Aftermath Tips for Newbies

Obligatory money shot:

25 weeks in. My twins are each the size of a cauliflower, allegedly…if cauliflowers are 5 feet long and made of lead, because dang it that’s how they feel as they press against every internal organ and kick every last nerve in my lady regions.

You guys, I have something to confess: I am like, really old. I honestly don’t think carrying twins would have been this hard fifteen years ago. I’m struggling but more importantly, I can’t even believe I’m struggling. Literally every part of my body constantly hurts so much. My Bell’s has not made a full return (THANK THE LORDT) but it taunts me from 5 p.m. until bedtime with a relentless twitching on left side of my face. My feet swell. My head throbs. I get winded beyond belief just combing my hair.

I am waaaaaay past my pregnancy prime, leading me to become a full-force advocate for child-birthin’ in your twenties and not a moment after.

That said, I still marvel at this giant growing belly, and I am so, so thankful for the lives inside of it. Watching this brother and sister flip and twist and thump–I can’t wait to hold them. I’m excited. I’m anxious. I’m humbled.

This number of children–7–it just feels right. So many times in this past decade I thought we were surely done adding to our family, not necessarily because it’s what we wanted deep down, but because of societal norms and expectations…maybe a little exhaustion. God had different things in mind for us, and it is so much better than anything we could have planned (or prevented) ourselves. I can’t imagine life without any single one of our precious children, including the two on the way, no matter how crabby a twin pregnancy at 38 years old makes me. Being with child (or children) is a blessing and I know it.

And that said, I find myself looking forward to the eviction of these babies from my body more and more everyday. For the first time in a looooong time, I’m nervous about the post-partum weeks: what will a c-section recovery feel like? How will I feed two babies at once? How will I hold or even have time for my other children? Who can I even turn to for parenting advice when Child 3 is aggravating Child 4 but Child 1 lives in Tennessee and Child 2 is too busy to help distract Child 3 and Child 5 has scaled the safety gate and is climbing the stairs while I have Children 6 and 7 attached to my boobs like leaches?

At this point I’m running out of people who have experience with large AND I DO MEAN LARGE families. (The secrets to child-whispering of this magnitude lies of course with my kindergarten teacher friends: y’all the real MVPs.)

In the meantime I will rest in what little knowledge I do have about those six fun weeks after birthing a baby; plus it kinda helps me to think maybe someone out there could use a little friendly advice from a seasoned post-partum-er. *warning to those who just don’t want to read about grodiness, cause post-partum things are not for the faint of heart, which is basically me, but I’ve had no choice.* Here we go:

So, you’ve had your baby, and that was both amazing and probably fairly suckish. Here’s what you know: all your uniquely female parts are embarrassingly sore (ALL OF THEM); your body is playing Texas Chain Saw Massacre without regard for visiting friends and relatives, weather, sleep schedules, and oh–the fact that the hospital allowed you to take a delicate newborn human infant to your actual home? Is blowing your already decimated mind. This is your life now. Prepare to be uncomfortable, and prepare to have NOT ONE PERSON CARE, NO, NOT EVEN ONE!

I have a loving mother and ride-or-die sisters, but they all live in what might as well be another planet. There’s no one to dote on poor Toni after childbirth, but I have learned to thrive, and by “thrive”, I of course mean “not die”.

1. There will be so much tons of blood: Sweet Lord, buy twice as much feminine supplies as you’re instinctively inclined to, and put it all in a handy spot in the bathroom. You just had a baby and now everything your uterus has saved up for 9 months is coming back to take its revenge. Stock up on defcon 5 pads; make peace with feeling like you’re wearing a diaper. Maybe even wear an adult diaper, I don’t even know y’all. Get you a 24-pack of cheap washcloths or handtowels because why not.

2. Have your Tylenol, and eat it too: OUCH, whether it’s from stitches down there, or from your boobs inflating eighty times their normal size, or–(and this is the one I always forget about)–the *awesome* uterine contractions you’ll get whenever you breastfeed: you’ll need pain relief. How long you’ll need it varies from woman to woman, baby to baby–but don’t try and be a hero. Get some medicine inside of you. Some doctors prescribe some heavy-duty drugs upon your leaving the hospital–I always found these to be a little overkill for me, plus I can’t afford to be loopy and out-of-it with 6 million kids running around. But I’m all about taking whatever works for you. Just don’t stay in pain.

3. Drinks! : Swallow an ungodly amount of water every hour upon the hour. Even if it makes you have to pee fifty thousand times a day. Drink the water. Not the Gatorade. Not the diet soda or the sweet tea. Water. Buckets of it. It’s the drink of champions. Little kids in Mexico drink water. In Europe they have water in every home–in every room, actually. Helps your complexion. Helps your bowels. Helps you make milk. Shut up and do it. Don’t whine. Drink the water. Until you float away. Drink. It.

4. Go to the dang bathroom: don’t try to hold it, ever. If you don’t think you have to go, try to go anyway. You are a 5-year-old and YES you do have to try before you leave the house. If no one is around to hold the baby, put the baby in the cradle or on the freakin’ floor and go to the bathroom. The last thing you want is a UTI. I don’t want to talk about how I know this.

5. Back away from the sweets: folks for miles around will think you need dessert, and they would be right! But do not–I REPEAT, DO NOT–gorge yourself on the brownies and bundt cake and monkey bread and chocolate-covered strawberries all in one week. It’s a bad gig. Heck yeah, you want it, you crave it, and after a few solid nights of sleep deprivation, you deserve it…but your body will go absolutely loco, and you’ll hate your life and everyone in it. Do yourself a favor and eat like, so healthy: I’m talking salads with a side of bran, maybe a delicious carrot and flaxseed smoothie. Trust me, it helps. Your mind will be clearer and your colon will thank you.

6. Ya lil’ nasty: you will be so sweaty and gross and your hair will be falling out and you’ll be so sweaty and gross and everything will feel gross and it’s just all gross. You’ll be constipated and exhausted. You might be able to hold it together for company once a day, but at some point, you will feel like a gassy, oily Jabba and it’s not a good feeling. Take advantage of any extra hands you may have and get a shower once a day, for your sanitary sanity. See also: sweating in a cold shower.

7. Hormonal momo-fofos: Oh. Yeah. Crying. Sadness. Happiness. Crying. Tiredness. Burpiness. Crying. Elatedness. Joyfulness. Joylessness. Anger. Exhaustion. Weeping and crying. Gang’s all here! Expect and embrace a roller-coaster ride of emotions in the first couple weeks. Don’t feel bad. Even if you don’t know what you’re crying about, just cry. Laugh through the tears. (And y’all I’m talking about the baby blues, not post-partum depression cause that means is serious and it is lasting and you need to speak to your doctor and you should do that ASAP without feeling the slightest bit of shame.)

8. Sleep when the baby sleeps: and shower when the baby showers, clean when the baby cleans. This advice is not exactly practical when you have one or six other children at home, but if and when you can sneak in a a few minutes’ worth of naptime, then nap. Sleeping is solid gold–it’s better than cleaning, showering, or anything on Netflix. I know I know I know. I’m just saying if you can manage to sleep, do it. If.

9. Wet-T-shirt contest: You’re, um, leaking…breastmilk. From your boobs. Which are hard as rocks and ginormous. This is awkward and also wet and not fun and life is hard and those crummy little breast pads suck booty, cause no matter how often you change them, you’re guaranteed to end up with delightful giant milk circles on your chest, wherever you go but most assuredly in public places. This is THE icing on the cake. As if the gallons of sweat and adult diapers weren’t doing you in by themselves, you’re literally shooting liquid outcher boobs every five seconds. I love that my baby is getting breastmilk, except I hate breastfeeding with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning suns–it’s too much of a sensory overload for this easily-distracted, anxiety-prone mom; but it matters not, cause boobs will do what boobs do in those first few weeks regardless of how you’re feeding your baby, which is spray people in the DADGUM EYE with milk when not kept under wraps. I’m not coordinated enough for nursing bras so my happy butt stays home with two washcloths shoved down the front an XL sports bra. This is comfortable me; figure out a boob plan that works for you.

10. Accept the help: Do your church girls send meal trains? This was foreign to me during the aftermath of my first three children; by the time Arbor and Lucy rolled around, I had an army of church ladies behind me, ready with the most delicious meals I’ve ever put in my mouth. I didn’t have to cook for three weeks. I had to freeze food for crying out loud. This is most helpful when you got your hands full of crying baby, and the older kids are roaming aimlessly around the house wondering if they’ll have to resort to cannibalism before mommy realizes that all that’s left in the pantry are Kix crumbs and canned mushroom soup. Accept meals and accept any other help that may rear it’s beautiful majestic head: mother-in-law wants to clean your bathroom? GEEZ Let her. Random friend starts folding baby laundry on your couch while she’s visiting? Have at it. BFF offering to take your three-year-old to the library for two hours? Yes please by all means and thank you and I love you forever til I die. *ALSO* allow the hubster to take care of the baby. I know we’re all modern women and we say we want our husbands to help out, but two seconds into any diaper change and we’re throwin’ ‘bows trying to show him how to “do it right”. I’m public enemy number one. But guys–the dudes got this. They can change, dress, wrap, feed, rock, walk, cuddle, calm, soothe, and shush the babies, if you let them. So let them. Let the men do the things. Ask the man to do the things. The man will do the things, and he will do it like the straight dad boss he was made to be–while you take a nap.

I leave one last piece of advice for you, and it’s so important that I can’t simply relegate it to just a number on a list: hold your baby. Just hug her. Snuggle her. Let her fall asleep in your arms. Smell her little sweet baby head. Go on and nuzzle her with your nose. Rock her. Cradle her. Don’t let anyone say “you’re gonna spoil that baby.” Punch people who say that to you.

How many times in your life are you gonna have a newborn baby? Even if your number is seven, it’s still not enough. One day we will be little old ladies in nursing homes and remembering the times when we were the holders of babies, and we will wish we held them more.

This is an incredible time. Babies are special. You are honored with a gift from God in the shape of a tiny human being, and it won’t stay tiny for long. Love on your baby as much as you want to.

I cannot wait to love on mine.

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About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested. View all posts by Toni

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