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As I'm sure any first time Mother can admit to, I spent hours trawling the internet looking for real life birth stories whilst pregnant with my first baby, something that'd give me some real idea of what it's like to push a baby into the world. I read many a wonderful story of a slightly painful labour, about the wonders of hypnobirthing, and how people had managed to just breathe through the pain. I was prepared!
I won't bore you with the details of my labour, but I can tell you it wasn't too great and there was no way breathing techniques were going to take the pain away!
So, my son is placed into my arms and I can tell you, there's no feeling like it. After three days of labour and about twenty minutes of sleep over two nights, I managed an hour's sleep once Emrys had arrived into the world, through sheer exhaustion.
I woke up in a sort of haze, wondering where I was. And then it hit me. The epidural had worn off and I can tell you, I felt like I'd been slapped by a wrecking ball repeatedly down there.
I'd had a big episiotomy, and the stitches down below were unnerving to say the least. Standing up for the first time after the epidural, my legs shakey, I walked through the ward with my flabby tummy in tow looking sexy fine in my blood-stained granny style nightie in search of a toilet.
Toilet located, I begin to crouch down onto the toilet, until it feels like my arse cheek is going to rip in half. After a few attempts, we manage it. Hooray! Then was the small task of trying to locate the muscles needed to wee!
Emrys and I spent the night alone on the ward. I'd had Gestational Diabetes and Strep B so the little man needed watching for 24 hours. I was rather unimpressed as I was hardly able to get up or lie down, never mind whilst holding my precious little bundle in my first feeble attempts to breastfeed.
5 PM rocks around and it's finally time to go! I can't wait for a hot bath and a decent cuppa. We leave euphoric, with our gorgeous little man in tow, sporting my best PJ bottoms and nothing but paracetamol and ibuprofen coursing through my body (the perks of breastfeeding!)—except I quickly realise it's going to take us a very long time as I am quite literally walking like I've shit myself. And the worst part? Everyone knows. Everyone knows that your fanny is destroyed by that little bundle snoozing away in his car seat.
We strap Emrys in, and then it dawns on me that I can't actually sit. I've had to lie down for the last 24 hours. Armed with a bum cushion and a pillow, we try to make me comfortable as I'm quite literally suspending myself from the handle above my seat in tears. The journey takes half an hour, with every tap on the break or bend feeling like my but cheek was going to explode out my stitches.
We arrive home; thank God! As we stand in the front room, wondering what on Earth we do now, panic starts to creep in. It's not the expected panic of "Shit, we have a tiny, helpless baby to look after." No, this panic came from the poo seeping out my arsehole at an uncontrollable rate as I stood there unable to do anything about it. Thankfully we both laugh, and I sheepishly crawl in an ungodly fashion up the stairs and proceed to clean myself up.
So, as you can see, I was basking in the delirium of postpartum life at this point.
We had many a tear as I felt I would never be able to sit again, or sleep comfortably (no fair, I've spent the last few months uncomfortable!), or take a poo without wondering if my stitches would burst. They never did thankfully. But one popped out and left a nice little hole in my butt cheek for a while.
I sit here now, exactly 8 weeks after Emrys destroyed my vagina forever, and I think not one person warned me it would be that bad. Not one sodding internet article, nor a single woman that felt the need to share their birth stories with me over the course of my pregnancy.
I still have to wear granny knickers. I tried one outing in a thong for my partner's benefit last week and ended up going commando. Any other underwear sits on my scar. I have piles that makes me butt bleed something chronic after a poo, especially as I still can't really control the rate at which my poop leaves my body. My bladder still forgets to tell me I need a wee, and I quite literally pissed myself stood in the kitchen at 4 AM waiting for Emrys to drop off after a feed last night. If I run at all, it feels like my organs are going to fall out my fanny. I'm pretty sure my bladder is prolapsed too. However, the doctor tells me that's all perfectly normal! Mate, you could have told me all this before! On the plus, sex is only mildly painful and my saggy tummy isn't as bad as it could be. Oh, and I suppose I have a wonderful little boy to keep forever!
I'm sure my story isn't representative of everyone's recovery from childbirth, but I do feel that we're not well informed about how hard those first few weeks can be. All the while you're feeling guilty for being unable to fully enjoy those precious first few weeks of your baby's life. But there we are. I sit here moaning but as I watch his little chest rising and falling as he sleeps soundly, I can honestly say it was so, so worth it.