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Reflection and Release : A Postpartum Update (months 6-12)

My baby turned one last month.  I am convinced that your baby’s first BIRTH day is almost shared between the mom and the baby.  Now I don’t want to take an ounce of attention off of them and celebrating that they’ve been in the world for a full year, but it’s more of a chance to reflect on not only the act of their birth, but also on all the milestones that have rolled out over that first year.  It’s huge, surreal even.

Since these postpartum updates are more on the overall wellbeing from the mother’s perspective, I’ll give you all a little heart-to-heart update from where I’ve been standing.

This year and certainly months 6-12 were very mentally heavy for me.  I cannot blame all of it on the pandemic we are currently under as a nation, but surely it has to contribute.  Noise and needs under my feet constantly and I’ve felt a tight pressure in my chest.  My normal flow and rhythms and moments of space in the day were gone.  For 6 solid months.  I did not always handle this with grace by any means, I often felt internally irritable and tried to hold it in so I didn’t spew out my own stress onto the family.

I was also harder on myself for feeling this way.  For feeling like “Wow, I hit that ‘9 months in, 9 months out’ moment and I don’t feel wholly myself again.”

I’m writing this in month 13 and I have to confess that in many ways, I still don’t feel like myself before this baby.  

In my reflection, I see that I’ve fought a mountain of obsessive thoughts and this has come out in internal angst through grappling for control.  It can be small things like expecting my kitchen to be spotless and then in heavier things like being hard on myself and my expectations for how I should look, be, act.  I see now that if I had to name it, I might even say I had/have a touch of postpartum depression.  While I was able to connect with my baby, I often felt I couldn’t be fully present because I was stuck in my own mental battles.

I pushed myself too hard, too fast.  

I called this my way of processing.  I would make excuses like, “Well, I just don’t like to sit down.  I’m a mover and a shaker!”  But in hindsight, I should have paused more. 

Part of my healing has actually been seeing that the way in which faith moves is FORWARD, in recognizing that God gives us second chances.  Each morning breeds new and bountiful mercies that are there for the taking.  I’ve been finding ways to almost “redo” my postpartum period that I sped through (or perhaps even skipped over).

I fall asleep in that nursing chair holding him any chance I can.

I’ve cut back my workout time, done postpartum workouts, and foam roll my shoulders which are tight from nursing and baby wearing.

I’ve gone to bed earlier since I wake up SO stinkin’ early.

I’ve read books during quiet moments of the day.

I’ve asked for help with house chores.

I get on the ground and play with him and tickle him til he roars with giggles.

I’ve allowed my husband to bring me home a hot takeout meal instead of insisting I make it all.

I share all this to one, be fully transparent, but two, to give mothers a realistic look at the fact that childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding – all of it takes time to adjust and process.  It is A LOT on the physical body indeed, but it is also a great deal to wrap your head around mentally.  

There is no “bouncing back.”  Because you don’t go back, you go forward.  You grow into the new person you’ve become now that your family has changed.  You find her piece by piece.  You stay curious while learning her, releasing all judgement.  You trust that you are loved as you are and that God will give you all the mama strength you need to pour into others while also extending kindness and care toward yourself…and you believe there’s room for both.

I’m still walking this postpartum journey, and in my experience, it can take about 2 years to really settle in again.  I’m thankful that honesty begets honesty and as I’ve opened up to share some of my own processing, it has compelled the circle of mothers in my life to do the same, which has allowed me to feel less alone.

I am claiming this mantra : 

It’s never too late to offer gentleness, kindness, and grace toward myself.

Ending on this quote, which I love…

“Grace will take you places hustling can’t.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert

Read my other postpartum updates:

When the Doer Doesn’t Do : A Postpartum Update (months 1-3)

The Settling In Phase : A Postpartum Update (months 4-6)

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Hello friend! I'm Rachel Stricklin and I'm so happy you have landed here!

 

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