So this is obviously pertinent to my life right now since I am, in fact, in the throes of postpartum – but that’s not the only reason I wanted to talk about it. Ever since having my first child, I have firmly believed that postpartum is not talked about enough when it comes to first-time mothers.
I had NO IDEA what I was in for 4 1/2 years ago. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about it. When you are prepping for your first baby, you are busy decorating the nursery and buying cute little clothes, and your mind is consumed with how you are going to make it through labor. You go to classes to learn what to expect during this monumental occasion and you learn coping mechanisms for the pain and you get yourself all ready to bring this little baby into the world. But no one ever tells you that there is a whole mess of crap you have to deal with afterward.
I’m not just talking about hormones; you hear plenty about “baby blues” and possible postpartum depression. I’m talking about what happens to your body. About the bleeding, the contractions (yes, you have them AFTER the baby comes), the leaky boobs, the sitz baths, the constipation – and while we’re on the subject – the hemorrhoids. I’m talking about that moment when you step out of the shower feeling clean (finally) and immediately start bleeding and dripping milk at the same time. Well, there goes that.
Why is there not a class on getting through postpartum? Hospitals offer all kinds of other classes; classes on infant care, labor techniques, infant CPR… but why no classes on how to care for YOURSELF during those first few precious weeks of postpartum? Perhaps some hospitals offer them, but I’ve never come across one.
I was so naive after having my first child. I didn’t know that I would be bleeding for
days weeks on end. I didn’t know that I would be constipated. I didn’t know what hemorrhoids even were because I’d never had them. I didn’t stock up on pads or Tucks or Dermoplast ® spray. I didn’t know I would need them. I was ridiculously confused when the nurse sent me home with a little plastic toilet seat for taking sitz baths. I didn’t know that I was going to be one of those women who leaks breastmilk A LOT and that the reusable breast pads that seemed so cost effective and environmentally responsible would be rendered useless on me.
Did having to deal with all of this and being completely blindsided by it play into my postpartum depression? Absolutely. It wasn’t enough that this little baby had completely turned my world and my life upside down, but suddenly I had a body that wasn’t functioning in a way I was used to or expecting.
So when I came across this article on Babble.com the other day entitled “20 things I wish someone had told me about postpartum,” I thought, “Finally! Someone is talking about it!” And it was full of true facts about the things I wish I had known, too.
If you are about to have your first baby – READ THIS.
If you know someone who is pregnant, please SEND THEM THIS ARTICLE.
It’s the dirty, down-to-earth, honest facts about postpartum.
When it comes to postpartum depression, or baby blues, I definitely dealt with that too. Number 9 in the article above addresses exactly how I felt. Although I loved my baby girl, I didn’t particularly feel in love with her. People would ask me, “are you just so in love with her?” and I would respond “Oh yes!” when I was really thinking, “Yeah, I guess.” I am not ashamed to admit this, because I think a lot of people feel the same. Your first baby turns your world upside down. For me, I went from chasing hard after a goal of getting my bachelors degree to having a surprise pregnancy and then a baby who needed me 24/7. I no longer had my own life, and my dreams and goals were now secondary. I loved my daughter, but I wasn’t prepared to put my everything into caring for her (how can you be??).
I couldn’t pee when I wanted or eat when I wanted. I couldn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time (if that). I couldn’t even spend time with my husband, because he got home at 6 every night and I was in bed by 8. I had to whip out my boobs every 3 hours. I was up in the middle of the night while everyone else was happily asleep. I remember thinking, will life ever be normal again?
And then there was my husband. My husband still got to go to work. He got to have adult conversations and eat lunch with two hands and no baby attached to the breast. He didn’t have to take care of someone else all day; he got to focus on himself. And suddenly that seemed selfish to me… and I was resentful. While my world was flipped upside down, I felt like his was pretty much the same. You see, postpartum was hard on our marriage, too.
But it got better. As the weeks went on, everything got better. A new “normal” emerged and my hormones stopped raging so much. Oh, and I was able to poop again.
Take heart, friends. Postpartum blows. But it gets better. And with every child, it has gotten easier (well, for the most part). At least with babies 2 and 3 I knew what to expect and I stocked up on the biggest pads I could find ahead of time. Postpartum depression hasn’t reared its ugly head since my first baby, and though I still dealt with many of the physical aspects of postpartum, the healing process was easier and felt much quicker.
So let’s keep this conversation alive. Don’t let postpartum be a mystery and a surprise to first-time moms! Talk about it; share your experiences. After all, who doesn’t want to talk about lactating and pooping? It makes for some great dinner conversation.