Ohhhh the body after baby! I’m just not sure that any blog post can adequately encompass the full scope of the changes in your body after having a baby but I, Sass, will try.
I would first like to acknowledge that I am skipping right over all of the changes that occur during pregnancy because I feel like pregnancy is a talked about over and over again while the postpartum situation isn’t talked about enough. And full-disclosure, I had a natural delivery with no complications so I can’t speak to a c-section recovery or any effects of complicated pregnancies or deliveries.
So, to begin, I want to make clear that right after you give birth your pregnant belly does not, I repeat, it does not magically go away. You pop that baby out and still look about 6 months pregnant. This was a major let down for me and also pretty shocking. I was feeling my most mentally and physically drained in my entire life and still had to carry a gut around that I didn’t recognize with NO BABY IN THERE! At least I was pregnant I knew in my mind, and could say to others, “There’s a darn baby in there!”
Anyway, the first 2-3 weeks with a baby are GRUELING (I’d even push that number to 6 weeks). They need to eat every two hours and if you’re breastfeeding like I was that means you cannot sleep for more than maybe 45 minutes at a time. For those who are unfamiliar, newborns can take up to 45 mins to an hour to eat so in doing the math…the baby eats for an hour and then you burp her for 15 minutes (45 minutes) then if you fall asleep right away you get 45 minutes before the baby is ready to do it all over again! You see, it’s every 2 hours from the time they start eating not from the time they finish! I was mentally and physically in awe of what was happening. I cried a lot. My boobs hurt, my back hurt, my wrists hurt, my head hurt, everything hurt including the who-ha! For crying out loud a bowling ball just came out of there, things were not normal!
So while I was trying to get this whole mom thing and breastfeeding a stranger thing down, I couldn’t sit without a pillow under my butt, I couldn’t sleep, I was wearing a pad the size of a ice pack in mesh panties that needed to be changed what felt like constantly and in lieu of wiping, I was squirting myself with a water bottle. Oh and don’t forget the who-ha numbing spray for the stitches and the ice packs that would go in between the pad and the witch hazel wipes….get the picture?! It’s brutal.
A few months later I started to feel less like a stranger in my own body but I can say that even 9 months, almost 10 months postpartum I am still not normal and at this point I’m not sure I’ll ever be “the same” as I was pre-pregnancy. My body is just different now. Sometimes I have pain in places I didn’t before, my weight is distributed a little differently (yup, a little bit more in the belly), and for awhile there, although it seems to have stopped, my hair was falling out like crazy. This is all “normal” as they say but what’s normal to the world is all new to first time moms.
My skin is different, mainly from lack of sleep and stress, but the bags under my eyes just never seem to go away. And these are bags on a level I have never seen. My hangovers are worse than ever before. But at this point, even though I don’t physically feel like my pre-baby self, I am down to my pre-pregnancy weight. I went into my pregnancy a little bit heavy so the battle to slim down continues but I have to say that for awhile that was one of the toughest parts about it all…
Ya know when you’re feeling crummy and you start mentally piling on all the shit in your mind that’s terrible: “I haven’t slept in what feels like years, I’m tired, so so so tired, from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep my time and my life are no longer my own…oh, and I’m fat.” It’s awful, it really is, but it’s true. I felt and still very often feel so overwhelmed by being a mom, working, taking care of my family, doing laundry, making dinner, trying to have a social life, everything is hard…oh, and my clothes don’t fit. It’s like this little cherry on top of everything. In the most physically and mentally challenging time in my life I was not at my peak level of physical fitness to handle it and I believe that is a reality that all new moms, even the most fit ones, will have to face at one point. If you are more fit, that time period might be shorter than it is for others and as for me, I’m getting there. I’m almost back……and then I get to do it all over again for baby #2. YAY!
LOL and that’s the thing, I’m making all of this sound awful, and to be really honest, it is sometimes BUT there is a reason people do this over and over again. That reason is obviously the baby. They do make it worth it, maybe not every minute of every day but looking at her now as I write this I know I’ll do it again. And lastly, in hindsight, part of why those first weeks and months are so hard is because you have no prior experience to know that this too shall pass. Your mom, your sister, your friends can all tell you it will and deep down you know it will but it’s the WHEN that is daunting…when will it end? For round two I’ll at least have some idea of what is happening and I’ll look forward to days like today when I can sit on a hard chair without pain, my boobs are not infected from mastitis, and my baby can laugh and hug me. I’ll know that with all the change comes the reward!