WARNING - THIS POST NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH
Before I fell pregnant, indeed for a good portion of my pregnancy, I was a bit prissy about certain things. Excluding the inevitable lack of glamour involved in most sports, I generally prided myself in ensuring good upkeep of myself. I was always waxed, shaved and moisturised. I would rarely leave the house without some form of make up, even just face powder, to even up the blemishes. I wore only very well made shoes, high heels at that, and usually with some form of designer suit or jeans. I had never had any form of medical discomfort (a tiny knee op when I was 13 doesn't count), and I had a flat tummy and looked relatively presentable in a bikini. In short, I was a bit of a princess, even if I wouldn't have admitted it at the time.
What a difference a baby makes. And nobody tells you. In fact, when I challenged my sister about all the things she didn't tell me relating to the icky stuff she simply laughed and told me it wouldn't have made any difference and it would happen anyway so there is no point in telling you in advance. Well, I think there is, so here goes...
Firstly leaking. Pick a part of your body that could possibly leak, and it will once you have a child. I won't go into the details of "down below" but it ain't pretty. And your nose is always snuffly, I had the first nose bleed since I was about 8 yesterday (I don't think I can attribute this entirely to childbirth but the two must be related somehow). Both tits leak when they are full, or when Eve cries, or sometimes just because they feel like it. Occasionally they spurt, whale blowhole like, when I am getting ready to feed Eve and have prodded them a bit. Sometimes I forget when I am feeding and the Boy has to make polite comments about maybe not leaking on the feeding cushion.
As a result of leaking, clothing becomes functional. I have two nursing bras, kindly brought from Australia by my friend L. She picked the sexiest, prettiest ones but they still look like something I went camping in when I was a Girl Guide. Without underwires (block milk ducts or something - I have "ducts"?), they turn your chest into some sort of homogenous continental shelf. I now look lovingly and jealously at my Agent Provoc underwear in the cupboard wondering whether I could possibly breast feed using them (um, no). One of the nursing bras is a horrid lace number, as if in some vague attempt to make the hideous garment more attractive a first year design student came across the idea of covering the damn thing in nasty cheap lace. The other one, obviously another design student got their hands on this, is broderie anglaise effect. At least the bras are white, the other colour choice was beige.
The leaking also means that I have all manner of pads to mop up the bits of me that are, quite literally, falling out. It would seem that the millions of dollars that have gone into researching nappies and other "feminine" products to make them thin and comfortable has not spread to any padding related to new mums. Maternity pads are akin to the Dr Whites sanitary pads that the teachers frightened you with in sex education in the early 1980s, only bigger and more horrid. And don't get me started on breast pads... they don't even absorb much.
I am slowly progressing back into heels, but with the c section recovery and the space age, 4x4 buggy, they aren't all that practical so I find myself in flats and trainers.
Then there is the scarring from the c section, which despite the undeniable experience and technique of the lovely Dr D, still makes me look a little as if Freddie Kruger got his hands on my lower abdomen. The breast feeding "fat" currently residing as something orange peel-like on my bum reminds me that where there was once a nice toned behind there is now a lump of jelly. And it takes some time, in fact probably a lot of time, for the wobbly excess skin around my middle to dissipate back to whence it came.
However, despite all this ranting, I find that I don't actually care. My tits leak because I am feeding my gorgeous new baby, and I continue to find it amazing that my body can produce all the food she needs. The "down below" is my body cleaning itself up after 9 months of a living, growing person being inside me. The wobbly bits (which are diminishing very rapidly) will stay there until Eve has everything she needs from me to grow, and then will be run, rowed and canoed into submission.
So, for any ladies reading this and wondering whether they really would want to go through this. Yes, you will undergo indiginities you didn't think possible, but you just stop caring the moment you have your own little bundle.
Although I am not sure I would want a catheter again...