Let’s talk about the perfect, but sometimes doesn’t feel so perfect, STORM.
Hormones. No sleep. Body parts that are all kinds of sizes they weren’t before. Skin that’s flabby and swollen and creating muffin tops that make the world go round.
Emotions of love and joy and excitement and “oh God, please don’t cry again”.
And if you’re lucky, older siblings who don’t understand how your body and personhood just went through a hurricane and is somehow holding on with one thread of dignity and a side of hemmorhoid cream.
Yea, I said it.
Welcome to childbirth. And in just a few short days, you’ll be BFF’s with Dolly (Parton, that is) and wonder how your body became the creative source to keep a human being alive.
It’s amazing really. And full of curiosity and “expectation” and learning and growing.
It’s also full of what feels like “not enough time”. Though not enough time is really just a shift of priorities, even though it doesn’t always feel like that in the moment.
My biggest shift in post-partum bliss was learning how to process well. Because in the midst of trying to live a daily life, moms are constantly having to listen, trouble-shoot, respond to needs, and do all of the above without many avenues for self-care. And this is the most crucial time in life for self-care; not just as a person but for the role of motherhood.
When I decided to be stay at home mom, my greatest asset was using motherhood as a time to learn nurture. Not only as a mother but also for myself. Bringing a baby into the world is a time of bringing new creativity and new life and new gifts to the world.
It’s also a time of re-learning and re-growing; it’s a time of exposure. It’s a season where many of the un-nurtured parts of ourselves start to show up quite loudly, and so it’s also a time of healing and repair.
The tricky part is there isn’t much personal time. A newborn is a bit of a presence “hog”, and if there are other children involved, personal time really is limited. So, what I learned to do and am still learning to do, is make the most of the time I do have for myself. I had to shift priorities and learn how to manage all the emotions and inspirations and creativity of my being–and then funnel them into something productive and life-giving to me. I had to give myself time for release. Because if I didn’t give myself room for creative release, I’d end up spewing out that middle-of-the-road processing onto someone else–which is usually hurried, and frustrating, and potentially hurtful.
I’m not usually a formula type person; I’m more of a go-with-the-flow type person, but sometimes my flow ends up creating a pattern. And that pattern gives me wisdom on how to do well the next time. In hopes that my post-partum pattern might be encouraging to you, here it is!
1. I get triggered (baby crying, long hours of no sleep, trouble-shooting, inspiration, extreme joy, overflowing love). These triggers can be good or hard, but they are none-the-less triggers. Now, in the midst of my high or low, I had/have to listen for a moment to find where the trigger originated.
2. I identify the root of the trigger (why was this so exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating?). How do I respond to these emotions? If it is a child that won’t stop crying, and I’m desperately trying to find out how to make my eardrums stop bleeding, and there is no end in sight after a lot of attempts….the end result is some frustration. Yes? Chances are, because this is the miracle of life, this is triggering a past scenerio in my life. It’s a metaphor for another experience that is becoming exposed–so this is a beautiful opportunity to take a step toward healing. It’s funny how God does that; He makes everything a repetitive cycle until we open our eyes. Once the emotion hits, I can just use it like a compass to help me find the root.
3. Next, I use self-control until I have time alone to actually process my situation. If it was a difficult moment, I usually give myself chocolate or two minutes alone in the bathroom. If it was a glorious high, I take a few moments to feel every single bit of joy and peace and love that is making its way inside my heart. Processing both types of emotions, hard and good, is essential. I love absorbing the realities of life.
4. And then at nap time or middle of the night or early mornings/late nights, I give myself time to process the emotions that are rising–allowing the good, bad, and ugly parts of my life to be HONEST (writing down how I feel, talking to another young mom, walking). This is when the magic happens. This is what I like to call the “Sacred Space” of life. My friend calls this time her “rants” because she has the freedom to tell it like it is, let it go, and give full voice to why she feels what she feels. This is the time of expression–getting all the locked up energy outside our minds and bodies instead of locked inside.
5. Then, I let silence be my friend. Embracing and listening to myself until all the inner-workings go “quiet”, I give myself the time to soak in nothing. It’s actually quite powerful. Calling ourselves back into rest by embracing quiet. The Bible talks about this in regards to women, about having a quiet spirit. My interpretation is not that it’s a place of keeping our voices silent, but a place of peace after our true voices have been heard and validated. It’s a place of submission because it’s a place of honor.
6. And my most favorite part follows: I create something beautiful. This is how I wrote several books while I was pregnant or with little people everywhere. It wasn’t because I was so “ambitious” or “driven”, it was because it flowed out of me from my process. It was a means of self-care and expression. It was my overflow of what God was doing in my every day life. There’s no need to “make anything up” when God is doing miracles in every moment of your day. It is just agreeing with the intercession in our lives; saying “yes” to the process and letting the gaps close one at a time while the fullness arrives.
The reality is: childbirth transforms everything! And the most crucial part for me was and is learning and watching how it transforms me in the process. I like hindsight, but I really love being able to see as I go. I like being present–even when it’s hard and ugly–so I can feel every moment of freedom arrive at my doorstep.
It’s a gift; learning to re-prioritize. Learning to make the most of the emotions that surface now in order to compute them and process them so the abundance has a place to take root and grow.
It is a daily task for me! And one I make room for and prioritize and guard. Boundaries are our friend! And that will be my next Post-Partum blog……creating structure and healthy boundary lines in emotional processing. When to hold on, when to “let it go”, and when to say “no”………….
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