It’s true. Before you become a parent, you look at other people with children and think, I’m never gonna be like that when I become a mom. I’m still going to do all the things I love, go to parties, on vacations, camping, you name it, we were going to do it, and having a baby wasn’t going to stop us.
Now, I’m not going to lie, with our first we worked real hard to make this happen. And generally, we did ok. We had a ‘good’ baby. Easy going, sleep anywhere kind of baby. And my husband and I were determined to keep doing what we'd always done! I felt this need to prove to others that having a baby wasn’t going to slow me down. For the most part, it didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, we had our usual struggles any new parents have when they add a baby into the mix. But I had support all around me getting me through those hard times. Having friends that were having babies at the same time was a HUGE help!
Fast forward to baby #2. If I could get through those first couple of years with one baby, basically unscathed, then surely having a second was going to be a walk in the park? How I wished someone would have told me to slow down, give yourself time to recover, there’s no need to prove to anyone that you can do all the things you did with one…Oh wait, they did, I just chose not to listen. After all, I was super mom, right?
Wrong. So very wrong.
From the time we brought our daughter home, 18 hours after she was born, I didn’t stop. It was summer, we had a 2 year old, and once again, I had the need to prove I could do it all. I remember the day so well, when I was forced to slow down (the first time). It was a beautiful 30-degree day in Edmonton. I was 2 weeks postpartum and my husband had just returned to work days prior. I was ready to prove to the world that heading out alone with a toddler and a newborn was no big deal. I thought,” I’ll ease my way into it, I’ll just make a quick trip to Babies "R" Us and then head back home for nap time.”
Now here’s the TMI part. When you have a baby, your body needs time to recover. You will have 'lochia', this is the bleeding and discharge that happens after having a baby and is a normal part of the healing process after childbirth. It takes about 4-6 weeks for this bleeding to stop completely. Everyday it should get lighter, and a good indication that you are not resting enough is if the bleeding gets heavier after already having slowed down. This is where you should listen to your body and get the rest it needs. I didn’t listen. Now, your OB (or midwife) and nurses will all tell you that if you have a clot of blood larger than a golf ball, or are bleeding heavily 4 or more days after giving birth, you should seek medical advice as it could be a sign of hemorrhaging. I ignored the fact that a week earlier, I did have a large clot pass and bled a bit heavier that day but the next day all seemed back to normal.
So, back to my trip to Babies "R" Us. I’m in the parking lot, have managed to get both kids settled into the newly purchased double stroller and am ready to spend those gift cards! I take 10 steps toward the doors and before I could even get inside, I feel a warm gush. "Oh, shit". My first reaction is not panic but sheer embarrassment, what if someone sees this mess. I quickly make my way into the store and right to the bathroom. I have no idea what I’m about to discover. I pull my pants down and there it is, one massive fist sized clot and now the blood is just pouring out of me into the toilet. So, what is the first thing one does in this terrifying moment…call their mom! I tell her what’s going on and like any concerned mother, she says "why the hell are you calling me? Hang up and call 911". Right, why didn’t I think of that. So, I hang up the phone and proceed to call… my husband…I was still in denial. My husband is a very logical man, so he too is confused as to why I’m phoning him first. He tells me to hang up and call 911 and he will make his way there.
This time I did. The 911 operator is very nice and quickly dispatches an ambulance. Problem #2, no body knows I’m in the bathroom and will be very curious to know why an ambulance has shown up to there store. Never mind that I still have kids to deal with. Luckily, before the ambulance arrives, someone comes into the bathroom. I politely say, “excuse me, just wondering if you could help me out and go get the manager”? Well, it so happens that she is the manager, whew, thank God. So, I tell her what’s going on and she springs into action. After getting the stall door open, she kindly takes the stroller with the kids and heads out to tell someone to wait for the ambulance. I was pretty calm through the whole thing, I had some medical background and new if I wasn’t feeling faint yet, that I was doing ok. The ambulance came, packed me up and we headed out. And I thought I was going to be embarrassed before…ugh. My husband arrived just in time to take the kids before the ambulance took me away.
Everything turned out fine in the end. I was given synthetic oxytocin to help contract my uterus and the doctors were able to manually push the remaining clots out and eventually control the bleeding. I was released later that night after some observation.
A lot of the things I went through after I had my second child is really what pushed me into becoming a postpartum doula. My 2nd took a huge toll on me, both mentally and physically. Another near death experience 6 weeks postpartum shook me to my core(more about that one another time). Full on postpartum depression hit when my daughter was 9 months old and it has been an uphill battle ever since. I feel so strongly about helping other mothers to, slow down, in there '4th trimester'. I know all to well the effects of doing too much too soon after giving birth. We don't have to prove anything to anyone, if we truly want to be the 'super' moms we think we need to be (we don't, by the way), then we had better take care of ourselves first!