My oldest turned six recently. Since him, I’ve had two more and feel pretty seasoned in the parenting world. Although, I know I'm still a rookie in the grand scheme of things. My birthing day anniversary (I think that should be a thing, because we did all the work anyway) got me thinking about how stupid I was as I entered my little delivery suite. I was READY. I had pretty good idea of what to expect, right? I had been to all my appointments, skimmed the book, talked to my friends, seen the movies. But then I realized, maybe there are some things they just neglect to tell us so our species doesn't die out.
So here are my top five “Why the heck didn’t you tell me that and how was I supposed to know” tidbits about Childbirth…
#1) That Water Sack.
In the movies, it’s one gush, and done. As they rush the actress to the hospital, they don’t show it continuing to leak EV-ER-Y-WHERE. I was induced for all three babies and all three times, they had to break my water. Here lies my number 1.5: If a doctor has to break your water, that means she is about to murder your cervix with a giant fire poker, via vagina. She will claim it isn’t usually that hard to break and that your sack is just tucked higher up there, but she’s probably lying. Once she pops it, get ready to leak till you’re pushing that kid out.
#2) They Starve You to Death.
With kid number one, I followed the rules. No food. In case you need to have an emergency c-section, you can’t have anything but ice chips and maybe a Jell-O (if you have a nice nurse.) I was ravenous by the end of my 14 hour labor, and rather than snuggling on my baby, all I wanted was a cheese quesadilla and frosted donut. After talking to some other moms about the starvation during my hospital stay, I heard about these wonderful birthing centers that let you eat, drink, and do yoga (that’s how I picture it at least), and I started to see the light. My next two kids, I was prepared and snuck food in my overnight bag. I didn’t go crazy and sneak in some In-N-Out, but I did have a couple protein bars and candy and they kept me going. However, I do NOT recommend this because I don’t want to be responsible for someone aspirating during a c-section… so take my words with a grain of salt...on top of your french fries that you sneak in your hospital bag…or I guess you could sprinkle it on your ice chips if you want to be miserable for 12 hours. Your call.
#3) You know how to push out a baby.
I was really worried about this with my first baby. I really wasn’t sure if I would know how to push him out. What they should really say instead of “PUSH!” is “POOP!” No joke. This is how I got my husband to understand what it felt like: “You know how you feel when you’re constipated and haven’t taken a laxative? It’s like that. Except, instead of doing it leisurely while scrolling Facebook, you have about five people staring at you, telling you how hard to push it out, with a spotlight shining on you...oh, and a mirror if you are a weirdo and want to watch it yourself. That’s childbirth”
#4) Breastfeeding doesn’t just hurt your nipples.
I was prepared for the nipple pain. But the cramping. I was not prepared. Now, before I have some super expert moms rolling their eyes at me, let me just say that I admit I might not have read up on the actual postpartum part. I read every "Week By Week" fact on my four different baby apps. I also took the class for what to expect when you check in the hospital. But I didn’t read about this stuff. Maybe I’m naive. However, I am leaning towards my other theory that this is all kept secret. The nurses like to tell you about these things as if it were common knowledge, as you are laying there experiencing these magical gifts for the first time. So, back to the cramping. Every time your baby nurses, your uterus contracts so it can shrink back up. They seriously need postpartum epidurals for this very reason. This is why I also enacted my “NO VISITORS” rule for baby number three. I wised up. I’m sorry, I don’t feel like "pretend smiling" while it feels like I have someone stomping on my uterus with soccer cleats. Nope. I’d much rather scream profanities and make my husband circle the worst frowny face on the whiteboard so the nurse knows I need more drugs.
#5) Postpartum Preeclampsia
All joking aside, this was one thing I NEVER knew I needed to look for after going home from the hospital. I never had high BP as an adult or during my pregnancy. Being home for two weeks, with sleep deprivation in full force and hormones raging, I experienced terrible migraines. After going in to see the doctor for my headaches, she found I had very high blood pressure and she put me on medication. Who knew!? I almost shrugged it off as I continued to pop Advil. It happened again with my third child but I realized the symptoms sooner. I’m not quite sure why we are so ignorant when it comes to self care post delivery. Maybe we just assume we know how to do it. Or the doctors assume we know how to do it. OR maybe I am the only person who went into her labor and delivery with a false sense of knowing what to expect. Or, maybe I should have read more mom blogs.
Once you’ve gone through it once, this list isn’t news. You’ve become a pro and can pass on your words of wisdom to your newly pregnant soon-to-be-mom friends. You can even throw in bonus advice, which is my number 5.5: “Tell the nurse you need more giant mesh panties and go home with at least five new pairs.” And as you already know, despite the gushing water and starvation, you’d do it all again in a heartbeat (obviously, bring food). As moms we have a mental epidural to the pain we experience to bring our baby into the world. It’s why we do it once, then we do it again, and maybe again and again.
We forget about the list.