Dearest Expectant Mama, don’t cry; that post-pregnancy glass of wine is almost within your reach.
Now, I don’t know about you but when I was getting closer to my due date, I had it all under control— hahahahah, just kidding.
I did, however, get all the unsolicited advice that I assumed was giving me a complete picture of what to expect when giving birth and beyond; that was not the case.
Many, MANY people will give you various pieces of the information pie, but never all of it. Do they think you will somehow get out of the obvious end result if you really know what happens?
I am here for you, E.M.; you will only (mostly) get honesty from me.
When the levee breaks. At first it was just a little ‘extra’ when I stood up at the restaurant; by the time I was in my gown at the hospital an hour later it was all over the floor. I was handed what amounted to air a long rectangular piece of tissue paper that I could do nothing with because they wouldn’t let me keep my undies on. Just get in the bed, don’t be a hero.
When the anesthesiologist comes. We know the horror stories around epidurals. “One girl was paralyzed!” “My friend’s mom’s brother’s sister-in-law’s aunt’s cousin couldn’t walk for a week!” Mine felt a bit like an electric shock when the medication hit my muscles, and guess what? I scratched my nose while it was administered and my spinal cord was not severed. Relax, seriously – this is the last time you will get to for the rest of your life.
Lots of people will be there helping you and you will hate every last one of them. That’s why walls of the hospital are plastered with ‘thank you’ cards and banners from former patients; the doctors and nurses get it. They know you don’t mean to swear or yell at them when it’s time to push. They also like chocolate – lots of it.
You will not know what to do. I took the class. I knew all about the breathing techniques, the partner massage, the humming, whatever they said that would help me focus through the pain. It didn’t matter; when that first contraction took hold all of that went out the window. Breathing techniques? My technique was just trying to breathe, period. I had no idea what my name was, let alone if I was following my birth plan.*
*I was, since the only plan I had was that a baby would eventually exit my body.
The discomfort “down there”. It’s math, really: the discomfort of a yeast infection x 1000 + stitches and lots of swelling = a love that you never imagined for a squirt bottle filled with cool water. Did I mention the marriage proposal (from me) to the nurse who brought me a partially-frozen maxi pad? My husband was ordered to buy enough I-won’t-tell-you-what-I-actually-called-thems to fill our freezer.
On a side note, when you decide to get a hemorrhoid pillow and your husband tells you a nurse suggested that while you were still at the hospital, don’t kill him for not mentioning it sooner.
The first post-push poop. I was still on my frozen-hooha high, and feeling so at one with myself I may as well have lit candles and put on some Diana Krall. I went in, settled down and gave a tiny little push – and my body’s muscle memory took over and pushed that poop out of me like it was a 100lb missile. It was the most painful and fastest poop I have ever had in my life, and I remember it more than the actual birth. If only the epidural had stuck around for the poop too.
Your body is ruined*. Not figuratively; literally. I can’t laugh without peeing a little, and I earned a giant floppy belly and a hiatus hernia for all my birthing efforts. My once-bountiful bosom is now a saggy wasteland. Actually, my skin did improve a little. So there is that.
* No one was vague when it came to this. The seasoned moms were ever so gleeful and descriptive when they told me this would happen.
All these things happen, they can suck, and they have an end (except for the ruined body – most of that is forever). Your birthing muscles go back to normal, it will cease to feel like you’re squatting over a cactus when you sit down, and of course the people you screamed at forgive you.
It’s an awesome and terrifying and daunting and scary and amazing thing our bodies do during and after childbirth. Give yourself a break; you just made a human!
You may wonder, E.Ma, why I skipped over contractions: what is life without a few surprises??