Before you write a comment in a blog, on a Facebook page, on an uploaded video etc. ask yourself: would I say this to someone ‘in real life’? It’s easy to hide behind a computer, but you are just proving what type of person you really are.
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When Sienna was a few months old I googled ‘when will it get easier with a baby’. I was feeling a little overwhelmed, and my baby wouldn’t let me put her down. It was as if she were glued to my hip. Some people tried to be helpful and told me to let her cry, after all, she has to learn that I’m not going to give in to her every whim. Well, I just couldn’t do that. In my opinion, she was too small for such harsh measures. If I ever tried to let her cry, I ended up crying with her! I felt like such an awful mother and it just didn’t feel right. I kept remembering things like: you can’t spoil a baby.
What kind of answers do you think Google spewed out? Very unhelpful ones, that’s all I can tell you! The mothers who answered that question seemed to be bitter, as if they wanted to paint the rest of our lives black. Typical responses were: it doesn’t get easier; if you think it’s bad now, wait until they’re teenagers; why did you have kids in the first place etc. etc.
I’d like to answer this question for you, and I will be totally honest.
It DOES get easier! It gets so much easier! You just have to be patient. Once Sienna started being able to hold her head properly and start rolling onto her tummy and back again, she was so content that she would lie on her activity mat for a good 20-30 mins and just stare at bright things. 20-30 mins doesn’t sound like much, but if you have a really clingy baby then it’s like a spa weekend, trust me.
Then she started getting onto all fours and rocking back and forth. This eventually turned into crawling. Again, life got a bit easier. She would spend her time crawling around the lounge, exploring and playing. Then she’d pull herself up onto the side of the couch or coffee table and wobble around. That was a little bit scary because I was nervous of her falling, yet it helped me so much because she stopped clinging to me all the time. I finally had the feeling I could get things done.
At 11 months, she learnt to walk! A huge milestone! We were so proud and I was even more relieved- she now started to play properly. This did mean more mess, because she would carry all her toys/food/anything else through to wherever I was, but she had finally detached herself from my hip.
Sometimes I wish for my clingy, cuddly baby back- but I know that she is happy discovering the world. When I say ‘come cuddle’ she runs over to give me a quick peck before toddling on to more fun things.
She is now 17 months and I’m feeling back to normal. I can do the washing, clean the house, cook, play with Sienna, go out shopping or whatever I feel like- and it is so much easier than it was a year ago!
You can feel relieved, because this time in 3, 6, 12 months you too won’t be asking this question anymore. I have hope for the future as well, because a friend told me that when they start going to school, they become so independent, that you really miss the baby days.
Now I’m not naive. I do realise that the teenage years will be tough, and that being a mother is a hard job. I know that Sienna will give me grey hairs one day. I also know, however, that the First Time Mom in pyjamas on the couch, who hasn’t had a minute for herself all month, doesn’t need any snarky, negative comments. She needs the truth, and she needs support and encouragement. And I just gave that to her.
I have been missing on action for quite some time, and I’m so sorry about that. I think I just had so much to do, that I didn’t feel like logging into my computer and writing. Now, however, I have uploaded a WordPress app- so I should be more regular from now on.
I hope you’re still interested in my blog and I hope I can help some new moms out.
During pregnancy you read all about what’s happening to your body and how your baby is growing. You also read up on birth and all the different types of methods there are- normal births, c-sections blah blah blah. Yet for some reason no one ever prepares you for what happens to your body afterwards. Perhaps because it ain’t pretty. Well, I thought I’d let the cat out the bag- but don’t worry, I’m never here to scare you, just to tell you the truth.
1. Immediately after birth, literally immediately, I looked down at my tummy and it looked so flat! Saggy, but flat. I kept touching it when Sienna was taken to be weighed and cleaned up and I was telling everyone ‘hey, look at my tummy!’ and poking it. Then you get taken to the room in which you’ll be staying for a few days and once you see your belly, standing up, then it is so disappointing. You look 6 months pregnant. I was expecting it to be as flat as it looked lying down, but no, it looked all wobbly and just plain pregnant. My brother, who is 7, came to visit and the first thing he said to me was ‘Shanni, if you have your baby already, then why do you still look pregnant?’ My Mom moaned at him, but I just thought it was funny because I was thinking the EXACT same thing! Don’t be too upset though, your body has been through a lot. My tummy looked a lot better after about 2 weeks, and now, 6 months postpartum, it looks like I’ve never had a baby. So really, don’t be upset!
2. Postpartum is very, uh, bloody- to say the least. I was told that you had to wear super huge pads after birth for 6 weeks, but I never really asked myself why. Well, after giving birth you don’t need to ask anyone why because I don’t think any woman wouldn’t notice the tap switched on down below. Seriously, this shocked me the most. The midwife who wheeled me to my room told me that I have to call her the first time that I need to pee. I just laughed and she was like ‘I’m not joking, you have to call me or else!’ I thought that was a bit weird but I called her in the end. She told me to get up very slowly. I got up normally. All of a sudden, blood spilled all down my legs and onto the floor. I went white as a sheet and felt faint. ‘So that’s why I had to call her…’ It doesn’t hurt or anything- it just shocks you if you’ve never been warned. You bleed heavily for the first week, and then it gets less and less until you’re back to normal. It took me 4 weeks. It can take up to 6 weeks, though. You’ll get super duper maxi pads from the hospital, so don’t worry ;-)
3. Breastfeeding has to be learnt. For me, it was quite easy because Sienna latched on really well. I was dropped in the deep end, though. Straight after birth everyone left the three of us to bond and as the doctor closed the door he said that I should feed Sienna. Then he just closed the door. No one helped me at all! So I just looked all puzzled at the hubby (he couldn’t help me) and I thought ‘here goes nothing…’ Like I said, luckily Sienna latched like a pro. It doesn’t feel weird at all- it’s just lovely because you bond so much. You both stare at each other and you know you’re giving her the best you can give and she knows that you’re the most important person in the world to her. It hurts after a day or so and it will continue to hurt for around a week or two. After that, you don’t even feel it anymore. So just stick with it, be tough and the pain will be a thing of the past before you know it. Get a really good nipple cream- that’s my one piece of advice! After the first week, my nipples were so dry that some skin came off and they bled :-( You just have to be tough and you’ll get through it though! Come on, you gave birth mama- what can be worse than that?? The biggest hurdle is behind you.
4. When your milk comes in, you’ll look like you had a boob job- and all those congratulations hugs are a killer! My milk came in on day 2, which is quicker than most. Your boobs go hard as rocks and you leak through everything! I wold be having a chat to people and they’d start glancing nervously away from me, I’d look down and see that I’m wet. Invest in some good breastfeeding pads- don’t get the cheap ones! I’m a tummy sleeper and what I was looking forward to most was sleeping on my tummy again- think again, once my milk came in, I couldn’t even sleep on my side! Good thing is, your body is very clever and regulates itself very quickly, so after around 2 days, everything was fine again.
5. The first shower is the hardest. After I had given birth, all I wanted was a shower and nice, clean hair to make me feel better. It was hard though. I felt quite faint because I don’t like the sight of blood and I was very scared to get water ‘down below’. You have all kinds of thoughts about it stinging or somthing awful like that. It doesn’t, don’t worry! Just take it slow and make sure you have someone to listen out for you. If the shower is in your room, leave the door open a tiny bit just in case you topple over. It’s usually fine- I was nervous, but I felt so much better afterwards.
6. Your muscles are strained from giving birth and they don’t hold as well as they used to. This was only a problem for me for a week, after that everything was roughly back to normal. My problem was, and this is way TMI so if you’re a boy or someone who knows me, please don’t read this: you can’t even hold wind in! And I’m not talking about burping! It was so embarrasing because we’d get visitors in the hospital and I had the urge to pass wind- and I just couldn’t hold it in for the life of me. And the more you try to hold it in, the more it seems to happen! This also counts for doing a wee. It just starts to come out and you can’t seem to hold it. I never actually wet the bed, but it was my biggest nightmare. Like I said, after a week my body seemed to jump back to normal (sort of) – but this was one of my worst postpartum things.
7. The thought of the first bowel movement makes you weak at the knees. I was so scared, I was literally shaking when I knew I had to go. At our hospital, they wouldn’t let you leave before you had a bowel movement, which meant that either you went naturally- or they’d give you a suppository (for this wonderful word I had to google: what is that medicine called that goes up your bum? Funnily enough, others have googled it too, so I got a result immediately!). I chose to go alone. I was so so so scared! I had all kinds of horrors about my stitches coming undone etc. I’ve lived to tell the tale, and the tale is: you have nothing to worry about! If you don’t leave it too long, it’s soft anyway and you won’t even feel it! So really, don’t worry about this- although, I’m pretty sure everyone does- why else would they offer suppositories?? As a side note, the first few times that you urinate will burn slightly, I’m afraid. As with all side effect- this too, shall pass, literally.
8. 3 months postpartum I started losing my hair. This is normal, as any doctor will assure you, but it sure is a lot. In the shower, my hair seemed to fall out in chunks and I was (and still am) afraid of developing a blad patch. Women with shorter hair tend to notice this less. I have very long hair, so I REALLY notice this! My sister and I dyed our hair together a month ago, and when I washed the dye out and she saw all my hair going down the plug hole, she nearly flipped as she thought the hair dye was the problem. I hadn’t warned her that this is another postpartum thing, poor girl. Actually, I should have let her sweat! (I only say this because I know she reads my blog!) I am currently 6 months postpartum and its still happening. Apparently it can happen for up to a year. Yikes!
9. You’ll feel like an emotional wreck! I am a person who never cries, unless someone dies. I’m not the type of woman who cries because my best friend won’t speak to me or because someone criticises me. In fact, if I’m in trouble, I actually start laughing. I cannot hold my grin back! I only cry about important things. Until I gave birth. All of a sudden everything was so soppy to me. I’d cry when I saw my baby, I’d cry when I saw animals on TV, I’d cry when I saw a pretty sunset, heck I would have cried if I’d seen a pretty tree! I was just so emotional about everything. Not sad- just emotional, like I was constantly on my period emotional. This kind of goes away after about 3 months. Then I was back to being the snow-queen, as my mother calls me. Not completely, though, I can cry more easily now than before pregnancy. Like when I watch the trailer of the film “Babies” *sob*.
10. Sex hurts the first time. In fact, it hurts like the very first time. Don’t sweat it, though. Take it slow, never rush yourself, learn to laugh at yourselves and it will be fine in no time. If it hurt forever more, then people wouldn’t have more kids! After around 3 months (yep, it can take that long- or even longer) it will be back to normal. In fact, it could be even better!
So, that’s all I can think of. 10 things that no one seems to tell you about, except me! These were the things that I had never heard of, that made me really worried and I asked my midwife about every one of them. They’re all normal postpartum truths. It’s all part of the journey. Don’t be scared. None of them scarred me for life and I’m still willing to go through them all again. If you have more ‘truths’ that shocked you, post them in the comments box!
I have to tell you a little story of how I found out that I was pregnant. Sienna wasn’t planned, but she was the best surprise that I could have wished for!
So rewind to June 2011. I must have conceived the day before. I woke up (yep, it came on pretty quickly!) and I had tiny little bumps all around the corners of my mouth and around the sides of my chin. They were like “tiny water-filled blisters”. That’s how I described them, anyway. I got in the shower and scrubbed my face with an exfoliator. Afterwards, I put some cortisone cream on the affected area. This is the worst thing that you can do, by the way! The rash just got worse and worse. The blisters would pop, some fluid would seep out, a scab would form and underneath the scab, there would be a new blister. This cycle continued.
I decided to see a dermatologist. Once I arrived to ask for an emergency appointment, the receptionist informed me that the waiting list was 6 weeks and that my rash wasn’t bad enough to be an emergency. I was so upset, I went to the car and started crying. I was so emotional (which was due to all the pregnancy hormones that I didn’t know about!). I went on the Internet on my phone while I was parked and researched my symptoms. Perioral Dermatitis came up first, so I clicked on it. This sounded like what I had.
I made a doctors appointment for the next day. The doctor took a look at my rash, which had become more red and had spread out a bit more. She went away and brought a book back with her. She flipped to a page and showed me a picture. That’s what I had! Perioral Dermatitis. Just what I thought I had. It turns out that when you have this rash you may not rub or pick your skin, you may not wear cream or makeup and you should never ever use cortison on it because this just makes it much, much worse! I asked the doctor what yould have caused it. She said that they don’t really know, but stress and hormones seem to bring it on. I asked for strong antibiotics because I was going on holiday and I didn’t want my skin to be like this. She asked if I was pregnant. I laughed and said no. How could I be pregnant? I was taking the Pill. Okay, every now and again I forgot one, but how bad could that be? My period was 6 days late, but that happened to me all the time, so I didn’t think a thing of it. Sometimes I didn’t get my period for months at a time. Well, my doctor said that she wouldn’t presribe me any antibiotics until I had done a pregnancy test. So I bought one.
I had just been to the loo, so I drank loads of water in order to go again. Then I read that you shouldn’t drink excessively otherwise the results could be false. Oops. So I decided to do the test the next morning. My husband saw the test and asked what it was. I told him the story and he thought it was funny. Neither of us ever thought it would be positive! That evening I rubbed Apple Cider Vinegar on my skin (tip from the Internet). Please never do this!! I woke up with 1st degree burns! The whole top layer of my skin came off and scabbed over. I looked disgusting for weeks.
The next morning I woke up, peed on the stick and put it on the counter. I went and made myself tea and breakfast. I put the TV on and watched the news. Oh, the test results! I forgot about that. (See how unconvinced I was??). I looked over to the test and I saw a few words. I looked closer. “Pregnant. 3 weeks +” What??!? This CANNOT be true! I read the papers that came with the test. A positive test result is never false. If any ammount of pregnancy homone (hCG) in found in urine, then you are definitely pregnant. I felt sick. I started shaking. I burst out in tears. This was not what I expected. Suddenly a million things rushed through my mind. All the things I could have done. All the places I could have travelled to. Not any more. I had to throw up. I was so sick all day. I didn’t know how I was going to tell my husband. He’s a wonderful man, but how was he going to take this kind of news? My husband, as Murphy’s Law would have it, took forever to get home and was late due to a few things that would, otherwise, never happen (visiting a friend in hospital etc.).
When he sat down next to me on the couch I started smiling. I always smile when I’m in trouble. “What’s up?” he askes. He knows me too well. I didn’t beat around the bush, I simply handed him the test. (To those who have never taken a test- it has a lid, so don’t be too grossed out) He read it. Silence. He grins. “I’m going to be a Dad? Are you sure?”. Yep. “Is it a boy or a girl?” (This is a typical man question!) I told him that I had made a doctors appointment for an ultrasound etc. and that I’m definitely sure its positive. That would explain the rash. He was happy- oh my goodness- he didn’t freak out, walk out, cry- he just grinned and was proud to be a Dad! And he has been ever since.
I was so glad that I didn’t take the antibiotics. I was relieved to know what was wrong with my skin. I was shocked at the news. I had terrible morning sickness from that day until I was 16 weeks. I lost 8kg in 2 weeks!
The rash got worse. It stayed with me for the majority of my pregnancy. In the last trimester it slowly went away and didn’t return. So if you have a weird rash- do a test first, don’t rush to the antibiotics. Also, be patient. If you get Perioral Dermatitis then I’m so sorry, but you just have to live with it for a while and learn to laugh at yourself. This will sound so stupid and I know how you feel. I cried for days. You’ll realise when it starts fading that it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Try putting Natural Greek Yoghurt on it. Don’t touch cortisone, don’t exfoliate and never ever use vinegar on it!! Maybe you’re pregnant…?
Before I gave birth I had heard so many horror stories about what it’s like and what can go wrong. I read all the birth announcements on birth boards from the other mothers and some were so scary, which made me scared too.
So I just wanted to give you First Time Moms a bit of courage. I know that things can take a turn for the worse- but if you have a normal birth then don’t be scared because it is NOT as bad as everyone says- I promise!
I gave birth on March 22nd- 4 days after my due date.
I got contractions on March 21st at 1.30pm, they felt like period pains and came every 15-30 mins. I drove to fetch our car from a workshop 30 mins away from home. When I arrived they said that they hadn’t repaired our car yet and they hadn’t even got the parts to repair it! So I had to wait 1.5 hrs :-( I’m really polite, so I was like ‘Ok’. After 1 hour the pain had worsened, so that I had to breath through the contractions- although trying not to let anyone notice. (But, really, who doesn’t notice the 9 month pregnant lady??) The manager saw this and said he’s going to get the guys to hurry up because he has 3 kids and he can see that I’m not feeling so great. Long story, cut short: After 1,5 hrs and a 30 min drive home I call my husband and say I have to pick him up from work… now!
Picked my hubby up from work whilst breathing through contractions, as soon as he gets in the car- they STOP!! So we go for a long walk, a fast walk, eat take-away in the car. They didn’t come back. I watched Desperate Housewives and went to bed in a foul mood because of my false alarm. I downloaded an app for timing contractions while I was lying down. Then I went to sleep, full of disappointment.
At 2:30am I think my waters have broken. Turns out it was just a small leak- they had to break my waters later on. I go back to bed and go on a birth board (board on the Internet where mothers talk about pregnancy etc.) on my phone to research this fluid. Ouch- period pain. Start timing. It was every 10 mins. Go to the kitchen and walk around. Oh my goodness, it’s getting stronger (like really bad period pain). All of a sudden I can’t walk or talk through it! So I’m timing away and I look at my app: 3 mins apart! Uh, isn’t this time to get to the hospital? (As a first time mom, you never really know when you should get going- if it was up to my husband, we would have left yesterday when the mild contractions started! I wake my husband up and say ‘I think it’s time- but don’t panic hunni’. He panics! He packs weird things..
It’s 4am by the time we get to the hospital. Every movement or touch sets off another contraction. They’re still bearable. They put me on the monitors when we arrive. I’m 1cm. I hear another lady screaming so loud giving birth and I nearly cry because I’m so scared. All of a sudden I feel the urge to…poo?! Yes, I got major diarrhea…then vomitting! Too much Information- but heck, it’s a birth story!! They put us in a birthing room at 6am, so I realise that my baby is coming today! Diarrhea and vomitting continue, I’m afraid. My husband falls asleep because I won’t let him touch or talk to me. I do my breathing excercises (so important to breath deep into diaphragm through nose and out through mouth!!). I can only sit at the edge of the bed. Everything else is too painful. Nurse asks if I want an epidural. I say ‘I didn’t want one, but now I’m thinking about it!’ She lets my husband sign the papers for me. Checks me at 7am. Still 1cm! Wth??? I question myself if I’m going to manage because it’s already so painful. My dear hubby sleeps on. Just before 9am I am moaning and groaning. The midwife comes in at 9am. Checks me. Shocked face. ‘You are 8 cm! Empty your bladder, it’s time to push! No epidural for you.’ I vomit. Go to the toilet. As I realise what she’s just said I get a sudden rush of energy and I feel like I can conquer the world. (seriously!) I walk over to the bed (me, who couldn’t even stand up before) and she helps me get my legs up. Midwife breaks my waters (not painful at all, but I’m surprised how hot your waters are- really, like a hot bath!!) I try pushing sideways because my hip cramps up sometimes. Not comfortable. I try pushing normally. This works. I’m pushing and pushing. I see the scissors next to me and think ‘please don’t cut me’. Midwife says I’m pushing wrong- I need to push like I’m doing a poo. Ok… Now they say they can see her head. I say I can’t do this, I can’t do this. “Yes you can! “I’m going to faint!” “No you’re not- just push!!” I push and push. The midwife is helping my perineum widen by moving her finger from side to side under my baby’s head (this is so that they hopefully don’t have to cut me). It doesn’t hurt. You are so euphoric that you don’t actually FEEL much pain- even though your body is in a lot of pain. I feel my baby moving through my pelvis. Craziest, most amazing feeling in the whole world! I feel her head slowly come out and then her body slithers out. “Congratulations, it’s a baby girl!” My husband is staring at us in amazement. I’m amazed at myself and I can’t keep my eyes off of our baby girl. The midwife is so happy with me and says I did so well. For the first time in my life I am so proud of myself- and of my little Sienna, of course. I did it. I gave birth! At 9:39am. And it wasn’t half as bad as anyone said. Immediately after birth I say that I can’t wait to do it again. (Yep, I really said that!) And you know what- I’m serious. I am not scared at all anymore!
Birth is crazy. It’s the best feeling in the world- it’s the most painful, obviously, but it is such a miracle and once you’ve given birth you realise that your body was designed for this!
So all first time moms: you can do it! Don’t be scared- be excited! Capture every moment and try to remember EVERTHING! If I could do it, then you definitely can. I am 23, small frame, had no medicine at all, tore 2nd degree and my baby weighed 8lbs.
Oh, and breastfeeding isn’t difficult either- don’t let anyone put you off! Just be patient. It’s a skill you both have to learn. And it will hurt for the first week. But, normally, it’s fine after that!
And a tip for afterwards: obviously I’m new to being a mom, but so far I have learnt that the first 4 weeks are the hardest. From 3 months everything gets much, much easier. Sex doesn’t hurt anymore, you get so used to your little love, your baby learns to entertain herself for a few mins and every new thing they learn makes you prouder than you’ve ever been in your whole life!
Take each day as it comes, do whatever you can to get yourself through the day at the beginning and just enjoy everything: You have wonderful times ahead!!!
I know this is super super long: but I just wish someone had written this to me in March when I was posting Q’s like: how much does it really hurt? when will I know it’s for real? what is it like for your water to break?
So, now I’m going to bed with my darling- she’s so adorable and nearly sleeps through the night. I can’t wait for you to experience this! For pregnant women: spend lots of time with your partner, go to the movies, have long soaks in the tub and don’t be too impatient (that’s the most difficult).
Congratulations to all the moms out there!
My inspiration was an old friend, called Tegan Ashley. She was just 21 years old and brightened everyone’s day with her wonderful blog. Sadly, she passed away this summer. I only discovered her blog after she was gone. When I read it I remembered why she used to be my best friend and I forgot why we ever lost contact. Keep those that touch your life close to you- you never know when it may be too late.