Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Can Handle the Truth!!!!

This post is inspired by L's Favourite Things post, on her Baby B blog. I had left a comment there that started to run long, so I thought I'd just make it into a post of its own over here.

First of all, I'm not pregnant, and I have never been, at least not up until this point in my life. However, most of my friends have been pregnant already, and are now mommas. This is great on many levels; hand-me-downs, experience from which I can draw, recommendations for the best baby gear, books I can borrow, common ground and little friendlings for my babies to play with one day, and on and on. You get the picture.

That is not to say that it's all great, even though it should be. In fact, it's down-right not great in one particular way, and that is the reality that nearly all of these girlfriends continue to keep quiet when it comes to the things that I *really* need to know about being pregnant and having a baby. They gush about the miracle of life, how "worth it" everything was to have their baby, and how great it is to be a mom, but almost nobody ever elaborates on the "everything" that was worth their sacrifice. Sure, I know about the pain of labour, and swollen ankles, and sore backs, but the truth is that there are lots of other even more embarrassing and horrific changes that happen to the body when one is pregnant, and probably just as many disgusting things that happen post-pregnancy that someone like me should really be mentally prepared for. It is in these details, however, that most of my friends have kept silent, much to my dismay and disadvantage.

Now, that's not to say that all of my friends have been completely quiet. Tejanamama - I'm talking 'bout you here - has been very forth-coming with details, although I have the feeling she's still holding out a little, probably to keep me from avoiding motherhood altogether ;) A few others have mentioned things like the laugh-and-pee syndrome that develops once your belly grows, and one friend did tell me a very scary post-babies story about loose flapping lips ... and I'm not talking about the set on one's face. So yes, I've heard a bit about the oogly side of motherhood, but even then, I'm pretty sure it's not the whole story.

So what gives, ladies? Is it the embarrassment of admitting to having had "accidents" that keeps you from speaking up? Is it something that is too traumatic to be spoken of? Is it socially un-PC to speak ill of the pregnancy or birth process? Or does the brain just suddenly forget about all of those really gross things that happen the moment eyes are laid on baby? I have no idea what social rules of propriety are keeping these women from voicing their not-so-nice experiences, but I for one would like to know. I can handle the truth!!! Really, I can. And honestly, knowing makes it easier for me to prepare myself mentally for whatever horrors lay ahead.

This is why I am asking, imploring, that you open up to me about the not-so-glamourous parts of having a baby. Don't hold back, either; I want to hear the grossest, nastiest stories you've got. I need to make sure I know what I'm getting into, and I already know about the sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice that accompanies parenthood. The details I want are the ones that all of your books don't even mention, the things that caught you by unpleasant surprise, and the things that made you go red. I can read the books I borrow from you for the other details; give me the real deal.

My future self thanks you in advance ;)


Angela said...

Not that I am an expert (only having done the pregnancy and childbirth thing twice), but I'll give you my quick two cents: women forget. I, along with all the ladies I've talked to seem to forget the majority of the nasty bits (like the giant pail underneath the birthing table to catch all the gushing and goop, the first attempt at a bowel movement after the baby is finally born or the toe curling pain at a baby learning how to nurse on your cracked and bleeding nipples). Well maybe forgetting is the wrong term - at the very least the memory of the really tough parts is so dulled that even a short time later that women tend to forget how gross/painful/horrifying the stuff truly was - seriously, within only a few days of giving birth (especially after my first babe) the dulling process had begun. It is my very unscientific opinion that if this memory dulling didn't occur no woman would ever have more than one child. Maybe its the euphoria of snuggling with your brand new baby. Maybe its hormones. Or maybe it's a gift so that we forget that it took a dozen tries over the span of 4 days along with multiple doses of warm prune juice, holding a pad to your privates and a husband cheering outside the bathroom door in order to get that first postpartum poop.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Thank you! :) See, that was some new information that I'm glad to have known (did not know about post-baby constipation - does that happen w/C-sections too?). I know God quasi-wipes women's memories for the sake of populating the earth, but I don't think that the "dulled" details need to be omitted all the time. Knowing that I might be bunged up after having a kid helps me to not panic when/if I'm not able to pass anything after a few days. Likewise, I'm glad to hear that not everyone finds nursing this glorious and easy experience, and that pain could be part of the process. As for the catch-all tray, I didn't know about that but I guess it makes sense when you think about it. They just never show it on TV so I never thought about where the extra goo goes ;)

Thanks Ang! And I'm so glad to hear from you - it has been a while! Are you on Facebook yet?!? ;)

Angela said...

Heh, it's not so much that I was constipated (although some people are, I'm sure) - it's that I was so scared to push too hard and to rip a stitch out. With my son I had a vaginal birth and some very fabulous second degree tears and consequently a few stitches. My daughter was a c-section and my lady bits were fine but I was still scared to push a staple out on my incision (despite the fact that my sis, the nurse, assured me that it would be very difficult to do). Seriously, Mark was on the other side of the bathroom door after both babies cheering me on and I think I actually yelled "SCORE" and pumped my fist in the air victoriously when there was finally some action. Breastfeeding definitely was not the easy, natural process that I had imagined (it got better the second time around). Toe-curling pain with bruised, cracked and bleeding nipples (which did get much better after liberal applications of lancinoh, airing the girls out at every possible moment, and time). Good to hear from you too...of course I'm always here lurking in order to follow whats happening with you:) I've decided to opt out of facebook mania, but I'll drop you a line to let you know what we're up to (since you can't spy on me like I do with you:))

~Rain``` said...

When people asked me, "So, are you excited to have a baby?" my answer was often, "Well, kind of - I'm scared."

Now we are contemplating child #2 and part of me cringes: do I want to go through 9 months of pregnancy again AND the first couple months of pure chaos with a newborn and a messed up body?

Well, yes...

But here is what I dread about pregnancy:

1. Being tired, nauseated, smell-sensitive, and emotional for the first trimester.
2. Ballooning out again, gaining weight, and losing my waistline.
3. Sore feet, sore back, sore hips, sore everything.
4. Being worried about my baby, getting stressed at each ultrasound, and panicking when I do not feel the baby move.
5. Not being about to shave my legs in the last trimester because I can't reach down there!
6. Experiencing food aversions, especially previous favorite foods.
7. Prenatal classes: in retrospect, take everything they say with huge grains of salt!

As for labor:

1. The pain. Thus, I went for an epidural.
2. The "burn" when the baby's head emerges.
3. No sleep, no food.
4. Watching my husband feel helpless.
5. Being exposed for everyone to see.
6. Being so weak after labor, that I almost fainted in the shower.


1. Too many visitors, advice, and health nurses.
2. Feeling helpless: the day we took her home, I cried. I was so scared.
3. Awful constipation.
4. Sore bottom: hurt to sit and nurse baby.
5. Jaundice baby + low milk production = hellish experience. My life for the first six weeks postpartum was attempt BF'ing, supplement with formula, and pump milk (took an hour). Repeat in 1 - 2 hours, all day, all night. Insane.
6. Anxiety attacks and very little sleep. I was so worried about my daughter. I would wake up with my heart racing, "Gotta feed baby!!!"
7. Feeling guilty for months when I had to switch to formula.

I'll stop now... :) But, I would do it again... Honestly.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

@Angela - Yeah, you'd better drop me a line chickee! ;) I am glad you lurked but frankly, I don't suppose I go into enough detail on this thing for you to *really* know what's going on, do I? Yikes..maybe I do! *EXPOSED.* And I like that Mark was so supportive and encouraging, even with regard to bathroom activities. That's how I know you guys are great for each other! :)

The nipples thing is new info to me. Did not know they would get cracked and dry. Would BioOil during pregnancy help this condition? What causes them to suddenly get so parched? Is it all the sucking from baby?

@Rain - Thank you! A pretty detailed list of some of the not-so-great moments of pregnancy. I like the list format math teacher of you! ;)

I hadn't thought about the emotional ugliness of baby-birthing. I mean, I know about ME being emotional; during PMS I'm already nightmarish. Add a few more hormones and I'm probably going to be a monster with a belly. :) But the part about seeing hubby be helpless - that did not occur to me, but I can see how that too is a not-great thing.

What do you mean, NO FOOD, NO DRINK?!? *PANIC*

Also didn't realize the "push" led to "burn" - sometimes I'm still thinking I might elect for that C-section when the time comes.

I've oft heard about breast-feeding challenges; not enough milk, painful milk production, excessive milk... how did women do this back in the middle ages?!? or during Biblical times?!? I don't think there is anything wrong with supplementation by formula. I was raised on formula and I'm healthy and hefty. ;)

~Rain``` said...

You know me - I love lists!

Yah, it was hard seeing my husband overwhelmed with me groaning during contractions. He helped massage my back (had a lot of back labor, daughter's head was sideways instead of down) but after about 6 cm of dilation, I didn't want him to touch me. I received the epidural at around 7 cm. While it relieved the pain (wow), it did slow down the labor and I didn't deliver until 4 hours later. But I was able to rest until the last 45 minutes of pushing. Advantages and disadvantages.

No food, but yes, you may drink juices, water, and/or broth (or suck on popsicles). That was what I was advised. Once labor starts, I was told not to eat solids. I guess there is less to throw up if you have that side effect during labor (I didn't). Also, less to expel when you are pushing and you no control of what is coming out! Bleh...

It is quite the burn, even with the epidural. Stretch, led to rip in my case (2nd degree tear, though the worst is a 4th degree tear). Positive? Burn means baby is about to enter the world!

Good to hear that you are a healthy formula fed baby. :) Honestly, those breastfeeding classes made it sound like you would end up with a stupid, unhealthy child if you opted for formula (my husband and I have taken to call such extremists "Breastfeeding Nazis").

Anyway, what did they do in the middle ages (or before formula)? Well, if a woman had low milk production, she would send her baby to a wet nurse. The nurse basically took care of the baby until he or she was weaned. Or they would circumvent the whole experience and give the child goat’s milk. Or the baby would die of malnutrition. Sad, but true. Thus, praise God for formula!

tejanamama said...

I think part of it is that it is SOOO completely unique. I had a very different experience with birth (post and pre baby) and nursing. Every experience is really sooooooooo unique. Even from one kid to the next! So I think hearing TOO MUCH can be a bad thing because you could experience NONE of the negatives you hear about. You might be reading into every little thing in anticipation too.

I agree that nature erases the memory but SO DOES the SERIOUS lack of SLEEP! HONESTLY, no joke, i BARELY remember post-pardum with Leni. I remember bits and peices here and there due to drugs at first, then pain then depression! ADD TO THAT serious lack of sleep? I was in a damn haze and so with Emilia, some things are COMPELTE firsts to me! Or so it feels as if they are! WHO KNOWS FOR SURE! ;)

MUCH of the population is fed from formula esp because nursing fell out of fashion a ways back and seems to be emerging again. Some ppl are nazi-ish about it, but i think its worth it. IT IS HARD WORK for damn sure and thrush is SOOO not fun (had it twice in three months here! :( UGH) but because you never want to regret something later, i am doing it. I want to be able to have had that experience for better or worse, as a woman. Missed out ont he stretched out vjayjay deal so I'm taking this one. :) I sometimes think it isnt worth it because it is so rough (esp with the sleep issue) but it will pass in time and will make me stronger i am sure.

anyhoo there is much more...i will remember and share more gory fun with you later ;)

i think i hear a tick tock in the background somewhere??? ;) its faint...but i hear it!!!!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

True, lack of sleep probably contributes a LOT to memory loss ;) I'll keep in mind that I might not experience all of the negatives that others have had, but I just want to know of all the possibilities...sort of like how I read about all of the side effects of a drug, even though I will probably experience none of them. It's a just in case thing with me. ;)

Thrush, eh? Another one to tuck into my brain since yes, for sure I want to experience the "joy" of breast-feeding, even though most are telling me it's no picnic. Maybe variety's the spice of life? My kid might want a change from my milk and so I'll have to shake things up with some formula ;)

WRITE IT DOWN before you forget it all!! I mean, Em is already a few months old..pretty soon your memory for these details might be totally wiped! ;) I'll be callin' you up for gory fun at some point so you best be ready, girl! :P

And yes, you're hearing something all right. It's my eggs..they're complaining about old age.

tejanamama said...

If you have a finky one like mine, she will turn her nose up to formula!!!! My girl knows what is "yummy" already! lol Formula STINKS. esp when it is spit up. blah. But I did formula and bm due to low production (since Elena wasnt on the breast...long story) with her. SO we dealt with MOSTLY formula feedings. With emilia it has been all BM from the start except with a few daddy formula feedings, esp at the go. and after i had some meds in the hospital there were 24 hours of straight formula. after aweek or two of NO formula feedings, I was gearing to start teaching again (and grading, which means leaving the house to be away from everyone IN ORDER TO GET WORK DONE) and we found she did NOT like the formula anymore! lol. we tried really hungry, not so hungry, soy, etc. NADA!! So i had to pump for those feedings. At first I thought it was the bottle...but it was the formula! A gal like you is bound to have one as discriminating as that!
You are too cute not to procreate so get on it already ;) LOL

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Knowing my luck, my kids will probably be picky. Actually..scratch that. Food is food, right? I'm not that picky and Hubbs'll eat anything, so hopefully mine won't get all snobby about formula.

And we're getting it on already...wait, is that what you mean? ;)

tejanamama said...

fyi josh eats anything....and u have seen my fat ass. go figure. god plays jokes on us i think. sometimes i think he is yukkin it up up there watchin me w/ my strange (to me)kids!! len barely eats!! sometimes i think i need to go on maury for dna testin!!! not my kid! ;)

Mrs. Loquacious said...

LOL..maybe Josh was like that as a kid? God definitely has a sense of humor and I'm sure He created irony, so I'm not surprised that you ended up with an opposite kid to what you were. ;)

Might I suggest Jerry over Maury? ;)

tejanamama said...

Hell no I don't wanna get beat down woman! lol

Josh was not fortunate enough to have a lot of food growing up so there was no being picky if you wanted to not go hungry. He ate some pretty bland and boring stuff. A LOT of cheap stuff. AND NOTHING as colorful and flavorful as what we feed our kid. He actually really hates that she is how she is because he wishes he had the kind of options she has. So when she turns her nose up at perfectly good YUMMY food he gets REALLY mad!!! I tell him its normal and that she eats what she needs but he hates seeing her plate full of food after she is "done" eating. "I WISH i had that to eat as a kid" is something I hear a lot from him.

He always says she is not MY Kid...and I say the same thing a lot of times. She doesn't look like me so its easier for me to get away with it though ;) But then she is a choco fiend like me and josh reminds me that she MUST be mine! ha!