One beautiful Saturday morning in late June I had my surprise baby girl. In my home. In my master bath.* Then I climbed out of the tub and into bed with her (with several sets of helping hands, of course) – and stayed there… for two full weeks, and the better part of a third week… all thanks to my dear husband.
This was our third child, and the first born at home. This was also the first time that we didn’t have any help lined up from family coming to visit, or from employing a full time nanny. Ironic, right?! We had the greatest need – considering we have the most number of young children we’ve ever had – and yet we had the least amount of help to date. How were we going to manage this less than ideal scenario?!
My husband has learned so much about birth, and health/wellness related to birth, in the 6 years since the first time I became pregnant. As time has passed, he’s watched and learned how important and impactful the birth and postpartum choices we make can be in terms of my postpartum energy levels, physical healing, and most importantly, my mental state. Nobody wants to deal with a tired (make that exhausted!), physically uncomfortable, likely-hormonal woman, who’s trying to get back to feeling “normal” – whatever that happens to be for her.
We have learned by experience and education both, that each subsequent birth a woman has can make for a more difficult recovery, even if only just slightly. I had felt the greater impact during the recovery of my second child and it took me several months to get back to feeling myself, even though it was a new self. With no help in sight for this third time around, and our plan for my maternity leave to be for me to stay home with all three kids all summer without our normal childcare, it was especially important for us to do whatever we could proactively do to get me to optimal wellness as quickly as possible. This was a matter of sanity for me, and to aid in the health of our marriage… since the only person I would want to blame for anything going wrong would be my husband – because who else would there be – ya with me?!? 😉
After 8 years of marriage and during the first month postpartum after my third child, I saw and experienced the best I’ve ever seen from my husband. He took heed of our midwife’s advice, took to heart all he knew about the healing a woman’s body needs after pregnancy and childbirth, and showed me love and adoration like I’ve never seen before. He did it all to help me do what was best for my body, my spirit, and our family. What he gave me was a “sitting moon”, also known as a sitting month or postpartum confinement, in much the traditional Asian-style. And he did it very nearly all by himself.
For more than two weeks I stayed in bed. The first 10 full days I didn’t leave the upper level of our home, and only on a couple occasions did I even walk down the hall. After the 10th day, I made no more than one trip down and back upstairs per day and that wasn’t every day (for those who are unaware, stairs are not friendly to the postpartum woman). I stayed in bed with baby Everleigh every moment possible. We lay skin-to-skin, nursed, practiced her latch (she has a minor lip tie that was impacting our nursing relationship a bit early on), and just got to know each other. Her newborn well-visits by our midwife occurred in our home so I had no need to leave our room. My husband brought snacks, water/drinks, and meals all to my bedside. When he caught me out of the bed being the busy-body that I can be, he quickly told me to get back in bed. He needed me at 100%; WE needed me at 100%. He took that goal seriously and he cared for our two boys and home completely – food, laundry, baths, bedtime, and playtime. This was the longest stretch of solo household care that he’d ever taken on – by three-fold. He was tired, exhausted, and understandably cranky at times, but he pressed on and just kept giving — giving all he had to me and our family.
The impact of this deliberate recuperation period was that I had significantly less postpartum bleeding as compared to my two prior births, and for a shorter length of time; my physical discomforts dissipated fairly quickly; and I was truly able to rest, sleep when I needed, and be stress-free. I believe all these things helped keep me in great spirits and make a smooth mental shift to being a mom of three – how could they do anything else?!
He could have given me a necklace, bracelet, or some other piece of jewelry – and who knows, maybe he still will – but instead he gave his time, effort, energy, and love in limitless amounts – all to allow me the most wonderful of postpartum experiences. To be a single person “doing it all” with children is tough work. Most moms know it, and some dads know it, too. Add the care of an additional person that is “bedridden” and it’s practically heroic ~ at least in my eyes. So that, dear friends, is the Best Push Present I could ever ask for or have. And lucky me, it was exactly what I received thanks to my husband Aaron.
*I promise to write more about her birth so stay tuned.