This languished as a draft so long, I forgot I hadn’t published it. A year later, here’s what happened to me and my body after I gave birth. Warning, it’s a bit graphic, and my anatomy is discussed.
So, we know 80 ended up in the nursery under observation. One of the reasons why I didn’t freak out was because I was busy with my own minor woes.
Aw, there’s my sweet, cross-eyed baby. I’d like to think she’s making this face on purpose, like someone just asked her “What was being birthed like?”
I’ll remind you that I was stellar at giving birth. I was a champ. One thing I remembered to do was drink a lot of water, keeping myself hydrated. I figured there’d come a point where I wouldn’t want to have anymore, so I really stocked up. Really. I drank a BUNCH of water. This was my undoing, as I forgot to pee. I think it’s because there was so much going on down there, pressure and the like, that I didn’t pee all that water I’d drank.
This didn’t present itself as a problem until after 80’d been born, it was decided that she needed a bit more care (over in the nursery), and the midwife and nurses had time to attend to me. They were concerned that my uterus wasn’t contracting (it’s supposed to), which meant I was still bleeding a lot. They gave me a shot of Pitocin to help my uterus contract down. They felt my abdomen and realized that my bladder was HUGE, and blocking my uterus from shrinking down. I tried to pee, with no luck. I’d experienced this before, where you have to hold it so long it kind of goes on strike and refuses to open for anything.
So, they had to use a catheter, and that’s when the LITER of liquid that was holding up my progress was removed. Whew. The midwife attended to the tiny tears (one internal, and two symmetrical ones between my inner and outer labia) that required a stitch apiece. I was asked if I wanted to see the placenta, to which I said YES. The midwife brought it over, and explained what part was attached to me and what part was attached to 80. She said that it’s the only organ we can generate that is meant to be discarded. She showed me a giant vein on it, that is called “The Tree of Life”, which she said with some reverence. (If you’d like to see my ACTUAL placenta, which shows off the Tree of Life pretty well, click here.) She then told me that I had done an amazing job, I was really strong to have been able to listen to my body and to her, and she was honored to have participated.
I later asked A’Nova if that was the normal cheerleading speech to new moms, and she said no, that I had a particularly smooth birth and not every one can follow the midwife’s coaching (especially when it’s to stop pushing when there’s a baby head half out of you). It’s really hard to not feel overly proud of this, especially since most of my friends have NOT had a smooth birth.
A few hours later, I still couldn’t pee, so they left a cath in overnight so my bladder could get back to sane proportions (note: having the cath applied wasn’t pleasant, but after that it wasn’t much of a bother, and totally worth being able to pee). My uterus shrank just fine — mama-hormones from nursing help shrink it too, so whenever 80 nursed, I’d feel this warm, low feeling spread across my belly, right under her. It felt awesome. It was ecstasy (also, like Ecstasy). It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had, ever. I experienced similar (but lessened) hits of this when nursing 80 for the first few days. (Your body releases more endorphin when you nurse. I was known to make a just-shot-heroin mmmmmmm noise.)
Once I was in the post-birth recovery room, and saw myself in a mirror, I realized that I had burst blood vessels across my jaw, from pushing so hard.
I also now had a baby on the outside, which left my abdomen looking like I was maybe 6 months pregnant. I was worried about how I’d think about my body, since books warned that I might be disappointed. I wasn’t! I kind of liked my doughy, soft belly. It decreased at a reasonable pace, so I didn’t get too upset about not fitting into pre-pregnancy jeans.
Another thing they just don’t bring up in popular culture portrayals of birth is that you normally bleed for weeks. It doesn’t hurt (it’s was like having a long-ass period), and tapered fairly quickly. The only thing was, I tried cramming myself into pre-preg jeans, then had a liiiiittle more bleeding than usual. Heh. So, don’t do that. Probably not a great idea to smoosh your uterus.
That’s about it for birth-related body stuff. Ask any questions you’d like in the comments and I’ll update to include answers. Ask away, I’m not shy.