After getting pregnant, I experienced nine months of bizarre bodily functions and changes. Toward the end of the first trimester, I started shyly sharing some of these with women I know who’ve had kids. Time and time again, I got the same response from them: “Oh yeah that happened to me too and nobody told me!” Wha?! Why? Why are we keeping these things secret from one another?!
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’m not one to hide the indecencies of pregnancy. I will never covertly say to you, “Oh that happened to me, too.” If we’re internet friends, you won’t need me to because you’ve probably already read about it on my Facebook or Twitter, whether it be tales of hemorrhoids or choking on excess saliva or my uncontrollable third trimester gas. Now that pregnancy is over, I will share with you the things that most people won’t tell you about recovery.
That weight? It might not come off the way that you expect it to.
You’re pregnant. You’re gaining weight. You want to know where it goes, so you google “pregnancy weight gain” and after reading sites like this one, you reassure yourself that all is well and you can go back for brownie number seven. You tell yourself that those 30lbs are nothing because you’ll probably lose 20lbs before you even leave the hospital! SCORE! Yeah, not so much. If you’re getting a lot of IV fluids, you may end up weighing more than you did when you got to the hospital. Don’t freak out. You’ll pee it all off in a week or so and one day, after avoiding the scale, you will step on with great trepidation and find that you lost 10, 15, or even 20lbs since coming home. Or maybe not. Maybe you had a 8lbs baby and you find after a week that you’re only down 10lbs. It’s ok. It took you 9 months to put the weight on – it might take awhile to get it off. And really, those seven brownies were worth it. The baby was kind of worth it, too.
You might get swollen. Very, very swollen.
Just because you made it to labor without ever getting huge hobbit feet doesn’t mean that you’re going home with the adorable feet you walked in on. In fact, you may not even be able to wear your own damn shoes out of the hospital. Seriously. Your capillaries get all leaky ‘n’ shit and you may or may not have gotten a lot of IV fluids and maybe you wake up in the recovery room to discover that your legs have been wrapped up in these strange, white, massaging leg…things…that are meant to decrease the inhuman swelling that happened sometime between pushing (or cutting) a baby out and getting set up in your recovery or postpartum room. Then maybe you push yourself a little too far and they swell up even more and you can actually see the tops of your feet jiggling because there’s so much fluid. You might have swell up to your knees. You might swell up to your goddamn hips. Fret not. You will pee it out. Drink a lot of water. A LOT. Elevate. Get your partner to massage your hideous Bilbo feet. Walk around. They will go down. If you had a c-section or a lot of IV fluids for other reasons though, don’t be surprised or embarrassed if you find yourself leaving the hospital in those hospital slipper socks with the grippy feet. It happens to the best of us, and it might take a little over a week (sorry) for you to be back in normal shoes.
There are things that hurt as bad as labor…after you’re done.
Ok so this doesn’t happen to everyone, apparently. But it does happen and I wish I had known. After you give birth and deliver the placenta, a doctor, nurse, or midwife may press down on the fundus to expel any blood clots. They might do it without telling you it is going to hurt like hell. You might yelp and cry and almost punch them. Apparently some women are offered fentanyl before that happens. I was not one of those women. I might be really fucking bitter about that. Maybe.
When you stand up for the first time, stuff might come out.
You bleed. A lot. When you stand up for the first time after delivering, a lot of that may spill out onto the floor. Don’t be embarrassed. The nurses know it’s going to happen and are prepared. If you can’t help but be a little shy or embarrassed about it, ask them to put down a Chux pad for you. It really doesn’t matter though – either way, they’re cleaning up your blood. But that’s what they do.
You will suddenly realize that pooping is scary.
This never crossed my mind until a nurse came in with a stool softener for me. She handed it over with a big jug of water and whispered, “Just relax and do your labor breathing and it won’t be too bad.” Um. WHAT? Labor breathing? For pooping?! I was so scared of that first poop after that. I couldn’t even do a tiny cough without bracing myself. How was I supposed to poop?! Well, I did on day 2 and it wasn’t a big deal. Drink a lot of water, eat your fruit and veggies, ask for colace AND senna, and order up some prune juice with your dinner. It’ll (most likely) be ok. There are pooping horror stories, but there are horror stories about everything if you look hard enough. I was apparently an “overachiever” and an “above average pooper” because I went easily 2x/day starting on day 2. I guess we all have to excel at something. Maybe you will also excel at pooping.
Peeing might be an issue.
There are multiple ways in which peeing can be an issue. It might hurt to sit on the toilet. You might be incontinent. You might not have sensation in your bladder. I had all of these problems! Every time I stood up, I peed a little. Every time I sat down, I peed a lot. I couldn’t sit down on the toilet without pee leaking out the moment I started to bend my knees. Embarrassing! Part of my problem though was that I never had the sensation that I had to pee. With everything else going on, it took me awhile to realize I had no bladder sensation. If you find yourself piddling all over the damn place, take a moment to reflect on whether or not you can actually feel your bladder. If the answer is no, pee on a schedule. Every 1-2 hours. As soon as I did that, it took about 24 hours to stop peeing all over myself. That bladder sensation though? It took awhile to come back. I’m 5 weeks postpartum now and still sometimes don’t feel the urge to pee until it’s time to RUN to a bathroom. So, you know, keep that 1-2 hour schedule if things still aren’t feeling quite right. You don’t want to be incontinent and you don’t want a UTI. Especially when you can’t feel the places that might tip you off to said UTI.
While we’re on the topic of peeing…
Remember the good ol’ days of peeing in a downward stream into the water? No? You mean you never really thought about it? Yeah, well, you might be thinking about it now. That whole having-a-baby thing changed my pee stream, man. I will never scowl at people who’ve left little piddles on public bathroom seats. Ok, I will do that still because seriously people, it takes 5 seconds to check the seat and wipe it before you leave! But now I have more of an understanding of why that happens.
Alright. That’s all for now. I may or may not do a c-section specific “WTF? No one told me!” post when I have another spare half hour. But right now, I have to cuddle a baby and try not to pee myself.