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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Postpartum {what no one tells you!}

WARNING: Graphic details. 
If you are a male, I suggest you stop reading now. No, seriously. Turn away.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a control freak. I like things done my way. I like to be in control of situations and one thing I knew I couldn't control, was my birth. I didn't know how things would turn out or how the process would go, and that gave me severe anxiety. 

I decided to take a birthing class at the U to learn about every birthing option. From birthing positions, to medical interventions. I learned all about natural births, the process with an epidural, c-sections, etc. I really felt like taking this class and preparing myself for every option, would avoid any situation during birth that could otherwise be considered traumatizing. I went to the hospital feeling SO prepared- I was educated, and I was okay with not being in control of the situation. I LOVED labor, and I LOVED the birth process. I was relaxed and it was something that was enjoyable for me. 

Now, on the other hand, postpartum is something that NO ONE could have prepared me for. The three days at the hospital following birth were emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting. Then I got home and felt like I was hit in the face with a pillowcase stuffed with bars of soap. I was completely knocked off my feet. 

I wish there was a separate class I could have taken strictly on what to expect post-baby. Here is a little list I've compiled of the things I wish I would have known before hand. Hopefully this doesn't scare anyone out of wanting kids some day.

No one tells you this is a possibility. I lost over a liter of blood and hemorrhaged. This made me SO pale, so weak, and totally incapable of even getting up out of bed to go to the bathroom by myself. I had nurses coming in every 2 hours to walk me to the bathroom. They would weigh my pads and document my blood loss. I pretty much had Spencer standing guard outside of the bathroom door while I was in there just in case I passed out from blood loss. The first time I went to the bathroom I looked over and saw myself in the mirror. I was so pale it literally made me sick. I blacked out on the way back to my hospital bed and laid there sweating for the next 2 hours. Just know, massive amounts of blood loss are possible.

Everything swells-
This seems like a pretty obvious thing, does it? I clearly expected swelling. But I didn't expect to feel like I was wiping a baseball vag every time I went to the bathroom. I would sit up in my hospital bed and felt like I was sitting on a golfball grapefruit. USE ICE PACKS. They will be your best friend. I was advised not to get a mirror to check things out down there.. which brings me to my next point..

Get a mirror-
I had a level 3 tear and was told by the hospital staff they had never seen anything like it. For fear of being responsible for you vomiting while you read this, I'll go ahead and spare you the details. While in the hospital I was in so much pain I thought I popped a stitch. My midwife came in to check me (and we both found myself laying in my own pee, which we will get to in a minute..) and she told me to get a mirror as soon as I got home to check things out. This way I was able to see how things were changing and notice if things didn't look right. (Trust me, things look different but I was surprised at how normal everything looked considering..) My midwife was worried I had a blood clot- so I needed to keep an eye on my bruising to avoid another surgery to get out a massive clot. My suggestion: Get a mirror. Keep an eye on things- you know better than anyone if things aren't right down there..

You May Lose Control of your Downstairs-
Like I just mentioned, my midwife came in to check me and we were both surprised to find me laying in a puddle of pee. Totally not embarrassing. {Sarcasm} Now this was probably a combination of how severe my tear was, and the fact that I was totally numb from icing my cooter from the minute I gave birth to help swelling go down. Regardless, it happened. I peed. I got up and went to the bathroom to change my pants and pee again. I got my new clean sweat pants up, went to wash my hands.. and boom. It happened. Peed my pants again as I was standing there helplessly washing my hands. The struggle is real, people. 

*Note: I have since gained lots more control {not normal status, YET}And I am happy to report I have not peed my pants since the hospital.*

Everything Smells Different-
This totally freaked me out and made me feel like a monster. No matter how many sitz baths I took, how many times I showered, changed my pads, or how many wet wipes I used, It still smells different. It's called Lochia and it's totally normal. You can read more about it HERE. And yes.. I promise it does go away. Praise.

You Become A Super Human- 
This is real. Spencer continuously said things like "I don't know how you do it" "You're incredible" Which is great for your ego. One day you wake up a mom and you just know what to do. Instincts kick in and you're running on zero sleep but you're still getting everything done. Super human status is amazing. 

Crying is normal-
For the baby, AND for you!! There were so many nights I felt like I wasn't doing a good job and I felt so insufficient. I cried for feeling guilty (that's going to be another post all on it's own..) I cried because I was tired, I cried when Mack cried, I cried when I was hungry.. haha Hormones are crazy things and you may feel a little... well.. crazy. 

Stock up on pads-
And by stock up, I mean buy the gigantic Costco size package. You will go through these like crazy. Enough said. 

Rashes are normal-
I woke up one day and had a small itchy patch on my left hip. Later that night I noticed an identical patch on my right hip. I put cortizone cream on it and went to bed, but the next day it was SO BAD and spread all the way down to my ankles. You guys, I can't even describe how itchy this rash was. I was absolutely miserable and that's an understatement. The only thing that made it feel better was itching it and that actually made it worse and swollen. I would have to ice it to get the swelling to go down. I made an appointment with my Dermatologist and he knew exactly what it was. It's caused by a fluctuation of hormones and he wrote me a prescription for an anti-itch cream which felt like heaven on my legs. Apparently it's really common to get on your legs, and your back. It's called Pregnancy PUPPS and you can read more about it HERE 

Your back hurts-
You have probably noticed any pregnant woman that walks with a slight arch in her back to adjust carrying so much weight on the front of her. I know I did. Then I gave birth and immediately that weight is shifted again. My back was so sore for a couple weeks after giving birth and getting used to that weight shift again. Nothing that my heating pad and the Ibuprofen 800's I was already on after birth didn't fix! 

Your clothes don't fit (duh)-
This seems like a no brainer. But.. I came home from the hospital and we had a doctor's appointment for Mack the next day. I went to get dressed, and I cried. All of my pre-pregnancy clothes were too small, and my maternity clothes were HUGE. Thankfully I had a friend visit me in the hospital and she brought me the most comfortable V-neck tee shirt that was one size up. Boy was I thankful for that tee shirt. It was literally the only thing that fit me. Do yourself a favor and get a few t-shirts that will help you feel okay while your body is adjusting. You won't regret it. 

Your Husband is Trying-
This took me a while to realize. I would get so upset that I was the one waking up with Mackson in the middle of the night. But duh. Spencer can't breastfeed.. and what would he have done..? Woken up because I did and sat there so miserably tired while I fed the baby? There was no reason for him to wake up for middle-of-the-night-feedings. But come the morning, I was so tired and he was peppy and rejuvenated and I had major resentment towards him for that. While he's gone during the day I'm home feeding baby, playing with baby, comforting baby, rocking baby, changing baby's diapers, cleaning the house, doing laundry.. the list goes on and on. {this goes back to you being a super human..} 
But try to keep in mind that although you feel like you're doing it all, Fatherhood is a hard adjustment for dads. I had to remember Spencer couldn't be home with us. He had to go back to work, he had to go back to school, and I also had to remember that the minute he got home he was so willing to help me in any way possible. The emotional support he offered me was something irreplaceable. So- before you get upset about doing it all, remember your sweet husband is trying. And probably deserves a big kiss.

Your stitches will itch-
Yeah.. there's nothing you can do about this. It's miserable and uncomfortable. And for this reason, I hope you don't have stitches like I did.

There is nothing private about your privates anymore-
I can't explain the amount of people who saw my downstairs. And by the time you give birth, you should be used to it after the many doctor's appointments you have beforehand. Nothing is private down there while you're in the hospital. I had people coming in and out to help me pee, to check my stitches etc.  I even had one nurse, bless her heart, that would clean me up while I was feeling nauseous still. And I am still thankful for her doing that. At first I was secretly trying to convince myself these nurses had seen worse. By the end of my hospital stay, I was like... whatever.. 

Your Milk Comes in.. and.. 
it hurts, and it's seriously the weirdest thing ever. I remember thinking.. has my milk come in yet? maybe it has.. I think it has.. wait.. maybe not.. 
hahah whoa buddy. YOU KNOW WHEN IT HAPPENS. I woke up and my milk came in overnight. I felt like I had two watermelons strapped to the front of me. Your boobs are heavy, huge, and they will leak milk. *For this reason, stock up on breast pads. Again, the Costco size box will be good..*

It's okay to be discouraged-
Being discouraged is totally normal. You're doing something you've never done before, and it's a BIG JOB! Just remember, that when you are discouraged, you should talk to someone about it. I talked to Spencer, and I also talked to by best friend cousin because she has kids and knew exactly what I was going through which was really comforting. Also, when you're feeling discouraged just remember.. tomorrow is a new day, and this doesn't last forever. Things get much better, and much easier.

It's okay to ask for help-
had have a really hard time with this. I want to be independent and do things on my own. {again, this goes back to being a super human} but you genuinely need to be okay with asking for help. One night I was exhausted and crying and Spencer asked to rub my feet. I told him no over and over and then finally let him do it. As he was rubbing my feet he expressed how things were difficult for him because he felt like he couldn't do much to help me, so even the smallest task of rubbing my feet made him feel like he was helping me. He encouraged me to lean on him more often. I started asking him for small things like filling up my water bottle or grabbing my phone charger.. these things seemed like a huge deal to me, and were so simple to him. But I was leaning on him, and he felt like he was able to help me more. Partnership, people! 

Trips to the ER may be in your future-
My midwife asked me at my two week appointment if we had any Emergency Room visits. We had three at this point due to Mack's unfortunate circumcision gone wrong. Little did I know, I would have another one that same night which would take our ER visit count up to 4. Hopefully you don't have to go at all, but keep in mind, you may have an ER visit in your future for either you or baby. Mine was due to Mastitis which was the worst thing I've ever experienced. But we will get to that.

Your medicine load may be insane-
By the time you get to pushing that baby out you're probably already sick of taking your prenatal vitamins. I was. But that one pill was nothing compared to what I had to take after birth. I was taking my prenatal vitamin, vitamin D, calcium, Ibuprofen 800, stool softeners, miralax, Tylenol, and two antibiotics at one point for Mastitis. I felt like a walking pharmacy.
(Ibuprofen 800, stool softeners, miralax, two antibiotics, calcium supplement, vitamin D, prenatal vitamin, Tylenol, another antibiotic for a yeast infection, probiotics...) 
Granted you may not have any problems and get to luck out by just continuing to take your prenatal vitamin. But.. you also may be like me and wonder when your bathroom counter became your pharmacy. 

Engorgement and mastitis is a biatch-
Like honestly, it's horrible. Right after Mack's horrible circumcision was finally clearing up and healing well, I got mastitis. It started off with the beginning of an engorged left boob. I moved my left arm and felt pretty tender in my boob. I could feel a lump in it which is common while breastfeeding.. you're supposed to massage it out or use a hot compress, hot shower, put your baby on it to suck it out etc... I massaged it and had Mack eat, and thought it was all taken care of. UNTIL, I rolled over in the middle of the night and it felt like I was laying on a cantaloupe. HUGE and swollen- It looks like you got a rock star boob job but they're hard as a rock and miserably painful. MISERABLY painful. I started getting cold sweats and shaking, felt nauseous and totally thought I had the flu. My temperature was 102 which is noottt good. I tried massaging. OUCH. tried a hot compress. OUCH. tried a scalding hot shower. OUCH. I finally called my parents house to cry to my mom and broke down when my dad answered the phone and replied with, "uh... here's mom.." ..poor soul. I got put on a double dose of prescriptions quickly and it started to feel better after a few days and a trip to the emergency room. ugh.
...which brings me to the next point...

Breastfeeding is Hard-
When I was in the hospital with Mack still, we had a really hard time getting the hang of breastfeeding for a few different reasons- one being he was on Antibiotics because I developed an infection during labor called Correo. Anyways, his antibiotics made it hard for him to eat. My midwife came in to check on me one afternoon and we had a serious heart to heart. She continued by saying something along the lines of breastfeeding being easy and beautiful is a load of crap. And that made me laugh, and also made me feel lots better. 
The whole time you're pregnant you're receiving mailers, emails, pamphlets etc on why you should breastfeed. All of the info, I agree with and I looked forward to breastfeeding and knew it was something I wanted to do. Everyone tells you how it's "natural" and such a beautiful thing, and is so instinctual. I'm sorry, that's a load of crap. Just like the midwife said. It's freaking hard, it's frustrating, it hurts, it makes you cry, and it can be extremely discouraging. I got to a point where I was really considering formula feeding but I felt SO GUILTY. Formula is great and there's no judgement if that's the route you pick. I just had my heart set on breastfeeding. Anyways, Long story short.. breastfeeding sucks. BUT it DOES get better, eventually. Stick with it if you can! The benefits are wonderful for baby AND YOU! I now love breastfeeding. It's a great way to bond with your baby! 

Having The Baby Blues is Normal
Seriously? After experiencing any of the things I just listed, how could you NOT have baby blues? I promise you'll never be so happy in your life, but I would be lying if I told you I didn't have days where I cried. And that's normal! Your hormones are TOTALLY out of whack, your body is going through something remarkable yet so disgusting, and you are adjusting to something you really can't prepare for. It's okay to feel down, but be aware of postpartum depression signs. I checked in with a family member often, and talked about how I was feeling. Be aware of depression symptoms and CALL your doctor- don't be afraid to ask for help!

Honestly, My list of things you should expect afterwards could probably go on for another 5 pages. It's insane. But it's also the most rewarding thing.. In the moment these things often seemed like the end of the world, but even then it was SOO WORTH IT when I would look down at my tiny baby bundle of joy. 

My mom brought up a good point. I swear I was continuously having problems.. it was never ending after I got home from the hospital. I called my mom sobbing and she said, "GOSH I never had problems like this!! Or, maybe I did and forgot everything because the joy of bringing a baby home outweighs the things that went wrong." 
I LOVED THIS. And right now I think of my stitches and that ALONE makes me want to magically teleport any future children here without having to give birth again. But then I think, I'm sure a few years down the road I will have forgotten about how awful it really was and I'll be so excited to do it all over again. Hopefully. 

If you made it all the way through this post, go buy yourself a cupcake, you deserve it. If you want to hear even more than what I wrote here, well then heaven bless you and send me a message and we can chat! I hope this didn't scare anyone out of having children. Because they are honestly the greatest thing.. 


p.s. I also didn't proof read this because it was too long so I apologize in advance for any grammar/spelling errors. 


  1. WOW! Thanks for sharing this post. I'm not pregnant [yet, maybe next year] but I'm bookmarking this post. Thank you for keeping everything real.

  2. You are seriously amazing for writing this and for sharing your super personal experiences in Order I help others! You are so beautiful inside and out. Your husband and baby boy are so lucky to have you!!!

  3. I am soooo glad you posted this! I'm due in January and can not read enough about postpartum! I'm terrified!! You're baby is darling and you're doing a great job!

  4. okay, wow, definitely going to refer back to this someday--thank you for being so honest. also, for the record, i didn't notice any grammatical errors.

  5. Now you know why I kept offering to help!! It is a definitely difficult time. I've always said after a baby or a move give yourself at least 6 months before you try to determine if things are normal again. btw... keep some cabbage on hand -- Natalie has gotten mastitis several times for each baby and she swears it takes the pain away within a couple of hours. Love you!

  6. This is great, and kind of horrifying at the same time. You're awesome! Thanks for sharing this. Someday I will be referring to this..................

  7. I love reading stuff like this...thanks for sharing! I just read these to my boyfriend and told him we can't have kids haha! Even though it sounds like you have rough days, I can tell you're doing a great job and I love following along!

  8. I wish I knew all this BEFORE I had kids. The next time someone I know gets knocked up for the first time, I'm mailing a copy of this to them.

  9. Love this kell! Josh and I were reading it, and occasionally laughing lol. Strong momma!

  10. I LOVEEEE this. Haha you're the cutest Kell.


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