This is {my} postpartum

I’m now ten weeks postpartum with my fifth baby. Thankfully, I’ve had a super easy recovery, and have felt pretty fantastic right since he was born. I’ve been lucky in always having pretty easy recoveries after I have given birth, but this has been by far the best. I’m so grateful I had such an easy delivery, and after period, as I didn’t really have a choice but to get on with life straight away. I’d love to have been able to have that quiet period, where I could snuggle down in bed with the baby for a week or two, and have someone else look after the other kiddos and house, but even with the other four when I was married, that never happened, so I didn’t miss it too much this time. While some people really need that postpartum period of staying home, resting, being in a baby bubble, not having to go anywhere or do anything, for me, I find that I actually need to be up and out, at least some of the time. Part of course, because I have to be. As a single parent, there is no one else here to take the kiddos to their groups, get the little ones out of the house for some fresh air and exercise, cook dinners or just keep life ticking over. But also, being stuck home and not seeing anyone ends up making me feel mentally terrible. I’ve found a balance this time around between having quiet time’s at home, when I can rest, enjoy baby cuddles, and soak up Oren being a newborn, and getting out of the house.

Whilst pregnant, so many people commented about ‘how the afterpains would be horrendous this time’, but I doubted they would be. I had awful afterpains with my first – after a labour with just gas and air, I literally had all the drugs the next day I was in so much pain! But after all my others, I had absolutely no afterpains – a little cramping when they fed, but that was it. This time around has proved to be the same. A little cramping for the first couple of days but no actual afterpains.

My kiddos came into my bedroom a couple of minutes after Oren was born, and I remember one of the girls commenting on how ‘I still had a belly’. Yes, I said. I do. It takes nine months to get this big, it doesn’t vanish the second the baby is born. My belly deflated rapidly over the first couple of weeks, a month on, there was a little pooch but it was almost back to normal. Normal that is bigger than before. While my belly has flattened, I am carrying more weight than I was before I got pregnant. Does it bother me?! Honestly, not a jot. It’s a sign my body has grown and birthed a whole other human. That it is still solely responsible for nurturing that human, and will be for some time. The weight will go {probably when I cut down on the cake and toast}, for now, the softness and roundness is what my body needs to nurture my baby, and also makes the perfect squishy cushion for him to sleep on.

I always give myself the first couple of months to just take it easy. No exercise {though I do walk everywhere, every day so that helps}, and I eat whatever I like. Broken nights and breastfeeding mean I take it easy on myself for a while. As much as I love this time, I’ll be looking forward to getting a little more active. Starting to work out again, and reigning in the diet just a little – not less food, just less of the junk food and more of the good stuff. Exercise and a good diet have such a profound effect on my mental health, that it would be stupid to not get back on track. It’s less about how they make me look, and all about how they make me feel. I am slowly now beginning to think about a little less junk food and a whole not more nutritious food. This time has been hardest for this as I’ve had no one to take over cooking the meals for me so some days it’s been a case of throwing whatever is easy into the oven so at least we are all fed, or grabbing something easy with one hand when I have a brief five minutes to grab a snack.

We actually went out the day after Oren was born, popped to the shop {I needed carrot cake} and registered his birth. We’ve been out and about ever since – to Liverpool for a science fair, to our home ed groups, to the PYO Farm, to a party at friends, to soft play, we have been on a home ed camping trip, done two festivals and a trip across country to visit family… it’s actually been good for Beastie to keep his ‘normal’ going as much as possible. The first few days after Oren was born I could see he was a little overwhelmed, so getting him out and about really helped him feel like things hadn’t changed entirely.

I am lucky in how good I feel physically, even two days after his birth I didn’t feel like I’d just delivered a baby. I’m grateful that I’m able to be up and out and about, that I’m getting enough rest at night to feel human, that breastfeeding has been so easy again this time. I know I am blessed that it has been pretty easy. There have been days when it’s been stressful, the odd day when he’s been super grumpy, needs to feed all day long, days when I’ve not slept much and I am feeling super emotional. Those days are tough, while my kiddos help out, I’m aware of not expecting too much from them. Though my eldest did play with the baby the other day for half an hour so I could soak in a hot bath – that was heaven!

Doing the whole newborn/postpartum as a single parent isn’t easy, though it’s been less difficult that I thought it might – I really can’t imagine doing it without bigger kids who help out though. While sometimes it’s super lonely, and I long for another adult to share it with, it’s also kind of empowering as I’ve proved to myself that I can do it on my own – long, sleepless nights and all.

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