I was so happy when Emma agreed to share her mothermoon story for the blog. Read on to learn about what she learned from the first time around and what she did differently when she welcomed her second baby six months ago. Thanks for sharing your story Emma!
My son is now 6 months old and when I think back to those early weeks, I remember them so fondly. All that time snuggled up together. All those cuddles.
There was also worry and lots of adjusting but the predominant feeling is one of joy at those precious early days. He is my second baby and when I think back to that time with my daughter four years earlier, I remember the exhaustion, the fear, the worry, the self doubt all the while pretending I was fine.
We were out of the house at day 5 going for coffee. We had planned a park walk too but I remember feeling a bit dizzy and feeling frustrated I had to go home.
We were so excited to show off our new baby,
but my body and mind were raw from a long birth.
I had to grin and serve tea through painful stitches and try and breastfeed in front of friends and family when I was still struggling to get a pain free latch. I had no idea about a mothermoon. I just saw everyone having a baby and then acting like it was the easiest thing in the world.
When my mum arrived from Australia at day 6, I sobbed as another night approached when I was the only person awake trying to care for my tiny wakeful baby. Mum was a huge help and reassured me so much, but there were also lots of new advice since she had small children, and I was also trying to find my own way as a mother. The journey from maiden to mother is a vertical learning curve.
So over 3 years on and being pregnant again and with the due date approaching, I began to worry about those early weeks again.
How would we cope?
We debriefed a lot as a couple, throughout my pregnancy, on the struggles we had together. We had had all the exhausted bickering and had come out the otherside. We had a lot of emotional chats and cleared a lot of misunderstandings and we were stronger than ever as a pair, but it still did not change the fact that we had little support for the postnatal period ahead.
My parents were not able to come this time and my husbands parents live a number of hours away. We also had an almost 4 year old to help support too. It was during this time that I discover the First 40 Days book discussing the time of confinement for the new mother. I loved this book and what it stood for. With my daughter we had made a couple of meals for the freezer, but this time I knew we needed to do a whole lot more. It took months before I could make an evening meal with my daughter and I wanted to be far more prepared.
Two of my very close friends also had their second babies during this time. They both approached the early weeks with a very gentle approach. Staying in bed for a week and on the couch for a week. One friend also hired a postnatal doula and urged me to try and do the same.
We talked long and hard about whether it was something we could afford to do and to be honest it felt like it was a stretch too far. But still my worry about those early weeks continued. I was doing loads to prepare for the birth (Yoga, hypnobirthing, regular osteopathy and reflexology and hiring a birth doula) but it’s the postnatal period when it truly gets real. I remember being so struck by that last time.
The birth will happen.
Your baby will be born.
There is a lot you can do to prepare for it,
but it will be done relatively quickly (days last time in my case)
but postnatal is forever.
So in the lead up for the birth, we cooked and stocked the freezer with loads of food. Nutritiouss delicious food. We prepared family and friends that we would be staying home on our own for chritsmas (no rushing around with a new born seeing everyone). We talked more as a couple about what we both needed to support each other.
Then the night of my son’s birth arrived at it was undoubtably an easier birth. We were at home and we had a great team around us. It was when I lay on our couch holding out new boy that I asked our doula if she could help us postantally too. Fortunately she did have availability.
The first week was still bumpy. Trips to hospital for jaundice checks and dodgy cord stumps and me having a fever. Fortunately all was fine but it was a pain. But in between those few unplanned trips out of the house, I lay in bed and snuggled my babe.
We had almost constant skin to skin and breastfed all day and night. I bathed in sitz baths and my stitch healed in a couple of days. I drank placenta smoothies and broth (not together!) and my husband made me nutritious food, whilst our big girl went to nursery.
We also planned a few special days out for my daughter and husband to the theatre and special date in central London, to make sure she had some special time and allowing me more rest. We pulled up the drawbridge and had no visitors. A dear friend dropped around a bag of magazines and treats and left them by the front door. It was bliss.
When our Doula arrived during the end of the second week it was wonderful to see her smiley face and have someone special to chat to, but with no obligation to host. She cooked for us, held the baby whilst I slept and did the laundry without being asked to! She listened to me and really held the space without ever telling me what to do. It was so special.
We ended up staying almost exclusively indoors for the first month. It helped that it was cold December, but normally I would have still felt I needed to get out. To switch my mindset from having to do to just be helped me hugely. I thought I would be bored. I wasn’t. It was heaven hibernating together whilst my body healed and my mind could rest.
And now six months on, I’m tired from having two kids of course, but the time has flown and I feel good in myself. I don’t have the anxiety I had with my daughter. Of course at times I still struggle but my over arching feeling is honestly joy.
I have loved this postnatal period. This is not something I would have said with my first at 6 months. I really believe this is largely due to planning for the challenges of this time and lowering my expectations of myself.
Resting and recovering properly in the beginning really has given our family such a better start to being a family of four.
Emma is also an osteopath specialising in treating children and pre/postnatal women. She is currently back working one day a week from Nunhead Osteopathy Practice.