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Bye-Bye Pelvic Floor! This & 3 Other Things That Happened To Me Postpartum
Motherhood

Bye-Bye Pelvic Floor! This & 3 Other Things That Happened To Me Postpartum

When I found out that I was pregnant, I was elated to get started with digging my teeth into the birthing process. My husband and I were set on doing a home birth, so my focus had been completely devoted to creating a space (mentally and physically) that would be conducive to bringing our baby into the world.

I was learning my body, all over again. As each week passed, there were subtle and obvious nuances (changes) that were occurring. I ate very well and healthy (to my standards LOL). I was doing pool workouts about three times a week. I walked a lot. I thought that I had set myself up for success, not realizing that I had spent most of my pregnancy focused on the here, the now, and the birthing process.

It wasn't that I was oblivious to the postpartum period of pregnancy, but it just didn't strike me as a necessity to place my focus there. Yes, I had listened to podcasts. Yes, I watched videos and read a plethora of books and articles. But, I was also traveling with my husband throughout my pregnancy. We had been to five countries and the priority had been solely on where we would have the baby and safety. Little did I know, I was in for a rude awakening!

Upon having our son, I had moments of being completely outside myself. To some degree, I thought I was losing my mind. That is, until I asked other mothers and realized that I wasn't the only one. Although not every woman will feel the same or can relate, I know these experiences need to be shared.

Here are four things that I learned in postpartum:

Your pelvic floor muscles say, "Bye, Bye!”

I had a vaginal birth and had not prepared AT ALL for this part. One night, I was in the bed attempting to contract my kegels and couldn't. I panicked! So, I tried my butt muscles. Not the squeeze-and-clench cheek muscles, but the poop muscles. (Okay, so I'm not well-versed in the scientific names, but you get it.) Anyway, those muscles wouldn't move either. I remember being told that the first poop was important in the postpartum period and that women are often forced to do so before leaving the hospital. Well, thank God I didn't have to deal with that since I had the baby in my living room. But, I had become shaken at just the idea. My pelvic floor was in a state of paralysis and I was losing it!

I cried… A LOT! I thought somehow my body was failing after all the work I had put it through. I recall the time that I did have my first poop, I couldn't control it. You ever been at a friend's or at work and needed to poop, but could hear someone near the stall/bathroom? What did you do? Well, typically we all would try to make it as silent as possible because when you got to go, sometimes you just got to go!

Guess what? That control was GONE!

It was so gone, I thought I'd have to find Monica to get it back! I had gotten to the point that if I felt the need to pee or poop, I'd have to run to the bathroom to ensure that I didn't do it on myself. Not only this but every time I had to poop, it reminded me of the pain of childbirth. It was at that point that I spoke to a bunch of other moms and professionals, that I knew. I needed to know that what I was experiencing was "normal," but, more importantly, that it would go away! I hadn't realized that pushing my son out would cause me to feel less empowered as a woman postpartum. I felt so odd and every time I’d try to move the muscles, I just began to get even more discouraged.

This brought me to the next thing I learned postpartum.

Postpartum blues are REAL!

I had watched and listened to so many videos and podcasts about Postpartum Depression (PPD) and “Baby Blues,” but had somehow acquired an ignorance that it could happen to me. At the early stage of my pregnancy, I watched Melanie Fiona discuss her postpartum blues. Also, about a year before I got pregnant, one of my best friends told me about her bout with PPD. I remember thinking how horrible she must have felt wanting to love her son, but just not feeling adequate enough to. I can say I don’t believe I had full-out PPD, but more so what is referred to as “Baby Blues.” These are mood swings often related to hormonal changes that occur after giving birth. I've read many things that state somewhere between 70-80% of mothers get the blues.

The night I couldn’t feel my pelvic floor muscles, something happened to my thought pattern and my mind. I quickly looked at my son and burst into tears. I went from being an empowered warrior mom having my baby at home with just my husband and I, to trying to come to grips with a fear that my body was failing and internalizing this as me being an overall failure. My son was half a minute in the world and every time I attempted to look at him, I thought of every cruelty he’d endure. Every hurt. Every disappointment. And I thought to myself, What did I do?

It may sound silly, but I equated my inability to control my pelvic floor with also being unequipped to be a good mother. When I would feed my son, it would hurt to look at him. I was hurt to feel like he could have had a better choice of parent, but he was stuck with me.

It was also during this time that I learned my next lesson.

Exclusively breastfeeding sounds nice…

…Until you want to eat, sleep, pee, take a walk, or do anything really.

A part of my PPD was due to the fact that I’m a mover and shaker, but could not do much postpartum. I have never liked being restricted to the confines of four walls and I, was now, in a position of having to be so still. My husband and I had our son outside of the United States, due to his career, so we were hands-on 24/7 without much assistance. No family. I have always wanted to breastfeed. I always enjoyed the thought of having that connection with my child(ren). I didn’t factor in the difficulty of trying to eat a hot meal. I would sit and give my husband the illest mug, as he could enjoy his meals, but I could not.

In addition to that, I was restless. I coined the title of being a “Zombie Mom.” People often say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” but that is easier said than done. When he slept, that was my “Finally, I can pee,” “Finally, I can eat,” or “Finally, I can breathe” moments. I would hold my pee so long that sometimes I’d have to just take my son off the boob, hand him to his father, and run in hopes that my failing pelvic floor wouldn’t cause me to wet the bed. Sometimes, I’d have to make a choice, Should I force myself to sleep or go to the bathroom?

I never felt like there was much room to do both. I even tried to pump and put my son on the bottle so that I could get a break and his dad could take over. But, no. THIS. KID. ONLY. WANTED. THE. BOOB. And as people would suggest to keep trying with the bottle and the pumping, I was just too damn tired to do anything!

And in the midst of it all, I came to learn my final lesson in the postpartum period.

Do not stop taking your vitamins.

I always knew that vitamins were an essential part of the birthing process. I preferred to take the Rainbow Light brand of prenatal vitamins, although I would feel nauseated and attributed my bouts of nausea to some of the vitamins’ ingredients. My prenatals had the recommended doses of supplements and I thought I was doing something for my baby through taking them. The first trimester took the wind out of my sails and I was always catching something. I had a viral infection. I became so short of breath, I was wheezing and given an asthma pump. I would get dehydrated, which turned into migraines.

By the second trimester, I was finally feeling like I could enjoy my pregnancy. Then, the third trimester came and I thought that once the baby was here, my body would return to some semblance of good health again. WRONG! Prior to my husband and me leaving the country, I remember sitting and eating Chipotle rice. All of a sudden, my tongue grazed a rigid edge of a tooth that once stood in its totality in my mouth. I panicked! My tooth was cracked straight down the middle. A tooth that had no previous signs of decaying or cavity was now a stalactite. In my postpartum period, I gained a total of three holes in different teeth.

I had no idea that losing teeth during pregnancy and postpartum was “normal,” especially for breastfeeding moms. I was also told that if I didn’t supplement through various vitamins, aside my prenatals, that my baby would be taking it directly from my body parts. Calcium from my teeth. Bone from my bones. Hair loss? Brittle hair? Yup, that’s all baby! You get the picture? Without keeping extra supplements in my system, my baby would slowly break my body down. Fatigue? Loss of energy? These can all be attributed to breastfeeding and the need for vitamins like B12 (for fatigue), vitamin D (essential for healthy bones), calcium (for teeth), just to name a few. Who knew of all the sacrifices your body is literally making to ensure that the life you created can thrive?

As I continue the journey of motherhood, I recognize that we need to have more dialogue about what can occur postpartum. It’s important that the experiences we have, we share to help others who come behind us. I'm only four months postpartum and am still learning how to be my best self for myself, my son, and my husband.

The postpartum period is a journey, just like the nine months it takes for your baby to grow inside you. The ideology of “snapping back” is a misnomer and sends women the message of negating all she had to go through during the process of creating and giving life.

The reality is that your body will not be exactly the same. Your mindset will most certainly change. But the more you know, the better chance you have at giving yourself a break and a chance to be human!

What were some lessons you learned postpartum?


Imani is a writer, wife, and mother who spent five years as a professional Sports Broadcaster before a sporadic move to Egypt where she taught English Literature. As a Muslim woman, she does not look to stereotypes to dictate her fate and wants to cultivate a narrative that says "women everywhere, can be anything they choose!" Follow her journey on IG @SheIsAbroad_ and Snapchat @SheIsImani.

 

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