Last week, I provided a list of things no one tells you in relation to pregnancy. I will admit that list isn’t too bad, but it was more of a precursor for this one anyways. Postpartum. The fourth trimester and beyond. The time in your life where you think to yourself “what the fuck is going on?” hourly, if not more. Again, there are tons of lists out there on the world wide web. They claim they will tell you things no one will about delivery and postpartum; again those lists are all the same, and its all in your “What to Expect…” book. Here are the things I wish someone had sat me down, looked me in the eyes and told me.
Things No One Tells You:
- Somewhere in the first week you will have a hormone dump. This usually
falls around the 4th night, but can vary person to person. This day is the worst; do not have visitors, do not plan to do anything, have lots of snacks and water ready, and have a helper. This hit me at about 4am on the 4th night, struggling to breastfeed, tired as fuck, clueless, I sat on the couch holding my baby and sobbing. Tyler sat next to me and just said over and over, “I’m so sorry I don’t know how to help you”. The hormone dump is brutal. I suggest writing it on the calendar so that when you think you’ve broken irreparably and you can’t be a mother, you can look at the calendar and go “oh, that’s why this seems so hard”, take a breath, and get through it.
- You will sweat. You probably read about this, but what they all fail to
convey is HOW MUCH you will sweat. You will wake up and feel like you’re in the Amazon, it will feel like the air is heavy and you might even feel a bit claustrophobic (another reason to avoid a summer birth.) You will wake up in the middle of the night drenched and needing to towel off. The baby will wake you up 30 mintues later, and you’ll need to towel off again. You will feel disgusting. I suggest buying a mattress protector and an extra set of sheets before D-Day, also keep a towel next to the bed, for convenience.
- Fluids. SO. MANY. FLUIDS. You will have heard about how milk will just pour out of your (no longer) funbags, about the lochia which can last up to 8 weeks, and I’ve explained the sweat situation already. Let me paint you a picture… You will wake up and feed the baby, feeling disgusting, you will hand the baby over to Dad and go have a shower; so you can feel less swamp monster, and more human. You will save time (and water) and pee in the shower, it is then that you will consider for a moment the absolute leaking mess that you are. Water, tears (the shower is a good place to cry and you’ll cry through many of them), sweat, pee, milk, lochia… You will feel very odd, and then you may even laugh like I did. Because WTF, a woman’s body is totally amazing and fucked up. You will get out and dry off, put your hair into a bun, grab a fresh enormous pad, and feel clean again, for a short time at least. That is your new heaven; feeling clean, a baby who is sleeping peacefully, drinking your coffee and eating your breakfast that your baby daddy made for you. ahhh.
- Breastfeeding blows. Yes, its amazing that you can nourish a child with only your tatas, and yes its an intimate time, just you and your little one. But seriously, cut the crap. Its fucking hard work, it can be uncomfortable to the point of torturous, and while there is more support than there has
been in millenia, there is still not enough. If your nips are sore to the point you are crying or dreading feeding your baby, I highly recommend seeing a lacatation consultant (I actually recommend seeing one even if you aren’t struggling, because there is always room for improvement. They may catch something that isn’t an issue now, but will be in the future). By the time I called Jodi, I had nearly broken my foot kicking the coffee table as Callahan would latch. My nipples were bleeding (which was alarming when Callahan spat up brown fluids) and raw and I hated life. Jodi will know when the next kid is born before any of our family does. If you are set on breastfeeding, spend the money and book with an LC in advance, you won’t regret it.
- In addition to breastfeeding being hard, it will KILL your libido- its not the fact you had the baby that kills it, its the breastfeeding (hormones are a mother fucker). And it lasts a LOOOOOONG ass time.
- Also, breastfeeding doesn’t ruin your breasts. Pregnancy does. The damage is done long before the milk comes in. Speaking of milk coming in, that is also a brutal day. Hot, sweating, leaking, hard as rocks, baby still doesn’t know what it’s doing… I wish you luck. I ran around like a chiken with my head cut off, my boobs looked like a fembot’s and Callahan wasn’t interested in eating that day to relieve the pressure. It was also the day of the hormone dump, yowza.
- Breastfeeding DOES NOT equal weight loss. Yes, it burns extra calories,
but you also have to eat more to sustain your milk. I’m sure there are some lucky bitches out there that swear they lost all the baby weight by breastfeeding, but that wasn’t me, nor was it most of my friends or relatives. I was SOOOO hungry. Given that I didn’t have any real cravings while I was pregnant, I was unprepared for this primal urge to eat. I couldn’t control it, I had to eat. I remember one day, when Tyler left the house for a few hours and I just scrounged food like a freaking raccoon and ate nonstop for 3 hours. I’m not exaggerating.
- Your hair will fall out at an alarming rate, you’ve probably heard this before; but it will do this for AGES. Callahan is over a year old and my hair is still falling out like mad. My hair receeded at the temples and I have those lovely little “mom bangs” all around my face. I look like a pubescent lion. No matter how much effort I put in, my hair looks like hell. My lovely friend and hair stylist told me not to wear my hair tight in buns and ponytails; but to braid it. Keep it loose to help with all of this. But its impossible since I can’t do anything other than a ponytail or a bun, and I am so sweaty, the hair HAS to be up.
- Joint pain is a bitch. The relaxin hormone is starting to subside, the extra weight, the fatigue, the sitting and feeding baby for hours on end; it adds up. I would wake up in the morning and my feet would hurt to walk, I
would waddle, making quick little steps to avoid putting too much weight (haha) on them. It would take a solid 20 minutes before they stopped hurting. They would ache again if I was sitting for a while. My knees ached, getting off the couch became a struggle. You can also become susceptible to “mother’s wrist” which is caused by putting your wrist at weird angles to hold your baby while feeding or carrying. (Try to support the baby with your arm, leaving your wrist in a neutral position.) I “threw my back out” almost monthly, carrying him, sitting, tight muscles, relaxin, baby seat, strollers, etc… there’s a lot of pressure on your body, pretend you’re still pregnant and get other people to do stuff for you. Take it easy, and go to the RMT and Chiropractor. When you’re cleared for take off, see a trainer that specializes in postpartum fitness.
- Loss of bladder control is VERY common, but NOT normal. If you have
these issues, see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. It will change your life. If you’re a mature woman who’s kids are long grown, they can still help you. I only had 3 appointments and saw a difference in my control and my back problems after the first appointment. Your pelvic floor is the foundation of your body, if there is an issue there, nothing else will be truly fixed despite all your efforts.
I think the thing I was not prepared for (most pissed about) was how long all of these things last. For real, Callahan is over one, I stopped breastfeeding completely 3 months ago, and I still have some of these lingering on! My rings will now go on, but won’t come off. My feet still ache in the morning but not as bad, my joints and back are finally feeling better, my hair still falls out like mad, and the weight is still there, but slowly going away (like molasses uphill in the winter), and I still sweat like a mofo! Although not as bad as the time immediately after birth, but it’s not a cute amount to be sure.
Considering I had a smooth pregnancy, I would say I hated the postpartum feelings more than a third trimester in the summer or actually giving birth. I’ve said it many times since, but those first few weeks were so hard with all of the above, and our difficulty breastfeeding, that I would have given birth 3 times a week for 3 weeks than deal with that again. People focus on what your body is doing during pregnancy, and then they focus on the baby, but what we really need to be talking about is Mom and her body in those postpartum months (and months, and months). Add in any amount of postpartum depression/anxiety/blues/rage (yes, postpartum rage is a thing) and you’ve got quite a hole to climb back out of.
So there is my list of things I wish someone would have told me. Try to find the humour in it all. Yell at your tv, or cry in the shower. Ask for help, and more help. You will all survive this and thrive. When people ask you how you’re doing, tell them the truth; no one can help you if you don’t tell them what you need; even if all you want is to stop spewing fluids like a colander.