(And If They Did, They Did A Bad Job At Warning Me)
***Let me clarify before you read my list that not only did I LOVE being pregnant, but I LOVE being a mother and I wouldn’t trade one nanosecond of it to remove any one thing off this list. I am writing this to put a humorous spin on an otherwise very hard and emotionally draining time in a new mom’s life. Also, postpartum life is very, very hard and without proper support and information, can make you feel isolated and broken. Knowing that you aren’t alone and that it gets better can make all the difference. I know it did for me. Develop a good support system. Surround yourself with people who you can trust, confide in, and be comforted by, and laugh at yourself…that’s really all you can do. I understand that every woman, pregnancy, and labor are different, but the consensus of the women I have talked to is that all of these things are pretty standard. Please don’t be offended if something on this list did (or didn’t) happen to you and you feel as though my humor minimized it. My goal is to encourage and uplift, not tear down. I would love to hear your feedback and opinions.
1: Your body is just not so great…actually it’s gross…your body is gross. Sure, you just experienced the miracle of bringing life into the world, and I am not trying to minimize that because it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever done, but your body will be gross for a while. There’s no way around it, just accept it. It’s swollen, it leaks, it smells, it bleeds, it sweats, it itches, it burns, it’s loose, there’s skin everywhere, and nothing works the way it did before…it’s really unpleasant. You will take showers as often as you can, and upon exiting you will immediately feel as though you need ten more. And apparently, it gets worse before it gets better.
2: Your lips will be as dry as desert sands. Seriously. No one even hinted at this. My lips have been in a constant state of being chapped since I delivered my precious boy. No amount of Chapstick, water, lotion, face wash, or moisturizer has helped. Breastfeeding makes you super thirsty, so you will constantly be drinking water, and somehow your lips will still be dry and you will feel like you haven’t had a sip of liquid in ten years.
3: Breastfeeding hurts. Not that “it will be uncomfortable for the first few times but then it will get better” but in that “I WOULD RATHER SAW MY ARM OFF WITH A BUTTER KNIFE THAN DO THIS AGAIN” excruciating pain that seems to never end. There were nights that I cried and cried each time he ate, anxious every time he would start to root because I knew it meant I had to feed him again…God forbid you get a crack or a sore…you will be praying for swift death. Breastfeeding is the best for your baby, but don’t feel bad if it is hard for you, and know that you are not a bad mother if you are unable to see it through. I am glad I have stuck with it, but it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To me, it was even harder than labor, and I have wanted to quit more times than continue. My best advice is get support. Contact a lactation consultant in your area who can help you and can give you that reassurance that you’re not alone and you’re doing the right things for you and your baby. Also, PUMP.
4: Sweat happens. This goes back to point number one, your body will be gross. Because you are a hormonal mess, the first little while after delivery you will sweat like you ran a marathon in leather pants and a turtleneck, especially when you’re sleeping or breastfeeding. You can’t stop it. Do yourself a favor and lay down a towel when you’re in bed so you don’t have to wash your sheets a thousand times a day and when it comes to deodorant, APPLY-APPLY-APPLY.
5: Stretchmarks of DOOM. Believe it or not, stretchmarks look WORSE not better once the baby comes out. I naively had this idea in my head that once the baby came out, they would look better because my skin wouldn’t be so stretched…WRONG. Mine actually began to swell and itch and turned a bright red color for a little while. You should know you can get even MORE stretch marks once your not pregnant anymore once your body starts adjusting and things like your milk coming in start happening. So love on those stretchy stripes ladies, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
6: Contractions don’t stop after labor stops. Yep. You read that right. Following the delivery of your child, you will probably continue to have contractions, especially while breastfeeding for the first few days to weeks…AND THEY HURT MAN! Without a baby to be the prize at the end of the contraction pinata, they are really just a painful (but necessary) nuisance that grips your belly like the strong arm of Satan and squeezes until you beg for mercy.
7: Introducing Moody Melinda. You will be sad for a little while. Often termed the baby blues, mood swings are incredibly common as your body tries to regulate all of the hormonal changes that are going on inside it. That compounded with the fact that you are a new mom with what feels like the weight of the world balancing on your shoulders, no sleep, and a gross body, you will pendulum swing emotionally at the drop of a hat. You won’t just cry either. Sometimes you will feel aggravated, angry, alone (no matter how much help you have), frightened, and frankly, just plain over it. You might snap, you might yell, you might not speak at all. Know that you’re normal, and once your hormones level out and you get the hang of everything, these feelings will start to fade…slowly and eventually you’ll get back to the way you were before…maybe…I don’t know. I’m still waiting on that to happen. All joking aside, postpartum depression is a very serious condition and should be dealt with right away. If you feel like you are no longer in control of your emotions, thoughts, or body, I encourage you to seek help from your support person, OB-GYN/Pediatrician, or family planning support group.***
8: Things that used to be normal before become terrifying after. First word: Pooping. Before you get all “oh my gosh I can’t believe she said that” let’s be adults. Everyone poops and ask any woman who has had a child, pooping is scary the first few times. Fret not, properly prepared, it’s not as bad as you imagine it to be. Take my advice: Tucks pads, squirt bottle, stool softeners, hydration, and prayer. Second word: Sneezing. The first time I sneezed (about 4 hours after little buddy had arrived) I almost shot out of the bed and into the ceiling. It will hurt, and every time you feel that tingling in your nose, you will clench up and pray your nose falls off so you don’t have to do it ever again.
9: Hemorrhoids. (No explanation needed.)
10: Pure Joy. No one could have prepared me for the amount of love and sheer exuberant joy that I feel as a mother. People can try and describe it, but it’s something you’ll never truly know until you experience it. I would take each thing on this list and multiply it times a hundred and August would still be worth every moment if it. My body, perfectly crafted by God for this purpose, not only grew him but even after birth is providing everything he needs to live. He knows my smell and just my touch brings him peace. He looks in my eyes and I know without question that he knows me, literally from the inside out. Each time he sighs, smiles, or sleeps, my heart swells to a size that feels as though my chest cannot contain it. Each bit if stress, sweat, strain, and ache is worth every minute, because it brought him to me. If I had to live with these 9 things forever, I would, as they are the remnants of a miracle. My son is my miracle.