I am currently just over 2 weeks from delivery my 4th child. A baby girl. I was 40 years old when I birthed this baby, in my home. All of my babies were born at home but all of their first weeks were very different.
Baby #1. With baby #1 I had the post birth euphoria at days 2-5. So I over did it. I was shopping at a outdoor art festival fair while my 5 day old was securely wrapped to my body. He was happy, I felt great. Then it hit. My breasts were sore and I had gashes in them from improper latch and trying to nurse in public and not paying close enough attention to what we were doing. I got mastitis. I felt terrible. And I cried every time he cried to feed because the pain was excruciating. I also went back to work when he was 2 weeks old. How? I don’t even know. I put on a happy face and sucked it up. At 6 weeks things started to turn around for the better but those first weeks were a struggle. My birth was beautiful, the first days were euphoria. We survived, by most standards, we even thrived. But most of all, I learned.
Baby #2. Another beautiful birth and the first days were great. I learned from #1 to take my time, to get some help. I had my mother help out our family for a month and it was great. So great that I, again, over did it. Not as bad as #1 but I was still back to work 2 weeks later. I still had a couple of bouts of mastitis and this time I got the added pleasure of a uterine infection. The added care of a 4 year old big brother made for more activity than I originally imagined, especially when my mother left and I was in charge of snacks, activities, working and newborn care. We once again, survived. And to the outside world we looked like we were thriving. But again, lessons were learned.
Baby #3. Another smooth, beautiful birth and again, the first days were great. This time I took 4 whole weeks off! And yes, it was hard. Thankfully my mom pulled through again and was home with me for most of that time. So far, so good. I got my placenta dried and made into chocolates, I had my herbal after pain tincture to help with pain and uterine healing and I took it easier. I was learning! I still overdid it and tried to keep up with the older brothers so my mom didn’t have to get overwhelmed by their active, rambunctious energy. Without her, I would have been a mess. I could not keep up. I had friends bring food and check in on me, I had clients send gifts, love and food too. If being a geriatric pregnancy meant that I made wiser decisions, I will take it. I STILL ended up with mastitis, ugh, but it was short lived and even though he was my first winter birth with the dreary, raining pacific northwest skies, it was my happiest postpartum period yet.
Baby #4: I am only 2 weeks 2 days into the postpartum period with baby #4 but I can tell you that so far I am doing my best to have the most laid back, healing, postpartum time yet. This time around my mom was only around for a week. I didn’t get her as long as I would have liked but she left me with some frozen meals and a week of respite. I added a college student/family friend to my family for the summer and it is a LIFE SAVER! With, now, 3 active, rambunctious boys. There is no way that I could feel this rested and healthy at 2 weeks postpartum without our Tiffany. She lives with us 24/7 with days or nights off here and there. She helps feed the boys, keep them active and run them to fun events. And while they are on their adventures I get to rest, eat, snuggle with my baby, feed her (with a good latch) whenever she needs. I have my placenta chocolates again and my after pain tincture. I have a meal train of friends bringing me nourishing meals and love and cuddles for the baby. I have learned to ask for things I need. Need eggs? Ask my friend who is bringing me a meal who has chickens! Need milk? Make sure my husband picks some up on the way home…even if it is 11 pm. I don’t NEED to do it myself.
What I have learned? I have learned to ask for help, to rest even when I feel good. I have learned that snuggling with my baby and getting to know her is as important as the laundry…no it’s more important. I learned that I am lucky to have a community of friends and women I can call on to help. And I have learned to call on them. There are more people to help than you can imagine, but sometimes you need to ask. I learned that it is not weakness to ask for help, to ask for food, to ask for emotional support. I learned that people want to help and that makes me so happy. And I learned that if you want chocolate all to yourself, all you need to do is add dried placenta to it.