In my opinion, having a baby and giving birth is the easy part of becoming a mother. Nothing prepared me for the bumpy, shocking and utterly exhausting journey that is post-pregnancy. I was physically drained and living away from family made things emotionally difficult.
The first few days after giving birth were euphoric. Inman arrived as a beautiful and healthy baby boy. Although I got no sleep at the hospital (nurses come in and out all the time, Inman is forever hungry etc.), I wasn’t all too bothered by it. After all, I was giddy with excitement and uh maybe painkillers had something to do with it too hollllaaaa.
It’s funny because I had a natural birth, no epidural so I felt it ALL. Right after Inman was born though, the nurse offered me painkillers to manage my pain and I’m like, “YES PLEASE GIVE ME ALL THE PILLS.”
I feel like nothing ever prepares you for the woes of post pregnancy! No one told me that my vagina was going AWOL after undergoing natural childbirth. Maybe it’s because I had an episiotomy that needed two stitches (yeowch!). On hindsight, I should have seen it coming but you never really know how something feels until it happens to you. The moment I realized that my vagina (and basically EVERYTHING down there) was AWOL was when the nurse asked me to pee before we left the delivery room. I had been hooked up to an IV and 1 litre of fluid entered my body so there shouldn’t have a problem peeing.
It was horrible. I could not pee! My brain was sending urgent signals to my body to pee but nope, everything down there had shut down. I was offered a catheter to empty my bladder but foolish me refused it. I was convinced that I would pee naturally.
My advice to any mommies-to-be out there, don’t be like me. If you really can’t pee after giving birth naturally, just say yes to the catheter! I thought it was going to hurt like hell but it was sweet, sweet relief . It honestly felt easier than peeing. Sigh…never take your body for granted. It really sucked not being able to pee or poop easily. That was my numero uno problem at the hospital after giving birth. Well, that and trying to figure out how to swaddle Inman! I think every nurse that checked on me in the hospital got frequent updates on how much I pooped or pee-ed hehe.
We eventually had to to leave the hospital. It was nerve-wracking because I felt safe at the hospital. There are so many knowledgeable people there! Lactation consultants, pediatricians, nurses 24/7 helping me manage my pain and if anything was wrong, I was in good hands! Discharge day eventually arrived and I’m thinking, “Yikes, I’m not prepared!!!”
It was odd that we were going home with Inman. It was just Claude and I for so long and now we had a new person joining our clan.
Thankfully, Inman’s two weeks early arrival ensured that my in-laws would be around with me post-pregnancy. My family would be flying in from Singapore to be with me for a week plus after my in-laws leave. I had a tremendous amount of support pre and post-pregnancy. Without it, I am pretty sure my brain would crash and burn from all the incessant worrying. Claude and I are first-time parents, which meant that we did not know what we did not know and what we knew was probably not enough to declare that we know it.
I still remember that the first night back at home was rough. I wasn’t taking the prescribed painkillers (me trying to be a trooper haha) and suddenly, it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
Everything was incredibly overwhelming. I was sleepy and in pain.
I thought I had prepared for everything but I was thrown off. Our bedroom had a bassinet, mini crib and pack and play but I didn’t know which to put Inman in! Nothing seemed convenient for me. He was cluster feeding which meant that he wanted to nurse almost every hour or more. I was overjoyed to have Inman but oh my god, it felt like torture. I was running on fumes.
Worse still, I was trying to get comfortable with breastfeeding but sitting on my bed hurt my episiotomy stitches. I would prop up pillows but would gradually sink into them which caused my back to hurt. Claude was trying to help me by bringing in two different chairs for me to breastfeed in but that didn’t work. Our bedroom was a mess and I was an even bigger mess.
Everything got too much at one point and oddly, my mom called me at that very moment. I picked up her call, said hello and immediately had a breakdown of the century.
I remember feeling reluctant to ask for help because I felt bad asking for it. I was trying not to inconvenience anyone but I eventually realized that my family was there to help. It has always been hard for me to ask for help. I always forget that it’s okay to do so. My body was weak and I had no idea what I was doing. Even changing a diaper was a daunting task.
It’s funny how people say that women have a natural maternal instinct. I really don’t think I did. I had to learn from all the mommies that lived with me during the first few weeks of Inman’s birth. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law helped me recover from the initial exhaustion of birth. I still recall being able to stay in bed and rest as they enjoyed Inman’s company and passed him to me whenever he needed to breastfeed. Thank goodness my mother-in-law stayed with me for two weeks after I gave birth. She was a lifesaver!
I tried doing normal stuff, like getting up to make breakfast and doing the laundry…you know, household stuff. But I was weak and tired! Inman woke up often to feed. The days of sleeping a 2 hour stretch was now nothing but a fond memory. I had read about how mommies lack sleep and saw how my sister did not get enough sleep as a mom but I truly did not expect it to be so TIRING.
I was deep in what is called the Fourth Trimester. It was hard for me. Every woman experiences it differently though. My body felt different, it is so weird to be carrying a baby for 9 months and then poof, baby is out. Plus, now I was responsible for everything Inman needed. My tummy also felt weirdly empty.
Lucky for me, my family flew out to meet Inman. My mother and sister brought me a bunch of stuff from Singapore to help me postpartum. It was just so nice to be with my family again. I grew up in a very noisy household and there was ALWAYS someone at home to talk to. It made me very happy to have so many people in my house. I was very worried that Inman was coming home to a quiet household that lacked the ‘family’ vibe. My niece and nephews also managed to meet Inman which I am forever grateful for. It really made me so happy that the kids were around. It is hard to explain but now my home feels more like a home because my family has visited me here. I still feel my parents aura around my home.
I remember my mother helping me bath Inman and my sister helping me cut his nails. My sister has three kids and she is a super mummy! She knows how to do everything and that helped me relax. I would be so lost trying to navigate motherhood without being able to observe seasoned mummies taking care of my baby Inman.
Everyone had to leave though, which made me sad. The first week of being alone with Inman was a weird mix of elation and sadness. I definitely had a case of the baby blues. My mood waxed and waned. I was extremely overjoyed by Inman. He is such a perfect baby. I would feel full of joy until a wave of sadness would wash over me. My mind would ask, “Why did you have a baby so far away from family?” I had moments of intense worry about Inman being so far away from his cousins. I still sometimes think I am crazy for having a baby when I’m living so far away from family.
Having Inman has taught me so many things. I think motherhood does that to you. Inman turns 3 months in two days! I say this a lot but time really does fly. There are days when I still cannot believe that I have a son. The fourth trimester is about to be over for me. For now, Inman had reduced his night feedings to only once at 3/4am and I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m always grateful for any sleep I get because I know there will be sleep regressions coming soon!
I am happy and grateful for my little family. The Fourth Trimester was tough for me. Claude helped me through it. I was simply trying to survive. He would make sure I was fed and that I got to sleep. Inman really is a good baby. He made it really easy for me and again, I am grateful. Although I miss living near family, I know now that I have my husband and my son. And that is more than enough ❤️