I am just three days shy of three weeks postpartum with my third child (apparently three is the magic number), and I made the mistake of looking at myself naked in the mirror this morning.
Jesus. Fucking. Christ. I’m not sure there’s anything else I could say that would capture the reality of that shit show. Seriously.
In addition to making me want to throw up in my mouth a little, the blubbery blob of skin peering back at me reminded me of some things every woman should keep in mind during the postpartum period. Things like:
Don’t fucking look at yourself naked in the mirror for at least, like, six months. Gross. Just gross. Everything’s bloated and saggy and full of cellulite. Really. I think my eyelids have cellulite. I’m not even joking right now. (Maybe I am joking, but only a little.) It’s disgusting. Disgusting. And I think the moral here is this: It’s best to let things settle back somewhere near their original location before exploring the birthday suit. Trust me.
There is such a thing as the fourth trimester. And I’m not talking about for baby. The fourth trimester is that period wherein you’re no longer pregnant but you’re nowhere near your pre-pregnancy weight, either. Your third trimester maternity clothes are too loose, and your pre-pregnancy clothes won’t fit up over your left cankle. It’s fucking depressing, this stage. Do yourself a favor and don’t even attempt to try on your favorite threads for another month or two. Stick to your second trimester maternity wear and bask in the glory of the secret fit belly a little while longer. It’s the only time other than pregnancy that it’s acceptable to do so, so might as well milk it.
If you’re on pain meds for a c-section or blown out vagina, stock up on your favorite brand of colon cleanse, too. Ohmygod, you’ve never experienced hell until you’ve been unable to pass a postpartum poo, and pain meds are a leading culprit of concrete crap post-pregnancy. Mine was so bad, I was on two different stool softeners, and even then, dropping a deuce was torture. You definitely want to check with your doctor to see which brands are acceptable (you don’t want to lose an intestine or pop a stitch because you’ve given yourself a violent case of the Tuscaloosa Trots), but you also want to do it sooner rather than later. People have actually been readmitted to the hospital because they’re so full of shit after delivery. Not me, but people.
Buy the biggest, bulkiest pack of maxi pads available. You know what? Scratch that. Just invest in some Depends, because what is about to come rushing out of your vagina is second only to the Mount Vesuvius eruption of yore. And just when you think things have run their course, you’ll step out of the shower to discover your bathroom floor resembles a murder scene in the making. I don’t know how more women don’t develop life threatening anemia in the weeks after giving birth. For reals.
Take it easy on the booze. I’ll concede, few things are as exhilarating as not being able to imbibe and then suddenly being able to imbibe. Before you know it, though, one glass of wine turns into two glasses of wine turns into GIVE ME ALL THE WINE AND THE WHISKEY WHILE WE’RE AT IT. Not a good idea with a newborn. Not a good idea at all. I heard it from a friend.
If you’re planning on dieting, go into that motherfucker full force right away. The longer you delay, the less likely you’ll be to adopt the diet at all. Bringing home a newborn is definitely rough on the feels, and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself eating your postpartum anxiety and depression damn near round the clock. Your whole world is turned upside down when you bring home baby, so what’s a shitty diet of deprivation on top of it? After all, if you’re going to be cranky and tired as it is, might as well throw in hungry for good measure, too.
Don’t forget you’re a person who exists and needs stuff and shit as well. For nine months, it was all about you, and now that you’ve given birth, all anybody can talk or think about (you included) is baby baby BABY. Thing is, under the shit-covered onesies and puke-soaked burp rags, you’re still there, and you have needs, too, damnit. Demand somebody (your spouse or significant other comes to mind) stay home with the baby once in a while so you can get a massage, go to the salon for a cut and color, get your nails did, or drive around the neighborhood for a half hour smoking an unlit cigarette and blaring terrible 90s boy band tunes. Whatever. Just don’t forget you’re also a person who wants stuff and shit. It’s important.
What other postpartum insight do you have to offer?