postpartum on the prarie

Ever since bringing my girls into the world, I have wondered how in the heck bona-fide pioneer women did it.  There was no maternity leave for these rugged gals. The water still had to be hauled, the food grown, the animals tended and let’s not forget the laundry. Why any of these people felt so drawn to settle the West is beyond me. I am soft, spoiled and pampered in comparisons and I still think that I have it rough at times.

I did not do postpartum with ease and grace. I did it like a hormonally wacked out mess. First off I may not have even survived the birth of my first daughter in the Wild West. She weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds 2 ounces and that was with my gestational diabetes well under control. Dear God, she might have been a 13 pounder had that particular condition gone undiagnosed. Add to that the fact that she was breach. I’ll give you a minute to cross your legs tightly as the image of such is sure to cause distress on my behalf.

Once the  lovely c-section was complete and my beautiful babe was in arms, I thought I was golden. Not. My third day in the hospital I started to feel the crazies. My postpartum did not only manifest as depression. My main symptoms were anxiety and panic. Having never suffered either in the past, I had absolutely no idea how debilitating they could be. I console myself that I didn’t panic about meteors hitting the house, like one woman I shared my story with. I never knew when I’d be hit by an attack though. But I dealt with it by enormous amounts of walking. Day or night I would throw Anna in the stroller and walk the neighborhood for miles. That is until I started to worry that the gardeners were plotting to kidnap her and haul her across the border. That’s when I started dragging the driveway.  Ah, the ramblings of the sane.

It’s a wonder our second daughter was ever born. We were a bit nervous about bringing number two into this world after my first postpartum experience but we felt that we were at least prepared this time. Of course that didn’t make it much easier but it was enough to add our appropriately named Faith to the family.

Wah, wah, wah, enough about me. Back to our bionic fore mothers. These gals did not have jumparoos, exersaucers, disposable diapers, wipe warmers, automatic baby swings and bouncy seats; to name a very few of things that modern moms “need.” Not that they wouldn’t have appreciated the heck out of even one of these contraptions (possible with the exception of the wipe warmer… I didn’t even buy into that).  I have a vision of a wagon train crossing the Rockies and pioneer women ditching their great grandmother’s china before letting go of the precious jumparoo. Imagine having a safe place to store junior while you performed your other myriad of life sustaining chores.

When I start to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the learning curve ahead, I remind myself of what being a real pioneer was like and take a moment to be grateful that I am a New Pioneer instead.

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