Courtesy of Sabrina Joy Stevens

12 Things That Mean More To Me Postpartum Than They Ever Did Before

I always knew that having a baby would change my life, ‘cause of course it does. Being responsible for a whole other person is a huge responsibility, and completely alters the logistics of everyday life. Still, I was a bit surprised by how much giving birth changed how I feel about a lot of things in my life. There are so many things that mean more to me postpartum than they ever did before.

Motherhood, and the experience of giving birth, has definitely deepened so much of my feelings about myself and other people. Knowing how much it required to create life makes me so much more appreciative of my body, and makes me realize that all of the people I encounter aren't just random people, but somebody’s baby. Not gonna lie, it's raised the stakes a bit on how I treat folks. (Motherhood has also made me appreciate basic things like sleep and food a hell of a lot more, too. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that, right?)

Now, that's not to say I didn't take people seriously before, or that people who never give birth are incomplete or missing something about life. But for me, birth and postpartum life were transformative in an unexpected way. It was like I opened a door to a shortcut to another part of my consciousness. I may have figured all this stuff out at some point, but I wonder if it would have happened so quickly and all at once. Regardless, the following definitely matter to me a whole lot more postpartum, and I'm so grateful for the perspective.

Sex

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I've known where babies come from since I was 3, but it honestly wasn't until the first time I had sex after giving birth that I really grasped how damn serious than connection is. As a straight, fertile woman who has sex with a straight, virile man, I'm all of a sudden very aware of the fact that in addition to being a way to have fun and communicate intimacy (or not), sex is a gateway to new life. That is heavy. For me, sex isn't something I can see casually anymore.

My Romantic Relationship

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I love my husband to pieces, and wouldn't have married him if I didn't. But having him hold me up all through labor (and pregnancy, TBH), and raising our baby together has raised the stakes in our relationship by a ton, and made it so much deeper and more satisfying. Learning to be more vulnerable has helped a lot, too.

My Friendships

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We all get by with a little help from our friends. But prior to motherhood, I tried to deny that I needed any such help, because I used to be pretty bad at asking for help (or rather, preferred to be perceived as not needing help). Not anymore.

My Body

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It made a person, and gave birth to that person. My body is amazing, and I appreciate it so much more than I did before pregnancy.

Food

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I've always been a big eater. But after getting pregnant and giving birth, I realized how much my body can do with the calories and nutrients I'd been taking for granted. Now food isn't just fun, it's sacred.

Sleep

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Sleep. OMG. Sleep. Everyone whose sleep isn't being interrupted multiple times a night, for any reason, really, doesn't appreciate how precious it is.

Food And Sleep

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Seriously, it's just so precious and however much I loved them before, I love them so much more now.

Also? I am so jealous of babies, y'all. They can eat in their sleep. And they get to sleep as much as they want. More than they want, actually, since they never want to sleep and I don't even understand them at all.

“Free” Time

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The amount of things that have to go right — trustworthy childcare, the right day of the week, the right time of day, no accidents, mishaps, or other problems — for me to have time that isn't dedicated to keeping a child alive or making money is staggering. I take no free moment to myself for granted now.

Taking A Shower

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Before I had kids I had no idea how there were so many parents, especially stay-at-home moms (SAHMs), who struggle to squeeze in time for a shower every day. I learned my lesson, especially once my husband went back to work and I discovered how much time and energy it takes to care for a very young child (and how hard it is to choose to spend any non-kid time not sleeping). Having enough time and energy to stand under that hot, blessed spray of water is a literal gift from above.

Personal Hygiene More Generally

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When you've had another person live in you, than constantly be on you, any time to yourself (to clip your nails, get your teeth cleaned, anything) feels fantastic.

My Mom

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Pregnancy and birth are so hard. Knowing that my mom did all this on my behalf, and knowing how I feel about my kids, has seriously deepened my appreciation for my own mom.

Other Parents

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I see you and your struggle. And I thank you for doing your best to raise my kids’ peers and friends to be good people.