The 4th trimester. I had never given much thought to it you know. There’s a lot of information out there about pregnancy and birth but not much on postpartum. I was so excited for when my baby would come. Huge bonus I would not be pregnant anymore. I wrote a brief post about this earlier, being home with my son and what came after giving birth. I thought I’d go a little more in-depth with some stuff that happened past that “6 week recovery period”. Obviously writing about postpartum pregnancy up until that first 5 or 6 weeks was just the beginning, but you can read it here.
What I didn’t know at the time is that it wouldn’t get better after those first 6 weeks. I’m sure there are a lot of you who may struggle with postpartum issues and just haven’t talked about it or really made it known publicly. I don’t blame you. It’s a private topic, embarrassing even. You don’t want people to know what’s going on, and most people would think it’s weird if you tell them. It’s a vulnerable subject. A lot of what I experienced postpartum I hadn’t read anywhere before giving birth. So I decided to write my story, not to scare any of you first time mama’s who are about to bring a baby into this world, but to give you a little insight on some of the less talked about areas about postpartum. I pray that you don’t have any complications, that you heal quickly and really enjoy those first few weeks and all the time after with your precious little bundle.
It’s been 131 days since my little baby boy entered the world. It was a remarkable day. I think back at how ordinary the day started, just another day pregnant, rolling out of bed. I was dreading my appointment that day because let’s be real, cervical checks are unpleasant. I had been 5 cm dilated for about a month, and nothing was changing. My OB had me come every week for a month and there was no progress each time. That day, however, I was 7 cm when she checked. I wasn’t in labor, but she checked, looked up at me and said lets go have a baby.
Fast forward 3 days and we were finally home. I was so happy to be in my bathroom and my bed. Sitting down hurt for obvious reasons, those stitches hurt like a lot. Getting around was a little more difficult. I felt like all my muscles, my back, core and leg muscles were just so weak. Things were going well after about a week, I was healing and starting to feel more like myself. Minus the insane emotional roller coaster that was my next few days, postpartum hormones are as crazy as they say. My doctors were really good about checking, and the at home nurse check was really good too. My essential oils really came in handy then. Mostly Joy – a blend of but a lot of the relaxing oils, like Stress Away and Lavender were really good for me too (you guys can read all about them here if you’re interested in oils and what to try them for yourself).
I was starting to feel much better. Things were getting easier, my back wasn’t hurting as much. I could do like ½ a sit up, so things were looking up. One day I woke up, things were great and I went out with my mom. We did some shopping and running around. After walking around for a bit I started to feel this weakness in my upper legs. Like I had to sit down really badly. There was also this intense pain where my stitches were. After a couple of days of that same pain I went to my OB. I had been taking Naproxen for the pain since giving birth, so I just kept using it. I thought maybe it was an infection or something, but everything was fine. The pain never subsided, I started to think that the pain would never go away and I won’t be able to enjoy my regular boring days, let alone adventures and stuff with my family without being in pain. After a couple of weeks and a few breakdowns, I went back to my OB, and she referred me to a physiotherapist.
After my first physiotherapist appointment, by just describing my pain and some of the other symptoms she knew exactly what I was dealing with. It amazed me. I had something known as Vestibulodynia. Basically it’s a pain disorder, kind of like a phantom limb, but in this case my brain thought I was still enduring the trauma of giving birth. I’m still going to physiotherapy, at first it was every week, then every 2 and now it’s every 3rd week. I’m starting to feel like there is an end, a light at the end of the tunnel as they say. Errands are getting easier. I can really focus on my son fully, without pain for the first time since giving birth. I would recommend pelvic floor physiotherapy to every woman that’s given birth. It helps ease the pain after and just gets you on the right track for an easier recovery and gives you more pain free time with that precious bundle, that newborn stage doesn’t last long.
Things were looking up, but after a couple of months, I started getting sick. Everytime I ate, I thought maybe it was allergies but then it started to get worse. I started cutting foods out, gluten, eggs, dairy. But that wasn’t enough. ANYTIME I ate, my stomach would start hurting so much, doing anything hurt, standing straight – the only thing that helped at the time was curling up into a fetal position. That made it a little hard to nurse and basically take care of my baby. Thank God for my husband who was so amazing and helpful. After a little research I found other people who were on Naproxen and had experienced the same thing. Some of them never went back to eating regular foods again. I started to stress about what nutrients my baby wasn’t getting while I was nursing. Was he getting enough, is his milk okay? It just kept getting worse. I did learn eventually that your body would eat itself first to provide your baby with enough nutrients, so he was good. I took a little longer but thank goodness for my digestive support essential oils (ill post my blend sand recipes for postpartum here for you guys). My doctor said that it would take 3-6 months to get back to eating regular food again. After applying a little tummy oil after each meal I was back to normal in 2 months.
Before giving birth, I didn’t know things like phantom pain after birth was a thing, let alone there are physiotherapists to help you heal after giving birth. Or that by taking something to help ease one pain would actually cause more pain. There isn’t much out there about what postpartum is really like. My hope by sharing my story with you guys is that it’ll break that idea that you’re healed and back to your old self by 6 weeks. You went through something miraculous. You grew and nurtured a bunch of cells into this beautiful little tiny human who enters the world in the most dramatic way. Your body goes through so many changes, your bones are literally altered after giving birth. And society says you have to be back to normal and even back at work after 6 weeks.
It’s been 131 days, and I’m still not “who I was before.” It takes time. I’m a mother now, my needs come second to that tiny little human and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My body isn’t the same. I have new stretch marks, saggy skin and a little more pudge around the edges but I know that it is evidence of the gift I received, the privilege that God granted me, being the mother to my precious Malachi.
Live Courageously, Love Crystal