There is no one perfect birth and postpartum model

September 12 | Guest post by MetalMaggie
9 months pregnancy coloring book by LaSoffittaDiSte

If you have never had a child, nothing prepares you for what your body goes through. Unless someone tells you. And even then, everyone is different. Just like being pregnant, there is no guarantee that your birth and postpartum experience is going to be the same as anyone else's.

I was sore. I was exhausted, my legs felt like I had run a half marathon (again). I was starving. I wanted to see my baby. I was bleeding, they kept pressing my belly to get all that out. I had cramps everywhere. I didn't know if I needed to pee or if I had peed, I couldn't control it. By the time I showered, my husband had to stand guard in the shower to make sure I didn't fall. I started leaking milk. I had to learn how to breast pump.

After I was discharged and told to take care of myself, we stayed close to the hospital. I had cramps and pain. I couldn't sit for very long. My breasts would hurt like hell if I didn't pump every three hours. It hurt to walk. It hurt when I got in and out of my car. I thought I would never be able to poop because either I'd burst one of two things — stitches and/or hemorrhoids. I was taking Iron, a stool softener, vitamins, and ibuprofen. I had to eat enough and stay hydrated to pump enough milk for the baby. And my milk supply slowly started to decrease.

It was all so much.

I would get sad randomly, cry for no reason, and felt stressed that my baby wouldn't take my breast. I felt pressured when one of her nurses thought I didn't "want to breastfeed" when it was already decided that she did better with a bottle.

Then, there's the part that people may hate me for: my weight. I lost all the baby weight. Fast. My stomach went back down to pre-pregnant size almost immediately. I had done absolutely nothing — no exercise, no real diet, just pumping milk (it burns calories.) And yet… my mom had the same experience, without pumping milk.

And I have nothing to explain to anyone — nothing to feel bad about, nothing to complain of, and nothing to apologize for: I had a baby. My body reacted the way it was going to react. Regardless of what has happened to millions of women, tons of my friends and family, even my mother; my pregnancy and post-partum experience is unique to me.

I feel like everyone that goes through a pregnancy has this perfect model that they think they need to fit into:

Eat everything, get really big, don't lift anything more than three pounds, waddle when you walk, pee every five seconds, take monthly pictures of your stomach so people can see how much weight you have gained, have a maternity photography session, have a huge baby shower, know exactly what brand of diapers, wipes, bottles, butt paste, stroller, car seat you will have, accept that boys are identified with blue clothes and girls are identified with pink clothes, pick a name that has the best meaning, have a bag ready for the hospital, cry or get angry for no reason, have a vaginal birth with no anesthesia, know exactly how to care for a child because it should be in your blood once you have one, become a Stay at Home Mom, know what the hell tummy time is and how often to do it, take care of the umbilical cord until it falls off… The list goes on and on.

Why should anyone care about a perfect pregnancy model? They shouldn't. Why should it bother me? It really shouldn't. Is there judgement sometimes? Always and will be forever. Why do other mothers feel like they need to impose on how a new mom feels about motherhood? Most don't, but there are those who do.

The moral of the story: I love my daughter with all my heart. I love my husband the same way I have loved him always. I love being a mom, and can't wait to figure out how it all works with her dad. And I promise not to judge anyone on their philosophy and methods when it comes to being a parent, if you do the same for me.

From one new mom to whoever reads this: This is just my pregnancy to motherhood story. And it's only just begun. Yours will be completely different, or it won't be, and that's okay.

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  1. I'm battling through birth pstd after a nicu baby and preeclampsia. I'm also in tears reading this. Pregnancy and birth took so much out of me mentally and physically and the scars are going to be there all my life and I'm learning that that's ok. Thank you

    3 agree
  2. Yes! Everyone's experience is different, and there's no good in comparing and judging. I've had so many moms tell me that I was "so lucky" with judgement in their voices that both of my sons were tiny at birth (5.9 and 5.12). Never mind that my first son was a preemie (and I've even had expectant mothers tell me I was lucky that I had him so early!), never mind the struggles of getting their weight up and bilirubin down, I didn't share their particular struggles so I must not have had any struggles at all. Mamas, let's just take a collective breath and say, "Birth is really hard. We love our new babies, but they're really hard too."

    2 agree
  3. I needed this. I'm due in 7 weeks with my first baby, and this piece made me feel SO much better. I'm glad I logged on to OBH today.

    We have been reading a bunch of "non-traditional" books about pregnancy and postpartum experiences. My husband and I have specifically been LOVING a book called "The First 40 days – The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother" https://www.amazon.com/First-Forty-Days-Essential-Nourishing/dp/1617691836

    I've also been reading one called "The Sh!t No One Tells you." http://www.dawndais.com/sht

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