When I first fell pregnant with Lewis at 23, my biggest concern was for the birth. Everyone had been full of horror stories, tales of sixty hour labours, emergency C-sections, forceps, stitches and third degree tears, none of which I was looking forward to! And whilst I was so caught up in the thoughts of such a massacre, I gave very little thought to the days, and weeks afterwards, assuming that I would have the baby, pop back into shape and life would go back to normal, albeit with a little less sleep and a lot more responsibility.
Let me just say, boy was I wrong?!
I can distinctly remember phoning a friend a few months later, the only one of my friends who had children at that time, and asking her, “Why the hell didn’t you tell me what really happens afterwards?? All of those conversations we had about internal stitches and following through in labour, and not one mention about what happened next?”. “I didn’t want to scare you!”, she told me, “And anyway, you just kind of forget?”.
Forget? Really? By the time that Lewis was six months old, I wasn’t even close to forgetting the ordeal that my body had been through. Yes the after pains had subsided, and I was no longer in danger of becoming anaemic due to the heavy blood loss, but my boobs still resembled bowling balls, I was a hormonal wreck, and losing my hair at the most alarming rate that I was convinced I was going bald!
I can still remember, having just bought my tenth bottle of sink and drain in-blocker in as many weeks, looking in the mirror at my thinning hair, my receding hairline, a few snapped off tufts sticking up like one of those grass head men we planted as kids, and crying myself stupid. I spent hours researching miracle shampoos and lotions, googling FUE hair transplants, and wondering how long it would take for me to save up and restore my crowning glory. For me, the hair loss was perhaps the biggest surprise of all, and one that nobody had fore-warned me about. And when you’re already feeling down on yourself, and your hormones are all over the place, going bald is enough to send anyone over the edge!
And so I thought that I would share, with the help of my blogging friends, a list of things that we didn’t expect when we were expecting. It’s by no means pretty, infact this post should probably come with a warning, but as I learned in the good old Guides, it’s always better to be prepared!
“Getting less than 2 hours sleep every 24 hours! I thought newborns were supposed to sleep constantly??” – Hello beautiful bear
“It has to be the after pains! I didn’t know anything about them, until it felt like I was in labour all over again!”- Sophie ella and me
“How long I’d still look pregnant for! I was expecting it to go instantly but my belly still looked like I’d got a football stuck up my jumper for ages!” – Twinderelmo
“After I finished breastfeeding I thought my breasts would return to normal. But they are like two pillows that have lost the stuffing!” – Dear bear and beany!!
“How your vagina feels like it’s being repeatedly reversed into by a bus for a good few weeks!” – Raising the rings
“The first poo! Oh my word I didn’t even consider how bad it would be. Having had an episiotomy it was sore down there already and then with the added pressure….ouch!!” – Mummy Miller
“The feeling of my stomach; it was saggy, it was soft, there was no definition in it and it could only be described as a somewhat deflated balloon. I didn’t expect to lose weight immediately, but I expected to be my normal ‘overweight’ self. Instead, my stomach was completely different to anything I could have ever expected!” – Life with boys
“After my emergency section I was shocked to find out that I needed to give myself an injection in my stomach every day for a week and wear anti-embolism socks for weeks afterwards!” – Nomipalony
“Taking so long for me to feel like me again – I completely lost myself.” – Meme & Harri
“Ooh the first wee! That stung like a mofo!” – Stacey in the sticks
“I was not prepared for the smell of the rotting umbilical cord – urgh!” – Thrifty mum
“That it feels like you are grazed down there, and it stings like hell when you have your first wee! And my God, when your milk comes in it is agony!! The is not enough savoy cabbage in the world to help you! I remember sitting in bed, with cabbage in my bra, crying in pain! Now you don’t see THAT in the movies!!” – Kizmetcava
“How much my sex drive would diminish. I thought that we’d be back to it as I had quite a high sex drive but even now 9 months later I don’t really have any desire to do it.” – Mummy to dex
“The blood … lots of blood … so much blood … it resembled a murder scene in the toilet cubicle when all I wanted was to have a wee! Blood all over the floor, I tried to clean it with toilet paper but the more I moved, the more the floor flooded … I was very apologetic to the poor cleaner who had to sort it out! ” – Pack the PJs
“That I might not be able to breastfeed, despite having huge boobs (!), and that I’d have to sit there like a cow on a milking machine whilst a nurse force-fed my baby with a medicine cup. That was just horrible. Made me want to say, forget it, just give him a bottle” – Family makes
“The troll hair. I had been warned about hair loss, but for some reason I hadn’t clocked that it would mean it has to grow back and would stick out all over the place in the process!! Twelve months on I’m still a mess in the hair department!” – Odd Hogg
“Not being able to lay on my front still for a good few weeks after my C-section, and not being able to actually sleep on my bed because I couldn’t roll onto it!” – Candyfloss & dreams
“The empty feeling in my stomach. I knew that obviously baby was going to be born, but I didn’t realise quite how empty I’d feel – If anyone touched my stomach in those first few days I felt so sick!” – Emily and Indiana
“Being terrified to leave him, terrified of what I didn’t know. Just going to the bathroom felt so strange to be away from him. Fast forward 7 years and another baby and today I actually did a happy dance because I have two hours child free!” – Life love and dirty dishes
“How irritated I would be by everyone calling me Mummy. I still have a name!!” – The diary of an unexpectant mother
“How emotional you are afterwards. I was crying about three times a day over nothing. Even a ‘How are you?’ or a hug would set me off.” – Bespoke Buckley
“Loneliness – I never thought about how I would feel being at home all day on my own with the baby, especially as we don’t live close enough to friends or family for them to drop in for an hour, or quick cup of tea to break up the day.” – The Amphletts
“The uterus contractions when breastfeeding after your second being more painful than labour itself! Thank god for Tramadol!” – Real mum reviews
“The self doubt – were we right to let him cry in the Moses basket and not sleep? Were we right to finally give up on that and co-sleep? Was it right to feed on demand? Let him sleep on his tummy? Cuddle him to sleep? So much self doubt!!! Even now, 10 months later!” – Devon Mama
“Feeling like I’d been hit by a bus after a very quick labour and a big baby! I ached from my neck to my feet from pushing and it took a few days until my muscles felt normal again. And the hair loss! I thought I’d avoided it until three months hit and then I looked like I had a receding hairline.” – Baby holiday
I can relate to all of these things, and more besides, and yet despite the pain, the baldness or the raging hormones, I can promise you one thing – afterwards, when it’s all a distant memory, it is totally worth it.
I would love to know what the biggest surprise was for you?