PS Oops – I didn’t mean to post this until tomorrow. Oh well, here it is anyway:
It’s less than a week since I gave birth to a mathematical impossibility. My cervix was dilated to 10cm, which, when multiplied by pi, gives a circumference of 31.4cm. Louisette’s head had a circumference of 37cm (the average is 35cm).
And so it is that biology triumphs over mathematics.
I lost five kilos just by giving birth (Louisette and the afterbirth, basically) and I’ve lost another two or three kilos since (as I literally piss away a whole lot of extra fluid – I now have ankles again, although it’ll take another week or so until all the fluid is out of my system). My belly is extremely soft and sloshy (painfully so at first when I moved, or lay on my side without a pillow underneath to hold it up), and about the same size as it was at four months. It’s still big, but shrinking, and only a tiny bit sensitive. I get some twinges as my organs and uterus return to their normal state, but they’re incredibly mild.
The muscle pain after the birth was worse than the muscle pain from pregnancy (the hormone relaxin loosens your muscles months in advance, and stops holding your bones etc together as well as usual), but also nicer – because it’s recovery pain instead of the wrong-feeling hormonal stuff. Plus it improved rather than sticking around (although my back and arm pain grew worse for a while because of the awkward positioning of early breastfeeding when my muscles were just sick of trying). Six days later, my muscles feel tired but not painful, except my lower back and hips when I turn over in bed after lying down for more than an hour – there are still unsupported bones shifting in ways they shouldn’t. But three seconds after turning over/sitting up, I feel fine again. Since I’m no longer in constant pain or nausea, it’s a lot easier to take a few seconds of pain.
My girl parts aren’t all that bad, although initially they hurt when I sit (duh) or stood (gravity). They improved dramatically by the day. Now they feel mildly bruised, and only actually hurt when I’ve been sitting or lying down in the same position for more than an hour before shifting position. Again, it’s only for a few seconds. I’m really surprised at how non-painful they are (I take panadol when I think of it).
Standing up for more than about a minute makes the muscle and girl-part pain increase – so I don’t stand up 🙂 For the first few days I often walked like the expository orc from Lord of the Rings 3 – the one with the weird hunch who explains Shelob’s eating habits. Perhaps orc women are as difficult to recognise as dwarf women, and he was a new mum.
I also don’t lift anything heavier than Louisette, because that hurts too. I’m very mildly nauseous in the afternoons as I slowly go off zoloft, but the idea of anything making me throw up is now ludicrous.
Altogether, I feel great already, and I sometimes have to remind myself not to be too active. Being not-pregnant is AWESOME. It’s everything I dreamed it would be. I’m eating, drinking, wearing elasticated clothing (especially bras. . . oh how I missed being able to wear bras without nausea and pain!), and brushing my teeth with joyful abandon.
Altogether, it’s astonishing how quickly the human body recovers from birth – in my case, anyway. It really is a natural process despite how unnatural it all sounds. I’ve also, despite my lack of sleep, finally shed the dry cough I had from first trimester. So it’s true: bad pregnancy, easy birth.
To be fair, Louisette is one of the easiest babies in the world. She literally sleeps for twenty hours a day – we’ve barely seen her open her eyes, and she even breastfeeds with her eyes closed (the gorgeous photo below was taken yesterday, five days after the birth – it was the second time her eyes were open, and the first time she met my gaze). She has been grumpy (“arsenic hour” as it’s called – when a baby cries for no reason, often at around the same time each day) exactly twice. Taking her to China in a couple of months is going to be a breeze (I was terrified I’d end up taking a colicky baby on a nine hour flight, since I’ve heard several horror stories of colicky newborns from both sides of the family). She had a gunky eye which looked like it might be infected, but we gave her some drops and it’s already cleared up (which is good, coz it was gross).
I know from “Mythbusters” that my pain threshold will be higher from now on, but for a few days after the birth if someone told me I was about to get a paper cut, I’d probably have collapsed into tears at the thought. The mild pain of breastfeeding (yes it’s mild now – and today has been wildly successful in breastfeeding terms – details later) is no problem now.
I’ll be talking about the interesting mental and hormonal journey of this week pretty soon. It seems to be over already, leaving me saying, “Really? Is that all you got?” But I assure you I have a tale to tell.
In the meantime, here is a rare picture of Louisette with her eyes open (they are stunningly beautiful with a gradual progression of blue to grey from the outside in):