Today is a guest post from Melissa Smith over at Little Para Pants. Please go and check out her website if you are interested in reusable swim nappies, custom made for your child.
A big thank you to Mel for sharing her stories with us, I'm sure some of it wouldn't have been easy to write.
Trigger warning: Mel does talk about the death of one of her babies, so please be gentle if this is a trigger for you x
Three Postpartum Experiences
I've given birth to three boys. Their births were all different, as were the postpartum periods after each one. It's always hard adjusting to a new member of the family, isn't it?
Caleb was my first baby. He was born in March 2007, in my lounge room. My MIL stayed with us for two days to help us get settled in. She did pretty much everything those first couple of days - and then she was
gone, and we had to sort things out on our own.
I wasn't very good at asking for help in those days. I'm still not very good at it, but I'm slowly getting better. When Caleb was a newborn, I would try and try to settle him when he was upset, until the point I was in
tears, because the idea of asking for help - even from my husband, who should have been learning how to look after a baby too - just didn't occur to me.
It was a hard slog, and the few times I did ask for help from someone, very little actual help was given. I was stressed more than usual. I don't know for sure if I had PPD, but I'd say the chances are pretty high. And at that time, the idea of eating my placenta just felt wrong. So I didn't, even though it probably would have helped a lot.
Ian was my second baby, born in May 2009 in the kitchen. The kitchen part wasn't planned, but the 'home' part was. A lot of the rest wasn't planned either - like the fact that Ian was born brain dead and died two days
This time I had a lot of support. I had friends bring me meals, mow my lawn, take Caleb to the park, clean my house, craft a memory necklace. This time, I had pretty much everything I needed to get through a postpartum period - except my baby. I also had someone try to be 'helpful' by hiding things that they thought would remind me of Ian - such as the 'big brother' t-shirt that I wanted Caleb to wear to Ian's funeral.
I started to come good again around the three month mark. Started.
I couldn't get out of my pajamas some days because I couldn't be bothered doing anything. Caleb wanted more attention and reassurance, and it was the last thing I felt able to do for him. I don't know if any amount of support would have helped that. I just wanted to be alone most of the time, and I couldn't be. But I felt like I'd used up my quota of help from friends, and tried to do it alone again.
I didn't get a choice about my placenta this time - the minute it came out of me was the last time I saw it. We didn't know till six months later that it was sent to the coroner.
Ethan, or Chuckie, was born in October 2011, again in the lounge room. Partly due to his enormous head, I ended up with a 4th degree tear. We went to hospital so I could have that repaired, and they sent me home with so many pills that I almost rattled. We had a friend come over to stay with Caleb for the day, and the two of them had a blast.
Before his birth, a few friends (including Kelly!) had dropped off food for us, so they were already in the freezer ready for quick meals. A few weeks later, one of the mums groups I'm in set up a roster for me, so I had fresh food delivered almost every day for the week. Lots of food made things a lot easier.
This was also about the time that I discovered Coles delivery, and for the first few months, I had a fortnightly order. The fruit boxes they have made it really easy to have healthy snacks on hand whilst breastfeeding. I
still couldn't bring myself to eat my placenta though! I didn't really know about encapsulation, except that I'd heard of people doing it, but it sounded too hard.
And my husband DID THE DISHES. He *never* does the dishes.
I had one friend volunteer to take Caleb for the day a couple of times, which was awesome. Ethan had more sleep those days, when Caleb wasn't around making noise!
If I decide to have another baby, I would love to hire a postnatal doula. I know having someone I can count on to do the boring everyday stuff would be a big weight off my shoulders. And she can prepare the placenta pills for me too. :)
Would you like to share your postnatal experience? Send me an email and we'll chat! Let's normalise a variety of postnatal experiences.
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Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides sleep consultancy, placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.