In case we decide, or it is decided for us, to have more children, I feel that it is necessary to write my future self a note to be reminded what things will be like the first 3 weeks post partum and how I will survive. Here we go:
Hey you. You exhausted, slightly smelly, old mascara dusted eyes, moody, you. The next 3 weeks may feel, and may be, some of the most physically and mentally difficult weeks of your young life.
The birth. You may have chosen to have another C-section or you may have done a VBAC, either way, don’t feel guilty for your decision. Try to ignore those that make you feel like whatever you chose was wrong. While you work through that mental mind game, whatever way you did choose to give birth will cause you great pain. Like, lots of pain. And those pain meds that feel glorious for the moment? They will impregnate your bowels to allow you to enjoy the feeling of a VBAC, without an epidural, for the first few weeks post baby. Take the stool softeners. Eat Medamucel crackers like they are candy. Drink prune juice like it is that beer you craved all pregnancy. Look forward to the sapository like a baby-free night on the town. Yay you!! Try, please for the love of God, to quickly wean off the major pain meds. And when you are in the hospital, some of the first days major pains will be caused by gas. Ask the nurse for gas meds immediately. You’re welcome.
The first days home. You will remember how hard you felt things were with just the first baby. Then you will remember how truly hard it was going from one to two. You didn’t realize you can’t lift your toddler for 6 weeks or do anything around the house for fear of activating pain and the dreaded post partum period soaking through your sexy granny panties or mesh tear away boy shorts from the hospital with your medical grade 16″ long pad. Hang in there. Enlist family to help at least the first 3 weeks. Use a step stool to assist your toddler up and down where you can’t lift. And rest. Seriously. Stop trying to do chores. Stop bending down and lifting things that “are probably fine”. Limit the Costco trips. I know it feels great to get out, but it’s not fun to keep bleeding.
The moods. The thoughts. The tears. The confusion. The “baby blues”, “sundowning” – is real. So real and so horrid. You will feel panicky. You will feel hopeless. You will feel pain. You will feel silly. You will feel frustrated. You will feel ashamed. Lost. Sad. It will feel foreign. It will be terrifying that it could last. Lucky for you, it should only last about the first two weeks. Some others won’t be so lucky as it may last longer. Talk to your doctor if it goes beyond 3 weeks. Remember that with your first you didn’t have this at all, so it could be fine! But above all, remember you aren’t going crazy. Your hormones are just intense. And they will regulate.
The sleeping. Or the non-sleeping. You will be a human milk machine. The baby will not have a schedule. They will demand food, be irregular in timing to eat, how long they eat, and when they sleep. They may be great for two days and turn into a horrible, confusing, demanding little love bug the next two days. And when I say days, I mean 24 hours. Not like 9 to 5 kinda thing. Round the clock. You may only get sleep with the baby on your chest as you lay completely flat, built up with pillow around you for fear of the baby rolling off you in your sleep. It’s ok. Remember number one? This too shall pass. It may take over 15 months like your first, but it will eventually. At least that’s what they say.
The Googling. You will become the best researcher for the first 3 weeks (and beyond, let’s be honest). Your Google searches will mimic a hypocondriac’s. Your new babies doctor’s file may become thick with visits because “the baby is breathing nasally”. Remember it’s all okay. Knowledge feels like power and peace of mind at this time. But remember to take caution. You may find yourself on a website convincing you that your newborn needs reconstructive chin surgery. Yes, that was my reality for a sleepless night. You have insurance. Your doctor won’t tell you she thinks your crazy, although she may think it. If they tell you this, find a new pediatrician.
The house will be dirty. The dogs will drive you crazy. You will feel overwhelmed – a lot. Someone will need you at every second in your house. Remember, you need you too. Try to pee when you need to, put the baby down to free your hands for at least 15 minutes a day, play with your other kids the best you can, watch shows all day on those days you just need it, and remember to enjoy this time too. They are only this little once. And each day, remember you all will never be as young as you are that day. So hug them a little closer, take deep breaths, and rock that crusty mascara and greasy hair. It’s called Motherhood. And it looks good on you.