The post where I get real honest with you about pregnancy and the birth of a child.
The first trimester of pregnancy pretty much sucks. I was fortunate to not get sick, but I nauseous. I was hungry 24/7 but couldn’t make myself eat the good stuff. One bite of chicken or broccoli and I was ready for french fries and a burger. I was more tired than I’ve ever been in my whole life, including the first few weeks with a newborn. I took naps during lunch, came home as soon as my work day was over, went back to the couch until supper was ready, and went to bed at 9. I had zero energy and often wondered how people handled the first trimester with other children. I relied on my husband to do E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Grocery store – him, cook – him, laundry – him, clean – him, dishes – him. You get the point. I was a worthless pregnant woman lying on the couch who went to bed at a ridiculous hour and then barely made it out of bed the next morning. I slept until the last possible minute sacrificing my appearances for a little more sleep. On the weekends I was in bed until breakfast (lunch) was ready and then went back to the couch for a lazy afternoon. I often wondered how and if I’d ever want to experience that again. I wondered if the whole pregnancy would suck that much. (It didn’t.)
Not fitting into clothes sucks. Buying maternity clothes sucks. You put it off until the last possible moment. When you finally cave, you’re so uncomfortable that your brain is tricked into thinking that maternity clothes are awesome. In reality, it’s hard to spend a lot of money on clothes that will only last a short while. So, you buy a few necessities and then wear them to death. You get sick of wearing the same thing over, and over, and over, and over again. Then you see other pregnant women who shop at boutiques and you feel ugly and fat. It’s hard to push these thoughts out of your head, but you find the will to do it so you can continue on. After all, not everyone can experience the miracle of life and what does my body image have to do with the big picture?
If you’re a social butterfly, it can be mentally challenging to know that you’re missing out on things. It’s hard to hear about your friends who have seen and done things and you didn’t know about any plans. For me, it was easy to go out with everyone and not drink. But, it was harder to watch people talk about something that I hadn’t been around or even knew about. It’s another thing you push past because it doesn’t change when your baby is born. And, it’s a mental state. If I tell myself it’s ok and not to worry, then I’m not bothered. If I’m tired or run down, then it bothers me. I’m not in the habit of feeling sorry for myself, so I focused on pushing past it. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t creep up every once in a while. I quickly learned that I’m a planner and make my own destiny. Once I started not planning things, I was stuck at home every night. When you’re pregnant, you don’t have the energy to plan things. So, I sacrificed myself for my body.
Having a c-section sucked! I purposely didn’t watch the video in class or research what was involved. Obviously my idea of birth was the exact opposite of how it ended up, but I never wanted to know what was involved…just in case. I shut my eyes as soon as I entered the operating room and only opened them enough to see to climb across to the operating table. I didn’t even have them open in the recovery room – that’s because of the pain meds, not my own will. The first two-three days after a c-section are HORRIBLE. It’s scary when they take the catheter out and tell you to get up and go to the bathroom on the other side of the room. It’s scary to get out of bed for the first time. It’s painful to sit up, even when the bed is doing all the work. It’s painful every time you get up to go to the bathroom. It’s a huge mental game to convince yourself you can get up. And then they make you walk! Everything about the first few days can be bettered if you’re in a good spot mentally. If you don’t know what to expect, your brain doesn’t help much. Every day really is better, but you don’t know that going into it. At three weeks post, I had thoughts and conversations about how I hoped I would forget the awful pain otherwise I didn’t know how I could have another child. I didn’t know how I could willingly go through the pain again. I felt sorry for myself because I LOVED pregnancy and thought I could do it over and over again. Then, the birth came…and the pain of a c-section. That feeling eventually goes away, but I still know that I went through a lot of pain and it sucked. I feel like it was a big sacrifice of body and spirit to go through a c-section. It wasn’t over quickly, but lasted at least three weeks. Your mobility, your independence, your mental state, your insides, and everything else that comes with surgery are all compromised. I thought about those who had vaginal births and was jealous of how easy it must have been. I wondered how anyone could possible experience this multiple times.
Breastfeeding is hard! It’s a mental and physical game. Mentally preparing before birth is hard. You don’t know what to expect and have lots of thoughts of doubt. Trying to figure it out in the hospital is frustrating. Some nurses tell you it’s ok that you’re struggling and others tell you it needs to be figured out. There’s a lot of pressure on something that you have no experience with. You can’t imagine that it will ever get easier. You worry about the health of your baby. These feelings stick with you when you go home. You feel like your sole purpose in life is feeding that child. And that baby wants to eat all.the.time. It’s exhausting to have someone help you out of bed and prop you up so you’re not in pain. It’s exhausting and mentally nerve-wracking to know that if that baby is awake he wants to eat. For at least two weeks I wondered if it would ever get easier. I wondered if my life would ever be the same. I wondered if the pain would go away. And I was jealous of formula feeding mothers who had their lives and bodies back. Who could skip a feeding and have someone else do it. Who could alternate middle of the night feedings. I thought about how easy their lives were. Then week three came and I was comfortable in my body and routine. I no longer looked at it as an obligation but rather a part of my day. If I’m out in public, that’s ok. Even though I’m comfortable now, it’s still nerve-wracking to plan outings. During the day, my son eats every two hours. That means by the time he’s burped and can be set down, you’ve got about an hour until the next feeding. That means you take a shower after one feeding, get ready after another, and then leave the house after another. It’s not easy.
It’s not always easy to be home alone all day long. It’s mentally and physically trying on your body. Expectations fly out the window when you’re with a newborn. My high hopes for today are shot if I have a fussy baby. You’re always on edge – should I use this nap to shower or eat or pick up the house or take a nap? You look forward to lunchtime when you can talk to your husband. You look forward to work being over so you can talk to your husband. But, while you were at home all day, your husband was having his own experiences. These experiences can make him grouchy, or want to do physical activity, or not sit around all night, or think about stuff for a while, or get his mind off of stuff, or anything else. Just because you sat around waiting for him to come home doesn’t mean his idea of a night is the same as you. It can be hard when you’re “grounded” to the house and he’s able to come and go as he needs.
It’s not easy. There’s no instruction manual. Every day is a 50-50 chance of good or bad. But, it’s perfectly amazing in all it’s not easy glory. A grinning baby, a snuggly baby, a happy baby, a little sneeze, a tiny cough, kicking legs, and swinging arms make it deliciously amazing and wonderfully awesome. You can be frustrated, tired, and cranky one minute but that baby can change your outlook in the blink of an eye.
Disclaimer – I spent this hour eating breakfast and writing a blog post. It’s not easy to find time to write a post when you’ve got all kinds of things to do instead…like shower!