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Top 5 Things No One Told Me About Having A Baby

October 8, 2013
You Will Never Be Fully Prepared

That’s right, no amount of girly chatting, forum hopping, blog reading or book absorption will prepare you for experiencing the changes your body will inflict upon you once it starts to grow (and inevitably expel) a little person (or people).

I decided to write this because when I was pregnant, hormonal, moody and anxiously wondering what it was going to be like to become a parent, something that always cheered me up was reading other women’s stories and experiences about pregnancy and childbirth.

The ones that were written from the perspective of a space cadet (blah blah meditative pain control blah) didn’t interest me as much as the ones that were written by women who were down to earth, shameless, and could laugh at themselves after the fact. Women who were confident, honest, well spoken and willing to share to help people like me take the edge off of the long wait to finding things out for myself.

So this is me, passing on the well established internet tradition of telling all about the points of having a baby that I was totally unprepared for in the hope that this article will serve to amuse, beguile and even slightly disturb others as I have been amused, beguiled and disturbed (only slightly).

preggo

Please note that every pregnancy is different. If you are pregnant and you have any concern what-so-ever about your pregnancy, speak to a medical professional. The internet will tell you just about anything you want to see if you look hard enough, but that doesn’t make it a reliable source of information about your health. It’s your body and your baby.

5. Eight Month Long Yeast Infection

Any woman who has ever had thrush understands that it is one of the most horrendous, vile afflictions that can befall you below the waist. Symptoms can vary but there is nothing even remotely tolerable about the entire experience and the longer it goes untreated the more likely you are to start climbing up the walls exorcist style.

I was so very lucky and blissfully unaware of this sort of discomfort, having never had the problem until I was pregnant. I didn’t even consider the possibility so I needed to actually be tested to confirm what was going on down there. As it turns out, it’s perfectly normal and is an extremely common problem for pregnant women. According to my doctor pregnancy is the first thing they query when a woman comes in complaining about persistent yeast infections.

My real problem wasn’t the infection its self, it was that no matter what I did… it would not die and stay dead. I tried every over the counter medical treatment available that was acceptable for pregnant women to use and a few “natural” treatments however I did draw the line at shoving garlic cloves up my hoo ha… yes, apparently that is an actual thing that women do. The best I could get was about 5 days of relief until it started to come back.

You wouldn’t normally associate this problem with depression but it can really get you down when you start wondering if it’s ever going to go away, so I went back to my doctor and told her that I was at my wits end and I was going broke buying over the counter treatments for £10 a pop every week. She was willing to prescribe me treatment and prescriptions are free in Scotland… if it wouldn’t have been wildly inappropriate I could have kissed her.

If you have also been cursed with the zombie yeast infection from Hell, it may comfort you to know that on the day my beautiful girl came into the world. The thrush disappeared and it has not returned.

4. Rewired Brain

I’m the sort of person who needs to have a firm grip on everything that is happening around them. I think pre-emptively so that I am prepared for multiple ways to get around obstacles that may not even present themselves because if I am caught out in a situation that I had not anticipated I get SEVERELY bent out of shape. I also treasure my ability to accurately articulate my thoughts into coherent sentences, utilizing an extensive vocabulary.

Got pregnant… became an idiot, scatterbrained emotional basket case.

I’ve been told that this is a condition commonly referred to as “baby brain” and now that my little girl is 1.5 years old it has improved a great deal however, I’m still not as organized as I was, but I get by. Confidence is a huge part of it and confidence grows with experience. Before I had my daughter I was terrified of new born babies but the confidence started to build the first time I held her and I realized in that moment staring at her beautiful tiny, screaming face that I had just accomplished the most amazing task of my whole life.

Now, instead of avoiding obstacles I just plow through them like a human wrecking ball. I regularly trip over my own tongue and forget things constantly. I forget important things like my own wedding anniversary (Doh!) and trivial things like brushing my three feet of hair for the better part of a week until I get the baby tangled in the felted mass attached to my head and realize that I’ve lost my brush again. I’m in a constant state of chasing my own tail and if I take some time for myself it is never without consequence, usually in trade for the house deteriorating rapidly. (Like right now)

I was upset and frustrated for a long time by the fact that my mind simply doesn’t work the way that it used to and I was worried that people were going to think less of me for it, but now I really don’t care what other people think when I trip over my tongue. I’m a Mom… I’m a damn good Mom and this baby brain thing is just part of having a massive life changing event. The bottom line is that I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just have a lot more to think about these days than taking care of myself.

3. Waters and Induced Labor

I thought in my naivety that when your waters broke it might be a slow leak or a giant flood. As far as I was concerned, based on what I had read, those were the two ways that it could go.

What I ended up with was neither a slow leak nor a single giant flood. Instead, I got 20 something hours of giant floods. No idea where it all came from, but it came out everywhere and frequently. Maintaining your dignity in childbirth even before your feet go into the stirrups is a fantasy luxury I find it difficult to believe that any woman experiences, but to be honest, when it was actually happening, I didn’t care a single bit about modesty or dignity.

This is how my labor went…

3am got up to do the 3am “baby is using my bladder as a bouncy castle” pee. Nothing unusual happens.

Woke up again at 4am moving a fraction of an inch to better position myself on my pillow mountain and WHOOSH, the gates open! Asked hubby to fetch me a towel and went to the hospital because according to the midwife that I spoke to on the phone, they wanted to make sure that my waters had broken and that I had not just peed myself.

Ladies, after an entire third trimester of actually peeing yourself, there is no mistaking.

Anyhoo, because my waters broke before my actual labor had started they decided to keep me in the hospital to try and induce labor so I got a chemical pessary tape thing shoved up around my cervix in a rather excruciating procedure that I will never forget at 7am and started having vicious contractions at 7:15am, two delightful minutes apart. I was in a room with three other women, two of which were in the same boat as me and were sleeping as the pessary hadn’t worked yet… No one warned me when the contractions would start or that they would start so hard and fast. My husband wasn’t allowed to come back until 8am because visiting hours apply when you’re not in the actual labor ward and I totally broke down and cried like a child 5 minutes before he arrived because I was so unprepared for what was happening to my body. Thankfully one of the lovely dietary attendants who was coming around serving breakfast was nice enough to tell me that the same thing happened to her for both of her pregnancies and that kindness made me feel so much better.

The reason why I was so unprepared was because it was my understanding that contractions build up gradually as the cervix opens and so forth and so on. What no one tells you is that if you’re chemically induced you get the super powerful contractions first, instead of after a few hours once you’ve built up a tolerance. It was the shock of my life and the contractions continued like this varying in time as the pessary wore off for approximately TEN AND A HALF hours.

All the while I was gushing everywhere. One of the most memorable moments in all of this was when a doctor came in with three medical students and thought it would be a good idea to gently press on my belly during one of the contractions so that I flooded the bed… with an audience. I can laugh about it now.

Unfortunately all of the contractions I was having weren’t doing anything because the pessary hadn’t kick started my body into real labor so my cervix wasn’t dilating, which is another point I wasn’t aware of. I had no idea that induced labor could last for so long and then be for absolutely nothing in the end. So at 7pm I was moved to the labor ward to get a drip induction. At roughly at the same time I got my epidural and it was AMAZING. There is NO shame in pain relief.

Baby came at 7:20am the following morning and ripped me a new one. Stitches are a breeze after labor, didn’t feel a thing.

2. Afterpains

Afterpains are pains that kick the crap out of you days after you’ve given birth. They aren’t quite as bad as full blown labor pains but they are contractions and they’re much worse than the worst period pains. They occur for a few moments at a time as your uterus shrinks back down to its original size and are especially common after breast feeding when all those lovely hormones wake up post baby snackage.

I was not aware that they existed so I really panicked when I first had them. Fortunately there was a midwife available at the time as we were actually back in the hospital (that’s another story) four days after my daughter was born.

I felt incredibly stupid for being so upset and unprepared after I was told that after pains were perfectly normal so I thought this was a pretty good point for sharing to hopefully save some other poor woman the (totally irrational) sheer terror of thinking she was lapsing back into labor. However, I am also fully aware that it is highly unlikely that this tiny factoid will stick in the brain of a woman who hasn’t slept in days and thinks her body may be lapsing back into labor.

1. And Finally – The Kiwi Clot

So about two days after my daughter was born I got 45 minutes of sleep. This is the longest period of time since she was born  that I was both laying down and unconscious. When I stood up… something hot fell out of me, into my underwear.

I just can’t even describe the feeling that I experienced and if I could, I don’t think you’d want to read it. I looked at my husband with an expression silent of shock and horror and waddled into the bathroom to inspect.

When I carefully pulled down my underwear, a quite solid, kiwi sized clot rolled out into my hand. I jiggled it… it was like warm jell-o and didn’t grow tentacles, open its eyes or attack me so I figured it wasn’t an immediate threat and I wrapped it in a paper towel for the midwife.

My mother had always told me that it was like passing “chunks of liver” after having a baby… I’d just always assumed they would be bite sized chunks of liver as opposed to KIWI sized chunks of liver.

When the midwife came later that day she inspected the clot to be sure there wasn’t anything inside it that shouldn’t be there, and it was fine thankfully.

So bottom line… if something huge and kiwi shaped falls out of you… DO save it for a medical professional to inspect (they need to be sure there aren’t bits of placenta in there) but do NOT panic.

Sort of like this, except gross and less fuzzy.

Sort of like this, except gross and less fuzzy.

Worth All The Shock, Horror & Discomfort?

Damn straight!

When my daughter was a couple of months old a family member who was considering parenthood asked me what it’s like being a parent. I regret that I didn’t really have words at the time, however if I could answer the same question now, I would say to him or anyone else who asks that it is as CHALLENGING as it is REWARDING.

Deciding to be a parent is the best decision I have ever made in my life. Every hardship of pregnancy and childbirth is instantly forgotten when those little eyes meet yours for the first time and every day that follows is an amazing journey, which I truly believe that any arrangement of the English language is incapable of ever accurately describing.

outside5

Our Beautiful Muffin – Who is also sometimes a dinosaur.

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From → Mommy-ness

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