I’m about halfway through the “fourth trimester” now where things are literally a hazy fog of newborn bubble, sleep deprivation, and adjusting to our new family addition. The biggest challenge during this time is coping with the physical and mental recovery on top of all the other change that is happening. Throw diabetes into the mix and it’s easy to be overwhelmed and consumed by everything that is happening.
Physically, everything just hurts these first few weeks; a great reward for bringing new life into the world. /sarcasm. But really: you’ve got an internal wound the size of a dinner plate, external wounds from baby’s exit strategy, painful, lumpy, giant boobs from your milk coming in. Then you’ve got the postpartum belly jiggle and the weakened pelvic floor muscles leaving you hoping you don’t pee yourself each time you cough or sneeze. This just the best case scenario if you don’t consider other potential complications that could accompany childbirth.
My body looks and feels utterly different. All the mum-blogs and memes are quick to remind me about all amazing things its done and how I should feel proud and amazing. Instead, I feel gross, unfit and broken, which in turn leaves me feeling extra exhausted and defeated. Then you’ve got the betes side of things to add to that burden.
Post birth, your sugar levels tend to go a little haywire thanks to the hormones and breastfeeding. It’s another thing I feel like I’ve lost control over. Especially after being obsessive in keeping my sugars within target range for the past year. Now, I would constantly be needing to tweak things every few days and if I wasn’t having constant lows, I’d be riding high. Either way – feeling horrible, sick of overeating and dealing with hypo/high hangovers. Especially the overnight hypos as I’m trying to savour every minute of sleep that I can. Instead here I am stuffing my face with lollies and food and changing out of my sweat soaked clothes so I don’t freeze to death. At least most of my worst overnight hypos have happened while both kids were asleep. Imagine trying to deal with that while a toddler clings on to you and a newborn is crying to be fed. That alone is bad enough without the diabetes complicating things.
All of this has had a compounding effect on my mental health. Together with the lack of sleep, it’s been so hard to remain composed, patient and tolerant of my own family, let alone other people. I have been immensely grateful for the additional support our local council provides with their enhanced maternal child health service, who regularly checks in on me at home, listen to me vent/whinge/cry/ponder and connects me with other services that may be helpful.
I know that the fourth trimester is only temporary and I will look back on this time fondly in the future. This is something I’m desperately clinging onto and reminding myself: I will get my fitness back in time. For now, I need to keep telling myself it’s okay if I can’t work out like I used to or if my sugars aren’t in range 90% of the time. I will learn to love my body again and my diabetes will settle back down. If there’s ever a time to be kind to myself and cut myself some slack, the time is definitely now.