So by now, if you're a frequent reader of this site (or any other purveyors of quality mama thoughts), you're probably familiar with some hard truths about postpartum life. (If you aren't please Google the topic, otherwise you'll be totally misled by all the nostalgic, totally distorted memories of post-pregnant life you'll hear from wistful folks whose kids are already grown.) Postpartum recovery is hard, no question, but there are some postpartum events every mom secretly celebrates that you should know about, too.
Now, please keep in mind that when I say "celebrate," I do not mean, "throws a party worthy of a million Pinterest images." Instead, I mean "quietly does a little victory dance, maybe even just in her own head," because each of these events is a reminder that, however weird things get when you've just made a brand new person (and things do get weird), they also become normal again. Not your old normal, perhaps, but a new normal that eventually becomes pretty great or even better than the life you had before.
When your body feels like a totally strange place, reclaiming little bits of dignity and normalcy wherever you can find them is a huge victory. So, if you're a soon-to-be postpartum mom, here's hoping you can find a way to celebrate the following moments that won't wake your baby (or require the full use of two hands).
When You Finally Stop Bleeding
Self-explanatory, right? Not bleeding is better than bleeding. Not having to worry about underwear protection is better than having to worry about it. Especially after months of not having to worry about it, and getting out of practice with dealing with it.
When You Realize That You No Longer Have To Go To The Bathroom Every Other Second
After you're healed up enough that you don't need to try to keep your bladder empty on purpose, you get to enjoy a luxury you never thought would be a luxury: going to the bathroom at somewhat normal intervals (aka not all the time).
When You Actually Want To Go Out In Public…
After days or weeks of not wanting to move at all, suddenly feeling the desire and ability to get out of bed, stay upright for longer than three minutes, and venture out of your home is nothing short of magical.
Don't feel at all odd if you find yourself putting on makeup just to go to Target or whatever. Or if you are odd for doing that, I was just as odd as you are, so you're not alone.
...And When You Manage To Do So Without Packing Enough For A Weekend Away
I may or may not have looked like I was hiking the Appalachian Trail the first few times I dared to take my new son out of the house. How was I to know he wouldn't need three changes of clothes, or eight diapers, or a first aid kit? The neighborhood coffee shop can be a crazy place.
When Pooping Feels Normal Again
The first postpartum poop can be a doozy for a lot of mamas, as can the next few after that. However, and eventually, pooping becomes NBD again.
Also? Between that and being excited by normal, healthy baby poops, you'll start to realize that motherhood means caring way more about poop than you ever thought possible. (Just wait until your baby poops in the potty for the first time!)
When Your New Baby Starts Feeling Like A Normal Part Of The Family
For the first few days (OK, weeks) after I gave birth to my son, I felt like he was a fragile little dream that I had to guard. He didn't feel quite part of this world yet, and I was afraid of something happening to him. Then, eventually, he started to feel like an actual family member who was here to stay, which made it possible to relax a little. (A little.)
When Breastfeeding Starts Making Sense
If you choose (and are able) to breastfeed after giving birth — and people, this truly is a choice — there is definitely a learning curve for the baby (and for you, if it's your first time). However, once you both figure out how to latch well, and communicate with each other about nursing, things start to make sense, and it's a seriously cool moment. So begins the golden age of nursing: skilled enough to nurse effectively and painlessly, young enough that distractibility and teeth aren't an issue. Ahhh.
When You Can Comfortably Wear Non-Maternity Pants
If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d one day feel like the height of fanciness and style because I successfully managed to put on a basic-ass pair of pants with a functional zipper (and actually managed to zip that zipper), I would have demanded that you buy me a shot of whatever you were drinking. Yet I absolutely celebrated the first time this happened after giving birth to my son.
The First Time You Sleep For More Than A Couple Of Hours...
At some point after giving birth to your baby, you will manage to sleep for more than a couple of hours interrupted. You will feel like a refreshed ray of sunshine (for approximately three seconds).
...Once You’re Satisfactorily Convinced That Your Baby Is Still Alive
Because your second feeling once you realize how long you've slept will be panic. Once you've confirmed that your baby is, indeed, still alive, you'll feel pretty good again (if not a little engorged, for the exclusively breastfeeding mamas).
When You Get Your Sex Drive Back
Yes, it will return. You may or may not be able to do anything about it, based on whether you're fully healed yet from giving birth, or whether you've got a willing partner, or whether you've got a cooperative baby (or solid baby-helpers). But it still feels good to have your groove back, even if you can't do much with it for a while.
When You Finally Feel Like Your Normal Self
This one can take a while. But while your new normal self might feel almost like a new person, there will come a time when you don't feel exhausted, or totally hormonal and off-kilter. May your “Normal Self” day come as quickly as possible.