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Planning for the postpartum period

Tony Greep

I’m due in 5.5 weeks and have started to think ahead to just beyond the birth and to those first few weeks postpartum when our family routines will be tossed on their heads, my husband and I will be coexisting in a haze of exhaustion and sleep deprivation, and the toddler? Well, who knows what sort of state she’ll be in, but we’re hoping for the best.

The immediate postpartum period is a tricky time. Mom needs a couple of weeks to heal physically, the family needs a little time to figure out which way is up, and the newborn basically exists in a state of shock as every experience they go through is a new one (can you even imagine?!).

This time we’ll be doing it all with a toddler underfoot as well, and while that scares me a little, I’m trying to stay optimistic.

The first time around, I was able to fully indulge in those early weeks. My husband had ample time off of work and a flexible schedule when he returned (including the ability to work from home regularly). I spent most days holed up in the bedroom in my pajamas with the babe, figuring out breastfeeding, sleeping when the baby slept, and otherwise watching endless movies on Netflix streaming. Of course, we had our rough moments – a lot of them – as any new parent does. After all, learning how to soothe and care for a new little creature is confusing and stressful, especially when you do it wrong and the babe then spends the next several hours yelling and crying, as if in protest of your ineptitude.

Or was that just my interpretation of what that was all about? :)

This time, I am optimistic because at least I’m not a newbie at this whole newborn thing. While this baby will be a totally different person from my daughter, with different needs and quirks and preferences, neither am I the same inexperienced mother. I look back on those first weeks postpartum and sort of laugh at how neurotic I was about so many things and how much of a learning curve everything seemed to have.

This time around, however, I feel like I have some tried-and-true tricks up my sleeve. Like that massive stash of babywearing contraptions in the closet, for instance, at least one of which should make the new little one happy – and all of which I am comfortable using already.

Score 1 for mom.

This time, come February, I will have my husband around for support (and toddler wrangling) for the first two weeks or so, but after that, he’s back to work full time with an hour commute on either end of the day. It’s at that point that we hope we’ll have a small rotation of family members coming to visit for a couple days at a time. And with any luck, we’ll be able to cover any other major support needs with love and help from local friends.

Our daughter, Poppy, will attend morning pre-school two days a week and I’m considering signing her up for a music class just a block over so that she’ll have one more social outlet to wear her out and provide some distraction until spring arrives and we can get outside again. Whether this is a wise idea is yet to be determined. Come late February, getting anywhere – in the snow, with the kids, at a predetermined time – may feel impossible.

But I’m optimistic…. sort of.

What was your immediate postpartum recovery like? Did you have all the support you felt you needed? If you’ve had more than one child, was it easier/harder/the same each time?

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Follow Jo on Twitter at @outtajo or visit her personal blog, Outta Jo, Onto You.

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