So I recently became a mommy for the 2nd time. Before I even found out found out I was pregnant I figured, I’ve done this before, how hard can it be? Something that even 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc etc time moms find out is that not every pregnancy is the same….not every delivery is the same…and not every baby is the same.
My first pregnancy went smoothly, other than the fact that I gained 72lbs, I had a relatively worry-free pregnancy. Now my delivery was a whole other thing all together, I had a planned c-section and ended up being partially sedated because I had an anxiety attack while on the table. After I was discharged I ended up with a horrible allergic reaction to the antibiotics I was given during surgery which I ended up battling for over a month. At various points I was told that I had impetigo and that I should not touch my newborn baby girl, or any of her stuff since it is highly contagious and I would risk giving it to her. I remember already being miserable, dealing with postpartum issues and then having the most miserable infection to deal with, and on top of that being told I can’t love on/bond with my newborn. I was in tears. I realized during that period that there were so many things I didn’t know to expect, or didn’t realize the intensity of the feelings and all that I would go through. Here is my advice and information for new moms (or BTDT moms):
– Keep an open mind…my 2nd pregnancy was COMPLETELY different from my 1st. From 5wks pregnant with my 2nd I had bleeding and was basically told there was nothing that could be done if I was miscarrying. I remember laying in bed sobbing….I was terrified. I remember thinking “It wasn’t anything like this the first time around”. My doctor, mom, etc told me over and over that “every pregnancy is different”, I knew that, and I was trying to expect that but I found myself continuously going back and comparing the pregnancies.
– Make freezer meals….while yes there are people out there who will bring a meal or two when you and your sweet little one are home from the hospital there will be many times when you will need a quick meal and will be too tired, sore, etc to get up and make a full meal. Before my 2nd pregnancy I made 40 freezer meals (I used these recipes here), and they were a LIFESAVER many nights!!! While, yes I admit, I would have preferred takeout, this saved us SOOO much money and was much healthier!!
– Bleeding…(I am putting a little space here for those who may be a bit squeamish so they can skip to the next bullet point)….there were many times during postpartum that I thought I might bleed to death. Not literally of course, but it felt that way all the same. I have found many women don’t realize that if you don’t have a vaginal birth that you still have bleeding…it’s true, you do!! I asked the nurses for extra mesh panties (I TOTALLY underestimated the comfort of these), and extra large pads for my first days at home. During the first week postpartum I sent hubby to Walgreens to grab me “HUGE pads”, he brought back incontinence pads which also came in handy for my first postpartum monthly visitor. Yes, you finally get the bleeding done, and start living a life of normalcy and then one day in the future (although not as distant future as I hoped…) your monthly visitor arrives again and that first one can be ROUGH….I swear between postpartum and my first postpartum period I felt like some days my bathroom looked like a homicide scene. So…much…blood >.<
– Postpartum hormones SUCK….I remember being vaguely sad after the birth of my daughter, but since I was dealing with the allergic reactions and all I don’t think I realized that’s what it was. After the birth of my son I remember feeling so much sadness and guilt. I remember just holding my daughter telling her what a great big sister she was and at the same time feeling like I had taken so much from her. She was no longer an only child, she was now having to share her life, home, our attentions, etc and it was all my fault *cue the waterworks*. And just when I thought I would cry for no reason forever, it ended and life reassumed to my new sense of normal. Now I have friends who experience postpartum depression and those mamas are so strong…the key is to get help. If you feel like your “sadness”/depression/feelings are lasting longer than they should, or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, your baby, etc PLEASE talk to your doctor. There are meds out there that can help regulate everything while your body tries to bounce back.
– Your body is a changing thing…I thought after my first pregnancy that my body was going to almost immediately go back to what I looked like pre-pregnancy. That did not happen. First of all was the fact that I had gained 72lbs and lost 40lbs within a week after surgery, the other 32lbs took me until I saw pictures from my daughter’s 1st birthday party. After that I joined Weight Watchers and eventually lost those 32lbs plus a couple extra, but my body was still not the same. I had the “pregnancy pouch” or “kangaroo pouch” that stayed regardless. I still have it, and if I thought it was “bad” after having my daughter it’s even bigger and saggier this time. But something I am trying to do is embrace my new body. I have “tiger stripes” as my daughter calls them all over my stomach and my upper legs, and my kangaroo pouch is prominent and “jiggly”….but my body did an amazing thing carrying 2 kids full term and trying to bounce back from that. I may never wear a bikini or 2pc bathing suit again, and I may even avoid looking at certain areas in the mirror, but I am trying to embrace myself. I have a daughter who looks up to me to see how I view myself and what my reactions are to my body. If I am embarrassed of my own body how do I expect her to love and respect hers?
– Belly Binders ROCK!!! I’ve heard from some ladies that their doctor or hospital gave them one for free (especially for repeat c-sections). I never used one after my first pregnancy but about 3/4 of the way through my second pregnancy I started having a condition where the abdominal muscles separate, the doctor could see it easily, and it caused QUITE a bit of pain. She recommended trying one postpartum to help hold them back together after my c-section. Let me just say….it was….AMAZING!!! I put on my belly binder on the day after surgery, as soon as I was allowed to get up/shower/etc. I felt like it was SO much easier and less painful to move around, breathe, etc. Granted, yes there was still some pain while trying to maneuver out of the hospital bed, etc but NOTHING like without it. After I got home I wore it night and day and felt amazing. A week postpartum and I felt like I had never really had anything done. Two weeks postpartum I went on my daughter’s school trip to the zoo and walked around all day with my newborn strapped into our Ergo. I will admit I felt a little bit of pain after all of that walking but nothing significant at all. If you aren’t given a belly binder, there are many available online for purchase, or ask around to your friends to see if anyone has one they will give you. Trust me, it’s a lifesaver!!
– ASK for help. After my daughter was born I didn’t want to ask for help. I remember one day my mom and dad coming over, taking my daughter and telling my husband and I to go take a nap. We had been up forever it felt like and we were exhausted and rundown. While we napped my mom swapped the laundry from the washer to the dryer, did dishes and made sure my baby girl was loved on. I remember at the time laying on my bed trying to nap wondering “what should I do? I should be the one doing these things…I don’t have time to nap right now”. But it wasn’t until months (or possibly years later) that I appreciated that small gesture. I may not have gotten much sleep during those few hours, but I had a mental break. After my son was born I felt better asking for help if we needed it just because I knew how hard it would be some days. Most people WANT to help, whether it’s by bringing a meal, grabbing something you need from the store, helping around the house, etc you just have to LET them help.
– Give yourself time….again whether you are a mom for the first time, or umpteenth time there will be an adjustment period. The thing to remember is you are doing the best you can. Give yourself and your baby time to adjust to your new life at home, and snuggle with your newborn and any other kids as much as possible. You are superwoman….you really are, and even during the times that you feel like you aren’t doing your best, or you let someone down, or the dishes aren’t done, or the living room looks like Toys R Us exploded in it, you are AMAZING. You are a mom.