I’m four weeks in to my second time with this newborn phase. Birth—more on that later—was better the second time, although equally hard (if not harder).

I’ve only just finished the first four weeks of my postpartum recovery period. My goal was to rest as much as possible. So much so that I ended up writing down a mantra to help me remember: “I rest and receive. I receive and allow.”

Today marks the first day easing back into life’s demands. I wish I could rest a little longer, but the thing about being a parent to multiple kids is that this toddler isn’t going to take himself to school on his own.

The last four weeks have been blissful. I’ve had someone else doing the toddler prep and care (my husband). We’ve had friends deliver us food (oh my gosh THANK YOU). I’ve taken a hot bath every day, which is one of my ways of feeling held and divine. (It also helped me sweat a ton of stuff out!)

Here’s something I didn’t intuitively understand about postpartum the second time around: so much of my leave, rest, and recovery is really contingent on other people.

I cannot do this by myself. AND my leave is directly affected by my partner’s. He has four weeks of paid leave, and today’s his first day back at the office. Which means today’s my first day solo with the babe, it’s my morning to get the toddler out the door, and my ability to “sleep when the baby sleeps” (please never say this phrase to me) is not possible if I’m also the one on the train, or helping my toddler with the potty, or all the things.

When coparents get short leaves, like a week or two, mamas get less rest. And what about single mamas or widows or military spouses?

Never mind my partner, who would love to be at home longer, and to be part of this family unit.

What parental leave and care looks like in the United States is broken beyond belief.

I’m in conflict because I feel so profoundly lucky to be able to take the leave I’m taking, and yet I somehow still feel embarrassed that I still feel like it’s barely enough. (That’s shame, working it’s way through me, telling me to just be grateful for what I have.)

Mamas and parents everywhere, I salute you. And society? We can do better. Until we truly value motherhood and parenthood and hold divine respect for the art of raising humans, this is going to continue to be a shit show.

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