Pre pregnancy, I was a competitive athlete, I was extremely social, up for anything on a whim. I loved spending time in the kitchen cooking creative and healthy meals, I was an avid reader, journaler, and meditator. I felt balanced, well rounded, and free. For most of my pregnancy I felt connected to that free and balanced self, although instead of being a competitive athlete I was just keeping myself fit for birth, and a lot of time in the kitchen was spent cooking whatever meal I was craving in the moment. I was embracing the changes during my pregnancy and I thought I would just be able to embrace everything else after I had my baby. But that’s not how it happened. Not for me anyway.
After having my daughter, there was this lingering anxiety around “feeling like myself again.”
After that baby was out of my body it was like I was relearning how to be a human again, not to mention figure out how to be a mother of a newborn. I was barely finding time to sleep let alone meditate, my once rigorous exercise routine now consisted of me taking a couple walking laps around the neighborhood with the stroller, the majority of my meals were toast with butter and a handful of trail mix. If I read, it was a quick article on how to get my newborn to nurse, and the only people I saw were the people who came to visit my house, and most of them I didn’t really even want to see anyway. I remember feeling so sad. In the early days of postpartum that sadness felt so daunting and permanent, a sadness that I would never have time to shave both of my legs in the shower ever again, that I’d never cook a meal then eat it with two hands, sadness that I’d never want to see my friends again, and if I did want to-- would they even want to see me? I asked myself often “Will I ever feel back to normal again?” And the honest answer is, (now that I’m 16 months postpartum), no, there is no “going back to normal” after having a baby. The physical, emotional, spiritual shift and expansion that happens after creating, carrying, and delivering a human is one where there is no going back. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s just different. I think the conflict I was having with myself was just the unknown of who or what version of me I was becoming.
There was a whole and huge new part of myself that I was literally learning day by day.
Eventually, I would go back to cooking and eating with two hands, I’d be able to take long showers, and I’d even be able to move my body in the gym. I’m still working on meditating consistently again, I’ve swapped physical books for audiobooks, and although the 2020 pandemic and quarantine has made it hard to be social, I’ve been able to connect with the friends I love and make new friends. There is a lot of pressure for new moms to quickly bounce back; in terms of their bodies and in terms of their work lives, social lives, etc. I think a lot of it is self inflicted. But it can also be brought on by comparison on social media, or comparison to a sister’s or friend’s postpartum experience. It’s so hard to step into something so new and so different and feel confident about it. Some find the changes easy to adapt to, some find the changes utterly impossible. I just want to acknowledge that there is a little bit of a buffer period after having a baby and starting to feel like a new you. We grow a brand new human, and then we also become a brand new human. There are no directions or perfect recipe for this. I found new mom support groups to be super helpful, to talk candidly and honestly with other moms with older kids, and to start doing things that made me feel happy and whole, like bringing my eight week old daughter to coffee shops. It takes time, it takes patience, and it takes some grace.
Here are a couple of my favorite resources for the Long Island area for postpartum support.