The Postpartum FOG: The Week After Birth
So your expecting a baby moon?
You’ve been carrying your sweet babe in your womb for -40+ weeks and your anxiously awaiting the moment you get to hold your baby in your arms.
Then the big D-Day arrives! You give birth, and like most, you experience one of the most exhilarating few hours post birth. You are hungry, eating like you never have before, and snuggling your sweet bundle of joy.
If you are like me, you have planned for the next six weeks or so to be practicing rest. You adjust your schedule, you prepare your heart, home, and family for your baby moon.
Three to Four Days later…
You find yourself living in the FOG.
You know the fog I speak of? Those first seven days after childbirth (or so), the days no one seems to speak of.
Some call it the trenches.
Honestly, there are moments when I would call it the trenches. Those moments when you are cringing as your sweet babe is suckling, just learning how to latch on, and your uterus begins cramping intensely and you think to yourself, “These cramps are almost as bad as in childbirth.”
Those moments qualify as the trenches, especially when they occur numerous times throughout the night and you’re deliriously trying to remember which breast you fed on last.
Although there are those moments that qualify as the trenches, I prefer to call it the FOG.
God Gently Leads Us Through
You know the FOG. The one where you might feel like you are about to drown after days of treading water. You’re not really treading water anymore, but rather doggie paddling, trying to keep your chin above the water.
You have been physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally exerting yourself around the clock for days growing a human life, laboring, and birthing, and your tank is almost empty.
It’s around day four of postpartum.
You can’t really remember because the days are all blurring together.
You haven’t really had the chance to catch up on the sleep you missed those first few nights, and not only that, but your milk has come in. Even if you could get your newborn to sleep more than 2 or 3 hours at a time, you can’t just fall asleep because your leaking everywhere and literally in pain, contemplating how you could wake your sleepy baby and get them to nurse again. Your engorged.
You find yourself wishing and praying for God to take away the pain, to lessen the abundance of milk He has provided because it’s just too painful.
Pretty real image isn’t it?
Well, it hit me.
In day four of my postpartum journal I wrote,
“I am exhausted. After weeks of tossing and turning in late pregnancy, birthing a baby, and then nursing on demand every one to three hours, I am pooped. Just done, tired. And I’m so stinking hungry! I eat WAY more than when I was pregnant!”
It got to me.
It was 3 am, I was trying to get our little one to latch on, and I couldn’t see in the dark. I was beyond tired, he pooped… again, for the seventh time that night, and I was DONE! I began weeping, and then the weeping turned into crying and hard breathing. It hurt SO bad to nurse.
Early that morning, after maybe 3 hours of regularly interrupted sleep, I decided to open up my Bible. I attempted to get some soul food even though every word was blurry and my eyes drooped as I tried tirelessly to stay awake.
God didn’t speak profound words to me.
And I realized, I was back there again, the dreaded FOG.
I whispered in my heart a prayer to the Lord and cried out to Him, “Lord, speak encouragement to me. Change my perspective. Help me to be grateful. Give me your strength to gracefully walk through this season of uncontrollable hormonal emotions and lead me gently.”
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”
Isaiah 40:11, ESV
His Spirit spoke gently to me through these verses, but I felt convicted about my attitude towards His abundant gifts.
You see, it’s just like my human nature to frown on abundance when it’s inconvenient or doesn’t feel good.
Here I was engorged with an abundance of milk for my babe, while many can’t even breastfeed. While my 10 lb 5 oz chunky baby had been given the gift of plenty, I didn’t view it as such. I was only looking at what was inconvenient and painful. I was focusing on myself and what feels good in the moment.
And I was convicted.
I knew my attitude needed adjusting. I needed to re-align my mind with the Spirit of God and view things through a lens of gratefulness.
We often times desire more than we have don’t we? But in this circumstance, I was bummed that I had so much!
To put it bluntly, I was discontent that God had given me an over abundance.
So as I sat contemplating this season I was in again, I asked God for a new attitude. One that reflected thankfulness, even toward those good things that seem painful in the moment.
After 10 years of pregnancies, late night feedings and diaper changes, hovering over sick kids in the early morning hours, changing sheets from the current potty trainee, and desperately needing a nap, but never seeming to have a moment to myself, I had forgotten just how exhausting this first week with a newborn really is. I am in bootcamp yet again!
But you know what? It’s good. This season of learning to embrace newness again, of slowing down our lives again, it’s all good, for all my family. I see it already.
I see my other children stepping up to help more than they were because they love me. I see them hovering over their new brother and kissing his sweet chubby cheeks 20 times a day a piece just because they adore him. I see them learning over again too. And then I stop and thank God that I have had to slow down.
Forgetfulness can be a gift from God.
As we allow God to gently lead us through all seasons in our lives, as women, as mothers, and as wives, there will undoubtedly be those times where we feel like we are in the FOG, or the trenches even. But if we stop, and look up, if we turn our eyes to our Jesus, and we are willing to see our sinful attitudes, repent of them, we can start to see those seasons as a time when God carried us through.
These first few days after birth are a perfect example. As I sit here in the midst of this season, I find myself saying, I totally forgot just how exhausting this is.
I think this is a gift, because if we all remembered, we might not go through it again and again, and again, right? At least not in the midst of self-centered, feeling-focused thinking.
Postpartum hormones and emotions are running wild in this “elderly maternal aged mama” and to be honest, I’ve just been more tired this time around.
I know in my mind that I need to be careful NOT to speak to harshly, not to allow my hormones to get the best of me. Even so, I have somehow still found myself crying one minute and laughing the next.
I’ve had to apologize frequently to the kids for my lack of ability to do what I normally do as well as for my attitude, and it’s been getting old and repetitive.
It can all be overwhelming can’t it?
No matter what your circumstances are, it’s easy for us women in this season to allow the enemy to trip us up.
I know I have fallen many times. But recognizing that this is a season when we are going to be tempted is powerful.
It can make all the difference in our relationships, especially if we communicate it and prepare our loved ones for what to expect. So they can be praying for us and holding us up during this season of transition. And so we can purpose not to sin against those we love and cherish.
Don’t allow the overwhelming feeling of the trenches steal your joy.
Yes, there may be some physical pain associated with the first few weeks after birth, but this is also your special baby moon.
Don’t let the FOG cloud your ability for delighting in this time.
Instead see it as a time to lean on God, and let Him gently lead you through the forgettable obstacles into a joy that fills your soul.
Here are three tips to remember during this season that will help you to delight right now:
1. Remember what is Eternal!
I wrote this post to my sisters who were having their babies during the holidays because I had struggled when I had my 3rd child on December 5th! I had struggled with my first case of the postpartum baby blues, as they call it, because I felt like I was failing as a mother simply because I didn’t have the energy to make Christmas cookies with my 5 year old and 18 month old. God gently reminded me then to remember what is eternal, and Christmas cookies are not. Read this post here—> Give Yourself Grace Mama
2. Guard Your Heart Against the Lies of the Enemy!
Our enemy, the devil wants to trips us up. He wants to discourage and disable us from doing what we were made to do. Don’t let his lies about who you are bring you down. Remember the truth, that you are a daughter of the most high King! The enemy wants to fill you with doubt, because he knows that “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t no-one happy.” Don’t let him win. You have a beautiful opportunity to shine during this hard season IF you remember who you are in Christ and turn from any lie that the enemy my try to tempt you to believe.
3. Re-evaluate your expectations of yourself and others!
Unrealistic expectations are the number one reason for feeling like a failure. Lower your expectations! It’s ok. Remember what we said in #1? Is it eternal? Remember that relationships are the only eternal things in your home. Laundry will always be there, dishes will come and go, but you only have this precious season with your little ones once and you can’t go back. So snuggle up, let others serve you, let go of having the dishwasher loaded the way you want and relax!
May you be encouraged to keep on keeping’ on sister!
For more encouragement on Pregnancy, Labor, Childbirth and Beyond check out my book, guide, and website entitled Redeeming Childbirth. Or visit us on Facebook.
Do you feel judged for the your parenting choices? Struggle with feeling down about yourself because you seem to keep falling into the comparison trap? Check out my online Bible Study called Redeeming the Divison: The Quiet Fight Between Women.