Jenny Tamas is a birth doula and blogger known for sharing her breastfeeding and parenting journey @TheJennyTamas. Here she shares a snapshot of her postpartum experience.
My postpartum journey was…downright scary. Like a giant tug-of-war. Constantly being pulled from one fear to the next.
The very first night I brought her home, I did what I’d been told and laid her to sleep in her crib. I lay in bed watching her sleep between those wooden bars, absolutely terrified. It all felt so wrong. She’d been living inside me for 41 weeks and now on the very first day outside my body, we weren’t supposed to be together when we slept?
That was the first and last time she slept in that crib. I listened to that deep wise whisper from somewhere inside of me saying we needed to be together...which propelled me to the next fear. What if I killed her? Smushed her in my sleep? So, I slept with no pillow or blanket for almost a year.
I wasn’t expecting the pressure after birth. Pressure to leave her and have ‘me’ time, which is such nonsense when you have a newborn, this societal belief that things need to go back to how they were before almost immediately. I didn’t realize how much pressure there would be to ‘bounce’ back, both mentally and physically.
The hardest part of postpartum for me was the constant questioning ‘am I doing it right?’ ‘Am I holding her too much?’ ‘Am I breastfeeding too much? Too much, not enough, too much, not enough. The worry of keeping them safe but not smothering. Allowing freedom but setting boundaries.
This giant invisible tug on your heart. All the time.
The best part? Hands down holding my baby to my chest, feeling her delicate skin and breath. It’s like a whole other world that calms and centers me. And that goes hand-in-hand with breastfeeding for me. It was so foreign, yet the most natural thing I’ve ever done.
I have three pieces of advice for pregnant mums-to-be and their partners about postpartum.
- There’s never been – and never will be – a written manual for YOUR baby and YOUR body. You’re your own best manual so listen to your own intuition and if it’s not in a baby book...that doesn’t mean diddly squat.
- Buy 5 tubs of your favorite ice-cream and keep it in the freezer so when you and your partner have 10 minutes in the middle of the night – INDULGE – and you‘ll always remember those insane nights you cried over baby toes and chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream.
- Be rude. Seriously. I was so afraid to ask for what I needed. If everyone is over and it’s too much, ask people to leave, even if they’ve only been there 30 minutes. They will understand, and they can always come back tomorrow.
Postpartum is like this: an insanely beautiful, cracked vase that has been glued together again. Every mother is her own vase and inside is a light illuminating the cracks. Postpartum is the light, I am the cracked vase, and if it wasn’t for postpartum, I would never have seen my cracks, known where more glue was needed, and understood it was my cracks that made me beautiful all along.