Things that no one tells a soon to be Mamma.
Please be aware that this is a NHB (No holding back) post which may contain TMI for some readers! 😂😂
If you read this and wish you hadn’t, too bad really… But you can’t say you weren’t warned!
The Early Days
1. The first visitors to the hospital will be a blur. I was so out of it on adrenaline and whatever horse tranquilisers they’d given me that my first visitors still talk about how “great” I was… And yet I don’t remember a thing about the first day!
If you have other kids, manipulating the visitors so that your kids and then Grandparents are first in, is a military operation! Hopefully it will only be your nearest and dearest who come along initially.
Most people are good at knowing that it’s best to wait until Mamma is settled at home before they visit. There are no rules of course, but in my little rule book, only go to the hospital if it’s one of your closest friends or a close family member.
2. The interruptions: You’ll just have drifted off to snooze after finally getting your little one to nod off and the door of the ward shall swing open and in comes “The Beeper”.
The Beeper is the little Blood Pressure monitor and fancy trolley the lovely nurses push from ward to ward to make sure you and baby are doing OK. It looks like Johnny 5 and has a habit of appearing at the most inconvenient times.
Don’t get me wrong. The nurses have a schedule and have to do their rounds and it’s all in your best interest, but you will learn to loath the Beeper. But it’s only for a few days and it makes going home to your own bed all the sweeter.
3. Your first toilet trip: With Mini-Me, I read all the books. ALL of them! My Darling mother happily answered my questions with brutal honesty. When I found out I’d be having her by section, my amazing friend told me all about hers in her colourful language.
Having grown up on a farm and having helped out, hands on I might add, with MANY C-Sections on Cows, I felt quite prepared. I put my faith, my trust and my vulnerable self in the care of the surgeons and all was right with the world.
But NO ONE prepared me for the first toilet trip…when you go for your first pee, apparently it’s normal to feel like you’re being sliced open again without anaesthetic this time! I swear to God, I thought I was going to die right there on the loo. It was not pretty. The pain almost made me puke.
And as if that wasn’t terrifying enough, the first poo is fecking horrendous! I have it on good authority that it is the same for Mummies who deliver vaginally. Again, I thought my entire insides were falling out.
I roared so loudly that The Him actually called for a nurse and she had to come in to convince me that no, I hadn’t just passed my bowel and no, I wasn’t going to die. But don’t tell anyone. How undignified and ridiculous right?
4. The Boobs: Now, for me, this was a big deal. And I mean Big in every sense of the word. As a woman of the Fried egg club, to wake up on day three with two bald heads in my bra, was quite the trauma. I swear to God I looked like Jordan. I’ve always wondered if I’d like to have boobs… No. No I wouldn’t . Thank you. No. Give me my fried eggs any day.
5. The journey home: My memory of this one still makes me laugh. The walk from the ward to the car with your lovely car seat is one of the most surreal experiences of your life. I hadn’t stepped more than 6 foot to the bathroom in 4 days.
Suddenly I had to waddle my way down corridors, into lifts (oooooh that bump takes on a whole new level of weirdness after a section!), through a lobby (carrying balloons to boot!) and out into the car. It was like running 20feet and then thinking you’re ready for a marathon the next day.
Daddy is grinning like a Cheshire cat while you shall be torn between scolding him for swinging the seat too much when he walks, and holding your ladybits in because they feel like they are about to fall the hell out of you with every step!
Getting into the car is a challenge and then there’s the drive home. I dare say The Him didn’t go above 40mph the whole way out to the house, because of the precious cargo and of course because of my delicate state. We both give out about Dooters on the road, but Oh my did he dooter out the road that day!
6. The tears: Oh tears. You unpredictable little feckers… They come in waves. You have NO control over them. They’ll arrive at the worst times. And you’ll possibly laugh at the same time because you will have no idea why the hell you’re crying! But let them flow. It’s completely normal! I’m still crying over anything and my Baby is nearly 3!
7. The Visitors: While you’ll want nothing more than to see people and introduce your new bundle to your loved ones, bear in mind that your first day or two at home will be exhausting, emotional and terrifying. If I had been able to pay the midwives to come home with me, I would have. I remember getting to the house with The Him and the Car seat and being soooooo frightened. There was no buzzer. There were no nurses down the hall. It was just us. But we were fine.
8. Newborns aren’t overly interesting: Ok, they are actually much more interesting than you ever thought they were. But here’s the key. YOUR newborn is interesting. To YOU and your partner . Don’t be offended if your visitors only start at the baby for a few minutes. Yes of course they’re interested and of course they’ll think your baby is gorgeous, but while you can watch this little person doing NOTHING for hours on end, to others, it is exactly that…a little person doing nothing!
They don’t see the miraculous progression from yesterday, or that the baby is holding your focus for a few moments longer… or that her grip seems more purposeful. So don’t get offended that your friends seem to politely stare at the baby for only a few minutes, declaring his cuteness or that she has your eyes, before moving promptly on to some other topic of conversation. It’s normal.
And be honest, you’ve probably done it yourself many times. Because other people’s babies are not that interesting are they?
9. Lasagne can make you cry: The gifts and parcels and flowers will come and be hugely appreciated. But the most welcomed and remembered offering to the home of the newborn…is food! And the best kind of food is something that can be portioned, reheated, frozen or even eaten cold from the casserole dish. Think curry. Think chilli. Think lasagne. You never realised how good lasagne tastes. It’ll make you so happy that may cry tears of joy.
10. You suddenly won’t care who washes your knickers: Maybe this was just me. Before I had Mini-Me, the thought of someone else doing my washing would have driven me mad with shame. Not because there’s anything wrong with my smalls, No! But I could never have even entertained the thought of my Mum or Mother-in-Law washing them.
And then I got over that VERY quickly. Because the first time I realised that the washing machine was going without me having started it, my initial panic was so overwhelmed by total gratitude that I even surprised myself. Now, I still don’t like the idea of someone washing my knickers, but for the first few weeks after birth, you really shouldn’t give a damn.
So now you’re home. And you could probably add 10 more things to this list. Add away Supermums.
It’s Memory Monday…
Body Shaming happens to all women, of all ages, of all shapes and sizes, all the time…EVEN, believe it or not, during Pregnancy. 😲
You know that time when you are eating for two and are supposed to GLOW like a fricken Christmas Tree and your body is a temple of growth and nurture, for all to admire and be in awe of?
When you’re also a hormonal wreck, paranoid, vulnerable and particularly susceptible to tears? 😢😢
When you’re growing a PERSON inside of you; sometimes more than one, 😥and you are supposed to be officially exempt from giving a continental crap about your shape for the next year and more?
Yes. Even then.
Body shaming the Bump DOES happen.
It’s not usually intentional, but it happens.
I have a confession to make.
During my last pregnancy… (and I mean last in both senses of that word!)…I did something mean. 😈
I got so fecking SICK of people freaking out when they saw the size of my bump, that one day I decided to have a little fun with it.
I was HUMONGOUS. (And no, I am NOT exaggerating. Ask ANY of my family or friends and they will smile a dim smile and nod in agreement.) And just to prove how big my perfect bump was, the photograph below was taken when I was 36 weeks. And I wasn’t quite as big as I would be at 39! 😂👇👇👇👇👇👇
With Mini-Me, I showed at 10 weeks.
With Princess, I got to 7 weeks before I got fed up trying to hide my bump.
I have always been quite slim so in fairness, trying to hide a bump was never going to be easy, but even loose tops didn’t cover my little (or not so little) secret.
We never really got the chance to keep it to ourselves until after the 12 week scan, but hey!
So you can imagine how big I was by 30 weeks. I looked bigger than most expectant Mammas look at full term. I remember walking into a shop one day at 31 weeks and the look of panic on the shop assistant’s face when she clocked the BUMP was hilarious. She approached me and flew through the usual chitchat to get straight to her point.
“When are you due love?”
I couldn’t help myself my Pretties. It was out before I even thought about it.
“Ten days ago”, I answered, shaking my head and rubbing my big belly, “I’m hoping a walk around the shops will help get me started.” (added puffs for effect…pause as if wincing in pain…)
“Here let me help you!” I swear to God, she ran around that shop filling my wee basket so quickly, I really couldn’t keep up with her.
“All the best now Lovey, I hope all goes well!” she cooed after me as I left. I’m pretty sure she needed a strong drink after that. and yes, I shouldn’t have lied, but I was fed up.
For almost 10 months, you become the property of the world. (and yes, it is 10 months…9 my arse.)
EVERYONE has an opinion.
“You’re so HUGE!” (Really? I hadn’t noticed. Is that why my pelvis is dragging on the ground when I walk?)😐
“I was never as big as you!” (Piss off.) 😐
“Aw poor Maria. You must be scundered…” (No Deary. I’m just pregnant.)😐
“Well Tracy SAID you were huge but I didn’t think you were THIS HUGE!” (Yup. For this one, I had to kick my sister under the table to stop her from DESTROYING the unintentionally offensive woman.)😅
“Is it heavy?” (In fairness, this question was from a lovely friend who has bever been pregnant so it was a genuine question and I gave her a genuine answer…”Yes. I feel like I’m carrying an articulated fecking LORRY on my ladybits.”)
“I suppose you can barely move with that bump?” (No. I’m just back from Irish Dancing. I’m high kicking Higher than ever before!)😂
“Aaaaaaah you’re not THAT big!” OK, OK. Who am I kidding? I NEVER heard this one! 😅😂
“You must be nearly due?” (No I’m only 28/30/32/34 weeks…cue shock/horror/sympathy/panic on their face.)
And these are only the few I remember.And so maybe now, you understand why I played the trick.
Do I feel guilty? No, but I felt really fricken frustrated a few weeks later when I didn’t have the balls to go in with my even BIGGER Bump and I really wanted a certain cheese the lady stocked. 😆😆
But seriously, Stop it. We all need to stop it. (And of course I include myself in this. We ALL do it don’t we?)
In fairness, we don’t even realise we’re doing it.
The things we say to a pregnant lady are usually not intending ANY offence AT ALL. Of course not.
But if you’re going to say anything, try not to comment on the bump.
Tell her she looks glowing, even if you think she looks knackered.
Tell her she’s gorgeous, even if she looks like the articulated lorry she feels like she’s carrying.
Tell her it suits her. She might just need to hear that, but don’t comment on the size of the bump, regardless whether it’s big or small.
The Mammy who hears “You’re so neat”, might have spent the whole night up counting baby’s kicks, or panicking that her bump is too small compared to others. 😣
The Mammy who hears “You’re huge!” doesn’t need to be reminded. Trust me, she already knows. She remembered once she opened her eyes this morning and tried, like an upturned turtle, to get out of the bed to pee. 😅
So keep it positive and keep it off the bump.
And yes I know that many people don’t mind and maybe even enjoy the attention the bump brings, but unless you’re telling them their bump is gorgeous, just Ssssssh!
And then…THEN comes the Post Baby body Shaming but that’s another post altogether.
You’re beautiful and your bump is perfect. That is all you need to hear.
The S-Mum xxx
Women are incredible.
I think there’s a slight truth in the old myth that we can choose what we want to remember, and forget, about pregnancy and childbirth. Let’s be honest. If we couldn’t selectively block out things, there’s a good chance we’d all refuse to ever go through it again and we’d eventually run out of tiny humans on our messed up little planet. 🙂
Last night, I was reminded of one of the things about being pregnant that I have obviously blocked out, when my good friend who is expecting told me she’s off work with Pelvic Girdle Pain…
At the mention of it, I crossed my legs and stopped short of kicking The Him out of the bed and into the spare room, or dog box… or wherever!
Jeeeeeeeeeesus, even the thought of it as I type has my ovaries tying themselves in knots…
I remember the first day my Pelvic pain kicked in on my first pregnancy. The Him and I had gone to Belfast to the Christmas Markets. I was walking through the stands when I stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t physically move.
There and then, I was certain that had I taken one more step, my ladybits were going to end up on the ground. I felt like someone was sticking a burning hot poker into my pelvis. I was convinced that my entrails were about to be outtrails.
I scared the bejaysus out of Himself. I don’t really remember how, but he got me shuffled to the nearest taxi and back to the hotel. After a terrified phone call to my Midwife-on-call (or Aunty! I’m not THAT special. haha!), she calmed me down and prescribed a long sleep and a trip to the physio the next day.
Panic over and insides still inside, I did indeed relax, but did the pain go away? Did it feck! I got an appointment with a physio next day and she gave me the most fablis, sexiful and incredible invention ever… a girdle belt.
It saved my ass. Literally. I wore it religiously, took smaller steps when walking and generally behaved my pregnant self, sleeping with a mahoosive pillow between my legs and following the physio’s advice. Thankfully, it didn’t get any worse. Apparently it CAN get worse, a LOT worse. I want to puke even imagining how it could have been worse if I’m honest. It was bad enough as it was!
It was horrific. The pain was shocking. The whole experience was enough to put me off ever wanting to experience anything like it ever again!
So yes, even typing this has my Ladybits throbbing in terror. I want to fly to England and give my buddy a hug. Instead however, I’ll send her a virtual hug and remind her that it’ll all be worth it in a few months when she holds her wee munchkin in her arms.
I’ll also remind her that she’ll soon not even remember the pain she’s in right now…until someone reminds her of it in the future.
And that someone will NOT be me!
Now, it might be time to hit those Christmas Markets in Belfast again? And maybe this time I’ll get past the gate!
If you think that the public ownership of your bump disappears after pregnancy, you’re wrong!
Your post-baby belly and bootay may seem to remain public property LONG after your uterus has finally stopped SCREAMING at you and your ladybits have decided to no longer HATE YOU.
HOW and WHEN you get back to your pre-baby shape, is everybody’s business apparently.
In both of my pregnancies, I put on quite a bit of weight (not bump!).
My post Mini-Me BOOTAY in Pregnancy 1 was mostly a result of very hard work… (eating cream buns and hot chocolate, with cream of course, was hard work alright!)
I’d had a tough pregnancy and was put off work very early. Looking back, I was probably struggling a bit and food made me feel better.
It took me 18 months to get back to my pre-bump self.
Pregnancy no 2 was different. I was in better health, eating well, exercised up to 6 months and crammed in pregnancy pilates and reflexology. It was much more enjoyable and much less depressing than first time round, but I still managed to gain a fablis amount of weight.
And both times, it was worth every ounce and I enjoyed every bite!
The LAST thing ANY pregnant lady needs to be worrying about is their weight.
But when Baby is here and you’re getting back into routine, may it be after a few weeks or a few months, or a few years…at some point, we all strive to get back to being US.
For some people, that means getting back to work. For some, it means starting back at a hobby. For some, it means getting back in shape.
Even the fact that as I write this, I am hoping that other Mummies don’t read it and get annoyed because I’m talking about weight, is the perfect example of how bloody sensitive the subject is.
I am writing about me.
Just Me… not you.
It’s all personal.
It’s all about perspective.
I love to train. I like to hit things with hammers and lift heavy things. I feel good when I’m a certain shape. I keep my mental health in check when I get to train. I find that it falters if I don’t get to train. I’m not particularly vain…I’ll happily go out and about looking like a badger’s nether-regions, (I often do!), but I like to look a certain way so I do my best to do so.
That’s not a reflection on anyone else. It’s just me.
So what has this got to do with Bodyshaming?
Some of the lines I heard after I started training again last May, when Princess was 6 months old.
“What are you doing back at the gym already?” (Look of disapproval.)
I’m sorry, does this offend you? Not that it’s any of your business, but this is my second attempt at starting back because The Him sent me home on my first attempt 2 months earlier, telling me I wasn’t ready yet. ( He was right.)
“Cop yourself on, you’ve just had a BABY!”
Well actually, my Baby is 6 months old and now I feel like I need to get out of the house a few hours a week.
“You’re grand the way you are.”
Thank you. I know you mean well and that is very sweet, but it’s ME who has to feel good about me. Not you.
“You shouldn’t even be THINKING about exercise yet.”
Why exactly? I enjoy it. I miss it. I’m not asking you to do it for me, am I?
“For God’s sake, stop worrying about your weight!”
Maybe, just MAYBE, my weight is NOT the main reason I want to train. People train for exercise, for me-time, for their sanity, for (shock horror) ENJOYMENT!
And WHY the hell does ANYONE think that it’s OK to tell ANYONE to stop worrying about THEIR weight anyway?
You NEVER know who has their own demons to deal with. You have no idea what the person you are talking to sees when they look in the mirror; what they’ve struggled with in the past; what THEY feel is THEIR beautiful. Telling someone to stop worrying about their weight, is akin to telling someone who’s sad to cheer up.
But my favourite one… “Wise up. You should be ENJOYING your Baby.”
Where do I even start with this one? If you dare to leave the baby for an hour to go to the doctor or do the shopping, that’s fine…but the GYM? Well you must not “Enjoy” your Baby…put it back in there why don’t you?
When you’re expecting your baby, you have NO CONTROL over your body. NONE!
AFTER you’ve had your baby, you have even LESS control over your body!
Things are different. Things don’t work. (Other things work WAY too enthusiastically.) Even stepping out of the car too quickly can make you feel like your insides are going to fall out!
It takes time to feel like you’re in charge of YOU again.
So if and when, you decide that you FINALLY feel ready to take a little bit of control back, take it.
Like the Bumps, most of those who comment mean NO HARM WHATSOEVER. In fact, they’re usually trying to make you feel better.
Some comment because they’re uncomfortable that you are training again after a baby and it annoys them for some reason.
But like with the Bumps, the opinion of others is simply that. An opinion and other people’s opinions shouldn’t affect your confidence. They shouldn’t make you doubt yourself. They certainly shouldn’t make you feel the need to explain yourself.
Instead, Love yourself.
Love how you look in all your squishee-belly-ness as your body recovers from cooking that perfect little cupcake.
And if and when you feel like getting back into those jeans, or into that dress, GO FOR IT!
Surround yourself with positive Ladybelles and let the negativity roll off your amazing stretchy skin. (Warwounds, not stretchmarks!)
May it be walking, Slimming World, Exercise classes, Personal Training, pilates… DO WHATEVER YOU ENJOY AND WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU. (Except the Weight loss…sorry “lifestyle” pills, shakes, teas, diets etc. They are BAD no matter HOW they are pitched or advertised.)
And if you DON’T feel like thinking about exercise yet, or ever, good for you too. That’s no one else’s beeswax but your own.
The S-Mum xxx
(Updated post. Always relevant!)
First published 2016.
Last published on www.donegalwoman.ie Sept 2017