Thursday, August 9, 2012

unexpected post-pregnancy things

I was so busy stressing over the pain and discomfort associated with childbirth that I completely overlooked the recovery. I felt completely caught off guard with everything I've gone through since delivering Elden and I figured it would be worthwhile to write a blog of my experiences recovering from childbirth for those of you who are preparing your first so you are hopefully less shocked (read: totally and completely overwhelmed) than I was when I got home.

Gentlemen, this post is again not for the faint of heart. I will be talking about vaginas and boobs and you probably don't want to know the things that go on. So I'd just stop reading this and go watch some Olympics or something.

I delivered Elden vaginally. Doctors rate tearing on a scale from 1-4 with 4 being the most severe. I came in at a 2. I asked my OB how many stitches she used and she said she used 2 suture threads but each one was stitched like a seam would be so she couldn't give me an exact number.

My vagina? It got BEAT UP. It was literally black and blue and swollen beyond measure. When I would go pee it resulted in the world's smallest stream because everything was so inflamed. Also... it burned. Like a mofo. It also still hurts terribly 6 days later. I've been taking Motrin and using both ice packs and Dermoplast pain relieving spray, but they only provide temporary (and not even close to total) relief. Walking, switching positions to nurse Elden, moving funny in bed, etc. all send up a shooting pain. I have to sit on a pillow on the couch (granted we have a stiffer futon) and on the dining room chair and even that doesn't help very much. Prepare yourself for this pain. It will make your misery less awful because you expect it. And then there's the bleeding. All those months of not having a period catch up to you with a fury. I was told to expect a "heavy period" flow. Um I'm not sure what type of period those people had who told me that but this was way worse than a heavy period. You get pads the size of adult diapers at the hospital and mine needed changed every few hours. The bleeding could continue (albeit, it turns into spotting by the end) for up to 6 weeks. Either way, if you're a hemophobe like I am, seeing yourself lose such large quantities of blood can be enough to knock you down hard.

My boobs? BEAT UP. Granted, if you elect to use formula this probably won't apply to you, but if you breastfeed expect pain. And I'm not talking a little discomfort. I'm talking I had to bite my hand the other day as I nursed him because it hurt so terribly. And your nipples won't just hurt when your baby nurses. Mine hurt all. the. time. So do my actual boobs. As your body figures out the milk supply your baby requires you will likely become engorged. If you are unfortunate like I am, some of your milk ducts might become clogged and can't be easily drained by baby nor breast pump. This hurts and is frustrating because one breast might not provide baby what he or she needs and results in extra strain on your functioning breast. I recommend having nipple cream on hand for the hospital. Also, if you are expecting, BUY NURSING SPORTS BRAS. At LEAST 4. These are a lifesaver for nighttime feedings and I am so glad a friend advised me to buy some because I would have been lost without them this first week.

The sleep? I knew to expect very little and to be totally exhausted. What I hadn't considered is in all likelihood you will be entering into new parenthood completely exhausted and down for the count. I got about 4 hours of sleep over the course of 48 hours and my body was physically tired from labor and delivery. Jon didn't fare much better. That makes the nights so much longer because your body wants nothing more than to recover on your pre-existing sleep deprivation while adding to the deprivation each night. It's exhausting and when your baby is crying throughout the night and nothing helps (see below) you feel so helpless and overwhelmed (and new mommies: you will cry too).

The crying? Your newborn will likely cry and be inconsolable for at least a few hours throughout the day. No amount of burping, feeding, changing, or loving will change that. It could be gas. It could be that your baby loves the sound of his or her own voice. It WILL wear you out and frustrate you--and that's okay. Take a deep breath and know you are meeting the baby's needs to the best of your abilities.

I hope this helps someone out there to be more prepared for the rough time you'll possibly have after giving birth. Maybe I'm the exception and my experiences were isolated. I hope that's the case but I don't think it is. Just hang in there and know that it will slowly get better. Elden sleeps more consistently with each night and we've noticed a pattern where the hours of 8pm-12am tend to be a bad time for him. That makes his inconsolable-ness less frustrating and overwhelming. Last night we got him down at 11 and he slept in nearly 3-hour intervals the rest of the night. Breastfeeding is still a challenge/learning curve for us. It still hurts and some of his sessions still bring me to tears. But I'm finally feeling more confident in my abilities as a mother and realizing I can indeed meet this little boy's needs. And now, a few of my favorite pictures of the last few days:
First manicure / fighting baby jaundice with sunlight


  1. I've been thinking about you! All this stuff does get better... just hang in there and enjoy that babe! Please let me know if there is anything I can do!

  2. Oh my. Those photos. SO. PRECIOUS.

    I so appreciate your openness here. I'm very lucky to have some close girlfriends who are mamas and shared in great detail (by my prompting) what their post partum recovery experiences were like. So I feel a little bit prepared for what I'm getting into. But then again, maybe that info beforehand is a blessing and a curse. :) Ha...I'm now terrified of (1) labor and delivery and (2) the first few weeks.

    Hang in there, from what I've been told it WILL get better!

    Also, not sure if you have one, but I was recently told by a friend to use the boppy as a seat for yourself the first few weeks. Allows you to sit on cushioning without anything actually touching parts.

  3. WOW..I must have had it REALLY easy because I can't relate to a lot here..and I still thought recovery was brutal.

    one tip -- do you have a sitz bath? I bathed with epsom salts LOTS, and sitz baths let you just put your bum in the toilet with the warm water. Should be very relaxing and help the pain too. I had very painful pee's too because of a tear...OUCHIE. Also I didn't look "down there" for about 3-weeks because I was too scared ...LOL

    another you have lanolin cream for your nipples? I slathered that stuff on after I breastfeed, every time. I didn't have cracked nipples or sore nipples at all...maybe that's what helped?? It's fine if the baby ingests it, but just use a small amount after breastfeeding....

    anyway -- sorry if you've heard these tips already and they don't help!!