“Motherhood is glamorous,” said no one ever.
I remember reading Jenny McCarthy’s book “Belly Laughs” on our babymoon in Cabo and dying of laughter as I related to all the insane things that were happening to her body during her pregnancy. Seriously, The Blue Twinkies and Pig in Pasture chapters had me falling off my beach chair.
The book ended with her delivering her son…but obviously in real life, the crazy shit doesn’t end there. Not even close!
I want to recap some of the unexpected and not-so-fun things that took place after delivery, after Jenny’s book ended. But it’s hard to figure out in what way to write this post…there’s a fine line between being real and honest versus sounding negative and bitter. My goal is the former.
I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am very aware of how lucky I am. Even though the following is a list of unconformable, sometimes scary changes, I am fortunate. My baby is healthy, I am healthy, and although the first year was hard in many ways, it was absolutely worth it and I would do it again – and probably will!
I’m curious by nature so even before I was thinking about getting pregnant, I loved to hear the stories of my friends’ wild deliveries or difficult recoveries. I always wanted to know the down-and-dirty details so that I felt prepared and wasn’t shocked when something crazy happened to me.
And once I was going through it, I loved to compare notes with other moms – misery loves company, right?!
So whether you’ve gone through it, are going through it now, or will go through it in the future, I hope there is something interesting or relatable here for you!
So here it goes… a month-by-month diary of the physical changes that took place during the first year of motherhood.
Month 1: What the hell just happened? I can’t really move, let alone walk on my own. I pushed for only 45 minutes – how the hell am I this swollen? I’m not sure what is what down there so I just won’t look. I guess my “medium flow” pads won’t be enough, can I bring some of these Depends home with me? How can it be that I’m both engorged and leaking milk everywhere at the same time? Somehow my nipples have become sprinklers, it’s actually quite amazing the distance they can project. My preferred outfit is a swaddle blanket tied around my chest. Baby won’t latch well and we spend every waking minute working on her technique, as if I wasn’t exhausted enough. My nipples bleed. I’m crying all the time – sometimes out of happiness, sometimes out of sadness, and often out of guilt for feeling sad and overwhelmed. Is this the new normal??
Month 2: I can’t tell when I need to go #2 because it’s still totally numb down there. My butt seems seems extra saggy and flat, like it literally “fell”! I couldn’t do a kegel if my life depended on it. I have night sweats, so between that and the leaky milk, I really should be washing my sheets daily. Wait, what was I saying? I forget. Because I have “baby-brain” and because I’m not sleeping enough.
Month 3: I’m so soft, everywhere. And not in a good way like the baby is soft. I can’t work out too hard because I’m nursing. I can’t eat everything I want because I’m nursing. I have carpal tunnel in both wirsts, probably from the way I’m holding the baby while…nursing. And when she’s not nursing, she’s still in my arms, her preferred place to sleep, which means an achy back and shoulders, and a messy house too.
Month 4: Everything hurts, my joints, my hips especially, they ache. It’s a deep pain, like in my bones. Makes sense once I read that it’s because they’re moving “back into place” – seriously so uncomfortable. There were real tears the first time she bit my nipple, chomping down with her crazy-strong gums. What happens when she gets teeth?
Month 5: My hair is falling out in clumps, it’s terrifying. I’ll never forget the look on my father in law’s face when I showed him the handful of hair that had just come out in the shower. It didn’t make me feel better. I worry that I’ll run out of hair before it starts growing back. It’s always only in a ponytail so the receding hairline is nice and noticeable.
Month 6: I miss chocolate but Ellie has reflux so I’m limiting my intake as much as possible. Chocolate would sure make me happy. And, sex drive – wait, what’s that?
Month 7: My hormones may be affecting my immune system because I seem to be constantly sick. Is that a thing or do I just blame daycare? My skin seems to be breaking out more than usual. Hormones are to blame for everything, I’ve decided.
Month 8: I’ve officially stopped nursing, which is bitter sweet. What’s not sweet is my tender, bumpy nipples that leak fluid, and my deflated boobs. They were never big, but now I would settle for my pre-pregnancy breasts…nope, time to buy a smaller bra. Boo!
Month 9: I started my period again. I would’ve been fine without it for a little longer. And of course it came back with a vengeance – crampier and heavier than ever before. Fantastic.
Month 10: Although I’m back to my pre-baby weight, my body just has a different shape and a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit like they used to. And I’ve noticed slight stretch marks on my hips. Grrrrrr.
Month 11: Not to complain about my hair growing back, but these side bangs are not so cute. And they’re curly too – definitely not cute.
Month 12: I’ve come to understand that my “pelvic floor” is not what it used to be. It’s apparently very weak. I pee every time I sneeze. And don’t make me laugh too hard either! I tried jumping on a trampoline with my friend’s kid – big no-no! I have to do “modified” jumping jacks in exercise class. And I don’t want to talk about what happened during yoga the other day – I can’t even say the word (it starts with a “q”), it freaks me out. I thought I might die of embarrassment.
Now when people ask why we aren’t pregnant with number two yet, I’m going to point them to this post. I’m sort of kidding…but really, that was a long year! And I know I got off lucky compared to a lot of other moms, but still!
Now for the part that won’t come as much surprise – I would do it all again. Why? Because my baby girl was worth it. And most of the crazy stuff doesn’t last. And the changes that do stick around, well, you get used to them, and learn to be proud of them. Because that’s what it took to bring a baby into the world. And those of us who have been through it should feel extreme pride more than anything else.
Now I think: I DID THAT! I gave birth to my child, I fed her and kept her healthy – and my body went through a million hilariously gross changes to do it. It might have been far from glamorous but it was real and it was amazing. And now that I’ve shared my month-by-month diary, I’ve given everyone 12 more reasons why Moms are freakin’ amazing. You’re welcome.
Ok moms, what months did you most relate to? What did I miss? It helps to talk about it, am I right!?