This is a list of things I have to say about [my experience of] postnatal things.

  • I made a half gallon mix of healing herbs to be used for baths and rinses, before the baby came, and it was one of the most worthwhile preparatory things that I did, period. Observe my foresight. Yarrow, calendula and lavender flowers, rosemary, sage, and comfrey made the best healing tea ever. Since I don’t have a bathtub I just did Sitz baths, which—while embarrassing to discuss in public—are needful, if you tore during delivery. I just used half of that gallon jar before I felt like I was healed up enough to quit, which was probably two and a half or three weeks. I’m so excited to give this to the next pregnant friend I have who’s going for a first-time vaginal birth (as I hear the perineal trauma is usually way down after the first time).
  • My friend KG, who had her first baby a couple months before I had mine, told me not to look “down there” before six weeks postpartum. She said everybody does, but to just not. It was a serious warning, and I heeded. I don’t know why damage to one’s lady parts is so much more horrifying than, say, damage to one’s face, or hands. But it is. And stitches always make things look Frankenstein, so that’s an extra level of something. A little je ne sais quoi. Moving on:
  • I made (a total of) 16 ounces of a nipple butter that I never used once. Irksome! It was so nice—equal parts shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil! In lovely quilted glass 4-ounce Ball jars! I ended up using an all-purpose nipple ointment that the hospital gave me instead, since it’s anti-fungal (and I got all nervous about thrush, initially), AND has a pain reliever in it. If I’d had a baby in the summer I think I might have used my nip butter too, but since a feeding takes 30 minutes and then you have to let your nips air-dry and burp your baby, by the time I finally got around to putting on the ointment/butter, letting it work its magic before I put clothes back on, it was almost time to feed the baby again. So, it just went by the wayside UNLESS I had soreness, which I did early on.
  • Breastfeeding is very awesome so far, except for the moments of soreness and jabbing pain that are (ma)lingering. But they’re so short, and have gotten so much better. It’s a whole new world, full of strange and beautiful things. Since mainstream American culture still hypersexualizes the breast, it’s a little awkward to go into a lot of detail, or post photos of these intimate moments. But I’m still trying to decide whether I give a flying F about that. We’ll see. In the meantime, I was able to post a breastfeeding photo on a private Facebook group for breastfeeding moms connected with my birthing center, and I was so proud—after months of reading other womens’ posts and seeing their breastfeeding photos—so enter into this sacred circle, myself.
  • The “baby blues,” another inadequate and patronizing name for a complex and bewildering physical experience, only lasted about a week, for me. When I think about that week, how I didn’t feel that the future existed, only the present, the exhausted, gray, rainy, closeted present, I still shudder a little. How real it was, though everything I’ve read about it treats it like a passing unreality, a short-lived nightmare. Which it was. And yet it was so crushingly present. It reminds me of other times of life in which I wasn’t coping well with loss.
  • These days, I sometimes put real clothes on. It makes the day feel a little more dignified, like I might do something big-time. Big-time doings, for now, include (but are not limited to) cleaning up part(s) of the house, making coffee or tea, taking a shower, writing a blog, trips to the pediatrician or the birth center, and trips to he grocery store. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done any single item in the above list. Except showers—I’m sure I’ve had more than five. Maybe  8 in the past five weeks? It’s a big deal. I think I’m going to try for one today. You may wish me luck.
  • For the most part, I like this time at home with the baby. Marshall has been asking if I feel cooped-up, and before this weekend, the answer was an honest no. I have loved living in my nightgown, having snacks on my bed with the baby eating, or sleeping. It feels natural. Some moments are so tiny and perfect that I feel I’m traveling the world, seeing places of overwhelming natural beauty.
  • This Saturday night, however—you knew it was coming—was the first night the baby cried ALL night  (we usually get two 2-3 hour windows of sleep a night) and I elected to be up with her from 2 or 3am till 5am, when she finally dropped off. I guess she’s going through a growth spurt, plus she’s gassy. We don’t get much sleep, so we get really tired at 1030pm, and that’s when our hopes BEGIN to be dashed. It’s so much harder than I thought it would be, to lose so much sleep to a gassy baby. We knew she was hurting in her midsection, but the gripe water was just making her choke and she ended up spitting most of it up, anyway, so our options grew very limited: stand and bounce her, re-swaddle her, sit down and bounce her, walk around very fast with her, do not shake her or scream. Since I couldn’t scream, I just cried. All night.
  • But the next day, Marshall’s parents took her (after we slept till 11am) and we went and did some stuff. Got some coffee, browsed flannel shirts at R.E.I., got some nursing tanktops for me at West Town, got groceries. It was amazing to be baby-free. And then, it was also amazing to come back to her, hear her crying for me (I mean my boob), to hold her and be able to give her exactly, exactly, exactly what she wanted.
  • Marshall got me subscriptions to The American Poetry Review and Poetry for Christmas, which we hope will help me get back into reading and writing. I’m going to give myself time. Time time time. There will be time.
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