Postpartum for an 18 year old

Postpartum for an 18 year old. What?

Today in therapy I had an ah ha moment. We were talking about this season; so strange in so many regards. Covid_19 has added to and taken away so much of life’s expectations.

As a mom of a graduating high school senior, I’ve had many feelings. Starting at the beginning of this school year, there have been those moments where I’ve said to myself, “Soak it in. This is the last time for Caroline to do this.” We’ve marked each milestone with celebration.

Today as I was talking about this last week of school for Caroline, it dawned on me that I’m going through postpartum. When Caroline was born, it took me about 10 weeks to get into the routine called motherhood. Many moments in those first weeks I cried. I smiled. I laughed. I marveled.

Being a brand new mom meant experiencing the infant moments for the first time. While What to Expect When You’re Expecting gave me some concrete facts for my journey, it didn’t do much for my heart preparation. No one can tell your heart how it will quicken the first time your baby truly smiles at you. You can’t know the sweet bittersweet sadness when those first steps of independence are taken. There are no manuals for the mommy feels each time your baby tackles and wins at the next thing.

Right now? Well right now I’m going through 18 year old launching postpartum. The birthing pains of getting Caroline to this point are over. She’s arrived. She’s worked so hard and fought for each award and grade she’s received. Caroline soaked in every moment of her journey to get here. Just like the manuals gave me the facts when she was born but no advice on the emotions, I’m sitting in the space of all the feels. There are no books for what to do with these stomach turning, 180 degree flips.

You can’t know, until you’re there, the emotions that come with letting go the biggest treasure you were handed 18 years ago. Your heart is now walking outside your chest and headed into this crazy and wild world. The mama feeling of safety, knowing she’s home every night is now gone. The supervision and control you had over this human being is now loosened. All the perimeters you were told, as a parent you needed to put into place, now need to be lifted. The job, raising an infant to an adult, is over. A new one is starting and boy is it scary.

So just as I felt during the 10 weeks postpartum after Caroline’s birth, I’m feeling it all now. Tears spring up at the strangest times. Joy and chest bursting pride follow in the next breath. Just as I had to give myself tremendous grace during those first 10 weeks, I’m reminding myself that even more grace is needed now.

I wish they’d written a book called “What to Expect when You’re Launching.” But then again, it would be just the facts and you know, facts aren’t the whole story are they?

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