To be perfectly clear: the postpartum period can be really, really difficult. I write a lot about how medical issues, mental illness, raising a baby, and adjusting to parenthood can take its toll on a new mom. Maternity leave is not vacation. All of this is tough, but that's not to say it can't also be, to use a scientific technical term, "ultra-mega-amazeballs." I asked other moms to describe the best thing about being postpartum and there was no dearth of answers so, clearly, it isn't all bad all the time.
On the whole, I really enjoyed my immediate postpartum time with my children. For one thing, I had maternity leave, a luxury which many new parents are not afforded. For another, my leaves came at good times of the year, fall and summer, respectively, so I wasn't housebound the whole time. I also had a great support system of friends and family (not to mention an amazing partner) nearby to bring me assorted carbs and blankets or whatever. All this, on top of relatively easy recoveries and healthy babies put me in a good position to enjoy the good things to their fullest. Things like wearing sweatpants all the time. Netflix. Guilt-free, constant snacking. And, the pièce de résistance, cuddle time with your long-awaited, sweet, little blob of happiness. Have you ever cuddled with a newborn? It's like warm laundry made sentient and adorable. (And, like warm laundry, newborns smell great, usually.)
Oh, and of course, for the first time in what probably feels like 900 years, you're not pregnant anymore, which is in and of itself incredible. But what specifically was so amazing for other moms? There's so much to love about this magical time, friends.
"My feet don't look like weird blimps, and I can sleep on my back again. Also the baby is pretty cute."
"Not having to pee every 3.67 milliseconds! After my older son was born, I only realized several hours later that I hadn't needed to pee, and it was glorious."
[Writer's note: Katy agrees, almost in the same words. "Going from peeing every 5 minutes to beyond maximum bladder capacity. The longest most glorious pees."]
I could eat and drink without my esophagus being on fire!
"Staying in whatever clothes I want, having a valid excuse to eat like crap, look like crap, and spend 110 percent of my days and nights devoted to a love of my life."
"Your bodily functions magically returning to their regularly scheduled programming. You can eat more than half a cup of food without indigestion, your bladder doesn't wake you up, and you can sleep on your stomach again."
Awesomely huge boobs.
"Turning over in bed was no longer a seven minute, uncomfortable production! Oh, and 'Lightening Crotch' — that stabbing pain that I endured for months due to loosened ligaments — was finally over!"
"Both my pregnancies were so full of anxiety that being able to see the baby, here in my arms, in front of my eyes, and just know everything is OK rather than guess/wonder/hope everything is OK. Also, the sushi and bubbles. (And by bubbles I mean champagne. Make it rain.)"
"Sitting in bed all day! Feed baby, hold sleeping baby, repeat... While people bring you snacks."
"Actually sleeping on my side and not feeling like my pelvis is going to break in half."
Sushi and no longer being as wide as I was tall.
"I had Pica with my first and had intense ice cravings. It disappeared right after he was born. It was nice to not want to eat all the ice anymore."
Laying on your belly!
"Being able to eat deli meat. I seriously missed turkey sandwiches for some reason. This doesn't apply to my second pregnancy because I ate it while pregnant... the horror."
"Getting back to athletic, flexible boning. Pregnant sex was weird. I couldn't really move around too much, so I felt more like it was something that was happening to me than an active participant."
The instant end of heartburn!
"All the food people brought over. I didn't have to cook for about a month. I feel a little bad because I definitely could have, but I played helpless so my mom and aunts would feed me."
"The list of foods I will gorge on immediately postpartum, like in the hospital room: sushi; my friend's super spicy chicken tortilla soup; this dinner I ordered a month ago ... because I could only handle two bites of it and I want it back, dammit. Craft beer and Prosecco can wait until I get home."
No more vulvar varicosities! I was deeply offended that my veins would do that to me there.
"Being able to take a deep breathe again. My lungs felt so squished I was always out of breathe, so between breathing easier and being able to eat without feeling stuffed, life was amazing. Also, knowing my boys were here and safe and I could actually hold them was pretty awesome."
"The beauty of not knowing what day it is since you don't have to be anywhere or do anything other than hold a little, warm, chirping, adorable newborn."
I could brush my teeth without gagging! AMAZING!
"No longer itching like a mofo! I had PUPPS and it made me crazy itchy all over my body, scratching to the point of drawing blood. The only cure is to deliver the baby (thanks, modern medicine!) so that felt so relieving when it started to subside the day after he was born."
"Not being pregnant. Full stop. I hated it so, so much."
[Writer's note: And, really, if nothing else, this basically covers it.]