There are two types of pregnant women: those who love being pregnant and those who don’t. Those who don’t are often plagued with morning sickness, swollen ankles and a bad back. Those who love pregnancy probably aren’t. I was one of the lucky ones. I always joke that I finally felt pregnant with Santi on the day I gave birth. My second pregnancy wasn’t as smooth sailing as the first, probably because I was running after a toddler, but it was nice just the same.
Everyone talks about pregnancy. They tell you to stay hydrated, sleep while you can and elevate your feet as much as possible. Soon to be moms can pick from 1,000 different prenatal vitamins, be honored at multiple baby showers and get fawned over everywhere by everyone because a pregnant lady means a baby is on the way—and who doesn’t love a baby?
People talk about the amazing feeling of holding your child in your arms for the first time. That “instant connection” you have. They talk about breathing and pushing and epidurals. People do not mention, however, what I call after-birth. After-birth is its own animal and quite possibly worse than labor…possibly.
My experience is not the same as everyone’s because I had a natural delivery. Sorry, vaginal. I was reminded various times at the hospital that it’s vaginal and not natural because they came out of my vagina and I used an epidural. Whatever.
After 11 hours of labor with Santi and a delicious epidural, it came time to push. And push I did for 32 minutes. Some might seem impressed with this number because it is fairly quick, but for someone who doesn’t like to work out, 32 minutes is a very long time. Extremely long. Like, I deserve a Gold Medal at the Olympics long.
This is where afterbirth begins. The second you do skin to skin and your OBGYN proposes an episiotomy. These are the things that no one talks about but should:
- You’re probably going to feel like you’ve been mauled by a bear in your privates (yay!) and will barely be able to sit down. Remember, you only dilate to 10 cm. Have you seen 10cm? It’s not that big. You know what is big? Your child.
- It’s a surreal experience to say the least. Like after it’s done you get to hold your baby, but you just pushed them out. You exited a human being out of your body and now you have to play mom. After you’re in recovery, they give you an ice pack to put in your brand new nylon underwear. That part is fun though. The underwear they give you is great. But, you really do need to wear an ice pack because your vagina is on fire.
- You get your period for about 30 days. I’m not exaggerating—one whole month of just blood and tears. The blood because of the period, the tears because you now hate life. After I had Joaquin, I asked Santiago to go to CVS and buy me pads. “Get the big ones” I said. Get the big ones? I didn’t even know they made pads that size. He bought me ones that I can only assume are for an actual giant. They were so big that they literally came out of my underwear. I tried not to complain because he got in his car and bought them for me. I did end up complaining, obviously, but I really tried not to.
- You now get to use this amazing, state-of-the-art squirt bottle to splash water at your vulva because everything burns. (This is only for the first 4-5 days so don’t worry!) Ok so the hospital gives you one. No one told me what it was for, so the first time I peed I didn’t use it, and still to this day I regret it. You must, under every single circumstance, use this squirt bottle. Your urine will burn your vagina (which is already on fire, remember?) so you need cold water to cool it down. You just gotta use it. Now Frida, which is the best brand for all things baby, makes a contraption called “the mom washer” and if you want to be cute and extra, you can use that instead of the generic hospital one.
- Everyone will have an opinion (which will make you cry). Your hormones are out of whack so don’t even try to control them. Even if you don’t get the baby blues, you will probably feel like shit. And when I say probably, I mean definitely. You guys, having a baby is hard. You grow them for about 40 weeks and in that time you created hair, dimples, nails, fingerprints, you name it. It would be weird if you gave birth and had no excess emotions. You give birth and everyone expects you to go back to normal, slap a smile on your face cause you just had a baby. Well, that’s not reality. Reality is somewhere in between that smile and crying alone in the bathroom because now you’re responsible for a human being for the rest of your life.
- Everyone at the hospital is going to see your boobs. If you choose to breastfeed, your nipples will get raw, and bleed and it will hurt. You and baby will be frustrated (hooray! you’re bonding over a shared emotion). Don’t be fooled, this will happen and you’ll probably have to supplement. Now, if you choose to do formula, you’ll get a super cool visit from a lactation consultant at the hospital who will make you feel like a failure as a mother. She will make it seem like she’s on your side, but she’ll say stupid shit like “I mean, you have a human not a cow, so why give your baby cow’s milk? Te-hehehehe). Then you’ll cry because she actually did make you feel like a failure and then you’ll politely ask her to go to hell.
- If you formula feed, you then have to wear ice packs for like 5 days on your boobs, take Advil every 6 hours and apply frozen cabbage leaves to your breasts to stop the swelling. What’s great is that after 5 min (I swear I’m not exaggerating), they’ll be 100000% cooked and you smell like spoiled cabbage, so basically you double as a human and lunch.
- People are going to judge you, even if they say they aren’t. “Why aren’t you breast feeding?” Because I hated it. “But you didn’t really try it!” Go to hell. “I’m not judging, it’s just…breast milk is so good for them!” You know what, my nipples didn’t work. I couldn’t produce anything, happy? Oh, and it’s not just about how you feed your baby. Nope. It’s also about how you’re raising your baby. Wether you choose to co-sleep, cry it out, make homemade food, buy prepared food, give vaccines, think they’re the devil, you name it…people are going to judge you. Because every mother thinks they’ve done it better.
- Your husband secretly counts days until you are 40 days post-partum. You know what green light your doctor gives you that day? The green light to do it. And even though no one has slept in over a month and you still feel like you’ve been cunt-punted, he knows it’s the day. And there isn’t any getting out of it.
Being a mom is amazing and labor isn’t that bad, but the weeks and month after giving birth? Well, there’s a reason no one talks about it…