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I Had a Baby a Few Months Ago, But I'm Still Not Back to Normal

Photograph by Twenty20

No, 100 times, no. I can't do that. Or that. No, not even that. You see, I had a baby a few months ago—that’s why.

In recent weeks, I’ve said something along these lines quite a few times, both out loud and in my head, with various explanations. But few people seem to believe me or truly understand. I mean, they might say they believe or remember, but when it comes to actually giving me, the new mom, a bit of postpartum grace? Radio silence.

Post-delivery, moms are expected to jump back into life so fast. Grocery shopping, preschool drop-off, holiday hosting and the like. I know, because I'm in the thick of it. Part of me wants to join everything once again and swiftly return to the fast-paced and exciting mom life with my crew of littles: park play dates, weekend adventures and seasonal crafts at the kitchen table.

But, in reality, I just had a baby. And that means life should be slower and not like normal. My body did amazing work birthing a new little soul and things are different. And they will be for a while.

My midwife agrees. She reminded me that it takes time, both physically and emotionally, to recover after birth. It’s not like you wake up nine months pregnant one day. You gradually get there, week by week. And after the pinnacle of birth, there's a deceleration into a new life with baby in arms. Week by week, everyone adjusts and, slowly but surely, life resumes a new sort of normal.

But, until then, it seems that these are valid reminders to tell ourselves and others:

I had a baby a few months ago, but that means now I'm sleep-deprived.

Days are long, nights are longer. A two- to three-hour stretch of sleep is a victory and completely normal. Sneak in a daytime nap when you can and remember that a full night’s rest will eventually come.

I had a baby a few months ago, but my body still thinks I'm pregnant in many ways.

Belly, boobs, rushing hormones: Baby is out, but all that still remains

Bottom line: If you, or someone you know just had a baby, its perfectly fine to lower your expectations.

I had a baby a few months ago, but I don't know how to juggle my new life yet.

Never has there been such a life adjustment as adding a new member to the family. Some days are smoother than others. Some days, you call to say your big kids will be late to school and cancel the one appointment you were sure you would make it to. Better luck next week, says the moms who did that today.

I had a baby a few months ago, but running errands is often too much to handle.

There was a time in my life when I could swing by the post office, return books at the library, pop into Target and do a large Costco haul. Not anymore! I’m a "one and done" errand mama these days. Thank goodness so many essentials can arrive on my doorstep via Amazon Prime.

I had a baby a few months ago, but none of my old clothes fit.

It’s tragic and expected all the same. High-waisted leggings are my jam and one of these days I might try on a regular bra. For now, long live nursing tanks!

I had a baby a few months ago, but I can’t seem to find enough hours in the day for anything other than infant care.

I nurse my little one and change a diaper only to have his burp cover us both in spit-up. We both change clothes and another toot leads to a fresh diaper once again. Then swaddling and rocking to sleep. Turns out it’s just a cat nap, though, and we’re snuggled up nursing again before I know it. Over and over, I tend to this sweet little one while the laundry and dishes pile up, mail goes unanswered and the weekly trash pickup is forgotten. Dear household chores, do yourself. Love, me.

I had a baby a few months ago, but don’t always feel happy.

Everything is just so different. I love it all so very much, but birth and motherhood has changed me. I don’t look or feel myself and as my baby grows. I’m transforming too. It’s an emotional time and happiness doesn’t quite pair with it. It’s more of a deep-seated joy laced with overwhelming anxiousness due to the great responsibility of raising a child.

I had a baby a few months ago, but I can’t remember a thing.

Mommy brain is the real deal. And I fear it will never go away!

Bottom line: If you, or someone you know just had a baby, its perfectly fine to lower your expectations. Recovering from pregnancy and the birth experience takes time, grace and lots of Starbucks to make it through the entire first year. Sometimes the second. Maybe the third. Breathe deep, mama, you can do this.

This new life can be tough, but you are tougher.