To the Postpartum Partner
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
I wanted to share this letter to my husband - this is our fourth postpartum season together (my fifth postpartum season), and we've learned a lot along the way. Huge strides have been made in creating community and support for moms, but partners need to be included, too! Hopefully this letter helps open communication and connection during the "fourth trimester".
I know we’ve done this postpartum thing before. We’ve survived the newborn fog, the sleep deprivation and the (okay, my) emotional recovery. But I wanted to write a letter NOW, before things get crazy, to remind you of how I feel and what I need help with. Because in the moment, I know it will come off as irritable and like I’m upset with you. I’m not - this season is just hard.
Please give me grace - consider what I’m going through physically, emotionally, hormonally. It’s not just sleep deprivation, even though that alone is enough to make someone lose their mind! Giving birth is a major physical endeavor. My body HURTS. Every muscle, and all the most tender places that shouldn’t hurt, HURT. But that hurt gets dwarfed by the immediate placement of a new baby on my chest, a baby who needs me so much I can’t even focus on how much my body aches.
Remember, I just spent 9 months growing this baby. All of my physical being adjusted to grow our baby. And then suddenly, in an instant, I’m not pregnant and now am trying to breastfeed. It took 9 months for my body to accomplish this, and it’ll take 9 months (if not more) before I have a “new normal”. Hormones are weird. The sudden shift from pregnancy to breastfeeding can have a toll on me, like getting hit by a truck. Please give me grace. Please hear my irritability and wild emotions as reminders that I need care.
Here are some tangible needs I know I’ll have:
Please make sure I’m hydrated. I’m going to be focused on feeding our baby, nourishing him and making sure he’s eating enough - I need you to be the person who is worried about MY hydration and nourishment in those first weeks. Whether that’s keeping a tumbler of ice water right by my nursing chair, or bringing me snacks all day - I know I’ll need the help.
Please hug me, a lot. Just hold me. When it’s hard, when it’s amazing and exciting, and all the random moments. Even though I know you love me, those little affections go a long way. I know I’ll feel so overwhelmed with GIVING love, that receiving it will really fill me up.
I need time alone. I appreciate family visiting and friends bringing meals, but I need help setting boundaries. I need space to be with just you and be kind of a mess. I also need time where I’m not holding the baby and able to something in peace, by myself. Even if that’s just drinking coffee alone in our room.
Please change the bathroom garbage. It needs to be emptied every day, or every other day. I’m going to be bleeding and changing my own diapers (or pads) every few hours, too. Will you empty that out so its one less thing for me to think of?
Please ask for help FOR me. Asking for help when I’m in a healthy, well rested place is already hard for me. For me, asking for help when I’m a mess is like asking someone who has lost their voice to sing. Encourage friends and family to just step in with me. Whenever someone says “let me know what you need”, I just want to cry. What I need feels too big to name, and too big to hand off. Please be the one that can ask for help for me. Let my friend know I could use an encouraging text, let family know a meal would be so helpful. Just tell me you’re going to hold the baby between feedings, or take all the kid on a drive so I can have silence. Sometimes, taking initiative and just giving me help is more helpful than being asked what I need.
Please respond with grace. I apologize in advance for the irritability, the hormones, and all the other feelings that no one can anticipate. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done this, new and unexpected feelings always surface and they’re not controlled or pretty. When I snap at you, remind me its okay. When my irritability rises, be the calm of my storm. I know that’s a lot to ask - but I’m going through a lot, too. This season is a lot to carry for both of us. I carry the baby, and you carry us.
Please remember it’s just a season. I probably need this reminder, too. Because all of this sounds like a lot - and it is, but it’s just a season. Remember after our babies turned 6 months old, how fun and easier thing were? Remember when my hormones regulated again, how we laughed at the snappy things I said? We’ll get there again. And my hope is that we don’t create additional stress between us in this short season that doesn’t need to be there.
I’m excited to sit in this season together. I’m excited to be raw and vulnerable with you - I trust that you can carry me. I trust that you love me. I trust that you will see me in my mess and help me when I can’t help myself. And I know we’ll come out of this even stronger than we went in!
Here are some other great comments from you all on Instagram!
“Communication is everything in postpartum!! I wish I would have known I need to vocalize my thoughts even if they seem uncomfortable or unnecessary to even myself. That he is and was able to handle my dark places better than even I could. “
“I told him ahead of time about PPD and baby blues and that it may happen. I only wish I had told him ahead of time that the only two things I would really need were a hug and reassurance. Of course he gave me those, but I knew there was still concern and uncertainty about what to do. I also kept a lot of my thoughts in the dark and shed my tears in private.. I wish I shared it with him and in front of him so that it was something we did together.”
“All of this! The thing is they WANT to help but just might not know how! (He) is really good at letting me rest. Keeping the big kids occupied, meals in bed, he also does diaper changes and will walk with the baby in between feeds if I need a nap! So important!”
“First, I warned him that I was going to likely cry and get upset about seemingly trivial things, but that it was okay and to just hug me through it. I also asked that he please keep an eye on me and if that crying lasted more than I few weeks, that he needed to remind me to ask for help. Second, I just told him that I need his help so I could take care of myself. In that newborn haze, you forget to eat, drink, and shower if you're not careful.”
“Wish my husband cared more about educating himself about the birth and been a better help during the labor”
“A huge one for us was helping with the big siblings! Mamas got baby covered so having Dad help with the other babes was a weight off my shoulders. Also keeping open lines of communication when one of us was feeling exhausted or like we needed a break.”
“I think sometimes i wish when i was frustrated and probably sleep deprived, i wish he knew i just wanted to be held and told that i was doing amazing and rub my back and say it will be ok. Also maybe also be aware of your emotions and irrationalities because after giving birth I could not control my emotions. But be ok with that and be aware that that it may not make any sense but it will change and it will pass.”
“It was so hard to ask for what I needed because I didn't know what I needed. I was starving but didn't know what I was hungry for. Desperate for a break but anxious to be away from baby. Ready to get back to "normal" but not sure what that was anymore. Just have lots of patience”
Read more over on THIS POST, and add YOUR advice as well!