I know you’ve all been waiting for the sequel to my birthing experience and I’ve finally come out of the stage where I’ve been trying to forget. Dark circles and bags have become the norm for Chris and I as Jacob channels his inner party animal at any point between midnight and 3am. He feeds like an angry monster and poops like a malfunctioning Baby Born doll on steroids (does anyone still remember those?).
Our bins have been overflowing to the point where we’ve resorted to doing sneaky bin runs on our street to find slightly empty bins on bin night to offload some of our dirty nappies. I digress; there will be plenty more of these posts to come as we discover the weird and wonderful things that our new truffle piglet can do. Yes, we’ve nicknamed him Truffle Pig Turner. So let’s go back to the second part of my birthing experience.
Whilst getting an epidural makes birthing the most amazing experience for mums the days afterwards isn’t quite as fun. I’ll be honest, up until the point where I had the midwife helping me into the shower I was still on Cloud Nine…or Ten – who knows. The drugs wore off soon after the stitches were done and the carnage around the delivery bed had been cleaned away which meant having to try and get up and hobble over to the shower.
You don’t completely lose feeling in your legs when you get an epidural and you can still move them if required – it just feels like you’ve got a bag of sand weighing each of them down. Standing up after hours of not really being able to move them freely was a new sensation in itself. Holding my catheter bag in one hand and my dirty, bloody stained hospital gown in the other, I managed to get myself into the shower.
It makes total sense to me now but this is something that people don’t tell you when you’re pregnant is that you’ll feel like your vagina and ass are falling out for the first few days if not weeks after a natural birth. I know everything would have moved with gravity (and the baby) downwards but that feeling when you first stand up and feel the pressure bearing down on your nether regions is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to articulate better than this. I remember telling Chris in these exact words – I think my asshole is falling out.
Then comes the momentous occasion of attempting the first bathroom visit after the catheter vacates the building. I’m not going to lie but depending on how bad the situation is down there for you (and I got away with just minor first degree tears) – it’s going to hurt. A lot. Don’t even get me started on movements on the back end because for the first few days my only goal was to keep it from falling out or at least getting rid of the feeling. My advice – get yourself some ice packs because they make such a difference. TMI? Ok, let’s move on.
I’ve probably already mentioned this in my post on Essential Wardrobe Pieces Every Woman Needs Postpartum that whilst you lose the easiest 10 kilos during birth – you’re still left with a hefty pouch afterwards. I stood in the shower looking down at my sad, deflated ball and thought I could’ve had another child hiding in there. The reality is that it takes weeks if not months to get rid of any remnants of that post-baby pouch. If it makes you feel any better, your newborn will find that spot incredibly comfortable to pass out on so there’s a silver lining for ya.
I was nervous in the lead up to the birth about being able to breastfeed. Having only seen a small glimmer of my somewhat inflated breasts during the first trimester; I was worried because they had deflated during the second and remained that way until birth. Everyone reassured me that my milk would come in once I gave birth and when the midwife handed me Jacob for his first feed I was a little nervous. The lactation nurses will teach you during your classes that babies are incredibly intuitive and are basically hard wired when they’re born to search out the nipple. They weren’t wrong.
Jacob was incredibly quick to latch on and boy does this little guy have a strong suck. For the first day we thought everything was going smoothly but he was waking up every half an hour screaming and we couldn’t quite work out why. It quickly became obvious that he was still hungry and wasn’t getting enough colostrum from me. On top of all this, he was butchering my nipples and no matter how much the midwives helped me correctly latch him onto my nipple – the pain was excruciating. My nipples came out misshapen each time and with each feed the pain grew worse.
We settled on giving him formula on the first night to make sure he was getting enough to satisfy him and booked in to see the lactation nurse the next day. Long story short, we realized I wasn’t going to produce enough milk for the little guy (I couldn’t even express any milk) so we put him straight on formula. What a relief it was for us that he took to formula incredibly easily and has been a happy (but hungry) chap since.
You’re running off adrenaline and excitement during those first few days after giving birth and for me, the exhaustion didn’t kick in until the second day after we got home. I woke up the second morning feeling like absolute death and when I was asked how I felt – my only answer was that I felt broken. Everything was catching up to me and when you combine this with trying to keep your little human alive, everything becomes overwhelming pretty quickly.
The first night back home is probably the most terrifying because we were both terrified of falling asleep in case something went wrong. Is he breathing? Has he soiled himself? Is he too hot? Too cold maybe? Why is he so damn red?? Are probably only a fraction of the questions that you have running through your head as you frantically google on your phone to see if it’s normal. We probably got a collective 2-3 hours sleep the first night.
Thankfully it’s become a lot easier for us since then with the occasional night where he just won’t settle. We’ve trialed a lot of gadgets, swaddles and techniques that have worked for us and I’ll dedicate a post to this next week so stay tuned.
I just want to say a big thank you for the family and friends who came to visit me in hospital and turn my room into a florist. The support and love was so needed and appreciated!
If you haven’t read the first part to this piece then check it out here.