The Things No One Tells You About Your First Weeks as a Mom

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!

My Birth Story

This story should probably start a couple of months before Kerrigan’s birth – mostly because I’m behind on posting here (and there is actually a draft in my folder on this period of time…but it’s not finished yet!). So, let’s go back in time a little bit to my pre-natal appointment at 33 weeks.

I went into this appointment seeing one of the midwives in my OB’s practice because he was not available that day (another story for another time). It was my first appointment with someone other than my OB. During this appointment they did the normal things: checked my urine, listened for a heartbeat, checked my fundal height, etc. Up until this point I had been measuring normal and there was nothing that raised any concerns. I’d been discharged from the MFM after our Fetal Echocardiogram and told that unless my OB wanted me to have additional testing/monitoring I didn’t need to return.

The day following my appointment with the midwife, my OBs nurse called me. My fundal height was suddenly measuring two weeks ahead. They wanted me to go in and have a growth scan to see what was going on with the baby, amniotic fluid, etc. So off I went, back to the MFM for some additional testing. The ultrasound revealed that the baby was measuring 36-37 weeks. The MFM recommended that I do weekly monitoring starting at 35 weeks – this included weekly Non-Stress Tests and Biometric Profiles. It was also recommended that I have another growth scan at the end of my pregnancy to see where things stood.

Fast forward to week 39. The Monday before my due date we had that second growth scan and it estimated the baby at 9 pounds 15 ounces in size. The scan was done at 8:30 in the morning. The MFM had said I was right on the cusp of where they’d recommend a c-section, but since I had a frame that looked like it could support birthing a larger baby, I might still be a candidate for a vaginal birth.

At 11:00 the nurse from my OB’s office called. The doctor wanted me to come in today if I was available to discuss the results of the growth scan.  I called Robert at work and we both headed back out to see the doctor.

After meeting with the doctor, we decided that we would give the baby until her due date to go into labor and try to deliver her on her own, but if she didn’t make it by her date we would have a c-section given her size and not being a great candidate for induction. The doctor did warn me that if we did a vaginal birth, it was going to be a challenging endeavor. Once the head was out, it was likely that it would be difficult to deliver the shoulders and given her size they would not want to utilize forceps or suction to assist with the delivery.

I was still game to try.

Throughout the week I tried everything to get her to come before Sunday, the date of our scheduled c-section, but it just wasn’t happening. Saturday night we had everything packed and ready to go for the morning. I got almost no sleep Saturday night and was just a bundle of nerves throughout the night- were we doing the right thing, was the c-section going to hurt, would the baby be okay. I cried, I laughed, I tried to convine myself that everything was going to be just fine and there was a reason that she hadn’t come yet. By the time we were set to leave Sunday I was a tired, exhaussted, nervous mess.

We got to the hospital at 7:00 am, with the surgery scheduled for 9:00 am. We got prepped and my doctor came in to chat with us (admittedly, one of the perks of a scheduled procedure is getting your doctor for the delivery – which I was grateful for!). He asked if we had questions, explained everything that was going to happen, what to expect, and how long it would take. He joked and asked if we wanted to take wagers on her actual size, and gave a lighthearted air to the room, which was much needed.

When he went to scrub up the anesthesiologist came in to chat with us and give us our options, along with the associatd risks, but recommended doing a spinal, which we agreed with. Once he left the nurses finished prepping us and had my husband get changed into his scrubs in preparation to be moved to the OR.

And then, we waited. What seemed like forever! It was nervewracking! There was an emergency c-section and the surgeon got called to assist. Finally around 9:40 they came and wheeled us back.

The Spinal was probably the worst part of the procedure. The doctor and nurses were great, but I don’t think there is a way to make someone shoving a needle into your back a pain free experience. Once that was done, my OB came in and chatted with us a little more while waiting for the spinal to take effect. Once I was fully numb we started the procedure.

As far as the c-section goes, it actually wasn’t as bad as I had worried it would be and it ws a relatively positive birth experience. It took maybe 10 minutes from the time they started until the baby was here. The weirdest part was feeling my stomach muscles jumping as they workedtheir way to my uterus -but my OB let me know to expect it before it started, so I was prepared for it.

Kerrigan came out screaming and didn’t stop until my husband went over to the table with the nurse. As soon as she heard his voice she calmed right down. Even though my OB told us I would get skin to skin time and could hold her while they stitched me up, the nurses brought her to my cheek for maybe 30 seconds and then gave her to my husband and zipped her into his scrubs. That 30 second window was the only glimpse of her that I got until we left surgery. This upset me quite a bit, but my husband was glowing and I tried really hard not to let it show despite  disappointment.

We had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was given a 9/9 APGAR score and the only concerns were that she was breathing quickly and was a little shake-y, but the NICU nurse determined that they weren’t bad enough to require anything but additional monitoring and were likely from the baby still needing to transition from the birth. I was so relieved that she got to stay with us and wasn’t taken off to the NICU.

As they were finishing stitching me up, the doctor talked to me and told me that he was glad we opted for the c-section. After seeing her, he didn’t think I’d have been able to get her shoulders out had we tried a vaginal birth. I was so happy he shared this, and relieved that we’d made the decision for the c-section. Despite originally being a little disappointed about the c-section, I no longer had regrets about giving birth to my baby this way and felt confident the best decision had been made for both Mom and Baby.

I was wheeled into recovery, and finally got to hold my little girl. She was amazing and beautiful; everything and more than I could have imagined or dreamed. After years of struggles and heartbreak, followed by nine stressed filled months, I was finally holding a piece of us and it was nirvana. She latched immediately, with no difficulty, as if she’d been practicing for that moment the entire time in my womb. I don’t really remember much more about the time in recovery – just Kerrigan. She filled every moment and memory I have of that time.

The days following the surgery were challenging. I needed assistance to get out of bed once I could, and it was painful to move at all. As a result, my husband and the nurses had to do almost everything while I laid in bed, and it was frustrating. However, Kerrigan was never more at peace than when she was with me and she spent most of her days (and nights) lying with me. The doctors actually said that this was good, as it helped her to transition and regulate her breathing, ease her shaking and calm her.

In the end, it wasn’t a perfect birth; but the result is so far past perfect that it’s easy to overlook everything else.

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The Stats!
Baby’s Name: Kerrigan Ivy

Date of Birth: May 10, 2015

Original Due Date: May 9, 2015

Weeks Pregnant: 40

Height/Weight of Baby: 9 pounds, 13 ounces. 22 inches long.