No one tells you: “You’ll feel like a mental patient!” “You’ll bleed like a gunshot victim!”
So I’m just going to be honest and tell you five things I was not expecting after I gave birth. Even though we took an in-depth childbirth class at The Birth Center, I feel that the information we were provided was extremely sugar-coated. Most likely to not scare us silly, which I can appreciate, but looking back, I wish someone was a straight shooter with me about a few things.
This is based on vaginal childbirth. So for people who are having a scheduled c-section, your experiences may vary.
*Warning: TMI ahead*
1. Blood. So much blood. I actually think gunshot victims bleed less than women who give birth vaginally. And I’m not even talking about hemorrhaging,I’m talking about normal post-partum bleeding. Before your due date, go to the feminine hygiene aisle of Target and buy 4-5 large packs of maxi pads – all different sizes. Then, steal every single pad from the hospital that enters your line of sight. When you nurse, hormones will make your uterus contract and you’ll feel a gush. When you stand up from a seated position, you will feel a gush. If you overexert yourself, you will feel a gush. Prepare yourself and don’t wear any cute underwear for at least 2 weeks. (The good news? Flynn is almost 8 months old and I still haven’t gotten my period back.)
2. You may not want anyone to hold your baby. Family & friends will want to visit sooner than you'd like them to and “give you a break” by holding your baby. While this is well-intentioned, I just want to warn you that you may not want anyone else to hold your baby. In fact, you may feel like punching whoever is holding your baby in the face. This was the case for me in the first week or so after we brought Flynn home. When my parents, my sister-in-law and my in-laws were holding Flynn, I felt an intense surge of RAGE pulsing through my body. This has got to be some sort of primal urge of a mother to protect her young because I have no other explanation. Tim could hold him all he wanted and I was fine with it, but when anyone else did, I wanted to grab Flynn and run away. (On a brighter note: most visitors will bring food and that is the most helpful gesture in the world to new parents.)
3. Control over your bodily functions may disappear for a short period of time. I felt all around disgusting in the weeks after giving birth. I had an episiotomy at the last minute because Flynn’s big old head wouldn’t budge after 3 hours of pushing, and that whole “area” was greatly affected by the incision (and tearing). Not only are there stitches in your nether-region, but the muscles that hold in pee, poop & farts take a vacation. Seriously, haven’t we been through enough already?! Not only do you have to be concerned about a gush of blood when you move suddenly, but also accidentally letting one rip. (Thankfully, any visitors will be too enthralled by your baby’s cuteness to notice that you just sharted and if all else fails, blame the dog.)
4. Speaking of pooping… you won’t be doing that for a while. Not without being terrified at least. While you’re at Target stocking up on maxi pads, hunt down the stool softeners. I wasn’t prepared for this and had to make an emergency trip at Rite Aid a few days after we brought Flynn home. It’s a real pain in the ass (pun intended) because you gotta go and yet you’re scared sh*tless (I am on a roll) that you’re going to rip a few stitches out with the slightest bit of exertion. Worst.feeling.ever.
5. You’ll wonder if this was all a huge mistake. After the frozen lasagna is gone, your husband goes back to work and you’re on your own with a newborn, you will wonder if you’re ready to be a mother. There were moments when I wished Flynn was never born. And then I’d beat myself up for thinking something so horrible. I’d yell at the dog or Tim because I was feeling overwhelmed and only sleeping for 2 hours at a time. Flynn would wake up and want to nurse and I would start crying because I had just fallen back to sleep. Looking back I know it was just the “baby blues,” but it felt more like the baby crazies. I didn’t feel sad - I felt completely insane! One night when I was nursing Flynn in bed, I couldn’t see him very well in the dark and I started getting really pissed off at this needy, faceless creature (that’s how irrational my thinking was at 3 am). He peed through his diaper and after I finished feeding him, I carried him into his room feeling extremely angry & unhinged. I turned on the light to see what I was doing and as soon as I saw his precious little face looking at me, those awful feelings disappeared. Things got better from then on, and whenever I was up in the middle of the night, I would make sure I could see his face (thanks flashlight app!) and I felt completely at peace.
Note: There is a big difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression. You can read about both here: http://www.urbanmommies.com/pregnancy-2/the-baby-blues-vs-post-partum-depression-how-to-tell-the-difference/
Has anyone else been through what I detailed above? What were you unprepared for after (or while) you gave birth?