With the birth of my little boy in October, I just became a mother of three. Right in time for the holidays! While I’m sure there’s almost nothing better than newborn snuggles next to a Christmas tree, it can be a crazy time to navigate the “fourth trimester.” I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like I know EXACTLY what I’m doing, but this time, with baby number 3, I’ve found that I’m learning to give myself a little more permission to just ROLLLL with the punches, baby - and I’m thankful to say it’s been my best postpartum experience yet. Here are a few things I’ve kept in mind while entering this season of both celebration and sleepless nights.
1// Remember that everything is changing and everything is temporaryYour swinging emotions, your leaky boobs, your postpartum hair loss, your new (strong, soft, amazing) body, and also how that tiny scrunched up newborn feels on your chest. Having a baby is a lot all at once, and I don’t care how many kids you have, it will always be a lot all at once. But keeping in mind that everything is temporary, will help you get through the hard stuff and truly soak in the sweet stuff.
2// Ask for help when you need it and accept it when it's offeredI know. We all love to put on our “no I’m fine” t-shirts and smile while we wipe spit-up off our shoulders. And maybe we are “fine.” But some things that were part of your routine before baby, *will* slip through the cracks. And when they do, know that there are hands willing and ready to pick the pieces up, when we let them. Call a friend on a down day, accept the meal offer from your neighbor, hire someone to deep-clean your bathrooms, let your friend come pick your older kids up for a play date. Letting help in is a superpower.
3// Say no when you need toTo the holiday parties, to your friends or family, to volunteering at your kid’s school, to people who want to hold your baby. You reserve every right to protect your energy, your nest, and your recovery period (however long), and say yes only when it truly feels good. Your gift from the holidays to you is permission to go full hibernation.
4// If you have any, include your older childrenThe greatest moment of my life was realizing that my oldest was big enough to carry my youngest around the house while I cook dinner. And that he was DYING to! I have found that the best way to foster sibling relationships is by letting the older siblings come to the newest sibling at their own pace. With my first two, this was a slower process that we didn’t rush our oldest about. This time, it was pretty instant. (They maybe love him TOO much sometimes haha.) But whatever the pace, include your older children. Let them be your helpers - grabbing diapers, fetching pacifiers, helping to stuff a tiny arm down a onesie sleeve - all while praising them for their greatness. I don’t expect the older sibling to instantly love the younger. Instead I try to foster the new relationship from the bottom up. The phrase I say the most often is, “He (the newborn) loves you SO much.” It lights them up like a Christmas tree. And bonus, encourages LOTS of helping.
5// Take time for just you and your babyThis one might sound funny, because if your experience is anything like mine, it may feel like your arms are ALWAYS full of baby. But sometimes I feel like so much of the day can consist of just “getting through it.” You wrap your baby and then get on with your day. Getting your kids dressed, meals prepped and everyone out the door on time. You have appointments, or last night’s dishes to do, and that one thing at 2:00 you should’ve said no to but didn’t. Your arms are always full and baby is just in and out of the car seat or along for the ride. To intentionally let the clean laundry pile on your bed just blur into the background while you sit and stare and savor your delicious baby is what makes it ALLLL worth it. We can fold our laundry tomorrow.
6// Do one thing for yourself, every dayThis could be taking a hot shower, or unfollowing someone you’re tempted to compare yourself to on instagram. Do a 5-minute meditation. Lock the bathroom door and don’t answer for ANYONE. Every day, with at least one intentional act, take care of you. You just created a human life (!) and this is the season to honor your whole self in the season that it’s in. Do what you can when it feels good, love your baby, and let the rest GO.
photos by Andrea Ahedo