As I sit here and type this, I can hardly believe that we've had Benny in our lives for six whole months. When we were in the thick of the newborn phase, I was so sick of people telling me how quickly it goes by; turns out, they were right. Time is absolutely flying, and while I'm enjoying every new stage more than the last, I feel a anxiousness to try to remember everything as it is right now. It's a strange feeling.
This post isn't going to be about Benny though. Having a baby via C section as I had is a real shock to your body, and so much has changed since the hazy days that are pre-baby. I look different, feel different, and have different relationships with my loved ones. For real - postpartum is no joke, even 6 months out.
So I'm here to tell you what's been going on with me for the past 6 months since having a baby. The good, the bad - and the bloody.
C Section Scar
One big question that I've gotten from individuals online is how my C section scar is recovering. Although there is still a very noticeable red scar, it look so much better now. The scary red gash that once graced my entire lower abdomen is now fading into a lighter shade of pink, and is [slowly] shrinking in size along with my stomach. I do still have a bit of swelling overtop of the scar, giving me a 'C section shelf' but I'm optimistic that the swelling will also go down as I start to re-develop core strength.
I know that I'm supposed to cherish all of the scars that lead me to motherhood, but I'll be honest: when I first took off my bandages post-op after Benny was born, I cried. It's so jarring to see the body that you once knew so well change in such drastic ways, and that long bloody incision was just too much for me to handle. Although it's far from being invisible, it makes me feel a lot better to know that it's healing into something that is a bit more manageable.
Well, my period-less grace period didn't last nearly as long as I expected. Although I've been exclusively breastfeeding this entire time, and only recently started to seriously introduce Benny to solids, my period returned after about 4 months post-baby. And did she ever make an entrance!
This is when it starts getting real, so if you're squeamish then exit out. After having a copper-based IUD for over 10 years, I was used to a heavy period. That being said, nothing could have prepared me for the absolute madness that is a postpartum period. My Lord. You know the scene in The Shinning when the elevator doors open and blood just starts gushing out into a tidal wave of horror into the hallway? That's what's happening to my crotch every month, and it's not pretty. For this reason, I think the time has finally come to try out a menstrual cup to try and manage this bloodbath every month until my hormones level out. Or maybe this is my new normal. Who knows - stay tuned!
I've talked about my prenatal depression and anxiety at length on the blog, and how I thought that postpartum actually provided a reprieve. I still think this to be true, however now that I'm looking back, I do think that I was experiencing postpartum euphoria during the newborn stage (Google tells me that this is indeed a thing.) Feelings of elation coupled with a pretty easy newborn cushioned the transition to motherhood. Coupled with the summer months and a sleep newborn, I was able to consistently get out of the house, absolutely crush work and exist in a pretty rosy bubble.
Now at 6 months postpartum the euphoric feelings have faded, teething and sleep regressions have hit and Brian has gone back to working long hours at the office. I'm still happy, and overall loving this new season of life, but I'm tired damnit. And irritable. And annoyed at the inequality in shared household responsibilities that seems to screw women.
I'm very happy for the most part, but I'm often pissed off. Pissed that I'm trying desperately to work at the same pace that I did pre-baby with way more outside responsibility and way less sleep. Pissed that trying to raise a family in the city will ultimately end up costing us all of the money in the world - and it still doesn't guarantee that we'll find a home. Pissed that gender roles are still very much a thing in 2020. I'm pissed that I can't seem to stay grounded and in a place of gratitude because my acute bursts of rage seem so encompassing at the time. I'm happy but I'm pissed.
Thankfully, I've been seeing a therapist every 6 weeks since having Benny and it does seem to help. If anything, I find that when I actually sit down and articulate what is making me so mad, I realize how silly I sound and it actually helps to ground me. It also helps to have someone tell me that my feelings are valid and very common in the postpartum period. I'm enrolled in a program that allows me access to free therapy sessions for one year postpartum, and I think it's going to be something that I continue on my own when the program expires.
So that's it! I still love being a mother, more-so than I ever imagined that I would, but I'm also human and struggle with bad days.
Another big question that was asked on Instagram when I mentioned writing a post about everything postpartum was how my marriage had changed since having a baby. I'll be honest, I'm a pretty open book when it comes to most things but I try to keep my relationships offline as much as I can, out of respect for everyone involved. However, I have a feeling that people are asking because we're all struggling a bit to find not only ourselves postpartum, but also where we stand with our partners. So I will say this:
Marriage is hard. Marriage after a baby is harder. Even if bringing a human life into this world together acts as a bonding between you and your partner, as it has with Brian and I, there are still very real changes that can put a strain on a relationship. I know myself, I haven't been the most pleasant person to be around sometimes. I'm upset with the unequal expectations that society has for women vs. men when becoming a parent, and oftentimes those strong feelings get placed onto Brian for simply existing as a man. And here's the thing - he actually helps a lot! He's collateral damage to my anger at a still very flawed and gendered parenthood experience in 2020. I see him succeeding with his career and, while it makes me proud and provides more security for our family, it hurts to know that my own will have to take more of a backseat for the next few years.
I'm working daily to focus on more big-picture thinking instead of just focusing on the semantics of this particular season of life. In the long run, I'm really proud of both Brian and I for handling this change to our lives with happiness and grace. There is lots of love and laughter in our home, and that's all I want for our son. For two Type A, know-it-all, high strung Aries, it's nothing short of a miracle - haha!
Postpartum Hair Loss
Now here's something fun that I thought I had escaped, seeing as though I was 4 months postpartum when it started - postpartum hair loss. Ya'll, I currently have the hairline of a balding man in their mid forties. I can build a hair-doll of myself every single time I use a brush. And now as the hair loss seems to be (hopefully) slowing down, I'm dealing with a serious case of baby-bangs with my new hair growth. And here's the kicker - my new hair is almost all 100% grey. HAHA oh the joys!
I feel like you can't talk about postpartum life without addressing the question that seems to be on the forefront of everyone's minds. This post is getting long, and I don't want to focus too much on weight because it really doesn't matter long run, but here it is:
Have I lost the baby weight? Hell no.
Does it bother me? Yes.
Am I being gentle with myself in regards to baby weight? Yes.
I've slowly started to get back into regular workouts and moving my body with purpose again. It feels incredible - if only for improving my sleep and moods! I'm back at Soul Cycle and am slowly trying to build up strength in my core again. It feels amazing, and I'm finally feeling like I'm ready to start building up a fitness routine again.