My eyes opened, dutifully obeying the stirs of the newborn who’d recently moved in to the white wicker bassinet at my bedside.
I reached for my cell phone.
He’d last eaten at 2:02. His meal lasted about… thirty… inefficient…. minutes. I burped him, rocked him, and placed him back in his bassinet (which was clearly similar to placing him in a bed of legos, as his milk drunk slumber instantly morphed into more of a tequila drunk rage). I closed my eyes and tried to catch a nap- a standing up nap- while I jiggled the bassinet like I was pulsing pina coladas.
By 2:54, the baby was fast asleep, and I raced to find my own slumber once again.
But now? It was 3:06. At best, I’d been asleep for twelve minutes! My body was heavy and still sore from my c section, but I did my best to leap out of bed in spite of the imaginary concrete blanket that warned, “No ma’am, don’t you dare leave this bed!”.
My two week-old baby was still struggling to nurse and getting him worked up beforehand only made things worse. I had figured out very little about my son, but I did know a quick response “usually” meant better results. I sprinted to his aid while he was still groggy in hopes my attentiveness would bring about a more cooperative eater and, in turn, a more cooperative “fall back to sleeper”.
Cradling my fidgety newborn, I collapsed in my glider and did my best to stay awake while he nursed.
I was a mess.
I knew it.
Exhausted. Sweaty. Headachy. And… incredibly smelly.
My postpartum side effects were in full swing, and I’d not had a clue what to expect.
Here are a few strange postpartum conditions you may want to prepare yourself for:
1. Headaches. A woman’s body goes through an incredible hormonal adjustment after having a baby, so it’s no wonder it felt like I had a construction crew building bridges in my brain. In addition to the hormone party, I was sleep deprived, stressed, and dealing with the aftermath of anesthesia. By four months postpartum, I began to see a decrease in the frequency of my headaches, and by five months, I was back to my old self.
2. Swelling. I had cankles when I was pregnant, but after having my baby, I had ginormous, thankles (yes, my thighs and my ankles became one). Swelling after labor is normal, generally harmless, and should subside within a week or two.
3. Night Sweats. In order for your body to purge much of the excess fluid retained during pregnancy, you may experience night sweats. Many of my nights required total outfit changes, as my pajamas were SOAKED.
4. Body Odor. It may seem to go hand in hand with the excessive sweating, but with all the breastfeeding, and baby spit up, and postpartum bleeding, I took my fair share of showers. Regardless, I smelled like a deli. Specifically, the onions in the deli. It was perplexing and gross and kind of made me want a sandwich at 3:00 in the morning.
5. Hair Loss… and Gain. Of all the childbirth side effects, I’d heard of lots women losing a significant amount of hair after delivering their babies. I was no exception. My long, thick, shiny pregnancy hair quickly took a nosedive. I lost it by the handfuls. I clogged our shower drain weekly. I cleaned my hairbrush every single day. My hair dulled and became coarse and frizzy, and to this day, feels like someone else’s hair. On the “upside”, however, I gained a killer mustache, rapid-growth chin tresses, and an occasional nipple sprout. Sexy. Fortunately, those “gains” began to wain by about four months postpartum. Thank. Gawd.
6. Foot Growth. The extra weight of the baby combined with the increase in hormones that make your ligaments more flexible during pregnancy can often result in dropped arches and a larger shoe size. My foot grew a size and a half!