The First Six Weeks
While the title makes it seem like this is a baby-centric post, it’s actually a look at ME in the first six weeks. Yes, babies are super cute, but as a newborn there’s really not much more to write about the first six weeks than eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. This isn’t a report on how he’s sleeping or how tummy time is going. I’m planning posts on items I’ve loved during this time as well as other baby posts that address those things, but this one is all about yours truly.
Given my experience with depression and the couple weeks before having him that I seemed to sink back into it, I fully expected to deal with some type of postpartum issue. Honestly, it was the one and only expectation I had surrounding pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. It was a given. Well seven weeks in I still haven’t seen any signs of it. I’ve enjoyed his company, I’ve lit up when he smiles at me (even if it is only gas), and I feel an attachment that I assumed would take more time to develop. So while I’m excited to not have to deal with the complications of that, I have noticed subtle things going on that I wasn’t prepared for.
I’ve been buying things.
I rarely buy “stuff,” yet I find myself making purchases on an almost daily basis. I have never felt comfortable with larger purchases, but when something is going on emotionally, I am an expert at the small ones. I am able to dismiss a $10 earring or new foundation, but these small things add up over time, especially if I am doing it on a daily basis. I’m able to stay in denial longer because the amounts are seemingly inconsequential, but thankfully I’m in tune enough with myself to realize that it’s a behavior I typically don’t engage in.
Since having Miles, I’ve obviously been in a period of transition. I had a pretty traumatic birth experience and I’m now raising a tiny human. I’m not as actively engaged in pursuing new work during this time, so my days have been less defined by deadlines and physically training people. I’ve been unable to exercise the way I used to. For someone who thrives on routine, it’s been quite an adjustment to have that disappear virtually overnight.
Add into the mix the physical changes after having a baby and I find myself searching for a new normal. I don’t look the way I did before I had him — a given — but finding the patience to let my body heal and refraining from workouts that I know could help yet cause more damage is a daily struggle.
So what I do when I can’t control the emotional side of things is aim to control whatever else I can. This is a common issue for me (and many others who have struggled with substances or addictions) and the way for me to combat it is to talk about it. Things like emotional eating or shopping don’t need to be immediately labeled as bad (same goes for habits), and in fact they can be helpful coping mechanisms in the short term. It’s when things start to escalate out of control or continue for a prolonged period of time that problems develop.
I’m not ashamed of coping with a huge life change by buying things (hey, I got some pretty sweet stuff I’m excited about), but I am aware that it’s a pattern that can’t continue. It’s a behavior that is indicative of a larger issue that I need to focus on — namely my feelings around this new chapter of life. It’s not productive to buy new makeup and jewelry because I’m not in love with the way I look right now. It’s not helpful to eat caramels one at a time but throughout the whole day because sugar makes me fleetingly happy (yum). In the short term, yes, but I need to make peace with what life has given me and how I plan to pay that forward.
So what’s next?
More baby time. More dog love. More communication with Neil and with others. Learning how to take the extra, unstructured time I have and turn it into something productive (like my postpartum exercise specialization!). I’m incredibly grateful for my life as it is, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an adjustment.
So that’s where we are. I know life is a continuous ebb and flow and what affects me today may find itself in the distance tomorrow. I wanted to give you an honest look at how my life has been since having a baby and to simply let you know that things are great and things are confusing and things are overwhelming all at the same time. And that’s ok. It’s not about our changes and challenges in life, but how we cope with them.
Today I’m going to buy a $6 Starbucks drink because it helps me, even if only for a short time.
And because I take the time to stop and ask myself why and then work through those feelings, I know that soon enough I won’t.