Nothing and no one can prepare you for pregnancy or childbirth. No matter how many people give you advice or share their stories with you. No matter how many books you read or classes you take. Your story will vary from everyone else’s. And, each pregnancy will be different.
When it comes to pregnancy, it seems everyone is willing to share their stories about sweating during the summer, sleepless nights, frequent bathroom trips, morning sickness, the joy of feeling the baby kick, etc. You know, all those things you read about or see in movies.
When it comes to childbirth, it seems everyone is willing to share their story no matter how simple or complicated it is. We’re aware of the contractions, tearing, and the bonding time after birth. And, we’re aware that all of the pain will eventually subside and you may choose to go through it again and again.
However, it seems like there are things out there that no one warns you about. You know it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. And, you know that not everyone has the same experiences. But, you have a child and you suddenly wonder why no one warns you of these things that happen after childbirth. It’s like, once you’ve had the baby, no one remembers anything from the sleep-deprived first few years of raising that baby.
I’m aware I’ve mentioned several times that each pregnancy and birthing experience is different. However, I’m also aware that many women I’ve talked with have mentioned these same symptoms and side effects, but have never really talked about them openly. So, I’m going to share some of the things no one told me about pregnancy, childbirth, and the aftermath.
1. There are a lot of “gender” guessing games out there
I have two boys. At the start of pregnancy number two, I was convinced I was having a girl. My pregnancy was a bit different with J than it was with D, and up until the day of my ultrasound, I was certain we were going to have a girl. The day of the ultrasound, I had a gut feeling that it was actually a boy. But, it’s really fun to play along with some of the old methods that have been used for identifying gender such as:
Ring on a string, Chinese gender predictor, Sweet/Salty/Meat/No Meat, Morning sickness/None, etc.
2.Freezing or Sweating
It doesn’t matter what the weather is outside. Your body will seem to do the complete opposite. I am always freezing and I suddenly started wearing shorts and t-shirts around the house in the middle of winter. This is when I first knew something was amiss as I wear sweatshirts and long bottoms in July. My best friend, on the other hand, runs warm and suddenly found herself under piles of blankets as she just couldn’t seem to get warm.
Pregnancy is so different for everyone, and it seems like this is more talked about than any other part of having a child, so I’ll just leave you with those two as I move on.
Childbirth itself is such a unique process, that it’s hard to tell what will be similar and what will be different. However, I’ll share what I was not prepared for in the event you have a similar situation.
I had no idea that my husband would be holding my leg. I was completely prepared for him to hold my hand, up by my head where he was safe from seeing anything, and walk me through the whole process like they do in the movies. So, imagine my surprise when they invited him to journey down to the stirrups and hold a leg while I pushed!
2. The Push
This was the part I was most terrified of. They go through all of these exercises in birthing classes, and I remember thinking how am I going to remember any of this while I’m in labor? And, I was right. With D, his oxygen levels went down, so I had an oxygen mask on. Trying to breathe with that on and push was a nightmare. And, I don’t know how many times they said push and I replied, “I can’t” or “I don’t want to!”
But, it’s amazing! Your mind is telling you one thing and your body just takes over and is like, “No, no.. I got this. You might think you can’t do this, but you have no choice; so
like, “No, no.. I got this. You might think you can’t do this, but you have no choice; so here we go.”
3. The Meds
You may be one of those lucky ducks that gets pain meds. You might be one of those warriors who doesn’t want meds. Or, you might be one of those who wants meds but progress so quickly that you don’t have the option.
I knew I didn’t want an epidural. I’m a “walk through the pain” kind of person, and I didn’t want to be confined to the bed. So, with D, I asked for a little Tylenol concoction. However, whatever concoction they gave me didn’t kick in until about halfway through pushing and immediately made me feel like I was drunk. It was such a disappointment because I was so out of it, I didn’t feel like I really got the full experience of bringing a child into the world. And, I certainly did not ask for or have time for anything with J and I was so thankful!
Like I said, every story is different, so I will leave you with those three tidbits about childbirth as we move into the most untalked about portion of having a child: the days after your child is born.
After the baby is born:
I don’t know if this will happen to everyone, but I do know that it happened to me with both of my children. With D, it was immediate. All of the adrenaline and emotions caused my legs to shake uncontrollably for well over an hour. I couldn’t get up to take a shower or go to the bathroom. I just sat in bed with my legs shaking. The next morning, I finally felt like I could shower, and as I stood in the shower, my legs were still quite shaky.
With J, I was discharged from the hospital, and on day two of being home, I was hit with the shakes. It was about 8pm and my entire body was shaking. Mr. Troop kept putting blanket after blanket over me, and nothing seemed to help. My teeth were chattering, and my entire body was convulsing to the point that I couldn’t hold J. It lasted about 45 minutes and then subsided.
Did you know that once you’ve had the baby, you continue to have contractions? If you’re planning on nursing, this is your fair warning. Every time you nurse that adorable bundle of joy, you’ll feel a twinge as your uterus contracts back to its original size.
Want to know something no one told me until I had my second child? These contractions get worse with every child you have. Which means, for me, my contractions after already having J were worse than my contractions while I was in labor. This also makes me terrified to find out what it would be like if we decide to have another child!
I mean, it’s great news that your uterus is shrinking back to its normal size. But, who decided that the pain needed to increase with every child you have? That seems like a very poor design flaw!
3.Postpartum hair loss
I’ve been told this doesn’t happen to everyone. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard it depends on whether you’re nursing or not nursing, taking your multivitamin or not, etc. I have no idea what makes this happen, but, for me, it’s been a real thing. My baby sprouts were so bad, that I ended up chopping off my hair because my ponytail was a hot mess. I had sprouts coming out from everywhere. As if having a baby constantly pulling hair out wasn’t bad enough, now you’ve got hormones joining in the fun!
Pregnancy and childbirth are experiences unlike anything else. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, but we often overlook the low points and only share the high points. And, rightfully so. However, sometimes a mom just needs to know what the other possibilities are. You can never be too prepared!
What are some things you wish people would have warned you about when it came to pregnancy, childbirth, or managing life after the baby comes?