Even though I tend to be a hard-fact realist, there were a few lofty expectations I held before we had our baby girl. Little did I know, those expectations would be completely and utterly obliterated. Here’s what I wish someone would have told me about birthing a baby.
1. The epidural doesn’t always work
Not to scare any pregnant readers, but nope, it doesn’t always work. Now, I knew about this fact, but no way in hell did I think it was going to happen to me. Well, it did! The poor anesthesiologist tried 3 times to numb me up, and although it worked in part, I was definitely feeling those 10cm contractions. And oh boy, they were something else. Thankfully, it did enough to numb the skin so I didn’t feel the episotomy or ring of fire. “You’re not supposed to feel this,” the doctor said in shock, when I cried out as she began to stitch me up. And “You’re not supposed to be able to do that,” the nurse told me when I stood from the bed to be transferred to our nursing suite. Both confirmations that the epidural didn’t take (which made me feel better about all that yelling I was doing).
All I can say is, if you have a birth plan that includes pain relief, be prepared to go natural if you can’t make it in time or the epidural fails. Your body is more than able to go through it!
2. The delivery room isn’t like the movies
Unless, you’re watching Call the Midwife, almost all movies depict the delivery room bustling with doctors and nurses at all times. Definitely not the case. Until you are ready to push, you have one nurse assigned to you, and if you are in labor for a while, that nurse will change when their shift ends. I’m pretty sure my nurses were actual angels, by the way. Catered to my every need and made me feel secure and empowered. When you reach 10cm and are ready to push, only then do they call in the doctor and one or two other nurses.
3. The pain doesn’t stop when the baby is out
In the movies, once the baby arrives, there is laughing, crying, happy tears and seemingly no more pain. And although the joy of seeing your baby is certainly true, the aftermath isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. No, ma’am. Your body is still coming down from contractions. Before the cord is cut, while they are rubbing and cleaning your baby, there is a very uncomfortable pull you feel from the placenta. And oh, God, delivering that is probably the grossest feeling you can imagine. It was so much bigger than I thought it would be. Picture giving birth to a deep sea blob fish. I just shuddered.
When you get back to your nursing room, the nurses come around to routinely push down on your uterus as hard as they can, to get all the lochia out. Like, not gentle at all. Literally as hard as they can. Not pleasant. Oh, and don’t forget the hemorrhoids! Sitting isn’t fun.
4. Breastfeeding is painful
Yes, more pain! If you choose to breastfeed, just know that the beginning is terrible. There’s nothing like the feeling of giving nutritious life to your perfect newborn, but, man. It hurts. That perfect newborn can suck surprisingly hard, enough to cause blisters. Your nipples will crack. When your milk comes in, your boobs will feel as heavy and as hard as rocks. Not to mention, the physical act of nursing triggers your uterus to contract to get rid of any afterbirth you might have. Fun. The good news is, it was a physical connection with our child I was happy to have, since my belly felt so empty afterwards, and the pain does go away after a week or two. But you might cry during that first week. I did.
5. Baby isn’t the only one in diapers
And they are actually so comfortable. Definitely ask for a bunch more to take home. Those giant mesh undies saved me. Plus you don’t want to ruin your own underwear, since you’re essentially having the biggest period of your life. I passed clots the size of golf balls. Again, baby deep sea blob fish. Shudder.
When you are recovering, don’t be a hero and try to wear anything remotely sexy. One wedgie and it’s over. Seamless is best.
6. You loose your dignity
I am a very modest person by nature. I don’t wear super tight clothing and feel uncomfortable showing cleavage. But when you’ve had everyone and their mother checking in on your private parts and inspecting the baby’s latch for 2 days, you come to realize that there’s no point to cover up in the nursing wing. The doctors and nurses see that every day, 24/7. Just relax and nurse your baby!
7. Mom life isn’t like Pinterest
I had it in my mind that when I brought Wren home, it would serene and perfect. That I could peacefully fold laundry and cook to my heart’s content while my precious daughter slept through it all in a beautiful moses basket beside me. That I would be able to control everything that happens and accomplish everything I still wanted to do. I’m laughing as I write this, because as you can imagine, things went very differently. Wren was colicky for the first month of her life and hated to be put on her back. I was an exhausted, new-mom mess. I barely got time to pee and eat, much less peacefully fold laundry. My husband helped with all that, God bless him. Take everyone’s advice and SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS. Or maybe just rest, eat, and take a shower. You’ll thank me later.
8. You love that baby more than you thought possible
Cheesy, I know, but it’s true. The moment your little one arrives, you’ll love them more than you could ever imagine. Instantly, they’ll be your everything. And you’d go through all of the above, all over again if you had to. If you’re crazy like me, you might even want another!