I never would've thought recovering from childbirth would be such a chore. I mean, I wasn't naive to all that would change (including but not limited to my body), I just didn't realize how much effort and time and energy it would take to feel like my "normal" self again. As a result, there are more than a few things I wish my partner said to me when I was recovering from childbirth that, I think and in the end, might've helped. At the very least, I think my emotional state, and our relationship, would have benefited.
After I had my daughter, I expected to be in pain because, well, childbirth hurts. There's no way around it, regardless of whether or not you choose an epidural. I also knew I'd be exhausted and learning the ropes of motherhood would be overwhelming. However, I severely underestimated the levels of pain and exhaustion and overwhelm I would actually experience. By a lot. Between breastfeeding issues, a fussy baby, and no sleep, I was hoping for a more supportive system when I returned from the hospital. I had family here and there, but I was really struggling to adjust to being a mom for a long, long time.
During this period, I was also on the verge of some serious emotional turmoil in the form of postpartum depression (PPD). My hormones were going crazy and, internally, it felt like I was on the verge of an epic meltdown. Back then, my partner did all he knew how, but here are some things I wish he'd said that might've made me feel less alone and heal a little faster:
Even on the first day I was home, I felt like I had to jump right back into life. I like to stay busy, always teetering on overwhelm, and was anxious to settle into a routine.
Instead, I ended up ripping my stitches because my partner didn't acknowledge my dangerous need to do everything. I wish he had told me to sit down, rest, heal, and relax so my healing didn't take so long.
"Let Me Help"
Along with that feeling I had to be the primary person caring for our baby, there was the lingering temptation of laundry, dishes, and meal preparation. I'd been the one who did these things before and, well, that's a hard switch to turn off. I wish my partner had told me he'd handle it — all of it — so I could just be recovering mom.
"Tell Me What Hurts"
Childbirth recovery means hurting in places you didn't realize you could hurt. Leaky breasts, painful urination, and literally just walking felt as if I was being torn open. I'd have loved if my partner sat down and asked what I was going through so that he' could develop a little more empathy. Also, it would've helped me not to hold in everything I was going through. Keeping it to myself only contributed to the aforementioned emotional turmoil and an inevitable diagnoses of postpartum depression.
"I'll Drive You"
Along with wanting to take care of everything inside the house, I also felt the need to run all the errands, baby in tow. Yes, unfortunately, I'm talking a day after delivery. What I needed at the time was a voice of reason; someone who'd take my keys away, gently nudging me into the passenger seat so that I could be driven, or going themselves so I could stay back home and rest. If my partner told me I shouldn't be driving, I wouldn't have argued.
"What Type Of Pads Do You Need?"
One of the worst parts of childbirth recovery (and most embarrassing/painful) comes with all the vaginal discharge, bleeding, itching, and burning. So, in my experience, I think almost every single postpartum woman would appreciate not having to ask for postpartum products that deal with the aforementioned parts of labor and delivery recovery.
Hearing my partner ask if he could pick me up some pads or ointments would've been music to my ears. It would have meant my partner was paying attention to all I'd been through and all I needed to recover in a safe and healthy way. Instead, I found myself driving to the drugstore, with a baby, in pain.
"I'm Taking Over"
Even for a day (or a few days, because I'm not picky), I wish my partner volunteered to take on all my responsibilities so I could focus on getting better, both physically and mentally. Please, partners of postpartum women, take on the chores, bills work, work, and everything else you can possibly think of.
"I'm So Proud Of You"
Having a baby is a lot of work. It changed me in many ways. Of all the things I wish my partner had said to me when I was recovering, the most thoughtful would've been to tell me how proud he was. For all I endured through pregnancy, then labor and delivery. For all I sacrificed in the name of my family. For all I was continuing to do while my body healed. It wouldn't have sped up recovery, but it would've provided the verbal support I desperately needed at a time when everything changed, and would stay changed, forever.