Lauren - Owner of Harvey at Home
I felt: overwhelmed, exhausted, happy, proud and scared all at once.
I was: just hanging in there
I needed: to know that I was doing a good job and to understand that this adjustment would take time
Postpartum is: one hell of a ride!
What was your greatest challenge postpartum?
For me, it was knowing that I was doing a good job and that the love for my baby would grow.
As I’ve talked about on my Harvey at Home Instagram page, I didn’t love Harvey right away like you’re shown in the movies, or how it’s talked about by other Mums.
It wasn’t this crazy, obsessed love straight away.
I loved him. A lot! But the obsessive love took time for me. It was a slow burn.
I needed time to move through the other postpartum challenges (recovery, sleep, feeding, loss of identity, loneliness) and come out the other side, before I could fully fall in love with my baby.
It was a bit scary at the time, but I know now that it was normal and many other mothers feel the same. You love this baby. You’d do anything for them – you literally ARE doing everything for them, but you need time!
Your greatest achievement?
I really trusted my intuition during that fourth trimester and followed my “motherly instincts”.
That fourth trimester is crazy. You’re literally given a tiny, dependent human and expected to know how to care for it. WTF?
Luckily I had wonderful family support, and a fantastic Mum and Mother-in-law to lean on. But the way they helped me the most (and something I’m forever grateful for) was telling me to do things my way. They respected my choices, never once interfered, and told me to do what felt right for me!
I hardly wanted to put Harvey down in those first few months.
He had almost every single nap on me until he was around 4 months old, and many more naps after that. I fed him on demand – literally every time he cried/grizzled/moaned/looked bored, and we ended up having him in our bed quite a lot.
This felt natural to me and I’m so glad I never listened to people who told me to put him down, or that he needed to sleep in his cot, to learn to be independent etc, etc.
I felt like he needed me, so I was there for him.
And I’m glad I trusted myself on this one.
It felt right every step of the way and I’ve never regretted any of it.
What surprised you?
How noisy newborns are! Gees louise.
As if you’re not getting minimal sleep anyway, their constant loud breathing, grunting and gurgling will definitely keep you awake!
How supportive my already Mama friends would be. God they get it! They know, they’ve been there (often not that long before you) and they will be your go-to for any moral support.
What do you wish you had known beforehand?
That breastfeeding is a bloody tricky thing! We were lucky to come out the other side and have a successful journey, but I was SOOO close to throwing in the towel. I wish someone had told me how tough it was during those first few weeks and that this is normal.
Tongue-ties, supply issues, inverted/flat nipples, post-birth complications – all of these (and more) can have a huge impact on your start to feeding, but no one tells you this.
I will never forget the midwife at the birthing unit who came by to put on the breastfeeding DVD for me to watch. She was late 60s and a pretty firm/no fuss woman! However, her words were “In the DVD, it will say a number of times that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. That’s bull shit, it does bloody hurt, but you will get through it. Give me a call if you need any help!”.
And help she did! She was the one who brought me a suction cup to draw out my nipples, nipple shields to try and relieve the pain and encouraged me the whole time – acknowledging that it was hard, but supporting me to make it through.
Anything you would change/do differently next time?
I think next time will bring its own challenges anyway and will be a completely different experience, but I will be making a concerted effort to just "give in to it".
Go with the process, go with baby, take each day as it comes, and surrender to any and all obstacles along the way. Letting go of control was a biggie for me first time around, but my control has long gone out the window haha. So hopefully next time I can enjoy it all a little more.
Some words for expecting Mamas to be?
You are NOT alone. I know it can feel like that sometimes. Some days will be lonely. But you just have to hold onto the fact that you’re not on your own. Others have been here before, or will be here soon, and we will all make it through. Reach out to your friends for support, whether that be for some advice or just someone to vent to. Your "already-Mama" friends know where you’re at and will be ready and willing to help however they can. If they offer to take baby for an hour – let them.
Have a shower, have a cuppa, you’ll feel so much better for it.
Anything else you’d like to share...
Us Mamas are bloody superwomen!
We seriously are.
My friends and I often joke: If all the women on earth died over night, the men would be scrambling! But if all the men died over night, we’d hardly notice 😊
We’d just take it in our stride, fill the roles that need to be filled and get on with things!
Because we are SO strong and so amazing!
To any Dads reading, we’re just playing! We love you and appreciate you.
But you gotta hand it to us, who run the world? Girls!