Anonymous Mom: I Can’t Believe How Much Was Left Out Of My Birth Class
Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.
After all the breath work and birth balls, practicing kegels and eating kale, you’ve watched the movies, read the books and taken the classes and are now prepared to give birth. Baby comes out. Mission accomplished. You congratulate yourself and as you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, you gasp in horror because in that instant you realize: what the hell happens now? Birth class prepares you for the main event, but no one prepares you for the instant after.
You used all your might to squeeze the little critter out of you, perhaps tearing your perineum along the way. You think the pain is over but, alas, it has only just begun. At least during the birth you had a hormone cocktail to numb the, um, “sensation,” but now you feel every piercing stitch as a sharp needle is inserted into your beautiful O’Keefian orchid. Why don’t they warn you in birth class that after the petals are sewn together they resemble ground up hamburger meat that hangs down to your knees?
Speaking of hamburgers, up above someone is looking for food. If you had brought Mozart to listen to during the birth, now is the time to turn on the Jaws soundtrack as your little love monkey searches for a place try out her new found chops. What was once a sacred land of titillation (pun intended) has now become a dairy farm with chomping crocodiles.
Meanwhile your head is swimming because you haven’t slept in 24+ hours and your partner pulls out the tripod to set up the camera and you wonder out loud if you shouldn’t have gotten your hair done, since this first photo of you and your baby will live on in perpetuity. You currently resemble a wet otter who surfaced on a dirty shore with Brillo pads on her head. Certainly in the birth class they could have taken a moment to tell you to pack a hairbrush or a lipstick. Even though your partner tells you you look beautiful, you snap viciously at the person you once vowed to love in sickness and in health but don’t remember any vows about being nice with needles in your delicate flower and a piranha on your breast.
Just then the hospital orderly brings you a plate of scrambled eggs to which you normally would turn up your nose, insisting on organic-free-range blah blah blah. But at this moment you gladly lap them up because you realize you are famished. Guess they just forgot to tell you this part in the birth class.
They didn’t tell you that you can’t leave the delivery room until you urinate and if you can’t urinate on command you get a catheter inserted in you that feels about as comfortable as sitting on top of a pineapple. When you finally do urinate on your own it feels about as good as pouring salt, or urine, into an open wound—which is exactly what you are doing. No, they left that part out of the birth class.
Even though women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time, unless you grew up in a tribe where the elders pass down the tricks of the breastfeeding trade, this instinctual art is its not as easy as it looks. The instant your baby comes out, feeding him or her is your most important job. Do yourself a favor and have a lactation consultant lined up to help you so you don’t end up crying over spilled milk.
They might forget to tell you when you go home that you need to feed your baby on demand—which usually means every two hours, 24 hours a day. The clock starts from the beginning of a feed and if your little one averages 20 minutes a boob with a burp and change in between, that means you get one hour between feeds to do something for yourself which can include one of these five things:
1. Going to the bathroom. May sound simple, but urinating on hamburger meat hurts. To mitigate this feeling and to help you feel better quicker, a warm sitz bath is recommend. This is basically a shallow bath with a few inches of water that you sit in while the rest of you shivers out of the water. It’s not perfect, but you take what you can get. Just when you start to close your eyes and relax, your partner charges in with the screaming baby and insists she’s hungry. “But I just fed her,” you squeak. Overnight your partner has become a newborn expert, and he/she knows for certain the baby is hungry because she is crying (he or she reasons that she has been changed and burped and therefore there could be no other possible explanation), and your udders are once again in demand.