This week I have shared the ten biggest surprises I had after having my twins in 2008.
Today we finally talk about number ten, the biggest surprise.
I’ve also added a bonus surprise to the end…”end” being the appropriate word for it.
10. Oh, goodbye, shame. I don’t think we shall ever meet again.
This, I think, was the most important thing that happened to me after delivery that I did not know about ahead of time.
Before I had kids, I had this quality called “shame.” That’s when you care who sees your inner labia. That went away during a very special moment I shared with my nurse’s aide, Lourdes.
Lourdes took me to the bathroom for the first time after delivery. She helped me onto the toilet, and then — while a variety of things were evacuated from my body — squatted in front of me and used a Perineal Irrigation Bottle (“taint cleanser”) to rinse my hoo ha clean. Yes, I did number one with a woman less than a foot from my vagina, squirting all of the post-baby stuff off of me.
This was a moment of profound change for me. It was the first of many moments to come where something happened to me after I had kids that would have made me scream before I had them, but now just made me say, “What? Oh, yeah. That’s my nipple. Now can I please pay for my coffee.”
It’s also like the time one baby vomited down my back at 8am and I didn’t change my shirt till Mike got home at 5:30. Oh, I’m sorry, is the Queen of England coming over? Well then I hope she enjoys the scent of regurgitated formula because I amnot standing up unless the house is on fire, and even then I am pretty sure I can scoot out the door on my butt carrying both babies.
Almost every mother I know lost her shame at the hospital, and it’s a darn good thing because you can’t afford to have much of it when you’re a mom. You’ve got way more important things to worry about than whatever that thing is that’s stuck in your hair. Is it a Whopper? Perhaps your baby’s umbilical cord stump? Could be. But knowing right now isn’t going to make it any better, so let’s go to the park.
Bonus Surprise: “Post-Partum Poops,” or, as I called it, “No.”
Technically, this doesn’t happen till after you leave the hospital, but it is quite the landmark moment that I did not fully appreciate before I gave birth: the post-partum poop.
It. Is. The. Worst.
My friends and I talked about those post-partum poops recently (please refer to #10 about shame), and to a woman we were all terrified and/or in tears when trying to go number two. I remember one particular episode of my own when the kids were about a week old and my family was in town, visiting. We were hanging out in the living room when I stood up and said, “Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom.”
And then I didn’t return for 45 minutes.
When I came back, one of my sisters said, “Are you okay? What was going on in there?” I said, “Oh, just negotiating with god.”
It is a terrifying experience, trying to poop after you give birth. I don’t care how many stool softeners they give you, it feels absolutely certain that there is going to be some kind of explosion or tear and you are going to die on the toilet like Elvis. So then you start thinking, well, what if I never poop again? It would mean a lot of enemas, but that would be a small price to pay compared to the anguish I am currently experiencing.
But you’ll poop again…eventually. And life will go on, and you and your shameless self will walk around proudly, having survived the hideous ugly that is childbirth. And when other women worry about things like bleaching their anus before delivery or making sure to pack a “cute” hospital gown, you will walk over and give them all of your contact information because they are going to need a hug when they get home from the hospital.
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