The postpartum period is a weird time in general.
It’s unpredictable, lasts way longer than most expect it to, and generally morphs from day to day into something as new and equally as confusing as it was the day before. After my first child I was overcome with an anxiety so intense it took almost the entire first year to go away, and severely inhibited my ability to parent my new little stowaway. My second child brought with him such joy and peace I thought someone must have been playing a joke on me — oh and a painfully thinned bladder wall. He brought that too.
And now we arrive at my third child. My third son.
At nine weeks old he has brought with him…completion. A very real sense that our family is what it is meant to be, completed and complimentary with all of our many personality types, our strengths and our weaknesses. Along with this little, but life-changing punctuation in our family life, came some of the strangest postpartum experiences I’ve had to date.
Below are a few examples of the weird and wonderful mental (and yes, physical) roller coaster I jumped aboard after our final (!) child entered the world:
I missed my midwives like they were my soul sisters.
I’ve always gotten along great with my care providers, and yes, they’ve seen me through three natural births and a bunch of other bizarre pregnancy and postpartum challenges…but I realllllly missed them right after my third was born. Something about only seeing them for the dreaded annual check-up from now on just really bummed me out.
Nursing was harder the third time around than it ever had been with my first two.
From fending off impending Mastitis for several weeks straight, to letting down every 20 minutes due to oversupply, I had way more breastfeeding issues with my last child than I did with either of my others. I figured I’d have had it down by now, but apparently my body had other plans.
That thinning bladder thing? Well, it got worse…
And now I’m not allowed caffeine. Which really sucks as the mother of a newborn and two others all under four years of age. Send help. Send sugar.
Like, for no good reason. And without warning. I was (and still am at times) irritated to the point of combustion by things that I really can’t control and really shouldn’t be wasting a moment’s thought on. And while it shows up in my family life a little too frequently, I internalize far more of it and I need to work that out.
The thing that really surprised me the most this time around though, even with feeling rather ‘old hat’ as I do when it comes to the new life/postpartum period, was how differently the ‘baby blues’ presented themselves.
I mentioned jokingly above about missing my midwives a little too much after number three was born, but in all seriousness it was more than that. I missed, immediately, the entire childbearing period of my life and that kind of took my breath away. I’d had a rough third pregnancy, and a slightly alarming delivery (side note: he was 10lb 15oz. So there’s that.), so I didn’t much expect to miss all that. What I expected actually, was relief that it was all over.
The first two weeks after number three entered the world however, were littered with random outbursts of emotion; I cried when I threw away my hospital toothbrush, or had to admit to myself that I was healed enough not to need any more of the ‘lady part’ supplies they sent home with me. I wept when I felt the after-pains of post-labor while nursing, bizarrely missing the sensations and life-affirming frenzy that come with giving birth. I bawled when my husband, jokingly (but in all seriousness), called our newborn “the last one,” EVEN THOUGH days earlier I had sworn blind with agreement that our family was done and dusted.
I just never prepared for the onslaught of emotions that came with completing our set. Honestly, it was a little like grief I suppose.
So now, here I am nine weeks later and finally it’s settled down. I know where I stand now and although I think fondly of my midwives and enjoy seeing their lives blossom on social media, I no longer miss them like we were sorority sisters (crazy much?).