Penelope and Oliver are 18 months apart, and I am currently 3 months postpartum. My pregnancies were pretty straightforward and I had two relatively uncomplicated births. Penelope’s was lonnng, and for Oliver’s, I climbed out of a birth pool with a head already pushed out (yep! haha). With 9+ lbs babies, I had an intact perineum both times and am forever grateful for skin elasticity! Though my postpartum periods and recoveries have been fairly easy, they haven’t been challenge free. In fact, the reason I thought about writing this post is because I’m currently going through a few postpartum complications. I also had challenges that were not directly related to me with each of my babies. By definition, postpartum means the period shortly after childbirth, so it encompasses a lot.
Penelope was born with a tongue tie. As a brand new mom, I remember not even knowing what a tongue tie was, or how it could affect breastfeeding, but with limited tongue mobility, Penelope wasn’t able to latch for longer than seconds at a time. My midwife’s support was instrumental in our breastfeeding success; she recommended we use a nipple shield right away, referred us to the doctor who performed the tongue tie revision, and even provided us the syringes we used to give Penelope top up feeds the first few days of her life. We saw a lactation consultant to evaluate our technique, perhaps that could get Penelope to latch better, but she couldn’t. At two weeks old, Penelope had her tongue tie revision, a short laser surgery that released the frenulum from under her tongue. We had to massage the wound for 4-6 weeks after to make sure the skin didn’t re-attach, but breastfeeding after that was so much better. We successfully weaned off the nipple shield when she was one month old, and breastfed until she self weaned when I got pregnant again.
Oliver was 9 lbs 8 oz when he was born, so I call his postpartum complications #bigbabyproblems ha! He had shoulder dystocia at birth; his anterior shoulder got stuck behind my pubic bone, hence my having to climb out of the birth pool with his head already out- yep. My midwife was amazing again, did some quick manipulation, and my baby was out in seconds, and perfectly healthy. If that wasn’t exciting enough though, the surprises didn’t end there. Two days postpartum, my husband and I noticed his head was still a little misshapen. I figured, vaginal birth, misshapen head, normal right? Nope. He had a cephalohematoma (a WHAT?!). His larger head bruised against my pubic bone during delivery, and caused a swelling on the top of his head. It wasn’t harmful or painful to him, it would go away on its own, and just looked a little (a lot) funny. My midwife and pediatrician told me it could take weeks or months!! to go away. I wanted my baby to have a perfectly shaped head NOW, so the waiting period sucked a little. He also had higher jaundice levels due to the extra bilirubin in his body from the bump, and almost needed light treatment for it. A few days before he turned one month old, his bump disappeared, almost over night, and he has a perfectly shaped head now. His jaundice lasted a little bit longer, but it was completely gone around 2 months old.
In the grand scheme of things, a tongue tie and a cephalohematoma are pretty minor postpartum complications, and I am grateful for my children’s health every day, but when it’s happening to your baby, it’s scary. I was also simultaneously recovering from my own labors at the time, and the first 2 weeks are when I’m most emotional and sensitive. In regards to my postpartum recovery, my first was easy. I had the occasional incontinence accident, but with pelvic floor strengthening exercises, I was able to get that under control fast. The second time around has been a little different; I have mild bladder prolapse this time, still dealing with a little bit of incontinence here and there, and I have the occasional vaginal flatulence accident during yoga class…known to many as a queef #justkeepingitreal (haha).
I know I am only 3 months postpartum, and early in my recovery, but never in my life did I think I would say I go to physio therapy… for my lady parts! ha! My boobs are a completely different shape than they were prebaby, I have stretch marks on my hips, legs and stomach area, and still working to comfortably fit into my prepregnancy jeans. I write about this comfortably for many reasons 1. It’s the reality of a lot of postpartum bodies so I know I’m not alone 2. I have a new confidence in myself since becoming a mother 3. My postpartum body housed and grew two perfect little babies, and I love my new body.
The beauty of motherhood, to me anyway, is how it shapes you in ways you didn’t expect. The challenges it throws at you, sometimes during pregnancy, sometimes in childbirth, sometimes after. We get through the unexpected, and come out of it more confident, stronger, and beautiful. We are just fucking amazing!