Every time, Charity got pregnant after her first baby, she was always scared about the post partum period. While she had little fear for the labour and delivery itself, she was most afraid of the after birth period, and the overwhelming depression that had enveloped her.
And it was because of her experience with her first child. When she had her first baby, she became very ill, and thus had to stay in the hospital for a whole month, after giving birth. Because it was a bacterial infection, she was advised not to breast feed her baby, as the antibiotics she had been placed on could harm the little baby. But then, she was too ill to even hold her baby, talk less breast feed her.
So, she stopped breast feeding, even before she started. She only started bonding with her baby a few months later, when she had fully recovered and contact with her baby was no longer a thing of concern for the doctors. During that time, it was her mother that stepped in and took care of both the new baby, as well as her, the ailing mom.
By the time, they decided to expand their family again, it was with dread in her mind. She wondered if she would or fall ill like she did the last time, or, worse still, fall into the same deep depression. That was the thought on her mind for most of her second pregnancy. Thankfully, she didn’t fall ill this time, and only suffered the usual tired bouts common to new mothers. But even this proved not to be a problem, as she had her mother to help out, along with her younger sister, who was on holiday from school.
With this birth, somehow she was able to cope emotionally. She had learnt not to get overwhelmed by her maternal duties, and heeded the age old advice of sleeping when the baby slept. There was basically no routine, if he was up all night, then she was up all night too. And as soon as he slept, she found her own bed, with the baby monitor kept close to her.
While she liked visitors, she did not encourage them to visit her, as she could not determine when the kid would be sleeping, which meant she too would have to sleep. There were days when both she and baby did not sleep much during the night, which meant that they had a late morning start or even afternoon start; it was definitely not the best time to be entertaining. They had a calendar that was nocturnal at best, but as chaotic as it seemed, she was in a much better mental state this way, and was able to avert the post natal depression from the first pregnancy,
That was almost the same way with me. I was always tired; I woke up at odd hours throughout the night. And then, I had this crazy idea that I could still wake up in the morning and go about my day as normal, but normality fled the day I gave birth to my first set of twins, only I did not realize it.
After spending time in the hospital, I was in a hurry to get back to normal and find a routine and rhythm to life; only I was playing a strange music to their ears.
So, I set a grueling routine for myself; woke up at 6am regardless of the fact that I might only have slept at 5am or even 5:30am. I would wake up the babies to bathe them, feed them, then get breakfast if there was someone to eat it, and then while the babies slept, I would straighten out the house and such.
Meanwhile, I would still be about all those chores that I thought needed to be done, when the twins would wake up from their nap, ready to be fed again and have their diapers changed. That was how the day would go and I would not get any sleep most times and that would continue straight into the night, unless my mom got to the kids first and insisted that I slept.
But then, she would have been telling me throughout the day, to get some sleep, and it so happened that she was right. When she left for her house, and I nearly dropped my son, I realized just how I was not doing myself or my babies any good by not sleeping when they did.
By the time the second set of twins came, I had no routine in mind. I woke up when they did, and slept when they did, except that the older twins had no such routine, so I still had to get up fairly early to get them ready for school, and, later in the day, to ensure they didn’t ‘play’ with the babies, while they were sleeping.
The only times I ever rushed out of the house, were for hospital visits. It did not matter if I bathed them at 12 noon, as against the early morning baths their older ones had.
So, apart from taking my cue from the babies and how they wanted to be treated, I realized that I did not need to try to be a perfect mom. I shamelessly asked for help, especially after my mom left earlier than I had expected (she felt I had become a pro). I had a neighbor, who came to my house every morning, to help with the bathing of the babies. She would take one child from me when I had finished bathing him/her and put him/her on the bed and bring the other one to me, and help me clear up later on. I was so grateful for her help and she often helped looked after the kids, whenever I needed to go the market, even as it often ended in a crying competition.
Sometimes, I got confused when they both cried at the same time. It was like, they could sense when I wanted to pick one twin and not the other. In that minute, the ear splitting level of the cries would increase. I soon learnt how to carry both at the same time.
The first six weeks of my babies birth were the times I burned fat, and lost most of my baby weight. It was fine with me, except I looked gaunt, and breastfeeding just managed to drain the rest of the fat away, except the folds in my stomach. I think I just refused to be bothered with so many things, the second time around. I did not do many of the things I did the first time around, like tie my tummy the very day I gave birth. What a vain girl I was, I was also endangering my life! Imagine squashing my uterus and forcing it back to shape, a couple of minutes after I gave birth. Hmm! The second time around, I did not start until a week afterwards; I just chilled and did not even care if my tummy protruded forever, but now I care about the folds sha.
Surviving the post partum period the second time around was all about listening to my instincts and following my babies’ cues. I was done with my kids and I being the guinea pigs for the ‘adviser-moms’. I realized I could do it; that I was built to do it, and that made the second post partum period for me a lot easier. My mom leaving me early too, enabled me do it my babies’ way and my way.
The first six weeks, can be good or bad, based on how it is approached and the availability/not of support system. But somehow, mothers come out of it having bonded with their babies and that makes up for all the troubles.
Follow the baby’s cues…and enjoy!
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