What the days in the hospital after giving birth are REALLY like

You’ve done it. You’ve added another human to this earth. You baked that tiny new human INSIDE YOUR BODY for nearly a year, and then, one way or another, you got that human out. You should be so, damn, proud of what you’ve accomplished, and probably in awe of how badass women are. You know what else you probably are?

Tired. So. Damn. Tired.

I’ve had one baby. Just one. A 5-pound 13-ounce teeny tiny little boy, and a few months later, I look back on those days in the hospital and shake my head. Not in a terrible way, just in a way that makes you say… Wow, that was really something, from what I can remember.

What I had envisioned the post-birth days in the hospital to be like, and what they actually were, were significantly different.

I envisioned a few blissful days, cuddling with my newborn, who would be swaddled up in a chic new swaddle set that would coordinate perfectly with my robe. We’d take pictures for Instagram in our matching ensembles. I’d hate the pictures, but decide the happiness that radiated from every inch of my being overshadowed how haggard I looked, and I’d post them anyway. I’d use a basic caption like “my little one is here, and I couldn’t be more in love.”

I’d be sore, but just so relieved labor & delivery was behind me that it wouldn’t matter. I’d be on cloud nine, euphoric. I’d have a plate of sushi and rosé on ice on my side table, I’d enjoy the things I’d been without for 9 months as a treat for crossing the finish line. I’d watch the latest episode of Ellen on the TV mounted above a dry erase board that had baby and I’s names on it. Nurses would help care for my perfect angel baby while I caught up on my rest. Baby and I would both recover in our little love bubble of a room, with Daddy by our side on the sleeper chair. I’d probably have to wear a pad because I had been told there’s some bleeding after birth. We’d figure out breastfeeding together, and if it didn’t work for us— no sweat, we’d switch to formula. After a few days, we’d go home to some sleepless nights, but we’d be so smitten it wouldn’t matter.

Sounds like pure magic, right?

Now let’s talk about how our postpartum stay in the hospital really went down.

I’d be wheeled into that room after 23 hours of induced labor, holding my little angel baby in my weak, trembling arms. I wouldn’t even know what day it was at that point because I was so exhausted and overcome with emotion that everything was just a delirious blur.

My husband would nervously scoop our tiny baby from my arms and have some skin to skin time on the one chair available in the tiny, sterile room. Meanwhile, I’d fall asleep sitting up, drool running down my face, only to be woken up to a nurse (who was a freaking saint) spreading my legs and changing the blood-soaked bed liner I was sitting on. She’d tell me “that’s totally normal sweetheart” when I panicked about just how much blood I saw. I’d ask 1,000 more times if the amount of blood soaking through the postpartum diaper situation she made for me was normal — it was.

She’d show me recipe for a classic “postpartum diaper” so I could prepare this beaut myself as to save the sliver of dignity I had left.

It was such a hit, I’ll go ahead and share it:

Classic Postpartum Diaper Recipe
Ingredients:

  •  Mesh hospital undies – Steal these—ask for more, steal those too.
  • (2) Giant maxi pads – I don’t even know where to find ones this big, I looked
  • Perineum Ice packs – the kind you crack to activate – steal these too
  • (3) Witch hazel pads
  • Dermaplast spray – for garnish

Preparation:

  • Sit on the toilet while a nurse watches
  • Hold your hospital gown up so it doesn’t fall in the toilet
  • Slip on mesh hospital undies, one leg at a time, be careful not to fall off toilet
  • Stack 2 mind bogglingly long pads lengthwise to make one SUPER PAD inside mesh undies
  • Crack, shake and activate perineum ice pack, place on top of pads
  • Place 3 Witch hazel pads on top of ice pack
  • Finish with a spritz of Dermaplast
  • Carefully pull up this concoction like a toddler in training pants
  • Repeat every 1-2 hours or as needed

I’d giggle when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, wearing nothing but my postpartum diaper situation. We’d joke about how mommy and baby were both in diapers.

I’d pee into an upside-down plastic sombrero fitted into a toilet bowl to show my nurse I peed on my own, so my IV could be removed and I wouldn’t need another catheter. Apparently adult potty training is a thing after giving birth.

Nurse after nurse, doctor after doctor would visit both me and baby, making it nearly impossible to sleep. Blood would be drawn from my arm every 6 hours to check on my blood platelet levels due to my atypical preeclampsia. My arms would be so sore and black and blue from all the blood draws that each new nurse would make a comment like “Oh my gosh sweetie who did that to you”… My arms were black and blue from wrist to armpit.

I would happily scarf down whatever plastic tray of garbage hospital food would land on my side table, and chug water from a mauve pink hospital mug like I was lost in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. I wouldn’t even think about sushi or wine for weeks.

Lactation nurses would visit, manhandling my engorged boobs trying to help get just one drop of that “liquid gold” colostrum (the first, thick, sticky milk to be produced) to drip out, and {attempt} to show me the proper way to get my baby to latch. I’d get really, really frustrated when it didn’t work. One rather aggressive lactation nurse would scrape my nipples with a plastic spoon trying to collect the aforementioned “golden droplets” of colostrum.  I’d think they were legitimately insane when they told me newborns only need a drop to sustain their first few days of life. I’d shamefully ask for a bottle so I could feed my baby.

I’d pop ibuprofen, Motrin and stool softeners whenever they arrived in a tiny clear cup. I’d fear the first post-birth poo.

I wouldn’t even dare to put on the adorable robe I got specifically for the hospital because I knew I’d just get blood on it. Instead I’d stay in the same, sexy, backless hospital gown for 3 days. It was easy access for everyone checking out my naked, swollen body anyway.

I’d leave my strategically packed hospital bag almost completely untouched.

I’d be able to count the hours of sleep I got on one hand. I’d stare at my baby in his clear bedside bassinet.

I’d take the cute picture, but refuse to be in it. I’d later regret it.

I’d finally shower on day three (only after asking my nurse if I was allowed to, I needed to be told how to do life) in a tiny, outdated shower that was shared with the recovering woman in the room next door. I’d be extra careful washing myself because lord knows what was going on down there after giving birth, and I didn’t want to find out.

I’d stare at my perfect little baby in complete awe and also just want someone, anyone, to tell me what to do next. I’d pray that the nurse would tell me how to take care of my baby and that I wouldn’t let on that I felt clueless.

Baby & I would be cleared to go home and be so excited to leave, yet petrified to not have the nurse assist me with every little thing.

But, we’d go. We’d take one last look around what was our family of three’s first little abode. We’d nervously get in the car, and ask the hospital valet to check the car seat (they were certified for this) to make sure baby was snug and secure in the car properly. We’d check again, and I’d ride home in the back seat, with my weight on only one butt cheek.

And then, we’d be home. Home to a place that wasn’t the way we left it 3 days prior. Home to our new life as an exhausted, anxious, can’t stop staring at this little life we created, family of three.

One thought on “What the days in the hospital after giving birth are REALLY like

  1. Francoise

    I laughed,i cried,i felt what you felt,helpless to your pain and state of mind,you gave us an angel,you and him would be in our hearts and soul forever,and for all the pain,the fear,the sorrow and the joy you brought to our lives,we thank you..❤💙

    Like

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