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6 weeks down

Y’all. I had a baby 6 weeks ago. It was intense, made me go a little bit (a lotta bit?) insane, and ended with me meeting the most incredible little human. As is the case with the last two years, the last 6 weeks have somehow passed all too slowly and in the blink of eye all at once.

The baby is great. Like, really great and super cute and has started smiling flirting and and chit chats with us in between feeding frenzies and naps. The self-doubt and anxiety that consumed me the first few weeks made me worry about every little thing with him – especially when it came to breastfeeding – but because I’ve been lucky enough to learn a lot about lactation I was able balance my irrational worries with what I knew to be true and I’m happy to report we are doing great. I even faced down mastitis and lived to tell about it, thanks to an amazing community of friends and my midwife reminding me that mastitis is not a character flaw.

On that note – if you’re a new mama and worried about anything regarding nursing, please reach out to someone who can help you. I promise it’s probably a lot easier to fix than you think. You don’t need to give up if you don’t want to (and if breastfeeding isn’t your thing just because it’s not, that’s totally cool, too!) La Leche League is a great place to start and you can likely find your local chapter by Googling “la leche league” + your city. If they can’t help you, they’ll be able to refer you to someone who can.

6 weeks postpartum can also be the time when your milk production evens out, causing many mamas to worry that their supply isn’t enough, when in reality it’s just perfect for their little babe. Your breasts may feel softer, less full, your letdown less noticeable, all of which are no indication of whether or not you have enough milk. Watch baby’s diaper output – it should be about 4 to 6 wet/dirty diapers per 24-hour period at this point – and growth to know exactly whether baby is getting enough or not.

Physically, I feel good, but things are definitely different this time around. My body didn’t “bounce back” like it did with Adam and it’s clear that to get things to fall back into place, it’s going to take some work. Aside from the aches and pains from co-sleeping (often times with two little monkeys) and holding a baby and sometimes a toddler all day, the hemorrhoids haven’t been much fun; horizontal rest, chugging water like it’s going out of style, and grated potato (hashbrowns, anyone?) on your bum are great for these, according to my midwife. Making sure to nourish my body and get rest when I can has been paramount in feeling good and not losing my shit by lunch time.

From my Instagram post on @mamafilbirth: 6 weeks postpartum 🌿 It may seem like it passed in the blink of an eye – or maybe dragged on forever – but during this period lots of changes are happening for mama and baby 🌿 Aside from your little babe being bigger physically, he is also mentally more developed as well. You may get smiles or giggles, and he will probably also communicate with you a lot – in his own way, of course. You’ll probably notice yourselves settling into a routine (that baby set, of course!) but don’t get too comfortable – things are likely to change several times in the coming months. Lower your expectations, go with the flow, and just follow baby’s lead 🌿 you’ve already survived his first two growth spurts and he’s headed into another one, which usually means non-stop feeding and some fussy days ahead, which are best spent in mama or another caring person’s arms 🌿 6 weeks is also a lot of time for mama to change, too, physically and mentally 🌿 you’re likely feeling pretty well-heeled, though things may still feel “out of place” or like they’re healing, and that’s ok. If you’ve met with your care-provider, maybe you’ve discussed family planning options – of which there are many! – and being intimate with your partner. While the extra assurance that everything is “good to go” is great, remember that you don’t need to rush into anything and should take it slow and enjoy yourself 🌿 your hormones and emotions may still be all over the place and that’s ok. Carving some self-care time each day and trying to rest and nourish yourself well are essential. If you’re struggling and feel like you need help, reach out to someone and get help! Postpartum mood disorders are common and can be fixed with a variety of treatments and you can – and deserve to – feel better 🌿 what other changes did you notice at 6 weeks postpartum?

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Does taking a shower count?

The importance of self-care is well-known. There is absolutely no doubt about the restorative power of putting yourself first for a few hours and focusing on relaxing, reflecting, & appreciating the essence of your badass self. And, in case there was any question, busy bloggers and influencers everywhere tout the power of taking time outs, and share pics of their staycations/flower baths/spa days like it’s going out of style.

But how do you practice self-care when your constant companions are two babies with big needs that literally never end? When your partner works 13 hours a day and comes home full of love but low on energy? When going to the bathroom or taking a shower isn’t even something you can do alone because – hello, you have a toddler! When taking even 5 minutes to yourself gives your toddler just enough time to feed your newborn his banana or cover him with his blanket, like, literally from head to toe?

I’m still trying to figure it out; I haven’t even been able to leave the house without an extra set of hands, and can’t be away from my boobie-barnacle for too long. But the small ways in which I am able to practice it have been monumental. Eating well, even when I don’t feel like it or have the time. Stretching out the co-sleeping kinks from the night before and taking time to breathe. Accepting invitations to see friends, even though I smell like milk, still can’t form full sentences, and putting myself together to look semi-functional is out of the question. But more importantly – and this is a new one for me – I’ve decided to practice self-care by actually caring for myself and watching what I say.

Being a mom to two under two is hard and makes me feel out of sorts and overwhelmed most of the time. I lose my temper with my toddler, wish my newborn was more like his brother at this age, and get annoyed easily while running on little sleep and being on high alert. Instead of being hard on myself at the end of the day and wondering if I’m really cut out for all of this or just the worst mom ever, I’ve decided to be kind to myself and instead say, “you did the best you could at the time, and tomorrow you will do better.”

Try it out, busy mama, and feel good that you’re investing in some major self-care. It may not be instagram-worthy, but it’s definitely the cool thing to do.

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Back in the sandbox

So, we’re back. Actually, we’ve been back but have also been trying to catch our breath after our trans-Atlantic nightmare with oir 9-day-old angel and 2-year-old hybrid angel/terrorist (it’s a joke, y’all, and if u have a toddler YOU TOTALLY GET IT!)

Having two kids, however, is no joke. But that’s another blog post (or 50) for another day. Today’s topic is how to speak to a mother who’s just birthed a child within the last year(ish)

Essentially it can be summed up into this: unless you’re asking her what you can do to help, how she takes her coffee, or which flavor ice cream she wants, you should probably just stop talking.

After the birth of our second Baby Elephant, it was a mad dash to get things ready to come back home to KSA. Because hubby had only a limited amount of time before returning to work, we had to change tickets and get everything in order within a matter of days, not to mention travel halfway around the world with two kids while still nursing myself back to health from, you know, birthing a human. It wasn’t ideal but – here’s the thing – we had no other choice. The alternatives weren’t plausible so we had to make it happen, no matter what. And we did.

Somehow our choice bothered a lot of people; the look of horror that followed after asking in their sing-song voice, “how old is he?” killed me. Halfway through our journey my husband started answering for me and said 2 weeks instead of 9 days to soften the blow for people, since apparently it was really hard for them to accept. I found myself meekly explaining to complete strangers that we had to travel all together and this was the only way, but many seemed lost in their own thoughts of what I could only imagine were about what a careless mother I was.

Where the mom who runs a marathon 4 days postpartum is celebrated in our culture, here I was being shamed for lugging my newborn through airport after airport in an effort to keep my family together.

The comments got easier to swallow and the looks easier to ignore, and by the time we were boarding our final flight for Bahrain, my anxiety started to melt away a bit. You see, I wasn’t a careless mother who didn’t understand the risks of whisking a new baby through germ-infested travel hubs around the world. I got it. I really did. I shuddered at every sneeze or cough within a ten-mile radius, cringed every time we had to take him out of the carrier to change his diaper or go through security, and hated the lady who kindly asked if I wanted her to hold him while I arranged a sleeping toddler on my lap. I was wracked with guilt and anxiety the entire time we were out of the house, knowing that my baby wasn’t getting the uninterrupted skin-to-skin or nursing sessions he deserved, and knowing that I wasn’t respecting the huge undertaking my body had just endured by forcing myself to walk through 4 airports in less than 2 days. I understood why people were so bothered by my choice to travel so soon because I was bothered by my choice to travel so soon, but that still doesn’t give anyone the right to comment or scoff about said choices.

The postpartum period is a sacred one that should be filled with rest, nourishment, love, and a safe space to get to know the new addition to your family. Not people’s judgments about how you should and shouldn’t be doing things. Now that we’re home I get to have all of that. It may not have been within the time frame I wanted, but here we are relishing in our time together. And, hey, if running marathons in the early postpartum period is your thing, more power to you, mama. Just don’t mind me while I cheer you on from my couch.