Well, technically speaking, WE did it – we being myself, my husband, our beautiful baby, my midwife, my doula and some wonderful nurses. Oh yes – and nature, too. On May 10, 2010, our beautiful little angel entered this world a healthy little girl. After 24 hours of back labor, after 1 hour and 45 minutes of pushing, I birthed this little sweet pea a la natural.
I’ve decided to share with you some of the things about labor and delivery and being a new mama that I did not receive in the memo.
1) Contractions HURT. A LOT. Forget those natural pregnancy/birthing books that talk about contractions being surges and how you can hypnotize yourself to the point where you hardly feel them and, in fact, look serene. THIS IS A LIE. YOU WILL FEEL PAIN and NO amount of happy self-talk will turn you into a woman who looks like she has just received a nice massage. Or had great sex.
2) Back labor is different than front labor. While I have nothing to compare this to, with back labor, nothing helps to ease the pain. There is no position you can use to feel more comfortable. I know. I TRIED THEM ALL. Not even the jacuzzi tub helped.
3) You will experience a 3+ hour surge of elation and amazing energy once you birth your little beauty. I was told this during the time I was pushing and I thought my midwife and doula were full of it. I was wrong. They were right. The second my little Miss A was born, I had a surge of energy that lasted for several hours. I did not immediately crash and sleep as I anticipated.
4) You will experience THE MOST voracious appetite after delivery. You will suddenly demand and DESPERATELY NEED to eat about 3,000 calories. Hospital food suddenly never tasted so good. I was so frigging hungry, I would have eaten a handful of ants.
5) Along those lines, you will continue this voracious appetite if you choose to breastfeed. Eating will take priority in your life. In fact, you will have a new set of priorities as a new mama: Taking care of baby, eating, sleeping, eating, peeing, bathing, eating. Repeat. Things like the laundry and sex kinda get buried for quite some time.
6) Your vagina is likely going to hurt for many months. Or at least take many months to heal, especially if you breastfeed, regardless of whether you tear or not (which I did not). Which, as mentioned above, means sex gets buried for awhile.
7) Your bowels, in particular your little sphincter and your bowels are going to feel loose and large for awhile. I’m 3 months out and I still have this experience. What this means is gas is gonna come leaking out of you like never before and the size and consistency of your poo is gonna change.
8) In fact, your entire innards are going to feel loose for many months. It’s as though your organs, once cramped together during pregnancy, are suddenly loose, free-floating and are wondering “uh ok what do i do now?” One woman recently told me at 6 months post partum, she was running and could literally feel her uterus bouncing up and down, trying to find a place to settle in permanently.
9) Breastfeeding means you will lose that weight fast. At 6 weeks I had lost 21 of the 32 lbs I put on. Today I can wear my pre-pregnancy clothes again. It also means you will be spending time trying to catch up on needed calories, which is as doable as is catching up on sleep. One mama told me despite the amount of food she ate, she noticed a divet in the muscle in her leg. It went away after she stopped nursing.
10) It takes awhile to get to know your little one. We romanticize birth and new mamahood when in reality, it isn’t always love at first sight. Sure you will (likely) feel a profound sense of needing to care for and protect this little person, but falling in love with this little one takes time. She will be every bit a stranger to you as you are to her.
11) You may panic when you leave the hospital and think “oh my god they’re letting me go home!” Then once you arrive home, you and your spouse will look at each other and say “what do we do now?” Do as we did: Take it one second at a time. Little Miss A was sleeping, so we let her stay in her carseat for awhile and videotaped her sleeping.
12) Getting baby to sleep on a schedule. Hmmm. I have books that say this isn’t possible or this isn’t necessary then I have books, like the one I’m reading now, that claim ALL babies sleep patterns can be fit into this perfect mold. Right now I’m too tired to learn anything new much less comment on this subject (given that I am sleep-deprived) but I will say this: EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT just like EVERY ADULT IS DIFFERENT. And I tend to think sleep is instinctive and is something we learn naturally on our own and cannot be taught. But I could be wrong.
13) Along the lines of sleep, you are going to be sleep deprived for a long time. Get used to it.
14) All those muscles you use for pushing little one out are going to bother you, off and on, for many months to come. My inner leg muscles still cramp up at times. I have yet to return to my normal yoga routine as a result. In fact, I read where it takes, on average, about 2 years for a woman’s body to totally return to it’s natural state after pregnancy and I can believe that. I once had a very misinformed doula tell me after 2 weeks I would be back to normal. Don’t listen to ANY ONE who tries to tell you such nonsense.
15) Post partum baby blues are very real and, for most women, such as myself, they do go away. I believe these emotions are simply due to the hormonal changes, lack of sleep and the HUGE change to your life that comes with having a new baby. And in our crazy, chaotic and dysfunctional/backward western society, where being a mom is totally undervalued, where we are so damn nomadic and reclusive and tuned out (and wired in) and as such don’t really form real communities, mama’s often end up feeling isolated and alone. All so unnecessary.
Ok little one is crying so I will close for now. Until next time…