When I was pregnant, all of my focus was on childbirth and the health of my baby. I didn't ask questions about what would happen afterwards, though. So, after my baby was born and I was being discharged from the hospital, I was handed an appointment card with a date and time written on it. I'm pretty sure I lost that card before we even got home, and didn't think about it until I (thankfully) received a reminder call. In other words, there were so many things I wasn't prepared for at my first postpartum checkup.
For starters, I didn't know how freaking hard it would be to leave the house with a newborn and, as a person who previously had always been on time for everything, it was super embarrassing to be late for my appointment. Then, in the doctor's office, I was told me to undress. Yeah, that caught me off-guard. Turns out my postpartum visit was also going to be my annual reproductive health exam. Ugh. I also wasn't prepared for the emotional stuff, like talking about my mental health or my struggles with breastfeeding. It was seriously difficult and exhausting, but it was also so necessary for me to get the help that I needed.
There were good parts, too. Well, as good as parts of a medical exam can be. At two of my postpartum appointments, I was able to access the birth control I wanted. I was also screened for postpartum depression and other health conditions and, as a result, received necessary medical treatment. Score. My first postpartum appointment turned out to be surprisingly important for my health and wellbeing, but I was so not prepared for so many things.
When It Took Me Forever To Get Ready & Actually Leave The House
If it normally takes you 20 minutes to leave the house, it will take you roughly 24 hours to leave the house with a newborn. Not to mention that the baby will get hungry and/or have a poop-filled diaper as soon as you strap them into their car seat. It's like a law of physics. Anyway, I was totally late for my postpartum appointment, because traveling with a newborn is work
When I Was Told I Could Exercise
I was so surprised to hear that I could resume certain physical activity, because I definitely didn't feel ready. When I told my midwife I was cleared but somewhat unsure, she said, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you have to. Go at your own pace." Pretty good advice for life in general, if you ask me.
When I Had A Pap Smear
I remember thinking, "Are you serious? I just pushed a baby out of there and now you want to dig around my vagina with a speculum and scrape my cervix?" Still, cancer screenings are totally important, so I went along with it. You know, for my health.
When I Felt Embarrassed When I Told My Doctor I Didn't Wait To Have Sex
I am pretty sex positive and try to always be honest with my health care providers, so I was completely surprised when I started feeling so embarrassed to admit that my partner and I already had sex, way before getting the "all clear" from my OB-GYN.
When I Started Talking To My Provider About My Mental Health
I remember my midwife asking me how I was, and not knowing how to respond. I sat quietly and stared at my hands. Then she asked, "Are you getting any sleep?" I responded, "No," and then immediately started to cry. She asked me a few more questions and told me that she thought that I was suffering from postpartum depression. Then, she told me that I was not alone and that she could help.
When I Was Asked If I Was Still Breastfeeding
I had a horrible experience breastfeeding the first time around. I had undersupply, my daughter had trouble gaining weight, and trying to keep up with her needs was exhausting. I was also having a seriously hard time coping with my life as a new mom.
For some reason, I didn't expect to be asked if I was breastfeeding at my first postpartum appointment, mostly because I talked about these things with my baby's doctor and lactation consultants. It totally caught me off guard.
When I Was Still Experiencing Pregnancy Complications
When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I developed preeclampsia. I was put on bed rest, hospitalized, treated, and ended up having an induction in order to birth my baby early and safely. My OB-GYN monitored my blood pressure and urine closely during my next pregnancy, too.
However, I had no idea that you can actually develop preeclampsia after you have your baby as well, so I was really surprised when my doctor diagnosed me and put me on medication to treat my high blood pressure and prevent seizures.
When I Realized I Didn't Lose Very Much Weight
It was so discouraging to learn that despite breastfeeding and eating healthy, I hadn't lost all or even most of my baby weight. My midwife was quick to tell me not to worry and that these things take time (generally more than six weeks).
When I Was Able To Talk About Birth Control
My postpartum appointments have all been so completely different, especially when it came to talking with my provider about birth control.
The first time, I was surprised that I didn't even have to ask. My midwife asked me what I wanted for birth control and then inserted the birth control implant the same day. It was amazing.
The second time, I saw a different midwife. I was again surprised, because she told me that she was unable to prescribe birth control or even refer me to someone who could. Why? Their practice was affiliated with a Catholic hospital. Ugh.
My last postpartum appointment was just a few weeks ago. I asked my OB-GYN about my options for permanent contraception and was able to schedule an appointment for a tubal ligation the same day. That was a totally pleasant surprise.
When My Baby Woke Up & I Didn't Know What To Do
Honestly, what do you do when their baby inevitably wakes up and you're naked from the waist down on an exam table with someone's hand in your vagina? Well, in my experience, you panic. Then you ask the nurse to pick your baby up while the doctor wrapped things up downstairs. Luckily, people who choose obstetrics for their career path generally really like holding babies.