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On waiting for a baby and preparing for postpartum.
Waiting for a baby to be born is a trip. It’s also just so very normal.
I always find it feels the closest when I look at a block of goats cheese in the fridge and the expiry date is around when baby is due.
Wow, we’re in the same time zone as my cheese now. It’s getting real.
I get on with my days as usual, everyone I see asking me while watching me waddle, carrying a big basket full of God knows what, escorting my kids across busy roads…. “Gosh love how long do you have to go?”
“Who knows” I say. A day, a week, or five. Life with two kids at home means it’s business as usual until my body tells me there is a baby coming. With Pax’s birth, we went to take Sol to see Santa Claus at the shops after I lost my mucus plug— strong cramps, pad in knickers, knowing baby was coming that day. I remember ‘Santa’ saying “You’re getting a baby for Christmas!” I said to him “Mate, I’m having a baby today. Let’s get a wriggle on with the photo.” Needless to say we were there first, stood in the front of the line, and certainly not about to tolerate any push-ins. I knew I was going to snap this pic, go home, and birth my baby. When Sol was born, we went off on our usual morning walk to North Bondi to watch the whales. But on this day, I couldn’t muster the energy to go. Instead, I asked my mum and sister who were visiting for the birth, to go and grab me some pads. So special, and so normal.
It reminds me of animals in the natural world— a giraffe just going about her day in the wild and then ‘oh, baby’s coming. Baby’s here. Let’s carry on.’ Except giraffes don’t do human things like stop off at the post office on the way home to get a little stuffed bluey toy to give as a present from the new baby.
We go about our days knowing but also forgetting that at any time I could go to the toilet and see a mucus plug, feel water trickle down my leg, or get a strong cramp. It could happen in the library, at the play centre, at the beach, at the post office…. Most likely it’ll happen at home in the morning or at night in a very non dramatic way but regardless, I love the mystery of just not knowing. I say I love the mystery and I do, also, I am known to have googled things such as ‘do third babies usually come earlier than previous.’ Following this, I find myself in the forums. Long time reader, never a commenter.
Birth is such a normal thing, and such a mysterious, special, sacred one too. I do think we dramatise it in the west. Our generation does that with pretty much everything— birth, gluten, tantrums. My mum always says ‘your generation just worries about everything- we couldn’t afford to back then.’
My mum gave birth to my youngest sister and the fourth of our siblings, at 8pm on a Sunday night. The following morning she was dropping us at school and at the shops. She didn’t have a choice— no help, except from my Nanna who didn’t drive. The birth of a new baby was a part of life, and life had to go on. There was no 40 day lie in— not even the thought of one. My mum has always had a ‘get up and get on with it’ attitude towards life and a refusal to ever entertain self-pity, despite having more reason than most to complain. I am made of that same stuff, only tinged a little with the effects of being born in the 80’s and parenting kids in this era of over-indulgence and hyper-vigilance.
I do believe in the importance of a nourishing postpartum period. I’m excited to receive my first ever meal train following the birth of this bub (it also makes me slightly/very uncomfortable as the typical giver. A convo for another day). I also wonder how much we stress ourselves by imagining postpartum should be different than it is. A 40 day lie in may not be the most beneficial thing for every woman, not to mention, completely unattainable. I wonder how often our stress is caused not by our reality but the constant mental to-and-fro about how different it should be.
I have read (in my many late nights in random forums), women share stories of how they were told they should remain at home, but taking a little walk around the block gave them the fresh air and the dose of normal life they needed. I’ve also read many a story about women who rushed themselves out before they were ready because they ‘felt pretty good’, only to then pay for it later. Postpartum depletion is so very real, as is postpartum depression (and everything else), I know from experience. Also, I wonder how much we differ in what it is that we individually truly need in order for our postpartum to be the most nourishing.
I will stay home and ‘lie in’ for as long as I can and feel necessary this time but in saying that, my tendency is definitely to ‘get up and get on with it’. My mum will be with us to help for a bit. Then, it’s Pax’s birthday and Christmas. Christmas for me is a BIG DEAL. We’re already into our Christmas crafts and carols. Also, we’re moving into our new home just a few hours away at some point in the newborn phase. I don’t know yet if I’ll want/need a more extended lie in. I’ll take it as it comes. Because of my history with chronic mastitis, I’ve set myself up for the most nourishing postpartum possible— friends, postpartum doula, my mum down here to help for a bit. With two kids at home full time, a lot of driving that is done for their activities-- so I’ve had to plan so that they can still complete their homeschool term, while I take some time to recover. My husband of course will be helping as much as possible, however we have planned for him to work a little while we have the help of my mum so that he can take some time off when she goes back. He has a fairly new business as an online golf coach and is a one man show right now as it grows with lots of momentum. As willing as he is to be flexible for us, I know the momentum he has and I want to encourage its continued growth. We also have no rush in moving to our new home and will only do so when I feel ready (either truly ready or deluded ready— maybe this time I’ll know the difference, lol). I feel very very blessed to be in this position. Also, I’m mindful not to over indulge the idea that unless I stay in bed for 40 days, I’m not nourishing myself adequately.
I know I can do better caring for myself postpartum than I did with my first two. I left the house too early both times, entertained people right away, and didn’t organise any support whatsoever with meals. I’m not sure it was naivety, the result of having the ‘get up and get on with it’ mum I have, or perhaps the self-sufficient, hyper independent part of me that just saw birth and postpartum as such a normal part of life— careful not to over indulge it. In saying that, I got mastitis relentlessly. So I remain humble in my explorations. I feel far better positioned this time to take the time and nourishment (and help from others!!) to ensure a really restorative postpartum, but I also have to ensure that my internal systems are in check— am I constantly worrying about ‘how good/right/proper’ my postpartum is?
I am an organiser. I have had my home-birth-bag ready to go for weeks. Herbs, heat packs etc for after pain, blueys to lay down on the floor, a pooper scooper in case I birth in the pool and, you know. And more! Gosh I feel tempted to do a ‘you want a tour of my home birth bag?’, influencer styles. Despite being my third home birth, I approach it diligently and with reverence each time. Also, throughout my regular, ordinary days, I find myself thinking thoughts of ‘birth is such a normal part of life’. It softens the charge around expectations and allows it to be what it was always meant to be… a stunning, beautiful, natural part of life.
I remind myself not to wish these last few-ish weeks away, that I’ll never again be on my daily adventures with just Sol and Pax, that soon I’ll be up all through the night again in that newborn delirium, and that sometimes ‘the wait’ is God’s way of giving us time to really soak up the beauty of life as it has been until now. I am so excited to meet this baby and also... I know how sacred and important 'the wait' truly is.
With each child for me (you may relate), there has been emotion around completing the previous chapter. When Pax was born, it completed the chapter of it just being us and Sol. Now baby #3 is being born, it’s completing the chapter of it being just the four of us. Each night when we say our prayers at the dinner table, we comment that very soon there will be another member of the family at the table. I say to the kids ‘think about how much you love each other, soon there will be another sibling to love that much.’ I say it to Erik too— ‘Can you believe we will soon have another child to love like we love Sol and Pax?’
It’s both so very normal, and so very, very big.
As I sit expressing colostrum from my (temporarily) big round boobies, preparing to fill up and become an on demand milk bar again, I think ‘I remember doing this just before Sol and Pax. It felt like yesterday’. Like this was such a natural rhythm for me as a mother. Back to what I know. Back to what God designed me to do. What a big, beautiful, sacred honour… to participate in creation like this. What a huge, ginormous gift to be trusted as the mother of another child. This precipice of welcoming another child into the world is so tender, so special, so mysterious…
Also, it’s just so natural. Isn’t life so amazing like that?
Praise God for getting me and bub safely to full term. May the enormous gift of motherhood never be lost on me, even in those moments when I don’t know if I’m Martha or Sally.
Love, PK XXX