You’ve all seen it before: the celebrity who walks the red carpet 2 weeks after baby and looks perfect– glowing and radiant even. The fitness blogger who shows off her new-mommy 6-pack abs and asks “what’s your excuse?” making every other new mom out there feel less-than, at the very least.
But you know what? While those are real people, and yes, real results, they do not represent the norm. And they certainly don’t represent a standard of where you “should” be, 2, 4, or 6 weeks post partum.
I will tell you to start out that I had an unexpected c-section with Isabelle. Some things occurred to make this medically necessary for the safety of all involved. And while it broke my heart in the moment, I did what I had to do to bring this beautiful baby into the world. That being said, my journey is going to look a little different than another mama no matter what her birth story looked like. So on that note, this post is in no way a “what to expect” or a list of things you should feel after baby, because the truth is that we’re all going to experience this a little bit differently.
The goal today is just to give you a real life, un-glammed, imperfect glimpse into my story, with the hopes that it can help out other moms who are lost in a sea of “shoulds” and perfect post partum abs.
Showering is a luxury.
There are many days now where I have to strategically find time to shower quickly, and many days where I don’t even get to shower at all. Life just after baby is anything but glamorous, and you’d be surprised how much little time you actually have to get anything done. All newborns do is eat, sleep, and poop, right? So there’s plenty of time during the day to get lots of things done and even relax? Nope, not so much. All of those things happen with such frequency, never mind the new mom challenge of figuring breast feeding out, and you’ve got a literally 24/7 job on your hands. I firmly believe that’s the reason babies are so cute and smell so good– so we don’t mind the constant hard work! Case in point: it took me two weeks to write this very blog post. Time is not on my side these days.
Everything was swollen.
I don’t think I looked in a mirror for a full day after my surgery. But by the time I did, I was shocked by how swollen I still was. From my face down to my toes, not only did I still look pregnant, but I looked like I had been pumped full of fluid and air. Pants that were loose on me at 40 weeks pregnant were now tight, and you can imagine what a trip that is mentally when you’re kind of expecting to get your body back once the baby makes their exit. The swelling went down in about a week, but I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous that it might hang around forever (irrational sleep deprived thoughts).
The scale has dropped quickly, but things are a far cry from my “normal”.
I’m going to write a bigger post just on this topic, but here’s the overview: at two weeks post partum, I was already down to just 7 lb over my pre-baby weight. I’m not sure exactly where I am now since we don’t have a scale, but I’d say I’m somewhere in that 5-7 lb range. Yay, right? Well, not so fast. It’s actually a perfect example of how the scale doesn’t mean a whole lot, because my body is much different than those 7 lb will tell you.
Although I kept up a very active fitness routine while pregnant, lifting weights right up to the end, I still lost a significant amount of muscle mass over those 9 months. And add in recovery from surgery, and you’ve got full body atrophy at a maximum. Of course Isabelle is well worth it, but this body, although only 7 lb away from my before-baby body, is drastically different, and will take lots of hard work in the months to come.
Healing is frustrating.
Along that same train of thought, healing from a major surgery is not something I expected. After my remarkably easy pregnancy, I naively thought I would go into labor, waltz into the hospital, and pop out a baby a few hours later. Not so much. Complications led to surgery, and then all of a sudden there I was, recovering from a major surgery I never even bothered to read about ahead of time. Being told that I can’t work out for 6 weeks is tough, and feeling completely incapacitated was not part of my game plan. Lesson learned:when it comes to child birth, a birthing plan is ok, but be prepared for everything, and take nothing for granted.
That being said though, although Im not cleared to work out for a couple more weeks, that doesn’t mean I’ve been just laying around not moving at all. I have been doing everything I can safely do to keep my muscles engaged and functioning– daily walks and some glute and core rehab exercises. I will outline all of this in a later post, but suffice it to say that in all aspects of life, fitness is relative. I may not be anywhere near my fitness prime but I am doing everything possible to take care of myself and set myself up for future success.
No sleep is really, really hard.
Getting by on a few hours of sleep every once in a while is rough. Going an entire month with 2-3 hours of sleep per night (and sometimes less), is unthinkable. But here I am, in this club with all new parents, who find out that our bodies can adapt to some pretty crazy things in order to take care of these little bundles. Sleep deprivation is a form of serious torture,and here we are in the thick of it, day in and day out– and still expected to function like normal adults! So next time you see a friend with a new baby, and you jokingly ask about how much they’re sleeping, know that the truth is worse than you can imagine. And cut them some slack.
The emotional overload is something I never could have imagined.
Now, this might sound like I’m complaining, or that everything is all bad, but the truth is, there is nothing to compare to the amazing and gut wrenching amount of love that erupts from you when this baby comes into the world. There really are no words that can describe what it feels like to look at her, to smell her, to snuggle with this little tiny bundle of warmth. I stare at her endlessly, wanting to breathe her in, wanting to preserve this newborn stage forever. Sure, some things are really tough right now, but I know that this is such a fleeting time in our lives, one that seems stressful yet magical and wonderous all at once. The strength of emotions has been surprising to me, and as cliche as it sounds, you can never really imagine it until you’re going through it.
Along with all of that love and wonderment though, there have also been plenty of tears, and thats ok. After child birth, a woman is basically a raging inferno of hormones– hormones that cause emotional swings so strong its almost laughable. I’m not going to pretend I haven’t cried, haven’t already felt mom guilt, or haven’t doubted my ability to do this. But the truth is, that’s all a normal part of this process, one that I wish were talked about more openly. So cry it out, mamas, and find support where you need it. It truly takes a village!
After all this, the long and short of it is that the immediate weeks post partum are both wonderful and difficult, and everything in between. It’s the start of a new life, a new you, and probably one of the most amazing things that I’ll never truly be able to describe.
Other moms (and dads), what were your first few weeks like? What did you find most challenging in the early days of parenthood?