So even though I consider myself pretty well researched in the area of birth, labor, breastfeeding…I heard a new word this week that has sent me reeling.
When we got pregnant, I was delighted to be having a spring baby. My mind flirted with images of sunny walks in the park, breezy mornings in the backyard and weeks upon weeks of not-going-to-work-bliss. This would all lead to my 6 week appointment where my midwife would be pleased with how quickly I bounced back, declare me healthy and fit to resume all regular activities.
And the last 6 weeks have been an amazing adventure of learning about the little creation that has graced our home. My mood has been high. I so look forward to spending my days as Benton’s mom. Doting on him. Holding him. Rocking him. Feeding him. But the postpartum body that I’ve found myself in has held me back from considering it anything close to blissful.
“How are you doing?” It’s the most common question asked of new mothers. It’s a fine question to ask. But do you want to know the real answer?
The snail-like pace of my recovery has put quite the foggy cloud over my sunny mental images. I don’t go on spontaneous walks with him. I rarely sit in the backyard with him, enjoying the spring air.
I’ve been uncomfortable. I spent two hours in post-birth repairs and my intelligently designed body has been doing it’s best to heal…but it’s been rough. I’ve been unable to feel the freedom to get up and walk normally. I can’t sit very long. I can’t stand very long.
Through the discomfort, I’ve attended some meetings, some church services. I do the grocery shopping and a little bit of extra when visitors are in town. I’ll smile through it. I’m glad to be out.
Maybe I just need more time, I reasoned. It’s gotten a little better as the weeks have passed. But the time has come. The time for the 6 week follow-up.
I made the appointment to coincide with Benton’s nap so he would sleep through the questions I would answer, the examination and the results my midwife would give.
Blood pressure is awesome. PPD screening passed with flying colors. We got around to the big question and I told her about my discomfort. Upon examination she informed me I had granulation tissue.
Tissue that was outside of my sutures. Tender little guys that were making my recovery so uncomfortable and seem so distant. They needed to be removed.
I had never heard the term before. Didn’t know it was even possible.
I will spare you the details of the procedure that followed.
I didn’t cry during labor, delivery or any of the birth. Not during post-birth repairs.
But I screamed and cried during this event. Hot tears. Getting numbed was the worst. Silver nitrate cauterization was worse than the worst.
Sweet Benton slept through it all.
I cried because of the pain. I cried because of the last 6 weeks. And the weeks ahead that will be the same. I cried out of disappointment. I cried out of frustration. I cried out of confusion. I soaked though a pile of tissues in the exam room feeling helpless.
I cried because I didn’t expect this. I wasn’t prepared for this. Why hadn’t I ever heard about this? Someone should’ve told me this, right?
I’ve since researched this new term. There’s no way to know who will experience it and who won’t. I read that some women considered the removal procedure to be ‘painless’. Others shared my sentiments.
More bad news. I have diastasis recti. Physical therapy was recommended. More tears. I truly thought the hard part was over on March 25th at 10:04 PM. Silly me.
I spent the next 24 hours in bed. Waves of pain came and went. My sweet husband raced home from work – cared for Benton, cared for me and cared for our home.
I was weepy for a day. Upset for a night. As time went on, the issue seemed to get smaller. My emotions seemed to be a bit shallow. There are worse things, bigger things that could’ve happened. And while I feel like I’m back at square one of the recovery road, I’m hopeful that my recovery will be complete soon.
Rest assured, you’ll see me out. You’ll see me about. You’ll see me smiling because, truly, life is amazing as Benton’s mom.
But know that it’s not perfect. I’m not doing any bouncing back. It’s more like a pitiful crawl back. But I wasn’t going to tell people that. Not during meet and greet at church or when I bump into them in the aisle at the store. But I don’t want to give false impressions either. Postpartum healing can be so different for everyone.
So here is my safe place to tell the world. I’m not OK, but I will be soon.
I’ve been repeating this to myself since delivery day and it’s an even more necessary reminder now – my body made an amazing transformation in just 9 months – stretching, moving and making space for the creation of a small human. If it takes a few extra weeks, even months, to feel ‘myself’ again, that’s OK.
My birth experience was amazing and I’m so grateful for a chunky, happy baby.
But in birth, in delivery, in postpartum life…there will always be things that catch you by surprise. Things you overlooked. Didn’t read about. Nobody told you about.
I clearly need a lesson on how to handle those surprises better.