One of the perks many breastfeeding women experience postpartum is the absence of a period for a good length of time. For some, this reprieve can last anywhere from a couple of months to even a year, depending on a lot of factors including when they stop breastfeeding. But when that first postpartum period returns, watch out, because it tends to come back with a vengeance. Most shockingly is the bleeding part, which can be pretty damn gnarly. You might try to think of ways to describe your first postpartum period, because whoa, how else can you make sense of this horror show?
My first postpartum period luckily happened when I was at home and when I was not expecting it, but I had been prepared for it for a couple of months. I knew my time would come eventually, and that not all good things could last forever (because not having a period is pretty awesome, you guys). So, I had stocked up in advance with my feminine hygiene supplies. Even though I love me some cute white cutoff jean shorts, I abstained for an entire summer because I just knew if I wore those shorts I would be tempting fate.
As luck had it, the summer went by without my postpartum period coming. Even though I was "prepared" supply wise, nothing could have prepared me for the Armageddon of blood-letting that I was about to experience. Here are some other not-so-lovely ways I would have described the overall experience:
It Was Like It Came In Like A Wrecking Ball
So 15 months had gone by since I'd had my baby, and nothing. Birds were singing. Butterflies were happily fluttering their wings by my shoulders. Life was pretty good because I was a woman who was living life while not on any kind of mood-altering birth control pill at the time, and who was still breastfeeding (but almost done with it), and I still had not gotten my period.
Then, one day, wham! Bam! Whoosh! I'm like, "What is this terrible, terrible feeling I am feeling?" It was despair. It was a feeling like I was walking through a lake of tar. It was, oh yeah, PMS. Then the cramping came on, pretty much without warning, and on a scale of one to 10 it was up there with labor levels. And then, before I could even catch my breath, the blood letting began. And oh the blood. There was just so much blood.
It Was Like The Elevator Scene In 'The Shining'
Nothing says horror like the scene from The Shining when the waterfalls of blood come pouring out of the elevator doors. Yeah, that's pretty much your first postpartum period in a nutshell (or it was mine at least). Only I think my period was scarier than the bloody elevators, scarier than Jack Nicholson on a murderous rampage to kill his son and wife, and even scarier than those twins who want to play with you "forever and ever."
It Was Like The Pigs Blood Scene In 'Carrie'
Some days, when I got undressed and saw that my thighs were dripping in blood, I felt like the character of Carrie from the horror movie of the same name, with the pigs blood dripping all over her.
It Was Like I Had My Own Personal Steaming Lava Supply (Yum)
So here's the deal with the first postpartum period: you've got to have backup, and then you need a backup for your backup.
The ideal situation (for me) was super plus tampon, super maxi pad with wings, and a yuck pair of granny panties. Within 30 to 45 minutes, it would all be ruined because my period was like an ever-flowing volcano of steaming hot bloody lava. All of it. A few times I tried to layer multiple pads on top of each other, thinking they would bleed through one another but, newsflash: don't try this at home, kids. All it did was bleed over the top of the pad, around the sides of that top pad, and soak down the sides of the stack of the other pads and into my jeans. True story.
It Was Like A Time Of Quarantine
Since I had to change my pads and tampons every 30 minutes, I required frequent garbage can and toilet access. This was not a time for socializing. A sensible Red Tent would have come in handy at the time! We should consider bringing that back, don't you think? It was a pretty isolating time and I felt alone and disgusting, like a walking, bleeding, hot mess of filth.
It Was Like I Was Peeing Blood (But I Wasn't)
Every time I sat on the toilet to pee, a gush of blood poured out of me because the slightest force or bearing down seemed to empty out more blood from inside of me. I pictured all of my insides caving inward and downward, dissolving into the most basic of tissues, and somehow making into my uterus, like my whole body was the inside of a blender and my uterus was where the blending knives lay. Great image, right?
Well, those cramps were super fun too, and by fun, I mean so painful I spent every minute after putting my son to sleep alternating between ice packs and heating pads until it was time for me to attempt to sleep.
It Was Like I Had Defied The Space Time Continuum
I felt like my first postpartum period lasted for 12 to 15 days, and never ceased its continuous heavy flow the entire time. Every day I woke up expecting to be able to break out my "light days" tampons, but no. Instead, my period continued to laugh in my face with its full on, full force bleeding and heavy cramping. By Day 10 I wondered if there would ever be a time when I wouldn't have my period.
Maybe this would be my life from now on. "Silly girl," my postpartum period seemed to say to me. "You thought you had it so good, didn't you? Almost two years without me, eh? Well, now I am back! With a vengeance!"
It Was Like I Couldn't Really Move Or Go Anywhere
If I stood up, flood. If I laughed, flood. Basically, any movement at all caused the floodgates in my vaginal canal to release a river of thick, warm, blood, so my safest bet was to remain calm and stay put with my legs clamped shut while taking even breaths. Oh and why yes, this was suuuuuper easy while chasing around a 15-month-old child. Peace. Of. Cake.
It Was Like The Apocalypse
You guys, there was more than just blood coming out of me. There was clotting (and I know, you will never be able to have clotted cream again). Imagine the horror of peeling off your soaked-through pad to find reddish-brown clots of tissue (and not the kind you sneeze into) lurking there, knowing it came from inside you. The humanity!
I Had To Call My Friends To Ask If This Was Real Life
I knew some of my mom friends had already already had their first postpartum periods (I really think that saying these three words should be followed by a sound track of "Dun Dun Dunnnn!") and decided to reach out to them. Did this crap happen to them too, or was I a special special snowflake slowly bleeding out a slow death?
Luckily, most of them assured me that their first few periods (kill me now) were extreme heavy flow type situations, and that this was totally normal. I didn't want to believe them, but at least I didn't feel like my body had been taken over by some kind of ancient plague.