I had no idea what to expect after I gave birth. I didn't know I would be so tired, sore, depressed, and unmotivated when I cam home from the hospital. I also didn't know how to tell my partner how I felt. Not adequately, anyway. So, it's not all that surprising that he simply didn't get it and, as a result, inserted his foot into his mouth on numerous occasions. Sadly, there are so many infuriating things your partner will accidentally say when you're postpartum, because they really can't understand you're feeling way too vulnerable to explain it.
If I'm being fair, I have to say it's not entirely my partner's fault. I mean, I was hormonal, exhausted, in pain, and burning 500 calories a day making milk to feed the baby at all hours of the night. There was no way of knowing how I might respond to even the most benign comment or perceived slight. But, seriously, while some of them were honest mistakes, other comments were things that no partner should ever say, let alone to someone who is recovering from childbirth.
Words matter. The right words can make you feel great, supported, and loved. The wrong words, even those said accidentally or in passing, can make you feel like crap, which is the last thing you need when you are recovering from growing and birthing humans. Unfortunately, for new moms, sometimes even the best partners will say the most infuriating things. Read on for some ideas of what not to say to a postpartum mom, even if it's totally an accident.
"You Didn't Do Anything Today?"
I knew my partner was probably used to me doing more than I was capable of when I was postpartum, but honestly, someone recovering from childbirth needs to focus on, you know, recovering from freaking childbirth. That's enough. Besides, I did do something every single day I was living that post-baby life: I stayed alive so I could keep a tiny human live, too. I don't care if those were the only things I did in a 24 hour period. It was enough.
"You Still Look Pregnant"
My ex-husband actually said this to me in passing. Like it was an observation about the weather. Um, did you think that after nine months of growing a human inside my body, I would suddenly go back to "normal" as soon as I gave birth? That's not how it works. Also, never comment about my body unless you have something nice to say. (As you can probably figure out on your own, that's one of the many reasons why he's now my ex).
"I Didn't Know You Wanted The Last Donut"
Guys, postpartum moms are hungry, and it's hard to feel motivated to get off the couch or get out of bed to get something to eat. In other words, my dear, it's best to assume that I always want the last donut. Same goes for the crackers, ice cream, and soda in the fridge. The least you can do is ask. Better yet, err on the side of bringing me donuts in bed.
"It's Your Turn"
I mean, sometimes it is my turn to get up with the baby, change his diaper, or put the other kids to bed. But, just once, I would love for my partner to offer to take my shift instead of reminding me that it's my turn. I mean, I did grow a human in my body and push it out of my vagina.
"I'm Tired, Too"
Yep, I get that neither of us is getting much sleep, but the last thing a recovering postpartum mom wants to hear is that you're oh so tired, too. I honestly don't know how tired you are. I can't. I try to be empathetic, but it's pretty hard when I feel like I've been hit by a truck.
"When Did You Shower Last?"
I'm not sure this question will ever go over well with anyone, especially a new mom. How about, instead, trying something along the lines of, "Do you want me to hold the baby so you can take a shower?"
"I Drank The Last Cup Of Coffee"
There are few sadder things than not having coffee when you need it to stay upright. If there's only one cup of coffee left, I totally call dibs. I mean, I grew a human in my body. I need coffee.
"Can We Have Sex, Yet?"
I get it, I really do. I want to have sex, too, but only when I feel up to it and I know it will be pleasurable instead of 100 percent painful. Asking about when we can have postpartum sex makes me feel guilty. I would much prefer to make the first move when I am ready, rather than having to turn my partner down.
"Why Aren't You Happy?"
Um, I have postpartum depression. I just can't decide to "get over it." I am trying. I really am. It's hard to be depressed when you feel like you should be happy. It's even harder when someone else expects you to put on a happy face.
"When Can You Start Working Out?"
All I heard when my ex husband said this was, "You need to get into shape" and, "When will you look hot again?" The real answer to this question is, "It's freaking complicated and depends on how I feel and what my doctor says." I really wish our society didn't have unrealistic expectations of postpartum moms. (or women in general). Our partners need to focus on how us postpartum moms are feeling, instead of whether or not we can hit the gym.