I am fascinated by how quickly the pain of childbirth fades. Even though I’ve done this four times, I still can’t believe that (for me, at least) all the pain leading up to the birth is practically gone seconds afterwards. In the days following, I can vaguely remember this or that distinct painful moment, but the overall intensity is already mostly gone.
What does stay, thank goodness, is the triumphant feeling of “I did it!” I faced myself, the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind, body and soul, surrendered and came out the other side. Giving birth is so groovy. 🙂
As I process the experience and my thoughts/feelings surrounding it, I am struck by both the similarities and the differences from my previous experiences. It’s surprisingly easy, even when I know I shouldn’t, to get caught up in the “this is how my body does things”. For example, I knew that my pregnancy with Milo had been different from all my other pregnancies, but I still expected (no matter how much I told myself not to) a 12 hour labor, which was my labor time with two previous children. Guess what? It was right about 12 hours. I also expected to start laboring in the evening or night-time and have a morning or late morning birth. On this point, though, I was wrong. Labor started in the afternoon and Milo arrived at 2:51am. So, these are good testaments to not getting stuck in the “this is the way I do things” loop!
I have also noticed that I’m slower to feel “normal” after this birth. While the labor and birth went quite smooth, I did have some issues afterwards (handled quickly and competently by the wonderfully skilled midwives) and that knocked me on my butt. We planned ahead of time for me to stay down after the birth and not do much at all, but this is the first time I’ve felt physically down afterwards. I had a headache for several days. The first week I did basically nothing, except lay around and nurse Milo. My wonderful husband waited on me hand and foot, so I could build my strength back up and not have to worry about anything…even eating! He brought me food at regular intervals, made sure I took all my supplements, kept my water bottle full and reminded me to take my temperature regularly.
It’s been two weeks now, and while I feel mostly physically recovered, I’m still tired and definitely overwhelmed easily. I HATE feeling overwhelmed, it makes me want to scream “I’m NOT a wuss!” This is silly, though, because it only makes sense that I would have those feelings and it certainly doesn’t make me a wuss or anything else. Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed when the newborn is crying and the toddler is tugging on my pants because he just wants a “little sip please” of mama’s milk and the 9 year-old is pouting because he wants to have ramen for dinner instead of pizza and the 12 year-old is stomping off because she can’t go to her friend’s house for the fifteenth night in a row and the house is messy and…and….AAHHH!!! So, really, I should give myself a break and not feel bad. We all should! Good grief, it’s amazing we ever manage to accomplish anything. As my friend likes to say (I think it came from an author), “You’re postpartum for the rest of your life.” Yep.