We had just rushed to the hospital and I was worried we wouldn’t make it into labor and delivery in time before the baby started to come. When I got there, everything was rushed and my son was born within minutes of my kneeling on the bed. But when he was in my arms a relief washed over me — I did it. I had a drastically different birth than with my firstborn (a birth experience I was still bitter about 6 years later). But the journey didn’t end there. Postpartum after my second birth was nothing I’d expected.
The nursing staff all commented on how astounded they were by the quick birth, how alert my son was, and how quickly I just got up to use the bathroom alone. They said I didn’t need much help at all. But something didn’t feel right. I had constant chills then feverish sweats. There was a pain in my side that I couldn’t place and despite all of the medicine that they gave me it didn’t go away.
Since I gave birth at midnight I ended up having two overnight stays at the hospital with very little sleep. I thought I’d be low on sleep because of the baby, but it was actually due to the frequent nurse checks to make sure I wasn’t co-sleeping with him in the hospital. In a way, I was. I wasn’t about to let my baby out of my arms unless I absolutely had to (I mean, everything was new, he was just born!), but I wasn’t able to really sleep with them always coming in, either. I’m so glad that I brought my own pillows, comforter, and robe, though. Those items made the uncomfortable hospital bed a little bit easier to stand and helped with my chills. You see, I had these chills and random jitters that I couldn’t shake. And when I wasn’t freezing, I thought the heater was on full blast and I’d sweat buckets.
I thought things would get better once I was home in my own bed. We got the keys to our brand new home the day I went into labor so my husband went to go move everything the morning our son was born so that I’d have a bed and basic furnishings to come back to. But I ended up returning to the hospital ER the next day after discharge. I sat there with my newborn and husband all day long with nothing to eat, doing ultrasounds and tests to figure out why I had chills & sweats and a jabbing pain in my side. At the end of the day I was told they didn’t really know what it was, but it could be from birthing so fast.
Between birth doula training, new parent (new again in my case) classes, and Hypnobabies I spent months preparing for the birthing experience, but I did nothing to prepare for my personal transition to a mother of two. I knew nothing about what to expect in my postpartum even though I wasn’t a first-time mom. It wasn’t until I asked other moms about their postpartum that I learned what I was experiencing was something that happens in postpartum sometimes. There was an explanation to everything going on, and though the on-call OB and ER doctors couldn’t connect the dots, communicating with other moms could.
The pregnancy journey doesn’t end when you give birth, so why do we put all of the focus on getting to that point without giving moms the support and information they need for the mystery of postpartum? Why don’t we talk about all the different things that could happen in postpartum and about how different it can be not only with each mother but each birth? Besides the chills/flashes and other pains I experienced after having my son, I also had postpartum depression and anxiety again (you’re more likely to after having it with prior births) and my hormones caused pregnancy-like symptoms when my period returned. All of this led to a lot of discovery, and to my training as a postpartum doula and work to create a comprehensive online program that covers what to expect in postpartum for expecting and currently postpartum families. I dove in deep and interviewed other moms, collaborated with photographers for images, and had experts in nutrition, physical therapy, marriage & family therapy, and yoga contribute to round out the program out so that I could help other moms know what postpartum could be like before they find out the hard way, as I did. I don’t want a new (or new again) mom to have to spend all day in the ER for normal postpartum symptoms no one told her about, or to be thrown any other curveballs. That day in the ER showed me where I need to be to help other women. Postpartum is my passion and my online program for first-time, second-time, or fourth-time moms and dads is my very personal passion project that makes education, resources, and support obtainable to everyone (it aids in-person doula support really well too). I have to say, my second postpartum wasn’t easy, but it ignited something that will hopefully help a lot of families.
For more information about my online postpartum program or work as a postpartum doula and infant massage instructor, visit NavigatingParenthood.com/services.