So you’ve just had a baby and you’re still in all that newborn heaven bliss, savoring every snuggle, every smell, and memorizing every teeny, tiny feature that you created. It’s magical right? But what comes next? What does ‘postpartum’ actually entail? Prior to having Nate, I had tons of people giving me advice on my pregnancy as well as the impending delivery but shockingly, no one every mentioned anything about afterwards. I never heard stories of what happens to you and your body after you bring home your sweet, little bundle of joy. Sure, I knew some stuff from my nursing school days but just like many things read in text, until you’ve experienced it first hand, you really don’t know what it’s truly like. I blogged about this a few years ago (you can find it here) and since I’m currently seven months into round two I figured why not do another post about my experiences this time. I think most moms tend to forget about the labour and delivery once their baby is a few months old. You start looking back thinking “yeah, ok. It wasn’t so bad. I’d do it again for sure!” But what I forgot was just how difficult the first few weeks of postpartum can be.
For one, sleep deprivation is no joke. I kind of had it in my head that having to wake up several times in the middle of the night wouldn’t be a big deal for me. Being a nurse, I’m used to working night shifts and I just kind of assumed that this time around would be the same as it was with Nate. I would just have to wake up with Eli, feed him, change him, and go back to sleep then during the day; you know, just “nap when the baby naps”. Simple as that right? Wrong! For some unbeknownst reason it never occurred to me that I couldn’t just nap when the baby napped because I still had another tiny human to look after. After tiny human who just a few weeks prior had decided that he no longer needed to nap during the day. A tiny human who liked to wake up routinely at 7:20 am raring to go for the day. A tiny human who still needed me on so many levels so taking a nap was definitely out of the question. I’m not sure how I managed to actually function on little to no sleep because of course, Eli would not sleep AT ALL unless he was smushed into my chest and crook of my neck.
I also didn’t expect to feel like my body had betrayed me (?) if that makes sense… With Nate, I lost almost ALL my baby weight within a few days! Seriously. I dropped a solid 20 lbs while in hospital just in water weight alone. I was literally back into my pre-pregnancy clothes within six days of giving birth which felt amazing! The baby weight I had put on just melted right off my body so I was completely unprepared for the fact that after Eli’s birth, I still looked eight or nine months pregnant. I remember trying on a dress for my cousin’s wedding about two weeks after Eli was born and feeling so discouraged that my stomach still had that swollen appearance to it. I’ll never forget Kurt coming out of the bathroom and asking me what was wrong as I was looking at myself in the mirror. I turned to him and said ” I still look pregnant. Look how big my stomach looks.” and he just starred at me, kind of dumbfounded and just point blank said “Well, obviously. You JUST had a baby.” And the funny thing was that I knew this, I understood that many, many women still appear pregnant long after they’ve given birth but because of the way my body reacted to postpartum the first time, I assumed the second would be the same way. It took several weeks for me to stop looking in the mirror and judging myself, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I still haven’t lost all my baby weight but I’m finally learning to accept my body and come to terms with the fact that not every postpartum experience is the same.
And if I thought my raging hormones were bad when I was pregnant, I definitely forgot just how bad they are postpartum. I was so moody and short tempered those first few weeks after Eli’s birth that I seriously thought I was going crazy some days. Anything and everything would just set me off and I went from one extreme to another within a few minutes. Whether I was sobbing over how how much of a ‘wreck’ my house looked or feeling like my heart was going to explode from the overwhelming amount of love I had for my new baby, it was hard to get a grip on my emotions. I was so thankful after a few weeks when they finally tapered off and I started to feel more like me again; not the swinging pendulum of extreme emotions I had been.
I also forgot just how much I HATE new hair growth. So when you’re pregnant, your body basically stops shedding your hair which is why so many women love how thick and full their hair is during pregnancy. But what no one tells you is how much hair you’re going to lose and then grow back during your postpartum days! In my last blog post I talked about how I could literally pull out handfuls of hair on a daily basis but what I didn’t touch on (because I hadn’t experienced it just yet) was how crappy new hair growth is. Yes, it’s wonderful that I’m growing back my mane of thick locks but guess what, these new little baby hairs CANNOT BE CONTROLLED! I vividly remember crying on vacation when Nate was around seven months because I wanted to wear my hair down but I had so many new hairs growing in that I literally had a MOHAWK on the top of my head! Seriously, there was a straight line down my part of hairs that were still too short to stay down and it literally looked like I had this weirdo mohawk going on. I’m currently experiencing a similar situation but instead of it being a line of hairs down my part, it’s all the new hairs that surround my face. They love to stick straight out, framing my face in a not-so-flattering way. I keep trying to remind myself that I got through it once before and I can do it again but honestly, I’m like this close to hiring a hair dresser to come and do my hair on a daily basis that way I don’t look like I just rolled out of bed and haven’t brushed my hair in three days.
And lastly, I forgot just how quickly postpartum goes by. I mean, I’m already seven months in, my baby is already seven months old, July was seven months ago! When did that even happen? I feel like I blinked and Eli was three months old, I blinked again and he was half a year, and now I’m trying very hard not to blink because if I do, he’s going to be a year old! It just boggles my mind to think about how far he and I have come in the last (over) half a year. To think that we’ll be planning his first birthday party soon in something that makes me want to burst into tears over… ok so maybe those postpartum hormones are still lingering a bit but seriously! It goes by WAY TOO FAST! I often wish I could press a pause button on my life just to really feel like I’ve totally soaked it all in. Pretty soon I won’t be postpartum anymore, I won’t be counting my baby’s age by months anymore, and I just don’t know if I’m ready for that!