Now What?!

A Grumpy Guide to Pregnancy

Saturday, February 14, 2009

One year out

Just have a couple of thoughts as we hit the one year mark (!), not on parenthood but on the aftermath of pregnancy and all the crazy bodily changes, so thought I'd post them here in case they might be of use to somebody else wondering about that later set of indignities.
  • So, a number of you are bummed that you had a c-section. Longer hospital stay, recovery from major surgery, further restrictions on your ability to move around and get some part of your life back on track. Thought it might help to hear that vaginal birth is no bed of roses either (and since I got induced, nothing about my delivery really Went The Way I Imagined either, other than avoiding surgery). Anyway, many indignities that have lingered far past the first few weeks, namely,

    1. Hemorrhoids. These were something I never really knew anything about, other than laughing about some ads on late-night TV. Now I know more than I ever wanted! Apparently all that pushing just blows the anal veins into a tangle of complaint. I've been awakened in the night with ass-itch. I've had blood in the toilet after a poop. And I've quadrupled the amount of toilet paper that it takes before I'm convincingly wiping clean. Gross, I know, but there you have it. Preparation H may help, but basically this is just part of my new life (helping me feel old). They apparently don't do surgery for these critters any more, although if the bleeding recurs, I'm going to ask my doctor about UV cauterization...

    2. Incontinence. Apparently your bladder is one of the things that doesn't bounce back after a pregnancy. The baby squashed it, and now it's settled into a new part of your abdomen. For me, this means that I'll never go padless again -- at least, every cough (including those "it's just cold out here" complaints from your lungs) is likely to mean a few drops, and when I play racquetball, I pretty much pee myself with all the swings and dives and running around. A panty shield is enough most days, but r'ball or a cold mean the maxi. I'm pretty unamused by all this and am likely to go for a fairly common surgery that [insert hand-waving] lifts your bladder and reattaches it to the abdominal wall or something, such that you empty it better and regain better sphincter control. If it weren't for how scary hospital-acquired infections are (and for my gynecologist's lingering belief that I intend another child), I'd have done this one already.

  • Ok, so function in your nether regions isn't too spiffy. How about getting your figure back? I have better news here, but also mixed with catches.

    1. Weight. My advice is to not try to lose weight so long as you're breastfeeding. Some people (including my cousins) lose a ton of weight painlessly during the later months of breast-feeding -- heck, the kid is pulling hundreds of calories at that point -- but most people do not. For my part, I was pretty noteworthily hungry and often had an afternoon muffin snack in addition to the double-oatmeal breakfast that I was powering down and various whole-milk cravings, etc. However, once I weaned, all that dropped away, and I was able to lose weight with a relatively moderate set of changes -- e.g., keeping ice cream out of the house, passing on seconds, getting lots of fruit and vegetables into my meals -- without being hungry or feeling deprived at all. I even ate a full Thanksgiving dinner (complete with all the desserts), had a little chocolate around Christmas, and still managed to lose something like 20 pounds in 4 months and get back into my pre-pregnancy pants. Of course, I only got there in the last month or two, so it's taking a while to remember how I used to dress (and feel!) when I had more than 2-3 pairs of pants to choose from... heh.

    2. Boobs. I have to separate these out from general weight issues. I went up some 4 bra sizes during pregnancy, stayed there during breastfeeding, and basically, 6 months later am down only one size from the maximum. I gather that these outcomes are completely unpredictable -- you might go back to your previous size, be (or just feel) smaller after "deflation", or stay at some larger size. A lot of folks seem to hope for that last outcome, but for myself, having started at the large end of Sizes You Can Actually Find in Stores, I'm not all that excited, and I may well have troubles in ever buying a dress off the rack again. After a flurry of online shopping, I've found some non-orthopedic-looking bras that make me feel human again, but I'm not getting rid of any of my favorite maternity shirts...
Edit: Almost forgot! Additionally, there was a Weird Hair Thing. The books warn you that during pregnancy you stop shedding hair, so a couple weeks after delivery you may see a lot in the shower drain. Fine. What nobody told me to expect was that six months later, when I stopped breastfeeding, I'd have another hormone shift that would affect my hair -- that is, about a third of it either fell out or broke off. I knew it wasn't looking great, but what with having to pull it back every day (because of Grabby Baby Hands), I didn't realize the extent of the damage until one day I realized that some 1/3-1/2 of my bangs were about 3/4 inch long! A very understanding hair stylist made me feel much better when he shortened my hair all around and "invented" some extra bangs from farther back on my head until such a time as the rest grows back -- the short stuff is still only about half the length of the rest of my bangs (and presumably there's short stuff all over my head too), but I think I can see the end of the tunnel. Still, I thought I'd start feeling human again when I could get back into some of my civilian clothes; didn't expect this other weirdness to hang around!

So, that's all I've got. Hopefully nothing new will turn up. Lots of thoughts on parenthood and the cuteness of my kid, but that's fodder for a different discussion...