Postpartum Thoughts: Whose life is this?

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de kafo. Français : Photo d’une tasse de caffé Español: Taza de café (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whose life is this? I have no independence. When is there time to exercise or drink a cup of coffee or even finish a bowl of cereal? I might as well not even wear a shirt since this kid wants to nurse so often. My schedule suddenly revolves around naps and feedings. And I thought I was busy before becoming a mother! I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. People do this more than once? People have multiple children? How? I feel like I’m drowning with one. How do people do this? How??

These were just a few of the thoughts in my mind the first few days following B’s birth. I felt ashamed for thinking such things, but still fixated on them.

In my previous post, I discussed tips for battling the baby blues during the initial two to three weeks immediately after giving birth. This post pertains more to the time following those first few weeks.

I remember a phone conversation with my mother when B was about three weeks old. I cried, explaining that I felt like all I did was sit and watch my child all day, even while he slept. She kindly but frankly told me exactly what I needed to hear.

“Jami, it’s okay to lay that baby down while he sleeps. And it’s okay for you to do a few things around your house if you want to – empty the dishwasher, do the laundry. Yes, life looks different with a baby, but you have to figure out how to make things work. Just adapt a little based on how things are now with B. While you do things around the house, take him with you. Work in whatever room he’s in and get back into doing some of the things you’re used to doing. It will help you get back into a routine while learning how things look now. I have a feeling your husband is going to want his family with him, wherever he is – traveling, at church, wherever. So get to work figuring out how to make that happen. The sooner you do, the better.”

It was like someone had given me permission to do exactly what I needed. I’d been so focused on following everyone’s orders to rest, that I failed to recognize that doing a little housework was precisely what I needed in order to lift my spirits. Rest was still important, but my mood significantly improved simply by learning what it looked liked to get back into a routine with a little buddy as a companion. I cannot express my gratitude enough for my mother being there those first weeks to take care of my house while Nick and I worried about nothing but learning how to care for B. But once she returned home and several weeks passed, getting back into taking care of my home alongside of caring for my child was exactly what I needed to do.

Whose life is this? It’s the one God has given me and it’s a gift. Is it different than before B arrived? Drastically. Life inevitably changes after a baby enters the picture. But with that change comes grace to adapt my life and learn new ways to do things. Rather than mourn what I no longer have (a pre-pregnancy body, quiet hours of coffee and reading, uninterrupted meal times, etc.), I pray for grace to celebrate how life looks now and for dedicating myself to making things work in new ways. Yes, it requires work. Yes, it means self-sacrifice and putting others before myself. It often means cold, unfinished cups of coffee or soggy cereal, or days when I’m unable to shower until 3 in the afternoon. But that’s okay. Rather than giving into the culture that encourages me to demand time for myself, I ask for God’s help in joyfully adapting to life with my new family. So I similarly encourage you – this is your new life. Ask God for the grace to be thankful, enjoy it wholeheartedly and get to work!

And occasionally you may be blessed with an uninterrupted shower and a hot cup of coffee.

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