Last January, I had a repeat C-Section (In a perfect world, I would have had natural births, but I couldn’t and thats ok). My first recovery was a breeze. That’s the recurring theme of my parenting with my first. Easy. I call my first daughter, Penny, my angel baby. She was too good, too easy.
I was so unprepared for my second. Eloise is the sweetest baby, sweet, but not easy. Not simple. Such was my postpartum recovery my second time around. It hurt more, I needed my meds more, and I had much more responsibility. Andrew stayed home with Penny most of the time so I started feeling alone in the hospital. I went home a day earlier so I could be home with Penny.
Help was offered to me by my friends, my parents, my sisters and even my mother-in-law but I didn’t accept enough of it. It is so hard to admit I need it. Andrew couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave and he only had a little paid time off. So I powered through, and that was the wrong thing to do. It’s wrong, because with a newborn and a toddler life doesn’t get easy and normal again for a long time. For me it took months, sleep deprived nights, Crossfit, and a move across the country before I started feeling normal again.
All of the things people warned me about with my first, like how sleep deprived I would be, how hard a baby was on a marriage, how much I would need time to myself, how unpredictable babies can be, how rough sleep training is–none of it was applicable until my second and I was so, so unprepared.
Here is my list of things I would do differently, things I plan to do the next time I have a baby:
1. Have my husband stay in the hospital with me overnight. The nurses were helpful, but I really needed Andrew, especially during the middle of the night nursing. I overextended myself trying to get Eloise set up in the hospital bed to nurse, and with a very sore stomach this was a bad idea.
2. Have my husband take at least a week off of work (better yet, two weeks!) This might mean we have to take unpaid time off, Andrew’s current job gives 2 weeks paid time off to dads, but his previous job only offered unpaid leave. It would have been worth it to save some extra money so that wouldn’t be a burden.
3. Don’t go home early. My first night home was terrible. I couldn’t lie flat in bed without hurting my stomach, and I missed the hospital bed. I ended up sleeping in a recliner in the living room and it was the worst nights sleep I have ever had.
4. Rest. Stay in bed. I would take the week or two while my husband was home and just sleep and enjoy my new baby. Especially since I will be recovering from another C-section. Last time, I continuously overexerted myself and my body took a long time to heal. There was a lot of blood and my doctor kept advising me to slow down but I didn’t and it just made things worse.
5. Know my physical limits, and keep them. I felt like I had to prove how tough I was after my C-sections. I was up moving as soon as my epidural wore off, and from the start I refused a lot of help. Walking and moving after a C-section is important and good, but I pushed it further than I should have. I should have taken it slower.
6. Let people help me. Postpartum is not a time to be too proud to accept or ask for help.