Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What No One Told Me

I have a few moments of quiet before Lyla wakes up, so I figured I would try and get something posted. I've been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now because I was completely blindsided by the whole postpartum process.

So here it is...The Things NO ONE tells you:

1. Labor Isn't A Big Deal
I was pretty surprised by this and explained it in more detail in my last post, but I psyched myself out for weeks before Lyla was born and for no good reason. I understand not everyone's experience is the same but my labor experience was extremely positive, thanks in large part to an awesome staff, chilled out music, and drugs. P.S. Get the epidural!!!

2. Post Labor is Way Worse Than Labor (contractions)
Everyone tells you about their labor story...no one talks about post-labor. It took me hours to regain the use of my legs after the epidural wore off and once I could move I felt like a hobbled invalid. All of my muscles hurt from all the intense pushing I had just done and I couldn't stand up straight for about a day. Also, as soon as you start breastfeeding, which is pretty much immediately, you experience the worst contractions you have ever felt. It was ten times worse than any pain I had felt during labor.

3. The Epidural
I had no idea what an epidural really was...sounds dumb right? well in case y'all are like me and think it is just a shot in the back, let me educate you. An epidural is actually a catheter (tube) that is inserted into your spine and pumps medicine continuously into your nervous system.

4. Postpartum Emotional Mind-Fuck
If you have a medicated birth like I did, be prepared for the after effects. You know that feeling when you come down from a three-night alcohol and drug fueled bender? That empty, delirious feeling you have when you watch the sun come up on a Sunday morning and realize you haven't eaten or slept for way longer than is medically recommended? Sure you do...we've all been there at least once. Well..that's precisely how I felt the night after giving birth. When they took Lyla to the nursery and we were trying to get some much-needed sleep, I all of a sudden felt emotionally drained; devoid of all those new-mom love fuzzies I was supposed to be feeling. I became paranoid that I was never going to bond with my baby and that I was slipping into PPD. Of course I wasn't, but it hadn't occurred to me just how many powerful drugs I had been on for the last 12 hours and what coming down from them would feel like. Once I got some sleep and woke up to the cries of my new baby the next morning, all was right again, but I wish I had known what to expect there.

4. Postpartum Bleeding
Nothing can really prepare you for the amount of blood that will be coming out of your vagina for the foreseeable future. Be sure to stock up (and I mean STOCK UP) on maxi pads and granny panties - if unlike me you don't already own several pairs. I had heard that you bleed postpartum. I had even heard that you need pads on hand. What I wasn't prepared for is the giant ball sized clots of blood that will make their way out of your crotch unexpectedly, or that I would feel a gush of liquid every time I stood up. I also was unprepared to bleed consistently for a month....it makes your period look like a breeze!

5. Breastfeeding Is Hard!
I have had a love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with breastfeeding from the beginning. I am lucky to have not had any problems with supply, and my baby is more than happy to eat exclusively from my massive tatas. However, I'm just going to say it: it fucking sucks. Breastfeeding has to be the biggest bait and switch of the whole baby experience. You expect it to be uncomfortable but the level of pain you experience just trying to feed your child is unparalleled and seems pretty unnatural. I mean, why would it be so damn painful and difficult if this is the way nature intended you to feed your child?! It makes no sense and I wasn't prepared. There were MANY nights in the early weeks where I would almost be brought to tears by the sensation of her little toothless mouth sucking away on my nipple. My toes would curl and I would cry to my husband that there HAS to be a better way. I felt like quitting a lot, but I knew that wasn't an option for me. I had made the decision to breastfeed my baby as long as I physically could and since my milk was producing fine, I had to literally bear the pain until it got easier. The upside? It DOES get easier. Around the 3rd or 4th week it slowly started to get better and now 5 weeks postpartum I don't need to use a nipple shield and it barely hurts anymore.

6. Night Sweats
Now this is one thing I never even heard about before. Every time I fell asleep I woke up in a puddle of sweat. Drenched. Every. Single. Time. Even while napping. I came to find out that this is entirely normal and that it can last for months after giving birth. So not only are you covered in breast milk (from spraying yourself or from being spit up on) but you also sweat like an Olympic wrestler on steroids. Be prepared to change your sheets and your pajamas often.

7. There Is No Normal
So stop asking. The only answer I ever got about my pregnancy, labor, postpartum recovery and newborn care is that "everyone is different" or "every baby is different". You will get through it all the best you can but no one can tell you what to expect or what your experience will be. Some women have really rough pregnancies, with morning sickness the entire time and horrific pain and some women never get nauseous at all. Some women have a baby bump and 15 extra pounds on them in the first trimester and some start showing a month before they give birth. Some babies sleep through the night from birth and others scream bloody murder until they're two years old. It's all relative, it's all an extreme crap shoot so prepare for the worst and hope for the best and you'll most likely fall somewhere in the middle.

So that's my two cents. That is what I have learned as a first-time mom and I keep learning every day. It should be a sign of things to come that I started this post 2 weeks after Lyla was born and I am just now finishing it 5 weeks post birth. There is no more "down time". The house is a mess, I'm exhausted and this will be my big activity for the day....and it's time to feed her again :-)


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