My sister: I am so happy you are pregnant and going to have a sweet baby soon. But thinking back to when my son was born 4 months ago, I realize that I might have said some things about birth and being a new mom that scared you. So I wanted to clarify them for you now.
When I said labour was hell…
I meant it.
The uncertainty was so scary. The contractions were the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. My water breaking was weird and gross and felt like the biggest period of my life gushing every time I stood up… for 18 hours straight. I screamed and cried and yelled just like the movies, but way longer. I told the nurse I couldn’t do it, because I really didn’t think I could.
But I did do it. And the relief that washed over me when my son was born was immediate. I no longer felt any pain. I was in shock that my body created a human. And it was so great to finally meet the tiny person that I had got to know so well over the past 9 months.
When I said the first few weeks were hard…
I meant it.
I had no idea what I was doing. At all. I was extremely emotional, and those highs and lows were exhausting. I was in pain in my lady bits and going to the bathroom was so scary. But the hardest part of all was the reality setting in that life was never going to be the same. That I was a mum now and nothing was going to change that. I couldn’t go back.
But I eventually realized, I don’t want to go back. Every day I learn something new from this little person. Every day I understand myself as a growing human better and more fully. Every day things get easier, and harder, and that’s ok because I made it this far and I can keep going. Helping this baby live and grow is such a selfless crazy experience and it makes my heart swell with pride every day at least once.
When I said breastfeeding was difficult…
I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t understand what colostrum or engorgement were. My nipples cracked and bled. I didn’t know if my baby was getting enough nutrients. I struggled being the only person who could comfort him sometimes, and it was hard having all the responsibility of feeding on my shoulders (or breasts to be literal).
But it got better. I asked for help before the pain was unbearable. I trusted my instincts and it was so beautiful to still sustain a life only from my body. The pain went away after about a month. I began feel such pride with every ounce he gained. It felt amazing to be able to instantly comfort him at any moment. Although at times the responsibility can still be overwhelming, it makes me so proud to know that I’m giving all of myself, because that’s what is best for him.
When I said my body was different…
I meant some really gross things.
It felt like I was pooping glass for almost 3 months post pregnancy. I couldn’t pee properly for about 6 weeks – I had no control over the stream and was unable to push it all out. Sex is just finally starting to feel ok at 4 months, and by ok I mean not very horribly painful like the first few times, but it’s still not the same as before. I don’t know if it ever will fell the same. My abs are still separated up the middle of my stomach and my tummy feels soft and loose, even though I lost all my baby weight. My stretch marks are ugly. My butt is flatter and my hips are wider. My breasts are softer and not as perky.
And I realize now I’m supposed to say that it was all worth it. That of course my body is changed, but it created life and what a miracle that is. And while I try hard to feel that way, I don’t. After 9 months of pregnancy and giving birth I was looking forward to finally having my body back, but instead I was in pain daily for about 3 months until everything was finally healed. And I still sometimes cry because of how I look, which makes me feel selfish and bad because I wouldn’t give up my son to get my body back. So why am I telling you this if its bad? Because I want you to know that if you ever feel the same way, you aren’t alone. You aren’t a bad mom. You are more than your body – but it’s ok to want to be pretty. I’m still working on figuring out how to get through this all, and I promise to share anything that works for me to feel better about my body image and gain self esteem.
To my sister: If you ever need advice or help, I am here for you, going through all these things seven months before you. Use me if you need to! And get ready because I will surely be asking you for advice soon, too.