This should seem like a given. The Mall of America is NOT for the faint of heart ever, let alone when your hormones are raging and you’ve just pushed out a watermelon. All roads lead to tears.
Well, apparently I’m a sucker for learning things the hard way, because at just 5-days postpartum I made the awesome decision to go to the Mall of America to buy a nursing tank.
Seriously. What was I thinking??! I could’ve sent someone ELSE to do this for me!! But no. I needed to feel “normal” and capable and independent … and more than just a milk-machine. But after giving birth, ladies, we are NOT ourselves, and we aren’t designed to be!
The postpartum period is one of the most sensitive times in a woman’s life, and when we strive to “bounce back” immediately, we end up having mini-breakdowns somewhere between Macy’s and Motherhood Maternity.
At least that’s what happened to me.
Half way to the store I realized that I was bleeding everywhere (from walking 10 miles) and that milk was pouring out ALL over my shirt (because 5-day old babies need to eat every 10 minutes); I then tried to find a place to nurse my daughter but couldn’t — because it’s the Mall of America!!!! — so I just sat there on the floor and cried…while my baby screamed in her car seat next to me.
Yep. That was me. The woman you saw back in 2010 who made you think, I ain’t evah havin’ babies.
But here’s the deal. I’m not the only one who’s done something like this.
After retelling this story recently, a friend of mine also shared that she, too, had gone to the Mall of America 5-days postpartum. Only she hadn’t just tried to buy a nursing tank………SHE RODE THE FREAKING ROLLER COASTERS!!!!
(No you didn’ girlfriend!)
The stories didn’t end there either.
One woman told me that she went to the State Fair with a 10-day old baby. (NO amount of cheese curds can make up for this kind of pain.)
Another woman said that she went to the zoo 6-days postpartum and left an hour later with Mastitis. (SOB!)
And finally another woman shared that she went to a Halloween party in a full-on costume! just 2-days postpartum. (Dressed liked this perhaps??! #hahahahahaha)
There’s no end to how crazy these scenarios are, including my own, which begs the question: why would we push ourselves to do “all the things” when our bodies are in serious need of recovery?!!? Do other cultures do this? (They don’t. They’re at home where they should be, getting spoon-fed Greek yogurt and grapes.)
But that’s not our culture, is it? Only it doesn’t have to be that way! WE can be the barriers for each other after childbirth and create cultural change.
WE can protect our sisters before they go to the mall with a second degree tear. (For real.)
WE can take someone else’s child to Eagle’s Nest so she doesn’t have to carry her 2-week old baby up the tunnels of hell in order to save her 2-year old who won’t come down. (This happened to me too).
We can do ALL of these things so our sisters can walk that otherwise perilous bridge back to normalcy at a manageable pace.
And I say all of this because hindsight is 20/20.
No one “told me otherwise” when I had my first child because none of my friends were having kids yet! I just kind of wandered out there alone, feeling isolated, confused, and a lot like this guy below.
I learned quickly, then, that I desperately needed mom friends, so I pressed into the awkward abyss of #momdating, until little by little, I found my people.
This meant that I needed to get REAL good at being vulnerable and letting go of preconceived notions — of myself and of others — because true community isn’t self-prescribed, is it? It takes work and dedication; but ladies, it is SO worth it!
And I know firsthand, because by the time I was ready to have my third daughter, I had a whole tribe of mom friends surrounding me, ready and armed to protect my space.
These women knew how much I wanted “three months off” so I could fully enjoy my postpartum experience. This meant that they needed to constantly remind me that relaxation doesn’t mean laziness — it actually means strength and wisdom. They also had to talk me off the ledge when I started making “Mall of America-type decisions”; and above all else, they showed me love and grace throughout the whole entire experience.
THIS is how I achieved my “4th trimester“. And let me tell you, it was every bit as amazing that I knew it could be.
So, the moral of the story IS…
- Don’t go to the Mall of America 5-days postpartum. Just don’t.
- Make some mom friends. Just do.
If you’re going to push yourself to do anything after having a baby, it should be into community. If you already have community, then tell all of those people ahead of time what you think you might need. Then after you’ve accomplished both, help other mamas out! Don’t ask her what she needs . Just do it! Because chances are, she has no idea what her needs are once those hormones get ragin’.
So delve into vulnerability and the art of slowing down. Both of these things will help you do life better, I promise. They also might help you notice that the woman at the park who looks oh-so different from you actually is the best friend you’ve never had. She may even be the one who could STOP you from riding the roller coaster … at the Mall of America AND in life.