By Samantha Flaherty
If you’re a first-time mom-to-be, congratulations! You are a goddess. A wonder. A unicorn.
You’ve meticulously tracked your baby’s progress each week. You’ve taken your vitamins and avoided soft cheeses. You’ve even given up your beloved sushi.
Now, you’re probably focused on your next steps: childbirth and motherhood. You may be signing up for classes and reading everything you can get your hands on. You want to be as prepared as possible when that little bundle of joy finally arrives, and that’s so important. You are so focused on the baby, and with good reason.
But I have something else that I need to tell you. Something that is rarely discussed on mom blogs, in pregnancy books, and by doting aunts, friends, and grandmothers. You also need to prepare for what will happen to you. Here are five things that I didn’t find in the books, and that I wish someone had told me:
1. You will be tired. So, so tired.
For starters, childbirth is exhausting. And not in a strenuous-spinning-class-at-the-gym kind of way. Whether you give birth med-free or you have an epidural; whether you give birth vaginally or via cesarean; every inch of you will be tired. There will be hormones and adrenaline and dopamine and oxytocin racing through your bloodstream as you stare into your precious newborn’s eyes, but you need rest. Try to let yourself sleep. Send the baby to the nursery for a couple of hours. Get off Facebook. You’ll thank me later.
2. You will bleed. A lot.
All of the pregnancy books and websites that I read in my third trimester said that postpartum bleeding was “like a heavy period.” That is literally the biggest lie I have ever heard. It’s like saying that Mount Everest is just “like a big hill.” Usually you get a period every month. Multiply that by NINE and then factor in that your uterus went from the size of a pear to the size of a watermelon. It also lasts from four to six WEEKS. You will leave the hospital in diapers, and make sure you ask your nurse for extra to bring home. You’re welcome.
3. You may experience toilet troubles.
When I think about the most painful experiences in my life, I think of breaking my foot, childbirth, and….. the first poop after birth. That’s right, folks. After all of the trauma to your nether-regions from pushing out a bowling ball, the last thing on your mind is going #2. But a few days after your little miracle is born (or sometimes while you’re still in the hospital) you’ll get that rumble in your tumble and you’ll need to go. I am here to say that you will survive. They will probably give you stool softeners in the hospital, but bring your own and take extra doses. And then continue to take the maximum dose until everything is back to normal. After my second, I filled a bowl with ibuprofen and stool softeners and put them on the counter so that I wouldn’t forget to take them. Just trust me on this one – it’s not glamorous but that’s #momlife in a nutshell.
4. Breastfeeding is hard.
Like, really hard. I successfully breastfed my two boys until they were a year old, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning. Don’t listen to the people (even the authorities) who tell you that if it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. Excuse me, but there’s a small dinosaur chomping on your nipples for about 23 hours a day. Of course it’s gonna hurt. But good news: it gets better quickly. And if it doesn’t, or you’re just not feeling it, then you can pump or formula feed. No matter what anyone tells you, a fed baby is a healthy baby, and a happy mother is the best mother. Doesn’t matter how you get there.
5. You will become a superhero.
Before having a baby, I needed a full 8 hours of sleep to feel rested. I got stressed out when things got hectic at my job. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed just taking care of myself. If you had told me that I would be able to run a household and keep two energetic boys healthy and happy, all on minimal sleep, I would have called you crazy. But here I am, wondering what the hell I did with myself before I had kids. I can now cook an entire dinner using only one arm (while holding a baby in the other, of course). I can keep track of nap schedules and birthdays and food preferences and playdates and doctor’s appointments. My body made enough milk to feed two fat babies. I can clean poop and vomit and blood without batting an eye. I have become a superhero, and so will you.
I’m not trying to scare you with all of this information, I just wish that someone had told me all of this while I was pregnant. Don’t let it stop you from the excitement you feel when you think about meeting your little boy or girl for the first time! Just remember, while you take care of that sweet and perfect baby, that you also need to take care of yourself. It’s normal to feel daunted by what lies ahead, but you can do it. Your superpowers will carry you through.
About the Author
Samantha Flaherty, also known as The Decent Mother, is a writer and a mom to two little boys. She always seeks to find humor in the hardest parts of motherhood. Check out her Instagram at @thedecentmother www.instagram.com/thedecentmother