A mom’s take on life after giving birth
From the blogger behind Thoughtful Misfit
We’re excited to feature a guest post about postpartum from the founder of the women’s blog Thoughtful Misfit. Tienlyn is redefining style, living and motherhood for women who don’t fit in boxes. We love her site because it’s content for women, by women. What’s better than that?
Today Tienlyn is diving deep into her emotions after recently giving birth, during the commonly-known postpartum period.
A woman’s body, and her mind, experience many monumental changes both during and after pregnancy. In fact, going through postpartum depression is an extremely common experience for new moms, about 3 million US cases annually alone, and it can affect one’s mental, physical and emotional health. Let’s here Tienlyn’s thoughts about her postpartum experience.
Finding yourself postpartum
No one really understands the postpartum unless they’ve gone through it themselves, but before I gave birth, a friend described it quite accurately when she said, ‘Your life is like a vase that has been shattered on the floor. And recovering from postpartum is like trying to glue those pieces back together.’
Albeit some pretty intense back labor made more intense by having to delay my epidural by 3 hours, my birth was pretty easy. And by comparison to most, my immediate recovery was actually a breeze. I could walk, pee, and do all the things right away and with no complication. And while our little Squish was in NICU for 7 days, which was incredibly rough on us both emotion and schedule-wise, once we brought him home, we quickly fell into a schedule that was surprisingly doable. My family was an amazing support and stayed nearby for two weeks, caring for the dogs, running errands, stocking the freezer, and preparing nourishing meals I had requested in advance (from the book The First Forty Days).
And even though it was definitely in increments, I was sleeping pretty well. Nikko and I were closer than ever and laughing a lot. I even dropped 20 lbs within the first two weeks, which meant I was able to slip into some of the larger pieces of my old wardrobe. But that’s hardly to say that I felt like my old self – or felt like I looked like my old self.
I know that, as mothers, we are supposed to be thankful for the incredible miracles our bodies are able to perform – from creating an entirely new being to nourishing them. And while this was certainly true, as I marveled at how my body transformed to meet the needs of the new love of my life, I also felt foreign in my own body.
You might say that patience is the virtue I lack the most – and postpartum might be the time in a woman’s life where she needs it the most. It takes time to put that shattered vase back together. And forcing myself to slow down was easily the hardest thing I have ever done.
Don’t get me wrong – there were definitely times where I overdid it and where I pushed myself too hard. On one occasion, I went out for a short walk and found myself trying to run. I felt so silly, hobbling back to the house to crawl into bed. I had wanted to be back to my old pace and my old body so badly, that I had actually set myself back by pushing too hard.
Eventually, I realized that embracing where I was in the moment was the only way I was going to find grace – and also the only way I could actually get back to being who I was. That’s when I decided to invest in the moment. Instead of trying to squeeze myself into my old wardrobe, I bought a few pieces of clothing in my current size that made me feel beautiful. And I did a complete undergarment overhaul, swapping out everything in my overstuffed lingerie drawer for just a few, beautiful quality basics that actually fit me from Cosabella. To me, this was incredibly symbolic. I was clearing away the clutter of how I used to see myself in favor of who I was in that moment.
Postpartum changes a woman. Yes, we go through a ton of physical changes. But the truth of the matter is that’s not the biggest change. Some women’s bodies never go back to the way they were before babies. But some women’s bodies do. But no matter where our bodies end up, the experience of postpartum leaves us all changed. We see an entirely different side of what our bodies can go through, and that awareness stays with us forever. We see another side of ourselves we could never have imagined existed had we not been faced with it. As we piece that vase that was our life pre-baby back together, we are always left with cracks. But just like Leonard Cohen once famously wrote, ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Be sure to read more from Tienlyn and other fellow women bloggers on the female-founded platform the Thoughtful Misfit.