Earlier in the summer, I read a blog post, shared by a friend on FB, about the best way to approach postpartum recovery. Original link here, but main gist is this: Mama, stay in bed, rest, and tend to new baby all while repeating the mantra “I Don’t Care” about what is happening with All Other Things; Papa, handle All Other Things while sticking to the script of “I’ve got this” to Mama so she doesn’t feel guilty or horrible for resting (and do this for a whole week if you can, but for whatever time you can). No major outings, no major visits – just time to recoup and heal and bond.
Sounds amazing, right? I’ve had some pretty astounding postpartum recovery flops in the past, so I sure thought so and instantly shared it online and with my hubs to say THIS! THIS is what I want after Baby No.4 arrives! Several friends agreed that it sounded like the way to go, and so did the hubs, so we got to talking and were able to use it as a springboard to determine what we actually wanted/needed from family and friends post-delivery.
Ben and I decided we’d use his paternity/personal leave days to get him at home for as long as possible and that we would ask family to be here to help while we were at the hospital but then the rest of his time at home would be just time for us as a family to learn about our new little person and our new normal, all while trying to follow the rules: no big visits, no big outings. Just me with Baby and him doing All Other Things.
Then Wednesday came, our first true day at home post-Truman’s birth, and it was pretty clear early on that we were sucking at this.
Extreme exhaustion paired with three other needy Littles (two of whom we were trying to get ready and out the door to school/preschool) and a husband with a job that he can “stay home from” but not actually take off from and raging hormones (OK, so that’s just me, but it’s a rather large component here) sort of blew up in our faces on Day One, leaving B and I both pretty well failing at following our respective rules.
I was totally NOT not caring and he was very much NOT sticking to the script.
And I get it. We were both tired and stressed and trying to figure out exactly how to make this all work. How do I sit back and give him the space and grace to do all my jobs in a given weekday without trying to direct traffic (he’ll tell you I very much tried to direct traffic on Day One) all without feeling guilty for “just” sitting there? Especially since he clearly has hours of work to do for his own job (sub plans are a beast, and grading doesn’t just go away because the teacher isn’t at school) each day/night? And how does that leave time for all the child-tending/feeding and house stuff he’s supposed to be covering for me while I hang with Truman? Much less the fact that he’s also supposed to be catering to me, too?? And how does he ignore the fact that he’s human and obviously stressed and exhausted, too?!?!
Anyway. After a long day of not really resting as much as I had hoped for and far more criticism from me than Ben had hoped for, we reached the magical hour of Bigs in Bed, so we could both sit down, read the post again, and game plan (since that is what we do best). We talked about ways to make the mornings smoother and the nights….well, the nights are just going to be up in the air as far as sleep, sub plans, and house stuff goes and we’re just going to have to give each other some damn slack and some damn help. [For the record, I honestly don’t know how anyone could follow the actual rules with this many kids in the house (the family it comes from has 5, so clearly they get it better than we do, but so it goes)]
Fortunately we still have enough days and nights of Ben at home to figure out some sort of rhythm with all this and thankfully he is still committed to trying because I think he realizes the more recovery I get in now, the better things will go once he is back at school in the physical sense, both for him and the rest of us. Obviously I wouldn’t change a minute of having him around and having the help he’s been able to provide while at home; in fact,when I think about him going back to work during the day, I shake in my boots because how will I do all this nursing and cleaning and getting here and there with various kids (on time!) on my own each day?!
As with any time of transition, however, there are bumps and growing pains, and right now those all feel just a little more intense than normal. That’s probably fair, too, considering just how big adding a new baby to the family is in terms of change (for all of us). Here’s what we’ve learned from our quest for awesome rest: it’s OK to have a plan and it’s OK to suck at it. Sucking at this doesn’t mean we are bad parents or bad people or a bad partnership; it just means we still have work to do to and conversations to have (and hopefully catnaps to take).
Also, for the record, had I previously understood just how much my dear husband hates to do the dishes, I would have been lobbying for fancy coffees as payment for not making him do them all these years. Just sayin’.