Before I gave birth my biggest concerns were what would happen in the delivery room and how to keep my son alive once we got home. I also worried about sleep deprivation, but reassured myself that in a pinch I could sell my husband's car to pay for a night nurse.
I figured the period of time in the hospital that spanned post-delivery and pre-discharge would be an easy time when I would bond with my son, rest, and heal from childbirth.
I was wrong.
Chaos is a better description. Why is it that no one told me? At one point I wondered if my friends hated me as not a single one had prepared me for what a uterine massage truly entails.
Just so you aren’t taken aback like I was, I’ve highlighted seven things you’ll probably be told about, and what they really mean.
1. "A nurse will be checking your uterus to ensure it is becoming firmer and shrinking."
What it really means: A nurse will be routinely conducting a procedure that feels a lot like a torture, by pressing and massaging your uterus. Don't get excited by my use of the word "massage." This one will be the antithesis of everything you’ve come to know that word to mean. It will feel like someone has climbed to the top of the Empire State Building and dropped a bowling ball directly onto your midsection. Several times a day.
2. "You are wearing a pad because there will be bleeding, and lochia."
What it really means: You will be wearing an industrial-strength adult diaper and it will look like a crime scene in your pants. So will the toilet and shower each time you use either. And the lochia, which is made up of bits of your insides that are slowly shedding away from within your body, will smell like bits of your insides are slowly shedding away from within your body.
3. "Your baby’s poop will be dark meconium the first few days."
What it really means: Your baby's diapers will look like road tar. Or a black crayon that’s been melted. But don’t be alarmed, it’s totally normal and your child did not ingest anything made by Crayola while you weren’t looking.
4. "Someone will be stopping by to check on you."
What it really means: A group the size of China’s population be parading in and out of your room. Taking blood, testing the baby's hearing and dropping bowling balls on your uterus, among 7,614 other reasons. They have no shame and they won't wait. They will turn on the lights and wake you up if you are sleeping or stare at you while you nurse, waiting for you to finish. There's nothing quite like a stranger making direct eye contact with you as you breastfeed for the fifth time ever in your life.
5. "Your baby will be less calm on night two."
What it really means: After the haze of delivery fades your baby will come alive. Loudly and frequently. My husband and I actually asked our nurse if they accidentally switched babies on us and we were only half joking.
6. "It may be uncomfortable to urinate at first."
What this really means: It will feel like a flow of hot lava is pouring from your vagina. Use the squirt or "peri bottle" while you pee. And also before and after. Then take it home with you and never let it out of your sight.
7. "Don't worry if someone comes in while you nurse."
What it really means: Everyone will come in your room while you are nursing. By the time I left the hospital I think there was only one gift shop employee who hadn't seen my boobs. But it's okay. No one really looks and eventually you don't even care if they do. It's actually quite liberating.
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Images by Becky Vieira
This post was originally published on February 25, 2017; it was updated and republished February 19, 2018.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.