Throughout my pregnancy I was solely focused on preparing myself for the labour and birth that I never even gave a single thought to what life would be like after Lara was born. I’m still not sure if that was a good thing or not?!
I was quite fearful of labour and birth at the beginning of my pregnancy, and that fear came from hearing other peoples horror birth stories. After talking to my obstetrician about my fears, she suggested I look into hypnobirthing. I enrolled into a calmbirth workshop & practiced hypnobirthing techniques during the last half of my pregnancy, which meant listening to guided meditations 2-3 times a day, reading and studying daily and casting my thoughts and intentions in creating my ideal and perfect birth scenario. Because I was so focused and determined on having a calm birth, I put all my focus on that alone. My thoughts never wondered to what would happen after the birth or what life would be like with a baby in it.
As I write my personal experiences here, keep in mind that everyone is different. What I experienced might be completely different to what someone else has or will experience…
I’ve noted some of my ‘WTF’ moments I experienced below after my calm, drug-free and natural birth…(Yes, my practice paid off)
Get used to seeing blood…ALOT of blood!
After laying on the bed in the birthing suite for 2 hours after I gave birth, with Lara resting skin to skin and calmly on my chest, it was time for me to get up and have a shower so we could move into our room in the maternity ward. Now I naturally knew that there would be bleeding afterwards, but good lord the bathroom floor looked like a murder scene! Blood was just running out of me like a leaking tap, even trying to dry myself with a towel and get dressed after my shower was a challenge. Try putting your clean undies on while blood is running down your legs… it’s impossible! And gross! Good news it does taper off after about 2-3 days and then it’s more like having your period for the next 4 weeks, which means wearing pads for 4 weeks! Ugh! My obstetrician said that I didn’t even bleed that much compared to others, and I thought I bled a lot! I believe taking raspberry leaf capsules in the last trimester of pregnancy helped with this as it helps to tone and strengthen the uterus.
As I had a natural birth with no tearing or intervention, I consider myself pretty lucky with the healing process. It was tender down there for a good week after, but nothing too bad that I didn’t need panadol or ice packs. Sure I couldn’t walk very far or sit on hard surfaces for the week after, otherwise I felt pretty normal. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if you had stitches down there! I put my eating 6 dates a day and soaking in the bath for 6 hours during labour down to my easy delivery.
Feeling like jelly.
During the last few weeks of pregnancy I felt so tight everywhere, like my skin had been stretched to it’s limits. It’s crazy how right after birth your skin sags and goes soft. My belly went down very quickly, but my entire body felt so soft and jiggly. I actually hated the feeling of touching my skin, especially washing myself in the shower and putting moisturizer on. Everything just felt loose and like I had no muscles in my body. I felt like this for about 2 weeks after birth, then I slowly started feeling myself again as my body started to tone up. I felt better when I wore fitted clothes like leggings, a crop top and fitted singlets. It just made me feel like everything was held together.
I put on a total of 18 kilos during my pregnancy, and I lost 10 kilos during the first 2 weeks without doing anything but sitting in bed. I don’t feel ‘fat’, in fact I feel pretty good, I think the fact I can fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans helps my confidence. I know it will take some time before I feel like my old self again, and I’m not going to push myself too hard for it to happen too quickly either.
Boobs as hard as rocks.
My breast feeding journey was over before it really begun as Lara was having difficulty latching and I wasn’t supplying enough ‘food’ for her. We decided to stick with formula feeding on day 4, which was also the day my milk came in… WOW! After a day of not expressing, my boobs got so big and so hard, they hurt to even lift my arms above my head. They were so engorged and constantly leaked. I had to wear ice packs and a compression band around my chest for days to help with the swelling. It took a good week for them to go down, but I was still leaking milk just a few days ago. It’s a gross feeling! If I didn’t wear breast pads I would soak through a bra and t-shirt within an hour! Crazy!
Crying… and it’s not the baby.
Whether it was the influx of hormones going crazy or the lack of sleep, the first two weeks I found myself crying a lot. If Lara was crying from a belly ache or being hungry, I found myself in tears too! Sometimes I felt so helpless to her if I couldn’t settle her, or I’d feel so anxious and scared that I’d just start crying. Because both hubby and I were struggling with lack of sleep we would get grumpy at each other which would also lead me to tears. Some people call this the baby-blues, but I think it’s just trying to adjust to life with a baby. Everything is new and different and it really takes time to adjust.
I was fortunate enough to have Lara in a private hospital which meant we stayed in their care for 5 nights. I loved this because it meant I got 5 days of learning from the midwives, which is a wealth of knowledge for a first time mama such as myself. The first few days at home I found pretty overwhelming and scary as it meant no buzzer to call a midwife when I needed help or advice. This probably contributed to the tears I cried.
Say good-bye to sleep.
If you’re like me and is someone who doesn’t function very well without a full 8 hours sleep then let me tell you sister, prepare to drink multiple cups of coffee and have a constant headache! I thought having broken sleep during the last trimester of pregnancy was supposed to prepare you for life when baby arrives… Ha! Lara is a pretty good baby and feeds every 3-5 hours, but it takes at least 1-2 hours to change her nappy, feed her, burp her and then soothe her back to sleep. Then there’s the challenge of moving her from your arms to her bassinet without waking her up… I honestly am finding it really hard to adjust to having 3-5 hours sleep a night. Since being home from the hospital I’ve showered and got out of bed before lunch time about 3 times. Everyone says to nap during the day when bub has her naps, but I find it really hard. I’d rather do some housework and have some quiet time with a cuppa. I can’t sleep knowing there’s washing to do or floors to clean. They say newborn babies get better with their sleep patterns around 6-8 weeks, so I am hoping by then we all will be able to have better sleep and wake up a bit fresher!
Feeling anxious ALL THE TIME.
I usually wouldn’t call myself an anxious person, I am generally quite chilled out and go with the flow, but Lara has changed me! I constantly worry if she’s ok! It makes me sick to my stomach sometimes. Is she breathing? Is she too hot? Too cold? Why is her eye sticky? What’s that red mark on her skin? Why isn’t she drinking all her milk? I question everything. I’ve especially been so paranoid and nervous that she’s going to get sick. She’s had a little cough the last couple weeks and it terrifies me that it’s going to develop into a cold or even worse, whooping cough! It also doesn’t help that people who have come to visit us have been sick despite my best efforts of warning them to stay away if they’re unwell. You suddenly forget about looking after yourself, and your main focus is on your baby and that they are 100% healthy and well. I am looking forward to Lara’s 6 week immunizations, just for piece of mind that she will be protected from some illnesses at least, and then maybe I can stop worrying so much.
The little things.
Like using the car seat and pram for the first time. Sure you can try practice setting up and using these before bub is here, but the real challenge is doing it with a real life baby! It still takes me ten minutes and a lot of head scratching to work out how to strap Lara in and out of her car seat!
Because Lara is on formula, she gets quite bad tummy aches and constipation. If we change her nappy and there’s a poo in there it’s basically like Christmas! I never thought I’d be so excited to see a poo!
Living in a bubble. I’ve only left the house a handful of times since bringing Lara home from hospital and that’s really to run to the supermarket or chemist. We managed to have a nice walk on the beach the other day while the sun was out which was pure bliss for my soul. The weather has been so cold I just don’t want to take her out, and then I don’t want her to get ill, or risk people touching her who are sick. The days seem to just blur together, and I don’t even think about what day of the week it is anymore. I was also hopeless at replying to messages before I had Lara, and now I really just can’t give a hoot about checking my phone. So now you know why I haven’t responded to your messages.
I’ve also stopped caring so much about people’s problems. My main focus now is my baby and my little family. It might sound selfish, but having a baby really puts life into perspective and what is important. I am a 30 year old wife and mother now, and life is very different to what it used to be, and I find myself straying away from certain people and things that don’t align with my thoughts and life now.
While pretty much everything I’ve written here sounds negative, I don’t mean to scare any mamas to be or sound like a sad sack! These past 4 weeks have been a major learning experience, and while I try to look at everything in a positive way, there a days that really test you. Having a baby isn’t easy, and it takes some time to adjust. But the love you feel for your baby and partner/husband has no comparison. I feel so grateful and blessed to be where I am in life with what I’ve got and I look forward to learning and experiencing life with Lara as the days go on. I miss her when she’s sleeping, and even though I feel so tired and my eyeballs are hanging out of my head, I get so excited to hold her in my arms and stare at her beautiful face. These past 4 weeks have been a whirlwind, but it’s been the best learning experience ever!