When I decided to have a homebirth, I did tons of research. I wanted to know everything I could about having a baby naturally at home. I was set on that goal and worked physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout my pregnancy to make my labor manageable. I did it. I made it through and although I wouldn’t say it was a piece of cake, it was doable. It was empowering. I did it.
What I had not prepared for was how I would feel after the birth. Nowhere in the books I read did anyone talk about those things. No one explained to me exactly what I was in for. I can say for myself that recovering from labor is worse than labor in every way. Why didn’t I prepare?!
No one told me how I was going to walk like a grandma for at least a week. Even though I had no complications and required no stitching, I was still at least 90 years old once I stood. And if I wasn’t standing, I was sitting so far back to put the pressure off my sore parts that I ended up with an achy tail bone. There was one chair in my house that seemed to make it better. I tried my best to live in that chair for a week.
No one told me how much I would loath the idea of going to the bathroom. I mean, to the point that I didn’t want to drink too much water in fear of having to go every hour. Even with a warm peribottle, it was still a nightmare. The good thing was the pain lasted a few days, not a few weeks.
No one told me how much breastfeeding would hurt at first. But more than it hurting, it was overwhelming. It seemed to be needed constantly. And the way you feel when your milk actually “comes in”. Woah. And while you are getting used to the “right latch”, it is painful and frustrating. You find yourself dreading the next feeding. It took awhile, but we did get it. It was hard and I had some rough moments (we can talk about that another time), but we made it through.
But the biggest thing that no one told me was how crazy my emotions would be. You see, all the pain and discomfort I went through after labor lasted at the most 2 weeks. That isn’t a whole lot of time. But you are healing while attempting to take care of a newborn. You are healing while attempting to be a wife. You are healing while attempting to feel like a human. And your emotions are going haywire. Even though it only lasted me the rough part of 2 weeks, due to the fluctuation of hormones, it felt like 2 years. The end was never in sight. No one told me to keep my hormones in check. I let myself feel it all – and I was pretty miserable sometimes.
It took me sitting in my sitz bath one night, right before another dreading early feeding, to really analyze myself. I needed to get motivated! Where was the strong woman who gave birth without hardly a sound until the end? Where was I? I had to push through all the lies I was telling myself about my new body and my new daughter and my new life. I had to start fresh. I asked God to help me.
I got out of that tub and fed Little W. She latched well. I attempted to not wince as I crawled into bed. I cuddled up next to my husband some during the night. I woke up every few hours for a fresh feed and diaper change with a little more energy. It wasn’t fully immediate, but I knew I had figured it out. I was in control of my emotions. Those crazy hormones weren’t going to mess with me anymore.
If I could go back and give myself some info and a pep talk, I would say to treat healing like contractions. You could either get swept away from the pain and spend the “down time” recuperating, or you could tackle the pain before it happens and get on top of it. Know the end is in sight and it will come, no matter what your emotions are telling you. Focus on getting healed up, not the discomfort of not being healed yet.