Listen, I’ve had an easy go of it. Sure, I had heartburn, rib pain, fatigue and crankiness as a pregnant person, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And sure, my kid is kind of an angel.
So I wouldn’t blame you if you rolled your eyes and thought:
“Girl had it coming.”
But despite the fact that everyone and their mother sent me this fabulous post from Pregnant Chicken called “Happily After Giving Birth — 10 Things They Don’t Tell You,” I somehow found myself surprised by a few of the less-than-awesome post-partum souvenirs.
It’s a good thing the shower hides my tears because I cry over this. A lot. Post-partum hair loss is not like a few strands falling out through the day. It’s fistfulls of tangled frizz that covers my shoulders, falls into my food, covers the floor and generally distresses me. It got really bad when I went back to work and started pumping.
My skin was bad when I was pregnant and it’s terrible now. Every time a zit heals, another pops up. And because I’m extremely cautious about what products I use (what foods I eat, what drinks I drink, etc.) I am trying to stick to natural, chemical-free products. AKA — things that don’t actually do much to fight breakouts. Le sigh.
Loss of Bladder Control*
Ladies…there’s no getting around this. My informal research (talking to friends) reveals that no matter what your birth experience — unmedicated vaginal birth, c-section, an hour of pushing, 10 hours of pushing — the end result is the same: a life of peeing yourself. When I sneeze: pee. When I laugh: pee. When I sit down, there’s pee and when I stand up — you guessed it. More pee.
I honestly was not prepared for the amount of post-partum bleeding I’d experience, or for the duration. I bled pretty consistently for 6 weeks, and spotted for a few weeks after that. (I visited my doctors and was checked out to be OK — 6 weeks is a pretty long time.) Now, I have a Mirena IUD and the bleeding is back. I thought not having my period would be awesome? It turns out I’ve had the longest period of my life.
Like, whoa. I have checked myself for fever a million times in the last 20 weeks, because I’ve been convinced that the sweat pouring off my body could only be caused by sickness. Nope, just hormones.
The weirdest and most disturbing result of having a baby is the sometimes daily deja vu — the most intense of my life. What makes it worse is that it’s often coupled with pretty disturbing hallucinations…sometimes I’ll be holding Audrey and I picture her falling. Or she’ll be sleeping in her crib and I’ll picture the ceiling crashing down.
I’m right-handed and find it much easier to carry Audrey on that side. I try and switch her back and forth but I have a noticeably larger bicep on the right side (and forearm, too).
My friend had real PTBD (Post-Traumatic Birth Disorder), so I’m not trying to be flippant at all. I didn’t have any baby blues or depression, but I did experience (and still do!) some weird flashbacks to some of the most difficult moments I went through during labor and delivery. Some of those flashbacks feel real but I can’t be sure, since the last few hours were such a blur.
Motherhood is amazing. The process of getting and being here is not always so amazing. Worth it? Always. But be warned, future mamas: it’s not all chubby cheeks and giggles.
*I don’t know why I’m stopping the TMI here, but without going into gory detail, let’s just say that the first post-baby bowel movement was the scariest moment of my life.