We've all heard the jokes about how busy new moms are. You know, the anecdotes that end with mom begging someone to hold her baby for five minutes so she can take a shower. If you're newly postpartum you're probably realizing these jokes aren't jokes at all. Showers are still vital for me 15 months postpartum, and it's not because I'm obsessed with being clean. Of all the things a postpartum woman really means when she says she needs a shower, that's probably high on the list: that it's really not about taking a shower at all.
After having all three of my babies the first thing I wanted, no needed, to do was shower. Not only did I feel an urge to simply clean off the messiness associated with labor and delivery, but I felt a need for an existential cleaning, too. You know, a moment for me to "get back to neutral" after experiencing the most intense expending of mental, emotional, and physical energy I've ever endured. I couldn't really articulate that at the time, though, so my request (read: demand) for a shower was all I made abundantly clear.
The truth is that postpartum is an indescribably complex time filled with the relentless emotions associated with transitioning into a new phase of life. Sometimes I might be able to ask for what I need or talk about what it all means. Sometimes, I guarantee you, I won't be able to talk about it at all. Sometimes I might not even know what's going on with me. So when I'm postpartum and I say I need a shower, here are all the things I've actually meant: