I surprised myself early this year, when I wrote down "savor the slowness of the newborn days" as one of my yearly goals. What did that even mean?! But I knew as I reflected and prayed more about it, I am definitely being called to pursue this. I've been praying for clarity about what that looks like, and how I can start to intentionally plan now so I can rest, relax and savor the days then. With Xavier, I will classify my recovery and postpartum as "rough." Granted, every woman's experience is different and what I may call rough, others may call a walk in the park. When I say rough, I mean it was just so unexpected. I had no idea how long it would take my body to heal from giving birth, and was frustrated by how slow it was going. I pushed myself early and often, and made the healing process that much harder. When we had visitors, I felt like my house had to be picked up. I stressed about timing the visits perfectly so I wouldn't have to try to feed Xavier in the midst of them - breastfeeding was excruciating for several weeks in the beginning, and Matt had to help me each time. I was constantly worrying about Xavier's growth and his milestones and was always googling where he was supposed to be, how much he was supposed to weigh and what skills he should have mastered by that point. So much of this is just part and parcel of being a first time mother, I know this. But so much of it was my own doing. My own striving to "have it all together" and prove that I could do this motherhood thing. I feel like I robbed myself of a lot of the sweetness and joy of those first few months, and I want to try a different way this time around.
Here are my loose plans for savoring a slow postpartum season.
No visitors at the hospital, or at home for the first few weeks. We are so blessed to have quite a village of family and friends who love us and love our kids, and I'm grateful beyond words. When we were in the hospital after Xavier was born, we pretty much had a rotating door of visitors for the entire two days. It was great - they brought food, swooned over our sweet boy and told me how good I looked for just having a baby (bless their hearts.) I certainly don't want to sound ungrateful - we are SO grateful for those visits and that people rearranged their schedules and plans to come see us and welcome our son! But as I envision bringing our daughter into the world, I just picture a different scene. Using those two days cocooned in the hospital to be still, quiet (as quiet as can be with a newborn, ha!) and get to know her and find our way as a family of four. With a newborn, you basically have no down time. You labor (and it's called labor for a reason!) and then hit the ground running, taking care of a tiny human's every need. There isn't much - or any - buffer zone, so I want to try to create one as much as I can, and part of this includes limiting visitors. We'll likely only have immediate family to the hospital, and will be deferring requests to visit once we're home until she is a couple weeks old. I just want a chance to cocoon as a family and find our footing together - much like adoptive families do when they bring their child home.
Preparing + freezing meals in advance. When I was pregnant with Xavier, my friend Maria came over one weekend and we had a marathon of chopping, measuring and freezing meals for after Xav was born. It was awesome, and it was also kind of crazy. This time, rather than doing it all in one sitting, I'm aiming to freeze one meal a week, and to freeze things I'm already making in my regular meal plan. So for instance, on taco night, I'll make a double batch of shredded chicken, and freeze half for later. Or freeze the leftover chili, that sort of thing. My hope is that we have a freezer stocked with healthy, delicious meals we can just thaw + serve to make feeding ourselves a bit easier after baby girl is here, and require less of my time spent in the kitchen cooking.
Signing Xavier up for a mom's day out program. I had to conquer a lot of guilt about this one. I just kept thinking, "I don't need this. He doesn't need to go to school." I manage my Etsy shop just fine during naptimes, and it seemed silly and almost selfish to spend precious budget money on something just for myself. Why do we do this to ourselves, mamas?! Why do we feed ourselves these lies? The truth is that I do need this. Whether I take the baby with me to run errands while Xav is at school, or my mom watches just her so I can nap, or I use that time to just hang out with her and bond, it's going to be so beneficial to have one set day a week where I know I get some solo time or some one-on-one time with the baby. That's a luxury I had with Xav - it was just me and him, all day every day, and I want to be intentional about creating a similar experience for me and this sweet girl.
Hire a virtual assistant to handle shop things for awhile. I haven't quite pinned down what "awhile" means yet - a month? Three months? I'm praying over what that looks like. Now that my shop is all instant downloads, it's much easier to run with little ones. It's mostly hands-off, and requires very little of my time. But there are still things that have to be done - emails and Etsy messages to answer, glitches to work out, questions to solve, etc. I want to be able to completely relax, knowing that these things are being taken care of, while I'm soaking up newborn snuggles. Virtual assistants are awesome for this. They work remotely, handle whatever you want them to handle and your clients likely won't ever suspect a difference.
Ask for support, and care for myself well. Knowing that I have a history of postpartum depression and anxiety means I'm going to be much more vigilant about it this time. My doctor, who is awesome, is going to automatically do a preventative protocol as soon as Xavier is born, which has shown really great results in women who tend to suffer from PPD. I'm also going to be a lot more vocal about my feelings and my needs, and a lot more intentional about caring for myself well. Napping when the kiddos nap. Letting others step in and help when they offer. And if I start to feel blue, not brushing it off or telling myself it'll get better with time. I refuse to let PPD feel like weakness, and I'm vowing to be way more vocal if I start to spiral again.
Those are my plans so far! Our society applauds moms who "bounce back" quickly, who are juggling a newborn while typing an email, who are back in their pre-pregnancy jeans before they're out of the fourth trimester. But I'm ascribing to a different way. A slower way. And, I believe, a healthier way for me and my family. I don't want to be supermom. I just want to be a present mom. And I'm hopeful these plans help to do just that.
Would love any tips you might have for slowing down + savoring the newborn days and postpartum season!
Newborn photos of Xavier by Tessa Tillett Photography and myself.