Do feel free not to read this, rather than reading it and hating it, won’t you. I’m not attempting to be some nause of a mummy-blogger, but my recent adventures in the uterus department led to me whining on to a friend about all the things I simply didn’t have a clue that pregnancy or childbirth entailed. She is WELL UP for doing a baby herself, and asked me to write them down before I blank them out forevermore. So for her (you know who you are), and perhaps by accident for others – here are My Thoughts and Feelings. Knowledge is power, etc etc.
Woah, but it’s a long old haul. The end is pretty dreadful, what with all the waiting, and the questions and all. Some days I turned my phone off just to avoid people asking if I’d had the baby, and offering me well-meaning advice on how to bring about the big event. Anecdotes follow the lines of, ‘Well, I ate a curry on Tuesday, had sex on Friday and my beautiful baby was born merely three weeks later! :-)’.
Here’s the thing – none of these things work, but in the process of trying all the curry, sex and pineapple washed down with five litres of raspberry leaf tea you will spend a fortune, do a lot of naked crying, gain ten pounds and experience chronic indigestion. As a partner, friend or health professional I can only recommend never mentioning any of these words, because you won’t be the only person to have mentioned them in that particular 24 hour period, and you may well be responsible for making the preggo lady cry. This article here http://www.mumsnet.com/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/getting-labour-started explains better than I can how the science behind some of these things is sound (prostaglandins in sperm open the cervix, you say?) but the reality (you’d need at least 14 ‘shots’ of sperm on a daily basis, and to keep your legs in the air for the whole day) is less than ideal. The baby will come when it is ready to, or you’ll be induced. Now throw your phone in the bin.
Quick caveat to all those mental internet mothers – this is merely my experience, but I just wanted to offer an alternative viewpoint to all the horror stories out there that people tell with such grisly relish. Here goes: Labour isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. I get that it’s different for everybody and I was pretty scared beforehand but for me, after nine and a half months of pregnancy, which I still feel a bit guilty for saying I didn’t enjoy; and three days of being induced with no results other than pain – giving birth was (and I’ve thought for a while about whether I really mean this, but I do) – pretty brilliant really. Once I was ready to go, the idea that this would soon all be over made me readier than I’ve ever been to get tough and GET A THING DONE. I looked at the clock and decided however bad it was, I could take any pain for two hours. I love a goal, me. Like someone had injected pure ‘spirit of woman’ into my veins (Beyoncé mixed with Kate Bush and Debbie Harry), I felt incredibly, majestically, mythically fucking strong. Basically, if I put that much effort in at the gym I’d be able to bench press my dad. Using every muscle I owned starting with my eyelids, I pushed my baby out in one hour and nineteen minutes. I beat my goal! A new PB!
Afterwards, you will find that many people wish to make assumptions about your vagina and pelvic floor, which seems a little rude to say the least. Particularly if you have a big baby, people will assume that you are completely ruined afterwards. WHAT A LOT OF HORSESHIT. Your body is perfectly equipped should you decide this is what you want to do with it, and you’re using muscles which like all others in the body can stretch, tighten and become more powerful. Thanks to some very frank and open discussion with the ace women who brought me up, I’ve been bossing pelvic floor exercises from an early age and I think it helped in carrying my baby, delivering it and getting back to normal super pronto afterwards. Regardless of whether you want to have a kid or would rather die in a fire, those exercises are one of the best things you can do for yourself, lady health-wise, SO START CLENCHING, YO.
So here’s an odd thing – it takes ages afterwards to have a wee. You have to sit on the loo for about twenty minutes, concentrating like you’re trying to solve a complicated maths problem while your body tries to re-adjust to all the information coming from that whole area. When you do, it really stings, because you are essentially weeing onto many tiny wounds. This lasts maybe a week or two, which is precisely what you need at this difficult time when the only peace you get is to briefly lock yourself in the toilet. Drink tonnes of water, not squash or juice, and follow the optimistic midwife advice to ‘simply pour a jug of water over the area at the time of urination’. If you can make this happen without flooding your bathroom or knickers, or losing the jug down the toilet, then congratulations for you are a better woman than I. It’s silly advice, so fuck it off.
You bleed for weeks. It’s called lochia and it happens to everyone. It’s like having a very heavy period, times six, for ages. Just when you think it is lessening, it gets worse again, then it’ll stop, and then you’ll get a motherfucking period. Buy all the pads there are, and chocolate, for iron.
You get lulled into a false sense of security at first, when you’re just making a few drops at a time of golden liquid called colostrum and that’s all the baby needs. Then a few days later your milk comes in and shit gets real, real quick. If you don’t know what to expect you might worry about how your breasts feel. So, I’ll tell you, they will feel like a big old tight bag of walnuts wrapped in a silk handkerchief. I give you this information so you don’t have to wander round going ‘does this feel normal or am I turning to stone’ and offering your tits to everyone you meet LIKE I DID.
Other boob stuff – when you feed your baby with one breast, the other one will feel all left out and start aching and producing milk as well. How splendid, you think, I am actually leaking milk. Congratulations, for it will also happen in the following circumstances:
- When your baby cries
- When another baby cries
- When you think about your baby a bit too hard
- When your boobs are too full
So, sleep deprivation is a major, major bitch and there’s nothing you can do about it, ’tis a thing to be endured and got through, and it’ll get better eventually. Changing nappies is quite dull, but you’ll amaze yourself with how little you mind getting poo in your hair. Those are the rubbish things, but to end on a positive note, here’s a lovely thing. I didn’t realise, after all those months of hefting her around and waiting for her to arrive just so I could stop being bloody pregnant, that she would land on my belly, hot and squirming and taking big, thirsty breaths, and I would look into her tiny face and be completely bowled over. Not with love – I loved her and felt protective from the start, but it took a few weeks until she became ‘her’ for me to fall completely in love with – but because, astounding as it sounds, I already knew her face. That recognition and sense of familiarity was one joyous, splendid thing. PRAISES BE.