Every aspect of our body experiences changes during and after delivery. There are lots of articles out there on what to expect and what to do during pregnancy. However, there are little to no articles that really address what happens after you have a baby. I am delighted to walk you through my motherhood journey so you don't have to stumble through with questions like I did.
It has been four months since I gave birth Graysen. What happens after delivery isn't something you can even begin to prepare for. I have decided to share the good, bad, and ugly of post-partum life.
I had to be hospitalized for one week after I gave birth to Graysen because I developed pre-eclampsia. While in the hospital, the doctors monitored my blood pressure, liver, and kidneys. During that week, my blood pressure was still high and my kidneys and liver numbers were not normal. After a couple of days, my kidney and liver numbers were back within a normal range. My blood pressure gradually improved and I was discharged from the hospital. I was advised to maintain three specific medications for six weeks while my blood pressure continued to stabilize. Additionally, I would have to check my blood pressure daily.
During those six weeks, I made sure to put my health first. I was able to focus on Graysen while my family helped out with the cooking and cleaning. I checked my blood pressure daily and made sure to take all my meds on time. Every other week, I checked in with my doctor to update her on my blood pressure readings. When I first came home, my readings were still on the high side but began to drop as the weeks progressed. When the progress became significant, my doctor began to titrate down my medication and by six weeks post-partum, I was off all the medications for high blood pressure. My blood pressure has been normal since and I make sure to take it easy and watch my salt intake.
Since becoming a mother, my world has changed completely. When I became pregnant, I figured that I would have an easy pregnancy and an easy delivery. I figured that if I worked out, stayed hydrated and got enough rest that this pregnancy would be a breeze. I was wrong. I developed complications while pregnant and ended up having a traumatic birthing experience.
I can definitely say the whole experience affected me mentally. I was happy to have birthed a beautiful baby boy, but I was also sad. Sad that I was unable to take him home on time. Sad that I was sick and had to take care of myself first before him. Sad that I was going through this in the first place. It was hard. I was in a funk for about eight weeks before I felt like myself again.
During the post-partum period, I was still wearing my maternity clothes because they felt most comfortable. But, eventually, I realized that whenever I wore my maternity clothes, it took me back to when I was in my third trimester. Back to those days when I was in pain, swollen and uncomfortable. I also realized that it made my body look as if I was still pregnant. I know, I know, it sounds crazy but that's how I felt. I decided to throw them all away, and get back to the old me that loved dressing up so I could be there mentally for Gray. I went shopping and bought cute loungewear and lingerie and instantly felt better.
Thankfully, I had the love and support of my family and friends. They helped get me through that difficult period. I'm much happier now and I'm ok with the fact that I didn't have the ideal birth experience. That was my journey and I am the mother I am today because of it.
I had to come to terms with the fact that my body would not be the same. Eight weeks after giving birth to Graysen, I felt the urge to workout but my body felt different. I moved much slower and I wasn't as strong as I used to be. It took me longer to get out of bed. I even noticed that walking up and down the stairs in my home was a task.
I also noticed that I still had a little "mommy tummy." I had a feeling that it was diastasis recti which is the separation of the abs. I went to a pelvic dysfunction physical therapist and she confirmed that not only did I have diastasis recti but some parts of my body had shifted due to pregnancy. There's so much to unpack here. I'll dive into that on another blog post.
When I returned from the hospital, it was tough. Newborns have to feed every two to three hours, so no matter how tired you are, you have to make sure you feed them so that they can get their required amount of nutrients for critical weight gain and development.
Feeding Graysen throughout the day was ok, but the late nights were an issue. I barely slept during the first couple of weeks because I was up every two hours nursing him. As the weeks progressed, Graysen underwent longer stretches of sleep and I was able to get more beauty rest.
Now that I'm four months post-partum, Graysen is currently going through the 4-month sleep regression. This means he's more aware of the world around him and it's affecting his sleep pattern. He basically doesn't want to sleep anymore, so it's hard again. I'm currently sleep training him so I can get him on a more controlled schedule.
See Also: From Mrs. to Mommy: My Birth Story
I gained a total of 55 pounds by the time I gave birth to Graysen. Most of it was water weight. I breastfed so I continued to drop pounds every week, but I'm still 20 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight also thanks to breastfeeding. Most people think that breastfeeding helps them lose weight, which is true to some extent, but, you can also gain weight from it according to Pop Sugar. While pregnant, the body stores fat in order to prep for the baby and breastfeeding. Knowing this fact has helped me be ok with this although I'm not my pre-pregnancy weight. Hopefully, it will shed with time.
Pregnancy is an experience, and post-pregnancy is an even more intense experience. Everyone goes through it differently and some can be alike. But, I'm sharing mine to make sure you know that all pregnancies and post-partum journeys are different. We shouldn't fantasize, instead, we should be real. I hope sharing my experience brings more awareness to the reality of postpartum life so that women of color can be more prepared.
What was it like for you when you gave birth to your first child? Share your stories below in the comments!