Even before getting pregnant, I read all the books, scoured all the blogs, and had endless coffee chats with other mama friends about everything from cervical mucus to birth plans. We took the classes. We watched the videos. We were ready to have a baby. What I wasn’t ready for was all of the “neat” surprises that turned up after baby was born. Friends and family love to share stories about the woes of pregnancy and birth, but no one prepares you for when you’re standing in the frozen pizza aisle three weeks postpartum and you literally pee your pants.
Why is no one talking about this stuff? Are we all too afraid to tell our friends that pooping is going to suck for a few weeks or that sex with your husband may never be the same? It’s time to get down and dirty. Here’s 10 things that might change after you have a baby.
- Lady town might change. We all know tearing is a very real result of pushing something the size of a cantaloupe out of a hole the size of a Bic pen. Practitioners will stitch you up and tell you to wipe with witch’s hazel and sit on ice for a few days and you’ll be “good as new,” but what they might not tell you is that scar tissue may form. Some women are more prone to it than others, but this dense tissue may cause all kinds of issues – things like sitting down, wearing tight clothes, and sex may not be comfortable. If it seems like things aren’t right, go talk to a practitioner and get checked out. There are lots of things they can do – there are even physical therapists who specialize in this. I’m not kidding! You won’t be sorry.
- Sex might change. All the “fun” I talked about above? It might make sex completely different, even painful long after the 6-week mark. This may not be an easy pill to swallow, especially for your loving and patient partner. Give yourself time, be honest with your partner, try to relax, drink wine, buy some lube, and if it doesn’t get better, talk to your doctor.
- Your ability to “hold it” might change. About three weeks after having my daughter, we were out for a nice family stroll around the neighborhood, when suddenly, I got the urge that I needed to go to the bathroom. Not in a “Let’s start heading toward home” sort of way, but in a “give me the keys and sprint (well, sort of a sprint/waddle) home” sort of way. It doesn’t last forever, but don’t try to hold it. The story at the top about the frozen pizza aisle?….I didn’t make that up.
- Your body might change. This seems like an obvious one, but even after losing the baby weight and exercising regularly again, my body is different now. You may have stretch marks or extra skin. You may develop dark spots or even cysts. Your breasts may look and feel completely different. Clothes you used to wear may just not fit the same. Society likes to place all of these expectations on us as women that make all of these changes feel like something to be ashamed of. You carried life inside of you! You protected and sustained another human being! Your body is incredible! Wear it with pride, but know it may not ever be the same.
- Your marriage might change. Remember how you had to get used to living with another human being when you first got married? You had to navigate who was going to do the cooking and how you were going to do laundry, and how two people were going to get ready at the same time in one tiny bathroom? You have to do that all over again, only in a different way when baby hits the scene. The first few weeks are straight survival mode, but as the dust settles, you’ll have to relearn how to be husband and wife while also being mom and dad. Try to be patient and forgiving and don’t forget to take care of each other while taking care of that baby. Maintaining a healthy marriage is one of the best gifts you can give to your baby. Don’t neglect it.
- Your friendships might change. A text from a friend at 3:00 on a Friday asking if you’re up for a movie might no longer be met with “only if we can share the vat of popcorn.” Friends you used to see or talk to weekly might become friends you see on occasion. Friday nights at the playground may actually begin to trump Friday nights at the bar. You may find that “time with friends” is now called “playgroup,” and conversations are constantly interrupted with requests for snacks or skinned knees. You may also find that you really value and appreciate any night you get to put on a top you can’t nurse in and go out with friends sans baby. Because those nights are limited, you might really start thinking about whose friendships you value the most and invest in those.
- Your house might change. The gorgeous glass bowl your Aunt Connie got you for your wedding that you use as a coffee table centerpiece may be replaced with puzzles and sippie cups. You saw this one coming. We all know babies come with incredible amounts of “stuff,” but I did not expect for it to literally take over my entire home. I’m not kidding, my husband and I actually moved our master bedroom so that we could make the big room into a playroom for our child. I have bruises in all stages of black, blue, and green on my legs from running into gates. My once organized kitchen drawers have become havens of entertainment while I’m cooking. Just be prepared. Needing to move a chair to make room for the baby swing is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Your future plans might change. The college girl who was going to “change the world one student at a time” or “drive a BMW by the age of 25” might be appalled to know that her life goals now include driving a mini van and going to story time on Monday mornings. Some women are ready to put the high heels back on after maternity leave; others are ready to trade in the heels for a while in the name of yoga pants and Play Doh. There’s no right or wrong, but know that the desire to change your work goals for a part-time or stay home option is a totally normal response after having a baby.
- Your capacity to like other people’s children might change. Sure, you loved your nieces and nephews before you had a baby and you tolerated it when your girlfriend’s sitter got sick and she had to bring the baby with her to girl’s night, but if you’re like most of us before having a baby, sitting in the floor playing peek-a-boo just isn’t an ideal way to spend an evening. Face it, kids are cute for a reason; they are attention sucking, explanation seeking, exhausting little humans. I’ve always loved my friend’s children, but I’m not sure I really liked them. Then I had a baby, and now I live for opportunities to spend time with friends and their kids.
- YOU might change. It won’t happen overnight, but over time, you might realize you’re no longer the person you were before you became a mama. The timid, non-confrontational woman might have turned into a Mama Bear who doesn’t hesitate to advocate for herself and her child. You might find that the self-conscious person you used to know now sings the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” at the grocery store or breastfeeds at the mall without a cover. The person who used to look forward to getting dressed up and going out on the town might now look forward to living room dance parties and ice cream sundaes in pj’s. Once the line turns pink, there’s no looking back. Your life will never be the same again. You will never be the same again.
A baby changes everything. Embrace it.