Wouldn’t it be great to have a long weekend every week? We can dream, right?! At least it’s unofficially summer and this week is a short one. Friday will be here before we know it.
I’ve said it before, but I honestly had no idea what I was getting into during and post-labor. We spent so much time focusing on making it to another milestone each week, but didn’t give much thought to life during or after delivery. These are the 10 things I wish I would have known. They aren’t meant to scare anyone, but leave you better prepared to handle the first few weeks!
1. Pain is relative
Before labor, I worried about how much the epidural and catheter would hurt (yes, there was no question I was going to get me some drugs). After the pain of a few intense contractions, I didn’t flinch at the epidural or catheter. I didn’t need to spend time stressing about either of them beforehand.
2. No matter how proper you were before, all decency goes out the window
I’d like to think Jim and I had a mature relationship. We didn’t spend time discussing bodily functions because really who needs that?! Well, I can assure you those discussions happen during labor and recovery. The fact that you have to measure your pee after the catheter is removed and “pass gas” before being released from the hospital will bring those topics to the forefront of every conversation with your doctor and nurses. And the things you may need to do to make them happen…well that’s a topic for another day.
3. Recovery is hard
Since I had a caesarean section, I can only speak to my experience. Recovery was much harder and longer than I imagined. I honestly thought I’d be released from the hospital and pretty much back to normal or at least able to move around easily. The truth is I could hardly get in and out of the car and I slept in a chair for the first week I was home because I couldn’t get in bed.
4. Babies can really suck
Holy crap is breastfeeding painful. The lactation consultants and every article I read said it would be painless if you were doing it right. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that far off and it was some of the most intense pain I’ve felt in my life. Curse words were uttered and tears were shed. Maybe it’s just me, but my nipples feel like daggers whenever I try to cover them up. Everyone says it gets easier and it does, but almost 7 weeks in and it’s still painful.
5. The swelling is normal and will go away
Again, this is more specific to ceasarean sections, but the swelling I experienced due to the fluids given during labor and surgery really freaked me out. It went away in my upper body within a day, but my lower body looked like a stay puff marshmallow for almost two weeks. You couldn’t see my knees or ankles. Every time a new nurse would check on me, I’d tell her I was concerned about my swelling and each time they’d assure me it was normal and would go away. It does…but it may take three weeks. I now have a new appreciation for my ankles. I look at the skinny little things with awe and happiness.
6. Love like no other
You will immediately love that baby like nothing you’ve ever felt. You’ll do anything to protect them and keep them safe. People say this all the time, but I don’t think you truly understand until you have your own child. At least I didn’t.
7. You won’t use 80% of what you bring to the hospital
I spent hours researching what I should bring to the hospital for me, baby and Jim. I’ll share the full list in another post, but I can assure you I didn’t use most of the things I brought for myself. I didn’t wash or curl my hair while in the hospital and I sure as hell didn’t put on any makeup. I barely made it out of bed to use the bathroom and take a shower. The maternity clothes I brought didn’t fit since I was so swollen. Instead I sent Jim to Target to pick up shorts, underwear and socks in size large.
8. You’ll see your partner in a new way
It is so fun to see your spouse/partner with your baby. I’ll never forget watching Jim with Lawson while they were cleaning him up and stitching me up. It was just so special. He just jumped right into changing diapers and holding him. It was as if he was meant to be a father. And then seeing Jim with his dad and Lawson…it’s enough to make a hormonal woman cry.
9. Make sure your coach wears comfortable shoes
Unless you have an extremely short labor, your husband/partner/coach will spend a lot of time on their feet. Comfortable shoes are a must. Bring two pairs so you can switch them out when you start to get tired.
10. It gets better each day
The first few weeks are hard. Really, really hard. Everyone says it gets easier. And it’s true. I had no idea how hard the first weeks would be. The first week is a bit of a honeymoon period. Then the second week reality sets in. He sleeps less, cries more, your nipples are sore and everyone is sleep deprived. I thought I’d have time to blog, get together with friends, etc. Clearly I was naive. Around week 5 it starts to get a little easier. They start smiling and each day seems to get a little bit better. It was also around this time we started to put him on a schedule, which was helpful for all of us. I wasn’t sold on a schedule earlier, but now I’m a big proponent (we read Babywise for anyone that’s interested).
Bonus: If you breastfeed, be on the lookout for a breast infection. Yeah, I didn’t know that was a thing either but it is and it’s painful. The medical term is mastitis and symptoms include fever and/or chills, aches, fatigue and pain during breastfeeding. Other than the fever/chills, the rest seemed like it could have been from the sleep deprivation and difficulties breastfeeding. It wasn’t until I was shaking from the chills for 2 hours one afternoon and had a temperature of 103 that I decided I needed to see a doctor. I probably had it for 3-4 weeks and didn’t realize the severity until that day. I’m no doctor, but if you have a fever I think you need antibiotics.