Musings on my baby's first birthday, hiring help and the rollercoaster of post partum.
When I think about it, baby's first birthday is one of the biggest milestones after giving birth. One year of being the new version of you. Wether that is your first or fifth baby - there is always a new version of you after birth.
Those first 12 months can be a huge rollercoaster. After the life altering event of birth there is the life adjustment and there can be so much unknown that follows. As much as you can educate yourself and prepare yourself, there is still a big adjustment happening. There is the hormone rollercoaster, the caregiving dynamics, siblings new role adjustment, sleep deprivation, feeding, health visitor visits, weigh in's, immunisations and so much more. And those are just about baby. Mum is on her own healing journey, physically, mentally and emotionally.
That healing journey looks different for us all because all of our births are unique. Some of us are working through birth trauma, post partum mental health issues, pelvic floor disfunction or scar management.
Mums really are superheroes.
We become hard wired to our babies needs, so in tune with their every wiper and moan, scheduled on their clock, obeying every command. We can loose ourselves in them and the tasks that make up the every day.
Post Partum can be hard there is no doubt about it. Hard, yet do-able and more do-able the more help we have. But help is a whole other topic isn't it. Knowing you need help requires self awareness and self awareness requires presence. Presence requires energy. And sometimes we just don't have the energy.
A lot of parents to be focus on material things for post partum preparation like:
- what pram to buy
- how to decorate the nursery
- what local baby classes are nearby
Now, don't get me wrong here. I was doing all the above too. But you know what, post partum is a sacred time in you and your babies life. If you can plan ahead for support and even redistribute some financial resources from some material things to in person help your future self will be so grateful.
A few styles of support you could consider:
- hiring a post partum doula
- hiring a cleaner
- organising a meal / food delivery service
Now post partum never ends, did you know that? You are post partum forever after birth. Your role has changed from maiden to mother and you are now in the matresence phase of your life (like adolescence)
No wonder mums returning to the workplace get annoyed hearing comments like 'Did you enjoy your"time off"' This is not time off. This is a whole new role, the most difficult role there is. A role with no days off, no vacation pay, no sick pay, no colleagues to chat to over lunch, little to no training, no petty cash for supplies, no tech support department and no operations manual!
As you move from the initial post partum phase of the 4th trimester you might feel like you have found your stride a little. You *might* be sleeping a bit better, a bit more active, more in tune with babies rhythm of the day and finding a little more time for self care. But does that mean the support needs to end? Absolutely not!
In fact from about 9 months post partum to where I am now - 13 months. I have felt that having some in person support had been so beneficial. That in person support gives me my time back and that time is spent either with my kids or working on Mellow Mummas. Time is precious. Time is valuable. Time gives us space for our superpowers.
Even though maternity leave has meant a reduced income I have budgeted for a weekly cleaner. Could I do this myself - yes, absolutely. Is it beneath me to clean my toilet - absolutely not. What this does for me is it gives me back my time. Not only on the day of the clean but the whole week. When it comes to cleaning I have been a 'see it - do it' kind of person. See the floor needs mopped at 10pm before I go to bed. My mind would say "let's do it. In fact why don't i just pull out all the couches to make sure I get alllllll of the flooring". But with the cleaner coming I know this will get done. So yes its a challenge not to do it all myself, but when that challenge arises I can tell myself - remember this is your time and your time brings out your superpowers.
So I am not going to mop the floor tonight.
Now I know that a cleaner is a big investment. Weighing up what I can do with the time I get back. It's worth it to me.
Another thing that I recently left in the hands of someone else and I was soooooo glad that I did...... Toula's first birthday decorations.
Now I love a craft project when I have time. But by this point I was back working on Mellow Mummas whenever I got the chance, I had some big retreat days coming up, expanisions in the Toolbox that required lots of editing and back end admin work plus meetings with collaborators and I was creating presentations for pitches. And you know what, I was loving it. I would be (and still do) work when Toula naps or when both kids are asleep at night.
I'm not a buy a pack of helium balloons from the supermarket kind of decorator. When my first daughter turned 2 during the first lockdown (hello abundance of time) I watched some you tube tutorials, bought the supplies and made a beautiful balloon garland, spent hours upon hours baking and decorating a cake with drip icing around the edges. It took a lot of time, headspace and energy. The cake also took up most of our fridge space!
This time around, with work flowing and Mellow Mummas growing I decided to get someone else involved. I didn't want a half hearted birthday for little Toula because, you know what......this birthday was also mine, Greigs and Calla's. It was my birth-day. The day I gave birth. The day I had the most life altering, beautiful, empowering, natural, drug free, hands off home birth. The day I realised I was more powerful and capable than I had ever imagined. The day that our family became a foursome. The day that Greig became a Dad of 2. The day that Calla became a big sister. Our whole families lives changed that day. That is something worth celebrating. I didn't realise this with Calla. But It is a firm belief now!
Baby's first birthday is a celebration for the whole family.
And you know what, I want the celebratory balloon decor. I want to be celebrated. I want Greig to be celebrated. I want Calla to be celebrated.
So the birthday balloon decor was for us all. A reminder of what happened, how we all changed and how we have all grown.
So yeah I hired a cleaner as a new mum. It gave and continues to give me headspace, time and energy back. I then pour these things into my kids and into Mellow Mummas.
So if you are pregnant or early post partum - give yourself the gift of time and get some help. As much help as you can, make sure they know what you need so that they time is the most beneficial. If you are further into matresence think about what you could delegate or outsource to get some of your headspace back!
Asking for help isn't easy but it is so worth it!