The Germans call the postpartum period “Wochenbett” – weeks bed, to translate it literally. I remember in my prenatal class back with Theo that they said, “Week one in bed, week two on the couch.” And back then I remember thinking, well that sounds…odd. But after the birth, I was exhausted. Recovery was painful (and all I had was episiotomy stitches, no C-section or anything else more serious) and I was exhausted, hormonal, and overwhelmed with the changes. Emotionally, I did pretty well, although I vividly remember my baby blues hormone crash happened when Theo was a week old and I was lying on the couch with him on my belly as I just cried and cried.
The baby blues hit me this time around on day 7 as well, but more because of feeling overwhelmed with my dear toddler than with my precious new little baby. I guess it’s much more common for second-time-moms to feel that way. Physically, recovering from Avi’s birth was much easier. I still had stitches, but it wasn’t as serious. The birth in itself was way easier!
Thankfully, I can also say that now, 5 weeks into this parents-of-two-kids gig, we’ve found a new groove. Things are back to normal with our schedule – Tobi brings Theo to Kita in the mornings, and I pick him up in the afternoons. As with most things, the fear of doing something was worse than actually doing it. And yes, sometimes both kids are screaming at the same time in the stairwell of your apartment building, and all you can do is grit your teeth and try to get through it, perhaps even with a little bit of humor at how absolutely ridiculous and loud the situation is. Avi was crying because he is an insatiable milk monster who had just woken up from a nap in the sling and he needed a boob in his mouth RIGHT NOW. Theo was throwing a fit and had flung himself down onto the floor because he wanted yogurt and refused to climb up any more stairs. Thank goodness for nice neighbors who came out and helped me calm him down and then carried Theo up the stairs. (Still, I may need a first-floor apartment or an elevator if we ever decide to move…! That would have spared us so much grief!)
Avi is 5 weeks old now, and I’m still technically in my Wochenbett, which apparently lasts 8 weeks, but it’s no longer as critical as it was in the first few weeks. Physically, I feel pretty fit. (Although I really should be more consistent with my pelvic floor exercises…) I’m figuring things out.
The thing is that kids are constantly going in and out of phases, and when you’re in a phase, sometimes it feels endless. And then, just like that, they’re on to the next thing and you have to find your groove again. The key is to not lose hope, to remind yourself that it’s all ephemeral, and figure things out by trial and error. Because nobody’s perfect, after all. And just when things feel like they’ll never change, they do. And then you’re on to the next big thing.