I started this when I was 3 1/2 weeks postpartum. So, if some things sound untimely, that’s why. 🙂 Finally got the opportunity to finish it this week.
Oh how pregnancy changes the body! Pre- and post-birth! While I was pregnant, I didn’t mind feeling like a whale all that much. I knew it was temporary, and it was for a great reason. Post-birth, I’m ready to be back to normal. I know “normal” now will be a different normal than before, and I’m okay with that. However, it does not mean that I have to sit back and say, “Oh, pregnancy ruined my body, pass the ding dongs!” (Do they still make those?) These are just a few things I experienced (or am currently experiencing) that I didn’t quite feel prepared for! Here’s your prep-guide to everything I didn’t know about pregnancy and the weeks following!
So they tell you (and it’s quite obvious) that at some point (5 months for me) you won’t be able to sleep on your stomach anymore. No one tells you that you won’t be able to sleep on your back either! After countless nights of waking up feeling like I’d had 18 shots of tequila and then sitting up and all was normal, I was told by my midwife I can no longer sleep in my back. My precious darling was sitting on a vein that goes up my back to my head any time I was in my back! That cut the circulation off and made me feel drunk until I moved off of my back to allow blood to flow freely through the vein again. So for 5 months (yes, 5….I was pregnant 10 MONTHS, y’all. Do the math), I was enslaved to my left side or right side. Let me tell you, on top of the other trauma your hips are enduring with pregnancy, they do not appreciate being your only option for sleep. Talk about pain!!
I was lucky most of my pregnancy and I didn’t get accumulate any more stretch marks than I had before pregnancy. I didn’t have any on my belly, which was my biggest worry. My mother didn’t get any stretch marks on her stomach during pregnancy, and they say stretch marks are genetic because skin elasticity is genetic. However, THREE days before Vivi was born, stretch marks appeared above and below my belly button! Ugh! If she’d been on time…or even only 1 week late instead of 2, I wouldn’t have any! Well, even though its a bummer I got them, I’m not nearly as upset about it as I thought I would be. When I see them in the mirror, I’m not disgusted. They’re my baby battle scars. Proof that I created a life. Proof that my girl was in my belly and I gave birth to the best gift that’s ever been given to me. While I hope they at least fade one day, I’m okay with them being there. A reminder of my most precious gift. (On a side note, the linea nigra also appeared in my last days of pregnancy. So weird! It’s still there!)
Something that I went through during pregnancy that shocked me was, as some of you realized, I battled with some pretty awful depression for about the first six months. I hate it that I went through those times. I want to look back at my pregnancy and say how overjoyed and excited I was the entire time, but I wasn’t. I was sad, angry, confused and depressed for the majority of it. I have to realize that I can’t change the past. This is my story. This was my pregnancy and there is nothing I can do to change it.
I want to tell you ladies out there that, while I don’t know how “normal” it is, I battled depression during my pregnancy. If you are, make sure someone close to you knows and make sure you share your thoughts and feelings openly with them (my husband and my best friend were my confidants) and secondly, it will pass. I was depressed for months. I’d go through this vicious cycle. I was depressed and sad…then I’d feel depressed about being depressed because I have so many friends trying that would be overjoyed for a baby, I have no right to be sad. My best friend was ecstatic about her baby. Why couldn’t I be? Why couldn’t I take this blessing from God and embrace it? I felt guilt. Don’t do that to yourself. Pregnancy hormones are crazy. They make some people sick, some people nuts, some people over emotional. For me, they made me depressed. Luckily, this eventually passed. Around the end of October and beginning of November I finally started to see through the fog. I saw how ridiculous it was for me to cry at my 20 week sonogram. I realized how happy I was to be having a girl after all. I started to get excited about names and holding her in my arms. Slowly the fog lifted. By December I remember feeling like what I considered a “normal” pregnant woman should feel like. Happy, anxious, excited and ready.
I was told that when you give birth, all those aches, pains and other pregnancy-related things disappear almost the minute you give birth. Before, I thought, “Yeah right! There’s no way.” I realized about 30 minutes after birth that the groin muscle that ailed me so bad in my last months of pregnancy no longer hurt! Then I realized I no longer had arthritis hands…and my back didn’t hurt…and my shoulders were relaxed! I could walk, turn over and sit up without pain! I was in shock! All that constant pain, magically gone! I was so excited.
Most of the pain did not return. However, the pain in my groin pain with a vengeance about 3 days after she was born. A few days after that, so did the pains and aches in my hands. Only the pain in my hands is worse than it ever was during pregnancy. In the mornings, I have to pick Vivienne up with my forearms because I cannot grab her with my hands due to the pain. By mid morning, the pain is better but it continues to hurt throughout the day. That is a real bummer, I tell ya. Hopefully it goes away with time because about the only thing they can do is have me take ibuprofen.
The pain in my groin started out not as bad as it was during pregnancy. Over the last few weeks it has gotten worse and worse so I saw my midwife about it last Friday. It turns out, the pain is due to an infection in my lymph nodes. I’m on old school 10-day 4 times a day antibiotics so its taking time, but the pain is going away slowly but surely. I’ve been ordered two more weeks of recovery to ensure the pain and infection subside before it gets any worse.
Prior to having a baby, I didn’t think it took that long to recover form a “standard, uncomplicated vaginal delivery.” I seriously thought maternity leave was a couple weeks recovery and 4 weeks baby bonding and vacation. Boy was I wrong! At week 3.5, I really understood how and why recovery is 6 weeks long. I still couldn’t walk more than 100 feet without my undercarriage screaming at me in pain. Running? Forget it! I tried to run from my garage to the bedroom to grab something because we were running late and I nearly fell to my knees in pain. That was a very, very bad idea. Very bad. Very. It was awful. I hobbled the rest of the way to the bedroom and limped my way back to the car. After that, I wasn’t even sure I’d be recovered at 6 weeks! Luckily at 6 weeks I am mostly recovered!
Weight loss has been very good to me. I attribute it all to breastfeeding. At nearly 4 weeks postpartum, I was 3 lbs from my pre pregnancy weight. Please don’t hate me. Trust me in that, even though the weight is the same, it is not at all distributed the same. None of my pants fit (except one pair of jeans I used to have to wear a belt with but now fit snugly) and only some of my shirts fit (mostly tshirts). I cannot wait to get back to Crossfit and be able to fit into all my clothes again. (Yet another misconception I had. Thought I could work out 2 or 3 weeks postpartum. WRONG!)
Also, having no period for 9 months (well, 10 in my case) is great. However, you don’t think about the 5-6 weeks of postpartum bleeding that make up for half of it and THEN after, you have to constantly change the blasted breast pads! Which is just as annoying as having a period.
So basically, pregnancy does crazy things to you and I don’t think anything can really prepare you for it. Every body is different. Every pregnancy is different. Your body will do things that mine didn’t and vice versa. My second pregnancy will probably be totally different from my first. I wish that I hadn’t been so concerned with what is “normal” and just embraced my pregnancy for what it was. MINE. I would have had a much more relaxing pregnancy if I had just experienced it for what it was. Next time, I’ll know better. Nothing is normal and everything is normal. I needed to stop comparing my pregnancy to everyone else and just enjoy the peaks and valleys of my pregnancy. Regardless of anyone else’s experience.
I had some pretty significant depression during my pregnancy. That was tough. I felt like a bad person. I didn’t know anyone else that had been depressed during pregnancy so I thought this was abnormal. I was supposed to be happy and excited, not sad and depressed. Also, I did not have morning sickness. Instead, I had a meat aversion for most of my pregnancy. I’m not sure which is worse! I didn’t have any major swelling until, literally, the last day or two of pregnancy. I could barely walk for about the last 6 weeks of pregnancy due to a groin muscle in a ridiculous amount of pain. I didn’t eat nearly as well as I had envisioned myself eating pre-pregnancy. I’m still mad at myself for that. I was also not as active as I wanted to be. A lot of this was due to the fact I wasn’t eating enough to stay conscious through an entire workout. I was lucky to make it to my appointments at work without passing out!
There! That’s my pregnancy. It was normal. For me. My pregnancy experience is not normal for you. You will have and create your own normal. And you’ll look back on it and be proud of your pregnancy because it’ll be yours. Be proud of it! You made (or are making) a tiny human! That’s pretty freaking amazing right there.
In the end, my pregnancy was what it was. It wasn’t normal, but it also wasn’t unusual. It’s my story. It’s my story of how my precious girl came to be. I’m proud of my story. I’ve got a bright, bouncing happy baby girl to show for it. It is my badge. My badge proving that I created life. I gave life. Be proud of your badge. However “normal” or not that it may be.