Dear Pre-Baby Me:
In my last letter, I gave you the goods on labor and birth, so it seems only fitting to follow it up with this next topic: prepare to hear the ugly truth about postpartum recovery.
So, you’ll have just given birth — congratulations! — and you’ll be dying to go home as soon as possible. The hospital will want to keep you another night, but your midwife will give you the all-clear to leave if you want. And of course you want, so leave you will — mere hours after your baby’s birth. You’ll be exhausted, but the post-birth endorphins will convince you you’re ready to head home and start this whole parenting thing already.
You will regret this decision almost immediately.
Pre-Baby Me, you know recovering from pushing a human being out of your hoo-ha is going to be rough. You’ve also been told that having a new baby is no picnic. But one thing that will fail to occur to you is that these two things will be happening at the same time as one another. You will be dealing with two hard things at once (that’s what she said! hey-o!) and each one will make the other seem insurmountable.
The ugly truth about postpartum recovery (also known as the sweaty, tearful, incontinent, giant-boobed elephant in the room) is that it isn’t just hard, it’s a motherfucker. Also, newborn babies are composed mainly of pure unadulterated need manifested into adorable human form, so they don’t care what you’re going through, but they do require feeding, changing and all the rest of the things right this very moment. Your body and your child will be at odds with one another, battling to get their needs met, and you’ll be stuck in the middle, feeling torn (both literally and figuratively).
Here are a few more hard truths about postpartum recovery:
It makes breastfeeding harder.
You thought breastfeeding might be difficult because of supply issues, or maybe if your baby had trouble latching. What nobody told you is that it’s also hard to do if you can’t sit properly because you’re in pain and worried about popping a stitch.
It makes time management harder.
It’s tough to get things done, like look after the baby and eat and maybe even sleep, when you also have to squeeze in 15 minutes to soak your bits in an Epsom salt bath twice a day. Also, did I mention sitting hurts? Because it does. Even in the bath.
It makes pooping harder.
Your first bowel movement after giving birth will be a terrifying event. Make sure you have plenty of booze on hand before attempting this. Also: sitting? Will hurt.
It makes getting around harder.
Walking will be tough, not only because it hurts with the stitches pulling and your hips being out of joint and all that, but also because you will be wearing a sofa-sized pad between your legs to cope with all the bleeding. Remember that time you didn’t have your period for 9 months and acted all smug about it? SURPRISE, here’s 9 months’ worth of your period, all at once.
It makes doing things without peeing your pants harder.
Sneeze? Pee your pants. Cough? Pee your pants. Laugh? Pee your pants. Feed the cat? Pee your pants. Stand up? Pee your pants. Sit down? Pee your pants (and also hurt).
It makes pretty much everything harder.
Between the difficulty with bodily functions, the night sweats, the cankles, the pain, and everything else … let’s just say you shouldn’t expect a barrage of fancy social invitations anytime soon. In fact, by day 3 you’re going to question why you ever wanted a baby in the first place (wonderful though she may be). Day 3, by the way, is a raging asshole of a day, because you will have all the hormones forever and none of the sleep. I know you think you won’t want visitors, but you really should call your parents because they will bring pizza and make you nap. Trust me — you won’t regret it.
Especially if the pizza has pineapple on it. That’s still our favourite.