feel a bit abandoned. We talked this through and I would say if you feel at all the same, share it right away as vulnerably as possible so your partner sees you for the hurting bits too. It’s really easy for them to see you being strong for the kids and forget that you’re also in recovery.
This is personally the guilt inducing part. I find myself mourning my previous day to day much more than I did the first time. With Bodie, I was so enamored with the role of mother I was quite pleased to curl into just that for a long period. It took me a year to organically feel drawn to a work and creative self that not just coexisted but fed my mothering self. That evolved a set of routines that served my sense of connectedness. The thing about non-traditional work is it comes with non-traditional maternity leave so unlike the first time when I was formally disconnected from all else, this time I have a set of to-dos and relationships calling for attention in the few free moments. So at the end of any day, I feel like I’m giving Lyla, Bodie, myself, my husband and my work just less. I keep reminding myself that two weeks is early days. Talk to me in two months and I feel confident I’ll be in a different, and I would bet on better, place.
Looking back at pictures from January of 2016, I laid on the couch or in bed holding my first baby all my waking hours. I slept in after long nights. This time, I had a surge of energy when I came home and I would wake at the 6 am feed and move swiftly into a regular morning routine with Bodie. I also just really like the mornings the four of us. Until ten days in when I woke with a massive head cold and my body forced me to stop. To be ok with Bodie not being ok for a few minutes here and there. To be ok with sleeping instead of holding Lyla or having a proper dinner with Dan and my mother. To be ok knowing this will shift and for now, I’m healing too.
Friends & Family -
Following Bodie coming into our sphere, I was at my most social. I was so proud to invite people in to meet the baby we brought into the world and re-meet us as parents. This time, it’s much less about us and much more about wanting to set our two children up for a happy start. I know about Bodie that he responds well to calm and not as well to large groups. So as soon as we had one tough evening when loads of family descended on the house post-nap time (a notoriously cranky time), Dan and I set up some careful ground rules to protect our space for these early weeks. For us, it’s worked to keep Bodie’s rhythms and routines consistent and let us all slowly grow more comfortable in our new dynamics before inviting in a lot of excitement.
I wish I could gift this to every new parent. This time, any comment or question - and there are many - what we should do or could try, what looks good and what looks off, how long I’ll be breastfeeding or not - slides off my skin as if it’s been sealed with protectant. Because this time, I feel I’ve earned my trust. I know I can tune into my kids’ needs and do right by them. It’s a rare gift to mothers and it’s not limited to second or third-time moms. We all have it.
What do you remember about these first weeks of newborn life? If you’re onto baby #2 what was different for you?