The Fragile Days After Birth
The first few hours and days were... a nocturnal blur.
Giving birth was such a profound, emotional event. I hadn’t slept in what felt like days.. but if I’m being honest, it had been months of rough "sleep". Being pregnant those last weeks were extra rough. Getting up every few hours to inch my way to the bathroom with an extra sore lower back and awful pelvic pains were so hard.
After the joyous moments of birth, I laid there half asleep in a strange daze of “wow, I’m a mom now”. Nothing in the world prepares you for the overwhelming sense of responsibility you instantly feel now that your baby is out in the real world. I was so tired, but my immediate maternal, protective side came out.
I had made it crystal clear that no one was allowed to take baby G out of my room unless they had received my approval or if it was a medical emergency. I had read all the horror stories of nurses or crazies who had snuck into hospitals and gotten away with that and I knew I wanted to be present for all of it, no matter how much of a zombie I was. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. Everyone we encountered were so caring, kind and sensitive to my feelings as a new mama.
The words that come to mind during this period were: raw, sensitive, emotional, pain, frustration and beyond grateful.
Postpartum is really hard and anyone who tells you "it’s easy" is either mega blessed with zero pain receptors or is omitting the truth, but I wanted to be fully transparent here and I'll tell you this: it’s not impossible, but it's not easy - by any means. Becoming a mother is the hardest thing I've ever gone through. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. I know now that mothers are stronger than anyone else I can think of.
My rock, my loving, committed husband. I thank you. 😘
I am beyond grateful to my husband and if you have a supportive partner or family unit, it makes a world of difference during such hard times. I remember Baby G being placed on my chest after birth and my nipple being drawn as close as possible to his mouth. "Why does this have to feel so forced?" I thought.. It should feel a bit more natural. Out of exhaustion I allowed them to help but my breastfeeding journey was not easy. More on that, aka a full blog on that later. I’ll also never forget the first time I was told to get out of bed and use the restroom. Oh lord!
My legs were still numb and as I placed my fuzzy grip socks on the cold tile floor, I felt so weak and frustrated by how incapable I was doing things alone. Vito was my rock through it all. He held me as we inched our way to the toilet so I could pee. They wouldn’t have allowed me to leave to the postpartum floor had I not been able to pee on my own. A pink bucket was placed in the toilet to measure my urine. "It's just standard protocol!" the nurse said as she brought in more water to keep me hydrated.
“I did it!” I said aloud so the nurse could hear me, feeling like a toddler who just learned to potty. Nurse: “Good, that’s what we want. It’s enough to not need you to get a catheter placed.” Thank god! I thought. I had had a catheter placed after my epidural but definitely didn't want another one placed now that my feeling was coming back! Every moment those first few days required extra help. As someone who prides herself on being independent, this was probably the most frustrating thing. I also hadn’t realized that my pain had partially still been blocked by the epidural which hadn’t fully left my body.
Xena, The Warrior Princess
I joked with Vito and said “Omg, I can’t believe I pushed a human out!! I can’t wait to do that again! Let’s have another one!” Vito was also a zombie who hadn’t slept much from the long night but he entertained the thought and smiled, saying, "You were so amazing. I'm so proud of you. You did so good! You're a warrior like Xena, the warrior princess." I laughed. :) As I was wheeled down to the postpartum floor I looked down and realized my sweet little guy was wrapped in my arms. I felt so emotional thinking he was now “exposed” to all the hospital germs, people and the cold breeze as we left the labor and delivery floor. I was no longer able to keep him safe and warm inside. I now had to rely on my tired arms and blankets to make him feel warm and secure. "I hope you feel safe, buddy." I thought. 🥺
Once we entered our postpartum room, we were continuously bombarded with nurse after nurse after nurse coming in every 10 minutes. My goal of breastfeeding hadn’t changed but the huge emphasis they placed on baby breastfeeding stressed me out. Every time I was ready to finally fall asleep, another nurse would knock and quickly come in, measure my temperature and blood pressure. As the epidural wore off I started to feel my legs again although it took a while for my left leg to fully come back. It made sense that I felt my right side a bit more during pushing than my left given it hadn't received as much epidural relief in certain areas. In between my checks and baby checks I was given pain meds which if I'm being honest, hardly helped.
Something I had never heard being talked about (probably because it's embarrassing) was how you won’t "feel yourself" as well down there...and even though you have the urge to pee, you won’t be able to control it as well immediately after birth, especially if you don't go to the restroom as often as you should, which after birth feels like the worst inconvenience to have to drag your lifeless body out of bed just to empty your bladder... what a chore! I was guilty of not going hourly like I should have.. and I surely paid for it!
Most times with Vito’s help I slowly inched my way to the restroom but once or twice I felt so frustrated by my slow pace and lack of ability... and then the universe decided to humble me some more. “Babe... I think I’m bleeding down my leg!” I whined to him as I gripped his arms. He pulled up my long pink hospital gown to see that it wasn’t just blood, but also urine pooling behind me as I took my small steps. “It’s okay, we are almost there.” He said.
A True Partner For Life ❤
I’ll never forget feeling like an elderly patient, incapable of walking alone, incapable of going to the restroom…alone... and in those moments I was so grateful to have him by my side to help me through what would’ve been beyond embarrassing 6+ years ago. Marriage and commitment to your person and events like this have a crazy, beautiful and wild way of bringing you even closer together. I ❤️ you, Vito.
In my moments of anger, shame and frustration, he made me feel loved, seen, valued and human. I will never, ever forget that. Everything to him was “normal” and he'd repeatedly say, “Everything will take time. Be patient, it’s only been a few hours that you did something so amazing. Your body needs time to heal. It’s okay!”
As I sat there beyond exhausted, peeing and wiping my legs, I would quietly talk him through how to prep what felt like were the world's most enormous diaper pads. I say "quietly" because baby G was swaddled in his clear hospital bassinet right outside the door and I always worried we'd wake him. A mother stresses over every little thing.. trust me. And yes, it's normal. I've now learned this kiddo can sleep through a hurricane! lol. It makes sense given he heard his dad and Charlie all during my pregnancy so he was not new to loud Italian voices, yappy barking and even wild weekend soccer games. :)
Bathroom checklist ✅ ✅ ✅
Mesh underwear, pad with ice we had to snap in half and shake to activate. Poor guy had obviously never placed a pad on underwear and a few times I had to teach him to remove the sticky paper so they'd stay put. :) Next, witch hazel tucks pads and dermoblast perineal spray (down-there lifesavers - trust me!). While he prepped my pads, my squirt bottle filled up with warm water under the sink. Huge tip: never, ever wipe with tissue down there after birth. You’ll be given a peri water bottle to rinse as you go pee so it doesn't sting if you've got stitches and then you can pat yourself dry. I know… it’s a whole dang process and it’s not fun. Everything takes f o r e v e r.
Not only are you changing a ton of tiny diapers for your newborn, but you’re also changing large diapers for yourself. Don’t get the idea you’ll leave the hospital in some cute lacy underwear lol… trust me, leave all cute and for that matter, leave all regular underwear at home! You’ll be rolling out with your baby in what we call “padsickles” and that goes for all C-section and natural vaginal birth mamas. Expect to bleed... for a while, no matter how your baby enters this world. And if I’m being honest, I’m still wearing a reduced version of them now, 3 weeks later (think light/medium period days). Like Vito reminded me… it takes time. Doctors informed us that it would be about 6-8 weeks for bleeding to reduce or end, but could be much longer. Birth is definitely not an overnight event.
Sooo... how are you... down there? 🤭
Practicing patience was and still is a work in progress for me but day-by-day it gets so much better. Also since I imagine you are:
1) definitely a woman reading this blog (or a curious man lol),
2) potentially thinking about having babies one day, if you haven't already and
3) curious about my particular "situation"...
I want to preface this by saying that 9 out of 10 first-time mamas will tear "down there" during natural childbirth meaning via a vaginal birth. You may be that lucky 1% but chances are very likely you will tear too and guess what? It's okay. Really, it is. I would tell you if it was horrible, but for me, it wasn't.
Yes, I am one of those 9 out of 10. I was always so damn terrified of the thought of my most sensitive private areas being torn to shreds (omfg, graphic image, I know! 😅) lol but thankfully with the epidural I didn't feel it when it happened and it happened so fast. It also wasn't nearly as bad as others thankfully. I had a 1.5, almost 2 degree tear which required a few stitches but I didn't feel it. Looking back now, I honestly can't imagine NOT tearing given babies heads need to fit through a 10 centimeter exit tunnel. 😳 I mean babies heads are a huge handful! How do women not tear their first time? Looking at baby G's head shocked me... like, YOU CAME OUT OF ME? DOWN THERE?! Even as I looked down at the doctor stitching me up as baby G lay on my chest moments after birth, I promise you: I didn't feel it! Thank God for that extra epidural dose! I laugh now thinking how I asked her if it was time to push out the placenta and she said, "No need! You already gave birth to the placenta! You can relax now!" 😅 Thank goodness!!
Now that I'm well into my third week post birth (it takes a little longer to finish blogs these days lol) I do feel the stitches as they've started to heal, but the pain medicine they gave me the day I left the hospital helps, sitz baths, the peri bottle, and taking it easy helps. No heavy lifting (aside from baby) and lots of water, healthy foods, sleep (when possible) and patience. I'd be lying if I didn't have crying episodes here and there as a new mama, but I'm sure it's a mix of all the hormone changes, body changes, and my brain and body doing what it can to make sense of it all and keep a tiny human alive and happy! Looking back now, I'd say I'm feeling 80% better today and it keeps getting better and better each and everyday. Hallelujah! 🙏🏻
Breastfeeding deserves it's own blog given the battles I faced there... 🤦🏻♀️ so stay tuned and I'll share more. For now, know that yes, birth is no fun pony 🐎 ride.. it's a wild, crazy, emotional and painful, beautiful adventure, but YOU CAN DO IT. Please, do NOT fear what your body is fully capable of doing. You were born to do this. ❤️
Sending my mama love your way,
Violet & Baby G.
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