Without A Village — Making Decisions as a Mother with a Lack of Postpartum Support
The lack of understanding, support, and respect for the postpartum period oftentimes makes me nervous to have all of the babies I actually truly want. There — I said it. It pains me to say this, and it’s not an easy thing for any strong-willed woman to admit; however, I know for a fact that many women (and men too) feel the exact same way that I do.
I originally wanted four babies. Yet, I find myself questioning if that is truly the lifestyle I still want now that I know all of what the postpartum period actually entails with modern living in an individualistic, capitalist, and over-worked society. Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy, and I love being a mother. The primal, birth junkie, newborn-enthusiast side of me says “yes, you’re still young, have all the babies!” Then, I have the practical side of me that remembers how hard it was.
There are a lot of things about the postpartum period that I honestly would prefer to not go through ever again — but especially not three more times. I don’t want to have to watch my husband explain to my in-laws why it is that I could use more food a few weeks after giving birth, or why they should bring a meal when they come visit rather than show up empty-handed. I don’t want to hear “well back in the day, nobody helped us either.” I don’t want to have to scrap together help while knowing that this is a non-issue for women who live in other cultures where the postpartum period is prioritized and seen as a sacred and precious time of healing and support for the mother.
I have days where I tell myself that it could have been a lot worse, because it could have been. My mom and dad were actually amazing and very supportive when they were able to be; however, they both live 30–40 minutes away and still work full-time with no anticipation of that changing any time soon. As a result, their schedules are not always flexible. My husband is also one of the lucky ones who was able to take paternity leave for a few months — and still, I remember it just being very hard. Rewarding and joyful too — but hard. It isn’t easy or even fair really for the majority of the support that a postpartum woman needs to be placed predominantly on one individual.
As a birth worker myself, I know all about postpartum doulas, and I’m actually even good friends with one. I’m aware that it is there and is a legitimate option as well. I’m also aware of the fact that this isn’t an option for all women. I think postpartum doula work is sorely needed and I am grateful that this service is becoming more mainstream. I guess I am just still personally struggling with the reason that their work even needs to exist in the first place.
Then, beyond immediate postpartum assistance, there is the issue of raising children in general while living in a society so far away from village life. Everyone has their own little box to live in miles away, their own work and nap schedules to work around, lifestyles to maintain, etc. It very quickly becomes hard to access support and I know so many families who regularly struggle with fatigue and burnout for this very reason. I’ve also personally witnessed that the larger the family is, the harder it seems to be.
I’m always thinking of ways to build a village and network as much as possible while living on heavily colonized and regulated land, where folks need to be busy in order to maintain lifestyles and pay the bills. It takes a lot of time, coordinating, energy, planning, and effort. I’m still trying to figure out all of these things in my mind daily, and what they look like and mean to me. Progress is definitely being made, but it is a journey. The beauty lies in the fact that this is just where I’m at in my journey at this point in time. I don’t have all of the answers right now on how I ultimately want to live the rest of my life, and that is okay.