Having a baby is really hard work. It’s not just the actual having-of-the-baby, which, let me tell you, is certainly not easy. It’s not just recovering from having the baby, which might be even worse, or chasing around a 2-year-old, who has the most selective hearing all of a sudden. But, trying to get back to some semblance of normal life with all of that going on, that’s hard too.
It’s challenging enough to find time to shower, make a meal and actually eat it, and get through the day in the same outfit you woke up in without some sort of bodily fluid from some other human being on it (still haven’t accomplished this one yet). It’s kind of just about surviving each day in the beginning, for all parties involved. If we all make it to bed with the extremities we woke up with, we’ve won the day.
Before I go on, I have to acknowledge that everyone’s experience is so vastly different. The road to getting pregnant, actually being pregnant, delivering the baby, recovering physically and emotionally after having the baby- everyone has their own personal experience, and it is something that makes the journey to welcoming a new life uniquely your own. So, when we’re talking about recovering and getting back on track, it’s so important to note that this is a time to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally in whatever way you need. Cause this experience is no joke. It takes time, and it certainly doesn’t happen over night, so be patient and try to embrace the process.
The obstacles you are now facing in your new reality seem endless, making the idea of getting back on track seem impossible. Let’s see, you’re exhausted (understatement), leaving the house on time takes a herculean effort and some advanced algebra, your emotions are all over the place (I’m not crying, you’re crying), you’re in pain (I don’t care how that baby got here, it came out of you somewhere and it hurts), you’re faced with losing the weight you gained and getting your body back (hopefully skin is really actual elastic, cause woof), you’re ravenously hungry all the time, oh and there’s now a human being relying on you for their survival (good thing they’re so darn cute). And, on top of all of that, you would rather spend your time staring at your beautiful sleeping baby than do almost anything else in the world. Overwhelming? Uh, yeah. Ok, now, go workout. Kidding. Kind of.
As I am literally experiencing all of this right now, I have some thoughts to share. Here are my little tidbits, just from my personal experience, on how to stay sane, keep your health a priority, and get back to normal life (or something that resembles it, at least) during this crazy time.
Cherish the Moments with your Little One
You just had a baby, as in, you just created a life, gave birth to a human being, and they are now here in all of their adorable, squishy glory, and they are beyond amazing. It’s an experience that is hard to put into words and something that I wasn’t capable of understanding until it happened to me. Everyone warned us that time would fly when we had our first baby, and boy were they right. It’s amazing how quickly they grow up, enter new stages of their little lives, and leave the old ones behind. So, take the time to be in the moment, no matter how tired, frustrated, or covered in puke you may be, to love that little life. Each stage and challenge will pass. You will sleep again, I promise. But, you’ll never get these moments back, so snuggle your little one a few minutes longer, stare at them for as long as you like, and enjoy the time you have with them each and every day.
Don’t Forget About You
You have at least one other person who is relying on you to survive right now. You need to be the best version of you that you can be. You need to be healthy mentally and physically for that little one, so make sure you make the time to take care of yourself. Do little things and steal small moments each day to remember that you are important and that make you feel normal - even if it’s just showering and washing your hair to help you feel human again. Easier said than done, I know, but it really makes a difference!
Be Flexible and Adapt
Everything takes at least 5 times longer to accomplish, if it even gets done at all. And that’s ok. The schedule you have in your head is most likely going to be demolished by an 8lb human who has all sorts of needs at all sorts of hours of the day and night. For example, right now I am typing this with one hand while feeding my child. Not ideal, but hey, I’m still getting it done! Be flexible and go into each day knowing that your plans will most likely change. That way, when they do, you’re ready to adapt and go with the flow rather than get upset and frustrated.
Leave The House
I don’t care how daunting the task seems, or if you only get as far as the end of the block before you have to go home, force yourself to get up and go. Get out in the sunshine. The fresh air will be good for you and the baby, and you’ll feel as though you accomplished something big for the day!
Even if it’s just going for a walk in the beginning, do it. Then, slowly start building back up and finding the time to do something active whenever you can. Be creative with your workouts, find things you can do at home, and take advantage of nap time to get your sweat on. It will help you stay healthy mentally and physically.
Eat Healthy Food
First, go food shopping. That’s totally an outing for us and a big accomplishment each week. It might not be pretty at first, but each time will get easier, and you’ll be a pro before you know it. Once you’re there, buy healthy food instead of junk food (yes, it’s that simple). Don’t bring the junk into the house, and it won’t be there for you to eat it. If the junk food is in the house, you’re much more likely to eat it (or maybe that’s just me).
It’s a Team Effort
I’m lucky to have the world’s greatest husband and family. Raising these kids really is a team effort, and if you are fortunate enough to have a support system around you, use it. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of doing everything yourself, and allowing it all to pile on your shoulders. That gets exhausting. Take advantage of the people around you and lean on them when you need a break and before you break. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak, it just makes you human.