Briar - Twin Mama and Mama of 4 girls
I felt: Prepared
I was: Not
I needed: Time, space, sleep and help.
Postpartum is: Brightness and darkness all at once!
What was your greatest challenge postpartum?
I found my early postpartum days to be a blur really. With the twins being my second pregnancy I felt that I was ready for all the ‘baby’ related things and accepted that twins in general were going to be a challenge. I took every day as a new one, tried to relax through all the difficulties that newborns bring and accepted help at any opportunity. The biggest two challenges for me were a) having to share myself between 4 children (and husband) and b) trying to make time for ME. Having a 20 month old and 10.5 year old at home my first breakdown came when I felt like I wasn’t getting the same amount of time with them and all my time was focused on the twins. All my toddler wanted was mummy and I couldn’t always be there for her, it really broke me. We did our best to keep her in routine and daycare was a saviour as that was her second home. Our 10.5 year old was a champion but she was still lacking in her personal space and having parents that showed her all the attention she needed. Growing your family is so magical, but the sharing of yourself is HARD! My other challenge was actually trying to step back from ‘mum life’ and do something for myself. I cried for hours one night to my husband about how I was losing myself; my strength, my spark, my social life, my energy, everything that made me ME. We decided together that I would start back at the gym and it truly saved me (and still does). I now know that when I’m feeling a bit lost that I just need to take an hour to myself, a walk around Kmart always does the trick!
Your greatest achievement?
Having four healthy, happy and growing girls in our lives. Knowing that I grew 3 of our babies and built a deep motherly connection with our fourth (my step-daughter Ayva) was my ultimate life goal! I always wanted to be a Mum, more than anything else and I feel lucky that I’ve been pregnant twice but came out with 4! AND getting through a double whammy twin birth - one born vaginally, one born by emergency c-section. That was a crazy ride but worth it to get 2 healthy girls all at once.
What surprised you?
First baby - the fact that I didn’t fall in love with her until a few days in. Don’t get me wrong, she was delicious but her birth was so intense and fast that I was so overwhelmed with her when she arrived. It took me a while to process that I had made her and I was keeping her alive. Twins - TWINS! We have no twins in our family so this was a big surprise at our 12 week scan!!!
What do you wish you had known beforehand?
I wish that I had known not to be so hard on my body and state of mind. With my first pregnancy I coped well with postpartum except for body image as before pregnancy I was fit, strong and healthy. After pregnancy my body shape changed, I had lost most of my strength and I had ZERO motivation to get it back! I wish that I had been kinder to myself and understood the changes better. Second time around I wish I had realised how challenging the balance was going to be and how guilty I would feel for the choices that I would make for my other kids. Mum guilt is totally a thing!
Anything you would change/do differently next time?
I would say yes to help at any opportunity. Whether it is your mum, your neighbour, your Aunty’s daughter’s friend’s niece, your doctor or your midwife. If they offer to help you in any way, take it and run with it. I wish that I had said yes to all those offers of help/babysitting/walks around the block/freezer meals! I also wish I had said ‘no’ more often. No to the surprise family visits, no to the offers of ‘advice’ and no when someone asks me if I’m okay instead of putting on a brave face and saying ‘yes’.
Some words for expecting Mamas to be?
1. Be kind to yourself.
2. Fresh air and sunshine makes those dark times lighter, literally.
3. Your baby - your choices.
4. Remember that if your house looks like shit, no one actually cares! All the mums that visit will hi-five you and nod with understanding.
5. You’re awesome! You grew a human and now it needs your love, cuddles, voice and presence to thrive. You’ve got this!
Anything else you’d like to share…
Postpartum stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, feeling overwhelmed can happen at any time. For me it came like a massive wave 13 months after the twins were born and I had to seek professional help! I didn’t want a ‘diagnosis’ and I didn’t want to be medicated but I did want someone to talk to so I was offered free counselling through the Ministry of Health. I am still waiting for my opportunity to blab all of my life worries, frustrations and joy with someone but I cannot wait to feel some weight lift off my shoulders. If you ever feel like you’re not good enough, that mum life is hard, that you need help, that you aren’t coping - reach out. There are SO many people that can help and that will listen. Mum life is freaking hard, whether it is your first, it’s multiples, it’s a rainbow baby, a birth complication, anything! Everyone has a story worth sharing and stresses that need venting. You’re amazing and you made a human!