(TW: postpartum loss)
Postpartum is entirely unique for every woman, and every family. Here two mothers, Wieder Gluecklich and Michelle Macht, open the lid on their personal postpartum experiences.
My postpartum journey in four words? Magic, love, illness and loss.
After my first birth I didn’t have a postpartum journey, my son was terminally ill and I sat by his bed every day until my body was so exhausted, I couldn’t take any more. When he died at the age of eight days, both I and the rest of the world no longer thought about my postpartum. There simply wasn’t one.
After my second birth, I had my most beautiful postpartum experience. My second son was our dream come true and I finally got to live out the experience of being a mum. We took him home when he was one day old. I drove myself and from the first day I did everything I’d done before the birth, but this time I did it all with one hand because I hardly every put him down. I loved this time, and my body didn't mind that I didn't rest - it worked.
With my third son I wanted to do everything differently. For the first time, I had firm ideas about what my postpartum should look like.
Unfortunately, it didn't go to plan. We went home when he was 12-hours old and my hormones took over, and my body just functioned, just like before.
But when he was 6 days old, my son caught a virus from his dad. It hit him really hard, and he had to fight for his life in hospital for two weeks. For the following weeks and months, he was very fragile, and constantly sick – we were terrified for him. My postpartum was constantly checking his breathing and vital signs and for the first time, I was sad that I didn’t have the usual postpartum experience.
My postpartum journey was exhausting, short, demanding and intense.
After my first baby, I was riddled with pain, and it took a long time to recover from the exhausting birth and birth injuries. I didn't have a midwife, I was often insecure, I cried a lot and I just felt bad, even though I had a lot of support from my husband and my mother.
For my second baby, from day one at home I had to function again because my first-born daughter needed me so much, I hardly had time to recover. She was sick when I gave birth and when I came home from hospital with her brother, she only wanted mum. She also took time to settle into her new role as a big sister.
My husband went back to work very quickly, and I had to manage everything alone: shopping, cooking, household chores, dividing time between a newborn and a toddler.
As soon as my toddler went to bed in the evening and I was breastfeeding my son, I cried. Often when the calm came, the feelings rose up. Exhaustion, pain, sadness, anger, frustration and a feeling of missing out on such a precious time with my son. The hormonal chaos certainly didn’t help.
It took us some time to come to terms with the new situation, to settle in as a family, and to find a new routine.