When I had my first baby in 2019, I thought I was so prepared. I found a midwife group I loved, I found a doula group I loved, and with each passing day I was reading and researching about my pregnancy and growing baby. I created multiple baby registries and would spend my lunch break at work filling it with the baby products I thought I definitely was going to need. I had 3 baby showers: one with my local friends, one with my family and friends a thousand miles away, and a third surprise shower thrown by my coworkers. By the time my baby was supposed to arrive, I had drawers full of diapers and baby clothes, organized by size, set to last until she was at least 7 months old. I had a beautifully built crib, changing table and bassinet. Every baby swing, bouncer and exersaucer had been built and placed perfectly. My diaper bag was stocked, the carseat was installed, and I had been practicing how to open and close the stroller one handed for weeks. I WAS READY.
And then my baby was born.
Thankfully, I had a blissful and uneventful birth at home. I was supported and loved and I wish I could say that my birth was an indicator of my postpartum experience. But it wasn’t.
My postpartum experience was incredibly difficult. For one, I was alone most days after giving birth–I was living far away from my close family and friends, so I was home alone trying to figure out how to be a mother to an infant who barely ate or slept and cried all the time. Breastfeeding did not come easy for us, my daughter had a hard time latching which made both of us miserable. She was only content if I was holding her. She did not sleep for more than 2 hours at a time, and even then, it had to be with me. Early on I felt myself disappearing. I felt so alone and worried constantly that I was doing something wrong to be feeling so terrible and helpless.
New motherhood was so hard for me. But it looked and sounded so easy for everybody else. Nobody told me it was hard or that I would need support.
Part of what was so hard for me was that I was fiercely independent (probably to a fault) and I didn’t want to admit how desperately I was struggling. I also didn’t know how to put to words what I was feeling, I’m still not sure if I’ve found them. I didn’t want to be a burden by asking people to come help me– after all, people had jobs and lives. I wasn’t even sure what I needed or wanted or if I could have defined anything that would have made me “feel better”. All I knew was that I was alone, I was underfed, I wasn’t sleeping and everything was so freaking hard.
Nearly four years later, I’ve learned a lot more. About myself, about motherhood, and about postpartum. I’ve learned that my postpartum experience wasn’t unique, and the more moms I’ve talked to about their honest experience, the more I’ve learned that postpartum is super hard for everyone in different ways. I’ve learned that part of why I struggled so much in the early months was because I set up absolutely no support for myself. To be fair, I didn’t know I needed to and frankly, wouldn’t have known where to look for it even if I had known. I’ve learned that a lot of other moms don’t feel like they can be honest about how hard their postpartum experience is going– and like me, they aren’t setting themselves up for support for the early days of being a new parent. Thankfully now, BeHerVillage exists, so parents can find the types of support services they might want–and get them paid for by their family and friends. At the time that I’m writing this blog, I’m in my third trimester with my second child, and the majority of my energy has been spent planning for postpartum recovery, nourishment and support.
This time around, I know and have accepted that postpartum is hard and that it’s messy and tough to navigate, and also that it has the potential to be blissful and beautiful. Besides creating a BeHerVillage registry, here’s what I’m planning on doing differently this time:
- Pre-making grocery lists/ lists of foods I want to eat so I don’t have to think when people ask me if I need/want anything
- Ask for help more often and before I find myself in a crisis mode
- Delegate– to my husband, my in-laws, the friends who visit: my #1 job in the early days will be: caring for myself, nourishing my new baby, and loving on my toddler. Check out this blog to help come up with a list of ways your visitors can help you.
- Connect with other new moms, or moms who have experienced the same difficulties in postpartum (newsflash– it’s most of them!). Whether it’s just to vent or ask for tips
- Be honest with myself about needing help or feeling lonely
- Work with a therapist early
- Spend more time taking care of myself– whether that’s just coordinating time with my husband so I can have time for myself, going places for self-care treatment
- Speak honestly about my experience when people ask– if it’s a great time, they’ll know about it, if I’m having a hard time, they’re going to hear about that too
If you’re pregnant and preparing for your postpartum journey, spend some time and energy planning for the support you might want or need (whether or not that’s with a BeHerVillage registry). Know that it might feel overwhelming and super difficult… and if it is, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or that you’re doing it wrong. If you’ve got a miss independent vibe like I did, just be ready to let your guard down– you’ll get the help you need earlier and more of it.
BeHerVillage is helping parents like you get the funds they need for the support they deserve! Are you having a baby and are looking for support? Create a registry for support today and get gifted funds directly into your bank account to pay for your support team. You deserve this.
Are you a birthworker who supports new moms? Use BeHerVillage to help your clients pay for your support. Create your free profile here and you can be the best baby shower gift a mom will ever get!