I’ve made it to the stage of pregnancy where I can’t wait to say goodbye to maternity clothes, I’m 36 weeks pregnant. I miss walking into a room without being stared at. I know I’m not exactly out of shape but I am a shape and its really round.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I spent 9 months reading about birth and breastfeeding, it never really occurred to me to think about the whole idea of parenting or how to maintain some sort of an identity. (sometimes) Its hard to be a tiny person’s everything. Luckily we’ve (for the most part) made graceful transitions from a couple to a family, from whole people to being someone’s mother and father. Learning what we need to have a healthy relationship with each other and ourselves.
This time I’ve spent more time thinking about what life will be like as a mother of two. How do I balance life and love with all of these people? How do I make time for myself, when its already what I’m worst at? Its overwhelming sometimes to think about. Because of this I’ve spent more time preparing for the post partum period. I had no idea how much time I really needed to settle into motherhood. I’ve treated many women who have issues post partum that sometimes may or may not seem related to all the huge changes that take place physically, mentally and emotionally during pregnancy and childbirth. I’ve slowly learned over the past 3 or so years or 30 or so years that I’m a whole lot more effective at everything when I take care of myself.
The end of pregnancy is hard, physically of course but oh so emotionally as well. I’ve found that I overdo it pretty easily these days, so quickly that I don’t even realize it until its too late. I’m learning to honor my body and my sweet pea has already become a wonderful and patient doula (as well as my husband). I’m learning the strength in asking for help, in knowing my limits and the fine art of being still, which is super hard to do sometimes especially when I get stuck on the couch, rolling over in bed etc.
I’ve said on more than one occasion that its kind of a shame how we as a culture enjoy and appreciate the rolls of thighs on babies, the squishiness and yet find it so distasteful on women. The post partum period for a women has a built in squishy period for a reason, why do you think teddy bears are so much fun to cuddle? My plan is to enjoy the soft, squishy phase of myself as much as I do in babies.
Its really common to see weekly photos of a pregnancy to watch a belly expand. Its exciting. There are projects that show pictures of post partum bellies and I think that is great. I think we as a culture have way too many expectations on women especially after they give birth. Its a time to be still, to hold your baby, to rest. I read once that when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon it doesn’t simply grow wings it actually deconstructs itself into a goo and then transforms completely into a butterfly. Growing a child and becoming a mother is pretty much the same thing. I remember after my daughter was born waiting for myself to go back to “normal” until I realized that whatever I had thought was normal didn’t exist anymore, my heart and my body were forever changed. What breaks my heart most is when mothers post on forums sometimes right after birth about when they can start working out again or dieting again to get their body back. I understand the rush on one hand and feel devastated for women in general on the other that we even consider this in a time that is so precious and should be honored as sacred. Its been said often it takes 9 months for a women’s body to expand and grow a child we shouldn’t expect it to consolidate all at once. It all just takes time (I don’t have a link so don’t quote me but in prenatal yoga we were talking about how it takes a woman’s organs 18 months to go back to where they were before pregnancy).
I plan to take a weekly picture for 40 weeks post partum to catalog my body’s ability to find its new “normal”. I have no real agenda, no diet plan, no secret. I plan on honoring my body and what feels right, eating a whole foods diet rich in foods that support the post partum period, placenta encapsulation (of course), mother warming and belly binding. I’m excited to see what will unfold.