There is nothing easy about becoming a mother. Lindsey Mathews, DC, the founder of BIRTHFIT, says that at some point during the Motherhood Transition, your world will get rocked. Something huge will cause you to shift your focus, examine yourself, and decide where to go from that point on. It might happen when you’re pregnant, in labor, or postpartum; but it’ll happen.
The funny thing is, I see this all the time, recognize it in other women from trying to conceive all the way through the postpartum period, and actually thought I’d somehow managed to get out of jail free.
I love motherhood. I fully came into my own after giving birth – personally and professionally. My first pregnancy was really great; and while labor was hard, things went pretty smoothly. I did a lot of things that I don’t recommend (like continuing toes-to-bar and still using a barbell for Olympic lifting after my belly was protruding), but I learned from those experiences. Postpartum went well. I was very supported by friends and loved ones, and able to do a lot of rehab on my own and with other practitioners. Overall, things were great.
Oh, there was the tiny little fact that my son wouldn’t take a bottle. He would scream himself hoarse refusing. And there was that other thing where he wouldn’t ride in the car for any distance without screaming at the top of his lungs. I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but after those first 18 months, I reflected on how hard that could have been if I hadn’t been well-supported. And despite the support, it was still pretty hard. Him not taking a bottle meant I couldn’t go anywhere without him: I was his sole source of nourishment. Him not riding in the car meant that I couldn’t go anywhere with him, either. We rarely ventured out of a 10 minute radius from our house. And when we did, it was a hellish ordeal.
So if we fast forward to my second pregnancy, it was a little more difficult than my first. (If you want to read all about it, grab my books!) I got multiple migraines, had leg cramps, spent the night in the ER with my oldest, dealt with hemorrhoids, and had a ruptured ear drum all before the baby arrived. Labor was difficult, but we had a beautiful home birth (G-rated birth video by my incredibly talented photographer, Amanda) and things went well. I took my postpartum recovery incredibly slow, and had the support of BIRTHFIT this time. I had to do a lot more work to rehab my pelvic floor, but there still wasn’t anything that really rocked me. I discovered that I have high lipase (which was likely why my first would never take a bottle), so I can scald my milk after pumping and my second son easily takes a bottle. He also travels well; we took a trip to Atlanta when he was 5 months old, which was something I never could’ve even considered with my first son. I was diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions postpartum, but am managing those through diet and lifestyle with very few complications. It seems like I got through both postpartum periods without having my world rocked.
It wasn’t until I looked back on my first postpartum time period that I realized what a challenge it was. And I realize now how much that time period changed me, and ultimately how grateful I am for it.
During the first 18 months postpartum, I began setting boundaries for myself and others. I absolutely had to because my situation dictated that I adapt or be consumed by stress. I came across a presentation by (my soon-to-be friend) Roslyn Ross wherein she talked about parenting from a place of mutual respect; this resonated with me and helped shape me (and my husband) as a parent. My friend Whitney convinced me to start meditating, and I am so grateful that I actually did. Had things not been so challenging, I might have been content to continue on functioning without clear boundaries and without a mindfulness practice. There was that world-rocking; I slowly had to learn what was truly important and what my non-negotiables were.
I realize now, at 16 months postpartum for the second time, that this postpartum time has also slowly rocked my world. My Lupus and Sjogren’s diagnoses were impactful, but not in the earth-shattering way I typically see women experience. They have insidiously changed me. I have a much healthier relationship with food now than I probably ever have despite following a strict healing diet (something that I’ve worked on for years, and has been greatly improved by working with Melissa Hemphill of BIRTHFIT Colorado). Those boundaries I set in my first postpartum period? They’re coming in quite handy these days. And I’ve prioritized my health more in the past year than I have ever before.
My postpartum journeys have shaped who I am today. I suppose the same could be said for any major life transition. They haven’t seemed incredibly daunting, but it’s so obvious and evident when looking back that the challenges of these time periods have been immensely powerful for me. Dr. Lindsey Mathews was right: the Motherhood Transition will rock you to your core. It might not come in the form you’re expecting, but I daresay you can’t traverse the Motherhood Transition without undergoing significant change. I am choosing to embrace these changes. How about you?
I hope you’ll allow me the opportunity to join in your postpartum healing journey in our next BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series!