I’m so glad that unexpected pregnancy is over, but being over doesn’t mean that I’m okay again. Recovery after pregnancy is long and difficult, especially with a house full of children and chores and no maternity leave. Friends who don’t have children keep asking me questions about how I feel and what it’s like because no one ever talks about it. In the media childbirth is usually the end of the story and no one shows how painful it is to sit down, how sleep deprivation becomes overwhelming, or how the body readjusts very very slowly. Here are some of the painful and sometimes embarrassing things I have to deal with after having 5 babies.
- Sleep deprivation. We all know new moms don’t sleep. They say “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Yeah, right. That’s a very nice dream. Who does the dishes? Who talks to the other children? Who plays with the toddler? Who washes all the shirts I leak through? And how can I just pass out every couple of hours? Lack of sleep makes crying come easily to me. It’s not hormones, it’s exhaustion.
- Leaky breasts. Some moms are great breast feeders. I am not one of them. I leak everywhere all the time. And now that I’m 43 I just can’t produce enough for a big baby boy. I don’t have one hour out of every three to sit down in peace and feed my baby. I don’t have time to eat well. So I’m not going to drive myself insane by trying. So I’m in pain as I dry up and my boobs are like a rock hard triple E. I leak. I can’t seem to express any, even in the shower for relief. I can’t sleep on them. I can’t hug people.
- Bleeding. At the hospital they kept asking me if it had stopped yet. It lasts for 2-3 weeks for me, so I don’t know why they would ask after 24 hours. Don’t get pregnant thinking you’d be lucky to not have your period for 9 months. You make up for it at the end.
- Pooping. The first bowel movement is almost as horrifying as giving birth. I don’t even have stitches this time and I dreaded it. And it’s going to be bad for a while.
- Hemorrhoids. This is the worst. It was the worst pain the last two months of this pregnancy and it continues as it will take several months to go back to normal. It’s unavoidable. I have to buy embarrassing things at the store to try to find some relief. I cry in the shower. GAH
- Painful contractions continue. My uterus still hurts sometimes as it shrinks back to normal size over the next month.
- Bruises and sticky tape residue. They use industrial strength tape at the hospital and poked me with so many needles. I have sticky tape residue all over both arms. My IV site was swollen and painful for 3 days. I have a bruise the size of a deck of cards inside my left elbow and a horseshoe shaped bruise on my spine.