10 Things I Wish I Knew Postpartum
Two days after my son was born, I was sent home from the hospital. They shoved paperwork in my face, wished me the best, and threw me to the wolves. There was no one to call at 2 in the morning for a cold glass of water nor any lactation consultant to call and ask if he was latching right. My mother hadn’t birthed in years (22 to be exact) and all my friends were wild, young, and childless. I relied solely on my mama instinct and Siri was my midwife to coach me on. I felt blind, reckless, and a little overzealous. Here's what I wish I would have known.
1. You’ll leak blood.. a lot.
You look down and there will be a war zone. It looks like Quentin Tarantino directed the “Toilet Bowl Massacre” from your vagina. Things will leak out of you. And this doesn’t just last for a week. Oh no. This beautiful spectacle can last for about 6 weeks, give or take. And even when you thought you were done, things will still come out of you. There’s a trick pause when things appear to have settled. You let your guard down, wipe your hands clean, stop wearing such a large pad, and like a giant wave against a surfer, blood comes crashing out of you once more. You’ll have quarters coming out of you and although entirely normal, you’ll load your search bar with things like “Am I dying? How much blood is normal?” and so forth.
2. Three words… mesh granny panties.
Forget Victoria’s Secret. Although you may have birthed an angel, you won’t be wearing lingerie like one. Take as many undies as allowed from the hospital. You’ll be happy you did. They aren’t skin tight, they’re soft, and easy to maneuver on and off. My own make-shift diaper filled up faster than my son’s so I enjoyed the ease of taking them off without rubbing war paint on my legs.
3. Pff... a shower?
If you think you are coming into this postpartum period looking like Beyonce, think again. You’ll be lucky to even sneak a shower in. You’ll smell like milk, your hair will look worse than Russell Brand’s, and your house will look like you gave birth to 3 teens rather than a newborn.
4. Eating will be impossible.
You’re not going to have time to eat. Everyone will tell you that you need to eat and you need to stay hydrated in order to stay energized, keep your milk supply up if you’re breastfeeding, and to help your body heal. Hell. You’ll be lucky if you even get the chance to pee let alone make a sandwich.
5. Your breasts will be on the verge of exploding.
Have you ever grasped a cantaloupe in your hands? That’s exactly what your breasts will feel like once your milk sneaks in. It’ll take you by complete surprise. Even if you have the knowledge of your milk arriving, they will sprout up and they will torment you. They’ll hurt. You’ll beg your baby to latch on or you’ll pump so fast you’ll get carpal tunnel. The pressure subsides but you’ll never forget that instantaneous boob job.
6. You'll be exhausted.
Sleep will be last year’s trend and exhaustion will consume you. Your baby may sleep for an hour then wake up and need to eat for another hour and then will be put to sleep which will take another hour and then will wake up almost every hour again at night. You’ll look in the mirror three days later and see an extra in The Walking Dead. You’ll be amazed a human can survive on interrupted sleep for so long without keeling over.
7. You’ll want to harm your husband.
You’ll resist the urge to punch him straight in the jawline multiple times when you are up for the fifth time with your little baby and he’s soundly sleeping next to you. Well.. hopefully you’ll resist.
8. Postpartum sex will terrify you.
Remember what it felt like the first time you had sex? It’ll be like that again except worse. You’ll lather up, lie down, and get intimate. Part of you will be listening for sounds of the baby crying and part of you will be trying desperately not to cry yourself. For him, it’ll feel like taking a visit to the Grand Canyon. For you, it’ll be like lighting the Olympic Flame. But don’t worry, it’ll go back to normal eventually.
9. Shit Hurts
I’m not just talking about the sex or your body but actually shitting. You’ll be terrified. You’ll look into the toilet bowl just to make sure your insides haven’t fallen out (they won’t) but you may want to invest in a laxative.
10. You Deserve Help
You aren’t superwoman and you don’t have to be. As wonderful and loving as these little babes are, they can be life-suckers. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means you respect you and your family’s sanity. Invite a family member over or a friend or hire a postpartum doula. Take that time to take a damn shower, get out of your spit-up filled outfit, do a little dance, or scream at the top of your lungs. You’re taking care of a little one 24/7 and you need a break too. Even for a moment.