Motherhood

SIX MONTHS POSTPARTUM

Jack turned six months old yesterday (!!!), which means I am six months postpartum. It’s been a wild, amazing, unbelievable journey. Being a mom is, hands down, my favorite job I’ve ever had. I feel a true sense of honor that I get to be Jack’s mom!! While I could gush about how much I love him and how sweet, cool, funny, adorable, and lovely I think he is (hehe), I thought this was a good time to do a check in about the postpartum experience.

I wrote about how challenging I found the first two weeks, and a lot has changed and a lot has happened since I wrote that.

RECOVERING PHYSICALLY:

I think the biggest, positive change has been physically feeling better. Even though all of my friends had said that my own physical recovery would be challenging, it still surprised me how hard it was. It took so much longer to heal than I anticipated and it got to the point where I wondered if I ever was going to heal. But… one day, I just was! It was truly an overnight occurrence. I think it was around the eight-week mark when I finally stopped bleeding. Looking back, it seems like those eight weeks were just a blip, but I remember at the time feeling like that was going to be my reality forever. Maybe this is TMI, but I’m going to share anyway, but the nurse at the hospital told me explicitly to not look down there and warned me that I was more swollen than what was considered normal. Obviously, that made me take a mirror and look the first day I was home from the hospital. It was traumatizing and I should have listened to the nurse but curiosity got the best of me. I was horrified and it sent me into a spiral.

I am still coming to terms with the idea that not only did becoming a parent change me as a person, my physical personhood (is that a thing??) changed as well. My body is not, and will not, be the same ever. I might get close, but I’m forever changed. This has also been harder to accept than I anticipated. I think in large part, it’s (unsurprisingly) a control thing. Jack hasn’t been able to take a bottle so he has been entirely nourished by my own body and while I love breastfeeding more than I can even describe, it is all-consuming and I feel like my body is not entirely my own. And then to look in the mirror and not totally recognize my physical self, it’s been hard.

With that said, I have to say that I am proud of my body and what it did and I try every day to give thanks for what it did.

THE EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER:

I still feel like the best way to describe this whole experience is that it’s a rollercoaster. There are ups and downs and loop-de-loos, but for better or for worse we are strapped in and just going along for the ride!! That’s how I’d sum up how it’s been emotionally. For the most part, it’s a thrill– just like that rollercoaster. I love motherhood in such a profound way that sometimes I feel sad that I didn’t have children sooner. I’m grateful and overjoyed for every moment. There are days when I count the minutes down to bed time and feel like I’m surviving moment-to-moment, but then I put Jack down to bed and immediately long for him again. I’m exhausted and tired and often overwhelmed, but I love being a mom.

The challenge for me hasn’t been motherhood necessarily, but more trying to figure out how to balance everything else that needs to get done outside of caring for Jack with my work and doing things for me too. It’s forced me to reprioritize a lot of my life and I’m, for the most part, okay with that. I was recently telling a friend who is expecting her first baby soon that I don’t “dread the hard parts.” I think about so many things I’ve done in my life (school, rowing, even socializing) and how pretty much everything was a mix of good stuff and things I “dreaded” but that came along with it. I don’t have that feeling with motherhood… I feel honored to do it all. It’s the rest of my life where I struggle to make it fit into the limited resource of non-mothering time.

The place where I struggle the very most, though, is with my own rigidity. It’s become my catch phrase when dealing with anything that outside of my control that, “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a chill mom.” The reality is that I’m not chill and I desperately want to be able to control every single factor in every single aspect of life generally speaking… let alone parenting. But especially in parenting, you have to give up control quite a bit. And I struggle with it on a daily (if not hourly) basis. I try so hard to go with the flow and most days I do end up having no choice but to go with the flow, but it can make me spiral internally. Working on it… and I hope if I say I’m chill mom frequently enough that maybe it’ll start to be true 😉

A WEIRD, HARD TIME:

Somewhere around the four month postpartum mark, I started to relive the delivery in great detail. It was like a movie in my mind that played over and over again. I was having nightmares about it and almost like… phantom labor pains. I think I had blocked out so much of the actual labor and then dove headfirst into figuring out how to be a mom and take care of Jack that I hadn’t had time to fully process what happened. As a result, it all came flooding back to me seemingly out of the blue. Looking back on that time, I was pretty stressed from work deadlines and Jack was also starting to teethe so he wasn’t sleeping great and I’m sure both of those things played a contributing factor in addition to make a drop in hormones. All I can say is that it was really hard to relive it all and to relive it all in such great detail. It was bizarre and, in a way, it felt almost more traumatizing than actually giving birth? I kept finding myself thinking of all the ways it things could have gone wrong. I was reliving my experience through the lens of, “wow, you just got lucky, this could have ended terribly in these 245 ways.”

WHAT HAS SURPRISED ME:

I’d say that every day I have something new that surprises me. The biggest surprise, though, came just a couple of months ago. After having such a tough go with pregnancy, I had secretly been thinking that I might be one and done. I hadn’t voiced it out loud to anyone because for so long I dreamed of having more than one child since I loved having a sister so much. But that pregnancy rattled me to my core. But then I was giving Jack a bath one night in December and I had a very, very clear thought that I couldn’t wait to have another baby. I had been so convinced that I didn’t want to go through another pregnancy, even after Jack was born, that it took me by surprise to have such a strong, clear thought that I definitely did. (To be clear, this won’t be happening any time soon!) 

MY FAVORITE MOMENTS:

I started to write a list of my favorite moments, but I could go on forever…. that first wakeup in the morning when Jack smiles soooo big that we’ve come in to “rescue him” from his crib; seeing him learn a new skill; watching him interact with friends and family; finding out he’s grown when a favorite shoe suddenly doesn’t fit or a snap doesn’t reach the other; all the bath times. My favorite favorite though I think are the middle of the night nursing sessions. When he’s extra heavy and snuggles a little deeper than usual. There are no external distractions and it’s quiet. He’s been rubbing his hand on my chest or lightly patting my arm. And then, when he’s done, I spend a few lingering moments with him in my arms and just whisper into his ear just how much I love him. I know he’ll never remember it, but I try to soak it in as much as possible because I know infancy is so fleeting.

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19 Comments

Maiju

So beautifully written, Carly. The last paragraph made me tear up. Thank you for sharing this journey of yours to motherhood with us.

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Taylor

Hey Carly, I’m a mom of three and I think your writing really captures the new world of motherhood with your first child! Let yourself ride the ride, that’s for sure 🙂 I struggle with control too but it’s been a wonderful journey to chill out. I still work hard on things that are important to me but it’s been a great release to let some things go. And I don’t just mean letting things be “worse” but maybe “different.” You can get there too some day. Don’t shortchange the process. Consider what you gain, in the instances when you let go of certain ideals or standards. Be open to new ways of life and being 🙂 Find ways to be strong in your new body! So excited for you. I agree, motherhood is the most amazing joy and honor.

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Amber

Beautiful post. Motherhood is the best and is the certainly the most amazing rollercoaster but it does come with the highest of highs and some low lows. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

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Kelsey

I read this with misty eyes because it resonated so much with me, as a mother to a 15 month old. Much love to you, Carly and Jack!

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Kelly

This makes me so weepy and so dang full of joy! I’m just so so so genuinely happy for you and encouraged by you.

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Kate

You will be so glad you have this post in years to come! Perfect snapshot of where you are in your journey. Congratulations on your precious baby boy and family ❤️

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Katie

I love seeing the growth and perspective time has given from birth to now. I’m glad your nurse gave you a good recommendation (about to be a nurse this summer), however most people are gonna Google etc because curiosity. Birth is a battle/marathon.
That cheesy days are long years are short quote w little kids. I love seeing my friends become moms, and how it changes them (society underestimates the impact the child has on the PARENT). I’m reading the Gardener and the Carpenter book now and it’s great. My mom was older and had just me – I turned out just fine {my dad didn’t care for another}, if it ends up that way. It’s so easy to compare families/sibling number etc especially now. I am sure you will end up with yours how it is meant to be.

I’m hopefully having my first little one next year (or the year after) and I’m so excited. My career etc will never be as interesting to me as getting to raise progeny.

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Melissa

Jack may not remember the exact words you whisper in his ear, but he will never doubt that he was loved.

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Molly

The last paragraph made me cry! I am 19 months post-partum (but also 6 months pregnant with our second), and that last paragraph made me nostalgic for those sweet cuddly moments. For me, even while being pregnant, it hasn’t been until the last 2 months where I’ve finally felt like “me” again. I got pregnant shortly after I stopped breastfeeding, so I think it’s been a combination of the freedom of having my body “back” (minus that first trimester terribleness) and that at 18 months my son is so much more independent it’s just been easier to enjoy more of my own hobbies and have more freedom from him. It’s put me at ease more knowing what I’m going back into, that even though I won’t feel like myself for awhile postpartum, I will again and to just embrace the newborn/first year lifestyle as it comes. (Although, I would agree that 4 months postpartum was a really rough time for me – I didn’t relive labor but I actually thought 4-5 months was harder for me than initial postpartum, even though I’d physically recovered at that point.)

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Keely

RE: WHAT HAS SURPRISED ME
I could have written that whole paragraph myself. I’m still waiting for that aha moment where I come to realize that I actually do/will want another but I feel so similar to how you felt – currently 12 weeks in and loving motherhood, thinking I’d have multiple children but not so sure about it at the moment and that’s okay.

Thanks for sharing, Jack is a doll and you’re an inspiration!

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Daniela

Longtime reader, first time commentator. Thanks for being so honest about your experience! I don’t have a kid yet, but I’ve loved reading your posts about motherhood because I feel like I’m getting a preview of what it’s really like. Congratulations and sending good vibes your way!

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Carrie

I love this post. I’m almost 9 months postpartum and so much of it resonates with me. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Heather

Motherhood is awesome, hard, the best thing ever AND lonely as well. So many emotions. After giving birth to our first baby, I was quite certain anyone who did that again was completely insane. I even quizzed the nurses how many children they had. It was more than one. Ha. I went on to have 2 more children. I always tell new moms that the first 6 weeks are the hardest with a baby physically and emotionally.
Children are so precious.

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Erin

And then, when he’s done, I spend a few lingering moments with him in my arms and just whisper into his ear just how much I love him.

This truly brought a tear to my eye! Carly, I’m so happy for you that you’ve got a job you love, great family on both sides, a wonderful husband, and a beautiful, healthy baby. You were truly meant to be a mom!

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