By Dr. Angela Potter
Autumn and I met through the wonderful organization, Hike It Baby. Autumn loves going hiking and camping with her husband and young son. If you want some tips on how to enjoy the great outdoors with a young baby, talk to Autumn!
Where do you call home?
Portland, Oregon is my home, and has been for the last six years. Originally from Seattle, I have to say I prefer Portland and don't see myself heading back up to Washington.
How many kids do you have?
I have one child, a ten month old son.
What was one of the hardest changes for you physically during your postpartum journey?
I was in labor for a long time, got to ten centimeters, pushed once, and had to have an emergency c-section. This meant I had to recover from both aspects of the birthing experience. I was unable to walk more than a few steps for the first two days. I was also trying to nurse my newborn on demand while on very strong pain killers. I ended up not taking the dose they recommended because I would sleep so deep I couldn't wake up when my baby cried for me. Lowering the dosage meant I was in more pain than I needed to be but I wanted to feel those first hours and be as present as I could.
What was one of the hardest changes for you mentally/emotionally during your postpartum journey?
It got a little dark there for a while, and I mean that both figuratively and literally. I had a baby in early November and so the days were very short and the nights seemed to last forever. Latching did not come easy to me and I would spend upwards of an hour trying to get him on properly. Nights and days bled together and my sleep deprivation was severe. It felt like my baby was hungry all the time and I would dread nursing him because it was so painful. I have never handled interrupted sleep very well, and those first two months are nothing but interrupted sleep.
The mental aspect of motherhood is a gauntlet, particularly in the beginning. I also felt a lot of pressure to be enjoying every minute of the experience from family members who were around in the beginning and it made me feel worse about my aversion to nursing and the exhausted misery of those first blind-leading-the-blind weeks.
What has been your greatest joy in motherhood?
I never knew I could love something the way I love my son. It's on a deeper level, it's in the blood, and it's almost primal. I'm also genuinely amazed at how well I'm doing.
My life has changed completely since giving birth, and though it can be challenging and downright scary at times, the person I am as a parent is far more loving, patient, capable, and kind than I could have imagined.
What is one resource that felt invaluable to you during the postpartum time?
I have a small cluster of mom friends I text with on a daily basis. Two are from Seattle and two are from Portland. There is one in particular in Portland who was and still is an absolute lifeline. I remember one night when I was home alone with my baby who wouldn't sleep and I called her sobbing about how hard everything was and how awful I was doing and she literally hung up the phone, left her THREE children with her husband, drove to my house, and just hugged me.
She understood everything I was feeling because she had been there and she let me cry and blabber and cry some more and it was all I needed. I just needed the physical contact of another mother to tell me it was going to be ok and that I was going to be ok.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to pregnant moms in preparation for their postpartum journey?
Find your mom tribe. If they're friends you already know and see, that's great. If they're far away but you're texting, that's great too. I text my close mom friends multiple times a day. Sometimes it's the only way to get through these days! FIND YOUR MOM TRIBE. I cannot overstate how important it is to have support outside of your family. Family is amazing, but you need to talk with people who are on the same journey as you and are feeling those highs and lows as acutely.
Autumn has been an outdoor enthusiast her whole life and was born and raised in the pacific northwest. As a new mother with very little confidence going into the experience, she finds herself relishing the challenges of raising a baby boy as well as figuring out how to balance her life as a mom, a wife, a wilderness lover, and a writer. Currently contributing to two blogs while writing her own, she has more than enough to keep her busy. You can find her personal blog at pnwmountainmommy.com and follow the day-to-day adventures her little family on instagram @pnwmountainmommy.