“Yup, everything looks good from what I can see. You’re good to go.”
Congratulations. You have kept your bouncing bundle of joy alive for half a year. Twenty-six weeks ago, you pushed this miracle into the world in all their tiny wriggling glory. Twenty weeks ago, you checked in with the person that took care of you and your growing family for months, maybe seeing you every day as you got closer and closer to delivery. But at that six week check-in, they glanced at your stitches, told you how beautiful your new baby is, and sent you on your way, figuring that you were okay.
But you’re not okay. Here you are with this gorgeous six-month old baby, and they want and eat and need more from you than they ever have before. They sleep less than they ever have before. The well-wishers, lasagnas and packages from Amazon are a distant memory. You have wound your unwashed hair into a permanent messy bun, which sheds constantly even when you don’t touch it. You remember another you from a thousand months ago that took showers that were sometimes ten or even fifteen minutes long. What did you do with all that time?
At six months into motherhood, you have less support and more to do than any other time before. Back from maternity leave, adding on solids, weaning from the breast, transitioning to cribs. Life is as back to normal as it ever will be.
But you’re not okay. Because you know that this is not normal—this is a new setting. Life is never going to be normal again.
From the moment you learn you’re expecting to the day you give birth, you are special. You are a real-life symbol of the divine, a nine-month viewing lens for people to witness life being created and born. For many, pregnancy is challenging and that support is crucial. But I want to add: YOU are not any less special once you stop being a vessel for a child. You are worthy of love, support, and yes, even a six-month postpartum checkup.
Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover that, and most OB’s wouldn’t even know what to ask you. So I’m listing a little self-check-in for you to do. It won’t take long. I know you have nipples to boil because somebody didn’t rinse the bottles right away like you told them to.
Put your phone on airplane and turn off the television. Then sit on the sofa or lie on your back—do whatever feels comfortable. Close your eyes. There’s no getting this right, just take a moment to check in. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself:
- How am I feeling right now?
- Where am I holding tension? Am I in any pain?
- What do I need right now?
Run your fingers across your brow, to your temples, and around the back of your ears. These are areas where we tend to store stress, and as parents, we have plenty of it. However, we don’t spend much time in our bodies dealing with it, because stuff. Kids. Other people. Pain is your body’s way of getting your attention, much in the same way that crying is your child’s way of communicating with you. We wouldn’t ignore the baby and we shouldn’t ignore ourselves. A little, two-minute check-in like the one above can help you feel more balanced and less overwhelmed when practiced regularly. Add and subtract from it as you like.
Remember that birth is a physical event, and requires recovery and attention. Although your stitches may have dissolved, your hormones have just begun to regulate and your life will likely never be the same. We owe ourselves at least a six-month checkup. And it’s okay if you’re not fine just yet.
It’s normal to feel tired, a little down or even overwhelmed after you have a baby. However, if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, reach out for help right away. It doesn’t make you a bad mother to need help or medical assistance. You are lovely and worth being supported and taken care of.
For more about postpartum disorders, visit here.