I apologize in advance – this is a pretty complainy post. But I needed to get this off my chest.
Most people say that the third trimester is the hardest. Well, they’re wrong. The fourth trimester is by far the most difficult.
As I held my tiny, delicate, grey-skinned cone-headed baby close in my arms just minutes after birthing her I felt so happy, tired, and proud.
“Did I tear?” I asked Rebekah, our midwife.
I had, just a little. It was too small to require stitches. We also learned that I had had a small placental abruption, which is a fancy way of saying that the placenta had started to separate from the uterus, which could have contributed to my blood loss.
As I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time, I saw someone I didn’t recognize – pale green and overwrought. I wanted to laugh I looked so horrid.
Those first few days I was so happy to have our precious little girly here at last and be done with pregnancy and on the road to recovery. True, my body felt like it had been put through the wringer. Just sitting up in bed was a workout. My, ahem, bottom, was very sore and my tear was tender. I had to pull myself up by my arms; I rubbed a spot raw on one elbow. Sitting up to burp Helen and moving her from side to side in the middle of the night was torture. But somehow (by the grace of God) I was able to keep a cheerful outlook. Must have been some sort of hormones. ;)
Then, the baby blues hit.
The days melded into one long nightmare. I was SO sick of lying in bed and having someone else do everything for me. I dreaded nights. I was extremely tired since I had gotten basically no sleep the night of labor and adjusting to sleeping with a baby that needs to be fed every hour or so is tough. Self-pity set in. So I decided to get out of bed and do stuff.
I completely wore my body out and set it up for illness. The next day I contracted mastitis, complete with fever. But it soon passed and I felt so much better. I read stories from women who had gone through mastitis, saying how horrible it was; I had gotten off easy, I thought.
Then the fever struck again, much harder this time. My temperature kept rising, nearly reaching 106. Finally, after a day and half, it broke. I hadn’t had any sleep, but I was so happy to finally be recovering.
Then my brain did something really strange – it wouldn’t let me fall asleep. Every time I started to drift off, my stomach gave a jump and my throat started to close. It was extremely frustrating. The only thing that would allow me to sleep was taking melatonin, and that only worked for an hour at a time. My stupid brain even went so far as to send me a scary dream about spiders to keep me from sleeping.
This went on for a day or two. I felt like I would never recover. Then two of my sisters and brother came for a visit and to help with housework. It really brightened my day. That night I was able to sleep naturally.
That was the hardest, most horrible week of my life. From then on I was super careful about how tired I got; I had learned my lesson. Soon I was starting to feel stronger (though taking a shower was still quite a workout) and learning to sleep with a baby that demands attention all through the night.
At four weeks postpartum I really started to feel better. And now, at five weeks I’m almost back to normal, besides getting winded at the stupidest things like walking up a flight of stairs. I am SO out of shape.
And now for the bit that I was always interested in when I was pregnant: how did my belly fare postpartum?
The first few days I looked like I was four months pregnant, minus the glowing skin and curled hair. My uterus was still large and making my belly quite poochy. I wanted to take pictures for y’all, but I was just too tired exhausted. At two weeks postpartum the “bloating” (for lack of a better word) had gone down quite a bit, but you can still see a bulge – about how I looked at eighteen weeks.
And you can see in the picture below how I look standing at 5 weeks postpartum. The pooch has gone down quite a bit, but it’s still pretty flabby, particularly when I sit down or lay on my side. I checked myself, and I have a diastisis recti (a separation of the abdominal muscles). So I’ll have to figure out a program for myself to heal that. Also, my tummy looks fairly normal in some spots and like a deflated balloon in others. Whatevs.
As far as inches goes, I was about 30 inches around my waist at 2 weeks, 28 at 4 weeks and now I’m 27.5 (about 1.5-2 inches form my pre-pregnancy size). I’ve got a LOT of toning to do.
For weight, I lost almost 10 pounds in the first 24 hours after birth. I lost nearly another 10 in the next few days. After my bout of mastitis I was only a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. And now I’m 114.5, at my pre-pregnancy weight (I would fluctuate between 110 and 115 pre-pregnancy). Just goes to show you that it’s inches/toning, not weight that counts. Though it’s nice, with nursing, to be able to eat like a horse and lose weight. ;)
Aaaaand stretchies. *Le Sigh* I got so many of them the last few weeks of pregnancy. My lower belly is riddled with them. And a few decided to pop up on my legs post pregnancy. What-EVS. But I’ve heard they fade, and as long as I get my tummy toned they shouldn’t bother me too much.
I guess pregnancy is a good tool to keep us humble, eh?
So there you have it – my road to recovery postpartum. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be able to put up my hair and fix myself a cup of tea. It was the little things I missed the most.
I praise and thank God that we have a healthy little girl to call our own and that I had no major complications.