As much as I didn’t want to write this blog (and admit these things in print), I feel it is my duty to report back on this particularly undocumented period of pregnancy: The Fourth Trimester. You readers rely on my frankness so no matter how embarrassing it is, I have a duty to you to come out with it.
Before my baby was born, I read up on what to expect postpartum and nothing really prepared me for what I experienced. I wouldn’t be surprised if reading this doesn’t prepare you either–it’s a mother-loving head trip! Good luck to you. I’m only glad that I have recovered most of my hormones at three and a half months postpartum, if not all my memory.
So without further ado I give you:
Amanda Hanna’s 6 Truths About the Postpartum Period
- Like Adam & Eve in the garden of Eden, you will live your life without shame. I am speaking in total honesty when I tell you that I walked around the hospital (practically) buck naked, hemorrhaging from my nether regions for the first 24hours of my daughters life. I don’t recall ever brushing my teeth or my hair or even looking in the mirror. Once my epidural wore off I was asked to pee in a cup and that one endeavor left me covered in urine for the remainder of my stay because God knows I didn’t attempt to shower until I was released from the hospital two days later. I look back now and laugh at myself for packing things like dental floss in my hospital bag. Ha! If only I possessed the shame of a normal human, but in those first 24 hours I had no thought in my head besides the well-being and whereabouts of my baby. Even now, it’s like National Geographic over at my house. I rarely put a shirt on. My boobs are always out in front of company. A thin layer of breastmilk coats everything around me and I don’t even attempt to wipe it up more than once or twice a week. What for? It’s just going to drip again.
- Prepare to be crazier than you have ever been in your life. I had read that upon giving birth your hormones crash but I never fully realized what that would mean. Even me telling you about it won’t prepare you for when it happens. Like the Jamaicans say, yuh nuh ready! When that baby leaves your body, expect to go bat-shit crazy. I remember one night in those early weeks when my mother-in-law was staying with me and my husband in Florida. I had gone to lay down for a little while she spent some time with the baby. After about five minutes I raced out of bed to tell my mother-in-law that whatever she did, she must not give the baby any honey. In my mind I imagined my mother-in-law getting up, innocently to make herself a cup of tea with honey, and dripping a little honey on her finger by mistake. Then I thought she might let the baby taste the honey (as grandparents sometimes do) and I was beside myself with worry. I shot right up so I could let her know that honey could kill the baby and under no circumstances should honey be allowed near her. Thank God for my MIL’s patience because she very calmly replied that she would make sure to not give the baby anything other than breastmilk. All I can think is that she remembered how crazy she went after giving birth to her own kids. Another day I told my husband that I needed him to get me a baseball bat because I noticed all these drivers texting while they drove and I couldn’t have such criminals driving potentially explosive ‘weapons’ on the same road as my child. I fully intended to get out and beat the shiz out of anyone who had the nerve to text and drive near my child. My husband casually informed me at that point that in Florida, I would likely be shot if I attacked a stranger with a baseball bat in traffic. All I’m saying is: you go nuts after your baby is born, so expect it. Don’t let it surprise you like it surprised me.
- Get ready to weep. I am not a crier generally. I have had friends for over twenty years who have never seen me cry. I am just not that kind of girl. I’ll tell you what though–having a baby makes you cry all the time. I cried when she was born. I cried when she latched on to breastfeed the first time. I cried when the hospital staff pricked her to take her blood. I cried when she cried and I didn’t know why she was crying. I cried when they kept her overnight for jaundice and made me go home without her. I cried and cried and cried that night. I cried when I drank coconut water because I remembered being in labor with her for so many hours and drinking coconut water to stay hydrated. I cried when my husband would talk to me in anything other than ‘gentle tones’. I cried when I watched her sleep. I cried when she looked up and smiled at me for the first time. It was three months of non-stop crying, and apparently it was 100% normal.
- You will live in fear of two things: Taking a Poop & Having Sex. After I gave birth I had the distinct sensation that my downstairs area had turned into a wishing well. I could feel breeze swirling around an endless, deep, dark cavern of space. I imagined myself flinging coins into it waiting to hear the sound of them hitting water. Thanks to the episiotomy that allowed my daughter to be born after 25minutes of pushing, I was now held together by stitches. After a week, those stitches began to dry out and harden, making everything in that region uncomfortable. Just the thought of taking a poop or having sex, filled me with a sense of dread. I started to tell my husband that maybe he should take a lover because I didn’t think I’d ever have sex again. I stopped eating solid food out of fear that the food would eventually have to come out of me. It was an extremely tense time for me and therefore those around me.
- You will go between never wanting to have another baby, and wanting to have another baby right away. From the start I only wanted one child. I was a big advocate for the only child. Well guess what, I spent days swinging the pendulum between never wanting to have sex again to wanting to get pregnant again immediately. It was an irrational time of life. My husband was at his wits end. I’d tell him not to even thinking about touching me to literally throwing myself at him and telling him to just ‘do it now and get me pregnant’. I really have nothing to say for myself besides ‘hormones’. What are you gonna do, amiright? I was especially sexy with my topless, breastmilk-leaking, National Geographic, barely showered or brushed teeth, baby-weight-holding self. It’s a wonder I remain not-pregnant, right now.
- You won’t remember those first 6 weeks. Right before we left Miami I looked at my husband through a haze and asked him what had happened since the baby was born. My mind was literally blank. It was like I’d just woken up from a dream state and couldn’t decipher fact from fiction. Had I really told his mother not to feed the baby honey? Did I really walk around the hospital naked and unwashed? Was I a lunatic? (Yes to all three). It’s amazing I’m still married. This is why society tells you to get married before you have a baby because if there was anyway a man could easily leave you in those first 6 weeks without a legal obligation to stay, he would. Hell, if I could have left myself I would’ve. Half the time I didn’t even know I was there! It was a miracle I managed to function from hour to sleepless hour, but function we did and I can say at the three month mark I officially started to feel like myself again. Sure, it’s still National Geographic over at my house because I am pumping every four hours, but I get a lot more sleep and at least one shower a day. I have family that comes to help out when my husband can’t and a delivery guy that makes sure to bring me food when I can’t make it out on the road. I look back at those pictures and videos from those first few weeks and smile at how much my baby has grown since then. It feels like a lifetime away. All I can say is Thank God we got through it alive.
Best of luck to you expecting Mama’s out there! My only advice is take the help. People offer it and out of politeness your first instinct is to turn it down–don’t. Take it! Take all the help you can get because you do actually owe it to yourself and your family to eat, sleep and shower every once in a while. Oh yeah–and have sex with your husband. He needs that too.