Not that I was a Grinch before, but at 38 days postpartum, it is still my biggest surprise.
I knew my life would change. Everybody tells you that. I knew my priorities and perspectives would shift, my house would fill with stuff, my marriage would become more important and less important at the same time, sleep would be like a drug I crave constantly, and my body would be, well, stretchier.
But the feels? For everything, all the time? It’s been my hardest adjustment.
Upon leaving the safe cocoon of our hospital room, it felt a bit like we were pushed out of the nest. My husband was unshowered and sleep-deprived, I was swollen and still drugged up, and our baby was screaming about everything. We were a hot mess.
As we launched into parenthood face first, we eventually found solid ground as a little family of three, and celebrated our survival minute by minute. But as soon as this felt somewhat comfortable, my husband returned to work, and keeping our tiny baby alive fell solely on me. What a kick in the nuts that was.
I knew enough about postpartum depression and anxiety to know the signs and to talk about them with my husband and my doctor if needed. I read articles and checked in with my husband about his thoughts on my state of mind. I’m not totally in the clear yet, but I’m doing okay. Seriously though, the sleep deprivation alone is enough to make anyone feel batshit crazy. Add to it lack of time to eat anything normal, healing from birthing another human being, creeping quietly around a dark house all day, and giving your all to a screaming tiny human, and it’s no wonder we fall and need some help getting back up. Jesus.
Aside from my routines changing pretty much completely, I wondered if the physical changes would make me feel sad. Would seeing a stretch mark make me cry? Would having a softer stomach make me feel ugly? Would my husband think my post-baby body is in need of improvement? The answer to all that, for me, is no. Even though I was confused by some of the random places my skin chose to show it’s stretchiness (seriously, did my thighs really GROW that much during pregnancy?), it’s all good. And my husband, I’m pretty sure, is still in awe of all the work I did, from pregnancy to now. He doesn’t have time to consider all the ways my body has changed because he’s too busy polishing the pedestal he’s placed me on for birthing a human fucking being. His human being.
The biggest change in me has been to my heart. For sure. It’s like my heart grew to make room for all the newness of our baby – every cute face, sleepy stretch, and every grasp of my finger. My heart is a mom heart now, and it’s bigger and better than before. And as much as I knew this would happen, it still took me by surprise. More startling was the connection I now feel to my husband, who’s no longer just my partner in life but the father of my child and the only other person who loves our daughter the same way I do. Sure I was committed before, but now? Damn, he permanently has a piece of my heart that he carries with him. A pretty big piece. Which explains why I feel a bit empty unless our little family of three is together.
At 38 days postpartum, my body and my mind are still making room for my bigger heart. My mom heart allows me to feel more deeply and love more openly. It might mean more tears over seemingly silly things and so much empathy that you can physically feel someone else’s mood, it also means a fuller life.
August 1, 2016. My heart grew three sizes that day. Here are all the pieces: