So, why, might you ask, am I pre-empting that wonderful retelling with this frightful exposé? To that I say that my reasons are multi-fold.
First, above all things, I wish to tell it like it is. Second, I have one fleshy friend who is EIGHT days overdue and one bloggy friend who is 38-ish weeks along and is getting frustrated with waiting for her pot to boil, so to speak. Third, I really don’t understand the whole “you forget all the pain” stories being floated around and I wish to dispel that myth here and forever. So, if you’re squeamish about such things, you may wish to look away. . . oh, about right now.
Once upon a time, when I was gestating, I read my friend Caroline’s post about new mommy must haves. As I scrolled down her list, my horror grew and grew. Not a stitch of baby gear to be found. No sirree! Granted, I had watched all those stupid TLC and Discovery Health birth shows that would frighten even the most stoic of hope-to-be moms, and maybe a few veteran ones as well. But, calm, peaceful, zen births and deliveries do not good television make (my rationalization) and so, I discounted all the screaming, clutching, crazyladies from those shows as the outliers, the exceptions to the rule.
And then Miss Sunshine laid out the real-life nitty gritty, a “here’s how it really is” talking-to in blog-post form. My mouth dropped open as I scrolled down her list. “Surely she jests,” I reassured my roundly pregnant self. “Surely this is worst case scenario, nuclear fallout kind of stuff, right?”
And then, I gave birth. I have to say that the contractions weren’t too bad. I was able to breathe through them for the most part. Then came the pitocin-induced back labor. Then the pushing for 45 minutes. Not to mention roughly . . . oh, about 28 hours without sleeping. After delivery, I was wrecked. I was exhausted, hemorrhaging, swollen, sore, exhausted some more, torn to the third degree, oh, and laden with hemorrhoids. And so it was that my doc gave the strictest orders of “no visitors” and made my family take a rent-a-cop style oath and stand guard at the hospital door against any visiting well-wishers.
Now, I don’t pretend to know about most women. I can only speak for myself. And me? What I remember about those first few days and weeks after birth is that I was as exhausted as I was elated. I remember sending the babe to the hospital nursery at night so I could try and get some sleep. I remember during my very first post-delivery shower when I ventured a feel downstairs to make sure everything was intact and my fingers came upon something I was sure was gauze or padding but ended up being the reason I applied Tucks laced with Preparation H for the better part of two weeks. I remember standing in my shower under the hot water feeling stiff all over, tender and sore in places I didn’t know existed, and so tired that everything I had just been through could possibly have all been just a midwinter night’s dream.
I don’t know why it is that all this is freshly imprinted on my memory as if it was last month instead of last year. Perhaps it has something to do with that saying “an elephant never forgets”? Because that’s certainly how a saggy postpartum belly looks and feels after delivery – exactly like an elephant.
I have another friend – the same one who was pregnant at the same time as me - who is pregnant again. And she, with her youthful 25-year old body and her sensible perspective, tells me “but the end result is SO worth it”. She is, of course, completely right. Even so, when it comes right down to it, my 34-year old body really begs to differ. Which is why, when it comes right down to it, I’m pretty convinced the reason I remember all of this so vividly is because my body refuses to let my mind forget!
(By the way, in case you were wondering, to my utter surprise, I used everything on that list except items 9 and 10! And given my belly elephantiasis, I probably should have used #10.)