When I saw that this week's Toddle Along Tuesday subject over at Growing Up Geeky was advice for moms-to-be, my mind instantly flew to the early days of Madeline's life.
I could warn future moms to treasure every moment because it really does fly by so fast. Or, I could reassure a sleep deprived mom that eventually she will sleep again as impossible as that may seem. Both of these things are absolutely true. Yet, what stands out the most in my memory, are all the uncomfortable physical side effects of labour.
Before packing for the hospital, go to your local drugstore and find the largest sanitary pads you can find. Buy them in bulk. Remember how nice it was to not get your period for nine months? Well, Mother Nature is about to smite you with weeks upon weeks of nonstop bleeding. Seriously, we're talking Carrie's prom type horror. Don't worry, it will eventually stop...just in time to restart your period.
Plus, unless you have the kegal muscles of Giselle, you will pee your pants several times a day. The gigantic sanitary pads will be useful for that situation as well. It's been a year and half and I still wet my pants from time to time.
Don't be afraid to raid your hospital room for their enormous sanitary pads and mesh underwear either. Bring an extra duffel bag to the hospital specifically for this purpose.
The nurses at the birthing center took souvenir pictures of our new family as we prepared to leave the hospital. I love that they do this, and I had really looked forward to framing that picture and placing it on my dresser. Yet, when I saw the picture... BAM...epic double chin. At the time, I was happy and glow-y and assumed I looked radiant. I did not. Practice posing for photographs in ways that will disguise your epic double chin.
Don't skimp on an investment in comfortable nursing wear like I did. Maternity clothes will most likely no longer fit you, but neither will your pre-pregnancy clothes. Don't even consider trying on those jeans. They won't fit. What further complicates things is just as your midsection shrinks, your chest decides to say, "Howdy-do!" to the world. Picture a very deflated looking Dolly Parton. Those puppies are going to get h.u.g.e, as hard as rocks, and they are going to leak every where. (P.S. Breast milk stains. A lot.) When I had to look decent for company, or when I wanted to leave the house, I felt horribly uncomfortable in my clothes. As soon as I got home, I basically walked around naked. (Poor, Eric- a lactating woman knows no shame.) Therefore, buy some cute lounge-wear clothes to get you through the first weeks of awkward body transformation.
If you deliver vaginally, you chances of having a bowel movement during labor are pretty high. There is not much you can do about this. Just learn to let it go. (Ha) Honestly, I have no idea if I did or not because Eric stayed away from that region, and I had an amazing epidural to make me blissfully unaware of my lower half. Double Honestly, I don't want to know. All I do know is that I worried about it quite a bit before hand, didn't give a hoot during, and only mildly give a hoot after. Don't stress. Everybody poops.
Don't, and I repeat, do not look at your lady bits after giving birth. This is particularly crucial if you experienced any tearing during labor. When I went to my six week check up, my doctor kept commenting, "Nice job. These scars are healing really well," as he examined his handiwork. After that, my curiosity got the better of me. Bad idea, Summer. Dont' do it.
This is my most serious and important piece of advice.
Not everyone feels like an instant ball of nurturing motherly love after bringing home a baby. I mostly felt uncomfortable, exhausted, and confused. I spent a lot of time crying because I didn't feel like myself anymore. It's like mourning the loss of your old self.
I worried that this meant I was horrible mother. I worried that I didn't love my baby enough. I worried that I would feel that way forever. But after a few days, the fog cleared, I started crying less, and loving my baby more and more.
Feeling this way is normal. It does not mean you are a bad mother. Just because everyone says you should be shooting rainbows out your ears with happiness doesn't mean it actually feels that way. (I think that rumour was started by Hallmark.) Be patient with yourself and your new role as a mother.
But while you're in the fog, please don't be afraid to ask for help. Take a shower. Take a nap. Eat a sandwich. Let someone else keep an eye on the baby for a while. Don't feel guilty trying to be human again.
And if you're feeling really, really low, or if the fog isn't lifting after a few weeks, talk to your doctor.
For even more of my nonsensical rants, I wrote THIS POST about being a new mom when Madeline was just a few weeks old.