For the past 13 weeks, I've told so many people, "oh man it's so much different than you think" with "it" being childbirth and the weeks following. Man I though Jon and I were super prepared before Ford was born...my experience babysitting and nannying, reading a million books, taking a breastfeeding class... and boom! We had Ford and chaos ensued. Changing diapers, swaddling, and all that good stuff was a piece of cake. Easy peasy. But today I wanted to share the nitty gritty of what people don't talk about postpartum.
Gosh so many words and thoughts are racing through my mind I don't even know where to being. Let's start with childbirth being the most painful thing I've ever been through. Ford's birth was not at all what I ever imagined and it was incredibly traumatic. It took me a few weeks not to cry when I told people about it, not because I was disappointed at ALL but because it was so scary and painful. Childbirth isn't painful for everyone but for me, it was awful and I don't want to sugar coat it. I am so glad we induced and really hate those people who stand up on their soapbox saying how induction is the worst. Everyone has a story that the Lord has already written and ours included induction that ended in a C section. Pitocin kicked my ass and I wasn't able to have an epidural because of low blood platelets. I do not recommend Pitocin unless you are certain you can have an epidural (which I never ever would have imagined that I couldn't). And Stadol... stay away from that crazy drug! I don't want to get too deep into my birth story since today's post focuses on postpartum but I did want to preface with that. I am happy to answer any questions about Ford's birth, I know God gave us the story to share and I am happy to do so!
So the C section. Ouch! Looking back as painful as it was and hard the recovery was, I will definitely have more for future children but we'll leave that for another post. The main thing post delivery that rocked my socks off was the bleeding. I believe the technical term is "lochia" but it should be changed to "the grossest, stinkiest, raunchiest 2 months of your life." TMI? You guys asked for this post! I knew it was coming but I never knew it would be this intense. There were times in the first few weeks where I thought at the end of the day I wouldn't have any blood left. Take your heaviest, worst period and multiply that by 10. Oh and it starts immediately after birth. Luckily the hospital supplies you with pads that are larger than your newborns diapers and these awesome mesh undies that are so darn comfortable. Having a C section inhibited me from doing much those first few days and I remember thinking "why the heck would anyone choose this job" referring to my awesome nurse changing my diaper and squirting my girl parts with a water bottle. Oh the squirt bottle! I am sure it is much more useful if you deliver vaginally because of the mess that happens down there but I can't speak to that (major bonus of a C section!). Just simply wiping with TP isn't enough for the post partum red aunt. The hospital supplies you with this little squirt bottle that I wanted to use probably 20 times a day just to feel clean. Shout out to my nurses and my mom for helping me with that one! One thing I can't say I loved about my nurses was the fact that they came in twice a day to press down on my uterus to feel where it was. I think this is standard for vaginal and Cs but owieeeeee. Since I was put fully under for my C, I had to stay in bed for 24 hours and I had these things that squeezed my legs every minute to prevent blood clots. They felt kind of like a leg massage and I remember hating when they got taken off because the uterus pounding hurt that much worse. The leg squeezing helped take the edge off.
I was in the hospital for 5 days total and I accepted the fact that I was bleeding pretty bad but never thought it would last so darn long! It wasn't until 8-9 weeks that I felt comfortable not wearing a panty liner daily (the last 2 weeks was on and off spotting). You better believe I stocked up on the diaper like pads and mesh panties before leaving the hospital and I assumed my stash would last me. Ha! Wrong-o. I went through that stash in a weekend and was totally unprepared at home. I thought I'd catch a break since I had a C section and didn't have to deal with tearing, stitches, etc. but you get no handicap ladies. Boo. If you're pregnant, go to the feminine product aisle and grab the largest diaper pads you can find, and buy triple what you think you need. I never actually used adult diapers but I know women who did and said they were awesome. I would also recommend making padsicles before you give birth with the likelihood you will give birth vaginally. Again, I can't speak on that but look them up on Pinterest, supposedly your lady parts will thank you.
To add to the lovely mess you are dealing with down there, let's just talk about your new not so womanly scent. I swear I could just step out of the shower and instantly smell myself and it wasn't pretty. It took a couple of weeks for me not to be incredibly grossed out in my own body purely from my scent. I think it was the mix of 105 degree Texas heat in August and my new hormones flowing like crazy but my smell was just off. Oh and breast feeding... talk about sweaty mess. Never did I ever appreciate showers more than those precious showers in the first few weeks of Ford's life!
Since I mentioned breastfeeding above, I did want to touch on that just a bit. Ford and I have a really great breastfeeding relationship and I am so so happy it is working for us. It is such a sweet and special bond we have and I really enjoy knowing how my body can nourish my sons body. God's work is really incredible, huh? Jon and I took a breastfeeding class 2 months before Ford was born and I am SO glad we did. I highly recommend pregnant mommies to take them WITH their husbands because anyone who has breastfed knows that it is basically a 4 person job in the beginning. One thing that I did not like about the class (and realized it after I started breastfeeding) is the fact they told us that it would NOT hurt. Yeah that's a load of crock!! No breastfeeding doesn't hurt me now but those first few weeks... yeah I remember praying that my milk would dry up because the pain was so intense. Again, I don't want to scare any mamas because breastfeeding is so wonderful but I remember feeling sad and discouraged that I must be doing something wrong because it hurt. I mean think about it, your poor nipples are getting sucked on every other hour for an hour at a time, a heck of a lot more stimulation than those babies have ever seen. You are learning, your baby is learning, it is definitely not for the weak at heart. But you have to stick it out. I remember hearing that 3 weeks was that magic week that the pain would be gone... and it's true! You and your baby fall into a routine, learn each other's bodies, and it is UH-MAYZING when you wake up one day and it doesn't hurt! My advice for mamas to be preparing to breastfeed is be aware that it may be a little uncomfortable. Don't give up! Give it time. Lanolin, ice packs, heat pads, your husband. Get your tool box ready. And nipple shields! Lactation consultants will scowl at you at the mention of them but I think they need to be offered to new moms at the hospital. When Ford was 3 weeks old my right nipple was so irritated that I cried at every latch. I ran to Target and grabbed a Medela Nipple Shield and it changed my life. It gave my cracked nipple time to heal and gave me my confidence back. Contrary to what lactation consultants will say, Ford went right back to my breast when I stopped using it.
I remember reading posts and hearing advice on what to bring to the hospital when you are packing your bags and people always recommended maternity clothes because you would look like you were about 6 months prego after. Okay I was the size of a normal 9 month prego woman at 6 months so I definitely didn't look that big but your body is SO different. I wore dresses and maternity yoga pants those first few days to protect my incision and slowly added in maternity shorts when I needed to look presentable. My doctor told me to expect a belly until my uterus fully shrunk after 8 weeks but here I am 13 weeks postpartum and my uterus may be normal sized inside of me but the poochy belly is still there. I was able to start wearing some non maternity pants about 6 weeks postpartum and even though I am back at my pre pregnancy weight, my body is not the same... and I am okay with that. Stretch marks on my tummy remind me of my beautiful big (and late) baby and the extra skin around my midsection leave me in awe of the way my body was able to grow my son. God's work is pretty cool! I recently started working out and found out that my abs are literally spread apart still. Will be putting off those for a bit.
If you feel like I've already given TMI, you may not want to read any further because now we're gonna talk sex. I've never really talked about sex on my blog before but again... I wish I would have known what to expect postpartum in the intimacy department. To be honest, I was ready for lovin' within the first few days of giving birth. My hormones were surging and seeing Jon step so perfectly into fatherhood made me fall hard for my husband. My doctor told me I would most likely be cleared for sex 6 weeks after giving birth so we were counting down the days. I'm not going to give lots of details but again... wish I would have known that just because your doctor clears you for sex, doesn't mean your body is ready. I guess I assumed because I had a C section things would be easier but I didn't take into consideration that I had indeed gone through labor, dialted and my uterus was still shrinking. I remember being so so sad that things didn't pick up right where they left off, but your body needs time to heal. You are more than welcome to email me if you have further questions about postpartum sex. Never have I loved my husband more than after having a baby together. Knowing that God created sex to be fun and pleasurable for man and wife, but that a life is created! It is the most amazing thing. But it takes time.
I feel like lots of people DO talk about postpartum emotions but honestly even after reading blogs, books, and articles about it, I could never prepare until I experienced it. Parenthood is so much harder than I could have ever imagined but it is so much better. So much more rewarding, precious, and fulfilling. Those first few days I cried, I would think 99% of women do. Cried because I couldn't stand up straight and bear the pain of my incision, cried because I had to cover my nipples in the shower because the water pouring over them hurt like hell, and crying because I was so in love with my baby. Hormones. Those things are absolutely nuts. You think your hormones are raging during your time of the month? Just wait until you have a baby! Hormones coupled with pure exhaustion is the perfect cocktail for a sensitive heart and lots of tears. And that is okay! I love that this community totally embraces postpartum emotions. I did not suffer from PPD but love that my friends who do can so openly speak about it, own it, and share it. Motherhood is such a crazy unknown. You constantly question whether you are doing it right and whether you are doing enough so it's easy to get down on yourself but know that you are not alone.
I hope that this post didn't discourage any mamas to be because that is the opposite of what I wanted it to do. I wish someone would have told me that it's OK to cry in the shower and that it's normal for you to walk around topless those first few weeks because it's just easier than taking off your shirt to feed every hour. I want my blog to be a place where you can come to get the real deal. Like I said a few times, I want to be an open book so please don't hesitate to ask me questions about my postpartum experience. I am more than happy to share, that is what this community is about.