40 days post partum is a significant number. Many different cultures have special customs for this 40 day time period. If you don’t believe me, just ask Wikipedia. 40 days is approximately equal to the six-week-period recognized by US disability. AND my 40 days ended on my 32nd birthday this weekend. It’s odd, because I feel like this weekend I crossed over some sort of hurdle into feeling like myself again.
Things I did this weekend that made me feel human:
-Took a long, hot bath.
-Went out for an expensive birthday dinner with my husband while my sister watched Owen.
-Split an expensive bottle of wine with my husband during said dinner. This bottle of wine was the first really expensive bottle of wine we ever splurged on and when we bought it (a few years ago) we said we would drink it after I had our first baby. It was definitely worth the wait. It was also worth pumping and dumping the milk.
-Went grocery shopping by myself while Daddy watched the baby.
-Took a nap with Owen and B, snuggled in bed together.
-Took Owen to a baby shower and showed him off to friends.
-Visited friends who just had a baby and felt like I actually had good advice and wisdom to share.
-Was surprised by a small family birthday party.
Overall, I began to feel like there were other things in my life besides baby. Now, don't take this the wrong way. I’m not saying “everything is better because of the non-baby stuff.” It was a combination of being able to have some time for myself as well as continuing to feel more and more confident and happy in my role as mother. I’m also really enjoying my days home alone with Owen. We have a nice rhythm and I love being able to easily give him what he needs and keep him happy. All of this is tied up with feeling better physically in terms of recovery from labor and breastfeeding, such that I just feel so much more normal.
The bizarreness of it all is that it coincided with the 40 days period of post-partum. Almost as if the traditional 40 days really are a magic number for recovery. Because it was a recovery for me. I know that it's not always like that for everyone, but for me it was a major process. As of this week, the first part of my maternity leave (disability) ends and the second stage (family leave) starts. It really feels like the first six weeks were a disability period for me. I was kind of a mess. Now I am really looking forward to the next 12 weeks of just being with my son and enjoying my time. This morning, when Owen woke up, I pulled him into bed with me and fed him in a side-lying position (the best possible way to breast feed), and then we cuddled together in bed, half asleep. A pretty amazing way to start the next stage of maternity leave, if you ask me.