Navigating postpartum Part 1: releasing the limits we think we have
When we step from maiden to mother a lot of things change.
I have spent the last few years thinking about how we can possibly care for ourselves during this time.
It seems to me that in the shake up of it all there is one big thing that changes and one big thing that remains the same.
And understanding the two can be a game changer when it comes to our health and sanity in these early motherhood years.
It allows us to prepare ourselves and our expectations ahead of time, during pregnancy.
And when we get there, it allows us to go more gently on ourselves.
Let's dive in.
The Big Change : letting go of where we perceived our limits to be
If labour is a sign of anything, it's that we are capable of living far beyond our wildest expectations.
Whichever way birthing unfolds, it requires more of us that we knew existed.
We are stretched. Our limits crumble.
And it's a good thing.
My own perceived limitations:
Before kiddos my life revolved around eight hours sleep as a non-negotiable.
I relied on a decent chunk of time alone each day.
Without these two things I felt genuinely useless.
Frustrated, inefficient, and unable to focus.
One of the biggest stressors for me in pregnancy was wondering how I was going to weave together motherhood in the context of my own percieved limitations. I spent a lot of time wondering how on earth I would survive. And to be honest, it's time I could have spent elsewhere.
One of my biggest stressors in the early postpartum period was attempting to meet these ideals. To get as close to them as I could.
I would spend night feeds watching the clock, calculating the hours (or in some cases, minutes) of sleep I could piece together over the expanse of an evening.
I'd spend the occasional alone time I had - say a child free shower on the weekends - thinking about how I needed more of it. Rather than actually enjoying those divine moments solo.
I was trying to force my reality into a mould that had been smashed the moment I birthed my babe.
It was stressful.
And it just wasn't possible.
With time and grace I learned to let the perceived limitations I had about myself go. I realised that in this season of life it is possible for me to do things I never thought I could.
I let go of clinging to the standards I thought I needed to meet.
I took a breath.
And I became lighter.
I noticed immediately how much easier it was to function on broken sleep when I wasn't constantly trying to measure it.
It really is such a small thing.
To recognise we are more capable, broader and deeper than we were before.
To surrender to the new phase. And lay down the limits we once had about ourselves.
For me, it made all the difference.
In Part 2 I'll delve into the one big thing that remains the same: finding ways to come home to ourselves. It's a goodie.