I firmly believe one of the least discussed parts of the whole pregnancy, childbirth, becoming a mom experience is the part that follows immediately after that baby exits your womb. The world, with all it’s warm and fuzzy ads and Lifetime movies, would have you believe that once that baby is out, all is perfect with the world. The pain leaves, you heal up, you go about your blissful existence with your newborn… at least until colic sets in.
I was so blindsided by what followed Kendall’s birth that I feel like the days/weeks after I had him were far more traumatizing than the pain of delivering without an epidural. The Pitocin in the thigh, nearly passing out, the catheter, the blood, the stitches, the rash, the mastitis, the chunks of flesh falling off my bleeding nipples… NOBODY WARNED ME ABOUT THAT SHIT.
Now, looking back, and after experiencing things the 2nd time around, I have to think that maybe my experience was a little on the extreme side the 1st time (and I’m so sorry if I scared the living hell out of you). That said, it wasn’t all rosy and baby powder scented diapers of puppies and bunnies this time, either.
Each time I’ve pushed out a baby, my mind has rejoiced momentarily that the “pain is over.” And then, minutes later, I’m reminded it’s not. Sure the pain level has decreased, but it’s not over. First, there was the delivering of the enormous placenta I was carrying around that was, apparently, about the size of my baby.
Then, though I only had a small 1st degree tear this time, I still had to have stitches, meaning I had to endure several shots of local anesthetic to the part of my body I wish to not be touched for the next year. And then? That doesn’t completely numb the area, just dulls it slightly, leaving me still able to feel the sensation of the thread and needle weaving in and out of my delicate and already battered nether regions.
On the bright side, I didn’t bleed nearly as much after having Leyna as I did Kendall. There was no need for the shot of Pitocin to the thigh, and I didn’t pass out on my way to the toilet, either. I did, however, leave a lovely, murderous looking trail from the bed to the bathroom, which I nearly slipped on.
Oh, a side note, the poop I left in the toilet while in labor (have you read my birth story yet?), was still there after I had Leyna and I saw Scott silently slink over to the bathroom and flush it. I think it was really bothering him that it was still sitting there, in all it’s nasty germiness. What a gentleman.
I was really nervous about my first pee. I sat on the toilet, again in front of the whole room, and wished with all my might that I would pee. Y’all, that catheter I had to have after Kendall was the WORST part about childbirth last time. I was more afraid of that than pushing. And as the urine started to trickle out, I shouted from my throne to every soul in the room, “I’M PEEING!! YES!! I’M PEEING!” I was met by many congratulations and my nurse even made a call up to my recovery nurse to share the good news. I don’t think anyone was looking forward to the catheter possibility.
By the time I got to my room to recover, I was, honestly, feeling pretty good. In fact, Scott and I sat there and looked at each other like, “that was way too easy.”
And then… the cramps started.
Cramps as painful as the most painful menstrual cramps that once sent me to the ER and many times sent me home early from work. Maybe worse. Definitely worse than the cramps I experienced last time as I breastfed Kendall (they come when you’re breastfeeding because it makes your uterus contract… so I’m told). Cramps so bad I hunched over and cried many times, all while trying to perfect my newborn’s latch.
The good news is I was was given a lovely cocktail of narcotics to dull the pain, which I dutifully took each time I was up for another dose. This girl may push babies out with no pain meds, but I sure as hell want them after I deliver.
We came home 24 hours after having Leyna, and I was all kinds of hormonal and crazy by then. As we pulled up to the house, I saw the neighbor kids running amok across our yard. I could see them peering into the Jeep. I KNEW they were going to pounce on us and ask to see the baby the minute we opened the doors.
“Your mission is to keep those punk-ass kids AWAY from me and AWAY from my baby. I’m not kidding, Scott. I’m going to kick them in the teeth. Do NOT let them near me. Do NOT let them talk to me, and so help me, DO NOT LET THEM TOUCH MY BABY.”
I think it took a good week for my hormones to level off.
In the meantime, just as I thought breastfeeding was going really well this time around (minus the standard nipple pain that comes from a Hoover attached to tender breasts for 20 out of 24 hours suddenly), Leyna suddenly decided to absolutely refuse to latch on my bitch-ass, giant, malformed left nipple. Tears fell from my eyes and landed on her sweet little head as I struggled for up to 30 minutes to just get her to latch. Just PLEASE LATCH. Oh God, I did NOT want to have latch issues. We battled for 48 hours and I’m happy to report I WON. I mean, the conditions do have to be just so. She has to be positioned just right. The boob can’t be too full or too empty. I have to squeeze it and start it for her. She doesn’t want to work for it at all, but I finally got her to latch and we’ve been good to go ever since.
The upside to all of this is my nipples look nothing like they did with Kendall this far out. No scabs. No blood. No chunks of flesh falling off. Okay, so she’s picky, but at least she’s kind. So breastfeeding is definitely a win this time around.
And then the rash returned. Oh yes, remember my lovely crotch rot? Just a few days out of the hospital and it erupted all over my butt, thighs and everything in between. AGAIN.
Confession- Like an IDIOT, I didn’t stock up on pads before I went into labor. I came home with the hospital pads, and they ran out sooner than I expected… in the middle of the night. What did I have left? Oh, only the ALWAYS PADS OF EVIL AND DOOM from my last postpartum experience that gave me contact dermatitis. But I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I would only need to wear one for a few hours before we could get out to the store.
Flash forward to the end of the day, and I’ve got another raging, itching, burning, red, bumpy rash all over the parts I wish not to be touched. My name is Jill, and I’m a dumbass.
Or am I… because shortly after, after I quickly switched to Kotex pads, continuing for many, many days after that, I began to see this rash spread up my stomach, inside my stretch marks, and down my legs, behind my knees and even on my calves. Last time it didn’t spread, that I can remember. Contact dermatitis is just supposed to erupt where the skin actually comes in contact with the irritant. Those pads may have been big, but they certainly didn’t touch my knees.
I consulted Dr. Twitter and Dr. Google (since it was a weekend and I couldn’t consult my midwife until Monday), and the diagnosis ranged anywhere from PUPPPS to an allergy to my husband’s DNA in the placenta and amniotic fluid. <<< No, really. That was a for real issue.
I never found out what caused the rash this time around. My midwife called in a steroid pack for me that Monday after I delivered and it seemed to clear up about 95% of the rash within a few days. Next time, I’m just going to assume this is going to happen to me and be on the lookout.
It’s 2 weeks out now, and I *think* the worst has passed. All in all, it hasn’t been that bad this time around, at least when I compare it to recovery with Kendall. I was up walking around much faster this time, the weight seems to be coming off faster this time, breastfeeding is 80% less painful.
So doesn’t that give you all hope?! Hopefully, it at least doesn’t scare you nearly as much as my 1st Rest of The Story did.
Kendall is 2 1/3 and Leyna is 2 weeks.