There are a few things they should tell you in the books and websites you read about birthing a baby and bringing it home.
There have been a few moments where my friends who have also just had babies and I have said “you know, someone should really mention that to you”.
Pushing your baby out is going to feel like taking the biggest, most massive poop that you have ever taken. If you opt for the epidural (which I highly encourage everyone to think seriously about) it’ll still feel like you’re pooping.
If you end up having a vaginal delivery and tearing (like me) then you’re going to not be able to wipe your private areas for weeks on end. You’re going to have to utilize the makeshirt bidet (a squeeze bottle of water) to clean your bits, then dab gently. You’re going to have to remember not to use a washcloth or sponge in the shower to wash yourself or you’ll jeopardize the stitches.
The days and weeks following delivery will odds-on be worse feeling than the actual delivery.
Your body will be trying to recover itself – and it will feel like the flu. And if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself sitting and wondering ‘am I getting sick, what if I am getting the flu and now I have this newborn to care for?!’ until finally, a girlfriend says ‘yeah, doesn’t it feel like the flu?’ and you’ll find sweet relief that this is just part of the recovery process.
Someone should tell you to plan out a menu for yourself with lots of ruffage for the first few weeks that you’re home. The hemorrhoids will nearly kill you — or will at least leave you sitting on a toilet the middle of some afternoon making primitive animal noises, wondering how you’re going to make it to the hospital and explain yourself.
So, my suggestion to avoid that: plan on a diet of Ensure or something like it, that’s easy for your system to digest and give yourself a large window of time to spend on the toilet. The bathroom moments of the last three weeks have been far worse than anything I could describe labor and delivery as.
Someone should tell you that you will feel guilt about every EVERY thing, and you may as well just become accustomed to it rather than accept the guilt you’re feeling. Just know that it’s a feeling and it’s inane in most scenarios, so just stop worrying about all of it.
Another thing that’s tough is listening to the well-meaning family and friends. Some will feel passionately — one way. And their sisters or brothers will feel passionately — the other way. You name it – Pampers vs. Huggies vs. Luvs. Breast vs. bottle feeding. Pumping vs. not pumping. Day care vs. nanny vs. staying at home. Work vs. not work. Out in public with baby vs. stay in for six weeks. Everyone will have an opinion. The thing I’m trying to keep in mind is this: If my child is put up against a child whose mother stayed at home and someone is asked to guess which child’s mother stayed home and which child’s mother worked beyond the home — could they guess my child had a working-outside-the-home mother? Would a stranger or a neutral third party guess that my child was ONLY breastfed for three weeks (yes, we’ve ended that exciting venture in our lives)? Truly, have you ever thought to ask your friends ‘were you breastfed? oh, no? well, that explains it then.” or vice versa.
Anyway, don’t let the guilt get you down.
I had felt badly before Elle arrived that Jon didn’t get a diaper party. He insisted he’d buy diapers for his child, he didn’t need a party to stock up. Well, here’s the thing, we’ve probably gone through one jumbo package of diapers that we bought ourselves. We’ve just ventured into our second package. Granted, we lifted some from the hospital (another good tip, every time you see a package of diapers on the baby cart in the room, put them in your bag. You’re paying for them regardless, so take them home. They expect you to do this…or so I’m told).
Oh, another thing to know – ask for extra of any medicines they might give you to use in the hospital. I got a few extra of a couple of things and that was totally worth it to have at home and not have to run to the store to try to find or make a call to the doctor to try to get a prescription.
Another one that was pretty cool was to use the diaper as an ice pack. The nurses rip an end of the diaper open, fill it with crushed ice, and then tape the end shut with medical tape. That made a great ice pack and the water gets absorbed by the diaper. That provided sweet relief in the recovery process for me.
You will over-do it at some point (like I feel like I may have done yesterday). Keep in mind that childbirth is no joke and it does take awhile to recover. Keep walking and doing exercise if you can help it, but know that you’re going to think you are capable of more than you really are for a few weeks.
Oh, and accept the help. Graciously and with a stack of thank you notes ready to be written out some day – but when people offer to bring over food, or to come and love on your baby. Let them. Even if it’s just for a minute or two, it’s sweet relief to be able to fold the laundry without feeling like you need to be there for the baby. It’s nice to know there’s home-cooked food in the fridge. It’s nice to know people are thinking of you and you haven’t fallen into a baby abyss.
Ok, those are some of the things I wished I’d been told — or maybe that I wish I’d heard (because some of them I’m certain I read) prior to official Motherhood.