Over committing is one of my worst habits.
I have a hard time saying no.
I am a yes woman.
I want to be part of everything, I want to help with everything.
Another bad habit - I don’t like to ask for help.
Sometimes I find myself spread paper thin, feeling like my mind is fraying at the edges and I am drowning in laundry and spit up.
Why does this matter to you?
Because I did this to myself with BOTH of my children in the postpartum period. I wish I hadn’t. It took a toll on me mentally and physically.
Postpartum Period #1
When L was born, I rushed home from the hospital as fast as I could. I had a whole house full of animals waiting on me and I couldn’t wait to bring my baby home to them and to start living our new life!
I was supposed to take six weeks off from work. After two, I was going stir crazy. I went back to work part time and took L with me. Thankfully I had a supportive boss, who let me set up whatever I needed for L in my office and gave me whatever time I needed to breastfeed and care for him while I was at work.
Even so, I went back to work and assumed far too much responsibility, far too quickly. Before I knew it I had a two month old baby and I had run myself into the ground. But I pushed on, because that’s how I operate. Lucky for me, L, started sleeping for long stretches at night just before he turned two months old. He gave me the break I so badly needed, even if neither of us were aware of it then.
Postpartum Period #2
When J was born, I was determined that life would go back to normal as quickly as possible. I wanted to continue to do everything for L that I did before his brother came along, so he wouldn’t feel disrupted by our newest addition. I did take my time coming home from the hospital after my cesarean, because I knew recovery from surgery would be more physically challenging and I wanted to give myself as much rest as possible before I hit the ground running again.
….because that is exactly what I did.
Ten days post-cesarean I was standing on a soccer field with a team of 6 year old boys ready to coach for the spring season. I wasn’t even allowed to drive yet, and I couldn’t stand to be away from the baby… so my wonderful husband drove me everywhere and hung with the baby in the warm car while I coached.
I barely had 6 weeks of maternity leave before it was time to go back to work full time. I am more fortunate than most in that I had paid maternity leave for 6 weeks and that I work from home. Even so, I went back to work during our peak season. Things were crazy busy. I remember sobbing when I had to start working again, wondering how I was going to balance everything. I felt like taking care of my children was already a full time job, I wasn’t sure how I could make the rest work. I could barely see straight from lack of sleep and trying to juggle all of Logan’s activities, much less working my day job into the mix. But I forged on.
After the 2.5 month soccer season was over, I signed L up for swimming. Swimming was every morning over the summer and some evening swim meets. With J strapped to my chest, I was present for everything.
Did I mention I also had a full time job?!
Through all of this, J rarely slept. He is an incredibly happy, easy going little guy…. but he doesn’t sleep. Every now and then he would make it a full 6 or 7 hours and I thought, “We are finally getting there! We are in the home stretch of my sleep deprivation!” … then the following day he would get up 5 times in an 11 hour period.
I needed help. I couldn’t continue pushing ahead at this rate. But I didn’t ask. I didn’t ask until I found myself sobbing to my best friend and sister about how I felt like I was falling apart. My baby was 7 months old when I asked for help. I waited far too long.
Do you know what happened when I asked for help?
My family and husband stepped up to help, because that’s what they do! That is who they are! They love and support me and my kiddos, and I know this, but I wanted to do it all, all by myself. Learning that I couldn’t manage that was a hard but necessary lesson.
I recognize how fortunate I am that I work from home, and that I have a family I can lean on for help when I need it. Not everyone has the same support network, but we all DESERVE support and we all NEED it in someway or another at some point.
During the postpartum period we experience lots of big changes. Big changes hormonally, big changes physically, big changes mentally - and whether we like it or not, the dynamic of our home life shifts.
No one can do it all.
Everyone needs sleep.
Everyone needs help.
Everyone needs a village.