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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.

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