Everyone I see asks me how I am. How it is. How we are.
And I’m not sure what to say.
I was talking about this with my friend Jenilee yesterday as we pushed our 3-year-olds on the swings. Her second child will be one soon. I watched her welcome him into their family. I watched up close and asked questions and took notes and brought her lots and lots of food because that’s all I knew to do. I swept her floor and cried with her after she got home from the hospital. And she has done the same for me. She has held my hand through these last few weeks of bringing home our second child.
We talked about all of this while we corralled our kids at the park. “It’s such a weird time because I felt really happy, but it was still hard.”
It was like a lightbulb went off for me. She was so right.
I feel happy. But I feel every single day requires every ounce of the best of me. Every ounce of energy. Every ounce of creativity. Every ounce of problem-solving that I have.
This happiness juxtaposed by the sheer sacrifice is unique to this postpartum season. I can’t name another event or thing like this, that has this much happiness and this much sacrifice combined.
Every moment of time is sucked up by caring for children and the sparse few moments that aren’t, there are a million other things that need to be tended to.
Because Vea is still really small, I don’t get the hugs and kisses and laughs and smiles that I crave from her. It’s not that I don’t love this stage of newborn-ness. I love the hours of holding and cuddling and the small milestones like the first bath. I love her cute newborn sounds and expressions, but I want more.
The truth is that these postpartum weeks are hard.
Even if you don’t feel depressed. Even if you have lots of help and resources. Even if you get some sleep. And I feel guilty for saying this because I feel happy and incredibly blessed and fortunate. I have friends who call me every single day to check on me. They have brought me dinner and picked up my child from school. And I have lots of family that has stepped in to help as well.
Still it’s a delicate time in a mother’s life. It’s enough that your body has just gone through this massive shift, but your life has also changed so much that it is unrecognizable. The old routine is gone. The simple act of waking up and making coffee is suddenly an obstacle.
“Good for you for getting out!”
That’s what everyone has said to me at the playground, the library, the grocery store. I don’t know what else to do except to carry on and make sense of everything as I go. There’s a great deal of trust that has to be employed in these delicate weeks–trust that everything will get sorted out and figured out. Trust that your body will acclimate. Trust that everything will fall into the flow.
So when they ask me that question, “How are you?” I shrug my shoulders and say, “We are good. We are happy.” We are falling into the flow.