There are so many books, articles and support groups to prepare you for pregnancy and delivery. But there isn’t as much talk about what to expect afterwards.
The 3 months after giving birth are about as complex as pregnancy itself, which is why it’s now also called the 4th trimester.
If you’re lucky like I was to have local resources like For Your Birth or Mater Mea that provides education and support to help women prepare for life postpartum, then you have a leg up. But even those great resources didn’t cover all the new and unexpected things that I experienced. So with this post, I’m sharing my top 8 unexpected experiences with you.
I Know My Body Better Than Any Doctor
It had been two months postpartum and I was still bleeding, so I told my doctor and she sent me for an ultrasound because the bleeding should have already stopped.
The ultrasound revealed that I had a fibroid that was causing me to bleed AND this type of fibroid typically causes multiple miscarriages.
The fibroid is something that I will have to take care of if I decide to have more children in the future, but I never would’ve known had I not spoken up.
I Missed Being Pregnant
But not for the reasons you may have heard before.
Some women say that they missed being pregnant because they had never before felt so beautiful and they missed feeling their baby kicking from the inside.
I am not that woman.
Pregnancy was taxing on my body. I could barely stand or walk for very long. My pelvis felt like it was being stretched further apart every day and even sleeping was painful.
But what I did miss about being pregnant was feeling seen.
People cater to you like you’re royalty, the oceans part when you walk by, men lay their coats down over puddles for you to walk on… ok, I’m slightly exaggerating. But honestly, I don’t feel as important now that I am Casie “the mom” like when I was Casie “that pregnant girl”.
Lot’s more work to do to get back to feeling like myself (and the self-quarantine doesn’t help at all) but acknowledgment is the first step right?
A 15-minute Nap Equals A Full Night Sleep
After a good power nap, I am just as rejuvenated as if l slept a full 8 hours. Before my baby, I would never have felt that way. Naps used to leave me feeling groggy, but now, all I need is a quick shut eye and then I ready to go.
There Is No Difference Between Night And Day
Babies run on a 24-hour schedule. They aren’t necessarily awake during the day then asleep at night, like most adults.
My baby would be awake for two hours then asleep for two hours, then wake up for 2 hours and sleep for 2 hours, over and over again, all around the clock. After a couple days of operating on a 24-hour schedule, I was so delirious, I felt like I was living in The Twilight Zone. Thankfully I’ve adjusted to my new normal and the slightly frayed look that it comes with.
“Sleep When The Baby Sleeps” Is A Luxury
If I’m sleeping every time the baby is sleeping, then when do I shower, eat, wash my hair, wash dishes, do laundry, etc, etc?? There are a million things on the to do list waiting to get done. What a luxury it would be to have so little on your plate that you can sleep when the baby is sleeping.
Sometimes even though I was deliriously exhausted, I used his nap time to just decompress and soak in the quiet time instead of sleeping. And those moments were often more rewarding than a nap.
Breastfeeding Gets Easier
The first couple weeks of breastfeeding was torture. It felt like someone was taking nail clippers and pinching and shredding my nipples.
But breastfeeding should not be painful, so I got the help I needed. Thanks to my doula who prevented my breasts from getting engorged the first day I got home from the hospital, my breast feeding support group that provided the education and encouragement and my sheer determination I made it through the hump and now it is so much easier and most importantly pain free.
The Bathroom Became My Sanctuary
I underestimated the transforming power of quiet time alone in the bathroom. Sometimes I sneak into the bathroom to just breathe, decompress, watch a YouTube video (or two) and just be by myself.
Find A Tribe Of Moms To Help You Through It
One of the most glorious things about the Internet is the ability to bring people together. Because I was locked in the house with the baby for 3 months, I found myself spending more time online chatting with other moms, swapping stories and hilarious memes at 4 am.
Nobody understands what you’re going through and can commiserate with you like a fellow mom.
What are some things you learned in the months after delivery?