Shhh! Here’s the *painful* truth about Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery & Beyond

If you have never been pregnant before, you have no idea what to expect when your journey to parenthood beings.  Even if you’ve had friends or siblings that have gone though it all, and no matter how much they share with you, you just don’t know what to expect.  No two experiences are the same, even for one woman.  And chances are that if your BFF had one experience, yours will be exactly the opposite.  These are the things I wish I’d been warned about when I got pregnant with my first…and only after my second did I really see how many things aren’t shared with mama’s-to-be…and probably for good reason…or the reasons below…

1. Pregnancy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Sorry to break it to you ladies, but pregnancy can really suck.  Yes, yes, it is a one-of-a-kind experience and there are really amazing things about growing another person.  But seriously – the morning sickness, back aches, heartburn, sciatica, struggle to find a comfortable position (ever) and loss of bladder control…if you can find the beauty in those things, I envy you.  Pregnancy lasts 9 months.  You’ll spend the first 2-3 months dealing with exhaustion and morning sickness.  If you’re lucky you’ll get 2-3 months of fewer symptoms during the second trimester. Then, just when you’re finally enjoying the beauty of feeling your little one doing gymnastics in the small space between your boobs and your nether-region, you’ll enter into your third trimester.  Commence to wanting this demon child out as soon as possible.  Oh wait, I still have 3 months of this *awesome* torture.  yay?

2. You can’t prepare yourself for labor.  I don’t care how many lamaz classes you take, or how many breathing exercises you have memorized.  If you know anyone who’s actually stuck to their Birth Plan, give them a medal of honor.  Truth is, once those contractions start it all goes out the window.  Oh, and those Pain exercises they use to help show you how long contractions last and how much they’ll hurt…HAH!  It’s gonna hurt.  Like a bitch.  No wonder so many women opt for the epidural.

3.  Oh the mess.  You’ve never seen so many different bodily fluids suddenly make an appearance all at the same time, and in such grandiose quantities.  There’s no possible way to prepare for this.  Sorry!

4.  Nothing goes as planned.  If you plan on an epidural, beware that while it will take away the pain, it generally also slows labor and can cause other issues.  If you plan on a natural birth, you’ll be wishing you’d said a big HELL YES when they offered the epidural.  Good news here though, the pain does eventually reach a level where it doesn’t get any worse.  Hard to believe when you’re in the middle of pushing a watermelon out a hole the size of a donut…

5.  C-sections happen.  Don’t beat yourself up if you weren’t able to have a vaginal birth.  Focus on the happy, healthy little one that just changed your life forever.  Plus, if you get a C-section you’ve avoided the dreaded tearing or episiotomy…

6.  Take advantage of the few days in the hospital.  Everything changes the moment you get home.  Real life starts when there are dishes in the sink and piles of laundry right in front of you.  Enjoy the doting on you’ll get in the hospital for a few days before you go back to reality.  Plus, you get a TON of free shit – diapers, wipes, pads…anything that’s not cotton (blankets, sheets etc.) are yours for the taking.

7.  Write down your birth story.  After a few weeks, you won’t remember everything that happened that magical day.

8.  Pooping for the first time is worse than giving birth.  Sorry to break it to you, but this is the worst part of the whole process.  If you’re one of the lucky ones that the stool softeners actually work for, praise God.  The rest of us aren’t so lucky.  They won’t tell you before you leave that pooping for the first time will feel like you’re giving birth again…this time without any pain meds. Also, you may need to resort to some pretty gross methods to finally get some relief…just sayin’ you’ve been warned.

9.  Breastfeeding. It’s gonna hurt.  Accept the advice of the nurses at the hospital, your midwife, or lactation specialist so that you get the right latch.  It’s still going to take practice and time before it becomes second nature.  It will stop hurting after a few weeks, if you’re doing it right, so grin and bear it and it’ll totally be worth it.

10.  Your life will never be the same.  And you’re going to love it.  As soon as that little one is placed in your arms, it will all be worth it.  You’ll forget all of the pain and discomfort in the blink of an eye.  In the end, you’d do it again and again.

I know it all seems pretty…well, negative and horrible.  Sorry, I’m not going to sugar coat it.  But these are the things that no one told me, and I would rather know what I’m in for over the course of 9+ months.  I don’t see them as negative experiences though, if anything I try find the humor in the truth!

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Worst pain most easily forgotten

When I was pregnant with J I had lots of people tell me stories about their labor.  Most of them ended with “it’s the worst pain most easily forgotten.”  That’s a hard thing to believe when you are awaiting your own impending “worst pain” moments.  The anticipation for the impending pain makes you over think how the whole birthing process will go, and if you are choosing to use a epidural you will be sure that you have that plan locked in place with everyone that will be involved in the birth.  My sister-in-law is only 4 weeks away from her due date and she was telling me the other day how she’s becoming almost obsessive about going into labor and can’t stop thinking about the pain part.  I’m sure that I had the same worries and obsessions in the days leading up to J’s birth, but for the life of me I can’t really remember.

There it is.  It’s been 11 months and I can’t remember anything about the pain.  Not really specifically at least.  I remember that when my water broke I was sleeping and I woke up with a start cuz it was a quick sharp pain.  I remember feeling like they were the worst cramps ever when I started having contractions, and I remember that sitting in the bath tub didn’t help a *$&%*& bit with the pain.  But as far as the severity of the pain, I don’t have an answer anymore for what it actually felt like.  Bad cramps doesn’t translate when you’re trying to describe it to someone else who’s about to experience it for themselves.  And “it feels like your insides are being ripped out” seems way to harsh and not even close to the truth.  Yup, I’d say that statement is pretty accurate.  Unless you’ve actually had your arm cut off while you were awake with no drugs, labor probably is the worst pain.  And it’s also the one that you forget about the quickest and easiest.

Granted I did have an epidural, so I can’t compare myself to someone who’s done a natural birth.  Then again everyone’s pain levels are different, so what was an 8 for me could be a 4 for someone else.  I don’t think there’s really a way to compare or prepare for what you are about to experience.  Thankfully you are so overwhelmed and distracted by everything else going on  – pushing, breathing, getting to the hospital, all the nurses coming and going, the actual arrival of your little one – that you won’t really remember the pain after the moment that your little baby is placed in your arms.  The greatest reward indeed.  Thank goodness that all that crap you have to go through leads up to that little one.  Otherwise I swear no one would do it…haha

I think the best thing to do is make a plan, if you’re a planner, so that you can be a little more relaxed going into the whole thing.  It’ll keep you focused and give you some relief…at least leading up to going into labor.  After that, it’s a total crap shoot.  Sorry to break it to you, but chances are that no matter what you “planned”, it’s not going to go that way.  But if making a plan gives you some peace of mind, then do it.  Just also be aware that your plan will go out the window the second your water breaks.

Enjoy the ride though, it’s over far too quickly.