Nine months of pregnancy is actually more like ten - and that last four weeks count
Let's start at the beginning: we talk about nine months. But, really, prepare yourself for ten. Pregnancy is 40 weeks. Line the knuckles of your hands up and do the whole January, February, March trick. It doesn't matter!
Because when you are 38 weeks pregnant, you require assistance to put on shoes, and you spend your day clocking 108 steps on your Fitbit while running on five hours of restless sleep, you'll curse that sneaky extra time. And when you hit those final four weeks you aren't going to believe you can get bigger.
Look at me. Look right into my eyes. You can.
Your favourite influencer lied to you
We don't ask someone who just got hit by a car when they're planning on getting their pre-car-crash body back. Why do we treat the rehabilitation of postpartum mothers like some kind of weird competition?
I'll never forget trying to go for a walk about a week after Row was born. It was one of those incredible summer evenings in Vancouver and I live on a busy, bustling bike path. My Abuela was spending the night to help out and I insisted on going for a walk - something she had been firmly against. About a block from my house, as I pushed the stroller along the bumpiest sidewalk (have you ever seen a newborn in a bassinet?), I realized that I couldn't physically do this.
I cried as we turned around and headed back. I felt stir crazy in the house on a 24-hour, on-demand breastfeeding schedule. I was dying to feel like the woman who could reach 108 steps on her Fitbit again. After hearing everyone's stories about being fit and getting back to normal almost immediately, I just assumed that I would be the same.
I can't speak for all women or all births, but the truth is you will likely be sore and bleed for weeks - if not months. Give yourself time. More time than even seems reasonable. If you have a next time around, you'll probably have a toddler who makes it a lot harder to do this, so give yourself the star treatment on the first go.
Your shower drain will look worse than that scene in Psycho
Going into this thing I understood that my body would change - maybe indefinitely. Six months postpartum and there's a bit of tummy that might never disappear. There are also dramatic stretch marks that, while I refuse to call them my "tiger stripes" or any other IG meme nonsense, I do feel proud of. They are the result of the most challenging physical feat I could ever have conceived of - before that I had 'speed reading' and 'walking my dog around the block' on my resume of activity. There's just one thing I didn't anticipate.
The unconscionable hair loss.
You've just given up nearly a year of soft cheese, alcohol and physical comfort. You've gone through the most physically demanding and scary (it doesn't have to be scary, but in all fairness, the unknown often is) thing you'll do. Surely, now, it all stops.
Okay, fine. Some hair falls out. But it's just a little bit, right? Like the extra you had while pregnant?
Okay, but it will obviously fall out in a really sensible, even manner?
Every time I run a brush through my hair, every time I shower, every time I deign to take a step in any direction, clumps of hair fall out. With so many loops now required to secure my hair into a ponytail, my hair ties are exhausted. I actually wondered if there was something medically wrong.
Nope. Apparently this is part and parcel. Be prepared.
The "Baby Blues" are a messed up euphemism for postpartum depression
As new mothers today, we're lucky that some high profile people have stepped up to share their experiences with postpartum depression. Still, the actual experience of "Baby Blues" surprised me. This is a pretty delicate issue for an internet listicle, so I just want to impart this:
The "Baby Blues" are not necessarily just feeling weepy at commercials, though that certainly may be how they feel for you. However, if you're like me, they might feel pretty unbearable. I notice they tend to feel worse in the evenings, and day four(ish), when the euphoria of the post-birth hormones are winding down, is especially hard.
It's only if these feelings don't subside within a couple weeks - to a month - that they suddenly lose the cutesy nickname and become postpartum depression. It's literally defined by a matter of how long you feel shitty.
So know this: most women will experience the "Baby Blues" to a degree, and they don't necessarily feel different from postpartum depression. Don't be afraid to talk to your partner, family, midwife/doctor or doula, or to call the Pacific Post Partum Support Society or even 911 for help. Really.