Heather Hall Lewis (36) and Daniel (4)
NW Indiana | Photographed in Portland, OR
Heather shares -
"I'm not as firm as I used to be, and that bothers me sometimes. I also have a harder time maintaining my weight. I seem to gain weight a lot easier than I used to, and that can be frustrating. However, I am totally in awe of what my body was able to do for my son. It was his sole source of nourishment for 15 months (9 months inside and 6 months outside while I exclusively breastfed him). It continued to nourish him for another 12 months until we stopped breastfeeding when he was about 18 months. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment.
No one told me how long it was going to take for my body to recover from childbirth. I had some tearing so had to have some stitches. Those hurt, then itched, for weeks after I gave birth. And no one told me how long my body would leak fluids after I gave birth. I lost track of how long I had to use pads postpartum.
I was on anti-anxiety medication before I got pregnant and weaned off in preparation for pregnancy. I was doing very well in that regard and felt excellent during my pregnancy. But the anxiety returned full force within a week or two of giving birth. I was irritable and moody, beyond the point that would be considered "normal" postpartum hormonal ups and downs. I had some pretty terrifying thoughts, which I have never shared with anyone, about me and my son. Fortunately, I knew my body well enough to know that I needed some medical help. I spoke to my doctor right away and got back on a low-dose of anti-anxiety medication. Once my body healed enough, I was also able to get out and exercise with my son, which also helped. I still struggle with anxiety, but manage with medication and exercise.
I also did not anticipate how soon after birth I would want to go back to work. I had planned to take my full 12 weeks of leave, but quickly discovered that stay-at-home-mommy is NOT my calling in life. I was lonely, bored, and really not enjoying my time with my son. Fortunately, I had the resources and ability to put him in daycare earlier than I had originally planned. I went back to work half-time when he was 8 weeks old, then returned full-time when he was 12 weeks old and it was the best decision I could have made. I was so much happier during the time that I got to spend with him when I could go to work for part of the day, too. I wish more women had that opportunity. I also wish that women weren't vilified for returning to work shortly after birth. That should be a personal decision with no judgement from anyone else. I try to discuss my experience with other parents so they know it's okay to not enjoy parental leave and want to go back to work. Parental leave isn't all sunshine and roses for everyone.
I love being a parent, but I also love being a working professional. I am healthier and my son is happier when I get to go to work.
I love what my body did for my son and am proud of that. I want to document that and share it with others.