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Did you know, back in Colonial America times, the population thought it was a good idea to have a new mom “lie in” bed for 3 – 4 weeks?  Female friends and family would help around the house and with the rest of the children.  This practice disappeared in the 19th century (but still exists in many places!), and now we’re left with a system that not only pushes moms out of bed… but back to work.

Maternity-leave-chart-final

Speaking of going back to work after having a baby, check out this post, which compares US policies to policies around the world.  The comments are particularly great.  Studies show that being forced to return to ‘normal life’ too quickly can sabotage breastfeeding, impact the mother and baby’s physical health, and trigger post-partum depression in the mother.  One in seven American women experience PPD in the year after they give birth.  (Source)  Remember, we hear a lot about ‘Mommy Wars,’ but THIS is the real war worth waging.

 

Anyway, I remember going in for my six week post-baby check up.  I really, really wanted to be declared “back to normal.”  I wanted to run again.  I wanted to have sex again.  I wanted to hear from my doctor that I’d feel like my old self soon enough.

“You’re all good,” he said.  You can definitely run.  You can sex again.  You are back to normal, he said.  I remember feeling rather dubious about everything besides running.  I didn’t feel like I did pre-baby, and the doctor’s stamp of approval didn’t magically change anything.

Women Need A Whole Year to Recover From Childbirth, Despite the Fantasy:  One British doctor’s study found that the six week mark concept was generally laughable.  She interviewed women at the 2 – 3 week, 3 month, and 6 – 7 month mark and found that a year was when women really ‘got over’ childbirth, both physically and mentally.  The biggest issue:  a lack of postnatal care from professional and support from family/friends.

The article says that our perception of reality is screwed because of all the magazines touting how Mrs. So-and-So got back to her old self 4 weeks after birth.  But I think it’s something else, too.  Real women rarely talk about the nitty-gritty (occasionally TMI!) details about childbirth and the post-partum period.  As a result, we don’t really know ‘reality’ until we experience it, and then we feel like we’re all out of wack with the ‘standard.’  This also means that we’re not sharing post-partum recovery tips!

Here’s our birth story and how long it took for me to return to normal, in so many different ways:

Henry’s Birth Story – Part I

Henry’s Birth Story – Part II

1 Week Post-Partum:  I go ‘back to work’ immediately (like, while in the hospital).  Thankfully, my job is on a computer, and I really love what I do.  Exercise-wise, I can go on short walks around the block.  I start taking my placenta pills immediately; I have nothing to compare it to, but I do think this helped me a bit.

3 Weeks Post-Partum:  I finally stop bleeding.   Longest ‘period’ of my life.  My body is getting over the ‘high’ of childbirth and meeting Henry, and my energy is starting to seriously tank.

6 Weeks Post-Partum: I get the all-clear for exercise and sex from my doctor.  I start running again with no problems. Intimacy is impossible thanks to my episiotomy.

11 Weeks Post-Partum:  I do a triathlon.  It’s around this time that I also go away from Henry for the first time overnight (for a work trip).  I feel normal work-wise but my body is still out of wack.

4 Months Post-Partum:  Post-partum anxiety is peaking.  Feel terrible emotionally; it’s like I cannot possibly juggle everything, and I’m drowning in nerves.  This is 100% connected to lack to sleep.

5 Months Post-Partum: After several consults with my doctor, my episiotomy scar is finally feeling TRULY normal, and bedtime activity can resume.  Here’s a post about the entire experience (well, not about the bedtime activities part).

6 Months Post-Partum: Back at pre-pregnancy weight. I am thrilled to be wearing my old clothes.  YAY BUTTONS AND ZIPPERS!!!!

7 Months Post-Partum:  I am just now emotionally recovering from the effects of newborn sleep deprivation.  We sleep trained at 5 Months but it took me a while to catch up.  I feel like a normal person (as opposed to a zombie) on a day-to-day basis.

8 Months Post-Partum:  I finally stop exclusively pumping (Part I and Part II), and that’s when I feel so much of my anxiety and stress slip away.  I am really grateful for the option of formula.

9 Months Post-Partum:  My linea nigra (the dark line that runs down a lot of women’s pregnant stomachs) finally fades away.  I still have stretch marks; they never go away.  I get my first post-pregnancy period.  My mind and body is extremely happy to be done with the physical and emotional challenges of breastfeeding/pumping.  In terms of body confidence post-baby, I am more aware than ever of how awesome a woman’s body can be – to grow and birth and feed a baby is INSANE.  Stretch marks ain’t no thing.

11 Months Post-Partum {back to normal}:  Feeling calm and happy. I feel like my ‘normal’ self.   Found a good balance in my life.

16 Months Post-PartumI surprise the poopy out of myself by completing a Half Ironman, a goal that I barely imagined was possible BEFORE having a kid.

In conclusion, it took me a handful of months to reach many “Do you feel normal?” markers, like exercise and sex.  But there were a lot of milestones that I didn’t realize that I’d need/want to reach – like sleeping and finding emotional balance.  So all in all, I’d say it took me 11 months to feel normal again.

Everyone’s experience is different (and I imagine it’s different with more children), but I’d love for people to share their post-partum milestones.  Let’s normalize the idea that it takes a while for women to bounce back (and thus we all need extra support, both at home and professionally).  If you’re athletic, I’d love to know when you got back to racing; it’s certainly not a contest, but I always love hearing from women who do bad-ass events with young children.

When did you “get over” childbirth?

{ 143 comments }

 

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  • Lee March 5, 2014, 2:54 pm

    I have my 6 week postpartum doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I’m hoping the return to exercise makes me feel more like myself. I was put on a modified bed rest in November so it’s been a long time since I’ve worked out (and done other activities for that matter!)

    Reply
  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs March 5, 2014, 2:58 pm

    I’ve never been pregnant, nor do I plan on having children, but I still find these posts really interesting! Living in Canada, where our maternity leave plan is awesome, it boggles my mind to see that chart!

    Reply
  • Heather March 5, 2014, 3:04 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I feel like there’s so much information out there that glosses over ALL of this and instead focuses on the “joy” and “excitement” of parenthood and makes normal moms feel like failures for not snapping right back.

    Reply
  • Kelley March 5, 2014, 3:04 pm

    This is such a wonderful, important post. I love this! I remember sitting in my mommy-and-me class with a 6-week old baby, listening to other moms talk cheerfully about how being a mom is all rainbows and unicorns and I remember feeling like something was wrong with me because i felt overwhelmed. People are allowed to feel what they feel, and maybe they did really think it was a walk in the park… but i had a sneaking suspicion that they were lying (to themselves and the group) about their real feelings. And this was supposed to be an intimate support group for people to be honest and share emotions…. what a disservice to our mom village. Moms need to be honest and support each other. Those first few months suck. Period. HAHA

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 3:06 pm

      I think you hit the nail on the head… No one wants to say they don’t feel well or are stressed because other people jump down their throats. I got a lot of this on the blog. If I said I was exhausted, I’d get comments on how I *clearly* hate being a mother and hate Henry. Oh lordy! No, I’m just exhausted! I think it can be nice to say ‘this is normal, but so is this…’ There’s such a wide range of normal when it comes to all things parenting.

      Reply
    • Rachel March 5, 2014, 3:50 pm

      I just wanted to say that my newborn experience really was incredibly easy and joyful- not overwhelming or stressful at all. So it’s possible that they weren’t [all] lying. I actually feel a lot of times like people think I’m lying because my experience was so great. And I feel like everyone talks about how hard it is- not how joyful it can be for some people. I think we should try to support every parent and validate their feelings- whether they had a fantastic postpartum experience, or a horrible one.

      Reply
      • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 3:52 pm

        YES! Totally agree. It is so nice to hear of fantasy experiences :) I think my experience was so great in so many important ways, too, and I’m so grateful for it.

        Reply
      • Amy March 5, 2014, 8:21 pm

        Thanks for this. I too had a really lovely newborn/small baby phase — for about the first six months I felt like people would think I was bragging if I was honest about how happy I was!

        Reply
        • Babs March 7, 2014, 11:52 pm

          I feel the same way! I’m 4 months in and it’s really been wonderful. The first 2 weeks were hard (we had feeding issues and I was too scared to sleep), but aside from a serious lack of sleep during that period, it’s been smooth sailing (granted, this could all change tomorrow!). I do find it hard to talk about how good it’s been & how lucky I feel without coming across as a bragger.

          Reply
  • Beth S March 5, 2014, 3:06 pm

    Such an interesting topic. I had an emergency c section at 34 weeks 5 months ago. After 24 hours of magnesium sulfate I was expected to start walking around and the next day they asked me if I wanted to go home. I was still trying to understand that I even had my baby. After 26 days in the NICU he came home and hes doing great. But mentally, Im still catching up. Im working on getting back to feeling like myself, its a daily struggle with working and taking care of a baby! Also the number on the scale went back to normal pretty quick, but I would kill for those 6 weeks I missed to pack on the lbs!

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 3:08 pm

      I read about this in some article… can’t remember which… but it’s basically how we kick moms out of hospitals. They need the space and we can’t afford it, so OUT you go! I cannot imagine being booted out so soon after an emergency c-section with a premature baby. I am SOOOO happy your baby is okay. Thank goodness.

      Reply
      • Beth S March 5, 2014, 3:25 pm

        He really is, and being a preemie mom is its own set of challenges and a community I never thought I would be a part of. Been reading your blog for a few years now, I too am a fellow PITT grad, I was a year ahead of you. Keep up the great posts!

        Reply
        • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 4:00 pm

          <3 Positive vibes for you guys!

          Reply
  • Nicole March 5, 2014, 3:08 pm

    After re-reading some of your pregnancy, birth story, and post-pregnancy posts, I’m reminded how glad I am that you’re always so honest here. I know a lot of women cringe when other women share their “stories” with them but I truly wish I had known more before my first pregnancy and birth. In my experience, contractions were NOTHING like “bad menstrual cramps”; it was more like my uterus was being torn from my body! Anyways, I didn’t feel “normal” overall for a long time, probably around the year mark. Now that I’m pregnant with my second, I feel a little more prepared for labor, childbirth, and the entire post-partum period, but I still love reading about other women’s experiences.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 3:09 pm

      Thanks :) I know some of it is TMI but well… you’re right! TMI can be helpful. Or at the very least, interesting reading :) Haha. Good luck with your second baby!

      PS – Labor pains are SO not menstrual cramps. Oh man.

      Reply
      • Megan March 5, 2014, 3:27 pm

        This goes to your “this is normal, and so is this” philosophy. I wish someone had told me contractions can feel like bad menstrual cramps! I thought they would feel different and almost didn’t make it to the hospital in time because I didn’t realize what was happening. (But before you hate me, the bad menstrual cramps did progress to feeling like my uterus was being torn from my body!)

        Reply
        • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 3:59 pm

          Hahah yes, that’s true. Maybe at first they kind of feel like that. :)

          Reply
          • Heather March 5, 2014, 7:12 pm

            I, too, thought they felt like menstrual cramps at the beginning of labor…but I had a 44-hour (natural) labor! They definitely progressed to much, much more painful… So, yup, everyone is different.

  • Amy March 5, 2014, 3:13 pm

    One great piece of advice my sister gave me before I had my son was an offhanded comment that “after a year, you really start to get your life back”. That was handy for me to remember during his first year, and I tried not to have too high expectations for what I could reasonably do. The first year is such a special and important time and I tried to respect that as much as I could, though it wasn’t always easy.

    Physically I bounced back decently fast. I PRed in a four-mile race when he was five months old and ran my first ten-mile race when he was 11 months old. I wouldn’t say it took me a full year to feel like I had “recovered” physically — maybe 6 months.

    I’m hoping that the next time around I can hold on to the perspective that the first year is different and it’s okay (if frustrating and annoying at times) that I don’t have much time away or identity apart from the baby. It doesn’t stay that way forever.

    Interesting post!

    Reply
  • Andrea B. March 5, 2014, 3:16 pm

    I did a sprint triathlon 3 months after giving birth to my 3rd baby. It was hard, but I felt like it was a big accomplishment. I’ve had 4 babies, and I don’t think I ever felt “normal” till I stopped nursing (usually a year). There is just something about having to share your body with another human being that didn’t make me feel normal.

    Reply
  • Jess Tank March 5, 2014, 3:18 pm

    I sometimes still feel like I am adjusting to certain parts of parenthood, and my son is 20 months old! I think part of it is sometimes really wanting a break, but feeling like a part of me is missing without him around, you know? He weaned last week (sniffle) and so this is a whole new level of “freedom” to get used to as well. As far as physically, I remember being in the hospital and thinking, “I am NEVER doing this again” because I thought I would never, ever, ever heal from my tearing. It took a while, but it really does heal! Women are friggin’ amazing.

    Reply
    • Amy March 5, 2014, 3:26 pm

      ^^ yes. My son is almost 2 and I think in a way, motherhood is a constant series of adjustments! Remember in that it’s a process helps me to keep my cool when I feel like I’m struggling with some aspect of motherhood or feeling like my life has no balance. Good point.

      Reply
      • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 4:01 pm

        Such a great idea. Reminding yourself that life is a progress… that YOU are a work in progress… is such a powerful thought.

        Reply
        • Emily March 5, 2014, 7:45 pm

          I think this happens in all stages of having a child. My daughter will be 3 next week and I had one of those days today. Yesterday was great & hopefully tomorrow will be too we just need to realize it is hard work and it’s ok to be tired and stressed. As long as it doesn’t take over your life (where you might need more help somehow) it is just part of it. Thanks for posting this. I needed it today.

          Reply
  • Megan March 5, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Seven months postpartum here, and still waiting to get back to normal! I was very active before and during pregnancy (worked out 6 days a week up until the day I went into labor) and went for a run as soon as I left my 6-week appointment, but I am now only working out 1-2 days a week. I feel physically able to do more, but cannot due to time constraints of working away from home full time, breastfeeding/pumping, and wanting to spend the 3 hours I get with my son on weekdays WITH him. My goal is to get back to it when I stop breastfeeding/pumping.

    And sex? Ha! First time was around 6 months and it still hurt . . .

    Thanks for your honesty! I have really appreciated it since becoming a mom!

    Reply
    • Carrie March 7, 2014, 3:10 pm

      I’m 13 weeks PP and just went back to work, which includes lots of pumping and being away from my baby all day. I was extremely active before pregnancy, fairly active during and once I got the clear at 6 weeks, I eased back into my work-outs and quickly regained strength and endurance. However, being back at work is so exhausting! I want to work out, but I just don’t know when. I’m pumping while at work and also breastfeeding my baby over my lunch break. So, right now, I just feel like an over-worked milk machine. I hope to nurse as long as I can and that bit by bit, I’ll start to feel like my “old” self again until I wean.

      Reply
  • Regina March 5, 2014, 3:23 pm

    My son is just about 2 months younger than Henry (born august 19, 2012). I started jogging very lighting 3 weeks post partum and started training for my first half marathon at 5 weeks post partum. At 7 months postpartum I completed my first half marathon, holding my husbands hand, I’d never run more than a mile without stopping before we began training and I’d never run more than 3 before race day (we trained doing intervals). But on race day my body did what I thought was the impossible and we ran the entire 13.6 (thanks to dodging people) miles without walking. Physically, I had problems with controlling bladder in the very beginning and during training and even race day had to stop at least once to pee. After all, a large human came outta there. But other than that I felt invincible. I’m 33 weeks pregnant with our second son and were registered for our second half marathon in October. It’ll be much harder to train pushing two children, especially since our toddler is a whopping 30lbs on his own. But I love having a goal, a motivation and an event to look forward to that is a passion I can share with my husband. What better way to have date time? Even if the babies are present.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 4:00 pm

      I love it!!!

      Reply
  • Suzy March 5, 2014, 3:28 pm

    I work for a small company and I came back to work at 6 weeks. Despite the short time, I am still grateful I got the time I did get. I was the first person at my job to go on maternity leave, so we kind of made up my leave.
    I stopped pumping about 7 months and it wasn’t until about 10 months until I felt my hormones balanced out and I felt normal. I did have difficulty with infertility and breastfeeding, so I’m not sure how that effected how fast felt normal again.

    Reply
  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun March 5, 2014, 3:30 pm

    I have not had any children yet but really enjoy reading posts about others experiences because this is in the near future since I am almost 28. I always find it fascinating that everyone seems to have a different experience. I can’t believe how big your precious boy has gotten! :)

    Reply
  • Sarah March 5, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, I believe it! My son is a little over 9 months old and I’m just now starting to feel somewhat “normal” whatever that means, ha ha. I’m also just now getting back to regular exercise and the gym. As a working mom (away from home) it took me a long time to really carve out time just for myself, but I’m happy to say I’m doing so now. That definitely helps.

    Reply
  • Kaitlyn March 5, 2014, 3:34 pm

    I love this post! I completely agree with you that no one talks about recovering from child birth and what postpartum period is really like. After I had my first baby (2 years ago) I knew there would be a recovery period, but I had no idea how difficult it would be. It’s so hard dealing with a completely different body, healing, and all of the sleep deprivation, and figuring out how to breastfeed. I am a firm believer that woman need more support during this period than is given. I have read about other cultures and how they take care of women after birth. It disgusts me how women have the expectation that they will be back to their pre-pregnancy bodies in 4-6 weeks. I cannot stand all of the “losing the baby weight” talk in the media. It took me at least 8 month before I could fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes again and I think this is true for a lot of women. In that first year (heck, that first 15 months) I couldn’t even imagine going through it all again for a second baby. I am now at a point where I know that I want to have a second baby and can actually see myself doing it again.

    Reply
    • Emily J March 6, 2014, 10:11 am

      Thanks for this post and this comment! I was duped into thinking it’d take 6 weeks to lose the pregnacy pounds and that breast feeding would magically melt them away. In my case, it’s been much slower, and I had to adjust my expectations. Glad to have honesty, whether it took you 6 weeks or a year or more! As for exercise, I’ve felt able to workout and love it, but it does feel “different” in my energy levels. TMI alert: Sex is still painful, and I still have hemorrhoids at 13 weeks post-partum! I’d do it all again, though. Love my little guy. :)

      Reply
      • Carrie March 7, 2014, 3:13 pm

        I could have written this word-for-word!

        Reply
  • Rachel March 5, 2014, 3:37 pm

    Hold the phone: you had to wait FIVE MONTHS to have sex again? Gosh, poor you! I thought five weeks was a long time when I was postpartum! Haha

    Reply
  • Kristen March 5, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Have never given birth but always thought of 6 weeks as so arbitrary. You spend 40 weeks preparing for a huge life change and yet only 6 weeks to get back to ‘normal’??? Crazy talk! Thanks for always being honest and encouraging others to share their stories/feelings.

    Reply
  • Anna March 5, 2014, 3:46 pm

    Thank you for honesty! I think your post will be helpfull not only to other mothers, but also to the fathers. I sent a link to my husband so he would read it and hopefully start to understand what I’ll be going through soon (I’m 5 months pregnant).
    Luckily I live in Poland, where we have up to 12 months of maternity leave (if you choose to stay with your child for 12 months, you get 80% of your salary). The father gets a 2 week leave and he can use some of the maternity leave if the mother chooses to go back to work earlier.

    Reply
    • Mish @ eatingjourney March 5, 2014, 4:02 pm

      Yes! My husband will get 2 weeks from govt and is taking another 2 weeks off…so four weeks off over a six week period.

      Reply
  • Carolyn March 5, 2014, 3:54 pm

    Physically, I recovered very quickly. Intimacy was uncomfortable at first for probably 3 or 4 months after the go-ahead was given.

    Mentally it was probably closer to the 1 year mark. Post Partum anxiety and depression set in around 3 months when I finally admitted defeat after jumping through every hoop imaginable to make breastfeeding work. It got bad enough that I lost 15 lbs in a matter of 2 or 3 months and considered medication. I started seeing a counselor weekly for 3 or 4 months which helped tremendously.

    I think marriage recovery can be a consideration as well. Now, at 18 months, I’m just now feeling like “us” again.

    Reply
  • Bre & Ree March 5, 2014, 3:56 pm

    You’re right, every woman and delivery story is different. It’s hard not to compare, but often times we do and unfortunately it’s the women that have remarkable experiences that we often find ourselves comparing with which just adds to the pressure. I had a very difficult delivery so it took me a very long time to heal physically. But it was all for good reason, because at some point I said to myself, “if I can have a baby, then I can run a marathon…” And two days after my daughter’s 2nd birthday I ran my first marathon. It was amazing! Thanks for sharing your experience and reminding us the importance of supporting each other during our own experiences.
    ~Bre

    Reply
  • Mish @ eatingjourney March 5, 2014, 4:00 pm

    I could kiss your toes. Thank you SO much for writing this. As you know I have body image baggage and being prego has been joyous and also hard on me emotionally. But nevertheless I’m thankful.

    I am SO lucky in that I am an American living in Australia. I get 14 weeks FT pay of maternity leave (which I’m getting at half-pay), and 18 weeks from the gov’t. So I have the absolute thrill of knowing the financially we have at least nine months to live and not stress out about money. We have flexible work conditions etc.

    I would ALSO like to add, as a 27 week prego lady, I have really struggled with women saying “Oh I worked til 38 weeks. Why would you stop at 34?” It becomes a badge of honour to flog ourselves as women before birth to prove our worth to just work, work, work, balance balance balance. I’m not saying that I’m going to sit on my arse and do nothing. I plan on taking 6 weeks off before my due date and enjoy the day lights out of it. I think it starts there and then continues on. We as women have to cut ourselves more slack, support eachother more and know that we’re all doing our best.

    Reply
    • Jessica March 5, 2014, 5:12 pm

      I’m 32 weeks right now and am feeling like I “should” work until 38 weeks. I’m a substitute and I babysit so my job every day is being up and down all day long, bending down to the kids’ levels, and generally being high energy. I’m exhausted, and obviously this job is different than an office one would be, but I still feel the pressure to keep working- it’s crazy!

      Reply
  • Jo March 5, 2014, 4:03 pm

    My LO is 15 months and I have to agree it was MONTHS after the 6 week mark that I felt like myself. I just felt so tender is so many ways. Running, my pelvis (pelvic symphysis) felt ‘loose’ and uncomfortable. Emotionally I was tender. I somehow felt stronger than ever before, more confident but also so vulnerable and often at the edge of tears easily. Working and pumping and missing my baby at home made me feel like I always had a foot in each world. Never fully committed to work. Intimacy slowly resumed, and I’m not sure what it was but sex that was good before became great. Unexpectedly fabulous.
    I ran my first half post partum at about 10 months. It went great and I actually won the women’s portion. Exhilarating and a confidence boost.

    I think it was 10 -11 months before I felt like me. There is so much going on from sleep deprivation, to a healing body, to a constantly shifting learning curve. A crazy first year..and somehow such a deep joy came from it as well.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s good to process this and see how we can support each other better.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 4:04 pm

      This was a truly beautifully worded comment. I am so impressed you won a half marathon at any point, let alone 10 months PP!!! :)

      Reply
  • Claire March 5, 2014, 4:06 pm

    Awesome post, and totally agree. I’m 6 weeks postpartum- I had my checkup last week, and was surprised when the midwife simply glanced around the exterior and said “everything’s fine!”. I figured she’d be a bit more thorough. Needless to say, everything is NOT fine – I went home that day excited that we had been cleared for bedroom time, but when that time came it was extremely painful and nearly impossible- and I had a relatively easy delivery (only one small tear- no stitches). Definitely puts things in perspective!

    Reply
  • K March 5, 2014, 4:17 pm

    I was JUST having this very discussion with a fellow Mom at the gym this morning! My son is almost 2 and just after he was born, my Mom came and stayed with us for 3 weeks, insisting that I nap (impossible when you want to hang with your awesome Mom) and accept foot rubs, massages and delicious, nourishing, healing meals and drinks that are part of our South Asian culture. I was so obsessed with having a super active pregnancy and I never considered that despite being so fit and happy in my pregnancy, that my recovery would be so physically hard. I heard stories about women going for long walks within days of giving birth and I felt like an utter failure. I couldn’t even stand up straight for 5 days after a very quick but super intense (all back labour) birth and major blood loss. I couldn’t even hold my son unless he was handed to me while I sat down for the first week or so! It was the wisdom of my mother and her sage advice that awakened me to the impossible cultural expectations of new parents. She said: “you only get one shot at recovering from birth, so take it seriously and take your time. Rushing through this can complicate your health down the road.” This really stayed with me and has completely changed the way I see my wellness post-babies. It actually took me an entire year to start being really serious about training again, but the time I spent repairing my pelvic floor, rebuilding my core and my confidence were so worth it. Now, the wonky post-breastfeeding hormones that threw THAT nice balance out of whack – well, that’s just the next chapter :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 4:23 pm

      It is so nice that you have such a good relationship with your mom. :)

      Reply
      • K March 5, 2014, 4:31 pm

        It is – she flew across the country and just was so there for me. That said, what I should have added is that this culture and even celebrity narratives of rapid recovery are what threaten to perpetuate policies like short parental leave. The more we validate and feed into this idea that “normality” resumes at 6 weeks, the further we get from the fight for more progressive legislation that sees parenting as socially and economically valuable work. Thank you for this post – I love the discussion in these comments and I so value this great forum!

        Reply
  • Marty March 5, 2014, 4:32 pm

    You should check out my friend’s project called Life after Birth. It really is amazing to read all the stories of women and their struggles after the baby was born.

    Life After Birth is an online community dedicated to sharing postpartum stories to support families transitioning after the birth of a baby.
    http://thelifeafterbirth.com/

    Reply
  • Alison March 5, 2014, 4:35 pm

    First I want to say I love your blog and your honesty! I had a baby girl a couple of months after you had Henry. She was, from the beginning, a complete angel baby. She ate well, slept through the night from two months on (no sleep training required – not judging by any means, I would have done sleep training if she had needed it), and hardly ever cried. My pregnancy hormones were out of control and looking back, I think I had prenatal depression. But as soon as she was born, I felt a million times better, combined with what an easy baby she was, I felt back to normal about a month after delivery. I resumed bedroom activities right around then no problems. ;) I had the fantasy newborn experience and if I ever have another child, I can only hope to recreate those perfect conditions.

    However, now at around 18 months, things are getting real in my house. Now our days are a lot of crying, tantrums, and testing limits again and again. I think if she had been a “normal” baby, it would have been trading one kind of hard for another. But since she was not hard as a baby, the toddler hard times have thrown me for a loop and I constantly feel like I’m doing something wrong because it must be my fault she’s no longer easy. I rationally know it’s not the case, but it’s hard my heart to catch up to my head.

    So any new mamas out there with a baby that is challenging, just think, you will be more prepared for toddlerhood!

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 4:53 pm

      Haha and teenage years :)

      Reply
  • Zulkey March 5, 2014, 4:36 pm

    It took me a hell of a lot longer than I expected. My therapist told me it would take three months but it took easily three times longer than that, probably partially because I switched to Ortho-Tri-Cyclen a few months after I went back on the pill post-baby and that, frankly, made me feel suicidal. I was convinced I had late-onset postpartum depression. But I really wished I hadn’t been told I’d bounce back that soon because when it took so much longer, I was convinced there was something wrong with me and I’d never feel 100% again.

    It took me almost exactly one year to the day to lose the final pound of baby weight. That night, coincidentally, my husband and I dressed up and went to a fancy benefit (which is not usually what we do) and had a ball and I was like, “Fucking finally.” (excuse the language but that’s how I felt.)

    Reply
  • Gretchen March 5, 2014, 4:49 pm

    I’m not having children, but I just want to say that I think that the short maternity leaves in the U.S. are ridiculous even though I won’t be personally affected. I’m a teacher, and over the past few months I have met THREE elementary teachers who currently have modified schedules so that they can go pump in the middle of the day while someone covers their classes. Crazy. I can’t even imagine!

    Reply
  • Tawny March 5, 2014, 4:50 pm

    I am 20 weeks pregnant right now, so I have a bit of time before this is super relevant to me but I loved this post so much! Not only for the honesty but for the reference point. Currently being pregnant, delivery is looked at as the “end” and then you will get your body back. But you are so right in that it takes TIME for a mom to get back to where she was emotionally, physically, and mentally. It takes 9 months to create this miracle, why do we assume that no time is needed afterwards?

    Reply
  • meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles March 5, 2014, 4:56 pm

    The 6 week apt where they tell you that you are “normal” is a joke lol. It took me way beyond that to feel myself. It wasn’t until after the 4 month mark that my clothes starting to fit right again and I think it was a full year just about until I felt completely myself. My episiotomy gave me trouble well beyond that from time to time. The more I think about it, once you have a child, your world (and your body) is never truly the same again. Becomes a new normal – a better normal! My son is already 10 yet that first year feels like yesterday in some ways. Yikes.

    Reply
  • Tiffany March 5, 2014, 5:00 pm

    I love this post SO MUCH. The whole idea of how out of sorts I felt after having my daughter definitely made me question if I could handle having another…ever. I consider myself a pretty put together person so I was a little shocked by how much my world was rocked when I had a baby. I did think I was somewhat abnormal.

    I am currently 38 weeks pregnant with #2 so all of this has been on my mind alot as I’m hoping it won’ t be SO hard and feel so much like I lost myself for a good portion of a year if not a full year. While I felt more normal at around a year, I definitely had some lingering mental stuff to deal with as my daughter was in the NICU after birth and ended up having surgery at 11 weeks after finally getting a 2nd opinion from a Dr who knew why she was having a hard time breathing through her nose (it is a RARE condition, but you would think they would do all the scans needed in the NICU before releasing her to us with a oxygen monitor!). That was such a traumatic time that I’m only hoping things will go more smoothly this time around!

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 5:13 pm

      Hoping for a smooth delivery!

      Reply
  • Joey March 5, 2014, 5:06 pm

    Can I just say AGAIN how much I adore this blog? Thank you for writing about topics that others shy away from & for being so open and honest. I’m not a mom (dealing with infertility) but am always so refreshed by your honesty & your thought-provoking posts. Please never stop blogging! :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 5, 2014, 5:13 pm

      I wish you the best in your journey, Joey. Thanks for reading. <3

      Reply
  • Amy March 5, 2014, 5:09 pm

    My recovery time was so different between my two babies, and I can only imagine how much other women’s situations would vary. Post c-section I was pretty good overall at 6 months, but had numbness or pain around my incision for at least a year and a half. Post VBAC I was running and active at 6 weeks, but had lower back pain that went on for months. I do remember being very discouraged at a year postpartum that I would never regain my running speed or fit in the same jeans I had worn before I got pregnant the first time, especially when many of my friends seemed to be wearing their old clothes by 6 months and setting PR’s. Though getting myself back wasn’t a time period measured in months but in years for me, it did eventually happen.

    Reply
    • Jill Will Run March 5, 2014, 5:40 pm

      This gives me some relief! I am 18-months postpartum and still have some numbness at my incision site!

      Reply
  • Ali March 5, 2014, 5:25 pm

    I think the point that we all need to support each other (whether we are a mother or not!) is a good one. I am not physically able to have children but would give my left arm to be able to have a child. When I finally told my friends who kept on me about “when are you going to settle down and have a baby?” they all started discounting me. I was suddenly 100% not worth their time in family conversations anymore. I plan to one day adopt, even if I’m older before I can, and I have looked into the time I would have off to situate a new adopted child into my home and it’s zip, zero, none. It would be all vacation. I gratefully receive 4 weeks a year, but that’s not enough. I’d have to look into this further to see if I could petition, but it’s years into the future before I could afford adoption. Point being: I think paternity leave, maternity leave, adoption leave, single person who needs to get their life in order for a short amount of time because they receive a devastating diagnosis leave, etc. really needs to be more valued. Companies who treat their employees well are going to have better results because these employees will be of a more sound mind. And we need to support each other no matter what stage of life we are in.

    Reply
  • Jill Will Run March 5, 2014, 5:38 pm

    My daughter is 18-months-old now and I don’t feel like I’m “normal”. I want to LOL… and really that’s all I can do, but sometimes I feel sad about that. I think it’s because I compare “normal” to life before, but that normal wasn’t really a “normal” that was sustainable and “normal” now is so different because I have a child to care for in the mix. So I guess I’m feeling pretty good about my new “normal”. But I hated childbirth and the thought of having another kid terrifies me… so maybe I’m not over that?

    To throw things out into the sharing of info mix:
    - I started running again at 8-weeks postpartum.
    - I breastfed until she was 12-months. The last couple months were exclusively pumping because I wanted to give her that nutrition but she refused to nurse anymore. (Kudos to you, I don’t know how you exclusively pumped so long when Henry was solely BF for nutrition!)
    - I had my first menstrual cycle 3 months ago, so when my baby was 15-months-old.
    - That also marked my return to intimacy. I just felt like a gross, leaky mess the whole I was breastfeeding and wanted nothing to do with that.

    Reply
  • Rachel A March 5, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. My husband and I are getting close to starting to ttc, so I’ve wondered about recovery time (especially for exercise and sex). My mother passed away several years ago, and I never picked her brain about her childbirth experiences.

    Reply
  • Lindsay March 5, 2014, 5:54 pm

    While I do live in a canada, I am self employed, so I had no paid maternity leave and went back to work part time when both my children were 3 Weeks old. My husband however did get to take parental leave, however parental leave is different than Maternity benefits, so he was only entitled to 9 months parental leave at 50% of his wages. Basically, that chart is misleading because it does not include situations like mine. I also think its sexist that a father is not granted the same amount of time to be with achild as a mother is….especially in our case, where I was not privy to any benefit.

    Recovering from childbirth is a long process, but ‘recovering’ from changing your role from wife, sister, employer etc to a mother was far more challenging for me. Physically I did not return to pre baby physique or weight with my first child until she was 9 months old. My second child is 2 1/2 and I’m still not at pre baby weight and have another size to go to get to my pre baby size, despite working out More than EVER and eating very clean.

    With my first child I felt like I hit PPD once she was nearing to a year old, but this coincided with my husband returning to work full time and my work/ life balance getting ALL messed up. We Truly loved all the family time we had when my husband was on parental leave. I felt that it took me until my daughter was 18 months old to get back to normal, and that was only 2 months before my second child was born. This mysteriously coincided with my mothers arrival to help me ;)

    Also, we found it hard to have a good husband/wife intimate life while I was still breast feeding, which I did for 15 months and 12 months respectively. I wonder if any other moms found it weird to be intimate with their husbands with huge milking boobs?! Now, however, our intimate life is better than it has ever been.

    I can say with certainly that all parts of me returned to ‘normal’ quicker with our second child than our first (with the exception of my weight/size). Probably because I was an old hat at it :). It was around 8 months with him.

    Great post Caitlin. Good conversation starter and it really made me think. I’m not a huge commenter and this topic inspired me to write a novel :)

    Reply
  • Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health March 5, 2014, 5:59 pm

    I love and appreciate your honesty about everything so much. Is it weird that I’m not a mom yet I read every single comment before mine? I used to alwayssss dream about getting married and being a mom but lately I am actually scared of all of that- is that normal? Were you ever scared to get married before you actually did it? Were you scared to become a mom before deciding to conceive? (I’m SO happy you have Henry- ugh I love him! lol) I come from a big family (I have five other siblings) and I love and worry about them so much that I wonder if I can go through with having children of my own- because I have no doubt that the feeling is what I feel for my siblings times a million. I just care so much about the people I love that I feel like I have no more energy to do it, and it would be easier to not add on to that. I realllyyyyy hope this is just a phase.

    Reply
  • Stacy March 5, 2014, 6:03 pm

    As someone who doesn’t have children yet: thank you for writing this. It is really eye opening in terms of what should be expected.

    Before you got pregnant, you talked about how people say so many negative things about having a baby. Can you address this? I am 27, newly married, and SO many of my friends are starting to have children and then basically post a lot of negativity about it. I’m sure they love their children, but they are seriously making me doubt my ability or desire to be a parent. I am so tired of hearing ‘It’s the weekend…oh wait, I’m a mom’ or ‘you’ll never sleep again!’ or ‘you’ll never have fun again without a babysitter!’ I remember you saying before you had kids you had to block all this negativity…can you bust the myths?

    Reply
  • Christine March 5, 2014, 6:33 pm

    Thanks for being so candid about this! I’m currently almost 35 weeks pregnant with my first child, and it’s good to have realistic expectations about what the recovery process will be like. I am also enjoying revisiting your weekly updates from your pregnancy:)

    Reply
  • Nicole March 5, 2014, 6:55 pm

    It has taken me twenty two months to almost feel completely back to normal. I had a very traumatic vaginal delivery with baby number two. I was appalled to find out that they did an episiotomy without my permission, after I specifically told the nurse that I did not want one under any circumstances. I had two infections and was in excruciating pain for months after. I had the perfect baby until two month immunizations where everything turned. He stopped sleeping. He developed allergies and his skin was in really bad condition. This exhausted me even more. I was sleepless with a new baby and a toddler who was not even two yet! I had organ damage and was embarassed and scared to have sex…what a psychological toll on me and the relationship with my husband! It was over ten months until we did the deed…things were so different and it was not until very recently when it actually became sort of enjoyable. Running has never felt the same :( Hell, going to the bathroom has never felt the same. I did extensive pelvis floor physio and they did as best as they can do. I will need surgeries in the future, but I feel so blessed to have two healthy children. I also feel saddened that I will never have ‘normal’ sex, bowel movements or be able to go underwareless again! I also feel sad that my experience has stopped me from having the family of four that I wanted so desperately. So in some ways it has taken twenty two months, and in other aspects I will never have “gotten over” childbirth.

    Reply
  • Hillary March 5, 2014, 7:16 pm

    Can I just tell you that, while I know this is totally normal and all my mom-friends have gone through it and I know it’s inevitable—that it scares the SHIT out of me?! I want kids so badly, but I am so, so freaked out that it’s going to take me a year or more to feel like myself again. Worth it, I know—but scary!

    Reply
  • Alli March 5, 2014, 7:19 pm

    Caitlin, thank you so much for your honest recap of your postpartum journey. My happy and healthy baby is 10 months old, but sleeps like a 2 month old. This has taken a huge toll on my physical and mental well-being. I have felt like a failure lately, especially because (rude) people are wondering why my husband and I aren’t considering baby #2 yet. Your article made me remember to give myself grace!

    Reply
  • Kelly March 5, 2014, 7:20 pm

    Thanks for writing this post. My baby will be 7 weeks on Friday- I was cleared to exercise and have sex last Thursday. However, I also had a third degree tear and I’m so afraid to resume bedroom activities (exercise has gone okay, I’m moving slowly). I’m in a pretty good routine with the baby now, but I’m pretty tired and so afraid of how tired I’ll be in month when I return to work!

    Reply
  • AJ March 5, 2014, 7:35 pm

    Great post. I am only a few months post-partum so I don’t really know if I’m ‘recovered’ yet. The thing that was the hardest for me was incontinence! I had no idea that this would happen to me and it shocked and upset me. Being a part of a mothers group has been the number 1 best thing for me because we can (& do!) actually talk about this stuff. I cannot imagine not getting paid maternity leave, that is something the US should be ashamed of!

    Reply
  • Ashley M. [at] (never)homemaker March 5, 2014, 7:36 pm

    i really like this post, caitlin! honestly, with all of ada’s health issues, i was JUST telling my friend tonight that i finally feel pulled out from my hole. i think physically i felt pretty normal when breastfeeding was over around the 17 month mark, but until my body was my own again, i just didn’t feel right. of course, now i’m feeling great emotionally and physically and we’re talking number two plans for summer/fall!

    Reply
  • Jen March 5, 2014, 8:01 pm

    As a very newly prego mommy-to-be I’m going back and re-reading old posts of yours from when you were pregnant because you give such a real view of everything!

    Reply
  • Katie A. March 5, 2014, 8:44 pm

    Thank you so much for this!! I am 2 months postpartum, and it is so refreshing to hear that I am normal for not feeling 100% “normal” again and also that I will in time!

    You are so right in saying that in not talking about it we are doing a serious disservice to women everywhere. But mom guilt is so real, and it can make it hard to be really honest. So here I go…

    I am exhausted. I feel a lot of uncertainty about all my parenting decisions. Most of the time I dread going back to work…but sometimes I can’t wait to get back. I am too quick to get frustrated when I’m not sure why my daughter is crying or when she just.won’t.sleep. And oh what I wouldn’t give to sleep through the night or take a shower that wasn’t rushed…

    Despite all of that, I love my daughter more with each passing day. I know I will always do whatever I can to make her feel loved, secure, happy, and healthy. So this was a great reminder to go a little easier on myself and all moms out there. We’re all doing our best, and I like to think deep down our babies know it. That’s all that matters!

    Reply
    • Tricia March 6, 2014, 3:42 pm

      Thank you for your honesty here. My kids are 6 and 4, and this was very much my experience both times.

      Reply
  • Betsy March 5, 2014, 9:04 pm

    This post is so full of amazing posts to read and great information, thank you!

    Reply
  • Leah March 5, 2014, 9:11 pm

    Thanks for this post. Since I’m currently 35.5 weeks pregnant this is very relevant to me. Hubby and I are working on a postpartum plan to make sure I get the rest I need after I have the baby. My midwives reccomend being in bed the first week and only at home the second week.
    Adjusting to motherhood and becoming a part time employee after my 8 week maternity leave (Ive been working full time at my current job for over 2 years) is going to be a tough transition.
    Thank you for your honesty!

    Reply
  • Elsa H March 5, 2014, 9:11 pm

    It’s so true – we need to give ourselves a break! It took 9 months to create that life and it will take at least that long to feel ‘normal’ again.
    My little girl, Matilda is only about a month younger than Henry and I found your blog during those bleary eyed nights of breastfeeding while I was trying to stay awake!
    I wish I had recorded all the things that you have – it would be great to look back on. I ended up going back to work part-time at 7 months post partum and feel like that was the right timing for me and my family.
    I started exercising again after the all clear at my 6 week check up but only started running again at 4 months. I had the life scared out of me by a crazy physio at pre-natal class who told us definitely do not run until then because you risk pelvic floor problems. Once I started running with Matilda in the pram at 6 months things really got going. I ran my first race at 10 months postpartum. It was a 10km and I totally blew myself away with the result. I then ran my second ever half marathon at 15 months post partum.
    At 20 months now I’m racing my first ever triathlon this weekend (eek!) and my first marathon in July.
    I have to tell you that your blog is part of what got me up off the lounge and entering races. I’m someone who likes to exercise but I’ve never been into races as much. You totally inspired me to enter a triathlon – and all the info on your site about training and racing has been so helpful!
    I’ve really enjoyed all the training and racing – it makes me feel like ‘me’, like I’m something other than Mummy. I am a person.
    In case you haven’t worked it out yet from this rambling comment, I love your blog!

    Reply
  • Katie March 5, 2014, 9:24 pm

    Thank you for this post- I read the article after you posted it on twitter and immediately sent it to my husband and said “read this!”. I 100% felt like it took a full year for me to feel back to my normal self and it even took me a little longer (15 months) to get back to my original clothing size. I ran a 5K at 4 months postpartum and it took all I had to cross that finish line without walking. Until the year mark I felt like exercise was just not the same- low energy and I often felt like my nether-regions were going to fall out/I was going to pee my pants. (Lovely, huh?) For several months after birth I also had the unfortunate experience of having weird bladder control issues going on (I could hold it but would experience leaks, etc…). Eventually that went away but it took MUCH longer than I anticipated.

    My daughter is 20 months now and I finally feel like I can happily anticipate being pregnant again. Though pregnancy for me was (mostly) great- it was the postpartum period that rocked my world ;)

    Reply
  • Melissa March 5, 2014, 10:21 pm

    This all rang so true for me. I immediately forwarded it to a friend with a three week old, since I WISH I had read something like this before 17mos postpartum. I love talking about the good and the bad parts of being a mom, it makes so much sense that we should in order to feel our feelings are valid and normal. I felt like myself again around a year, maybe a little after. Just settling into the new family routine and dealing with daily stresses started to feel less overwhelming and well…stressful. Thanks again!!!

    Reply
  • brianna March 5, 2014, 10:23 pm

    I just had my 5th baby a month ago, so I don’t think Ive gotten over the first yet! lol! this is the last one, so we will see :)

    Reply
  • Sarah (SHU) March 6, 2014, 12:08 am

    Fantastic and timely (for me :) ) post. A great reminder not to rush things, which I can be inclined to do. Like many others, I didn’t feel “normal” until weaning completely and soon found myself pregnant again. Knowing that the transitional stage really is temporary is very comforting this time around, as is letting go of expectations that things will return to the same baseline. Instead, I will look forward to finding our new normal as a family of 4.

    Specifics from last time:
    Ran at 2.5 weeks
    Half marathon at 6 mo (not pr but not terrible)
    Intimacy felt decent at 6 months , normal only after weaning (13 mo)
    At prepreg weight quickly but not prepreg size until 6mo or so

    Reply
  • Sharon T March 6, 2014, 12:33 am

    My breastfeeding/post childbirth body normalized around 5 months (hips back to normal, body used to added work of carrying a baby around). Sleep normalized at month 10/11. Same with me, also took about a month to thoroughly catch up on sleep. So, I’d have to say 1 year. This is a good post, and the chart at the top is great. Thank you.

    Reply
  • brittnie (A Joy Renewed) March 6, 2014, 5:54 am

    So, so true. It also took us 5 months to be intimate again after my first pregnancy/delivery (had very bad tearing and a million stitches). Goodness! No one tells you these things beforehand. I agree that the lack of sleep 100% contributes to how you feel physically and emotionally post partum. I would say it took me a full year to feel like I was back in the game. And then at one year I learned I was preggo again. Oops. . . :)

    Reply
  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork March 6, 2014, 7:33 am

    Caitlin,
    Thank you so much for these posts! They are some of my favorite and I’m not even a mom yet! I think I love them so much because of the complete honesty with which you write. I feel like a lot of things having to do with motherhood are glossed over and made to seem like everything should be hunky dory. I will be sving this for a “later” time when I am sure I’ll need to go back and read it to remind myself that it’s okay if I’m not myself right away. Thank you, as always, for sharing!

    Reply
  • Jessica March 6, 2014, 8:16 am

    I’m coming up on 23 weeks pregnant with my first. I love hearing everyone’s stories about their pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. I know everyone is different but it is nice to have some idea of what it’s like post partum. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
  • Lisa @ RunWiki March 6, 2014, 8:27 am

    I have to admit, I think it took me two years to get back to normal with my twins– do you think it takes twice as long with two? ha! I think it took me as long with my single– my body is slow to change. I still have my twin skin as my badge of honor–the gift that keeps on giving! :)

    Reply
  • Grace March 6, 2014, 8:33 am

    As always, the “mommy” posts pull me out of the woodwork, ha! :)
    Honestly, I think how you feel post-baby is 100% about knowledge and going into parenthood with your eyes open. My husband and I waited a long time (10 years!) to decide to finally have a baby. We talked to friends, family, and read a LOT before finally deciding to bite the bullet.

    Two things my mom told me really stuck with me: “Having a baby is a selfish thing, but it will be last selfish thing you will ever do [if you want to be a good parent]” and “Do not expect it to be easy – you will never be the same person you were before. You become a new person, a better person, when you become a parent.” Not to say that I was pessimistic going into it, but I knew what the “risks” were: I have friends with special needs kids who haven’t had a full night’s sleep in years. I have an acquaintance who had her bladder nicked during her c-section and still has issues (and doesn’t feel like her body is recovered) four years later. I have many friends with fertility issues and cannot have children. My brother has mental health issues and my parents will have to care for him their entire lives – and my sister and I will have to take over when they are gone. Parenthood isn’t something to enter into on a whim or just because you want a cute baby. I guess because of all of that, things like getting back to “pre-baby weight” just seem so trivial in comparison? My body’s changed (probably permanantly) after childbirth and 2.5 years of nursing, but I really don’t care. I know it can be rough to deal with the physicality of childbirth (I had a 60 hour unmedicated labor with a tough physical recovery (I had 4th degree tears inside and out), I returned to a 40-50 hour a week job when my daughter was 11 weeks old, and my daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 18 months). I would still say, though, that these past few years have been the best of my life. When I think about the long arc of motherhood – the rest of my life – childbirth and physical recovery is just a drop in the bucket.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 6, 2014, 10:45 am

      So very true!

      Reply
  • kath March 6, 2014, 8:48 am

    love this post! I didn’t start to feel normal until about 15 months after I stopped breastfeeding. I felt pretty good from birth onward… Just not myself

    Reply
  • Amanda March 6, 2014, 8:53 am

    I didn’t start to feel like myself again until after 9 months. There’s something about that time, the 9-12 mo old baby just made me so happy. I think this is directly related to SLEEP deprivation and that fact that I went back to work at 12 weeks. It took me a while to mentally and physically adjust to pumping and all that comes with begin separated from my baby. I finally started to get decent sleep at 9 months. Even though he woke every day at 5 am, I still got to sleep 6-7 solid hours for a week in a row and suddenly the world became a brighter place, and my emotions became stable and allowed me to ENJOY my life again. Some moms don’t need that sleep to remain positive and healthy, but I do! Also, best advice I had from my midwife before we left the hospital…low expectations. She said that many would ask me “is it everything I thought it would be and more, isn’t it just so wonderful to be a mommy?” And not to feel wrong if I didn’t feel that way. She said that’s not how life is when you get home with a new, especially, breastfeeding baby. That if at the end of the day I had remembered that I brushed my teeth, gotten a shower and that everyone was alive, it was a GOOD day. Those should be my expectations. Let GO of the OCD and clean floors and sink basins. Let it go. Don’t let the OCD take over. It was such great advice that worked for three months, until I went back to work. All bets were off after that! A whole new ball game. I also want to say thanks for sharing these posts, and even for the TMI. You’re right. No one talks about the hard stuff so when it hits, we feel like something is wrong with us! But everyone’s lives are different and circumstances are different, so we all experience the same thing differently. But to say that many women have anxiety after their first child, well, I’d have to agree, in my experience. Especially as a type A personality! Haha.

    Reply
  • Heather March 6, 2014, 9:08 am

    Great post.
    I had hyperemesis gravidarum with both pregnancies and a severe case of it with the second. Both times is lasted around 20-22 weeks. I only share that to say, because of how horrible that experience was, the rest of my pregnancy and even the weeks after childbirth were vast improvements for me.
    Following both pregnancies, I felt physically recovered after 3 weeks (because of the HG I left the hospital within 5 lbs of pre preg weight). Mentally, I felt good after about 2 weeks with my first and around 3-4 with my second. I am not one to feel like I have to get things done around the house, laundry piling up or general clutter doesn’t phase me, so I’ve always been able to allow myself the time to nap or go back to bed in the mornings after everyone else leaves.
    I always waited the 6 week period before resuming exercise as recommended and there were definitely set backs in that department.
    Both times, I bled for 3 weeks, then got my first post partum period (even though I was breastfeeding exclusively). I was bummed I didn’t get a nice break in that department! LOL
    For me, the teething phases with both of my girls have been harder on me than the first few months after birth! Teething is awful! LOL

    Reply
  • TJ March 6, 2014, 9:10 am

    Great post! I would be interested in a similar post, but from your husband’s perspective. Obviously, the physical parts wouldn’t apply, but the rest would be pretty interesting.

    Reply
  • Lisa March 6, 2014, 9:11 am

    I LOVE THIS POST! I had a precious boy in November and have read your blog for years. I got the clear to run on New Years! I wasn’t able to run for an entire year while I was pregnant. I signed up for a 1/2 marathon at the end of March and started a training schedule right away. It has kept me in line and slowly increased my miles. I just reread your post on your first half after Henry and it made me really excited to race! I have been blessed to stay home with my little one, so I think that has helped alot with PPD. I am going back to work April 1 and am very nervous! I’m a school teacher so I plan on getting my little one ASAP! Thanks for you honesty on this subject and I love your blog!

    Reply
  • Elise March 6, 2014, 9:12 am

    Thanks for sharing this! Mine is 7 months and mentally I’m not even close to over it. Doctors and nurses were more than happy to tell me I just needed to get over it at two months. I thought I was physically over my csection until I went outside to shovel snow for a couple hours the other day. Suddenly I knew where my incision was again because it hurt like crazy.!

    Reply
  • Cassie March 6, 2014, 9:19 am

    Thank you for this post (and for everyone for their comments)—it’s got me really thinking about upcoming maternity leave. I’m 26 weeks with our first child, and I work from home for myself. My current plan is to take completely off for six weeks, and then go back to working part time (~20 hours a week with the help of childcare), but I don’t think I really considered the childbirth recovery aspect beyond the physical.

    It’s hard to understand what that entails when you’ve never experienced it before, and everyone’s stories are helping me. We are incredibly fortunate to have an excellent relationship with my parents, who happen to live within walking distance, so hopefully having that close support system will help make the recovery process a little bit smoother. But even considering that, we might have to rearrange some financial stuff to make a longer emotional recovery period feasible. Best case scenario, I feel better than I think I will, and I can get back to working small amounts earlier. Worst case, I’m not doing well and I really need that backup plan of extra time.

    Reply
  • Katie March 6, 2014, 9:41 am

    I love this post. I wish someone had told me how much pain I’d be in “down there” or that I might not have the best bladder control for the first few months. I remember on one of my first nights home staring at my daughter, and loving her so much but sobbing because I wanted nothing more than to go to bed and sleep through the night. Those hormones are no joke!

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  • Nadya March 6, 2014, 9:55 am

    Thank you for this post. I was very active and a marathon runner before my pregnancy (I am due in May). But I suffered from hyperemesis gravid arum (extreme morning sickness that caused me to lose 10% of my weight and get IVs for hydration at the hospital) and I still vomit every day at 30 weeks. Aside from the emotional toll of not feeling well, I feel pretty weak physically. I have not run since September and I feel quite intimidated about the postpartum months ahead. I worry less about the weight loss aspect and more about having the energy and emotional health to care for myself and my family after a long 40 weeks! Your post was so real and so encouraging. These grand expectations of doing it all and looking awesome the whole time are scary. Your post shows the value in allowing for grace and giving ourselves the space to learn, to fail, and to adjust. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  • Christine March 6, 2014, 10:07 am

    LOVE this post. So helpful! I’m approaching my 3rd trimester and in the back of my head I can’t help to think, “how long is it going to be to feel normal again?” This really puts things into perspective. I love reading your blog and your adventures with Henry, and because of you, I’ve decided to do the placenta encapsulation. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I’ll keep coming back to read. Hugs! Christine

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  • Sara March 6, 2014, 10:14 am

    I had to go back to work at 10 weeks post-partum so I feel like that really had an impact on how I recovered. I’m almost 10 months post partum now. I’m still pumping (breastfeeding didn’t work for us which I still have some emotional feelings about, but anyway, it is what it is!). I can’t wait to be done but I really want to make it a year. My stomach is still a hot mess. I still have a mommy belly. I actually weigh less than I did before I got pregnant, but I’m wearing a larger pants size because of my mommy belly. I’m hoping a lot of this gets better after a year (when I wean). I was amazed post-pregnancy, how quickly I felt like myself and back to more normal. I was still sore for a long time, but really by the time I went back to work, I felt good. Emotionally, that’s still hard! Women and their bodies are amazing!

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  • Colleen March 6, 2014, 10:27 am

    With all three of mine, it took me at least a year to feel somewhat ‘normal’ again. The stress of having to recover, juggle household duties (including each kid after the first), getting back to work as soon as possible because you can’t affordable to be without pay for too long, all the mental games you play – wondering if you are doing it ‘right,’ judging yourself on everything, the list goes on and on. However, these self judgments and doubt don’t go way. With each year there is something else to wonder about – am I preparing them enough for school, am I saying the right things to build their self-esteem, am I giving them too much or too little responsibility, etc.. I always joke that parenthood should come with manual that gets timely updates. But those moments where everything falls into place are magical. And to know I had something to do with it is a wonderful feeling.

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  • Ana March 6, 2014, 11:09 am

    Thank you so much for this amazing article. I cried and smile at the same time reading this article. My husband and i are trying to start a family this year so it was great to know all this ahead of time. I have been an athlete my whole life and recently i started doing marathons and triathlons (by the way my first half ironman was last year in Miami as well :) ).. i would love to continue doing all that after baby is born !!!
    Thank you for all your tips i really enjoy reading all your posts !!

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  • Diane t March 6, 2014, 11:25 am

    22yrs later. he moved into his own place!.

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  • Whitney March 6, 2014, 11:45 am

    I know I’ve said this comment numerous times on your blog but seriously this is why I love your blog. You write very informative posts that make the reader think. I have forwarded your “zoo” post to friends because it was such an interesting topic and one that most people don’t think about. You have a great balance on your blog with thought provoking, light hearted and “daily” posts. Most other blogs just stick to their comfort zones and I love that you don’t! thank you!! :)

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  • Alex @ Kenzie Life March 6, 2014, 11:56 am

    I think you are so brave and amazing for talking about your experience, Caitlin. You are so awesome. I was just having a conversation with my cousin about PPD yesterday. She just gave birth to her third child (her other two kids are 1 1/2 and 3) and she was telling me about how even though her newborn is such an easy baby, her PPD is worse with him than it was with her other 2. I think there’s a huge misconception that women can just bounce back after having a baby–I mean, for god’s sake you grew a human being inside of you for 9 months, then got it out, and then have to care for it! I’ve heard it can be really isolating because people expect postpartum time to just be completely joyful, when I can imagine it is but is also really stressful. I’m still young and single, so I can’t speak from experience, but knowing people who have gone through it makes me really glad that there are people like you who are brave enough to step up and talk about it!

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  • Ellen March 6, 2014, 11:56 am

    I had a C-section so it took much longer to physically feel normal after giving birth. I also breastfed for 17 months and for the first year I lost a lot of weight so I was down pre-pregnancy which was fantastic, but I knew it was fleeting because I was not eating as healthy and not exercising as much. Now that I am done breast feeding and a combination of this HORRIBLE winter I feel the weight coming back. Mentally I dont think I felt back to normal unit way after a year. Our first year was tough. He was sick alot because of ear infections and RSV, he was a fussy baby who wanted to be held alot and needed constant attention and he was a bad sleeper. I was also working 40 hours a week and going to school twice a week for my Masters. Looking back at it the first year was really really hard. I feel good now. Mentally I am in a good place. I am enjoing my son so much and my husband and I are doing good. Now all i need is the winter to warm up so I can go running again and I will be back to my pre-pregnancy ways!

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  • jillian March 6, 2014, 12:16 pm

    Wow, I’m not a mother yet, but this post was truly eye opening — and the comments were a post of their own — informative, and heart felt. I’m saving this post and ALL the comments for myself, and to share with others who might need it. Thank you, Caitlin!

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  • Caitlin March 6, 2014, 12:39 pm

    I had my first baby in October 2011 and found myself pregnant again (yes, unplanned) in April 2012. Talk about not getting back to “normal” for a LONG time! After having my second last January, I’m finally feeling good about my body again, although there are a lot more rolls and jiggles than there were to begin with. At least with the second, labor and the post-partum experience was still pretty fresh in my mind. I remember leaving the hospital feeling AMAZING but knowing that the hormones were going to hit hard. Sure enough a day or two later I was left crying (sobbing/bawling) in my house with my newborn while my toddler was playing outside with his grandparents. Sharing our experiences doesn’t make it easier, but knowing what might come can totally help a new mom understand that what she is going through is normal. Whatever normal may be.

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  • Susie March 6, 2014, 1:05 pm

    Hi there! I’m new to your blog, and I didn’t see a way to email you, so I’m hoping that I can ask you here…

    I saw your post on running the Rose 5-Miler, and I was hoping that I could use the photo of your impressive running medal display in my blog as an example of where I hope to be in the near future (I’m about to get my 4th medal next weekend!).

    I would be sure to post a link back to your blog via a photo credit, of course.

    I’m super motivated by your blog, looking forward to reading more!

    Reply
  • Kelly March 6, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Such a good post! I am currently in month 4 of my post partum journey. For me the emotional part has been harder than the physical part. My body is back to normal (It surprised me by it’s ability to bounce back), my sex life is normal and I already had my first period. I’m working out like I was before and physically I feel like I did pre-pregnancy.

    Emotionally it’s a little different. Stopping breast feeding helped TREMENDOUSLY since I was also exclusively pumping. But I definitely struggle with balancing my time. I feel selfish whenever I want to do something for me when it takes time away from being with Trey. I spend a lot of time obsessing over whether or not he is breathing at night…the anxiety can keep me up for hours. I also worry incessantly about milestones. The amount of worry I have going on is crippling at times. And my knee jerk reaction when people ask if I am having another child is an immediate no. Trey is such an EASY baby (I’m told) that I wonder how could I possibly handle two if I sometimes feel like I am struggling now? Then I feel guilty for my feelings and it’s a cycle. So definitely emotionally I am not 100% right now but I am hoping that as the months go by and I become more comfortable and confident in my new role as a mama my emotional well being will start be better too.

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  • Sam March 6, 2014, 1:26 pm

    I am 5 months post – she is wonderful, but I don’t feel like myself, I had an emergency c-section after laboring for 22 hours – we were both in distress and I spiked a fever so they took her quickly – turns out she was stuck under my ribs and there was no way she was coming out naturally – I am thankful for modern medicine because neither one of us would be here. The recovery was awful. Even with having a c-section it has been very hard resuming normal bedroom activities – not to mention I also haven’t had a lot of interest. I had the mirena put in 6 weeks post, and that was uncomfortable – it was uncomfortable when we made any attempts. Things are getting better but definitely not normal, and my b’fing went out the window when I went back to work, my body just would NOT respond to the pump. So I am very sad about that. I am trying to be patient with myself, and my husband has been wonderful, so I am thankful. I have not worked out at all, but I have joined a running group and I am going running with them next Monday morning. Thank you for posting this. Always appreciate you and your honesty.

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  • Taya March 6, 2014, 1:53 pm

    Thank you SO much for sharing this! My husband and I aren’t ready to have kids yet, but we talk about it and, of course, family and friends ask us all the time. It’s good to hear the realistic side of childbirth, rather than all the “cute little bundle of joy”stuff. I feel that so much of what the mom goes through remains secretive, and all women should know what to truly expect.

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  • Lekki Frazier-Wood March 6, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Amazing post. Thank you.

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  • Megan March 6, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Oh my God! Thank you so much for this post! I am just shy of 5 months pp and still feel so far from normal. I can see glimpses of it, but am not there yet. It was so great to read your month-by-month summary of how you felt and to really feel like what I am experiencing is not crazy. Whew . . . I needed that today. :)

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  • RunEatRepeat March 6, 2014, 2:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing!

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  • Kim March 6, 2014, 2:40 pm

    My daughter is 6.5 months old and we are just now doing sleep training (started it last night, thanks for your helpful post!), I still don’t really feel that normal. Sex is fun when we can make time for it (hello weekend naptime), I walk a lot most days but no “real exercise” yet although I’m starting to crave it. I’m nursing so that zaps a lot of my energy, thankfully I work from home for myself so I can set my schedule around her needs. I had a new client call me IN THE HOSPITAL the day after she was born and I had to explain why I couldn’t work on a pursuit that week. I took 5 weeks off and eased back into it, my husband took two weeks off. I’m grateful for his paternity leave but I really, REALLY wish it could’ve been at least a full month, and wish he didn’t have to travel back to back those first weeks back and leave me to sink/swim alone with a newborn. With the prospect of a decent night’s sleep on the horizon, I’m starting to feel the clouds part a little, but not so much that we’re ready to get pregnant again yet. I got sick of hearing people tell me how I “needed” to get my baby on bottles and on a schedule so I could “get my life back”, as if I could go out and slam margaritas with my bestie like the old days while someone else watched my newborn – yeah right. I made a promise to my daughter that I’m not drinking as long as we’re nursing, and there’s no end in sight for that, she gets it as long as she wants it, so my “social life” is not going to be anything like it used to be for a very long time.

    I wish there was a resource for new moms with more information about the baby blues and PPD. I took all the prenatal classes at Winnie Palmer, did the Hypnobirthing, read the Bradley Method book, and all this stuff to prepare for labor & delivery, and nobody warned me about the trauma that was going to come those first days/weeks with recovery, being afraid to take a poop, wanting to walk into traffic after being home all day alone with a newborn… it’s hard and new moms really do not have as much support as they should (in terms of generous paternity leave I mean). My husband could technically have taken the 3-month FMLA leave and we would have been OK financially, but his job is so old-school that most men only take ONE WEEK off with new babies, and he was worried they’d phase him out if he was gone three months.

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  • Sophia March 6, 2014, 2:45 pm

    Thank you for bringing up this issue. My child is 18 month now, and my recovery is still in process. You bring up an important issue psrticularly with support in workplace. I was laid off 3.5 months after I came back from maternity leave. During that time we switched nannies, and the new nanny was now leaving the country due to family issues. When I asked for a couple of weeks to work from home until I find a daycare option for my child, my boss (a woman and a mother) instead terminated my position. I am sure the employer can always turn the situation to their advantage, but I was also reminded about using up my vacation and sick leave by going on maternity leave two weeks earlier due to stress induced by my supervisor. The bottom line, instead of offering support, flexibility and unserstanding, my position was cut.

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  • Kristin point March 6, 2014, 4:03 pm

    My daughter just turned 2 the other day and im 24 weeks pregnant with #2. I truly didnt feel “normal” again til I stopped nursing at 1 year. As soon as I stopped nursing I dropped 10lbs which put me below my prepreg weight. I started feeling comfortable leaving my daughter and not rushing home at lunch and after work to nurse. I swear the hormones while nursing must will you to be with your baby! I had a great newborn experience bc im the oldest of 7 kids i was very relaxed with a newborn amd knew what to expect. Y daughter waa generally easy as well. I had the most challenge from about 8 months to 15 months bc my daughter started walkimg waaaay earlier than i imagined she would at 8 months and was into everythingggg. Whem she was 15 months she started really understanding us and communicating, potty training etc and shes much easier now. I am still “scarred” from actual birth. I had a relatively easy birth and recovery but i still dont understand how a child came out of my va jay. It still upsets me! I didnt evem schedule a “6 week” appointment until closer to 10 weeks i didnt even want the dr poling around there! Im normally very into sex but i really didnt go for it tol at least 3 or 4 months post baby even thougt it didnt hurt and i was healed. I felt so violated by the baby comimg out of there ! Im bummed i have tp push another one out of there. Its just wrong!

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  • Hannah March 6, 2014, 4:12 pm

    Great post! I have a 4 month old and while the whole birth experience was surprisingly easy (only 15 minutes of labor!) being a new mom has been a crazy roller coaster! We had major issues breastfeeding and my son would not sleep more than 2 hours at a time for 2 months. Things are much better on all fronts now but I’m still not totally “myself.” Still 10 pounds away from wearing most of my pants and I’m incredibly tired! But, being a mom is so wonderful that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I agree that we need to be brutally honest about childbirth and parenthood.

    On a side note, it is a travesty how our system treats new moms and dads. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to take 4 months off of work but I also feel jaded that I can’t have more time! My job basically said come back by this date or we cancel your insurance. That can’t work for my family so I’m back at work. Those European countries have it right!

    Thanks again for the great post!

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  • Johnna Green March 6, 2014, 4:22 pm

    A whole year (until I stopped breastfeeding) mentally. I didn’t even know I didn’t feel like ME until after. As far as body (even though Im fit), I don’t think Ill ever be the same.

    http://www.inallofhersplendor.com/2014/02/24/fitspiration-my-fitness-story/

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  • Isela G. March 6, 2014, 5:15 pm

    I am so thankful to you for these posts. I am 5 months postpartum, and have had a really hard time feeling myself again. I had a C-Section because my baby boy refused to turn. I grieved before and after his birth not having had the birth I had always imagined. He was a really fussy baby, and sleep deprivation is so awful! Your posts on sleep training were so refreshing, they made me feel like there was hope! I read both The Baby Whisperer and Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Baby after you mentioned them, and they made all the difference. So many times just knowing someone else understands, or went through something similar is enough to make another mom feel like…I can do this, it will be okay! I love my little guy so very much, but boy was he so not an easy baby! Those long nights really do seem so far away now! Thank you for sharing and being so open. You definitely put some hope in this new mom!

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  • Lori March 6, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Caitlin, I do appreciate your realness. I guess I don’t understand what people mean by “feeling like my old self”. I fully expected to become a NEW person when I became a mother, mentally and physically. I accept that my stomach and breasts will never be the same. Not for a minute do I think I should look like a celebrity might after having a baby. I don’t have the money it takes to look like that. No one should ever compare any aspect of their life to a celebrity’s. It’s not reality. My little one is 16 months old and I’m still sleep deprived, but this is our normal right now. And “normal” will be ever changing. But life will never be like it used to, and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m not saying being sleep deprived doesn’t suck, but I think it would only perpetuate feelings of despair if I expected things to get “back to normal” one day. And I wish no one worried about getting back to prepregnancy weight. Ditch the scale, who cares if you wear a different size now, eat nourishing food and enjoy life, even though life with a baby/toddler can be downright hard and exhausing. ENJOY THE GOOD STUFF, take care of yourself, and don’t worry about things like weight. This is what I wish for everyone, woman and man. And I wish we could all just have empathy for each other’s experiences. We all need support, whether we had a wonderful pregnancy/delivery/recovery or a very difficult one.

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  • sherisse March 6, 2014, 6:29 pm

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I am currently 11 weeks pp (thankfully in Canada, i cant fathom being back to work already) and i feel like im in someone elses body. I gained a lot of weight and got a pile of stretch marks the last two weeks of pregnancy due to pre eclampsia, had a very rough delivery which wad induced at 36 weeks due to this. I ended up witj severe hemmoraghing and second degree tearing and it feels like i wont be back to myself for a long time. So encouraging to hear from someone as fit and healthy as yourself that this is normal. Love your blog :)

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  • Kim March 7, 2014, 8:19 am

    TMI…
    As other posters have said, I was NOT ready for those hemorrhoids. I’d never had them before in my life, and I was SO confused (what is this thing hanging out down there?) and afraid to look down there after the tearing/stitching left it all mangled & disfigured. I lived with painful poos where I had to lock myself in the bathroom and bite down on a towel and scream for SIX WEEKS until my follow-up appointment at the OB/GYN where I asked the nurse, she told me “oh yeah that’s hemorrhoids, here’s a prescription for some suppositories” like it was nothing. Looking back, having a post-partum doula come to the house even for just one day would have been money well spent, and I’ll definitely do that if I have another baby.

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  • Abby March 7, 2014, 8:20 am

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece. It makes me very sad to see the amount of leave that women in the US get. A couple from Korea was in the same child birthing class and were jaw dropping amazed at how little time we took for ourselves. Their philosophy was 4 weeks in bed and another 4 weeks “around” bed.
    I received 13 weeks of maternity, 8 weeks paid. I worked for a school district with a union that provided wonderful benefits compared to other surrounding school districts. Those benefits are sadly going away due to our state politics.
    I feel like I’m still recovering or maybe just getting use to a different but very happy way of being. I had my first in February 2011 and then found out in December 2011 I was pregnant. I breastfed #1 up until 2 months before #2 arrived. My youngest is 18 months and still breastfeeding! I thought she would be easy to wean, not the case…LOL!
    My first was a C-section. I clearly remember the hormone crash. It wasn’t fun. I have a super supportive husband which helped. My second was a drug free natural birth. We chose to stay in the hospital for only 24 hours. We wanted to get back home with the entire family. I think the big difference with number two was I did the placenta encapsulation. It was amazing. I had energy and didn’t have the hormone crash I had experienced before. My husband also took 4 weeks of paternity which was awesome!
    I was an avid runner and triathlete before kiddos. Now I need to get back. I know it will be a slow process but want to be a good role model for my girls.
    Thanks so much for being so honest and clearly reaching so many readers!

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  • ashley March 7, 2014, 8:33 am

    THIS. I was so upset at my 6 week pp visit when my doctor told me I was ok to resume normal activities, and sex seemed impossible. I had a nasty 2nd degree tear and another minor tear. I’m almost 4 months pp and it’s still not fun. I thought everything would be magically better at the 6 week appointment, too. No one told me things could be off for several months.

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  • Dory March 7, 2014, 9:19 am

    Caitlin, your honesty and fearlessness in bringing women’s issues to the table is inspiring. I will say, as a woman in my late twenties this post and comments make me think we can wait a few more years before taking the tcc leap!

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  • Sarah March 7, 2014, 11:40 am

    Caitlin, can’t tell you how helpful this is. I have painful scar tissue 11 months pp and my dr only gave me the option of reopening it or using an estrogen cream. Do you know where I can find more info about how to do the massage? How often did you do it and how long did it take to work ?

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  • Sarah March 7, 2014, 11:47 am

    It’s been almost 15 years and I’m still not over it :) Seriously though, I wish I’d had a better network when I had my first baby. A friendly blog like this one would’ve helped a lot!!

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  • susan March 7, 2014, 1:58 pm

    I’ve seen this Maternity Leave chart before a whole ago, and I just wanted to point out that it seems not quote correct. I’m German, living in the US now, but my son was born in Canada. In Germany I would have gotten a full year of paid mat leave, plus about 150 Euros a month in child support from the government (every child gets it). However, my son was born in Canada, and I got 16 weeks of paid mat leave at 55% of my previous income. After that you can go on regular employment insurance, but technically it’s not mat leave. Just wanted to share. I know the point of the chart is to show that the US has zero paid maternity leave, but the numbers seem a bit off.

    Also, keep in mind that in almost all of the countries with long mat leave, taxes are much, much higher, so EI, mat leave, welfare, etc is paid for by taxes you’re paying into the system and then redistributed. In the US people have a higher responsibility to save and fend for themselves, it seems. It all comes with pros and cons, but to have nothing to fall back on when having a new baby is definitely tough, when moms are already struggling to adapt to their new life.

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  • Bobbie March 7, 2014, 3:08 pm

    I can relate to everything you said above. I look at your list and with some things you felt more normal about this or that sooner than me but in other things it took you longer than me…that just shows that everyone recovers differently. I had 3 c-sections and honestly recovered differently from every one. You would think that my first might have been easiest on my body b/c I was younger and so on but my last was easiest to recover from although I was 36 at that point. In general it took me just about a year to get back to my old self after each pregnancy.
    BTW I love the new look of the blog and I don’t see ads over your words anymore! yay!

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  • Kate March 7, 2014, 5:16 pm

    I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old, and I felt like the return to normal has gone much quicker than the first time. After the first time i was a hot mess until I quit exclusively pumping at 5 months (wished I could have made it longer, but between working full time and getting the hang of motherhood, I was a wreck) and I never really felt totally back to normal before my second daughter was conceived when my oldest was 13 months. At 6 months now, despite still breastfeeding and being pretty sleep-deprived, I am in much better shape, physically and mentally. I’ve lost the baby weight plus some, I am back to my pre-baby running speeds, and I overall feel pretty good. Intimacy is still an issue (I had a 3rd degree tear with my first, 2nd degree with my second and consequently have a lot of scar tissue) but I’m hopeful it will get better after I stop breastfeeding.

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  • jen March 7, 2014, 6:16 pm

    THANK YOU!! I am seven months post preggo and feel no where near my pre preg self. I feel like an old lady some days with aches and pains I never had before, and feel so terrible bc I feel like I should be back to normal. going back to work made it a thousand times harder too, bc im gone all day and when I get home I don’t want to do anything but play w my baby girl. and pity party for one, my job (teaching) just cut down maternity leave (100% unpaid ps) to either 12 weeks or the whole school year, so if our next preg isn’t timed perfectly, we have no choice how long I can stay home. I love the irony that I am a kindergarten teacher, and we are in the field of taking care of children, yet don’t have the opportunity to care for my own.

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  • Ann March 7, 2014, 6:21 pm

    I had a 3rd degree laceration and hemorrhoids and couldn’t really walk for a few weeks. That coupled with sleep deprivation and breast feeding threw me for a loop. I definitely wish I could’ve read this blog beforehand to know what things could possibly occur and what to expect if I didn’t have an easy delivery.

    We did sleep training at 6 months, but our LO didn’t really sleep through the night until one year. No surprise that that’s when I emotionally felt much better too.

    I started running at 3 months PP, and did a half at 6months. Did a couple bike races around 12 months PP.

    Of all the changes being PP brings, the prolonged sleep deprivation was the hardest for me. There’s no way past it but just going through it.

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  • Katie D. March 8, 2014, 8:20 am

    I’m 23 weeks pregnant, so I found this a great read!

    I have to say, I got my husband a book for Christmas on being a dad and it has GREAT info on post-partum healing. It talks about emotions, physical changes, etc. It is somewhat humorous, but I think knowing that he knows it is normal, will help me too.

    I’m also curious because I have PCOS and don’t ovulate on my own, so I’m not sure how that will impact the hormonal part of the healing process.

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  • Jill March 8, 2014, 4:15 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m reading it today after a week of visits to therapists, my midwives, a naturopath, and an acupuncturist. My son will be 7 months tomorrow. I’ve been on the cusp of PPD/PPA probably since my son was delivered via c section after 10 hours of unmedicated labor. You actually sent me your birth plan via email (which helped me tremendously with mine!) and helped me find the Bradley method. To say that the c section was devastating is an understatement. On top of that, my son was colicky, he is still a handful, I have friends who imply I am doing things wrong, and I was all of a sudden alone with a 2 week old with no support during the day while my husband worked. I’m working on getting the help that I need now, but it’s so frustrating that moms are expected to be super human, and no one talks about their struggles. There is a reason why people say that it takes a village to raise a child.

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  • Kelly March 11, 2014, 1:40 am

    It has been so refreshing reading everyone’s comments. My son is 12 months and I still don’t feel like myself. Don’t get me wrong, my life is a thousand times better than it was before my son, but I still feel like I share my body and devote every second of my energy to him. I know I would probably feel better if I could workout regularly but I cannot figure out how to fit that into my schedule when I’m working full time and already feel like I am short changing my son by spending so much time away from him. I have had absolutely zero interest in intimacy which obviously has been a little problematic to my relationship with the hubs. I also have not gotten my period yet which seems like a longer time than most. I am just hoping that the end of breast feeding will bring back my old hormones, and thanks to these comments it sounds like there’s a good chance. Growing, birthing and raising a human being is hard work on us mamas! Thank God it’s worth it all.

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    • Lainie March 11, 2014, 9:56 pm

      Kudos to you, Caitlin, for writing this post! I have two kids, and the youngest is 11 months. I am STILL 10 pounds away from where I want to be weight wise, and this post is a wonderful reminder that we all have the power to get back to our “normal” selves- it just might take some of us longer than others (which is totally fine). Love your honesty, love your blog!

      Reply
  • Sara wutzke March 23, 2014, 11:22 am

    I started for my second marathon at month 9, after my third baby…I will stick with halves for awhile because that was crazy intense emotionally and physically. This is a great article!

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