I have learned that there are some things that people either sugarcoat or flat out just don’t talk about regarding those first few weeks after your baby is born. Which is rather unfortunate, because they are the things I think you really should hear to prepare yourself for your baby. To compound this, Hollywood and the media don’t do new moms any favors by glamorizing that time. I mean, let’s be real. You don’t pop out a baby and magically find the joy of motherhood and everything is perfect. It’s far from it! In fact, it’s completely normal and possible to not have an instant connection with your baby.
Here are some of the things that I wish someone had shared with me about those first few weeks:
- Lochia – Sure, you hear about it in your birthing class or read about what it is in your pregnancy books. But let’s talk about the reality of Lochia. You literally have shit falling out of your vagina every time you stand up, sit down or use the bathroom for the first few weeks. It is borderline traumatizing. In fact, the first time I got up to use the bathroom after my c-section and I sat down my first thought was what the fuck was that?! And I stood up and looked and I almost shouted “OH. MY. GOD.” The nurse assured me it was perfectly normal, but I wasn’t convinced. The truth is that you will bleed for weeks (I bleed for two solid months). It will get lighter, and you will overexert yourself, and it will get heavier again until it stops. You will be given this little bottle, called a peri-bottle and it will be your best friend.
- Pooping – Everybody poops. But not everyone has experienced that first post-pregnancy poop. It’s almost as traumatizing as giving birth! Ok, not really. But it’s a challenge. And once you realize that, going to the bathroom is terrifying. Eventually things will work themselves out, but be prepared.
- Motherhood is Lonely – Those first few weeks after the baby, when your hormones are all out of whack and you can barely move and you aren’t sleeping more than 45 minutes at a time, is a very isolating experience. It’s okay and it does get better. But you definitely feel like you are all alone and I wish someone had told me how lonely I would feel, even with a new baby and my husband right by my side.
- Bonding with your Baby – Contrary to all of those movies you see, the first time you hold your baby in your arms the heavens likely will not open up and shine light upon you while a chorus of angels serenade you. In fact, you are likely to be out of sorts and things will be happening so quickly that you aren’t exactly sure what is going on. You know that you just had a baby. You know that you are now responsible for another life. You know that you will love this child. But you may not be awash with that love immediately. Most likey you will be in a stunned state of wtf just happened, and that is okay! It may take a few hours or a few days for your heart and your head to catch up. It doesn’t make you a horrible person or less of a mother. It’s normal.
- You Baby will demand everything from you – Your baby will be very demading. Your relationship right now is give, give, give. There is very little return at this point. Sure, there are baby snuggles and they are glorious, but your baby simply doesn’t have the capacity to give back yet. It’s coming. But be prepared to give everything you have those first few weeks.
- You will make at least one mistake a day – Yup. Every single day. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You are learning and your baby won’t remember or know the difference!
- You will cry…a lot – It’s just a thing that happens. Your hormones are all over the place. You are exhausted. And your don’t know what the fuck you are doing. The tears will come for no reason at all or for the silliest things. In fact, sometimes just having a good cry will feed good! You aren’t broken, you don’t love your baby any less. The tears come and the tears go and eventually the tears will stop.
- Be kind to yourself – You will be your own worst critic. Always. Remember to take care of yourself and be gentle to yourself. You are important, you just wet through a major change in your body and your life and you have feelings. Love yourself and be kind to yourself.
- Those snuggles don’t last forever – Enjoy them! It’s okay to just hold your baby! Eventually she won’t want to be held all of the time anymore and you will miss those moments.
In hindsight, I’m sure someone probably mentioned one or two of the things on the list and I just didn’t pay attention (hello! of course angels will sing when my baby is born!). But I really do think there could be more done to prepare new mothers for those first weeks with their baby. It’s hard and nobody really tells you!