Cornelia’s Point of View
I have always felt that women were magical, resilient individuals. However, I have a whole new appreciation for mothers after experiencing pregnancy and childbirth.
Things I’ve heard and read in the past always mention the changes like lack of sleep and the infamous ‘postpartum belly,’ but I came to find out that the changes do not stop there.
The reality is, a woman not only births a child during childbirth, but also births a new woman within herself. In the midst of nurturing and tending to the every need of a new little human, she's also faced with the new woman she becomes. And THAT, is HARD.
It all hit me after my first outing, five months after giving birth. A good friend of mine was getting married and I was super excited about it. The wedding had been postponed due to the pandemic and this was my first glimpse of normalcy in over a year.
A series of events leading up to the wedding made me realize that it wasn't the old me that would be showing up this wedding, but instead the new, unfamiliar, post-baby me.
Dress shopping introduced me to my new body. Though always a curvaceous woman, I felt that I at least knew how to dress my curves.
I knew that my body had changed but I was unaware how different it was. In fact, I was nervous to even enter the stores because I had no idea what size I now wore.
Although a size is just a number, to me, it felt like an indication of how much work I would need to put in to get back to my old size and that would a big smack of reality I wasn’t sure I was ready for.
After trying on a few dresses of my go-to style, I realized that my body change went beyond weight gain. I had a 'mom-pooch.' A post-partum belly isn’t just a matter of weight gain. I learn that the whole configuration of my mid-section seemed different.
These dresses were not as forgiving as they once were to my curves, or rather now, I had new curves. Although it didn't look TERRIBLE, it was different. I stared at myself in the mirror for a while and wondered ‘Who is this woman?’
The rest of tge days leading up to the wedding were a blur. Typically, getting ready was a week or so long process. My sister agreed to help me get prepared.
However, as the week went on, I realized how valuable my time was. Between caring for a newborn, running a business, working a full time job and being considerate of my partner's schedule, gone were the days of easily getting away for hours to glam up.
Julia and I were able to squeeze in nails, but on the day of the wedding, I was stuck doing my own hair. My hair turned out to be a long, tiresome ordeal but hours later, I finally felt like things were looking up. Just then, my nail breaks.
I anxiously, turn the baby over to her dad to handle this newest catastrophe. All the while, I still needed to finish my hair and get make up on. Whew!
Needless to say, by the time I left the house, I was severely exhausted. I looked at my self in the mirror for a while and thought again, WHO IS THIS WOMAN?'
Despite having felt like I worked a full day, I was still excited to see a lot of people I was not able to see in a long time. The weather was hot and humid and at some points, we were required to stand and walk short distances as apart of the ceremony. No big deal, right? WRONG. I was overheated, tired and somehow my post partum feet didn't walk as well in heels.
At this point, even my feet were screaming WHO IS THIS NEW WOMAN?!!!!
I left the wedding before my friends, slightly disappointed that the day wasn’t what I expected. I found myself feeling excited to go back to a world where I wasn't questioning myself every second.
I realized hadn't felt out of place once in the last five months, in my new baby bubble. I was so focused on all of my baby's wants and needs, that I hadn’t even noticed that I became a new woman, myself.
Suddenly, I felt a small sense of pride. I told myself to 'embrace it and learn.' Why should I feel discouraged?
I should be embracing this more organized woman that MUST plan everything weeks in advance. My time is now more valuable.
I should embrace that SPANKS are my new bestfriend. My post-partum belly shows that my body brought a whole human being in this world.
I should embrace the small guilt I feel everytime i leave my baby for hours, because now I have someone so special to come back home to.
I should embrace the one shot of liquor that hits me twice as hard. I now get to save money at the bar!
I vowed to myself that I would Embrace the miracle of motherhood. I am loving THIS WOMAN I’ve become because everyday she makes sacrifices and never thinks twice; and no matter how puffy her hair is, how tired she feels or much her feet hurt… that alone, my dear, makes me the sugar…. The honey…. And the iced tea!
Julia’s Point of View
Let me first start this off by saying I do not enjoy being pregnant! Some women enjoy being pregnant. They take a million pictures of their growing bellies and gush over every little change to their body. I am not one of those women.
To be honest, when I am pregnant I feel like a vessel. I am very pragmatic about the process, knowing what I am sacrificing to bring life into this world. As a mom, sacrifice starts early and it seems to never end!
I don’t enjoy the nausea, the body invasion, emotional outburst or the body aches during pregnancy. But the thought of a beautiful baby at the end of it all is what helps me survive the process.
That is why the thought of postpartum depression is always far from my mind. I am so grateful for all the great things to come that I tend to focus on that. After delivery, I am so happy to not be pregnant anymore and to have my healthy baby, that I don’t give many other feelings room to grow.
The initial bond always gives me butterflies. Hearing that first cry after birth makes me cry, happy tears!
Our grandmother always says “Does the baby have 5 finger and 5 toes? Then you’re blessed!” I found that I have mostly taken that approach to life postpartum.
Taking my baby home and knowing that they’re healthy gives me an unimaginable elation!
I feel accomplished. I know I survived.
Personally, I’ve survived two c-sections, gestational diabetes and birthed two healthy babies!
With that being said, I also know that physically, your body needs to recover and sometimes that’s not easy.
You’re a mom a.k.a. A Superhero. Very few may understand the swelling of your feet, the pain from a healing c-section scar, the depression of new stretch marks, the acceptance of a post-partum belly or any other after- birth ailments that may arise. Mother’s keep it pushing, no matter what.
No matter how strong you are, it is important to focus on your mental and physical wellness in that moment.
I learned that in the postpartum period, it is important to express your needs and be clear about what you can and cannot do.
Having a good partner will lift a lot of pressure from your shoulders but be sure you’re utilizing your whole village.
I remember feeling overwhelmed and having to call my sister for a break. It made me realize how much a good support system matters.
I also had my children almost ten years apart so my oldest was often able to help her little sister the second time around, but with my oldest, I remember feeling like it was often all on me. My support system helps remind me that it’s not.
It is important to speak with your medical providers and support system about any feelings you have of depression. I learned how important it is to pay extra attention to your mental wellness, but also to spend extra time focusing on your physical wellness.
While recovering physically, remember to be patient with yourself. Do not do strenuous exercise too early. Consult your physician before doing intensive workouts.
Yoga is especially helpful in the early days because it is calming and pushes your body just the right amount.
You cannot rush healing, physically or mentally. It is important to not let things build up and to express yourself freely and clearly so that you can get the support you need.
You ARE a superwoman even when you don’t feel as such! You are strong but you don’t always have to be! Listen to your body! Listen to your heart! You got this!