At least once I day, I think to myself, “I can’t believe I actually gave birth to this little creature!”. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mom and hoped that would mean I would get to experience pregnancy. The part I wasn’t so much looking forward to? Getting said baby out of my body. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I sometimes can’t believe that I actually have that experience under my belt! I’ll share more when I share his birth story in full, but it was a really beautiful experience. I wouldn’t want to experience the physical aspect of it everyday, but the moments leading up to and then finally meeting our son while he was laying on my chest are some of the most cherished minutes of my life, thus far. To have been able to share it with Mike right by my side is something I will never, ever forget. I get teary eyed just thinking about it!
With giving birth, comes a recovery journey. I didn’t know what to expect of postpartum recovery. Some of that is due to the fact that I’ve never been through it before, so I had no frame of reference. Additionally, everyone has a different experience – everyone’s labor and delivery is different, as well as pain/discomfort tolerance level, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all description or story of postpartum recovery. I’ll share more when I share Liam’s birth story, but my delivery itself was not too bad. I pushed for about an hour and had a very minor tear that required a couple stitches. During my stay in the hospital, I was quite sore and would have to move (walk, sit, change positions) very gingerly and carefully. Each day home, the soreness level would go down a little bit and I started feeling better down there. One of the big factors in my recovery was the ability to rest once we got back home. When you give birth, your body goes through some incredible (and insane!) things, so allowing yourself (if you can) the space and grace to rest and heal is so important.
The hospital had all the essentials necessary for recovery during our stay. While I didn’t end up using much of what I brought home from there (since I had my own stash of products ready for me), I did appreciate learning how to best care for myself and what to use while I still had the assistance of nurses. Right after delivering Liam, the nurses got me all set up with pads, the mesh underwear, and some pain relief spray. The first time I used the restroom, I called a nurse in to help me and she showed me how to use the ice packs, pain relief spray, and what to line the mesh underwear with. I highly recommend utilizing the nurses while at the hospital, especially with aftercare – that’s what they’re there for!
Upon returning home, I switched from using the hospital supplies to the things that I had pre-purchased for myself. I did some research prior to delivering and bought some things to have on hand at home. DO THIS! You don’t want to have to have someone run out to the store for you right as you’re coming home to get supplies.
For the first week or so, I wore Depends exclusively. They were much more comfortable than the mesh underwear the hospital provided and I felt secure (and that I wouldn’t leak) in them. For the first few days, I would line the Depends with a maxi pad, just to be sure that I didn’t leak through the Depends onto my sheets or clothes. After about a week or so, when the bleeding seemed to subside a bit and I felt more comfortable knowing what sort of protection I needed, I switched to wearing regular hipster underwear with a high-absorbency maxi pad. While the Depends served a very real purpose, it was nice to make the switch to regular underwear!
For pain relief, three things were essential for me: ice packs, Dermoplast, and Perineal Liners. The ice packs are amazing, especially in the hospital! I used them for the first several days at home, as well, especially if I’d been moving around a bit and could feel my soreness. Dermoplast spray was used every single time I changed my maxi pad or underwear. It really does work well! Possibly my favorite thing were these perineal witch hazel liners. They’re cooling and help to reduce swelling and pain. I would re-line my maxi pad with one after every trip to the bathroom.
For cleansing, two things came in handy for me: a peri bottle and flushable wipes. Before each trip to the bathroom, I would fill the peri bottle up with warm water and use it to gently clean. The flushable wipes (which really shouldn’t be flushed – throw them in a trash bag) were great for cleansing and were more gentle than regular toilet paper.
I kept a trash bag in our bathroom for the first week and a half or so, as I was going through supplies frequently. I would just remove whatever was used and put it right in the trash bag.
While we’re getting personal about things, I highly recommend taking a stool softener for the first time you have to use the bathroom post-birth. The hospital added it to my daily intake of vitamins and pain medicine, which I’m so glad for! The last thing you want to do after birthing a human is have to push something else out, so stool softener is your friend, trust me!
The physical healing from birth is just a small part of my postpartum journey. The hormone changes, emotions, struggles, sleep deprivation, incredible responsibility to suddenly care for his tiny being, and so much more have been part of my experience since the day we welcomed Liam into our family. It is not easy – nobody ever said it was – and there are good days and not-so-good days. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, joyful, scared, excited, sad, and happy…and sometimes you’ll feel good and bad things simultaneously! Personally, I have found a lot of strength in being honest about my experience and what I’m feeling with Mike and my loved ones, as well as reminding myself that I am the best mom for my baby, even when I don’t feel like I have the strength or ability to be that for him.
If you are also going through postpartum or will be soon, know that you’re not alone in whatever it is that you feel – someone, somewhere has felt the same thing you’re feeling. More than likely, a lot of moms have felt it. Reach out to someone that you can be honest with and give yourself and your baby grace. You’re figuring it all out together!