It’s tough being a new mom because you have no idea what is going on. Sure, you’ve read all the books, you’ve gone to the classes, you’ve listened to everyone’s stories, and you’ve looked everything up on Google. But it just doesn’t do anything you’re living it for the first time. You truly have to experience it yourself before knowing what worked and what didn’t.
You’re exhausted, which can totally throw off your rational sense. You’re not sure if you should bring your baby to the hospital or not when you see he or she hasn’t pooped in a few days and no one seems to remember from past experiences. My goodness, just please please please poop! Right?!
So, I had a rough labor (24+ hours and preeclampsia), a rough delivery (pushed 3 hours, got an episiotomy, had 3rd degree tears, gave birth to a large baby (9 lbs, 11 oz), and a rough recovery (loss of bladder control for 2 weeks, pain down there for months).
There are 5 things I did that I will not be doing again.
1. I will not be accepting visitors during labor, delivery, or my hospital stay.
The moment I was admitted at the hospital for our first born, I called my mother and my husband called his mother. They were both present by 6 a.m. and stuck around until I gave birth…the next day, at 4 a.m. It was not appreciated whatsoever. In fact, it gave me so much anxiety, stress and unnecessary pressure.
They kept coming in the room every hour or so, asking for updates. Before I knew it, more family was there. It’s not about not being grateful for their interest in the new baby. Between vomiting, almost fainting, being in complete distress, getting an epidural, and trying to sleep, no one needed to be there for that. I had no strength to express to my husband (or to myself) that they needed to leave. I was trying to focus on my breath, labor, and baby. Which I did.
But what about me? I remember texting my sister at one point, saying, “Tell them they can’t come in anymore.” But my mother-in-law still kept coming in. I felt completely disrespected and had no privacy. After I gave birth, I was extremely exhausted. I don’t even remember how many people visited me, probably at least 20. Amidst doing rounds of talking about the baby, letting everyone hold him, smiling and pretending to feel fine, for almost 3 hours straight, I finally told my husband I couldn’t handle one more visitor. The lineup was ridiculous. I started crying.
Giving birth isn’t a party. I understand new babies are exciting but unless I invite you over, please have the decency to call and ask when would be a good time. Because it wasn’t a good time at all. Women need time to heal and unwind from what just happened. Visitors can wait. At least for me.
2. I will not push for 3 hours.
That’s right. The average pushing time for a first time mom is 1-2 hours. Between getting in an episiotomy, getting 3rd degree tears, pushing for three hours, I had full loss of bladder control for two weeks, and took at least three months to recover. While the above might have happened regardless of how long I pushed, those doctors should not have left me pushing that long, our options should have been analyzed at the one-hour mark. I will know to do this now, should I end up being in the same predicament.
3. I will not ask everyone for advice.
For my firstborn, I wanted everyone’s input. Where should I go do this? Where should I go do that? He had a rash, why does he have a rash, everybody? I Googled that shit, I posted an update on Facebook, I texted everyone, I called my doctor every time. This time, I will take a step back and listen to my mama instincts.
4. I will refuse “help” with the baby.
One of the common mistakes we think we need and people assume we need as first time moms is help with the baby. It couldn’t be far from the truth. I don’t need help with the baby. I need help with everything else. I distinctly remember grocery shopping, carrying a big bag of dog food (I’m surprised my stitches didn’t split open), cooking a feast, and cleaning just a few days after I gave birth. I think my mother-in-law held my son for 4 hours. While I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. That is not helping. That is not what I needed.
I will be asking my husband to take time off this time around and help out with the newborn. I will be asking my mother-in-law to help clean the dishes, or pick up some things at the grocery store — if she offers to help. I don’t need help with the baby. I need to sit and heal and take it “easy” and focusing on the baby and my toddler. While things need to get done in the house, my baby kids need me and I need to have my strength.
Friends, you can help, too. I’m sorry, but I don’t have the energy to chat you up for two hours when you visit. Please offer to fold my laundry or bring me a glass of water. I would have really appreciated that for my first.
5. I will not force myself to attend X, Y and Z’s parties/events/things.
I had my firstborn less than 4 weeks before Christmas so, lucky for me, we were invited parties galore. And I went to all of them. Why? WHY? I just had a baby! I didn’t need to go. I live in Canada, so it was freezing cold, too. And something people forget, you’re exhausted for a really long time after you give birth. People expect for you to be looking dapper and feeling peppy within 24 hours of giving birth and it’s just not realistic. If you don’t understand why I won’t force myself to go to your thing so close to after I have my baby, then you didn’t deserve my presence in the first place.
I can’t speak for all women, but I personally need to stop having pride and giving in to society and perfect Instagram postpartum pictures. What is it with feeling the need to be able to do it all? We are not machines, we are not robots. There is nothing wrong with having someone help you the way you need to be helped. And there is nothing wrong with being in control of your life and your kids and acknowledging what is helpful and what is not.