Getting towards the end of those six weeks of grace set aside for the postpartum mother (if that) has me reflecting on how essential it is that we love ourselves well and lift one another up. Postpartum grace is essential.
Postpartum grace, limited as it is, is expected to cover so many things.
Employment and Maternity Leave
Employment considerations for parents have implications in income, career development, and the flexibility in our schedules up to and following birth.
A woman’s very life force redirected its efforts to make life possible for this human. Her oxygen, her nutrients, her blood flow- she shared with this person. The organs of her body rearranged to make space for another being. She carried the extra weight, not only of an additional person but also everything required to sustain life before birth.
Then, the muscles of her body joined together in the marathon of a lifetime. She was forcing a human from an orifice that expands, in the process, from closed to ten centimeters. Cue the episiotomy, the c-section, and I could go on.
The Mental and Emotional Recovery
Her body has gone through so many changes–Even her hormones fluctuated to bring upon this miracle, an experience every bit as bizarre as it is natural. Exhaustion, nausea, and mood swings are just the tip of the iceberg here. This is little sleep, broken into smaller pieces yet. This is the integration of another person into a family, an entirely dependent person at that. The dynamics of what this can look like for each family are endless.
In our household, it’s adapting my routine as a stay-at-home mom to now five children, aged five and under. It’s meeting each of their needs and making space for their feelings in a growing family. It’s balancing my relationship with my husband under new responsibilities, let alone enjoying it. It’s making space in a home and a budget that hasn’t grown just because we’ve chosen to expand our family.
Getting Reacquainted With Herself
I’ve got the memories, experience, and wisdom from sharing my life with another.
Past passions linger in the shadow of the woman I used to be. My children and new passions will become a part of me, too. I’ve got the marks too to prove my body made way for another person. Call them my tiger stripes if you will, or “snakes,” as a friend’s young daughter so fondly saw her momma’s, but they’re unfamiliar, and they’re mine to own now.
I have a pouch where the skin grew to hold my baby. I don’t notice it like my young children do, as they curiously ask if I’m having another baby. Still, I remember my time carrying our babies as new folds of skin gather over the waistlines of all the garments I fit over these veteran baby birthing hips. I’m still carrying half the weight from this last pregnancy, which, no matter how it compares to someone else, is as much weight as I gained altogether with our first pregnancy.
It’s a different body than the one I had before our children, no doubt. It’s a different life even more so. But it is mine. And by the grace of God, far beyond any postpartum grace, I am victorious in it, whatever its challenges are or have been.
You’re victorious too, Momma. Do not be limited by the grace you believe the world has to offer you. Do you see all that your body and heart are capable of?
When it appears that postpartum grace ends, may we then have eyes for the glorious beauty that we each possess.
If you are in the postpartum phase or expecting, please join us (virtually!) for BLOOM- An Event for New and Expecting Moms on September 24: Whether you’re expecting for the first or third time, are fostering, adopting, have a newborn at home or are working your way through the toddler years and thinking of expanding your family in the future, this event is for you. Come enjoy a full day of educational resources, giveaways and swag, fun experiences, and connecting moms and families with relevant local resources!