Postpartum: Why Its More Than Just The First 6 Weeks

We’ve come home, bonded, and established nursing. We’re back to driving, cleaning and errands. When weeks begin to turn to months, especially at the 6 week point, the pressure is on to let go of our birth experiences and move on. We are expected to be completely healed and back to our daily grind full force. We’re cleared to exercise and should be focused on getting back into pre-pregnancy shape. People around us start checking in on us less and we put pressure on ourselves to be back to “normal”. This pressure is only stronger by our society’s obsession with post baby celebrities in their slinky dresses and Instagram models posing with their newborns in body shapers and full glam.

Yet, I don’t feel normal. I had a harder delivery and slower recovery this time and I don’t feel “over it”. I just got to a point where I’m almost totally pain free and besides the occasional stroll I haven’t started working out. The world may have forgotten but my body hasn’t as it continues to feel  the twinges of muscles repairing themselves from surgery, the ache of streams of milk, and my noticeably weaker knees. I’m still sporting my linea nigra , stretch marks and a fresh red scar. I still feel emotional about having a newborn. But I’ve reached the 6 week mark! I’m not “postpartum” anymore. Why don’t I have it back together by now?

When I was pregnant I used a week by week pregnancy tracker, asked my midwife a million questions and googled every little symptom. Yet up until today I had neglected to brush up on anything regarding the post-partum period beyond my c-section recovery.  This was not due to me thinking that I know it all by the third time around. I just got so wrapped up in the baby that I forgot all about checking in with myself.

IMG_20180718_124727_223

So what did I learn on my quest for knowledge? That the postpartum period doesn’t abruptly end at the 6 week mark, but consists of 3 distinct phases:

The Initial or Acute period- This is the first 6-12 hours after your baby is born where you’re potential for complications is higher and you’re monitored closely by the hospital or midwife.

The Sub-acute period- which last 2-6 weeks, when you are more stable but still recovering from delivery. This is what most people think of as “postpartum”.

The Delayed period- According to an article on The Journal of Prenatal Medicine website, this period can last up to 6 months! The article states:

“This is the time of restoration of muscle tone and connective tissue to the prepregnant state. Although change is subtle during this phase, it behooves caregivers to remember that a womanʼs body is nonetheless not fully restored to pre-pregnant physiology until about 6 months post-delivery.”

No wonder I don’t feel normal again yet, I’m not! The article goes on to say that in some ways we may never be back to our pre-pregnant state and certainly, our lives are changed by our little ones forever. Yet, once the baby comes Earthside we’re encouraged to show as little evidence of carrying a child as we can. We’re told to get back to work, tone up and erase the marks left on our bodies as quickly as possible. As if it’s something shameful.

We shouldn’t be ashamed. We should be proud of all of the ways in which motherhood has changed us, body and soul! Though sometimes I struggle to appreciate my postpartum body, it has done amazing things. These lines and scars are symbols of sacrifice and strength. This vessel has co-created with God. Its loved, housed and grown my family. It continues to nourish myself and flourish my baby. When the temptation to rush back to some false sense of normalcy comes I need to remind myself to take it slow. To be less eager to shed these signs of pregnancy, these physical memories, and to fully appreciate them for the beauty that they represent.

IMG_20180718_124341_947

 

Did you feel pressure from yourself or others to get back to normal after baby? Share in the comments below!

❤ Cait

Why I’m Not Freaking Out About Turning 30

So there seems to be an expectation, especially for women, to freak out about turning 30. Well I just celebrated my 30th birthday and honestly I feel great!

Why the Neurosis?

In our youth obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have a negative view of growing older. Youth and beauty are seen as valuable and powerful assets. There are billions of dollars a year made on women trying to preserve their youth and slow the aging process with countless products geared towards health and beauty.

A lot of main stream movies and TV shows focus on the young or coming of age group. Young pop stars and models are just getting younger. Social media is dominated by smooth, filtered faces, posts lamenting reaching 26, and 30 things to do before 30 lists..as if after 30 you simply curl up and die!

News Flash!

Life continues after your 30! You still have so much life ahead of you. You’re still young, hopefully physically able, and vibrant! You can still have dreams, goals, education, families, new careers, new travels and experiences in your 30s and beyond. Lamenting 30 reeks of naiveté. Why focus on the negative when you’ve been gifted with another year of life? Think about it..the alternative is death. How will you deal with all of the years to come and live a joyful life if you attach a negative outlook to its natural progression? How will you react to 40, 50, 60 years? Be thankful! Choose joy!

Here are some examples of inspiring women that realized their dreams after 30:

Lucille Ball 1944crop.jpg

image source

Lucille Ball: The beloved sitcom I Love Lucy premiered in 1951 when Ball was 40.

J. K. Rowling 2010.jpg

image source

J.K. Rowling: The first book of the wildly popular Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 when Rowling was 32.

Oprah in 2014.jpg

image source

Oprah Winfrey: Winfrey signed a syndication deal for her hit talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 when she was 32.

Julia Child portrait by ©Lynn Gilbert, 1978.jpg

image source

Julia Child: Child was originally an aspiring novelist and didn’t learn to cook until she was 36! Her iconic TV cooking show The French Chef premiered in 1963 when she was 40.

These are just a few of many examples and I highly suggest looking into the stories of each of these amazing women. Age gives us time to have a past which makes us all the more fascinating!

Join the Club-

I don’t know if you realize this but most people are over the age of 30! You’re in great company with the majority of the world.

For me personally, I am happy to leave the tumult of my 20s behind. I’ve grown into myself and have shed so much doubt and insecurity. I know who I am, what I believe, I’m healed from my past, I accept myself, flaws and all, I’ve learned from my mistakes, I’m married, I’m settled, I care less what others think, I have the tools to face adversity with strength, and I’m looking forward to moving securely and confidently towards my future.

With Age Comes Wisdom-

I never want to be one of those women who feels like she wants to lie about her age. I want to proclaim it proudly and wear it like a badge of honor. I want to be like the women who proceed me and that I look up to. We’re experienced, knowledgeable, strong, wise. We know that life still holds many lessons and challenges and only when we cease to learn, to laugh, and to grow in spirit do we begin to die.

We All Carve a Unique Life Path-

Did I accomplish everything I possibly could have before age 30? No. I never did finish college or publish a book, I haven’t seen too much of the world through traveling, I haven’t perfected all of my skills or attained many of my dreams. But I did have a career, fall in love, help others, grow a family, and make some great memories. There is no right way or order in which to live your life. Some people wait until 30 or later to settle into a career or marry or start a family so they get their education and travel in then, I did things in a different order that’s all! And that’s okay. The good news is that there is still so much time!

No matter what season of life you find yourself in wear your age with pride, sisters! Smile and live your life to the fullest in each unique and wonderful stage, and know that you have the power to decide that the best is yet to come!

She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future ~Proverbs 31:25

How do you handle big birthdays and milestone moments of life? What advice would you give to your younger self or the women who follow you about embracing change and enjoying the journey?

❤ Cait

He’s Marrying YOU!

It’s supposed to be the happiest time of your life but, lets be real, anyone who has planned or is in the process of planning a wedding knows that it can have it’s fair share of stress! In my case I was on a budget and wanted as much planned as possible before the day was close! I was referred to a planning website to help me since I didn’t even know where to start. I found a lot of very helpful tools on the site to help me get organized: lists, timelines, and details that I totally would have forgotten, if I even thought of them in the first place! There were a lot of “to-do” items on the list, some were logical like, make a guest list, book a venue, find a photographer. Then there were other, less helpful suggestions..

10 months from the wedding date was apparently right on schedule for me to start transforming myself into the ultimate picture-perfect bride. I was to start a diet and exercise routine, implement a rigorous skin care routine including pricey monthly facials, keep up with my mani-pedis, deep conditioning, and hair cuts, but most of all (again) reduce my size! The dress sizes at the bridal salon are much different than your every day pant size, and God forbid you have back fat in that strapless!

The bridal magazines depicted nothing but statuesque, waifish brides. Facebook was advertising bridal boot camps and total body make overs.. And don’t even get me started on Instagram! The internet was filled with countless articles on how to properly pose for pictures, tone your flabby arms, get rid of cellulite in time for your honeymoon, and endless amounts of other beauty advice and expensive must-have products meant to make you “better” for the big day!

Unfortunately, the pressure to be perfect didn’t stop there. It also came from more unlikely sources… The neurosis of some of the women that were to surround me that day made me feel like I should be twice as neurotic about my own looks! I was the BRIDE after all! I like to think that I eat relatively healthily on a regular basis but when I would get a greek yogurt for breakfast or a salad for lunch at work the cashier would comment “Oh trying to fit into that dress huh?”, and my well meaning friends, family, and coworkers would give plenty of unsolicited low cal recipes and workout advice.

I wish I could have said that I was strong and didn’t let all of this affect me but that wouldn’t be the truth. No one seemed to pressure my husband about his appearance so maybe there really was something wrong with me! I compared my curvy 5 ft 1 in frame to the tall, thin models and each comment and suggestion made my insecurity grow into a giant. I didn’t understand why everyone was so focused on my appearance instead of just being happy for me! Of course I wanted to feel beautiful and confident on our wedding day but the truth was that my husband already saw me as beautiful. He knew who I was and liked it enough to propose so why should I change myself completely to marry him?

My wedding was honestly the happiest day of my life! My photographer said that he barely got any pictures of me not smiling. He was awesome and gave me all of the pictures taken that day to choose from. This included the good, bad unedited, and awkward. When I got the pictures back, all I could see was how different I looked compared to the #bridegoals I was apparently expected to resemble. I was so elated and having such a good time living in the moment that all of the modeling tips I read up on for months flew right out of my head. I forgot to stretch my neck, stick out my jaw, and make my selfie face in most of the photos.

All I could see was my flaws, my ‘double chin’ as I laughed out loud, my round face as I smiled genuinely, my large arm as it squished into my side, my non-existent neck as I scrunched up my shoulders in nervousness or delight. Ridiculous I know.. but I let it get to me and I wept over my hideousness. Damn it they were all right! I was so mad at myself! I was Shrek in a dress! Maybe I should have listened, lost another 25 lbs, got those facials….corseted, starved, bleached my hair, got a dark spray tan, become someone I wasn’t. Someone sexier, someone skinnier, someone better!

But then I looked at the pictures again and I saw something else..my genuine glee, my friends and family celebrating, my husband looking so proud, my daughter officially getting the dad she had always deserved, then I felt silly..

Look at my husband, does it look like he was wondering what size my gown was or how much I weighed in at that morning? NO WAY! He was marrying ME and that made him happy and he loves me today more than ever. Through pregnancy, getting into shape after baby, now my weight is going back up with another baby on the way. The truth is we will all change, our looks will not stay the same forever, we will all grow older. Your husband is marrying YOU! And I promise that is who he would want to see on his wedding day, a version of you that he knows, that has always been more than enough for him.

So if you are planning your wedding, do what you must to feel beautiful on your day but, don’t let the pressure of the world get to you. Be someone you and your family can recognize when you look back on your photos in 10, 15, 20 years. Let the focus be on celebrating you as you are, the honest and true love you and your future husband share, and remember that a wedding is more than just one day and what comes after is far more important; the beginning of a lifelong marriage journey and commitment for better or worse! Enjoy the superficial aspects like dresses, decor, wine, food and gifts but don’t let it consume you and take away your joy. He is marrying YOU, and you are absolutely beautiful just as you are!

IMG_3362

Can you relate to these pressures of being a bride? Why do you think there isn’t as much pressure for grooms to look a certain way when walking down the aisle? Comment below!

❤ Cait

Photos by: Dana Tarr