Hey mamas! Today I would like to introduce you to Erin! Erin works full time as a social media director in Washington, DC, is a mom to a two-year old boy, and is expecting baby boy number two this summer. Currently, she is trying to find time to launch a lifestyle and fashion blog, High-End Hoarder, as a creative outlet to share her personal style, working mom tips and personal stories. Take it away Erin!
I call my birth story the worst of the best. The best because I would never change it and the outcome was a healthy, beautiful, silly baby boy that I love with my whole heart and soul and who is my absolute everything and more. The worst because I had absolutely no idea what giving birth would be like or what I would experience after – what we are calling the fourth trimester. I’m not one to get very personal on social media, but I want to share a little bit of my story because not many people talk about what really happens (or, I should say, could happen) after your beautiful baby is born. There were so many things I would have liked to have known about after my first was born.
Baby Boy was three weeks early. My water broke and I was admitted to the hospital right away. With my epidural in, I was ready to go. Well fourteen hours later, after pushing and pushing, Baby Boy’s head somehow got stuck and I was rushed into an emergency C-section. All of this was scary, of course, BUT I felt prepared. I took all of the birthing classes and knew that a planned vaginal birth could turn into a C-section birth. I was upset and frustrated, of course, but I did understand anything was possible – for some reason, I was OK with that. It was everything that came next that scared me the most!
After giving birth to Baby Boy, I came home ready to take on this new exciting life of mine, but it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought. I not only had to recover from major surgery – the C-section – but I also got to experience what comes after a vaginal birth, too. Let me say, it was quite THE experience. Like I said earlier, I would never ever take it back, but I wish I had known a bit more.
The pain of the C-section was bad. It hurt a lot! I guess I never thought of a C-section as major surgery, but it is and everything hurts, including your legs, back, arms, etc. (parts of your body that you think shouldn’t hurt). It took me three days to get out of the hospital bed and walk to the bathroom without help from the nurse or my husband. I was SO frustrated and confused. Apparently, it takes time to recover! I’m not sure why I thought I’d be fine once I left the hospital, but I wasn’t. I had trouble picking up Baby Boy, walking to the bathroom and even sitting comfortably in a chair. And, don’t think about going up and down steps for a while – that’s a big NO.
Listen to what the doctors and nurses tell you. They truly know what is best – they’ve seen and done this a million times. Let your husband, family, friends, anyone help. It isn’t a sign of weakness. And by all means, take the pain meds and don’t be stubborn. It is safe to take them while nursing – I did. The doctors wouldn’t give them to you if they weren’t. And, make sure to take them on schedule. It’s hard to remember when you have a newborn (I know). I kept an alarm by my bed to remind me. Also, as a side note: as much as you may not want to, take the laxatives, too (you’ll thank me later).
I was in my bed A LOT of the time. I remember taking my son to the pediatrician for his first appointment and crying from the car to the doctor’s office because it hurt so badly to get out of the car and walk a few steps. The pediatrician saw my pain and I’ll never forget what she said. In the moment, it made all the difference. She told me to give myself a break. I had just given birth and on top of that had surgery. She said it would take me at least six months or more to feel like myself again. For some reason, her advice really helped. Maybe because it was coming from someone other than my doctors or family. I was reassured, even though six months felt like an eternity away!
Next, can I just say mesh panties?! So many of my C-section mommy friends don’t even know about the horrifying, but amazing mesh panties! Grab as many of those suckers as you can before you leave the hospital (again, you’ll thank me later), as well as the monster ice packs and padding. I got the honor to wear the mesh panties for about eight weeks. I don’t want to get graphic here, but I got to experience a lot of the fun aftermath of a vaginal birth, too. And, unfortunately, it lasted a bit longer for me than what should normally happen. Though, I think at this point, there is no normal, right?
I bled for about three and a half months and was sent to the ER twice to find out what was going on. My doctors were worried that I was possibly hemorrhaging. The first time I went to the ER, I was sent home and told everything was fine and not to worry – the bleeding should stop, after all, I had a C-section, there shouldn’t be anything leftover, right?! It didn’t stop. The other important lesson I learned during the fourth trimester was to listen to your body. I knew something wasn’t right. Trust your instincts. You know your body the best. Yes, I had a C-section, but that doesn’t solve everything. I went back to the doctor a week later and was told that, yes indeed, a piece of the placenta was still inside causing the bleeding. I had a DNC the next week. Inevitably, the thought of a DNC was scary, but it was a quick procedure and I got to sleep most of the day. I felt extremely guilty having to leave Baby Boy for almost a day, but secretly I welcomed the sleep (and that’s OK). I made sure I pumped enough extra milk for the day and my husband bonded with Baby Boy while I recovered.
Like I said, it was the worst of the best. I would never take it back. I made it through. It did take me awhile to feel like myself again, but I did and I do. Always remember that the days are long, but the years are short. Time goes by so quickly. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment (at least it didn’t for me), but you will look back and realize that your baby is already two or three. I’m super appreciative to share my story here on Lee Anne’s blog in the hopes that I give at least one other mommy reassurance that nothing is normal, every story is different, and we’re all in this together. And, guess what, I’m doing it all over again this summer and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Photography via Lauren Miles
Thanks so much to Erin for sharing her story! If you would like to share your fourth trimester postpartum story on LifeByLee please send an email to email@example.com with your story idea!