Breaking your water, rupturing membranes, whatever you want to call it, it's gross. I was under the assumption that your water broke, there was a gush of fluid, and that was that. But it doesn't stop there. It keeps coming because your body keeps making it. It's basically like getting to pee your pants over and over again. Like I said, gross.
A lot of people will reach up your vagina. Progress needs to be checked. Even if you are trying to keep exams to a minimum, a lot more fingers will be inside you than you'd probably realized. I would recommend doing perineum massage for that reason alone.
Time is meaningless. During labor, after labor, time loses its normal rhythm. It stretches and contracts in odd ways. The time we spent in the hospital after the baby was born seems like days, maybe even a week, but was only 36 hours.
Stretch marks. I thought that the stretch marks you had when you were pregnant were the total sum of stretch marks. I even thought some of those might disappear or shrink when the pregnancy swelling reduced. WRONG. SO very very wrong. The stretch marks you can see while pregnant are just the tip of the iceberg, and the rest of the iceberg is submerged in bloat. As you get smaller after the baby is born, and the water recedes, those jagged red icebergs are exposed. The small cluster of stretch marks I had on my upper thighs while pregnant have been befriended by the ring of stretch marks I now have all across my upper thigh and inside thigh and they now rise to meet the patch of stretch marks on my hips that have grown darker since the baby's arrival.
I'm not that upset that I have stretch marks. I've come to terms with it quite a while ago. But I feel like I was lied to. Like my body threw me a nasty surprise party - SURPRISE! We got you more stretch marks!
Joint pain. I thought that would end with the pregnancy, but what I failed to realize was that my joints were way more loose and out of whack than I thought. And as the relaxin reduces throughout your body, your joints ache as they slowly get pulled back in place. More than two weeks out and my shoes don't fit yet (yep, not all of that was swelling) and I still can't wear my wedding ring.
Breastfeeding. Where do I begin? I think I'll do a whole post on my personal experience, which hasn't been horrible, but did present some surprising little gifts of its own. Anyway, some general things I didn't know beforehand about breastfeeding*:
1) it is messy! You drip, leak, and gush, and that's not even counting what the baby is doing. Get out of the shower and you may leak. Bend down and you might notice a puddle below you. Adjust your bra and BAM! wet spot. I took a nap and woke up in the middle of a small lake because I had soaked through not one but two breast pads, my bra, my shirt, my comforter, my blanket, and my sheets. Good times.
2) you need a specialized wardrobe. I knew that. Rather, I thought I knew that, but I totally underestimated, well, everything. I have the right bras in the right quantity, but my newly ballooned balloons don't even fit into most of my clothes. The clothes they do fit into usually restricts access, which is very important these days. So, baby = yet another wardrobe.
3) a complete loss of modesty. While in the hospital, approximately 20 people saw my swollen, stretch marked boobs. And I totally didn't care. At least 3 women I do not know touched my breast(s) to help me adjust my latch, and it was more like getting help moving furniture than a 'bad touch.' And when the photographer came to our home for the newborn photo session, I started nursing - and I'm not yet a pro so much boob was flashed - right in front of her without a second thought. Only afterwords did I think to ask R if I should have been more discreet (for the record, he said she was probably used to it).
*Note: I knew a lot about breastfeeding. I've done research for WIC on ways to increase breastfeeding in certain populations, I've attended lactation classes, I've watched many of my friends and relatives breastfeed, and this was stuff NObody thought to mention.
Taking the baby out. We started taking our baby out fairly early. It's June, the weather is nice, it isn't cold or flu season, and I don't let strangers touch him, so that's totally okay. Seriously, our pediatrician says so. But not everyone agrees. Some people are fascinated to see him, some think its totally normal, and then there are people who give you death stares because he's too new to be outside. One lady even told me that she waited 6 weeks before leaving the house with her baby.
I'm sure there are other things I'm forgetting, but I need to go and see about that breastfeeding thing again.