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theShaktiwithin Stories

The Bittersweet Hues of Postpartum

5 minute read, Written By: Momly

During one morning walk with my 9-month-old baby, I was stopped by a man somewhere in his mid-seventies who smiled at my baby and asked me the most unexpected question. I was accustomed to questions like, “Is it a boy or a girl?” “How old is the baby?” “Do you come for walks all by yourself?” and the most commonly asked question, “Does the baby not cry?” But to my surprise, this gentleman looked up at me and asked, “How many months into motherhood are you?” And strangely, it took me longer than expected to say 9 months, because that's how old my baby and I were.

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It made me ponder how the focus is always on the baby, but the mother should receive equal fuss and care after all that she has been through. It took me back to my early postpartum days—the mental and physical struggle, the lack of emotional validation, the feeling of self-loss, and loneliness. During my pregnancy, I read a myriad of articles and blogs on postpartum. Many of them were personal journeys of the author. Nonetheless, nothing in the world could have prepared me for what was to come. Have you heard the term “bittersweet”? That phrase, repeated ten thousand times, would only partially cover the whole sense of motherhood during postpartum.

Whenever someone would ask me, “How are you feeling?” I would say, “Fine,” but really, I wanted to say, “I have just accomplished one of the most strenuous, physically and mentally demanding things a human being can do. My body just grew and birthed a whole person.” It's incredible how a woman’s body can do that. And it hurts, regardless of whichever birth method one goes through.

I felt exhausted in ways I didn't realize were possible. Of course, there is physical pain and exhaustion because of the trauma the body goes through, and then the sleepless nights and endless feeds. And then the emotional roller coaster that one feels, one moment you are on the 7th cloud and then the next, you are 7000 ft underground with a 7000-kilo shit load on you, and the list goes on. The

marriage all of a sudden becomes this strange relation that you are struggling to make sense of from scratch. The mental stress of being a good mother, to be doing enough for the baby and more. All through this, you would spend 24/7 time with this new person, this tiny being whose personality you are yet to learn, and it's magical how this new person, this little being can comfort you in ways you can only imagine. I would often wonder how I could feel so fulfilled and full at the exact same time I felt empty and barren. My body felt sore and tender.

Recovering from months and months of changes that were painful, glorious, unfamiliar, and miraculous. My thoughts were dazed, foggy, and fuzzy at times, and at others, racing and intrusive. Sometimes even scary. I would wonder if this was all normal, if this is how it's supposed to be. The truth, however, is that there is no such thing as normal after you give birth.

It’s funny how everyone says that every pregnancy is different and every postpartum journey is different but also that there are so many similarities in this unique journey a woman goes through. We all have a different story, a different journey, but we might be going through similar struggles and issues in a completely different setting. What comforted me the most was that the nights that I stayed up alone, sitting on a sofa with my 2-month-old, I would think of all the other mothers who were up too.

Words of courage - We can read all the books, do all the googling, but nobody ever really prepares you for what to expect after you're expecting. You won't have all the answers, you won't know what's best, but there is one thing that I would like to tell other mothers, and that’s to trust your instincts, and listen to your body and your mind. If what they're telling you doesn't feel right, ask for help. And don't stop asking until you find it. Because there is help. And you don't need to feel ashamed for seeking it out. I needed it, too. And as much as that little person now matters more than anything else in the entire world, don't forget, you do too."

(As told by Mariya)

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