The first couple of weeks after my baby was born felt so surreal. I wasn't sleeping much, and I was filled with anxiety and fear about keeping my tiny human alive. There were also more than a few times I thought my body hated me, but really I was just postpartum. No one tells you that the hardest parts of growing a human are not labor and childbirth. In my experience, they are the ways your body tricks you, hurts you, and doesn't work quite right in the weeks that follow.
It starts before you even leave the hospital. If you have a vaginal birth, like I did, I highly recommend bringing some accessories into the bathroom with you, because OMG it burns the first time you pee. Luckily the hospital provided a peri bottle and numbing spray, both of which I totally needed. Just when I thought peeing was bad, I had to poop, and learned that postpartum peeing is not so bad compared to pooping. Seriously, it was worse than childbirth.
I expected to bleed after delivery. I mean, that's why the hospital gives you stylish mesh underwear and ginormous pads to wear. What I didn't expect, however, was the incredible amount of blood I'd have to deal with. I also didn't realize that breastfeeding would make my uterus contract and my postpartum bleeding would flow heavier and faster, inevitably soaking through even the thickest pad and causing me to double over in pain. Then, to add insult to injury, my perineal stitches got stuck to my pad with dried on blood. I had to give myself a pep talk to get through the process of peeling the pad off my poor labia. Yes, here swearing was definitely involved.
Here are just a few of the times when my body definitely voiced her displeasure during the first few weeks postpartum. I thought she hated me, but she was just doing what she needed to do to get through that post-baby phase. Bless her.
The First Time I Peed
The hospital provided a peri bottle and some numbing spray to ease the burn of peeing postpartum. Unfortunately, no one told me that's what they were for, so I didn't use them the first time I peed. It burned, stung, and I honestly thought I was going to die. I mentioned this to the nurse, because I thought that there was a problem, and she told me how to make peeing more comfortable by numbing up first and/or spraying a stream of warm water on my labia to prevent the sting. I seriously dreaded going to the bathroom for a couple of days.
When My Uterus Contracted
The first time I breastfed each of my babies, and every time for a few days after childbirth, my uterus would contract hard, causing blood to literally pour out of my vagina. Another reason to not wear pants postpartum (as if you need a reason).
The First Time I Pooped
If men had babies, I am pretty sure that they would offer postpartum epidurals to help them get through the first postpartum poop. Even with stool softeners and numbing spray, it was bad. This last time, I was on narcotic pain medicine due to an injury prior to childbirth, so it was even worse. I ended up paging the nurse and asking for a suppository. Then I asked for more pain meds.
When My Nipples Bled
When I Sneezed
It's a good thing you wear pads after delivery, because sneezing, coughing, laughing, standing up too fast, bouncing your baby, and pretty much anything, really, may cause you to pee a little.
When I Had Insomnia
There's nothing worse than the baby finally going to sleep, then discovering that you can't sleep when she sleeps. Postpartum insomnia is a cruel mistress.
The First Time I Had Sex
I was so horny after my last baby was born that my partner and I didn't even wait the recommended six weeks afterwards to have sex. Between bed rest and childbirth, it had been a couple of months.
The sex was good. Well, maybe not good. More like interesting, from a scientific perspective. Some things went right, while other things went wrong. The next time we attempted to have sex there was wine, more foreplay, and lots and lots of lube.
The First Time I Had A Drink
No matter how high your tolerance to alcohol was before pregnancy, you should probably pace yourself the first time you have a drink postpartum. Trust me when I say that after nine months of no wine, you might get drunk off one glass.
When My Pad Got Stuck To My Stitches
I really had to pee and had finally gotten the baby fed and sleeping. I went to sit down and couldn't, because my freaking pad was stuck to my stitches. You guys, it was stuck to my stitches. I can't really describe the moment of shear panic I endured when I couldn't get the pad off without feeling like I was going to tear my stitches out, one by one. Luckily, I had learned from my first postpartum pee to always have a peri bottle of warm water and numbing spray in the bathroom with me, and was able to sort of soak it off.
The First Time I Worked Out
I was in really great shape prior to pregnancy. So, I thought I could jump right back into exercise after my son was born. Nope. I felt like a newborn colt, stumbling around in my new body. I totally overdid things and paid for it for a few days afterward. Also, I peed a little (well, actually a lot). It was not what my confidence needed.
When I Tried To Wear Real Pants
Speaking of workouts, the first time I tried to put on pre-pregnancy jeans was, actually, a workout. Unfortunately, it was a workout that ended with me in a pile of tears on my bed and my pre-pregnancy jeans in a pile on the floor. FML.
My solution is leggings, sundresses, and yoga pants. At least for a while. Who needs jeans, right? Not this mama. My body may hate me, but I love her enough to not try that again anytime soon.
When I Got My First Postpartum Period
When I got my first postpartum period only seven weeks postpartum, I was sure I was dying. I was not expecting it to come so quickly after childbirth, especially since that first postpartum period was a total blood bath and gave me the worst cramps I've ever had. Luckily, I still had giant pads left from after delivery and, as a result, made it through relatively unscathed.