March 17th, 2013

planet

postpartum recovery

I've been wanting to write this entry since I got pregnant but haven't been able to negotiate that line between 1) a realistic, down-to-earth entry people will want to read and 2) sounding like a PTSD victim. The issue is that if I were to list out the Top 10 worst things about having my first child it'd go like this:

10) I got a little tired of being pregnant towards the end there
9) Labor and delivery sure is messy
8) Newborn sleep deprivation
...
1) Postpartum recovery

And the funny thing is, I'm always complaining that NO ONE WARNED ME but I've been re-reading some of my old entries from first pregnancy and a lot of them have comments from people about preparation, not for the baby, but for the healing up and weirdness that I'd be going through after delivery, and I guess it just sort of went in one ear and out the other. I think I figured having a baby was like preparing to be hit by a car... it's just gonna suck, nothing you can do, might as well not think about it.

So two days after birth when I was in a lot of pain I was totally confused. A week after birth I was in tears calling my OB, who told me (gasp!) IT WAS ALL NORMAL. They looked at my file, said my injuries were relatively minor. No "degrees" of tearing, no major internal bleeding. Rest up for six weeks and call us if you get feverish, they said. And quit trying to push yourself. And quit being silly. What'd you think maternity leave was for, picking out baby clothes? Or really anything that has to do with the baby? No, woman, it's for you.

I'd never had anything medically complicated happen to me in my life, this was the first time I'd had stitches anywhere, I'd never had surgery or any internal procedures. I'd been on birth control so long I didn't even remember what a typical menstrual period was like, nevermind two weeks of blood clots landing where ever they wanted while I realized way too late that the consecutive days of dry-weave maxi-pads were making me break out in an itchy rash all over the most inconvenient place you can ever have a rash.

The hospital had written me a prescription for percocet that I'd thrown out because who needs that serious stuff, I'd just take an ibuprofin the next day and call it good. I didn't know I'd NEED that 800 mg of ibuprofin, three times a day, for a long long time. I felt super awkward asking my husband to go buy the stuff my OB's office recommended... the witch hazel pads, colace, ice packs. I never figured out what the hell a sitz bath was or where to get it, and others online had these vague references to "numbing spray" but when I couldn't WALK, I clearly could not go ask a pharmacist what the hell they were talking about. I tried to only ask the man to get one awkward product a day even though he assured me several times he didn't mind reading the packages of pads to find the organic cotton ones. I just assumed that combining it with freaking hemorhoid pads would just get him labeled as the craziest person to enter Target that week.

I was unprepared.

And now I read pregnancy forums and everyone's talking so much about ALL THE THINGS they need to get ready for the baby... we're 32 weeks along and most people in my due date groups are in the "gotta wash all these baby clothes!" mode, asking about what the best brand of pacifiers is or what sleep sacks are the safest or which $300 designer bedding set to pick out... WHALES OR OWLS ZOMG SO IMPORTANT.

I am like the dark angel of pregnancy. I can't get over how stupid all the baby prep is, when I feel like we're all facing some kind of vaginal WWIII from which there is no escape. I want everyone to talk about lists of healing supplies, warn the first timers not to sign up for that marathon in June you've been eyeing. I don't want anyone to be as naive as I was, in as much pain as I was, for as long as I was. They say hormones are supposed to make you forget but I KNEW when I was going through it that NO ONE SHOULD FORGET THIS and made many mental notes to do better next time, and help others.

Am I helping too much? Where's the line? Was my experience unusually miserable? That's what I keep asking myself. Maybe something was wrong. Or maybe I am a total wuss when it comes to pain, despite the fact that I pushed the baby OUT with no drugs and that part wasn't too bad. I just keep asking myself where I went wrong and why I'm the only person who seems to be talking about this.

And deep down inside, I'm a little scared to all go through it again, even though I know what to stock up on now. Am I dwelling on it too much? Have I lost my mind entirely, made too many mental notes to remember everything? I hate being too far in my own head about stuff like this and maybe that's the worst part... all my thoughts make me feel absolutely crazy.