Going into my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pregnancies, I always reminded myself that my body was made for this- that it had done all this before. I also reminded myself that that was never a guarantee it would do it the same again. Sort of a hope for the best, prepare for the worst kind of approach.
I remember thinking before I had my 2nd that my 1st labor and delivery was so “textbook” that there was no way I’d get that lucky again. I was terrified I’d end up with some sort of complication. Instead, I wound up with a less than 2-hour active labor, which was worlds better than the 21-hour labor with my first.
While each pregnancy and labor has been different, they’ve also all been reliable. I’ve carried each baby to 40 weeks + 4 or 5 days. Though I may not have realized it at the time, I progressed through labor the same way, if not at the same speed, each time, always able to look back and say, “Oh yes, that’s when I hit transition.”
And just like so much of each pregnancy and delivery was reliably the same, postpartum recovery has been, too. I feel pretty decent (maybe even good?) within the first 12 hours. My body gets sore by the next day, and my tailbone always feels like it’s been smashed by a bowling ball, but I can move and walk and even shower before baby is 24 hours old.
Every baby hates my left nipple and latches like shit on it, and within 3 days I’m cursing my left tit every 2 hours. My right one hurts, too, but it’s manageable.
I’ll be ravenous and eat an entire bag of chocolate candy on my own the night after I have the baby. It will finally taste good to me again, and the reflux will magically disappear.
I’ll come home, feeling like this time I’m going to bounce back faster.
AND THEN THE RASH WILL COME.
Angry and alllll up in my stretchmarks (and no, it’s not PUPPS), it starts like this. This was taken on Christmas Eve, 3 days after I had Wallace.
Ahhh, yes. The postpartum rash came again, friends. 4 pregnancies, 4 babies, 4 rounds of postpartum hives. It was NOT a reaction to hydrocodone, it turns out. I know this because I didn’t take any meds of any sort during or after labor except for Advil and Tylenol, which does very little to help the pain of your uterus contracting back while breastfeeding your 4th baby- in case you’re wondering.
And still, it came, just as it always has. Setting in 24 hours after delivery, starting in my crotch and all over my butt, spreading eventually down my thighs, all the way up past my boobs, down my arms and legs to the tips of my fingers and toes by a week later.
Taken on the 26th, 5 days postpartum. I know this because there was still pie.
Wallace is 13 days old, and only in the last 24 hours have I felt like it’s finally going away. This time it took two packs of steroids and a steroid shot, and that really just took the edge off half the time. I also used a lot of lotions and sprays and essential oils. I would have probably let a rat pee on me if someone told me that could possibly work.
I’ve taken as few hot showers as I can get away with because the heat makes it so much worse. That’s been super fun since hot showers (while I pump) are the best remedy for my engorged breasts. Visual: me trying to keep 80% of my body completely out of the water while I lean into the stream of water to submerge my breasts, all while pumping and crying, and rubbing that left boob really hard because it gets clogged ducts like the asshole it is.
I’ve done a ton of Googling (and talking to actual doctors and medical professionals, but they are all stumped as fuck), and I’ve come to the non-educated conclusion that I must simply be allergic to having babies. This has to be a reaction to the surge of hormones in my body after I give birth.
SO THANK GOD I’M NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.
Someone come tie my tubes. Take them, burn them, cut them, eat them, do whatever. I have never had less of a desire to create more life.
Postpartum recovery is a shitty experience for me every single time. I can rely on that. And I’m sharing that with you all, again, not because I want to scare anyone but because NOBODY TALKS ABOUT THIS REALLY HORRIFIC TIME. And that’s some bullshit because then you have people upset and confused as to why you are a total bitch right after you have a baby and don’t want them to come visit or have you over or generally interact with you in any way.
Yeah, um, honestly my whole body is covered in hives and my nipples feel like they are soaking in cayenne pepper and I am sobbing uncontrollably every 2 minutes. So this is just not the best time for me to interact with any human whom I’m required to wear clothes in front of and/or not shout obscenities at. Truly, someone should take the other children far, far away, too. The only person who deserves to witness this is my husband because HIS FAULT. Mostly. Partly.
I’m sorry I haven’t had more to share on here, like a birth story, but the good news is I’m finally starting to feel human again, and the rash is mostly gone. I think I might even attempt a for-real hot shower today, one where I stand under the stream of water and wash my whole body. I might even shave my legs, depending on how ambitious I am.
And then! Birth story to come. Promise.
And to make up for those awful photos of my hives, here: