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Let’s talk postpartum — the real stuff

The things that made me feel weak, alone, and worthless. The things no one likes to talk about. The messy things. The gross things. The real things”

Recently, a Frida Mom ad depicting the “reals” of postpartum recovery was banned from playing at the Oscars. There have been news articles about it all over my social media this past week — many of which include a video of the banned ad. If you are out of the loop on this, scroll to the bottom of this post to watch the video now.

I watched this ad several times over the past few days. That might sound odd, because the ad is the same with every view, right? You’re probably thinking, “why did you watch it so many times?”

I’ll tell you why.

I felt seen.

I watched another mom endure the same things I did during my own postpartum recovery. The things that made me feel weak, alone, and worthless. The things no one likes to talk about. The messy things. The gross things. The real things.

I watched the mom in this ad over and over again. I admired her strength, her grace, and her perseverance. I yearned so badly to help her, even if it meant simply reassuring her that everything she is going through is normal and that it will soon pass.

As I watched this mom again and again, an amazing thing happened — I began to see myself. I was no longer watching a stranger struggle through the woes of postpartum — I was watching me. I was admiring my own strength. My own grace. And my own perseverance.

I know I have shared a bit about my own postpartum journey in previous posts, but those stories have mostly focused on the mental and emotional aspects of postpartum recovery.

This ad — and the feelings it gave me — have inspired me to share the raw and messy details of my physical recovery with you — especially the things that I was not prepared for after childbirth.

(Please keep in mind that every mama’s postpartum journey looks (and feels) different. Some of the things I experienced, other mom’s have not. Similarly, there are things I did not experience that other mom’s have.)

1. Hello hemorrhoids!

Pushing a large child out of my not-so-large-lady-parts resulted in the most painful hemorrhoids. I could not sit on hard surfaces for at least six weeks and stool softener was my dearest comrade until I no longer feared going number-two in the loo. I really should have invested in Tuck’s Pads stock, too — I went through those babies like they were going out of style.

And these suckers don’t just disappear, either, Sure, they become less painful and swollen, but they’re with us for the long haul, mamas. Isn’t that just beautiful?

2. Just a few quick stitches here…and there.

Not only did I leave the delivery room with monster-sized hemorrhoids, but I also left with several stitches from a double episiotomy. If you don’t know what an episiotomy is, go do a quick google search. If that seems a little too risky (because you never know what photos are going to pop up), let’s just say it’s when the doc uses medical-grade scissors to create a larger opening for baby to come out of. Oh and after you finish delivering your baby (which is already super-duper painful), you get to lay there (and watch) while they sew you up.

Ouch.

Yeah that was painful, messy, and I still shiver thinking about it.

3. What a bloody good time this is!

So. Much. Blood.

I bled for almost twelve weeks after delivering our daughter. During that time, disposable underwear and ginormous pads (who am I kidding, it was basically a diaper) were a part of my everyday attire.

And this wasn’t just blood here and there. Oh no. It was gushes of blood and clots that resembled golf balls. And that stuff got everywhere. My least favorite part about the bleeding was when I was stuck somewhere (usually nursing the baby) and felt a gush of blood exit my body. Having to just sit there in the warm stickiness — now that was just disgusting.

4. Let’s talk toilet traumas.

I was terrified of using the toilet during the postpartum period. Nothing good ever came from using the toilet. I would hold my bladder as long as I could stand just to avoid experiencing another traumatizing trip to the toilet.

As I mentioned, the Frankenstein hemorrhoids were definitely off-putting, but they were not the only monsters lurking. The stitches (and also the overall trauma of a baby exiting my body through my vagina) also made for a not-so-fun time in there.

It burned. It all just burned. As soon as the pee exited, my lady-parts were on fire. All I could do was use a peri bottle to shoot some cold water down there, but let’s be honest, that only does so much. I still wanted to cry out every time I relieved myself.

5. Nipples…are you still there?

I breastfed my daughter. For those of you mamas who have breastfed, the heading pretty much sums this postpartum woe right up. But for those of you who have not (or could not) breastfeed, you may not be as familiar with the crazy things that go on with your nipples during those first few weeks postpartum.

Bleeding. Cracking. Chaffing. Throbbing. Bruising. Leaking.

My nipples eventually just went numb — probably from all the trauma my little boob-sucking infant caused them. I used ice packs, nipple creams, and soothing gel pads to ease the pain when I could, but since the kid wanted to eat every hour — there was little relief to be had for my poor nipples.

6. Hey uterus, could we cool it with the contractions? Thx.

I get that our uterus continues to contract during postpartum in order to shrink down to its pre-pregnancy size. Science, yeah. But, come on! Haven’t we had enough?

It’s painful enough to breastfeed during those first few weeks postpartum. Why do we also have to endure uncomfortable (and sometimes quite painful) contractions at the same time?

I remember there being a few time where these postpartum contractions took my breath away. Meanwhile, I am trying my best to hold the super-awkward-football-style nursing position I had my daughter in (because that was the only way she would nurse properly for the first month). So basically I had to just sit there, grit my teeth, and endure it.

7. Sweet succulents, what is that weird sensation?!

This one is basically a catch-all. I had so many weird sensations during postpartum recovery — and not the good kind of weird, either.

Sharp, shooting pain through my pubic bone, a dull aching pain throughout my pelvis, a constant throbbing in my lower back from the epidural site — just to name a few. Not to mention the general soreness you feel after giving birth that lasts for at least a full week.

I remember feeling like I had finished a triathlon and a body-building competition all in one day. Every muscle ached and my entire body was beyond fatigued.

Here is to strong women. May we be them. May we know them. May we raise them.

Unknown

8. Bladder control? What’s that?

Since I was basically wearing a diaper for those first couple of months postpartum, bladder leakage wasn’t too big of a deal quite yet. My pelvic floor was absolutely obliterated. Any slight cough, sneeze, or sudden movement could cause the floodgates to open. Not gross at all, right?!

Unfortunately, this postpartum goody doesn’t just go away like some of the other ones do. My daughter is sixteen months old now and I still struggle with bladder control. When I first started working out around twelve weeks postpartum, I had to wear pantyliner while I did cardio or any sort of quick movement. Eventually I gained enough strength in my pelvic floor to ditch the pantyliner during workouts, but accidents still happened (and still do) occasionally.

9. I’m having a swell time, thank you for asking.

So I was pretty swollen right before I gave birth to my daughter — my hands, feet, ankles, face — you name it and it was probably swollen. I thought this would just go away once the baby popped out.

HA.

I swelled up even more after giving birth my daughter. I was induced at 40w6d, and the fluids they were pumping into me definitely contributed to the MASSIVE amount of swelling I endured. My feet and hands were unrecognizable. And my nose — oh my — was no longer my nose. It was huge! My entire face looked and felt extremely puffy. For me, this swelling lasted close to two weeks postpartum. I elevated when I could, but caring for a newborn leaves little time for rest.

10. Ice, ice, baby.

I feel it’s important to mention a mom’s most beloved pal during the postpartum period — ice. I have mentioned ice a few times here and there in this post already, but I would really like to emphasize the importance of ice during this time.

I iced everything.

My face, my neck, my nipples, my back, my feet, and yes — my entire downstairs region. I wore an ice pack in my underwear everyday for the first few weeks. Oh, and they actually make ice packs designed to snuggly fit in a mama’s postpartum diaper. Isn’t that convenient?

What else did I do with ice? Eat it. I was so thirsty all of the time, and sometimes water just didn’t cut it.

11. Don’t sweat it — or do sweat it, a lot.

I felt so unbelievably warm during the postpartum period. I sweat like I had never sweat before. And I don’t mean tiny droplets of sweat around my hairline — no — I am talking pools of nasty, smelly, dude-sweat all over my body. If there was an area of skin that could sweat, it was sweating.

And my deodorant was no match for the stank, and showers just made me sweat more. It was probably best I was hiding out at home for those first few weeks after giving birth.

Take one breath, one day at a time. It won’t always be this hard.”

Unknown

3 thoughts on “Let’s talk postpartum — the real stuff”

  1. I resonate with this so much! I love reading your blog, Sam! I remember standing in our room and literally peeing my pants. Not leaking-but a seriously full on pee and soaking everything. I was so embarrassed but I really had no way of controlling it. And the engorgement when your milk comes in! It’s such a drastic and wild change! All mamas need to read this in preparation for what postpartum really looks like!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just like you said, the ad made me feel “seen”. And in a way, honored. No one usually talks openly about this. There is so much graphic sexual stuff on TV all the time that is completely unrealistic and basically shaming to everyday women. I think the postpartum body is beautiful, and the sacrifices a woman makes are beautiful…we need to start realizing it’s not all about the washboard abs! Thank you for this thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

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