motherhood

What they don’t tell you about having a baby

A few days ago, I went to a party for a friend’s birthday. I was talking to two of my close friends (one pregnant, one not) and somehow, we got on the subject of having babies. More specifically, what happens to your body when you have a baby. Even more specifically, what happens to you downstairs area when you have a difficult birth experience like I did (i.e. pushing for 4 hours, getting forceps used on you, and all of what that entails). They asked questions, I obliged with real answers.

Now, I won’t go into any details here, because it’s not pretty. I’ll just say that my non-pregnant friend got faint, hearing what happened to my ooh-ah (woo-ah? oo-aah? I’m not used to talking about my vagina is such a public way, you’ll have to excuse me) when I had my dear, beautiful, large-headed, 8-pounder son. As I said, it wasn’t pretty.

Later on, that conversation really made me think about the whole “giving birth” experience. I realized how we, as women, are uninformed about what really happens to your body. I mean, we go to prenatal classes, we are told about the whole process, the contracting, the pushing. We are told about how they care for the baby at the hospital. We are told how we’ll take care of that baby when he comes home (to a degree). But no one tells you about you. Or at least no one told me.

When I was in the hospital for 36 hours after having Sam, I was amazed at the extent to which the staff checked on the welfare of the baby (he was great, by the way) compared to how little anyone cared about how me, as the mother with pretty traumatic injuries, was doing. It’s all about the baby. I left that hospital not knowing in the slightest about the intense pain I was to feel every time I sat down for the next 6 weeks, about the risk of infection. I had no idea about how I would come to almost resent my child every time he asked to be fed, because sitting down would just be too damn painful. I had no idea about the incontinence that would become part of my life for months on end. I had no idea about the emotional scarring, the sense of shame, and everything else that came alongside the physical pain.

And you know what? Even though I know having all that information would have scared the hell out of me before living it (like it did my friend), I still wish someone had told me. I wish I had been prepared. I wish I had know going into this that other women had lived this and felt the same. Because I know now I was in no way the only one to live through this. And I know women have had it far worse than I did.

I still wish I’d known. It may have gone exactly the same way. But at least I would have been informed.

Of course in the end, I got this:

baby samuel

All worth it, wouldn’t you say?

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