Thursday, March 13, 2008

preliminary postpartum plans

I have been rough drafting lists and emailing letters to myself and my husband this past week about how I plan to take care of myself and how to enlist others to help me be able to take care of myself when I have this baby. Being prepared and empowered rather than hopeful and disappointed has been a real and good theme as of late for me.

I came across this lovely piece today and I liked it. I like to think of myself and mothers as strong and wonderful and completely deserving of support and assistance and the ability and the right and the voice to state what it is that we need and want so that we can sustain and be sustained by the enormous amounts of energy and spirit and calories and rest and fluids and peace and safety and laughter and tears and yes sleep (maybe a tiny bit??) that this whole baby-having and baby-making thing is gonna take.

I am really enjoying planning because I want to minimize the despair and horror and actual danger and maximize the health and sanity and niceness of postpartum for me and the baby and very importantly, my whole family. So far I have planned money earmarked for healthy food, and let me explain this very well: Not some asinine pile of ingredients, some fridge full of vegetables noone is gonna chop, or wierd grains noone is gonna boil, or gross frozen stuff noone is gonna bake, but food from a PLACE, ok? Tabbouleh and Hummus and quarts of soup and bagels and subs and fruit salads and yep from a place. A restaurant, a store, already made. There is no other way and I am not loading up on pizza this time and getting into a lactose-colic baby again, so dairy-free high quality food food food. I have had 4 kids who had big time issues with me eating dairy when they were nursing. Gas, crying crying crying oh, the crying!

I have started a big pile of clothes that are of the giant T-shirt, nursing bra/pads and pajama pants theme. There nothing quite like walking around bleeding to death with maternity pants that fall off everytime you have the displeasure of standing up to wade through the toys to look into your empty fridge. The only thing worse is jamming into the pre-pregnancy clothes and looking and feeling like a squeezed horrible pig or, lets be honest, bleeding all over them, not to mention milk and baby barf and baby poo that inevitably encrusts you day and night for a little while there...(at least I am having a girl and they dont pee all over your face! I miss that! Less face-pee! )Now you have a huge laundry pile to lift and deal with and fold and seperate and....yeah right. Trust me Ive been there 4 times. One stupid nightgown and your only 2 bras, down rotting at the bottom of the hamper under all the towels and washcloths and bedding that the baby sprayed yellow poo on, plus the 6 other people's clothes. You'll see that nightgown and those 2 bras again next season, maybe. So I am adding right now: One Special Mommy Hamper. Awesome.

I have so far 6 big cool TALL tshirts and 4 pairs of "cozy pants" already in my pile. Gross undressed idiot is not happenin' this time. Not pining away for imaginary casserole-deliveries or fairies who will "babysit" the other children, either. And thats ok! Because being out of self-pity, out of denial, is being out of danger for me, and that makes me happier than five beloved MaryPoppins ever could.

I look forward to sharing with you my "list" as it grows. For now it is food and outfits. But it will grow and maybe it will be of some help to others who will identify more with my situation than the one that is so often portrayed in the books and the pamphlets and the TV. You know, the one where the mom has no other children, a husband who mysteriously has like a month off of work, and a mom, mother in law and three best friends who come to "give her a break" by protecting her rights to nice food, showers, and even naps. Being jealous and angry about this has gotten me nowhere fast and so I am preparing some good stuff for us that really makes me feel like I have my head on straight. Promise to keep y'all posted!!!


Amanda said...

Even though we haven't seen each other much lately, Hell, we haven't even talked much lately... But i absolutely will NOT back out on my offer to do whatever you need. As a person who does not have kids yet, I only request that you actually give me a specific duty(duties) that you would like me to help you with. Being such a guardian of my own privacy, I abhore the idea of showing up at your house unannounced. I'd much rather know what you'd like. We can email(and talk!!) much closer to D-day and we can plan. Love and miss you tons.

Pamela said...

I hope you do share this...I'd really like to see it and use it to help other new mamas make such a plan!


K8 said...

Aw, geez, now I almost feel guilty because I do have the chance to have almost that ideal storybook situation with help and postpartum care. I even have my doula lined up for her postpartum hat as well as her birth hat!

But I won't feel guilty; instead I'm going to revel in it, because I know I'm NEVER going to have this much help again in my life. I just wish all moms could have it too.

clara said...

I totally agree about the pants! I keep the super soft yoga pants ready at the end too. I like to set up a changing table area next to the bed and keep good take out food coming too. I look forward to reading more too...

Kelley said...

What fantastic ideas you have. I really should be thinking along these same lines, too, since this is the first time since Josh that I haven't had someone readily available to help me. We were living with my MIL with Matt was born, and Jon was out of work for 2 months before and 5 months after Ben was born. Not ideal financially, but very nice in the help department. I hadn't even started to think about all this, but I should since we just moved to a new area, and I know almost no one here. Yikes!

Anyway, great ideas! Especially about the clothes situation. So cool!

Lynette said...

I was Gross Undressed Idiot myself, quite recently, in fact. Sometimes I still backslide.

All casserole deliveries are not imaginary. I got a casserole (and homemade soup and muffins and other stuff, three meals total plus leftovers) from my local attachment parenting group. Do you have any parenting groups in your area that might do something similar?

Housefairy said...

I have ONLY had being all alone. With my first baby my husband had a week off, but 4 days of that was in the hospital. With my second baby, a c-section, I was in the hospital for 5 days and he had to go back in to work on day 7 so I was home alone with a newborn and my 3 year old. I crawled to the bathroom, pushing the baby in his carseat down the hall with one hand so he wouldnt be alone with the 3 year old while I tried the precarious task of going potty alone. I think we ate Oreos that day and we watched alot of Nickelodeon.
With my homeborn baby, my husband got a week off and I was never gone from the house, so it was pretty cool. I was weak but capable enough to deal with the three kids on day 8 when he was gone, but of course sore.
With my fourth baby, another c-section, my husband had to go back to work while I was still in the hospital!!! His parents relectantly babysat the children for 2 days, but I was totally alone in the hospital to try and shower, care for my baby, use the bathroom, all while still on IV fluids, catheter, and whatever drugs they put you on. I would look and listen so desperatly for the lunch lady or the cleaning crew so I could beg them to push his bassinet closer or to get a nurse. My hemoglobin dropped to 4.8 and I needed a blodd transfusion, so that was another day in and then I had one day home, Sunday, and he had to be back at work Monday morning. My sister was generous enough to hire me a helper-lady but unfortunately she was horrendous, and only made things so much worse. She wasnt any kind of doula, just a cleaning lady and she sat on my couch and made fun of the shows the kids watched. She did two things the entire day--she got my 2 year old down from the stairs and she cleared the lunch table. I didnt have her come back. It was a family scandal and I was labled the ingrate and ostracized, even from phone calls.

SO........yes I need a much better plan this time around. It involves me writing a letter to my husband's boss's boss, explaining in a friendly way that we know our legal rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act to 12 weeks unpaid and that we are only going to use 1 or 2 weeks of that. It involves me having super healthy carry out and premade food here. It involves me having a few friends now who will at least call me to see if I am alive, who might even come over and hang out a bit. It involves having basic things like clothes for myself and buying all the stuff I will need ahead of time like diapers and lansinoh and monstro-elephant pads and coochie ice-packs and I have also decided that I want my bedroom extremely clean and plain. As in, Bed, diaper pile, wipes, diaper pail, nursing pads, phone, drink, food, and TV. Hopefully I will get to hang in there somewhat, and the kids can join me whenever they want.

Also, once I am done working, (3 weeks left!!!!) we are going to really spend April and May getting this house together and getting the kids very into "Ways To Help Mama". We didnt do this before...they were little, we planned homebirth, etc. Now they will be 11, 8, 4 and 2 and I am only picturing much mental issues from the 2 year old, who has a really close relationship with his siblings. they know how to help him when he freaks out, whether it is popping in his BabyEinstein VHS, or getting him some little snack, or toy or whatnot. That is a big difference from the last birth where the kids were 8,5,2 and all pretty dependant on me for everything, especially food-prep.

Thanks for the comments, anyone wnt to share some of their survival tips? (you know, especially the not-so-p.c. ones like bribing the older kids with candy, money, hahaha.....)

Housefairy said...

and THANK YOU AMANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So cool!!!!!

Kelley said...

Once again, thank you for sharing your plans, Joy. It hadn't occurred to me before how very difficult this could be, but your post has made it clear to me that I HAVE to have a workable plan of action ready to go when this baby gets here. Thank you so much. Your advance planning may save our family, too.

Sheridan said...

I did something similar with my 3rd. It included something along the lines of doing the laundry is not folding only YOUR clothes and leaving mine and the kids crumpled up in a basket. Yes, they are clean, but not wearable.

It made my transition, much smoother than the first 2 times.

CNH said...

Oh this is SUCH a good idea (the pants and shirts), and one I better jump right on because I'm term in 7 weeks. SEVEN WEEKS JOY!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Ok, now that I'm done with my minor panic attack, please do share as you build your list. I've got a Mama group that will bring us some food for a while, and a husband taking 2 weeks off work, but the take out of good food sounds like a marvelous idea! :)

Andrea said...

Hey, can I send you something? And if so, what? I'm imagining a gift card to somewhere in your town, a Whole Foods or even better, a regular grocery store with a good natural foods section (more bang for your buck than Whole Foods, right?). Ideally something I could send to your email address in the form of an e-certificate. Or do you have a favorite delivery that I could phone and pay by credit card? Let me know, you know what's good in your town, I don't. Anyway, email me if I can do this -- I'm at lvgrrrrl at yahoo dot com.

I really want to bake you a casserole, but I live in Alaska, and it would probably be a little funky by the time it got to you. :)

Jill said...

Man, you're really making me look forward to August. ;) Hahahaha.

No really, the comfy-clothes-at-the-ready is a great tip. I expect I'll have a lot more trouble postpartum this time around since I'll have another kiddo to take care of and not just me and a sweet baby, so I'll take all the hints from a seasoned mama that I can get!