Sparkly Stefka’s Postpartum Life

dayspostpartumWrite 31 Days

October, Another reason to love autumn.  As if apples, squash, crisp air, pumpkin spices, corn mazes, trick-or-treating and bonfires were not reason enough.  The Write 31 Days challenge is here, and I am honored that you have joined me.

God saw fit to direct me to #write31days, and I am so thankful.  I first heard of this challenge in passing on a podcast from Tsh Oxenreider.  I was reminded of it in August while pouring over The Only Hope I’ve Got.  I adore Kayse and her message has been perfectly timed for this season of my life.  Write 31 Days is the working out to be the grand opening of Sparkly Stefka, and I am launching it with a topic near and dear to my heart: postpartum living.  As you read my story, I’d like you to know a little more about my family.

Me and Mine

I am a massage therapist and doula, I am self-employed and I LOVE my work, but they are both physically and emotionally demanding so I limit this work to around 30 hours a week and 1 birth per month.

My husband and I were married in January of 2011. My husband lost his job 4 weeks after our first child was born, and has not had “regular” work since.  This bit of information is important as you read these posts, because although we are currently debt-free concern over finances have always added enormous stress to my times of maternity leave.

These days my husband has quite an irregular job as an artist.  He loves to do sculpture, but he primarily sells hand-crafted mustaches, wands and cardboard swords.  He also is a talented cartoonist.

We have three children, a daughter who will be 4 in December, a son who turns 2 tomorrow, and our freshly born daughter. They are beautiful, funny, smart, silly, energetic and in need of constant care and attention.

Longing

I always loved babies and children, I spent most of my teens and early twenties babysitting, volunteering in church nurseries and children’s church.  I longed all my life to be a mother, and understanding that a diagnosis (at age 15) of PCOS might mean fertility challenges, I was terrified the day I told my (then) boyfriend that I might not be able to have children.  Because we married in our 30s we decided to forgo hormonal birth control and use barrier methods.  My husband and I were shocked to learn I was pregnant just a few months after we married. My dreams were coming true, and without the anxiety or broken-heartednessI expected.

Expectations

I anticipated baby-bliss and because I am a perfectionist and organized, a clean house.  I lack the words to express how much I wanted to be that perfect stay-at-home mom with healthy meals and of course, homemade cookies.

I never thought my dream coming true would be connected with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  The year after my daughter was born was the hardest year of my life.  I was completely in love, and so thankful for her little life.  Yet, I was also broken hearted and overwhelmed.  I felt like a fraud and failure.

The expectations placed by society on women after birthing are varied and confusing.  In my experience, women take this pressure on in different ways, many times it becomes unhealthy.  It can rob us of the beautiful, exhausting experience of bonding with our newborn babies.  This is intensified when we have other children to care for.

Important self care for the new mom!

Now

I write today just 5 weeks after the birth of our third child, a little girl.  I am a little overwhelmed, and by God’s grace, healthy and joyful. I will spend the next 30 days exploring the physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual complexities of postpartum life.  I’ll share about giving birth, breastfeeding struggles, failure to thrive, postpartum depression, marriage with a new baby, and of course the insanity of caring for three children under 4 years of age.

You

If you are close to someone who has recently birthed, please visit her and bring a snack.  Instead of asking how to help, may I suggest that you just start a load of laundry or dishes. Offer to bring a meal over, maybe create a meal train for her. Perhaps you could take her older kids out for a fun activity so she can rest and bond.

If you have just given birth, stay in bed as long as you can.  Ask for help and do something that makes you feel rested and at peace, even if it’s just 3 minutes.

Mamas, you are not alone. Mothering is hard work, especially when your body is recovering from pregnancy and childbirth.  In the last 3 hours, I’ve had 3 baby-free minutes and she cried the whole time.  Ask for help, it’s not selfish.

This Matters

I am passionate about this topic because babies need healthy and happy mothers.  I am passionate because I believe this time is also sacred.  We can allow God to minister to us through the exhausting nights, the long days, the messes, the days without a proper shower.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  Please share this series with anyone you think may benefit from it. You can subscribe to Sparklystefka,com so my posts pop up in your inbox and you don’t have to remember to pop back over here every day. The subscription box is to the left of the posts.  I won’t use your e-mail address in any other way.

 

Unedited photo of my daughter and I shortly after her arrival.

Unedited photo of my daughter and I shortly after her arrival.

 

 

Comments

  1. Renee Deming says:

    Nice work Steff! I can understand so much of this.. Even though it’s nearly 3 years away.. The struggle of that 1st year is still so vivid. Love the honesty and openness of what you share.. Even on Day 1.

  2. Aimee Thompson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I can identify in so many ways and I’m so glad you’re getting the word out on this!

    • SparklyStefka says:

      Thank you, I never realized how hard mothering would be, and finding the line between what is healthy and what is unhealthy is very hard.

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