This Is Life Postpartum: Ugly, Scary, Exhausting

When I had my first son, born via C-section over two years ago, my husband and I were so shell-shocked by the sleep deprivation and his unbearable colic that we basically sleepwalked through four and a half months, barely hanging on. Recovery was extremely difficult, but I’m not sure how aware of it I was. I was too strung out to notice the roller coaster I was precariously strapped into.

Our second son, born just 13 days ago, presented us with a new perspective. When you have a toddler to care for, you have no choice but to function like a semi-normal human being. Because now you have two lives to look after, in addition to your own. Sleeping while the baby sleeps (as seldom as that happens with the first kid…) is laughable. Self-care goes right out the window. And ordering Thai or Indian food day in and day out isn’t really an option, unless you want your serial picky eater to starve for a few months.

So whether I like it or not, my life postpartum this second time around is in full-swing and I am keenly aware of everything that is occurring – thanks in large part to bottomless cups of coffee and tea.

With C-section number two comes unrelenting pain. Pain while just sitting. Pain while trying to get off the couch or out of bed. Pain while lifting the baby to feed him, and on top of that, excruciating pain while he nurses and my uterus contracts over and over to begin its awkward journey back to its original size.

Then comes the emotional pain. There is nothing more heart wrenching than not being able to pick up your two-year-old because of a fresh incision, held in place by 20 staples. When my toddler is sad or wants a hug, or needs to be put to bed or bathed, I can do nothing more than attempt to kneel to his level and snuggle while wincing from my aching abdomen. I want to grab him and hold him tight, but all I can do is wait for someone else to gently place him on my lap. I worry that this separation, while it will be brief in the grand scheme of things, will cause a more permanent schism between us. He was my first, after all, and I don’t want the birth of another child to make him feel replaced or unwanted, (especially since mommy can hold the new baby, and not him).