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The big postpartum bounceback

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The bags under my eyes will only take you to the west coast for a long weekend in Napa. They are no longer steamer trunks fit for trans-Atlantic voyages.

I am mostly confident my shoes would match, if I went anywhere of note. Doctor’s offices do not count, as one expects to encounter a certain amount of human frailty in places where people shift uncomfortably on paper lined tables.

My ability to eat complicated foods while nursing has returned. Watch as I stab lettuce hunks drowning in dressing from a plate two feet away, bringing the fork all the way to my mouth without drizzling Hidden Valley in a pink baby ear! Keep the applause to a polite golf clap, please. He’s sleeping.

Two weeks ago? I couldn’t have performed such a miraculous move.

Sometimes, I can’t believe I’m currently caring for our eighth newborn. That’s a lot of sleepless nights under my elastic waistband. That’s a lot of milk. The teeny diaper stack must reach to Saturn and halfway back. I’ve watched eight umbilical cords shrivel and fall off. I’ve celebrated every one of those gnarly little milestones.

It doesn’t get old. The middle of the night moments, the full-body newborn stretches, the yawns that suck all the air out of a room—It’s all new to me even though it’s old to me.

The difference between baby #1 and baby #8 is that I am wiser about being intentional about returning to normal life. Part of this is necessity. Most school-aged children do not appreciate mothers who are still wearing pajamas at 4pm. At the store.

I try to get dressed in real clothes every day. I try to wear some earrings. I make it a point to stay on top of permission slips and grocery lists, even though they challenge my mental capacity at times: He can go to the unsalted butter, but I can’t chaperone the size 1 diapers or did we need size 4? Anyway, on the appointed day I will send a sack lunch to aisle 7.

I’ve been fond of repeating to myself that life will be back to normal soon enough. But then I consider the definition of normal and realize that not only am I in the thick of normal, I am also the mayor.

It’s normal to be tired, stained, drained, pulled in many directions. It’s normal to find the old clothes don’t fit at 3 weeks postpartum and it’s normal to realize it’s normal to feel foolish for thinking they’d fit.

So here I am, welcoming myself to the postpartum bounceback. I smile at the knowledge that the harder the ball is thrown down, the higher it will fly.

This time around, I am expecting quite the view.

Author: gretchen

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  • comment avatar Tanya September 14, 2010

    My recovery was rough! Pregnancy was easy, postpartum was evil! I finally feel normal 6 months postpartum.

    Congrats to you.

  • comment avatar JoAnn September 14, 2010

    The life of the one-handed eater! I’d totally forgotten those days. You must be an expert by now! 🙂

  • comment avatar Kelly @ Love Well September 14, 2010

    This made me smile knowingly, being that I’m a few months ahead of you (Kieran just passed the 4-month mark) and years behind (he’s baby #4).

    I especially relate to the phrase “in the thick of normal.” I feel like I’m very thick, and it’s the new normal.

    How long does it take to get back into our regular clothes again? I can’t remember.

  • comment avatar Maria September 14, 2010

    Yes, it must be crazy and extremely tiring. And I am so proud of you!

  • comment avatar Julie September 14, 2010

    Yup. Unsalted butter. That’s what I forgot at the store!

    Glad you’re recovering well. He is such a cutie-pie.

  • comment avatar Heth September 14, 2010

    You know I love this.
    Congratulations, Gretchen.

  • comment avatar Tami September 14, 2010

    Is it normal to feel as exhausted as you … if I only have one child? I love your writing and your wit. Great story!

  • comment avatar Emily September 14, 2010

    Postpartum: It’s ‘ugh’ and ‘ahhhh’ all at the same time. It’s amazing that you can feel so crummy and be so blissfully happy at the magic of a new life all at the same time! Great article, Gretchen.

  • comment avatar Amy September 15, 2010

    I’m a year postpartum and my clothes still don’t fit. For me pregnancy after 35 is much harder to recover from than before.

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  • comment avatar Kristin September 18, 2010

    The fact that you wrote this? Amazing.

    I understand the return to normalcy even though this is only my fourth. The day after I got home from the hospital, I collected my other 3 from friends houses and then fed them dinner and put them to bed all by myself. My husband had to work. 2 weeks after she was born, I reminded my husband, he had yet to take a day off work!

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