More New-Mom Milestones
5. Discovering Your New Body
I was surprised the first time I put on one of my favorite shirts after finally shedding the 30-plus pounds of baby weight. My old standby had become so short and it pulled in weird spots. I thought, "But the weight is gone! What the heck is this?" Unlike me, Heather Gibbs Flett, from Berkeley, California, was happy about her new-body wake-up call. "After my third child, I was jubilant that I could squeeze into my pre-pregnancy jeans--my fat jeans!" she says. What she understood, and I eventually learned, was to appreciate what my body had gone through and accept the changes.
For Kerry Colburn, mom of two and author of Mama's Big Book of Little Lifesavers, this meant shopping for her new figure. "After I lost the baby weight, I enlisted the help of a personal shopper at a department store," says Colburn--who returned to the personal shopper when she was done breastfeeding to get new bras too. "Fresh clothes that fit well are an ego boost, and the time right after your baby is born is when many of us need that boost the most," says Colburn. "By spending a little bit of money and energy on myself, I was reminded that it can't be all about the baby."
6. Having sex again
I'm not sure who was more nervous about having postbirth sex--my husband or me. He was worried about causing me pain, and I was worried about feeling it. Lots of stress does not make for a very sexy evening. "Even with my medical background, I was nervous," confesses Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., a mother of four and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "I had an episiotomy with my first child and even though my doctor told me it had healed, it still felt like something had happened down there."
Her advice and my doctor's was the same: Use plenty of lube and talk your way through the experience. In the end, our encounter, along with all the careful forethought and discussion, was oddly romantic. It wasn't about orgasms, it was about intently taking the path back to him-and-me.
7. Going on a Girls' Night Out
I planned my first night off from baby duty (a rock concert with a good friend) before I had even pushed my child out. Something about having "concert with Angela" on the calendar helped me get through a lot of those rough early days with a newborn. Theo was 2 months old when concert day finally rolled around, but I was exhausted and nervous.
But what I remember most about that night was not drinking a beer (or two), dancing in the aisle, or laughing with my friend. It was the quiet ride home. After spending the last two months holed up with an infant, I felt lonely, bored, and disconnected from the outside world. But with just one night out, I felt rejuvenated. In fact, I was ready to put something else on the calendar.
My milestone moment? Realizing I could still be a good friend, a fun person, a little rowdy, and a little silly, even as a mom.
Originally published in the February 2014 issue of Parents magazine.