Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Post-Partum Body: What Other Moms might Not Mention

So, I'm here to tell you a couple of things about postpartum living that may, or very well may not, be your experience. As with any beliefs, you create your own world based on what you incorporate or discard. After all, if I had believed all those horrible birthing experiences everyone tried to fill my ear with, I wouldn't have had such a magical birth. So, here's to not believing a single thing below will happen to you!

Sex hurts. Okay, call me naive, or maybe even just stupid. But, I had no inkling that sex would hurt after birth. Perhaps because my birthing experience was so gentle that I was lulled into a sense of false security. My husband and I waited 3 whole months (yes, THREE, count them, one, two, three) before we (attempted to) make love. It lasted for less than two minutes before I shrieked and said, f%$! no. Not for me. Not yet. One month later, I'm still scared to try.

It's a bird! It's a plane! Jet rockets? No, that's your butt talking. That's right, you might have a lot of gas. I don't mean just a few days afterwards, I mean months. I feel right at home next to my husband now and feel like I can out compete with him in the gas game anytime. For a while I thought this digestive delight was due to my constant diet shifts (see post about Bronwyn's food allergy). After talking to a few women in my momma's group I have found that I'm not alone. Hallelujah for this one! I'm not the only one with intestines that are still trying to remember the good old days when everything just felt right.

Ummm, you might not recognize your lovely female parts. Okay, now that I remember how I looked in my nether regions after I gave birth, I guess I am stupid for not realizing sex might at least hurt a little. After birthing the placenta and going to the bed to be examined, I told my midwife I didn't think I had torn at all. I did need some stitches (6-7?), and my midwife graciously gave me a mirror to look at my vulva and vagina. WOW! I was shocked, and nearly speechless at how I actually looked down there. I can swell that big and get that purple color and not feel like I was going to pop or jump out of my skin?!? Endorphins, you're number one in my book of heroes.

Breastfeeding can HURT. I would go through 30 days of labor if I could trade the first 30++ days of breastfeeding. As much as I love nurturing my little one this way, it has been, bar none, one of the most painful aspects of having a child. I know that I didn't have the best support around breastfeeding, and that can really make a difference. I had never actually directly observed anyone breastfeeding, so it was completely new. I also got mastitis 7 days after labor followed by thrush shortly thereafter.

I'm here to tell you that if your nipples/breasts hurt four months later, like I do, there is something WRONG. Seek help. I thought that my nipples were just extra sensitive, like my skin. Today I learned what is wrong...that white spot on my nipple is not a callous that keeps coming back to haunt me. While I did go to two breastfeeding clinics, no one ever mentioned that a white dot on your nipple means you have a plugged duct (red skin on the breast is also a symptom of a plugged duct, which I had experienced several times). I wondered why the white dot would keep getting puss-filled and I would have to drain it with a sterilized needle. Picking at a sore nipple with a needle is not exactly a highlight of motherhood. Now I know. Pick at the white spot before it gets infected and then breastfeed or pump like mad afterwards.


With all this said, I just take one look at Bronwyn and feel like I'd go through this all a million times over just to see her smile and coo.

Pickle, you are the most precious being I've ever known. Thank you for being born, thank you for choosing me as your guardian, thank you for being so patient while I learn all about you. Thank you for just being you all the time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


lindsay said...

I experienced a clogged duct that got infected too - worst experience ever. I got a fever and had to sleep, pump, sleep, painful. Fortunatly, all those issues with my first nursing experience were gone by the third month of nursing, and I nursed Matteo until he was 15 months old. I started up nursing the baby only six months later and still nurse with ZERO problems. Hopefully you will have the same expereience if you choose to have another baby :) You only go through all of this once, the second time is MUCH better in all respects. I love your postings! Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

oh, yes. isn't true that we don't talk about certain things? It's great to share things in the moment with a mom's group, I imagine. When there is a baby nearby, the mother's experience is easily overshadowed.
It took me the longest time to not experience pain with sex, and had sooo much gas too! There were so many things like that, also not helping in the feeling sexy department! To be honest, I am just starting to feel that again, here and there. Biologically I guess it all makes sense...

Ashley said...

Hi Jennifer, I love your writing. You're hilarious! You have blossomed into such a beautiful woman. I love your smile and your beautiful little baby. Love Ashley