I wrote a couple years back regarding the topic of "Adjusting to a new life in the home". In addition to that post, I wanted to add a few more pieces that I had previously forgotten or have learned since having additional children.
1. Give yourself 3 months to adjust.
(I mentioned this last time, BUT it is that important.)
My mother TELLS me each time "THREE MONTHS." I am sure there are some anatomical contributions in the matter especially hormonal wise, BUT we have found something very consistent in giving ourselves three months after each baby to adjust. In reflection, I think it is due in part to all the unknowns no matter how organized and prepared you are.
-With each of our babies, we have had SOMETHING that comes up that there is no way we could have planned for. Dominic had to have an MRI and then hospitalized for two days to monitor for seizures. Lillie wasn't gaining weight so we had to weigh her almost everyday. Rose contracted RSV at 2 weeks (along with Dominic). We had multiple doctors visits, ER visits, and treatments. Zellie didn't have anything urgent besides her constant screaming and trying to figure what was upsetting her stomach. The day we brought Vianney home in early March our heater went out. We had to wait the weekend for it to be replaced. There was still snow on the ground and so our house was very chilled. I worried about her getting pneumonia (which she did). Clairvaux was born with a deep seal bark cough which warranted appointments in Omaha with specialist and a scope to rule out multiple concerns. Also, at five days she spiked 104 temperature and had to go to the Emergency room. With Damaris, I had an allergic reaction to something and had hives covering my body for about a month that itched uncontrollably and wasn't responding to medicines.
MY POINT...no matter how prepared, organized, prepped I was for each
baby, we still had major appointments and unusual happenings each time that
really turned our home upside down. Apart from all that, I am just a mess each time. I always feel really stretched in these first three months more so than any other time.
2. Be AWARE of the 6 week mark
I have seen often women feeling great and relieved after delivery. They have the urge to get back to it and a routine because the routine is really off and often
we do too much too soon. I want to get back to life as it once was right after I leave the hospital. My brain and body won't allow for that and you have to resist the urge to push toward it especially these first six weeks. If you need to let them watch movies, please do. If you need to NOT read to them for a while, please do that. No pressure on anything, just survive.
My mother is always cautioning me with prompts that I am doing too much to soon. I have seen this wisdom with each baby. You go and go, cook, clean, and make any attempt to get some semblance of control and then you crash BAD at 6 weeks postpartum. You can't keep up anymore. The six weeks of no sleep have caught up to you. Please go slow. Please pace yourself especially the first six weeks. We are especially vulnerable, our emotions are vulnerable, our milk supplies are vulnerable, and our other children are vulnerable. In the long run, I can suggest that you will be better off by going easy. Your future months depend a lot on the early weeks regarding burn out and over exhaustion.
3. Weight loss
This issue is at the heart of almost every woman regardless of their body type. I want to lose all the weight I gained beginning the day we leave the hospital. This proves very frustrating especially when nothing fits. WE must understand that THIS is part of the sacrifice. I say it again, this is part of our sacrifice that God calls us to. With successive children, this issue only begins to magnify more because often you weren't able to get all the previous weight off so now you have even further to go to your goal weight AND with A LOT LESS TIME. With my first two babies, I didn't even have to try. The weight just came off. I noticed my third pregnancy posed my first real challenge. For the first time in my life, I had to actually do something about the weight I had gained. I didn't even know where to start since this was all new to me. To be honest, I am still working on it 7 years later. I have never returned to my ideal weight since our second child. With age and time, my motivation isn't as it was before, but my thoughts are constantly on it. The issue is something I really have to take to prayer as I know that the devil can use it very well against women. For some reason in our society, the appearance of a mother really reflects if she has it together or not. I read recently that if a woman smiles a lot and is skinny, everybody think she has it together. AND, if she wears designer jeans she really has it together. As shallow as this observation presents, it is really true and really sad.
I have tried and will continue to plug away at getting to a healthy weight, but my focus is slowly shifting to the spiritual side of my body and what God intended it for. Yesterday, I listened to a homily about being an earthen vessel. The more we empty ourselves of self, the more we will be filled with Christ.
The only advice I can offer you is that I understand that this is an issue we will struggle with until we die. It really has nothing to do with having babies. We are fooling ourselves to think that after our childbearing years are over that our weight issues will resolve. It will always be on our hearts and minds.
I have to view my life as not my own. I view my body as not my own. I was created to know, love, and serve HIM in this life so I can be with HIM in the next. I have found peace knowing that I am doing what God created me to do in my vocation. I have to stay close to the sacraments to be continually reminded of my mission otherwise I can get off track really quickly.
4. Food keeps a home running more than anything.
I have noticed that nothing is more of an issue each day than FOOD. Even though life has changed so much especially for the mother, the three meals and numerous snack requests don't skip a beat. I have several children ask me each morning what is for dinner that evening. They panic when breakfast foods are running low. Food is very important to the running of a home as I am sure you already know. I don't know what method to suggest as so much of this topic depends on your temperament, but I would suggest to have some sort of small plan so you aren't left deciding dinner at 6:30. With that said, please remember you are in survival mode so don't go elaborate just survive with a very simple plan. We have a lot of eggs, bacon, and crockpot meals the early weeks...and cereal and...Papa John's pizza. I do notice a different tone in our home when I have a crockpot meal going in the morning.
5. Please shower, get dressed, and buy a few transition clothes to help yourself out.
When my mom came to help with our third child, she brought with her three jump suit outfits. I will never forget how nice it was to have those somewhat nice looking outfits to wear. I didn't want to wear maternity clothes, but wasn't anywhere near regular clothes or my almost regular clothes. I rotated these three jump suits for a while, but with a shower, makeup, and a nice outfit, I sure felt more ready to tackle the daunting day ahead. So if you can, spend a little money on transition clothes. I remember going to get transition jeans and the size made me cry. My mom encouraged me to purchase them because she said at least I would have something to wear for a few weeks instead of nothing. Also, the baby's baptism always poses a big challenge because you are wanting to look nice, but usually exploding with a lot of milk and a six month postpartum stomach. With my last few babies, I have looked for an outfit before the baby was born so I could eliminate that stress.
6. MOST IMPORTANTLY, never underestimate the spiritual warfare that occurs when new life is born.
When a new life is born, the devil begins to wreak havoc on your home especially the mother. He is the father of lies. He hates life and loves death so every time life is born, a part of you will pay in this war. Although, his lies come in forms that we usually don't recognize. "This is too much for one man." "Why are you wasting your life?" "Look at what you once were." "Your body is trashed." "This can't be right to be this tired and overwhelmed." "Our marriage is a mess." "I am not a good mother to the ones I have, why would I have more children." "I can't seem to get it right." "I am so lonely." "I am losing my mind." "I don't do well without sleep." "You are better than this." "They would be better off without you." "I am much better at helping others than my own children."I was once so organized and now I can barely get out of bed." "So and so is always with it, why can't I be like her?" "Everybody does well after a baby, except me."
These and a million other words and taunts he plants in our minds and souls to distract us from our vocation. He uses ones that he know will take us down faster than we know. You have to combat it spiritually and with the name of Jesus and the sacraments. For me, continually focusing on the needs of others around me changes my mindset quickly. I have a list of those who need prayers much more serious than my own needs so I offer all I can for their peace and souls. We can't forget the poor souls in purgatory as when they get to heaven they will surely remember your prayers for their souls and help you.
Please remember the more you are emptied, the better off you are doing on your way to heaven. The world will tell you the opposite, but God's ways are this way. From the lyrics of Earthen Vessel,
"He has chosen the
Who are small in this world
In his weakness His Glory
In Jesus the Lord."
AGAIN, remember His ways are not OUR ways. Children present great boundaries to us and our souls. They keep us in line and probably from doing many things that might jeopardize our eternal salvation. Think of a bowling alley and the bumpers along the side. Our life is the alley and children are the bumpers that keep us wondering to far right or left and keep us on our way to heaven.
Once more, ALL of this is part of the plan of having children. The cross is to be hard and the devil will taunt you in all directions. Do not listen to his voice. We must continue forward in the battle for life. We must realize that a part of us dies every time a child is given life. It is part of it. I, along with many others, are standing along side you cheering you on and understanding that every tear, every day, every ounce of defeat is for HIS GREATER GLORY. Remember our home is in heaven, not here. God Bless You and may we all have courage to keep fighting.