Postpartum life is full of highs and lows. From the moment that baby exits your body and is placed into your arms, you experience unfaltering and conflicting emotions. You're exhausted and exhilarated. You're happy and wistful. You're excited and frightened. It's no wonder, then, that postpartum life offers some totally satisfying experiences only a new mom will understand. These wonderful and happy experiences often make new moms feel rewarded for the difficult job that is motherhood. Because, let's be honest you guys, sometimes motherhood — especially new motherhood — feels overwhelmingly harsh.
New moms experience so much truly satisfying events, it's hard to pick just a few. For many moms, it's satisfying to simply watch their babies hit their milestones. The first smile, the first laugh, the first time their babies roll over, crawl, cruise, walk, are all cause for celebration. The first time their babies eat solid foods, try a lemon, and feed themselves with a spoon feel like monumental wins. But there are seemingly insignificant experiences that only a new mom can appreciate, too, and they're not all that obvious.
I remember the first time I left the house without the baby. It was a trip to Babies R Us for diapers and bottles. It wasn't anything exciting, but I was all on my own. My mother was watching my daughter and I was free for a few hours, until I needed to come home and feed the baby. So, I got into my car, rolled the windows down and turned the music up, let the wind blow through my hair on a warm spring day, and I rocked out like I was a teenager again. It was glorious and freeing. After feeling like a prisoner in my own home, in pain and bleeding, I finally felt a taste of freedom I didn't know I longed for. I strolled the aisles of Babies R Us slowly, enjoying every moment of being alone. I browsed what I needed and what I did not need. I looked at baby clothes and fantasized about getting eight hours of sleep. It was a joy only a new mother understands, just like the ones below.
OMG, that first postpartum shower is what all dreams are made of. I was induced a week late with both of my kids: the two stubborn Aries who did not want to leave the cozy habitat I provided for them. Both inductions were lengthy, lasting approximately 14 hours. With my first, I pushed for nearly three hours, and after my she was born my placenta ripped and my doctor had to dig it out with her hands.
I could hardly move after that particularly traumatic birth, but I moved just enough to get into the shower the very next morning. And, OMG, that shower was better than any shower I have ever taken, you guys.
I couldn't figure out how to breastfeed my first child. I didn't get enough support and didn't know how to ask for more. I felt all alone and none of my friends knew anything about breastfeeding, since I was the first to become a mom.
So, I felt this undeniable sense of guilt for the first year of my daughter's life. When my son was born, I was determined to breastfeed and I received all the help I could. Breastfeeding was still so painful and difficult, though, and even when I thought I got the hang of it. Finally, a few weeks into nursing my son, I understood how amazing breastfeeding can be and that is an amazing first-time-mom feeling.
Some babies sleep through the night instantaneously, while others take a little while to figure out the difference between night from day. I remember waking up in a pure panic, looking at the clock and seeing 7:00 a.m. and hearing nothing coming from my daughter's crib. I stayed still, waiting for a sound and praying she was OK. I snuck into her room and realized she was still sleeping. I slowly snuck back our and went back to bed, with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye.
It wasn't anything fancy, just a local burger place, but after a long three months of dealing with our baby's colic and not sleeping, a date with my partner felt monumental. I finally took off my sweatpants, put on a regular pair of jeans, and even did my makeup. The husband opened the car door for me and even closed it after I got in, super chivalrous-like. It was amazing to feel like adults who care about each other, and not just like adults trying to survive postpartum life together.
There are a few things that are better for a mom's mental health than time spent with her friends. I love nothing more than getting together with my girlfriends, eating some delicious food, drinking some yummy alcoholic beverages, and chatting and laughing the evening away. And the first time postpartum is even better than the rest. Not only are girl's night out great for mom's sanity, but they are a perfect outlet for all the repressed feelings moms have about parenting.
I know everyone is different, but sleeping on my stomach is the only way to get a good night sleep. In fact, I don't understand how anyone can sleep soundly on their side and especially on their backs. Like, how do people even do that?
But I couldn't sleep on my stomach when I was pregnant, obviously. And then I couldn't sleep on my stomach when I was breastfeeding because it was too painful and my milk would leak everywhere. So the moment I was actually able to sleep on my stomach was amazingly glorious.
I hated maternity clothes so much, that the second time around I didn't even bother buying any. I pretty much decided to live in yoga pants and leggings. I bought two pairs of jeans that kept sliding off my hips and creating unflattering folds under my butt. I swear, maternity clothes are made to make pregnant women feel even crappier about themselves and their changing bodies. I haven't met a maternity top or dress of pants that I actually found appealing.
So, it was so lovely to finally get out of the maternity clothes and into some normal people clothes. Even if those "normal people" clothes were just my old sweatpants and jeans.
I know many would disagree with me on this, but leaving the house and going to work, where you are able to communicate with adults about adult things, felt so great. I mean, sure, that novelty quickly wore off after just a few days at work, and I wanted to go back on maternity leave once again, but it was a legitimate high for those few days.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.