There are so many beautiful moments that happen after baby is born. You are meeting and bonding with your new baby, memorizing their every expression and feature. You introduce him or her to the people in your life. All your plans and preparations are becoming real.
But this reality is also true: the first six weeks or so are hard. Going from pregnancy to taking care of a baby and yourself postpartum is like going from a hot shower to a full blast of cold. Our bodies change so rapidly, and the circumstances are all new. Your hormones are adjusting, you are getting familiar with taking care of a new little person (who doesn’t come with a manual). Taking care of them comes first and yourself second.
So it is perfectly understandable to feel like a completely different person. I know that at various times I can feel sad, stressed, frustrated, numb, dazed, or like I’m just going through the motions. There’s just so much that is irregular and unpredictable.
And then other times I can feel so joyful, positive, and grateful. Usually this happens much more if I get some time for me. There are some specific things that pull me back to myself. While they might not be as readily available as they used to be, they are so refreshing and necessary to keep me together.
When you get a moment to yourself, it can be hard to decide what to do first. Here are a list of things that help you feel more like you. They might seem really obvious, but they might not. In some ways, maybe you have to give yourself permission to do the things on this list, but please do! You truly have to take care of yourself in order to give so completely to your little one/s.
- Music – There are certain songs that make me feel comfortable in my own skin. I can’t really explain it better than that – they’re just melodies that make me feel more like me.
- Food – Make sure you keep eating. I’m not kidding. I can get caught up in what I’m doing and I won’t stop to eat. Often you need some real, healthy fuel to energize you. Omega-3s (from nuts and fish) are great mood boosters. But chocolate also gives you endorphins! Don’t forget to treat yourself.
- Water – You probably need to be way upping your water intake. Dehydration can get you down in a lot of ways.
- Sleep – They say to sleep when the baby sleeps, but again, you can get caught up in doing what you need to, or even just scrolling through your phone. Put your phone and the laundry down, and take a nap. Sleep is a game changer for your mood.
- Skin-to-skin contact with your newborn – There’s a reason hospitals are encouraging this right after birth, and beyond. It really bonds you to your newborn. Something about the smells, and the comfort of having them close. Plus it’s comforting for them, too.
- Talk it out – Make sure you’re letting your thoughts – the good, bad and ugly – out. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes to have someone tell you you’re not crazy.
- Pray – Sometimes the words don’t come out in any sort of cohesive way, but let them out, I do. God hears us, and “gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11).
- Time alone – If there’s someone around to watch the little ones, let them, and take a break. It’s good for your sanity to have a bit of you time, even if you’re not doing anything in particular.
- Get out of the house – Take a drive, get a cup of coffee, go to a park. I can underrate how much cabin fever I can get being stuck at home.
- Time with friends – Your friends help you feel more like yourself, and you especially need that during this time.
- Time with spouse – My hubby and I started watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix together, and it was an easy way to bond and take a time out from all our running around.
- Shower – A quick shower to freshen up is so relaxing and makes a huge difference.
- Work on a hobby – While it’s probably the last thing on your mind to do, engaging in a passion project is a great boost to your mood.
All of these things are making a difference for me as I continue to adjust to this new normal. The time to myself is getting to be fewer and farther between, thanks to also having a toddler. But the time I get is so refreshing and worth it.
What sorts of things help you to feel more like you, whatever the circumstance?