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seven things nobody told me about postpartum life

WARNING: TMI ahead.

I wasn't going to write a post like this since there are already so many similar ones floating around the web, but many of the things I've experienced postpartum caught me off guard, so I'm going for it!

Some of these are strictly c-section related; others are more general. It's not a comprehensive rundown, by any means, but these are the things that stand out the most.

~ First, there was the swelling. I was given lots of fluids in the hospital. Everything from antibiotics, to pain relief, to electrolytes and many others that I can't remember but will definitely show up on the itemized bill to my insurance company. This was all before they wheeled me into the OR. I was given even more fluids while being prepped for delivery, so I had loads of extra liquid floating around in my body by the time it was all said and done. It takes awhile for the body to release the excess, so I was extremely swollen for about two full weeks.

I could only fit one pair of Nike slides. Thank God I delivered during the warmer months; not sure what I would've worn on my feet if it were wintertime. They honestly looked like two huge balloons by the end of the day. I could touch my thighs and physically feel the fluid trapped beneath my skin. It was weird and uncomfortable - even more so since we had visitors coming in and out the house every day for the first couple weeks. Lots of friends and family member probably saw way more of my body than they ever expected since all I could be bothered to wear were leggings/shorts and a nursing bra. At one point I was ready to answer the door wearing nothing but my underwear. I was so uncomfortable that I just DID NOT CARE.

~ Second, I couldn't feel when my bladder was full. I'm not sure if this was a side effect of having a catheter inserted for the epidural or if it was because I basically had my insides re-arranged, but my nurses had to remind me to go to the bathroom while I was recovering in the hospital. I just didn't feel "the urge," even when my bladder was super full. I'm surprised I didn't pee on myself at least once. When I got home, I had to remind myself to take bathroom breaks throughout the day. Sometimes I'd pee for what felt like two minutes straight.

On the flip side, when the urge started to return, I had to pee like every 30 minutes... but very little came out. I'd push and push to make sure my bladder was actually empty. I went from one extreme to the other. Things didn't really normalize until about 6 weeks.

~ Speaking of bathroom breaks, it took a while to poop. All the "what to expect postpartum" lists warned me about how painful or uncomfortable the first postpartum poo would be, but nobody told me it may take awhile for it to actually happen. At the hospital, I couldn't have any food post-surgery until I passed gas. I delivered on May 16, hadn't eaten since May 15, and didn't get to eat again until May 17. I could feel the trapped air moving around inside my tummy, but it didn't want to come out until the following day.

By the time I got home on May 19, I still hadn't pooped. The 20th came... nothing. The 21st... still nothing. By then I was convinced I'd never poop again. This was my life now. I'd have to go back the the hospital and have a fecal collector inserted because my bowels were too traumatized to ever get moving again. Yes, I was being dramatic. Yes, I blame the hormones.

Things finally got moving on the 22nd. It wasn't much, but it was something. I came out of the bathroom and proclaimed to J and my mom (who was hanging out and helping with the baby) "I finally pooped!" with the biggest smile on my face. They were both very happy for me.

*Note: I had been taking stool softeners so it didn't hurt at all.

~ Fourth, it took a while to my lungs to regain their strength. I had no idea my breathing would be compromised after the c-section. My nurses gave me a breathing apparatus so I could exercise my lungs throughout the day and get them working normally again. The first day I could hardly take a deep breath. I wasn't short of breath or struggling to breathe, but when asked to intentionally take a long inhale, it was difficult. Each day got better, but I had to sleep on my back until things normalized. Sometimes I'd wake up short of breath and afraid to lay back down. As someone who's never had breathing problems, it was scary.

~ Fifth, boob leakage can happen all the time, not just when your breasts are engorged. I thought my boobs would only leak when they were super full, but nope. The titties leak at the slightest stimulation, even if they're only half full.

I delivered on a Thursday, and my milk came in on Saturday - and it came in strong. I'd been using the breast pump provided by the hospital to help get things flowing, so maybe I overdid it? Either way, as soon as baby would start crying, the leaking would start. Now, here I am 2.5 months later and I still have to wear nursing covers when I leave the house. If he's feeding from one side, the other will start leaking. I also leak in the shower, in my sleep, at yoga, and during any other physical activity you may think of (yes, including that one). It's gotten to the point where I now put a diaper in my bra for overnight coverage. I got tired of waking up with breastmilk all over the sheets.

I hardly ever wore a bra outside of work before, so I'm struggling with having to wear one 24/7 right now. Still, I do it all for the nourishment of my sweet baby boy. #WorthIt.

~ Sixth, I briefly mentioned yoga in my previous point, and it was a great way to ease back into exercise, but recovery takes much longer post workout. The soreness in my muscles is far more intense and lasts twice as long as it used to. Before having a kid, I could push through the pain and jump back into it after a day or two. Now? One yoga class or light gym session will have me out of commission for about a week.

There have been moments in the middle of the night where I struggled (How many times have I used the word struggle in this post? The struggle is, indeed, real.) to pick Gabriel up out of his bassinet in the middle of the night because my arms were so sore from my workout. I'm not even lifting heavy or doing intense yoga sessions. I'm doing my best to take it easy, but my body just feels so weak. It has definitely been an adjustment, especially as someone who used to workout 3-4 times each week.

~ Seventh, it takes time to remember you have a kid. Okay, this one is weird, but hear me out.

For the first week or so, Gabriel pretty much slept around the clock. There would be moments late at night where J and I would be watching tv and talking like we would on any normal night, and he'd start stirring in his bassinet. It would catch me off guard and I'd literally be like "oh yeah, I have a baby!" It was weird at first, but now that he's hit or miss with the long stretches of sleep, I can hardly remember what it felt like to not have him around. The pre-baby memories are obviously still there, but I feel further and further removed from that way of life.

It's a bittersweet feeling.


(sorry for getting your double chin in the frame here, son. i know it’s not your best angle; it’s not mine either, but it’s the best i could do today)

Comments

  1. He's soooooooooooooooooo cute!!!!

    Haha, I shared some things I learned about pregnancy on my blog, and the points you made about peeing taking forever and ever were surprises to me too (during pregnancy though, not necessarily after).

    The female body goes through a lot of transformation in the quest to birth a child, isn't it?

    Berry Dakara Blog

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    Replies
    1. yes, i remember reading your post and fully enjoying it! we are the superior sex for this reason alone😂

      i told J i wish we could take turns bearing our children. i carry one... he carries one... flip a coin for the subsequent. lol

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  2. This post brought back so many memories -- especially the who poop situation. It also took a while for me to do so and when I did, it was beyond painful. Even with stool softeners and laxatives. I eventually had to go to the doctor. I haven't been "regular" since. Sigh.

    Glad you're feeling much better. And don't worry, you get much better at remembering you have a kid. Sometimes. LOL!

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    Replies
    1. thanks love. his sleep is spotty these days, so it’s hard to forget he’s around at this point. (send help)(jk)((kinda)
      (🥴)

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