Ah, childbirth: the time when all those horror stories, passed from woman to woman, come to fruition. Of course, every labor and delivery experience is unique, and plenty are trauma-free and, yes, even beautiful. But even if you bring a baby into the world exactly the way you planned, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. You'll be sore, you'll be bleeding, and you'll need to heal. And while it's best to be as prepared as possible, there are things I'm glad no one told me about childbirth recovery, too. Honestly, if I had known exactly what I was in for I would have said "hell no" mid-birth and left the damn hospital.
My kids just turned 6 and 11, but my memories of childbirth recovery are as clear as day. I think they've stuck with me because so much of what I experienced wasn't even close to what I was told I would endure. I had an idea of what postpartum life was going to be like, and my lived reality definitely wasn't it. Sure, I still went through the so-called "basics — pain, discomfort, baby blues, fatigue — but I had no idea about the small details, the specifics, and how significant they would be. In the end, I actually think that's a good thing.
Because if I had known how long recovery takes, and how lost I would feel, and how hard I would be on myself throughout the entire process, I might have opted out of parenthood and missed out on all the good parts that come along with being someone's mom. Because believe me when I say: it's worth it. We should all care for ourselves, to be sure, and suffering is not a prerequisite or mandatory part of parenthood, but sometimes not knowing what we're getting ourselves into helps us actually, you know, get through it. So with that in mind, here's what I'm glad I didn't know about life post-childbirth:
How Freakishly Long It Would Take
I'm so glad no one told me I'd be in such discomfort for such a long, long period of time. Some people told me I would feel "out of it for a few weeks," and some went so far as to say I wouldn't be "back to my own self" for a month or two. Yeah, neither were true for me. I went for about a year with weird pains in strange places. My body refused to find a new normal (and actually, I could argue I'm still healing).
How Painful Weird Places Would Feel
After I delivered my baby I hurt in places I'd never even knew existed. And then there were the parts of my body that remained sore for weeks, that I never considered I would actually use during the labor and delivery process. I mean, my collar bone, my feet, my hands: they all hurt, you guys. It was like I used every single muscle in my body to bring my baby into the world.
Oh yeah, that's because that's exactly what I did.
How Terrifying The Bathroom Would Be
I knew going to the bathroom would sting for awhile postpartum, but I have to say that "sting" doesn't really do the ob of describing the horror that is using the bathroom after you've had a baby. Every trip was another chance to see what would hurt, and how much.
How Often I'd End Up Peeing Myself
I mean, why? Why does this have to be a thing, after all us women have suffered through to procreate? Ugh.
How People Would Only Care About My Baby
Everyone wanted to visit the new baby, and while I was glad for the help and thankful that my newborn was so loved by so many, it was disheartening to realize that no one really took me or my needs into consideration. I'm glad no one told me I'd be made to feel like nothing more than a walking, talking baby carrier, because that is truly a lonely feeling.
How Pregnant My Body Would Continue To Look
Yes, I bought into the media's portrayal of postpartum women, so I thought I'd pop that kid right out and immediately fit into my skinny jeans. No one told me that, instead, I would walk out of the hospital looking five months pregnant.
How Unstable My Hormones Would Be
No one told me my "baby blues" could turn into postpartum depression (PPD), and I honestly can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Going through PPD was so difficult, to say the least, and at times I couldn't see a light at the end of that fog-filled tunnel. In the end, though, I think it might have been extremely beneficial to know the warning signs of PPD. Perhaps I would have found the help I needed sooner.
How My Relationship With My Partner Would Change
Of course our relationship changed after my partner and I had a baby — and I knew it would to an extent — because it wasn't just about us anymore. I mean, we became parents. But I had no idea parenting would pull us as far apart as possible before putting us back together again. And honestly, I'm glad I didn't. That would have been just another thing to worry about.
How Worried I'd Be Every Hour Of Every Day
I'd heard of moms hovering over their baby's bedside, making sure they were breathing. No one told me I'd become that mom.
How I'd Never Really Be The Same Ever Again
I had no idea that becoming a mother would essentially the delete the woman I used to be. I expected change, to be sure, but there was no way I could've known how significant that change would truly be. I'm glad I didn't know it, too. If I had, I think I would have fought the process instead of embracing it. Because, honestly, being who I am today — the mother of two wonderful children — is the best.
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