The big postpartum bounceback
posted by: gretchen
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.