We’re in the second month of the year, and I find myself about a month deep into postpartum motherhood. This past month has been a rollercoaster, and my days and nights have been running together. I think the only reason I even know what day it is is because of nighttime devotionals with the children (honestly these kids are blessed that I’m even being consistent with those). The time after having a baby can be a disorienting array of nighttime feedings, figuring out nursing or bottle feeding schedules, little dirty diapers, well-checks at the doctor, and a number of other things going on. On top of that…you are healing and running on an extremely low fuel tank. Lets not even get into if you have older littles running around!
This time around, I’m struggling with the healing process as I have four very dependent little people hanging around. I want to feel like my old self again. FAST. Nursing has also been a challenge, as well. And of course, ya girl aint getting no sleep AT ALL. As this is my 6th time on the postpartum bandwagon, I’m trying to keep a few principles in mind as I navigate these tricky waters. Mind you….I've never mastered all of these in any one season. In fact, I’m struggling with all of these in my current postpartum season. Instead, I've gradually developed an understanding of these principles at different times. Here are some things to consider if you have recently had a sweet little baby.
1.Accept Help. We mommies tend to want to be superwomen. Well, I know I have said this already but we already are superwomen. And everybody already knows it! I mean, we physically bring other humans into the world, and that is tough stuff! Sister its hard, but I really want you to try to accept any help that comes your way. If grandma wants to take the other kids…let her. If hubby wants to watch the baby and give you a chance to nap…let him. If the whole neighborhood wants to do a meal train for you…let them. (I totally should have….I just did a snack train. Oy.) Let the people who love and care for you do just that! Trust me, all of the help will bring you such peace and less things to worry about. You have enough on your plate. No really….you do.
2.Be open with how you are feeling. Postpartum comes with a ton of different emotions and hormonal shifts. One minute you’ve got this. The next minute you’re completely overwhelmed. You’re not alone in this my friend. Make sure you have someone you can turn to when your feelings are getting the best of you. Of course husbands, your mom or mother in love, sisters or aunties are good people to turn to. Also remember that friends, women in church that you are close to, and even your doctor are good options as well. Keep in mind, there is such a thing as Postpartum Depression that we all need to watch out for. Being honest and open about your emotions will help you gauge whether or not you need extra help managing things. Might I add that if you do need additional assistance in managing the emotional rollercoaster that is having a new baby…THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. God puts people and systems in place for our benefit. Please take advantage of all of the tools in your belt. Go ahead and tell your husband that you need a minute, and have yourself a good little cry girl....it's okay.
3. Rest. Yes I know this one is easier said then done ladies. No we're not sleeping at night. Were not sleeping during the day. And what do the old folks like to say? Sleep when the baby sleeps. Hmmm…but when am I going to get everything done that I wanted to do while the baby was awake?! Hate to say it but….I’m with the old people. Force yourself to rest when you can. Nighttime insomnia after you've finally gotten the baby to sleep? Put the phone down and just lay there. Maybe you’ll fall asleep. Maybe not…but at least you’ll be resting. Take advantage of any time to catch a few winks. Take people up on their offers to watch over things while you rest. You need the mental break…time to mentally refresh. You will be a better mommy with a clearer mind and renewed energy.
4. Remember self-care. Getting rest is part of something even greater….self-care. Self-care encompasses a lot of things, but one thing it is NOT is selfish. By definition….mothers are selfless. We give everything to our families….sometimes to our detriment. It is important that you take a little time for you every day. Take a shower, get yourself ready for the day, read the Bible, find some quiet time to pray, nap, get a 30min workout in, visit a friend, go do something relaxing by yourself, keep doing the things that you enjoy, keep doing the things that make you feel like you. This is all self-care…and it is all beneficial to the overall physical, mental, social, spiritual health of Mommy. It is vital that you make time for this. Im serious friend……if you want to be a better mommy get some self-care in. Don’t make my mistake. There have been times when I have neglected myself to the point of illness and hospital stays. Then I couldn’t take care of my family anyway! Trust me. Step away from the kid. Go do you for a bit.
5. Give yourself Grace. I’ve written on the subject of grace in motherhood before, and I can not reiterate it enough during this postpartum season. I can guarantee you that something is going to not go as you planned. Maybe you didn’t have the labor you imagined, or nursing isn’t going that great. Maybe you still haven’t nailed down the right formula for your baby. Perhaps your baby is colicky, or even worse….sick. Maybe unplanned circumstances have cropped up….but all of a sudden you are not feeling as equipped to parent your new babe. You have high expectations of yourself. You want to do a good job and be a great mom. But its hard. You will fail at some things. You will be great at so many more things. No matter what is going on, try your best to give yourself “Grace”. There’s a learning curve to parenting, and no one is a perfect parent. Be gentle with yourself, just as God is gentle with us.
6. Lean on God. Lean on God during this time. Pray and ask Him to show you what kind of parent He wants you to be. Ask Him for strength to keep pushing through all of the postpartum craziness. He gave you this sweet babe for a reason. He believes in you, and knew that you were the ONLY ONE who could raise this tiny disciple for His Glory. He wants to walk with you through this. He will walk with you through this….if you let Him. In the middle of the night when the baby just wont go to sleep, and you have “crazy mom eyes”…remember this scripture:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 KJV
Children are a wonderful reward from God. He didn’t give you this child to draw you away from Him (that’s something the Devil will try to do…yes sometimes He uses God’s blessings for his evil schemes.) God gave you this baby to draw you closer to Him.
Remember, I have seriously struggled with all of the aforementioned principles. Despite this, I know that I have really benefited from actively keeping these thoughts in mind throughout each of my postpartum seasons. Sister, my hope for you is that by remembering these principles you won’t become overwhelmed and will find true joy in this precious season of your life.